The Adelaide Heatwave in Context

We’re just coming to the end of the first November heatwave on record in Adelaide. Since last Sunday the max temperature has been over 35 degrees Celsius every day. A change is due to bring the temperature down for a day or two before it climbs back up again over 40 in the middle of the week. As usual when there’s a heatwave there are a lot of people (particularly at Adelaide Now) who downplay the heatwave, saying that Adelaide has always had heatwaves and it isn’t anything different, but in this post at Brave New Climate, Professor Barry Brook does an excellent job of putting it into context. The current weather is quite extraordinary in a couple of ways, firstly as something that is quite unprecedented for this time of year (the previous record for November being 4 days over 35 in the 1890’s), and secondly because it adds to a number of extreme weather events in recent years, with heatwaves that smashed previous records in the last two Summers. Meanwhile, in South Australia, we are represented in the Senate by the likes of Nick Minchin and Cory Bernardi, who showed themselves to be totally delusional on the topic of climate change in a recent Four Corners program.

NICK MINCHIN: For the extreme left it provides the opportunity to do what they’ve always wanted to do, to sort of de-industrialise the western world. You know the collapse of communism was a disaster for the left, and the, and really they embraced environmentalism as their new religion.

SARAH FERGUSON: Minchin encourages his junior colleagues to speak out too.

NICK MINCHIN: I don’t mind being branded a sceptic about the theory that that human emissions and CO2 are the main driver of global change – of global warming. I don’t accept that and I’ve said that publically. I guess if I can say it, I would hope that others would feel free to do so.

SARAH FERGUSON: The junior south Australian liberal senator, Cory Bernardi, takes his cues from Minchin.

CORY BERNARDI: The fact that Nick has publicly supported the right of back benchers and others to speak up on a very critical issue is certainly encouraging.

(Excerpt of footage of Cory Bernardi at book launch, 27 January 2009)

CORY BERNARDI: The challenge for Australia, and the Australian parliament is to examine the facts of climate change and not just the opinion polls.

SARAH FERGUSON: Earlier this year Bernardi launched the book, Thank God For Carbon, a publication of the vehemently sceptical Lavoisier group.

(End of Excerpt)

CORY BERNARDI: Well I think that scientists need to justify their own actions. They will keep putting forward and saying we’ve got all this evidence, the evidence is increasingly discredited, why have they done it, what’s their motivations for doing it? Are they afraid to stand up to the extreme green lobby?

It is reasonable that not all parliamentarians are experts in every area, but what they show here is a complete failure to assess the credibility of sources. They ignore the CSIRO, the Australian Academy of Science and Australia’s leading experts in the field of climate change in universities around the country (such as Adelaide’s chair of Climate Change Barry Brook, linked above), and find their own “experts” (e.g. Ian PlimerBob Carter) who have a stance they find more politically appealing but which does not stand up to critical analysis (e.g  debunked  claims like it isn’t warming or volcanoes are more important than human CO2 emissions). I think that South Australians could do better than to be represented by conspiracy theorists who are too worried about reds/greens under the bed to be able to deal with the serious issue of climate change.

Update – John Quiggin’s latest post touches on some of this.

3 replies on “The Adelaide Heatwave in Context”

  1. James says:

    What do you make of the fact that most of the Queensland coastal areas as well as the far north west of Western Australia have had lower than average temperatures over the same period?


  2. Stu says:

    James, note that the areas you are referring to mostly have an anomaly between 0-1, or for some small areas, 1-2 degrees below the average, whereas a large area in the south has an anomaly of more than 6 degrees above average. The former is well within the bounds of the usual variability, but the latter is an extreme event. What’s more, as is discussed in the linked post at Brave New Climate, this is not an isolated extreme event, it appears that what has been extreme is becoming the norm. As Barry Brook points out, before 2008 we never had a heatwave of more than 8 days, since then we’ve had a 15 day heatwave (in March), a 9 day heatwave (with 8 days over 40), and now the first ever heatwave in November is equal in length to that earlier record of 8.

  3. paul walter says:

    Putting the Adelaide heatwave in context?
    Well, its been a hot decade here, actually, right the way thru and the protracted heatwaves of the last eighteen months have rewritten the books

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