Wednesday, March 22, 2006


More pictures here

As I was born and bred in Innisfail, this story had more than the usual interest for me. I in fact remember well living through a similar cyclone in Innisfail when I was about 11.

By way of background it may be worth noting that all North Queensland houses have long been built to be cyclone resistant. Roofs are screwed down and the roof frame is bolted to the house. And the house is bolted to the stumps on which it is set and the stumps in turn are both deep-set in the ground and braced to withstand lateral force. So while many houses were damaged, most stayed intact enough to protect their occupants. The lack of deaths was certainly no accident.

I reproduce below comments from three different writers on the matter

Nobody killed in big Queensland blow

The devastation Hurricane Katrina caused in the United States probably helped save lives in Queensland's cyclone ravaged north, an expert said today. No-one was killed or suffered serious injuries despite the ferocious nature of category five Cyclone Larry, the most powerful cyclone to hit Australia in decades. However, Larry, which made landfall yesterday, destroyed homes, uprooted trees, downed powerlines, and ruined banana and cane crops in and around the town of Innisfail, which bore the brunt of its fury.

Professor Tom Hardy, a cyclone expert with the Australian Maritime College, said it was amazing that no-one was killed. He said the experience of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama last August and killed more than 1000 people, probably helped save north Queenslanders' lives. "I think that the big hurricanes in New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico this last year made people realise 'Oh my gosh, that can happen here'," Prof Hardy said today. "Whereas if this happened a year ago, I think there would have been a few people (asked to evacuate) who would've said 'No, I'm just going to stay here, I've lived here for 20 years and nothing's happened'.

"New Orleans got whacked but I think Innisfail maybe learned a little bit about that." Prof Hardy said a combination of better building standards and warning systems also probably contributed to a lack of casualties. He said most north Queenslanders would have been unaware of what to expect from Cyclone Larry after decades of relatively minor cyclones. "I think we did a damn good job of being prepared for it because no-one died, and the damage will be something that we can recover from," he said.


Technologically Advanced, Modern Economy, Survives Category 5 Cyclone without a Single Fatality

An interesting comparison below lifted from Jennifer Marohasy

A category 5 cyclone, more severe than Cyclone Tracy or Hurricane Katrina, lashes Far North Queensland and there is not a single fatality. It perhaps says something about Australia, modern economies and democracies and their potential capacity to adapt and to survive? Congratulations Far North Queensland! When we were less technologically advanced, that is on 10th March 1918 and a severe cyclone hit Innisfail, over 80 people died. Following is the note in the Bureau of Meterology records for that event:

"This cyclone is widely regarded as the worst cyclone to hit a populated area of Queensland. It crossed the coast and passed directly over Innisfail. Pen on Post Office barograph was prevented from registering below 948 hPa by flange on bottom of drum. 926 hPa read at the Mourilyan Sugar mill at 7 pm 10 Mar. The eye wall reached Innisfail at 9 pm. In Innisfail, then a town of 3,500 residents, only around 12 houses remained intact the rest being blown flat or unroofed. A report from the Harbours and Marine Engineer indicated that at Maria Creek the sea rose to a height of about 3m above high water (If this refers to HAT the water was 4.65m above the tide for that day). Around 4.40pm 10 Mar at Bingil Bay a tidal wave was seen surging in from the east into Bingil Bay taking the bridge over the creek 400 m inland. Mission Beach was covered by 3.6 m water for hundreds of metres inland, the debris reached a height of 7m in the trees. All buildings and structures were destroyed by the storm surge in the Bingil Bay Mission beach area. The surge was 2.6m at Flying Fish Point. Babinda also had many buildings destroyed and some reports suggest that not one building was left standing. There was widespread damage at Cairns and on the Atherton Tablelands. Recent reports suggest that 37 people died in Innisfail while 40 to 60 (mostly aborigines) lost their lives in nearby areas."

The lessons of cyclone Larry

Comment by Benny Peiser below noting that the North Queensland experience is great evidence of how technologically advanced societies can cope very well with even very dangerous natural changes and events:

Throughout human history, natural disasters such as cyclones and hurricanes have had devastating impacts on human life and societies. Until fairly recently, tens of thousands of people around the world were killed each year as a result of tropical mega-storms. Although it is technically impossible, for the time being, to completely neutralise the damage tropical storms bring with them, it is possible, as a result of effective disaster warning and preparedness to significantly reduce the potential risks to human life, infrastructure and the economy.

