Media release – Impacts of extreme weather on Border

IMPACTS OF EXTREME WEATHER ON BORDER – MEDIA RELEASE – 22.2.13

[Submitted by Lizette Salmon]

Pigs unable to breed and thousands of local chickens dying; these are just two of the more unusual local consequences of this summer’s extreme heat.  “Bushfires, drought, crop losses and heat-related illnesses were consequences of climate change we anticipated in this region”, said Lizette Salmon, spokesperson for Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Health (WATCH), “but now we’re hearing some unexpected stories too”.

The National Environment Centre’s Rob Fenton has been a teacher of organic farming and permaculture for 26 years, but said the Border’s extreme January temperatures had impacted the farm in ways he’d not previously witnessed.  “Our free range pigs simply stopped feeding. At night they just lay in their wallow and whinged about the heat. Our breeding program has been set back because they dropped a cycle and still aren’t cycling. This will mean a reduction in our ability to supply bacon.” According to Mr Fenton, zucchinis were also affected. “In mid January they dropped their flowers and stopped growing. This was a problem with many of our student’s crops too”.

While the National Environment Centre did not report poultry deaths during the heat wave, other producers were not so fortunate. Nicole Stephens, coordinator of the Hume Region Farmers Market was told of at least three thousand chickens that had died across the region. “Chickens have poor cooling mechanisms and unfortunately the 42 degree day in January was too much for many of them.”

Ms Salmon has heard many locals comment on the number trees that are suffering. “Although this is not an unexpected consequence of climate change it’s getting discussed quite frequently. A friend who’d been out jogging noticed that nearly every garden she passed contained stressed or dead plants. I’m concerned, too, by the number of dead and dying trees along our roadsides; just take a look outside the new Tax Office or on Baranduda Boulevard.”

WATCH is compiling a data-base of extreme-climate consequences around the region and encourages residents to contact their group with descriptions of impacts. They anticipate the list will help identify and publicise climate risks. “It’s not possible for scientists to anticipate every possible consequence for every region, so we’re using real community experiences to help us track climate change impacts at the local level,” said Ms Salmon. “At the same time, of course, we urge everyone to do everything in their power to try to limit extreme climate change, at the personal level through to meaningful actions by governments and businesses, especially the power industry. A record 45 degree day now will become a record 50 degree day in twenty years. It’s imperative we act now before locking in even greater challenges to the survival of our children.”

Residents are encouraged to register their extreme weather experiences by emailing Ms Salmon on lizette@salmonfamily.id.au.

For link to subsequent article in Border Mail see: http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/1332487/video-these-pigs-were-bakin/?cs=53

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