Monday, December 14, 2009

Climate change is costing us now

A long, fact-filled piece by Barrie Pittock in Science Alert (Australia): …The present drought in south-eastern Australia has been ongoing since at least 2001. …According to scientists in the joint CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR) human-induced climate change is likely to be a major cause of this “drought”. This is due to two factors: decreasing rainfall associated with increasing surface pressure in the region, with the rainfall belt moving further south, and increasing evaporative losses from plants and remaining wet surfaces.

…Reliable estimates of the total cost of the 2009 bushfires are not yet available, but a preliminary estimate from Allianz Insurance put insured losses at about $1 billion. The Melbourne Age on 28 June 2009 reported total losses at about $1.6 billion and insured losses at some $940 million.

...The all-party House of Representatives Committee on Climate Change, Water, Environment and the Arts recently released a unanimous and extensive report on management of the coastal zone. It identified the threat to property values, the liability of public authorities and private landowners, responses to possible withdrawal of insurance, and the possibility of governments prohibiting continued occupation of land or future building development on properties due to sea hazard. The report noted that 80 per cent of the Australian population lives in the coastal zone, and some 711,000 addresses are within three kilometres of the coast and less than six metres above sea level.

According to this report, quoting from an Insurance Council of Australia submission, “Preliminary estimates of the value of property in Australia exposed to this risk range from $50 billion to $150 billion. The figure depends upon the extent of sea level rise assumed (in the order of 1 metre to 3 metres) and the effectiveness or otherwise of potential mitigation measures. Even if paid for over 50 years this amounts to a cost to replace these assets of some $1 billion to $3 billion per annum in real terms.”
…Climate change impacts and costs are thus not merely something for future generations to bear, but are being experienced now. We are committed to large and growing costs arising from the impacts of climate change to date, and a virtual guarantee of rising losses in the near future….

Coolum, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. Shot by Vanderven , Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

No comments: