Garnaut says Australians will have to adapt to climate change and will not be able to keep every aspect of Australian life.

In a speech presented at The Australian/The Melbourne Institute’s 2008 Economic and Social Outlook Conference, Professor Ross Garnaut posited that the changes necessary to halt climate change may have come too late given the level of emissions already in the atmosphere and has pointed to a future that will necessitate adaptation to life under climate change conditions.

The outlook for Australia that he points to is a difficult one:

“Australia is perhaps the most vulnerable of developed countries, both because of direct impacts, and because we will be affected more than other developed countries by stress in neighbouring countries.”

In fact he notes that “we will not be able to afford to keep every aspect of Australian life as it was before. Adaptation and not conservation will need to be the keyword, unless conservation is understood in a dynamic context that embraces adaptation.”

He challenges the possibility of continuing economic growth in the face on increasing climate change for Australia’s near neighbours:

“The prudent presumption is that unabated climate change could seriously disrupt modern economic growth. How much would economic growth in China, Southeast Asia and the Indian sub-continent be affected by the displacement of many tens of millions of people from their current places of residence in Bangladesh and West Bengal? How much would it be affected by three quarters of a metre rise in sea level around the river delta cities of Mombai, Jakarta, Bangkok, Guangzhou, Ningbo, Shanghai and Tianjin? How much would a large reduction in the ice pack on and near the Tibetan Plateau, and the associated disruption to the regularity of water flows into the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Mekong, Yangtse and Yellow Rivers, affect economic growth in Asia?”

Professor Garnaut says that his Final Report at the end of September “will ask and start to answer the hard questions about the indirect but potentially powerful effects on Australia, of the impacts of climate change on our Asian and Pacific neighbours.”

He feels that the potential direct impacts of climate change on Australia are serious enough and that the Final Report will apply the mainstream science to an understanding of these issues on a regional basis.

Australia will have to do what it can to secure an effective and early global mitigation effort. An effective global mitigation effort, he posits, requires all developed countries, Australia amongst them, to take steps now to secure large reductions in emissions.

The future will require effort and the acceptance of change if we are to adapt to the new climatic conditions of the planet. Some countries are already experiencing the dislocations of populations mentioned by Professor Garnaut. Australia has just faced a prolonged drought and it appears that this may be the way things will be in the future. How we deal with emissions, the conservation of water, and the efficient and thoughtful use of energy will be a challenge to all. Professor Garnaut foreshadows a change in the way Australian’s live that will be permanent and that the reform required to achieve these changes will be unavoidable.

Professor Garnaut feels that “the issue of adaptation has been too little discussed in Australia so far.” It will, in fact, be a major focus of the Review in the months ahead, and of Australian policy for a long time to come, he says.”

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~ by abstraktbiblos on Friday, 28 March, 2008.

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