We know there are people – some in quite surprisingly high positions of power – out there who are refusing to recognize that, climatically, the world is not in a good place. However, 2018 is only two weeks old and it’s already verging on apocalyptic.
We’ve had a cold-weather system resulting in absurdities such as Niagara Falls freezing over, frozen sharks washing up on beaches, and frozen iguanas falling out of trees in Florida. Now, on the other end of the spectrum, on the other side of the world, Australia is experiencing a heatwave so extreme that “boiled” bats are falling out the sky.
Currently, a record-breaking heatwave is sweeping across Western Sydney, and sadly this is having a devastating effect on the local wildlife. Hundreds of flying foxes died as a direct result of the extreme temperatures, as experts say the creatures boiled alive.
Numbers are estimated as between 200 and thousands, as residents of Campbelltown, New South Wales, woke up to horrible scenes.
St Helens Park WIRES volunteer Cate Ryan was one of the first people on the scene, immediately raising the alarm for other volunteers to rush to the aid of the bats by giving them shade and cool water.
“It was unbelievable. I saw a lot of dead bats on the ground and others were close to the ground and dying,’’ she told the Daily Telegraph Australia. “I have never seen anything like it before.’’
The temperature reached 44.2°C (112°F) on Sunday in Campbelltown, and the volunteer rescuers said that bat colonies in nearby Parramatta and Penrith – where it reportedly reached 47.3°C (117°F), hot enough to melt the road – were also affected.
“They basically boil,” Ryan told local newspaper the Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser. “It affects their brain – their brain just fries and they become incoherent. It would be like standing in the middle of a sandpit with no shade.”
About 90 percent of the bats that died were babies or juveniles, Ryan said. Although they managed to rehydrate about 80 of the animals.
“The efforts of our volunteers yesterday was both heroic and heartbreaking,” WIRES said in a statement. "Hundreds of mainly young flying-foxes were lost to the heat yesterday and the final count could run to thousands."
“It's devastating when a colony like our local one goes down like this due to heat,” Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown added in their own statement. “This colony needs more canopy cover and shaded areas to help with our ever rising hot summers because this episode will surely not be the last.”
Experts warn that anything over 30°C (86°F) can be detrimental to young bats and over 40°C (104°F) poses a risk to life for adults. Sadly, as temperatures continue to rise, this incredibly depressing story may not be that unusual soon.