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This one goes deep purple
January 8, 2013 12:04 PM   Subscribe

It's so hot in Australia they've added a new color to the weather map, a Tasmania-sized deep purple blob 50 degrees or more (123 F). In the USA 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded, smashing through previous records by a healthy margin. 2012 was also the second-worst on a measure called the Climate Extremes Index, surpassed only by 1998. Globally, 2012 is expected to be ranked as the eighth-warmest year on record, with that announcement coming later in the month. "Climate change has had a role in this,” said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at NOAA.
posted by stbalbach (128 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's so hot in Australia they've added a new color to the weather map, a Tasmania-sized deep purple blob 50 degrees or more (123 F).

"Why don't you just make red hotter, and make red be the top colour, and make that a little hotter?"

"This goes to purple."
posted by Sys Rq at 12:15 PM on January 8, 2013 [63 favorites]


Oddly enough Deep Purple had, if memory serves, an album called "Burn".
posted by MajorDundee at 12:15 PM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


It looks like it's the colour for -20, though in context it's clear whether purple means "way too hot" or "way too cold".
posted by jeather at 12:18 PM on January 8, 2013


So Smoke On The Water was a prediction...
posted by InfidelZombie at 12:18 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Climate change has had a role in this,” said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at NOAA.

A spokesperson for Tony Abbott responded "Lalalalalalalaaaaaaa lalalalaaaaaa lalalalaaaaaaa".
posted by pompomtom at 12:19 PM on January 8, 2013 [25 favorites]


Saw a news item on the Australian heatwave today. Their 'fire risk' scale now goes past 'extreme' to 'catastrophic'. Fire chief was saying it was too hot for his people to actually fight the fires....
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:19 PM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


We kept waiting and waiting for winter here on the Texas coast. We're still kinda waiting. It's in the 70's this week. There was a few days where we hit upper 40's at night, but that was over pretty fast. Seems like we're just skipping winter this year. Makes me think the summer is going to be extra hot, which makes me sad.
posted by Malice at 12:21 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to see the old Yahoo weather map go off the bottom of the scale every winter. It went from purple (-30?) to white or black.
Maybe it wasn't even Yahoo. Damn internet memory.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:22 PM on January 8, 2013


SMMFH.COM
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:22 PM on January 8, 2013


Yeah, but it's a dry heat.
posted by rocket88 at 12:24 PM on January 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


Based on the ad on this site under the map, I think I figured out what the problem is... CUT IT OUT GOD.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:24 PM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


We kept waiting and waiting for winter here on the Texas coast.

Didn't it snow in DFW last week?

Anyway, even extreme winter conditions can be attributed to climate change. The Japan Sea coast of Honshu has experienced really, really heavy snows over the past few years.

While the region has always been known as "snow country", and while there were heavy snows there up until the late 80's, the change back to 10-foot nightly snowfalls is more of a result of the changing Jet Stream, which is linked to very low sea-ice levels - the Jet Stream is pushed further southwest over Japan, resulting in colder temperatures and heavier snows.

Traditionally, heavy snows were caused by the Siberian monsoon, but not any more.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:26 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but it's a dry heat.

If it was a humid heat it would be straight up lethal to anyone without a moon-suit. We normally think of global warming as killing by famine, but if this starts happening on a regular basis there may be tropical regions where human beings simply cannot survive outside of sealed environments.

Australia, of course, has always been unlivable for human beings.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:27 PM on January 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


really, really heavy snows

Global warming is expected to increase heavy snow events. There is more energy in the atmosphere = more moisture = more snow in areas below freezing.
posted by stbalbach at 12:30 PM on January 8, 2013


I was in Phoenix when it hit 122°f/50°c. I was freezing to death in an office building so stepping outside was actually nice. It is like opening your oven after it has preheated. Then I had to get back to the sweet ac.

I was in Mexicali last summer where I saw a time/temperature digital sign that said it was 53°. It was hotter than hell but it was only 47 that day.
posted by birdherder at 12:30 PM on January 8, 2013


Can we sing the Doom Song yet?
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:30 PM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Did it at least kill the spiders?
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:31 PM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I just saw this mentioned on Twitter by whoever runs the "Stuff You Should Know" Twitter account. Does that mean Josh and/or Chuck are closet Mefites?

Also, more on topic, I remember this very thing being predicted in the early 90's iteration of Eco Consciousness. It makes me extremely sad that I knew this would happen when I was eight years old from watching Captain Planet cartoons, and yet none of the adults did fuck all about it. And now the same people are acting all surprised and shit.
posted by Sara C. at 12:33 PM on January 8, 2013 [9 favorites]




They've gone to plaid!!
posted by dry white toast at 12:43 PM on January 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


I thought PANTONE declared that Emerald would be the hot color of the year.
posted by Kabanos at 12:46 PM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


and yet none of the adults did fuck all about it. And now the same people are acting all surprised and shit.

And won't, either. The economic incentives to do nothing are simply too great. We're paralyzed that way, but events will force change... after it's long too late.
posted by kgasmart at 12:48 PM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Australia, of course, has always been unlivable for human beings.

I reckon 40 000 years of aboriginal habitation would disprove that.
posted by ambivalentic at 12:48 PM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


As I recall, Aboriginal folks lived mostly along the coast, where there was more water and temperatures were somewhat cooler.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:59 PM on January 8, 2013


I thought PANTONE declared that Emerald would be the hot color of the year.

Nope
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:01 PM on January 8, 2013


Australian aborigines managed to live almost everywhere.
posted by ambivalentic at 1:05 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I was in Phoenix when it hit 122, back in 1990. I walked to work that morning. A short time later a coworker showed up and then passed out. The heat had gotten to her. We worked in a mall and Dillards had just started selling tickets to a concert. People were outside waiting for the tickets. They would come in for water. Our boss started charging a buck for a cup of water. Not for the water, but for the cup. That week was miserable.

I've worked outside in 118. That is exceptionally hot. I can't imagine 10 degrees hotter than that.
posted by Nadie_AZ at 1:07 PM on January 8, 2013


As I recall, Aboriginal folks lived mostly along the coast, where there was more water and temperatures were somewhat cooler.

