The Bushfire Emergency and Climate Change: Statement from the RSNSW President - The Royal Society of NSW

Royal Society of NSW All of us in the Royal Society of New South Wales have been distressed and saddened by the devastating bushfires that have darkened our skies, our landscape, and our spirits over the summer. Some of our Members and Fellows have suffered personal loss of irreplaceable property. Some have been personally involved in firefighting while others have donated generously to the organisations staffing the front lines. All of us are devastated by the scale of the ecological disaster. On behalf of the Royal Society, I want to express heartfelt sympathy with those who have suffered loss, and our admiration and gratitude for all those who have been helping in the efforts to control the fires and their aftermath.

In the community, there is a natural desire to understand the causes, learn the necessary lessons, and take action. To what extent are the fires the results of policies and practices surrounding controlled burning? To what extent can global warming be held responsible for the severity of this and future fire seasons? How can our nation best respond to the resulting environmental, social, and economic challenges that will face us in the future?

The Royal Society is committed to a dispassionate evidence-based understanding of all these issues. In the case of bushfire management, we must listen to fire chiefs and fire research scientists. We must accept the unequivocal conclusions of the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering that the science is in: the climate is changing, in a way that has been predicted by Australian and International organisations for many years; and human activities since the beginning of the industrial revolution are in significant part responsible.

For those who wish to gain a better understanding of the science, I can recommend the statements on climate change from the Academy of Science and the Academy of Technology and Engineering . I also refer you to the more extended (30 page) Academy of Science booklet and informative YouTube videos from the Academy.

We must be prepared to do more to limit further changes, and to adapt to the many challenges that are already apparent. With your support the Royal Society can play an important role in finding solutions.

Ian H Sloan
President, Royal Society of NSW
29 January 2020

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