We all know about the threat to the Great Barrier Reef from extreme climate change, but the Australian Conservation Foundation wants to ram home to Victorians that the effects of a hotter world will hit much closer to home, according to executive director Don Henry, and the report, Saving Australia’s Special Places
- 1. Wine drinkers will see the regions that produce their favourite tipple, such as Victoria’s Yarra Valley, suffering from less water and more bushfire, weeds, pests and plant diseases. Australia’s grape-growing areas will decline by 44% by the middle of the century, and grape quality will nose-dive.
- 2. Skiers will face the gradual disappearance of snow. By the end of the century, the winter sports industry, which employs 17,000 people and adds $1.3 billion to the economy, will have disappeared as the snow simply fails to fall.
- 3. Beaches, near which Australians tend to cluster their housing, and on which we rely heavily for recreation, will suffer erosion and flooding.
- 4. The report predicts that “$50 billion to 150 billion worth of houses, property, businesses, and public infrastructure are under threat from flooding due to sea level rises”.
- 5. The Kakadu wetlands are in danger of inundation by salt water, with a 59-centimetre sea level rise to hit about 90% of the national park and up to 88% of species in the bush facing extinction.
- 6. Increasingly fierce and frequent bushfires will sweep areas that were hitherto immune.
- 7. The Murray Darling Basin, already suffering an extended drought and over-allocation of water licences, will lose 92% of its agricultural production by the end of the century.
- 8. Under these nightmare scenarios, according to Mr Henry, the hundreds of thousands of tourism-related jobs, and $37 billion in exports from tourism could collapse, not to mention the damage to agriculture.
The good news, he says, is that the situation can be redeemed with strong global action, and Australia can, and should, lead the way.