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How heat can make your body melt down from the inside out

Just as Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 identified a temperature at which paper self-combusts, the Australian Open has just shown the world that there is a temperature at which tennis players start…

Tennis fans cool off at the Australian Open in Melbourne this week. AAP Image/Joe Castro

Just as Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 identified a temperature at which paper self-combusts, the Australian Open has just shown the world that there is a temperature at which tennis players start to hallucinate about Snoopy.

So how hot is too hot?

Unbeknownst to many until this week - when heat-stressed players have fainted, vomited and even seen Snoopy on court, in what some have claimed are “dangerous” conditions in Melbourne - there is an established process for when to stop play at many international sporting events.

Frenchman Kenny De Schepper takes a break with an ice vest on his head during his Australian Open match on Wednesday. AAP Image/Mark Dadswell

The method was developed initially by the US military in the 1950s to identify levels of heat stress, to restrict activity and monitor required rest intervals and water needs for soldiers. Known as “the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature”, it takes into account temperature, humidity, wind speed, and exposure to sunlight. When you combine all that information, you get a better indicator of how comfortable the weather really is.

The Wet Bulb Globe Temperature formula produces an adjusted temperature, one that is never as high as the number you get simply from measuring outside air temperature.

But even though that Wet Bulb Globe Temperature might look like a lower temperature, even a few degrees of heat can make all the difference to how our bodies function.

Put simply, if your core body temperature gets too hot, your organs will start to fail - and that kind of heat stress can be deadly.

Eating and heating

In order for our bodies to work properly, we eat. Those calories give our body the energy it needs for our muscles, organs and nervous system to work properly. The biochemical reactions enable that food’s chemical energy to become available for use by cells and they eventually convert some of that energy to heat.

When outside conditions are temperate, this heat keeps us at a comfortable core body temperature of around 37°C degrees.

As the external temperature increases, that heat needs to be lost from our bodies, which is done via dissipating it through our skin.

That’s why when you are hot, you sweat, take off layers of clothes, stand near a fan, go into the shade, you do less exercise, and drink water - all very good ways to quickly get the heat out of your core, through your skin.

Australian Casey Dellacqua sweats it out in her first round Australian Open win. AAP Image/Mark Dadswell

But when this temperature gradient is reduced, for example due to an increase in temperature and humidity, your body has a harder and harder time getting rid of this heat fast enough. And it’s a poorly recognised fact that, just like paper, our vital organs have an equivalent self-combustion point - that is, a temperature that they stop working.

Once your core body temperature reaches 40°C, your organs begin to fail, and unless you get into cooler conditions immediately, you will die.

So how hot does it have to be to make your core body temperature rise to lethal levels?

A few degrees makes all the difference

Depending on a range of conditions, as measured by the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature, it’s commonly thought that your skin needs to be below 35°C in order for your body to effectively dissipate the heat that it is producing.

This means that the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature must be well below 35°C: which fortunately, for the vast majority of the inhabited places on the Earth, it is.

Complicating this daytime heat extreme is a longer term factor. If the higher temperature conditions do not relent at night, resulting in a run of hot days and hot nights - also known as a heatwave - people will die.

That’s what has happened during heatwaves in many parts of the world over the last decade, including in Europe, Russia and the US. In many of these places, deaths have occurred where the temperatures are considered only “moderate”. That’s because people living in these regions have not been able to acclimatise to extremes in temperature, either physiologically or by taking precautions such as by resting inside during the heat of the day.

Vulnerable people, such as children and the elderly, are especially susceptible to heatwaves because their bodies need to recover in cooler conditions at night in order to prepare for the following day’s heat. So if night time temperatures do not go down sufficiently, the health problems amplify very quickly.

South Australian police take their horses for a cool early morning dip at Semaphore beach on Wednesday. Tuesday was the city’s fourth hottest day on record, peaking at 45.1°C. AAP Image/David Mariuz

Hot, and getting hotter

Why would a climate scientist be thinking about what is ostensibly a health problem?

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s forthcoming climate impacts and adaptation report is likely to suggest, Australia and much of the rest of the world, is projected to experience an increase in extreme heat. That is expected to include rising average temperatures in many parts of the world, and more frequent heatwaves across Australia.

What does that mean for us today? In less time than it takes for a toddler today to reach retirement age, the business-as-usual climate change projections indicate that many areas of the world will begin to experience conditions inhospitable to humans.

These projections indicate we must not only reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, but also be prepared to live in a more extreme world.

* Editor’s note: This sentence, “The biochemical reactions enable that food’s chemical energy to become available for use by cells and they eventually convert some of that energy to heat.” was changed in response to a reader’s comment below. The original sentence was a short, simple version of the food to heat process (edited down purely for length), but following the query from Terry Lockwood, author Donna Green and we are happy to make the change.

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  1. terry lockwood

    maths/media/music/drama teacher

    "The biochemical reactions that turn the calories from the food into energy, produce heat."

    Am I being picky by asking that the above sentence is sloppy? A calorie is a unit of energy. It is chemical energy in food. Biochemistry makes it available for use in cellular function. And yes, the eventual outcome is heat production. Of course heat is a form of energy.

    As a science teacher, I take a lot of trouble trying to get Year 7 kids not to write sentences like the one quoted. And they can do that. I help them realise that such sentences they might read in New Idea or Men's Health can be easily improved without getting to 'sciency'.

