Monday, February 4, 2013

Maybe climate change is closer than we think

Tracee Hutchison in ABC (Australia): Australia's recent re-acquaintance with devastating flooding in Queensland and northern NSW this summer has been another sobering reminder of the climatic shape-shifting wreaking havoc with lives and livelihoods across the country.

...Watching on, from the fire-prone drier states, the unspoken narrative is screaming; where will these people go? What will they do for a living? And who will grow the food they were growing for both domestic and export markets? There's even been talk from Queensland Premier Campbell Newman that some flood-prone residential areas in Queensland might have to be relocated to avoid what looks increasingly like the recurring reality of extreme flooding.

So what about when the city in question has numbers nudging the entire population of Australia? That's the reality in Jakarta right now, where record flooding has swamped the CBD for the first time in history. There is increasing talk that relocating the Indonesian capital is the only feasible solution to an escalating problem.

Jakarta is sinking. Literally. Years and years of unregulated private water-bores has drained the city's below-sea-level water table dry. The record rain, coupled with an underdeveloped drainage system and the penchant of Jakartans to use the city's waterways as rubbish dumps, brought this city of 20-odd million to a standstill of a different kind.

For the first time in years there were no cars on Jakarta's streets (other than floating ones); instead, the city more used to lumbering in a grinding traffic gridlock was incapacitated by metre-high water that turned the city's roads into Venice-style canals. It put a whole new - and rather ironic - spin on Jakarta's car-free day campaign to reduce pollution in the city.

...The implications of a non-functioning Jakarta are immense and wide-ranging both for Indonesia and the region. But this is the reality facing the new Jakartan governor Joko Widodo and outgoing Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his government, who are canvassing alternate-capital locations in higher and drier locations....

January 19, 2013, in Jakarta, shot by Thedonz at Indonesian Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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