Neil Westcott, Parkes says climate change data is 'real'

More needs to be done: Alectown farmer Neil Westcott walking across his failed canola crop in 2018. Since 1993 he said they have lost on average about three millimetres of rain per year. Photo: AAP/Dean Lewins
More needs to be done: Alectown farmer Neil Westcott walking across his failed canola crop in 2018. Since 1993 he said they have lost on average about three millimetres of rain per year. Photo: AAP/Dean Lewins

A fifth generation farmer from Alectown, near Parkes, has described climate change as "scary" and "real" and would like to see the Australian government appoint a dedicated minister to help tackle the issue.

Neil Westcott, 59, grows canola, wheat and barley on his central west, NSW property and has been working on the land since 1978.

Mr Westcott is frustrated with Australia's leadership on climate change and would love the government to go that little bit further and dedicate a climate change minister within cabinet.

"Every policy should have an element of climate change within it," he said.

"It's going to effect every part of our lives and therefore there should be a go-to department in regards to how climate change will effect different areas, whether it be infrastructure, foreign relations or whatever it may be, climate change should be involved in that," he said.

The data on climate change was "damning", Mr Westcott said.

"Climate change is real. The science is in," he said.

"It's exponential in the way it's climbing and yet we're likely going on that it doesn't exist at a global level.

"It's right to be scared but it's wrong to be inactive so we need to be voicing our concerns where we can..."

Mr Westcott said since 1993 they have been losing on average about three millimetres of rain per year.

"A lot of that (lost) rainfall has been through the winter when we grow our crops which is really having a big impact," he said.

"Our growing period is getting shorter and summers are getting longer... so we have to make do with that and learn how to adapt..."

Mr Westcott said they are sitting on the verge of their third dry winter in a row.

"We don't really even want to consider the fact that that might happen. But in this day and age there's no reason why it couldn't happen. And it would be devastating for the western areas for that to happen in what I consider quite safe.. producing areas.

"We're all just holding our breath at the moment. Autumn is a period of hope and we hope we get that autumn break very soon so we can get on about doing what we love doing."

Recently an online climate data tool was conducted by researchers from the Australian National University (ANU), on behalf of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).

Data from the climate tool states that what we experience as winter will no longer exist, with the seasons in the year 2050 to instead be 'new summer', autumn and spring.

"Winter growing plants like wheat, barley or anything that comes up in the autumn, they need that cold period to set their clocks for spring. You're going to end up with this situation where the cold period won't be getting cold enough," Mr Westcott said.

The data also found that if climate change isn't stopped, by the year 2050 average maximum daily temperatures will rise by more than four degrees Celsius in most parts of the region.

There will be 30 per cent less rain on average at Parkes and the average daily maximum temperature rise 4.5°C.

This rise becomes the starting point for a new generation of farmers, Mr Westcott said.

"It's very scary," he said.

But Mr Westcott wondered what the world will be like even further if climate change isn't tackled soon.

"Let's look at 100 years time... where all the methane is exploding out of the tundra in the northern hemisphere and we've had a metre sea rise, all the glaciers are gone," he said.

"For the children being born now what are they looking at? And what legacy are we leaving?"

Some of the ways in which the agricultural community can adapt to climate change on their property includes changes to technology and machinery and the way in which soil moisture is conserved, Mr Westcott said.

Give farmers who want to be able to speak out, the permission to speak out, he urged .

"There's lots of younger farmers.. who would like to say more...," Mr Westcott said.

The farmer also encouraged people to make a difference on an individual level, because it would all add up.

"You've only just got to make your little impact somewhere. If everybody made a little impact, if everybody was planting trees... or drove that little less, or supported those that wanted to make change...," Mr Westcott said.

"If you can take public transport, rather than drive... do that.

Mr Westcott said it's about doing whatever we can, but we first have to accept the science and accept the situation and having peace with that.

"We have to accept that we have a big problem and this one little planet called Earth, there's no plan B, so we need to do whatever we can as a person," he said.