‘Code Red’: Australia is so hot bats are falling from the trees

Australia is in the midst of an unrelenting, record-smashing heat wave that has left temperature maps so red the country looks like it’s on fire.

The country has hit highs exceeding 120°F (49°C) during the day. And New South Wales set a new record for all of Australia last week when nighttime temperatures never fell below 96.6°F (35.9°C).

The temperatures have been so brutal in South Australia, in fact, that heat-stressed bats are literally falling out of trees.

Australia’s fruit-eating bats cannot regulate their body temperature when the thermometer hits 104°F (40°C). Nursing females are vulnerable because they already have raised body temperatures. Young pups are the most vulnerable.

When a heat wave last year killed hundreds of bats, Campbelltown colony manager Kate Ryan said that “They basically boil.” She added, “It affects their brain – their brain just fries and they become incoherent.” As a result, they lose consciousness and fall to the ground.

Science makes clear that the reason for the growing number of record-shattering heat waves — and their impacts on humans and animals alike — is human-caused global warming.

The Australian government’s “State of the Climate 2018” report released earlier this month underscored this point. Their Bureau of Meteorology scientists explained, “Australia’s climate has warmed just over 1°C since 1910 leading to an increase in the frequency of extreme heat events.”

Impact of global warming on Australia’s air and sea temperatures. CREDIT: BOM.

Temperatures have been climbing so fast in recent years that Australian scientists have literally run out of shades of red to fully display heat waves on their maps. So a few years ago they added deep purple and pink to extend the temperature range beyond 50°C (122°F).

While the current heat wave has not hit that extreme level, South Australia has been hit hard so hard the government issued a “code red” alert warning people to stay indoors if possible and use extreme caution when going outside to protect themselves from heat stress.

High nighttime temperatures are particularly deadly since they mean humans have no escape from the heat as buildings and other structures never cool down — and animals get little respite from heat stress outdoors.

Last summer, the U.S. and indeed much of the Northern Hemisphere saw record smashing heat — from North America to the UK, Ireland, Russia, Oman, Georgia, and Armenia.

Temperatures are just going to keep rising and setting new records for a long time, thanks to climate change and our refusal to take action to stop it.


Source: thinkprogress