Down Under Water
The folks down under will have a lot to be down about if climate change proceeds as projected. Rising temperatures could trigger a 164 percent increase in heat-related deaths in Australia by 2050 and an increase of up to 240 percent in injuries and deaths caused by flooding by 2020, according to a study commissioned by the Australian government. Tropical diseases like malaria and dengue could also spread through the country. Worse off than the Aussies will be residents of Pacific Island nations, 60,000 to 90,000 of whom could be exposed to flooding each year by the 2050s, up from about 5,000 now. “This research strengthens the case for Australia and other countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible,” said Tony McMichael of Australian National University, a lead author of the government report. Australia, like the U.S., has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.