I have been writing this column for a long time and I always try to present messages that have some sort of positive angle or a positive solution, but sometimes the point of the column is to raise awareness and motivate overall behaviour change. This is one of those columns.
If you are in Australia, you would be hard pressed not to be aware of the unseasonably warm winter we are having. In fact, July was 1.19 degrees warmer than the 1961-1990 average. And as lovely as that seems that we aren’t freezing our toes off, it really isn’t a good thing. Let’s take a quick look at why that is the case.
It probably goes without saying that a warmer winter is indicative of a warmer planet. The lovely sunny, warm weather we are feeling today, when it should be colder, foretells a less stable climate overall and greater risk of the extreme weather events we are seeing with increasing frequency worldwide.
More directly, our warmer winter has resulted in lower rainfall in some parts of the country, which increases potential fuel loads ahead of summer. This creates significant risk of grass fire and raises concerns about an early bush fire season. Water scarcity (due to lower rainfall and increased evaporation) can also contribute to drought conditions, which we know has impacts on ecosystems, agriculture and even personal wellbeing.
Warmer winters also have impacts on ecosystems in ways we may not think about. For example, mosquito reproduction slows down in cold weather, so a warmer winter can increase numbers of members of our population we really don’t want greater numbers of.
Other species that are affected by warmer winters are butterflies, bees, bats and birds. If these species migrate or reproduce earlier than usual due to warm weather, there may be insufficient food for them. And this can affect the roles they all play in controlling pests, fertilising, pollinating, etc. Our ecosystems are delicately balanced, and warmer weather can disrupt these balances.
So, while waking up to warm, sunny weather in July in August is pleasant, we need to keep in mind why it is happening and what we need to be doing to mitigate climate change at the individual level, the community level, the national level and even the global level. By supporting sustainable practices, advocating for renewable energy sources, and embracing measures to combat climate change, we can work together to ensure that our beautiful planet continues to thrive for generations to come.
Consider some of the following:
Reduce your carbon footprint. Opt for sustainable transportation, use energy-efficient appliances, and minimise water wastage (see below). Small changes in daily habits can collectively have a big impact.
Support renewable energy. Invest in renewable energy sources including solar, and wind.
Support reforestation. Trees are natural carbon sinks. Participate in tree-planting initiatives or support organisations focused on reforestation.
Reduce waste. Look at all the “Rs” we can practice as individuals (refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, rot, rehome and recycle) to minimise waste production.
Sustainable diet. Reduce meat consumption, as animal agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Embrace plant-based or flexitarian diets.
Advocate and educate. Support climate change and sustainability initiatives; raise awareness, share credible information, engage in meaningful conversations to inspire others to take action.
Support conservation efforts. Contribute to organisations working to protect endangered species and fragile ecosystems. This ties back to supporting reforestation
Water conservation. Practice water-saving techniques, fix leaks promptly, and adopt water-efficient landscaping practices.
Adapt and prepare. Help your community prepare for the effects of climate change by supporting initiatives like building resilient infrastructure and disaster preparedness plans. Advocate for local and federal initiatives like drought policy, bush fire preparedness, wildlife protection, etc.
Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.