ABC veteran's bold Antarctic report during finance news: 'Brilliant'

Alan Kohler ended his ABC finance report with alarming climate change news, warning 'that's not finance yet but it soon will be'.

A much watched national finance report has taken the unusual step of including an alarming piece of international climate change news in its daily wrap-up on the nightly news.

ABC viewers are used to hearing Alan Kohler update them on fluctuations in the markets, but last night they got something a little different when the TV veteran followed up his analysis of mortgage rates with an unexpected report showing how Antarctic sea ice is at a record low.

"That’s not finance yet, but it soon will be," he warned.

Veteran finance reporter Alan Kohler warned about melting sea ice during his nightly news slot. Source: ABC
Veteran finance reporter Alan Kohler warned about melting sea ice during his nightly news slot. Source: ABC

The segment has been widely shared online, with many praising him for linking economic and environmental health. Climate change campaigner Sophie McNeill called the segment "brilliant". Others said it was "right on the money," and also "terrifying".

Why does melting sea ice matter?

At 17 per cent below average, the sea ice level breaks the previous June record by what experts say is a "substantial margin". While Antarctica may seem a world away, the melting will have a dramatic impact on our everyday lives in Australia and the economy.

As sea ice melts, normal ocean circulation is disrupted, but this is just one of many cascading effects triggered by changes to the climate.

One serious issue caused by the decline of sea ice is the shrinking of the reflective white surface surrounding Antarctica. This results in less sunlight being sent back out of the atmosphere and more heat being absorbed by increasingly exposed dark ocean waters.

Another problem caused by the climate crisis is melting glaciers. This is directly caused by both rising temperatures and the decline of the sea ice which is known to protect them by cooling the surrounding air and dampening erosion from waves. On top of that, the oceans are naturally expanding as they warm and this adds to rising sea levels.

These changes are impacting global fisheries and disrupting weather patterns around the world. There is an increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather events like bushfire, flooding, drought and cyclones. They’re already costing economies billions of dollars in cleanup, mitigation and lost productivity.

Is climate change costing us money?

Last year, climate change and extreme weather events cost the US economy US$165 billion ($247 billion), and over time that figure is expected to get worse. In Australia, there will be a growing list of suburbs that are uninsurable because of bushfire, flood and coastal erosion threats.

The United Nations weather agency, the World Meteorological Organisation said record temperatures will likely have "devastating impacts on ecosystems and the environment".

Its director of climate services Christopher Hewitt said the emergence of El Niño will fuel more extreme temperatures and marine heatwaves in the coming moths.

"We are in uncharted territory and we can expect more records to fall as El Niño develops further and these impacts will extend into 2024," he said. "This is worrying news for the planet," he said.

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