While the Trump Crime Family is breaking America, you can be forgiven for missing the rapid acceleration of Planet Earth’s environmental collapse.  Global warming is a climate emergency that is already changing our lives, some more than others, but no one will be immune.

While most of us have some awareness of dramatic events such as unprecedented hurricane swarms and the ever increasing fire apocalypse out West, the true scale of the global situation is often beyond our ability to grasp. The way information flows in the 21st Century, one can avoid large chunks of reality if one chooses.

Among the most vulnerable places on Earth is Australia, where the climate emergency is more obvious than anywhere else on the planet except the poles (and perhaps the Middle East). As the world’s largest exporter of coal (and methane) it is both ironic and fitting the continent down under is also the proverbial “canary in the coal mine” for climate collapse.

As winter comes to the Northern Hemisphere, Australia is experiencing the hottest spring in its history. November was the hottest November on record – not surprising, as this fall was also the planet’s warmest overall according to Copernicus Climate Change Service. This is a 20 year trend.

With daily records falling in New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, and Queensland, Thargomindah Airport broke all time temp records by hitting 114°F (46°C) on November 30. Temperatures in the town of Andamooka, South Australia, reached an all-time high for the spring at 48°C (118°F) on November 28. Smithville, NSW hit 46.9°C (116°F) on November 28, the highest spring temperature ever recorded in New South Wales.

The Rise of the Pyrocumulonimbus:  Fires That Spawn New Weather

With heat and drought come apocalyptic wildfires, which – like the US western states – have grown more frequent, violent and deadly over recent years. Last summer’s bush fire season was the worst ever, destroying the lives of tens of thousands of Australians.

In Australia (and the US and Indonesia), the severity of the fires is capable of generating its own “weather”, including firenados and stratospheric vortices and extreme thunderstorms.

Last season’s bush fires threw plumes of toxic smoke way up into the stratosphere, with smoke circling the globe several times. The emerging super stars of this phenomenon are Pyrocumulonimbus (“pyro” as in fire) clouds, an end of days meteorological effect that can mimic the effects and visuals of a nuke.

These extraordinary clouds form when an anomalous heat source such as wildfires, nuclear explosions or volcanic eruptions generate an updraft. When conditions are right, the result may be a particularly violent thunderstorm. The most dramatic mimic a nuclear cloud.

Like the US, Australia has been in the grip of a right wing regime that will hear nothing of the climate hoax. And in fact, they appear to be doubling down with the approval and launch of a Adani Coal Mine, a particularly irresponsible plunder fest on the northern coast, hard by the waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

The mine will accelerate the demise of the Reef, which already on life support. Rapidly warming oceans, acidification and extreme weather have killed about half of the reef, which has just been designated as “critical” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN. The pollution and disruption from the massive new port will only hasten the demise of this iconic World Heritage site.

Future historians? anthrolopologists? Friendly or unfriendly alien races? wandering hunter gathers? will identify the period we now inhabit as the opportunity the human species frittered away while fighting off the insipient rise of right wing demagogues around the planet. When threatened, humans often do the opposite of what they should.