Published on 23 Sep 2009

Australia's red dawn – a warning to all?

We were all spooked by it – the idea of a nuclear holocaust that would obliterate the world.

As boys we talked about it a lot, at no time more so than after reading Nevil Shute’s ‘On the Beach’. Set in Australia this was apocalyptic and desperately human account of the end of the planet.

Now I encounter teenagers spooked by a different end to their world, an end they foresee occurring within their lifetime.

For them the threat is less nuclear than climactically climate – their world quite simply incinerated. For Australians awakening to a red dust clad dawn hanging over Sydney harbour, some must have wondered if that sad day itself had dawned, hard on the heels of promises on climate change on the floor of the United Nations half a world away,

Australia, in the past twenty-four hours has suffered earthquakes, hailstorms and dust attacks. Leaving the earthquakes aside (but we shouldn’t) the red dust storm was ignited by a red sun catching the thick granules of soil erosion blown together from half way across the continent and left to hang on the eastern rim of Australia.

The country has been suffering a drought for the worst part of a decade – acute dryness, acute heat, stoking increasing anxiety that where the Australian climate leads, the world will follow.

How sad that the waiting global community should find their ‘saviour’ Obama doing no more than deploying his acclaimed oratorical skills in offering hope on the issue.

How intriguing to hear China’s Hu Jintao offering to use his totalitarian authority to force his people into carbon reduction (provided we pay for a good bit of it).

As we study the red dawn pictures out of Oz today, maybe we should return to ‘On The Beach’ and our childhood fears. So much to do, so little time.

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9 reader comments

  1. margaret brandreth- jones says:

    Krishnan’s interview today centred around nuclear warheads. Who are we to question the quantity of nuclear defence????????

    It seems that we wont have to debate our right to ‘die with dignity.’ The choice will be taken away from us. If that nuclear accident doesn’t happen climatic change will render us under fathoms of water and then frozen to death as desalination occurs.

    Where was that place in South / Central America you went to Jon? No perhaps the Andes are a safer bet.
    Remember “It’s good News week”

  2. Michael Connelly says:

    Climate change is inevitable as the planet has had several changes in its geological past. What is different now is the speed of change due to man’s use of fossil fuels, and emissions into the atmosphere. all we can do now is to find environmentally friendly alternatives to slow down the pace of change.

  3. phil dicks says:

    JS – that’s totally unfair on Obama(he’s just the perp-of-the-politics-we-want), but a fascinatingly oblique insight into the are-the-evil-always-wrong school of thought.
    For you to suggest that a ‘totalitarian authority’ may be ‘right'( however qualified) shows these are different times, different certainties; you’re spot-on.
    We are all going to have to dance with many devils.

  4. phil dicks says:

    Didn’t quite say it clearly:what I meant was that the-opposite-may-sometimes-be-right.

  5. Hamish says:

    I would ask that that this ‘dust storm’ not be blown out of proportion. I live in South East Queensland, and although it’s not something I’ve experienced before, for others in central Australia and dry regions of both Queensland and New South Wales, it’s not uncommon at this time of year. Local reports suggest that this has been the worse dust storm in 70 years, indicating that recent changes in climate has little to do with it.

    And as for the recent Melbourne earthquake, no-one was injured and there was no reported structural damage. People in the area were more startled by the noise rather than the movement it created. Hailstorms are a fact of life in this part of the world and most people are prepared for them. Wind is what causes the most damage as it pushes trees onto houses and cars etc. It also helps to fan fires and whip up seas.

    So a little dust, a slight tremor and few hailstones is hardly worth using to paint an apocalyptic picture of eastern Australia. Regards.

  6. jr says:

    “So a little dust, a slight tremor and few hailstones is hardly worth using to paint an apocalyptic picture..”

    quite right, just because you’re bleeding from a thousand little cuts doesn’t mean you’re dying… ;-(

  7. Richard Abbey. says:

    If Chemtrails are killing bees with spraying the sky with Barium and other toxic chemicals which they say is a weather experiment, think what other impact this has on global warming? look at Tom Bearden website he has the answer.

  8. Richie McFadden says:

    My partner is from Pasig City, Manilla and she is living and working here in Ireland and right now her auntie, son and daughter, two newphews and some neighbours are still trapped on the second floor of their house awaiting rescue. We lost contact with their mobile phone probably ran out of charge and don’t know what is happening?. On behalf of Philipino workers in Ireland and the UK could we have some live coverage of this humanitarian crisis please? I just read on the Internet news that President Gloria Arroyo said more rain had fallen on Manila and surrounding areas than on New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina devastated the American city in 2005 and they are appealing for help from the international community…My partner informed me she is on the verge of collapse from worry this last 24 hours…thanks for reading this!!!

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