We need to talk about climate change

I would like to extend my sympathy to families and communities who have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods as a result of the recent devastating fires and extend my appreciation to the fire fighters, volunteers and emergency services officers who are working around the clock to contain the situation.

The City of Sydney will donate $200,000 to the Australian Red Cross NSW Disaster Relief and Recovery Appeal, and match dollar-for-dollar donation made by City staff.

Despite some effort to stifle public discussion about the unprecedented fire situation, it is important we talk about the links between a changing climate, hotter and drier conditions and bushfires.

We're continually breaking climate records - we've been through the hottest September on record, an unusually warm winter and the hottest 12 month period on record.

Rural Fire Service Recovery Co-ordinator Phil Koperberg has said the damage we've seen to property is unprecedented for October. The United Nation's Climate Chief said the bushfires were an 'example of what we may be looking at unless we take actually vigorous action' and warned the Federal Government about their plan to get rid of the price on carbon.

The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility recently released a study about the attitudes of emergency workers on climate change.

Of all the workers they spoke to as part of the study, there was an overwhelming acceptance and concern that climate change was already affecting Australia, based on their own personal experiences with disasters.

As a Western Australian fire officer told the research team, we need to "get the scientists, who have a lot to share about climate change, talking to the operational people."

In 2009, the United Firefighter's Union was urging 'state and federal governments to follow scientific advice and keep firefighters and the community safe by halving the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.'

Sadly, three years later, not enough has been done and we now have conservative Governments at both levels wanting to take us backward.

I was astounded this week to hear Liberal City Councillors calling climate change 'green mumbo jumbo.'

97% of climate science papers agree warming is man-made. We need action and I encourage all politicians confused about this issue to take the advice of experts not Wikipedia.

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