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Category Archives: climate change

Resources on Climate Change

The day Scientific American, Nature or New Scientist take “anthropogenic climate change isn’t happening” seriously is the day we should concede to the Senator Minchins of this world, but that day has not yet come.

  1. Scientific American: Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense; Copenhagen and Climate Change.
  2. Nature: The Road to Copenhagen.
  3. New Scientist: Topic Guide: Climate Change.

Today from the Surry Hills Library I borrowed The Complete Guide to Climate Change by Brian Dawson, Matt Spannagle (Routledge 2009).

For anyone trying to separate the fact from the fiction, The Complete Guide to Climate Change is an indispensable resource. Taking you through the A to Z of the key scientific, geographical and socio-political issues involved in the study of the environment and the implications of mankind’s effect upon it, topics covered include:Environmental Science – the Carbon Cycle and the "Greenhouse Gases"; The impacts of climate change on life, land and sea; Mitigation strategies from carbon capture to carbon taxes; The Kyoto Protocol and UNFCC; Renewable fuel sources, from wind to solar power. Including guides to the latest scientific and governmental thinking on climate change, this book will tell you all you need to know about perhaps the biggest issue facing mankind today.

It seems from Google to be getting wide distribution in libraries but no substantial reviews yet.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2009 in climate change, environment

 

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South Sydney will be at Copenhagen

Here is a snippet from this month’s South Sydney Herald.

pat In case you can’t read that, it says that Redfern identity Patricia Corowa is off to Copenhagen for the Climate Change meet. She has a special interest in the Pacific Island implications.

Redfern activist calls for climate justice

The Rudd Government’s failure to adopt adequate greenhouse gas emission targets may prove devastating for Pacific Islanders, according to Aboriginal and Islander activist Patricia Corowa reports Laura Bannister in the South Sydney Herald of February 2009.

“Australia reaps the economic benefits of being the world’s highest per capita polluter, while sovereign island nations like the economically disadvantaged Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tonga and Samoa watch rising seas sweep through their houses,” she says.

As a third-generation South Sea Islander or “saltwater Murroona woman,” Ms Corowa has always had a “strong sense and knowledge of country”.

The retired Sydney airport customs officer, and grandmother of one, says she has been an Aboriginal and Islander activist since age 10, when remote Indigenous communities were persecuted by white settlers. During the 1970s Ms Corowa founded several pivotal welfare organisations including the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service.

Now living in Redfern, she is a strong advocate of climate justice for resource-poor Oceania nations and believes the Australian Government, as the dominant regional power, is bound by a duty of care for them. “I am not persuaded that there has been serious or even basic discussion about the rights of small Pacific Island nations under threat,” she says. “The situation [of many Islanders] is alarming.”

Tuvalu is one such struggling island nation. Made up of reef islands and atolls, the low-lying land is a mere five metres above sea level at its highest point and has few natural resources. With less than 100 tourists visiting annually, Tuvalu’s weak economy is heavily dependent upon foreign aid.

Yet industrialised countries refuse to adequately curb their consumption of dwindling resources or restrain greenhouse gas production, factors that could eventually result in the nation’s complete submersion, Ms Corowa argues.

Ms Corowa says the displacement of Pacific Islanders contravenes Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines the right of every person to a home. “I contend that unrestrained greenhouse gas production by Australia and other economically developed countries for their own advantage constitutes arbitrary interference,” Ms Corowa says.

“When Australians sing ‘our home is girt by sea’ do they really understand that sea includes three great oceans … with Indigenous Islander societies?”

Source: South Sydney Herald February 2009 www.southsydneyherald.com.au

 

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I suspect Malcolm Turnbull would lose at poker…

He does seem just lately to have shown the cards in his hand rather too much… Perhaps he secretly wants to make way for Joe Hockey rather than see Abbott succeed him? Who knows?

AFTER a weekend of extreme pressure to challenge for the leadership of the Liberal Party, Joe Hockey last night succumbed and is expected to challenge Malcolm Turnbull tomorrow as a poll shows he is more liked than the Opposition Leader.

Two-thirds of voters also want Australia to have an emissions trading scheme.

As an ailing Mr Turnbull accused lead climate change rebel Nick Minchin of wanting to destroy the Liberal Party, the latest Herald/Nielsen poll finds Mr Hockey is preferred by 36 per cent of voters as the Liberal leader. Mr Turnbull has the backing of 32 per cent and Tony Abbott has 20 per cent.

