Category Archives: Climate Change
from ABC – The World Today
Eleanor Hall interviews Dr Peter Christoff.
ELEANOR HALL: While the Federal Government focuses its climate policy energies on repealing the carbon tax, a report published today paints a terrifying picture of a world that’s four degrees warmer and recommends a dramatic increase in Australia’s carbon reduction target.
The report’s editor is Associate Professor of Environmental Policy at Melbourne University, Dr Peter Christoff.
He says he will meet Australian politicians from all parties to stress the urgency of the problem.
He joined me from Melbourne this morning.
Professor Christoff, what do you say to those who say it’s simply alarmist to be talking about four degrees of global warming, twice the level that world leaders have identified as dangerous, and are working to keep below.
PETER CHRISTOFF: Well, two years ago or four years ago, it would have been regarded as science fiction to think about a world heading in that direction. But frankly, given the pace of negotiations and the projections that are being made on current levels of emissions and also projected changes to those emissions, four degrees is pretty much about the centre figure that is being projected by the IPCC, the scientific body looking at climate change.
So four degrees unfortunately is now a very realistic prospect by the end of this century.
ELEANOR HALL: You say we should use the best available evidence. What does it tell us about the earliest possible date we’d be looking at a four degree warmer world?
PETER CHRISTOFF: Well a great deal depends on the rate at which emissions either increase or decline. If those emissions increase, then we’re looking at four degrees being perhaps as early as 2070. If they decline, but not sufficiently, then we’re looking at around the end of this century.
Of course that doesn’t mean that that’s when the warming stops. Warming would continue to occur for some time, for some centuries after that. But at this stage that’s the projection that we’re looking at.
ELEANOR HALL: The planet has warmed only about 0.8 of a degree since the industrial revolution. The latest IPCC report shows the pace of warming has actually stabilised in recent years. Isn’t this just too extreme an analysis to be taken seriously?
PETER CHRISTOFF: Look, the stabilisation that has occurred at the moment is regarded by most climate scientists as temporary. These sort of projections that we are now looking at the moment are not alarmist at all. I think they’re actually probably conservative under the circumstances. They don’t factor in a number of other feedbacks which may occur as warming continues and as we move past certain tipping points.
ELEANOR HALL: So if this four degrees of warming or worse were to take place, which parts of the globe, which populations, would be most at risk?
PETER CHRISTOFF: You’d probably have to say that most parts of the globe would be at risk. That’s four degrees of average warming, but there would be warming that is in excess of that as you move towards the polar regions in both hemispheres.
You’ve got to say that Australia as a country which has always had a fairly fragile environment, would be one of the continents and one of the countries most at risk. Certainly it’s the most vulnerable of the industrialised countries.
But then you have continents like the Indian subcontinent and also China, which are very vulnerable because of their large populations who are extremely susceptible to changes in drought and therefore in food availability.
ELEANOR HALL: What is the most frightening aspect for you of a four degree warmer world?
PETER CHRISTOFF: Oh look, that’s a terrible question to which one only has to give a terrible answer. There are a set of compounding problems that emerge when you start moving towards four degrees. You start to see a world in which there are substantial extinctions.
The oceans have become warmer, are becoming more acidic. So there’s a very significant chance of the collapse of significant marine ecosystems like coral reefs, the Great Barrier Reef, for example, is probably doomed when you get to four degrees. There are very substantial problems with food availability planet-wide and in a country like Australia which used to be capable of producing a surplus of food, by four degrees, would probably be facing food security problems with a larger population, but also a hungrier population.
And then you have the issues of extreme weather events, floods, more intense storms, bushfires, all these things particularly in the Australian context, I think leave us with a shatteringly different sense of what Australian can and would be like.
ELEANOR HALL: The physical effects are one part of this. What could the changes in the resource availability then mean for security? Will it inevitably mean more wars?
