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63 responses to “Climate change 2009: faster change & more serious risks”

  1. Pterosaur

    Thanks for the post Brian.

    But ….. what’s to be done? No government anywhere seems to be currently capable of, or willing to even address the looming disasters, let alone to develop and implement useful remedial practices, in the timescale needed.

    I had hoped the non-howard crew would at least make an attempt to “do something” meaningful in confronting what is, in my estimation a pretty dire risk to our civilisation, but a few tokenistic measures (such as the (proposed)CPRS) doesn’t meet this criterion.

    While the current government seems to regard AGW as a “political” problem, rather than as a risk to our civilisation, and, in this, are aided and abetted by the clownish antics of the denialists.

    Once again, it looks like the majority of humanity is going to pay for the ignorance and carelessness (and malice?) of those “born to rule”, who place their opinions above the evidence provided by scientific research.

    There is only so much any individual can do, and without a sense of urgency and encouragement from govt., very little change can come about through “individual action”, in the face of what is apparently an overwhelming problem. (I am reminded of the massive, and global opposition to the US invasion of Iraq, and the negligible effect that that had on the proponents of that particular fantasy).

    I hypothesize that at at least some of the “lack of urgency” being demonstrated by our “leaders” is a result of their taking of the “conservative” projections of the various models in use, and treating those as “worst case” scenarios, so that any action to address the issues arising can then be further delayed, as “extremes rarely happen”.

    It seems to me however, at least as likely that we are in fact experiencing GW at the upper extremes of the projections (ie, there has been a significant understatement of the risks involved).

    Which is a real bastard, because if I (and the science behind those projections) am correct, then the sh*t will hit the fan much sooner than most are willing to contemplate.

    I feel this particularly for my son in law (a coal miner) and my young grandchildren, and am currently reduced to hoping, against logic and common sense, that AGW (or serious GW, for that matter) is a myth.

  2. durutticolumn

    It is even scarier when you combine this report with Tribal Brains. It seems the decision makers still have their heads in the sand and are about 10 years behind the science . They read Andrew Bolt but not the science. We in a whole lot of doo doo

  3. BilB

    This is a damn good summary, Brian. I was going to suggest that your entire series should be brought together into one compillation so that the breadth of the problem can be seen in one scan. We are currently viewing this one aspect at a time. Do people have the ability to add together the various parts. I believe not. We cannot wait for the primary scool kids who are growing up with belief in the reality to become professionals, take government positions, become influential, and take charge of the matter with the urgency that it requires. That would be a 35 year delay.

    There has to be a way for us all to break out of our self indulgent mindset.

  4. Brian

    Thanks people. FWIW my stuff is archived here, but that includes some more frivolous material.

  5. BilB

    That is good. What we need next, then, is a publicist. Some one who knows how to make this large and loud. Some one as good as, or better, than the coal lobby have.

  6. PeterS

    “No government anywhere seems to be currently capable of, or willing to even address the looming disasters” – yes, this has been my observation for a while. Does this mean that we need help from non-governmental organisations?
    I was interested to hear of the recent announcement of Safe Climate Australia which looks as though it might be a useful focus to get things moving.
    Does anyone know anything about them?

  7. Fmark

    Quick question Brian – any explanation for why while in Figure 15 (rainfall and inflow to the MDB) the mean annual rainfall looks to have dropped by about 20% but the mean annual inflows appear to have dropped by more like 65% (exact numbers are indicative only)?

  8. David H

    money rules…surely the last year has amply demonstrated that the elite are more concerned with propping up the capitalist system than doing anything about the future. The time for serious action has long passed and we are still mired in discussions about the economics of everything.

    I think that we will not get serious action on global warming. I think there is a mentality in play that says the rich will be able to protect themselves from the worst effects of warming, hence the growth in “security” mechanisms around the globe. I also think the same attitude accepts that nothing will be done to prevent a worst case scenario.

    In between bouts of severe depression and outright terror over the whole thing, that’s my 2c :(

  9. Brian

    Fmark @ 7, I can’t speak for the specifics of the MD system, but reductions in inflow are typically greater than reductions in rainfall. One reason is that the catchment including underground aquifers needs a lot of wetting before anything flows into the river.

