NOT everyone will be convinced of its legitimacy but the latest report from Australia’s Climate Commission certainly paints a stark picture of future life in our region.
It suggests longer fire seasons, more intense heatwaves and regular droughts for south-eastern Australia. The impact of climate change, it says, on coastal areas and tropical areas borders will be even more significant than previously imagined.
Given its release a week after Dereel residents were devastated by fire and just a month after the conclusion of one of the hottest summers on record, one could understand why even rusted on deniers might be having second thoughts.
The report reinforces earlier releases from the Climate Commission that the rate of extreme weather conditions is increasing.
Specifically it detailed the following points about factors which could impact our region:
• The fire season in the south-east is now longer with fire weather extending into November and March. This means the opportunity for fuel reduction burning is reducing. Fire prone conditions and vulnerability to fire are increasing in much of southern Australia.
• In Melbourne from 1961-1990, the number of days per year above 35C was 9.9, but during the decade 2000-2009 the average number of such days rose to 12.6 days. This increase is quicker than climate model projections.
• For south-east Australia, nearly all of the climate models used in a recent analysis project a significant increase in drought by the end of the century.
• In the Wimmera Southern Mallee region, the Millennium Drought (1997-2009) resulted in an 80 per cent reduction in grain production and a 40 per cent reduction in livestock production.
• A sea-level rise of 0.5m (compared to 1990), which lies near the lower end of the estimates for 2100, leads to surprisingly large impacts. For coastal areas around Australia’s largest cities, such as Melbourne, a sea-level rise of 0.5m would lead to very large increases in the incidence of extreme events, typically by a factor of several hundred and in some places by as much as one thousand. A multiplying factor of 100 means that a so-called one-in-a-hundred year event – would occur on average every year.
Good news nowhere to be seen.
Critics will says that the lack of historical climate data makes predicting longer term trends fraught with danger. But no longer should the question be about what may or may not happen to the climate we have lived and loved so long but just how we will plan for the possibilities.
For governments, one option is to do nothing. Don’t take a chance on an outcome we cannot predict.
It’s the safer, possibly more popular option.
Or they could choose, as the current federal government has done, to take action. Costly and highly unpopular, the current taxation policy association with reducing carbon emissions is unlikely to impact climate change by the means required given the depths of despair the Climate Commission predicts.
The vexing issue is that changing the way we live in the future is about unifying in the present.
It means every person, every business, every nation must take responsibility for change.
If the worst did not happen, would we be in a better or worst place for having made a commitment to the cause?
Easter weekend ideas from the readers
FOLLOWING on from last week’s column regarding opportunities for Easter activities in Ballarat, reader Col Gibson suggested investigating a lawn bowls “experience”.
“I refer to a lawn bowls “experience” rather than a full blown tournament because of the growing popularity of barefoot bowls or corporate bowls.
So maybe there could be a combination of both. A tournament for those who just have to win and social bowls for family and friends.
Nicki Ballinger suggested revisiting the ballet performance which was part of the Begonia Festival.
“It was a really lovely event for the ballet students because they were performing with other schools without adjudication or competition.
“It might not bring many people to Ballarat, but it would keep lots of families here, and their extended families might come.”
Keep the ideas rolling.