Extreme weather threatens crops, cities: Official report

Apr 03, 2013 by Sunanda Creagh
An infographic accompanying the report showed how different parts of Australia would be affected by global warming-induced extreme weather events. Credit: Climate Commission

Extreme weather caused by global warming poses a growing risk to Australia's crop lands, cities and iconic sites like Kakadu National Park, according to a new report that calls for global emissions to be cut to almost zero by 2050.

The report, and an accompanying video, was produced by the government's official advisory body on global warming, the Climate Commission, and aims to put the latest scientific data on into plain English.

The new report, The Critical Decade: Extreme Weather, said that was causing more heatwaves, , and sea-level rises, as well as heavier rainfall in some areas but in others.

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A video, Climate Change Fuelling Wilder Weather, released by the Climate Commission to accompany the report.

"Key food-growing regions across the southeast and the southwest are likely to experience more drought in the future," the report said.

"Some of Australia's iconic are threatened by climate change. Over the past three decades the has suffered repeated bleaching events from underwater heatwaves. The freshwater wetlands of are at risk from saltwater intrusion due to rising ."

The Climate Commission doesn't recommend specific policy changes but the new report called for "strong preventative action".

"The decisions we make this decade will largely determine the severity of climate change and its influence on extreme events that our grandchildren will experience. This is the critical decade to get on with the job," the report said.

"Globally, emissions must be cut rapidly and deeply to nearly zero by 2050, with Australia playing its part."

More intense, more frequent

Climate Change Commissioner and report co-author, Professor Will Steffen, said the report showed how climate change is making events in Australia more intense and more frequent.

"For the first time, this report is looking thoroughly and in great detail at the range of extreme events that have affected but importantly it looks at how the nature of these extreme events has shifted," he said.

"This is the first report we know of that puts it in accessible language and not scientific jargon—what's happening, why things are shifting and what we might expect in future."

Professor Steffen said the report would be of use to members of the public but also urban planners and emergency services officials preparing for a future in which heatwaves, bushfire, floods and other extreme weather events are more common.

Dr Sophie Lewis, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow investigating climate change at the University of Melbourne, said the report takes "a systematic look at a suite of different extreme in Australia, from heatwaves through to droughts and heavy rainfall."

"It shows that these events have already been influenced by human-related climate change. The changes we are now seeing in extreme weather will only become more intense in the coming decades unless we take rapid action now," she said.

"Its findings are novel, in that it shows how we are already seeing the impact of climate change day-to-day in different types of events and that they are likely to become rapidly worse in the coming decades."

Repeating the message

The new report is the Climate Commission's 24th publication but John Cook, Climate Communication Fellow at the University of Queensland, said there was value in repeating the message.

"I am sure the scientists are getting sick of repeating themselves and people paying attention are sick to death of hearing it but for much of the public, they are hearing it for the first time. So I think there is a real value in these reports," he said.

"We've done studies showing that if you ask the general public, the average member of the public would say that less than 50% of scientists agree about the basic fact that humans are causing climate change, even though the consensus among climate scientists is 97%. So even though we are saying it over and over again, there's a huge gap between reality and the public perception."

Professor Steve Sherwood, Director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, said the main findings in the report are not new and are in line with the conclusions of researchers around the world studying the topic.

"However, the report is unique in providing an easily readable and comprehensive view of how are changing, and will change further, in Australia," he said.

"International reports such as those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are much harder for the average person to penetrate, have less relevant detail on Australia, and don't go as far to help the reader 'connect the dots'—so this new looks like a very useful addition to the mix."

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User comments : 5

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antigoracle
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 03, 2013
the average member of the public would say that less than 50% of scientists agree about the basic fact that humans are causing climate change, even though the consensus among climate scientists is 97%

That's because, without a carbon TAX, it's a small funding pie to divide among 97% of these Alarmist. With the globe cooling since 2001 their desperation is growing so expect more of this kind of baseless propaganda. I wonder what they did with Mann's Hockey Stick?
Howhot
5 / 5 (1) Apr 05, 2013
That Hockey stick is in your face anti-whatever. Mann's hockey stick graph showing the correlation between man's production of atmospheric CO2 and global temperature rise is just in your face science. Its just fact.

It sounds to me like you have a fear of a carbon TAX and that is you agenda for your post. Good job when you can get it. Is it still 9 cents per word?

Maggnus
5 / 5 (1) Apr 06, 2013
That's because, without a carbon TAX, it's a small funding pie to divide among 97% of these Alarmist. With the globe cooling since 2001 their desperation is growing so expect more of this kind of baseless propaganda. I wonder what they did with Mann's Hockey Stick?


Do you have any understanding of how shrill and ridiculous you sound?
Howhot
not rated yet Apr 06, 2013
Do you have any understanding of how shrill and ridiculous you sound?
Do you?
Here let me try to help you understand the issue since you need some education on the issue obviously.

For the lastest in CO2 try this:

http://co2now.org/

There are a lot of hockey stick graphs over on wikipedia. Here is a quick link;

http://en.wikiped...troversy
Maggnus
not rated yet Apr 06, 2013
Do you?
Here let me try to help you understand the issue since you need some education on the issue obviously.

For the lastest in CO2 try this:

http://co2now.org/

Yes I do understand how shrill and ridiculous he sounds! :)
No no, it's ok, I understand, no need to educate me further!

Lol that was fun :)