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Australia to cut, delay $500 million of clean-energy funding after record warming-driven floods. Seriously!

By Joe Romm  

"Australia to cut, delay $500 million of clean-energy funding after record warming-driven floods. Seriously!"

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It’s the head-exploding headline of the month from down under.  Bloomberg reports:

Australia to Cut, Delay $500 Million of Clean-Energy Funding After Floods

In this country, ABC News explained “Raging Waters In Australia and Brazil Product of Global Warming.”

The Australian government’s own Bureau of Meteorology released data showing that the warmest sea surface temperatures on record were fueling floods called ‘biblical’ — floods covering an area “the size of France and Germany combined.”

But in the most counterproductive decision imaginable, “to help pay for reconstruction after the nation’s worst floods,” the government is cutting funding for clean energy programs including solar energy and green cars:

Australia, where coal accounts for more than 80 percent of electricity production, will cut the A$1.5 billion Solar Flagships program by A$60 million and defer a further A$190 million of proposed grants, according to documents released today by Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s office.

Note that an Australian dollar roughly equals one American dollar.

Australia will also delay A$160 million of spending aimed at encouraging carbon-capture ventures, the documents show. The government will reduce the amount of funding in the A$1.9 billion initiative by A$90 million, the documents show….

Australia will save A$160 million over two years by capping funding for a renewable energy bonus and solar hot water rebate program, the documents from the prime minister’s office show.

Gillard said today the government will save A$2.8 billion by reducing spending on climate control measures, including the so-called Green Car Innovation Fund and the Cleaner Car Rebate Scheme, among other cuts, and A$1 billion through delaying infrastructure projects.

The Prime Minister offers this weak defense:

Gillard pledged to restart an effort to curb emissions after replacing Kevin Rudd as prime minister in June.

“The key to these carbon abatement program savings is my determination to deliver a carbon price,” she said in Canberra today. “There is complete consensus that the most efficient way to reduce carbon” is to impose a cost, Gillard said.

Money that would have been allocated to solar and carbon capture ventures between 2011 and 2015 will now be spent in 2015, 2016 and “beyond,” the office of Australian Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said in an e-mailed statement today.

One can’t argue that a carbon price isn’t crucial, but a carbon price by itself won’t solve the problem, as I’ve said many times — and that assumes Gillard delivers on her pledge.  Nor is the initial carbon price likely to be anywhere near high enough to jumpstart many clean energy technologies.  The fact is that new, innovative technologies face many market barriers and deserve government incentives.

Of all the places the Australian government could find to fund reconstruction, this should have been the last place it looked.

Almost two months of torrential rains in the northeastern state of Queensland have killed as many as 32 people, affected about 30,000 properties, shut coal mines, cut rail lines and damaged crops. Economists estimate it may cost A$20 billion in repairs and rebuilding after the flooding that has also hit Victoria and New South Wales states.

Without aggressive development and deployment of clean energy, much, much worse is yet to come.

Related Posts:

‹ Energy and global warming news for January 27, 2011: Steven Chu outlines clean energy spending plan; House Democrats introduce oil spill reform bill

The native opportunity in Americas “Sputnik moment” ›

60 Responses to Australia to cut, delay $500 million of clean-energy funding after record warming-driven floods. Seriously!

  1. pete best says:

    Its just a bad flood yer ;)

  2. Nell says:

    We can’t afford to fix climate change damage and support mitigation at the same time.
    This is exactly what keeps me awake at night.

  3. Leif says:

    Joe, you got a link for permeant “Head Vises”? Old ones are getting worn out.

    [JR: If I had a dollar for every head vise I could sell.... But I may need to come up with some sort of new product. Maybe superglue. Or a containment field.]

  4. John McCormick says:

    Remember “Network” circa 1976

    from which, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”.

    Take a minute to hear “turn off your television”…you’ll do yourself a favor listening and obeying.

    http://www.turnoffyourtv.com/reviews/netturnthemoff.mp3

    John Mccormick

  5. Colorado Bob says:

    In just three hours, Saudi Arabia’s second largest city was inundated with 111 millimeters of rain, increasing from the 90 mm recorded in four hours during the Nov. 25, 2009 flash floods.

