Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Danger Zone

I watched a fantastic program on SBS last night called Danger Zone which asks the question "Will the risk of extreme weather change how we live?". The program discusses the increasing risks from climate change (e.g. more intense bush fires or more intense cyclones) in the wake of the recent Victorian bush fires and the flooding in Queensland. It is good to see these issues being discussed broadly - rather than the often narrow one dimensional framing seen in the media (e.g. 'trees ' versus 'safety').

Here is the blurb (from their website):

Where will it be safe to live as Australia's temperatures rise?

In the wake of the devastating Victorian bushfires, Insight asks whether extreme weather events will force us to change the way we live.

Australian climate scientists are warning there could be more bushfires in the south and more intense cyclones in the north. Some of our major cities are at risk.

As many Victorians wrestle with how to rebuild their communities, Insight asks how well prepared the rest of us are for extreme events like cyclones and bushfires, and which parts of Australia are most at risk.

Join us live from Melbourne as we talk to survivors of the recent bushfires, as well as cyclone victims, local councils, weather experts and building advisors about what to do next.

I will have another close look at this program tonight as I am very interested in the different types of risk presented in the show. Consider the differences between scientific risk assessment; insurance risk assessment (e.g. unwilling to insure for storm surge because the risk is too high); political risks (politicians are never far from a disaster); climate change risks (will be different for different people e.g. farmer on Murray Darling River versus homeowner in Cairns); individual risk perceptions (based on how they 'see' their own environment); and the various views on government regulations (and their effectiveness) to reduce risk (just think of OHS rules at work).

Classic humans 'against' nature issues. It is aso interesting to think about the ideas of 'place attachment' and 'community attachment' when watching this program (I have just finished reading a great paper on these two constructs).

5 stars - well worth a watch here !!

Also available is the program to watch here

Full transcript here

UPDATE: check out the Climate Institute's report on "Bush Fire Weather in Southeast Australia" available here. The FFDI was interesting, see below from the report:

Fire risk is quantified using the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI). This index was developed in the late-1960s to help foresters connect the weather to the expected fire behaviour. To quantify "fire weather" temperature, relative humidity and wind speed are combined with an estimate of the so called 'drought factor' which depends on daily rainfall and the period of time elapsed since the last rain. . . ratings are "low", "medium", "high", "very high" and extreme". . . in the report the Bushfire CRC, the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO also examined two additional, unofficial fire danger ratings categories. These are "very extreme" (with FFDI >75) and "catastrophic" (with FFDI > 100).

** If you enjoyed this post please also check out:
Australia's bush fires: 'natural' disaster or 'arson'? How about climate change?

A comparison of The Limits to Growth with 30 years of reality
Splitting: 'jobs' versus 'the environment
Gambling with climate change: MIT updates its climate gamble wheels
So please, tell us what you think.

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