The federal Environment Minister last night reassured Australians that he is alert to the dangers of climate change, or at least those detailed in a soon-to-be released report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, telling  Lateline :

The IPCC report is based on peer-reviewed published science, everything in there is well known to us, we know that there is the possibility or the probability of a hotter and drier future in southern Australia.

I mean we know about this, this has been published, the CSIRO has been writing about this for years so I’m glad that you think it’s a revelation, I’m sorry to say that it isn’t, it isn’t, there’s nothing new in that.

A few hours earlier, The 7.30 Report revealed what the Minister already knows about Australia’s environmental future:

  • Within 800 kilometres of the Australian coast, temperatures will warm from 0.1 degree to 1.3 degrees by 2020;
  • By 2050, it could warm anywhere from 0.3 to 3.4 degrees and, by 2080, the mean temperature could be 6.7 degrees warmer than it is now. As a result heatwaves and fires are virtually certain to increase in intensity and frequency;
  • Floods, landslides, droughts and storm surges are very likely to become more frequent and intense;
  • The frequency of severe tropical cyclones on the east Australian coast will increase by 20%;
  • Up to 20% more droughts … are simulated over most of Australia by 2030 and up to 80% more droughts by 2070 in South Western Australia;
  • An increase in fire danger in Australia is likely to be associated with a reduced interval between fires, increased fire intensity, a decrease in fire extinguishments and faster fire spread;
  • In South East Australia the frequency of very high extreme fire danger days is likely to rise 4-25% by 2020 and 15-70% by 2050;
  • Annual stream flow in the Murray Darling Basin is likely to fall 10-25% by 2050 and 16-48% by 2100. Toxic algal blooms are likely to become longer and more frequent;
  • By 2050, 97% of the Great Barrier Reef will be bleached every year and, by 2080, there’ll be catastrophic mortality of coral species annually;
  • Greater coastal inundation, erosion, loss of wetlands and salt water intrusion into freshwater sources, with impact on infrastructure, coastal resources and existing coastal management programs;
  • In the next 50-100 years, 21% of the Tasmanian coast is at risk of erosion and significant recession from predicted sea-level rises;

Knowing is one thing. Doing is another.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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