Aborigines lived throughout Australia, because they are serious badasses when it comes to survival. They could find water and food in areas that quickly killed European adventurers who hadn't bothered to learn how to recognize the sources of food and water around them. They could go weeks without food while on the move, and walk for huge distances in exterme heat without water, because their physiology had adapted to make them serious badasses. Very impressive stuff.
posted by Dasein at 1:07 PM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Australia, of course, has always been unlivable for human beings.

Hey, I enjoyed your little joke - - literalists be damned!
posted by fairmettle at 1:19 PM on January 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


The Australian Air Force should send its aircraft up to build a grid of high altitude contrails over the high pressure area. This will have the affect of shading the area and allowing the temperatures to drop.
posted by humanfont at 1:26 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I kept seeing these scary 'bushfire warning' meters on the drive to Byron Bay, but I got back to Sydney before anything happened. An air conditioned office and a fan in my flat were all I needed to survive yesterday and now it's back to being cold. I hope everyone's okay in bushfire country, though.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:31 PM on January 8, 2013


Did it at least kill the spiders?

From nature's cauldron a new horror will evolve: fireproof spiders.
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:47 PM on January 8, 2013 [24 favorites]


Close: spiders permanently on fire.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:55 PM on January 8, 2013 [30 favorites]


Their 'fire risk' scale now goes past 'extreme' to 'catastrophic'.

This, if my memory serves, has nothing to to with changing weather conditions, but is a response to communities being pretty blase about 'extreme' risk in the past, resulting in people staying in their homes when they shouldn't. Some info here on the change.

Basically, a 'catastrophic' fire risk rating means 'there will almost certainly be fires in this area that are unable to be quelled or even contained and, if there is a fire, you will most likely die'. For areas that have a catastrophic fire risk warning in place, the chance of escaping death and injury is unlikely should people elect to stay with their properties.
posted by dg at 2:00 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


By all means, everyone crank up their ACs. If the end is coming, might as well speed things up.
posted by kinnakeet at 2:01 PM on January 8, 2013


This year in England it was so wet and cloudy that we hardly saw the sun some days, even in summer. I think we all moaned about it at the time, but seeing what has happened in the US and Australia I'll take the drear happily.
posted by Jehan at 2:11 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


This, if my memory serves, has nothing to to with changing weather conditions,

Yes, and no. The scale we use to measure fire danger, the McArthur Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) was developed in the 1960s, and was calibrated so that a value of 100 represented what they considered to be the most extreme fire conditions possible - so it was calibrated against the 1939 Black Friday weather conditions.

Then the 2009 "Black Saturday" fires occurred in Victoria, where the FFDI hit, I believe, 168 (depending on how you calculate it). The Bushfire Royal Commission recommended introducing the "catastrophic" category for FFDI values above 100, in order to make the public aware that there are conditions where fires are completely uncontrollable, and lives will be lost if you stay. But, as the Royal Commission document I linked above also points out, the frequency of days reaching the "catastrophic" level has been increasing, and is projected to continue to increase, so there is a climatic component.

I noticed in the media, before the weekend, there was a bit of climate-change-denialist blowback against the term "catastrophic" - a bunch of bright-sparks claiming the introduction of the term was some kind of left wing Commie attempt to make the public scared about climate change. But I'm willing to say the increased awareness of what fires it's actually possible to fight, and what fires you should just get the hell away from, probably saved lives in Tasmania this last week. The FFDI I was calculating in Hobart on Friday hit 120.
posted by Jimbob at 2:15 PM on January 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


This year in England it was so wet and cloudy that we hardly saw the sun some days,

Not warming so much, says UK Met Office...
posted by Segundus at 2:23 PM on January 8, 2013


People are way overreacting to this. That vibrant purple blob is simply where we cook the country's soup. Perhaps you'd prefer merely warm soup?
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 2:26 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Weather seems pretty normal here.
posted by smackfu at 2:27 PM on January 8, 2013


Perhaps you'd prefer merely warm soup?

Just move it further away from Adelaide before some yob lobs a pie in there.
posted by pompomtom at 2:33 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, the local news here in Detroit did manage to mention not only this, but also China getting cold enough to freeze one of their largest waterfalls (I cannot find a link to the current freezing, but apparently this has occurred before...). It might have to do with the seasonal rise and fall of precipitation there too.

Climate change showing it leaves no stone unturned...
posted by JoeXIII007 at 3:08 PM on January 8, 2013


Oh, that's just the afterglow from the British nuclear tests...
posted by Joe Chip at 3:14 PM on January 8, 2013


2bucksplus: "Did it at least kill the spiders?"

No. They move inside. With the snakes. And the rats,

Which is why I don't visit my friends in SA in summer any more.

I cannot believe Abbott is still towing the 'climate change isn't real' line. Yes, he's going to go and volunteer (I did like the twitter response of 'is that because the state government slashed the firies budget?') and made some glib comment about how the 'carbon tax won't help' - it won't help because you kneecapped it you short-sighted bastard.

My house is on top of a hill, shaded and with excellent insulation and cross-breezes. We've rarely even considered aircon. I'll probably be getting it this winter though (lessen the price) because summer is unlikely to stop escalating.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:40 PM on January 8, 2013


This year in England it was so wet and cloudy that we hardly saw the sun some days, even in summer. I think we all moaned about it at the time, but seeing what has happened in the US and Australia I'll take the drear happily.

To hell with that. Send ten of your degrees over here you selfish colonial bastards.
posted by biffa at 3:42 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


At this rate, I'm buying beachfront property in Snowdonia.
posted by arcticseal at 3:48 PM on January 8, 2013


The Associated Press story on the Australian heatwave, for the record, offers only this by way of context: "Wildfires are common during the Australian summer." It does not contain either of the phrases "climate change" or "global warming."

