Victoria’s climate has changed over recent decades, becoming hotter and drier, and these trends are projected to continue. The earth is warming at an unprecedented rate as a result of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
If global emissions continue to increase, in the 2050s Victoria may experience:
- an increase in average annual temperatures
- longer fire seasons, with up to double the number of high fire danger days
- decline in alpine snowfall of 35-75%
- decline in cool season rainfall
- more intense downpours
- sea levels rising by around 24cm
- double the number of hot days.
Records show that Victoria's climate has changed with:
- temperature increase of 1.2 degrees since 1910
- decrease in average rainfall
- significant increase in fire danger in spring.
There are already changes impacting our health and wellbeing
Victoria is already seeing direct and indirect health and wellbeing impacts associated with events such as floods, fires and heatwaves, which are occurring with greater frequency and intensity due to climate change. Without urgent action from all levels of society to mitigate and adapt to climate change it is evident that the health, safety and wellbeing of Victorians, particularly those most vulnerable, is at risk now and into the future. At the same time, there are significant opportunities for all Victorians to take action on climate change and improve health simultaneously.
There are plenty of positive things you can do to help slow or reduce climate change, which will also benefit your health, including:
- Increasing your use of ‘active transport’ (such as walking and cycling) can help to reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and musculoskeletal conditions.
- Reducing your reliance on cars by using active transport or public transport will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, helping to reduce rates of lung cancer and other lung conditions (including asthma), heart disease and stroke.
- Eating a diet rich in plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains, and with fewer animal-based foods is good for your health and the environment.
- As part of a well-balanced, regular diet and a healthy, active lifestyle, eating the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables for men and women every day can help you reduce obesity and maintain a healthy weight, lower your cholesterol and lower your blood pressure.
- Reducing your consumption of high kilojoule processed foods will help to reduce excess energy consumption and reduce the environmental impacts associated with these foods. Processed foods are generally high in saturated fat, added sugars or salt, take more energy to produce and are usually packaged, which contributes to landfill waste.
- Drinking tap water. Victoria has some of the world’s best drinking water. Drinking tap water over bottled water or sugary drinks is better for your health and the environment, and it’s a lot cheaper too.
- Cooling and heating your home efficiently will help you remain comfortable all year round, and save on energy.
These benefits are not only important for the health of our communities, but also help to reduce demands on the health system.
Reviewed 19 July 2022