PETER CHRISTOFF: The projections are at four degrees that you would have significant displacement of population. If you have mass hunger occurring, populations will move to try and find food. Most of those movements, and the projections go from 65 to 250 million people by the end of this century. Most of those movements are likely to occur with countries, but there would be also the prospect of people moving over their borders and looking for resources elsewhere.
And how the world begins to handle a problem of that magnitude I think is something that we can only begin to contemplate. One doesn’t know whether it would lead to more conflict. It certainly would lead to problems. I don’t think we can understand what a world that looks like the one that’s being projected looks like or how we’re going to react to it. It’s beyond human experience.
ELEANOR HALL: This sounds like a doomsday scenario. Could humans adapt to a four degree warming of the planet?
PETER CHRISTOFF: Well, humans are an extraordinarily adaptable species but if you’re looking at a population of seven billion people trying to adapt to a world in which there’s less water and less food, one would have to say that the prospects for an adaptation that would leave life looking roughly like it does for many people at this point in time is virtually impossible.
So there are already billions of people living in poverty or in water-stressed and food-stressed circumstances. In a four degree world, their situation would only get extremely worse. And even in extremely wealthy countries like Australia, adaptation I think would be very, very difficult to countenance.
There would clearly be some form of adaptation, but it wouldn’t be life as we understand it at this point in time.
ELEANOR HALL: You say that Australia could be one of the most vulnerable continents. Where do you expect to see the worst effects in Australia of a four degree warmer world?
PETER CHRISTOFF: There will be the extinctions of species. There’ll be a very substantial impact on agricultural productivity. So the issues of food availability will change. We probably have the wealth and the resources to begin to deal with some of the issues of water availability and desalinisation plants and so on. Everyday life will be very substantially different. There are projections for example of what would happen to just average temperatures over time. So in Melbourne for example, we have something like nine or ten days over 35 degrees at the moment. By the time you get to 2070, that’s about 26 days.
When you’re looking at Alice Springs, the temperatures are 90 days over 35 degrees now, 180 by 2070. And then you get to places like Darwin, which would move from 11 days to 308. You end up with parts of Australia which are virtually unliveable. And the projections are for example, that while Alice Springs would resemble the Sudan, Darwin will resemble like no place on earth.
ELEANOR HALL: What action would you like to see from policy makers as a result of your report?
PETER CHRISTOFF: The clearest thing that this report suggests is that our current settings, current targets, and our current policies are inadequate. So Australia’s committed to reducing its emissions by five degrees. We need to look at a much more substantial target, around 35-40, even 45 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.
ELEANOR HALL: To go from 5 per cent to 45 though, that’s a massive increase. Do you really expect the current government to take something like that seriously?
PETER CHRISTOFF: Well clearly there’s a huge gap between our current political settings and what the science is suggesting we need to do. But at the end of the day if you look at the economic, the social and environmental outcomes, there has to be a bit of a reality check and I think that nature is going to give us that.
ELEANOR HALL: A 45 per cent reduction, what would be the cost of bringing that about. I mean, British economist Nicholas Stern’s analysis that it would cost 1 per cent of GDP globally is now well out of date, isn’t it?
PETER CHRISTOFF: It is out of date. But it’s not that far off what one could still expect at this point in time. We’re talking about billions of dollars. But in terms of the amount of money that is currently spent within the budget on education or defence and so on, it certainly wouldn’t be a dramatic tension for the budget to be reoriented towards dealing with this problem.
ELEANOR HALL: Peter Christoff, as we’ve been going through this conversation you’re reeling off statistics that really are quite extraordinary. How worried are you that we could actually reach four degrees of warming?
PETER CHRISTOFF: Extremely worried. We haven’t seen the sort of focus and we haven’t seen the sort of effort that’s required to avoid exceeding two degrees in international negotiations, nor in Australia for some time. And I think that under the circumstances, unless there is a change, I think that the likelihood is that we will head towards four degrees, or more precisely that in 10 or 20 years time we’ll start to panic and start to really begin to move very, very quickly to reduce emissions. But under those circumstances it will much more expensive and probably much less effective set of policies that we put in place.
