NEw zEALAND iS located in Oceania, southeast of Australia. The islands that make up the nation are mostly mountainous, with a few wide coastal plains. About 80 percent of the population of 4 million lives in urban areas, leaving most of the country free from major human intrusion. It is one of the most beautiful and pristine environments in the world, and its economy, based on tourism, agriculture, and forestry, is largely dependent on the stability of that environment.
As in neighboring Australia, New Zealand is confronting the probability of prolonged droughts in the near future. In the best-case scenario, severe droughts will be twice as frequent by 2080 as they are today, and in some areas, drought could become perpetual even before 2080. Not only will this lead to a decline in agricultural production, it will stress the nation's forests and increase the risk of forest fires. Like any island nation, New Zealand is particularly concerned
SEE ALSo: Australia; Drought; Hurricanes and Typhoons; Sea Level, Rising.
bibliography. Colin Monteath, New Zealand (Rizzoli, 2007); Government of New Zealand, www.govt.nz (cited November 2007).
Heather K. Michon Independent Scholar
Waimangu Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand: New Zealand is one of the most pristine environments in the world.
with the possibilities of sea-level rise. Most of the major urban areas are located on the coasts. Government models indicate a 0.2 meter rise by 2050 and a 0.5 meter rise by 2100, and those figures are now used in planning along the coastline. Losses of structures already built along the coast are probable. Along with general sea level rise is the possibility of higher storm surges as tropical storms grow in intensity.
New Zealand anticipates a few positive outcomes for health, including fewer illnesses during the winter months as average temperatures rise. However, temperature rise also brings the threat of illness and death from heat stroke and vector-borne illnesses. Water contamination is also a possibility in some areas. Warmer temperatures will also increase the need for air conditioning, thus increasing electricity usage. Agriculture will see both benefits and losses from changing climate. While longer growing seasons and increased atmospheric carbon rates are somewhat positive for crops, the increased risk of drought and changing rainfall patterns could lead to significant crop destruction.
New Zealand is working toward sustainability and mitigation on many fronts, both in the public and private sectors. The government is supporting programs to construct energy-efficient housing and retrofit older structures. It also supports the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles, the increased use of biofuels, sustainable land management, healthy forest initiatives, and funding for research into alternative energy. It is also trying to set a good example by making government buildings carbon-neutral and reducing waste.
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