    In SEQ in the summer we are repeatedly told that you need 50mm to wet the catchment before anything flows into the dam. A week after a 50mm plus fall and basically you start all over.

    By contrast recently after several bouts of huge rain and albeit in the winter, inflows seemed to go on for over a month after rain and any little shower provided a boost.

    So the pattern of rainfall is important.

    All the trees planted in the MIS schemes also hold and suck up the water, but I’m a bit doubtful whether the extent of those plantations would show up statistically.

    Gotta fly.

  10. Fmark

    Cheers Brian.

  11. Pedro X

    Has LP ever posted anything that says AGW is less harmful than previously reported?

    Tribalism perhaps?

  12. DrEd

    With all this talk of tribal minds and head in the sand etc and ‘what can we do’ it continually amazes me that the quickest and most obvious way to get change is so often ignored: CHANGE WHO YOU VOTE FOR! Instead I would be prepared to bet of the 11 posts 7 will vote labor , 1 might vote Liberal and the rest Green (maybe). Be honest now – why if you care about this issue aren’t you ALL voting Green NOW. Sure they’re not perfect etc but how else will change happen? Forget marching in the streets or schmoozing Ruddster – that has been the plan for the last few years and the CPRS – polluter subsidy plan is what we have. I’m sick of whingeing hypocrites who cant bear to get their hands dirty – the Labor party is beyond reforming – read Latham, its the truth ; Liberals and Labor are stooges of big unions and big corporations. Get off your behinds and get political.

  13. kat

    I agree with DrEd…..its convenient to blame those peopel in power, but we do not live in a military dictatorship, those people are only in power because we let them be there…..if the population of Australia decided it wanted real action on climate change it could happen tomorrow…..imagine if 50% of the population refused to go to work on Monday and marched to their respective parliaments and demanded action……it may come to that one day, but in reality most of us (even the ones who worry about it on this blog) are not yet prepared to do what is necssary, give up what needs to be given up and make the change that is needed…..

  14. John D

    Good post Brian. Your submission to the senate climate committee is also worth reading by those interested in climate science. My comments on tribalism try to deal with some of the key issues that are holding up serious action on climate change. To put it bluntly, supporters of climate change action need to start deal with the fears of those who believe that their jobs and quality of life are threatened by the action being proposed to fix climate change.

    In my more pessimistic moments I think that the action plan has been taken over by market obsessives and those who believe that we should all be punished for not doing more 50 years ago. Ask yourself: Can you think of anything that would be better at scaring us of climate action than CPRS? Is there anyone out there who can tell me what it is actually going to do to prices, wages and jobs? For that matter is there anyone out there that can identify a single source of emissions that CPRS will handle better than some more appropriate alternative?

    Ask yourself too what effect some of the proposals being thrown up will do to the average punter? Think about this obsession with public transport vs using available technology to drive down the fuel consumption of cars? One of my favourite stickers on the walls of a coal mining motel said “Ban mining. Let the barstards freeze in the dark.” It may not be true but we have to deal with the fear that this is what climate action supporters are really on about.

    Kevin should think beyond the temporary political advantage of wedging the opposition on ETS and have an unbiased look beyond the ETS, put a price on carbon square.

  15. Brian

    Has LP ever posted anything that says AGW is less harmful than previously reported?

    Pedro X @ 11, I kinda sorta did here but it turned out to be not so good.

    And here things seemed to be a tad worse.

    Give me some good news and I’ll put it up.

  16. Climate Chaos

    There are some valuable sources to build your understanding of current climate science:

    880 page summary of climate science:
    Scientific discussion of data by Climatologist and Meteorologist can be found at Anthony Watts:
    Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Minority Page

  17. Alex White

    I was interested to hear of the recent announcement of Safe Climate Australia which looks as though it might be a useful focus to get things moving.

    Safe Climate Australia was set up by a number of respected climate scientists, business people (with a climate change bent), the head of Vic Super and David Spratt and Phil Sutton (authors of Climate Code Red). You probably all know that Al Gore launched it.

