The great deluge: Australia’s new era of unnatural disasters

28.11.22 By
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2022 will be remembered as the year of the Great Deluge, when record-breaking rain and floods lashed large parts of Eastern Australia, causing untold devastation for Australians and our economy.

Climate change, driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas, was a major factor in the Great Deluge. It is consigning Australia to an era of climate disasters that we are not prepared for. This report is a stark warning that this is not over yet, and a call for all levels of government to speed up their emission reductions and disaster preparation efforts.

This year has seen large parts of Eastern Australia experience record-breaking rainfall and floods. From Queensland down to Tasmania, extreme weather events have taken people’s lives, led to the evacuation of communities, damaged homes, belongings and businesses, destroyed crops and livestock, and saddled us with billions of dollars in rebuilding costs.

Many communities were affected by not one, but multiple consecutive floods this year, with little to no time to recover after each one. For some families in New South Wales’ Hawkesbury region, for instance, the July 2022 flood was the fourth time in 18 months the region was inundated.

The fingerprints of climate change, which drives more intense storms and downpours, are on the Great Deluge of 2022. Across much of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, the floods are the latest in a long line of climate change-driven extreme weather events they have faced in recent years, including prolonged drought, scorching heatwaves, the Black Summer bushfires, and powerful storms.

Climate change is driving a new era of ‘unnatural disasters’ – and as a country we are not prepared to cope. This year, we have seen how consecutive, record-breaking events can overwhelm emergency services and devastate communities.

Report Key Findings

1. 2022 will be remembered as the year of the Great Deluge, when rain and rolling floods swamped Eastern Australia breaking many records.

2. The danger to Australians from climate-fuelled extreme weather is far from over with experts warning that the summer ahead portends several high risks.

3. Queensland suffers the most economic damage from such disasters. The Sunshine State’s total losses from extreme weather since the 1970s were around three times those of Victoria and 50% greater than New South Wales.

4. This new era of climate-fuelled, unnatural disasters carries severe consequences for disaster and emergency management in Australia.

5. While Australian families, businesses and communities suffer through record-breaking climate disasters, the fossil fuel corporations that worsen climate change are making eyewatering profits.

Great Deluge Report Cover