On heatwaves (part two)

It has been three years since I have experienced proper summer heat. The weather in Melbourne last week was a brutal reminder of what hot weather is like. 

On Wednesday, temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius, which still felt like a lovely warm hug to my summer-deprived, well-hydrated body. Not that it wasn’t hot, my friend burnt and blistered her feet through her shoes as we walked through Docklands in Melbourne. 

It was on Friday, as temperatures hit above 43 degrees that I (re)discovered my limit. The city had an apocalyptic feel as the haze from the NSW fires settled over us. I attempted to take a tram home from work but it was somehow hotter inside than outside and wasn’t moving anywhere. Instead I, who optimistically declared almost 10 years ago that I didn’t need a car, begged my boyfriend to come and pick me up from the station and jumped on a train (turns out cars can be handy when living in a very sprawling, hot city and the closest train station is a 50 minute walk from where you are living). Once home, I have never been so grateful for air conditioning which seemed incredibly cool even at a set point of 27 degrees. We couldn’t work out how to turn on the air conditioning in the bedrooms and they were inhabitable without it, so we slept on the living room floor. I checked the temperature outside at about two hour intervals through the night (sleeping on the floor isn’t actually that comfortable), and finally at 5am the temperature had dropped enough that we could open the windows and let a cool breeze in.

It wasn’t just Melbourne feeling the heat. For two days in a row, Australia broke its own extreme high temperature record. Historically there might have been one or two days above 40 degrees each summer, and we got two in a week. 

It is utterly bemusing to be in a country that is already feeling the impacts of climate change so dramatically, and yet is so reluctant to do anything about it. If I could have one of those grown up Christmas wishes, it would be for the Australian Government to start taking serious and appropriate action to address the climate crisis. Perhaps in 2020!

Related links:

  • I’m having two summers this year, so you are getting two posts about heatwaves this year. Read the first one here.
  • The ABC News Story Lab has put together a powerful interactive explainer of how the climate has changed since our childhood, and what the future might hold. Truly terrifying!
  • What would serious and appropriate action by the Australian Government look like? Joining these countries and setting a net zero emissions target to start. A target of 26-28 percent reduction by 2030 (from a 2005 baseline) is nowhere near a fair contribution to the 45 percent reduction (from a 2010 baseline) that the IPCC has said is required globally to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
Back to Top