Climate clippings 126

1. New research reveals extreme oxygen loss in oceans during past climate change

New research published this week reveals that vast stretches of the ocean interior abruptly lost oxygen during the transition out of the last ice age that occurred 17,000–10,000 years ago.

If that happened as a result of the relatively gentle forcing caused by changes in the Earth’s orbit, imagine what is possible now!

Like most of the life on the planet, the large majority of marine organisms need oxygen to live. Most marine life, from salmon, crabs, to shellfish, respires oxygen and many forms are intolerant of low oxygen seawater.

So-called ‘dead zones’ do contain life comprised of worms, bacteria, specialized urchins and bivalves, and other extremophiles, just not the kind of tucker we like to eat.

2. India ‘walking the talk’ on climate change

India is one country a bit allergic to discussing agriculture and climate pollution. They worry about feeding the millions. They also got a serve from Obama when he was there:

During a visit to New Delhi last month, Obama warned that the world does not “stand a chance against climate change” unless developing countries such as India reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

India, as usual, is impervious to pressure, but the environment minister reckons they are doing their bit. New prime minister Narendra Modi is keen on renewable energy:

Since coming to power in May, Modi has pledged to increase India’s renewable energy in a bid to lower coal use and bring electricity to more than 300 million poor people currently without power.

Modi, who built up a solar industry in Gujarat state when he was chief minister, has set a target for India to have 100 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2022.

3. Abbott’s decline attributed to G20 Obama snub and climate change

On Newspoll Abbott’s net approval rating is now -44 (68% disapprove, 24% approve of how he is doing his job). Jason Wison says:

After a polling mini-recovery of sorts for Abbott between July and September, November – the month of the G20 and Obama’s address – marked a turning-point. Between September and November, Abbott’s always-poor net satisfaction ratings had improved and stabilised a little; from November they declined rapidly to where they are today. In some polls, Abbott now has more than half the voters saying that he should resign. November was also the month in which Bill Shorten decisively overcame Abbott as preferred prime minister, and Shorten’s lead is now wider than ever.

Wilson reminds us that Abbott refused to accept President Obama’s request to put climate change on the G20 agenda. Obama’s response was to kick off his stay with an address at the University of Queensland embarrassing Abbott with his references to Australia and climate change.

4. Maurice Newman wrongly claimed a UK charity had blamed the deaths of elderly people on renewable energy policies

Maurice Newman is of course Tony Abbott’s top science advisor. Graham Readfearn investigated his claim and found:

Newman is not only misrepresenting the charity’s position, he appears to be making up positions that the charity simply does not hold.


between 2004 and 2011 the average annual energy bill in the UK went up from £610 to £970.

Only £30 of that £360 increase was due to costs related to low-carbon power generation.

Most of the increase, the analysis said, was down to higher gas prices and network costs (maintaining poles and wires).

In my view, Newman’s attempt to pin the blame for the deaths of UK pensioners on renewable energy policies is either disgustingly dishonest or pathetically sloppy.

In the rest of the article Readfearn gives an explainer on how world surface temperature is measured.

5. Miocene temperatures

This Skeptical Science post gives a detailed account of what happened 14 to 17 million years ago in the “Mid Miocene Climate Optimum” (MMCO):

The MMCO was ushered in by CO2 levels jumping abruptly from around 400ppm to 500ppm, with global temperatures warming by about 4°C and sea levels rising about 40m (130 feet) as the Antarctic ice sheet declined substantially and suddenly.

Over the succeeding 2-3 million years Antarctic ice fluctuated dynamically in response to orbital wobbles, showing it was balanced on a knife-edge between a world with little ice and a world with substantial ice caps. Ice-free parts of Antarctica were rain-drenched and supported lush vegetation, while Arctic land was covered by temperate forests. Parts of the planet that had been arid before the MMCO rapidly re-greened and reforested (eg Patagonia).

This graph plots temperature and CO2:


There were some differences between then and now. The Isthmus of Panama had not closed, for example. The warming happened on a warmer base.

Our warming is about 1000 times faster, giving less time for ecosystems to adapt. This is problematic for ocean acidification inter alia.

4 thoughts on “Climate clippings 126”

  1. Slightly off-topic. Climate change sceptics proliferate in this part of The Bush – despite scientific evidence as well as local anecdote

    There was a severe flash flood here in the “Twenties, another in the “Fifties, yet another in the “Nineties and then four in the last dozen years with No. 5 coming up this afternoon thanks to Cyclone Marcia.

    It can’t possibly be climate change at all – it must be caused by all them flying machines – or else brought on because of all that wickedness by certain people around here.

  2. GB:

    brought on because of all that wickedness by certain people around here.

    Dead right. What could be more wicked than blocking the action needed to give future generations a chance of a good life?

    Went to a talk by John Cooke, the founder of the Skeptical Science bloglast night. He talked about the strategies used by climate deniers to undermine climate action The message is that good climate science is not sufficient when you are dealing with expert myth creators.
    One of the interesting things he said was that the denier campaigners are driven by right wing, small government ideology, not money. John Cooke didn’t say it but I see part of the problem is that the deniers see climate change being used as a political weapon that the left has been using to defeat the right.
    In the Australian context, the Howard government did some useful things aimed at reducing Greenhouse emissions. (Think RET scheme and the efficient light globe regulations.) However, Rudd successfully used climate change as a weapon to help get rid of Howard, Nelson and Turnbull. So now we have Tony the denier and his backers using all their resources to attack climate action.

  3. Yes, that adds up, John D, and in many ways. An interesting twist to that narrative though is that the Libertarian (small business) drive does not see blatant ripoffs as being offensive unless they are somehow connected with government.

    Blatant ripoffs should exclusively be the domain of the private individual and are an essential feature of gaining wealth. Smart people (Libertarians) can avoid being exploited through choice, however any communal ventures exclude the option of choice as Libertarians see it and are therefore offensive unavoidable ripoffs.

    Australians are ripped off in many ways particularly in the area of telecommunications and data costs, land costs (there are 32 hectares land share per Australian, why do we pay $800 per square meter to own a piece of that to live on), entertainment costs, and energy costs.

    Of those the one that should draw massive condemnation from our Tea Party prime minister is the cost of electricity. This one cost has doubled over the last seven years while the energy production component has remained static, point one. Electricity infrastructure is largely government owned. We know that we are being ripped off and how that came about as proven in Jess Hill’s “Power Corrupts” investigative study, but intriguingly this does not have libertarians parading in the streets demanding energy justice.

    Tony Abbott did indeed rail against high energy prices, but only while there was the suggestion of a carbon tax included. Once any vestige of that was removed he dropped electricity price indignation like a hot potato despite the fact that electricity prices remained the same after the removal of a carbon price.

    So now you have got to wonder why the TerjeP’s of the world are not ranting on a daily basis about this huge overcharging. I think that the reason lays in the expectation that LNP state governments would sell of the electricity energy assets and that would make them privately owned ripoffs. And that would be the use of a climate mitigation policy gone horribly wrong being used to defeat the efforts of the Left, a hoisted on one’s own petard kind of justice as they would see it.

    Twisted thinking???? too right.

  4. One of the interesting things about the Newman government was the way it vilified the “small business owners” who had the hide to put solar on their roofs and thus threaten the big business interests that wasted so much money on gold plating the grid.
    Given that over 20% of households in Qld have rooftop solar business’s it seemed like dumb politics.

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