Because objectivity.
posted by gompa at 3:54 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I live in one of the areas that scored a catastrophic rating yesterday, and we had a series of text and phone messages from the Rural Fire Service to warn us: "Not being in a bush fire prone zone is the safest option" - which would seem to exclude 80% of the continent of Australia.
posted by thylacinthine at 3:56 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, as a thylacine, you've sort of taken that advice past its logical extreme.
posted by ChuraChura at 3:59 PM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I know that there are vast swaths of Australia in which few if any people live, but I'm not really up on the details. About how many people live in that Tasmania-sized blob?

Also, this morning I heard the tail end of an NPR segment about this, and it made me recall something that I read recently (past several months or so), but I don't know the details, and I'm wondering if anybody does: Something like "If you look at yearly average world temperatures going back to 1800, every year for the past 40 years has been hotter than average". Does anyone know the actual numbers for this?
posted by Flunkie at 4:11 PM on January 8, 2013




Ah, the NYT link in this post gives something like the information that I was trying to recall:
Nobody who is under 28 has lived through a month of global temperatures that fell below the 20th-century average, because the last such month was February 1985.
posted by Flunkie at 4:14 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


>"Not warming so much, says UK Met Office..."

Previously


Isn't Britain experiencing extreme weather these days? Flooding in virtually every urban centre, more snow and colder temperatures in winter, extreme (and unusual) heat in summer with less rainfall? It's also supposed to be due to changes in the Jet Stream caused by lower Arctic ice levels.

Despite what the Telegraph says, there is no mistaking the fact that there is less Arctic sea ice, and that sea ice develops later in the season, and melts earlier in the spring. This will have an effect on the Jet Stream, which in turn has a major effect on climate in the northern hemisphere.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:25 PM on January 8, 2013


"Did it at least kill the spiders?"

No. They move inside. With the snakes. And the rats,


We had a bizarre infestation of tiny fruitflies in the house. My best guess is they sensed the cooler air coming out the wall vents & rushed in.

The spiders were happy outside, though. One of the orb spiders on the verandah was happily tucking into a wasp it had just caught, right in the middle of 43C temperatures. I find spiders to be more likely to come inside when it's rainy.

It looks like it's the colour for -20, though in context it's clear whether purple means "way too hot" or "way too cold".

Hahahahaha. Minus 20, WTF? This isn't Canada. I think it's safe to "re-use" the colour purple for the hot end of the scale.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:26 PM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I kinda of feel like climate change discourse here is in a really weird space at the moment, where politicians, media, and the public are all finally acknowledging the reality of it (yes, even Tony Abbott says it's real, now), but - bizarrely - are acting as if acknowledging the problem is the same as doing something about it.

Thus, we get all these soundbites where people talk about extreme weather as an inevitable result of climate change; denialists are still getting headlines but increasingly of the "kooky" nature (The Australian, naturally, a hold-out); business and other lobby groups are all saying, "yes it's real, yes please do something about it, yes please certainty would be good".

However, this response - and the legislative responses - do not reflect this acknowledgment of the reality, namely: we are seriously fucked and getting fuckeder every day - indeed, the response, acknowledgement aside, effectively amounts to denialism.

It's bizarre, I tell you. Especially cause if there's one thing the media loves it's an apocalypse beat-up.

On the one hand, I take heart, because even the acknowledgment is a huge step forward from where Australia was even five years ago - especially the gradual sidelining of denialists. On the other, it's incredibly disheartening because it is giving the public an illusion that our leaders are doing something when - my beloved Greens excepted - they are not doing anything in what will be one of history's most culpable acts of negligence.

I can only hope it's a transient phase between denialism and acceptance, but I worry because the public is so used to mistaking grave head-nodding for action, and the media is absolutely culpable for reinforcing this illusion, that by time people realise it's not action - and what inaction has cost us - it may literally be too late.

I have an 18 month old daughter; it's pretty depressing stuff.
posted by smoke at 4:35 PM on January 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


Greens, schmeens. Former Greens leader Bob Brown is planning to burn a crudload of fossil fuel chasing Japanese ships around the antarctic. /tofuburger
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:43 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Greens, schmeens.

Mind you, I do think support that Whitehaven hoax is pretty frigging stupid, Greens-of-the-past, myopic move.
posted by smoke at 4:53 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I assume it just looks purple because my monitor can't display octarine.
posted by ckape at 5:12 PM on January 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


Flunkie, here's a map of the population density (although it's 2009, it'd be close enough).
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:14 PM on January 8, 2013


Thanks!
posted by Flunkie at 5:17 PM on January 8, 2013


On the upside, when my hometown will be experiencing a forecast 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 F) this Saturday, I'll be sitting in a Surrey Hills pub at my very first ever Mefi meetup, hundreds of kilometres away.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:25 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


On the one hand, I take heart, because even the acknowledgment is a huge step forward from where Australia was even five years ago - especially the gradual sidelining of denialists

I disagree - things were a lot better five years ago. In the November 2007 election, the main point of difference between Labor and Liberal on this issue was whether emission trading should begin in 2010 or 2012. Acceptance of the need for policy to halt and reverse human-caused climate change was as mainstream as it got.

It wasn't until Labor's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme White Paper, released at the end of 2008, when the pushback from industry, and Liberal/Nationals looking for differentiation, began, culminating in the December 2009 rolling of Turnbull by Abbott. We've recovered a lot of lost ground since then, and it will be interesting to see how the Liberals handle it during this year's election.
posted by kithrater at 5:38 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


A spokesperson for Tony Abbott responded, "this left wing plot to um, err, ummm, to um..."
posted by mattoxic at 5:40 PM on January 8, 2013


Hmm. I thought it would be hotter. Then again I lived in Davis in the 90s where highs of 115F (46C) were not considered particularly unusual in the summer.

I don't live there anymore.
posted by fshgrl at 5:41 PM on January 8, 2013


I disagree - things were a lot better five years ago.

Actually, on reflection I completely agree. Five years was a particularly bad time frame to pick!