    Mansour Al-Mazrouie, head of the meteorology department at the King Abdulaziz University (KAU), blamed climate change for the heavy rains in Jeddah. The average amount of rain during the winter months (November to January) is about 51 millimeters.

    http://news.oneindia.in/2011/01/27/torrentialrain-hits-saudi-arabia-causing-majorflooding-aid0127.html

  6. llewelly says:

    I see this as an example of the Faustian choice many nations will be faced with as inactivism continues; many of the steps necessary to cut emissions have a substantial up-front cost, even though they save money in the long run. Regions facing damages from severe weather events will often need to cut expenses in many areas in order to rebuild. Since emissions reductions programs will often appear to not show benefits until long after current politicians are no longer in office, delaying them, or reducing funds for them, will appear an easy way out.

  7. Colorado Bob says:

    Lost coal production in Queensland will cost up to $8 billion by July according to miners, drowning a full year of state economic growth in the flood disaster.

    The Queensland Resources Council yesterday predicted that coal production for the March quarter would crash by between 25 and 50 per cent. Queensland’s gross state product for 2010-11 would take a hit of at least $4.5bn, rising to $8bn on the QRC’s worst-case scenario.

    The fallout for the $50bn coal industry, the nation’s biggest single export earner, is an ominous pointer to how high the final bill will climb.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/bn-coal-hit-wipes-years-growth-in-queensland/story-e6frg6nf-1225995744581

  8. Mike says:

    This is a positive feedback. Warming causes extreme weather or drought leading to economic losses causing cutbacks in clean energy.

  9. Colorado Bob says:

    Expert: Tulare County citrus growers could lose 25 percent of crops from rain

    Funguses and trees dropping fruit before it can be harvested have become more common than usual here in recent weeks. Citrus experts say it could get worse as the harvest season continues over the next few months, thanks to the heavy storms in late December.

    http://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/article/20110127/NEWS01/101270329/Expert-Tulare-County-citrus-growers-could-lose-25-percent-of-crops-from-rain

  10. Anne van der Bom says:

    The floods are all a conspracy to scare people and raise taxes.

    If wet feet or permanent heat waves aren’t going to convince the dogmatic rejectors of science, perhaps we should haunt them with a new message: climate change will raise taxes.

  11. Mike Roddy says:

    There’s a good historical example here. In the `19th century, Paraguay started a war with Brazil and Argentina, over a minor border dispute. It dragged on for years, until most of Paraguay’s young male population had died in battle, and it didn’t end until Gomez, with a small entourage of kids and old men, was finally hunted down and shot. The country still has not recovered.

    People are not very rational.

  12. paulm says:

    Nursing Singer….

    Sir Paul Nurse examines why science appears to be under attack
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FklwzRihv6Y&feature=related

  13. Mike Tabony says:

    The US doesn’t have these good excuses and we aren’t doing much either. I haven’t noticed the fossil fuel marketers (drug pushers of the 21st century) getting nervous here.

    Let the Central Valley of CA get flooded or a Category 4 hurricane run up Chesapeake Bay or into southern Long Island and we’ll be looking for cash to fix things also.

    If not now, when? If not here, where?

  14. Flin says:

    looks like the “it’s not happening -> it’s not bad -> it’s too late” sequence of events plays out faster than you thought.

    And the “Adaption instead of Mitigation” crew must be happy as well. Because what is this, if not adaption in it’s purest form?

  15. Ken Lowe says:

    I’m concerned about my impact on the environment. I heat my home with heating oil but am worried about what this is doing to the environment. I live in a rural area of lincolnshire so there’s not much alternative to heating my home with oil except wood and LPG… but I don’t know if this is even more harmful.

    I have just found a heating oil website who offer Group Buying Days, this seems like a great way to help the environment because you can order with others which helps to keep tankers off the roads more, reducing CO2 emissions.

    I would like to see more information on the internet about the effects of heating oil on the environment. On most climate change sites I go on there are articles on gas and electric heating but little on the effects of heating oil.

    Does anyone have any figures about heating oil and ways to minimize my impact on the environment?

  16. Sasparilla says:

    Wow, just dumb.

    As others have pointed out, this kind of problem from climate change will increasingly affect all nations and instead of having money to invest in reducing CO2 emissions – they’ll just be siphoning the cash for local triage of climate change caused disasters that occurs more and more frequently.

  17. Lou Grinzo says:

    llewelly (and others): Bingo!

