Dear Scott Morrison – true leaders must act

The Hon Scott Morrison MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House

Dear Scott Morrison

I didn’t think I’d be writing to you again so soon but as the sky overhead turned a bloody orange, the sun was obliterated and the birds silenced I felt another letter was necessary.

You famously appeared in Australia’s Parliament brandishing a lump of coal telling people they shouldn’t be afraid – the video below shows your performance.

Your focus on the economic rather than environmental consequences of mining fossil fuels really has come back to haunt you – as will the death and destruction caused by the terrifying fires ripping lives apart across Australia.

Governments worldwide have been pussy-footing around environmental issues for decades – and look where we are. Parts of Australia have run out of water and, unless we see rapid and dramatic change, the continent will be faced with an internal migration of climate refugees that has never been seen before.

Many of those affected by the fires will be unable to return to or rebuild their communities. They’ve lost everything. Yet disinformation from Murdoch’s media persists, deliberate seeding of inaccurate information on the cause and reasons for the fires has appeared and we watch as the skies change colour and the sun obliterated more than 2500 miles away in New Zealand.

The sky over Bay of Plenty New Zealand at 5pm on 5 January 2020 – colour is orange and black smoke from the Australian inferno. The picture doesn’t convey the smell, the silence of the birds and the sharp drop in temperature as the sun was shut out by the smoke – can only imagine how terrifying and how much worse it is for our neighbours in Australia caught in the fires

Lots of money has been raised to help, people across the world are grief stricken at the loss of human and animal life and are doing their utmost to bring some relief. Again, tragically, that relief will only be short term at best. Unless Australia acts on climate change, this amazing place could become the first uninhabitable continent on the globe – Mars instead of marvellous.

Yes, you must deal with the crisis (although as I wrote to you previously, your leadership skills need some serious honing). Yes, you must deliver resources, help, shelter and food to those fighting the fires and those fleeing from them. But, more than anything, you must lead your country to a new understanding of the climate crisis we are currently experiencing. It’s not a future state – it is present state. As your country burns, Jakarta in Indonesia drowns. In India, people are dying on the streets because of the freezing temperatures. It is 30 years since the first report from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which concluded temperates had risen and humanity’s emissions would result in global warming. It’s 31 years since Margaret Thatcher told the UN that the vast increase in carbon dioxide reaching the atmosphere would be more fundamental and widespread than anything previously known and called for a global treaty.

Since then we’ve had the Earth Summit, Kyoto and the Doha amendment, then the Paris Agreement. The world has got hotter, extreme weather events have become commonplace and triggered the type of tragedy I am so very sorry is underway in Australia.

What’s next is up to you. You can follow the science, stop cowing to the fossil fuel industry, use some vision, imagination and leadership to develop a new way of living which reduces the event risk and improves living conditions. Our smoke today is your fire from yesterday. Do something.

Catherine Arrow