More broadly, I feel like the pushback was inevitable, as money and denialist lobbies moved in harder, with helps from Newscorp. This was exacerbated by the (again, imho, somewhat inevitable) marrying of climate action as a partisan plank, and the fall-out from Copenhagen, which was also sabotaged by vested interests (including Australia. Bastards).
posted by smoke at 5:52 PM on January 8, 2013


I kinda of feel like climate change discourse here is in a really weird space at the moment, where politicians, media, and the public are all finally acknowledging the reality of it (yes, even Tony Abbott says it's real, now), but - bizarrely - are acting as if acknowledging the problem is the same as doing something about it.

"Allow me to focus my remarks this afternoon on the fight against climate change, perhaps the biggest threat to confront the future of humanity today" -- Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, 2007
posted by gompa at 5:58 PM on January 8, 2013


Olympic Dam

flunkie - regarding population density in the hottest areas - in addition to those who live in that area there are also some very large mining projects in the vicinity. e.g. Olympic Dam (link above)

it's common for workers to fly in fly out. So there may be a significant number of people who spend a lot of time there but are not recorded as living in the area.

Not sure on numbers though.
posted by joz at 6:13 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


gompa: The Associated Press story on the Australian heatwave, for the record, offers only this by way of context: "Wildfires are common during the Australian summer."

Thanks AP. Who would have guessed?

Here is the rest of the story (direct download pdf) for Australia's southwest, from those unobjective skalliwags at Australia's CSIRO.

A key finding of this study is that an increase in fire-weather risk is likely at most sites in 2020 and 2050, including the average number of days when the FFDI rating is very high or extreme. The combined frequencies of days with very high and extreme FFDI ratings are likely to increase 4-25% by 2020 and 15-70% by 2050. For example, the FFDI results indicate that Canberra is likely to have an annual average of 25.6-28.6 very high or extreme fire danger days by 2020 and 27.9-38.3 days by 2050, compared to a present average of 23.1 days. The increase in fire-weather risk is generally largest inland. Tasmania is likely to be relatively unaffected.

So hold tight, Tasmania. You have the, ah, cold comfort of knowing that with continued climate warming, the fire situation may not get any worse for you. As for NSW, ACT and Victoria, The longterm forecast is distressing. Our hopes are with you.
posted by dmayhood at 6:39 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dang! Australia's soutEAST!
posted by dmayhood at 6:45 PM on January 8, 2013


This, if my memory serves, has nothing to to with changing weather conditions,

Yes, and no... the frequency of days reaching the "catastrophic" level has been increasing, and is projected to continue to increase, so there is a climatic component.


Oh, I have no doubt that the increase in risk is due as least in part to changes in the climate (although the spreading population probably plays at least an equal part, albeit in a different way). My clumsily-made point was that the scale itself is not a response to climate change. Perhaps, though, the need to review the scale was informed by the increasing likelihood of fires anywhere, which would inevitably lead to an increase in risk to populations.

I think the amended scale is a great idea - living in an area where the indicator boards used to be more or less permanently fixed on 'high' from about November to April, I think everyone got pretty blasé about the risk. Having the more serious descriptors makes one think seriously about the risk on days when the board says 'catastrophic'.
posted by dg at 6:54 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Australia has kinda humid summers along the north coast, but overall it's pretty dry, right?

There is an increased risk of heat stroke in much more humid places seeing high temperatures : "Heat stroke [is defined as] a body temperature above 40.6 °C (105.1 °F) due to environmental heat exposure with lack of thermoregulation, [meaning either your body ran out of sweat because you weren't drinking enough water or the environment was too humid for sweat to work well.]" I understand heat stroke can potentially kill you in under an hour.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:57 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hahahahaha. Minus 20, WTF? This isn't Canada. I think it's safe to "re-use" the colour purple for the hot end of the scale.

Charlotte Pass, New South Wales -23.0 C (-9.4 F) on the 29th June, 1994
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 6:58 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Charlotte Pass (the highest inhabited township in the country) doesn't even show up on a map, unless that map happens to be the Perisher to Thredbo x-country skiing topological map.

It's a tiny hamlet of about 2 dozen ski lodges, with two Pomas, a T-bar & a chairlift. Charming as it is, it doesn't warrant a colour that can apply to heatwaves the size of Tasmania.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:03 PM on January 8, 2013


I live in one of the areas that scored a catastrophic rating yesterday, and we had a series of text and phone messages from the Rural Fire Service to warn us: "Not being in a bush fire prone zone is the safest option" - which would seem to exclude 80% of the continent of Australia.

That's why you live in the other 20%. Other benefits include things being open after 10pm on a Saturday.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:07 PM on January 8, 2013


Australia has kinda humid summers along the north coast, but overall it's pretty dry, right?

Not quite. The North coast is (OK, massive generalisation due to massive coast, which contains lots of latitude) tropical, so 'summer' doesn't really apply per se. The seasons are 'wet' and 'dry', and it's presently 'wet'.
posted by pompomtom at 7:11 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Isn't Britain experiencing extreme weather these days? Flooding in virtually every urban centre, more snow and colder temperatures in winter, extreme (and unusual) heat in summer with less rainfall? It's also supposed to be due to changes in the Jet Stream caused by lower Arctic ice levels.
Not really. Flooding isn't great, but that's mostly on the lower ground. The only sizeable city which floods with any regularity is York, and the only big cities that have flooded recently are Sheffield and Hull, and then only in parts. Lots of smaller towns are worse, but the biggest cities typically haven't seen bad flooding if any.

Winters have overall been much milder in the last few years, but there has been two or three heavy snowfalls. But this year has seen little snow and relatively high temperatures. Summers have been cooler and wetter, with several years barely having a summer.

