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
Mackay Conservation Group released a report last week which shows that tens of millions of taxpayer’s dollars will be wasted if the proposed Urannah Dam west of Mackay goes ahead
The report is a review of 17 previous studies into the dam dating back to the 1960s, none of which have provided sufficient evidence to justify a new dam, yet the federal government has recently committed $3 million to an 18th feasibility study of the Urannah Dam proposal.
The report, An Economic Analysis Of The Urannah Dam Project, found that it is most likely that for every $1 spent on the dam, only 75 cents of economic benefit would be returned. Even the most optimistic scenario from previous studies shows that the Urannah Dam would barely break even.
The key findings of the report are:
- The Urannah dam is a more expensive option to deliver water for irrigation, the Galilee basin, and for the Bowen region;
- The Urannah dam is a cheaper option to supply water to the Bowen basin, however, there does not appear to be enough additional demand for water supply to warrant construction of another water source in the near future;
- The Burdekin Falls Dam costs $11.5M per annum less than the proposed Urannah dam at delivering the same economic outcome;
- The Urannah dam provides a return of $0.75 for every dollar invested assuming full consumption of water by agriculture and mining.