More Queensland floods

Written By: - Date published: 4:23 pm, January 28th, 2013 - 58 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, International - Tags: , ,

As widely reported, Queensland is getting hammered again by bad flooding:

Three dead as record-breaking rain falls

Three people are dead as wild weather continues to batter south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales, authorities say.

The region is struggling with an unfolding weather disaster as flood waters force more evacuations and fierce winds rip off roofs and cut power and phone lines. Floodwaters are threatening communities in both states with over 200,000 people in south-east Queensland without power and floodwaters isolating 1300 people across the border in New South Wales. …

The Queensland Premier says the flooding will not be as severe as it was in 2011, but is urging people at risk in Brisbane and Ipswich to take action. The Brisbane river will peak tonight with 5000 homes and businesses expected to inundated by floodwaters. …

Many of us probably know people in the area, and I’m sure our thoughts are with all those affected.

Over the next few decades more and more countries are going to be facing a difficult question. At what point do repeated extreme weather events make previously settled regions untenable? When such regions are abandoned, what happens next? (For a different reason Christchurch has provided something of an early case study, albeit on a small scale). We have created a different world…

58 comments on “More Queensland floods”

  1. Peter 1

    That’s a very good question. I’d say that given the lack of ability by democratic governments to lead on this one (because of the political ramifications of forcing people to shift), this will drag on and on until the insurance companies finally join the dots and make it too costly to insure in certain locations for most people.

    Local governments may also try, but at best, I think all they can do is prevent new buildings and grandfather out the existing ones. The revenue gained from rates and any subsequent flow on effects to existing investment may be too much for anyone to take a lead on it.

    In other words, for affected areas, a long, slow, ragged decline.

    • Afewknowthetruth 1.1

      Local government is too keen to obtain money from building permits to even think about ANYTHING long term.

  2. Andy-Roo 2

    People can live in some pretty extreme environments, but most people will chose not to – at least for as long as they can.

    So I think a linked question is “how long do we expect populations to remain mobile enough for uping stakes to be an option?”

    The world currently does a piss poor job of looking after economic refugees anyway.

    Which leads to another question “How long do we expect people who occupy desireable real estate to keep on wanting to accomodate the hopes, needs and aspirations of those who don’t?”

  3. CV - Real Labour 3

    In Queensland there were several examples of property developers and local councils going ahead with real estate developments in high risk areas – known flood plains and so on.

    And its pretty hard for a house buyer 20 years down the track to find out if a property they are looking at is affected by something like that, especially as many of the parties responsible have long moved on – with their profits.

    At what point do repeated extreme weather events make previously settled regions untenable?

    Good question. The other side of the coin is that more people are going to end up living with increased accomodation insecurity, especially if they can’t afford to relocate (or a debt-ridden government can’t afford to help them relocate). As you say, we see examples of this in Christchurch now, where some people would like to move out but can’t for financial/property value/insurance payout reasons, and they can’t afford to buy a replacement house with yet another mortgage to service anywhere else.

    edit – I see andyroo has touched on similar issues.

    • Pascal's bookie 3.1

      What we need to do is relax the RMA and get rid of all the red tape mate. Let the developers rip son. No worries.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 3.2

      Not so, anybody can look up current flood plain maps. 20 years down the track doesnt change most flood levels, if anything the 50 yr events may be occuring more often due to climate change and upper catchment development

  4. Jenny 4

    Another unbearable heat-wave, a couple more unprecedented flooding disasters, and New Zealand will face a flood of climate refugees from Australia.

    The trickle has begun. Australian immigrants report the feeling of liberation about being able to water their garden, or wash their cars without massive a guilt trip from their neighbors, or being visited upon by the authorities. If Australian climatic conditions get much worse, this trickle will become a flood.

    What can we do?

    The most important thing we can do, is set an example.

    Australia is our closest friend and nearest neighbor. It is also the number 1, biggest coal exporter in the world.

    Coal is the number 1 leading cause of AGW in the world.

    New Zealand needs to ban all coal exports as an example.

    Starting this parliamentary term, the Green Party need to introduce into parliament a private member’s bill calling for the banning of all coal exports.

    Will it pass?

    No

    But it will tell us, depending how they vote, on where the Labour Party stand on Climate Change.

    How will they vote?

    Will Labour vote with the ACT and National Parties and against the planet?

    Or will they vote with their future possible coalition partner?

    This is a crucial test on what we could expect from a Labour/Green coalition government.

    No action from either, will inform us all that it will be Business As Usual for the climate under a Labour led Green Party Coal-tion.

