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Emergencies and luxuries

February 3rd, 2013

The floodwaters have receded[1] and the miserable task of cleaning up is beginning in Bundaberg, Laidley and other communities. Here in Brisbane we were lucky enough to avoid another flood. The remnants of Cyclone Oswald hit us in the form of a summer storm, bigger than usual, but a pretty regular event here. It wasn’t surprising that hundreds of thousands of people (including me) lost electrical power, or that repairs couldn’t start until the wind had subsided. Even so, the restoration of power was very slow – in many places slower than in 2011. It’s become evident that, like all areas of the Queensland public sector, the electricity distributors (Energex in the Brisbane region and Ergon elsewhere) have been subject to staff cuts that have hampered their ability to respond. The union was issuing warnings about this last year, and they have been proved right. In one startling case, workers were delayed from responding to the emergency in Bundaberg, so they could be briefed on their redundancy options.

Ergon and Energex are government-owned corporations, which are normally supposed to make their own commercial decisions. In this case, however, the shareholding ministers, Energy Minister Mark McArdle and Treasurer Tim Nicholls, have actively intervened to push for job cuts. The obvious explanation is that they are trying to boost profitability (at least in the short term) to prepare the enterprises for privatisation. The regulatory system is supposed to require Energex and Ergon to meet reliability standards, but it seems likely that it is vulnerable to gaming, possibly by excluding extreme (but not uncommon or unpredictable) events like this storm from the criteria (I plan to look into this).

The cuts in the electricity sector have been matched or exceeded across the entire public sector, including the services on which we all rely in an emergency. Meanwhile, Campbell and Nicholls are building themselves a brand new office tower, demolishing the aging but serviceable building in which they currently work. They are paying off their supporters with cuts in payroll tax, grants to racing clubs and so on. But if you want a symbol of this government, you can’t go past Jeff Seeney, who tried to get a government plane, currently used for organ transplants and similar emergencies, allocated for his personal use.

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  1. Ikonoclast
    February 3rd, 2013 at 16:36 | #1

    Major storms and natural disasters are increasing in fequency, probably by a factor of 10, due to AGW. Yet we are reducing all the emergency services. In addition, instead of making more robust infrastructure we are letting it degrade further.

    The public debate is about all the wrong things. I have yet to hear one person in a position of prominence, knowledge and authority with the sense to say publicly we should never rebuild on flooded land. Going further, we need to progressively move all structures above the old 1 in 200 year level. This level is now probably the new 1 in 20 year flood level. A thorough re-think of all built infrastructure is required. In particular we need open flood parks and grazing land below (the old) 1 in 200 year flood level. In bushfire prone areas we need to build semi-underground houses in the hills with one open side facing north and equipped with storm & fire shutters.

  2. Katz
    February 3rd, 2013 at 16:47 | #2

    The Victorian Liberal Party still hasn’t recovered electorally from the shock of Kennett’s similar slash and burn policies.

    And, from a distance, it appears to me that Newman is not Kennett’s equal in some of the things that Kennett did well.

    Is there. Steve Bracks in Queensland who can appear as the embodiment of modest common decency in public administration?

  3. Ikonoclast
  4. February 3rd, 2013 at 17:11 | #4

    The industry code excludes ‘major event days’ under section 2.4.3 (pdf). These days are identified in the code (pdf) as days where the log of the normalised sum of outage durations for that day exceeds 2.5 standard deviations from the average log (for the past 5 years). I’m not sure whether that limit is appropriate, but I say it’s pretty clear the impact from Oswald will be excluded.

    I’m not sure this is unfairly gaming the system though. It’s important to measure the day to day reliability of the system in determining performance. However, it’s unlikely that there is enough statistical data on performance, or predictability in the effects of major weather events to be able to assess recovery performance quantitatively in these types of situations. It is a valid political question though, as to whether we’d prefer marginally higher electricity prices (or higher taxes, or whatever) in order to get the power back on hours (or even a day) earlier in these situations, when they do actually occur.

  5. John Quiggin
    February 3rd, 2013 at 17:50 | #5

    @desipis

    Exemptions of this kind represent a misallocation of risk. It doesn’t matter whether or not its predictable.

