Travel Bulletin Australia: Devastating floods spreading with the wet season just beginning1 min read
Widespread flooding in Queensland is now affecting an area about the size of California, Nevada and Oregon combined. For you geography aficionados, that is about the same as France and Germany or just over half of Queensland – Australia is a big place.
The prevailing atmospheric conditions known as La Nina produced the third-wettest year on record for Australia in 2010, but more importantly, these conditions are expected to persist until April. A timeline search on Google shows that it has been over 100 years since floods in Queensland were as newsworthy.
Altegrity International has highlighted the threat to the Great Barrier Reef as tons of waste and pesticides pour into the sea. Local officials also fear the flood waters will damage sea grass beds that serve as feeding grounds for dugongs (Australian manatees) and affect popular tourist activities and locations such as the resorts on Whitsunday Islands.
Reuters reporter, Daniel Munoz, writes that the flooding’s impact on coal and wheat production will have worldwide consequences. With 75% of Queensland’s coal mines shut down, coal prices are rising which will drive up steel prices everywhere. In addition, half of the wheat crop (Australia is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of wheat) could be downgraded to animal feed or other low-grade milling grains, raising the specter of wider human hunger.
While the economic impacts are worldwide, those feeling the most pain are in Queensland. Let’s hope the next three months turn unexpectedly dry.