My own feeling is that the weather is becoming less extreme in many ways, with the overall heat rising by the winters becoming shorter and milder, the spring and autumn warming up, but not by summers being hotter and longer.
posted by Jehan at 7:42 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Flunkie,

According to NASA (Global Land-Ocean Temperature Index data), 1976 was the last year where the global mean temperature was lower than the baseline mean -- for which they use the mean temperature for the period 1951-1980. The last month that was lower than the baseline mean was February of 1994.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 7:46 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that the very first comment here is a reference to Spinal Tap, because the only reason they had to add a whole new colour to the temperature map is that the top end of the old map went all the way to black. And it was like, how much more black could it be? And the answer was none. None more black.
posted by narain at 7:53 PM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think the amended scale is a great idea - living in an area where the indicator boards used to be more or less permanently fixed on 'high' from about November to April, I think everyone got pretty blasé about the risk. Having the more serious descriptors makes one think seriously about the risk on days when the board says 'catastrophic'.

I completely agree. I think the last time I saw one of those boards on 'low' was during a drizzly July a few years ago. Even water falling out of the sky isn't a guarantee of safety, because of the risk of fires started by lightning strikes. You need to have had a few weeks worth of rain before it soaks enough of the dry brushland.
posted by harriet vane at 7:57 PM on January 8, 2013


Temperatures in Sydney reached similar highs back in 2006. It wasn't so wiltingly bad for my household this time, because we kept the doors and windows shut all day. Bit stuffy, but that cool night air stuck around till the early evening.
posted by misterbee at 8:43 PM on January 8, 2013


On the upside, when my hometown will be experiencing a forecast 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 F) this Saturday, I'll be sitting in a Surrey Hills pub at my very first ever Mefi meetup, hundreds of kilometres away.

Here's the relevant IRL post for anyone whose interested. Relevantly, Saturday in Sydney will still be a scorcher, with temperatures projected to hit 35 degrees (Celcius).

posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:57 PM on January 8, 2013


It's been a little bit horrible here in Canberra (and I've had the fire incidents map open in a separate browser window pretty solidly the last few days, although the haze and smoke in the air also tells me most of what I need to know.)

But it's been an interesting test of our house's ability to keep cool, as it's the first time the temperatures have got about 32 or so since we bought the place, and for Christmas we also got a nifty indoor/outdoor temperature sensor combination, so we can optimise everything. We don't have air-con, but judicious opening/closing of doors, windows and curtains let us keep the place a full 10 degrees cooler than the outside. Even so, though, when it's 38 outside, it's not great for sleeping indoors either.

Also we have learned that our cat is dumb a very cute little evolutionary dead-end. She will happily lie in the sun until she is actually panting and limp, and her fur almost burns to the touch. After finding her like that twice (and bringing her inside and dropping her in a cool bath and then sponging her down with cold water, which she actually seemed to like), we have learned we have to keep her locked in when it gets above 30. But even then she spends the whole time meowing at the windows, running in circles, or finding a warm fuzzy spot to sleep in, inside of lying naked on the bathroom tiles like the rest of the household...
posted by lollusc at 10:27 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't sass the bushfire text line (i make no warranty of authenticity, it is from the twitters) pic
posted by Trivia Newton John at 11:13 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I live in the hottest part of South Africa (this past year the heat index reached 119). I've never met anyone here who has denied climate change. In fact people talk about it all the time. It's obvious. When you're a subsistence farmer and you don't have air conditioning (let alone running water) you don't really have the luxury of denying climate change from the comfort of your air-conditioned car.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:32 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I know it is horrible, but at least when this gets mentioned in the world media the 'oh, how could you move from lovely warm Australia* to horrid cold Britain' comments I usually have to deal with stop.

*Of course ignoring that a) parts of Australia get cold (the only time my hair has even snapped off with cold was when living in Canberra) b) the humid heat in the tropics is pretty awful (yes I have lived in places like Darwin and Far North Queensland) and c) 35 degrees is still bloody hot even when it isn't humid.
posted by Megami at 12:28 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Australia has kinda humid summers along the north coast, but overall it's pretty dry, right?

I can't pull any of your facts out, but where I am we have had a string of really, really humid days, and nights that don't fall below 30C, and the breeze that usually comes in has been lacking.

The BOM keeps forecasting storms, but they rarely arrive, and if they do it's about 2 minutes of rain that never really reaches the ground (concrete, and cars, hit 50C easily).

Heatwaves on their own are not unusual, but we had a summer warming that didn't really hit until a week before Christmas (it was cool, autumn temps well into December), and when it did hit: HEATWAVE! And then another HEATWAVE.

Our summers appear to have been getting more humid, more Darwinian.
posted by Mezentian at 12:32 AM on January 9, 2013


It's currently about 65% humiditiy in our backyard right about now, here in Brisbane. 30 degrees. We also got a dual sensor weather station over Christmas and it's been pretty entertaining. It's been telling me it should rain all night, but I don't think it's made for the tropics and really, it needs a symbol for "spontaneous combustion".

Depending on where you go down the east coast, it can get very, very humid in summer, but it's worth noting that the tropics are creeping down. I have family in Rockhampton, 600km further north than Brisbane, and the last few summers have increasingly felt like summers spent in Rocky when I was a teenager. The same sort of omnipresent humidity and flat, unmoving air. It's a subjective measure, I know, but it's fairly terrifying nonetheless.
posted by Jilder at 3:52 AM on January 9, 2013


As someone who lived in Darwin for some years, what's terrifying is the climate change projections for that part of the country. I don't have the numbers with me, but it's something like a change from 5 days a year over 35 degrees there, to 100+ days a year over 35 degrees. Significant periods of time with temperatures above 35, with the kind of humidity Darwin has, coupled with increased cyclone activity, and rising sea-levels in a place with very low topography, and I don't see how it could be inhabitable.
posted by Jimbob at 4:00 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Their 'fire risk' scale now goes past 'extreme' to 'catastrophic'.

I predict Australia will be introducing a new colour to its 'fire risk' scale before much longer: 'charcoal'.

For mega-years Australian Aborigines routinely used fire for survival and land management giving rise to the fire-perfect eucalypt.
... recent evolution of eucalypts occurred in the presence of fire, and [...] eucalypts developed characteristics [like you'd never believe] that promote fire, which in turn assists their regeneration. [1]
If countries had to nominate and develop just one global warming field of expertise Australia's would be a no-brainer.  Fire.

