Your planet needs you!

David McKnight (“Climate change at the helm of Labor’s next big idea”, April 23) rightly points out that preventing climate change will depend on stoppng business as usual, and that this will also mean stopping politics as usual.

This will require us to accept that unabated climate change is an existential and relatively imminent threat – something akin to a war.
Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Apr 2008 – screen copy held by this website

see also – Say what?

worse than we thought – sea level rise!

Rises in sea levels caused by climate change are likely to be bigger than predicted and more dangerous, but scientists are reluctant to “stick their necks out” on the issue for fear of being labelled alarmist, a leading international expert is warning.

Stefan Rahmstorf, a lead author of the recent United Nations report on climate change, has just published a new way of projecting sea level rises caused by global warming. His method suggests much higher rises than published by the UN panel this year, adding to concerns that the panel was too consrvative in its last report.

“It was the icesheet experts who were most upset,” said Professor Rahmstorf, who advises the German government on climate change. “They felt that those risks were not properly represented.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 6 Aug 2007 – screen copy held by this website

worse than we thought – ice at both poles!

On the eve of the Copenhagen conference, a group of scientists has issued an update on the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Their conclusions? Ice at both poles is melting faster than predicted, the claims of recent global cooling are wrong, and world leaders must act fast if steep temperature rises are to be avoided.

The report — titled “The Copenhagen Diagnosis” — finds that in several key areas observed changes are outstripping the most recent projections by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and warns that “there is a very high probability of the warming exceeding 2 °C unless global emissions peak and start to decline rapidly” within the next decade.

Elizabeth Kobert, Environment360, 24 Nov 2009

worse than we thought – ocean warming!

Global warming is worse than we thought, according to a study that claims temperature readings in the southern hemisphere have been inaccurate.

The US research suggests that we have been sucking up more than twice as much of the heat created by greenhouse gases than previously believed. Scientists have now recommended increasing estimates of the rate of ocean warming by between 48 per cent and 152 per cent.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists used satellite observations to uncover long-term ocean warming in the upper 2,300ft (700 metres) of Southern Hemisphere oceans, and found old data was inaccurate.

“This underestimation is a result of poor sampling prior to the last decade and limitations of the analysis methods that conservatively estimated temperature changes in data-sparse regions,” said oceanographer Paul Durack, lead author of the study.

Daily Mail Australia, 7 Oct 2014

worse than we thought – extreme weather!

As yet, we can’t say how much of the devastation caused by superstorm Sandy was attributable to climate change. It’s nonetheless suggestive of the extreme events that a changing climate will visit on us – much sooner than we had anticipated.

Obama can perhaps be forgiven for casting climate change as a future challenge. The scientists who drew up the last major report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 may have taken that view too.

But it is now becoming clear that the report underestimated how quickly the planet would respond to warming and how serious the effects are likely to be.
New Scientist, 14 Nov 2012

wake up call!

coffee_cupCoffee lovers may want to get that caffeine fix before the treasured drink becomes a rare export. Starbucks raised the issue last year when the company’s director of sustainability told The Guardian that climate change is threatening the supply chain for the Arabica coffee bean.

Starbucks Sustainability Director Jim Hanna told the paper, “What we are really seeing as a company as we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road – if conditions continue as they are – is a potentially significant risk to our supply chain, which is the Arabica coffee bean.”
Huffington Post, 11 Aug 2012

par for the …

golf_courseGlobal warming has been blamed for everything else. So you may as well add to the list the carnage that has taken place at the US Masters this year.

In the decade since Tiger Woods ripped Augusta National apart with his record total of 18 under par, the length has been drastically increased, trees added and rough grown where there was none. But, almost always, there has been heavy rain to soften the treacherous greens.

This time, however, after an unusually warm spring, the greens have been baked so hard the millionaire members could use them as helipads. As a result, entering the weekend, the Masters had become a survival of the fittest with only three players under par and most of the world’s top players struggling to stay in touch.

Sydney Sun Herald, 8 Apr 2007 – screen copy held by this website

the hills are alive!

As reported in Geophysical Research Letters, one effect of global warming is that mountains can get tallerThe weight of ice held in glaciers can contribute to the depression of the earth’s crust into the viscous mantle; as the glaciers shrink the effect of that depression is reduced, and mountain ranges gradually uplift.

Glaciers in the Alps have been shrinking since the end of the last mini ice age, but evidence suggests the rate of shrinkage is increasing due to anthropogenic climate change, with knock on effects on the rate of mountain uplift.

Geological Society of London blog, 5 Mar 2014

saving the planet, one snip at a time!

scissorsSaving the planet one house at a time. Geoff Strong meets four families doing their bit.

