The one bright spot in the sweltering of South Eastern Australians this past week has been the opportunity to imagine Australia’s leading climate change refusenik — Andrew Bolt of course — damply breathless crimson in his reefer jacket and club tie, the sweat stains spreading from the crumpled waistband of his Fletcher Jones chinos. Bolt makes a habit of pointing to weather events that bring sudden snaps of unseasonable cold as indicators of the fallacy of global warming “theory” and the folly of its accompanying “zealotry” (here’s a glimpse). Well, what of a record-breaking run of temperatures topping 40 degrees? What might that tell us?

Not much is the quick answer, weather, after all, is not climate. On the other hand, you only have to look at the problems — particularly in Melbourne — brought by this week’s hot snap to see something of a snapshot of what global warming might bring. This week, with its buckling rail lines, strained power infrastructure, overburdened public transport, medical distress and general sleepless sense of barely maintained normalcy is as good a guide as any to just how readily the climatic vagaries of the planet can fray the complex structures that sustain us.

For Bolt, the heat of the past few days is just another opportunity for intemperate political sniping — Melbourne crumbles, Government to fall is today’s measured blog response. For the rest of us, it’s pause for thought; a reminder that the ice we all walk on is thin indeed. Whatever Bolt and his denialist acolytes might say.

Peter Fray

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