Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard has apologized for his denial of global climate change, saying Australia's recent heat wave has finally awoken him to the threat.
Howard had previously been a staunch skeptic of the scientific consensus that human activity is driving an increase in global temperatures, even promoting a book describing the idea as a "hoax" and a "scam".
But today during an interview a New Zealand newspaper, Howard says that witnessing the worst heat wave in Australian history has changed his mind.
"I can't believe I was so wrong," Howard told the Wellington Herald, "I was out in my garden this week and it was unbearable. It felt like I was being baked alive by god."
Wish You Were Here
Temperatures in Australia set a record this week, averaging over 40° C (104° F) nationwide. Things are so hot weather maps have been updated with a new color. And local media have warned of a potential "Armageddon" as heat-related brushfires move into populated areas.
Howard says he and his wife fled the country yesterday, seeking refuge from the oppressive heat in the cooler clime of New Zealand.
"As soon as my thermometer hit thirty-eight, I booked a ticket for Wellington. I didn't want to be burned alive in mother nature's oven like my countrymen. I was shocked to see the images on television. My god we're not potatoes, we're human beings!"
Howard says the experience profoundly affected him, and caused him to reevaluate his position on climate change. He apologized profusely to the Australian people for his role in holding back legislation designed to combat greenhouse gas emissions.
"The Australian people may not have always agreed with me. But I hope they recognize that I am a big enough man to admit when I am wrong. This is a terrible, terrible thing we have done to our planet. And I am deeply sorry for my role in the matter. We need action on climate change now."
John Howard served as the Prime Minister of Australia from 1996-2007. In office he consistently impeded action on climate change in the country, which is one of the largest per-capita emitters of greenhouse gases in the world.