Floods, Fire and Sink Holes: Earth’s response to mismanagement

By Divya Rawat

Climate change is impacting our day-to-day lives both environmentally and economically.

Our actions and choices in our use of natural resources have had a devastating impact on our environment world-wide. This has impacted our air, water and food quality, which are all essential to our and future generations’ existence.

Natural disasters are becoming more frequent and intense. In July, Sydney was hit by its fourth round of severe flooding in 18 months. In addition, some areas of NSW have suffered the worst floods in decades as a result of the torrential rain, which caused electricity lines to be down and reservoirs to overflow, inflicting tens of millions of dollars’ worth of damage and forcing people to leave their homes until the waters recede. For some this is the third or fourth time that they have had to leave.

Beyond NSW, Tasmania also experienced intense fires last summer, which have also become a regular feature and more intense; requiring more resources to deal with it each year.

Fires have become a feature of the Australian summer. Picture: Matt Palmer/Unsplash

It’s not only Australia, the impact is being felt world-wide. In Chile, a giant sinkhole, estimated to be 200 metres deep, appeared north of Santiago, on a mining site, in early August, which resulted in the mining company suspending work close to the sink hole. In the United States, a giant sink hole also opened up in Los Angeles. In Panama, the water supply is getting affected due to changing weather patterns and global warming. The list is endless and most have heard it before.

Overall, climate change and its impact are having devastating effect on the earth’s environment but we are slow in giving up our bad habits. The world is still dependent on fossil fuel for the majority of its needs.

The impacting is also being felt economically. The Blue Mountain City Council found in its report Tourism Industry Profile 2021 that multiple recent disasters and Covid-19 pandemic had seen a drop of 40% in visitation to Blue Mountains, which was a direct revenue loss of $118 million.

Not only is the climate changing but our ability to respond in an organised and timely manner is also diminishing because of the increased frequency and intensity of the disasters.

In August 2022, a parliamentary report into the NSW flood response in the Northern Rivers and Hawkesbury region found that NSW was underprepared to deal with natural disasters. The key finding was that government bodies failed to coordinate and lead.

Improvements will undoubtedly be made to our response but with the increasing frequency and intensity of bad weather more and more resources will be needed to cope with progressively worse situations.

The solution does not lie in increasing the response to a climate disaster only, but needs to include a move away from fossil fuel at the earliest opportunity.

Above all it requires a collective response from all countries. Nature is not selective in penalising those doing the right thing or not doing the right thing.

Featured image: Floodwaters overwhelm a car in Windsor, NSW. Picture: Wes Warren/Unsplash

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