Cyclone Yasi Reminder of Climate Risks and Costs Media Release

Feb 04, 2011 - 1:30pm


Cyclone Yasi which devastated large swathes of northern Queensland has come on the heels of a raft of extreme weather conditions in Australia and around the world which scientists say will increase in frequency and intensity unless there is domestic and global action on pollution and climate change, The Climate Institute said today. 

“Our thoughts are with all those affected by the recent devastating cyclone but sadly Australia must prepare for more of these types of catastrophic events and ‘super storms’ as climate change drives more frequent and more intense wild weather.  

“While there are questions around direct links to individual weather events there is no question that the impacts of climate change is driving up the cost of living and working in Australia through warmer and wilder weather.”

The ferocity of cyclones is driven by ocean temperatures; a ‘super strong’ La Nina coupled with long-term global warming are manifesting as ‘record or near record’ surface temperatures in the Coral Sea.

Tragically for Queensland, Cyclone Yasi, a “super storm”, has come just weeks after devastating floods which were in line with forecasts from scientists who warned the Queensland Government that the state would be threatened by higher flood levels from intense torrential downpours brought on by climate change.

“The Queensland and Victorian floods, and now Cyclone Yasi, has highlighted the economic costs from extreme weather touching virtually all sectors of the economy - climate change is far from just an environmental issue, it is also an economic one,” said Mr Connor.

The Climate Institute’s factsheet, Redefining Natural Disasters, shows floods and cyclones are part of a bigger picture of warmer wilder weather affecting Australia, including:

  • 2010 as the world’s hottest year on record, equal with 2005.
  • Northern Territory and South Australia with record heatwaves – 15 days above 40C near Uluru.
  • September 2010 as Australia’s wettest on record, with a record wet January in Victoria, exceptionally heavy rainfall in northern Tasmania, a record wet spring for Queensland, and an exceptionally wet Dry Season in central and northern Australia; and
  • Record ocean temperatures
“The Prime Minister has been right to highlight the importance of a price on pollution but that is only part of the job in reducing our pollution, growing cleaner energy solutions and helping global efforts to avoid increasing climate extremes,” he said.

“Further delay or half measures on pollution and climate change would be reckless when the scientific forecasts are for a pattern of wilder weather brought on by climate change.”

For further information: 
John Connor | CEO, The Climate Institute |  0413 968 475
Harriet Binet | Communications Director, The Climate Institute |  02 8239 6299
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