    Given the losses involved in two or three days without power, I imagine most people would be willing to pay a significant amount for earlier restorations. Estimating this WTP is the kind of job regulators are supposed to do.

    I should disclose that I was once involved in regulation of Energex as a member of the QCA. Poor performance in the 2002 storms was clearly due to regulatory gaming. I thought the problems had been fixed up with the performance standards, but it’s now clear to me that these exemptions were a mistake.

  6. February 3rd, 2013 at 17:51 | #6

    Lawrence Springborg is talking about claiming damages from tobacco companies to cover the extra cost tobacco related illness is putting on the public health system. More strength to his arm is all I can say.
    The logical extension of this thinking is to use a massive Levy on coal (and other fossil carbon) companies to pay for fixing the the flood damage and the changes required to flood proof Qld and NSW. If it is OK for coal companies to profit from digging up fossil carbon it does not seem unreasonable for them to pay for the damage the product they are selling is causing.

  7. February 3rd, 2013 at 18:40 | #7

    Qld coal production was 188 mt for 2011/12. (http://mines.industry.qld.gov.au/mining/coal-statistics.htm) This would have generated about 550 mt CO2 when used.
    A flood levy of only $5/tonne CO2 equivalent would have raised $2.8 billion for 2011/12. This would have covered Newman’s first guess for flood costs with a bit left over for flood proofing. Equivalent levies on the gas and cement industries would allow more for flood proofing and compensating those affected by bloating flood insurance costs.
    Apart from paying for flood costs the levy might make the state think hard about tying its future to ongoing damage to the planet.

  8. Hal9000
    February 3rd, 2013 at 19:06 | #8

    @Katz
    Modest common decency in public administration is pretty much a foreign concept in Queensland, Katz. Public servants who give unwelcome advice, however soundly based (e.g. ‘the law says you can’t do what you want to do’) have their careers truncated. Unless, of course, that advice is accompanied by work-around advice (e.g. ‘but here’s a bill retrospectively validating your unlawful acts’). Bligh’s lot were little, if at all, better. It was Bligh who pushed through legislation to geld the Speaker’s office, effectively passing day to day control of parliament to the executive. So, when Ray Hopper defected from the LNP to the Katter party, his Parliament House office was moved to a storeroom next to the gym.

  9. Sheila Newman
    February 3rd, 2013 at 19:07 | #9

    @Ikonoclast
    I agree with you Ikonoclast. The debate is about all the wrong things and your example of the failure to ban building on flood plains is extremely important. I personally think that Campbell Newman and Anna Bligh, who both pushed for more and more people and buildings in these areas, whilst fully aware of the flood potential, should have gone to prison.

    I was depressed that the competition for election was artificially confined as usual by the mainstream press to these two contenders.

    Our problems can only increase if we continue to have distant governments that are only accountable according to arcane economic premises, rather than face to face with their constituents on a local basis.

    All my own research shows me that governments without strong local democracy underpinning them are unresponsive to human scale social and environmental needs.

  10. Sheila Newman
    February 3rd, 2013 at 19:19 | #10

    @Katz

    What on earth makes you think that Steve Bracks embodied decency? He was just like all of them – obsessed with population growth and unresponsive to democracy. I actually debated him for one hour on the Jon Faine Show in Victoria a couple of years ago. The phones ran hot with anger at what he had done to Victoria. You can listen to the show here: http://www.abc.net.au/local/audio/2010/04/19/2876868.htm?site=melbourne&microsite=faine&section=latest

    I admit it starts off a bit slowly but what was amazing was how the phones were jammed with people supporting what I said although I had not advertised that I was going to be on the show and do not believe that all those people knew me; it was a general public who took advantage of a rare opportunity.
    Towards the end of the show both Bracks and Faine talked about how important it was for housing costs to rise for investment. It showed how out of touch they were by believing that ‘most’ people treat their homes as investments, whereas, of course, most people simply need shelter and stability. Most people do not have ‘investments’. They have wages and debts.

  11. Katz
    February 3rd, 2013 at 20:06 | #11

    I said he was decent, not perfect.

  12. February 3rd, 2013 at 21:01 | #12

    @John Quiggin
    I agree that there’s a misallocation of risk. However, the risk from everyday events and the risk from major weather events are two different types of risks. It’s entirely appropriate to distinguish between the two when measuring performance. The former can be reasonably compared across networks and time to provide a benchmark.

