Decade-old climate report's harrowing prediction about 2020

As Australia burns through one of its worst bushfire seasons on record, attention has turned to a review that warned the government of the catastrophic disaster 12 years ago.

At least 25 people have been confirmed dead and more than 2000 homes have been destroyed by the out of control bushfires raging around the country.

And while it feels there is no end in sight, this fire season was predicted in the climate report in 2008.

In 2007, Professor Ross Garnaut was commissioned by Australia's Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to complete an independent study into the impact of climate change on the Australian economy.

The respected economist published the final version of The Garnaut Climate Change Review on September 30, 2008, and the predictions for Australia’s future were grim.

A firefighting helicopter battling a bushfire in Victoria’s East Gippsland region on December 31, 2019. Source: AAP
A firefighting helicopter battling a bushfire in Victoria’s East Gippsland region on December 31. Source: AAP

Fire seasons to intensify by 2020

A snapshot of the 24-chapter review accurately predicted the year that Australia would see its most extreme fire conditions.

“Recent projections of fire weather suggests that fire seasons will start earlier, end slightly later and generally be more intense,” the review states in a chapter titled ‘Projecting Australian Climate Change’.

The review pinpoints the year when extreme fire conditions will reach a boiling point.

“This effect increases over time but should be directly observable by 2020.”

The 2008 Garnaut Climate Change Review
An excerpt from the climate change report in 2008. Source: The Garnaut Climate Change Review

‘The failure of our generation’

The final chapter of the review ends on a dire warning for future generations.

“The problems of unmitigated climate change will be for all humanity,” the report says.

“The failure of our generation would lead to consequences that would haunt humanity until the end of time.”

Professor Garnaut was asked by SBS News on Monday what he thought of the current conditions he predicted in 2008.

“One of sadness that I was ineffective,” he said.

“Having been given the opportunity to talk to Australians on this issue, that I was ineffective in persuading Australians that it was in our national interest to play a positive role in a global effort to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

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