Scorching 2017 should make us take notice

The extreme weather of the past week  – the heatwave and the violent storms – may still be uppermost in our minds but it’s the average over the past year that should have us concerned.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, 2017 was the third hottest year on record. The bureau said the weather data signalled the background warming from climate change.

In the last half century average land and sea-surface temperatures have risen by 1.1 degrees. The heat was really on with average daily maximums, 1.27 degrees above the 1961-1990 baseline.

Sceptics might argue that’s not a high figure but if the warming trend leads to more extreme weather events, we are in for some tough times.

Western Sydney was listed as the hottest place on the planet on Sunday, a dubious achievement in anyone’s book. While it fell just shy of a record, it remains a troubling reminder of the extremes we can expect with the onset of climate change.

There are other consequences as well, especially as sea temperatures rise. 

Marine biologists are concerned about the spread south of the irukandji jellyfish. This small but deadly marine creature has turned up near Fraser Island and the big fear is it will eventually get as far south as the Sunshine Coast and even the Gold Coast. 

The consequences for the tourism industry could be catastrophic.

We already know high sea temperatures can lead to coral bleaching but now there is also a fear they could lead to the extinction of green sea turtles. 

There is growing alarm climate change is causing most turtle eggs to hatch as females. 

Extreme weather, which accompanies climate change, can cause all sorts of disruption and destruction. On the east coast of the United States, as Australia sweltered, an extreme “bomb cyclone” saw temperatures plummet and ice and snow shut the place down. Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, Southern California, already ravaged by wildfire, is now enduring mudslides caused by a huge storm. The trees that held the soil together were all burnt and the hillsides have become rivers of mud.

The signs are all there. Climate change is happening and unless action is taken by all of humanity to limit it, not just future generations but us as well will all suffer the consequences. 

Doing nothing is not an option.