RIGHT NOW, there is really nothing that can immediately ease the pain and suffering being felt by all the bushfire victims and emergency service providers.
And yet, the process of restoration and rebuilding may bring some unexpected benefits.
In her recent article, Jessica Irvine (Business Age: 11 Jan, page 3) makes the point …
“In addition to reducing some output in the short term, the destruction wrought by natural disasters can also add to the nation’s economic output over the longer term. Depending on your timeline, natural disasters may actually boost economic output, overall.”
You only need to cast your mind back to the bushfire devastation Victoria went through in early 2009. As a result, the recovery process (funded by the State & Federal governments as well as insurance companies) left the Victorian economy in a far stronger position.
This time, the federal government now has bipartisan agreement to depart from its budget surplus. As a result, it has released $500 million for drought stimulus; and provided a $2 billion “down payment” towards bushfire relief.
In addition, numerous corporations and private individuals have pledged a further $200 million as well. Plus, you also have all the funds yet to be paid out from insurance claims.
The restoration process will involve considerable wages flowing into the construction and health sectors. Furthermore, the tradies will all need to live, eat and relax in the regional areas – during the 18-month rebuilding phase.
As a result, this massive injection of funds will end up having a positive “ripple effect” around the whole country.
So, let’s now try to recapture some perspective.
You need to realise … Australia is a Dry Country
Since 1860 (when adequate meteorological recording commenced), the most severe droughts have commonly occurred at intervals of 11 to 14 years.
During the 20th century …
Between 1937–1947, eastern Australia suffered dry conditions with little respite.
From 1965–68, eastern Australia was again greatly affected by drought. Conditions had been dry over the centre of the continent since 1957 – but spread elsewhere during the summer of 1964/1965.
The drought in 1982–83 is regarded as the worst of the twentieth century for short-term rainfall deficiencies of up to one year, and their overall impact.
A very severe drought occurred in the second half of 1991, which intensified in 1994 and 1995 to become the worst on record in Queensland.
During the 21st century …
A prolonged drought occurred from 2001 to 2009.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, much of eastern Australia experienced a dry 2001. And 2002 was one of Australia’s driest and warmest years on record – with remarkably widespread dry conditions, particularly in the eastern half of the country, which was again affected by El Niño conditions.
At the time, this was Australia’s fourth driest year since 1900.
The current drought: 2017 onwards …
2017 was a drier than average year for much of inland Queensland, most of New South Wales, eastern and central Victoria, and all of Tasmania.
In 2018, rainfall for the year was very low over the southeastern quarter of the Australian mainland, with much of the region experiencing totals in the lowest 10% of historical observations. And much of the rest of the country soon become declared drought emergency areas.
As at early December 2019, the drought was continuing – including the driest November across Australia on record.
However, the Bureau of Meteorology reported that the positive Indian Ocean Dipole (currently the best gauge for Australia’s dry and wet periods) has weakened to around 50% of its peak seen in mid-October (see below) – indicating a future improvement in our weather conditions, later in this summer.
Climate Change Vs Global Warming
Unfortunately, there appears to be a lot of confusion between the two.
And as a result, you’ve seen considerable political point-scoring occurring, throughout this bushfire season.
The popular theme is that increasing CO2 emissions are raising temperatures – which in turn, is a direct cause of our devastating bushfires.
However, careful scientific research would suggest that not to be the true situation.
You see, temperatures rose between 1880 and 1940 – when there was far less industrialisation.
Was CO2 rising? Yes, it was. On that basis, many would say this proves the point.
However, how do you explain global temperatures actually falling between 1940 and 1970? (#)
For those 30 years, crops failed (or were damaged) throughout Europe and in the US. Plus, all the glaciers advanced.
Was CO2 increasing? Yes, it was. So, why did temperatures not also increase during this same period?
Scientific research shows that CO2 has been continually rising since 1880. And so, why is it temperatures rose … then fell for 30 years … and then, began rising again?
Therefore, you find yourself asking … what is it that suddenly makes global warming (and climate change) a modern-day occurrence?
Furthermore, it might surprise you to learn that the hottest day last century was in 1934. And even more interesting … that temperatures have only risen by just over one-third of a degree Celsius, since 1880. (#)
You see, most supporters of global warming like to take their starting point during the 30-year period when temperatures actually fell – because it makes their case sound all the more persuasive.
As you’d expect, many of them will point to the way large chunks of ice are calving off from the Antarctic Peninsula.
However, what they failed to mention is how the entire, remaining Antarctic plateau has been consistently increasing thickness.
(#) Source: giss.nasa.gov
Bottom Line: Of course, we need to be responsible citizens and seek to minimise our impact on the environment.
However, my point is that … all the emotionally-charged point scoring isn’t helping anyone – when what we should be doing is pitching in, to assist those affected by these most recent natural disasters.
To help you bring everything into perspective, could I suggest you read State of Fear by Michael Crichton. Because, it will provide you with a rather more-balanced view of global warming – while you enjoy a rollicking thriller at the same time.