IPCC report endorses water storage

Press Release – Federated Farmers

The logic for water storage is irrefutable with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicting New Zealand could face a future climate of heavier extreme rainfall, stronger and more extreme winter winds as well as longer periods of drought.30 September 2013

IPCC report endorses water storage

The logic for water storage is irrefutable with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicting New Zealand could face a future climate of heavier extreme rainfall, stronger and more extreme winter winds as well as longer periods of drought.

“Whatever ones’ views on the causes of climate change, climate change is a constant on our living dynamic planet,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers spokesperson on climate change.

“There are three basics to growing pasture and crops and they are soils, sunlight and water. While many countries have the first two, it is water, or the lack of it, which limits food production in a world where the supply and demand for food sits on a knife edge.

“Aside from being a net food exporter in a world of increasing food shortage, New Zealanders can be very proud that our farmers are among the most carbon efficient in the world. This extends to our country’s role in the Global Research Alliance on agricultural greenhouse gases and the Palmerston North based Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium.

“This efficiency saw the Daily Mail last year write, “Buy New Zealand lamb to save the planet.” In May, the UK’s Observer on Sunday ran a feature entitled, “Why worrying about food miles is missing the point.” In it, our carbon efficiency was lauded.

“Victoria University of Wellington’s Dr James Renwick, who is an IPCC lead chapter author, said on One News, “We’ll see more high temperature extremes, so higher frequency of hot days and less cold days”.

“Newspapers are reporting that New Zealand can expect a climate on average 0.9 Celsius warmer by 2040 and 2.1 Celsius warmer by 2090.

“We have two options for adaption. First is researching new crops and pasture varietals in the knowledge that farms will face greater environmental stress. This demands an on-going and bipartisan ramp up in both our agricultural research and development spend and science capability.

“The second of course is the huge opportunity we have to store rain water.

“South Canterbury’s Opuha dam, the most recent dedicated water storage facility which started operating in the late 1990’s, has proven itself by insulating South Canterbury from drought.

“It is schemes like Opuha, such as Ruataniwha now being proposed in the Hawke’s Bay, which New Zealand needs to build resilience into our economy and society.

“The constant for water remains irrespective of what current land uses are or what they could be in the future. As we saw on the West Coast when it suffered a rare drought, sections of rivers do dry up. The IPCC report indicates that as temperatures increase and weather patterns change, such outcomes may become a more regular occurrence.

“Stored rain water provides the means to maintain minimum flows. Water storage is as much environmental infrastructure as it is economic. Every region should be looking at storing rain water and many currently are. This report should hasten that work.

“While I do not know a lot about trout fishing what I do know is this; trout live in water and not in dry river beds.

“If water storage is being opposed for purely political grounds, then those same people who talk about the need to respond to a changing climate need to recheck their logic,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

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