Just another heatwave or a wake up call?

Just another heatwave or a wake up call?

The weekend was a scorcher. Everyone in NSW would know this, yet some people on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, decided they were now weather reporters. Almost every photo posted or added to a Snapchat story had the temperature filter on them just to remind people that it really was 42°C and climbing.

While I was contemplating seeking refuge in the cool shopping centre and wishing for air-con (talk about first world problems), I just wanted to know why. Why was it really so hot.

Yes the weather bureau mentioned the mercury rising and heatwaves aren’t something new. So most of us just braced ourselves and accepted that there is nothing we can do about it because that’s Mother Nature.

But aren’t we changing Mother Nature? I mean there is a reason that 2016 was the warmest year on record.  In fact it was the third consecutive year that the record was broken.

The hottest day recorded last year was on May 19 in India where the temperature peaked 51°C. Back home over the weekend the highest temperature nationwide was set in NSW when mercury levels rose to deliver a toasty 47 °C.

Chief of global climate monitoring at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Deke Arndt, spoke to the New York Times stressing the significance of these yearly warmer temperatures.

“It’s really the trend, and the fact that we’re punching at the ceiling every year now, that is the real indicator that we’re undergoing big changes,” he said.

New research presented in the journal Anthropocene Review, used a mathematical equation to determine the impact of humans have on the environment and  found that the climate is changing 170 times faster due to human activity.

Researcher at the Australian National University and climate change expert, Professor Will Steffen, co-authored the paper in the journal and recently spoke to the Guardian.

He likened the climate change disparity to “more like a meteorite strike than a gradual change.”

“(Human emissions) have increased the rate of temperature rise to 1.7 degrees Celsius per century, dwarfing the natural background rate.”

“It shows that while other forces operate over millions of years, we as humans are having an impact at the same strength as the many of these other forces, but in the timeframe of just a couple of centuries,” said Professor Steffen.

What can you do?

There is a lot of numbers and information to take in, so much so, that it might make you rather just melt into a puddle.  As world citizens and Christians there is a responsibility to help protect God’s creation, especially for future generations. There are a few things you can change in your daily lives to be more eco-friendly but when this is coupled with government bodies prioritising and taking action is when we can hope to see real change.

The Australian government is currently asking for you to have your say on long term foreign policies including migration, poverty and climate change. You can submit your say here. Maybe the weekend heatwave was just what we needed.

Submissions close on the 28th February.

Climate Change Resources

Uniting Justice 

Uniting World

 

Melissa Stewart

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