Sunday, December 28, 2014

Subject: Warming dilemna - mums post..

Just a post my mum could not get thru normal media....
Subject: Warming dilemna

Peter Lea tells us (Inquirer Dec 27-28) we have to chose between human welfare and the welfare of the environment.  Does not the welfare of the environment ineluctably involve the humans within it?  He adds, that "For millenia, humans have adapted to climate change".  Indeed they have.  As a prehistorian, I know that my colleagues have shown that, in Australia, extreme arid phases involved human population decrease, the concentration of usage around reliable water sources, and the virtual abandonment of whole swathes of terrain within previously well-used parts of the centre and west of the continent.  Is this the sort of "adaptation" denialists envisage for our continent?
I notice that most of those who do not regard rising temperatures as a worry live in the cooler portions of the globe - northwest Europe, or  the eastern or southern coastal belts of Australia.  We hear less about ease of adaptation from the interior.  I lived in York, a mere 100km inland, when the official temperature once reached 50C, and I have no wish for the new experience of adapting to habitual maxima of that ilk. No amount of air conditioning (with its feedback effects in yet higher temperatures) can compensate for watering the plants, getting letters from the postbox, shopping, or hanging out the washing in such temperatures.
   The future of the outback, the wheatbelt, and Perth, a city on the edge of the desert, are surely matters not only of "the welfare of the environment" but of "human welfare".  We have all to work for the future viability of land and people throughout our beautiful continent.

Sylvia Hallam (MA, PhD Cambridge; retired Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology, UWA; Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities)