This page explores the climate crisis, its impacts in Hawke’s Bay and how farmers can be more sustainable.
Our climate is changing, and getting warmer.
The scientific evidence shows that:
Science has shown that humans have caused most of the world’s warming by releasing heat-trapping gases that power our modern lives. Called greenhouse gases, their levels are higher now than at any time in the last 800,000 years.
When there’s the right amount of greenhouse gasses, they trap warmth from the sun and make life on earth possible. When there’s too many greenhouse gasses, the atmosphere traps too much heat and causes the climate to change.
We often call the result global warming, but it is a climate crisis, and we’re at the tipping point. It’s already causing extreme weather events, rising seas, and threatening the low-lying land in New Zealand and atolls of our neighbouring Pacific countries.
All of this is already affecting us, but we’re still emitting more than ever before. This means that the impacts of the climate crisis are going to get worse.
The impact of global warming will increase in the coming years in our region and the impacts of climate change are potentially catastrophic in the long-term.
Around the world, climate change has already contributed to increased levels of ill health, particularly in connection with summer heatwaves.
In New Zealand, children, the elderly, people with disabilities and chronic disease, and low-income groups are particularly vulnerable to climate change-related health impacts.
Māori are also particularly vulnerable due to existing health inequalities, having an economic base invested in primary industries, housing and economic inequalities, and a greater likelihood of having low-income housing in areas vulnerable to flooding and sea-level rise.
While the atmosphere warms, the climate is changing, and so is the weather. More frequent and more intense storms, flooding, droughts, heat waves, and even extreme snowfalls are all part of the changes.
It is projected to have significant impacts on agriculture, through decreasing low river flows, a surge in water demand, high risk of wildfire, more soil erosion from droughts and extreme rainfall events, and increased biosecurity problems. More frequent and intense droughts will impact pasture growth, livestock health, and productivity.
Extreme heat may affect quality of horticultural produce, and may result in crops becoming unsustainable. Increasing temperatures may provide opportunities for new crop types to be grown in the area but this may also cause issues for some existing crop types and encourage the spread of new pests. Droughts are likely to cause significant issues for the sector in terms of water availability for irrigation and resulting productivity.
Changes in temperature, rainfall, and air stagnation can affect air pollution levels and human health. Chronic health conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are particularly affected by outdoor air quality.
Like the rest of New Zealand, infrastructure and the built environment in Hawke’s Bay is being affected by climate change-induced hazards, such as sea level rise, which consequently creates social and economic issues.
We have declared a climate emergency and set a goal for the region to be carbon neutral by 2050.
We’re already taking comprehensive range of actions through our current work, and by getting our house in order.
All around our community, farmers and whānau are making a difference – and so can you.
Farmers Greg and Rachel Hart from Central Hawke’s Bay have significantly changed their farming practices to be more environmentally and economically sustainable.
Don’t know what to do about the climate crisis? Here are some guides to help your farm and your whānau get started and make change happen.
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