    I keep harping on the point that the timing of our climate and energy challenges is a critical detail that shouldn’t be minimized. This piling up effect — we delay, and thereby force ourselves to deal with both mitigation and ongoing adaptation costs simultaneously — is going to bite us, hard, and we’re only aggravating the situation with further delay.

    This is why I get so frustrated with the people who think we can sit back, do basically nothing now, and the “deal with problems as they arise”. They don’t understand (or pretend not to understand) that the adaptation costs are much higher than they admit for each incident and that they’re ongoing. Sadly, we’re so far down this path that there’s no way we can avoid really high adaptation costs.

  18. dp says:

    it looks like brittle planning, but it’s actually a silent cry for switching from ‘competition’ to a global energy project, pooling humanity’s time brains & money to beat the clock together

  19. L. Carey says:

    +1 Anne van der Bom @10

    Also applicable:
    How free market advocates have delivered us big government
    By Paul Gilding
    http://paulgilding.com/cockatoo-chronicles/cc20101214biggovernment.html

  20. Colorado Bob says:

    ‘Hidden Plumbing’ Helps Slow Greenland Ice Flow: Hotter Summers May Actually Slow Down Flow of Glaciers

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110126131538.htm

    [JR: Outdated research.]

  21. George Ennis says:

    So PM Gillard prefers to kick the can down the road when it comes to mitigation. and focus on rebuilding.

    She may be laboring under the false idea that because these types extreme climate events have been described as once every 100 years or once every 500 year events that the next one will be in the 22nd Century at the earliest. Unfortunately that is not what those statistics mean. The next such event could happen with the next La Niña event a few years down the road.

    Let’s hope that Australia is at least including adaptation to a changing climate as part of its rebuilding plans otherwise this decision moves from beyond stupid to simply crazy.

  22. Some European says:

    If this reaction becomes a pattern it doesn’t bode well.
    Many people have predicted that solving the problem would actually become more difficult as climate change starts to hit the fan. One of those reasons is that increasing tensions over resources will make international cooperation impossible. That’s why Copenhagen was the moment and Durban is really our very last chance.

  23. MarkB says:

    Re: #8

    “This is a positive feedback. Warming causes extreme weather or drought leading to economic losses causing cutbacks in clean energy.”

    Yes…but at the same time, coal production has been devastated in Queensland. Negative feedback?

  24. LucAstro says:

    Australia will also delay A$160 million of spending aimed at encouraging carbon-capture ventures, the documents show.
    In my view, They should eliminate completely such carbon-capture ventures and use the money instead for renewable energy sources. It is a waste of money otherwise. Clean coal is simply expensive green wash. Coal mining should simply be phased out, as argued by James Hansen.

  25. Hendo says:

    I’m an Aussie, and not shy to criticise other countries climate and pollution behaviour.
    Now I blush that my own country is dropping the ball at such a crucial time.
    We can do better you know, it’s just a question of balls.

  26. David Stern says:

    Some of the things that Gillard plans to cut should be like the Cash for Clunkers program but I’m disappointed on the cuts to solar and CCS programs. The cuts seem to be disproportionately on energy-related climate change programs.

  27. Lou Grinzo says:

    MarkB: It’s only a negative feedback if the coal that would have been burned in the absence of the floods is not replaced by coal from other sources, i.e. it results in a permanent reduction in the total amount burned from this point forward.

    That’s highly unlikely, as other sources can likely step up shipment, and customers for that coal can eat into stocks in the short run and then buy slightly more than they would normally later on to replenish those stocks.

  28. Tom Gray says:

    I agree with much of what has been said. Scary. If and when we do get past the continuing onslaught of dirty-energy-funded denialism, the cost of climate change may provide an equally serious obstacle to the rapid deployment of clean renewable energy technologies.–Tom Gray, consultant to American Wind Energy Association

  29. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    You must take into account that Dullard, by far the stupidest PM in living memory, is also a complete opportunist. She has no ideology but gaining and holding power. During the floods her public appearances to ‘console’ the flood victims and her impromptu ‘soundbites’ were so repellently robotic and inauthentic as to be eerie. Under John Howard, a fervent denialist (like the current Opposition Leader Abbott, a Howard protege)who saw climate change as a Communist conspiracy to destroy capitalism, the entire public service was purged and ruthlessly politicised. When Rudd succeeded Howard in 2007, he did a Blair and an Obama, and simply kept the policies of his predecessor intact. No attempt was made to winkle the Howardite placemen, ideologues of market fundamentalism, out, and they still make policy for a talentless, incompetent Labor Government of opportunists like Dullard. They’ll be laughing today, getting a politician who they no doubt loathe, to nail her ragged colours so firmly to denialism’s mast. Believe me, if you think that your country is in a mess, spare a sympathetic thought for Australia, because it rhymes with failure.

