During our ten-year stint at the University of Queensland, we were fortunate to have access to high quality on-campus child care. This child care was a decisive factor in maintaining dual careers for my wife Judy O'Neil and for me. As well, our children developed lifelong friendships at the two child care facilities: Munro Centre (ages 0-3) and Campus Kindy (ages 3-5).
QUESTION: One of the things we have been noticing through the Healthy Country project is there has been a complete lack of people coming up through the system that have the skills and the capacity actually, more or less, to do what we needed. Your advice that it is necessary for us to make this change to be involved in the engineering or softer engineering, as you suggested. Is there a change in the U.S. in relation to this? Are you finding that more students are coming to Maryland?
The seminar was rounded off by some dancing with Dewey the Dugong, thanks to Dr. Peter Oliver who wrote and performed 'Dugong Rock'. Peter also inspired the dancing with his Dugong Rock competition. Also, thanks to Dr. Tanzi Smith, a former University of Queensland student now working in the Mary River Catchment, who drove Dewey all the way down to Brisbane for his performance.
I want to wrap up with a little bit of vision towards the future and a ray of hope and optimism. And that comes from an analysis I did of the history of paradigm shifts that have occurred in societies starting in the 1500's. Paradigm shift can lead to a sustainability revolution … There is a great book, "Human accomplishment:
Globally, seagrasses are a good indicator of ecosystem health, and so we have gone and put a global database together and started analyzing this and we've written a bunch of papers. This is one of the graphics from a paper showing that there is a preponderance of seagrass area data in North America, Europe and Australia. Global seagrass database analysis revealed net losses … Not so much in the rest of the world. Now that's starting to come in with these volunteer programs:
So let's look at Moreton Bay. The Brisbane River catchment soils were heavily eroded, and several folks from Healthy Country helped us assemble this story. We saw large-scale sediment erosion, and we can see boulders that rolled down the stream like pebbles. In some places the granitic bedrock was eroded thirty centimeters, taking the soil out of the paddocks, into the rivers and down, ultimately into Moreton Bay. Brisbane River catchment soils were heavily eroded.
That was the 'Living with Floods' part of the talk, and now I would like to transition to the second part, which is to talk about the impacts of this flood and the impacts on the natural resources, which translate into Moreton Bay. And I'm going to start with a story about the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay is the best-studied estuary in the world. It is 300 kilometers top to bottom.
Sea-level rise has led to increased flooding. Flooding has always been around, but as you can see, over time, more and more flood events occur. This correlates with the rise in relative sea-level, which is due to the ocean getting higher, but also from the land getting lower. The net result is what is most important; the relative sea-level rise.
I will use three examples of flooding from Europe. The first two are up in the North Sea: London and Holland, and finally the famous case of Venice, which is sinking fast. In 1953 there was a devastating storm surge in the North Sea. The storm surge was two and a half meters on the Netherlands' coast, two and a half meters on southern England, and dwindled away from there.
Let me talk about Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in southern Louisiana. It was scheduled that some Louisiana people were going to come up to work with us the day that Katrina hit, then we re-scheduled for us to go down to Louisiana the day Rita hit. So we decided that we'd wait until hurricane season was over. So we went down there, into a room full of angry people.