January 16, 2014


City forecast to reach 46C by 4.30pm on Thursday, its fourth consecutive day above 40C
By Oliver Milman
People in Adelaide swim in the ocean on Wednesday in a bid to gain some relief
from the heat. Photograph: David Mariuz/AAP
Adelaide has been declared the hottest city in the world on Thursday by the United Nations' World Meteorological Organisation. 
The city is on course for its hottest day ever recorded, as South Australia and Victoria swelters through another day over 40C.
It is set to reach 46C by 4.30pm on Thursday, Adelaide's fourth consecutive day above 40C. The temperature could pip the 46.1C record set in the city in 1939.
It was another uncomfortable night for Adelaide residents on Tuesday, with the temperature hitting 35.5C at midnight. The city’s central bus station, which is air conditioned, has been opened 24 hours a day for people to sleep in. 
Large fans with water mist sprayers have also been set up at the Rundle Mall. The council said it is advising people to drink plenty of water, dress in cotton lightweight fabrics, avoid going out in the heat and use air conditioning and fans if possible.
Port Augusta is set to reach 47C, with nowhere in South Australia due to be cooler than 37C.
Adelaide is set to endure five consecutive days over 40C, while Melbourne is on course to have four days above this temperature, the first time this has happened since 1908. The Victorian capital is forecast to reach 44C on Thursday.
The heatwave, which has sat over south-eastern Australia since the start of the week, is showing signs of shifting further into New South Wales. The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast 43C for Wagga Wagga on Thursday and Friday, dipping slightly to 42C on Saturday.
A total fire ban is in place across South Australia and Victoria, with overnight lightning triggering dozens of fires. Victoria’s Country Fire Authority said Thursday would prove a “difficult day” for firefighters, warning that conditions on Friday, when wind strength is set to increase, will be “critical”.
More than 70 people have been hospitalised in South Australia this week due to the heat. In Victoria, the ambulance service has warned people not to leave children locked inside cars, having attended to 11 such cases, including an incident where a child was apparently deliberately left in a car outside a bottle shop.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), which oversees energy demand, said Victoria and South Australia have increased power usage to levels not seen since 2009.
The Victorian government said up to 100,000 homes and businesses could suffer power blackouts due to the surge in demand in the coming days.
AEMO said some areas may experience “localised interruptions over the coming days as a result of the extremely hot conditions, and forecast high winds and lightning in some parts of Victoria and South Australia”.
The hot weather also has grape growers in South Australia’s wine regions fretting. They fear the heat could destroy up to 20% of their crop.
And in Melbourne, three Australian Shakespeare Company outdoor performances were cancelled on Tuesday evening due to high temperatures. The company said it didn’t expect planned performances of the Wind in the Willows and Alice in Wonderland to be disrupted again.
Tony Leggett, senior meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, told Guardian Australia the current heatwave is slightly different from the high temperatures in 2009 that led to the deadly Black Saturday fires in Victoria. 
“We’ve been looking at the synoptics and there are a few differences that suggest we could have fewer fire problems this time, although of course there are lots of other variables in there other than just the weather,” he said.
“In 2009, we’d had a decade of dry conditions and the bushland had dried out. We are only just seeing the bush start to dry out this time, but if we got another heatwave in February, we’d expect the fire danger to increase with that.
“It’s difficult to say that this heatwave is induced by anthropogenic warming, the atmosphere is a bit too chaotic for that, but if you look at the trend in overall temperature, it’s logical to say we’ll be having more extreme bursts of temperatures in the future. The trend line is ever upwards.”
As horrible as this week’s heatwave weather is on South Australians and Canadian tennis players alike, it provides climate change advocates with an invaluable opportunity
By Kevin Hawkins

South Australia police officers take police horses for an early morning swim. 
The heatwave is giving Adelaide five consecutive days above 40C, its third 
longest hot spell. Photograph: David Mariuz/AAP
The science of climate change remains the same every day, regardless of whether it’s a sub-20 degree day in Ohio or a 46 plus scorcher in Adelaide. Nevertheless, it’s no surprise that people are less likely to be sceptical about global warming when they’re sweating from the heat.

As horrible as this week’s weather is on South Australians and Canadian tennis players alike, it provides climate change advocates with an invaluable opportunity. If we want to convince our climate sceptic friends and colleagues that climate change is not just a mass conspiracy invented by the left (each of whom clearly have shares in solar panel companies), this is our chance. And not just because the heat is making everybody a little delusional or too exhausted to argue.

I vote we hit them where it hurts: turn off their air conditioners.
Australia is uniquely framed in the climate change debate. As the OECD’s second highest polluter per capita, you would think we would feel morally obliged to be at the forefront of instigating policy changes. On the contrary, Australia – under both the Labor and Liberal governments – has commonly been referred to as a climate laggard. Over the next six months we are likely to sink to a new low, with our landmark carbon legislation likely to be repealed and our renewable energy targets expected to face delays.

Now more than ever, this country can ill afford to have climate change sceptics making noise, backing our government’s irresponsible actions or non-actions. We can’t be resigned to thinking that Labor and the Greens will restore the status quo in three to six years; we need attitudes to change now.
The air conditioner is a powerful defence mechanism against the heat, used by climate change believers and sceptics alike. It gives us a false sense of security that the changing climate is not a problem. What an air conditioner cannot stop, however, are the rising sea levels, the increased threat of natural disasters, and the unexpected fluctuations of weather. As such, we can’t rely on them to protect us forever.

Furthermore, air conditioners are a luxury accessible only to the richest of the rich, whereas climate change is a phenomenon that most affects the poorest of the poor. A combination of geography, economics, and political freedoms means people living in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia will suffer the consequences of a warming planet sooner and more severely than those of us working in high-rise office blocks in the Melbourne CBD.
In countries in those regions, subsistence farming and fishing are essential to the livelihoods of millions upon millions of families. This strenuous outdoor work is not only financially unrewarding, but subjects its employees to the hot sun for long hours on a daily basis. Then there are those who have to walk kilometres upon kilometres just to get access to clean water. And as you can imagine, you are thirstier on hot days, meaning trips to the local well become proportionally more necessary as the mercury rises.
Even within Australia, there is class divide when it comes to air conditioner access, with those of us working in white collar occupations getting a better deal than farmers, construction workers, or those working in tin-roofed warehouse ovens.
The best way to stop complacency is to attack it at its source. That’s why it’s imperative for us to meddle with our workmates’ air conditioning. I recommend loitering around their office, waiting for them to duck off to the bathroom, and quickly fiddling with their cooling unit. Then, at lunchtime, make an effort to steer your conversation towards the weather, the government’s so-called mandate, and the plight of Southeast Asian fishermen.
Because if you can’t convince them now, you never will.