ELEANOR HALL: Professor Christoff, thanks very much for joining us.
PETER CHRISTOFF: Thanks Eleanor.
ELEANOR HALL: That’s Melbourne University’s Dr Peter Christoff. He’s the editor of that report; Four Degrees of Global Warming: Australia in a Hot World.
For audio and full transcript, go here.
This video is an excellent summation of the IPCC WG1 2013 report. Of course if you are Tony Abbott and you rely on funding from mining companies and billionaires to get elected as Prime Minister, you are going to pretend you know more than thousands of experts, each one infinitely more intelligent than you. I can only hope one day he and his idiotic band of environmental vandals get run over by a mining truck.
Climate change is happening, it has always happened, and it is happening faster then it should because of we humans, and our burning fossil fuels. Now, the non-morons can relax with the realisation that I wasn’t addressing them and was directing that at anthropogenic climate change deniers. Please enjoy this video from Hank as he dismisses 10 common climate denier memes. The only criticism I have of his video is that he speaks far too quickly for morons to comprehend. However, if they can operate a mouse they should be able to pause and replay as often as they need to. For the rest of you, enjoy.
If, by some miracle, the Tony Abbott led conservative Australian government’s climate policy, Direct Action actually achieves the grossly insufficient target of a drop in CO2 emissions to 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 (I know, who am I kidding? Play along though) the one thing missing from the equation, is how much CO2e we actually export. The figures are staggering.
From Reuters Point Carbon via Climate Spectator
Mining keeps Australia’s emissions from falling: data
Rising emissions from coal and gas production cancelled out greenhouse gas cuts achieved through reduced electricity generation in Australia in the year to March 2013, government data released Thursday showed.
Australia emitted 557 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in the 12 months to March 2013, not counting changes in land use, according to data published on the website of the Department of Climate Change – a reduction of 0.1 million tonnes year-on-year.
Cleaning up the coal-dependent power sector is expected to play a key role in Australia’s efforts to reduce output of greenhouse gases to 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.
The report found that emissions from electricity generation, the country’s biggest source of heat-trapping emissions, fell 6.1 per cent to 187 million tonnes, largely driven by a drop in demand.
But emissions resulting from fossil fuel extraction rose 12.7 per cent to 45.8 million tonnes of CO2e per year.
“The great majority of increased coal production is exported, with black coal exports increasing by 10.1 per cent over the corresponding period,” the report said.
Australia, the developed world’s biggest per capita carbon emitter, exports fossil fuels that when burned each year account for around twice as many emissions as Australia’s total domestic greenhouse gas output.
Environment group Greenpeace said earlier this year that with all of Australia’s planned coal and gas projects the country was set to be the world’s second biggest source of new emissions this decade.
At nearly 40 per cent, Japan is the biggest buyer of Australian coal, followed by China, South Korea, India and Taiwan.
Original story here
Idiots from the Waubra Foundation like to spread lies and misinformation about wind turbines, reporting on a made-up condition called Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS). This condition allegedly presents in a large range of symptoms, many of which are too stupid to be believed. The culprit is alleged to be the deadly “infrasound”. I’m not going to rehash all the debunking but feel free to click some of the links below. In the meantime, here is a story from No Fibs from a lady who put up with years of dust, lost income, health issues and other negative effects from a CSG mine next door to her property. These effects are real.
Other posts about WTS and infrasound:
For anybody not paying attention to our bumbling new Government, here’s a little gem for you that I think demonstrates a couple of key things…
1. Greg Hunt is ignorant…….. ( I was going to list a few things here but after I started I realised I would be here all day)
2. Some people are very quick and clever when it comes to taking the piss out of our politicians.
Prior to the election I highlighted how half of the coalition members are climate change deniers and how a potential cabinet would look in terms of its members and their position on the science underpinning climate change.
