Was that climate change?

We often hear scientists and experts being asked on the nightly news if a particular storm, bush-fire or heatwave was ‘caused’ by climate change. You wouldn’t be alone if you found their answers a little vague and confusing, at times. This is because it is difficult to link individual events with climate change. Extreme weather has always been a feature of life. However, since human activities started to change the climate, extreme weather is becoming more frequent and more intense. So, while we can’t necessarily link an isolated, single event with climate change; we can say with absolute certainty that natural hazards are getting more frequent and intense overall. You might find this summary of climate change on recent natural disasters helpful.

is climate change actually happening yet?

Campbelltown Nature Play Kids

Well, yes it is... 

We’ve been hearing about the prospect of climate change for so long now that it can be easy to think it will happen to people far off in the future. In fact, climate change is already happening. It is affecting all of us, right here in eastern Adelaide, right now. Put simply, eastern Adelaide is getting hotter and drier and and our storms are getting more intense. This means existing natural hazards such as heatwaves, bushfire, drought, storms and floods are becoming more frequent and intense.

i know the climate is changing but what can i do?

The most important thing we can all do is to prevent greenhouse gas emissions releasing into the atmosphere. This will stop further changes to our climate. This is what we call Mitigation. Even if we stop all emissions, a certain level of climate change has already been locked in. This means no matter what, we will need to adapt to the impacts of these changes. Check out the Our Projects page for links to initiatives you can get involved with so you, your family, business and community are climate ready. You might also like to attend our upcoming Events to better help you prepare.

don't we need more research before we do anything?

We know more than enough to act on climate change. There will always be some level of uncertainty regarding the future climate, but uncertainty should not prevent steps in the right direction. A lot of work has been done by scientists, research institutes and different levels of government to understand the risks and to propose actions to manage those risks. Lots of community groups and individuals have already taken action and are showing what is working.

Campbelltown Community Garden

Resilient East have worked with leading scientists and experts to develop a Regional Climate Change Adaptation Plan. When developing this plan, we worked closely with our local communities and businesses to ensure community needs and values were met.

it doesn't seem that bad yet, why don't we wait until it gets worse?

Unfortunately, if we wait till it gets worse, it will be too late.  There's a term in climate science called ‘climate inertia’ and it's not referring to the inertia of people! Climate inertia refers to the lag between greenhouse gases being emitted and the resulting warming being felt or observed. Scientists tell us that even after CO2 emissions are reduced and atmospheric concentrations stabilise, surface air temperature will continue to rise slowly for a century or more. This means that oceans will continue to warm and expand long after CO2 emissions have been reduced, and this, plus melting of ice sheets, will continue to contribute to sea-level rise for many centuries to come. 

The earlier we act, the more we can minimise the damage we experience from rising sea levels and extreme weather.

shouldn't we just leave it to the experts?

Experts have been great at laying out the nature of the challenge, but the solution requires action from everyone, including me and you! From governments to multi national corporations, schools, community groups and individuals. It turns out that this is one of those problems that requires action by everyone. 

Norwood Civic Centre

if it's meant to be getting hotter and drier, why did it rain so much this year?

The trend of hotter and drier is simply that - a trend. Overall, eastern Adelaide is getting hotter and drier but that doesn't mean we won't still have periods where it is cool and rainy. In fact, we're finding that rainfall overall is less, although, when it does rain, climate change is causing rainfall events to be more intense, resulting in storm surges and flooding.

What is an Urban Heat Island?

The Urban Heat Island (UHI) is an urban or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its neighbouring or rural areas due to human activities. The Cities of Adelaide and Unley recently partnered with RMIT University and the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) to undertake a Citizen Science Urban Microclimate Project to measure outdoor heat and teach people about the factors that influence our cities climate.

Here is a video from this project that helps explain the UHI further.