Cyclone Yasi may rival devestating Cyclone Larry; food prices to rise by 70%; hold on… the “Long Summer” isn’t over

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 “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


10 thoughts on “Cyclone Yasi may rival devestating Cyclone Larry; food prices to rise by 70%; hold on… the “Long Summer” isn’t over

  1. Joel says:

    Up here in Townsville there are still empty shelves in the supermarkets because of a lack of supply. At times I’ve not been able to buy bread, or milk, or, just this weekend, lemons.

  2. john byatt says:

    lived in Townsville 20 years ago 1640 Ross river rd

    .Projections also indicate that the regions of east Australian cyclone genesis could shift southward by two degrees latitude (approximately 200 km) by 2050, Leslie et al (2007), while the average decay location could be up to 300 km south of the current location. Models estimate that the number of strong cyclones reaching the Australian coastline will increase, and ‘super cyclones’, with an intensity hitherto unrecorded on the Australian east coast, may develop over the next 50 years Leslie et al(2007).

  3. Anonymuse says:

    Look someone is watching the “climate looters”.

  4. adelady says:

    Aha! This Walter Starck.

    I gave up on Quadrant a long time ago, I’m afraid.

  5. john byatt says:

    Climate goon Leon Ashby is in our local paper today advocating adding more co2 to the atmosphere to ensure regular flows in the murray darling. What is the emoticon for spew all over PC ?

    • Watching the Deniers says:


      Can I get a copy? Which paper?

      He’s the crank that started the “Climate Sceptics Party” that got a paltry 5000 or so votes.

      And more CO2? Is he accepting the science?

      Did he not see what happened in Queensland and Victoria?

      This is the most insane proposal for geoengineering I’ve heard.

  6. john byatt says:

    Sorry WTD missed your post, The Gympie times do not post letters to editor on line, Leon would mutli email all provincial newspapers with his letters though, will see if it comes up on google,

  7. john byatt says:

    yep here it is

    The Gympie times is leading the way, allowing the sceptics to post their letters then allowing others to reply, it is a pity that all newspapers did not follow this approach, No bias just open debate

    Dear Sir / Madam,

    I believe Australians like its leaders to be consistent and logical so I pose these questions regarding the recent floods and the Federal Government funding response.

    Will the politicians who believe extra CO2 causes floods (e.g. the Greens) be consistent and advocate more CO2 to help the Murray River flow more regularly?
    Will the politicians who say extra CO2 causes Global warming and droughts (ALP, Greens & half the coalition) support building more dams (to provide us with more water and reducing flood impacts on downstream towns)?
    Is there a government politician who will stand against a tax for raising $10 billion for flood repairs for our own country, because we don`t tax for the $10 billion of overseas and development aid we pay each year? and
    Is there a government politician calling for businesses to assist the “Flood rebuild” that will lead from the front and call for a pay cut for themselves as well?

    Leon Ashby
    President The Climate Sceptics

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