  30. Colorado Bob says:

    From the link @7 -

    ” A survey by The Australian has established that 45 of Queensland’s 57 coalmines have been affected to some degree by flooding, including 15 open-cut pits that have been turned into vast waterholes.

    Many of BHP’s coalmining operations in the Bowen Basin — including Goonyella Riverside, Peak Downs, Norwich Park, Gregory Crinum, South Walker and Blackwater — have declared force majeure to excuse them from liability for failing to meet contractual obligations.

    Record rainfall at Macarthur Coal’s Bowen Basin coalmines, Moorvale and Coppabella, prompted the company to also seek force majeure protection on December 3. Force majeure has been declared on sales contracts for each of Rio’s four Queensland coalmines — Hail Creek, Clermont, Blair Athol and Kestrel — for nearly one month.

    Anglo American’s metallurgical coal business is working to clear its flooded pits, but its operations could be stalled for weeks.”

    ———–
    The are junking the future, to pump out the past.

  31. Colorado Bob says:

    I wonder what these drag lines look like after sitting under water for weeks on end, 25% of the Queensland pits are that way.

  32. Michael Tucker says:

    So the catastrophic flooding in Queensland that was preceded by the devastating drought in the Murray-Darling basin did not produce Australia’s ‘Darwin moment’ (Australia’s equivalent to Pearl Harbor). I am shocked!

    Oh, first you must clean up the mess and that is expensive AND fighting climate change is expensive. So, I’m just guessing here, wouldn’t that be the expected response from any country so severely devastated? Even the US?

    If we are looking for a WW II type of solution we had better begin the way we did 70 years ago; [climate] War Bonds.

    I’m pretty sure Al Gore would be willing to do a bond tour and I bet Raffi would too. Maybe Lady Gaga?

  33. Joe P says:

    Joe, A pretty silly and shrill misinterpretation of the facts. The programs are being cut as they are superceded by the decision to put a price on carbon. The programs that are being cut are a half arsed attempt to avoid the need for a carbon price by a former Prime Minister. We no longer need such things as cash for clunkers as we will soon have a price on carbon, do you get it? I think you have done exactly what you so often have acused the mainstream media of doing.

  34. Colorado Bob says:

    Brazil’s rainy season has been particularly severe this year, with flooding also swamping southern Santa Catarina state and Sao Paulo, the economic hub that record its rainiest January in 60 years.

    Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Over+feared+dead+flooding/4178131/story.html#ixzz1CHNG5zsI

  35. Colorado Bob says:

    North Island in for a deluge
    The heaviest rainfalls are expected in Northland where 150 to 200mm may fall in a 24-hour period.

    Rain is expected to develop this afternoon in Auckland and become heavy this evening. The MetService expects the heaviest falls on Saturday morning, when rainfall rates may reach 25mm per hour.

    http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/north-island-in-deluge-4008989

  36. Colorado Bob says:

    God Bless the Supreme Court of the State of New Mexico.

    New Mexico’s push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, challenged by its new GOP governor, has won backing from the state’s Supreme Court.

    In a unanimous ruling, the court said Gov. Susana Martinez violated the state Constitution when she prevented a rule to establish a statewide cap on heat-trapping gases from being published in the state’s register and thus taking effect.

    “No one is above the law,” the state’s chief justice, Charles W. Daniels, said
    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/greenhouse/post/2011/01/new-mexico-greenhouse-gas-emissions-/1

  37. Vic says:

    Prime Minister Gillard’s predecessor Kevin Rudd was axed from the top position last year due to disastrous polling results following his decision to shelve his proposed emissions trading scheme for 3 years. That decision played a major role in his downfall. We now see Gillard deciding to shelve any real action for 4 years. The forthcoming polls will be interesting to watch, as will ex-tropical cyclone Anthony which is expected to intensify back into a cyclone and cross Queendland’s coast late this weekend.
    We live in interesting times.

