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Science is played by politicians

Posted By Joanne Nova On January 21, 2011 @ 3:34 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

Brisbane floods, 1893. Young boys take the opportunity to play in the floodwaters in the business heart of Brisbane. Other people use rowboats- the only sure mode of transport during the floods. Poul C. Poulsen.

When an expert on small mammals announces that sea levels will rise by 100m, that’s national news. When an expert on hydrology announces that thousands of homes will be flooded sooner or later in a major capital city, it’s buried, and stays buried for four years, and even after it’s leaked, it still isn’t front page news until after the flood.

The photo above reminds us that the hydrology experts were not predicting anything unprecedented.

As usual, pronouncements from science are just the hammer used (or locked away) by those in power for their own purposes. A convenient tool.
From Hedley Thomas at The Australian

The levels of inundation experienced throughout Brisbane as a result of this month’s flood show that the June 1999 Brisbane River Flood Study, which caused a political crisis for Mr Quinn when it was leaked and published in June 2003, correctly warned that the development control lines, set in 1984, were incorrect.

The June 1999 Brisbane River Flood Study is a detailed report setting out the findings of hydrologists and engineers commissioned by the council. The experts whose findings and knowledge contributed to the Brisbane River Flood Study included top engineers from a large firm, Sinclair Knight Merz, and an eminent hydrologist, Russell Mein.

The report’s findings … meant that many properties that were thought to be above the one-in-100-year flood level would, in fact, be one to two metres beneath it.

Where were all the compassionate, concerned activists who were declaring that we ought to listen to the experts? They were too busy campaigning to stop houses being built near the coast for fear of the 3mm annual rise.

Meanwhile, for our overseas readers, the Australian flooding continues and spreads. The La Nina dumping rain all over the Eastern third of Australia: this week it’s Victoria (a southern State) under seige. Yesterday Brisbane suffered a severe storm and today is nervous about the King Tide. The Nation is discussing just how much this will affect the GDP and interest rates.

My earlier post with Ian Motts analysis of the role of the Wivenhoe Dam’s role appears to have been borne out:

Engineer warned of danger from Wivenhoe dam

Engineers and hydrology experts who have been examining data on river height, dam flow rates and weather systems have told The Australian the dam stored far too much water in its flood compartment over the weekend of January 8-9.

They said the Brisbane flood was largely attributable to the dam’s operators releasing unprecedented and unnecessarily vast volumes of water on January 11 after they lost their flood buffer because the dam had not been drawn down significantly over the weekend before the huge rainfall dump.

There are going to be law suits, and very very angry people.

Brisbane flood, 1893. Poul C Poulsen, founder of the Poulsen Studios in Brisbane.   People inspect the damage caused by the inundation of floodwater.

There is an excellent set of before and after graphics of Brisbane flood affected suburbs on this ABC page.

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