    However given the variability between networks and time when it comes to major weather events, even if an appropriate way to measure performance after major weather events could be established there’s no real way to benchmark it to tell if the performance was ‘good’ or ‘bad’. There’s no objectively rational way to mitigate the uncertainty, and there’s no market to serve as a proxy. So we’re left with politics (‘the regulator’), where we have politicians demonstrating a complete lack of understanding or creativity with a policy of across the board cuts.

    The only way I can see to improve it would be some form of insurance scheme into the regulation to cover common costs and inconveniences, and let the networks handle the balancing act of paying for repair capacity vs paying compensation internally. That way the costs of major events would be spread across the population and across time, and not be something the politicians can just hope doesn’t happen on their watch.

    (And FWIW I did work in the industry a few years back, although not specifically to do with reliability)

  13. Ikonoclast
    February 3rd, 2013 at 21:17 | #13

    @Sheila Newman

    There seem to be strong links between land developers and our local and state governments. This seems to affect both major parties equally. If one had to sum up matters in a nutshell one would say the land developers own local and state government and the coal and mineral barons own our national government. That is why nothing changes and the ordinary people suffer.

    The only way forward is a radical restructure of our politics to remove all power from capital and give all power back to workers and the general citizenry. Without a pro-democratic. anti-capitalistic revolution in our society we are going to get nowhere. It will be more of the same until the current system destroys the capacity of the environment to sustain civilization.

  14. iain
    February 3rd, 2013 at 21:19 | #14

    Ikono, not sure if you know what a 1 in 200 year flood level for Brisbane looks like? (assuming this is 0.5% AEP?)

    Likely this would cover a significant part but of central Brisbane, but, since all floods are different and vary from any accepted modelling predictions, it is hard to say which buildings should be moved (demolished)?

    Regardless, demolishing a significant portion of central Brisbane for grazing paddocks is probably not the smartest idea I’ve heard put forward. Better to look at mitigation strategies (move strategic infrastructure such as substations, put more power/services underground, and have a science based approach to dam management?

  15. February 3rd, 2013 at 21:33 | #15

    Most of the damage in the Brisbane 2011 flood occurred because damage started at a very low rate of dam discharge. As a consequence, the dam level was allowed to rise quite high before discharge rates were raised above this low level. What is needed in Brisbane is not clearing all the buildings that were flooded in 2011 but the clearing and other action required to allow higher discharge rates as soon as the dam starts filling the flood pocket. These changes would also reduce the temptation to lower dam levels below 100% at the start of the wet season.

  16. February 3rd, 2013 at 22:47 | #16

    @Katz wrote:

    I said [Steve Bracks] was decent, not perfect.

    Decent?!

    From page 283 of “The Latham Diaries” of 2005:

    Tuesday, 22 April 2004

    Nothing to cheer me in Melbourne town, least of all our meeting with Bracks this morning, accompanied by Faulkner, Crean and McMullan. He went to the last State election promising a freeway and, as soon as he won, announced a tollway. We tried too get him to reverse his broken promise on the Scoresby Freeway. Now wonder people hate politics and politicians. Bracks has broken his promise, hoping the odium will wear off before the next State election.

    But we’re copping the fall-out electorally–disastrous polling right through the eastern suburbs. We can kiss good-bye to any hope of winning La Trobe, Deakin, Aston or Dunkley, and Anna Burke will be lucky to hang on to Chisholm. I might as well not bother campaigning in the marginal seat of Melbourne.

    Bracks, however, was unmoved, even when Faulkner put it right on him: ‘The stakes are high in what we are talking about. You need to know, Steve, this could mean the difference between forming a Labor Government and falling a few seats short. You need to think about how history will see that.’ Yes, a day of deep and abiding Labor history as Bracks refused to help, not budging an inch. Sat there like a statue. that silly grin on his face.

    We can thank Bracks, as well as at least two other State ‘Labor’ Premiers, who behaved no less cynically, for handing John Howard three more years to mis-rule this country.

  17. Mel
    February 3rd, 2013 at 22:54 | #17

    Ikonoklast:

    “Major storms and natural disasters are increasing in fequency, probably by a factor of 10, due to AGW.”

    Such an increase in the frequency of major storms

    (1) has not been observed anywhere

    (2) is not predicted by the IPCC, and

    (2) is not anticipated by so much as a single peer reviewed publication considered by the IPCC

    Rasmus from Real Climate reviewing the latest IPCC summary for policymakers:

    The message from the summary of policy-makers is therefore that it is likely [66-100% probability] that there will be fewer or same number but more intense tropical cyclones (including tropical storms, hurricanes, and typhoons) in the future. This conclusion is not new, however, as it was also the conclusion of the AR4, as well as the most recent WMO consensus statement on tropical storms.” [1]

    Note that Rasmus then describes the IPCC conclusion as “a bit premature”.

    The f@lsehoods that you shamelessly and repeatedly promote are tiresome.

    fn 1: wwwDOTrealclimateDOTorg/index.php/archives/2011/11/the-ipcc-report-on-extreme-climate-and-weather-events/

  18. Chris Warren
    February 3rd, 2013 at 23:05 | #18

    Mel

    Such an increase in the frequency of major storms

    (1) has not been observed anywhere

    You seem to be suffering from the stumblebum syndrome.

    Are you able to read a simple graph showing increased storms?

    try: http://centerforoceansolutions.org/climate/impacts/cumulative-impacts/storm-intensity/

    Are you able to read English?

    try: http://www.thorntonweather.com/blog/climate-change/nasa-says-global-warming-will-increase-severe-storms/

  19. Chris Warren
    February 3rd, 2013 at 23:06 | #19

    Mel

    Such an increase in the frequency of major storms

    (1) has not been observed anywhere

    You seem to be suffering from the stumblebum syndrome.

    Are you able to read a simple graph showing increased storms?

    try: http://centerforoceansolutions.org/climate/impacts/cumulative-impacts/storm-intensity/

  20. Chris Warren
  21. Mel
    February 3rd, 2013 at 23:27 | #21

    CW, did you read your links? Neither contradict my statement. Neither says major storms will double let alone increase tenfold. Thanks-not- for wasting my time. Now how about ode to Karl Marx?

  22. Chris Warren
    February 3rd, 2013 at 23:31 | #22

    Mel

    Didn’t you know that, using models, a joint MIT-Princeton University research team has shown that the frequency of intense storms would increase due to climate change.

    Try: http://www.enn.com/climate/article/44006

  23. Mel
    February 3rd, 2013 at 23:39 | #23

    Sigh. Learn to read.

    My argument is with the childish exaggeration of arguing the case for a tenfold increase. If I want to read horse sh1t on climate change, I can read Lord Monckton or his homegrown flunky, Jo Nova, or maybe Cataplexy. Let’s stay sane here.

  24. Chris Warren
    February 3rd, 2013 at 23:52 | #24

    No Mel,

    Anyone can say “probably X%” or “probably by a factor of Y” including:

    probably by a factor of 10″

    Only nutters would carry-on as if someone was therefore

    arguing the case for a tenfold increase.

    Your deliberate fabrication was not appreciated.

    However any increase from a small base, can lead to a ten-fold increase if it continues long enough.

    Anyway, put on your glasses, and tell me if you can see a probable 10 fold increase here:

    http://www.tinyurl.com/Mel-disaster

  25. Ikonoclast
    February 4th, 2013 at 00:07 | #25

    @Mel

    Mel, look at this graph.

    http://www.grida.no/graphicslib/detail/trends-in-natural-disasters_a899#

    Increase in natural disasters since about 1940 is well over a factor of 10. Earthquake increase is a reference for increased detection of all disasters and for increased population. Allowing for this reference we could just about say a factor of 10 increase since 1940. Certainly by 2040 we will have the factor of 10 in one century. It’s not an exaggeration. You just want to live in a semi-denialist fantasy land. “Oh yeah it’s happening a bit but nothing to worry about.”

  26. Chris Warren
    February 4th, 2013 at 00:10 | #26

    Mel

    Can you count?

    Does this show a probable tripling or a probable quadrupling of floods – since 1980?

    Or is it a decrease?

