Although the mantra ‘Don’t panic, but get prepared’ guides Jane Rawson and James Whitmore’s handbook for Surviving and Living with Climate Change, they certainly do not paint a pretty picture of climate-change Australia. The scenarios are alarming: Australia will be hotter, drier in some parts, wetter in others, with more frequent bushfires, floods, and heatwaves. Some parts of Australia are already showing signs of a changing climate – look no further than the south-west of the continent where rainfall has declined by ten to twenty per cent since the 1970s. Yet their detailed guide to preparing for, and adapting to, climate change offers a no-nonsense wake-up call to readers. They leave no doubt that the time for action is now.
As Clive Hamilton observes in the book’s foreword, it is an indictment on our political leaders that this Handbook has been written. If they had done more, we would not need to make these kinds of preparations. Alas, our current government gives us little cause for hope. It has dumped the carbon price and laid siege to the renewable energy industry, while coal remains king and ‘good for humanity’. Australia’s emissions target for Paris is extremely modest and is unlikely to be enough to halt global warming at 2°C. Some scientists argue that this benchmark, one of nine planetary boundaries, is already too great and that crossing this threshold will lead to disastrous consequences. Either way, it’s about time we adjusted to a new normal.