Saturday, April 07, 2007

Australia In The Year 2020

2500 Scientists Agree Land Down Under Is Facing Climate Change Devastation

Seen The Great Barrier Reef Yet? Don't Wait Too Long...

Just how completely wrong could 2500 of the world's leading scientists be when it comes to severe climate change and Australia?

It might be time to start slaughtering a few animals to honour your God Of Choice and get busy praying.

The news about what is likely to happen to Australia between now and 2020 is not good. In fact, it's downright shocking. No doubt this is exactly the kind of reaction the scientists who put together this report were hoping to score. Mission accomplished!

You can find a summary of the predictions and projects from the IPCC below, but there is little to report today on what the federal government, or the opposition, are planning for how to combat these expected, very dramatic changes to our climate and environments.

An important argument now entering the debate in Australia about the impact of climate change is centred around how we are going to adapt to fast, dramatic changes to almost every aspect of Australian life, rather than just concentrating on lowering greenhouses gas emissions. It's an important part of the debate, and well overdue.

In short, the changes are coming, and while lowering greenhouse gases will help in the long run, the public is going to want to know how are we going to cope with the changes that are expected to be all but irreversible.

Here's some of the predictions from the world's leading climate scientists on what we can look forward to in Australia, with 13 years :

* More cyclones, a greater risk of tsunamis striking the east coast.

* 300,000 Australians could be exposed to the dengue virus each year.

* Coastal communities left "vulnerable".

* Critical fresh water shortages for eastern and southern Australia.

* Deaths from hotter temperatures in our capital cities expected to rise from some 1100 per year to more than 2500.

* Coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef to increase dramatically, placing its future and viability as a tourist attraction at risk. Where there is now some of the world's most beautiful coral expanses, there may soon be seaweed. 1C to 2C rise in temperatures will leave the Great Barrier Reef devastated. A 3C rise is predicted to all but wipe it out.

* "Significant loss of biodiversity", with massive damage to World Heritage sites like Kakadu, vast stretches of rain forest, and even ski resorts in alpine region seeing dramatic drops in annual snow fall.

* Species extinction "virtually certain" to increase, threatening populations of possums and koala bears.

* Emergency services and transport systems under increased strain.

* Increased danger to lives and homes from more extensive bush fires, across longer bush fire seasons.

* An increase in power blackouts during summer months in east and south Australia.

* Sea level rises to impact on coastal communities and beachfront properties and resorts through tidal surges and eroding coastlines.

* Forestry and agriculture significantly impacted through increased drought, lower annual rainfalls across vast regions of the country.

So does an Australia 2020 scenario including most, if not all, the climate change effects listed above constitute a national emergency?

More than 70% of Australians listed Climate Change as their greatest worry, well above increased interest rates or the threat of terrorist attacks.

The Howard government has been hammered for months for having left it to the last minute to start taking climate change and global warming seriously.

And deadly serious, very valid questions are now being asked about just how prepared the Howard government is to deal with the monumental changes to Australian society and lifestyles that climate change looks set to wrought.

Climate Change may well be the most important issue of all for voters at the coming federal election. At the very least it will be the Top Three of all the major issues.

The Kevin Rudd led Opposition is ahead of the government when it comes to who the general public thinks will move faster and more effectively to deal with the effects of climate change, and to mitigate its future impact, if that's actually possible.

But if the Australia 2020 predictions listed above take root in the greater public mind as being the New Reality for their children, both Howard and Rudd may find themselves in a position where the general public thinks that neither is going to do enough, or do it fast enough, to Save The Future for the next generation.

The general fear of severe climate change may well leap ahead of the plans now being put together by both Howard and Rudd, leaving the public at large feeling that neither leaders will measure up to the kind of visionary they expect to lead the country until 2010. The kind of visionary they believe they will need.

CODA : Projections for Australian in 2050 are, not surprisingly, a hell of a lot worse, and you'll be hearing plenty about those horror stories soon enough. Hell being the appropriate word.
Actually, 2050 is expected to be very hell-like for many areas of Australia that aren't currently regarded as stinking-hot, desert-blown, dengue infested, cane toad overrun, hellholes.

Plant, Animals And People All Feature In Dire Climate Change Predictions,

Good News For Cockroaches, Cane Toads And Kangaroos, Not So Good For Possums And Koalas

Island States Close To Australia May Become Uninhabitable Due To Fresh Water Shortages

Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change