Australia heading for hottest calendar year on record

CANBERRA, Australia, Nov. 11 (UPI) — Australia is on track to record its hottest-ever calendar year, a report from the Australian Climate Council said Monday.The report, given the title “Off the Charts,” shows October was 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the long-term average.”Off the back of the hottest September on record, October is also breaking records,” the council’s Will Steffen said.

“We have set the record again for the warmest 12-month period on record, from Nov. 1, 2012, to Oct. 31, 2013, and we are on track for the hottest calendar year on record,” he said.

Australia will likely experience increases in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, he said, specifically noting the risk of wildfires.

“Over the month of October New South Wales experienced devastating bush fires very early in the fire season,” he said. “This October was the second warmest on record in Sydney, at 3.6 degrees Celsius [5.4 degrees F] above the long-term average.”

Significant reductions in greenhouse emissions are needed to reduce the risk of more severe extreme weather in the future, he said, urging the federal government to take action.

“Our major trading partners, particularly China and the United States, are now moving in the right direction,” he said. “It is crucial that Australia steps up to the plate and plays its part.

Philippines typhoon leaves millions in need of food, water, shelter

MANILA — The scale of the devastation beginning to unfold in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan has stunned relief workers, who estimate that as many as 10 million people were affected by the storm that swept through the central Philippines late last week.

With many coastal areas still cut off from transportation and communications, government officials and relief workers were left guessing Monday as to the full impact of the storm, known as Yolanda by Filipinos.

“Right now we’re operating in a relative black hole of information,” Dr. Natasha Reyes, emergency coordinator in the Philippines for the international medical group Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement Monday. “We know from the very little we can see that the situation is terrible. But it’s what we don’t see that’s the most worrying.”