Climate change to turn Northern Rivers from green to grey
THE ONCE bountiful green hinterland of the Northern Rivers could become a semi-arid landscape "more akin to Townsville" if the latest global warming predictions are accurate, according to a Southern Cross University oceanographer.
Associate Professor Graham Jones, who has spent 16 years studying the impact of climate change on Antarctica, discussed the local implications of a recent climate report by the World Bank.
The report, entitled Turn Down the Heat, predicted a 1.4 degree C global temperature increase over the next 25 years - and a potential four degree increase by the end of the century.
Australia can look forward to "increasing aridity, drought, and extreme temperatures", alongside an increasing number of extreme weather events.
This would spell the end of rainforest on the Northern Rivers, rapid loss of the area's renowned biodiversity, and severe coastal erosion.
All sorts of plants and potentially animals will disappear, because the temperatures will be too high, Prof Jones said.
The climate and landscape we associate today with the area would evolve to a far hotter drier climate punctuated by extreme flooding events.
Flood events would rise exponentially in relation to sea level rises. Bigger, deadlier bushfires would also result.
Less rainfall and more drought would have severe implications for agriculture too, with entire industries such as sugarcane forced to relocate.
"High temperatures will make it much more difficult for farmers... one would expect sugarcane to go," Professor Jones said.
"The only thing we can do is increase our science and technological effort, by removing CO2 from the atmosphere, and increasing tremendously our solar thermal technology... this is not beyond us."
Are we doing enough to combat climate change?
This poll ended on 06 December 2012.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.