Our thoughts this week are with the people affected by the devastating floods in Queensland. Donations can be made via the Australian Red Cross website and will assist by helping people get through this disaster, and clean up and rebuild once the water subsides.
After a year of extraordinary disasters in Australia and around the world, including these floods, last year’s bushfires in Victoria, record-breaking heat waves and bushfires in Russia and severe wintry weather in Europe to name a few, many people are questioning the link between extreme weather events and climate change.
It is important to remember is that climate change is unlikely to be the sole cause of extreme weather events. Such events have always been a feature of our natural environment, particularly in Australia. We have always had floods, droughts, heat waves and bushfires, although sometimes the most extreme events occur many years or decades apart and so we feel like we’re suffering through something new and terrible. However, climate change predictions do forecast that climate change will make extreme weather events more frequent, more severe and more damaging.
A number of good summaries of the connections between climate change and extreme flooding can be found on the websites of the Climate Action Centre and the Australian Conservation Foundation (see also ACF’s fact sheet).
With some degree of climate change now unavoidable, the Queensland floods demonstrate the urgency of integrating climate change projections into our urban planning and building design processes so we are well prepared to respond to more frequent and severe weather in the future.