Floods and fire

Seventy five percent of Queensland is currently flood affected. That’s a staggering amount. The footage of the torrents of water that passed through Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley is terrifying and my heart goes out to those who have experienced loss.

I have family up in Central Queensland. My sister in Rockhampton has told me that she’s not directly affected and my Mum’s major problem is that the airport is shut and she can’t return from her holiday in Sydney! I’ve not been in Rocky during a major flood, managing to just escape on possibly the last flight during the 1991 event.

Flooding has not just been restricted to Queensland. Some of the regions we passed through during our post Christmas trip to Melbourne had seen the Murrumbidgee and other rivers break their banks, leave fences filled with debris and pools of water where none usually sit.

It’s difficult to believe how the country was only just gripped by a huge drought, but these cycles of drought and flood are common in Australia. 2009’s Black Saturday bushfires and dust storm in Sydney were eerily familiar from living in Melbourne during 1983. The summer of 1983-84 saw flooding in Victoria and probably elsewhere. I can remember that we couldn’t retrieve our caravan from storage near Geelong because the Werribee river was flooded, blocking our route.

It’s the cycle of El Nino and La Nina and it’s part of Australia’s (and the world’s) climate. In my relatively short lifetime it feels like good farming conditions are an aberration rather than the norm and that farmers need to plan for the tough years rather than relying on assistance with an expectation of good conditions. The good farmers already do, I’m sure.

The scary thing is climate change causing more frequent extreme weather events and the climate seeks a new equilibrium (a dynamic one at that). Furthermore, more atmospheric heat means greater energy pumped into the system. Be prepared and be scared!

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