Oceanographer, Dr John Hunter.
Oceanographer, Dr John Hunter. The Northern Star

Creating a climate of change

HOTTER days, increased rainfall and coastal erosion were some of the future scenarios discussed at Southern Cross University in Lismore yesterday by local councillors, scientists, students and concerned residents.

The regional forum on climate change and coastal communities kicked off with a lecture by keynote speaker Dr John Hunter, an oceanographer from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre.

Dr Hunter spoke of rising sea levels, an immediate problem facing all of Australia.

“We're seeing coastal erosion and frequent flooding,” he said.

“But in the long term we can mitigate carbon emissions.”

Dr Hunter said that Australia's coastline was being mapped for future planning. He predicted a half-metre rise in sea levels by the end of the century, and that climate- related events like flooding would become more common.

Councils off the coast are also acutely aware that rising sea levels are a problem facing us all.

“Council are concentrating on things the region can do,” Lismore councillor Jenny Dowell said.

“The forum is a way of both educating the public and looking at the way we structure things like building codes.

“We've come a long way since the last forum three years ago.

“We're understanding that climate change is a reality.”

Convenor of the forum, Professor Graham Jones, said more and more people from all sections of society were responding to climate change.

“We have a really good selection of the community here addressing the issue of climate adaptation,” he said.

Professor Jones warned that it was time to start building a sustainable future.

“We need to start the process now,” he said.

“It's beginning around the world. Germany produces 25 per cent of its power through renewable energy.”

Forum attendees were asked what they believed were the most important climate change issues.

The answers will be analysed in today's session, with solutions integrated into future management plans.

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