This is where new Australian's admirable forethought and investment in our co-operative co-existence with Australia's indigenous people will come home to roost.

On preview, cyclones!  Difficult to beat.
posted by de at 4:12 AM on January 9, 2013


I agree, Jilder. I've grown up in Brisbane for 34 years and in no way have I ever gotten used to this damn heat. The problem is once it gets below 30 degrees just as the sun goes down, the humidity starts cranking up at night - meaning nights are often 25 degrees with 90% humidity. That's "Can't Sleep" territory for me. And the flat air... it's like the tropics, without the joy and beauty of living in the tropics.
posted by chronic sublime at 4:15 AM on January 9, 2013


If countries had to nominate and develop just one global warming field of expertise Australia's would be a no-brainer. Fire.
Actually we already do that. Victorian and other states fireys are going around the world a lot these days, advising and assisting other countries to learn how to put out fire more quickly and efficiently.
posted by wilful at 4:43 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]




Holy crap, EndsOfInvention- those pictures capture something ineffably terrifying- and now I'm crying because the future looks like fear and fire and children holding on for dear life. Dear god.
posted by Phyllis Harmonic at 7:58 AM on January 9, 2013


Solon and Thanks: "I live in the hottest part of South Africa (this past year the heat index reached 119). I've never met anyone here who has denied climate change. In fact people talk about it all the time. It's obvious. When you're a subsistence farmer and you don't have air conditioning (let alone running water) you don't really have the luxury of denying climate change from the comfort of your air-conditioned car."

That's a really interesting observation. Artificial climate controls makes us blind and can lead to hubris. Insidious.
posted by stbalbach at 10:05 AM on January 9, 2013


Holy crap, EndsOfInvention- those pictures capture something ineffably terrifying- and now I'm crying because the future looks like fear and fire and children holding on for dear life. Dear god.

Isn't the vegetation in that part of Australia evolved to common large fires? I remember going to a talk at the University of Oregon about the worlds tallest trees (by the guy who developed climbing redwoods as a research tool-great job) and he spend a lot of time on Eucalyptus (I think) since they are the tallest trees and the reason they are the tallest was an evolutionary tactic using fire to spread their seeds. I think the have a special oil in them that helps them burn even. But those pictures are scary and the terror that family felt was quite real.

And, just like the southwest US, humans have been preventing fires in a misguided attempt to help the environment. As such there is way too much fuel (trees, shrubs, etc) now and fires really are catastrophic. This is not really something about climate change but rather the results of a different bad policy about the natural world.

Anyway not end of the world stuff, but rather reversion to the mean stuff. I have also read some accounts about how the current warming trends may also be a reversion to conditions similar to the roman and medieval warm periods (at least locally where such records exists). Since we don't actually have accurate temperature readings (we have proxy records and while good are NOT the same thing as actual data sets) who knows? Actaully that is the whole problem with all of this-no one actually knows what will happen with increasing CO2 warming forcing in the atmosphere on the short term (meaning human life span). If the feedback loops break the wrong way it is going to get very bad for human civilization in the short term (i think the natural world will actually do just fine-the planet has faced worse conditions and the biosphere has made it-including hominids).
posted by bartonlong at 11:11 AM on January 9, 2013


Didn't it snow in DFW last week?

DFW is nowhere near the coast, which I am on, hence why I said "Texas coast". I don't think I've ever seen it snow here.
posted by Malice at 12:46 PM on January 9, 2013


"Anyway not end of the world stuff . . . "
Good to know this is just business as usual and any resemblance to Children In Hell is purely coincidental. Now if I can just get that child's look of abject terror out of my head . . .
posted by Phyllis Harmonic at 1:19 PM on January 9, 2013


Isn't the vegetation in that part of Australia evolved to common large fires? I remember going to a talk at the University of Oregon about the worlds tallest trees (by the guy who developed climbing redwoods as a research tool-great job) and he spend a lot of time on Eucalyptus (I think) since they are the tallest trees and the reason they are the tallest was an evolutionary tactic using fire to spread their seeds. I think the have a special oil in them that helps them burn even.

Yep, the theory is that the flora in all parts of Australia evolved to deal with fires caused by lightning strike, then the Aboriginals came along & accelerated the natural selection process by deliberately lighting fires as a hunting strategy.

And, just like the southwest US, humans have been preventing fires in a misguided attempt to help the environment.

Yes and no. The fire departments actually spend a lot of time & resources lighting & supervising controlled fires, to clear up all that tinderbox kindling that accumulates, and also to help in the natural processes of the bushland, which relies a lot on fires for regeneration & seeding.

Environmentalists like the Greens party sometimes get blamed for supposedly opposing such burnoffs, but I think that's a false accusation - they know better than anybody how essential fires are. Part of the issue may be that some species apparently need super hot infernos to propagate, so annual burnoffs can be good for safety, but worse for the bush, so a balance needs to be struck there.

Also, Australia is very big, so there's a limit to just how much acreage you can burn off in a year.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:21 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Australian bushfires photographed from space and google mapped.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:34 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Afterthought: my sister actually did a thesis, trying to work out exactly what kinds of fire-related conditions are required for a particularly rare flower's seeds to germinate. Its natural habitat is the Blue Mountains near Sydney, and IIRC the regular hazard reduction burnoffs may have been to blame for the fact that the flowers are only spotted by bushwalkers every dozen years, if lucky.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:36 PM on January 9, 2013


So, um, those pictures of the family sheltering in the water make me wonder (and I used up my "ask" question already this week):

I'm going to Adelaide next week to work with a prof there on a joint project, and he lives way out of town on a farm. He's already told me I need to stay at his place and we will do our work there, because he needs to be home to defend it in case of bushfires. I gather that means if a bushfire comes, we aren't leaving. He has a swimming pool. Is it plausible that I could shelter in the pool while a fire passes by? I was assuming not, because the water would get hot, and the flames would gust over the top and burn my head off, and also gases... but now I'm wondering.
posted by lollusc at 3:45 PM on January 9, 2013


Is it plausible that I could shelter in the pool while a fire passes by?

