12 January 2011 – Climate scientist David Karoly addressed major media outlets on Wednesday morning to warn that although the Queensland flood crisis could not be directly attributed to climate change, more unstable weather related to global warming was on the way.

Australia had already seen increases in record high temperatures and rainfall related to climate change, said Professor Karoly speaking on Channel 10 news and in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Professor Karoly, a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and a joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with Al Gore, said Australia needed to prepare for more unforeseen events.

“We have to adapt to these increases in frequency of events,” he said.

Any climate change action taken now, however, would not stop climate change but it could help delay the impact.

“It won’t stop it but it will slow it down.”

Australia was a land of drought and flooding rains, “but there would be more droughts and worse flooding rains,” he said.

The current La Nina phase, which typically brought more rainfall, usually came every three to five years and lasted about 12 months.

This time it had started early and could last until May, Professor Karoly said.

“La Nina” pattern had been exaggerated by record high ocean temperatures.

This meant “lots of heavy rain,” he said.

“In Queensland’s case, the recent rain fell on already saturated catchments, making the run-off rate high. In the weeks from November 28 to December 31, total rainfall exceeded 300 millimetres over most of the eastern half of the sunshine state,” he told the SMH.

”In Victoria we had heavy rainfall but the run-off hasn’t been as high because after 10 years of drought the ground wasn’t as saturated.”

In May last year executive director of the International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment warned in Celsias New Zealand that “one or more major environmental disasters and several thousand deaths in a major industrialised city” would occur before governments took significant action on climate change. He urged contingency plans be prepared now. See our report

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