    Energy is well defined and quite easily understood. The word, however, is too often borrowed by knuckleheads and mixed in amongst talk of chakras and the like. And then there are those who can 'detect negative energies in the room' and other such claptrap.

    Please don't dumb down discussion of energy for TC readers or anyone else for that matter.

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    1. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to terry lockwood

      Morning Terry,

      Thanks for your comment - it's a tricky balancing act, making our explainers accurate but also simple enough for a 16 year old (that's the level of literacy we're aiming for, which is about making expert knowledge freely accessible to people of all ages & backgrounds).

      I'm happy to take responsibility for that sentence. The author had written something longer & more complex in that section, but since that point about energy & 'waste' heat was such a tiny part of what was nearly…

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    2. John Crest

      logged in via email @live.com.au

      In reply to terry lockwood

      Yes, you're being too picky.

      The intent of the sentence is quite clear.

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    3. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      Wow. A response from the editor. Good stuff. I think I will come here regularly!

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    4. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Victor Jones

      G'day Victor - we do our best.

      We can't always reply as we're all flat out editing, commissioning etc (it's become a very popular site, so we're pretty swamped with story pitches coming in from experts & readers alike, as well as stories we commission ourselves). But we are always keeping an eye on comments, because there can be fair criticisms worth responding to. I'm happy to jump in and have a chat whenever I can. It's a Conversation, after all!

      As of only a few weeks ago, we also have a Community Manager Cory, who's trying to stay across the dozens of stories that go up daily, partly to watch out for trolls but also to encourage good genuine discussion. He's a very welcome addition.

      Look forward to seeing your name in the comments more. Liz

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    5. Laurie Strachan

      Writer/photgrapher

      In reply to John Crest

      No, he's not being too picky. This is a website produced by academics and we are entitled to expect scientific accuracy from it.
      In fact, the article is all over the place.
      We all know that too much heat will kill you and this piece does nothing to explain how.
      What is the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature and how is it measured? And what relevance does it have to real life? How would it have helped the tennis players? Should they have called play off when we reached the WGBT?
      In the end it's another piece about Global Warming dressed up to try to sneak past the ravening hordes of deniers who plague and destroy all reasonable discussions.
      It's getting hotter and, if it gets too hot we'll die. OK?

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    6. John Crest

      logged in via email @live.com.au

      In reply to Laurie Strachan

      Well I was clearly only talking about the one sentence in question.

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    7. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      Hi Liz,
      I am glad you 'look out for trolls', because to be honest mainstream media (particularly Murdoch) is such dumbed down and manipulated garbage by people who are relative illiterates about the area they are discussing (eg Janet Albrechtsen from The Australian writing on climate change, LOL), that people like me end up becoming trolls who troll the original trollers. The comments sections of these dumbed down media articles suggest there are shills for big oil, like Samsung did with University Students for products in their markets.
      Hopefully, there are no taboo subjects for discussion, such as the link between political ideology and climate change denial and the link between political ideology and IQ level.

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    8. Brendan Hills

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Laurie Strachan

      The link provided in the sentence: " Known as “the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature”, it takes into account " to the BoM page here http://www.bom.gov.au/info/thermal_stress/#wbgt does explain the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature, how it is measured, and how it can be used to make decisions about exercising in hot weather. It's quite a detailed page, but worth a read.

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    9. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to John Crest

      It is simply another example of how much more willing people are to focus on the trivia rather than on the issue. Thus we had a long paragraph on grammar and syntax with no mention whatever of the issue in hand.

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    10. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to Laurie Strachan

      To compensate for your lack of scientic accuracy, read on.

      Not only does the WBGT/TW never exceed 31°C, it is surprisingly similar across diverse climates today.

      Any extended period over 35°C is likely induce hyperthermia in humans and other mammals, as dissipation of metabolic heat becomes impossible. While this never happens in the natural environment now (the most common TWmax is 26–27°C, only a few degrees lower), it would begin to occur with global mean warming of about 7°C, while with…

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    11. Geoffrey Sherrington

      Surveyor

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      "making expert knowledge freely " - this requires recognition of "expert".
      The climate world is increasingly populated by experts. We have a current heat wave of climate experts.
      Even the author's university has experts who go to the Antarctic to study global warming, when the records indicate it has been stable or cooling, then get the irony of being stuck in the ice in summer.
      One wonders if Donna Green wrote this article because the politics of global warming are moving against her cherished…

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    12. Geoffrey Sherrington

      Surveyor

      In reply to Victor Jones

      Victor,
      The solution is to study data in your field of expertise and avoid any involvement in the politics of science.

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    13. Geoffrey Sherrington

      Surveyor

      In reply to R. Ambrose Raven

      More wild, loose statement.
      "as dissipation of metabolic heat becomes impossible"
      Perhaps this should be more like "the required rate of dissipation of metabolic energy exceeds the achievable rate...."
      Dissipation of heat continues until a body is in thermal equilibrium with its surroundings, including after death.

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    14. Jean Coady

      Retired teacher

      In reply to terry lockwood

      It is a good point that TC encourages accuracy to maintain it's integrity. However, you could have made the point without the implied put down. That only encourages other picky people to point out that you should have used "too" not "to" when writing "to 'sciency'".

