Australians demonstrate against pro-bushfire government


Protesters march in Melbourne, Australia

From the World Socialist Web Site in Australia:

Australia: Thousands protest government inaction on bushfires and climate change

By our reporters

22 January 2020

On Saturday, several thousands of young people demonstrated in Melbourne, the Victorian state capital, in opposition to the official response to the ongoing bushfire crisis across the country.

The protests reflect the deep hostility and distrust that ordinary workers and youth have for successive Labor and Liberal-National coalition governments who have refused to act to mitigate bushfires or take any action on climate change, which is contributing to the severity of droughts and fire danger.

Like earlier rallies, the events were organised by Uni Students for Climate Justice …

Socialist Alternative’s Cormac Ritchard told the Melbourne rally: “If the Liberal MP who follows Morrison won’t [tackle climate change]—and they won’t—then we’ll sack them as well. And if the Labor Party government that comes in after them won’t do it—and they won’t—then we’ll sack them as well.” …

Kath Larkin

Socialist Alternative’s Kath Larkin—a leading figure in the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU)—also spoke at the Melbourne rally. Larkin denounced the “so-called Labor opposition,” as well as the Morrison government

She singled out the United Workers’ Union … and the RTBU for their statements of support for the protest. …

In Melbourne, Socialist Equality Party (SEP) campaigners and World Socialist Web Site reporters found a warm response from workers and youth at the rally for a revolutionary, internationalist and socialist program.

Josh

Speaking with WSWS reporters, musician Josh said: “The government isn’t doing anything about the fires. ScoMo went to Hawaii and left us to burn. There wasn’t enough done to reduce the impacts of it. And they saw it coming for a long time and did nothing.” …

Jennifer (right)

Jennifer works in philanthropy and attended the rally with Mark, and daughter Rose. She said, “The government is not doing nearly enough. They’ve got a ridiculous position about climate change, complete denial, in bed with the coal industry. We vote against it whenever we can but it’s clearly not enough. So we want to keep sending a signal that we’re unhappy.”

Angie (left)

Victoria University nursing student Angie told the WSWS: “The fires are happening and the government doesn’t seem to be doing anything at all. You can only do so much raising money on social media. Climate change is real and it is going to have a terrible impact on future generations. It all comes down to money and how much they can make. But what is the point of improving economically if there isn’t going to be anywhere to live?”

Marcus (right)

Marcus noted that “the fires are definitely climate change-induced, I think we have to stand up to the government and actually demand that they do something. I think the response is focussing on emergency and disaster planning. I see that as a Band-Aid effect. I think you have to get to the root cause, and the root cause is climate change.”

Jessica

High-school student Jessica, originally from New Zealand, said she thinks “climate change is the biggest issue we are facing. I think there is too much greed, and profit is prevalent. Once there is money and power—there’s too much. I think that climate change is not unconnected. Everything that happens has to take into account climate change. Social justice has to be tackled.”

Matt, from the outer-eastern Melbourne suburb of Boronia, told WSWS reporters: “The situation is getting worse. I don’t think politicians want to hear about this. In Australia we have a Prime Minister who brought in a lump of coal into the parliament. I vote Labor but I don’t think any of the parties have made climate change a priority. Even the Greens and independents do deals that do not assist this cause.”

Matt (centre)

Translator from Britain, Maddy, said: “I’m interested in the issue of climate change. I’ve read about it and it’s scary. I’ve come to realise that it’s an unavoidable symptom of the capitalist system which is based on exploitation and maximising profits, as if there are no consequences.

Maddy (right)

“It’s going to take a huge movement of people to change this. Political leaders are trying to appease business. I think that Scott Morrison is corrupt and the ALP still supports coal despite everything that has happened. In the UK the ruling party doesn’t take any actions on climate change.”

She added: “The way it is framed is that ordinary people have to keep making changes, but even if we recycled everything it wouldn’t stop climate change. This has to come from government policy.”

AIR TANKER FIGHTING AUSSIE WILDFIRES CRASHES, KILLING 3 U.S. FIREFIGHTERS Authorities have confirmed three U.S.-born crew members have died after an air tanker crashed in the Snowy Monaro region of New South Wales while fighting bushfires. “Our hearts are with all those that are suffering what is the loss of three remarkable, well-respected crew,” said fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons. [HuffPost]

Australian workers to pay as bushfire disaster intensifies slump: here.

Not even water bears survive global warming


This December 2018 video says about itself:

Tardigrades are the most resilient animals in the universe, and there’s probably one within a stone’s throw from you right now.

From the Faculty of Science – University of Copenhagen in Denmark:

High temperatures due to global warming will be dramatic even for tardigrades

January 13, 2020

Summary: A research group has just shown that tardigrades are very vulnerable to long-term high temperature exposures. The tiny animals, in their desiccated state, are best known for their extraordinary tolerance to extreme environments.

Global warming, a major aspect of climate change, is already causing a wide range of negative impacts on many habitats of our planet. It is thus of the utmost importance to understand how rising temperatures may affect animal health and welfare.

A research group from Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen has just shown that tardigrades are very vulnerable to long-term high temperature exposures. The tiny animals, in their desiccated state, are best known for their extraordinary tolerance to extreme environments.

In a study published recently in Scientific Reports, Ricardo Neves and Nadja Møbjerg and colleagues at Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen present results on the tolerance to high temperatures of a tardigrade species.

Tardigrades, commonly known as water bears or moss piglets, are microscopic invertebrates distributed worldwide in marine, freshwater and terrestrial microhabitats.

