Climate clippings 82

I’m not planning to do posts on the upcoming election apart from link posts if I see anything interesting and/or important. The post on the Murdoch’s intervention started out as a link post, but then I warmed to the task. While this space is open I’d like to explore a theme that came from a comment in reaction to the LNP ‘solution’ to the asylum seeker ‘problem’. I can’t find it now, but someone asked, “What have we become?”

Moreover, what will we become? We have a choice, and in our response to the stranger in need who has chosen us, we either grow or diminish ourselves.

The task is ambitious and I’m not academically equipped for it. I’m not speaking as a philosopher or a sociologist, just “someone who is trying to sort out his ideas”, so the results may be modest. Some of the posts may not appear to be directly on the topic, but I hope all will fit together in the long run.

Climate clippings_175Meanwhile I’ll try to keep some information flowing on climate change. Both these projects may be of more use than any contribution I can make to an election here in Oz. This time CC will be free flow rather than numbered items, to save time. I’ll use bold to identify the topics.

Arctic ice is losing its reflective sheen. We all know that ice reflects more incoming radiation from the sun than does open water. Now by analysing 30 years of satellite data scientists have found that albedo of the ice itself at the end of the summer is about 15% weaker today than it was 30 years ago.

The cause of the darkening is

partly due to thinning ice and the formation of open water fissures, and partly because in the warmer air, ponds of liquid water form on the surface of the ice. The shallow ponds on the ice can dramatically reduce reflectivity and increase the amount of solar radiation that the ice absorbs.

So far this year nothing too dramatic is happening in terms of sea ice extent.

RenewEconomy has an amazing graph of the day on why explaining why the world needs low carbon electricity. I’ll explain it this way.

The total greenhouse emissions in 2010 were calculated at 50Gt of which 13Gt was from electricity. The rest came from industry, transport, buildings, agriculture, forestry and waste. So if you switched electricity off we’d still have 37Gt of emissions to deal with.

Focussing on electricity, the world produced 21,400TWh in 2010. If the total amount were produced from a single technology this is how the various technologies would compare:


So take your pick but remember there is much to do elsewhere. Natural gas is shown to have limited utility.

The Climate Commission has several recent reports, including one on Australia’s solar future.

Over 1 million solar PV installations have been installed in Australia, up from 8,000 in 2007. Now 11% of the population use electricity from the sun. This is how the forecast growth looks:


I kept that fairly large so that you might be able to read the small print. Original image here. Looks like a good industry to be in.

But remember Tony Abbott has targeted clean energy as RenewEconomy relates. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is one of his ‘saves’ and the Climate Commission is also due for the chop.

Abbott keeps intoning that they will be “building Australia”. You have to wonder just what will be built. He’s told the troops to tone down the negativity about renewables, it seems, so that we can all be relaxed and comfortable.

NOAA’s State of the Climate 2012 has just been released, compiled by 384 scientists from 52 countries. If you want a quick slide briefing go here.

Finally, Giles Parkinson looks at election policy in relation to targets.

After being forced into action by the hung parliament and the bargain with the Greens and the country independents, Labor now appears comfortable with its climate change policy settings. It is committed to a carbon price, although Rudd has vowed to bring the traded (and less costly) version forward by a year. It says it will be advised on future reduction targets by the independent Climate Change Authority. Its main challenge is to convince votes that this is not a policy of convenience, and it won’t simply use climate and clean energy as a wedge to drive through the Coalition – as it did in the last Rudd government – however, tempting that might be.

The Coalition’s challenge is to show that its policy has credibility. Or more fundamentally, that it actually has a policy. After more than three years, it still can’t explain how Direct Action will work, or how it will achieve higher abatement targets. Is it a reverse auction, or a baseline and credit scheme? No one seems to know, least of all the Coalition, which promises a White Paper if elected.

Parkinson doubts that Direct Action will achieve the 5% 2020 target and notes the influence of fossil fuel interests and Abbott’s continued use of skeptic talking points to dismiss emissions trading. Labor should accept an enhanced 17% target from the Climate Change Authority, which after all was designed to take politics out of this important area of policy.

That’s as far as I got, folks. Sitting and staring at the screen after reading another thread last night didn’t help.

18 thoughts on “Climate clippings 82”

  1. Toxic Tony’s “told the troops to tone down the negativity about renewables, it seems, so that we can all be relaxed and comfortable”

    Isn’t that how you handle cattle heading in for slaughter?

  2. BilB I live on a cattle farm,the answer really is how far they are being transported.The C.S.I.R.O. has done some preliminary work on the CO2 matter with cattle.Whilst Brian presents well,I still feel and think sometimes the last year this year matter becomes indistinguishable.That is I saw a site that said there was no water on the Artic it has frozen over.The Albedo matter is something I am not willing to argue or point a site out.There is something of a growing consensus that the problem is Obama approved Geoengineering that is causing the problem by pumping a mixture into the atmosphere and by other means.Why it is hard for me to reject that,is simply like Brian.Murdoch and Monsanto and GMO.If they are so gung ho in the value of GMO why wouldn’t they be secretive about geoengineering already.A ex-Vietnam Veteran in the volunteer medical areas by the name of Ed. Ward shows how it is done. See Veterans Today and from there,or Google. I left it at LP. Is there some shame in recognising perhaps the U.S.A. government is stuffing the atmosphere up already!?

