One of today’s water cooler chatters revolved around the team’s worries regarding the current status of climate change. With a constant and worrying increase in temperatures of both the air and the ocean, the climate change is a really concerning process. Just in Australia and its surroundings for example, the climate has warmed by more than 1.4°C since 1910. It might not seem like a lot, but 1.5°C is predicted to result in the destruction of 70% of coral reefs, put over 4 million people in the US alone at risk of flooding along coastlines, and more generally increase the risk to the health, livelihood, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth. With this growing concern among us here, at Ozford, we decided to delve into the topic and find out more. As knowledge is synonym of power, we can safely say that with greater knowledge comes greater responsibilities. And as citizens of the country with the greatest CO2 emissions per capita, we want to take the lead and show the example in matter of eco-responsibility and ecology.
Changes in temperatures
From the graph, it is obvious that most of the temperature increase happened from 1950 onwards. Every decade has been warmer than its predecessor, with the years 2013-2019 ranking in the nine warmest years. We are at a stage where every year now is undoubtedly warmer than any year monitored during the 20th century. If you look closer, you will realise that periodically, cool years take place: those drops in temperatures are caused by natural phenomenon such as La Nina. This natural and cyclical climate pattern that changes weather patterns worldwide, it acts as a counterpart to El Nino’s warming. As for the ocean, it has unfortunately not been spared. While its temperature has only increase by 1 °C since 1900, it has also come to an all-time high in the years 2010-2020.
Some more evidence of the global warming in Australia is the frequency of very hot summer days. In 2019, there were 33 of them with an average maximum temperature exceeding 39°C, while there was only 24 days very hot days recorded from 1960 to 2018. Moreover, very high monthly maximum temperatures that occurred almost 2% of the time from 1960 to 1989 have increased to 4% in the years 1990 to 2004. From 2005 to 2019 however, this rate jumped to over 12% of the time: that is more than a sixfold increase since 1960.
Changes in rainfalls
Rainfalls in Australia are heavily affected by natural cyclic events such as El Nino and La Nina, but the general trend of drier conditions persists through the cycles. Southwest and southeast regions of Australia experience below average rainfall, especially during the historically wettest seasons from April to October. 17 of the last 20 years’ records depict below average rainfalls in those regions. Southwest has recorded a decline of almost 16% from April to October since 1970 while the months of May to July have shown the largest decrease in the same region, with about 20% since 1970. In contrast, the decrease that has taken place in the southeast part of the country was only around 12% in April to October since the late 1990s.
Steps we can take to help preventing it
It is crucial for every one of us to take the right steps to tackle climate change at a personal level. Some very simple but efficient processes we actively promote at Ozford, among others, are the following:
-Public transports -> We encourage everyone to use the public transport facilities available around the school. Reducing the use of the car is both economic and ecological: you get to save money on parking and petrol, which is expensive at the moment, and instead it is possible to travel to the city using the public transport infrastructure.
-No waste of energy -> By taking the habit of saving energy, it is possible to cut back a lot of the energy expenditure. Simple habits such as turning off the tap when not currently using it, turning off the lights after leaving a room and even closing a door when the heater is on helps reducing the use of energy in a location.
-Recycling -> In order to save energy on manufacturing, it is important to recycle for materials to be reused instead of being wasted and new ones need to be made from scarce natural resources. Recycling bins are available all throughout the campus, and if you are unsure as to whether something is recyclable, simply ask one of the staff members!