On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report on the impacts of global warming. Here are 10 ways that climate change will affect you in your home.
1. Rising power bills from using your airconditioner: With temperatures set to rise between 0.6 and 1.5 degrees by 2030, your airconditioner use will become a significant expense. On the plus side your heating costs will most likely go down. Heating and cooling account for 15 to 25 per cent of a typical Sydney household's electricity use.
2. Warmer temperatures overnight: Pack away your doona as evening temperatures are also predicted to increase in the future. Since 2001, extreme heat records at night have outnumbered extreme cold records by 5 to 1, which may make sleeping more difficult for some.
3. Crowded beaches: Rising sea levels will put extra pressure on our beaches. Storm surges will continue to cause erosion, adding to the reduced shoreline from higher sea levels. Where will you put your towel?
4. High-speed windscreen wipers: Rainfalls are likely to increase in intensity. This will mean more flash flooding and need for the high-speed setting on your windscreen wipers as short, sharp downpours become part of life.
5. Infrastructure chaos: City infrastructure struggles at the best of times but you can expect more rail outages due to extreme heat, water shortages due to failures in treatment plants from bushfires or floods and airport delays due to storms.
6. Going on a holiday? You better visit some of your favourite local attractions soon because many won't stay the same for long. Ocean acidification and rising temperatures are expected to have a significant effect on the Great Barrier Reef. The Gold Coast has been identified as a hotspot of vulnerability due to the concentration of coastal development. The Kakadu wetlands may be subject to increased saltwater intrusion from higher sea levels, affecting the delicate balance of the ecosystem.
7. Increases in food prices: If the driest future scenarios eventuate, there will be increased pressure on the Murray Darling Basin – where one-third of our food supply is produced.
8. How does your garden grow? If you're a green thumb, you've probably noticed changes to the flowering time of some plants. Warmer temperatures mean some species will bloom earlier and for longer, while other plants will wither and die in the heat. Last year in Sydney, the magnolias came into bloom about four weeks earlier than usual due to the mild weather.
9. High fire danger: The number of days with very high and extreme fire weather is expected to increase. In Sydney the extreme values of the fire danger index have increased by about 2 per cent per decade over the past 30 years. Implications include increased building costs in bushfire risk zones and more pressure on already stretched firefighting services.
10. Staying out of the heat: An increase in heatwaves will most likely result in more admission to hospital and deaths from heat-related illnesses. In the 2009 Victorian heatwave in the week before the Black Saturday bushfires, the number of emergency call-outs to ambulances in Melbourne increased by almost 50 per cent over the three hottest days.
Fiona Johnson is a University of NSW lecturer. She is Fairfax scientist-in-residence, organised by the Australian Science Media Centre.