Smart response needed to ris­ing sea lev­els

Daily Mercury - - OPINION -

THE news that three-quar­ters of Queens­land’s coastal towns are un­der threat from ris­ing sea lev­els (DM 14/06/18, p.5) should be a con­cern to every­one in Mackay, es­pe­cially those who are plan­ning new de­vel­op­ments.

The Queens­land Gov­ern­ment and Mackay Re­gional Coun­cil have re­cently de­cided that we should in­ten­sify devel­op­ment along the coast­line and Pi­o­neer River by putting in place a Pri­or­ity Devel­op­ment Area.

Low ly­ing ar­eas such as East Mackay will bear the brunt of cli­mate change ac­cord­ing to a pre­sen­ta­tion last week by ex­perts from CQUniver­sity.

They said that while it is very dif­fi­cult to ac­cu­rately pre­dict sea level rise in our re­gion we can ex­pect up to one me­tre in­crease by 2100.

The im­pli­ca­tions for peo­ple in Mackay are likely to be se­vere.

A pa­per pre­pared for the Ac­tu­ar­ies In­sti­tute in 2014 es­ti­mated that peo­ple liv­ing in nat­u­ral dis­as­ter zones could be fac­ing in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums on build­ings to­talling 38 per cent of their an­nual house­hold in­come by 2100.

That’s a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic risk.

The 1918 Mackay cy­clone killed 30 peo­ple in a town of just over 5000 res­i­dents. It was re­ported that dur­ing the cy­clone a wall of wa­ter 7.6 me­tres high swept over our beaches and waves of 2.4 to 2.7 me­tres were break­ing in the cen­tre of the city.

We should not be putting more peo­ple’s lives and fi­nan­cial well-be­ing at risk by in­creas­ing devel­op­ment in the coastal zone.

The smartest response to ris­ing sea lev­els is to grad­u­ally move peo­ple away from those flood prone ar­eas and use them as a buf­fer against the in­creas­ingly haz­ardous nat­u­ral dis­as­ters we are go­ing to face in fu­ture. Peter McCal­lum, Co­or­di­na­tor, Mackay Con­ser­va­tion Group

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