Press Release No.6 (13.10.14)

Heatwaves and Man-made Climate Change

Climate Emergency Independent candidate in the seat of Gippsland East Peter Gardner has emphasized that extreme weather events – droughts, heatwaves and bushfires – are heavily influenced by climate change. These events are happening on a regular basis and are predicted to get worse. Recent studies have confirmed this

2013 was Australia’s hottest year since records began. Five recent studies on the heatwave in January 2013 have calculated the effects of man-made climate change on this event. One study in particular compared the influence of greenhouse gases added by humans to the atmosphere by running two computer models many thousands of times. The model without the added greenhouse gases from human activity found that a heatwave of the January 2013 dimensions would occur once every 12,000 years. When the greenhouse gases from burning coal and fossil fuels are added then the heatwave is predicted to occur every 6 years. The conclusion is that human induced climate change has made this event 2000 times more likely to occur.

One of the Authors of this study Dr. Sophie Lewis of Australian National University stated: “Instead of focusing on blame, it is more useful to understand the contributing factors to an event, such as natural variability and greenhouse warming. In the case of Australia’s record hot year, anthropogenic influences were a big contributor, to the point that the temperatures we experienced would have been virtually impossible without [the additional man-made] greenhouse gases.”

Gardner stated that: “The Bureau of Meteorology has calculated that heatwaves are five times more likely to occur this century then last. To this we can add droughts and associated bushfires. Gippsland has already seen a marked increase in severe bushfires this century compared with last. The strain these emergency events are putting on human resources, emergency services and finances is substantial and is predicted to get worse.”

“If man made the Jan 2013 heatwave 2000 times more likely then climate change was probably also a major contributor to the heatwave in early 2009 which, with the Black Saturday bushfires, killed 500 people. So too it must have influenced the vast bushfires of the Alpine region in 2003 and 2006/7 and the more recent fires in Gippsland this year including the Hazelwood Mine fire.

“This should be the news dominating our newspaper headlines, the airwaves and the television screens – not a cruel conflict in the Middle East or the fate of a football coach. We are in a climate emergency where the survival of mankind is at stake. It is time to put aside the divisions of politics and work together to combat these threats to us now.”

“You can start by voting 1 for Gardner in the forthcoming state election and then casting your preference to the party of your choice. This will send a message to all the major parties that it is time to put aside their differences and get serious about climate change.”