Guardian article: Australia's recent extreme weather isn't so extreme anymore

Over the last week, the Guardian have been running the Green Blog Festival. Over 10 days, they'll feature 10 bloggers from 10 countries. For Australia, they asked me to write an article. I thought about important Australian issues at the moment - Ian Thorpe coming out of retirement, Australia losing the Ashes to England or all the extreme weather we've been having. Hmm, better go with the extreme weather. The article was published yesterday: Australia's recent extreme weather isn't so extreme anymore. Here's an excerpt:

Going by the first six weeks, 2011 has not been a good year to live in Queensland, Australia. In the first fortnight, we experienced heavy downpours, culminating in the south-east floods which killed 22. While we were still mopping up the damage, one of the biggest cyclones in our history hit the north Queensland coast. Cyclone Yasi had grown to a category five by the time it hit landfall. All this and we were barely into February.
You can understand if Queenslanders are feeling somewhat battered at the moment. But we're not the only part of Australia being afflicted by extreme weather.
Flooding has spread to the southern states. To the west, Perth hasn't got off lightly either, threatened with a cyclone last week and currently suffering from bushfires. Sydney just went through a record-breaking heat wave, with temperatures soaring into the mid- to high-30s for seven days running. The longest heat wave since records began in 1858.
When you scroll down the list of extreme weather events, we're ticking a lot of boxes. As an Australian, it can be somewhat disconcerting when climate bloggers from overseas hold up Australia as a harbinger of what's to come for their own countries. It's not fun being climate change's cautionary tale.

Click here to read the rest...

Many thanks to all the SkS authors (and Wendy) for their feedback and suggestions. Interestingly, of all the blog posts so far, it's Joe Romm's and my posts on extreme weather where the comments threads have gone ballistic.

Posted by John Cook on Friday, 11 February, 2011

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