Saturday, 7 April 2007

IPCC Working Group II

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II has released its report on the effects of climate change. This follows the February report from Working Group I detailing humanity’s impact on the planet.

Regarding our region, the WGII summary report says the following:

Australia and New Zealand

As a result of reduced precipitation and increased evaporation, water security problems are projected to intensify by 2030 in southern and eastern Australia and, in New Zealand, in Northland and some eastern regions.

Significant loss of biodiversity is projected to occur by 2020 in some ecologically-rich sites including the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland Wet Tropics. Other sites at risk include Kakadu wetlands, south-west Australia, sub-Antarctic islands and the alpine areas of both countries.

Ongoing coastal development and population growth in areas such as Cairns and Southeast Queensland (Australia) and Northland to Bay of Plenty (New Zealand), are projected to exacerbate risks from sea-level rise and increases in the severity and frequency of storms and coastal flooding by 2050.

Production from agriculture and forestry by 2030 is projected to decline over much of southern and eastern Australia, and over parts of eastern New Zealand, due to increased drought and fire. However, in New Zealand, initial benefits to agriculture and forestry are projected in western and southern areas and close to major rivers due to a longer growing season, less frost and increased rainfall.

The region has substantial adaptive capacity due to well-developed economies and scientific and technical capabilities, but there are considerable constraints to implementation and major challenges from changes in extreme events. Natural systems have limited adaptive capacity.

“Serious but not dire” as Dr. Martin Perry says at the WGII press conference.

If you’ve got an hour (and a lot of patience or high speed internet access), please consider watching the press conference. Dr. Perry does a good job explaining the report, the struggles to produce it, and more than hints that, if anything, the report understates the consensus of the scientists involved. Note the question from the AP reporter at approximately the 45 minute mark.

Also of potential interest is this feature page containing even more links from the BBC.

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