It's not normal to write a column for the benefit of one person. So, instead of addressing this piece specifically to last Thursday's letter-writer, Frank Bolton, consider it directed to the 30 percent of people who told a recent Essential Poll they believe it's "unlikely the recent bushfires are linked to climate change".
Really? Let's go to Bureau of Meteorology reports for the spring just finished.
It was, nationally, the driest on record. Ever. It was hot too, with maximum temperatures 2.41 degrees warmer than average. It was, in fact, the second-warmest spring on record, although cooler temperatures in Victoria and Tassie stopped it breaking the record.
"Aha!" you exclaim, "not the warmest after all!" You're right, but only just.
The year 2014 was warmer, but only by 0.04 degrees. In Braidwood, Bega, and 15 other districts in NSW, this spring recorded the highest mean daily temperatures ever. Individual records were set in, amongst others, Albury, Bombala, Burrinjuck, Cooma, Cabranurra and Hume. What's really significant, though, is the trend - it's consistently warmer.
Critically, and most specifically, the Bureau clearly states the "very much above-average temperatures led to increased fire risk".
It's a direct link. Find all the details in the Special Climate Statement the Bureau put up on the web. Or check out last year's State of the Climate report, projecting "more hot days ... further sea level rise ... [and] decreases in rainfall across southern Australia with more time in drought". The accompanying graphs lead us, ineluctably, to conclude, yes, the climate is changing.
It's not that complex. Even a journalist can understand it.
Now to anecdote.
Monday was bitterly cold and rainy in Canberra and yet bushfires were still burning less than 100 kilometres to the east. Unpredictable? Extreme? Exactly, and that's what the climate change model predicts. It provides a better, more-coherent and robust explanation of what's happening around us than anything else. Don't believe me, believe the science.
I had no great interest in climate until the 1990s. Back then Daryl Karp (now head of the Australian Museum of Democracy at Old Parliament House) was executive producer of the ABC's science unit, producing programs like Quantum. Her idea was to interrogate the science behind an emotive political issue - the environment - and she recruited me as a reporter. Perhaps surprisingly, it turned out to not only be highly interesting but even exciting.
That's because the program wasn't about virtue signalling: it was about solid science and there was always at least one person wearing a white lab-coat in every episode. It also forced me to actually read some academic papers so I could say, at the end of every program, "the evidence is clear". It was. The environment was changing. That was 30 years ago.
You can still argue about why, or exactly how, or how fast it's altering. What can't be disputed, however, is that something is happening and it's linked to CO2 emissions. All the indications point the same way.
It's understandable we reject new ideas. Pythagoras figured out the world was round and the mathematician Eratosthenes even worked out its circumference, but we didn't need the knowledge and so we forgot. Eighteen centuries later, Nicolaus Copernicus rediscovered this and had the brilliance to place the sun at the centre of the universe. The establishment and the religious believed such ideas were heretical; nevertheless, particularly as people began travelling, it became obvious Copernicus's model fitted reality better than any other. Eventually the evidence became too great.
We're in the same situation today with climate change, except we no longer have centuries to come to terms with reality. That's why, to return to our correspondent, I have no time for assertions that "many climate change myths are being propagated by people with agendas of their own that aren't necessarily about science".
What myths? I have no hidden agenda. Climate change is very real.
As a journalist you set out to discover what's happening. That's why, a couple of years ago, I was outside Mosul, not far from where the Islamic State's fighters were continuing to hold out in the centre of the city. I was walking across the hard clay outside the city with an Iraqi agronomist. As he tried to find a reason for the seemingly senseless killing not far away he plucked my sleeve and gestured at the bare ground around us.
"Barren," he said, "so people kill."
There's an intimate linkage between weather and conflict. We know a major and continuing drought preceded the horrors of the war and disintegration of Syria. A host of institutions with no particular axe to grind, like the World Bank, and a Military Advisory Board of retired US three- and four-star generals, have no hesitation in linking the two events. These are neither "young teenagers" or "disturbed and hysterical people".
Climate change is not a complete explanation of the recent, dreadful wars around the globe, but I'm convinced it's part of the story. Just as the dry goes some way to allowing us to understand the bushfires.
We need to discuss this issue and work towards a solution now.
Yes, it's big and not something we can fix alone, but find a solution we must. This is an existential challenge and, as such, this generation's world war. The only way to win the battle is to recognise the enemy and begin the fight. Failure will consign us to a fiery hell.
- Nicholas Stuart is a Canberra writer.