Time for adult conversation on climate change

Time for adult conversation on climate change

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People cannot afford to shy away from the reality of climate change according to SARDI climate scientist Peter Hayman.

People cannot afford to shy away from the reality of climate change according to SARDI climate scientist Peter Hayman.

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A climate scientist has said that one cool spring or a hot spell 100 years are not proof climate change is not happening.

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LEADING climate scientist Peter Hayman has had enough of skirting the issue when it comes to climate change.

Just because there was a hot week 100 years ago or that last week was cool does not mean there is a case to say the climate is not changing he said.

"Clearly the evidence is in that we are in a warming world and we need to support the people who have made the statements," said the principal scientist in climate application for the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI).

Speaking at a climate resilience forum in Birchip last month Dr Hayman said he wanted to move the debate from the individual story, which allowed people denying climate change to bring up one-off seasons or weather events and look at the problem as a whole.

"The aggregated data tells a story which allows you to see the whole picture and takes away the problem of someone pointing out it was dry in 1922 or whenever and using that as evidence everything is fine."

Dr Hayman used the analogy of a sandcastle on the beach.

"You ask what destroys the sandcastle, the waves or the tide.

"It is the waves, but the rising tide exacerbates that damage."

"If you think of the short term weather as the waves and climate change as the tide you get the picture of what is happening, the waves are becoming more intense because of the tide slowly creeping up.

"That is what we are seeing with our weather, the hot years are becoming increasingly hot and although not every year is hot it is becoming more frequent."

Peter Hayman, SARDI, says the world is definitely warming and warned while some areas would get wetter, Australia could easily get drier overall if current climate change trends continued.

Peter Hayman, SARDI, says the world is definitely warming and warned while some areas would get wetter, Australia could easily get drier overall if current climate change trends continued.

Dr Hayman pointed out the frequency of hot summers in the past decade.

"We had the 'Angry Summer' of 2013, where 123 heat related records were broken, then followed just a couple of years later by 2016-17 then last year's heat, it is happening more frequently."

"The science is clear-cut, the world is getting warmer and perhaps alarmingly so.

"There is less confidence in rainfall predictions, but certainly in mid-latitudes, such as much of Australia, it does look like it could be drier.

"A warmer world would end up being wetter, but due to Australia's position it may not be the case here."

Dr Hayman said whatever people's philosophies on climate change, rural Australia and the agriculture sector had adapting to it throughout this century.

"We are seeing farming practices change, we are seeing earlier planting dates," he said.

"You can see farmers, such as those around Birchip, manage when rainfall falls at unseasonable times, they have done a great job in getting a good crop on a decile 1 rainfall spring due to the decile 10 summer.

"There are tremendous stories of resilience, we are growing crops on just 100mm of rainfall which previously was not thought to be possible."

"The wave and the tide analogy is important for farming communities, there will be good years in amongst the bad, but we have to make sure we keep an eye on the tide and what it means for us and how we can be more resilient in those bad years."

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