Archive for January 2011
While the conventional media are concentrating on the hip-pocket effect of the flood levy, the debate about how the flood recovery plan should be funded and whether long-term funding should be put in place, is gearing up. My view is that the funding should be proportional to the risks. There is increasing evidence that the costs we pay for climate extremes have a substantial anthropogenic component. To propose what the bottom line for such a fund should be would require research, as I outlined the other day, but the case for having such a fund is pretty strong. I wouldn’t pitch it at disaster, though, but would look at planned adaptation that aims to avoid disaster as much as possible.
Funding it by reducing subsidies to greenhouse gas emitting activities that subsidise future harm, would help.
Kim at Larvatus Prodeo has posted a multitude of online links to the debate here
GetUp have a campaign going for a natural disaster fund – to sign their petition, go here
Joe Romm of Climate Progress exercises his penchant for understatement in pointing out the robbing Peter to pay Paul strategy of the funding cuts in the flood package.
In the conventional media, Paddy Manning of The Age is one of the best writers around on climate change. Today’s first effort is on the slow progress of climate policy and the second is on dealing with climate change impacts now while investing in future reductions. He’s wrong about climate sceptics being put in the hot seat, though – they just tell more and more outlandish tales.
Meanwhile, spare a thought for people north of Kerang to Swan Hill. The waters of the Murray are causing floodwaters from the Loddon and Avoca to back up, inundating large areas. Yes, the floods are climate variability but variability on steroids.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has proposed a flood levy and spending cuts and deferrals to help pay the bill for the recent Queensland floods. Referring to it as “a natural disaster of unprecedented proportions”, she is now on the road to persuade others in government, industry and the community to back her plan.
- $2.8 billion in spending cuts, including removing industry assistance and cutting back other green programs by abolishing the Green Car Innovation Fund and the Cleaner Car Rebate Scheme and making other cuts.
- $1 billion in delaying some infrastructure projects– which will free up funds and skilled workers at a time of skilled labour shortages around the country.
- $1.8 billion through a progressive levy on people earning over $50,000. This will only apply to income above the $50,000 threshold. Anyone directly affected by the floods will not have to pay the levy at all.
I’m not arguing against the levy or the scheme in total, but feel that the current approach is reactive and not strategic. My position is that we are facing a long-term issue rather than just recovering from a short-term disaster.
When the farm went under water on Tuesday and Wednesday, the whole town of Kerang was cut off. Everyone had to find something to enetertain themselves, so they drove up Ninth Street to have a look-see. What is a dead-end street turned into Bourke St as everyone drove up to have a look, stopped, then turned around and drove back into town. So Mum put this sign out front:
In no time, we had this response:
I returned to Australia from Japan Sunday 16 and was on the train the next morning and topping up levee banks in the afternoon. We lost the fight against the floods late Tuesday and another peak Wednesday showed we had no hope of holding the flood back. The water is very beautiful. Blue skies, frogs, birds, but it’s a tad inconvenient. This is the front drive – on Wednesday.
There is an official Bureau of Met weather station – this is what it looked like on Wednesday – the new fangled extra large-sized evaporation pan (approximately 500 hectares in size).
From the bird’s eye view, this is where we are (the small area of dry land inside the white boundary):
The town of Kerang is just to the north of the farm and the Loddon River is to the west – photo right. The farmhouse is about a century old and has never been flooded because it’s on a small rise about 1-2 m higher than the surrounding floodplain.
The Governor of Victoria Professor David De Kretser recently commented on the floods and climate change on Radio 3AW, making the following comment: ”I’m sorry, I’m one of these believers in climate change, I’m afraid, and … I don’t think it’s going to go away.
”There’s too many of these events, not only in Australia but throughout the whole world that are happening now … Everyone says this week [is a] one in 100, one in 200 years [event] but they are happening pretty much more frequently now.”
These comments were reported in The Age and the Herald Sun and more widely (98 news articles on Google on Jan 23). The Premier Ted Baillieu said it was too early to make a comment on climate change, then went to say that he had been told on Jan 18 by Melbourne Water that Victorians should expect 30 per cent more rainfall in the next 10 years – I’m trying to track down the source of this statement because it’s difficult to countenance. The Governor’s statement was flatly rejected by climate expert Andrew Bolt (I refuse to link) and today by commentator Eddie McGuire, who somehow thinks climate change is a distraction. Not if you don’t adapt to a changing climate because you’re busy recreating past, Eddie.
Following is an open letter I wrote to the Governor today and forwarded to The Age.