Above: Cyclone Larry, 2006
I’m calling this the “Long Summer”.
“Long” because every day we watch the warning signs for catastrophic cyclones, floods and fires.
“Long” because hundreds of thousands of Australians are now trying to rebuild their lives after floods devestated their homes, businesses and farms.
“Long” because the floods might mot be all we have to contend with.
As I indicated before we missed two bullets over the weekend.
But Yasi is on the way:
A severe cyclone expected to hit Queensland on Thursday is likely to rival, and on some measures, dwarf Cyclone Larry, which devastated parts of north Queensland.
The Bureau of Meteorology says Cyclone Yasi will be a severe category three or four cyclone when it crosses the Queensland coast, likely early on Thursday morning.
Bureau senior forecaster Ann Farrell said the latest modelling suggested Yasi would make landfall somewhere between Innisfail, in the north, and Proserpine, in the south.
Yasi could rival Cyclone “Larry”:
If it hits as a category three, wind gusts up to 200km/h can be expected, and 250kmh if it builds to a four, as Cyclone Larry was when it devastated Innisfail and surrounding communities in March 2006.
It’s currently off Vanuatu, about 1975km east, northeast of Townsville, and moving westward at about 30kmh.
“At this stage we’re expecting it to continue moving towards the Queensland coast and intensify … and it’s likely to reach the coast early on Thursday morning,” Ms Farrell said.
“By that stage we will be looking at a severe tropical cyclone so certainly at least a [category] three, and a category four we wouldn’t be ruling that out by any means.”
She said the last cyclone of that magnitude to hit Queensland was category four Cyclone Larry.
Larry left a trail of destruction including damage to 10,000 homes and a repair bill of more than a billion dollars.
I remember Larry: it resulted in bananas at $14 a kilo.
But we don’t need to wait for Yasi to hit. Thanks to the floods, food prices are already on the rise:
VICTORIAN consumers face price rises of more than 70 per cent on basic vegetable and fruit items such as broccoli, cauliflower, nectarines and grapes because of flood damage.
As fears mount that the recent spike in fresh food prices will lead to more Australians replacing fresh fruit and vegetables with cheaper foods that have poor nutritional value, new economic modelling reveals consumers should expect significant price hikes across a broad range of fresh food products.
The IBISWorld figures, released to The Age yesterday, show the price of stone fruit could jump 76 per cent in coming weeks, and both red and white table grapes could rise by 70 per cent as a result of local flooding. The modelling also predicted broccoli and cauliflower would rise by 80 per cent.
Advertisement: Story continues below Across Australia, IBISWorld industry analyst Suzannah Rowley said, prices for watermelon were expected to rise by 50 per cent, pumpkins to increase by 60 per cent and sweet potato to jump from 80 to 100 per cent. Tomatoes would also probably rise between 60 and 70 per cent.
I spoke to my local green grocer last week, and they told me it was “getting harder” to get produce. Everyday they’re up at 5am trying to source fruit and vegetables. However in many instances, “the prices are too high”.
So watch your local super market shelves: price jumps are on the way.
Of course one of the anticipated “threats” climate change relates to food security. In a world when crops are wiped out by floods, fires and cyclones food costs more.
Supply and demand.
Which is way last year as part of 350.org “10:10” event I planted some tomatoes and herbs. Having never been a gardener I’m pleased to see a my first batch tomatoes almost ready to pick. The basil and mint are thriving, and I’m planning to extend it over the coming years.
Even deniers have to eat.
Note, I’ve already written about food security here:
Bill McKibben in his prescient book “Eaarth” warns that it is not the rising temperatures or sea levels that will impact us first, it will be the increasing scarcity of food.
While we may not notice the rising temperatures on a day-to-day basis, we will certainly see the impact of climate change on the supermarket shelf.
As this recent study shows, there has been a 10% decline in plant growth over the past 10 years as the result of increased droughts, deforestation and land degradation. Fish stocks are close to collapse, denying billions another food source.
The agricultural and food industries are dependent for fossil fuels both for fertilisers (oil is a basic component of most modern fertilisers) and transport. With both peak oil and climate change hitting these sectors, it’s inevitable that food prices are going to go up.
For those in the developed world the days of cheap and plentiful food are coming to end. No more Californian strawberries flown in during the middle of the Melbourne winter.
For those in the developing world, it means going hungry. We’ve seen a glimpse of the future in 2008 as food riots erupted around the globe in response to rising prices.
This year, Russia put a hold on grain exports due to the loss of more than 20% of its crops – partly caused by extreme drought conditions brought on by climate change