Support for Mr Turnbull has nosedived among Coalition voters but has leapt among Labor voters.

If Mr Hockey baulks, Mr Abbott will challenge. But the poll finds little enthusiasm for Mr Abbott. In a direct match-up, 51 per cent of voters prefer Mr Turnbull and 37 per cent prefer Mr Abbott.

The poll of 1200 voters was conducted on Friday and Saturday, as the Liberal Party meltdown over climate change peaked with mass defections from the frontbench and a defiant Mr Turnbull refusing to step aside…

Sydney Morning Herald

RUDD-table-420x0

Paul Sheehan is interesting today. See also Newspoll: 57-43; Nielsen: 56-44 on The Poll Bludger.

Update 7.45 pm

I dips me lid to Ian MacFarlane. Very impressive on the 7.30 Report tonight*. And should (as everyone expects) Turnbull get done over, may Joe Hockey get up and may the rumour he will allow a free vote on the ETS be true!

… KERRY O’BRIEN: How do you feel about the possibility, if there are three contenders after a spill motion gets up tomorrow – Malcolm Turnbull, Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott – the possibility, the humiliating possibility for Malcolm Turnbull that he comes third in that ballot?
IAN MACFARLANE: Oh, look, I’m not commenting on the numbers, Kerry. I mean, Malcolm will make a good fist of a ballot tomorrow. Whether or not he can win it in a three-way contest is what we’ll find out tomorrow.
KERRY O’BRIEN: Are you saying in blunt terms that Joe Hockey cannot afford to take the leadership if it means delaying the deal?
IAN MACFARLANE: Well, you can’t walk away from climate change, Kerry. The party room has acknowledged that. Everyone in the Liberal Party accepts that we would have done a better deal if we were in government. A Liberal Party without a climate change policy is not a party that’s in touch with the community at the moment. Joe knows that; Malcolm’s known that for some time. I guess at the moment what people are trying to do is come to terms with how they deal with that in the context of a potential leadership change.
KERRY O’BRIEN: Did you expect the strength of backlash from grassroots Liberals that appears to have emerged in the last week? Do you accept that the whole of that backlash is spontaneous and not orchestrated?
IAN MACFARLANE: Well, some of it is orchestrated, there’s no doubt about that. But, I mean, in the end, we’re put in Parliament to represent the people of Australia, and the people of Australia is broader than the Liberal Party base….

* On Twitter: Bernard Keane “Unbelievable to hear Ian Macfarlane say ‘you can’t walk away from climate change.’. Amazing change from five years ago.” And great to see, as he has obviously had a more open mind than most of the trogs.

 

Stats on Australians and climate change

Just out of interest, there are some stats gathered in a PDF accessible at Recent history of climate change polling. (May 2009)

cchange

cchange2

I suspect it’s time to keep an eye on The Poll Bludger again too.

 

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Sunday is music day 26: for Copenhagen

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2009 in climate change, environment, music, Sunday music

 

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To Senator Nick Minchin

Dear Senator Minchin

I am a great admirer of your principled positions on issues like the monarchy and above all on so-called global warming. That you are sticking it up that socialist glove puppet Malcolm Turnbull fills me with joy!

I treasure your sage words on Four Corners earlier this month:

I frankly strongly object to you know, politicians and others trying to terrify 12 year old girls that their planet’s about to melt, you know. I mean really it is appalling some of that that sort of behaviour…

For the extreme left it provides the opportunity to do what they’ve always wanted to do, to sort of de-industrialise the western world. You know the collapse of communism was a disaster for the left, and the, and really they embraced environmentalism as their new religion…

I don’t mind being branded a sceptic about the theory that that human emissions and CO2 are the main driver of global change – of global warming. I don’t accept that and I’ve said that publically. I guess if I can say it, I would hope that others would feel free to do so…

Such wit! Such god-like wisdom! No sir, I am not sucking up. It’s my true if humble opinion.