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    15. Geoffrey Sherrington

      Surveyor

      In reply to Victor Jones

      Victor, So they should be.
      First, study the scientists who deny the message implicit in the data I showed.
      I'm not denying anything except our right to not have the wool pulled over our eyes.

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    16. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Geoffrey Sherrington

      This is just fact-free insulting of authors, Geoffrey.

      Do you really expect anyone not wearing a tinfoil hat to believe that the BoM are somehowq tampering with evidence and records to advance some wierd nepharious conspitracy or strange cultic belief? Meanwhile, back in the real world...

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    17. terry lockwood

      maths/media/music/drama teacher

      In reply to Jean Coady

      I did review what I wrote thinking that I better get it right (that should be correct I s'pose). I should have had breakfast first. Damn!
      I also suspected that the original submission may not have used the sentence in question Donna being a sciency type. Ain't it great that Liz Minchin put her hand up?
      I really hate the way the word 'energy' gets misused. I am a tad sensitive.

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    18. Geoffrey Sherrington

      Surveyor

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix,
      I did not write fact-free. You did.
      I gave data. You did not.
      I gave a reasoned comment. You did not.
      What's your problem?
      Either the data stands, or it does not.
      Show mw an argument against it.

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    19. Garry Baker

      researcher

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      Good show Liz ... de fogging scientific jargon to a minima is imperative if a wider audience is to be drawn in. Decades ago, the publication "New Scientist" was often hammered by the scientific community as a comic book - However, it's mission from the outset was to appeal to the larger masses - ie: Those who pay their tax bills to fund the scientists, and by and large this bridge has worked - Given that the publication has a wide global audience these days.

      I for one, often read suspected…

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    20. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to Geoffrey Sherrington

      FYI - and possibly being in more or less that mental state yourself - a dead body does not produce metabolic heat.

      "Dissipation of heat continues until a body is in thermal equilibrium with its surroundings" Pathetic! though typical denialist rubbish. A living body - living being distinct from dead, you understand - will continue producing metabolic heat, which requires continuing dissipation. A dead body would not be much concerned about the rate or degree of heat dissipation, you follow?

      Just to remove the doubt a denialist like yourself is desperate to create, the essence of this article is that climate change is reducing, and may ultimately eliminate, that thermal zone in which our life is possible.

      You will of course now wish to deny that there is any temperature at which denialist life is impossible, including on Venus. So I urge you to go and live there; indeed it would be a fitting final resting place for climate change denialists.

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    21. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      How about taking the bull by the horns, burning your bridges, and travelling up the creek without a paddle.

      Could we have a couple of Conversation items specifically about practical means of adapting our society to climate change. It is a conversation we badly need to have, notwithstanding the headwinds.

      Since the denialist trolls will do everything possible to wreck such a discussion, it will be absolutely essential that trollish comments are gone within five minutes of being posted. If it gets really bad, moderate posts before allowing posting.

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    22. Peter Horan

      Retired

      In reply to Liz Minchin

      The problem with the sentence for some is that it implies that calories are not a form of energy but biochemical processes somehow make energy from calories. But calories are indeed a measure of energy.

      How about "Those calories are the energy our body needs for our muscles, organs and nervous system to work properly. The biochemical reactions that make this energy from the food available, also produce heat."

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    23. Liz Minchin

      Queensland Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to terry lockwood

      G'day Terry,

      Am having some trouble emailing you back - your email to me only arrived this morning. In case you didn't see the above addition to the story, here it is.

      * Editor's note: This sentence, "The biochemical reactions enable that food's chemical energy to become available for use by cells and they eventually convert some of that energy to heat." was added and expanded after a reader's comment below. The original sentence had been cut down (purely for length), but following the query from Terry Lockwood, author Donna Green was happy to make the change.

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  2. Dianna Arthur

    Environmentalist

    Having core body temperature control issues due to chronic illness, am relieved I will not be alive to to experience the worst of weather extremes by 2050 (give or take a few years) - if we continue business-as-usual, not so my niece and nephew and other humans. Don't get me started on loss of biodiversity...

    Please, can we have discussion on what we can do to mitigate AGW - anyone disputing AGW can have validating chat with IPA, Heartland Institute, 'Lord' Monckton, Fred Singer, a plethora of mining magnates and possibly Cory Bernnardi.

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    1. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      You'll have noticed that the denialists' denialism is specifically intended to obstruct action.

      Action goes far beyond tax issues – it involves housing design, urban design, serious recycling, consumer durables that have to last, public transport that largely replaces private transport, etc. It will most certainly mean a much lower standard of living – but the alternative is enormous conflict and mass starvation.

      So these efforts need to be not merely government-planned but government run…

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    2. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      As it happens, there's another article on TC today - Peter Ellerton's "What you think is right may actually be wrong – here’s why", http://theconversation.com/what-you-think-is-right-may-actually-be-wrong-heres-why-18143, which shows how anti-realists fashion their wording to hijack agenda, and divert it from the issue at hand.

      Me, I just take the opportunity to explain to people, in the full glare of other readers, how and why they are wrong about some issues. From time to time, my own understanding is corrected for me; this, too, is a Good Thing.

