Quantcast

Australia on Fire

Climate

Greenpeace Australia

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.

Notes

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

Coral restoration in Guam. U.S. Pacific Fleet / CC BY-NC 2.0

By Erica Cirino

Visit a coral reef off the coast of Miami or the Maldives and you may see fields of bleached white instead of a burst of colors.

Read More
Cracker Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana. Jacob W. Frank / NPS / Flickr

By Jason Bittel

High up in the mountains of Montana's Glacier National Park, there are two species of insect that only a fly fishermen or entomologist would probably recognize. Known as stoneflies, these aquatic bugs are similar to dragonflies and mayflies in that they spend part of their lives underwater before emerging onto the land, where they transform into winged adults less than a half inch long. However, unlike those other species, stoneflies do their thing only where cold, clean waters flow.

Read More
Sponsored
Augusta National / Getty Images

By Bob Curley

  • The new chicken sandwiches at McDonald's, Popeyes, and Chick-fil-A all contain the MSG flavor enhancement chemical.
  • Experts say MSG can enhance the so-called umami flavor of a food.
  • The ingredient is found in everything from Chinese food and pizza to prepackaged sandwiches and table sauces.

McDonald's wants to get in on the chicken sandwich war currently being waged between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A.

Read More
Protesters march during a "Friday for future" youth demonstration in a street of Davos on Jan. 24 on the sideline of the World Economic Forum annual meeting. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Youth climate activists marched through the streets of Davos, Switzerland Friday as the World Economic Forum wrapped up in a Fridays for Future demonstration underscoring their demand that the global elite act swiftly to tackle the climate emergency.

Read More
chuchart duangdaw / Moment / Getty Images

By Tim Radford

The year is less than four weeks old, but scientists already know that carbon dioxide emissions will continue to head upwards — as they have every year since measurements began leading to a continuation of the Earth's rising heat.

Read More