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It's more than a drought, say scientists

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  • npat1
    Fw from: http://groups.google.com/group/Dreamkeeper?hl=en ABC Online It s more than a drought, say scientists. 15/12/2006. ABC News Online This is the print
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 18, 2006
      Fw from:

      ABC Online

      It's more than a drought, say scientists. 15/12/2006. ABC News Online

      This is the print version of story

      Last Update: Friday, December 15, 2006. 10:13am (AEDT)

      There is concern Australia is in denial about long-term weather
      conditions. (Landline)

      It's more than a drought, say scientists
      By Annie Guest for AM

      The world's top meteorologists have released their annual weather
      assessment and it paints a dismal picture.

      The globe's sixth warmest year on record has produced widespread
      drought interspersed with what they call radical variability - the
      October snowfall in southern Australia for example.

      But despite the world getting hotter and drier, there is concern
      Australians are taking refuge in the notion of a short-term drought.

      And critics say governments are failing in their efforts to address
      water problems.

      Polar ice is melting and ozone depletion continues.

      But drought is the key theme of the World Meteorological
      Organisation's 2006 statement on the status of the globe's climate.

      Australia is a member country of the UN's meteorological agency, based
      in Switzerland, and it was there that the weather bureau's Dr Michael
      Coughlan delivered the news.

      "The current estimates put this year at being about the sixth warmest
      year on record, Europe had its warmest summer on record, Australia had
      its warmest spring on record," he said.

      While there were extreme events like Australia's October snowfall,
      global mean temperatures are climbing, rainfall is declining and this
      country has had its hottest decade.

      "It's a combination of short El Nino drought on top of reductions in
      rainfall that go much longer," Dr Coughlan said.

      But there is concern Australia is in denial.

      Dr John Williams from the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists says
      people must face hotter, more variable weather.

      "I think when we use the word drought it's a little too comfortable.
      Drought has about it that we condition us to thinking, return to
      normal," he said.

      The former CSIRO water chief and current New South Wales Natural
      Resources Commissioner describes Australia as at a crossroads.

      "In that it can choose between the more expensive capital and
      environmentally more difficult options of more storages and
      desalination, or it can minimise these by better water use strategies
      and increase water productivity," Dr Williams said.

      Dr Williams wants more water recycling, advocating desalination only
      as a short-term solution.

      And he is worried efforts to improve water accountability, monitoring
      and trading are at risk.

      "All those sorts of reforms are essentially in the National Water
      Initiative but we're having hiccups in making it work and the
      jurisdictional difficulties between Commonwealth and state to make it
      work," he said.
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