Therefore I feel bound, in case you have missed it, to draw your attention to some rats in the ranks, people we once thought were good sound conservatives who have been white-anted and brainwashed by the Global Warming Lobby. I am not sure which is more shocking, though I suppose one should never trust a Frenchman. And those Kiwis are little better, even if John Key is partly on message with us. But then even if they now have, as of this week, “Moderated Emissions Trading” it’s still emissions trading, isn’t it? Weak bastards! How much can a sheep’s fart be worth, I wonder?

But I digress.

What must appal us staunch supporters of Her Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is that she now seems to have been seduced! Can you believe it? Of course she is over 80, but I ask you!

And on this, the eve of the UN Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change, the Commonwealth has an opportunity to lead once more. The threat to our environment is not a new concern. But it is now a global challenge which will continue to affect the security and stability of millions for years to come.  Many of those affected are among the most vulnerable, and many of the people least well able to withstand the adverse effects of Climate Change live in the Commonwealth.

Really, you just don’t know who to trust any more, do you?

2009-10-13-20-1A_queenelizabeth Exposed! Secret Agent of World Socialism and so-called Environmentalism!

I wouldn’t trust that Joe Hockey if I were you either, just between you and me. He has shown himself to be unsound before today on the issues that concern all right-thinking conservatives. (Can we change the name of our party please? Why “Liberal” for heaven’s sake?) On Hockey I rather wish I had written Joe Hockey reveals climate ignorance which, however, does come from one of the few reliable sources in these dark days when even the House of Windsor has strayed into error.

Best wishes

A Secret Admirer

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2009 in climate change, environment, satire

 

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Random but mostly political

1. A feast for pollie-watchers and pundits

Just look at The Australian today.

Libs facing election rout

David Uren THE Coalition faces an electoral wipeout at next year’s federal election if the rebels led by Tony Abbott and Nick Minchin succeed in blocking the government’s climate change legislation.

The lead story’s interesting, and so is Paul Kelly. I suspect Joe Hockey is privately fuming.

2. Borrowed from Jim Belshaw

Like Jim, I won’t comment!

I simply report this gem from the Australian Citizens Electoral Council without comment.

Isherwood: Who would have thought? British genocidalists are liars too

The British oligarchy’s depopulation charity, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), established in 1961 by Prince Philip and “former” Nazi Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands to realise their wet dream of reducing the world’s population to two billion or so people, is a key paymaster of the lying scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU).

The CRU basically cooked up the whole global warming fraud: in another time, before hackers exposed their true nature last week, Britain’s former chief scientific adviser Sir David King happily gushed that the CRU “set the agenda for the major research effort” in climate change; its “scientists” are the leading authors of the IPCC reports cited as the bible on global warming.

Well, well.

3. Why Steve Fielding is a much nicer person than Nick Minchin

Senator Fielding (Family First) has copped much flack for his denial of anthropogenic climate change, but at least he is up front about it, even trotting out his charts to try to convince the green demonstrators outside Parliament the other day. Of course, as we all know, Fielding isn’t really a politician. Minchin is.

So now Minchin is a double denialist because 1) he denies that what he is doing goes way beyond the issue of the ETS and 2) he attempts to deny he is a denialist. On both counts he is being economical with the truth. On point 2 he has been on record for years and one wonders why – well, not really – he is figleafing himself today. Of Minchin climate scientist Graeme Pearman famously said in March 2007: "I am worried that a federal minister would believe this crap."

4. And Malcolm Turnbull is much nicer than Nick Minchin…

While not totally frank Malcolm Turnbull was considerably more accurate than Senator Minchin in his half of the back-to-back interviews on the 7.30 Report last night. On just one obvious point, as Paul Kelly says: “The conservative rebellion this week has been a stunning, ruthless and self-righteous exercise. It was about converting a minority into a majority position by sabotage. Don’t fall for the idea that Turnbull didn’t have majority support.”

5. Science marches on whatever the pollies do or say

For example:

The first-ever Australian benchmark of climate change impacts on marine ecosystems and options for adaptation is being released in Brisbane today.

27 November 2009

The Marine Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Report Card for Australia, and an accompanying website, will provide a biennial guide for scientists, government and the community on observed and projected impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems.

"The objective of compiling this information is to consider options available to environmental and resource managers in their response to changes in ecosystem balance," says project leader, CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship scientist Dr Elvira Poloczanska.

"On both sides of the continent there is clear evidence of ocean warming and this is already bringing sub-tropical species south into temperate waters, and in the case of the giant kelp forests in Tasmania, appears to be having a severe impact in just a few years.