    They’re non partisan and science focused. At the moment they’re arguing for stabilisation at 280-300ppm.

    Alex White

  18. Brian

    Thanks for the links. Here’s another one, to George Marshall in the New Scientist on Why people don’t act on climate change. It seems that even people who are knowledgeable about CC and are convinced of the need for action don’t necessarily act appropriately themselves because their belief system isn’t in line.

    Marshall thinks we need better communicators, not necessarily scientists. Al Gore anyone? There is no doubt he’s made a difference since his film came out in 2006.

    For one thing, we should become far more concerned about the communicators and how trustworthy they appear. Trustworthiness is a complex bundle of qualities: authority and expertise are among them, but so too are honesty, confidence, charm, humour and outspokenness.

    Maybe he lacks a little something in there.

  19. pablo

    You also wonder if some sort of bad news overload is taking hold in the media. For example today’s SMH has a heading ‘Warmest Seas on Record’ quoting the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration that June 2009 temperatures were 0.59 degrees above the 20th century average of 16.4. Recordings go back to 1880.
    All of this on page 13.
    To their credit the SMH through environment writer Ben Cubby go on the quote the Bureau of Meteorology on the high chances of an El Nino drying this spring.
    Brace yourselves.

  20. silkworm

    Good summary, Brian. You mention El Nino, but you haven’t said anything about the Indian Ocean oscillation, which, according to what I’ve gleaned from recent reports on TV, is perhaps more responsible for the warming and drying over SE Australia.

  21. Brian

    silkworm, there is stuff about the Indian dipole in Steffen’s report. I try to keep these posts reasonably short, or at least not too long, and was already over my desired word limit. At the time I couldn’t summarise the Indian dipole material in a sentence or two, so I left it out. See page 18-20. It starts:

    Changes in the other two major modes of natural variability – the Southern Annular Mode and the Indian Ocean Dipole – are probably closely linked to the observed drying trend in the south?east.

    That seems plain enough, but then the story becomes quite complex, so I restricted myself to extracting a few phrases from the summary paragraph which didn’t mention the Indian dipole.

  22. paul chapman

    Why people dont act on climate change.

    Gt. work brian I would never have come across significant Gov report by will steffen> Did nt even know ther was a specific Dept of climate change in aus. Just as well. Valuable graphics.

    The question I have been thinking on for some years is the one addressed by George Marshall in New Scientist. It makes some good points. Its too easy to blame stupid or corrupt politicians, though of course they exist. Vested interests of course immensely damaging. I am constantly amazed attending local philosophy discussions the lack of acceptance of the idea of dangerous climate change, or even anthropogenic effect on climate, in groups one would consider self-selectingly well informed,educated etc. Resistance to overwhelming evidence becomes irrational at a certain point. That point is where mindsets/inherited world views come into conflict. Cold war history demonstrates that that otherwise rational intelligent people were prepared for Mutually Assured Destruction MAD, to defend their world-views.

    Jarrod Diamond in Collapse has some useful arguments on the issue up to a point. History always demonstrates people are unaware of what they take for granted until circumstances, environment, time change to provide distance. In short the fossil fuel age has created an illusion that have progressed far beyond the constraints of our past. For example, constant electricity removes us from the observation of the energy transformations that sustain us. It all arrives by the magic of science with the message of constant-ness, unchangability, unnoticed but re-inforced on a daily basis. Its a message the age of mass reproduction around us alsoconstantly reinforces. Progress has supposedly delivered us a strange sort of afterlife, the uncertainties and natural flux supposedly banished. Witness the hysteria over death of Peter Pan Michael Jackson, who of course defies burial physically or musically. A way of life, even in a supposed scientific era has magical props we only realise when they are kicked away.

    Another useful point to make is that the nature of the science involved in climate change is more like engineering. Probabilities, stats. jiggling the parameters of the models does not conform to the public’s view of science as a sort of Einstein reading the book of nature and delivering the definiteness and simplicity of a simple equation. Aerodynamics, fluid flows, thermodynamics etc. have not been successfully explained as processes rather than fixed knowledge.