While the world has argued in Bali about how to stem climate change, back home ordinary people are making adjustments to ordinary lives. Some have cut back on eletricity use with more efficient appliances and insulation.

But in response to questions from the Age about how householders are stemming water use and greenhouse gas production, one of the most forthright came from the mother of a family of six: “What we did to save the environment was – my husband had a vasectomy.”
The Age (Australia), 17 Dec 2007 – screen copy held by this website

Comment – a politician exercises his right to silence!

Comment by admin – I’m a voter and I sent an email to the Australian Minister for the Environment, Mr Greg Hunt, on 16 Dec 2015 and again on 20 Jan 2016 asking the following questions;

1. At the Paris agreement, why has Australia pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 26-28% by 2030 while under the agreement China will continue to increase its carbon emissions by a significant amount during the same period?

2. How much has Australia promised to deposit in the Green Climate Fund?

3. Taking all Australia’s commitments on climate change together, what effect will these have on the world’s temperature?

So far, not even an acknowledgement!

seals given leg up

Male seals are reaping the benefits of climate change by having more sex, scientists have discovered. Subordinate grey seals are taking advantage of rising temperatures and falling rainfall to mate more often.

Due to climate change female grey seals are being forced to travel further for drinking water – removing them from the watchful eye of the dominant males and allowing the subordinate males to take advantage.

The research has been conducted by Dr Sean Twiss, from Durham University, who studied the mating patterns of grey seal colony on the remote Scottish Island of North Rona.

“These findings show that climate change, whilst endangering many species, could also help to increase the genetic diversity of some species, giving a leg up (or over!) to males who normally wouldn’t be so successful.”

Daily Mail (Australia), 14 Dec 2006

a snowflake’s chance

Snow has fallen in Baghdad, Iraq for the first time in approximately 100 years. Although Baghdad sometimes sees hail and sleet, snow has never been seen in living memory. Snow was also recorded in the western and central parts of the country, where it is also very unusual, and in the Kurdish north, which is mountainous and commonly sees snowfall.

A statement by the meteorology department read “Snow has fallen in Baghdad for the first time in about a century as a result of two air flows meeting. The first one was cold and dry and the second one was warm and humid. They met above Iraq.”

Dawood Shakir, director of the meteorology department, told AFP his take on the causation of the snow: “It’s very rare. Baghdad has never seen snow falling in living memory. These snowfalls are linked to the climate change that is happening everywhere. We are finding some places in the world which are warm and are supposed to be cold.”

Wikinews, 11 Jan 2008

small beer

Famed for producing some of the world’s best beer, Germany could suffer from a drop in production due to climate change-induced water shortages. Barley and hops can only be grown with water, and using cheaper alternatives like corn isn’t possible in Germany because of strict regulations about what you can make beer with.

Research published earlier this year in the journal Nature Climate Change found that “unless farmers develop more heat-tolerant corn varieties or gradually move corn production from the United States into Canada, frequent heat waves will cause sharp price spikes,” reported The New York Times.

Price spikes for U.S. corn could affect prices of American macrobrews made with an adjunct ingredient like corn.

Huffington Post, 11 Aug 2012

the end is nigh again!

sandwich_board6.6.16 is almost the devil’s number, but it might be much more than that if a leading scientist’s prediction on climate change is correct.

CSIRO fellow Dr Paul Fraser has earmarked June 6 (“plus or minus a week”) as the day when carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere will hit the point of no return, 400 parts per million (ppm).

The atmospheric measuring station at Cape Grim in Tasmania has recorded the current C02 levels in the atmosphere at 399.9ppm.

Dr Fraser said the difference between 399 and 400ppm was trivial, but when it does hit 400ppm mark it would be a “psychological tipping point”.

Once it reaches 400ppm at Cape Grim it’s very unlikely to drop below 400 again, Dr Fraser told ninemsn.
Channel 9 News (Australia), 13 May 2016

thanks to ddh

ClimateCam is watching you!

big_brother_eyeA huge electronic billboard in the city square telling residents exactly how much greenhouse gas they have produced in the past hour. Sounds a little futuristic? Not if you live in Newcastle.

ClimateCam, the world’s first greenhouse gas speedometer, displays electricity consumption information collected from the 15 substations that supply homes and businesses in the Newcastle local government area. The council now believes Newcastle has been established as an international testing ground for climate solutions.

