Global warming takes down its first major political victim:

Conservative Prime Minister John Howard suffered a humiliating defeat Saturday at the hands of the left-leaning opposition, whose leader has promised to immediately sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

Why the stunning loss? A key reason was Howard’s "head in the sand dust" response to the country’s brutal once-in-a-thousand year drought. As the UK’s Independent reported in April:

… few scientists dispute the part played by climate change, which is making Australia hotter and drier … Until a few months ago, Mr Howard and his ministers pooh-poohed the climate-change doomsayers.

You can read about Howard’s lame attempt to change his position rhetoric on global warming here.

Now we are the last industrialized nation with a leader who refuses to take any serious action. Hopefully that dubious distinction will be corrected in next year’s presidential election.

australia-drought.jpg

For Australians, the drought, called "the first climate change-driven disaster to strike a developed nation," was enough to change their views on global warming dramatically. Of course, Katrina could have been the first — but we have no way of knowing for certain if climate change caused that hurricane to become so deadly. Let’s hope we don’t need to suffer anything as brutal as what Australia is going through before we commit to serious action.

This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.