    Some directions for the answer why people wont accept climate change. Its a topic that people will be concerned with as long as there is leisure to consider why we have allowed such a disaster to unroll so blithely.

  23. BilB

    Some good thoughts there, PC. In that vein another “taken for granted” is the lighting of fire. Matches, lighters, push button igniters, take them away and we are in a new fuzzy world resorting to placing paper on hot stove elements or a newspaper into toasters to get fire heat. Take away electricity and it becomes harder again. Fortuneatly there are enough magnifying lenses in the world for there to never require a complete resignation to rubbing sticks together.

    But wouldn’t it be good if we could only globally get past our entrenched wasteful predjudices and, global warming aside, use those magnifying lense mirrors to produce our electricity cleanly, for ever. But as the Nuclear Hydra is rearing yet another ugly head I offer the following conceptual evaluation as a toll for understanding the energy options.

    “There only three types of energy readily available to our civilisation. These are: the energy that is left over from the formation of the planet (uranium, geo thermal, hydrogen nuclear compaction); the suns energy that has been captured by organisms and stored over hundreds of millions of years (oil coal calcium carbonate); and the energy that flows to the earth from the sun daily (solar radiation). In investment terms these in order are: Heritage; Inheritance; and Cashflow. So were the energy moguls investment advisers their advice would translate as: nuclear (one limited never to be replaced resource)..sell off your family historical arts and artifacts in order to pay the bills and don’t bother working (not so bad for nuclear fusion); fossil fuel (another limited never likely to be replaced resource)..draw down on your house in order to pay your bills and try to time it so that you do not run out before you die avoiding the need to work; Solar (perpetually renewable)..work and live on your cash flow, while keeping reserves available for difficult times”.

  24. Brian

    BilB, a couple of comments. The obvious one is that there is also wave and tidal power.

    Secondly, at the risk of going down a well-travelled road, 4th gen nuclear, if/when it becomes a reality, is virtually unlimited as a resource in terms of human measurement scales. And is a whole lot less scary.

    But I’ve got no hassle with investing in solar.

  25. BilB


    Thanks for the comment. Wave and wind are Solar (“cash flow”). Tidal is in principle “heritage” as holding back the tides applies in infinitesimally small amount of drag to the passage of the moon around the earth, which over millions of years would be seen as a decay in the orbit of the moon. I have to say that, because if I don’t then some pedantist will. Practically speeking, tidal can be seen as “cash flow”. My comment is that, tactically, it is better to preserve ones non replaceable assets for a time when there is no alternative but to use them. ie if global warming ultimately leads to a solid cloud cover heat trap as on Venus (?) then nuclear may well become the essential fuel of last resort. It would be good to have some left.

  26. Huggybunny

    It’s all about Albedo (No not Libido).

    I see millions of 20m Diameter white parasols. They are dropped in a folded state by vast numbers of bombers. They then utilise solar energy to unfold themselves. They are dropped into desert regions where the UN has sent in troops to clear the area.

    Spaced far enough apart they should have little impact upon the local flora and fauna and in fact may assist. Need to be placed in groups with corridors in between.

    That should fix it.

    Go too far and some can be unfolded by remote control.

    Thus the Albedo of the planet and thus the temperature can be under human control.

    Probably have to have a world war to decide on the temperature setting but.

    Also will have to stabilise the CO2 levels.


  27. BilB

    That will only work for 20% (desert) of 30% (land) and would probably be defeated by the geo-engineered aerosols which would reflect the heat back to the surface. It would be far better to leave the ice at the poles. Oops too late. Quite a few people heard the weekend radio programme about greenland residents who are now able to have gardens and grow vegetables, now that the ice is receeding. Next problem will be mooching polar bears.

  28. Huggybunny

    Not had time to properly model this but I am not so sure that you are correct.
    If deserts cover 25% of the earths surface and the albedo be increased by a variable factor up to say 2 then we should have control.
    If that’s not enough a floating version could be devised, and deployed in the Gyres.
    I am trying hard to avoid aerosols as they are not amenable to control.

  29. murph the surf.

