Half a million Australians are under some level of evacuation order as catastrophic floods continue to deluge huge swaths of eastern Australia with more rain to come. The increase in extreme precipitation and the flooding it causes are some of the clearest signals of climate change, caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels. The flooding in Queensland and New South Wales, caused by torrential rains dropping a month’s-worth of rain in a matter of days, has already killed at least 14 people and are expected to be worse than the floods that ravaged the same region about a year ago – which themselves were the worst in 60 years.
The country’s two biggest insurers are expected to exceed their budgets for weather disasters by hundreds of millions of dollars, adding to the already-existing concerns over the insurance industry’s ability to cope with increasing climate disasters. Floodwaters have submerged town centers, swept away whole herds of cattle, and drowned and stranded wildlife. (AP, Reuters, The Guardian; Insurance: FT $; Cattle: The Guardian; Wildlife: HuffPost; Photos: The Guardian, NPR, USA Today; Climate Signals background: Extreme precipitation events, Flooding)