Australia — The Not for Profit Climate Council says a new global report on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, finds Australia is at increasing risk of heat extremes, bushfire weather and extreme rainfall.
The report singles out the Great Barrier Reef as being at serious risk from rising ocean temperatures and Climate Councils Professor Lesley Hughes, one of the lead authors of the IPCC report, (http://www.ipcc.ch/report) said it highlighted the vulnerability of key Australian sectors such as agriculture and coastal infrastructure to climate change.
Many farmers are doing it tough and it may get tougher. The report warns of potential decreases in the productivity of the Murray Darling Basin due to a drying trend in the southeast, Prof Hughes said.
Bushfire weather is increasing. Just this summer we have seen an early and intense start to the fire season in New South Wales, as well as loss of life, and damage to property in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
Australias natural treasures continue to be threatened unless action is taken now to reduce the effects of climate change on our environment.
The Great Barrier Reef, the diamond in Australias tourism crown, is at risk. At the current rates of ocean warming and acidification, coral reef systems will likely be irreversibly damaged, and possibly eliminated altogether, by mid to late century.
If average global temperatures rise above 2°C it is expected that few coral-dominated systems will survive.
Reducing the risks of water shortages, bushfire weather, extreme heatwaves, loss of biodiversity and decreased agricultural production will depend on how rapidly we are able to respond to the challenge of climate change.
This is the critical decade to tackle the cause of climate change and stabilise the climate to avert the most serious risks.
The Climate Council (http://www.climatecouncil.org.au) is an independent community-funded Not for Profit organisation.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report: Key findings
1. The IPCC reports conclude that climate change is occurring as a result of human activities. This latest report from Working Group II confirms and reinforces the findings of the previous assessment report (AR4) published in 2004.
2. There is increased evidence that climate change is already affecting many natural and human systems and poses significant risks to human health, ecosystems, infrastructure, agricultural production and communities.
3. Key findings for Australia include: Marked decreases in agricultural production in the Murray-Darling Basin and south western and south eastern Australia could occur if projections of severe dry conditions are realised There are significant future risks of increased loss of life, damage to property, and economic loss due to bushfires in southern Australia.
Since 1950 hot extremes have become more frequent and intense, while cold extremes have become rarer. Increased hot weather is expected to hit major population centres, with hot days, for example, in Melbourne expected to increase by 20 to 40 per cent by 2030, and by up to 190 per cent by 2070.
The iconic Great Barrier Reef is under threat. Under current rates of ocean warming and acidification, coral reef systems could be eliminated by mid- to late-century. If average global temperatures rise above 2°C it is expected that few coral-dominated systems will survive.
There are risks from increased frequency and intensity of flooding from extreme rainfall events, causing damage to infrastructure.
4. Reducing the risk in Australia of water shortages, bushfire weather, extreme heatwaves, and decreased agricultural production will depend on how rapidly we are able to reduce carbon emissions locally and globally, and on the how effectively we are able to implement adaptation measures.