Thursday, 16 January 2014

Scary stuff!

For my Australian readers, you know it's hot, damn hot!  For others around the world, far from us here, I am writing tonight to let you know that we are experiencing record breaking high temperatures here in Oz.  Being someone who looks forward to summer and always enjoy a sunny day, I have to say that this is so extreme and such a cause for concern that I am worried about what will be in years to come.  It is that hot that it is virtually impossible to enjoy the sun and be outside for long periods and I hate that with a passion.  I have done some research tonight about what this all means and would like to share this with you.......and I'm warning you, it's pretty scary stuff!
In an article from 'The Australian' newspaper, dated January 16, 2014, it states, "Hotter days and longer heatwaves will occur in Australia more frequently and earlier in the year, a report says.  And it will be decades before extreme temperatures stop rising due to the effects of human-induced climate change, one of the co-authors of the Australian Heatwaves report, Professor Will Stefan of the Climate Council, says.  Heatwaves are occurring up to two weeks earlier than previously recorded, are lasting longer and the number of record hot days has doubled in the last 50 years, the report says.  'What's behind this? The physics is really, really clear.  The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is going up.'

Co-author and heatwave expert Dr Sarah Perkins said 'it is clear' heatwaves are becoming more savage and are lasting longer.  'This summer and last summer have been characterised by extreme temperatures a lot of which have been record breaking,' she said.  'Heatwaves have been dubbed the silent killer,' she said.  About 1000 people in Australia, generally elderly or children, die each year due to heatwaves.  In the 2003 European heatwave about 70,000 people died and in Russia in 2010 more than 50,000 were killed by extreme heat.  Heatwaves also damage infrastructure, Prof Hughes said.

Roads can melt, train and tram tracks can buckle and over-stretched electricity networks can black out.  As the authors spoke to reporters in Sydney, soaring temperatures scorched Australia's southern states, fanning bush fires, health alerts and power outage concerns.  Melbourne is facing its longest run of 40 degree days since 1908.  Meanwhile Adelaide is heading towards 46C on Thursday, close to its all time high of 46.1C set on January 12, 1939."
When this heat wave first hit us, I felt glad to be hot.  Melbourne, where I live, is usually very cool and I had waited for what seemed forever, for summer.  I set about cleaning my house, which is what I usually do when I am stuck inside and enjoyed using plenty of cold water to get this done as it cooled me down.  I liked the way everything, from my washing to my carpets, dried in no time.  It felt good to sweat, to be so far from being cold that it was ridiculous and I thought that yes, summer was finally here.
Now, 3 days later, I watch reports on the news and see that in most areas of Victoria, there are bush fires.  Tomorrow is 'Code Red' and a total fire ban.  I see people struggling with heat exhaustion, migraines and for me now, swollen feet and ankles.  Mosquitoes are having a field day in my garden and eating me alive.  The discomfort of the swelling and insect bites is incredible.  The power supply has cut out twice in my area and we can do nothing but wait for it to go back on.  The cooling in my house has been on almost constantly for the last 3 days, the children are irritable and finding the energy to do usual tasks is difficult.  The garden needs lots of water to survive and I am hosing down my dog at least twice a day to help keep him cool.  The happiness that summer usually brings me is tarnished for now, until the cool change hits.
On the Australian Broadcasting Commission website tonight, it states, "Heatwaves in Australia are becoming more frequent, hotter and are lasting longer because of climate change, a report released today by the Climate Council says.  The report says heat records are now happening three times more often than cold records, and that the number of hot days across Australia has "more than doubled".  It says the duration and frequency of heatwaves increased between 1971 and 2008, and the hottest days have become hotter.

Report key findings:
  • Hot days, hot nights and heatwaves are one of the most direct consequences of climate change;
  • Heatwaves have increased across Australia;
  • Climate change is making many extreme events worse in terms of their impacts on people, property, communities and the environment;
  • Record hot days and heatwaves are expected to increase in the future.
Regulators say the predicted high temperatures for the rest of the week could see new records set for peak electricity demand in Victoria and South Australia.  About 10,000 homes in Melbourne were without power yesterday afternoon as electricity suppliers struggled with the demand.  The State Government has warned Victorians that up to 100,000 properties could be affected by outages over the next two days.  The South Australian Government has also flagged possible power cuts to ensure the grid copes under pressure, with Adelaide reaching 43.7C yesterday afternoon."
Now I ask you, can we really sustain this as a planet forever?  Will the human race survive if the globe continues to heat up in the way that it is?  I do not know a lot of technical information about climate change, but I do know that it is a big subject for political and social debate and that we can all see and feel that something is going on and we need to be concerned about this.  Of course we are concerned, because we are all so uncomfortable and I know that the world that my children, and my children's children will grow up in, needs to exist in such a way that will sustain life and growth as we all know it.
So we continue to cope as best we can, trying with all our might to get to the hour that the cool change will hit.  We keep ourselves hydrated and try to 'enjoy' the heat in some way, however this is becoming increasingly difficult as towns burn, people can no longer cope and we start to wonder will this ever end.  It is so sad that the glorious sun can do so much harm for I have always loved it's warmth and brightness.  The sun has been something that always makes me feel better, makes me feel good, but right now, it scares me and I hope and pray that due to the apparent neglect of our planet, it doesn't destroy us :) xxx