Climate Change To Become Drier?

Published online: Mar 03, 2006
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Australia may have to buy most of its food from New Zealand in the future, a climate change conference in Adelaide has been told.

Nick Marsh of Auckland-based consultancy company Next Corp. told the conference that climate change means Australia is predicted to get drier and New Zealand wetter. He said this would result in Australia finding it difficult to produce food at current levels, which in turn would put pressure on the country to source quality produce from across the Tasman.

"You are going to get hotter between one and six degrees over the next 50 years, you are going to get fewer frosts so you're going to have more pest problems, wheat yield is predicted to drop," Marsh said.

"New Zealand is not as serious, we're actually going to have in our west coast increased westerlies. We're going to get wetter in the west but in the east we're going to get drier so we're going to have drought activity in the east.

"In the South Island we're actually going to have a longer growing season which we grow a lot of our lamb," he said. "You'd have to say New Zealand is a little better place to grow food."

Marsh pointed to the increasing competition for finite water sources on a global scale and said there is unsustainable use of fossil water sources in Australia.

"Agriculture tends to be a low efficiency user of water overall and relies on super cheap water to complement natural rainfall for much of its current output - especially in Australia - a non-sustainable position," he said. "People and industry are going to increasingly outbid Australian agriculture for water sources - potable and reusable."