    • CV - Real Labour 4.1

      I agree with banning all coal exports, but mainly because I think they should be reserved for NZ use.

      • Jenny 4.1.1

        I have been told by a number of Green Party embers and supporters, that it is Green Party policy to make New Zealand completely coal free by 2030. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to confirm this by going to their website.

        Whatever, true or not, grass roots Green Party members believe they have such a policy.

        Even if they do, it can only be an “aspirational” policy in the John Key meaning of the word.

        The Green Party have no program for getting from where we are now to completely coal free.

        So what I have suggested is just a first step towards that ultimate goal.

        So sorry CV-RL no coal, for local NZ use as well.

        • Jenny 4.1.1.1

          Damn. The M key is sticking. For embers read members.

          • Jenny 4.1.1.1.1

            Though thinking about it, ’embers’ adds a certain ironic touch.

            • Jenny 4.1.1.1.1.1

              On further reflection that may be a bit harsh. I have the deepest respect for the dedication and sincerity of the many Green Party members I have met, they have built an impressive organisation.

              The huge work that they have done over the successful asset sales referendum petition is a testament to that dedication and determination.

              My concern is that like many third parties the Greens will not survive their first brush with government. I just hope that if the Green Party collapse, which is likely on their present trajectory, that all their supporters are not disillusioned, or disheartened by the experience, and lost from the struggle against climate change.

            • Jenny 4.1.1.1.1.2

              On further reflection that may be a bit harsh. I have the deepest respect for the dedication and sincerity of the many Green Party members I have met, they have built an impressive organisation.

              The huge amount of unpaid and thankless work that they have put in to make the asset sales referendum petition a success is a testament to that dedication and determination.

              My concern, is that like many third parties, the Greens will not survive their first brush with government. I just hope that if the Green Party do collapse, which in my opinion, is likely on their present trajectory, that all their supporters are not disillusioned, or disheartened by the experience, and lost from the struggle against climate change.

        • CV - Real Labour 4.1.1.2

          NZ coal is going to be used for another 200 years Jenny. Any ban on coal activity which does pass into legislation will be short lived. One or two government terms at most.

          • bad12 4.1.1.2.1

            Aha and any political party that bans it will probably be just as short lived, advocating political suicide by the Green Party would seem to be Jenny’s modus…

            • Jenny 4.1.1.2.1.1

              ‘The man who may be the wrecker of the Tory Party…..was certainly
              saviour of the civilised world’

              Henry Channon Life long Tory MP and friend of Nevil Chamberlain and political enemy of Winstone Churchill, 9 April, 1952.

              • bad12

                That’s a little delusional don’t you think, if the worst case scenario were to occur in the next 200 years, and, given the inaction of the major polluters that seems a given, there is in fact nothing in Gods blue little world the Green Party can do that will markedly materially alter that,

                Of course if doom is to be the consequences then once the full manifestation of such doom has been visited upon us, the Planet Earth may then begin to heal it’self…

          • Jenny 4.1.1.2.2

            In 200 years, if coal is still being burnt, it will be to cremate the mountains of bodies. As most of the world’s surface will be uninhabitable.

            • CV - Real Labour 4.1.1.2.2.1

              So? Politicans haven’t got the power to change that.

              • Jenny

                A strange thing for a Labour Party activist to say.

                • CV - Real Labour

                  I’ve had this conversation with you before. Politicians are followers not leaders. No politician is going to propose destroying thousands of jobs and eliminating hundreds of millions in GDP unless they can see clear support for their bigger plan from influential sectors of society.

          • Jenny 4.1.1.2.3

            Any ban on coal activity which does pass into legislation will be short lived. One or two government terms at most.

            CV – Real Labour

            That is what they said about the anti-nuclear legislation. And here we are, despite many threats and assaults on it by conservative politicians of various parties and governments over the decades. This legislation still stands proud and undefeated.

            I expect the same for any world first ban on coal.

            I also expect as the affects of climate change starts to take hold, the populations of other countries will be demanding the same bans in their countries.

            • CV - Real Labour 4.1.1.2.3.1

              Anti-nuclear legislation? You do realise that no legislation against nuclear power was passed in NZ don’t you, just legislation against nuclear weapons?

              By the way, eliminating the burning of oil in NZ will make two million people walk to work every day. Banning nuclear weapons didn’t have that kind of day to day impact on people’s lives.

              • Jenny

                I was talking about coal you cloth head. Are you suffering from some sort of blind spot,or what?

