January 4, 2014

The hottest day yet

At 1.20 pm today it was 38.7 degrees according to the Bureau of Meteorology's observations for Brisbane. They had predicted a high of 41, but I don't reckon it will get any hotter than this. There may have been a change in wind direction; it's quite breezy, which will help.

This is the hottest it's been since we moved to Brisbane four years ago, but it is not a record-breaker. Records are being broken in the state's interior, however. Where we stayed near Thargomindah on our Outback trip in June, it reached 49 on Thursday.

Many temperature records fell in 2013. Last Friday, BOM issued its annual climate statement for the year. 2013 was Australia's warmest year on record. From a global perspective, 2013 was the sixth warmest on record. It's essential reading if you want the facts about weather trends rather than deniers' dangerous propaganda: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/annual/aus/2013/

I can't help feeling that this is what many Australians are going to have to get used to over the next few decades, and worse if nothing is done soon to reduce global carbon emissions. Unfortunately Australia has a right-wing government that steadfastly clings to the idea that planting a few trees will be enough of a response to a change in the climate that they have yet to acknowledge is directly affected by their citizens' lifestyle demands. The Greens have called Prime Minister Tony Abbott 'a reckless ideologue who ignores the science' in response to BOM's report.

Unlike probably most of the citizens of Brisbane, today is the first day we have used air conditioning this summer. We didn't use it last summer, and possibly only for an hour or so the summer before that. We believe it is for when the heat becomes seriously debilitating; not merely to maintain one's ideal temperature, or instead of opening a few windows and doors to create a usually perfectly adequate through-draught.

Today the heat was making me cranky by mid-afternoon. You have to keep drinking because you're sweating so much (humidity was 63 per cent) you would soon dehydrate otherwise. You can't have a cold shower: the cold water supply is warm, probably because the pipes are too near the surface. Ice cubes last barely a couple of minutes. All surfaces and floors are warm to the touch. Cleansing balm becomes liquid. The aircon is struggling because the house isn't insulated and windows and doors are ill-fitting; numerous windows and fandangled metal louvres permit a merciless sun to slow-cook those inside. I can't imagine the discomfort of 10 degrees further up the scale.

On hot days Queenslanders head for water. In Brisbane, they mass on Streets Beach at South Bank. But that's more my idea of hell than my hothouse right now.