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  3. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    Interesting article, I say bring on the heat, let these doubters burn

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  4. Jim Inglis

    retired

    As someone who has lived and worked in central Australia in heat far in excess of this particular heatwave, I find the obsessing with something that is completely normal just a little overdone.

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "in heat far in excess of this particular heatwave"

      As this heatwave is close to or above Australian temperature records which have been recorded since 1910 that would be impossible.

      The only reason this heatwave is not setting more records is that they were set during the 2013 heatwave. Here is a graphic from the Climate Council summarising the records set in 2013
      http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/2014/01/08/offthecharts/

      The Bureau of Meteorology also reported that 34 locations in Australia…

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    2. Craig Miller

      Environmental Consultant

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      The article noted that it is of significant concern (people die) when heatwaves happen in places where the people are not acclimatised to the temperatures. A person living and working in central Australia is likely to have a higher tolerance to consistently high temperatures and a range of behavioural practices that allow them to operate within the body's biochemical limits, than someone in Melbourne.

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    3. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      It's ok Mike, we know from Jim's other comments his view on these things. There is clear paranoia that the "left wing loonies" might somehow use these records heatwaves to push the "crazy" agenda of global warming. This paranioa has lead to another absurd comment: "in heat far in excess of this particular heatwave", despite scientific evidence this is not possible. "Far in excess of this particular heatwave" would put temperature above 50 degrees. Considering Australia's hottest recorded temperature…

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    4. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      You make some relevant points Steven.
      However it is worth noting, that ideology acts as a shield to facts, when those facts threaten the ideology/worldview.
      There were a couple of articles on here about this issue known as 'motivated reasoning'. If you get a chance read up on Professor Dan Kahan's work in this area.
      The upshot is that presenting more facts of climate change largely doesn't change the rigidity of the paradigm of the 'denier' (by and large right winger/conservative, as shown in other research). The way around this issue involves language/communication 'framing' - you have to soften and dress up the message to obtain acceptance. For the (typically) right winger, it also involves showing how there is potential for new technology and industry with climate change, such as geoengineering. I think this is sad that facts can't simply be accepted on merit and evidence, but it is what it is.

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    5. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Henriette Vanechop

      Henriette, working on cattle stations in the Haddon's Corner country in temperatures in excess of 122f [50c] was not uncommon and just business as usual.

      There was the usual supply of water and food.

      The biggest problem was when the wind didn't blow and the windmills stopped pumping and you had to rush around with a portable walking-beam system to pump the bores to fill the turkey's nests to water the cattle.

      With those hot days I only once saw a bird die in flight from heat stress yet thousands of birds have died during other historical heat waves.

      Also, when the BoM have removed all our pre-1910 temperature records and started from a conveniently cool period, we cannot claim this heatwave means anything more than normal.

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    6. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "...working on cattle stations in the Haddon's Corner country in temperatures in excess of 122f [50c] was not uncommon and just business as usual..."
      You might have been using a non-standardised thermometer in direct sunlight. Weather stations take readings in the shade and as mentioned above the verified highest recorded temperature on record in Australia is 50.7 at Ooodnadatta. Subsequently, your statements are unverified by scientifically standardised instrumentation..

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    7. Andrew Nichols

      Digital Drudge

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Well there you go.

      Clearly, anecdote trumps data.

      Especially when the data has some sort of doubt cast upon it.

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    8. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      When you wipe all those pre 1910 records such as Sturt's 53c in 1828, Mitchell's 53c in 1845, Cloncurry's 53.1c in 1889, Bourke's 52.8c in 1877, Walgett's 52.8c in1878 etc, ignore the UHI that has increased exponentially in city infrastructure and airports where most of the thermometers are placed and start afresh in a cool year like 1910, you kind of throw the baby out with the bathwater and lose any understanding of what are our true weather patterns.

      The fact that I have personally experienced and worked in temperatures over 50c makes me think that it is not that rare.

      Even after allowing 0.2c warmer for the Glaisher screens.

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    9. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Craig Miller

      Craig, temperatures fluctuate by ~ 100c across the world in any one day so slow, progressive warming of one or two degrees, if it happens, won't worry us at all.

      It could be the only thing that saves our bacon.

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    10. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Once again, anecdotes trump data. Whilst there are still errors in temperature recording devices today, I would place far less trust in temperature recording data, or the accuracy of the devices (given your variations of only 2-3 degrees) made over one hundred years ago. Particularly when there is evidence that a "wide variety of non-standard configurations" were used. BOM also claim that the old open thermometer stands read warm. This is enough for me to at least question their validity.

      "Where are the pre-1910 data records? The new records don't agree with my view, why it's a conspiracy I tell ya!"

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    11. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Victor Jones

      Victor, the thermometer was kept at the station on the verandah which was a Coolgardie Safe type with spinifex wicking water up the flyscreened walls and the evaporation cooled it.

      It was at least as cool as a Stevenson screen.

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    12. Geoffrey Sherrington

      Surveyor

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike,
      You will find a world before the artificial 1910 date where natural events helped strengthen heat estimates. For example, the 1896 period in west NSW was marked by tens of thousands of bird deaths. We don't seem to have similar observations today. BTW, the thermometer record was also higher by rather much.
      Here are some calculations about heat waves of 6 day duration.
      http://www.geoffstuff.com/MelboureSydney%206-heat%20January.jpg
      January 2014 will not come close on present indications.
      Now, why can't the experts show data like these, from the BoM records?

