Emergencies and luxuries

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.

85 thoughts on “Emergencies and luxuries

  1. @Nick

    I also note that the draft report you linked to says as follows (if we want to admit it as evidence in this debate).

    Heavy precipitation events. Frequency (or proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls) increases over more areas than decreases:

    1. Is ”Likely” to have occurred since 1950.
    2. There is ”Medium confidence” humans have contributed to this trend.
    3. Is “Likely” to continue this trend for future decades.
    4. Is “Very likely” to continue trends based on projections for 21st c using RCP scenarios.

    I will admit, I don’t understand the technical or substantive difference between points 3 and 4 without further explanation.

    Given this information and extant local and regional emirical evidence of five to tenfold increases in overall flooding damage caused by frequency times intensity over the decades from 1950 to the present, my case rests as reasonably proven. What proportion is due to climate change and what proportion is due to deforestation and land use changes is a moot question. But it clear both are likely (at the very least) to be conjointly involved.

  2. Ikonotroll again demonstrates a lack of truthfulness. Global population in 1900 was 1.6 billion people. At that time we had no satellites, mobile phones or computers. Vast areas of wilderness remained. It simply dishonest to look at an aggregation of natural disasters in 1900, compare it with now (as Chris Warren did with the EMDAT data) and say this is evidence of an increase in “major storms and natural disasters” due to AGW. Emdat themselves make no such claim and acknowledge the limits of their data.

    Ikonotroll introduced another dishonest argument to support his claim by looking at historical dollar value changes in the costs of extreme weather event damages. This is dishonest because global GDP grown at a rapid rate for over one hundred years.

    Here is an example of Ikonotrolls evidence: ““The costs of extreme weather events … rapid upward trend… economic losses from large events increased ten-fold between the 1950s and the 1990s, in inflation-adjusted dollars.” This data only becomes meaningful once you acknowledge the doubling of real global GDP each decade since the 1950s and tendency for much development to occur in harms way, such as seaside development in areas subject to cyclones etc…

    The fact remains as I stated, that being:

    (1) IPCC AR5 does not say we are on a trajectory of a 1,000 per cent increase in major storms and natural disasters due to AGW, and
    (2) no body of peer reviewed research published in reputable publications say we are on a trajectory of a 1,000 per cent increase in major storms and natural disasters due to AGW

    In truth, IPCC AR5 has backtracked on some of the more alarming claims made in earlier IPCC reports. FRom New Scientist:

    “… 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.”


  3. Chris Warren :A self-employed farmer employing workers is not a capitalist.
    A manager on $500,000 benefits from capitalist exploitation.
    Your view of elite athletes is at your normal standard of understanding.
    Small businesses are more likely to go bankrupt than capitalists.
    Graduate unemployment is higher than any other unemployment if you assess this on the basis of working in a job associated with their qualification.
    Over 8% of graduates are unemployedOver 15% of graduates are forced into part-time, casual roles while waiting for employment.
    Superannuation consists of take-home wage cuts to force workers to gift capitalists huge funds to boost investments. In the long-run the super-schemes are cut (pleading affordability) or the jurisdiction pleads bankruptcy (US states).
    Marxist economics is nothing but the continuing essence of Ricardo. You do not even know what Marx’s Labour Theory even is.
    The continuing ratcheting in macoeconomic instability – merely alleviated by population increase and increased participation of low waged labour as a short-run tactic – proves beyond dispute that the labour theory – properly understood is the only basis for economic stability and social justice – with or without Marx.

    ah a perfect lead in to the current hoo hah about super.

    our one party broadcasting industry is at it again.(still)

    a small percentage of battling superannuitants on a measly $52,000 per annum are claiming to represent all superannuitants who are not on $52,000 per annum in claiming tha gubmunt is going to do us all down.
    the untrustworthy baarstuds.

  4. The troll is back…

    Oh well;

    Where there is data, the IPPC leaked Report says:

    There is medium confidence that anthropogenic forcing has contributed to an increase in the frequency of heavy precipitation events over the second half of the 20th century over land regions with sufficient observational coverage.

    It is more likely than not that over the next few decades there will be increases in mean precipitation in regions and seasons that are relatively wet during 1986-2005, and decreases in regions and seasons that are relatively dry during 1986-2005.

    In the near term, it is likely that the frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events will increase at the global scale and at high latitudes.

    It is virtually certain that global precipitation will increase with global mean surface temperature.

    The increase is projected to be 1-3% increase in precipitation per degree temperature (K).

    For short-duration events, a shift to more intense individual storms and fewer weak storms is likely. In moist and some arid and semi-arid regions, extreme precipitation events will very likely be more intense and more frequent.

    In high emission scenarios, global monsoon area and global monsoon total precipitation are very likely to increase by the end of the 21st century.


    Does this show a probable tripling or a probable quadrupling of floods – since 1980?
    Or is it a decrease?


    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:


    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: www-enn.com/climate/article/44006


    Are you able to read English?
    try: www-thorntonweather.com/blog/climate-change/nasa-says-global-warming-will-increase-severe-storms/


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

    And not only all that – but the trends are that, matters are only going to get worse in the future.

  5. “The flooding increase in China is an example.”

    Ikon, I’m seriously at a loss to find any evidence of a seven-fold increase in flooding in China.

    I’ve read through a bunch of papers, including the ones referenced by the IPCC (on holiday in Qld atm, btw, so have some time on my hands and an interest in the subject), and can’t find anything like that. Total precipitation, as well as frequency of extreme precipitation, have at most increased by 7-10% per decade since 1950 – and only in particular regions. They’ve decreased in other regions – and the totals for China as a whole really haven’t increased much, if at all.


  6. Also see Table 3 here

    Average all those figures and you get a decrease in 50-year events ie. an increase in their return times.

    I’m kinda concluding (until shown differently) that seven-fold increase referred to is similar to the EMDAT figures – it refers to the frequency of flood damage reporting, not the frequency of extreme weather events.

  7. Ikonotroll and Rabbit are apparently unaware of the role of hard surfaces and inadequate storm water drainage in floods. I well remember parts of Northcote/Thornbury in Melbourne flooding in the late 90s after a 50mm downpour. Such a downpour wouldn’t have caused any flooding 20 or 30 years earlier because there was much urban consolidation including fewer dual occupancy, fewer concrete driveways and other hard surfaces.

    As I’ve said all along, AGW is a serious issue that must be addressed as a matter of priority. However the antics of ne’er do wells like the two stooges, Rabbit and Ikonotroll, makes action less likely.

  8. is it just a coincidence that the colouring of the commenter who calls the “breaker-of-icons” a troll,is very samish as the colouring of the self described torturer who called an MP “stasi-eyed”?

  9. @Mel

    You have lost track of what you are even arguing about.

    No one has mentioned the role of hard surfaces etc.

    It is all in your head.

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