                • Jenny

                  PS. New Zealand produces 0.2% of the world’s green house gas emissions. (This 0.2% total includes from agriculture as well, which is this country’s biggest source of emissions.) If CV-RL as you suggest New Zealand banned all oil and even all agricultural emissions it would have negligible quantitive effect on the world total.

                  Our contribution to stopping climate change will never be quantitive. It can only be qualitative.

                  The single most practical thing we can do is put a total ban on coal. New Zealand is not reliant on coal it is only a small part of energy supply. And I have been informed by the knowledgeable experts that there are a number of suitable substitutes available for industry etc.

                  But you may ask, why is coal important?

                  Globally it is different, coal is the single biggest cause of CO2 emissionson a global scale. 1tonne of coal when burnt releases roughly 2.8tonnes of CO2, the highest of any fossil fuel. (CO2, 1 carbon atom to 2 oxygen atoms and coal is almost pure carbon)

                  If New Zealand can show that we can do without coal then other countries can to.

                  The top scientist in the country and advisor to the Prime Minister Professor Sir Peter Gluckman. Has said and it. and it is on the government website, that the greatest contribution New Zealand can make to halting global climate change is by setting an example.

                  This is the example we need to set and can set.

                  Gluckman also said we need to act now.

                  Our brothers and sisters in Australia suffering from the extreme climatic conditions due to all the extra energy in the system will be the first to sit up and take notice. And you can bet on it. (Aussies love a good bet).

                  And don’t forget. Australia is the world’s biggest exporter of coal.

                  We here in little New Zealand by our exampl,e have a chance to stop this major source of CO2 pollution.

                • CV - Real Labour

                  I was talking about coal you cloth head. Are you suffering from some sort of blind spot,or what?

                  Uh…you were the one who mentioned the anti-nuclear legislation first in your comment 4.1.1.2.3

                  Coal use in tonnes is going to expand at a massive rate over the next 10 years, just as it has in the last 10. Not approving of it. I’m just sayin’ that’s all.

                  • Jenny

                    Coal use in tonnes is going to expand at a massive rate over the next 10 years, just as it has in the last 10. Not approving of it. I’m just sayin’ that’s all.

                    CV – Real Labour

                    Is that official Labour Party policy, or just wishful thinking from you personally?

                    • CV - Real Labour

                      4.9M short tons of coal produced in 2000, rising to 8.0M short tons of coal produced in 2010.

                      In other words, an increase in coal production of 310,000 short tons per year between 2000 and 2010.

                      By 2020 the figure may be up to around 11.0M short tons of coal produced per year, a 300% increase in coal production from 2000.

                      Yes, it will likely destroy the planet’s ecosystems as we know it.

                      http://www.indexmundi.com/energy.aspx?product=coal&graph=production

                    • Jenny

                      You didn’t answer the question.

                      But I suppose since the figures you provided showing a huge expansion in coal production, happened during a Labour administration you don’t have to.

                      No wonder the Green Party in trying to to seek an accommodation with the Labour Party must forget about any mention of addressing climate change or suggest measures to curtail CO2 emissions. This is clearly off the table.

                    • Jenny

                      Green Party back-peddling on climate change is the necessary preparation required, if the Greens are serious about becoming part of an administration that increases CO2 emissions.

                      http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/12/18-1

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escarpment_Mine_Project

    • Afewknowthetruth 4.2

      Good point.

      You can be sure that no party will touch the issue of dealing with climate change because to do so effectively would require integrity. None of the leaders of any major political parties have any.

      So the meltdown of the planet will continue, whoever is in power.

      They’ll just keep ignoring the issue (along with Peak Oil, overpopulation, deforestation, overfishing, etc.) till they can’t. And they’ll just keep lying to the general public.

      • Jenny 4.2.1

        Not if I can help it.

        • the Al1en 4.2.1.1

          “Not if I can help it.”

          Well said.

          The issue of coal is a really prickly one for Labour. All the historical connections between the unions and the party etcetera.
          If they replace the lost jobs with new, equally well paid jobs, there’s no issue.
          Too simple?

  5. Bill 6

    At what point do repeated extreme weather events or other natural events make previously settled regions untenable?

    (added the bold to broaden the scope)

    People will be more or less left to face whatever natural and market consequences there might be with no adequate government backed rebuild or support. This is already happening in developed countries – New Orleans, New Jersey, Christchurch…

    And when those people have had enough and drift away…then yeah, we might say natural events have made settlement untenable.

