IPCC: Australia to be hit by perfect storm

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has today released a report detailing the projected consequences of man-made climate change - and the results say that our way of life is at immediate risk. 

Rising sea levels, loss of animal habitats and an increase in heat waves and droughts have been laid out in the report as a very real and immediate threat to Australia’s society and economy. 

The Great Barrier Reef, an iconic global icon and a protected National Heritage site that brings in $6 billion to the tourism economy every year, has been singled out as being irreparably damaged within the next 25 years. 

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Brisbane-based Australian Leading Author and specialist on Oceans, and Coral and Marine Biology, said, “Even a one degree Celsius temperature change will bring devastating impacts. Over half of the Great Barrier Reef has already disappeared in the last 27 years from ocean acidification due to carbon emissions, causing mass bleaching and death to its many ecosystems. 

“The report references the many, many risks we face - to our way of life, our natural wonders and our economy thousands of times, it is clear that failing to act is simply not an option,” he said. 

Lesley Hughes, Lead Author of the WGII report, warns of what Australia can expect; she said, “The IPCC report highlights key risks from climate change for Australia, including loss of species and damage to coral reefs, constrained water resources and agricultural production, increased mortality from heatwaves, economic and ecological damage from bushfires, and damage to coastal infrastructure from sea level rise.” 

Adaptation to reduce the risks from a changing climate is now starting to occur, but with a stronger focus on reacting to past events than on preparing for a changing future, according to Chris Field, Co-Chair of Working Group II.

According to Chris Field,  “Climate-change adaptation is not an exotic agenda that has never been tried. Governments, firms, and communities around the world are building experience with adaptation. This experience forms a starting point for bolder, more ambitious adaptations that will be important as climate and society continue to change.”

The Working Group II Fifth Assessment report is the second instalment of a three part series to review the latest science on the state of the Earth’s climate. It is drafted by over 800 scientists from around the world whose work is reviewed by thousands of peers and agreed upon by 196 governments. 

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