Paul Hardisty

10 September 2013 — The value of environmental assets is set to increase significantly in dollar terms over future decades, director of CSIRO’s National Climate Adaptation Flagship, Paul Hardisty has told the International BiodiverCities Conference being held at Joondalup, in Western Australia, this week.

Dr Hardisty, a keynote speaker at the conference, said research on last year’s Super Storm Sandy, which affected the east coast of the USA, showed that many of the built assets suffered far less damage than expected due to protection provided by the natural vegetation and wetlands.

He said everyone had a responsibility to prepare for future extreme weather events and that it was wrong to dump environmental responsibility on the next generation.

“That old way of thinking that the next generation coming through will do something about climate change is a bit of a cop out. We are the next generation and we must act now, he said.

The Climate Adaptation Flagship brings together experts from across CSIRO and builds partnerships with research and industry groups around Australia and overseas to tackle the complex challenges involved in adapting to life in a changing climate, and building resilience to extreme events.

Dr Hardisty said last year was one of the warmest years on record and extreme weather events would only increase as the planet continued to heat up.

The key to the planet’s future resilience to extreme weather may lie with the protection of its natural assets, he said.

“A lot of what we can do now is not going to cost us anything. It doesn’t cost any money to preserve our natural assets.

“Things are changing. It’s going to be a very different looking world. We have to look at the long-term – the bigger picture. It is important as a society we do what we can to protect ourselves.”

Dr Hardisty spoke yesterday about Valuing Urban Ecosystems in a Changing Climate at the three-day conference.