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The Science of Climate Change

When we think of climate change images of icebergs melting or Greta Thunberg protesting alone in Sweden spring to mind; however, our Leadership Great South Coast Climate Mitigation and Adaptation program day provided us with a local perspective. Each of our innovative and inspirational speakers used science in different ways.

Science- to know where we are and scenarios for the future. Marty Gent from the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority explained the CSIRO climate modelling for the region; less rainfall and more frequent extreme weather events, to some may not seem to be something which will effect them. Consider the impact of longer and more frequent heatwaves; to our most vulnerable these can be deadly, putting pressure on emergency services, our environment and our infrastructure.

Science- to give a baseline and help plan for the future. Johnny Gardner from South Mokanger, a Nuffield scholar and member of Farmers for Climate Action is working with AgVic to measure the emissions from his farm. Data in this case is collected from many different sources one of which is the methane emissions from stock. This has been scientifically calculated using a machine where a sheep is enclosed and the methane it expels measured. Using this, and other data, Johnny and wife Maddie can envision their future and using science can put actions in place to get there. Pasture type, genetics and soil management all play a part in reducing emissions.

Science- used in new ways to create a circular economy. Who would have thought chemistry could be so innovative? Elisha Nettleton from Sustainable Plastic Solutions is doing just that by looking at plastic from a molecular level. Where we might see bailing twine she sees the polymers and the opportunity to return plastic to its original use, ending the process of plastic being down-cycled or going to landfill. Not all plastics are the same, so rigorous testing and knowledge of the chemical nature of plastics combined with as a discerning eye on the market is circular economy in action.

Science- individual impact. Finally, Juan Donis and James Allen from Southern Grampian left us with the sobering thought around what individuals can do to assist in climate change mitigation and adaption. It’s the choices; from choosing unpackaged foods to swapping your mode of transport; where we make a difference, the science is there- each of us needs to just do something.

Thank you to each of the speakers for taking the time to inform us about climate mitigation and adaptation. Thank you also to Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority for sponsoring the day and to Wannon Water’s Ripple Effect Grant for the merchandise sponsorship.

Nicole Wood, 2023 Leadership Great South Coast participant



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