A BORDER environmental group is calling for action on climate change after last year was declared Australia’s third hottest year since records began in 1910.
The country also experienced its warmest spring and climate health group WATCH is warning the Border is not immune to the impact.
WATCH spokesman Lauriston Muirhead said while year-to-year temperatures fluctuate, there was an upward trend.
“Land and ocean temperatures were 0.7 degrees Celsius warmer than average, while on the Border with no moderating effect from the ocean it was about 1.3 degrees warmer than average,” Mr Muirhead said,
“We suffered heatwaves in January and February that burnt crops, an autumn which felt like a spring, a spring which felt like a summer and a nasty start to summer with lots of thunderstorms and a bushfire a few kilometres from Wodonga.
“All of this has happened in a non El Nino year — I dread to think what things will be like when we switch to El Nino conditions.”
The average daily mean temperature at the Hume Reservoir Bureau of Meteorology weather station was 16.9 degrees last year, compared with the long-term annual average of 15.6 degrees.
Albury anaesthetist Dr Barbara Robertson said the heat has adverse effects in a range of areas including health and farming.
“As the climate is getting hotter there are more health effects, particularly in elderly people,” Dr Robinson said.
“There’s a concern about temperature causing hyperthermia and dehydration, particularly for people in a position who can’t afford air-conditioning.
“Back when I was younger, farms were mostly sheep, cattle and oats, but with rising temperatures and dropping rainfall people like my brother have switched to farming wheat and canola.”
According to the Bureau of Meteorolgy, Australian temperatures have warmed about one degree since 1950, and the continued warmth last year adds to this long-term warming trend.
In its annual report for Australia, it recorded six significant heatwaves, major bushfires during January and February and four tropical cyclones that made landfall.
And, on a global scale preliminary estimates by the World Meteorological Organisation has last year on track to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, on record.
Mr Muirhead said while the issue is global, we need to act locally.
“WATCH would encourage everybody in the region to do what they can themselves, but also talk to politicians Sussan Ley and Cathy McGowan to encourage Australia to move towards a renewable future,” he said.
“The longer we leave it the greater the cost financially and for the planet.”