Can’t Stand the Heat?

Ever since watching Al Gore’s The Inconvenient Truth documentary, I have became more aware of environmental issues in regards to climate change. Whenever there is a TV feature on ABC or SBS regarding climate change that I’m aware of, I made an attempt to watch it.

Just recently, I watched this documentary about how the next type of refugees we’ll be seeing are the “environmental refugees” that will be coming mostly from the Pacific region. Although not from the show I watched, here is a quote from a related news article titled We must plan for climate change refugees: Labor on the Sunday Morning Herald:

Low-lying Pacific island states such as Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, and Tuvalu – which sit just a few metres above sea level – are at risk of being swamped as global warming forces sea levels to rise.

In fact, in the TV feature, it showed that some of their trees that were once near the beach are now submerged a few feet in water. The townsfolk fear that their whole island might be submerged underwater in a few years. And then, they will have no choice but to find a place to make their home somewhere else. Like Australia perhaps.

But is Australia any better off at the moment?

According to Australian Government’s Bureau of Meteorology’s
Annual Australian Climate Statement 2005
, year 2005 was the hottest year on record in Australia since 1910. Here are some excerpts from the statement along with the Annual Mean Temperature chart for Australia from 1910 to 2005.

Many of Australia’s warmest years on record (such as 1988, 1998 and 2002) had temperatures boosted by significant El Niño events. However, no such event occurred in 2005, making the record warmth even more unusual. The 2005 record is yet another sign that our climate is changing. Since 1979, all but four years have been warmer than average in Australia.

Australian temperatures have increased by approximately 0.9ºC since 1910, consistent with global warming trends. Scientific studies have linked global and Australian temperature increases to the enhanced greenhouse effect. Whilst this warming trend is expected to continue into the decades ahead, annual temperatures are influenced by numerous factors, including natural variability, so 2006 will not necessarily be warmer than 2005.

Okay. But what about 2006?

Here are a couple of articles from the Melbourne-based newspaper, The Age, that pointed out the coming heatwave and an “endless summer”: Victoria braces for heatwave (Oct 10) and Victoria in the grip of an endless summer (Oct 13).

Not only will it be hot here, but it will be very dry. It doesn’t help that the level of Melbourne’s main water supply coming from the Thomson Reservoir is at an all time low, according to The Age article Dam business — why the drought is really in store (Oct 8 ).

Here is a quote from the article:

The last time the water sat at 20 per cent capacity was in 1985, as the reservoir was being filled.

Geoff Crapper, a hydrologist who was responsible for Melbourne’s rainfall and river monitoring systems for 15 years, said that if Melbourne’s weather continued to mimic the big dry of 2003, the Thomson would be sitting at 13 per cent capacity by mid-May — at the “extreme minimum operating level”.

“It means that the water can’t be extracted in the normal way. This will be seriously uncharted territory with … an increasing likelihood of water quality problems,” said Mr Crapper, who points to potential blue-green algae blooms and fish-killing high levels of manganese occurring when the bottom of the dam is stirred up. “The reality is, I don’t believe Melbourne Water know what they’re up against because they’ve never dealt with anything like it.”

It is now feared that the agriculture industry will be in so much trouble that farmers’ businesses might fold up.

I think the government should really consider the matter of climate change more seriously. The current administration might be reluctant to apply measures to stave off climate change because it is likely to negatively impact the coal industry. But if we don’t do something about climate change now, not having coal would be the least of our worries.

If the current trend in climate change continues, a possible perpetual drought would devastate our agriculture. Where are we going to get our food? What would happen to the farmers? What about our shrinking water supply?

Unfortunately, a lot of people would rather just bury their heads in the sand.

Published in: on October 13, 2006 at 12:50 pm  Comments (2)