A version of this article appeared in the Southern Highland News, 2 April 2014. More articles from the CANWin column.As the Prime Minister says, a cycle of drought and flooding rain is normal for Australia. Thirty years ago scientists worked out that the source of this natural cycle is not on land, but in the Pacific Ocean.
In a four-stage cycle called the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), warmth and moisture move back and forth between Australia and the Americas.
Westerly winds skim off the warm surface layer of the sea, transport it westward and pile it up to the north of Australia. This warm surface layer evaporates, the source of our La Nina rains. Then eastward winds flow back across the Pacific towards central America, bringing rain to Peru and Ecuador but leaving Australasia in El Nino drought.
This cycle has been going on for centuries; it’s the normal drought regime. Well done Prime Minister!
But our times are not normal, and the sooner you learn the difference, the better it will be for all of us. Man-made greenhouse warming is disturbing the natural balance. If we don’t all take the present global warming trend seriously, man-made greenhouse warming will double the frequency of extreme droughts. Prime Minister, it’s time to listen to the experts.
The experts will tell you that the surface mixed layer in the eastern Pacific gains more heat from man-made fossil fuel emissions than the west, where evaporation has a net cooling effect. This means that extreme droughts (such as 1982-83) are likely to return every 10 years instead of every 20. That leaves the food sources of the nation with not enough time to recover from the last severe drought.
So Prime Minister, why are you so heavily subsidizing dirty coal-fired power stations when renewable alternatives are available? Why do you allow such industries to off-load the costs of their pollution to other industries and the populace at large? Where is the level playing field for electricity generation? Why do you expect people to bear the cost of profligate spending on poles and wires for outdated, grid-based, 19th century technology?”
How about taking care of your grand-children’s future rather than your own?