The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
By Georgina Woods
[Editor's note: In case you missed it, as Australia is suffering from the hottest day on record, yesterday the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its monthly State of the Climate report, which showed 2012 was the hottest year on record in the continental U.S. Media Matters for America released a report yesterday showing that even with 2012 being the hottest year on record in the continental U.S., climate coverage from mainstream media remained minimal.]
Australia has suffered through its hottest day on record, and more heat waves are forecast. If we want to spare our children worse to come, we need to stop creating greenhouse pollution.
Photo: Bureau or Meteorology
"A few minutes later, an image arrived which was really—it's still quite upsetting to see the image - it's all of our five children underneath the jetty huddled up to neck-deep sea water which is cold, we've swam the day before and it was cold,” said Bonnie Walker, of Dunalley, Tasmania, while describing how her children and parents spent three hours in the water to survive the bushfire that destroyed their home.
“Heatwaves, fires, floods and southern Australian droughts are all expected to become more frequent and more intense in the coming decades. Snow and frost are very likely to become rarer or less intense events. Locally and regionally, the greatest impacts will be felt through changes in water availability and sea level, and extreme weather events,” according to the publication Climate Change: Science and Solution s for Australia.
Sometimes, you make a decision at the moment of a crisis that determines your fate. Sometimes, crises are short-lived and you can get underwater, get to high ground, lock yourself in a cellar, ride out the worst.
Climate change isn’t like that. The lead times for cause and effect are much longer and more lingering. The decisions we’ve made, worldwide, for the last two decades are costing lives and livelihoods right now, as the effects of climate change intensify. In some countries, this may mean more severe cold weather, in Australia, we get an intensification of our floods, heatwaves and fire.
Global warming, brought by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere, is changing the climate. It is increasing global temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. It is increasing the probability of extreme fire weather days in Australia, like the ones we’ve experienced around the country this week and in Tasmania last week.1
Over the coming decades, climate change will continue this trend resulting in greater numbers of extremely hot days and intense heatwaves. On the current climate change trajectory, the number of days over 35°C each year is likely to rise substantially in all major cities by the end of the century. For example, in Darwin they could rise from the current 11 to more than 300 days each year.2
Under a scenario of unmitigated climate change the annual number of temperature related deaths could increase from an estimated 5,800 in 1990 to 7,900 in 2050 and 17,200 in 2100.3
When it comes to climate change, we won’t be able to hide from the flames. Action we take this year won’t change the conditions we experience next summer. But if we take action to stop dumping greenhouse pollution in the sky, it might just change the summer our kids have in 2030.
Our hearts are too full of compassion and worry about our country men and women fighting fires right now to outline how Australia can save the summer of 2030.
For now, we’re crouching in the cool and waiting for the storm to pass. But, when it’s over and we’re counting the cost, we hope very much that you will join us in fighting to keep the heat down for our little ones.
Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.
Georgina Woods is a climate campaigner at Greenpeace Australia.
1Climate Commission Secretariat (2011) The Critical Decade: Climate science, risks and responses. Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) ISBN: 978-1-921299-50-6 (pdf)
2CSIRO and BOM (2007) Climate change in Australia: technical report 2007. CSIRO. ISBN 9781921232947 (PDF)
3 Bambrick, H., Dear, K., Woodruff, R., Hanigan, I., and McMichael, A. (2008). The Impacts of Climate Change on Three Health Outcomes: Temperature-Related Mortality and Hospitalisations, Salmonellosis and Other Bacterial Gastroenteritis, and Population at Risk From Dengue. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A middle-aged married couple in China was diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a highly infectious disease similar to bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe in the middle ages, as CNN reported.
Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.
Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.
At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.
By Sabrina Kessler
Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.
By Alex Robinson
Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.
The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.