Australia for UNHCR is calling for urgent Australian support for people in Libya devastated by flooding in recent days. At least 5,300 people have been killed and more than 10,000 remain missing after floods burst two dams, swept away buildings and wiped out entire neighbourhoods in the city of Derna.
In Murraylands, South Australia, floods have trapped wombats in their warrens for weeks. Wildlife rescuers have been rescuing them and, as they rescue them, the rescued animals have been digging their friends and relatives out alongside the human rescuers.
Wombats are indeed amazing creatures. See also "The strange and unforgivable decline in wombat appreciation in the 20th century."
Donations to Wombat Awareness
'Floods are a natural occurrence but when do we draw the line for considering natural selection when disease, starvation and human impact are already desecrating a species?'
Over 20 warrens lie beneath over 800 000 litres of water, WAO and a team of volunteers spent 6 days removing the water to free the trapped wombats!
In December 2010 an unseasonal deluge of rain hit the core population of the Murraylands wombats. The annual average rainfall is approx 250mls, some areas received 170mls within twelve hours leaving a trail of destruction. Entire burrow systems were filled with water, others simply collapsed under the weight of the water. Hundreds of wombats perished and even more were left trapped within their homes.
WAO sprung into action by launching a wide scale rescue mission pumping hundreds of thousands of litres of water out of burrows systems and manually shovelling dirt away from collapsed burrows where there was no chance for the wombats to escape.
A flood of this magnitude has hit the Murraylands wombats one other time in recorded history yet there was no rescue mission nor any recordings of how the wombats coped with the catastrophe. WAO's work was unprecedented.
Little bodies were removed from the water to avoid contamination whilst the Department of Environment and Natural Resources kindly lent WAO Fire Fighting Pumps to remove water from viable locations. Wildlife Victoria sent two teams of volunteers from their Disaster Response Team and the SES kindly donated their services. Burrow systems by the hundreds were effected and WAO targeted to open at least one hole in each warren to allow chance of escape but the problem was huge.
After seven days volunteers started to see something amazing - freed wombats were starting to dig trapped wombats out of their burrows!! This has never been seen or documented before!
As time went on, more and more burrows were re-opened by other wombats...truly a beautiful sight for weary volunteers.
Today, over a month after this tragic event WAO is still rescuing wombats suffering from secondary complications due to the flood. Emaciated wombats from being trapped in their burrows for prolonged periods of time (there is still no food available as it is SA's dry season), pneumonia and an unseasonal influx of Sarcoptic mange continue to plague this already damaged colony.
The wombats still need your help, oxygen condensers, nebulisers, veterinary treatment and intensive care boxes are desperately needed.
Little Miss Portee was trapped in her burrow for nearly 3 weeks, starving, covered in mould and suffering from pneumonia, she finds comfort at the WAO Intensive Care Unit
Donations to Wombat Awareness for this flood rescue work and aftercare.
This year many Australians may wish they had a backyard to grow food in. Already impoverished by rising costs for rent, land and power, this year we will see food go through the roof as the impact of the floods in Queensland and Northern New South Wales carries through to the supermarkets and then to interest rates on mortgages and other loans. And, since so many of us rely on jobs in the cities originally generated by the production, transport and packaging of food from the country, unemployment will make things worse. When Australians find that their wages no longer cover the cost of food this year, perhaps more will understand why there are so many articles on this website protesting about the loss of backyard and the rise of Food Inc.
The point is that, if most of us still had access to a backyard with fruit trees and a vegetable patch, and a neighbour with a paddock and a few animals, we simply would not run the same risk of starving, given a disaster or two, as we will if population growth continues and the cost of living outpaces the value of wages and the availability of paid work.
Australians are used to responding to the news of devastating floods in third world countries, such as Bangladesh, almost annually. We read of many lives lost and crops lost, then of food shortage and disease. More people have been drowned in Bangladesh floods than have been drowned in the Queensland floods, although Bangladesh has recently made progress with strategies for evacuating populations.
Floodplains covered by houses in an elitist economy with an irresponsible government
In Queensland, Australia, land-speculation has taken precedence over prudence and flood-plains have been covered with houses. Local laws meant until very recently that property owners could sue local councils for lost potential profits if they were prohibited from clearing and developing land, notably farmland. The Queensland Government encourages land speculation at all levels and places pressure to develop new land for more intensive settlement by vigorously encouraging interstate and international immigration. The results are predictable and many tragedies could have been avoided:
"Major flooding causing inundation of large areas, isolating towns and disrupting road and rail links occurs on average about every ten years somewhere in the South-East Queensland region. Smith (1998) estimated that around 35% of the buildings at risk from flooding in Australia are located in Queensland, with 21% being in the South-East Queensland region. The large numbers of buildings at risk of flooding in South-East Queensland is exacerbated by the absence of Statewide floodplain management regulations which might typically aim to preclude residential development in areas subject to flooding up to the 1% AEP (100 year ARI) level. In Queensland such regulations are left to individual Local Government Authorities (LGAs) to establish." (Source: Miriam Middelmann, Bruce Harper and Rob Lacey, "Cost of Flooding" in "Chapter 9: Flood Risks", at http://www.ga.gov.au/image_cache/GA4210.pdf)
The flooded area in Queensland and NSW is many times larger than the whole of Bangladesh.
Because Queensland/Northern New South Wales produce far more food and fuel (coal) for local and overseas consumption than Bangladesh, the impact of destroyed crops and interruptions to mining by the floods will be massive. 