Disaster warning systems have become essential social mechanisms in the forecast, detection and mitigation of natural disasters. People exposed to natural hazards are increasingly relying on the effectiveness of warning systems. They are most effective for natural catastrophes that develop gradually and relatively slowly, such as floods or tropical cyclones. In 1991, for example, 600,000 people in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh were evacuated in advance of a tropical cyclone, thus minimising the number of fatalities to just over a thousand. 13 years earlier, in comparison, over 10,000 people were killed in a similar cyclone that transpired without any warning. The significant decline in storm-related deaths since 1950 has been attributed to improvements in tornado-warning systems.

The experience with Cyclone Larry only underlines this encouraging development. As Jennifer Marohasy points out above, Cyclone Larry, the strongest cyclone to have hit Australia in almost 100 years, has produced not a single fatality. Cyclone Larry demonstrates that technologically advanced, open societies which develop disaster early warning strategies and effective planning that provides resilience to such disasters can reduce the risks to human life to almost zero. The key lesson of Cyclone Larry is simple: Human adaptation, effective disaster planning, social resilience and proper insurance cover are beginning to transform tropical mega-storms from devastating human catastrophes into managable nuicances.


When the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded the world held it's breath. We were told that a major catastrophe had taken place. Greenpeace, 10 years after the 1986 disaster said that the accident is "blamed for the deaths of some 2,500 people, has affected millions and displaced hundreds of thousands, many of whom have still not been able to return to their homes." Greenpeace called nuclear power "the most dangerous energy source yet devised by humankind".

Since that claim was made another long eight years have passed. But now the United Nations has released a new report disputing these claims. First we learn that results of the accident were not nearly as deadly as was originally projected. Second, we find that while the accident was horrific the official response made things worse for large numbers of people. Chernobyl also has some lessons on the detrimental effects of welfare.

And we will see that even after hundreds of scientists produce an exhaustive report on the matter the environmental ideologues refuse to change their tune and instead denounce the scientists.

The myth-busting report Chernobyl's Legacy was published by the Chernobyl Forum which is a collection of supranational organisations like the World Health Organisation, the UN Development Programme, the World Bank, the governments of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine and a host of other groups. It was formed in 2002 to study the effects of the disaster and the official response to it.

In 1986 when Reactor #4 exploded it was predicted that tens of thousands would die. The UN report notes that "Claims have been made that tens or even hundreds of thousands of persons have died as a result of the accident." But, these "claims are exaggerated".

This doesn't mean no one died. But the numbers directly attributed to the accident are much lower than most would assume. In 1986, the year of the accident, 28 people died from exposure to radiation. All of them had been emergency workers at the reactor. From 1987 until 2004 another 19 died and "long term radiation-caused illness may have led to the deaths" of additional emergency workers.

The main problems found among the general population was with young children who drank milk that was produced by cows that ate contaminated grass. For them there was a clear increase in thyroid cancer. But this cancer is very treatable. The report noted: "For the 1152 thyroid cancer cases diagnosed among children in Belarus during 1986-2002 and treated, the survival rate was 98.8%."

Except for these two groups the direct medical impact of Chernobyl was minimal. The UN report says: "Among the general population affected by the Chernobyl radioactive fallout, however, the radiation doses were quite low, and ARS (acute radiation syndrome) and associated fatalities did not occur."

Chernobyl took place in 1986. The socialist system collapsed in 1989. In the years immediately following the collapse living standards dropped. The economy was a total disaster and health care had become almost non-existent. People all across the region saw life expectancy decline. And among this general increase in death rates and illnesses the results of Chernobyl have to be found. But Chernobyl's effects were tiny in comparison to the larger picture. The 50 some deaths are firm numbers. But the projections of possible other deaths are estimates. The UN said: "the number of deaths over the past 20 years that may have been attributable to the accident are only estimates with a moderately large range of uncertainty. The reason for this uncertainty is that people who received additional doses of low-level radiation have been dying from the same causes as unaffected people. Moreover, in all the groups studied, of both emergency workers and resident populations, any increase in mortality as compared to control groups was statistically insignificant or very low. Estimates related to projected deaths in the future are even less certain, as they are subject to other major confounding factors. In reality, the actual number of deaths caused by the accident is unlikely ever to be known with precision."

The New York Times reported, "for the millions who were subjected to low levels of radioactive particles spread by the wind, health effects have proved generally minimal." They reported that there was no rise in leukaemia rates except for a small number of plant workers. Nor has any increase in birth defects been noticed nor decrease in fertility rates.

The reason for this is simple. Only people in the immediate vicinity of the accident were exposed to sufficient radiation to cause problems. Radiation is a natural phenomena and we are all exposed it through day to day living. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commissions puts it this way: "Radiation is all around us. It is naturally present in our environment and has been since the birth of this planet."

