After the Arctic, it can be argued that Australia has acquired the non-flattering distinction of being impacted more by the first set of global warming effects than most places on Earth. Australia suffered from widespread and severe drought during most of the 2000’s. As projected, when rain has fallen, it has started to fall in greater quantities at once, followed by long stretches of little to no precipitation. This was especially evident in December 2010 and January 2011 when historic floods impacted an area of northeast Australia larger than the area of France and Germany combined. 2010 was the warmest year in Australian history; meanwhile the Southern Hemisphere was warmer during the 2000’s than the 1990’s, which were warmer than the 1980’s, and so on back through the modern era. And then this week, a tropical cyclone nearly the size of the continental United States hit northeast Australia. Top winds at landfall were measured to be near 125mph, the strongest storm to make landfall on Australia in over 100 years. As global warming effect take further hold, storms of this intensity will likely become more common.
By the time these kinds of effects occur to the U.S. with any degree of regularity, it will be too late to prevent further worsening of global warming and its effects. Unfortunately, it’s looking like it will take persistent impacts on Americans daily lives before enough of us decide to take action to make an eventual difference. Because we have refused to pay attention to the effects for so long, taking action will be many times more expensive and will actually be much less effective than if action had started taking place 30-40 years ago.