  3. Back again. Try SCIENCE.NASA.GOV……Todd Hoeksema Solar Physicist Director of Stanford University Wilcox Solar.. Observatory……Sun’s Magnetic Field Polarity Reversal..Because of the effects of this happening including matters Earth generally.Will find a within the small video documentary what maybe causing Albedo etc.High winds blowing here.Very loudly..distraction.

  4. Your mention of Abbott’s determination to disband the Climate Change Authority got me confabulating. …after seeing an interview with a former boss of Shell Oil on Lateline Business (Wed August 7). He wants the US to have an energy authority much like the Federal Reserve to take the politics out of US and world energy policy. Close enough to climate policy to suggest both are too big a deal to be left to pollies.

  5. An announcement is expected today on the possible expansion of Abbott Point coal export facilities at Bowen North Queensland. One investment bank that won’t be involved is Goldman Sachs who see ‘the window for thermal coal investment closing’ due to environmental regulation, CSG and energy efficiency steps.
    GS believe seaborne demand for thermal coal could peak in 2020 which doesn’t sound very positive long term for Abbott Point.
    Source: Climate Progress

  6. The WA government has retrospectively cut the feed in tarrifffor existing rooftop solar owners from the 40 cents/kWh they were promised in writing by the the LNP government in 2010 down to 20 cent/kWh next year. The decision raises sovereign risk concerns.
    In addition,

    Meanwhile, the Greens expressed horror that WA state-owned generator Verve Energy had allocated $287 million for investment in fossil fuel generation over the next four years, and just $2.5 million in sustainable generation. This included another $200 million on the ageing Muja power station. The government has already spent $266 million trying to upgrade Muja’s A and B before deciding that it was a waste of money.

    In 2013/14, Verve will spend $105 million on its fossil fuel generation plant, and just $130,000 on its sustainable energy portfolio, with a small upgrade to its four-turbine wind-diesel generation facility at the remote town of Denham, north of Shark Bay.

    Abbott and Rudd should be asked whether they will block investment in cola fired power.

  7. Cola fired power won’t work John. Dropping Mentos in makes it fizz up a treat, but the reaction isn’t sustained enough to power anything much. Mind you, my son was able to make a right bloody mess with bi-carb.

  8. I do believe that we have an entirely new denialist assault

    “Obama approved Geoengineering that is causing the problem ”

    opening up. Thankyou for that heads up Phillip Travers. A google look at this suggests that the nearest to it is that an Obama advisor is “open to geoengineering”. That is a far cry from Obama agreeing to, and then actively persuing geoengineering activities. And even then further to suggest that some secret plan to fix the atmosphere is actually “stuffing it up”,….. the mind boggles at the mental gymnastics at play here. I sure hope that you are keeping in the shade, Phillip.

    I’ve just seen on the ABC (no sound) that Greg Hunt is the Coalition Climate Change spokesman. Hah! Looking forward to an extra $100,000 per year just for saying “the scientists are all wrong, there is no Climate Change”.

  9. Helen: I haven’t worked how to get spell check to bring up cola as an error. However, my understanding is that cola does contribute to hyperactivity so maybe, if we could harness this energy………

  10. BilB: I agree that Obama *is* approving geoengineering that is causing the problem. Those oil and coal subsidies don’t just happen by themselves, you know.

  11. Brian, you said

    So far this year nothing too dramatic is happening in terms of sea ice extent.

    That may be so but what about composition? ABC news this evening carried a story, from Davis in Antarctica, about falling pH of seawater. Scary stuff that won’t make the front pages of MMM’s tabloids.

    Just for fun, combine ^ acidity with albedo and halide changes …. and I do hope everyone enjoys a good night’s sleep tonight after playing around with that little scenario.

    The-elephant-in-the-room is reducing demand for electricity through more thoughtfully designed appliances and machines, through more careful use of electricity, etc.. That can never be allowed to happen, of course, because such a huge slice, world-wide, of the electricity generation and distribution is in private hands – and even those systems that are in government or public hands are driven primarily by the clamour for money too.

    Quick. Beam me up Scotty and let’s get to the hell out of here as fast as we can – this planet is stuffed.

  12. “The-elephant-in-the-room is reducing demand ..”
    You could build an industry around that, couldn’t we?

  13. Ootz@13. Thanks for that link which led to Martin’s Blog on (sorry, link failed) about collective purchasing and switching.
    @14. a. Already do all that. b. Already have overflowing inbox. but it is a good idea.

    As for solar panels, it is easier and less disappointing to work on the assumption that all governments and electricity corporations will lie through their back-teeth, renege on undertakings and breach contracts on rebates, tariffs and anything else involving solemn promises.

    Simply reduce your own demand in all sorts of cunning ways – then buy only as big a system as you actually need yourself, with no illusions about making money – and if you do happen to get a rebate, reward or generous tariff, good luck to you.

  14. The Barnett government has just backflipped on its policy of dumping the grandfathered feed-in tariff, after the issue rapidly built up a political head of steam since the budget announcement last week.

    What’s most interesting about it is that it now appears that solar energy has a political constituency.

  15. Heard it on radio here. Couldn’t believe my ears. They must have skipped all the lessons in Week1 of Politics 1.01.

    So in an age of worsening concern about climate change and of rapidly declining traditional sources of energy, their “accountancy” still uses Roman numerals and is yet to find out about double-entry bookkeeping. Yeah, I know. “It seemed like a good idea at the time”.

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