Do not do this! The heat likely won't kill you but you will suffocate as the fire burns up lots of oxygen and the air fills with carbon monoxide and dioxide. I'm not just talking out of my arse, here; this happened in the Melbourne fires a few years ago, and nearly happened in the Canberra fires to one family.

Smoke inhalation rarely gets the attention it deserves a huge part of deaths in bushfires. It makes people addled if it doesn't kill them outright, and then they make frenzied, confused, bad decisions that will kill them.
posted by smoke at 3:49 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


because he needs to be home to defend it in case of bushfires.

Well if he has a real fire plan the plan should include both defending it, and being aware of when conditions mean it can't be defended and you should just get the hell out of there.

(The Prof isn't Corey Bradshaw is it? Just wondering...)

So questions about prescribed burning are popping up again, with people declaring "if only more controlled burns had been carried out!". We go through this every time. When the burns are carried out, you get constant complaints from the public about the smoke and ash, and there are very real, quantifiable increases in mortality and respiratory illness. On top of this, as Ubu said, Australia is a big place, there are limited numbers of people to carry out prescribed burns, they have a very limited climatic window in which to carry them out (and that window is getting smaller), and controlled burns quite frequently become uncontrolled. It isn't a cure-all for everything. Instead of asking "why didn't the authorities do controlled burns?", you might just as well ask "why are you living so damn close to flammable trees?". Analysis of the aftermath of the 2009 Victorian fires showed the most significant factor determining if a house survived or not, was whether vegetation was cleared around the property and there was a reasonable distance to the forest.
posted by Jimbob at 3:57 PM on January 9, 2013


Yeah, that's what I thought. The picture of the family sheltering in the water just made me wonder. I guess maybe if the water body is large enough (like a lake) then the fire doesn't go over it and you don't get the CO build-up.
posted by lollusc at 3:57 PM on January 9, 2013


Sorry, that was a reply to Smoke. And Jimbob, no it isn't him.
posted by lollusc at 3:59 PM on January 9, 2013


Analysis of the aftermath of the 2009 Victorian fires showed the most significant factor determining if a house survived or not, was whether vegetation was cleared around the property and there was a reasonable distance to the forest.

Ah, that's right - and then the Greens get blamed for somehow opposing applications to remove established trees near houses. I suppose it may well happen in some councils, but you'd hope not in fire-prone areas.

On sheltering in swimming pools: no, this is not a good idea. In the 1994 bushfires near my parents' place that wiped out about 100 houses, "one of the civilians [who died] was a woman who sheltered in a swimming pool at Jannali, but died of airway burns due to the intense heat of the air she was breathing."
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:16 PM on January 9, 2013


Ah, that's right - and then the Greens get blamed for somehow opposing applications to remove established trees near houses.

Well, yeah. There's always a way to blame the Greens, one way or the other. There's little attempt to just accept that we live in a dangerous, fire-prone place, and that we are just puny humans who might have to get used to it.
posted by Jimbob at 4:24 PM on January 9, 2013


Smoke inhalation rarely gets the attention it deserves a huge part of deaths in bushfires. It makes people addled if it doesn't kill them outright, and then they make frenzied, confused, bad decisions that will kill them.
posted by smoke at 6:49 PM on January 9 [+] [!]

Eponysterical on steroids!
posted by ericb at 4:32 PM on January 9, 2013


You should hear his views on cigarettes.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:36 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yep, the theory is that the flora in all parts of Australia evolved to deal with fires

Not quite true, there are significant vegetation types such as cool temperate and tropical rainforest that are very fire susceptible, and do not appreciate fire at all. It can take up to 500 years for some naturally damp ecosystems to recover from a big fire. Others, such as coastal heaths, get less healthy and diverse if they don't have a fire at least every twenty years, and expect a fire every five to ten years.

Also, there is in fact a grain of truth in the criticism of some Greens who appear to rate human safety less highly than others in the discussion of the trade-offs of vegetation clearance and bushfire safe areas. It's obviously a grey area - a perfectly safe house would have a large apron of concrete around it, while a lovely Kinglake or Yarra Ranges eco-retreat could have mountain ash towering over it.

There are trade-off to be made at some point, and I don't think it should come as a surprise that the Green party is more towards the literal green end of the scale than the broad mass of society. To say otherwise would be like our current political debate where there is fake surprise when Labor sticks up for labour, or the Conservatives have values that are more conservative than the median.

Until tomorrow, I work for the Department of Sustainability and Environment in Victoria. DSE (Sparks and Embers; Scorched Earth) runs one of the largest fuel reduction burning programs in the world. After the Bushfires Royal Commission a target was set of 395 000 ha per annum, or about 5 % of public land, so a twenty year rotation. Internally we call this the "big dumb number", as it bears no clear relationship to either human safety and risk reduction or ecological necessities. However it is widely acknowledged that the department did too little burning in the 1990s, and had lost capacity over this time. We have greatly reformed in recent years, and I wouldn't hesitate to say that DSE knows as much as any organisation about balancing a variety of needs while keeping the community as safe as reasonably possible, all informed by as much science as we can afford.

But living anywhere near the bush in south-eastern australia is going to be dangerous. This can only get worse, much worse, over the next century. After 2100 across most of the range we'll probably have moved to a much more species depauperate condition, dominated by wattles and mallee woodlands, and fires wont be as bad. Flooding and soil condition certainly will be though.
posted by wilful at 5:05 PM on January 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


My understanding of the 5% target (I'm currently working with some DSE folks, putting together a paper on what it means for the Alps) is that, being a broad arbitrary number, they're going to mostly have to apply it to the mallee to make up the quota each year. And burning the hell out of the mallee isn't going to make much difference to fire safety in the part of the state with the most population, and the most intense fires.
posted by Jimbob at 5:12 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Precisely, Jimbob.

Meanwhile, the Dandenongs and the Otways are too dangerous to safely undertake FRB - along with too many complaints from locals and tourists, there's too much liability if/when something goes wrong with the prescribed burn.

