11 11 11– last time this happened my father was born two weeks later…

There’s so much one could say about such an auspicious date, but I will just mentioned in passing that I was teaching at Wollongong High School on 11/11/75. Enough said. Except Rex O’Connor Senior was the guest at Speech Night and entered dramatically to the strains of Advance Australia Fair.

So let’s consider the weather (for sure) and the climate (probably).  I said recently that it has been a good year for jacarandas. Consider these from this morning here at The Bates Motel; the last two in fact are next door.

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Lovely, aren’t they?

They are also a good indicator of climate change, it appears.

LOVE them or loathe them, jacarandas, with their brilliant purple petals, have an important story to reveal about the effects of climate change.

The familiar Sydney trees are part of a new ”citizen scientist” project in which visitors to the Royal Botanic Gardens can observe a selection of plants and animals and record information such as whether they are in bloom, nesting, or flying about.

Other ”indicator” species on the ClimateWatch trail – the first in an Australian botanic garden – include English oaks, firewheel trees, cabbage white butterflies, cotton harlequin bugs, black flying-foxes, common koels and St Andrew’s Cross spiders.

Brett Summerell, director of science and public programs for the gardens, said all the data would be made freely available to researchers studying the biological impacts of a changing environment…

Because jacarandas are natives of South America, Herald readers have recently hotly debated the virtues of Sydney’s annual purple haze on the letters page. The trees were certainly very easy to identify, said Andy Donnelly, science director of Earthwatch, which co-established ClimateWatch. And it was important to include non-natives on the list, he said. ”Then we can compare what is happening here with other parts of the world.”…

There’s another story of interest.

COOLING rooms – airconditioned public centres where heat-stressed people can take refuge – may become necessary by 2050, when deaths from extreme heat events are likely to double today’s toll.

The cooling room concept has been raised in a high-level report into Australia’s preparations for a future, hotter era. It is one option for those whose lives may depend on respite from 45-degree temperatures.

Heatwaves kill more Australians than any other natural disaster and that is likely to get far worse, particularly for Melbourne and Brisbane due to their particular climatic conditions, says the report produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers in collaboration with government and meteorology experts.

By 2050, the number of heatwave days could more than triple in Melbourne, but changes would have a minimal impact on Sydney because of its lower maximum temperatures.

The effect of extreme heat is likely to increase the death toll, particularly among elderly people, but also hit infrastructure, draining water and power supplies.

Roger Beale, a principal of the firm and former secretary of the environment department, chaired the report and said deaths linked to heat were likely to double by 2050 ”if we don’t change the way these events are handled as the population grows and ages”.

Climate projections showed extreme heat events were expected to be more frequent and more intense….

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