“We realise that the climate change issue is just so big and we are so, in Australia, far behind the rest of the world that we need to move very, very quickly if we’re going to catch up and have access to the huge economic opportunity that we foresee is coming with the implementation of climate solutions,” city energy and resource manager of Newcastle City Council, Peter Dormand says.
Sydney Morning Herald, 24 Oct 2007

see also – action plan

staying together for the sake of the planet

As if going through a divorce was not stressful enough, now researchers say marriage break-ups are bad for the environment.

A survey of 12 countries shows that rising divorce rates around the world have resulted in more households with fewer people in them. This escalates the use of resources such as water, land and energy, leading researchers to declare that divorcces lead to less sustainable lifestyles.

“People have been talking about how to protect the environment and combat climate change, but divorce is an overlooked factor,” said Jianguo Liu, an ecological sustainability expert at Michigan State University.

The Age (Australia), 4 Dec 2007 – screen copy held by this website

sacrilege!

kangarooSkippy could soon be on the menu for the climate change-conscious if they take note of a report showing a switch from beef to kangaroo could help cut greenhouse gases.

A report by the director of the sustainability centre at the University of NSW, Mark Diesendorf, says a 30 per cent reduction in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 is achievable but would need both energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, and a change of diet.

“Beef consumption is chosen in this measure because it is responsible for the biggest share of livestock-related methane emissions,” the report says. “This measure could be reduced by shifting to kangaroo meat and/or lower-meat diets.”
The Age (Australia), 11 Oct 2007

saved by a dimming sun!

By 2014, the Met Office predicts that the average global temperature will be about 0.3 degrees hotter than in 2004. Australian experts said the the findings, published overnight in the prestigious journal Science, were significant and worrying.

“The most interesting thing is that it bears out the other models we have, showing that the amount of warming built into the system (because of long-lived greenhouse gases) is not great enough that we’ll just keep setting records unless we’re saved by volcanoes or a dimming sun,” said Professor Nicholls, one of Australia’s key contributors to this year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports.
The Age (Australia), 10 Aug 2007 – screen copy held by this website

backyards bitten!

Sea-level rise, combined with more severe weather events caused by climate change, will lead to storm surges that will greatly magnify flooding and erosion along coastal communities with devastating consequences, says the report Climate Change in Australia.

Presenting his research on sea-level rise, Dr Church, one of Australia’s leading oceanographers, told the conference the story of a CSIRO secretary whose owns a house on Roches Beach near Hobart – one of the beaches he examined that shows coastal erosion at 100 times the rate of sea-level rise.

Dr Church said the secretary keeps asking him when she should sell her house. When you see dramatic pictures of ice falling off Greenland, this is where it’s biting – in your backyard, he explained.

“Our research shows sea-level rise is an issue, it’s occurring now, it’s having an impact now and it’s going to be increasingly felt in the 21st century and the longer term.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 3 Oct 2007

climate change causes upsurge in dramatic writing!

Another week on a changing planet….. Scientists drop a red-hot report forecasting catastrophic wildfires as a regular hazard of Australian summers.

Suburbanites spooked by drought-inflated grocery bills contemplate a return to the vegie patch, but how to water it?

And far away, in the melting permafrost of Russia’s Arctic, mammoth dung is released in a putridly poetic message – from one long-lost species to another distinctly nervous one – about the vulnerability of all creatures on this merciless earth.

The mammoth never got the memo to act, adapt or perish. The same can’t be said of humanity.

Jo Chandler, a senior Age writer. The Age (Australia), 29 Sep 2007

beware of rampaging mice!

mice_runningTwo researchers have found that mice can detect higher carbon dioxide levels by using specialised neurons in their noses. Collaborative researchers Minmin Luo, from the National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing, and Peter Mombaerts, from the Rockefeller University, New York, find that intriguing.

Their study has been published in Science. The more CO2 the mice were exposed to, the more their behaviour changed. When given the choice between high and low CO2 concentrations, the mice avoided anything higher than 0.2 per cent. So as climate change causes atmospheric CO2 levels to rise, will mice go crazy?

Not so fast says Mombaerts. If the CO2 increases are gradual the mice might be able to adapt, but there is a posibility that mice could become more fearful or aggressive because the behavioural effect is still not known.
Newcastle Herald,(Australia), 21 Aug 2007 – screen copy held by this website

Yes, but what does it sound like?

How our musos (musicians) are saving the planet.

“We recorded our first EP in an old converted Bedford fire engine truck run on vege oil. We drove down to the southern tip of Tassie and found a beautiful little bay surrounded by forest. During recording, the computers, mikes and amps were powered by solar panels and a wind generator on the roof of the truck. Those recordings went on to score us a record deal.”Sydney Morning Herald 30 Mar 2007 – screen copy held by this website

see also – action plan

happiness is a long hot bubble bath

bubble_bathThe latest geoengineering scheme involves turning the world’s oceans into a giant bubble bath, with hundreds of millions of tiny bubbles pumped into the seas. This would increase the water’s reflectivity and bring down ocean temperatures, according to Harvard University physicist Russell Seitz.

