Australia has had one heck of a summer this year, from flooding to fires and multiple record high temperatures. But until now, the link between these events and climate change has largely been ignored by the nation’s government and media. That changed this week when Australia’s independent Climate Commission released their “Angry Summer” report, which details just how climate change is impacting the nation’s escalating extreme weather.
Over just five days in January, 800 articles related to the heat wave were published in Australia. But of those articles, fewer than 10 mentioned climate change in relation to the heat. The Climate Commission’s report should put an end to the information gap by spelling out just how the increasing global temperature is impacting Australia.
This year Australia experienced the hottest January on record, the hottest summer on record and the hottest day ever in Australia. The heat introduced conditions that were ripe for brush fires, which swept across the continent. In the past century, Australia’s temperature has risen .9 degrees Celsius. According to the report, “when the average temperature shifts, the temperature at the hot and cold ends of the temperature range shift too.” This means that temperature extremes become more likely.
But heat and fire wasn’t the only problem. The report also explains that the massive flooding in the eastern part of Australia was also related to rising temperatures. As the ocean gets warmer, more water evaporates, which increases the amount of rainfall on land.
The report urges Australians to understand the importance of investing in clean energy and in taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because extreme weather is likely to only get worse in the future. “The preventative actions we take now and in the coming years will greatly influence the extent of climate change and therefore the severity of extreme events that our children, and especially our grandchildren, will experience.”