Australia’s New Normal

The continent of Australia is warming faster than anywhere else on the planet except the Arctic. Nowhere else is an industrialized nation experiencing the leading edge of global heating more intensely than the land down under. 

KEY AND DETAILS TO EVENTS IN THIS VIDEO

A combination of geography, terrain and human exploitation drives the climate disaster unfolding in Australia. A series of far right administrations has blocked any serious efforts for mitigation or adaptation.

BLACK SUMMER 2020 (January – March 2020)

From September 2019 to March 2020, historically intense wildfires burned in New South Wales and Victoria, burning out of control for months.  The fires destroyed 46 million acres, 6000 buildings and cooked and estimated 3 billion animals. 

HISTORIC FLOODING (March 2021)

A little over a year after the wildfires, torrential rain led to catastrophic flooding, driven by extreme weather events in New South Wales. More than 20 inches of rain fell in one day in Queenland.  Approximately 40,000 people were evacuated. inches. The floods affected about 40% of the population and 25 million acres. The floods brought invasions of mice, snakes and spiders that is described as “Biblical.”

THE BIG DRY / ONGOING DROUGHT

As the most arid continent on the planet, Australia has always experienced extended periods of drought. However, the New Normal brings an uptick in the frequency and severity of dry periods. Hundreds of years of reckless human activity is taking its toll:  deforestation has resulted in intensified flooding and increased soil salinity on millions of acres agricultural land. Overgrazing sheep and cattle has been another factor in creeping  desertification and depletion usable water. Aquifers are being drained faster than they can be naturally replenished, to the point that humans have resorted to recharging them with treated wastewater.

River flows are expected to drop by 10- 25% over the next decade, even as urban water demand spirals.

EXTREME WEATHER

April 2021’s Cyclone Seroja was an unusual recent anomaly. Packing 105 MPH winds, the Cat 3 system struck the west coast of Australia, far south of normal patterns. Cyclones of such intensity rarely travel this far south in Australia, and towns outside the cyclone belt are not usually built to withstand the devastating conditions.

The storm flattened the unsuspecting town of Kalbarri, damaging 70 percent of the town’s buildings.