The devastating fires predicted scientifically are clearly linked to climate change. However a potentially larger short-term factor is being consistently overlooked.
Mining is a traditional environmental target, however livestock agriculture uses 46 times more water, produces three to five times the emissions, creates a quarter less GDP (it’s 70-80% an export industry), and perhaps most importantly of all, increases drought conditions by using thousands of times more land, with more clearing daily.
It’s the last point that is most concerning, as trees are an integral part of a healthy water cycle by storing moisture in the soil and transpiring it into the atmosphere, soothing extreme rainfall patterns.
If the increasing lack of vegetation is contributing to more extreme rainfall patterns and thus drought, could rehabilitating cleared land restore a water cycle and thus mitigate drought and fire?
Fully recognising there are other factors at play, I’d still like to see discussion on the above and also on potential solutions that respect our rural communities that are traditionally supported by livestock agriculture.
Could the nation get behind a reforestation program that is led by these communities? Many of our primary producers are stressed by conditions that seem to be deteriorating with time. If opting into such a program was a no-brainer, we can help rural communities secure a long-term future as well also solve some pressing national issues.
The United Nations is suggesting dietary change to combat climate change. This measure could also be an opportunity to contribute to the global challenge in a positive way, witch carbon sequestering in new woodland. That said, even if Australians did not reduce their meat intake and we were to reduce only the export portion, we could still release a majority of agricultural land in Australia.
Some resources I found useful in researching this that were not linked above:
- Special Climate Statement 72—dangerous bushfire weather in spring 2019 (BOM)
- Australian Landscape Water Balance (BOM)
- 6 Pressing Questions About Beef and Climate Change, Answered (WRI.org)
Disclaimers: vegan of 12 years. Not affiliated with mining! But if I had to pick an industry for Australia’s future, you can guess which it’d be.