Killer heat: how a warming land is changing Australia forever. This is TheFrontline: inside Australia's climateemergency
Australia is heating faster than the global average, and extreme heat days are on the rise. Doctors say there’s clear evidence that it’s killing people prematurelyHigher emissions Source: data courtesy Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, UNSW Australia’s seven hottest days on record were in the second half of December, 2019. Prior to 2018, there were only four days on which the maximum temperatures across the country were on average hotter than 40C. In the past two years there have been 18. Karl Braganza, the Bureau of Meteorology's manager of climate monitoring, says the number of extreme heat days — those hotter than 35C — has increased five-fold in just the past 30 years. That trend was predicted and is projected to continue. “Some of the extreme temperatures we are seeing will be closer to the average by the mid-21st century, which isn’t that far away,” Braganza says. The health effects of this will be profound, says Dr Diana Egerton-Warburton, an emergency doctor at Monash Health in Melbourne. Extreme heat strikes the body at a cellular level, breaking down fats and protein. “That’s really scary because it can have effects right from the brain to the heart to the kidneys,” Egerton-Warburton says. It leads to more heart attacks, strokes, mental health problems and increased risk of injury: “There is clear evidence that it is killing people prematurely”. The mortality rate increases nearly 20% when the average temperature across a 24 hour period is above 30C, she says. “When the overnight minimum is 24C or above is really when our heat health alert steps in.” In early 2009, two weeks before the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria that killed 173 people, Egerton-Warburton was working in the Monash medical centre emergency department in Melbourne when an extreme heatwave struck. Temperatures in the state got as hot as 48.8C. More than 400 people died over four days in south-eastern Australia due to heat exposure. In Tennant Creek last year, there were 113 nights during which the temperature stayed above 24C, the level at which health concerns are raised. The town is on Warumungu land; more than 50% of the population is Indigenous. Norman and Patricia say their people have been left feeling helpless as rising heat has broken a connection with the land that stretches back millennia. “One old fella from Utopia came and visited me three or four weeks ago,” Norman says. “He said: ‘you know what, my country’s dry, your country’s dry, every mob ever is thinking about singing their country or making rain. But there’s no rainmaker on our country. We still sing our country, we still sing our land, but it’s not working. It’s probably the climate change’.” “Our ancestors and our fathers left our country there for us. If we want to make a change we need a better way of living. A better way of living for our kids and our future.” Thank you This important story was made possible through the financial support of Guardian Australia readers. To the thousands who contributed to the frontline: thank you . But the story doesn’t end here. To ensure Australia’s climate emergency continues to receive the in-depth, independent coverage it deserves, please consider Read more: The Guardian
O.O australians ned sub Yawn 😴 Climate is not changing; it's disappearing. Less heat for the barbe? Ironic that in Nevil Shute’s On the Beach, Australia is the last victim of a man-made global catastrophe. Looks like it may be happening the other way around. Sad is to see the Aboriginal Australians suffering and speaking in English.
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