"This research is relevant for anyone with a recreational interest or financial investment in our coasts and oceans," Dr Poloczanska says.

climate big 6. If you want to read a book

Try Robert Henson, The Rough Guide to Climate Change 2 ed.

I like it because I can understand it, but also because it is less polemical than many in the field. He admits problems and complexities.

 

Homework done

I said yesterday that I thought Malcolm Turnbull’s defiant press conference speech last night is one of his best. Here is what he said.

I appreciated his allusion to that well-known leftist plotter against capitalism Margaret Thatcher. Here (I quote from my entry of 2007 Miranda asks a question or two on climate change) is an example of her subversion in 1990:

…the threat to our world comes not only from tyrants and their tanks. It can be more insidious though less visible. The danger of global warming is as yet unseen, but real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices, so that we do not live at the expense of future generations.

Our ability to come together to stop or limit damage to the world’s environment will be perhaps the greatest test of how far we can act as a world community. No-one should under-estimate the imagination that will be required, nor the scientific effort, nor the unprecedented co-operation we shall have to show. We shall need statesmanship of a rare order…

In recent years, we have been playing with the conditions of the life we know on the surface of our planet. We have cared too little for our seas, our forests and our land. We have treated the air and the oceans like a dustbin. We have come to realise that man’s activities and numbers threaten to upset the biological balance which we have taken for granted and on which human life depends.

We must remember our duty to Nature before it is too late. That duty is constant. It is never completed. It lives on as we breathe. It endures as we eat and sleep, work and rest, as we are born and as we pass away. The duty to Nature will remain long after our own endeavours have brought peace to the Middle East. It will weigh on our shoulders for as long as we wish to dwell on a living and thriving planet, and hand it on to our children and theirs.

I want to pay tribute to the important work which the United Nations has done to advance our understanding of climate change, and in particular the risks of global warming. Dr. Tolba and Professor Obasi deserve our particular thanks for their far-sighted initiative in establishing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The IPCC report is a remarkable achievement. It is almost as difficult to get a large number of distinguished scientists to agree, as it is to get agreement from a group of politicians. As a scientist who became a politician, I am perhaps particularly qualified to make that observation! I know both worlds.

Of course, much more research is needed. We don’t yet know all the answers…

But the need for more research should not be an excuse for delaying much needed action now. There is already a clear case for precautionary action at an international level. The IPCC tells us that we can’t repair the effects of past behaviour on our atmosphere as quickly and as easily as we might cleanse a stream or river. It will take, for example, until the second half of the next century, until the old age of my grandson, to repair the damage to the ozone layer above the Antarctic. And some of the gases we are adding to the global heat trap will endure in the Earth’s atmosphere for just as long.

The IPCC tells us that, on present trends, the earth will warm up faster than at any time since the last ice age. Weather patterns could change so that what is now wet would become dry, and what is now dry would become wet. Rising seas could threaten the livelihood of that substantial part of the world’s population which lives on or near coasts. The character and behaviour of plants would change, some for the better, some for worse. Some species of animals and plants would migrate to different zones or disappear for ever. Forests would die or move. And deserts would advance as green fields retreated.

Many of the precautionary actions that we need to take would be sensible in any event…

On recent claims of dishonesty in the IPCC I commend on one side Miranda Devine and on the other George Monbiot. The links are in yesterday’s entry. Monbiot answers the charge effectively. **

You should also note that I can sympathise at least with Greg Sheridan’s dilemma (see yesterday’s entry) when he says: “I do not know whether the science that says we’re all doomed if we don’t de-carbonise the economy is true. Neither does anyone else.” Sympathise but not entirely agree, as I do think the odds are that the IPCC is more than likely right. Yes, we are talking about something which by definition cannot certain until after it has happened, and I probably won’t be around to see it. But Margaret Thatcher’s last line makes as much sense now as it did in 1990 when a great deal less was known on the subject.

I don’t think the government has done a good enough job of explaining the issues at stake, or what their ETS is actually meant to achieve. That is a shame. (New Zealand passed its own ETS the day before yesterday. Did anyone notice?) On the other hand there is much clear material on the Department of Climate Change website.

My opinions aren’t worth a lot. Lord May of Oxford is much better informed.

