The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has handed down the second instalment of its Sixth Assessment report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability.
The Faculty of Science’s Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and Dr Nina Lansbury from the Faculty of Medicine are among 270 scientists from across the globe who, as part of Working Group ll, have assessed the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, biodiversity and humanity.
Dr Lansbury said the work builds on the Working Group I report released in August 2021, which concluded that climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying.
“Some of my work focuses on climate change impacts in the Torres Strait. That was one of the areas that we were really keen to emphasise in this latest assessment because that’s a community in a location that is already feeling the impacts of climate change,” Dr Lansbury said.
“Fresh water supply is an issue because there were wells on some of the sand islands in Australia which are now contaminated by salt water because of sea level rise.”
Dr Lansbury said that there are concerns about how healthcare systems will cope when challenged by heatwaves and increased emergency presentations during these and other extreme events.
“If we think about the bushfire season that happened in late 2019/2020, there were 33 deaths, however there were more than 400 deaths related to respiratory conditions and thousands of unwell people presented to emergency departments because of the heat and particulate air pollution,” Dr Lansbury said.
“When I talk to people involved in managing extreme events, that we call disasters, they often talk about the need for long term funding of the services to prevent the disaster from actually happening.”
“It’s the preparedness that we really need to be thinking about and these are really deep questions with long term investment that would be needed to be ready for managing the hazards.”
Climate change adaption and resilience is a complex issue that needs complex responses and there’s not a ‘one size fits all’ solution, Dr Lansbury said.
“In Australia, we have a population that’s concentrated around the east coast, but we also have important populations in regional, rural and remote areas who don’t have access to the same resources, so there’s an equity issue too,” Dr Lansbury said
“Urgent responses are required, and this report is really a call to action, but we have hundreds of researchers who have come together over three years to write this important report, and I don’t think we would do that if we did not have hope.”
Audio/video grabs are available here.