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CSIRO and BOM report on climate change. The predictions are sobering.

AustraliaBlink and you missed it. This month the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology released the updated State of the Climate report 2014. It is the update on climate change research from Australia’s independent scientific and weather authorities. And it is sobering reading.

I find it amazing that our leading scientific bodies can make, what are fairly dire predictions about the future of weather, the risks to our environment and way of life, and point to the need for large scale reductions in emissions, and that these predictions are virtually ignored by the mainstream media.

I can only suspect that what happens in 2030 and beyond is not “news”, as far as Australia’s main stream media is concerned. There has been virtually no analysis and no follow up debate. It might be news to my 9 and 10 year old girls and their kids, but apparently not to me in 2015.

So what does CSIRO and MOB have to say about the future of Australia’s climate?

  • 7 of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998
  • Sea surface temperatures have warmed 0.9 0C since 1900
  • Temps are projected to rise 0.6-1.50C by 2030 (15 years time) compared to 1980-99 baseline
  • Temps are expected to rise 1.0 – 2.5 0C and 2.2-5.0 0C by 2070 under low and high scenarios where high scenarios are based on business as usual emissions internationally
  • Droughts are expected to become more frequent and severe in southern Australia
  • The number of extreme fire weather days is projected to increase 10-50% for the low scenario but 100-300% for high emissions scenario by 2050
  • More intense cyclones but fewer of them
  • Sea level rise of 0.5-0.98 m by 2100 (high scenario) and 0.2-0.6 for low emissions.

The report concludes that “Reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions would increase the chance of constraining future global warming. Nonetheless, adaptation is required because some warming and associated changes are unavoidable”.

Let’s just take sea level rise as one example of the changes being wrought. The Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coast (2009) (to which I was a minor contributor), found that with a 1.1 m rise in sea level would result in 157-247,000 individual residential buildings in Australia being inundated due to sea level rise. This alone, had a replacement cost of $63 billion. Schools, bridges, roads, hospitals, ports, etc were not included in this figure. The recent CSIRO and BOM report reconfirms the expected sea level rise.

Where was the associated media reporting with flood maps and risk profiles for Sydney harbour, Melbourne Ports, Brisbane airport etc. Where was the commentary on the policy settings of the major parties and the upcoming post Kyoto agreements.

It is time that Australia got serious about climate change and that both political parties articulate substantive and preferably, bipartisan policies to drive Australia towards a low emissions future. That, as a first world nation with a capacity to create innovation and jobs in emissions abatement, we lead not follow the international debates. We must agree to a substantive new emissions reduction target.

If we don’t start to act purposefully and in a more bipartisan way, future generations, including my kids, your kids, and their kids will be left to deal with the real (and unfortunately newsworthy), consequences.

Australia’s sea level rise maps are available at

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