We’ve recently read a couple of books that have served as a catalyst to revisit what a future climate scenario might be like for the Fleurieu Peninsula, and how we can ensure the greatest resilience for our patch of ground. The books are two practical volumes on climate change, the first The Handbook: Surviving and Living with Climate Change, by Jane Rawson and James Whitmore, is a tour of practical household and community strategies for adapting to climate change in Australia. The second, Two Percent Solutions for the Planet: 50 low-cost, low-tech, nature-based practices for combatting hunger, drought and climate change, is a farming and land restoration-focussed collection of case studies collected by Quivira Coalition co-founder, Courtney White. For readers that may’ve grown weary of the political inertia around climate change, not to mention the vast scale of the problem, the practical, household-, community- or farm-scale focus of both books offers a practical way of re-engaging with the climate challenge. Two Percent Solutions serves as an optimistic companion read to the sometimes gloomy vibe of The Handbook, with its strategies offering scope for both climate mitigation and adaptation.
Appropriately bookended by chapters on strategies for maintaining mental health and resilience in the face of possibly drastic social and environmental change, The Handbook begins with discussions about reducing vulnerability, including considering where the best places to live might be, and how to prepare one’s home and family for extreme and persistent heat, fire and flood. The bulk of the book is given over to assessing the vulnerabilities of our society, such as power, water, food and waste infrastructure and practical approaches to addressing these, and while much of this might be familiar to devotees of self-sufficiency manuals, there’s a spectrum of new and emerging ideas presented. As befits a book by the editors of The Conversation, it’s well referenced, with a wealth of suggested resources to explore ideas that capture the reader’s attention.
Two Percent Solutions is a rapid-fire collection of 50 short profiles of established and emerging approaches to landscape restoration and farming, with a focus on addressing climate change, buoyed along by a generous use of exclamation marks(!) It’s divided into five main sections, Ranching, Farming, Technology, Restoration and Wildness, with ideas ranging from the Holistic Management approach, and Fred Provenza’s study of the ‘nutritional wisdom’ and culture of herbivores (inspiration for Nan Bray’s White Gum Wool in Tasmania), through to rooftop farming, pasture cropping, food forests, biochar, organisations like Farm Hack, Mark Shepard’s restoration agriculture and, happily, water harvesting and riparian restoration gurus Brad Lancaster, Bill Zeedyk and Craig Sponholtz, practitioners we can’t help but get misty-eyed with admiration for. Two Percent Solutions is a valuable introduction to ideas for the reader to select, research and adapt further.
The CSIRO offers an accessible, online Regional Climate Change Explorer at its Climate Change in Australia website. Accordingly, the Fleurieu Peninsula belongs, just, to the ‘Southern and South-Western Flatlands East’ sub-cluster, sharing climatic similarities with the Adelaide Plains, Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas, and across the Nullarbor, south-western WA.
Climate Change in Australia offers a range of tools, including one that allows the user to compare a spectrum of projections including worst case, best case, and the maximum consensus, based on scientific research. The main Regional Climate Change Explorer tool offers a summary of the most probable scenarios. For the Fleurieu Peninsula and associated regions, the predictions are:
- Decreasing winter, spring and overall annual rainfall, predicted with high confidence, with all scenarios suggesting a 15% decline by 2030, and variable decline by the end of the century depending on emissions
- Ambiguity about autumn and summer rainfall decline
- Very high confidence of continued temperature increases across all seasons, with a rise of 0.4-1.1 degrees by 2030, and up to 3.9 degrees by 2090.
- “Substantial increase in the temperature reached on hot days, the frequency of hot days and duration of warm spells”, predicted with very high confidence, and a corresponding decline in frosts.
- Despite an overall decline in rainfall, increased intensity of extreme rainfall events are predicted with high confidence
- Time spent in drought is also expected to increase, predicted with high confidence
Sea level rise is predicted to continue with very high confidence. By 2030, this could be up to 0.17m, and by 2090, sea level rise in the region could be from 0.28-0.83m, depending on emissions scenarios.
- Ongoing warming of the ocean (1.5-3.5 degrees by 2090, dependent on emissions scenario), combined with acidification poses “a significant threat to the marine environment”.
- Harsher fire-weather is predicted with high confidence, however because of its relationship with the rainfall project, their is low confidence in the magnitude of this change
- Evapotranspiration is projected to increase in all seasons, with high confidence
- High confidence of a decline in relative humidity in winter and spring
- High confidence of an increase in winter solar radiation, medium confidence of an increase in solar radiation in spring.
The CSIRO has also developed an Analogues Explorer that indicates localities with a climate equivalent to your home’s future climate, depending on the chosen scenario. While our nearest towns Yankalilla and Second Valley aren’t indicated, we can get an approximation from Adelaide, Victor Harbor or Kingscote, all of which have lower average rainfall than our locality, but comparable average temperatures.
By 2030, adopting a mid-range emissions scenario, the maximum consensus predictions for Adelaide suggest a climate closer to Gawler, Keith or Clare, among others. Victor Harbor, in the same timeframe and scenario may have a climate more akin to present-day Adelaide, Port Lincoln, Nuriootpa, or Clare. Kingscote too will be more like Nuriootpa and Port Lincoln, or Burra, or Yorketown.
By 2090, under the same mid-range scenarios, Adelaide’s climate may look more like Streaky Bay, or the towns of inland NSW (Deniliquin, for example), while Victor Harbor will have drifted towards present-day Cleve on the Eyre Peninsula, or the towns of inland Victoria and NSW. Kingscote too may look more like the climate of Peterborough in SA’s mid-north. These are mid-range predictions of course, and there is always the chance of greater or lesser climate severity subject to emissions – also available to explore on the CSIRO’s Analogues Explorer depending on your level of pessimism or optimism.
While one of the elements of climate change is its unpredictability, books like The Handbook and Two Percent Solutions, combined with resources like the CSIRO’s Regional Climate Change Explorer are invaluable in planning and preparing for a changed climate future. We swing between delight and disappointment at having a property as undeveloped as Yarnauwi. In one sense, undeveloped means it demands significant investments of time and money, but it also means we can work to design and develop a property that can survive, if not thrive, into the future, but considering plants, livestock, enterprises and infrastructure that all ensure resilience in the face of the floods, fires and heat to come.