Australia’s summer won’t officially begin for over a month, yet this Saturday the continent experienced a heatwave that smashed temperature records nationwide.
According to the country’s Bureau of Meteorology, the average maximum temperature this past Saturday was 36.39° Celsius (97.5° Fahrenheit), the highest October temperature since records began in 1910. Sunday temperatures were almost as high.
A spokesperson for the Bureau told the Sydney Morning Herald that Australia’s heatwaves “are all occurring generally about a week early and the extent is longer than observed before.” This bolsters the findings of climate scientists in 2013, when the country experienced its hottest summer on record.
Last year, temperatures reached as high as 50° Celsius (122° Fahrenheit) in some places, with the lingering heat even forcing the Australian Open tennis tournament to temporarily shut down. Five groups of researchers were dispatched to analyze the phenomena using different methods and all five concluded that the extreme, long-term warming could not have occurred without the influence of human-induced climate change.
“When we look at the heat across the whole of Australia and the whole 12 months of 2013, we can say that this was virtually impossible without climate change,” said David Karoly, a climate scientist at the University of Melbourne and a co-leader of the research.
Globally, Australia produces 1.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. However, Carbon Neutral, an Australian carbon solutions provider and reforestation developer, reports that on a per capita basis, Australia is one of the world’s largest polluters. Per capita, Australia emits almost twice the amount of carbon dioxide as the OECD average and over four times the world average.
Despite this fact, and despite the record-breaking heatwaves such atmospheric pollution contributes to, the Australian government has committed to a policy of anti-climate action, repealing its innovative carbon tax in July and de-incentivizing its budding solar industry.