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Old people to be hit hard by climate change

HEATWAVES are getting longer and hotter, and the effects of climate change will be felt on older people, farms and livestock properties in regional Australia, a report from the Climate Council says.

The independent Council's latest report on heatwaves found climate change was already increasing the intensity and frequency of heatwaves across the country.

It found hot days had doubled in Australia in the past 50 years, and the impacts of such heatwaves would be felt on people, properties, agriculture and infrastructure.

Lead author Professor Will Steffen wrote while heat was felt more intensely in urban areas, older adults in regional Australia were also at risk of extreme heat, due to a lack of medical services.

"Poor access to services is largely responsible for the relatively poorer health of rural Australians compared to city-dwellers and older adults face more challenges than most in reaching services," the report reads.

It also found the effects of more intense heatwaves would be felt on crop yields and livestock production and animals and humans more generally.

"High temperatures, especially when combined with high humidity and low air movement, can exceed the ability of livestock to cope, resulting in a loss of appetite, productivity, reproductive vigour and sometimes death," the report reads.

"Provision of shade can reduce heat stress, but not completely eliminate risk, especially in feedlots where cattle are crowded.

"Dairy cattle are particularly susceptible to heat stress, which can reduce appetite, milk production and milk quality."

The report also noted that more record hot days and heatwaves were expected in the future, urging "deep reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases" to limit the effects of climate change.

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