We can't put our heads in the sand and hope it will go away.Peter Holding
There are opportunities for farmers if Australia get's it act together on greenhouse emissions, attendees of an online forum on climate change organised by Harden's Peter Holding were told yesterday.
Speaking at the forum Professor Mark Howden from the Australian National University outlined the changes we have already experienced and some of what can be done to reduce the impact on farmers.
Mr Holding was behind the coalition of Riverina farmers who yesterday hosted the virtual forum for action on climate change in the hopes of garnering further support for their cause.
The event was broadcast from Hilltops Council across Wagga, Young and Temora.
Speakers included Professor Howden, director of the Climate Change Institute at ANU, Dr Lynette Bettio, a climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, and Michael Gooden, from the Riverina Local Land Services.
Twenty three people attended the forum online in addition to those at the various council chambers.
Prof Howden described the forum as "great way to engage in a low carbon footprint manner".
"There is no escape globally or regionally," he said of climate change.
While droughts are generally getting worse Prof Howden told attendees that many areas were also experiencing wetter conditions and increased variability in temperatures.
"We've still got variability, climate change doesn't remove variability but it does increase variability," he said.
"Even though average temperatures are going up we also see extreme cold events becoming increasingly problematic.
"Frost risk is increasing significantly.
"The important message is it is not just the averages that are changing, it is the extremes," he said.
And on rainfall Prof Howden said "on an average annual basis the trends seem to be downwards".
"In areas where total rainfall hasn't dropped we've seen a drop in effective rainfall," he said.
This he said is having an impact on productivity of up to 25 per cent in areas in western NSW.
"There's not much good news for Australia," he added before pointing out there are opportunities for those who accepted the change.
"There are opportunities if we get our act together on greenhouse emissions.
"In among the doom and gloom, adaptation is a good news story.
"Accepting climate change and starting to manage it actually makes you happier if you're a farmer and in the local government sector as well," he said.
Speaking of the weather outlook for Spring and Summer Dr Bettio said we are currently seeing warming temperatures.
"From January 2017 to September 2019 we have seen record daytime temperatures and this year has been very warm to date," Dr Bettio said.
Looking at the outlook Dr Bettio said short term there is a greater chance of drier conditions occurring but "come the new year, anything is possible".
The forum's final speaker Michael Gooden, from the Riverina Local Land Services, said the organisation has been assisting landholders to make informed decisions through workshops and seminars.
"We need to make informed decisions," he said.
"The outlook has been painted to us and we're pretty confident in that information.
"But we have to promote good outcomes and support people making difficult decisions," he said.
Replying to a question during the Q and A session from Barb Johnson of Bribaree Professor Howden said he didn't like to talk "climate emergency".
Ms Johnson asked if a climate emergency should be declared.
Prof Howden said his rationale behind not using the term is that it can "disempower people".
"For me, it would be politically really hard for the Federal government to sign on to," he said.