As the creative physicist said to the assembled crowd at an international meeting on geoengineering research: “Since water covers most of the earth, don’t dim the sun…. Brighten the water.” CBS News, 30 Mar 2010

thanks to Andrew Mark Harding

climate change reaches cut off point!

At the remote camp of Sarara, north of Nairobi, I asked village elders about the drought…That evening I learnt a most remarkable consequence of the drought. The Samburu circumcise their youths in grand ceremonies which are held every seven years or so, when enough cattle and other foods have accumulated to support such celebrations.

Circumcision represents transition to manhood, until a youth has passed it he can’t marry. But it’s been 14 years since a circumcision ceremony has been held here. There are now 40,000 uncircumcised young men, some in their late 20’s waiting for their turn. All the eligible young women, tired of waiting, have married older men (multiple wives are allowed), so there are no wives for the new initiates.

I could never have imagined that climate change would have such an effect on an entire society. On reflection though, cultures such as the Samburu are intimately linked to their environment, so as these pressures increase it becomes more difficult to maintain long-held traditions.

Tim Flannery, The Age (Australia) 3 Nov 2007 – screen copy held by this website

save the whales!

whaleSouthern Ocean sperm whales have emerged as an unexpected ally in the fight against global warming, removing the equivalent carbon emissions from 40,cars each year thanks to their faeces, a study has found. The cetaceans have been previously fingered as climate culprits because they breathe out carbon dioxide (CO2) the most common grrenhouse gas. The study is lead authored by Trish Lavery of the School of Biological Sciences at Flinders University at Adelaide.Daily Telegraph, 16 Jun 2010

to plant, or not to plant?

Plant trees to soak up carbon dioxide – why not? But it’s more complicated than it sounds. As a meeting of the American Geophysical Union heard in December, computer models show that trees can cool the planet through photosynthesis, but only in the tropics.

The problem is that forests are dark and absorb sunlight, thereby raising the planet’s temperature. Light-coloured landscapes reflect sunlight and cool things down. In the United States and Europe, “the climate benefits of planting will be nearly zero”, according to American ecologist Govindasamy Bala. In the seasonally snow-covered regions at higher latitudes, “planting trees could be actually counter-productive”.

Other left field ideas include waiting for the next ice age, though best guesses put it at 40,000 years away.

The Sunday Age, 18 Feb 2007 – screen copy held by this website

ban camels!

camel_in_carAn Australian government report has proposed killing many of the country’s estimated 1.2 million wild camels as a climate change solution.It is considering awarding carbon credits for culling the non-native camels, which are widely considered an ecological and an agricultural pest.

Apparently, a camel produces an estimated 100 pounds of methane a year, which is roughly equivalent to 1.1 tons of carbon dioxide. Methane is twenty times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Almost half of all global methane emissions come from belching livestock, mainly cows but also pigs, goats, sheep – and camels.
Open Knowledge, 10 Jul 2011

see also – action plan

but I thought…

The oceans’ ability to act as a “carbon sink” soaking up greenhouse gases appears to be decreasing, research shows, leading to new fears about global warming.

One of the authors of the study, published on Saturday in a paper for the Journal of Geophysical Research, said the change may have been triggered by climate change and may also accelerate the process by leaving more CO2 in the atmosphere.

Natural processes mean the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is reduced when the gas dissolves into the waters of the oceans which cover much of the surface of the earth, turning them into vast “sinks” storing the carbon safely. But the new study suggests the amount of carbon dioxide entering the oceans is declining, possibly because warmer global weather has heated the water near the surface.

Professor Andrew Watson, of the school of environmental sciences at the University of East Anglia, warned that the process may fuel climate change. “It will be a positive feedback, because if the oceans take up less CO2 then CO2 will go up faster in the atmosphere and that will increase the global warming.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Oct 2007

The wedge-tailed shearwater and the fairy tern wink out!

In a paper he co-wrote, to be published next month, ‘The history of threatened birds in Australia and its offshore islands’, Professor Garnett of Charles Darwin University and chairman of Bird Australia’s threatened species committee, makes a long list of disturbing predictions as to the viability of our bird life because of feral species running amok, human sprawl and climate change.

Already the wedge-tailed shearwater is struggling to feed itself because waters of the Barrier Reef are getting too warm to sustain its diet of fish, squid and crustaceans.

