Monday, 9 June 2014

Beyond the Brink - Victoria

Change is accelerating. Do you know what it will mean to us by 2050?

Are we beyond the brink already?

This article is based on reports produced by the most reputable science institutions of Australia and America. Many of the forecasts are extracted from the Australian Government Department of the Environment Victoria Climate change impacts in Vic report.

And it is bloody scary.

 Putting your head in the sand won't make it go away

Victoria is Australia's smallest yet most densely populated and urbanised mainland state. It is the second most populous Australian state with approximately 5.6 million people. The Bureau of Statistics claims that, by the middle of the century, the proportion of Australians living in capital cities will have climbed from 66 to 72 per cent. On this course, by 2050 Victoria's population will exceed 9.3 million people. However large masses of climate disaster refugees are expected to migrate to less impacted regions such as Victoria.

The oceans will rise by the minimum of 0.5 metres by 2050 (from a 2010 Harvard report). However this estimation do not include the recent break away of West Antarctic Ice Shelf that will add another 0.5 to 2.0 metres of sea level rise by the end of the century.

A 1.1 metre sea level rise will destroy up to 48,000 Victorian homes- currently valued to $11 billion. A 1.1. metre sea level rise will also destroy 3500 kilometres of Victoria's roads ($9.8 billion), up to 125 kilometres of railways ($500 million) and up to 2000 commercial buildings ($12 billion).
Our summers are getting hotter for longer. Each summer we experience about 9 days of temperatures over 35 degrees. Although we do not have a report for 2050, by 2070 we will get 26 days over 35 degrees. Bendigo is predicted to experience 30 days of high or extreme fire conditions by 2050. Mildura is expected to face up to 107 days of very high or extreme fire risk by 2050, up from 80 days currently experienced.

Water supplies will be pushed and unimaginable bush fires will destroy our forests, farms, homes and even entire towns. A direct impact will be heat related stress deaths of the elderly, homeless and sick. There will 1318 heat related deaths per annum by 2050.

Victoria's winters will become colder as the climate becomes more extreme. Cold-related deaths are expected to reach up to 1164 in the year 2100.

The snow season may decrease by up to 96 per cent by 2050, with a dramatic reduction in snow depth. Snow cover at Mt Hotham (where the highest elevation is 1882 metres) could reduce from 129 days currently down to between 21 and 114 days by 2050.

Animals, plants and even entire ecosystems will be severely impacted. The Mountain Pygmy Possum that occupy habitat at the highest elevations and in the coldest environments will have nowhere to retreat as the climate warms. The Phillip Island penguins will reduce in numbers as bush fire ash and dusty winds destroys their habitat.

Victoria's agriculture will suffer. Expected declines in population by 2050 are: wheat 13.4%, beef 6.5%, sheep 12.9% and diary 10%.

On 22 May 2014, an El Niño began, causing a dry beginning to Winter, the El Niño will become established by August but the effect on this summer has not been forecast.

There are other climate changes that have not yet have impact predictions for Victoria. Some of these changes include: rapidly rising acidic seas, 0.8°C rise in Victoria’s east coast waters, the strongest winds in the Southern Ocean for a 1000 years.

Extreme storms will cause the most devastation. In recent years we have witnessed several high density, advanced cities destroyed in singles days by hurricanes. The climate changes create super-storms that are unpredictable in every way.

This article has not talked about interstate changes such as the potential loss of the Great Barrier Reef by 2050 but the information is readily accessible on the Internet.

Most of the source reports stated that their forecasts are conservative (best we can hope for) and the changes are irreversible (e.g. we can no longer stop the Antarctic ice shelf from melting). These forecasts are not politically motivated, they are what the scientific community believe are true.

Read more about the subject and decide what you are going to do.

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