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    13. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      Steven, an asset manager should be more sceptical.

      Why couldn't they also read cooler?

      At least it's a lot more accurate than anything else we have for that period.

      Recorded by people who did serious manual labour in those conditions who were more aware of the heat than we who live in aircon luxury.

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    14. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Geoffrey Sherrington

      BoM excuse this data due to it's accuracy concerns. Particularly when there is evidence that a ". BoM claim that a wide variety of non-standard configurations were used and the old open thermometer stands read warm.

      This can be found easily on their website with clear, valid reasoning on the decision. Viewers are able to make up their own mind if this tarnishes the more modern data or not (or if it some sort of climate conspiracy).

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    15. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Yep, anecdotal, unstandardised and unverified.

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    16. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Personal "feelings" on temperatures are not data. Also "a lot more accurate than anything else we have for that period" does not mean it is accurate enough to use. That is the view and decicion made by the Bom.

      I agree with you that they could have read cooler, however all of the evidence suggests otherwise and I have no reason to be skeptical or believe in some far ranging conspiracy. It is actually in the current government's interest (and their beliefs) to go the other way and allow these records to be used and hide the records that show an increase. That would allow them to pander further to big businesses reaping the rewards of our country's plunder without the inconvenient carbon debate getting in the way.

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    17. Cory Zanoni

      Community Manager at The Conversation

      In reply to Geoffrey Sherrington

      This article is about the effects of heat on the body not about BOM data. You've all made your points and I daresay this thread will devolve into the restating of beliefs and talking past each other.

      I recommend you all move on.

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    18. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      As an asset manager I have no need to be skeptical. I have solid data and frameworks in place and I do ok with that, thank you for your concern. And, ever the optimist, if the world burns up it will drive more people into the air conditioned assets I manage, just think of the $$!

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    19. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      "This can be found easily on their website with clear, valid reasoning on the decision."

      So they just spirited themselves back to the 19th c to confirm how bad those thermometers were?

      They are simply making assumptions and meanwhile have tossed out very good data.

      But what the heck! It sure makes the country warmer even though the satellite obs don't agree:

      http://stevengoddard.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/screenhunter_18-nov-04-19-00.jpg

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    20. In reply to Cory Zanoni

      Comment removed by moderator.

    21. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Yes Jim, and wasn't it dry heat? Much more tolerable. At least I found it so when I worked in the Isa (MT Isa)

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    22. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      "Personal "feelings" on temperatures are not data."

      No, but personal experience and looking at reliable thermometers are.

      All that "evidence" suggests is that on average they considered that the thermometers registered 0.2c warmer.

      So why didn't they simply adjust those old records down by 0.2c?

      I'll tell you why.

      Because their GHG/AGW theory would be in tatters, is why.

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    23. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      That is fine. They do not try and influence anyone's view. The data and information is there and we merely have to decide to accept it or not.

      In your opinion it is good data, I appreciate that. In my opinion, the BoM decision to disregard it due to its accuracy concerns is valid. They are aware of the methonds and instruments used and their inaccuracies and non-standardised use. There is no need of time travel to consider on the balance of probability that their data may be flawed.

      Either way, Cory has a point and we have hijacked this thread enough I suspect. Whatever the baseline cause, I feel for the athletes and support staff enduring this heat in Melbourne. May they all retire to the comort of air conditioning soon to prevent the core overheating!

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    24. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Cory Zanoni

      "This article is about the effects of heat on the body not about BOM data. "

      Cory, I wish you were right but the author is a Climate Change researcher and is saying that because of the BoM's data we are all likely to suffer this ever increasing problem.

      The BoM data is the very basis of this discussion.

      If everyone here accepted the NASA satellite data that I linked to, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

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    25. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      I appreciate your honesty about your conflict of interest.

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    26. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Cory Zanoni

      Cory, I'm sure this article about the effects of heat on the body could be equally valid coming from a medico without any mention of the BoM's predictions but that is not what's happening here.

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    27. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      "That is fine. They do not try and influence anyone's view. The data and information is there and we merely have to decide to accept it or not."

      Are you serious?

      The old pre-1910 data no longer forms any part of their climate change calculations, records or announcements.

      It has catatrophised the current normal climate.

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    28. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim,

      Make no mistake, I have no interest in this type of weather pattern becoming normal. I hope the whole AGW scenario is indeed a falacy, although I hate to admit the evidence is overwhelming otherwise. We may well see the real effects of warmer weather (regardless of the cause) such as those described above. Nobody would wish that on anyone.

      The fact that more people may chose to lease quality air conditioned, A grade sustainable assets if AGW does get worse (or occur at all) does not…

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    29. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Maybe BoM removed pre-1910 T data from their records because there wasn't a BoM before then to ensure standard thermometric procedures ie BoM not in position to assess veracity of earlier data?

      Cheer up, the older data should still be around, maybe at your State Library? You must have referred to it, else you'd have had to make it all up for purpose of posting a comment?

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    30. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Mr Inglis, have you experienced any episodes of dehydration? If so, has it affected the health of your kidneys?

