Climate Change

Climate change is expected to cause great change in Queensland.  This is expected to have profound effects on Queensland’s tourism industry, agriculture, water supply and disease.  The Queensland government, unlike governments of many other developed nations, widely accepts and understands climate change.  It has began to take steps to curve the impact of their population on the environment.  One can see examples of this referring to other areas in or website.  Examples include how the Queensland government has put in place a massive water infrastructure network designed to withstand long droughts that may last several years.  Another example is how many local governments in Queensland have developed state of the art recycling and waste management systems.  You can even see how Queensland has made concessions in its mining industry to insure that it has maintainable water supplies for its agricultural industries and large urban centers.  One of the most saddening effects of global climate change is the impact of a warming climate on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef.  As little as a three degree increase in ocean temperatures may cause extinction to the reef as we know it.  Temperature increases of just one degree celsius may cause coral bleaching and permanently harm the coral structures.  Losing the reef would have a domino effect on the state’s economy as nearly all of its residents directly or indirectly benefit from tourism generated from this wonder of the world.  Another concerning effect of climate change will directly affect humans.  Increases in temperatures have caused increases in heat related deaths in Queensland to more than double in the last ten years.  This primarily affects the elderly and young children.  Another threat to humans are vector borne illnesses spread by mosquitos.  Already a huge increase in BFV (pretty much an Australian version of West Nile Virus) has been observed throughout Australia, particularly in eastern Australia.  Some of the latest victims of climate change in australia however have been its farmers.  Due to climate change Australia has seen some of its worst droughts ever on record.  The droughts were so bad that some field plots have not seen a harvest for periods as long as five years.  This has lead farmers in Queensland to become innovative and anticipate these long drought periods.  They have began to evolve and develop infrastructure for agriculture that is less water intensive.  Another impact of climate change in Queensland is where people are able to live.  The government has put in place stringent guidelines preventing developments in low lying areas that are vulnerable to rising ocean levels.  This is huge because currently a large majority of the state’s population lives in low lying coastal areas that are susceptible to even small increases in ocean depth.  The other option to combat rising oceans would be to build levee systems.  However, the burden of these would fall on the taxpayers and is not ideal.  It is better to accept, anticipate, and expect climate change than to ignore it now and pay for it later.  Climate change impacts on queensland will be minimal if they are anticipated and planned for.  Queenslands government is leading the way for much of the world in plans for climate change.


Climate Change and Human Health


Australia is one of many places dealing with rising sea levels, and as shown in the photo the population of people living on the coast is very dense.  Queensland, Australia (Northeast Australia) in particular is realizing this issue of most of its population being denser along the coast.  Furthermore the risks of rising sea levels are flooding which will affect 85% of the population in Queensland.  The flooding not only does damage to homes and infrastructures, but it costs a lot to repair the damages made by them.  These costs are dumped on Australian taxpayers.  In order to help reduce the burden of paying for damaged homes Queensland does not permit coastal developments in hazard areas that will end in disaster.[1.]


Barmah Forest virus is a mosquito disease present in Australia; patterns of this virus were recorded in Queensland, Australia.  Due to increased changes in wetlands and other environmental factors the outbreak of this mosquito disease has been a result.  The photo shows the amount of people being affected by this disease over time.  It shows that as time has progressed people along the coast have been affected the most. However in general there has been a huge increase in the number of people being affected by this mosquito borne disease from 1993-2008.  The outbreak of the Barmah Forest virus has resulted from flooding, high tides, and heavy rainfall, which are all effects of climate change.[2.]


Queensland, Australia has tried to come up with future risks of the Barmah Forest virus (BFV) the mosquito virus and how it will affect people in the future, but it strictly depends on location.  Such as if people are living on the coast or in the inland areas of Queensland. The major future risks in Queensland are for the Brisbane area and Cairns area, these areas will experience more rainfall and increased temperatures, further contributing to the outbreak of BFV.  In contrast Public health developments have become a major focus for the Queensland government. They want to find ways that will help prevent the outbreak of BFV from occurring and be able to control it when it does.[3.]


Climate Change has become a threat to the environment and health of humans.  For example heat waves and droughts have become a huge concern for people living in Queensland.  In 2004 there was a record heatwave in Brisbane along with a rolling drought that many people living in southeast Queensland have to live through.  Furthermore people living in Queensland have agreed on some measures that should be taken by the government to help reverse climate change.  Some of the key ideas were to make sure people were aware of climate change and how they are contributing to it.   As well as making sure they have the right tools to combat possible contaminated drinking water and food.  Overall the Queensland community feels it is necessary to be aware of the possible outcomes of climate change and come to terms of how important mitigation is.[4.]


The Great Barrier Reef

great-barrier-reefThe Great Barrier Reef brings in $4.3 billion every year in tourism, but it is at great risk of destruction because of global climate change. It has been estimated that it would take only a 3 degree Celsius increase in temperature to completely destroy the beloved reef. Some more optimistic scientists believe that coral adapted to warmer climates might exist, and these species could fill the empty niche created by the warmer waters. Although, due to the speed at which climate change is happening, there would not be nearly as many species as there are currently inhabiting the Great Barrier Reef.[5.]


One of the biggest issues regarding global climate change and the Great Barrier reef is coral bleaching. “The bleaching occurs when water temperature starts to damage the colorful algae, which live in a symbiotic relationship with the corals. When the water gets too hot, millions of algae leave their hosts. If the high temperatures last too long then recolonization won’t occur and entire stands eventually begin to die.” (same article as above). As early as 1998, about 42% of reefs were in some way bleached, and about 18% was severely bleached. According to many scientists, 3 degrees Celsius of warming would be absolutely catastrophic to the reefs.[6.]


The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has done much to help curb the effects of global warming on the Great Barrier Reef. They worked with the Australian government and were key leaders in the process of helping the reefs. The major contributions that the GBRMPA gave was making internal organizational changes, attempting to link policy and science, gaining public support for global warming protection, educating the public about the issues, and facilitating public consultation and participation. Although this group has already done so much, global warming is such a large issue that there is still much to do to solve the problem. Climate change is also a global problem, so the Australian government by itself is not enough to reverse climate change effects on the Great Barrier Reef.[7.]


Effects on Rainfall

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This rainfall chart shows that Queensland has been getting much less rainfall than much of Australia. Recently, droughts have been a big problem for Queensland. The low amounts of waterfall are one way that climate change has hurt Queensland’s water supply. The lack of water in Queensland due to the droughts they have been experiencing has also hurt their agriculture. Water supply is necessary for farmers to produce crops and make money. With the very small amounts of rainfall production is on the decline as well as the agriculture industry. Queensland is becoming more and more aware of their changing climate and the problems that have came from it, and is now taking steps to slow down the changes.[8.]


This picture is of a town in Queensland called Cloncurry. Photographed above is the Chinaman Creek Dam. The ground is dry and crumbling and the water level is receding quickly. This town has gone almost two years without significant rainfall and is suffering because of it. The Mayor has come to a decision that if the situation continues to get worse, the town will be evacuated. The lack of water supply is so severe in this area, that 3,000 people could be moved out of there homes. Much of this can be blamed on the lack of rainfall that Cloncurry has received due to the changes in the climate.[9.]


Industry and Agriculture


Agriculture in Queensland is becoming ever more important, currently feeding over 22 million people domestically and 40 million people globally.  The population of Australia is expected to double in the next forty years along with the world population increasing to over 9 billion people.  Currently Australia faces problems with food security as its available cultivable lands are shrinking while its demands for food is growing exponentially.  Currently the Australian government has favored more profitable short term operations such as mining that will further devastate the agricultural potential of the land by damaging water tables and leaving land untillable for an estimated one thousand years.  The Queensland government needs to insure food security despite growing climate issues to insure a prosperous future.[10.]


Queensland has stopped denying that climate change does not exist.  It has seen devastating impacts due to its agricultural industry due to long extended periods of drought.  Most agricultural industries have seen a production collapse of over 60%. The impacts have been so severe that suicide rates in farmers have more than tripled.  The government has set up an auditing system to tell farmers what they should and should not do relating to agriculture and insuring that long periods of drought are no longer perceived as phenomenon.  One of the toughest challenges comes with the enormous amounts of water that agriculture consumes.  Currently farmers have the right to use an unlimited amount of water that is adjacent to their land for irrigation.  This does not promote conservative irrigation and has lead to a depletion of available water stocks in much of the state.[11.]


Industry and agriculture infrastructure in Queensland needs to adapt and change to a changing climate.  The population of Australia is expected to grow rapidly and therefore require rapid growth in infrastructure.  Australia needs to anticipate global warming and develop its industry accordingly to minimize the impacts that it would have on its industry.  Examples of this include an anticipated 20% decrease in sugar production by 2030.  This is due to expected decrease in rainfall due to climate change.  Farmers in these areas will likely invest in infrastructure for less water intensive crops such as corn or sunflowers. These changes in infrastructure will cost Queensland less in the future if they are anticipated.[12.]