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Lessons from living in the changing south-west climate

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Lessons from living in the changing south-west climate

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  1. Lessons from living in the changing south-west climate Personal impressions

  2. Outline:A discussion of the following aspects of the region’s experience - • Nature of issues posed by our changing climate • Vulnerability – the potential to be harmed by impacts • Awareness and commitment to action • Adaptation in decision-processes • Information, communication • Key observations brian.sadler@bigpond.com

  3. Nature of issues posed byour changing climate • Climate change in this region is a present and significant reality which includes issues which have been quietly developing for decades • Some aspects of change (and impact) are insidious – hidden in natural variability (the water experience 70s to now). Surprises have also occurred (steps rather than trends). • Although some uncertainty is formidable it is not uniform or universal –uncertainty of state and trend vary with climate elements and detail required • Some key uncertainties relate to the present as well as the future climate • Actions and planning horizons have become more short term than under previous conditions (muddling through) • Current priority issues relate to base conditions more than extremes • Past, present and future climate are all relevant to decision-making • Issues are socio-politically complex as well as technically complex – they force new concepts of sustainability and create painful public decision-making issues brian.sadler@bigpond.com

  4. Climate Change Automatic Adjustment Potential Harm Planned Adaptation Vulnerability (reduction of vulnerability) Residual Vulnerability Resultant Impacts on WA Vulnerability – the potential to be harmed by impacts • Two components of vulnerability – • Where impacts and change are automatic • Where potential impacts may be reduced by adaptive response brian.sadler@bigpond.com

  5. Vulnerability – the potential to be harmed by impacts • Within our region vulnerabilities differ markedly with- • Aspect of climate change • Two components of vulnerability – • Where impacts and change are automatic • Where potential impacts may be reduced by adaptive response brian.sadler@bigpond.com

  6. Vulnerability – the potential to be harmed by impacts • Within our region vulnerabilities differ markedly with- • Aspect of climate change • Relation to risk structure of sector– mode of impact • Thresholds and non-linearities in hazard and impact • Two components of vulnerability – • Where impacts and change are automatic • Where potential impacts may be reduced by adaptive response brian.sadler@bigpond.com

  7. Vulnerability – the potential to be harmed by impacts • Within our region vulnerabilities differ markedly with- • Aspect of climate change • Relation to risk structure of sector – mode of impact • Thresholds and non-linearities in hazard and impact • Two components of vulnerability – • Where impacts and change are automatic • Where potential impacts may be reduced by adaptive response brian.sadler@bigpond.com

  8. Vulnerability – the potential to be harmed by impacts • Two components of vulnerability – • Where impacts and change are automatic • Where potential impacts may be reduced by adaptive response • Within our region vulnerabilities differ markedly with- • Aspect of climate change • Relation to risk structure of sector – mode of impact • Thresholds and non-linearities in hazard and impact • Vulnerabilities and associated action priorities remain poorly defined brian.sadler@bigpond.com

  9. Awareness and Commitment to Action • Varying commitment appears to reflect awareness as well as vulnerability • Uncertainty may be misinterpreted and inhibiting awareness • Science based institutions seem more alert to the issues involved • Immediate survival predominates over future oriented strategy • Hard decisions tend to be avoided in debate • Lessons from parallels with salinity? (The issue-attention cycle) brian.sadler@bigpond.com

  10. Adaptation in Decision-Processes Adaptive actions as, yet are few - • Issues of uncertainty and perception have been a barrier to acceptance of the role of adaptation and even now may be causing some priorities to be overlooked • Technically based enterprises appear to adapt more readily • Unilateral response is easier than multi-lateral or regulatory action Change of outlook and approach - • Outlook, dialogue and decision rules need to adjust to the reality of a non-stationary environment • This is not easy and changes are slow in developing. brian.sadler@bigpond.com

  11. Research, information, communication -the pre-requisites to “informed adaptation” • Information demand from decision-makers relates to present more than to the future (survival) but past, present and future are all relevant • Sustained, strategically driven regional research and communication is needed to keep pace with evolving climate and science • Information needs vary - some adaptation can proceed on qualitative or semi-quantitative information, but some needs quantitative judgements • Regional climate science must be issue driven • It is now opportune to consider developing more complete, issue driven regional research, encompassing terrestrial, marine and coastal climates • With the many sectors affected and the complexity of the problem, effective and strategic communication also needs to develop. brian.sadler@bigpond.com

  12. Key Observations • Climate change is now causing both automatic impacts and actionable vulnerability in SWWA.It will grow as a dominant issue through this century and may include surprises. • Vulnerabilities are diverse, with regionally unique characteristics. They vary greatly (in scale and timing) with climate aspect, sector and mode of impact,and warrant systematic review • Decision frameworks, analysis and debate need to re-alignto a non-stationary, uncertain regime. Amended thinking will involve much debate e.g. re-defining ‘Sustainability’ • Uncertainty is not uniform.Some elements show clear trends and some very uncertain. Many decision makers only need ‘confidence’ in directional trends. • Issue-driven science support has helped decision-making but should embrace the full breadth of terrestrial, marine, and coastal aspects of climate change and be continuously updating. • Present, past and future climate regimes are all relevant • Unilateral, multi-lateral and regulatory responses are all relevant but, for empowerment, require different scales of maturity in public awareness • Communication must engage the attention of a wide community base, not just those with science background. Uncertainty, fact and contentiousness need better differentiation brian.sadler@bigpond.com