Tuesday, 4 December 2007

The existance of Australia shows how adaptable we are

Should we be worried about climate change reshaping our environment?

I think not. So the environment might be a bit different in 50 years time. Oooooh, spooky. So what?

Farmers have always changed crops in response to market conditions. 30 years ago, most Australian farmers would have grown mainly wheat. Then along came other alternatives like canola (rape), and some diversified into growing that. Some moved into rice or cotton. Others moved from sheep to grapes. They adapted amazingly quickly. For some crops, it might just involve learning how to grow it (reading a pamphlet and hiring an advisor) and buying a new bit of machinery to attach to the existing tractor. If the climate changes, farmers will change what they grow. Or they'll move to a new area or get out of farming altogether. I know a few farmers that have done that. It happens all the time as a matter of course anyway.

The last major shift in cropping patterns was when horses gave way to tractors. I don't know the exact figures, but I think farmers used to grow about 30% oats - purely as horse feed. When they got a tractor, they stopped growing oats. That was a massive shift from one cereal crop to other crops. Happened in the blink of an eye really.

Consider a case of 18th century climate change - the First Fleet arriving in Sydney in 1788. It was a massive "climate change" for those on board, and they had to adapt to a totally alien environment - and quickly. If they didn't, they'd starve.

And that was back when "high tech" consisted of a good shovel and a horse.

The very fact that people with no knowledge of the new land, and extremely primitive tools by our standards, managed to make a go of it shows to me that humans are amazingly adaptable and can overcome any challenges thrown up by climate change.

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