      I ask this rhetorically, based on my possibly naive view that heat stress is more likely to show itself in increased kidney disease?

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    31. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to David Arthur

      Correct David. This data is out there however BoM do not use it for accuracy concerns.

      It is not, despite a few conspiracy theorists' views, an arbitrary date plucked out of the air to hide evidence against AGW. How far back are we to accept unreliable data?

      Regardless, it is a case one side suggesting its exclusion is to falsely prove AGW and the other side suggesting its use would obly be used to falsely deny its occurance.

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    32. Cory Zanoni

      Community Manager at The Conversation

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      While I understand where you're coming from, the article doesn't mention BOM data at all and, instead, refers to a forthcoming report from the IPCC – an international body – to justify discussing rising temperatures.

      However, as 'BOM data' has popped up in numerous comment threads, I'll pass on the interest to the Environment editors to suggest they do a piece on it.

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    33. Geoffrey Sherrington

      Surveyor

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      Steven
      I have studied the matters you raise. For me, there is no value in going there, except to find where adjustments were made unwisely and unscientifically. And some were.
      I've not mentioned climate conspiracy, you have.
      Do you really think it is valid to trash millions of observations that were made at a time when excuses can be found for data that are inconvenient?
      If you want to be helpful, why not call for a proper audit of all significant historical climate records for Australia? Why not provide evidence for your assertion that the reasoning you read was clear and valid?
      Have you ever attempted any numerical validation of your own design, or are you merely trumpeting the words of others?

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    34. Geoffrey Sherrington

      Surveyor

      In reply to Cory Zanoni

      Cory,
      Thank you for your suggestion to relieve embarrassment, but the simple matter remains - if you wish to be a credible scientist, you should express your findings in credible, concise, scientific words and phrases.

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    35. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Geoffrey Sherrington

      I am glad to hear you have studied "the matters I raised"?

      Climate conspiracy was not directed at you, in fact nothing I have written until now has been, and I certainly did not suggest you mentioned it?

      Since your appear concerned, I was using it in regards to those suggesting the BoM is keeping the pre-1910 data from us in some hidden agenda to propogate AGW. Suggesting I wish to trash the "millions of observations" because the data is inconvenient (if that is what you're referring to in…

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    36. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Do you actually believe that is a rational argument, Jim? i mean, seriously?

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    37. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Funnily enough, that unreferenced graph of "data" still shows a an upward trend departing from the average temperature before it.

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    38. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      Steven, do you believe that all these current, remote, BoM auto weather stations are always correct?

      Don't make errors?

      To throw out those human observed 19thc data and not include them in our current daily records is hubristic in the extreme.

      And if you ever check a global average temperature graph you will see what a cool period 1910 was.

      To start from there is outright cherry picking that exaggerates the warming to possibly twice the rate if started when it really started.

      That's not science, that's snake oil.

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    39. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      I always find facts rational, Felix

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    40. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      No Jim, but as a youngin', I do put a lot more faith in the accuracy of purpose built mondern technology than I do with human observed anything, let alone 19th century technology and records. The same reason I put no faith (no pun intended) in the bible.

      I can accept that we disagree on whether it is acceptable to leve this data out, however I still honestly cannot comprehend the belief that there is a conspiracy by the BoM (or other sources) to hide this, freely available, data in an attempt…

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    41. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      If you are referring to Spencer's check on those IPCC models that they use to gauge AGW on and then promote their subsequently developed SPMs to plan the worlds political future on, which found 87 out of 90 models wrong for 33 years, yes, I find that to be a very rational approach.

      Planning based on errors like those isn't doing us any favours.

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    42. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      The same scientist that believes in intelligent design? Says it all realy....

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    43. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Dr Roy Spencer is a signatory to 'An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming' and states: "We believe Earth and its ecosystems – created by God's intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence – are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory."

      Problem solved then eh?

      And people are worrid out the BoM having an ulterior motive not using pre-19010 data....

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    44. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      Steven, if you have ever spent much time in places where you are completely on your own for long periods, where you only survive by your own ability, you will find that the last thing you can rely on is modern technology.

      The Kiss principle is the only thing that works.

      What you haven't got can't go wrong.

      Modern technology is marvellous but only if it is working.

      And things like AWSs in hostile environments are sure not infallible.

      I would suggest that the old human observed thermometers were as reliable as a lot of modern AWSs today in remote locations.

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    45. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      What you have to learn Steve, is to shoot the message, not the messenger.

      Play the ball, not the man.

      Deal with his details in that graph.

      At least he is not trying to get rich on aircon.

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    46. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Henriette Vanechop

      The most reliable freight was the old TAA DC3 channel flights.

      They brought in groceries and the flying doctor but we had to bring in the beer by blitz.

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    47. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      "An evangelical "scientist" with very little credible support fro the respected scientific community"

      I think he gets plenty of support from the respected scientific community.

      Just not SKS.

      Your link doesn't include a hatchet job on Spencer over those models. They're slipping.

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    48. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Henriette Vanechop

      Those places produce huge amounts of food to feed the world. They fatten tens of thousands of head of cattle per year.

      A small part of that outgoing food is spent on incoming food.

      Sometimes you can grow watermelons in the sandhills but not always.

      But if you wanted to you could have shadehouse vegie gardens and irrigation.