    There is also the risk that while massive efforts are made at reducing C outputs and starting up more aggressive amelioration works the financial end of arrangements is not being adequately regulated.
    Can anyone point me in the direction of work being done to minimise these risks?
    Do we want Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan in charge again?

  30. BilB


    Deserts are (according to WPdia) 20% of 30%, or 6% of the earths total surface (land [30] and oceans [70]). The engineering feat that you are proposing is significantly more involved than covering a Tasmania and a half with CSP parabolic troughs to generate all of the worlds energy requirements (other than aviation) for both electricity and transport (as electricity). Think of the comparative scale and the extra CO2 from all of that plastic for reflective parasols not to mention the coal powered electricity to produce them.

    I vote for getting on with the job quickly and doing it right once.

  31. BilB

    Frankly, MTS, anyone who buys into that mess, especially as futures, had better be prepared to do their dough. Simply put it will be a big dough doodoo.

  32. Huggybunny

    Yep the solar option is undoubtedly the best and most cost effective. My worry is that it will never happen because the little green nuclear reactors that are only about 20-30 years away will sideline solar because they will appeal mightily to the retards who make decisions these days. They will of course be too little too late and we will have to do all sorts of heroic things to save our collective arses. Including the elites in their domed and gated nuclear powered communities.

  33. murph the surf.

    BilB the greater risk is that there won’t be an alternative system.
    These instruments may end up constituting both the framework and the woodwork!

  34. BilB


    I agree 100%. Your fear will be the reality (clean coal and nuclear fantasy). What I suspect will happen is that towards the 30 year mark massive ecological failure will diminish our industrial abilities to the extent that progressively less will be possible. Economies and markets will be collapsing and industrial experience will rapidly disappear with the business failures. The West will start to resemble the Russia of fifteen years ago and crime will become rampant.

    In amoungst this Australia will remain stable, even with an increasing frequency of environmental calamities, as it will continue to burn coal and dish out minerals to the parts of the world that are still producing. But there will be an ever increasing wall of eyes seeing Australia as a their new land.

    We are completely hooked on the belief that the world that we have built for ouselves is robust and stable, when the reality is that it is quite fragile.

  35. BilB

    MTS 33,

    A simple carbon tax can be applied overnight and be collecting the necessary monies to build the energy alternatives required to save our environment, within a month. It is not hard to find thinking minds around the world who see this as being the better solution. Meanwhile governments are still applying alcohol taxes, cigarette taxes, vehicle taxes, air travel taxes, property taxes, death taxes,,,,,,,without a moments hesitation. And every one of those taxes has many times the impact on the individuals affected than a carbon tax will have when it is finally applied.

    The fact is that politicians simply do not want to do it.

  36. marks

    Just a comment on the reasons for people not believing.

    My own view is that since our fossil fuels are limited, and valuable for much more than mere burning up, there is an inescapable logic for conservation. I don’t really need the extra motivation related to cc to get to the same decision about reduction of carbon emissions.

    However, when I see people flying off to conferences to jawbone about CC and/or talking about how others (the nasty capitalists etc etc) should do something, I do not have any trouble understanding why the great majority who have no chance to understand the maths fail to take it seriously.

    If Wong, GArrett, climate scientists generally expect us to believe it, then leadership should start with the principle of ‘lead by example ‘.

    (I note the green MPs are doing just this to some extent). For a start – ALL conferences dcne by video – no exceptions. NO overseas trips for pollies for ANY reason. No uni academic overseas trips. Anything less, just gives A Blot et al plenty of ammo, and sends out a loud and clear message of all talk, but no real conviction. After all, if those climate scientists really truly believed, would they be jetting about?

    Finally, lots of people do some conserving of energy, and therefore think that they can every now and then break out and do something they ‘need’ to do that is wasteful. (oh, but the public transport her is awful, oh but I need the big car for my family, oh but I just have to go to that conference overseas….etc) I admit that I am probably as guilty of this as any. :( Taken in the aggregate though, it all adds up.

  37. BilB

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, Marks. Blaming the individual for global warming is a total cop out for any who so do. It is our collective effect that is the cause of the problem. Such a problem requires a collective response. This is the precinct of our government.


