University of Melbourne Magazine

Climate change on your plate

  • Tasteless carrots, bad pizza dough and poor-quality steak are some of the impacts we can expect from Australia’s changing climate, according to a new report prepared by leading climate scientists David Karoly and Richard Eckard at the University of Melbourne.

    From wheat, seafood and dairy products to poultry, meat, grains, and fruit and vegetables, the effects of global warming on a list of 55 household food items has been compiled for the very first time in the report Appetite for Change. “It’s definitely a wake-up call when you hear that the toast and raspberry jam you have for breakfast, for example, might not be as readily available in 50 years’ time,” says Associate Professor Eckard. “Or that there may be changes to the cost and taste of food items we love and take for granted like avocado and Vegemite, spaghetti bolognaise and even beer, wine and chocolate.

    “It makes you appreciate that global warming is not a distant phenomenon but a very real occurrence that is already affecting the things we enjoy in our everyday lives, including the most common of foods we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

    Professor Karoly says that of all the impacts global warming is having on Australian farms, increases in heatwaves and bushfires pose the biggest threat to Australia’s agricultural regions.

    Key report findings include predictions that temperature changes will adversely affect root crops, wheat and fruit and nut production and will increase heat stress in cattle and chickens.

    “Global warming is increasing the frequency and intensity of heatwaves and bushfires affecting farms across southern and eastern Australia, and this will get much worse in the future if we don’t act,” he says. “It’s a daunting thought when you consider that Australian farms produce 93 per cent of the food we eat.”

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