Category Archives: Climate Change

The cost of man-made disasters

About once a week or so, I receive an email from random people/businesses wanting me to post something they think is relevant to my blog. More often than not they just want to generate traffic and/or get a bit of free advertising. So far, I am yet to post anything because I don’t wish to be used in that way and don’t wish to promote private businesses, that I know nothing about. Today I am making an exception because the infographic I was sent does two things.

First it highlights just how stupid we humans are in terms of how we treat our home. It shows oil spills, nuclear disasters, the great plastic garbage patch in the Pacific and a few others and it puts a price tag on them.

The second thing it does, is it fails to mention the cost of anthropogenic climate change, and I thought that was interesting, because the annual cost of that is orders of magnitude greater than the one-off costs of the disasters it lists. More on that in a moment.

Here is the infographic. Note: In no way do I endorse the educational courses this mob are promoting. I don’t know enough about them, if the courses are legitimate or value for money or whatever. I just like the picture.

manmade-disasters

Chernobyl is listed here as the most expensive man-made disaster at $235 Billion. I don’t know if that figure is a direct cost or if ongoing opportunity costs are factored in and I’m not going to bother checking, because it pales into insignificance against the cost of anthropogenic climate change.

In September, 2012 a large study, entitled Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of A Hot Planet was published by the Europe based DARA group and the Climate Vulnerable Forum. Commissioned by 20 governments, it was written by more than 50 scientists, economists and policy experts. From the executive summary…

Climate change caused economic losses estimated close to 1% of global GDP for the year 2010, or 700 billion dollars (2010 PPP). The carbon-intensive economy cost the world another 0.7% of GDP in that year, independent of any climate change losses. Together,  carbon economy- and climate change-related losses amounted to over 1.2 trillion dollars in 2010.
The cost figure of 1.7% of global GDP is expected to rise to 3.2% annually by 2030. That’s a lot of money for a human caused disaster, but hey, it’s only money. The report also estimates that human deaths caused by climate change will reach 100 million by 2030. Sobering thought.
That report is here.
The infographic website is here.

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What the scientists really think about climate change.

 

Picture

Growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s on a farm in a small town, I spent most of my spare time outside playing riding around on my bike with my friends, and also helping out in the family business. I never really watched a lot of television but when I did I loved to watch The Curiosity Show with Rob and Dean. For those unfamiliar, here is a random clip from one of their shows.

It was this show that really got me interested in Science. Rob and Dean had a way of making science exciting and they did this through effective communication. They could explain what they were doing and make it exciting and relevant. What young kid watching the above example wouldn’t get excited about blowing the lid off something? All that nitrogen gas was also cool and creepy.

The other show I never missed was Why is it So? with Professor Julius Sumner Miller. Here was a guy who could have been typecast into any Hollywood movie or television drama as a stereotypical nutty professor. He was brilliant, not so much because he could communicate effectively (which he obviously could) but because he was so passionate about science and self-assured and this really came through. I was left in no doubt about how he was feeling at any given moment. Recently I have become re-acquainted with Miller and have spent many hours on YouTube watching grainy copies of Demonstrations in Physics. One of my favourites was his lecture on Bernoulli. It is classic Sumner Miller and it will leave you in no doubt about his passion for physics and ability to effectively communicate. I particularly enjoy his language. His “common enchantment” is on show.

Fast forward 30 something years to today and one of my biggest laments in science is the unwillingness of scientists to really express their personal feelings about the science they are doing. Scientists are for some reason almost expected to maintain the dispassion they apply to the scientific method throughout all aspects of their life or at least to keep their personal feelings out of the public eye, especially if they are negative. Perhaps I’m generalising a bit here but it is the impression I have gotten over the years, especially where climate science is concerned. I’m not a climate scientist and I am really pissed off about the lack of action. I am really pissed off by the bullshit “arguments” put up by non-experts. I am pissed off with the media giving false balance to these morons. When I see charlatans from fossil fuel funded think-tanks on my television I want to throw something. I will throw my hands up in the air and wonder why the climate scientists are not being heard? Why aren’t they putting a human face on their findings? I know they are all passionate about their science and they have to be tearing their hair out at the prospect of what we are doing to our world.

Well, with our new dysfunctional, fossil fuel funded, climate change denying, anti-science, fossil-filled conservative government destroying renewable energy initiatives, dismantling key climate institutions, removing the only demonstrable method of reducing CO2 emissions, dishing out corporate welfare to billionaire miners and removing environmental impediments to their business interests, it seems some Australian climate experts are finally putting their thoughts in the public domain.  Joe Duggan, a master’s student in science communication at the Australian National University’s Centre for the Public Awareness of Science has asked the experts to write down their thoughts and has put them on his blog. It makes for some sobering reading.

Check it out here.

 

 

 

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Ignorance is crippling Australia

and its wilful ignorance at that

Ignorance is crippling Australia.

