Australia's record flooding serves as a brutal reminder of climate change: reporters

Australia's record flooding serves as a brutal reminder of climate change: reporters

This month, parts of Australia suffered record flooding when, according to Axios, they received almost as much rain during a six-day period as they would normally receive in an entire year. This disaster follows the devastating wildfires that pounded Australia in late 2019 and early 2020. And between flooding, wildfires and droughts, Australians have become increasingly worried about the effects of climate change.

Axios reporter Andrew Freeman explains, "Australia is Ground Zero for emerging impacts of climate change, from heatwaves and wildfires (to) flooding. Scientific studies have established clear ties between increasingly common and heavy rainfall events and a warming ocean and atmosphere. As temperatures increase, the amount of moisture the air can hold also climbs."

In Australia, the late 2019/early 2020 period is now known as the Black Summer — December, January and February are summer months in the southern hemisphere — because of all the devastation the wildfires caused. But this month, Australia's problem hasn't been a lack of rain, but way too much of it in too short a period of time.

Will Steffen, a spokesman for Climate Council in Australia, told Axios, "For many communities dealing with floods right now, this is the latest in a line of climate change-exacerbated extreme weather events they have faced, including drought, the Black Summer bushfires, and scorching heatwaves."

Journalist Damien Cave, in the New York Times, reports that because of the flooding, "nearly 20,000 Australians have been forced to evacuate, and more than 150 schools have been closed." The floods, according to Cave, "prompted at least 500 rescues and drowned roads from Sydney up into the state of Queensland 500 miles north."

"Last year, huge fires combined into history-making infernos that scorched an area larger than many European countries," Cave notes. "This year, thunderstorms have fused and hovered, delivering enough water to push rivers like the Hawkesbury to their highest levels since the 1960s."

The Hawkesbury River, according to Cave, "rose rapidly by more than 30 feet" over the weekend.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not cited climate change as a cause of the flooding. But Andy Pitman, who serves as director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Climate Extremes at the University of New South Wales, told the Times, "There is a very strong link between global warming and that intensification in rainfall. There's good scientific evidence to say extreme rain is becoming more extreme due to global warming."

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.