Heatwave 'predictable' result of climate change

THE current extreme heat wave conditions across southern Australia should be no surprise, according to climate change commentator and Charles Sturt University academic, Professor Kevin Parton.

"As a species we seem to have made the decision to continue along the path of climate change. Two predicted consequences of this are that weather will become more extreme and that there will be more instances of extreme weather," Professor Parton, a senior researcher with CSU's Institute for Land, Water and Society based at Orange, said.

"So why should we be so surprised when we are in the middle of extreme weather such as the current heatwave?"

Professor Parton believes that as we have accepted climate change, people should expect more heat, more cold, more wet, more dry, more wind, more bushfires, and more floods, and so we should be prepared for these events.

"But as a species we seem to live from crisis to crisis. Once we get through a disaster, we seem to have a memory loss about it, and just go back to our normal lives," he said.

"We need to better learn the lessons from the current extreme circumstances and establish systems to respond more effectively in future."

Professor Parton asserts that while we must do what we can to alleviate the suffering of so many affected by the current heatwave conditions, we must understand that adapting to climate change just makes sense.

"Adaptation will stand us in good stead to help reduce human suffering in the long term," he said.

Another CSU expert has urged people to stay hydrated, keep cool, take care of others, and to make a plan for the extreme heat forecast for the rest of the week.

Mr Philip Walker, a lecturer in the paramedic program at the CSU School of Biomedical Sciences at Bathurst, said extreme weather conditions could very quickly lead to life-threatening situations if people did not take some simple steps to avoid heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or dehydration.

"These conditions can make people very unwell very quickly," he said.

"People need to be vigilant for the early signs of these conditions, such as headache, weakness, vomiting, and dizziness."

He said signs of heat stroke could include high body temperature, red or dry skin, a dry and swollen tongue, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, confusion and nausea.

"In the Bachelor of Clinical Practice (Paramedic), students are educated about the dangers of heat exposure to themselves and the public, and about the four steps to survive a heat wave."

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