One of the reasons for coming back to NZ from Australia is that we believed those meteorologists who, for a decade, had been saying that climate change would hit Australia harder than almost anywhere else in the world. So, while American denialists are crowing about how cold its been so "global warming is a lie", we get this;
Heat pushing farmers beyond limit
Vast tracts of central and northern Australia are gripped by an unrelenting drought that is decimating cattle herds and threatening to force pastoralists off their land.
Scattered rain has fallen over the past two days across some dehydrated parts of Queensland, and a searing heatwave that drove temperatures into the high 40s is now easing.
But weather forecasters see little chance of drought-breaking rains before autumn, with temperatures expected to remain above-average until March at least.
The heatwave pushed the mercury to more than 48C in the hottest parts of the state, dropping birds from the sky and killing thousands of fruit bats in Queensland and New South Wales.
Some climate bloggers are still casting around for more appropriate terms than global warming, even if that is literally the truth and the simplest statement of what is happening, "climate change" doesn't seem to cut it as conveying enough urgency and the other day I saw someone trying "climate disruption" as well.
I'm tending towards "the end of climate". The whole point of even discussing climate is that it gives us a framework for making decisions about water management, what to grow and where etc. Its a statistical, backwards-looking tool that has depended on the inertia of the global weather systems that have reliably cycled over years and decades, producing similar series of warm, wet, windy, cold days that we have called seasons and on which we have come to rely.
I say we can';t rely any more on the past being a predictor because the global heat management system has become chaotic, all the patterns are breaking down. Last year at this time we were entering the worst NZ drought in 70 years while people were drowning in Australian floods and catchment dams were being spilled to stop them over topping. Since then we have had the wettest May on record around our place, followed by a mini winter drought, some rain, then another dry stretch in spring.
This year the Aussies have returned to relentless drought, Chicago has been colder than Antarctica and we are having the perfect summer with a few days of fine warm weather followed by a day or so with rain. It couldn't be better, even the temperatures have been in a range that has kept mildews and moulds at bay, although the insect pests are a bit higher than before, I think.
Like most people around here, I was expecting another drought, which is why we sold off 3 of our 5 cows and had several dams and ponds dug. We didn't expect them to fill till next winter and when I bought a bag of grass seed to get some cover on the bare earth, the guy at the store said it was a waste of time, that I'd be back for more in Autumn. I agreed with him, but I also said that, although I was expecting a drought, nowhere is it written that we have to have one. I sowed the grass and a lot of it is growing well. It will need more in autumn, but for now it was worth the bet.
And the dams are nearly full.
Pacific weather systems are driven by the southern oscillation index which, for a couple of years now, has been in neutral, neither pushing one thing nor another. I saw it called "La Nada" rather than El Nino or La Nina. The bad news is that La Nada predicts nothing at all, any kind of weather is possible.
Which means we have to farm and garden for every eventuality, expecting some of the bets to fail. That is going to drive up the cost of food even more because for every spud or apple we harvest, maybe 3 other bets will have failed. That is food insecurity.
Just don't look for anyone in the public eye even beginning to broach that conversation, let alone talking about the end of climate.