Council braces for climate change impact

Council braces for climate change impact

03 March 2010

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Australia —  Grant District Council has started planning for possible changes to the environment fuelled by climate change.
Council has put a number of trigger points in place regarding rising temperatures and sea levels that will spark potential action.

At council’s full meeting on Monday night, chief executive Russell Peate said council could not ignore the warnings of climate change and must be prepared.

“It is important that we plan for these scenarios, whether or not you believe in climate change,” Mr Peate said.

While affects such as coastal town flooding would not be immediate, he said council must assess the possible implications given it could expose council to major liabilities.

At the meeting, councillors agreed council should monitor and review climate change data each year.

In a report commissioned by council, it claimed extreme temperature, extreme rainfall, rising sea levels and extreme bushfire weather were possible scenarios.

“Very high and extreme bushfire weather is of concern as should a fire ignite under these conditions, then the likeliness of control is poor and consequences to the community and the environment is severe,” the report said.

“Analysis suggests that very high and extreme bushfire weather conditions may become a more common event.”

Potential impacts for council include heat-related issues for the elderly and sick, increased visitation to swimming pools, cancellations of sporting and community events, increased vandalism in summer, a decrease in integrity of road pavement and increased incidence of falling tree limbs from large eucalypt species.

Other possible scenarios include power blackouts, increased food and waterborne diseases as well as dams, lakes and water bodies becoming more susceptible to algal blooms.

The report also warned of increased cracking damage to buildings and the death of reserve and roadside vegetation.

The report – tabled for the first time at the meeting – claimed the signs of climate had already begun to emerge, which include:

– The average temperature of the earth’s surface has risen by 0.7 degrees since 1950.
– Eleven of the past 12 years are the warmest on record since 1850.
– The incidence of extreme temperatures has increased.
– Intensity of drought has risen.
– Global average sea level has risen by 1.8mm per year since 1900.
– Oceans have become more acidic due to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide.

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