Friday, February 25, 2011

Expert rejects shift of Australia's cyclone zone

Bill Hoffman in the Sunshine Coast Daily (Australia): The planned shift of the east coast cyclone zone south to cover the Sunshine Coast and Caboolture was a politically motivated exercise that had generated considerable cynicism from the engineering community. That is the opinion of Dr George Walker who wrote the post-Cyclone Tracy engineering report that reset Australian building codes.

He said current standards, where new Coast buildings were required to be able to withstand a category three cyclone, were reasonable The Australian Building Codes Board is considering a draft report that recommends the Cyclone Region C boundary, which starts near Cairns and ends south of Bundaberg, be changed to take in the Coast and Caboolture.

Builders fear that would add up to $15,000 to the cost of a new home although this estimate has been questioned by some engineering experts who say the actual component costs would be significantly less. Dr Walker, of Mapleton, who has studied tropical cyclones and their effects on building for the past 40 years, said the zone change appeared to be a purely political exercise by a government wanting to be seen to be doing something about global warming.

No climate-change sceptic – he is a peer science reviewer for the International Panel on Climate Change – Dr Walker remains highly sceptical of the cost-benefit of the zone shift which he says stops conveniently short of the state’s capital where it would have the greatest impact on disaster mitigation. He said too much emphasis was being applied to upper range impacts of climate change….

Torn shade sails in Townsville after Cyclone Yasi, shot by Rob and Stephanie Levy, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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