Newsdesk – February 25

Burned bush land on the outskirts of Bredbo, Australia, this month.

The End of Australia as we know it. The fires that have burned across Australia, fueled by climate change and the world’s refusal to address it, are not just destroying lives, or turning forests as large as nations into ashen moonscapes. They are forcing Australians to imagine an entirely new way of life. Summers are feared. Last month when the wildfires ravaged the country, Lynette Wallworth, an Australian filmmaker, told a crowd of international executives and politicians in Davos, Switzerland that “I am standing here a traveler from a new reality, a burning Australia,” acknowledging the fact that the country’s demise has begun. And this is just a hint of what’s to come possibly to your community. What is scary is the fact that 57 percent of Australians have been directly affected by the bush fires or their smoke. The devastation and extent of the wildfires did not stop the conservative government from still playing down the role of climate change, despite polls showing public anger hitting feverish levels. Since the fires started, tens of millions of acres have been incinerated in areas that are deeply connected to the national psyche. If you’re American, imagine Cape Cod, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Sierra Nevadas and California’s Pacific Coast, all rolled into one — and burned.  “If there’s not a major shift that comes out of this, we’re doomed,” said Robyn Eckersley, a political scientist at the University of Melbourne who has written extensively about environmental policy around the world.  In the end, climate change threatens heavy pillars of Australian identity: a life lived outdoors.  Australia is “a place of childhood vacations and dreams,” as one of Australia’s great novelists, Thomas Keneally, recently wrote. Bob Gallagher, 71, a retired state employee, warns and brings the call to action: What we all love, this unique country, is being destroyed by inaction. We’ll punch above our weight, but we can’t do it alone. We need your help”- The New York

  • Post-coal Europe faces a whole new dilemma – Ozy
  • Johnson Faces Scrutiny for Flooding Response After Storm Dennis – The New York Times
  • ‘Mysterious’ season harm Nigeria’s farmers who need help with climate change – Climate Home News
  • The Arctic is Getting Greener. That’s Bad News for All of Us – Wired
  • The Oil Industry Is Quietly Winning Local Climate Fights – The Atlantic
  • Weatherwatch: Cleaning up air pollution has made winters milder – The Guardian
  • Diana Beresford-Kroeger on the Flawed Thinking that Got Us to Climate Crisis – The Tyee
A young boy picks material from a rubbish dump in Taez, Yemen. Photograph: Ahmad Al-Basha/AFP via Getty Images

The only uncertainty is how long we’ll last’: a worst-case scenario for the climate in 2050. If you imagine you are living in 2050, the first thing that will hit is the air-which is hot, heavy and, depending on the day, clogged with particulate pollution. Sick people are wearing white masks to protect themselves from airborne infection. Fresh air does not exist anymore, and the air even inside of your house tastes acidic. Overall, our world is getting hotter. Over the next two decades, projections tell us that temperatures in some areas of the globe will rise even higher, an irreversible development now utterly beyond our control. Oceans, forests, plants, trees and soil had for many years absorbed half the carbon dioxide we spewed out. The increasing heat of the Earth is suffocating us and in five to 10 years, vast swaths of the planet will be increasingly inhospitable to humans. In addition, more moisture in the air and higher sea surface temperatures have caused a surge in extreme hurricanes and tropical storms. Food production frequently swings, and more people around the world are starving, but countries with enough food are resolute about holding on to it. Those living within these stable countries may be physically safe, yes, but the psychological toll is mounting. And unfortunately, there is no chance of stopping the runaway warming of our planet and no doubt we are slowly but surely heading towards some kind of collapse. We surround ourselves with a sense of bottomless loss, unbearable guilt and fierce resentment at previous generations who didn’t do what was necessary to ward off this unstoppable calamity – The Guardian

Erika Hernandez stands in front of a cache of corn, the annual harvest that will feed her family. Central Valleys of Oaxaca, Mexico. Photograph by Jean-Claude Teyssier

When climate change drove all the men away. Kilometers short of the Mexico-U.S. border, rough hands yanked Javier Hernandez from the trunk. They beat him, fractured his skull and then buried him with straws poking from his nostrils for air. Before burying him alive, Javier’s kidnappers asked the family to pay $10,000, so eventually, a traumatized Javier was set free. He’d left his rural farming village in central Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s poorest states, to find work in “El Norte.” Hundreds of thousands of young indigenous campesinos, farmers, like Javier are putting down their tools to seek work abroad as harvests continue to drop dramatically. This migration coincides with an increased demand for work in Canada as foreign workers are recruited from Mexico. Every country, including Mexico, is facing climate change, from weather unpredictability to crop failure. And campesinos like Javier, who come from largely Indigenous communities and grow corn for their personal consumption, are feeling its worst impact. Struck by recurring drought and few employment opportunities, many see no way out but to go abroad to feed their families. It would be hard to underestimate the importance of corn to Mexicans, said Toronto researcher Lauren Baker, whose book Corn Meets Maize, documents how corn is central to food security, biodiversity and culture. Corn is a cultural symbol tied to identity,” Baker said. Beyond a commodity, a staple crop and a core of the economy, the free trade agreement (NAFTA) signed in the 1990s led to the dumping of cheap, hybrid corn (sold below the cost of production) on the Mexican market. Campesinos can’t get good value for their surplus grain. And their personal consumption and survival is threatened by water shortages and drought conditions. Some say migration has destroyed family structure, while others maintain that some have benefited from increased wealth from foreign remittances. Usually, people migrate to areas in the U.S. where they already have family or a social network, she said. But it can be quite hard on those left behind – National Observer