Over recent years the land-based effects of climate change have become increasingly obvious.
Severe droughts are occurring more frequently. All of NSW is now in drought.
During August there were serious bushfires locally as well as elsewhere in NSW and Queensland. Severe winter fires raise concerns about what summer will bring, given the record summer temperatures in recent years.
In other parts of the world huge fires have been destructive once again in California and even above the Arctic circle in Sweden.
The oceans are also increasingly showing the effects of climate change. Ocean warming’s effect on the world’s coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, has been widely publicised.
Warming oceans have had other impacts with changes to ocean ecosystems more widely.
A recent United Nations report, with contributions from more than 90 experts from 20 countries, looked at fisheries and climate change around the world. Their report shows that marine systems around the world are undergoing rapid environmental change.
Many fish species are changing their distribution. For example the northern movement of European mackerel into Icelandic waters has led to conflict with southerly fishing countries.
While some species will increase, models predict seafood stocks in tropical regions will decrease, where people can least afford alternative foods.
There is rapid ocean change around Australia with waters off the southeastern and southwestern coasts being particular warming hotspots. Our tropical oceans are warming almost twice as fast as the global average.
More than 100 of our marine species have begun to shift their distributions southwards. Seagrass, kelp forests and mangroves, as well as coral reefs, have been affected by marine heatwaves and other extreme events such as cyclones.
The report states that Australian commercial fisheries are clearly already being affected by climate change. This industry will obviously need to adapt to remain sustainable.
While humankind may introduce adaption strategies to cope with the current effects of climate change, it needs to act urgently to curb emissions to limit future global temperature increases.
We need a Federal Government that takes this threat seriously and acts effectively.
- Leonie Blain