Temperature pushes Great Barrier Reef to tipping point

In this post we find that the 2020 global average surface temperature was 1.25°C hotter than pre-industrial, equal first with 2016, according to The European Copernicus Climate Change Service. This is important for the Great Barrier Reef, because in a little known report in 2013 scientists found that 1.2°C is the warmest compatible with the Reef remaining a coral-dominated system. Focus recently has been on the emergence of annual severe bleaching (ASB) when the affected reefs are effectively dead. Climate change action of the type we are engaged in will only delay the emergence of ASB on average from about 2034 to 2045. Continue reading Temperature pushes Great Barrier Reef to tipping point

Weekly salon 5/1

1. Sawatdi bpi mai kap!

That is a Thai new year’s greeting I got from Mark that I posted two years ago. It means:

    May you find compassion, loving kindness and equanimity along your paths over the next year!

From a Jacquie Lawson ecard sent by my brother-in-law, we need:

    More co-operation, mutual care and love, a safer and happier world!

And more civilised politics. Continue reading Weekly salon 5/1

Seasons greetings 2020

Last year around mid-December the blog fell apart and did not re-appear until 2 January. Eventually I posted a Belated season’s Greetings on 4 January which was based on a Christmas newsletter I had distributed with cards.

This year we were quite overwhelmed during December with one thing and another, so I did close to nothing about cards, newsletters etc. This newsletter is a belated offering. Continue reading Seasons greetings 2020

Saturday morning interlude reprise

Twenty years ago on 7 December, 2000 I joined the ‘zip club’. In plain English I had open heart surgery. Around a week earlier I had undergone an angiogram, where they pump dye through your arteries while you are awake, but sedated.

The cardiologist said calmly, “You have 90 to 95% blockages, compromising 80% of your heart.” I needed a triple by-pass as soon as they could fit me in.

So I went about my normal business for a week with a bottle of nitroglycerin tablets in my pocket. I remember driving back from the airport in my old red Falcon ute, a blisteringly hot day, with inadequate aircon. This may be where it all ends, I thought.

Open heart surgery makes quite an impact on your life, and I had meant to write about it. Time passed until one Saturday morning a few years later I had an experience that got me going. Blogs were new then. The piece I wrote was published by a Melbourne freelance writer and editor, David Tiley, who was running a blog called Barista: heartstarters for the hungry mind.

When I started blogging here and there, it felt like one of those dreams where you are at a social function and you suddenly realise that you’ve forgotten to dress from the waist down. I was about to give up, when David wrote me an encouraging email.

The blog is no longer around, but David is. He is currently editor of Screen hub. The guest post from way back then, which I copied as published and kept on my hard drive, is posted with minor modifications below the fold. Continue reading Saturday morning interlude reprise

Does anyone listen to what Labor are saying?

John Quiggin has penned a piece We’re all “real Australians”:

    Labor won’t win elections by targeting some groups at the expense of others
Labor’s Chris Bowen outside his childhood home in Smithfield, in the Sydney electorate of McMahon, after the party’s loss at the 2019 election. Bianca De Marchi/AAP Image

Quiggin says that shadow health minister Chris Bowen, the member for McMahon in Western Sydney, tells us that Labor needs to win the trust of suburban voters. Then:

    Bowen seems to think, however, that lots of voters (though not enough to give Labor a majority) live in a place he calls the “inner city,” and that Labor is paying them too much attention.

Continue reading Does anyone listen to what Labor are saying?

Reflections on climate policy

Updated 10 December, 2020

I’m looking for a paradigm shift in the climate change goal from (a) ‘limitation of warming to 1.5°C’, thus escaping the worst of an already dangerous climate, to (b) ‘restoration of a safe climate’.

A safe climate may be described as ecological sustainability within planetary boundaries to include preservation, restoration and enhancement along with responsible economic, social and personal growth and development.

A mouthful perhaps, but the difference between hope and despair.

Looking at existing aspirations (zero net emissions for a 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C) how can we say we will preserve the Great Barrier Reef when scientists tell us that 1.5°C will destroy up to 90% of it?

How can we stop our Pacific neighbours from being swamped by the ocean when we are told that current levels of total greenhouse gases (including methane and all of the ‘Kyoto six’) have an implied warming of 1.75–1.95°C (p13) and longer term equilibrium warming of~2.4°C?

That is with total greenhouse gases at ~490 ppm CO2 equivalent. Right now they are at 508 ppm. Continue reading Reflections on climate policy

Our beds are burning

Ask yourself a simple question. Can you give hope to future generations that the Great Barrier Reef will be protected if your policy is to limit warming to 1.5°C when the GBR is already disappearing before our eyes?

With about 1.1°C of warming we are told that Unprecedented fires in California and Australia signal the dawn of the ‘fire age’. Richard Flanagan talks of a Tasmanian rainforest burnt in 2018, now desolate shale with no sign of regrowth.

As I write, pristine Fraser Island is burning on a front about 46 km long, with reports that water from water bombers is evaporating before it hits the ground.

We have now reached a point where the cost of insurance alone in flood and bushfire-prone communities makes it impossible to live there.

Dangerous climate change is already here.

How can we set a target of 1.5°C temperature (actually a 50% chance of limiting the increase to that level) when we know that during the Eemian interglacial sea levels rose 6-9 metres with 300ppm of CO2, and we have already broken through the 410 ppm? Continue reading Our beds are burning

Should Biden’s election cause Australia to pivot on climate change?


Our Prime Minister Scott Morrison refuses to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and Joe Biden’s election as US president will not change Australian climate policy.

Joe Biden calls climate change the ‘number one issue facing humanity’:

    “Climate change is the existential threat to humanity,” the former vice president said. “Unchecked, it is going to actually bake this planet. This is not hyperbole. It’s real. And we have a moral obligation.”

Continue reading Should Biden’s election cause Australia to pivot on climate change?

Trouble in the ‘Canberra bubble’

Louise Milligan’s Four Corners piece Inside the Canberra Bubble (transcript here) may have had its limitations as a program, but raises important issues as to whether the ‘Canberra Bubble’ is an appropriate and safe working environment, and the ethical appropriateness of the modus operandi of the Morrison Government generally.

Former ALP politician Kate Ellis who has written a book about women, sexism and misogyny in the Australian political landscape was interviewed on ABC RN’s Drive program by Patricia Karvelas – see or hear podcast “Clear power imbalance”: former MP on staffer relationships. Ellis is also quoted in Jennifer Duke’s SMH article ‘It affects all Australians’: Former MP Kate Ellis calls for reform to improve gender equality in Parliament. Continue reading Trouble in the ‘Canberra bubble’

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff