As the climate heats up, we’re going to need some cool solutions

DIP IN: Councillor John Fry's call for the Bathurst Aquatic Centre's outdoor pool to remain open for a longer swimming season is just response to the planet's climate change challenges.
DIP IN: Councillor John Fry's call for the Bathurst Aquatic Centre's outdoor pool to remain open for a longer swimming season is just response to the planet's climate change challenges.

COUNCILLOR John Fry’s call for the outdoor swimming pool at the Bathurst Aquatic Centre to remain open longer into autumn is both practical and sobering.

It’s practical because the simple truth is that it’s staying hotter for longer and this trend seems set to continue.

It’s sobering because climate change will bring problems far greater than the need for more frequent dips in turquoise water.

Drought, habitat loss, food insecurity and mass migration – bringing conflict and political instability – are looming in the coming decades unless humanity makes a fast, united and concerted effort to change its fossil-fuel dependent ways.

Fast? United? Concerted? When did we humans ever respond like this unless the problems were right in our faces?

Trying to get effective action in the face of problems that arrive piecemeal and seemingly unrelated to each other continues to be an infernal problem.

But even if we do manage to take emissions-busting action, some of the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere will take centuries to disperse.

No matter what we do, autumn temperatures are unlikely to return to what they were in the past. It’s going to keep getting warmer.

Meanwhile, I go about obsessively checking elm trees for signs on elm leaf beetle infestation.

While the chemical treatments are helping the big trees on council property, there are many elms in the CBD and beyond that are struggling with the tiny olive-green munchers.

Unknown in Australia before 1989, elm leaf beetles are marching like cane toads across the land, damaging a tree that has grown so well and vigorously in the cooler parts of the continent for the past couple of centuries

 In Bathurst, they provide deep shade in summer while letting the light and warmth through in winter.

Warmer, dryer temperatures, combined with beetle damage, could spell a grim future for these magnificent trees.

A longer warm season means the beetles are active for longer, their tiny larvae skeletonising leaves, gradually destroying the tree’s ability to photosynthesise.

Affected elms can bear it for a season or two, but cumulative effects could prove disastrous.

No doubt we’ll respond well to such problems as they arise; humans are resilient and creative in the face of adversity.

But being prepared and taking action ahead of time – to both slow down climate change and adapt to it – is an even better idea.

Tracy Sorensen is president of Bathurst Community Climate Action Network. Visit www.bccan.org.au.