Milk, Beef and Bread To Become Luxury Items In A Climate Changed Future

08/10/2015 12:00 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST
Photo by Rafa Elias via Getty Images
Friends rising shot glasses of rice cream liqueur

Inside the air-conditioned confines of a futuristic fine dining restaurant, a couple orders two glasses of their finest… milk.

This is a future forecast by not-for-profit, crowd-sourced group Climate Council which has released a report detailing how increases in temperature would affect Australia’s food sources.

The report found milk was set to become a luxury item, along with bananas, bread, beef and a glass of Barossa red, not to mention cold-water seafood including salmon and lobsters.

In other words, all the good stuff.

Professor Tim Flannery told The Huffington Post Australia various industries were trying to cope with an already increasing climate, with vineyards using 'grape sunscreen' and some dairy farmers installing misters to keep animals cool.

"The change is happening so rapidly," Flannery told HuffPost Australia.

"In some wine producing areas around the Barossa, the impacts for climate change on the harvest is clear because each season is meticulously documented.

"They're seeing the harvest come one month earlier than 30 years ago and some are even using a spray-on sunscreen for the grapes made out of clay."

dairy cow

Cows may need to be housed in air-conditioned halls. Picture: Gettystock

Flannery said milk was a concern because dairy cows were "exquisitely prone" to heatstroke.

Illawarra dairy farmer Lynne Strong told HuffPost Australia a heat wave could cause milk production to drop overnight by up to 40 per cent but it was also hard to see.

"It's quite distressing," Strong said.

"Cows don't sweat like we do so when temperatures get to about 30 degrees or even reaching 40 degrees -- as it did for five days in a row around Christmas in 2012 -- the cows absorb more heat than they can emit.

"They start to pant and you've really got to watch them closely."

In these instances, Strong said many farmers now had sprinklers set up in the diary, so the cows would be herded in and hosed down, but she said a two-degree temperature increase would mean cows would need air conditioning.

"Imagine the cost it would add," Strong said.

"Milk is nature's delicious cocktail -- we want everyone to be able to access it but if the temperature continues to increase, we'll be left with no choice."

Flannery said people who cared about their food should care about climate change.

"There is a move towards knowing where your food comes from and seeking out quality produce," Flannery told HuffPost Australia.

"The single largest contribution Australia can make to reducing climate change is to close all the old coal-fired power plants."

Read Feeding a Hungry Nation: Climate Change, Food and Farming.

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