Based on a report from Professor Garnett’s committee, Birds Australia recently recommended the World Conservation Union (IUCN) list the fairy tern as vulnerable on its “red list”, which ranks a species’ risk of winking out forever.
The Age (Australia), 30 Sep 2007

solution found for melting ice shelves!

“Talk is cheap. In the past week, there has been much of it in relation to climate change. The world needs action. This year there has been at least a dozen international conferences and/or major reports released on climate change.

This week there have been three major meetings: two under the auspices of the United Nations and one by the United States. On Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon hosted a meeting of more than 150 countries as a precursor to a conference in December in Bali at which the groundwork will begin for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

Another UN meeting, attended by 190 representatives, was held the previous weekend. In the past few days, US President George Bush has hosted his own conference on climate change attended by 15 of the world’s major greenhouse emitters, including China and India. Australia has been represented by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

If the words spoken or written about climate change could be frozen, ice shelves now breaking into the sea would be replenished.”

Insight, The Age (Australia), 29 Sep 2007 – screen copy held by this website

you wascally wabbits!

A huge surge in the number of rabbits is threatening Australian attempts to curb climate change. A study by the Canberra-based Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre says tree seedlings planted in a national carbon offset scheme are at risk of being eaten by rabbits.

Dr Brian Cooke from the University of Canberra said that the current rabbit problem was “the worst we’ve seen in 10 years”. As well as causing soil erosion and threatening native vegetation, rabbits eat tree and shrub seedlings, Dr Cooke said.
The Age (Australia), 30 Sep 2007

frogs at the mercy of sex crazed fungus!

group_of_frogsFrogs, threatened by a fungal disease sweeping the globe, may be in far greater peril than first thought, according to research led by an Australian scientist.

Until now it had been assumed the chytrid fungus, which attacks the skin of frogs, only reproduced asexually – through simple cell division – and required a host amphibian to migrate to new areas. But now findings suggest it can reproduce sexually, creating spores that may blow in the wind or be accidentally transported into uncontaminated habitats.

Jess Morgan, a Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries molecular parasite expert, said that if she was right, the fungus could spread far more easily than believed. Environmental variations, including climate change, could trigger a reproductive switch.

“The fastest way to reproduce is clonally, as you don’t have to find a mate,” Dr Morgan said.

When conditions are poor, the advantage of sexual reproduction is that you can produce … a spore, with a shell or resistant coat that lies dormant for years, waiting to ambush a luckless passing host.
Sun Herald Sydney, 26 Aug 2007

… almost?

As the world commits billions of dollars to save the world from global warming, criminals are poised to carve off their share. And increasingly they will use the internet to pull off their green scams in cyberspace. Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty told the Age “green crime ” was a new frontier for law enforcement.

“New concepts such as carbon trading had significant potential for fraud”, he said. “Carbon trading is a derivatives or futures market. You’re actually trading in something that almost doesn’t exist so the opportunity for fraud or corruption could be significant.”

The Age (Australia), 21 Jul 2007 – screen copy held by this website

Dark Age looms!

knight_on_horseImagine a future in which humanity’s accumulated wisdom about Earth — our vast experience with weather trends, fish spawning and migration patterns, plant pollination and much more — turns increasingly obsolete.

As each decade passes, knowledge of Earth’s past becomes progressively less effective as a guide to the future. Civilization enters a dark age in its practical understanding of our planet.

To comprehend how this could occur, picture yourself in our grandchildren’s time, a century hence. Significant global warming has occurred, as scientists predicted.

Nature’s longstanding, repeatable patterns — relied on for millenniums by humanity to plan everything from infrastructure to agriculture — are no longer so reliable. Cycles that have been largely unwavering during modern human history are disrupted by substantial changes in temperature and precipitation.William B Gail, in New York Times, 19 Apr 2016

thanks to ddh

less meat means less heat!

Less meat means less heat. It’s a slogan that leading scientists hope will catch on worldwide, part of a call for people to reduce consumption of meat and dairy products to slow the pace of climate change.

Writing in the medical journal The Lancet, a team of international health experts led by Tony McMichael warns that the world’s growing appetite for meat is increasing greenhouse gas emissions, as vast areas of rainforest are bulldozed for grazing land and as more sheep and cattle burp.

Professor McMichael of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University, Canberra, and his colleagues argue that “for the world’s higher-income populations, greenhouse-gas emissions from meat eating warrants the same scrutiny as do those from driving and flying”.

According to a study published in July by Japanese scientists, a kilogram of beef generates the equivalent of 36.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide, more than the equivalent of driving for three hours while leaving all the lights on back home.

Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Sep 2007