      The soil is the best in the world and highly productive.

      Even with those heatwaves.

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    49. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to John Phillip

      More to the point Mr Phillips, what do the temperature reconstructions that go back well over 1000 years say about current and projected forthcoming temperatures?

      The answer, Mr Phillips, is that reconstructions tell us that humans haven't lived in a world as warm as this, let alone what we've wrought for our successors, for at least that 1000 years.

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    50. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Ah! Another denialist troll! One minute supposedly a cattle station worker, the next an expert on temperature records. You're not a 707 pilot as well? Perhaps an actuary? An exobiologist?

      Reliable temperature records for Sydney go back to 1858. Accurate records for Australia date back to 1910. Before 1910 they are not accurate; if they are not accurate then they are not a record, you follow?

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    51. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      @Inglis claims "Because their GHG/AGW theory would be in tatters, is why."

      Scratch a climate science denier's argument and all you find a conspiracy theory.

      There are no scientific organisations and almost no scientific papers that support the position of the climate science deniers. Conspiracy theories is all they have.

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    52. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to R. Ambrose Raven

      Just the imagine if the BOM used anecdotes like Inglis to determine temperature records. The climate crank blogs would not need a heatwave to go into meltdown.

      On the ABC news "The BOM today announced a new 55.2C temperature record for Victoria. Old Bert who has been farming the Boort area for 60 years claimed the temperature using the old thermometer in the back of his ute. Today's record beat the previous record from last year which was phoned in by retired shearer's cook, Paddy who used an oven thermometer"

      Ironically Inglis also trolls a false claim that NASA's GRACE satellites are unable to measure ice sheet loss from Antarctica.

      We can see a pattern here.

      The latest technology is never accurate enough if it provides an answer that Inglis disagrees with.

      Any old anecdote will do if it provides an answer that he agrees with.

      It is called confirmation bias - about as far from science as you can get.

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    53. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      "Just the imagine if the BOM used anecdotes like Inglis to determine temperature records."

      http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/january-5-1906-mildura-reached-50c/

      Yes, if they told the truth about our well recorded past temperatures it would be a big improvement in their honesty.

      Why are they awa NASA GISS pushing the AGW scare by fiddling the past?

      http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/almost-23-of-giss-warming-is-fake/

      And why do you alarmists support it?

      Could it be that like Steve above you have a financial interest in it?

      We all know the MSM have a huge financial interest in it.

      And it extracts money from the taxpayer for "scientific" junkets like we've just witnessed like there's no tomorrow.

      It is the only sunrise industry for the non-productive, public-feeders that currently exists.

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    54. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to R. Ambrose Raven

      So, you deny that Mildura temp of 122.5f [50c+] from 1906?

      Showing this current "heatwave" is BAU?

      That supports my own observations.

      And you reckon I'm in denial?

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    55. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to David Arthur

      David, so you are saying that the BOM records prior to 1910 are LESS accurate than the temperature reconstructions of the past 1000years? If that is , in fact, what you are implying - how can it be so. If you are not making that implication then surely the pre 1910 data should form part of that data set.

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  5. George Crisp

    Medical Practitioner

    There is clearly a physiological threshold where systems start to breakdown. And that the health consequences are increasingly manifest as this approached and transgressed.

    What is also observed and very interesting is that the health consequences occur well before this threshold. Studies in major Australian cities ( and overseas ) document that a range of illnesses (mortality, heat attacks, emergency department and mental health presentations) occur as low as 30 deg av daily maximum, 24 degrees minimum. There are also potentially confounding or associated factors, such as worsening air quality ( especially ozone and fine particulates ).

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  6. Dave Bradley

    logged in via email @yahoo.com.au

    Yeah, I fear that initial comment is perhaps a spoiler, it would be good if there was a policy for people to suggest a change rather than just criticise, would the suggestion below be much clearer or even "correct"
    'The biochemical reactions turning calories from the food into usable energy, produce heat.'
    Nah, not really, rushing to divert attention at the start of this article is just like someone at a poetry reading calling "can you speak up we can't hear you from the back of the room" at a…

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  7. Warwick Rowell

    Permaculturist at Rowell Consulting Services

    Dianna made a call for ACTION, and got one response.

    I agree with Ambrose's general thrust about government roles and policies required. However, that is still defining action for others to consider, and then undertake.

    After working for many governments over fifty years now (only on and off, thank God!), I still do not believe their actions will be timely or effective. So very necessary, but not sufficient...

    Amelioration will only be achieved on needed time scales by individuals…

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    1. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Warwick Rowell

      Great link, Warwick. I'm not going to get all misty-eyed about saving the planet through co2 cuts, but I LOVE your overall practical, and genuine environmental friendliness. My family loathes waste and you have given us some more methods and ideas on how to reduce ours. Thank you.

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    1. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Account Deleted

      Ah, the irony...

      Well done on adding valuable information to the discussion! (I do agree with you here though)

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  8. Jena Zelezny

    research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

    Thank you Donna for this description of a phenomena that is important for everyone to know. It's a shame that the Oz Open has to be staged in these conditions - I marvel at the professionalism of the players.

    In contrast, there is a building site across the road from where I currently live. It has been shut down for the past few days. I have only experienced this sort of heat in Adelaide, late 1980s, and when I visited New York in July 2013.