    Of course the people in question might be poor people or live in some place like Haiti or Bangladesh where there really is nowhere else to go…

    But that’s okay, because they can always be chastised for ‘hanging on in there’ in the event of ‘a second sitting’ causing more damage to any remaining physical infrastucture and more injuries and death.

  6. r0b 7

    Reminds me – I meant to post on this some time:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/14/rain-square-flooding

    Note the vested interests holding back attempts to prepare…

  7. Afewknowthetruth 8

    It would be interesting to find out how much money ‘big coal Australia’ has pumped into climate change denial over the past decade or so. We do know that the corporations that control most of the media have been very selective in what they promote…. giving far more space to climate change denial than proper scientific analysis.

    Australia is now paying the price. And the price is going to keep rising -probably exponentially, now that positive feedbacks have been triggered.

    As I have said many times, as long as corporations and money-lenders control this planet everything that matters is bound to get rapidly worse.

  8. Afewknowthetruth 9

    Actually, it won’t be flooding that will finish off Australia; it will be extremely high temperatures.

    The ‘plan’ seems to be for Australia to be the first nation to achieve a daily maximum of 60oC in the shade in a major metropolitan district. At the moment they are only achieving 42 to 48oC. Another decade of unrestrained emissions should do the job (as well as completely buggering ocean chemistry.).

    • Murray Olsen 9.1

      My guess would be floods and fires. Putting more heat into the system makes extreme events happen more often. On the Eastern Seaboard of Australia, a flood event of this magnitude every couple of years would make many places economically unviable long before the temperatures got as high as you suggest. Moving inland just adds to the fire risk, without diminishing the flood problem much at all.
      A lot of Brisbane is built on flood plains, for example, so it will continue to flood unless something drastic is done, such as giving the catchment a few other exits to the sea. This would entail the expropriation of a huge amount of property and the excavation of huge canals, which I can’t see happening.
      If I’m still around, it will be interesting to see how much flooding and burning Queenslanders can handle before they start moving en masse. In 2011, the insurance companies were already doing everything they could to not pay out. If it happens every couple of years, I can’t see that situation improving.

  9. Draco T Bastard 10

    When such regions are abandoned, what happens next?

    And what happens to the millions and billions of people affected?

    We certainly can’t fit them here.

  10. Afewknowthetruth 11

    By the way, capitalism LOVES ‘natural’ disasters because they create opportunities for profiteering that were not previously there. And in the fucked up economic system we are locked into, replacing damaged infrastructure adds to GDP, which is regarded as good for the economy. So the more disasters there are, the better the employment prospects and the higher the GDP.

    No wonder the economic system is starting to collapse, along with the environment.

  11. Jenny 12

    This is what will kill your grandchildren

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal

    Coal is the largest source of energy for the generation of electricity worldwide, as well as one of the largest worldwide anthropogenic sources of carbon dioxide releases

    the world top coal producer is China,[5] in 2011 China produced 3,520 millions of tonnes of coal – 49.5% of 7,695 millions tonnes world coal production. In 2011 other large producers were United States (993 millions tonnes), India (589), European Union (576) and Australia (416).[5]

    In 2010 largest exporters were Australia with 328 million tonnes (27.1% of world coal export) and Indonesia with 316 millions tonnes (26.1%),[6] while largest importers were Japan with 207 million tonnes (17.5% of world coal import), China with 195 million tonnes (16.6%) and South Korea with 126 million tonnes (10.7%).[7]

    Source: wikipedia

    • CV - Real Labour 12.1

      So you stop NZ and Australia’s coal industries completely, and you achieve a 6% reduction in global coal mining. I guess that’s something.

      • Jenny 12.1.1

        Think qualitative, not quantitive.

        The biggest importer of coal is Japan.

        How would Japan react if coal imports were cut off, or even just constrained?

        It would create a national emergency.

        Remember, already a quarter of Japan’s usual generating capacity, has been seriously restricted by the Fukushima disaster and many nuclear plants are still not on line.

        If the crisis was big enough the Japanese would be forced to switch their massive technological and manufacturing capacity from cars and consumer goods to wind turbines.

        This would launch a whole new branch of industry almost overnight.

        This would rapidly lower the cost per unit, making wind power the cheapest form of electrical generation in the world opening up massive international export market. That the Japanese being first would be best poised to take advantage of.

        Can’t be done. It has been done. In 1946 the american car industry stopped producing cars. For the rest of the war a grand total of 34 private automobiles were manufactured in mainland USA. All the big motor company assembly lines were either switched to aircraft manufacture, or tanks and other weapons, almost overnight.

