The Eastern Australian floods

If you have been looking at the Australian media, or at least the decent media, you will have read about the NEW flooding in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, with towns being evacuated and so on. You will have read, or know from your own experience, that this level of rain, all over the place, seems unprecedented.

It certainly does not seem normal.

And we are still being told that we should sell more coal and gas by the government – on the grounds that the COP26 accounting procedure means that fossil fuels mined here and burnt overseas do not increase our emissions levels, as if global emissions we encourage do not affect us. Given the tax and royalty arrangements, it also seems unlikely that we gain that much from these sales – tax avoidance seems common.

And the right (Andrew Bolt, Matt Canavan, Peter Dutton etc) are still pretending that there is no climate change or that climate change is a hoax, or that it has nothing to do with humans, and that we can do nothing about it. Anything to ignore it, and these people could be in government again relatively soon.

Let us be clear, we still have not managed to fix, or deal with, the previous flooding from this year or the bush fire damage from years before. People are still living in sheds and caravans, or in rotting houses. People are still threatened by more floods and fire damage. Roads still need fixing. Bridges still need repair.

Damage is mounting up and we cannot deal with the damage we already have. Events will compound. For example flooding means waterborne disease and sewerage are likely to be present. Crowding people together may spread airborne disease. Mosquitoes will spread other diseases (for example encephalitis from a destroyed piggery). People will likely not get insurance payments, or not be able to reinsure. There will be such a demand for building workers that people will be caught in bad conditions possibly for years. There eventually will not be enough money to rebuild towns or to move them.

How does this potential suffering stack with doing nothing, preparing for nothing and making it worse by selling more fossil fuels overseas?

Covid in Australia

Likewise the governments tell us that Covid is not a problem. But it is not clear how they are evaluating that. It seems to be to me. People are dying more now in NSW than they were over the 2020-21 period, and we know more about long covid, and it is currently appearing that people who have had covid can die of ‘unrelated’ diseases more commonly that the rest of the population. In both cases we don’t seem to want to admit it.

The government is back away from dangers that add to the crises we are experiencing, and they are encouraging the rest of us not to bother about them either. This will mount up.

This is State failure in action.

Failing infrastructure in the US and climate change

I’ve written about this before and here. But a friend of mine recently wrote:

It has been one thing after another causing problems.

Part inadequate infrastructure, part devastating weather events, part drought and wildfires, big part pandemic. I’m not even going to include the effects of dysfunctional government.

Now, the Mississippi River, which is vital to getting products to the Louisiana ports, mostly grains and some coal, is too low for the heavy loaded barges, due to prolonged drought in the middle of the US. [some barges are stranded]

Farmers are currently harvesting corn, wheat, soybeans. Harvesting must occur or the crops will be lost. With very little unused storage bins, unless alternate shipping can be utilized, a very large portion of the crops will be lost.

Certain areas of the Mississippi River have required regular dredging because of the way the Army Corp of Engineersv(ACE) rerouted the Mississippi. This didn’t happen under Trump, because of the Defense funds diverted for the wall. The monies taken were earmarked for domestic military needs, like military housing upkeep, base education, and the operation of the ACE domestic works, like dredging.

The 2021-22 US budget was written under Trump’s presidency and has just ended. Republican senators are waiting until after the midterm elections to pass a new budget.

It is readily apparent that the government does not care about the people.

Redundancy and Slack

This lack of storage is silly, if correct. I suppose a part it is the popularity of ‘just in time’ supply systems which diminish the capacity for resilience, but save corporations storage costs and hence boost profits. ‘Slack‘ and redundancy are vital for survival.

The more efficient a system becomes, the more fragile it becomes.

It seems like the US does not repair infrastructure very often which again removes slack and makes systems much more precarious than they have to be.

Not having slack assumes that everything in a complex system will always remain the same, or remain predictable. this will not happen normally, never mind in a world of global pandemics and climate change.

So far we have been lucky but not only do we need to stop or slow, climate change, we need to prepare for disruptive events. We need redundant services, we need a back up of people able to help in large disaster struck areas. We need to be able to keep on repairing infrastructure, fixing the consequences of disaster, and reducing the bad effects of climate and travel. The last thing any sensible government should be doing is lowering tax rates on the corporate sector. We and they need the money to prepare to build slack and respond to disasters that are coming, and which accumulate.

When we have huge destructive bushfires, followed by huge destructive floods, over large pandemics, we can’t afford not to have working adaptation, rescue and health services, otherwise everything just gets worse and more and more people will be displaced and suffering.

Governments have to increase both services and their income to pay for it, or we face collapse.

Being unprepared no longer cuts it. Having a state which is incapable of protecting its citizens (other than against military attack) is no longer enough.