A picture of a tree in regional South Australia has sparked a wild climate change debate.
As floodwaters from the River Murray crept up the Loxton’s Tree of Knowledge, one local thought it was a good time to take a picture to put things into perspective.
The photo posted on social media shows the tree littered with markings from recent floods.
Well above the current flood level is a marking from 1956.
For some, it was a smoking gun that climate change isn’t real.
“And the climate change back in 1956 was caused by what?” one person joked.
“I wonder if they were talking climate change in 73, 74 and 75,” another added.
Others pointed out an obvious issue.
“How tall was that tree in 1956?” one person questioned.
“Trees grow upward from the top, not from the bottom. Their trunks spread outward, not upward,” one person correctly stated.
Others said the one tree was just a bad data set.
“Using one tree as evidence to suit your agenda shows what level of intelligence we are dealing with,” one said.
“There are many factors why areas have worse flooding. There is no denying though, with mass land clearing as one factor, flooding will only get worse under extreme climate events such as La Nina,” he continued.
Hundreds have flocked to the seemingly innocuous post to duke it out in a debate about climate. In fact, 1956 was the worst flood on record for the area, with the ‘Great Flood’ described as “the greatest catastrophe in the state’s history”.
According to the Adelaide Advertiser, the flood was a culmination of two years of a La Nina, which had brought three months of heavy rain to Queensland, Victoria and NSW.
The flow of water across east Australia filled both the Murray and Darling rivers – a rare occurrence.
Floodwaters swamped towns along the Murray as up to South Australia peaked at 341GL a day and flowed into South Australia, but astonishingly, no lives were lost.
South Australia is expected to see a second, higher Murray flood peak around Christmas, with authorities expecting 185 gigalitres to flow through daily.
The state government said two peaks are expected, one in early December and another higher peak around Christmas.
“So while there is good news about what we expect at the beginning of December, we are certainly on high alert in respect to what will come across the border in late December,” Premier Peter Malinauskas said.
“It is a lot of water. It presents a lot of challenges.”
Mr Malinauskas said up to 4000 South Australian homes are in the path of peak flows, revealing that over a million sandbags were at the ready.
“But the truth be told, of course, we can’t protect every home,” he said.
“We can’t have this much water come across the border and protect every single dwelling, which is why we are still working towards that 4000 property number being inundated as a result of these additional flows.”