Since the election we have found that the coalition government is filled with worse than the run of the mill deniers and is headed by possibly the most backward, conceted, sneaky, discriminatory, elitist and dishonest leader we have ever seen. He and his band of merry men (I include the only female member of his cabinet, Julie Bishop) are good friends of mining magnates, serial polluters and the whackiest of the whacky rightwingers among the IPA, Australia’s version of the Heartland Institute.
Abbott and Hunt’s climate policy, the useless Direct Action policy, will actually result in 16% higher emissions while handing money to their mates. I have outlined what direct action is here.
So, it is no surprise then that Greg Hunt, in defending his leader’s appalling slight to the head of the UN’s climate negotiations, Christiana Figueres, stated in a radio interview that there is no link between climate change and New South Wales bushfires, and cited Wikipedia as evidence. Yep….Wikipedia. That cover’s Greg Hunt’s ignorance, so what about point 2 above?
Well, within a very short space of time, some smart cookie made the following entry into Wikipedia under “Greg Hunt”..
Bwuuahhahahaha. Moving quickly, presumably somebody from the LNP contacted Wikipedia and this happened….
Vandalism. Ironic I think given the Coalition’s climate policy.
Anthropogenic Climate Change is already reeking havoc around the globe with extreme weather, new climate records, altered ecosystems and melting ice, but this is not the only way we manage to ruin the environment. The following story from the Newcastle Herald is sobering to say the least. The ocean is broken.
By GREG RAY Oct. 18, 2013
IT was the silence that made this voyage different from all of those before it.
Not the absence of sound, exactly.
The wind still whipped the sails and whistled in the rigging. The waves still sloshed against the fibreglass hull.
And there were plenty of other noises: muffled thuds and bumps and scrapes as the boat knocked against pieces of debris.
What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.
The birds were missing because the fish were missing.
Exactly 10 years before, when Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen had sailed exactly the same course from Melbourne to Osaka, all he’d had to do to catch a fish from the ocean between Brisbane and Japan was throw out a baited line.
“There was not one of the 28 days on that portion of the trip when we didn’t catch a good-sized fish to cook up and eat with some rice,” Macfadyen recalled.
But this time, on that whole long leg of sea journey, the total catch was two.
No fish. No birds. Hardly a sign of life at all.
“In years gone by I’d gotten used to all the birds and their noises,” he said.
“They’d be following the boat, sometimes resting on the mast before taking off again. You’d see flocks of them wheeling over the surface of the sea in the distance, feeding on pilchards.”
But in March and April this year, only silence and desolation surrounded his boat, Funnel Web, as it sped across the surface of a haunted ocean.
North of the equator, up above New Guinea, the ocean-racers saw a big fishing boat working a reef in the distance.
“All day it was there, trawling back and forth. It was a big ship, like a mother-ship,” he said.
And all night it worked too, under bright floodlights. And in the morning Macfadyen was awoken by his crewman calling out, urgently, that the ship had launched a speedboat.
“Obviously I was worried. We were unarmed and pirates are a real worry in those waters. I thought, if these guys had weapons then we were in deep trouble.”
But they weren’t pirates, not in the conventional sense, at least. The speedboat came alongside and the Melanesian men aboard offered gifts of fruit and jars of jam and preserves.
“And they gave us five big sugar-bags full of fish,” he said.
“They were good, big fish, of all kinds. Some were fresh, but others had obviously been in the sun for a while.
“We told them there was no way we could possibly use all those fish. There were just two of us, with no real place to store or keep them. They just shrugged and told us to tip them overboard. That’s what they would have done with them anyway, they said.
“They told us that his was just a small fraction of one day’s by-catch. That they were only interested in tuna and to them, everything else was rubbish. It was all killed, all dumped. They just trawled that reef day and night and stripped it of every living thing.”
Macfadyen felt sick to his heart. That was one fishing boat among countless more working unseen beyond the horizon, many of them doing exactly the same thing.
No wonder the sea was dead. No wonder his baited lines caught nothing. There was nothing to catch.