    Frankly I am in favour of cancelling superannuation for any politician who wilfully frustrates, undermines, diminishes, or just plain blocks initiatives to properly protect our nation, in the manner and speed as advised by our scientists, from the future effects of Global Warming. Politicians taking such positions are acting against the interests of all Australians and should not be able to profit from such actions.

  38. Huggybunny

    Leaving aside the common metaphysical view that the world was created especially for “man”kind I think there is another reason for our collective inability to see the earth destroying calamity that lies ahead.
    It is a question of scale.

    If you take the earth and shrink it to roughly the size of an apple and then take a peeler and remove the skin you have removed us,much of the atmosphere and all the forests and arable land and a fair bit of the sea.

    Our problem is that from our personal perspective the sky seems to go on forever, the forests tower over us and the seas seem so deep.

    On the apple earth we are microscopic, almost impossible to find,on the real earth also.

    So by comparison with ourselves the Earth seems to be of almost infinite extent, we cannot believe that we can do any-thing at all that will disturb this globe that every day shows its beauty to us.
    Oh well.

  39. Aussie Oskar

    Thanks all for a fascinating discussion.

    In addition to Huggy’s point about the world being too big for most of us to get our head around, I agree with George Marshall that the future is another ‘too big to get your head around’ issue.

    You need to be able to imagine a world where there’s another option besides hopping in the 4wd to pick your kids up or else action is just too hard. And for most people, the here and now is pretty much all there is in their psyche.

    Where do people hear acts of imagination that can take us beyond where we are now? To give Krudd his due, he seems on occasion to be trying to fix our gaze a bit further out than we’ve been accustomed to. But certainly in the area of cc he’s far more interested in bopping Turnbull over the head than he is in taking us on any journeys of discovery. If the issue is reduced to grim economics its never going to make it past the doomed incrementalism we’ve got now.

    The recent interest in Festivals of Ideas and Writers’ Festivals shows there’s still some thirst for imagination but perhaps that just a middle-class affectation….

    I’m involved in community presentations that seek to prompt people into action on cc and our approach is to open people’s minds simply by describing how extraordinary our natural systems are, the massive spans of time our earth has existed for, the incredible transitions between climates that have occurred, continental drift, etc.. Its something Tim Flannery has done very successfully in his Weather Makers books.

    Looked at one way its building a new future brick by brick. But given the urgency of the problem, I guess you can also see it as doomed incrementalism.

    But what else are you gonna do?

  40. John Michelmore

    For the AGW tribe, some alternatives to the unproven connection between Australian climate/rainfall and carbon dioxide. Try the following in a search engine

    “Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature.”

  41. David Irving (no relation)

    ZOMG!!!111!11!! John Michelmore (the new Galileo!!!!!111!!eleven!!) has found something else the climate scientists haven’t noticed or taken any account of – the Southern Oscillation.

    how insightful of him.

  42. Fran Barlow

    ENSO for those interested.

  43. John Michelmore

    Thanks David (Head AGW Tribe)
    No sure how scientisits have accounted for this . It was published on this year!!
    Then maybe you didn’t read it!!

  44. John Michelmore

    The reference I am referring to, is as follows:-

    Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmosphere
    Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature
    McLean, de Freitas, Carter. Published July 2009

  45. David Irving (no relation)

    John, I tried a search engine exactly the same way you have every time someone has suggested you go away and educate yourself. The difference is that I (along with all the real climate scientists) already know about the Southern Oscillation (and the one in the Indian Ocean) and their influence on weather. That’s weather, John, not climate.

    I don’t find it surprising that the ENSO may have an influence on tropospheric temperature – it probably does have some influence, causing sort-term fluctuations. So what?

  46. Aussie Oskar

    There is some recent research on how El Nino interacts with CO2 and other factors to influence temperatures – http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/27/world-warming-faster-study

    I’m afraid the news isn’t good, John M. This study found that 1998’s extraordinary temperature peak was caused by a strong El Nino phase coinciding with increasing CO2 and the recent plateau in temperature by a weakening El Nino/la Nina.

    there’s even a bit on solar activity. Turns out this also interacts with increased CO2 to produce particular temperature variations.

