Tasteless carrots, bad pizza dough and poor quality steak are some of the impacts we can expect from Australia’s changing climate, according to a new scientific study released to mark the launch of this year’s Earth Hour.
Appetite for Change, a report prepared by leading climate scientists David Karoly and Richard Eckard at the University of Melbourne, reveals the impact that shifting rainfall patterns, extreme weather, warming oceans, and climate-related diseases will have on the production, quality and cost of Australia’s food in the future.
From wheat, seafood and dairy products to poultry, meat, grains, and fruit and vegetables, the effects of global warming on a list of fifty-five household food items has been compiled for the very first time.
‘It’s definitely a wake-up call when you hear that the toast and raspberry jam you have for breakfast, for example, might not be as readily available in 50 years’ time,’ said Associate Professor Richard Eckard.
’Or that there may be changes to the cost and taste of food items we love and take for granted like avocado and Vegemite, spaghetti bolognese and even beer, wine and chocolate.’
Professor David Karoly said that out of all the impacts global warming is having on Australian farms, increases in heatwaves and bushfires pose the biggest threat to Australia’s agricultural regions.
‘Global warming is increasing the frequency and intensity of heatwaves and bushfires affecting farms across southern and eastern Australia, and this will get much worse in the future if we don’t act.
‘It’s a daunting thought when you consider that Australian farms produce 93 per cent of the food we eat,’ he said.
Key findings of the report reveal that:
· Dairy foods are likely to be affected by warmer temperatures and more heatwaves, as heat stress on dairy cows typically reduces milk yield by 10-25 per cent, and by up to 40 per cent in extreme heat wave conditions.
· Warmer temperatures adversely affect the flavour of carrots, as well as their texture and physical structure. Higher temperatures associated with climate change are likely to make carrot production less viable in warmer areas with shifts to cooler regions such as Tasmania.
· Extremely hot weather can reduce the quality of bee honey and has other flow-on effects such as reduced pollination for fruit trees.
· Fruit trees and nuts in southern Australia will not get cold enough in winter to signal fruit development.
Anna Rose, national manager of Earth Hour Australia and 2015 Australian Geographic Society Conservationist of the Year, said the report highlighted the vulnerability of Australian farmers and the food they produce.
‘Aussies are proud of our farmers for feeding the nation but they are on the frontline of global warming and are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more extreme weather,’ she said.
‘That’s why as part of Earth Hour on Saturday, March 28, millions of Australians will switch off their lights at 8.30pm to show their support for stronger action on global warming and for the future of Aussie food and farming.’
See more about Earth Hour at visit www.earthhour.org.au.
A full copy of Appetite for Change can be downloaded at www.sustainable.unimelb.edu.au/planettoplate.