Australia's monstrous bushfire emergency has been so consequential and unbearable, that the country now simply has to act as a global spur against climate change.
If the destruction just results in general public apathy and more underwhelming government leadership, then nothing will have been learned from it. There will be no light from the ashes.
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With the crisis far from over, the massive blazes represent a flaming red flag for our warming planet.
Since September, at least 26 people have died and 2000 homes have been destroyed. Two fires which joined in the Snowy Mountains area to ravage over 640,000ha are expected to burn for weeks.
The ABC reports that only about 1 per cent of the land burned this bushfire season in New South Wales, and 0.03 per cent in Victoria, can be officially attributed to arson. Dry lightning storms are the chief culprit.
It has been the staggering toll on Australia's wildlife with estimates of up to a billion deaths that has been the hardest to stomach. Hundreds of thousands of farm animals have also perished.
Koalas, kangaroos, wombats and the country's colourful birdlife, are not just iconic to Australia. Like historic heritage sites and buildings around the world, they matter on a global scale. Small and defenceless, their habitats destroyed, they have been badly let down. Should there be a legal obligation in the future on governments to actively work to prevent such ecological wipeouts?
Rescue organisations, firefighters and other individuals have made heroic efforts to help save stricken animals. Millions of dollars in donations have poured in.
Yet without a doubt, the Australian Government had plenty of warning of a looming catastrophe.
A 2008 government study on climate change said that: "Projections of fire weather suggest that fire seasons will start earlier, end slightly later, and generally be more intense. This effect increases over time, but should be directly observable by 2020."
And in 2009 CSIRO predicted that: "by 2020, extreme fire danger days in southeast Australia may occur 5 to 65 per cent more often".
More recently in 2016, the government rejected calls for an expanded large air tanker fleet.
And last August, the seasonal bushfire outlook accurately predicted the areas that were hit with "above normal fire potential".
Australia is the world's biggest exporter of coal and liquid natural gas. But a change in impetus at government level can be effective. Spain, for instance, had set 2030 as a date to be coal free but El Pais reports coal usage has already been cut to 5 per cent.
Climate change can be both hugely costly through frequent intense disasters and an economic opportunity through the creation of innovations to combat it. Will Australia become known less for fun, sun, sand and surf than a parched continent on the front line of the climate war?
This summer we've become used to hellish, dystopian scenes of people caught in a scorched, red-lit landscape. Nothing was more surreal than a quickly aborted tourism campaign that attempted to lure visitors with Australia's delights while its citizens were choking.
Protesters rallying in Sydney and Melbourne last weekend carried placards saying: "We deserve more than your negligence", "This is ecosystem collapse" and "We can't breathe".
Australia needs to do all it can to make this summer's horror a one-off rather than the new norm.