Sep 2, 2005

Hurricane Katrina – a Tragedy we must learn from

Hurricane Katrina – a Tragedy we must learn from

MEDIA RELEASE – Anthony Albanese MP

2 September 2005

Hurricane Katrina is a devastating tragedy that Governments around the world must learn from.

According to the Boston Globe, Hurricane Katrina started as a relatively small hurricane, but was supercharged with extraordinary intensity by the high sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.

The possibility that climate change contributed to the intensity of Hurricane Katrina should send alarm bells sounding around the world.

Scientists have warned that global warming, induced by human activity, will increase the frequency and power of tropical storms.

A recent Government report on Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability estimates Australia could be 2ºC hotter by 2030 and 6ºC hotter by 2070. According to the Report, a further 2ºC increase would be devastating for Australia, with more heatwaves and bushfires, extended droughts, reduced rainfall in southern Australia and extensive damage to the Great Barrier Reef.

In the same way a 2ºC increase in human body temperature will make us very sick, climate change caused by the emission of greenhouse gases is making the planet sick.

A 2004 US State Department Report outlined a potential scenario by 2050 of 150 million “environmental refugees” leaving coastal areas and islands vulnerable to rising sea levels, storms or floods, or agricultural land that’s simply become too arid.

The lesson of Hurricane Katrina may well be the sign that the abnormal has become normal.

It is also a timely reminder that climate change isn’t just an environmental issue, it’s also an economic and social issue, and an emerging humanitarian crisis.

The thoughts and prayers of the Labor Party are with those affected by Hurricane Katrina.