Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Lack of trees exacerbates extreme heat effects in Australian suburbs

This is a storm in a teacup. "Leafy" areas are prestigious in Australia and more trees are being planted to capture that prestige. I myself have planted nine trees that are now very tall.

But trees take a while to grow so new plantings in new suburbs will take a while to grow. When they do grow up, the new suburbs too will be cooler

Note that this is just about suburbia. Worldwide there has been a great upsurge of tree planting as agriculture has become more efficient and the land released goes under pine plantations

Huge swathes of our suburbs are in danger of becoming virtually unliveable with residents jumping from “aircon to aircon via a car with aircon” to avoid the searing heat.

That’s one of the conclusions of a new report that has also found that in just seven years the number of trees in 69 per cent of urban areas has dramatically dropped. Without enough trees shading city streets, temperatures can be as much as 10C hotter.

And one of the biggest culprits of cranking up the heat in our suburbs is homeowners clearing trees to build, among other things, swimming pools – ironically to cool down on hot days.

Associate Professor Joe Hurley from RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research said city greenery not only helped put the lid on heat, it was also key in managing stormwater and provided physical and mental health benefits.

Heatwaves are a hallmark of an Australian summer. But they're getting hotter, becoming more frequent, and lasting longer.
“Green cover should be managed as critical infrastructure alongside communications, transport, water and the electricity network,” he told news.com.au.

“But all too often trees are traded away for other demands like urban development. It can end up being about having tree or something else when we should manage our cities better so we can have green cities.”

Prof Hurley is the lead author of Where Will all the Trees be, a new RMIT report, released today, which looked at tree cover across hundreds of Australian local government areas (LGAs).

It found Cairns had the most green cover at 83 per cent while Wyndham, in Melbourne’s south west which includes Werribee, had the least at just 5.4 per cent.

“The bad news is between 2013 and 2020 the majority of LGAs have lost green cover. The more encouraging news is that from 2016, the majority are now gaining cover, that’s a good sign that the longer term trend is being turned around – but they still haven’t made up the losses,” said Prof Hurley.

Other studies have shown trees can have a dramatic effect on the ambient temperature of cities. Urban areas are often hotter than surrounding country areas anyway due to “grey cover”, the preponderance of hard surfaces like asphalt and metal roofs that help crank up the mercury. Lack of canopy can make this issue worse.

A vivid example from Melbourne illustrates this. Thermal images of Royal Parade show the surface temperature of the road fully exposed to the sun as surpassing 65C; yet just meters away a tree shaded area is around 30C cooler.

The air temperature of urban areas with more trees can be around 4C cooler than those without. On a more local level, the air temperature in an treeless car park can be 10C higher than a nearby shady street.

“We can’t say ‘stop developing and just plant trees’ so what’s exciting about Parramatta is how it is increasing urban tree canopy to create better neighbourhoods while becoming a major urban centre,” said Prof Hurley.

“The answer is to prioritise green infrastructure alongside development. As cities grow, we can make them greener – it’s not an either, or.”

Furious parents blast 'creepy' gender fluidity test asking young teenagers 'when they discovered they were straight'

Parents have been left outraged after Year 8 students were given a 'creepy' survey questioning their sexuality. The students from Kirrawee High School in southern Sydney were given the questionnaire as part of personal development, health and physical education studies.

Questions on the test include: 'When and how did you first decide you were heterosexual?' and, 'Is it possible your heterosexuality is just a phase you may grow out of?'

It is designed to help straight people understand the questions often asked of gay and lesbian people and appreciate how intrusive they can be.

But shocked parents contacted One Nation MP Mark Latham to complain about the 'completely inappropriate and outrageous' questions, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The Heterosexual Questionnaire was created in 1972 to help heterosexuals understand how a gay person is often treated, and aims to demonstrate how unpleasant such questions can be.

Offensive questions include asking if their sexuality is a 'phase' and implying people like them are more likely to suffer mental health problems.

Mr Latham slammed the test as 'creepy'. 'As if you'd want your 13-year-daughter to be answering these questions to some male teacher — what, when, and how you decided to be heterosexual?' he said.

'It's creepy. You're trying to shame the kids for being heterosexual to make a point that no one should shame anyone for being homosexual.' Latham said the test was 'pushing gender fluidity'.

The young students were also shown a video called 'The Sexy Sliding Scale', presented by American TV star Bill Nye, which explores gender identity and claims there is a 'kaleidoscope' of gender.