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/isdr/7460711188/in/set-72157628015380393/

  27. Nick
    February 4th, 2013 at 01:19 | #27

    Chris, referring to the last graph you linked to, what is the specific definition of a “flood disaster” being used by the UN? And who is doing the reporting of these floods ie. which bodies have shown the most increases? Goverments, insurance companies, the press etc? Answer those questions, and you might have an inkling why climate scientists don’t conclude there’s been anything near a 3 to 4 times increase in the frequency of floods in the last 30 years.

  28. Katz
    February 4th, 2013 at 04:17 | #28

    Maybe Bracks did the decent thing by adding to Latham’s difficulties getting anywhere near the Lodge.

  29. Mel
    February 4th, 2013 at 07:16 | #29

    Chris Warren, you are a waste of pixels. You have linked to a site called the Spiritual Research Foundation that promotes ghost tourism and New Age spiritualism as an authority on extreme weather events. For God’s sake, stop embarrassing yourself and this site with these stunts.

    No wonder right-wing populists like Jo Nova have accumulated a legion of followers. The left really is its own worst enemy.

  30. February 4th, 2013 at 07:36 | #30

    I mis-typed “No wonder people hate politics and politicians.” as “Now wonder people hate politics and politicians.” My apologies.

    To the contrary, Katz (@ #26), I don’t see how Latham’s victory in 2004 could have been as disastrous for Australia and the rest of the world as Howard’s. Almost certainly, Australia’s participation in the illegal and criminal 2003 invasion of Iraq would have ended and many of the 3.3 million Iraqi lives lost since 1991 would have been saved.

    It is true that the insight and honesty that Latham showed in his Diaries in 2005 did not even last until the 2007 elections. Astonishingly, Latham did in 2007 what he was rightly harshly critical of Bracks, Carr and Beattie for doing prior to the 2004 elections: He called for a vote for John Howard.

    Victorians are still living with the consequences of Bracks’ mis-rule, as those in other states are also living with the consequences of the mis-rule of other ‘Labor’ and Coalition Premiers and as we are all still living with the consequences of mis-rule by Federal ‘Labor’ and Coalition governments since 1975.

    It is time those who have been haloed by the media as ‘elder statesmen’ are instead remembered for the terrible harm they have caused and treated accordingly.

  31. Katz
    February 4th, 2013 at 08:11 | #31

    I apologise for ignoring Latham’s Jesus-like ability to resurrect war victims.

  32. Chris Warren
    February 4th, 2013 at 08:27 | #32

    @Mel

    oh dear,

    read what is in front of you.

    The source of the data is cited at the bottom of the chart.

    Not the url address in your browser window.

    You do not save yourself by shooting the messenger.

    The source of the data is: emdat, which is authoritative.

    Here is the description from the United Nations (http://www.unisdr.org/we/inform/disaster-statistics)

    EM-DAT contains essential core data on the occurrence and effects of over 18,000 mass disasters in the world from 1900 to present. The database is compiled from various sources, including UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, insurance companies, research institutes and press agencies.

    Now do you see why you keep stumbling?

  33. Chris Warren
    February 4th, 2013 at 08:28 | #33

    @Mel

    oh dear,

    read what is in front of you.

    The source of the data is cited at the bottom of the chart.

    Not the url address in your browser window.

    You do not save yourself by shooting the messenger.

    The source of the data is: emdat, which is authoritative.

    Here is the description from the United Nations (http://www.unisdr.org/we/inform/disaster-statistics)

    EM-DAT contains essential core data on the occurrence and effects of over 18,000 mass disasters in the world from 1900 to present. The database is compiled from various sources, including UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, insurance companies, research institutes and press agencies.

    Now do you see why you keep stumbling?

  34. Ikonoclast
    February 4th, 2013 at 08:28 | #34

    “Over the past two years, 700 natural disasters were registered worldwide affecting more than 450 million people, according to a new IMF study.

    Damages have risen from an estimated $20 billion on average per year in the 1990s to about $100 billion per year during 2000–10. This upward trend is expected to continue as a result of the rising concentration of people living in areas more exposed to natural disasters, and climate change.” – IMF Survey Natural Disasters.

