THE nation’s leading climate change expert (sic) has again warned of dire weather events – but this time his predictions centre on western Sydney.
In a report to be released today, climate commissioner Professor Tim Flannery said the region’s temperatures would rise sharply in coming years, leading to violence and more cases of mental illness.
The commission said western suburbs were suffering from “an urban island heat effect” with concrete, buildings and asphalt raising temperatures by 1C to 2C.
The commission’s Professor Lesley Hughes said last night deaths should also be expected if the forecasts of more severe heatwaves were realised.
The horror predictions in the report come after a cool summer with the longest run of days under 30C in 15 years.
TEMPERATURES in Sydney’s western suburbs are rising faster than in the city’s ritzy eastern suburbs, leading to a prediction hospital admissions will skyrocket by 40 per cent by 2030.
A report to be released today by the Climate Commission on the impacts of climate change on NSW directly links climate change to increases in the number of heatwave days in Australia’s biggest metropolitan area, and claims that residents of western Sydney would experience more days above 35C and that this would occur at a faster rate than in the eastern suburbs.
The number of days over 35C is up by 60 per cent in western Sydney since 1970, while the coastal eastern suburbs had not shown a significant trend.
However, sea-level rises could spark storm-surge problems for coastal areas, with the report citing research that predicts a 50cm rise in sea level could spark flooding events – currently seen as one-in-100-year phenomena – every few months.
Chief climate commissioner Tim Flannery said the report was based on the latest science and had been released before a series of meetings in western Sydney this week.
He encouraged people to come forward and “ask their questions and air their doubts”.
Climate commissioner Lesley Hughes, one of the authors of the latest report, said western Sydney was experiencing four times the number of heatwave days compared with the eastern suburbs – up from three times as many heat-wave days in the 1970s.
However, Professor Hughes, the head of the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University, said the difference could well be a combination of climate change and the fact that a lack of a sea breeze, heat-trapping roads, dark roofs and carparks, and increased temperature had made the areas into a “heat island”.
But the report’s findings were greeted with a mixed response in Sydney’s west yesterday. (The Australian)