    That is, neither ENSO or solar activity drive temperature, they merely produce fluctuations around a clear, CO2-driven rising temperature trend.

    Well, fancy that…

  47. Fran Barlow

    In relation to the Defreitas et al paper, see here.

  48. John Michelmore

    1)Therefore the association of climate change to the low rainfall in the Murray Darling basin in the above article is tenuous at best.
    The occurrence of El Nino and La Nina events are much more likely to be natural, rather than “manmade” climate change.

    2)Quote from the above peer reviewed article:-
    “Overall the results suggest that the Southern Oscillation exercises a consistently dominant influence on mean global temperature, with a maximum effect in the tropics, except for periods when equatorial volcanism causes ad hoc cooling.”

    3) You gave the impression above that you are a real climate scientist. True or False?

  49. paul chapman

    Australia exports 2006,237 million tonnes of coal. We are the largest exporter in the world. What recognition that this is a liability not an asset can we expect in an almost one industry town? I looked for the proportion by value of coal exports could’nt find it quickly. No surprise there. No wonder resistance to reality of climate crisis in Aus is greatest in developed world outside USA Whatever proportion by value of export it is, official bodies are still counting it as part of our communal wealth. When that changes we will know the government is serious about change. Sequestration more about Aus credit rating?!

    It is good to try to think for oneself about barriers to transformation. But after a while its good to get some positive news from people who have engaged in direct work on the subject. Uk and many parts of europe are way ahead in this regard and for Aussie Oskar if you’ve not already read it I would recommend ‘Clearing the Pathways to Transformation’ by David and Susan Ballard, in ‘Surviving Climate Change’ ed David Cromwell and Mark Levine.(2007 Pluto Press.)

    I like Bilb’s idea about poli’s super. Worth including in election campaign!
    What happened to Aubrey Meyers Convergence and Contraction proposal?At a quick look it combines simplicity and justice, North -South wise, logic, science etc. As the gravity of situation perhaps comes clear as Bilb envisages, may be these proposals will return to wider discussion .

    For those who cannot get hands on book, in dealing with organisations the above authors come with a 5 A’s structure, that in their experience provide a surprisingly robust means to transformation. Awareness, Agency (ability to do something meaningful,Association, Action(and reflection),Architecture. All parts essential, missing any one mitigates enormously against transformation.
    The rest of the book examines resistance to climate change in academia, in NGo’s, politics, business, media. 2007 but still. v useful for Aus, as we have barely begun stage 1.

  50. Fran Barlow

    On the topic of the ETS

    Polls suggest, apparently, that whereas last year 60% favoured immediate action on climate change mitigation, now a majority in Australia (45-41) favour delayinG until COP15 has been resolved. This could easily be misinterpreted as increased support for the coalition position of deny and delay. Given that the Greens are (quite rightly and on the right rationale) opposing the current ETS, I think this would be unfortunate. I too believe that no scheme is preferable to locking in a scheme that invites discredit and won’t work.

    I believe that a good scheme would involve the following basic elements:

    An emissions target by 2020 of at least 25% or the OECD/EU COP15 target, whichever was the higher

    Agriculture, Forestry & Transport all covered by ETS

    Scientific Authentication of all emissions offset schemes that take account of nature of biome, and composing biota in seasonal and lifecycle terms

    All permits to be auctioned — fines for failure to have sufficient permits to cover trading of at least 10% of any shortfall, plus interest at double the prevailing business loan rate

    Funds raised under ETS to be fully hypothecated to climate adaptation, restitution, R&D into near zero-emissions (NZEI) supporting loans for commercial NZEI or retrofit or establishment of new indigenous vegetation, compliance etc.


  51. John Michelmore

    The ETS will not work if coal is to be exempt(or massively funded with low cost permits.)
    Agriculture which has the potential to sequester massive amounts of carbon in biomass (trees or whatever) will not be included.
    How can the “man in the street” believe the ETS will achieve anything at all when to the largest emitters and largest potential sequesters are potentially not included.
    A workable ETS is fantasy with these exclusions.

