If the brutal bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef was not enough to bring home the need for drastic and urgent action on climate change, this weekend’s wild weather all along the East coast and Tasmania should be.
Upping the ante on France’s “worst floods in 100 years”, “stormageddon” swept through NSW over the weekend, with floodwaters reportedly taking three lives, and waves up to eight metres high erasing beaches and doing severe damage to property and infrastructure.
Images of the battered coast are dominating coverage, but flooding and high winds throughout NSW have compounded storm damage, which manifested immediately in insurance company stocks drops of more than 2.5 per cent.
The storm comes as heat records were again broken for Autumn, hinting at a severe future that lies ahead if we continue to burn fossil fuels and worsening global warming.
- This is another wild storm with the fingerprints of climate change on it. As always, the complexity of weather means a single event cannot be directly attributed to climate change. However, like increasingly frequent and more extreme fires and heat waves, this weekend’s brutal wind, floods and king tide is a clear indication of the “super-charging” of storms, and the unnatural frequency of “unprecedented” events like this and the flooding in France.
- Coastal communities and infrastructure are increasingly vulnerable to rising sea levels and storm surges. While “unprecedented” and “once-in-a-lifetime” weather events are making the news with nauseating regularity, the risks remain both poorly understood and poorly communicated. Without action to eliminate fossil fuels, temperatures relentlessly and mercilessly rise, leading to one record hot month after another being ticked off, and increasingly dire impacts on our natural systems, natural treasures, and both human and economic health.
- Our politicians may be ignoring climate change in this election campaign, but this storm and the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef command attention. Climate impacts are here, now, and are bigger threat to public and economic health than anything else. Climate action is also a vote winner for the majority of Australians, so given its popularity, the huge economic benefits it comes with, and fact that ignoring it is simply not possible, it is to all Australian’s peril that it is conspicuously off the radar during this election.