    This is a five times rise in one decade. It would have to be adjusted for population increase and inflation. Even allowing for this, my statement “Major storms and natural disasters are increasing in fequency, probably by a factor of 10, due to AGW” looks reasonable. AGW has been on the rise since industrialisation. Thus a statement that major storms and natural disasters (as measured by damage costs adjusted for inflation) are (present tense meaning the historical era in question i.e the industrial anthropocene) increasing in frequency by a factor of ten looks reasonable when we consider the time span of about 1800 to the present and then to the near projected historical future, say to 2050.

    Of course, Mel will carry on with his usual tirade of abuse when someone posts something he disagrees with. Provide the counterfactuals (wordplay intended) Mel if you have them.

  35. Mel
    February 4th, 2013 at 08:40 | #35

    Chris Warren, I’m well aware of the source of the graph. The fact remains that you sourced it from a New Age spiritual healing website. The fact also remains that it is not evidence in support of Ikonoclast’s claim for reasons that are fairly obvious.

    Here is Ikonoclast’s claim once again:

    “Major storms and natural disasters are increasing in frequency, probably by a factor of 10, due to AGW. ”

    Now how about a link to peer reviewed paper published in a reputable journal to support this claim?

  36. Chris Warren
    February 4th, 2013 at 08:42 | #36

    @Nick

    So where, precisely, is it discussed in mainstream refereed sources, to show;

    climate scientists don’t conclude there’s been anything near a 3 to 4 times increase in the frequency of floods in the last 30 years.

    In fact I would not get too tied up in actual measured magnitudes – the trend is the key reality because – if the trend continues – any magnitude can occur.

  37. Chris Warren
    February 4th, 2013 at 08:49 | #37

    @Mel

    So what?

    You clearly were not aware of the source.

    The messenger is irrelevant if the data is useful.

    Its not my claim, I just use the sources identified by the United Nations.

    So you are playing your usual games – stumble-bum.

  38. Ikonoclast
    February 4th, 2013 at 09:24 | #38

    @Mel

    I mentioned the IMF study on costs. Isn’t that good enough? I outlined my logic re 1800 to 2050. Did you even read it?

    Are you aware climate (and hence climate change) is not a linear system? Are you aware of how rapidly exponential change occurs as it ramps up?

    (Memo to self: Ignore Mel in future.)

  39. Nick
    February 4th, 2013 at 11:36 | #39

    So where, precisely, is it discussed in mainstream refereed sources, to show;

    climate scientists don’t conclude there’s been anything near a 3 to 4 times increase in the frequency of floods in the last 30 years.

    Where is it discussed in mainstream refereed sources to show that they do? It’s an easy claim for me to make, because, quite simply, I’m well aware they don’t.

    “In fact I would not get too tied up in actual measured magnitudes – the trend is the key reality because – if the trend continues – any magnitude can occur.”

    What trend are those graphs you linked to charting? Again, Chris, what is the specific definition the UNISDR (via EMDAT) is using for a “flood disaster”? From which bodies have we seen the most increase in reporting over the last 30 years?

    Regarding the MIT-Princeton paper you linked to on hurricanes, just 1 out the 4 models they used showed anything resembling a possible (not probable) 10x increase 100 years from now.

    The NASA report showed an increase in storms by a factor of .06 per decade. You agree that hardly supports Ikon’s position that severe flooding frequency has *already* increased by a factor of 10. Or, your own position that current trends will eventually result in an increase by a factor of 10. At the NASA rates, based on current warming, it would take 400 years. What increase in warming, linear or otherwise, would we need to see to bring that down to under 100 years?

    It was hyperbolic claim, and it is unfounded. Mel was right to call Ikonoclast out on it. It is not unlike some of Flannery’s ill-judged remarks over the years, and it has the potential to do more harm than good. It runs directly against people’s lived experiences, and is therefore of no use in trying to convince them of the actual severity and reality of climate change.

  40. Chris Warren
    February 4th, 2013 at 12:27 | #40

    @Nick

    It is probably best if you answer your own questions.

    If you are “well aware” of something – what is the evidence?

    Playing games with “possible” vs “probable” is absque hoc.

    The actual site says:

    Though the results varied, they all showed that the frequency of intense storms would increase due to climate change.

    The exact magnitude is flexible and any statements re the future are best made as “probable” or otherwise.

