Australia experiences worst flooding in 60 years

Road signs inundated by flooding. Photo credit: Spisah – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia.

By Anders Lorenzen

Australia is bracing itself for more extreme weather in 2021 after experiencing its worst flooding in 60 years. Heavy rains along Australia’s east coast earlier this month damaged hundreds of houses and forced thousands of people to evacuate, with low-lying areas especially hard hit.  

The flooding took place in the most populous state, New South Wales (NSW) home to 8 million people. On Sunday night, the 21st of March, in the northwest of Sydney, people were ordered to flee their houses in the middle of the night as the fast-moving waters caused widespread destruction. 24,000 people in NSW were forced to leave their homes, sadly three citizens died with two missings and there were 1,000 flood rescues.

Fast-moving water

Television and social media footage displayed the scale of the extreme weather event showing fast-moving water unmooring houses, engulfing roads, breaking trees and damaging road infrastructure. In addition, several dams, including Warragamba, Sydney’s main water supply dam, spilt over causing river levels to surge.

NSW is no stranger to extreme weather events, but this flooding stands in stark contrast with the devastating bushfires that struck Australia in late 2019 and early 2020 when nearly 7% of NSW land was scorched.

Floods are driven by fossil fuel activities

Greenpeace Australia Pacific said that flooding events like these are made much worse by climate change driven by mining and the burning of coal, oil and gas – economic activities that the Australian government has refused to scale back on even as many countries in the world are getting serious about tackling the climate crisis. 

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigner, Martin Zavan said: “The torrential downpours and flash floods that have swept away homes, inundated properties, closed schools and left many isolated and cut off from essential services like hospitals are all exacerbated by climate change. These floods are just the latest example of the many devastating ways that climate change is disrupting our daily lives right now and it’s only going to get worse unless the Federal Government reins in the mining and burning of coal, oil and gas”.

Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter and the port of Newcastle in NSW is the world’s largest coal export port. The Australian government has in the past refused to acknowledge there is a link between fossil fuel activities and extreme weather events.

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