Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The New Normal

The death toll from the fires continues to grow. The final figure will likely be over 300.

We've not seen a peacetime tragedy on this scale in the history of our nation.

As we sift through the ashes of this disaster and comfort the wounded and rebuild our communities, our thoughts must turn to where we go from here.

This is our climate now.

We can no longer talk about the ongoing drought with the vague notion that at some point it will end. We can no longer hold any hope of getting "back to normal".

We may see wet periods in our dusty future but it will soon be clear that these are the rare exception, not the rule.

Hot and dry is the new normal.

We will see more heatwaves like the one last week. We will see more years with record low rainfall.

And we will see more fires.

This is the human impact of climate change.

Not in any particular event, because no single event is attributable.

But rather in the frequency of events, and the severity of events, we will see the impact as we adjust to a new way of life.