UN Officials Speak Out On Climate Change As Australian Drought Deepens

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"UN Officials Speak Out On Climate Change As Australian Drought Deepens"

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CREDIT: A.P. Images

Speaking ahead of next month’s IPCC publication on the effects of climate change on the world’s food supplies, human health, cities and rural areas, Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the UN’s climate science panel told the Guardian that the extreme weather seen around the globe this winter is only going to get worse.

“Each of the last three decades has been warmer than the last. Extreme events are on the increase. Even if what we have just had [this winter] was not caused by anthropogenic climate change, events of this nature are increasing both in intensity and frequency,” said Rajendra Pachauri,”Two types of extreme events are going to occur more frequently – extreme precipitation and heatwaves. It is important for societies to deal with climate change if we want to avoid the impacts.”

On Friday, the punishing drought in Queensland Australia was officially declared the state’s most widespread drought on record. With 15 new shires included in the drought, almost 80 percent of the state is now affected. There are now 38 drought-declared shires and for the first time, large parts of the Queensland coast have been included.

“The wet season in these newly declared shires has been very poor with many areas missing out altogether,” said state agriculture minister John McVeigh on Friday. “February, normally one of the wettest times of the year, has been particularly dry.”

About half of the newly declared shires are in the Wide Bay Burnett region, which was devastated by floods, just 14 months ago.

Canegrowers CEO Brendan Stewart told the ABC that the floods followed so quickly by record-breaking drought was “unchartered territory.”

Stewart said production could be down by 30 to 40 per cent in the drought-affected areas in the Wide Bay Burnett area.

Last week, UN Climate chief Christiana Figueres told the Guardian that while it was important to remember that no one extreme weather event can be attributed to climate change, the recent wild weather should be considered together.

“If you take them individually you can say maybe it’s a fluke. The problem is it’s not a fluke and you can’t take them individually,” she said. “What it’s doing is giving us a pattern of abnormality that’s becoming the norm. These very strange extreme weather events are going to continue in their frequency and their severity … It’s not that climate change is going to be here in the future, we are experiencing climate change.”

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