A Hotter Drier Australia A Reality


Graphic on the rainfall in Australia. Prime Minister John Howard has called an emergency drought summit as climate change and rising interest rates threaten a 10-year economic boom -- and his grip on power.
(AFP/Graphic/Martin Megino)


"Frightening" Study Predicts Hotter, Drier Australia

Michael Perry

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's climate is now permanently hotter and drier, and the country faces major temperature rises and significantly less rainfall by 2070, scientists said on Monday.

The projections, described by one official as a "frightening picture", were published as Australia grapples with its worst drought in 100 years and follows Prime Minister John Howard's recent conversion to the view that global warming is real.

The government's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) predicted in a report that rainfall in parts of eastern Australia were forecast to drop 40 percent by 2070, with a seven degree Celsius rise in temperature.

It said that by 2030 the risk of bushfires will be higher, droughts more severe and rainfall and stream run-off lower.

By 2070, the town of Gunnedah in western New South Wales state will have more than 100 days a year with temperatures over 35 Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and Walgett may have 83 days a year above 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), said the report.

Such constantly high temperatures could turn normally drought-proof green pastures into brown dustbowls.

"The CSIRO research paints a frightening picture. That's why we need a national approach to climate change," said New South Wales state Premier Morris Iemma.

Howard, although now conceding the existence of climate change, still refuses to sign the Kyoto Protocol aimed at lower greenhouse gas emissions, arguing it is flawed because it does not include big polluters India, China and the United States.

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Australia is suffering through it's worst drought in 100 years, with farmers committing suicide, and Australia perched on economic ruin because of it. It is about time that PM John Howard realized that this issue goes beyond political rhetoric and goes to the heart of humanity, even if he had to be pushed into it due to the circumstances.

Drastic steps need to now be initiated in Australia to keep this situation from getting any worse, and that includes a plan to reduce CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Australia cannot afford to continue to listen to skeptics with ulterior objectives. The lives of many including livestock hang in the balance.

The projection of rainfall decrease by 40% with rising temperatures alone is something Australia cannot afford as that would be cataclysmic to all life, and would at worst scenario preclude a mass exodus from Australia because the land would be dead.

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