New Australia Institute research shows that extremely hot days (over 35 degrees) could triple in Gladstone by 2070. The number of extreme heat days in Gladstone has already increased from 2.6 days per year in the 1960s to 6.5 days per year this century.
This increase has now exceeded extreme heat projections for the year 2050 made by the CSRIO and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). The CSIRO-BoM projects days over 35 degrees will increase from the historic level of 2.6 per year to 19 per year by 2070 unless decisive action is taken to reduce emissions.
“The research finds that CSIRO-BoM projections for days over 35 degrees have already been exceeded,” says Mark Ogge, Principal Advisor at The Australia Institute and co-author of the report.
“Increasing extreme heat will affect every aspect of our lives. It will impact health and wellbeing and reduce productivity in most industries. It will reduce agricultural production, devastate the natural environment and reduce everybody’s quality of life.
“This will also impact on mining and industrial workers in the Gladstone region.
“The silver lining is that this is not inevitable. The forecasts show that if emissions are reduced, the increase in extreme temperatures can be limited to levels similar to the present.
“As an industry and energy hub, Gladstone is in a unique position to shift to renewable energy which could also be used to power its industries. This would create jobs in the region and given renewable energy is already cheaper than gas and coal, it will reduce power prices.”
“Combined with 70% humidity, conditions over 35 degrees are considered very dangerous to people’s health,” says Dr Elizabeth Hanna, ANU Heat and Health expert.
“Gladstone’s humidity levels already regularly exceed 70% and the increase in days above 35 degrees will have severe impacts on human health, including increased rates of heat-related deaths.”