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SEPTEMBER HEATWAVES: Experts and community available for comment

Climate Media Centre 3 mins read

Tuesday 19 September 

 

Southern Australia sweltered through the weekend and early week with temperatures ranging from 8-16°C above average for this time of year. 

 

26 runners at the Sydney Marathon were taken to hospital after running in the heatwave conditions on Sunday, and NSW Health issued advice urging community members to keep cool. Temperatures are set to remain unusually high until the end of the week. 

 

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology is set to provide its latest climate driver update today. If the El Niño-like weather pattern continues, Australians can expect hotter and drier conditions that could lead to severe heat waves, droughts and bushfires, particularly in the east. Fossil-fuel induced climate change is causing extreme weather to become more frequent and intense. 

 

The following experts including doctors, firefighters and marine scientists are available to comment on the unseasonable heat, vulnerable communities, as well as practical tips for staying safe.  

 

HEALTH IMPACTS

Dr Kate Wylie, Doctors for the Environment Australia executive director and GP, can speak about the physical and mental health impacts of extreme weather and climate change. Dr Wylie can share practical tips for staying safe during a heatwave and can talk to the prospect of an El Niño declaration and the impact this could have on mental and physical health. Location: Adelaide, SA

Dr Kimberly Humphrey, Emergency physician and Harvard Climate and Health Fellow. Location: Adelaide, SA 

“The imminent threat of heat on health is indisputable, so it’s concerning to see temperatures soar above the September average for many parts of Australia - ahead of what many are expecting to be a hot summer. 

From exacerbating heart, lung, and kidney diseases to heightening heat stroke risks, the toll of extreme heat on human health is unfathomable. Vulnerable groups like the elderly, children, and the socially isolated will bear the brunt, along with outdoor workers and athletes. In this critical juncture, the sole lifeline to safeguard lives and our planet lies in an unwavering commitment to abandon fossil fuels without exception.”

Dr Kim Loo, Western Sydney GP and member of Doctors for the Environment Australia, can talk about the extreme heat Sydney is already facing in early spring. As a practising GP in Western Sydney, she sees first hand the immediate and longer term impacts the extreme heat conditions have on vulnerable community members. Location: Sydney, NSW. 

 

HOT WEATHER IN CITIES

 

Emma Bacon, Executive Director and Founder of Sweltering Cities, works directly with communities in Australia’s hottest suburbs, including the likes of Western Sydney, and Dandenong in South Eastern Melbourne and can talk about how to prepare and can provide insights and solutions on how best to prepare cities. Location: Melbourne/Sydney. 

 

"We’re already seeing extreme heat conditions play out across cities which is unusual for September. In the community there is a sense of anxiety about the summer ahead. More people than ever are struggling to make ends meet and we predict that housing and cost of living pressures will leave even more people vulnerable in deadly heat. 

 

Extreme heat can put our physical and mental health under enormous pressure, as well as our healthcare systems, housing and workplaces.

 

In our cities, people living in hot homes or our baking hot urban heat island suburbs will be at an even higher risk. There's absolutely no reason why we have to wait for a heatwave disaster to take action to make our cities and homes safer."

 

FARMERS

 

Vivien Thomson, NSW farmer and volunteer firefighter, "As a farmer and volunteer firefighter I like to be prepared. We have got 300 big square bales of silage buried in case of another drought. The last drought was shocking. I coped with the millennial drought, but the next one hit so hard and so quick that rain didn’t make an ounce of difference. It was heartbreaking looking outside." Location: NSW South West slopes

 

Pete Mailler, farmer, “As a farming business we are completely exposed to the weather.  Anticipating an El Niño we have made conservative cropping choices this year. We’ve had a couple of good years and I’m grateful for those. It buys us some time but farming is definitely riskier now than when I started. We see those extreme events, we’re faster into drought, we’re faster into flood. Weather volatility is the hardest thing to manage. Warmer drier weather and huge fuel loads is a very concerning combination.” Location: Goondiwindi, Queensland

 

BUSHFIRE RISK

 

Darin Sullivan, Active Firefighter, former President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union and a professional firefighter with more than 35 years’ experience.

“Once again it puts us into an earlier start to the bushfire season. Rather than October we can see higher risk earlier. The impacts of climate change are longer, drier fire seasons with more intense fires.” Location: South Coast, NSW 

 

GREAT BARRIER REEF

 

Dr Dean Miller - Director of the Great Barrier Reef Legacy 

Director of a not-for-profit created to address the urgent need to secure the long-term survival of the Great Barrier Reef. Dean can talk about coral reef management, current water temps on the GBR, and what a hot summer means for the reef. Location: Cairns/Port Douglas, QLD


Contact details:

For interview requests before 9:00am AEST, please contact Sean Kennedy 0447 121 378  sean.kennedy@climatemediacentre.org.au 

For interview requests after 9:00am, please contact Jemimah Taylor 0478 924 425 or jemimah.taylor@climatemediacentre.org.au

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