        The thing is CV-RL, not one country yet has made any significant start on the necessary changes. Once started, all sorts of possibilities start presenting themselves.

        • CV - Real Labour 12.1.1.1

          How would Japan react if coal imports were cut off, or even just constrained?

          You have to be fucking kidding.

          The last time someone tried to do this to Japan, millions of people in Asia and the Pacific died, including thousands of New Zealanders and Australians.

          In 1946 the american car industry stopped producing cars. For the rest of the war a grand total of 34 private automobiles were manufactured in mainland USA.

          Source plz.

          • Jenny 12.1.1.1.1

            Grow up.

            In a crisis; Wind Power Offers Too Much To Ignore

            Anti-wind campaigners frequently make claims about the shortcomings of wind power. Their main complaints are that the turbines are so inefficient that they actually increase carbon dioxide emissions, and so unreliable that they require constant backup from conventional coal and gas-fired stations.

            If correct, these claims would be devastating to wind power. But they are not.

            New Scientist

            • CV - Real Labour 12.1.1.1.1.1

              Grow up? You’re suggesting actions which would be taken as an act of War and you’re asking me to “grow up”?

              You really have no idea of the geopolitical consequences of what you are suggesting, do you? Do you have any idea of the asia-pacific context of World War 2? At all? (Since you brought the era up as such a shining example).

              China and Japan are today launching military jets at each other over a few billion barrels of oil and gas supposedly around the Senkaku Islands. Anything along the lines of what you suggest and you would plunge the region into war.

              Regardless of the efficiency of your fucking windmills.

            • Jenny 12.1.1.1.1.2

              Sorry it’s late, maybe a less intemperate response is called for.

              This is not 1945 and modern democratic Japan doesn’t have the massive military war machine possessed by the Imperial Japanese fascist state. Even if the Japanese state did have such a war machine I don’t think the Japanese people have the appetite for using it in the manner you suggest.

              BAU however, which you are determined to support, will ensure that the wars you talk about, will occur when matters get really desperate.

    • >kill your grandchildren< The kids are already dead
      We are 30 years behind the effects of what we have done already.
      At this point in our on going extinction it doesn't matter what we do, stopping all human activity is like trying to close the portholes in first class to stop the titanic from sinking.
      Like a terminal cancer patient going vegetarian for the last month of their lives, ya might 'feel' like you are dong good, but as far as saving the day, forget it.
      Yet the maternity factory keeps pumping out victims…………………………………..
      We are no more a sentient life form than the scum under the toilet rim. lol

      Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (late 2007): 1 C by 2100

      Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (late 2008): 2 C by 2100

      United Nations Environment Programme (mid 2009): 3.5 C by 2100

      Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (October 2009): 4 C by 2060

      Global Carbon Project, Copenhagen Diagnosis (November 2009): 6 C, 7 C by 2100

      International Energy Agency (November 2010): 3.5 C by 2035 2100

      United Nations Environment Programme (December 2010): up to 5 C by 2050

      Positive feedbacks

      Methane hydrates are bubbling out the Arctic Ocean (Science, March 2010)

      Warm Atlantic water is defrosting the Arctic as it shoots through the Fram Strait (Science, January 2011)

      Siberian methane vents have increased in size from less than a meter across in the summer of 2010 to about a kilometer across in 2011 (Tellus, February 2011)

      Drought in the Amazon triggered the release of more carbon than the United States in 2010 (Science, February 2011)

      Peat in the world’s boreal forests is decomposing at an astonishing rate (Nature Communications, November 2011)

      Methane is being released from the Antarctic, too (Nature, August 2012)

      Russian forest and bog fires are growing (NASA, August 2012)

      Cracking of glaciers accelerates in the presence of increased carbon dioxide (Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, October 2012)

      Arctic drilling was fast-tracked by the Obama administration during the summer of 2012

      We are all fucked http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sdn3O6aaMNc

  12. Not good when hear about floods

  13. JonL 14

    Robert Atack is on the money.
    But, it’s all bad news, and in this “breads and circuses” world, it’s all tooo ghastly to contemplate, so we’ll just keep on keeping on, the same as always, and pretend it isn’t happening, until the bushfire burns us out of house and home, the floods finally wash away the infrastructure, the increasingly violent storms shred the locale, the droughts dessicate the neighbourhoods and hordes of people start roaming the planet, looking for somewhere to live, and food to eat.

    But then, the wealthy will have the armed forces and police forces to “keep them all at bay”….

    I’m all right Jack, I’ll be dead by then!

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    2 weeks ago
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    3 weeks ago
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