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Sun Oct 18, 2020, 12:17 PM

Michael Mann: For Australia's Sake, I Hope Trump's Climate Denialism Loses

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Whether or not Trump gets re-elected – and how other countries like Australia respond to the outcome of the US election – could determine the fate of our planet. Indeed, I’ve stated that a second Trump term might well be “game over for the climate” if it leads to the collapse of international efforts to act. The damage caused by Trump’s climate denial is painfully visible within the US as we endure climate change-fuelled extreme weather events, including unprecedented wildfires in the west and unprecedented hurricanes in the east. But the damage can be felt around the world. Trump has proudly, and shamelessly, trumpeted his climate denialism on the global stage, joining with petrostates such as Russia, Saudi Arabia and Brazil in opposing international climate efforts.

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By pulling the US out of the Paris agreement (one of the first and only campaign promises he kept) Trump ceded America’s leadership on the defining challenge of our time. Thus far, other countries have fortunately filled the leadership void, at least temporarily. The EU and China, with its new net-zero pledge, have stepped up to the plate, recognising that they will benefit from the opportunities of a clean energy economy and better protect their citizens from dangerous climate change impacts.

But nobody stands to benefit more from climate action, or lose more if we fail to act, than Australia. Having spent a sabbatical leave down under earlier this year, aimed at collaborating with scientists in Australia to study the impact of climate change on extreme weather events, I instead witnessed those impacts first-hand. I saw the muted beauty of the Blue Mountains when shrouded in wildfire smoke. If Trump is re-elected, and we collectively continue down a path of insufficient climate action, it may not be long before those fires rage year-round, and the Blue Mountains are lost in a perpetual grey and dismal haze.

It’s the same with the vibrant sea life of the Great Barrier Reef, which I was fortunate enough to witness with my family during my time in Australia. The delicate ecosystems of the GBR are already on the ropes, with fossil fuels pushing up temperatures in the ocean to the point where bleachings occur with such frequency and ferocity that corals simply cannot recover. Research released this week found that the reef has lost half its coral, largely due to warming oceans caused by climate change. Add the impact of ocean acidification from increasing carbon emissions, and we could sadly, within a decade or two, be reading the GBR’s obituary for real.

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https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/17/for-australias-sake-i-hope-trumps-climate-science-denialism-loses

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