    The site was referenced purely to inform stumble-bum, and not to engage in the trends/magnitude investigation.

    I have no view on whether:

    …severe flooding frequency has *already* increased by a factor of 10.

    Any increasing trend will eventually increase the base by a factor of 10. So what. This applies to bank accounts, population growth, etc etc.

    What claim are you saying is unfounded. You seem to be adding-in all manner of extras.

    It is possible to challenge a view:

    Major storms and natural disasters are increasing in fequency, probably by a factor of 10

    but not by deleting words (Mel)

    or changing words (Nick).

    It is also not possible to contest such views by uttering worse: viz;

    Such an increase in the frequency of major storms

    (1) has not been observed anywhere

    [stumblebum sans probable]

    And it is certainly not an occasion to run some wacko private agenda against Tim Flannery.

  41. Ikonoclast
    February 4th, 2013 at 12:32 | #41

    As flood intensity and flood frequency go up and these are combined with more and more intensely windy hurricanes & cyclones and these combine with storm surges and with sea level rise and all this is combined with the great numbers of people who live on coasts and estuaries… then it is not hard to see a 10 times increase in the impacting severity of natural disasters as measured by damage costs and mitigation/adjustment. I have already posted graphs which indicate this process is well in train.

    I also stand by my claim that we are clearly transitioning to a new climate regime (runaway climate changes) where what was a 1 in 100 year flood is now likely every 10 years. The climate system is not linear in any sense. A two degree rise will likely do 10 times the damage of 1 degree rise and so on up the scale. Since we are already locked into 4 to 6 degrees C rise, the outcome is clear.

  42. February 4th, 2013 at 13:26 | #42

    When disasters like flood, earthquake, tsunami strikes all government planning and strategies fail because of the simple reason that one cannot estimate accurately how these emergencies will pan out, but one can surely speed up the recovery process after a country is hit by such catastrophic event and that is where the government and politicians come into picture. Politician and government who are dedicated towards well being of there people would make sure that recovery is fast and nobody dies due to government apathy and lack of safety measures.

  43. Nick
    February 4th, 2013 at 14:28 | #43

    Ikon, as usual, I loosely support what you’re driving at, but don’t see there’s anything to be gained from dramatically exaggerating your case. You continue to do so – a factor of 0.6 per decade is not a factor of 10 already occurred – it can’t be put any more simply than that. Increases in levels of insurance payouts, and reported ‘flood disasters’, are not measures of the effects of climate change. Look up the history of flood events in the US – thousands killed, entire burgeoning cities wiped off the map. But those cities weren’t built as well as today, you say? Neither are any of the crappy housing developments built in what have always been traditionally considered flood plains, located all over the world. But you know this already, I think. That’s why you’re calling for it to stop. I dispute your figures, but I don’t disagree with you.

    Chris, no offence, but you’re not worth engaging on this subject, and I won’t be continuing to do so. Feel free to think what you want. Link as randomly as you can to sites and papers you clearly don’t understand – and by any means possible, always seek to misrepresent the authors’ intentions and explanations for their findings as you see fit. When you’re asked for evidence, don’t find it. Instead make nonsense accusations using inappropriate legal terms. A handful of scientific papers that find something is *remotely possible in 100 years time*, does not, and will not, ever equal *probable*. Not in a court of law, and not in a blog discussion. Sue me for pointing that out – and for being very particular about what I was pointing out. Always remember, you’re only arguing with me and Mel – a couple of ‘wackos’ with private agendas – and not the >90% of climate scientists who also disagree with you.

  44. Mel
    February 4th, 2013 at 14:45 | #44

    Ikonoclast, this is your claim: ““Major storms and natural disasters are increasing in frequency, probably by a factor of 10, due to AGW. ”

    A report on the cost of natural disasters is completely immaterial as it captures events like tsunamis and changes land use, population, wealth and so on.

    I once I request you or our numbnut, Chris Warren, produce some actual peer reviewed evidence published in a reputable journal.

    Please also explain why the IPCC doesn’t say anything a factor 10 in major storms due to AGW.

    Either p!ss or get off the pot.

  45. Ikonoclast
    February 4th, 2013 at 15:01 | #45

    @Nick

    Fine Nick, I agree it’s time for the slanging match to stop.