Mr Latham said the video was also inappropriate to show to such young students.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the department will review the school's Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) learning materials. She said the material was not suitable for or relevant to any Year 8 PDHPE class.

The real cost of lockdown: Australia faces a coronavirus mental health crisis with young women most at risk after thousands were left unemployed

An eminent psychiatrist has warned a second wave of coronavirus-linked mental health cases is crashing down on Australia, with the nation ill-equipped to flatten the curve.

In an editorial published on Monday in the Medical Journal of Australia, Patrick McGorry said the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic would be felt more keenly by particular at-risk groups.

The former Australian of the Year said a survey from the first month of the coronavirus pandemic confirmed the initial impacts on mental health had been severe.

As COVID-19 cases continue to dwindle, Professor McGorry cited predictions from more recent scientific models that Australia would face a 'second curve of mental ill-health and suicide'. 'This has now clearly arrived,' he wrote.

'The capacity of the mental health system, even before COVID-19, had been inadequate for responding to the demand, and the same system is now expected to respond to the surge in need for mental health care.'

That surge is likely to be driven by women, unemployed, marginalised, disadvantaged and young Australians, identified as groups at major risk for detrimental health and social outcomes.

Prof McGorry, executive director of peak youth mental health body Orygen, said levels of socio-economic inequality become 'blaring' when the pandemic is coupled with a recession. 'We may all be in this together but some are further in than others,' he said.

The global financial crisis demonstrated the destructive flow-on effects of austerity policies on mental health, he said, with measures such as JobKeeper and JobSeeker softening the blow in Australia thus far.

Prof McGorry is calling on policy-makers to adopt a unique approach to reform and strengthen the system, including shifting the focus of mental health care from large hospital-centric networks to local communities.

'We have been willing to turn our society upside down to flatten the COVID-19 curve, the same commitment is now required to flatten the mental health curve,' he said.

Millions of produce goes to waste because of Queensland border closures

A federal minister has slammed ‘disgraceful’ rules that block seasonal workers from coming into Queensland, despite a serious shortage of fruit pickers.

Millions of dollars worth of Queensland produce is going into landfill as the state’s farmers struggle to fill thousands of fruit picking jobs, despite the number of job seekers.

According to a Courier Mail report, farmers are aghast at the high unemployment rates, while they are forced to plough crop in the ground with no workers around to harvest it.

Jobseeker data reveals there are about 27,000 people in major fruit growing regions in Queensland receiving government assistance, while up to 25,000 fruit picking jobs need filling during peak season.

And while Queenslanders might not want to do the work, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said people in other states do – they just can’t make it over the border.

Mr Littleproud said it was “not common sense” that hard working Australians from interstate looking for work weren’t able to move freely to fill the spaces.

He said the federal government had tried to start an incentive for states to allow farm and agriculture workers to move freely in a COVID-safe way, but Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania hadn’t signed up for it.

“This is about free movement of labour between states in a COVID safe way,” Mr Littleproud told the Today show on Monday morning.

“What we’re saying is let’s allow farmers and ag workers to move … There is a third cohort the states want to classify as seasonal workers. Sometimes they are backpackers who have been in the country for some time, even some Australians who are doing it.

“The challenge we’ve got when one state doesn’t sign up is it means if you’re picking fruit in Griffith at the moment, you want to go to Bowen to pick mangoes, you will be picked up at Stanthorpe and put into a motel for $2800.”

There are fears supermarket prices could rise in the lead up to Christmas if things continue on the current trajectory.

National Farmers’ Federation horticulture spokesman Tyson Cattle said the lack of workers was just another blow to farmers, who were at their “wits end”. “We are pleading for people right now. For any one willing and able to jump into the sector,” he said. “It’s extremely frustrating for growers. They’re really at their wits end.

“They have battled drought, floods fires, all those conditions they can’t control, then this year they have a reasonable year … it just blows their mind that some guys have had to plough their crop into the ground because they can’t get a workforce.”

Mr Littleproud said the Queensland government were “currently flying in overseas workers, letting them isolate on the farm” but were barring Australians from taking up the same jobs. “It’s just not commonsense,” he said.

“We are incentivising Australians with up to $6000 in reimbursement of travel costs to get them off the couch and have a crack, but these states are holding this up. “There is a cohort out there we really need to get up and have a go at this.

“Farmers do not have the luxury to sit around and wait for someone to turn up to pick the fruit … People have to help them.”


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE TIED)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


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