No doubt there has been wild weather before at this time of year, normally a drier time in Queensland. I took this screen shot of the BOM page just as the system had dumped its lot on us:
While we got 171mm, the top fall around here was 423mm at Springbrook in the Gold Coast hinterland. The image was similar to one I had on file from May 2009. My records show that back then we had 461mm (that’s over 18 inches in the old money) in 27 hours. From memory in August 2005 a low started around Adelaide and ended up around Rockhampton. Last May we had 232mm in a couple of days. And I recall huge downpours in winter back to the 1960s, when the Brisbane racing carnival had 11 inches dumped on it.
They seem more frequent now, and a pattern is emerging that it is often persistently dry or quite wet.
So whether what we are seeing is climate change is for the climate statisticians and modellers to contemplate, but it fits the song sheet perfectly – a couple of dry months, followed by a flood, and a warning for anyone who owns coast-hugging property about what sea level rise can do.
Take a look at this swimming pool at Collaroy:
Justine Bell-James at The Conversation goes into the legal implications, pointing out that we have:
- an estimated 711,000 residential addresses located within 3km of the shore and less than 6m above sea level – not to mention the billions of dollars’ worth of government infrastructure also located in these regions.
And that Sydney beaches eroded up to 50 metres in some places.
It seems that the house may not be covered in many policies and even if it is, the land would not be insured.
- Under the traditional law doctrine, where land is lost to erosion, the Crown automatically gains title to the inundated land, without any obligation to pay compensation. So even if a home-owner is insured, they may find themselves with no land to rebuild on.
Radio National’s The World Today had three items on the issue. In the first we are told that seven homes may have to be partially dismantled.
In the second, we are told that insurance tends not to cover what’s known as an act of god, or an act of the sea.
Also Kate Mackenzie of the Climate Institute says that banks should take a stronger role. They won’t lend unless a property is insured, but mere house insurance is not enough.
In the third Professor Barbara Norman, chair of urban and regional planning at the University of Canberra, says that the states are ultimately responsible for planning legislation. They tend to shuttle the responsibility off to local government.
National planning is also necessary. She says:
- if you look at what’s happened over the last few years, possibly five years ago we were nearly at a point where we were starting to get some good coastal planning happening around Australia and some national coordination.
In more recent years we’ve seen a winding back of that and very significantly and, very relevant to the floods on the weekend, a winding back of coastal planning controls in Queensland and in New South Wales.
She says that population is likely to grow to 40 million by 2050, and much of that on the eastern seaboard. This together with climate change makes a very significant public policy issue.
- In other countries like the United States they have their own well funded National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and I could say other examples in other countries.
In this country we don’t have anything, we don’t have a national coastal plan, we don’t have a national coastal strategy, we don’t have a national framework which encourages ministers to work together to support State Governments and local governments.
She says “we’ve had believe it or not, 25 reports nationally inquiries over the last 30 years, all with the same message that we need a national coastal strategy.”
Then she blasts the CSIRO for sacking all those scientists who would produce the data we need.
There was not a flicker of concern about climate change in the reactions of Turnbull and Shorten.
Peter Lewis at The Drum says you would think the ‘stormageddon’ would be a circuit breaker to inject climate change into the centre of the election campaign. But it hasn’t. He points out that according to this week’s Essential Report there are still 28 per cent of the population who class themselves in the “business as usual” category, that is they think we may just be witnessing a normal fluctuation in the earth’s climate which happens from time to time.
Some 13% don’t know, so that leaves 59% believers. In LNP voters the ratio of believers to denialists is 45:42. Other voters are more sensible, especially the Greens.
Elsewhere The Guardian has a picture gallery of what warming is doing to the planet.