But I wouldn't go anywhre near either of those places on a catastrophic fire day.

Worst case scenario, which is within the realms of possibility, is that Australia day weekend in a few years, the great ocean road coast is packed with holiidaymakers, there are fires in Forrest and Anglesea, people are trapped, many hundreds die.
posted by wilful at 5:37 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


the great ocean road coast is packed with holiidaymakers, there are fires in Forrest and Anglesea, people are trapped, many hundreds die.

It occurred to me that the Tasmanian Falls Festival, with 16,000 people, took place 3 days before, and right in the middle of the fires we had over the weekend. The same thing applies to the Falls Festival at Lorne...
posted by Jimbob at 5:40 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Luckily, the All Tomorrow's Parties festival is in suburban Altona. That's not in the middle of old growth forest, is it?

(Crime & the City Solution & Pere Ubu have recently been added to the lineup!)
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:09 PM on January 9, 2013


Crime & the City Solution?

Damn.
posted by Jimbob at 7:28 PM on January 9, 2013


Crime & the City Solution?

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.
posted by Mezentian at 4:45 AM on January 10, 2013


..."if only more controlled burns had been carried out!". We go through this every time. When the burns are carried out, you get constant complaints from the public about the smoke and ash,
Well, they don't help the cause much by doing, as they did a few weeks ago, a burn-off (necessary - a large bushland area steep enough to be practically inaccessible in the middle of a dense suburban area) in bushland that abuts a primary school - sending my son's school into complete lock-down two days in a row because of smoke, ash and flying embers. They could have waited a week and a half and done it during school holidays...

Ah, that's right - and then the Greens get blamed for somehow opposing applications to remove established trees near houses. I suppose it may well happen in some councils, but you'd hope not in fire-prone areas.

I live in a fire-prone area, very close to a national park (about 150 metres). The local council will not allow any tree, living or dead, over 40cm in circumference to be removed or significantly pruned unless it is less than 3 metres from a house. They are very, shall we say, rigorous in enforcing this. One of my neighbours applied to remove a number of trees at his place and was refused. Immediately after, a council inspector came out with a surveyor and surveyed the entire property, noting and photographing every tree and advising that they may carry out checks in future to make sure all the trees were still there. This may nor may not have something to do with his response when told of the refused application, which was to ask what would happen if he just cut them down anyway ...

Part of the problem, I think, is that so many people want to live the semi-rural lifestyle on acreage blocks near bushland, but aren't prepared to take responsibility for their property (or to join or contribute to the (volunteer) rural fire services that are stretched further and further with less and less money). I'm aware of the risk of staying with a home that can't be saved, but I'm prepared and ready to protect my home up to that point (and have three major roads I can use to escape if necessary). I have a petrol-powered fire pump with a huge supply of water that allows me to wet down the entire house and all vegetation surrounding it, but I'm amazed at the number of people in the area who don't even give fire a thought. Perhaps they assume that the fire services will just pull up in their truck and save them, despite the rural fire people visiting every house in the area every year and being very explicit about how that just won't happen.
posted by dg at 7:28 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The local council will not allow any tree, living or dead, over 40cm in circumference to be removed or significantly pruned unless it is less than 3 metres from a house. They are very, shall we say, rigorous in enforcing this.

Councils tend to be very nitpicky about such things, but is that a Greens thing? I thought it was just how councils operate.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:59 PM on January 10, 2013


Heh, we cut down some tall palms without approval. My botanist sister pointed out that palms are technically grasses, not trees, so we felt this would hold up in any Kangaroo court.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:00 PM on January 10, 2013


They could have waited a week and a half and done it during school holidays...

Well in Queensland's climate, they probably could have. In Victoria and Tasmania, the window of opportunity is often very small. Has to be warm and dry enough for things to actually burn, but not hot and dry enough for the fires to get out of control. Then they have to look at the atmospheric conditions to make sure the smoke will rise into the upper atmosphere and be carried away - nowdays this often involves atmospheric dispersion modelling, computer simulations of where the smoke is likely to end up. And when all the conditions are met, they have to rush in and do it. And then they screw it up. It's not easy.
posted by Jimbob at 8:02 PM on January 10, 2013


The local council will not allow any tree, living or dead, over 40cm in circumference to be removed or significantly pruned unless it is less than 3 metres from a house. They are very, shall we say, rigorous in enforcing this.

Councils tend to be very nitpicky about such things, but is that a Greens thing? I thought it was just how councils operate.


Yes, it is. Has nothing to do with politics. Councils, particularly inner city councils, tend to have strict tree preservation schemes. It's just that trees take a long time to grow back, so they don't want mistakes.

The Greens only control 2 councils in NSW - Leichhardt and Byron.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:16 PM on January 10, 2013


Yes, councils.
In WA there are no (open) party political affiliations for council elections, and environmental factors seem to play a very small role in what passes for electoral debate.

Mostly these things come from officer level anyway.
posted by Mezentian at 8:28 PM on January 10, 2013


Yeah, I can understand that it's not easy - it's a rare day here where the weather is still enough in the middle of the day to avoid inundating surrounding houses with thick smoke, which probably played a part in the timing. Also, the wind on those days was coming from a direction that is unusual here, sending the smoke directly into the school. I didn't really mean to be too critical of what they did, but these kind of outcomes don't help the public perception any.

I don't think the attitude of councils towards tree preservation is a 'Greens' thing (no political affiliations in the council here), but it's definitely a 'green' thing - my local council spends millions of dollars every year buying land, albeit funded by a levy on ratepayers, in the hinterland to retain as 'environmental corridors' - particularly land that adjoins national parks, state forests and other areas of land they have purchased. They also give away thousands of trees a year and, where they do allow removal of trees, require the planting of specified native species (at least two for every tree removed). They fought a very bitter, protracted and expensive battle to retain huge floodplain areas free from development but were, in the end, unsuccessful due to interference from the state government and the very deep pockets of developers. I'm sure they will be gracious enough to not say 'told you so' when those houses inevitably end up under several metres of water some time in the future.
posted by dg at 8:58 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]












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