Extreme Weather Costs

I don’t know about you but the last 20 years have flown by for me and a new report by Dr Robert Glasser says that in less than 20 years the cost to Australia of extreme weather will be AUD$100 billion per year.

This interview with Dr Glasser on ABC Radio National[i] about the report highlights that climate risk needs to be factored in across all areas of business, not just pigeon holed into ‘environment’. It needs to be taken into account in all areas of planning because its impacts are felt across every facet of our lives: health and wellbeing, assets, investments, infrastructure, personal and home comfort, business, transport, food security. And at every level of society: individual, family, community, local government, state government, federal government, and global.

Extreme weather, increasing in intensity and frequency due to climate change, has no borders and plays no favourites. What was a once-in-one-hundred-years disaster, will become an annual occurrence. And, as we have seen in many parts of the world in the last year, it is becoming all too common for one natural disaster to occur right on top of another, or even simultaneously, in the same place. Recovery is far more difficult under these circumstances.[ii]

The images below were taken on Kangaroo Island on the road to Stokes Bay in January 2021, twelve months after the summer 2020 bushfires. There is some regrowth of some species, but many others didn’t show signs of recovery. It is unclear yet how well the burnt areas will recover and that is in part dependent on whether another fire occurs in the meantime. There is still plenty of fuel load for that to be possible.

Sheoks are shooting from the base in some cases.
Pine plantation with no signs of regrowth.
Eucalyptus with epicormic growth and yaccas flourishing in the understorey - many had really long flower spikes.

Check your assets and investments. Are they at risk of being stranded by climate change impacts? Are they at risk of becoming uninsurable or excessively expensive to insure? There is no longer an excuse for not being prepared.

This is the new reality. Australia’s bushfires[iii] are not over. We have not seen the last of flooding[iv] and landslides[v] around the world, nor drought, extreme storms or locust plagues[vi]. This is just the beginning of the climate we have created and continue to actively create.

The urgency to stop creating climate change is real and it is now. It needs to be addressed in every part of our lives, personal and professional, with the technology we have now to:

  • Build with climate change impacts core to planning and design decisions;
  • Bring down our carbon (CO2) emissions, and;
  • Draw down the existing emissions in the atmosphere.

It is not an impossible task, but it is an extremely urgent one[vii]. We must get on with it.

© Palitja Moore, text, and images, KI Bushfire Recovery at 7 January, 2021

[i] https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/cost-of-extreme-weather/13093964

[ii] https://public.wmo.int/en/media/news/heavy-rains-contribute-desert-locust-crisis-east-africa

[iii] https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51742646

[iv] Flooding is from heavy rainfall, storm surges, and sea level rise. See for example: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/09/ipcc-sea-level-rise-report/598765/ ‘The headline finding of this report is that sea-level rise could be worse than we thought. The report’s projection of worst-case sea-level rise by 2100 is about 10 percent higher than the IPCC predicted five years ago. The IPCC has been steadily ratcheting up its sea-level-rise projections since its 2001 report, and it is likely to increase the numbers further in the 2021 report, when the IPCC runs a new round of global climate models.’

[v] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/18/alaska-climate-change-tsunamis-melting-permafrost

[vi] https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2020/may/15/fighting-a-locust-plague-amid-covid-19-in-east-africa-video

[vii] Solutions are many and are detailed in https://www.madmanfilms.com.au/2040film/ and https://globaloptimism.com/the-future-we-choose/ amongst others.

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