  38. OregonStream says:

    Joe P, did you miss this bit in Joe R’s piece?:

    One can’t argue that a carbon price isn’t crucial, but a carbon price by itself won’t solve the problem, as I’ve said many times — and that assumes Gillard delivers on her pledge. Nor is the initial carbon price likely to be anywhere near high enough to jumpstart many clean energy technologies. The fact is that new, innovative technologies face many market barriers and deserve government incentives.

    Half arsed or not, the present initiative is better than nothing, at least until something more serious is established.

  39. Jeffrey Davis says:

    If we’re in the position where we can’t afford to invest in cleaner and greener technologies then we’ve passed the dreaded “climate tipping point.”

  40. Colorado Bob says:

    Vic @ 38 -
    Interesting indeed , the event that just hit Jeddah, the second largest city in Arabia is interesting . It is the second major flood to hit nearly 1 million people in this desert, in the last 13 months. To say they are “geared-up” for this is a serious understatement. Only 10% of the city has any storm drainage at all.

    They seriously think that the reason this is happening is because , they have a crappy infrastructure. What they fail to grasp is that no one has an infrastructure that can handle what they just got……….

    ” The Meteorology Department of King Abdulaziz University registered 114mm of rainfall in four hours on Wednesday morning. In the Nov. 25, 2009 floods, approximately 90mm of rain fell in about three hours. Earlier this month, 45mm rain fell in a few hours. The average rainfall in Jeddah for the winter months (November to February) is about 51mm.”

    Nobody is designed for this …. Nobody.

    This rain would have killed people even in the rainiest parts of the world.

    This is a mind boggling event in British Columbia.

    http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article244527.ece

  41. Joe P says:

    OregonStream, No I didn’t miss it I just don’t agree with it. They really were lame options that were designed to divert attention from the fact our previous PM had abandoned a cap and trade approach. As has been pointed out that was one of the main reasons he was dumped. Our current PM has pledged to introduce a carbon price and the process has already begun. This was an opportunity to dump these lame programs, most of which were not going to happen anyway (e.g. cash for clunkers already deferred by 1 year). There was very little in these programs of a progressive nature it was just the usual smoke and mirrors pretending to do something while doing nothing stuff e.g “clean” coal initiatives…etc.

  42. Ken Fabos says:

    Clean energy programs will be cut back to help get Australia’s export coal industry back to it’s pre-flood expansionist phase. This is not a surprise to this Australian; too much revenue derives from it. As the economic impacts of climate change bite, mainstream politics in Australia will probably become stronger supporters of the fossil fuel industry; the simplistic argument that the economic costs of reducing emissions are too high will, unfortunately, become more effective the tighter the economic situation gets. As I’m sure is the case in the USA.

  43. bill says:

    Ah, yes, my dumb homeland! Great scientists, great institutions (BoM, CSIRO), great affluence, great infrastructure, great standard of education, great access to resources (information included)… (I’ll sneak in great public health system!)… head-in-sand electorate, and craven or ideologically lobotomised political elite… [sigh]

  44. Leland Palmer says:

    Maybe I’m in denial myself, but I actually feel like there may be light at the end of this tunnel, after all.

    I think the deniers are at their high point, right now, and that their support will steadily erode from this point forward. This is mainly because the effects of AGW are becoming so obvious, with all the flooding and so on recently.

    The MSM has actually run a couple of unbiased stories about AGW, recently, and that is a very good sign that our financial elites are finally getting the message about the huge costs and consequences of AGW. Lawyers are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars in climate damages- and that is a very, very positive sign as well.

    Obama’s “clean energy” program actually looks like a deal of some sort to me- nuclear and clean coal in return for the green light on solar and wind. Cutting the fossil fuel subsidies may be a sign that the rest of our financial elites are finally willing to throw the fossil fuel corporations overboard.

    Will nuclear and “clean coal” suck all of the air out of the energy funding room? Not if we throw enough money at the problem.

    We’ll see what happens with the new Congress. Signs so far look horrid, but we’ll see how much is posturing and how much is substance, soon enough.

    But, a pulse of heat is working its way deeper and deeper into the oceans. The Arctic is in a death spiral, and increased solar heating of the Arctic due to the ice/albedo feedback looks inevitable. Lets hope that the bacterial and physical barriers that minimize the release of methane from methane hydrates into the atmosphere are very effective, indeed. Because when that pulse of heat makes it into the hydrate deposits themselves, we could be in a totally irretrievable situation.

