Fire, Drought and Climate Change: Political Rhetoric vs Scientific Reality Media Release

Mar 04, 2014 - 7:30am

Today’s State of the Climate 2014 from the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and the CSIRO joins the dots between carbon pollution, climate change, fire and drought in contrast to the Government’s reluctance to do so, said The Climate Institute.

The Government’s self-identified ‘primary advisers’ on climate, BoM and CSIRO today clearly linked carbon emissions, climate change, fire and drought in stark contrast to their own reluctance to do so.

“The Government’s self-identified ‘primary advisers’ on climate, BoM and CSIRO today clearly linked carbon emissions, climate change, fire and drought in stark contrast to their own reluctance to do so,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute. [1]

Late last year, the Prime Minister has labelled as ‘complete hogwash’ [2]  the idea that climate change is raising the risk of bushfires, saying:

Climate change is real as I've often said and we should take strong action against it. But these [NSW, October 2013] fires are certainly not a function of climate change, they're a function of life in Australia. [3]

CSIRO and BoM in today’s State of the Climate Report found:
  • Extreme fire weather has increased, and the fire season has lengthened, across large parts of Australia since the 1970s. (p 3)
  • The number of extreme fire-weather days is projected to grow in southern and eastern Australia; by 10 to 50 per cent for low emissions and 100 to 300 per cent for high emissions, by 2050 compared with the climate of 1980 to 1999. (p 15)

Last month on drought risk and climate change, The Prime Minister said:

If you look at the records of Australian agriculture going back 150 years, there have always been good times and bad, tough and lush times. This is not a new thing in Australia. As the seasons have changed, climatic variation has been a constant here in Australia. [4]

CSIRO and BoM found:

  • Australia’s climate has warmed by 0.9°C since 1910, and the frequency of extreme weather has changed, with more extreme heat and fewer cool extremes. (p 3)
  • Since 1970 there has been a 17 per cent decline in average winter rainfall in the southwest of Australia. The southeast has experienced a 15 per cent decline in late autumn and early winter rainfall since the mid-1990s, with a 25 per cent reduction in average rainfall across April and May. (p 6)
  • Australian temperatures are projected to continue to increase, with more hot days and fewer cool days. 
  • (p 15)
  • Further decreases in average rainfall are expected over southern Australia compared with the climate of 1980 to 1999… with largest decreases in winter and spring. Droughts are expected to become more frequent and severe in southern Australia. (p 15)

“This report from the Government’s primary climate advisers should put an end to the reluctance of our political and business leaders to accept the risks and costs to Australia of inadequate climate action,” concluded Connor.

For more information
John Connor | CEO, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299
Garrett Stringer | Communications Manager, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299 

ENDNOTES

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2013/s3854893.htm
[2] http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/oct/25/climate-change-linked-to-bushfire-risk-says-environment-department-website|
[3] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/bushfires/climate-change-not-a-factor-in-nsw-bushfires-tony-abbott/story-fngw0i02-1226745125303
[4]  http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbott-downplays-role-of-climate-change-in-current-drought-20140217-32vub.html#ixzz2urrFIWP2

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