Climate change shouldn’t be a political issue. It inevitably is, but photos like the following show why it’s crucial we wake the hell up to it (even if it’s not as easy to solve as the more aggressive Keep Cup Carriers in your life might claim).
In any case, a photo was posted in the r/Brisbane Reddit thread this morning, which serves as a stark reminder nature can punch well as provide. The image shows surf breaking through the northern tip of Queensland’s Bribie Island, creating an opening some users suggest has not been seen for 100 years.
“It won’t be an island for long,” one user, who claims to have “grown up in that water” (and also ‘informed’ by a UQ study) wrote in response to another commenter’s question, “what are we going to name the new island?”.
“The northern bar will silt up and this new breakthrough will, more or less, be permanent now.”
“All that deep water around Bulcock Beach will fill in,” the same user added, explaining, “For a long time, the area will be akin to Currimundi Lake (very shallow) until it basically becomes a dunal area.”
This is what the northern Bribie Island looks like at the moment. This dangerous situation has been caused by the severe weather system. We’re asking motorists & boaties to stay away. People should also not go to the island to just take a look. @QldFES @QldPolice @CouncilSCC pic.twitter.com/gxP2XkhRv2
— Qld Park Alerts (@QldParkAlerts) December 14, 2020
“A waterway will remain through to Tripcony Bight because Caloundra Creek is right there. The VMR shed will have to move elsewhere. Happy Valley will also return to a similar state to what it was in the 1940s (dunal. They used to have an annual fair down there!). Seagrass will probably return to the northern end, it could become a brilliant little sanctuary area for a while.”
“The national Park and marine park status will still apply to the land areas, so they will be reasonably protected.”
“The mudflats to the south from Military Jetty will change too. The opening of the passage will be closer, so the dynamics of the currents will be greater. The mud will get washed away and sand will slowly move in. The sandbank on the northern side of Bells Creek will probably be the initial source of sand further north. We will likely lose the seagrass flats on the eastern side of the passage opposite Diamond Head.”
Image Credit: Joel Sheppard, supplied to ABC, reposted on Reddit.
If you don’t know Bribie Island like the back of your hand, suffice to say: the place is changing. As one Reddit user put it: “Pretty sure where it has broken through was the original opening to the Pumistone Passage 100 odd years ago.”
The question is to what degree the changes will balance out over time, and what we decide to do about that.
“I remember walking out on that huge sandbar at happy valley that no longer exists. Late 80’s and 90’s, as children we used to just swim over to Bribie… sand shifts with water. It’s cool to see it happen. Everything changes with time and tides,” wrote another.
While some people seem interested in the potential for this breakthrough to create better sandbanks to surf on (“one of the most epic days I’ve had were barrels shooting from Happy valley to almost 800m down the Bribie beach”), others are worried about houses, erosion, tourism; climate change.
On that note: Caloundra Volunteer Coastguard Flotilla Commander Roger Pearce told the ABC, “There’s still plenty of sand left there but it’s been eroded tremendously and work will need to be done to secure it for the future.”
Mr Pearce also told the ABC despite the “over-top” flow of water, it was unlikely conditions would be actually split the island at this stage.
Some Reddit users took issue with Mr Pearce’s comment about work needing to be done to secure the sand. One wrote: “The authorities have known for a long time it was unstable and the decision was made not to interfere because it is a naturally occurring event inside a national and marine park area.”
Another commented: “Indeed. This is supposed to happen. Then again, I don’t think the Commander of the Caloundra Volunteer Coastguard Flotilla is the expert we need to hear from right now.”
Golden Beach local Max Pedley told the ABC he thought the concern about the “wash through” at the northern end of the island was “a bit of an overreaction” and that he had seen the northern tip of Bribie erode many times over the last 20 years.
“It’s not a breakthrough, it’s a wash through — it just comes through in surges and washes over the top… They could fix that with no trouble whatsoever, just put a dredge over there.”
The news comes in the context of this being a La Nina year, where pacific ocean conditions will send more easterly storm conditions and rain towards Australia’s east coast.
It also, along with the erosion of Byron Bay’s Main Beach shines a light on why we need to get our shit together on climate change. Yes: we’re an export economy. Yes: much of the reason we survived the global financial crisis was our massive stack of natural resources. Yes: our politicians are stuck in a zero-sum game with each other and the rest of the world. Yes: it’s hard. But isn’t that what leadership is for?
Also worthy of note: we’re one of the countries that has contributed to this ‘zero sum’ international relations game, disincentivising other nations from setting more ambitious targets, by arguing for special exemptions in key diplomatic moments and finding loopholes in emissions agreements.
We’re far from scientists here at DMARGE. But people smarter than us reckon we are blowing a unique opportunity to lead the world – and capitalize on – renewable energy. Photos like this latest one of Bribie Island will hopefully bring that to front of mind.