People seem mostly unaware that radiation is a natural phenomenon and that we are all exposed to low levels of radiation every day. The average American is exposed to 300 millirems of radiation per year and over 80% of that is from natural sources. But residents of Denver receive a dose of about 1000 millirems just because of the altitude of the city. A person working in a nuclear power plant is exposed to about 300 additional millirems per year while regulations limited occupational exposure per year to 5000 millirems. But pilots, airline crew members and frequent flyers can be exposed to an additional 500 to 600 millirems. That's quite a bit when you consider that living next door to a nuclear power plant only increases exposure by 1 millirem per year. But if even that worries you then remember that the human body produces about 40 millirems per year entirely on it's own.

Levels of exposure as a result of the accident, for most, was lower than what many people experience naturally. Chernobyl's Legacy stated, "that the average doses received by residents of the territories contaminated by Chernobyl fallout are generally lower than those received by people who live in well known areas of high natural background radiation in India, Iran, Brazil and China." ....

Of course environmental activists and antinuclear ideologues also had reasons to exaggerate the consequences hence the predictions of hundreds of thousands of deaths as a result of the accident. Add to that the natural tendency of the media to prefer the sensational aspects of any story and it is no wonder that people around the world were in an induced panic about the accident. Individuals who lived in the general vicinity suddenly found themselves being relocated, often against their will. They lost their homes and were subjected to regular medical check ups which had to raise their anxiety levels. Many of these people simple came to assume that they had been exposed and were doomed.

Yet fear itself is detrimental to health. Dr. Fred Mettler who lead the UN team said: "People have developed a paralysing fatalism because they think they are at much higher risk than they are, so that leads to things like drugs and alcohol use, and unprotected sex and unemployment."(16) The Chicago Sun-Times reported that "anxiety caused by fear of the radiation is causing serious mental health problems, and worries and `shows no signs of diminishing and may be even spreading,' the International Atomic Energy Agency said..." And the Washington Post noted that the report said "that lifestyle disease, such as alcoholism, among affected residents posed a much greater threat than radiation exposure." .....

So how has the UN report been taken? The media finds it a fascinating story because it has the element of sensationalism that sell papers or boost ratings. But the beneficiaries of Chernobyl and the ideological groups that use the accident for their own agendas are furious. They refuse to accept the report and instead denounce the UN for producing it.

Greenpeace, in particular, is most upset. William Peden from the group said that the projection of maybe 4,000 deaths in total from the disaster "is ridiculous" and "many thousands more may die in the decades to come." Jan van de Putte, another Greenpeace activist says the UN was "denying the real implications" of Chernobyl and that is "insulting [to] the thousands of victims". He also said it is dangerous because it may lead to "relocating people in contaminated areas".

But one clear example of how ideologues bend science around politics was when Greenpeace "said that the 4000 deaths only relate to a studied population of 600,000 whereas radiation was spread over most of Europe and the reports omits the impact on millions of Europeans." It omits it because there isn't any. Most of the radiation fell within a few dozen miles of Chernobyl and the levels of radiation, to which the surrounding 600,000 people were exposed, was mostly within the range of normal exposure from natural sources. Beyond there, to the rest of Europe, exposure levels were below natural levels.

One antinuclear coalition is the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. They immediately attacked the report and repeated the Greenpeace argument. They argued that the 4000 projected deaths only take into account the 600,000 in the immediate vicinity and "given that tens of millions of people were exposed to Chernobyl radiation... [a study] among the entire affected population would be expected to find far greater casualties." They report that there is "no safe exposure level to radiation."

So Denver is dangerous. The US Capitol Building is dangerous. In fact every human body is dangerous. Those international flights to environmental confabs around the world typically expose the activists to more radiation than they would get living next door to a nuclear power plant for a year. But it's nuclear power they are wanting to stop so that risk gets exaggerated and blown out of proportion. And it is this type of scare-mongering that is ruining the lives of so many deemed to be "victims of Chernobyl".

More here

Senate will try again to open up drilling in Arctic wildlife refuge

The Senate plans to take up a measure again to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, Senate Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M. said today. Less than three months after failing to attach similar language to a Defense Department spending bill, drilling supporters hope to use a budget bill to permit exploration in the nation's largest, untapped oil deposit.

Proponents are taking that tack because budget bills, under Senate rules, are not subject to a filibuster. That means the measure would need only a simple majority rather than 60 votes to get through the Senate. When drilling supporters tried a similar strategy last year, it was blocked by moderate House Republicans opposed to drilling in the northern Alaska refuge. Whether they can round up enough votes in an election year remains uncertain.

Meanwhile, Domenici's committee is expected today to approve a bill that would allow drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, despite continued opposition from Florida leaders.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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