    Death by greed and idiocy?

    Maybe not.

    Maybe the lawyers will save us. :)

  45. There has not been sufficient acknowledgement of that warming is an underlying cause of the flooding here is Australia.

    There is just not enough recognition of the threat.

    Rome went blindly on over farming the south of Italy until it could no longer supply the grain required.

    It increasingly appears we are headed for a collapse of the current culture followed by a new dark ages. We need to wake people up! Julia, if you read this – make sure we GET a price on carbon otherwise you will go down in history as yet another PM who knew there was a problem and failed to deal with it.

  46. Sorry a bit of frustration showing here (typo’s, etc).

    But really, we have to increase the pressure on our leaders to do something constructive. We have to leave most of the remaining fossil fuels in the ground un-burned.

  47. Sime says:

    Ken @ 15

    Hey Ken,

    I live down the road in Norfolk do you have any ground to put things on if so…

    http://www.builditsolar.com/

    You can also build solar pannels at a fraction of the cost of commercial ones if you have a bit of electrical DIY knowledge.

    I have heating oil too as most of us do out in the middle of nowhere but it costs less money to fill a 747 with liquid gold than it does to fill up my oil tank (people around us were paying £500 + for 900 liters a few weeks ago and it’s only going to get worse over time.

    Leave a note up here if you want to talk solar projects etc

  48. Sime says:

    You modify the climate…

    Stage one…

    The weather smashes everything down, so you rebuild it.

    Stage two…

    Insurance is now expensive. The weather smashes everything down again, so you mostly rebuild it.

    Stage three…

    You can no longer afford insurance if you can get any and the weather smashes everything down again so you partially rebuild but it’s a loosing game now.

    End game…

    No insurance available, no money to rebuild and the weather knocks everything down again, you are demoralized, you have no money and what the heck is the point of rebuilding as the weather will just smash it all down again!

    Result permanent decline of all services and infrastructure and living standards, broken communications and transport infrastructure and food production… etc…

    Welcome to the new dark ages.

  49. Acacia says:

    Illustrating Bill’s reflection of Australian politicians (#43) is our prime minister’s tetchy response on national radio this morning to the question ‘do you think that climate change has anything to do with the flood disaster’. Julia Gillard’s reply ‘I don’t think you can look at one weather event, one disaster. I mean this has been a huge, unprecedented disaster but I don’t think you can look at one, a bit of the weather and say that equals climate change. I don’t think it’s as simple as that. But having said that of course I do believe that climate change is real and is going to impact on our country.’

    http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2011/s3123734.htm

    Why the ambiguity? This is not as she states ‘one disaster’. It is numerous disasters resulting from multiple high rainfall events falling on supersaturated catchments across a large area of the continent? Even for Australia, these are extreme events juxtaposed on a record warm and predominantly dry decade, suggesting that climate change is impacting on our country now.

  50. Anne van der Bom says:

    Joe P,

    No I didn’t miss it I just don’t agree with it.

    Ah, no evil ‘misinterpretation of facts’ but an innocent difference in opinion.

  51. Dappledwater says:

    Colorado Bob- 36 The heaviest rainfalls are expected in Northland where 150 to 200mm may fall

    We’ve had 200mm so far today (14hrs) in the north of NZ, and it’s really bucketing down right now. The remain s of tropical cyclone Wilma are expected to stick around for another 12 hrs.

  52. Vic says:

    Colarado Bob,

    “To say they are “geared-up” for this is a serious understatement. Only 10% of the city has any storm drainage at all.”

    Reminds me of the bushfires in Israel last year. Their fire fighting infrastructure was almost non-existant because they’d never needed it before. Even Australia’s fire fighting infrastucture, amongst the best equipped and most practiced in the world, buckled under the pressure of the recent “Black Saturday” firestorms which took 173 human lives. The subsequent governmental inquiry pointed to “serious deficiencies” on multiple levels.
    But then, what else could you expect when 400 individual fires break out on a record breaking 48°C (118°F) day with wind speeds in excess of 100 kmh (62 mph) and preceeded by a decade of drought ?

  53. Barry says:

    I certainly agree with all the excellent comments about how you have to spend on mitigation before adaptation costs suck up all your money in a downward economic spiral.

    However, I don’t think this is the case here. Australia has lots of money still and a robust economy. The PM is just choosing to target mitigation funds at this point.