And he is a Sydney High Old Boy… 🙂

** And a SBHS ex-teacher (Geography) and friend is even more persuasive! See Thoughts on Climate Change after the CRU Hacking.

…Troubled as I am by the academic jealousy I’m far more troubled by the timing of this breach of the CRU and by the character of the political beings who’ve been so vocal about it. So it was with some interest that I encountered this fascinating article The SwiftHack (ClimateGate) Scandal: What You Need to Know. The article makes the following points:

* The scientific consensus on climate change remains strong.
* The impacts of catastrophic climate change continue to rear their ugly head.
* Hacking into private computer files is illegal.
* All of the emails were taken out of context.
* The story is being pushed by far-right conspiracy theorists.
* Scientists are human beings and they talk frankly amongst themselves.

Clearly this hack of a research organisation is an interestingly timed diversion….

 

Homework ;)

In preparation for a post tomorrow – or maybe Saturday? – I am reading:

  • ABC News Climate Change special coverage
  • UNSW Climate Change Research Centre
  • The Copenhagen Diagnosis
  • Greg Sheridan in The Australian.

      Watching the debate, I am afraid I have become a climate change agnostic. I am not a denier, nor really a sceptic. I am agnostic. I do not know whether the science that says we’re all doomed if we don’t de-carbonise the economy is true. Neither does anyone else.

      But I am more than half convinced by the argument that we should give the planet the benefit of the doubt. It would be good if we polluted less. I’d like to end the dependence of Western societies on Middle Eastern oil. And one day, even if climate change is not a killer, the world will run out of fossil fuel. So by all means let’s diversify our energy sources and clean up our environments. But I don’t want us to go broke in the process.

  • Miranda Devine the predictable.
  • George Monbiot on the same issue as Miranda Devine.

And on another matter, don’t forget Making Samson and Delilah at 9.35 on ABC tonight. You may also watch it on that link.

Update 7.15 pm

Wow! And again, Wow!

I don’t think I have ever heard Malcolm Turnbull speak better than he just did at that press conference. Who knows what will happen? I just know those I like least in the Liberal Party are those who have chosen to walk. Yon Minchin has a lean and hungry look. Abbott is an honourable man; so are they all, honourable men! And Casca Bloody Tuckey – well, there’s someone who should have gone long ago…

Perhaps a better than one might hope long-term outcome will be the rise of young Master Hockey. Despite his association under Howard with the loathsome workplace “reforms” he does have some human and intellectual qualities to offer, I feel.

Kevin Andrews? Well, perhaps the funny farm?

 

On climate change sceptics and qualifications

Among those patently unqualified to evaluate the science of climate change I would include myself, Senators Fielding and Minchin and Miranda Devine – but that doesn’t prevent any of us from having a say. I am not sure what tea leaves Senator Fielding consults, but I am sure Senator Minchin and Miranda Devine enter the fray on ideological rather than scientific grounds. As for myself, I leave it to the much more qualified people referred to in the appropriate item in my side bar.

I am prepared to concede that climate change is not entirely anthropogenic, and I do fear that not all the suggested remedies will actually work. You will find some very interesting ideas on the subject if you buy or subscribe to November’s Monthly Magazine.

November2009 “On the morning of 19 December, we will likely wake to read the results of the United Nations Climate-Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. The meetings will be … the most important to have occurred since World War II, and whatever their outcome they will have a lasting effect on our planet.”

– Tim Flannery

In “Copenhagen and Beyond”, Tim Flannery, John Gray and Peter Doherty provide a range of insights into the issue of climate change and our political and social responses to it. Flannery discusses the conference itself – what it hopes to achieve and where potential conflicts lie; Gray argues it is vital we recognise the gravity of our predicament and embrace more drastic policy; and Doherty considers the role scepticism has to play in the ongoing debate, highlighting the need for rigorous critical dialogue, but warning of the dangers of unreflective denialism. Despite their differing concerns, each essay emphasises the urgency of a reassessment of our response to an impending crisis.

“No technological fix can fully resolve the world’s climate crisis, which is a result of the excessive demands humankind has made on the planet. Even so, technological fixes will be indispensable in navigating the rapids that lie ahead; the technologies that may prove most useful may well include those that are most commonly demonised.

