'Climate change to blame for extreme weather events'

A power pole knocked down during last week's storm at Coffs Harbour.
A power pole knocked down during last week's storm at Coffs Harbour.

RAIN, rain and more rain. We might hope it's a freak weather event.

But, unfortunately, it's a sign of worse to come, according to Climate Change Australia, an action group that has branches in both the Clarence and the Hastings regions.

Spokesman Mr Harry Creamer, an anthropologist who worked for many years for the National Parks service, said it was simple physics that a warmer atmosphere would contain more moisture.

"Much needs to be done to combat human-induced climate change," he said.

"Our organisation hopes to shake people out of denial.

"There is a clear picture emerging of weather events becoming more extreme, with wilder storms and higher rainfall leading to worse flooding."

Harry Creamer.
Harry Creamer.

Professor Matthew England, joint director of the University of NSW Climate Change Research Centre agrees.

"We certainly expect more extreme rainfall and flood events to occur as a consequence of climate change," he said.

"Even today, with climate change just underway, the atmosphere is already around 7% on average more humid than just 100 years ago.

"This means extra moisture in the atmosphere, and increased extremes in rainfall."

Professor England said these events could be extremely costly and damaging "and with their frequency set to increase, the insurance sector is keeping a close eye on developments".

Mr Creamer said the 2011 Queensland floods had cost $2.4 billion, while this year's costs have yet to be assessed.

Along with pricing carbon, the most effective way to reduce climate change was for the world to stop burning coal and oil, and support clean renewable energy he added.

Professor Will Steffen, Climate Commissioner and Executive Director, ANU Climate Change Institute, has confirmed that heavy rainfall events would become more frequent across much of Australia.

He said much depended on the effectiveness of global emission reduction efforts.

Topics:  climate change environment storms weather

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