Yvonne Gardiner - Ipswich Advertiser
Yvonne Gardiner - Ipswich Advertiser Ipswich Advertiser

We'd better get ready for more 40 degree heatwaves

I'M feeling slightly guilty and defeated... I had to switch the air-conditioning on at home last Saturday.

When the temperature soared above 40C, and I felt like I was suffering heatstroke just hanging the clothes on the line, the cooling switch had to be flicked.

The guilt trip comes from my overriding desire to be frugal with non-renewable resources, like gas or coal-driven electricity, hence the reason the dishwasher only gets a workout every couple of months.

After a minor recovery with gulps of cold water, there was then an urgent need to deliver a cooling hose-down to the birds outside.

A pair of curlews had been occupying the shade underneath one of the big trees since the early morning.

The resident crow had endured a hot dip in the bird bath, and the brush turkey was anxiously searching for a place out of the heat.

He found it, smack bang in the middle of the newly planted veggie patch which was still damp from an earlier hosing.

A parched young tawny frogmouth lay motionless in the bare soil under a tree canopy, enjoying a wet spray.

Hot as south-east Queensland is in a normal summer, last weekend's hellish weather whisked us all into survival mode.

When we witness heat-stricken bats falling dead from the trees in their hundreds, and health departments issuing urgent warnings about the dire effects of scorching conditions, we're jolted again into the realisation that living in this land of extremes isn't always jolly and pleasant.

Given recently released data that Australia experienced the hottest 12 months on record last year, these sizzling temperatures could be here to stay.

I can see an urgent need to figure out better ways of surviving in sweltering heat without resorting to motor-driven appliances.

Where's the sense in burning coal, oil and gas to make electricity to cool us down when the use of these finite resources is probably making our world hotter? That's a vicious cycle if ever I saw one.

My heat-related concerns also drifted to the plight of rural landholders who contend with 40-degree heat on a regular basis.

They see their crops shrivel up under a merciless sun, and watch their animals dehydrate and die.

Perhaps we can learn from people around the world who regularly endure these extreme temperatures? Millions of them don't have air-conditioners and iced drinks close at hand.

Do we do enough to make our homes cooler, by installing roof insulation, awnings, shade cloth or external blinds on the sides of the house facing the sun?

And what happened to the campaign to give us more solar power? Shouldn't that be revived?

There's no doubt that water management is the key to survival in a warmed-up world, especially in our dry environment.

Avoiding exhausting work in the worst heat of the day is also a good tip. And light-coloured, loose clothing also has a cooling effect.

Australia's a harsh and difficult place at times - we just need to adapt our way of living to be more in harmony with its peculiarities.


WE CAN HELP: A rhino walks out of the bush in Kruger National Park, South Africa.
WE CAN HELP: A rhino walks out of the bush in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Yvonne Gardiner

We can play a part in global village

WHEREVER we are, whoever we are, it's possible to be of use to a cause we feel strongly about.

One of the advantages of being part of the global village, and on the information highway, is that word spreads quickly about issues we take an interest in.

That interest can then be turned into action.

With a small contribution, an Ipswich artist has played a part in the cause of rhino conservation.

That's incredibly heartwarming - that a woman a vast distance from where rhinos and their protectors are fighting for their very existence can dedicate her time and efforts to their welfare.

Benitta Harding has "prettied up" a couple of fibreglass rhinos for a Taronga Zoo public art project that promotes a breeding program and the conservation of the species.

Coincidentally, my bedtime reading book this week is Planet Elephant, by Australian conservationist Tammie Matson. Matson follows the global trade in ivory and rhino horn to try to stem the killing of these majestic animals.

They are perilously close to extinction in much of their natural habitat.

"Everyone can do something to help Africa's elephants and rhinos," she says.

"Whether it's donating to a cause, signing a petition, sharing information, going on safari, or volunteering in Africa.

"All those drops in the ocean do add up."

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