– John Gray

Peter Doherty’s essay is particularly good because it remains good-tempered while being most incisive.

As for Miranda today, I take Marcellous’s recent advice.

Miranda is a professional stirrer. Unless directly attacked, I’ve decided it is best to leave her alone. She thrives on attention.

On Senator Minchin, see what emerged from his own mouth when interviewed on Four Corners.

Meanwhile last night Kerry O’Brien was “leading the witness” somewhat when he interviewed Sir David Attenborough:

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH, WILDLIFE FILMMAKER: That one is about the polar regions of the planet, of how the North Pole and the South Pole and the lands around it, the sort of life that exists there now. And what is likely to happen to it. But primarily it’s about the animals that still live there. There are very few things more fascinating than penguins and polar bears up in the north and seals and sea lions, and sea elephants and so on. And albatross. There’s lot of things to see.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Will it have relevance to the global warming debate?

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: Yes, it will do. And of course if you’re cynically inclined or not optimistically inclined you may think this is our last chance to make such a series.

KERRY O’BRIEN: What did you think?

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: I think without any doubt at all that the Arctic is going to change quite profoundly. How much it loses and how much it gains, who knows.

It’s too early to predict and too complicated. Down in the south it’s different in as such as the Antarctic ice cap is so huge and so thick – miles of ice thick – it’s going to take a long time before that moves significantly or as great a significance as the north.

KERRY O’BRIEN: You’ve tended not to get caught up in political issues in the past, but over 50 years you’ve probably seen more of the world close up than practically any other human being and you’ve revisited many of those places. Have you witnessed dramatic change in that time?

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: Environmental change – not.

Change certainly, change that has been brought about by the increasing human population on the earth, the number of people on this planet has tripled. There are three times as many people on the planet now as when I first made television programs…

Not entirely what Kerry may have hoped for, I suspect, and one sentence in particular will no doubt be quoted in certain circles. One should however consider this from 2006:

 

Ross Gittins today and last Monday’s “Media Watch”

I am about to do what so many bloggers do – refer to a newspaper item, quote part of it, and make a brief comment. That this practice is exercising the minds of the media owners was made clear in a very interesting Media Watch (ABC) on Monday:

The Philistines, in Mr Murdoch’s view, are the bloggers and aggregators, from Crikey to the Huffington Post, who, he claims, survive by commenting on the stories that newspaper journalists dig up.
And they’re also the search engines, the Googles and Yahoos, who Mr Murdoch says reap a fortune by making news available without creating it – and feed none of that money back to the content creators.
But Rupert Murdoch and his son James, the heir presumptive to the News Corporation empire, believe the public must be made to wake up too.
The free ride is over:

James Murdoch: Yet it is essential for the future of independent digital journalism that a fair price can be charged for news to people who value it.
— Edinburgh International Television Festival MacTaggart Lecture delivered by James Murdoch, 28th August, 2009

Now for Ross Gittins. Today he offers a quick diagnosis of our current evolutionary dilemma. I tend to agree.

… At one level we’re smart enough to have dreamt up all our amazing machines and ways of organising society; at another we’re people with caveman brains struggling to cope in the space age.

We’ve been too successful for our own good. When humans lived in small groups on the African savannah we were hardwired to be preoccupied with the pursuit of resources, which were scarce. Since our ancestors often couldn’t obtain all the food they needed, they were programmed to grab all they could find…

The greatest consequence of our transition from scarcity to abundance is that human economic activity, which at first was puny relative to the huge natural environment, is now so big – so many humans in the world enjoying such high material living standards – it’s doing great damage to the ecosystem that provides us life.

Climate change is the most pressing instance of that damage, but our politicians seem blissfully ignorant of the threat.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2009 in Australia, climate change, environment, media watch

 

Blog Action Day 2009

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15 October 2009 

“We have 130 countries represented by Blog Action Day bloggers, and climate change impacts us all.”

dust 003

It’s true that individual weather events like last month’s dust storm here in Sydney mean little by themselves. Nor is the fact that last month was 3C above average for September in itself significant. Climate is a much bigger picture. Climate change means a shift in the current climate zones over time, and such shifts have characterised Earth’s story down the millennia. Sydney Harbour’s grand entrance was once much further from the sea, with the Eora roaming at least fifteen kilometres further to the east than we can go today. And that in the longer story is just a blip too.

