January 8, 2013
The current heatwave is the sort of weather system typically associated with the middle of summer, especially across southern Australia. But the heat wave has been exacerbated by the monsoonal trough that usually brings cloud and rain in the north of the continent remaining far offshore in the Timor Sea.
A stationary high-pressure system over Australia has allowed heat to circulate over the inland, and with no respite from monsoonal cloud or rain, temperatures are building upon themselves.
It is likely that more extreme weather events similar to the current widespread heat wave (an intense hot dry heat) in southern Australia will become more frequent.
As Barry Brooke says global warming is clearly expected to both increase the frequency of heatwaves (i.e., greater number of events per unit time) and cause those heatwaves that do occur to be hotter and to last longer (on average).
Yet the various levels of government in Australia continue to subsidize coal fired power changes and to place obstacles to the development of renewable energy that would facilitate the emergence of a low carbon economy. They oppose political action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and do so in order to protect the vested fossil fuel interests.
Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal and that is what matters. After all, economic progress can only be achieved by a high rate of natural resource extraction. We we can exploit the earth as much as we want without any significant side effects. That has become Big Mining's narrative and it is what sits behind the contradictions in energy policy.