Mackay Conservation Group community organiser, Maggie Mckeown, recently made a presentation to Mackay Regional Council about the impacts of climate change on the region. Here's what she said.
Mackay city is a low lying coastal city in an part of the world that is frequently threatened by tropical cyclones. Last year the city dodged a bullet when Cyclone Debbie changed course and did not arrive in Mackay. We know that there was an unprecedented level of preparation for the cyclone but all that would have been completely insufficient had Debbie made landfall in Mackay simultaneous with a 5.8 metre tide. Most of the urban area would have been inundated and potentially significant numbers of casualties. We have seen two very large cyclones in Northern Queensland over the past decade, Yasi and Debbie. Predictions are that cyclones will become larger and more destructive as ocean temperatures rise due to global warming. The cost of dealing with major climate related events is significant both locally and globally. Cyclone Debbie cost insurers $1.56 billion by November. That will undoubtedly lead to increased insurance premiums and increased difficulty in obtaining insurance for those in cyclone prone zones. The cost to the Queensland economy has been estimated at over $2 billion with mining, agriculture and tourism industries were severely disrupted by the cyclone.
The Mackay region is not alone in facing climate induced catastrophes. Right now we are witnessing Cape Town in South Africa, a city with a population of 3.7 million about to run out of water, the first city that magnitude to do so. The water supply failure has been blamed on poor city management but without three years of unprecedented drought the city would not be facing a crisis. Closer to home, Pacific Islanders in places such as Kiribati have seen sea level rise make parts of their island nation uninhabitable. Sixteen percent of the land area of India is dependent on glacial fed Himalayan streams. Those glaciers that maintain stream flows during summer and winter are melting. Initially that means more rapid flows and floods but in the long term it means drought and chronic food and water shortages. All these events and many more are inevitable consequences of a hotter climate which in turn is brought about by human burning of fossil fuels.Read more
Areas in North Queensland, like Townsville, are experiencing their driest wet season on record, and the Bureau of Meterology is declaring a major El Nino, further South we’re seeing unprecedented storms and heavy rainfalls. This is extreme weather.
Australia is already at the forefront of climate change impacts but we’re not seeing leadership from our local politicians. Even though we have a climate sceptical local member in George Christensen MP, Abbot needs to know there are people in Mackay - and elsewhere! - that want to see strong targets at the climate talks in Paris.
Please sign the petition, which is part of a national petition that will be presented on 25th May to national leaders (wording courtesy of WWF)
Climate change is a matter of concern for all of us, and on November 13 Mackay Conservation Group joined with GetUp! and the members of the local community in a national day of action of climate.
Over 40 people gathered at Jim Mulherin Park for a colourful and though provoking event.