If that sounds depressing, it only got worse.
The next leg of the long voyage was from Osaka to San Francisco and for most of that trip the desolation was tinged with nauseous horror and a degree of fear.
“After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead,” Macfadyen said.
“We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.
“I’ve done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I’m used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen.”
In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes.
“Part of it was the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Japan a couple of years ago. The wave came in over the land, picked up an unbelievable load of stuff and carried it out to sea. And it’s still out there, everywhere you look.”
Ivan’s brother, Glenn, who boarded at Hawaii for the run into the United States, marvelled at the “thousands on thousands” of yellow plastic buoys. The huge tangles of synthetic rope, fishing lines and nets. Pieces of polystyrene foam by the million. And slicks of oil and petrol, everywhere.
Countless hundreds of wooden power poles are out there, snapped off by the killer wave and still trailing their wires in the middle of the sea.
“In years gone by, when you were becalmed by lack of wind, you’d just start your engine and motor on,” Ivan said.
Not this time.
“In a lot of places we couldn’t start our motor for fear of entangling the propeller in the mass of pieces of rope and cable. That’s an unheard of situation, out in the ocean.
“If we did decide to motor we couldn’t do it at night, only in the daytime with a lookout on the bow, watching for rubbish.
“On the bow, in the waters above Hawaii, you could see right down into the depths. I could see that the debris isn’t just on the surface, it’s all the way down. And it’s all sizes, from a soft-drink bottle to pieces the size of a big car or truck.
“We saw a factory chimney sticking out of the water, with some kind of boiler thing still attached below the surface. We saw a big container-type thing, just rolling over and over on the waves.
“We were weaving around these pieces of debris. It was like sailing through a garbage tip.
“Below decks you were constantly hearing things hitting against the hull, and you were constantly afraid of hitting something really big. As it was, the hull was scratched and dented all over the place from bits and pieces we never saw.”
Plastic was ubiquitous. Bottles, bags and every kind of throwaway domestic item you can imagine, from broken chairs to dustpans, toys and utensils.
And something else. The boat’s vivid yellow paint job, never faded by sun or sea in years gone past, reacted with something in the water off Japan, losing its sheen in a strange and unprecedented way.
BACK in Newcastle, Ivan Macfadyen is still coming to terms with the shock and horror of the voyage.
“The ocean is broken,” he said, shaking his head in stunned disbelief.
Recognising the problem is vast, and that no organisations or governments appear to have a particular interest in doing anything about it, Macfadyen is looking for ideas.
He plans to lobby government ministers, hoping they might help.
More immediately, he will approach the organisers of Australia’s major ocean races, trying to enlist yachties into an international scheme that uses volunteer yachtsmen to monitor debris and marine life.
Macfadyen signed up to this scheme while he was in the US, responding to an approach by US academics who asked yachties to fill in daily survey forms and collect samples for radiation testing – a significant concern in the wake of the tsunami and consequent nuclear power station failure in Japan.
“I asked them why don’t we push for a fleet to go and clean up the mess,” he said.
“But they said they’d calculated that the environmental damage from burning the fuel to do that job would be worse than just leaving the debris there.”
Original article here
by David Spratt
When the IPCC’s new report on the physical basis of climate change was released in late September, media attention focused on a conclusion from the Summary for Policymakers that the world had emitted just over half of the allowable emissions if global warming is to be kept to 2 degrees Celsius (2°C) of warming.
Unfortunately, because many people think if you have a budget you should spend every last dollar, the “carbon budget” message could be interpreted as saying there is plenty of budget left to spend… Read the rest here.
In this video, comparisons are drawn between the events that led to the end-Permian extinction and our current trajectory in terms of CO2 release and anthropogenic global warming. The climate system and physics don’t care about the source of CO2. They will just do what they do and we will have our consequences. It is easy for deniers to dismiss this sort of video as “alarmist” but the onus is on them to explain why the possible outcomes won’t happen without resorting to magical or wishful thinking. Good luck with that.