Ricardo Neves, Nadja Møbjerg and colleagues investigated the tolerance to high temperatures of Ramazzottius varieornatus, a tardigrade frequently found in transient freshwater habitats.

“The specimens used in this study were obtained from roof gutters of a house located in Nivå, Denmark. We evaluated the effect of exposures to high temperature in active and desiccated tardigrades, and we also investigated the effect of a brief acclimation period on active animals,” explains postdoc Ricardo Neves.

Rather surprisingly the researchers estimated that for non-acclimated active tardigrades the median lethal temperature is 37.1°C, though a short acclimation periods leads to a small but significant increase of the median lethal temperature to 37.6°C. Interestingly, this temperature is not far from the currently measured maximum temperature in Denmark, i.e. 36.4°C. As for the desiccated specimens, the authors observed that the estimated 50% mortality temperature is 82.7°C following 1 hour exposures, though a significant decrease to 63.1°C following 24 hour exposures was registered.

The research group used logistic models to estimate the median lethal temperature (at which 50% mortality is achieved) both for active and desiccated tardigrades.

Approximately 1300 tardigrade species have been described so far. The body of these minute animals is barrel-shaped (or dorsoventrally compressed) and divided into a head and a trunk with four pairs of legs. Their body length varies between 50 micrometers and 1.2 millimeters. Apart from their impressive ability to tolerate extreme environments, tardigrades are also very interesting because of their close evolutionary relationship with arthropods (e.g., insects, crustaceans, spiders).

As aquatic animals, tardigrades need to be surrounded in a film of water to be in their active state (i.e., feeding and reproducing). However, these critters are able to endure periods of desiccation (anhydrobiosis) by entering cryptobiosis, i.e., a reversible ametabolic state common especially among limno-terrestrial species. Succinctly, tardigrades enter the so-called “tun” state by contracting their anterior-posterior body axis, retracting their legs and rearranging the internal organs. This provides them with the capacity to tolerate severe environmental conditions including oxygen depletion (anoxybiosis), high toxicant concentrations (chemobiosis), high solute concentration (osmobiosis) and extremely low temperatures (cryobiosis).

The extraordinary tolerance of tardigrades to extreme environments includes also high temperature endurance. Some tardigrade species were reported to tolerate temperatures as high as 151°C. However, the exposure time was only of 30 minutes. Other studies on thermotolerance of desiccated (anhydrobiotic) tardigrades revealed that exposures higher than 80°C for 1 hour resulted in high mortality, with almost all specimens dying at temperatures above 103°C. It remained, yet, unknown how anhydrobiotic tardigrades handle exposures to high temperatures for long periods, i.e., exceeding 1 hour.

“From this study, we can conclude that active tardigrades are vulnerable to high temperatures, though it seems that these critters would be able to acclimatize to increasing temperatures in their natural habitat. Desiccated tardigrades are much more resilient and can endure temperatures much higher than those endured by active tardigrades. However, exposure-time is clearly a limiting factor that constrains their tolerance to high temperatures,” says Ricardo Neves.

Indeed, although tardigrades are able to tolerate a diverse set of severe environmental conditions, their endurance to high temperatures is noticeably limited and this might actually be the Achilles heel of these otherwise super-resistant animals.

Australians demonstrate against bushfire prime minister


Anti-climate change demonstrators in Australia, EPA photo

This photo shows anti-climate change demonstrators in Sydney, Australia. The banner on the left says that right-wing Prime Minister Scott Morrison was bad at science at school.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Climate protests in Australia under the smoke of blazing forest fires

In Australian cities, tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets to demand that the government do more against climate change. They are particularly opposed to Liberal Party Prime Minister Scott Morrison, simply called ScoMo, who at the most reluctantly recognizes that there is a possible link between climate change and the devastating forest fires in the country.

An area of ​​100,000 square kilometers (about 2.5 times the Netherlands) has since been destroyed by the fires. There are 158 fires in the state of New South Wales, 39 of which are not yet under control. Nearly 2000 homes in New South Wales have gone up in flames.

There are 21 fires in the state of Victoria, which are currently more threatening than those in New South Wales. In Victoria, 240,000 people have been ordered to flee from the fire.

“Sack ScoMo”

The biggest climate protest today was in Sydney, where about 30,000 people took to the streets. In other cities, such as Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane, thousands of demonstrators took part in the Sack ScoMo protest.

“The world is on fire and the future is at stake because our worthless Prime Minister does not know how to solve the problems,” a young woman in Sydney told reporter Roel Pauw. An older woman said: “We have drought, we have forest fires and our coral is dying. We have not done anything for thirty years. You must first accept that climate change is a fact and that action should be taken.”

“You don’t get that concern about the future out of your mind, especially if you have someone like this on your shoulders,” said a young father pointing to his little son.

The protesters chanted slogans such as Our future is burning and The liar from the shire, the country is on fire. By ‘the shire’ the demonstrators mean Sutherland Shire, the part of Sydney where Prime Minister Morrison comes from. Among other things, they blame him for the Australian government’s refusal to tackle CO2 emissions from the coal industry.

The demonstrators in Melbourne wore umbrellas because of the pouring rain. The wet weather is good news for fighting forest fires, but it is not raining everywhere.

“Even with this rain in Melbourne, we still have a long way to go to fight these unprecedented fires,” state prime minister Andrews of Victoria said in a television speech. “The coming hours will be very, very challenging. And we know that the forest fire season will last for many weeks.”

This 8 January 2019 video is called Australia’s wildlife decimated by wildfires.