Wednesday, 11 February 2015


Yes, it is certainly a very hot day.  The temperature is hovering around 40°C.

Yesterday and the day before were very much the same, so I guess we are experiencing a heat wave.

People, especially the older ones, will be feeling very uncomfortable in these conditions.  If they are wise, they will be taking steps to keep as cool as possible.  Heat-related deaths can occur.

But someone else is experiencing discomfort in this heat.  Two magpies have found a shady spot and now stand almost motionless.  Their beaks are held in an open position, conveying very clearly how distressed they feel. 

At other, cooler times from those beaks a beautiful carolling melody could be emanating.  But not now.

Is there a message here for us?  Is this a taste of what many more days will be like in the future?

Respected voices are suggesting that it is.

According to the Japanese Meteorological Agency 2014 has been the hottest year recorded since reliable measurements began in 1890.

This view is supported by climate scientists in the USA.

Our own Bureau of Meteorology has pointed to higher temperatures and drier soils leading to heatwaves now starting earlier across southern Australia and effectively expanding the bushfire season.

Concern for the planet's climate is deepening and 2015 is likely to be a crucial year for our future.

Encyclicals are the most authorative  documents a pope can issue and it is thought that Pope Francis will soon issue such a document focussing on the impact of climate change.

And the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited the Pope to address the General Assembly in September on the climate issue.

This will be an important forerunner to November's UN Climate Change Conference in Paris where a global and binding agreement on limiting greenhouse gas emissions will hopefully be built.

Success at this conference will give hope for future generations – and magpies in the future may not have a greatly increased need to hold their beaks in an open position.

            - Stan Mussared

This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on February 2, 2015.