Possum Valley Meltdown

King parrots on Maple veranda, Andrew

Temperatures at Possum Valley have cooled down in the last day or two after a period of 4 or 5 days of heat wave. I have endured the hottest temps in the 40 years I have been here with the exception of just one day about 15 years ago when it was 1C hotter. Yes, the incendiary weather reached 32C !!!! I can almost hear the laughter and cries of derision “is that all you’re talking about?”  I do know that most of Australia gets a bit hotter than that from time to time, but I’m not used to it!  At over 1000m altitude and surrounded by rainforest, I have got used to a 5-6C differential lower than the coastal temps.  That didn’t happen with the recent event, and on occasion Atherton actually was hotter than Cairns.  Though I did manage a couple of degrees cooler than Atherton as usual.

I do know what hot feels like.  Whilst doing exploration work in central WA in the salt lake regions, I endured a week where the temps were over 50C every day with a max of 52C.  As the ‘shade’ temp as officially measured in Menzies 150 kms away.  They were lucky to have shade to measure it in.  On the salt lakes, there isn’t any shade at all.  Anywhere.  But I’m not as resilient as I used to be, and much lower temps cause me discomfort.  I offer as evidence of the blistering heat a couple of pics taken in the hot spell.  The first was taken at Maple Cottage where a couple of king parrots dropped into the shade of the veranda while the guests were there.

King parrots on Maple veranda, Andrew

King parrots on Maple veranda, Andrew

They even stayed round while the guests went for a camera.  Personally, I think they were hoping for a cold beer rather than a photo shoot.

The next evidence I submit is of a lizard taking refuge in my house.  I tried to chase it out, but it took refuge under the sofa rather than face the sizzling sun.  And the bronze skinks on the veranda were just lethargically meandering around apparently oblivious to the juicy treats of squashed march flies I scattered on the deck.

Boyd's forest dragon

Boyd’s forest dragon

Your long-suffering host had to endure putting the washing out.  As the blistering sun hammered down on my back, I suffered snow blindness from the white sheets. When I took the washing into the storage cupboard, I couldn’t see a thing.  OK, the good news was that I could almost peg out the wet wear on a line, then go to the other end and start collecting it in again.  A contrast to the ‘super-rinse’ washing cycle, where I leave it on the line for days at a time, hoping sometime during the rain episodes I can gather it in dry.

Looks like worldwide temps for 2016 will set yet another ‘hottest on record” record.   Ok, ok, I know what I have just had is weather. Climate change is a mathematical thing derived from weather history without reference to forecasts and what you might expect without consulting a forecast, or even looking out the window.  Weather is what you actually get.  But 2015 was a record, 2014 was a record, perhaps 2013 was a record can’t remember, but the numbers are stacking up.  I am in no doubt the planet is heating up and so are 99% of scientists.  What I don’t understand is why something like 50% of the populace don’t think it is happening, or admit that it is but not because of human activity.  My brother believes the later and I must say I’m disappointed in him.  He’s an educated intelligent bloke who spent his entire career in the police force.  I would have thought he could follow the evidence with reliable estimates of how much carbon dioxide, methane etc, humanity has been putting into the atmosphere, and forensic knowledge from the lab that these gases trap heat, and gone out and banged up the culprits.  I think his problem might be that would mean he, and I, and you and just about everybody in the advanced countries are the culprits.

I was playing with 2 of my grandchildren just an hour ago.

Henry on tractor

Henry on tractor

I am thinking I should include a humble letter of apology to them in my will.  That my generation, the boomers, was primarily instrumental in trashing the planet.  That most of the graphs of the nasty effects started climbing in about 1950.  That was the year I was born, so the worst damage was done on my watch.  I think I woke up to the possibility of future catastrophe earlier than most, and that was part of my motivation in buying Possum Valley in 1976.  I won’t have to endure the worst as I will shuffle off the mortal coil before that happens.  That there is worse to come is already locked in.  That we are living in an age of species extinction of incredible abruptness on the geological scale is a fact, though probably more down to habitat loss than climate change.  That we could be the first species to cause our own extinction is a possibility.  That we know the problems and still walk like zombies into catastrophe would be a tragedy.

The problem and the answer is consumption.  Your consumption, my consumption.  Sorry, there is no getting around it.  Someone cut down the last tree on Easter Island condemning the inhabitants to a miserable life of depravation.  We have conveniently outsourced the effects of our consumption to other countries, but we have only one planet and none can escape the consequences.

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