Howard downplays climate risks to farmers

27th September 2007
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Australian Prime Minister John Howard has brushed off the risks posed by climate change to the continent's farmers, saying that a 'sense of proportion' was needed.

Howard, who refused to sign Australia up to the Kyoto protocol on climate change, was speaking on Australia's Channel Nine news programme a day after he announced a one billion dollar financial package to bail out drought-stricken farmers.

'Even the most pessimistic predictions about climate change, which I don't necessarily share... don't say that it will never rain again in rural Australia,' Howard told the programme. 'We've just got to keep a sense of proportion.'

Some parts of Australia have seen no significant rainfall for seven years, forcing more and more farmers to abandon their homes. This year's wheat harvest is expected to fall by a third and next year's grape crop is expected to be half previous yields.

'It would be unthinkable if we didn't have the bush in the future, if we lost our rural community,' Howard told the nation.

His remarks come in the same week that new data showed Arctic sea ice at its lowest ever summer levels.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist September 2007