Australia set for highest temperature rise by century end

Government in denial mode despite repeated warnings

By Moushumi Sharma
Published: Wednesday 28 January 2015

Australia's temperature is predicted to rise by more than 5° Celsius by 2090 (Image source:Oxfam)

If the heat wave of 2013 and 2014 in Australia was not enough to set the alarm bells ringing for climate change, here is another warning: the continent is set to face a temperature rise of more than 5° Celsius by the end of the century that could outpace global warming worldwide.

In the most comprehensive analysis of the effects of climate change, Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), used 40 global climate models to predict that Australia has a greater warming rate than the rest of the world—5.1° C. The world average for an increase in temperature is predicted between 2.6-4.8° C, according to Reuters.

“There is a very high confidence that hot days will become more frequent and hotter. We also have very high confidence that sea levels will rise, oceans will become more acidic and snow depths will decline,” CSIRO principal research scientist Kevin Hennessy told the news agency.

CSIRO’s prediction, however, is at odds with government beliefs on climate change. In 2009, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared the science of climate science “crap”, reports Reuters. He also scrapped a tax on carbon pricing last year. Even US President Barack Obama’s words were not heeded when he tried to warn Australia at the Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane, 2014, about the dangers faced by its Great Barrier Reef due to climate change.

Such ignorance is likely to cost Australia a heavy price in the near future. According to the State of Climate Report, 2014,  the frequency of very warm months has increased five-fold in the continent over the past 15 years, while the frequency of very cool months has declined by around a third, compared to 1951-1980. June 2014 was not only Sydney’s driest in a decade, but also its third warmest in 155 years (Read: “Sydney’s driest June in a decade is a wake-up call to initiate climate-smart actions”)
Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned the continent nation in an assessment report released in March 2014. According to IPCC, increasing greenhouse gas concentrations have contributed to rising average temperature in Australia over the past 50 years, and warming is expected to continue through the 21st century.

In a world which is already racing against time to save the planet from the deadly impacts of climate change, Australia’s timely action will contribute in a big way to meet the challenges staring at us.

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