emPower ~ yourself, your community, your world...                                                           emPower ~ yourself, your community, your world...                                                           emPower ~ yourself, your community, your world...

~   Local Effects of Global Warming  ~

The below document is a result of a public forum held at the TANKS on 10th July as part of the emPower festival on likely local effects of climate change and how we can deal with those effects. About fifty people attended the 2 1/2 hour brainstorming session. 

The document is also published on www.futureofcairns.net where anyone can comment on it.

Copies of this document have been sent to all levels of government, government agencies, local politicians and many individuals and organisations.
We ask our different levels of governemnt to consider these issues and start planning for solutions.

emPower Team

Likely Local Effects of Global Warming and ideas on how to deal with them

Likely local effects


Possible solutions/adaptations



Higher Temperatures

  • higher average and extreme temperatures

  • heat stress for people and crops

  • lifting cloud base

  • improved building design, (shade, breeze-ways, insulation)

  • town planning to include water features to help cooling

  • design for less heat rediation and less surface heat reflection

  • more trees in towns

  • appropriate agricultural crops and trees to shade fields

  • solar powered air conditioning

  • reduction in reflective heat from urban areas and infrastructure to avoid raising of cloud base over rainforest behind Cairns

  • demand zero emission and electric cars from manufacturers and encourage their uptake


Sea Level Rises

  • Coastline changes

  • flooding

  • low lying community displacement

  • building design to allow for flooding, floating houses, pole homes, sacrifice ground floors

  • relocation and restriction of development

  • improved drainage

  • move airport, shift hospital & other vital community services and infrastructure

  • plant coastal mangroves

  • sea walls (are unlikely to work)

  • change low-lying city streets to canals


Fauna & Flora

  • Loss of species

  • species migration

  • more pests and diseases

  • mitigation of CO2 eg adding charcoal to soils to sequester carbon (Terra Preta)

  • reduce other stresses on systems, increase biodiversity,

  • less monoculture

  • reduce weed impacts,

  • identify and protect high diversity areas,


Barrier Reef

  • migration and redistribution of species

  • coral bleaching

  • loss of species and reef

  • reduction and capture of nutrient outflow,

  • identify and protect diverse areas,

  • revegetaion of and protecting mangroves

  • reduce emissions and teach tourists how to do that!



  • increase in vector born diseases

  • heat stress

  • more training for the health community on tropical diseases,

  • vector control,

  • increase in quarantine expertise,

  • increased community health awareness and education,

  • fly screens,

  • more health infrastructure



  • increase in extent and frequency of bush fires

  • rainforest sensitive to repeated fires

  • hotter fires

  • possibly crown fires in open forest

  • more fire breaks (in open forest wide enough to stop crown fires)

  • controlled burning,

  • vegetation management,

  • include indigenous knowledge

  • inform residents about fire dangers



  • increased evaporation

  • increased flooding

  • more severe draughts

  • less secure supply and availability

  • public and business education

  • remove volume discounts

  • increase installation and use of rainwater tanks

  • household grey water usage

  • supportive infrastructure and regulations,

  • choice of low-water garden plants in public spaces

  • reducing water usage in peak heat of day (eg council irrigation)

  • storm water capture, storage and usage for public green spaces

  • output of toxins to be dealt with at source,

  • reduction of land clearing,

  • diversify agriculture

  • change agricultural practises to sustainable and water conserving practises like permaculture, organics, no-till etc

  • adding charcoal to soils (Terra Preta) to sequester carbon and hold moisture!

  • best practise water management,

  • feedback on usage and mechanisms to discourage waste



  • stronger and more frequent winds

  • inceased agricultural soil drying

  • Increase wind power generation

  • increase wind ratings for new buildings

  • wind breaks on farms

  • modified agricultural practises – eg dry-land farming

  • avoid open fields, mulching


Extreme Weather

  • increased rainfall intensity in wet season

  • rainfall decrease in dry increased aridity

  • increase in erosion due to severity of rainfall

  • more extreme day-to-day weather changes

  • damage to infrastructure (roads, powerlines etc)

  • Heat waves and cold snaps ~ impacts on mortality

  • increase in freak winds and waves

  • increased intensity of cyclones

  • increase biodiversity,

  • reduce emissions,

  • timely evacuation in cyclones, accurate advance evacuation information and public education

  • develop response strategies,

  • built landscape adaptations,

  • increase buildings cyclone rating to category 5,

  • retrofitting established houses,

  • increase drainage

  • establish local food networks



  • less reliable harvests

  • instability of supplies

  • reduce food miles,

  • local sustainability in food sources,

  • eating seasonally,

  • education,

  • de-centralisation,

  • farmers markets,

  • consumer supported agriculture


Environmental Refugees

  • competition for land with development

  • influx of southerners and demand on systems

  • capping of population increase to sustainable level,

  • limit development to land areas of low environmental sensitivity

  • high-density nodal development rather than sprawling suburbia


Increase in social instability

  • capping population increase to sustainable level,

  • reduce rich/poor divide

  • provide basic social services to anyone for free


Regulatory System Inertia

  • Regular communication with public and stake holders to allow for fast adaptation of regulations to reflect changing conditions (eg shift subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables)

  • visionary leadership and foresight,

  • flexibility and adaptability,

  • responsive and proactive anticipatory systems


Peak Oil repercussions

  • much higher oil and petrol prices

  • reduction in tourism

  • private transport too expensive for many

  • transporting goods in and out of FNQ will be more expensive

  • significant increase of costs for conventional agriculture

  • Design and construction, re-evaluation, modification and advertising of local public transport to maximise uptake

  • light rail using modified cane tracks,

  • train carriages to allow for bike storage and seating

  • railmotor from Gordonvale,

  • limited range road upgrade and southern rail tunnel instead of Kuranda Range 4-Lane-Highway

  • increase bicycle paths, more bike parking areas, bikes on public transport,

  • bike and car hire and sharing systems,

  • incentives for car-less travel,

  • skyrail commuter service,

  • increase FNQ's self-reliance

  • change to low-energy farming methods


impact on tourism

  • diversify economy

  • FNQ region to be a model / leader in sustainable practises and technologies


Declining population (due to declining tourism or other effects)

  • keep this option in mind when planning


Insurance increases

  • regulate insurers

  • bonuses for well prepared customers


Unpredictable Changes

  • err on the side of caution

  • be prepared for even worse effects

  • increase resilience of natural and built systems

please feel free to comment on this document at futureofcairns.net

Copyright (c) Jayde InterActive Technologies, 2007