Quoting from the New York Times 2017/09/03:
"Climate change is one reason for [increasingly frequent economic devastation from storms]: Global warming loads the atmosphere with more water vapour, which increases the potential for extreme rainfall events.The graph on the right shows the number of billion-dollar-plus natural disasters each year from 1980 to the present. The increase in frequency is obvious.
New York Times.
While the flooding in south-west Asia received far less media coverage in Australia than Hurricane Harvey, it was far more devastating. The death toll was at least 1200; 24 times that of Hurricane Harvey.
On 2017/09/07 it was reported that 5.9 million acres (2.4 million hectares,
24,000 square kilometres) of crops had been destroyed.
British Columbia, CanadaGlobal News reported about the worst recorded fires on record in British Columbia on 2017/09/05:
"B.C. remains under a state of emergency as more than 100 wildfires continue to burn across the province. This season is now B.C.'s worst fire season in history and it is far from over.
Western USAAt the same time there were very bad fires in the USA, perhaps Oregon in particular. Oregon Governor Kate Brown said that officials have seen "unprecedented runs" in the Eagle Creek fire – 13 miles (21 km) in 16 hours. The Eagle Creek fire was just one of dozens burning at the same time.
On 2017/09/06 The Atlantic reported that "dozens of forest and brush fires are currently burning across eight western states", and that "more than a million acres (4000 square kilometres) have burned in the past week alone".
For more information see
The Guardian, "Sydney storms: city battered by tennis ball-sized hail as fronts hit NSW coast".
TasmaniaAlmost 200,000 hectares of mostly Tasmanian bush has been burnt out since the fires were started by lightning in late January 2019 according to Tasmanian Fire Service estimates.
Forests that have rarely, if ever, burned previously had been burned. They would take hundreds of years to recover, if they recovered at all.
For more information see ABC on-line news, 2019/02/05.
NSW FiresShortly before writing this sentence (2019/02/16) the ABC was reporting "Tingha and Tabulam fire downgraded, residents in shock after bushfires destroy 20 homes in northern NSW."
Bangor fire, South Australia, 2014The Bangor fire, near my home in Crystal Brook, burned largely in steep inaccessible country for a month before being extinguished by heavy rains. The rain on the soil left totally bare by the fires caused terrible erosion.
The photo on the right is of debris including soil and ash left in the Crystal Brook in the town of the same name. The upper parts of the Crystal Brook catchment were burned in the Bangor fire.
The native vegetation will recover to a large extent in a few years following a fire like this, but the soil will take hundreds or thousands of years to be replaced.
Increased frequency and ferocity of fires will be disastrous for Australia's fragile soils.
Other firesExceptionally hot weather and spontaneous combustion seems to have been responsible for the soil in a cattle yard catching fire in February 2019. When asked about this David Bowman, a professor of pyrogeography and fire science at the University of Tasmania, said:
"... a changing climate was creating unusual fire events across the world.
On 2019/02/07 it was reported that 250 houses were damaged to the point of being uninhabitable, another 750 had been severely damaged and up to 20,000 homes were "believed to have sustained some water impact". By 2019/02/08 it was being reported that insurers had received 11,800 claims with losses estimated at $147 million (Reinsurance News).
News was still coming out on 2019/02/09 about losses of huge numbers of cattle (300,000 has been mentioned) in the big grazing districts of Queensland.
According to an article written by Associate Professor Jacky Croke on The Conversation flooding in 2011 was estimated to have cost the Australian economy around $30 billion. The Queensland Government estimated flooding in 2013 to have cost more than $2.5 billion.
For the sake of the future of the planet and for those who are to come after us we have an ethical responsibility to minimise climate change. Purely on economic grounds surely we should be spending at least a similar amount of money to avoid disasters as the cost of the disasters that climate change is causing.
Bonnie McBain, Tutor in Sustainability Science, University of Newcastle, wrote a piece in The Conversation, 2016/09/08, "Renewables are getting cheaper all the time – here's why". In this article she gave the cost of wind power as Aus$2.7 million dollars per installed megawatt and the cost of large scale solar as Aus$1.3 million dollars per megawatt. (Capacity factor of wind power in Australia is about twice that of solar PV power, so the capital cost per average MW of generation by Ms McBain's figures, would be similar for wind and solar.)
