THE CONVERSATION: Spending wisely now will make heatwaves less costly later

Monday, February 24, 2014

Follow the link to read the full article by Rod Keenan

As Melbourne labours through its second heatwave this month, it is becoming clear that these events take a heavy toll. Health, energy consumption, transport, infrastructure, agriculture and other natural resources are all affected. What is also clear is that the costs will continue to mount.

The most prudent way to stop them escalating beyond our control is to spend money up front to ensure our cities and communities can withstand increasing temperatures. Put simply, we need to be more proactive, and less reactive, when adapting to climate change.

Over the past decade, the Victorian Government has spent more than A$4 billion on response and recovery to bushfires, floods, droughts and heatwaves. On top of that public money, there is also the private financial cost to industries, communities and individuals – not to mention the emotional and mental impact of these events.

There has to be a better way. We can start by widening our thinking about climate adaptation, to include steps to avoid and prepare for events such as heatwaves, rather than just responding to them.