Media Releases | 21st Jul, 2004

Farmers will be hit hard by climate threats

Thursday, 22 July 2004

Global warming will hit rural Victorians the hardest with farmers and industry suffering from increased temperatures and lower rainfall, the state’s peak conservation group has warned.

The warning follows today’s launch of the Bracks Government’s Adapting to Climate Change paper, which Environment Victoria (EV) said stood as an early warning, allowing time to adapt to the expected threats.

EV Healthy Rivers Campaign Director Dr Paul Sinclair said the paper showed increased droughts and El Ninos already signaled a permanent shift in Victoria’s climate. Global warming will affect farming, fishing and tourism and will see:

  • Algal blooms increase, particularly in northern Victoria, threatening the health of people, native fish and river life, at a possible annual cost of $15 million;
  • Higher temperatures stress dairy cattle and reduce milk production;
  • Crop water requirements increase as temperatures and evaporation rise; and
  • A decrease in rain reducing river flows and putting demand on irrigation.

“The cost to rural Victoria will be enormous – in heartache and in the back pocket, particularly if we carry on in a business-as-usual way,” said Dr Sinclair.

“Water polluted with toxic algal blooms will harm farmers, the food industry and the environment. It’s going to be difficult for export industries that rely on water to claim they are ‘clean and green’ when rivers are full of dead fish and algal blooms.

“Central and northwest Victoria are perfect examples of how serious the impact can be. Stage 4 water restrictions are already hurting businesses around Bendigo, while the wheat, citrus and grape-growing region is experiencing a one-in-100 year dry.

“If global warming continues, areas around Bendigo, the Mallee and the Murray could become ghost towns in decades to come.”

EV’s Global Warming Campaign Director Darren Gladman said deep cuts in emissions were the only way to stabilise global climate.

“If we are going to seriously tackle global warming and minimise the risk of its dangerous effects then we must reduce greenhouse gases. We must reduce dependency on brown coal, reduce energy use and source power from renewable energies,” he said.