UPDATES ADDED: See updates below the read more line
My heart goes out to Australia. The ugly side of this is that a portion of the tragedy may have been prevented with a dam to control floodwaters. But as James Delinpole writes:
Were it not for the actions of Environment Minister Peter Garrett, for example, the Queensland town of Gympie would not now be underwater. Unfortunately, Garrett took it upon himself to block the proposed dam that would have prevented it.
To add insult to injury, the state run warning system sent warning messages out six hours after the flood engulfed homes. – Anthony
My friend Andrew Bolt of the Herald Sun has quite a bit of coverage, here’s an excerpt from his blog:
The disaster is extraordinary:
THE nation confronts its worst flood disaster in living memory, with 30 people believed dead and 90 missing in southeast Queensland.
The wall of water bearing down on Brisbane threatens to engulf thousands of homes and put more people at risk.
What I cannot understand is this: how was the possibility of such a danger not forseen, when climate experts and the Government claim they can predict the climate 100 years from now? How did this week’s rain come as such a surprise, when we now spend billions more on computer models predicting the future?
Some of the stories are tragic:
Sarah Norman yesterday told how her brother Sam punched a hole in the laundry ceiling and pushed their sister Victoria, 15, to safety after water flooded the brick home at noon on Monday.
“He went back to get Mum and Dad, but they had just gone. Victoria heard Mum scream,” Ms Norman said.
Steve Matthews, 56, an electrician and former pastor and his wife Sandy, 46, a teacher’s aide from Spring Bluff near Murphys Creek near Toowoomba, were found dead downstream on Monday afternoon.
How amazingly fast the floodwaters rose in Toowoomba.
The global warmists claimed Queensland’s rains would dry up, which is why the Labor Government built a desalination plant – now mothballed – instead of yet more dams:
(Premier Peter) Beattie said the effects of climate change on our region meant we could no longer rely on past rainfall patterns to help us plan for the future…
“My advice indicates if we continue to experience below average rainfalls it could take several years (anywhere from five to ten years) for our major dam system to climb back up past 40 percent even with purified recycled water, desalination and the other measures we’re taking to supplement our water supplies.
“Given the current uncertainty about the likely impact of climate change on rainfall patterns in SEQ over coming years, it is only prudent to assume at this stage that lower than usual rainfalls could eventuate.
But Heather Brown, a Toowoomba resident, says locals made other bad choices in the same mistaken belief that floods would not come:
Tragically, it seems some of the most basic rules of survival – and certainly the most elementary rule of town planning – were forgotten in the case of Toowoomba, a city that is dissected by East Creek and West Creek, two deceptively innocent looking little creeks that seem to run as much water as a decent suburban gutter for most of the year.
Admittedly, Toowoomba – Australia’s Garden City – has been battling drought for almost a decade… Along the way, the creeks have been prettied and preened and slotted into your typical modern urban plan. And the breadth of their flow – and their seminal right to a small flood plain – has been gradually stolen away.
At the intersections of Victoria, Margaret and Russell streets – where the boiling muddy tsunami was its fiercest and most graphically filmed – the city council had embarked on an ambitious beautification plan to turn the creek into a pleasing urban feature, complete with boardwalks, gardens, illumination and seating. Everyone thought it was wonderful, except for cynics such as my husband and me. In fact, every time we drove past the feature we would say to no one in particular: This little creek is going to make them sorry one day. Tragically, we were right.
Early yesterday morning I went back to the bruised and battered Margaret Street to support any local business that still had the heart to open. My coffee shop was handing out free coffees to the battered owners of the local businesses who had lost so much. When I went to buy my newspaper, the newsagent told me he was devastated, not because of what had happened but because the engineer who had worked on the beautification project told him he couldn’t make them listen when he pleaded for bigger pipes – “18-footers” he called them – to let the water through, because it simply didn’t suit the aesthetics of the architects and landscapers.
So that’s what happened to my city, folks, the same as happened to so much of flooded Queensland. We did stupid and really, really dumb things because we thought we could get away with them. We built the wrong sort of houses and the wrong sort of bridges. We built towns and suburbs on flood plains. And we ignored at our peril the forces of nature and the history of the great floods that have shaped this continent for thousands of years.
Read more at Andrew Bolt
UPDATE: The Herald Sun has a broad coverage Flood News Page here
UPDATE2: For some background on the Mary River dam that James Delingpole refers to there’s this entry in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveston_Crossing_Dam
The question is whether it was more important to save fish or to protect people. From the Wiki article there’s this:
A University of Technology, Sydney report stated that “the proposed Traveston Dam near Gympie could pump up to 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere each year” and “even desalination, itself a last resort in a severe drought, would result in fewer emissions at 280,000 to 350,000 (annual tonnes) to yield the same quantity of water”.
They apparently went with the desalinization plant, now mothballed. It seems that AGW gets into every discussion, even dams. The question has been raised as to whether or not this damn could have saved these people. I don’t know that it would or wouldn’t, but it would seem to me that more storage upstream helps in both times of drought and flood.
If it turns out that the dam would have made a difference, I hope that Environment Minister Peter Garrett will be in a public enquiry, so that people who have suffered in this tragedy can express their grief. Politicians need to hear that such actions have consequences. This isn’t the first time environmental issues have been blamed in Australian natural disasters. See this previous WUWT article on what people went through with the brush fires.