  52. Fran Barlow

    John [email protected]

    I apologise if my text invited you to interpret my proposal as excluding coal or any other fossil fuel. I merely sought to underline things not in that should be.

    Agriculture which has the potential to sequester massive amounts of carbon in biomass (trees or whatever) will not be included.

    Precisely why it should be in.

  53. murph the surf.

    I’d like to draw interested readers attention to a graph on page 14 of Dr David Evans recent publication.
    Dr Evans will be well known to some readers as a skeptic regarding AGW. He also appears to be funded or supported by the Australian Climate Science Coalition.This is the organisation supporting Dr Carter.
    The graph on page 14 shows quite clearly what may become a counterargument to AGW -these natural variations explain the recent trends and so ETS plans are unnecessary or too extreme.
    The ENSO is part of the proposed driver of these observations- not atmospheric eC02 levels.
    The conclusion is that we will just settle into a 30 year cylce and by 2100 the total rise in temperature will be less that 1 degree.
    In the lead up to Copenhagen I’d be confident to bet that we will all become inundated and overwhelmed with these types of stories from both camps.

  54. murph the surf.

    Sorry – poor editing! the graph is on page 16.

  55. John Michelmore

    Fran @ 52,
    Sorry. The reason I put the coal comment in is Malcolm T reckons coal should be excluded, and it is reported that he might support an ETS on this basis.

  56. Fran Barlow

    John Michelmore @55

    More the fool him then. Little wonder he is at 16% popularity.

  57. David Irving (no relation)

    John Michelmore @ 48, try reading for comprehension. Nowhere did I claim to be, or even imply that I am, a climate scientist. If you inferred it from what I wrote, it says a lot more about you than it does about me.

    As I understand it, the current state of the Murray-Darling has a number of causes including (but not limited to) over-allocation of water in the good years, the current drought (probably due to el Nino / la Nina effects), and a general lessening of rainfall caused by climate change.

    Unlike you, I’ve made an effort to understand what’s going on.

  58. John Michelmore

    Or is the drought and lack of water the cause of the increased local temperature spikes, because the cooling effect of water evaporation is missing, and therefore it’s the weather causing the climate change hysteria.

  59. Fran Barlow

    John [email protected]

    […] and therefore it’s the weather causing the climate change hysteria

    If there is any climate change ‘hysteria’ it is to be found in claims by the business-as-usual activists that mitigation is aimed at subverting western civilization, instituting socialism or is driven by nihilistic ambition or a desire to return humans to their condition in the early holocene, while claiming it’s all a wag the dog tax grab enabled by under employed computer modellers under the sway of the Gaia credo.

    That’s hysteria.

  60. John Michelmore

    Fran Barlow @ 59,
    I don’t think business as usual is a solution to the greed, the consumerism and the ever increasing use of finite resouces, that are rampant in much of the world’s economy. An ETS that avoids any section of the economy has to be suspect. Agriculture in Australia as a result of the Native Veg. Laws has enabled Autralia to meet its Kyoto target. As a result some of these affected people see themselves paying the price for the rampant consumerism and waste of the general community. If the government collects any income and then denies the right of participation to anyone in the community, it will be viewed as a tax grab, whether it is or isn’t.
    I am of the opinion that the UN is pushing socialist agendas.
    I am concerned about the hungry millions in the world and how carbon trading affect these people. Creating more bureaucracy isn’t going to help anyone in need of food; in fact it probably has the reverse effect. Increasing the cost of fuel/fertiliser to farmers at the onset of an input ETS will increase food prices , putting it further out of reach of the poor.
    I’m sure we (as humans) could have used the money spent on models more effectively addressing real issues, in place of “junk in junk out” computer models.

  61. Aussie Oskar

    Thanks Paul C. I’ll seek it out.

  62. David Irving (no relation)

    John Michelmore, if you’re interested in an excellent takedown of the paper by McLean et al that you suggested we all read, look no further than here or here. Let’s just say that I’m now even less inclined to waste any time reading the paper itself than I was before.

    Let me know if you have any trouble with the mathematics, and I’ll direct you to a good introductory textbook.

  63. John Michelmore

    Thanks [email protected]
    Will spend some time and have a read.