The Guardian February 14, 2001


Greenhouse a threat to farmers

by Andrew Jackson

International experts warn Australia will be (severely affected) by the 
dramatic changes to the world's climate, with extreme flooding, droughts, 
and bushfires drastically affecting our ability to produce essential 
foods.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change The Guardian No.1031) 
has prepared a draft report on how world climate changes will specifically 
affect Australia.

Dr Gerhard Berz says, "Australia will be one of the regions of the world 
most severely affected by climate change.

"The impact of El Nino, wildfires, severe storms, cyclones, there are so 
many natural disasters in your country already ... therefore change in the 
climate will automatically influence the frequency of these extreme 
events".

Figures prepared by the CSIRO for the panel say that we can expect a drop 
in rainfall of up to 20 percent by the year 2070. However, the figure does 
not tell the full story: extreme droughts in large parts of the country 
will be compensated by massive flooding in small areas.

Water-flow in the Murray-Darling river basin could fall by up to 35 percent 
by the year 2050, reducing water availability for crops and animals. It 
will also cause a massive increase in the salinity problem that has already 
stricken much of the country.

The expected temperature rise of up to six degrees will affect the ability 
of cows to produce milk, and an increase of carbon dioxide in the 
atmosphere will strip up to 10 percent of the protein from our wheat.

Peter Mullins, CEO of Greenpeace Australia-Pacific and himself a farmer, 
says "Farmers will start to lose agricultural productivity because of 
climate change in the next 30 years.

"Action is needed now to prevent the worst impacts of climate change."

He accused Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, who is also a farmer, for 
failing to use his position in Cabinet to protect the agricultural 
community and influence Australia's obstructive position on the Kyoto 
Protocol.

Anna Reynolds, of the Climate Action Network Australia, said "Farmers must 
demand action to address climate change as an election issue this year."

"This means a political commitment to a major reduction in greenhouse gas 
emissions, increase funding for native revegetation of salinity affected 
lands, a halt in land clearing, and increase funding for restoring river 
systems", said Ms Reynolds.

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