This week there were reports that November 11 was set to be the first day on record where there was no rain on mainland Australia.
That didn’t end up being true, but that doesn’t mean that things aren’t dire.
[referenced url=”https://gizmodo.com.au/2019/11/scott-morrison-coal-climate-change/” thumb=”https://gizmodo.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/scomo-coal-410×231.jpg” title=”As Australia Burns Let’s Remember When ScoMo Brought A Lump Of Coal To Parliament” excerpt=”As chunks of our country burn today, we thought it might be a good time to remind everyone of the time that Scott Morrison brought a lump of coal to parliament for the lols. And we’re still feeling the effects of his blasé attitude today”]
Speaking to Gizmodo Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) confirmed that there was a small amount of rainfall on both the mainland and in Tasmania.
“While it remained dry across most of Australia, during the 24 hours to 9am today rainfall was recorded in a number of locations in both Victoria and Tasmania. In Victoria, totals were mostly below 3 mm (5 mm at Ferny Creek). Some over 10 mm in Tasmania,” said a Bureau of Meteorology spokesperson in an email.
Gizmodo Australia understands that the BOM’s daily rainfall measurements cover 9am to 9am. This is most likely the reason for some of the reports turning out to be eventually inaccurate.
It’s also important to note that for rainfall to register it needs to measure 0.2mm or above during the aforementioned 24-hour period.
But while there was a little rain in Australia on Monday, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t worry.
Dr Paul Satur, a Water Resource Management expert with the Centre for Water Sensitive Cities at Monash University, reminds us that these kinds of seemingly odd occurrences are actually becoming the new norm, and that is cause for concern.
“We have just come away from the hottest summer ever on record. Then, for the first eight months of this year temperatures soared. The country’s mean temperature was the second warmest on record and the mean maximum temperatures were the warmest on record,” said Dr Satur over email.
“To add to this, rainfall averages have been well below average for most of the country. Drought-effected parts of eastern and southern Australia, have experienced (to-date), rainfall levels in the lowest 10% of historical records. Our major cities anxiously look on as water storage levels continue to drop to lows not seen since the Millennium Drought and at rates not seen before on record.”
[referenced url=”https://gizmodo.com.au/2019/11/how-to-donate-bush-fire/” thumb=”https://gizmodo.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Koala-410×231.jpg” title=”How To Help Australian Bush Fire Victims (Including Wildlife)” excerpt=”Large parts of eastern Australia are now in catastrophic fire danger. With over 100 fires burning and 850,000 already hectares destroyed you may be wondering how you can help. We’ve rounded up some of the best charities and organisations.”]
Dr Benjamin Henley, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne and lecturer at Monash University, is a climate and water resource expert. He agrees that one extremely dry day isn’t particularly interesting because it’s nothing new. And that’s what makes it important.
“From an agricultural and water supply perspective… the severe widespread rainfall deficiency is ongoing – over years now. The positive Indian Ocean Dipole is reducing the likelihood of wet conditions over most of the country, and is also playing role in delaying the monsoon in the north.
“This delayed onset of the monsoon in the north happens to be coinciding with the time of year that southern Australia expects to receive less rainfall,” said Dr Henley in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
Both experts also agree that climate change may have played a part in the increasing lack of rainfall in parts of the country, and that it is going to get worse, especially if action isn’t taken.
“We expect with climate change that rainfall over many parts of Southern mainland Australia will continue to decline. But drought is inherently unpredictable and there are many factors at play. Despite this, there are many impacts of climate change which mean we need to take urgent global action to reduce emissions, now,” said Dr Henley.
This week’s catastrophic fires across eastern Australia are just one awful example of how climate changing is impacting the environment on a large scale. While Bush fires are nothing new, they seem to be getting worse and bush fire season in Australia is now starting in Spring.
“Australian Cities, regional towns, rural and remote areas are now all experiencing the early stages of human induced climate change impact. While these are experiences that are unique to each context, dealing with them will require similar processes that empower communities to participate, plan, manage and respond to pressures,” agreed Dr Satur.
[referenced url=”https://gizmodo.com.au/2019/11/drought-and-climate-change-were-the-kindling-and-now-australias-east-coast-is-ablaze/” thumb=”https://gizmodo.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/file-20191111-194633-1ie3208-410×231.jpg” title=”Drought And Climate Change Were The Kindling, And Now Australia’s East Coast Is Ablaze” excerpt=”Last week saw an unprecedented outbreak of large, intense fires stretching from the mid-north coast of New South Wales into central Queensland.”]
Dr Satur elaborates on this, calling for a more comprehensive approach to climate change that takes into account the differing needs of various Australian communities.
“This will require a significant shift from the conventional methods of the past. Our recent research on the impact of the Millennium Drought on urban populations found that Government-led, one size fits all drought-response approaches (such as the Target 155 Campaign) impacted urban households and communities differently. Under these approaches, vulnerable sections of the community were more severely impacted by extreme heat events and water restrictions, but also less able to respond to climate pressures.
Building our ability to cope with ongoing climate pressures will require us to work smarter, not harder as the adage goes. By working with and alongside communities, a long-term holistic approach can be taken where solutions are co-developed to ensure that they are suitable to the living arrangements, environmental conditions and socio-economic status of these that expected to engage with them.”
Although it doesn’t seem likely at this point, we hope that our politicians start actually taking climate change seriously in the wake of this week’s events.
Instead of blaming the Greens (who aren’t in power) and waving a lump of coal around parliament, actually having a climate change policy and taking it seriously is desperately needed. If the country being on fire isn’t the final straw, what will be?