Last month—days after I railed against the Australian government for its failure to heed various climate change–related bushfire warnings—I got out of bed to watch a highly anticipated TV event. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a leader in damage control, had agreed to sit down for a special one-on-one Sunday morning interview to address his government’s response to the bushfire crisis—a response many saw as severely lacking. The conservative government was tanking in the polls, and Australians seemed utterly fed up with “Scotty from marketing,” with protests calling for both his resignation and increased action on climate change.
Would he concede that he had been wrong on climate change? Would he admit that his government had ignored the warning signs and let the country down? Would he finally acknowledge the role played by global warming and admit Australia needed to do more to address it? It seemed, by now, impossible not to. The fires, one pundit noted, were Australia’s Sandy Hook moment: It was now or never on climate action.