Nothing goes faster around the world than stupidity and its after-effects. Take for example, the recently announced decision by the government of Australia that it will spend up to $600 million on a new gas-fired power plant in New South Wales, the latest in a series of Aussie announcements committing to greater use of fossil fuels.
The Australian investment in making global warming worse comes as a new study of one of the biggest ice sheets on Greenland shows it to be passing the tipping point on melting away from warmer temperatures. This will add, scientists say, a meter or more to global sea levels, which will bring the problem back to Australia which is currently in the midst of a boom in beachfront real estate. Buyers can thank their own political leaders when they and their investments are underwater.
I’ll bet you have already heard about rising temperatures and rising sea levels, but how about global warming increasing the risk of mountain avalanches and rockslides? Out here in the southern Rockies of New Mexico it’s a threat to think about. Warmer temperatures, disappearing ice caps and rapidly diminishing snow melts are loosening rock formations once frozen in place. It’s believed that process, writ large, was responsible for the devastating rockslide in February in the Indian Himalayas that took out a village and two hydroelectric dams and killed hundreds of people.
Closer to home, in 2015, the collapse of a mountain face at Taan Fjord dumped a mass of rock into the Gulf of Alaska’s Icy Bay, unleashing a 633-foot tsunami.
The big wave hit a shore so remote it caused no deaths or injuries and whatever effect all those rocks falling into a bay of the Pacific Ocean had on sea levels had no effect on Australia 7500 miles away. But maybe as a signal of the effects of climate change it could knock a few Australian dollars off the price of beachfront property.
Climate change means landscape change, mostly not immediate and dramatic changes like a cliff falling into the ocean or a mountainside burying a valley, but visible and measurable just that same.
Laura Paskus is an environmental reporter with long experience in New Mexico and the Southwest. Her new book, At the Precipice: New Mexico’s Changing Climate was published by the University of New Mexico Press. She currently files regular reports for New Mexico Public Television’s New Mexico in Focus and the Santa Fe Reporter. Paskus ran the Environmental Project of the New Mexico Political Report. She reports and edits for Capital+Main, and her work has also appeared in Al Jazeera America, Ms. Magazine, Indian Country Today, The Progressive, Columbia Journalism Review, and High Country News, where she also served as Assistant Editor.