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Unaffected by climate change in North Queensland

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Unaffected by climate change in North Queensland

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I have clear memories of the cyclones I experienced growing up. Deafening rain; windows flex in and out as winds test the limits of human fabrication; and the trees bend and snap like bamboo sticks in violent gusts that reach nearly 300 kilometers per hour.

I’ve been thinking lately that being used to extreme weather events can contribute to another thing North Queensland is notorious for: stubborn climate change denial.

When you not only accept, but expect such severe weather events to occur every summer – sometimes many times – the extremity becomes normalized.

When you view extreme weather events as a hard-hitting yet inescapable norm, it’s hard to believe you could exacerbate them, let alone do anything to mitigate them.

It seems strange to suggest that conservatism on climate action in Australia, and particularly in North Queensland, stems from a respect for the natural world. Many factors come into play in the political equation – on the one hand, coal mining is the region’s largest industry.

But I believe that the collective annual experience of extreme weather events dampens the shock value of the existential threats of climate change. This leads people to view climate change as something they can prepare for and recover from, not something they should prevent or minimize.

There is a certain romantic beauty to this vision of Mother Nature as a force of awesome power, giving and taking as she pleases. One of Australia’s best-known poems, “My Country”, by Dorothea Mackellar, captures this Australian romanticism:

“I love a land burned by the sun,

A country of vast plains,

Jagged mountain ranges,

Droughts and torrential rains.

There is a certain beauty to the dominant architectural style of Queensland homes. The houses are built on high stilts, with the assumption that flood waters several meters high are a real possibility.

Unaffected by climate change in North Queensland

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