"The state government estimates 100 million dollars a day is being lost in coal exports with floodwaters disrupting operations at at least 40 coal mines - and the damage to industry and agriculture is so severe that banking analysts predict it will hurt the nation's gross domestic product." (Source: "The soaring financial cost of the floods," SBS, 6 January 2011, www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1459892/The-soaring-financial-cost-of-the-floods)
Damage to personal property and assets will be formidable, and questions are likely to be raised by insurers where residences have been built on floodplains. People will be traumatised for many years by their losses and experiences in these floods. Some may never recover their emotional well-being.
Agribusiness and the real-estate economy have deprived us of life-saving options:
James Sinnamon wrote in "How to make our agricultural sector sustainable," in 2008,
"The government needs to control the activities of any sector where they threaten the viability of other sectors, particularly vital sectors like food production. To risk severe social disruption for short-term profit might make sense to corporations, but it is the duty of governments to mitigate corporate excesses and to direct and balance activities so that the community is buffered and major conflicts are avoided.
... If incomes to be earned from sustainable farming practices are low in comparison to those to be earned by working in the city or in mines, then we need to consider whether those economic activities are sustainable."
Indeed. This year many Australians may wish they had a backyard to grow food in. Already impoverished by rising costs of rent, land and power, this year Australians will see food go through the roof as the impact of the floods carries through to the supermarkets. And, since so many of us rely on jobs in the cities originally generated by the production, transport and packaging of food from the country, unemployment will make things worse. When Australians find that their wages no longer cover the cost of food this year, perhaps more will understand why there are so many articles on this website protesting about the loss of backyard and the rise of Food Inc.
How will they feel about the heroic marketers of a big population for Australia when we cannot meet our own food needs, let alone earn export income to pay for our imports?
Aggressively imposed government policies, such as paving over market gardens close to city, as described in "Vic Gov to trash Melbourne's water recycling market gardens for quick bucks in thirsty new suburbs,")and concentrating agriculture into what amount to 'agribusiness zones' - see "Orwellian Waterworks: big-agribusiness and Victorian Gov") by removing local individual capacity to supplement food production, have left Australians virtually defenseless against food shortage, particularly in the case of disasters affecting the national economy. This officially encouraged chicken now comes home to roost with the destruction of agricultural produce we rely on by this week's 'biblical' floods in Queensland and Northern New South Wales.
Queensland flooding and climate change
There are many historic accounts of flooding in the area currently affected. See a collection of quotes and figures at http://www.ga.gov.au/image_cache/GA4210.pdf, pages 9.16 to 9.31.
And it's not like the government wasn't formally warned that floods will probably get worse in the future:
"CSIRO (2000, 2001) regional modelling experiments show thatQueensland could be warmer with more downpours, with the possibility of more cyclones, stormsurges and flood events. The effect of regional climate change on particular sectors has been examined for rangelands (Howden et al., 1999-a) and for wheat cropping (Howden et al., 1999-b).These studies show, that while it is possible to adapt production systems in many areas, and that some areas may in fact benefit, in other areas production systems could become marginalised and disappear altogether. The blue and green water systems will be driven by global change and human management, and more resilient systems have the best chance of long-term survival." Barney Foran and Franzi Poldi, Future Dilemmas, CSIRO Resource Futures, October 2002, p. 210
But, in fact, the Howard Government which commissioned the report imposed economists who were out of their depth on the scientific team and suppressed the scientists' frank conclusions, which were that it was foolish to keep growing our populations and to keep pushing the boundaries of agriculture and development. In the end, it seemed they got rid of one of the chief scientists, Barney Foran, who wrote a personal report, entitled, Between a Rock and a Hard Place. See the 2002 Four Corners report at www.abc.net.au/4corners/.../2002b_Tuesday5November2002.htm
Linsay Tanner and Bangladesh
Reacting to Kelvin Thomson's sane expression of fears as Australia's Federal and State governments continue to engineer faster and faster population growth in Australia, in 2009, the then Treasurer, Linsay Tanner, compared Bangladesh favorably with Australia, suggesting that Australia should have a much bigger population because Bangladesh does ...
"Bangladesh is roughly twice the size of Tasmania, and home to about seven times the population of Australia. If Australia seeks to persuade the rest of the world that we are overpopulated, we will be rightly laughed at,'' Mr Tanner will say, according to a copy of his speech supplied to The Age." Ari Sharp, "Population fear is nonsense: Tanner," The Age, November 13, 2009.
To many people Tanner's comments seemed the ultimate in callousness and absurdity. How could a democracy like Australia have a politician who talks like Tanner? How could a democracy like Australia become like Bangladesh?
Just look at Queensland now.
Beware Disaster Capitalism
The political corruption of the State of Queensland is another factor that will move Queensland and Australia closer to third world status in the wake of natural disasters like this one. If the Queensland government remains true to form, it wferer: http://candobetter.net/nohe floods as an excuse to borrow money internationally and to sell off remaining public assets to private interests. See Naomi Klein's book, The Shock Doctrine, which gives the history of this style of government. It was Klein who coined the term, "disaster capitalism," to describe a widespread form of economics where finance moves in on wounded countries and offers help ... at a terrible price involving asset stripping, dispossession and disenfranchisement.
Each year in Bangladesh about 26,000 km2, (around 18%) of the country is flooded, so far[when?] killing over 5000 people and destroying 7 million homes. During severe floods the affected area may exceed 75% of the country, as was seen in 1998. This volume is 95% of the total annual inflow. By comparison only about 187,000 million m3, of streamflow is generated by rainfall inside the country during the same period. The floods have caused devastation in Bangladesh throughout history, especially during the years 1966, 1987, 1998 and 1988. The 2007 South Asian floods also affected a large portion of Bangladesh.
 2004 Bangladesh 730 killed
 36 000 000 affected; US$ 2 200 000 000 damage (Source: http://www.searo.who.int/LinkFiles/Publication_&_Documents_EHA_FOCUS.pdf)