Based on Ms McBain's figures it can be calculated that 46 GW of wind power or 96 GW of solar power could be constructed for US$100 billion dollars, the approximate cost of Hurricane Harvey. 46 GW is about ten times the total installed wind power in Australia at the end of 2016. 96 GW is about 16 times the total installed solar power in Australia in April 2017.
46 GW more wind power or 96 GW more solar power would go a long way toward reducing greenhouse emissions and slowing climate change.
In per-capita terms Australia has among the highest greenhouse gas emissions
in the world, yet the Australian Turnbull Government is resisting efforts to
reduce those emissions and is trying to increase the amount of coal mining,
coal burning and coal exporting.
Australian Government considers giving a billion dollars to an Indian company to greatly increase greenhouse emissionsIndian coal mining company Adani is undergoing multiple financial crime and corruption probes. The Carmichael Mine, proposed by Adani, if it goes ahead, will be an environmental disaster, resulting in millions of tonnes of increased greenhouse emissions every year that it operates, not to mention the environmental damage caused by the mining.
The Carmichael Mine will most likely be an economic disaster as well. It will have a very short life because the world is turning away from coal due to climate change. It will cost billions of dollars to get started, including the estimated $1 billion bill for the railway line needed to connect the mine to the port. The mine will not be able to repay the costs of setting it up in the short productive life that it will have.
Yet in September 2017 the Australian Turnbull Government is considering paying the cost of building the railway line using taxpayers' money. It is very unlikely that Australian taxpayers will ever see any return on this billion dollars.
Not only is the Turnbull Government pushing coal mining when it should be
doing everything in its power to change Australia to renewable energy, it is
also disparaging the Australian state governments' aims in increasingly
adopting renewable energy.
PM Turnbull proposes to keep open the heavily polluting Liddell coal-fired power station five years past its use-by dateIn September 2017 Prime Minister Turnbull talked about somehow keeping the old Liddell power station going for five years passed the 2022 date that its owner, AGL, proposed to close it down. (AGL had taken over the power station for $0 from the NSW Government back in 2014.)
This proposal was based on a foolish belief that Australia would need more base load power; while in fact what will be needed is more peaking power, demand side management or energy storage.
David Shearman, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Adelaide wrote a piece for RenewEconomy on 2017/09/06 about the health impacts of the 46 year-old Liddell power station. AGL proposes to close this old power station. Shearman referred to a posting he wrote for The Conversation on 2016/11/28 reporting that there are an estimated 3000 death per year and many illnesses in Australia due to heart and lung disease from air pollution caused by coal combustion and vehicle exhaust.
The true cost of keeping the Liddell power plant open, The Conversation,
2017/09/08, by Frank Jotzo and Zeba Anjum, both with ANU.
I have written elsewhere on these pages that for a person in a position of power to dishonestly support fossil fuels and oppose renewable energy has to be the greatest crime in the history of humanity.
On this siteBase load power: the facts
Climate change hits the Clare Valley
The end of coal
Greatest crime in history
Impressive renewable energy developments in Australia
Major threatened disasters compared
Mid-North South Australia, leading the nation in renewable energy
Northern SA's renewables
Pumped hydro energy storage
South Australia's success with renewable power
Turnbull Australian Government Wind power in Australia
On the InternetUnited Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction report: The human cost of weather-related disasters 1995-2015.
Renew Economy; AGL ridicules Coalition request to keep Liddell [coal-fired power station] open extra 5 years.
AGL's statement on the Liddell closure.
Energy Australia boss says there are much better options than keeping the old Liddell coal-fired power station running for a few more years.
The Conversation; Why coal-fired power stations need to shut on health grounds, David Shearman, 2016/11/28.
The Uninhabitable Earth, Annotated Edition, by David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine.
Bangor fire erosion
Billion dollar gift to dodgy company
Wild-fires Canada, USA
Australian fires, January and February 2019
Hail damage in Australia, December 2018
Hurricane Harvey, USA
Flogging a dead horse
Monsoon floods India region
PM Turnbull ridicules South Australia's support of renewable energy
Queensland, Australia, flooding, February 2019
What should we do?