As intense flooding continues to spread across the southern continent, the death toll has climbed to 30 with tens of thousands of people still unable to return to their homes and damage to crops that could exceed AUS$1 billion.
With other globally reported calamities such as the 2010 fires in Russia and Pakistan's devastating floods, as well as more recent extreme flooding in Brazil, where fatalities have reached 700 and 15,000 are thus far rendered homeless, discussions have become more frequent on the disasters' links of to climate change.
In an interview with Supreme Master Television, Dr. Matthew England of the University of New South Wales' Climate Change Research Center highlighted the recent calamity in Australia as an example of how warming due to greenhouse gases is adversely energizing the atmosphere-ocean system to produce extreme weather patterns on a global scale.
Dr. Matthew England - University of New South Wales' Climate Change Research Center, Australia (M): For these Queensland rains, the events themselves can be linked to the La Niña, but the intensity is unlikely to have reached where it has reached without global warming. People will remember the bush fires in Victoria only a couple years ago. A very senior weather expert in Australia said that is a climate change event - categorically.
That was an event that caused untold damage, again lives were lost, whole towns were burnt down. We've always had bush fires in Australia, we've always had floods; these events are familiar to us. But it's the progression of these events, it's the increased number of extreme events, the increased severity of bush fires in the subtropics, very heavy rain events in the tropics. And we're seeing this not just in Australia, we're seeing this occur globally.
VOICE: Expressing his sense of duty to alert the public about these and other such troubling findings on climate change impacts, Dr. England urged for investing in mitigating measures before we must pay in lives and larger damages.
Dr. Matthew England (M): I hold some sort of fear, in some sense, that the problem's going to get much deeper before we solve it. It's good to see people fighting on after these events and rebuilding their lives, and that's a very important thing to do, but we need to also think about how we can change our emissions of greenhouse gases, because that will see the number of these events not ramp up at such a rapid rate.
VOICE: Our appreciation, Dr. England for pointing to this truly alarming reality of increasing devastation already being faced by people in Australia and across the globe. With prayers for the disaster-affected, especially those who have lost loved ones, may governments and citizens join in striving for the shared goal of halting global warming through wise, rapid actions.
During a 2008 videoconference in Australia with our Association members, Supreme Master Ching Hai cautioned, as she has long been doing, that climate change-related disasters could intensify to a point of no return, unless humankind switches to a planet-protecting lifestyle.