Thursday, 3 February 2011

Cyclone Yasi hit the Queensland coast

last night but the full extent of the damage will not be known for days.
I woke before dawn so I could watch the sky grow from dark to grey and then grey-pink as the sun rose. Then there were pale pink wisps of cloud fading into paler grey. Now the sky has tbe palest of pale pink feathery clouds and faint grey cotton wool clouds and even fainter patches of blue behind them. It is going to be hot and uncomfortably humid.
We are thousands of kilometres from the eye of the cyclone but these clouds are, unbelievably, the outermost reaches of it. It is difficult to conceive the size of it.
Last night our international news service tried to explain by super-imposing the weather pictures over a map. The map was not, as one might expect, of Australia but of the United States. The cyclone was so wide that it covered almost the entire area of the United States. They then showed the area of Australia which was likely to be affected. It was a vast area.
Cyclones bring rain. Some of that rain will have fallen on areas that are already so waterlogged there is nowhere for it to go. There will be more flooding. More homes will have been destroyed. Roofing has been ripped away. Trees and power lines have fallen. Banana crops and other crops have been lost - and not just for this year.
Down here we have power. Up there the power of the cyclone was enough to provide the entire planet with power for a year but they have no power.
I do not believe that these events are due to man made "global warming". This is nature. It is even within expected statistical variation. That does not make it good. It is a disaster of terrifying proportions for those living through it. It is a disaster for the national economy and it will be made even worse if the Prime Minister and her Cabinet continue to refuse to listen to the advice they are being given.
But I wonder if good could come of it. Is there an architect or engineer out there who might come up with an affordable means of constructing cyclone proof, flood proof housing? That alone might turn this tragedy into a positive.

6 comments:

Katherine Langrish said...

It looks terrifying on the news coverage - I do hope and pray everyone will be somehow be safe...

Frances said...

This is a weather event, as you say, Cat. However,these extreme weather events will become increasingly common according to those who believe in climate change. We'll just have to wait and see.
Unlike you, I tend towards being a believer, largely because so much of the denial is funded by big oil and big polluters like the Koch brothers, just as the "science" that caused such a long fight against the tobacco industry was funded by the industry. Some of the same scientists have been involved.
The Koch brothers:
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer
are such freedom loving libertarians that, I understand, they don't even believe in the government paying for public education.

catdownunder said...

Thanks Katherine - so far there have been no reports of deaths or even major injury. Not all reports are in but the damage is not as bad as it could have been apparently. Humidity here is very high but I doubt it will even rain!
Frances - there may well be global warming but I was referring to these specific events. Statistically they come within the range of "normal" even though they are abnormal.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Frances, this is well within the normally expected range of events.
I do not like what the big oil companies are doing and I think we use far more energy than we actually need but climate is a very complex issue and climate change is even more complex. Global warming is neither proven nor disproven - yet. Man made global warming however is far from proven. That does not mean we do not need to change our habits. We do but we need to do so for other reasons altogether.
Chris

Nicole MacDonald said...

Well I hope you and yours are safe through out it, over the ditch we're all watching in wide eyed amazement! Take care :)


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Frances said...

Sorry Cat: I misunderstood you. And I didn't explain myself very well....yes, by "weather", I meant that it was within a normal range.

Acknowledged and agreed with, Chris.