    Australia isn’t in an adaptation-costs downward spiral yet…they are just continuing their long running stupid-is-as-stupid-does downward spiral.

    The fact that the PM doesn’t even understand…

    1) that coal pollution loads the dice for more extreme weather events
    2) that every weather event has a coal pollution component to it these days
    3) that coal pollution has increased the energy in the entire global climate system — oceans and air

    …shows that “stupid” is alive and kicking at the top of the heap down there.

    That’s OK, she says because someday I’ll do something totally insignificant about it.

  54. david glover says:

    guys the pm actually said she was dumping the subsidies and replacing them with “a price on carbon”

    a price on carbon gives everyone the financial signal to move to lower carbon choices

    my money is still on Julia; at least she is an atheist

  55. Ken Fabos says:

    Australia’s current government doesn’t actively embrace denial (although not pushing the issue as a high priority) but it does embrace a degree of doubt (maybe it won’t be so bad) and has consistently engaged in delay. Doing the least it can get away with, not the most it’s capable of and certainly not the minimum that’s required is a continuing constant. We don’t even get a genuine debate on relative effectiveness of mitigation versus adaptation. And the real elephants in the room – costly repair and remediation from too late and ineffective mitigation and adaptation – don’t get mentioned at all. Yet that’s what’s going on right now; resources for mitigation and adaptation for the future are going on repair and remediation in the present.

  56. Joe P says:

    @51 Anne van der Bom, Silly and shrill is a whole lot differenct than “evil”. I just thought the attack overblown. The PM is from a left of centre party that has formed an alliance with the Greens in order to govern. I think the left is often its own worst enemy and I see the headline in that context, we need to support our own rather than constantly attack them for not going far enough, nothin evil about it!

  57. Think Big says:

    Unfortunately down here in Australia we’re drowning in conservative spin. Rupert Murdoch controls 70% of our print media and the commercial TV stations aren’t much better.
    As soon as the floods began to subside the usual suspects in our media began furiously spouting anti-climate-change propaganda and claiming that the floods were all part of a “normal-cycle” and steqdfastly ignored the massive elephant in the room.

    Whilst I don’t think too many of us will be too upset over the demise of CC&S or cash-for-clunkers the cuts to solar programs are far more worrying. At least the PM isn’t resiling from a carbon price and given our political and media environment if she gets a worthwhile scheme up and running it will be a major achievement.

  58. Prokaryotes says:

    The flood levy – panic and politics do not make for good policy

    The response of the Gillard government to flood reconstruction has been panic at the prospect of not being able to return a budget surplus in 2012/13. Incredible as it may seem to you and I they fear a sneering opposition.

    The Victorian floods have not even run their course and Queensland may suffer further flooding, yet Gillard is announcing the urgent need for a twelve month tax payer levy. There has been no survey of damage and therefore there can be no estimate of reconstruction costs; so why the rush? There are no announced mechanisms for prioritising and auditing expenditure.

    I wouldn’t give money voluntarily within this framework yet I will have to. I am being compelled, against my better judgement, to contribute to a second rate and ill thought through scheme.
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    Through her precipitate and panicky response Gillard has, unwittingly, opened up the whole question of government expenditure.

    Twice I have been posted in Pakistan, as an Australian diplomat, with reporting responsibilities for Afghanistan. On my first tour I observed the country, on my second I took photographs of Russian soldiers and installations. The war is unwinnable, Afghanistan is not the breeding place of terrorism, the Taliban regime is no worse than the Wahabi regime in Saudi Arabia. Regarded as a friend of the US, Saudia Arabia has given clandestine support to Hamas, the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The Saudi treatment of women and domestic servants, can at best be described as discriminatory.

    Australia should withdraw from Afghanistan, saving $2 billion a year. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=11548

  59. Sou says:

    The ALP (Australian Government) is still dominated by unions. Most of the elected ALP parliamentarians are unionists. The coal mining unions are still quite powerful in Australia. Connect the dots.

    I didn’t vote for the ALP (and couldn’t possibly have voted for the other major party) because I don’t trust them to deliver on climate change action. (I voted for the Sex Party, which seemed to have the best range of policies).

    I don’t hold much hope of getting any action in the short to medium term, although the Queensland and Victorian floods are helping convince people of the need for action, and Cyclone Yasi might convince a few more.