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The climate change denial industry cops another blow

More and more, the climate change denial industry, and it is an industry, is becoming increasingly marginalised. Big business which is generally all about free market ideology and is usually dismissive of the science underpinning anthropogenic climate change.  Insurance companies however, do recognise the threat of human caused climate change and have started rumbling about a lack of government action. You won’t find too many insurance companies funneling money into right-wing anti-science conservative think-tanks. Now, the world’s largest PR firms are also taking a stand.

From the Guardian

World’s top PR companies rule out working with climate deniers

Ten firms say they will not represent clients that deny man-made climate change or seek to block emisson-reducing regulations.

Some of the world’s top PR companies have for the first time publicly ruled out working with climate change deniers, marking a fundamental shift in the multi-billion dollar industry that has grown up around the issue of global warming.

Public relations firms have played a critical role over the years in framing the debate on climate change and its solutions – as well as the extensive disinformation campaigns launched to block those initiatives.

Read the rest here

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If We Release a Small Fraction of Arctic Carbon, ‘We’re Fucked': Climatologist

from Brian Merchant at Motherboard

This week, scientists made a disturbing discovery in the Arctic Ocean: They saw “vast methane plumes escaping from the seafloor,” as the Stockholm University put it in a release disclosing the observations. The plume of methane—a potent greenhouse gas that traps heat more powerfully than carbon dioxide, the chief driver of climate change—was unsettling to the scientists.

But it was even more unnerving to Dr. Jason Box, a widely published climatologist who had been following the expedition. As I was digging into the new development,…. read the rest here.

 

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Diabolical Wind Turbine Rays

I’d like to thank Dave Clarke for directing me to his webpage in one of his comments here…and for giving me some new terminology to use…. diabolical wind turbine rays….

Please visit Dave’s page here.

 

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Qld electricity providers trying to block solar from grid, lobby group says

Following from my last post about how worthless coal has become in Queensland comes this story from Eric Tlozek at the ABC.

Australia’s peak solar power body fears Queensland’s electricity companies are trying to put people off installing new solar systems.

The Australian Solar Council has criticised moves by Ergon and Energex to encourage new customers to install smaller solar systems that do not feed electricity back into the power grid.

Ergon and Energex said the changes, which included new rules about installing systems that feed-in power, would help them manage the detrimental impact of solar on their power networks.

“These new rules will help avoid many of the costs associated with upgrading Ergon’s network to cope with increasing numbers of these systems – costs that are ultimately borne by all electricity customers,” Ergon chief executive Ian McLeod said.

“In some cases, customers have their applications to install PV (photovoltaic) systems on constrained sections of the network downsized, unless they are prepared to pay for an upgrade to the network.

“The new standards potentially give them another option of installing a PV system of their preferred size that does not export power back into the grid.”

We’re seeing a tremendous amount of people inquiring weekly that they want to get away from utilities to live on their own systems.

Solar installer Brian Cooke

 

But John Grimes from the Australian Solar Council said he believed the power companies were trying to limit solar uptake.

“There’s a very small number of instances where there are technical issues caused by solar uptake, but they are a tiny fraction of a per cent,” Mr Grimes said.

“Instead of dealing with the technical issues that arise, they’re using a sledgehammer to try and block solar from the grid altogether.”

The uptake of solar energy in Australia, particularly in Queensland, has been huge over the past five years.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said solar generation output rose by 58 per cent to 2,700 gigawatt hours (GWh), equal to about 1.3 per cent of electricity consumption, in 2012-13.

Renewable energy advocates say it is now at 3.4GW – 1.1GW of which is in Queensland.

They also believe any moves by energy companies to limit the growth of solar will lead to so-called grid defections, where people install solar and batteries and disconnect from the network.

“By trying to stop people from using solar, the unintended consequence is that people are more likely to go solar and leave the grid much quicker than they otherwise would have,” Mr Grimes said.

 

Price of solar has come down, but not batteries: installer

Solar installer Brian Cooke specialises in systems that allow households to generate all their own electricity.

He said poor battery technology was limiting the ability of people to go “off the grid”.

“The price of solar has come down dramatically but the other associated cost of batteries, which is the other major cost, is not really coming down,” Mr Cooke said.

However that has not stopped the growth in people looking to become self-sufficient.

“We’re seeing a tremendous amount of people inquiring weekly that they want to get away from utilities to live on their own systems,” Mr Cooke said.

“The amount of inquiries we’re getting now… more and more people would be looking at doing it.”

The ABS said only 0.2 per cent of Australian households were not connected to mains power.

One of those belongs to renewable energy advocate Doone Wyborn, who disconnected from the power grid two years ago when he and his partner moved to a rural property in northern New South Wales.

“Batteries are the biggest problem but the solar panels themselves have come down so much in price over the last few years that in many cases you’re better off having a solar system, even if you’re living in the city,” he said.

“Our solar system can easily cope with all the energy requirements of a relatively efficient house, a small one, in fact we’ve got more than we need from the system that we have.”

Original story here

 

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