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 us that humans have caused most of the world’s warming by releasing heat-trapping gases that power our modern lives. These are called greenhouse gases and their levels are higher now than at any time in the last 800,000 years.
When there’s the right amount of greenhouse gases, they trap warmth from the sun and make life on earth possible. When there’s too many greenhouse gases, the atmosphere traps too much heat and causes the climate to change.
We often call this 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. (An atoll is a ring-shaped island, including a coral rim that encircles a lagoon)
All of this is already affecting us, but we’re still releasing more gases than ever before. This means that the impacts of the climate crisis are going to get worse.
The impacts of global warming will increase in the coming years in our region and 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 at risk due to existing health inequalities and a greater likelihood of having low-income housing in areas at risk from flooding and sea-level rise.
While the atmosphere warms, the climate is changing, and this means a change in our weather. More frequent and more intense storms, flooding, droughts, heat waves, and even extreme snowfalls are all part of the changes.
Studies show that climate change will have significant impacts on agriculture. This is through decreasing low river flows, an increase in water demand, higher risk of wildfirs, more soil erosion from droughts and extreme rainfall events, and increased pest control problems. More frequent and intense droughts will have an effect on pasture growth, livestock health, and productivity.
Extreme heat may affect the quality of horticultural produce (fruit and veg), and may mean some crops won't be able to grow. Increasing temperatures may provide opportunities for new crop types to be grown in the area, but this may also cause problems for some of the crop types we already have, possibly introducing the spread of new pests. Droughts are likely to cause big issues for the horticultural industry in terms of water availability for water irrigation and the crops they can grown without water.
Changes in temperature, rainfall, and air can affect air pollution levels and human health. Chronic health conditions such as asthma and chronic lung diseases are particularly affected by outdoor air quality.
Like the rest of New Zealand, towns and cities in Hawke’s Bay are being affected by climate change from hazards, such as sea level rise, which can create 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 wide ranging actions through our current work and plan to do a lot more.
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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