Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Get the picture yet, John?

It is hard to argue against the proposition that the current prolonged national drought is impacted by increased variability due in part to climate change and, that the political, economic and social pressures flowing from this drought are the principal cause for the push to divert Clarence River catchment freshwater.
It is also painfully obvious that the Howard Government is not yet capable of understanding the serious consequences of this change and, still looks to 19th century solutions in its limited response to date.

The following is a Lowy Institute conservative perspective:
"In this Lowy Paper we argue that there is no longer much doubt that the world is facing a prolonged period of planetary warming, largely fuelled by modern lifestyles, which is unprecedented in human history in terms of its magnitude and probable environmental consequences.
With a few notable exceptions, even sceptics now seem prepared to accept the validity of the basic science underpinning climate change forecasts....................................
The central problem is the rate at which temperatures are increasing rather than the absolute size of differential warming. Spread over several centuries, or a millennium, temperature rises of several degrees could probably be managed without political instability or major threats to commerce, agriculture and infrastructure. Compressed within the space of a single century, global warming will present far more daunting challenges of human and biological adaptation, especially for natural ecosystems which typically evolve over hundreds of thousands and millions of years..............
We still don't know enough about the regional and national consequences of climate change because accurate predictions become more difficult at the sub-system level since there are many more factors to consider.
Nevertheless, the IPCC has identified five likely climate outcomes for Asia and the Pacific:
• more intense summer monsoons, increasing the degree and frequency of destructive floods and soil erosion;
• sea-level rises which will submerge low-lying coastal plains and river deltas, placing at risk already endangered coastal ecosystems;
• changes in precipitation, which could alter river flows and affect hydro-electric power;
• decreasing fresh water availability resulting from higher rates of evaporation and salinisation;
• greater uncertainty associated with water management and supply.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has used a number of different models to project the likely consequences for Australia, drawing on the organisation's own research and that of the IPCC. By 2030, relative to 1990 conditions, the CSIRO anticipates:
• a warming of 0.4–2.0C, the temperature effects being least near the coast and greatest inland;
• a 10–50% increase in days over 35C;
• a 10–80% decrease in days below 0C;
• up to 15% less rainfall year-round in the south-east and in spring in Queensland;
• up to 20% less rainfall year-round in the south-west;
• up to 15% more summer rainfall on the east coast;
• up to 15% more autumn rainfall inland;
• heavier rainfall where average rainfall increases, or decreases slightly;
• stronger tropical cyclones, but uncertain changes in frequency and location."[Lowy Institute for International Policy,Paper12,"heating up the planet",June 2006,p.p.vii & 16]

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