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The conclusions of a new report written by Australia's top climate scientists are grim: Heatwaves are expected to increase 10-fold while droughts will almost double in number and become more widespread -- possibly impacting an area twice as large as now. Rainfall is also projected to continue its long decline throughout the country.
The report's release prompted agriculture minister Tony Burke to compare the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO's (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) findings to "a disaster novel," according to The Guardian's Barbara McMahon.
Image from Shiny Things
The scientists estimate that roughly 50% of the decrease in precipitation in Southwestern Australia since the 1950s has been due to greenhouse gases. Close to 95% of the country's population could eventually be exposed to extreme temperatures as a result of climate change -- up from the current 5% a year.
In a previous report, Ross Garnaut, a prominent Australian academic, had also sounded the alarms, urging the government to adopt a carbon trading scheme by 2010 if it wanted to avert an ecological catastrophe.
Several regions of Australia are currently in the throes of a sixth year of drought. A few local governments, including Sydney's City Council, have been reining in plans to deploy more coal-fired plants in an effort to reduce their emissions; the country was "crowned" the world's worst carbon emitter per capita last year.
Australia and climate change
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