Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ready for heavy weather in Australia and elsewhere

Peter Fisher in the Age (Australia): Given the mild autumn days we're enjoying, it is easy to forget that almost three weeks ago Melbourne was battered by storms that not only caused property damage and a great deal of personal inconvenience but, more importantly, resulted in two deaths. These storms show that climate change need not be a gradual, creeping, almost benign process — balmy winters, growing acidity, water shortages, that sort of thing — but is capable of turning very nasty.

…Change is already locked into the global weather system. So in addition to trying to limit carbon emissions by renewable energy and clean coal, we should also be developing means to more adequately manage the effects of climate change, to minimise risks from cyclonic-force winds, deluges, blistering heat waves (such as that visited on Adelaide last month), bushfires and sea-level rise.

…The Rudd Government's recently announced $15 million Climate Change Adaptation Research networks should help define how many of these issues are to be tackled in the Australian building code.….It is vital that storm surge and sea-level rise are factored into the placement and modelling of desalination plants. …

…If, as the science suggests, there is a connection between climate change in full swing and extremes in weather patterns, we should not only be thinking about the security of future city water supplies or drought at large. An early start needs to be made on "climate-proofing" our city as it takes time to change buildings, redesign infrastructure and establish coastal setbacks. The longer we delay, the harder it will get.

Elder Park in Adelaide, shot by "Kevin1243," Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation license, Version 1.2 or any later version

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