    What effect will this have on outdoor enterprises in future and how will the electricity grid cope? In Melbourne we have been warned, as citizens, to keep our consumption down BUT business has not been equally directed to do so. Is it really necessary to have the lights on in buildings o'night?

    When will the Govt. put energy into solar energy. Seems like there's a plentiful supply of it?

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    1. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Jena Zelezny

      What I do not understand is why the senior/top players do not tell the tennis organisers: "we will not play in this heat, and unless you organising actual court cooling and an effective conditioning system before next year's tournament, we will not be coming'.

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    2. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      I thought much the same thing last night Peter. I was throwing around a few ideas on what could be done to stabilise the temperatures and realised the cost would be mostly prohibilitve unless all of the courts where in indoors.

      Then, if you believe all of the AGW hype, without a clean renewable energy source we would use more resources cooling a warm planet which would in turn cause more AGW.

      Perhaps the tournament should be slated for autumn?

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    3. Jena Zelezny

      research for second PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences (Performance Studies/Theatre & Drama/Dramatic Literature/Visual Arts) at La Trobe University

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      It's a puzzle for me too Peter. Perhaps there are contracts, schedules etc involved … as the tournament is part of an international circuit of tournaments?

      Sam Stosur has urged the officials towards "common sense" and Andy Murray has been quite assertive.

      I agree that some sort of cooling system should be installed and that the players should demand it.

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      Steven, I don't believe 'all the AGW hype' anymore than I believe in the tooth fairy, for the same, simple reason that neither actually exist.

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    5. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Come on Felix, your opinion does not make fact. 100% of the science would agree with you that there is no tooth fairy, but it seems 97% of the science agreeing with AGW is slightly too low for you to accept that is might be possible?

      I am not convinced entirely, but on the balance of probabilities in the face of overwhelming pure science, I think it may be time enact the precautionary princilple.

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  9. garybass

    Education IT Physics

    While the tennis is an obviously visible sporting activity, consider both AFL and NRL began pre season this week...many with time trials over a timed 10km course!

    Not sure the starting time, but certainly afternoon or early evening would still be "too hot!" for that sort of activity..

    They have expert physiologists on hand yet insist on working all players to exhaustion...heart rate at 80% of calculated maximum for twenty minutes or more...ten km run @ 3 min per km would take 30 minutes..2min/km…

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    1. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to garybass

      AFL & NRL competitive seasons are outside of summer. Melbourne Victory kicked off against Western Sydney in 40dg a couple of nights ago. I always have a giggle when AFL coaches whinge about pre-season comps played in 30-32dg.

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  10. John Kelmar

    Small Business Consultant

    If the world is getting warmer, then why is it so cold in the USA at the moment?

    Furthermore, records have only been kept for the past 100 years or so. How does our current cycle compare to the cycles that the Earth has experienced over many thousands of years?

    Australia was underwater a long time ago, and now that the oceans seem to be rising, they are nowhere hear the levels experienced when Australia was underwater.

    Getting back to the Tennis, most of the European players have experienced far higher temperatures in a Sauna (105C and more), and as they know one needs to mix periods of cooling between stints in a sauna, just like when one is outside during summer. The body can cope, but sometimes the mind in weak.

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    1. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to John Kelmar

      The old "but its cold over there at the moment" chestnut. Are you suggesting that this record cold snap in the US is evidence the world is cooling? By that rationale I could ask, "why is it so hot in Australia?".

      I suggest you look up polar vortex in regards to the US and possibly connect that with a number of contributing factors, one of which might be, although is most likely not, global warming.

      As most respectable climate scientists state, they are looking overall trends, not single events to show the trend is a slight increase in temperature. No scientist should use a single heatwave (or cold period) as evidence for any long term trends. Just as they should not use data they are not confident is accurate.

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  11. Dave Phillips

    logged in via Facebook

    As humans with our own self aware ability to assess risk and decline to compete in an event or decide to compete regardless we take on a portion of culpability for any adverse physical effects on us, kind of like contributory negligence I suppose. Anyway we choose of our own free will, the organisers of events such as the tennis take what practical steps available to them to alleviate or reduce/remove risk but simple fact is, just about everything we do has an element of risk attached.
    My comment…

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  12. Steve King

    Senior Lecturer in Architecture at UNSW Australia

    My problem is that the article dumbs down the assessment of thermal comfort and heat stress risk.
    A simple google search takes you to a number of readable articles on the wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) index, including
    http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/heatstress/measuring/wetbulb.htm

    That article notes:
    "The wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) index is the most widely used and accepted index for the assessment of heat stress in industry. It has been published as British Standard BS EN 27243…

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    1. Henriette Vanechop
      Henriette Vanechop is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Steve King

      To Cory, re effects of heat on the body,
      and to David Arthur who asked : "have you experienced any episodes of dehydration? If so, has it affected the health of your kidneys?"

      - yes and - yes in late 1985 After 2 days of misery, and GP finding nothing wrong, body temp. went up to 43 degrees, yes 43.
      Most uncomfortable. a week in intensive care with tubes.

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  13. Yoron Hamber

    Thinking

    Well that bulb may be working but if you exercise, as on a tennis court, you should pass the spectators heat levels fairly fast? So what was the players body temperatures at the tennis court?

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