Water in the Hole: Postcard From Australia

As a follow up to last week’s post, China Lights, Global Floods, Australian Coal, I’ve helpfully received various emails, reports, and some photographs from friends and contacts in New Zealand and Australia. Below is a classic Before and After portrait of the Baralaba Mine, flooded by the Dawson River.

I also spoke with Max Keiser  this week about the floods in Australia and their impact not only on coal production, but overall global energy supply. | see: On the Edge with Max Keiser, Gregor Macdonald interview 14 January 2011. One point that I could have made a bit more clearly in my conversation with Max relates to the measurable divergence now observed between the frequency of geophysical catastrophes and weather-related disasters. This is an important, statistically meaningful trend that has caught the eye of the insurance industry and was clearly visible to me when I saw the recent Munich Re Report on catastrophe-losses to the industry. Better still, Joe Romm at Climate Progress communicated directly with Munich Re about the report:

Dr. Peter Höppe, Head of the Geo Risks Research Department at Munich Re, the co-author of Schmidt, Kemfert and Höppe, wrote me:

For me the most convincing piece of evidence that global warming has been contributing already to more and more intense weather related natural catastrophes is the fact that while we find a steep increase in the number of loss relevant weather events (about tripling in the last 30 years) we only find a slight increase in geophysical (earthquake, volcano, tsunami) events, which should not be affected by global warming. If the whole trend we find in weather related disaster should be caused by reporting bias, or socio-demographic or economic developments we would expect to find it similarly for the geophysical events. By the way the assumption that climate change is increasing the risk of extreme weather events is backed by IPCC.

As Max Keiser and I agreed during our interview, it’s no longer a political position to acknowledge global warming. The global reinsurance industry is already pricing it in as observable, measurable, and costly. I’m growing more confident that the global resource extraction industry is going to start bearing more of the cost–via the insurance mechanism–of increased weather-related risk.

-Gregor

Thanks: to Blair Rogers in New Zealand for these photographs, and recent reports.