Australians Not Lovin’ Floodin’

March 2, 2022

Photo making the rounds is apparently authentic, and illustrates the intensity of flooding in New South Wales, Australia, in the past week.

La Nina events have been bringing astounding flooding to Australia over the last decade.

The Age:

These floods can no longer be accurately described as a “one in 1000-year” event, as suggested by NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet. It is just five years since Lismore’s last catastrophic flooding event, and just a decade since Brisbane’s notorious 2011 floods. But neither are they “the new normal”, given the escalating changes. In our intensifying climate, heroic ideals of “rebuilding” and “recovery” will not always be possible.

Not only do the varied impacts of individual extreme weather events interact with each other, they compound upon legacies of loss, trauma, disruption and incapacitation that have come (not that long) before.

Many people affected by the current floods have also suffered through recent climate-related extreme events, including previous floods, storms, heatwaves and the Black Summer fires. Because they are still dealing with the lingering effects of these other manifestations of a changing climate, including serious financial costs, this means the current floods are even more consequential for them.

By making people worse off, climate-change related disasters are exacerbating the damage inflicted by further climate events, making people even more vulnerable to what lies ahead.

The social, economic and environmental impacts of the floods are thus a manifestation of climate change in more ways than one. Not only is climate change making floods in eastern Australia more extreme in meteorological terms, but it is making people and society more vulnerable to their negative effects.

But the impacts of climate change are not inevitable or “natural”. The social aspect of climate change impacts gives us more options for reducing them. Because impacts emerge out of specific, local, dynamic social situations, we can intervene in those situations to avoid or lessen them. This is what adaptation is about. It involves not only reducing flood hazards (for example, through land use planning and stormwater management), but also ensuring people are as prepared and well placed to cope as possible.

One Response to “Australians Not Lovin’ Floodin’”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    In our intensifying climate, heroic ideals of “rebuilding” and “recovery” will not always be possible.

    As the Abandonment Asshole, I approve this message.

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