Lucky Country?

23 Nov 2007

Australia is going to the polls tomorrow in what is arguably a milestone in history: the world’s first climate-change election. This is following a five-year drought that has seen some of the country’s largest rivers dry up and crops fail.

A country historically thought of in terms of its unlimited space and resources, has been confronting a reality of water shortages, crop failures and environmental collapse for some time. Response and analysis to these issues is emerging from new politics, and it is predicted Australia’s conservative Prime Minister John Howard will be defeated in the polls tomorrow.

In 1997, Howard stood alongside the United States in refusing to sign the Kyoto agreement, and has always shown much contempt for the claim of climate change. Today he is being forced to admit his mistake; with Australians themselves seeing that he was wrong.

Opposition leader Kevin Rudd has been much bolder on climate change, making it a defining point of difference and promising to sign the Kyoto protocol as a first act of government.

Tasmanian winegrower Peter Whish-Wilson has no doubt that the climate is changing in politics as well as the skies. “We have had storms come through that we have never seen before,” he says. “In the last five years we have broken every single temperature record – highest temperature, lowest, highest rain. Climate change is tangible; we can see it in the country. Farmers are coping with the worst droughts on record.

“The country is learning the hard way. It has always been seen as the lucky country, with a lot of land and resources, but you can’t live in a lot of Australia now.”

: The Guardian

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