Swelter Down Under
The heat haze rises up off the bitumen
Creating a mirage to trick the eyes.
Water flowing across the road up ahead,
That gets no closer as you approach.
Steering wheel covers are a necessity,
Much preferable to wearing gloves,
And a seat belt buckle more like a branding iron
Than something meant to save lives.
All grass has turned brown
And crunches brittle underfoot.
Weeds provide the only flash of green,
They seem to thrive no matter what.
More than a few short minutes
Under the blazing summer Sun
Feels like you have somehow been shrunk
And thrown into an oven.
Plants and vegetables wilt and die
Despite regulated watering hours
Alternating odd and even house numbers
Rightly imposed by local councils.
Splash some oil on the car hood
And crack an egg at midday.
It will be cooked in a few minutes
So have your toast ready.
Air conditioners work overtime
Stressing the electricity grid.
Dogs and cats seek the coolest spot,
Lying around all day lethargic.
Keep the elderly indoors,
And slip slop slap if you venture out.
Heat stroke is a silent killer,
And so is melanoma.
Almost every week in Australia,
Temperature records are broken.
The highest in recorded history,
But, shhh! “Global Warming” mustn’t be spoken.
The Driest Continent on Earth
Australia, apart from being called “The Land Down Under,” has been given the title “the driest continent on Earth,” and that is very appropriate as most of our interior is in fact desert. We are also a land of extremes with the far north being wet tropics, whereas parts of the south-eastern quarter (including Tasmania) often experiencing winter snow.
One thing that most of the country shares though is extreme summer heat conditions.
Maximum temperatures continue to be broken all around the country e.g. this January 2019, Adelaide had ten consecutive days with maximum temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius. Maximums in a number of areas have reached 48C (118F) on more than one occasion during January and February. Extended heat waves coupled with a lack of seasonal rain has resulted in severe drought in many areas. For instance where I live in Murgon, Queensland we have had the driest January on record with 2mm of recorded rainfall. Most of out rainfall usually occurs between November and February, but this has been growing less reliable every year.
The seasons are now so out of kilter that flowers are now blooming in Winter instead of their usual spring and birds are migrating at different times of the year.
The summer cyclone season has seen huge rainfalls experienced in the north of the State with Townsville and surrounding areas currently being declared in a state of emergency due to severe flooding. that rain, however, is needed much further south. You would also expect heavy rainfall to reduce the temperatures. It does so, but only by a few degrees though also makes the humidity skyrocket so it feels even hotter.
In January, bushfires raged all along the Queensland coast, and at the present time, it is New South Wales turn, with scattered fires across that state.
Most Australians can really relate to the term “Global Warming,” but I realise the opposite may be the feeling in other Northern Hemisphere countries that are simultaneously experiencing record cold temperatures and extended winters. We can argue the “Climate Change … real or fiction?” debate to our heart’s content but I am not here to do that, just to report what I experience first hand in this land I live in called “Down Under … the Sun.”
by John Hansen © 2019
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