Our Future: First-hand witness to changing climate

For anyone contemplating new year resolutions, can I suggest picking up a copy of Jared Diamond’s 2005 book Collapse. I initially struggled to believe the popular science author’s account of how previous civilizations collapsed due to ignorance and greed and laying waste to the environment.

But I now see that because of similar ignorance and greed, we are racing blindly towards a global collapse.

My family has been farming in the Oakey district, near Toowoomba, for seven generations. Since 1991, we have been mostly in drought.

We’re not living in the same climate that we were 50 years ago, but politicians don’t seem to want to recognise that climate change is affecting farmers.

How can I be sure about these climate changes? Because I’ve witnessed them first-hand.

In 1966, I got my pilot’s licence which allows me to regularly fly over Australia. In the years since, I first flew over Alice Springs about 1968-69, and I have noticed the Red Centre is no longer so red. It has greened up as rainfall patterns have changed. 

But I don’t have to take to the air to see the effects of climate change. Fifty years ago, our property hosted numerous cypress pine trees. Since then, they’ve all died out. Scientific research suggests that drought weakens the trees, leaving them vulnerable to infections. 

And then there are the snakes. We used to have periods where you never saw a snake because they were hibernating. Now, one can see them throughout all seasons.

In Southern Queensland, the past two decades have seen below average rainfall during the April-October period. This, and increasing temperatures, has meant reductions in soil moisture, which is critical for farmers like me. We used to crop twice a year, once after winter rainfall and then again in May. Today, we almost never have enough water for two crops - it’s either one in the winter or summer.

I urge everyone to demand action from our politicians. Immediately cutting emissions and moving to renewable energy is essential for Australia and the rest of the world.

With our abundant sunshine and wind power potential, it presents us with a golden opportunity to lead the world.

I want our country to be a place my grandchildren can not only be proud to call home – but one that can be habitable for them and theirs.

Sid Plant is a Darling Downs farmer, grandfather and member of Farmers for Climate Action