Summer is coming on strong south of the Equator, and in Australia this has meant unprecedented record high temperatures, and in the state of Tasmania, severe brush fires that have destroyed numerous homes, adding to the bad news from fires in the southeastern mainland. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said “And while you would not put any one event down to climate change … we do know that over time as a result of climate change we are going to see more extreme weather events.” That is not exactly true, of course. There are no climate related events that lack the fingerprint of global climate change. Certain events would have occurred in some for or another in the absence of climate change but the chance of any given event is increased, and the potential severity of every single event is increased because of the Earth’s increased temperature from the human release of fossil Carbon into the atmosphere and other related causes.
My colleague Stephan Lewandowsky, of the University of Western Australia just sent me these observations, which have not yet been made public but will be verified shortly: “Never before in recorded history has Australia experienced 5 consecutive days of national-average maximum temperatures above 39C. Until today. And this heat is expected to continue for another 24-48 hours, extending the new record run to 6 or even 7 days. For context, the previous record of 4 days occurred once only (1973) and 3 days has occurred only twice (1972,2002).”
Here’s a map of the temperatures country wide yesterday: