Climate change scepticism could wipe out rural towns
A new report is warning hundreds of inland Australian towns could cease to exist by 2050 if locals do not adapt to climate change.
The report studied 1,600 bush towns and found the ones with low education rates are least likely to make the decisions needed to adapt to a hotter future.
But in many regional areas there is resistance to change because of lingering scepticism about climate change.
The same scepticism means the research may not have much impact on the areas it targets.
The report was commissioned by the Federal Government’s National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.
Author Professor Andrew Beer says climate change and market forces will de-populate entire towns.
“It’s impossible to predict because between now and 2050 is a very long time,” he told The World Today.
“But you could easily see the loss of 10 per cent. So 160 country towns across Australia could be gone within 20 years and a further 10 per cent by 2050 – simply because of climate change and the failure to adapt to it.
“So, many people living in a small place right now will discover that their town won’t be there in 40 years’ time.”
Mount Gambier resident Leon Ashby disagrees.
Mr Ashby is a spokesman for the No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics Party, which believes that while the climate is changing, it is only minor and not due to humans.
He says the party has 800 paid-up members, but represents an opinion that is much more widely held in rural areas.
“I lean over the fence post, and talk to a lot of farmers and that, and I would say 80, 90 per cent would scoff at what’s happening politically when you are talking about climate change,” he said.
“We all say ‘look, we’d love some global warming when it’s a cold day or whatever it is’.
“All those sorts of attitudes, they’re constant right through the rural community.”
Robert Gordon, a sheep farmer at Guyra in northern New South Wales, agrees.
“I take on board that the experts are saying that we having a significant effect but I also take on board that there are some scientists who don’t believe that,” he said.
“I think you’ll find that the majority of farmers are already factoring in climate change in their plans for the future.”
Professor Beer says people in remote and Indigenous communities are particularly at risk of not adapting.
“You need both education and you need resources to adapt to any major change, including climate change,” he said.
“But the good news is if they begin to plan and adapt now, they can actually have a very prosperous future, and perhaps be more prosperous than they are now.”
Topics:climate-change, rural, environment, research, australia, sa,mount-gambier-5290, guyra-2365, nsw, vic, nt, qld, wa