Floods, fire threaten region, say experts

Floods, fire threaten region, say experts

23 July 2011

published bywww.illawarramercury.com.au


Australia — Intense bushfires will be up to three times more likely in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven and one-in-100-year floods will happen every year if nothing is done to stem the more dangerous elements of climate change this decade.

That’s the doomsday scenario painted in an impact statement of global warming prepared by the Climate Commission, to be released at a Wollongong conference next week.

Chief Climate Commissioner Professor Tim Flannery and renowned climate change scientists will speak at the Transforming Australia conference, aimed at informing the public about the peer-reviewed science on warmer temperatures and rising sea levels.

Prof Flannery said scientists were more than 95 per cent certain that climate change was caused by human pollution.

But even if the world managed to cap the temperature rise by two degrees, future generations would still have to deal with some fallout from global warming.

Climate Commissioner Prof Will Steffen, who prepared the report, said the Illawarra was likely to face severe droughts and extreme heavy rainfall if nothing was done to stop climate change.

Flash flooding would occur when there was a combination of a high tide and a deep east coast low.

“A storm surge plus heavy rainfall could be bad for the Illawarra,” he said.

Prof Steffen said rising sea levels threatened infrastructure, property and buildings, particularly those built on sand dunes.

About 50km of rail track would be under threat and hundreds of commercial properties would be at risk if sea levels rose by a metre. A conservative estimate of a rise of 50cm is expected by 2100.

Reducing carbon emissions and developing clean energy would make a big difference to the world of future generations.

“Our grandchildren will be the recipients of the actions we take or don’t take in this decade,” Prof Steffen said.

In the lead-up to the conference, the Weekender has produced a special edition on climate change.


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