    We do however need to take preventative action re floods. The simplest measure would be to require 2 metres “freeboard” above the current standard for a “1 in 100 year” flood level for any new development. This freeboard would apply to the lowest habitable floor of any building, residential, commercial or industrial. Freeboard could be achieved by houses on 2m “stilts” in some cases provided the foundation anchoring was sound in the engineeering sense.

    Areas below the standard 1 in 100 year flood level would become flood parks and in rural township areas could become government owned grazing land available for agistment. Residential property resident-owners below that level could be offered market price by the government in voluntary buyouts. The land bought would revert to flood park.

    Flood parks could have various fixed (more or less immune to flood) infrastructure built as in sporting fields, courts not requiring fences (like basketball courts) and even traffic overflow bypass roads (of concrete not asphalt) for use in all the non-flood times.

    Flood parks would need to be green, well mown and maintained with much open grassy area and relatively few bushes and shade trees. This latter measure would be to ensure they never became a bushfire risk. Perosnally, I think this would open out towns and cities to the river and make for much improved cityscapes and townscapes.

  46. Ikonoclast
    February 4th, 2013 at 15:18 | #46

    According to the SMH;

    “About 200,000 residential properties in Australia are below the 1 in 100 level. At least this many again can be affected by bigger floods. It is therefore not practical, affordable or appropriate to relocate all of these buildings away from the floodplain.”

    Perhaps, but it is practical to never let such building happen again. It is also practical and necessary to compensate for homes completely lost/destroyed in floods and never again allow building on such sites again (allowing it to revert to flood park).

    It will also be practical to extend the “houses on stilts” measure in some cases and some areas. Federal government could run a flood proofing scheme and pay a 50% subsidy if owner-occupiers want to raise their houses on 2m to 4m stilts in appropriate areas.

    Disclaimer: I am well above (20 vertical m plus) the standard for 1 in 100 year flood levels. Still, I think these measures would save me tax and insurance costs in the long run (as such costs are spread).

  47. Ikonoclast
    February 4th, 2013 at 15:19 | #47

    Now Mel, you can gainsay and snark or you can add something constructive to the deabte.

  48. Chris Warren
    February 4th, 2013 at 15:29 | #48

    Mel

    Please get your head out of the pot.

  49. Chris Warren
    February 4th, 2013 at 15:38 | #49

    @Nick

    You need to reconsider your fabrication.

    How did I

    1) Link randomly
    2) not understand

    where is there any:

    misrepresent the authors’ intentions and explanations

    I certainly do not link “probable” with *remotely possible in 100 years time* and the probability is not this. This is your linkage entirely.

    You were asked for evidence of what you were supposedly “well aware of” but you have failed. Now please provide evidence for

    the >90% of climate scientists who also disagree

    When you are up a creek without a paddle – it is probably best if you stop paddling.

  50. Mel
    February 4th, 2013 at 15:45 | #50

    Here is New Scientist summarising the leaked IPCC draft report, due for release later this year:

    “For one thing, the IPCC has changed its 2007 prediction on droughts. Then, it concluded that a world beset by more intense droughts was “likely”. But the authors of the new report have taken heed of recent criticisms that the statistical measure of drought favoured by climatologists is unreliable.

    The draft quotes studies that show recent “decreasing trends in the duration, intensity and severity of drought globally”.

    Another common expectation of a warmer world also bites the dust: more frequent tropical cyclones. In 2007, the IPCC said there had been a “likely” increase in tropical cyclones since 1970, which was “more likely than not” due to global warming raising sea temperatures.

    But the new report backtracks. “The [previous] assessment needs to be somewhat revised,” it says. After a review of past cyclone counts, it concludes that “tropical cyclone data provides low confidence that any reported long-term changes are robust”. There is evidence, however, that the average intensity of cyclones will rise in the years ahead.”

    wwwDOTnewscientistDOTcom/article/dn23014-what-leaked-ipcc-report-really-says-on-climate-change.html

    Let’s compare this with Ikonoclast’s claim:

    “Major storms and natural disasters are increasing in frequency, probably by a factor of 10, due to AGW. ”

    Who is telling the truth? I pick New Scientist and the IPCC, Rabbit picks Ikonoclast. Anybody else have an opinion?

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