Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mandurah's climate change challenge

Andrew O'Connor in ABC News (Australia): It was a grim warning that placed Mandurah on the leading edge of a change that could radically reshape one of the nation's fastest-growing seaside communities. Climate change not coming to Western Australia - it's already here.

The Climate Commission's travelling roadshow, led by former Australian of the Year Tim Flannery, rolled through the South West armed with a new report and a clear message - we must act now. The report, "The Critical Decade", condensed existing research and focused solely on the impact of climate change on Western Australia.

...For coastal communities the most ominous of the report's statements was about rising sea levels which it says "will exacerbate existing vulnerability to flooding and beach erosion." According to Climate Commission member, Professor Lesley Hughes, that rise, which is happening worldwide, is happening relatively quickly.

...With large areas of development in low lying areas, Mandurah is particularly vulnerable to erosion and flooding. One person who is not alarmed is the city's mayor Paddi Creevey whose council has already spent years preparing to weather whatever storms climate change may bring. "There's nothing to panic about, we are very much open for business but we will be well-prepared," she said.

The City of Mandurah has largely sidestepped the controversy and politics of climate change, instead focussing on the practical, local steps it can take to prepare for any contingency. Ms Creevey says that work started in 2007 and has included a range of vulnerability assessments and other measures.

"We've had our staff working in collaboration with universities, CSIRO and other places," she said. "We've done a vulnerability assessment to understand for ourselves where we need to pay attention and we've been working closely with the state and commonwealth departments to really try to make ourselves ready and, importantly, to educate our community for what we will need to face."...

Port Bouvard Bridge over the Dawesville Channel south of Mandurah, Western Australia, shot by Orderinchaos, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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