So if it always has been going on – in fact climate stasis would be the real surprise – why the fuss now? Essentially it is because the majority of climatologists and many other eminent scientists believe what we are seeing today is in greater measure than ever before “anthropogenic” – that is, caused in much larger measure than before by human activity. Given the population growth in the past century and the nature of our industrial and agricultural activities over the past two centuries this is hardly surprising. That the great river systems are stressed and in some cases very ill is accepted by everyone. That much land has been poisoned, that deforestation has been unprecedented, that desertification and salination are on the rise no-one denies.

But there are still those who baulk at anthropogenic climate change and see such talk as alarmist. Indeed some of the projections may need to be looked at critically, and it is true that some parts of the world will be better off as a result of climate change, but the consensus picture that has emerged in recent years is of an overall crisis situation that will have in some parts of the world catastrophic consequences. Some properties in Sydney that now boast water views may be glad of land views in the future, while some properties where no glimpse of the Harbour or ocean can now be had may look forward to tying up their yachts at the bottom of the garden.

I am not any kind of scientist. I do not propose to argue here one way or the other. There is a section of the side bar where you can explore the arguments from people much more qualified than I am. Having reviewed the information there and following quite a bit of reading – I recommend The Rough Guide to Climate Change – I am not a sceptic.

Let’s hope Copenhagen makes some progress.

Here in Australia there are two issues that concern me. I really do think we need to look again at nuclear power. I also think we need a serious discussion about the level of population that is sustainable in this very strange country with its very thin veneer of suitable land and water.

 

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Yes, yesterday was amazing if not entirely unique

You have to go back to 1942 to find similar visibility issues at Sydney Airport.

Annex Across the Pacific (link on pic) was apparently a hit at the time. It was the year before I was born.

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald has some facts and figures.

EIGHT years of drought, and record temperatures that have baked outback soils dry, were blamed for yesterday’ s dust storm that turned Sydney’s sky red, and the sun blue.

Scientists estimated 75,000 tonnes of dust were being blown across NSW every hour in what may have been the most severe dust storm Sydney has seen since the droughts of the 1940s.

NSW, said John Leys, a scientist with the Department of Environment and Climate Change, was now experiencing ”something like 10 times more dust storms than normal”.

”In the last two months we have been getting a major dust storm once a week,” said the scientist who helps manage DustWatch, which has a network of 32 monitoring stations across the state. ”We have been getting more and more of them [dust storms] over the last seven years.”

Dr Leys was reluctant to say it was the result of climate change. But he noted, ”we are getting the hottest summers we have ever had. We have had droughts for eight years.” …

The Other Andrew has some great shots. Here’s one.

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Can you see the Opera House?

See also: Sally: here and here; Julie.

Update

In a comment on yesterday’s post Kevin from Louisiana congratulates me on not attributing the dust storm to climate change. There is a good reason not to: no individual event can be attributed to or not attributed to climate change with any confidence. It is only as a pattern of unusual events emerges that one might start extrapolating. That is pretty much what Dr Leys says above.

However, Herald cartoonist Alan Moir did make the leap today, and fair enough to make a point about possibility – it is possible, after all, that yesterday’s event is of the order that we might anticipate if the majority of scientists who accept the idea of anthropogenic climate change are right – and as you would know from my side bar note I am inclined to go with that majority.

moirillo600x400-600x400One stat that appeals to me is that what passed over Sydney yesterday was the equivalent of 25% of Uluru (Ayers Rock) ground up into powder!

It goes from what I said that it is also rather presumptuous to be sure that yesterday had no relation at all to climate change. Piers Akerman, as is no surprise, is of course convinced on no scientific grounds whatsoever that it is not and proceeds to make the usual arguments against doing anything, though there is room for discussion – though possibly it is a luxury we will live to regret – about whether what the government has proposed is well considered or not. Trouble is though that climate change as such really is not a matter of politics; if indeed it is a natural process in train as we dither, and if indeed the hypothesis so widely accepted that this time round our impact has been both considerable and measurable is proven, it won’t really matter what political position we adhere to. We will end up resembling old King Canute giving orders to the tide.

 

World Environment Day 2009

World Environment Day Well worth visiting that site.

And look at this. It’s quite amazing.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2009 in amazing, climate change, environment, events