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Australia Just Had Its Hottest January Ever Recorded

Climate
Australia has suffered from frequent drought. CSIRO

Hey President Trump, here's some of that global warming you were asking for. As much of the northern hemisphere shudders through a blistering winter, in Australia, where it's the middle of summer, temperatures for the month of January were the hottest on record, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology confirmed Friday.

The extreme weather has sparked wildfires in the drought-ridded south. Australian Open tennis players fainted, vomited and hallucinated, heat-stressed bats literally fell out of trees and wild horses died en masse from thirst. Meanwhile, the tropical north has been battered by historic flooding and rainfall.


"We saw heatwave conditions affect large parts of the country through most of the month, with records broken for both duration and also individual daily extremes," the bureau's senior climatologist Andrew Watkins said in a release. "The main contributor to this heat was a persistent high pressure system in the Tasman sea which was blocking any cold fronts and cooler air from impacting the south of the country."

"At the same time," Watkins continued, "we had a delayed onset to the monsoon in the north of the country which meant we weren't seeing cooler, moist air being injected from the north."

Across Australia, the average temperature exceeded 30°C (86°F) for "the first time this has occurred in any month," the release said.

Its hottest January ever comes after its third-hottest year on record, the Associated Press noted. The only years hotter were 2005 and 2013. December 2018 also happened to be the country's hottest December on record.

The nation's increasingly extreme weather conditions are all the more foreboding as climate change, like in the U.S., has unfortunately become an ideological matter.

"Of course nothing to see here on climate change.....And pigs might fly," former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd tweeted Friday in reaction to January's record-breaking heat. "The Murdoch Media and Morrison-Turnbull-Abbott should take a bow for more than a decade of bloody-minded opposition to climate change action in Australia [while] the country slowly burns."

Rudd's tweet references Rupert Murdoch's right-wing media empire that disputes the science of climate change as well his successors Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and current prime minister Scott Morrison, who have been criticized for not doing more to cut carbon emissions.

Australia is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, with relentless drought, deadly wildfires and devastating bleaching at the iconic Great Barrier Reef.

At the same time, Australia is one of the world's largest coal exporters, accounting for 37 percent of global exports.

The current government has refused to follow the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) warnings to phase out coal power by 2050. Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack once said Australia should "absolutely" continue to use and exploit its coal reserves regardless of what the IPCC says.

On Wednesday, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warned the government to ramp up its emissions cuts in order to meet its 2030 Paris agreement target, Reuters reported, contradicting Morrison's continued insistence that Australia will meet its Paris goals.

"Australia needs to intensify mitigation efforts to reach its Paris Agreement goal: emissions are projected to increase by 2030," the OECD said in a report of Australia's environmental performance.

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Aerial view of Ruropolis, Para state, northen Brazil, on Sept. 6, 2019. Tthe world's biggest rainforest is under threat from wildfires and rampant deforestation. JOHANNES MYBURGH / AFP via Getty Images

By Kate Martyr

Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest last month jumped to the highest level since records began in 2015, according to government data.

A total of 563 square kilometers (217.38 square miles) of the world's largest rainforest was destroyed in November, 103% more than in the same month last year, according to Brazil's space research agency.

From January to November this year an area almost the size of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was destroyed — an 83% overall increase in destruction when compared with the same period last year.

The figures were released on Friday by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and collected through the DETER database, which uses satellite images to monitor forest fires, forest destruction and other developments affecting the rainforest.

What's Behind the Rise?

Overall, deforestation in 2019 has jumped 30% compared to last year — 9,762 square kilometers (approximately 3769 square miles) have been destroyed, despite deforestation usually slowing during November and December.

Environmental groups, researchers and activists blamed the policies of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro for the increase.

They say that Bolosonaro's calls for the Amazon to be developed and his weakening support for Ibama, the government's environmental agency, have led to loggers and ranchers feeling safer and braver in destroying the expansive rainforest.

His government hit back at these claims, pointing out that previous governments also cut budgets to environment agencies such as Ibama.

The report comes as Brazil came to loggerheads with the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) over climate goals during the UN climate conference in Madrid.

AOSIS blasted Brazil, among other nations, for "a lack of ambition that also undermines ours."

Last month, a group of Brazilian lawyers called for Bolsonaro to be investigated by the International Criminal Court over his environmental policies.

Reposted with permission from DW.

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