Australia's Record-Breaking Heatwave Fuels Climate Change Fight
By Kieran Cooke
It’s official—Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology says 2013 ranked as the country’s warmest year since records began more than a century ago, with the annual national mean temperature 1.2 degree Celsius above the average.
Along the way, several new temperature records were set: the summer was the warmest on record as was Australia’s spring, while winter was ranked third in the historical warming stakes.
“The past year was characterized by persistent and widespread warmth,” says the Bureau.“Mean temperatures across Australia have generally been well above average since September 2012. Long periods of warmer than average days have been common, with a distinct lack of cold weather.”
Jan. 7, 2013 ranks as the hottest single day on record across the country, when the national daily average maximum temperature reached 40.3 degrees Celsuis.
Later that month Sydney—usually relatively cool compared with inland areas and cities such as Darwin in the Northern Territory—smashed its own temperature record with the mercury climbing to 45.8 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile Aug. 31 was the warmest winter day on record across the country.
Denying Climate Reality
The impact of the warming weather has been clear: though rainfall was above average in some areas and below in others, high temperatures meant devastating bush fires caught hold in many regions over the past 12 months. There were also cyclones and fierce floods with lives lost, homes destroyed and many millions of dollars of damage caused.
The Bureau of Meteorology says that overall Australia’s temperatures have gone up by one degree Celsius over the last century, with the majority of warming occurring since 1950. It says Australia has experienced just one cooler than average year—2011—over the last decade: the 10-year mean temperature for 2004-2013 was 0.5 degrees above average.
The Bureau says sea temperatures have shown a similar increase, with sea surface temperatures in waters around Australia being half a degree Celsius above normal in 2013.
What puzzles scientists is that last year’s warming came when the El Niño weather pattern over the Pacific, usually deemed responsible for heating up eastern areas of Australia in particular, was in a neutral or inactive phase.
Australia is considered by climatologists as being particularly susceptible to global warming. But while the country heats up, many politicians in the conservative coalition-led government elected to power in Sept. 2013 are intent on rolling back measures aimed at tackling climate change.
Backing From Professionals
Tony Abbott, the newly installed prime minister, has insisted he’ll scrap a Clean Energy Bill—dubbed a carbon tax by its critics—which requires polluters such as energy companies to pay for their emissions of greenhouse gases.
The new government is also encouraging a number of massive coal and other mining projects and repealing taxes on mining company profits. Maurice Newman, a climate change sceptic who has accused the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of “dishonesty and deceit”, has been appointed as chairman of the prime minister’s new Business Advisory Council.
Australia, described by some as “Asia’s quarry” for its mineral export trade, has carbon dioxide emissions of 18.4 tons per capita—a figure higher than in the U.S. and almost three times that in the UK.
At the most recent international climate conference in Warsaw, Poland, in Nov. 2013, Australia was accused by a large number of non-governmental organizations and others of not taking the UN’s climate process seriously.
However Australia’s own meteorologists would seem to have no doubts about the IPCC’s work.
“As summarized in the recent IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, recent warming trends have been dominated by the influence of increasing greenhouse gases and the enhanced greenhouse effect,” says the Bureau of Meteorology.
Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.
Could mouthwash help stop the spread of the new coronavirus?
- How to Stop Touching Your Face to Minimize Spread of Coronavirus ... ›
- Vodka Won't Protect You From Coronavirus, and 4 Other Things to ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
- 41% of UK Species Have Declined Since 1970, Major Report Finds ... ›
- One in Eight Bird Species Threatened With Extinction, Study Finds ... ›
- Pesticides to Blame for UK's Declining Turtle Dove Population ... ›
We pet owners know how much you love your pooch. It's your best friend. It gives you pure happiness and comfort when you're together. But there are times that dogs can be very challenging, especially if they are suffering from a certain ailment. As a dog owner, all you want to do is ease whatever pain or discomfort your best friend is feeling.
Life-sized, ultra-realistic robotic dolphins could help end animal captivity by replacing living creatures in aquariums and theme parks.
- Keeping Large Mammals Captive Damages Their Brains - EcoWatch ›
- Scientists Combine AI With Biology to Create Xenobots, the World's ... ›
- Singapore Uses 'Scary' Robot Dog to Enforce Social Distancing ... ›
By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.