On the ABC’s Landline in 2007:
SALLY SARA: What will it mean for Australian farmers if the predictions of climate change are correct and little is done to stop it? What will that mean for a farmer?
PROFESSOR TIM FLANNERY: We’re already seeing the initial impacts and they include a decline in the winter rainfall zone across southern Australia, which is clearly an impact of climate change, but also a decrease in run-off. Although we’re getting say a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas of Australia, that’s translating to a 60 per cent decrease in the run-off into the dams and rivers. That’s because the soil is warmer because of global warming and the plants are under more stress and therefore using more moisture. So even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems, and that’s a real worry for the people in the bush. If that trend continues then I think we’re going to have serious problems, particularly for irrigation.
Now, floods everywhere:
Heavy rains hit central and southern parts of the Philippines last week, triggering floods and landslides which killed at least nine people and affected up to 150,000 others. In Tacloban, Leyte, a staggering 397mm of rain fell in the 24 hours to midnight last Thursday. The deluge submerged the city and sparked a landslide which killed a family of seven. This prompted the government to declare a state of emergency. Crops were flooded and dozens of homes were destroyed.
Parts of Australia were also hit by floods. In northern Queensland, onshore flow and the atmospheric instability combined to produce heavy downpours, with 238.6mm of rain falling at Rollingstone in 24 hours last Wednesday. In western Australia’s Kimberly region, severe floods destroyed 45 homes and forced 217 people to evacuate. The Fitzroy River rose to a record level at Fitzroy Crossing on Wednesday, topping that of 2002.
Also in NSW, where the town of Bega has been evacuated. And even here on Kangaroo Island, where unseasonably cool and wet conditions continue.