Drought stricken Aussie farmers on the climate change frontline

21.06.18 By

ACCELERATING CLIMATE CHANGE is exacerbating drought conditions across parts of southern Australia, contributing to a wide range of physical and mental health issues, according to the Climate Council.

The ‘Climate Change and Drought Factsheet’ shows drought conditions have been officially declared in over 16% of New South Wales and nearly 58% of Queensland, with climate change contributing to extreme weather events including record temperatures and low rainfall, hitting the Australian agriculture sector hard.

“This report shows that Aussie farmers are on the frontline when it comes to facing the impacts of intensifying climate change,” said Climate Councillor and ecologist Professor Lesley Hughes.

“This is a critical issue for farmers, their families and rural communities. Droughts are linked to wide-ranging health impacts, from nutrition to infectious diseases, along with mental health concerns,” she said.

“We also know that worsening drought conditions have been linked to increased risk of suicidal behaviour, especially among male farmers.”

“The combined impact of rising temperatures and declining rainfall means that time spent in drought conditions across southern Australia, such as what we are seeing now, will almost certainly worsen over the next few decades. Unless we take far more serious steps to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, climate change impacts will continue to accelerate beyond that.”

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Climate Council Acting CEO Dr Martin Rice said climate change is also driving an increase in the intensity and frequency of hot days and heatwaves in Australia, exacerbating drought conditions.

“By 2030, winter and spring rainfall in southern Australia is projected to further drop by around 15 per cent,” said Dr Rice.

Dr Rice said Australia’s lack of strong and credible federal climate and energy policy was leaving Australians and the agriculture sector vulnerable to increasing extreme weather events.

“The ongoing burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas has led to rising greenhouse gas pollution levels in Australia,” he said.

“To protect battling farmers on the front line of climate change from intensifying drought conditions, we must continue to transition away from polluting fossil fuels, towards the increased rollout of clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy and storage technology.”

For more information please contact Senior Communications Advisor Alexia Boland on 0438 972 260.

The Climate Council is Australia’s leading climate change communications organisation. We provide authoritative, expert and evidence-based advice on climate change to journalists, policymakers, and the wider Australian community.

For further information, go to: climatecouncil.org.au

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