Climate clippings 141

1. Indian heat wave

At Climate Progress Extreme Heat Wave In India Is Killing People And Melting Roads. Temperatures have reached 122°F (50°C), that’s 1°F less than the all-time record.

The Guardian has a more recent report.

    Roads have twisted in the heat. Hospitals are overwhelmed by thousands of dehydrated people, the poor, the elderly and children among the worst hit.

In 10 days some 1,800 have died, a 20-year high.

Meanwhile in Texas they have had enough rain to cover the whole state in eight inches of water.


The developing El Niño is bad for us, but might offer California some hope of breaking the four-year drought.

2. El Niño impacts hurricane season

Not so, says this article. There could be a 50% increase in typhoon activity around Hawaii, but they tend to track east to Northern Mexico, New Mexico, Arizona and West Texas. In the Atlantic reduced activity is likely, perhaps the least since 1998.

3. Health effects of climate change

Speaking of heat, Doctors for the Environment Australia have compiled a report No Time For Games: Children’s Health and Climate (pdf) with a foreword by Fiona Stanley. The report focusses on the direct affects on health and health services of heat and climate-related events, such as bushfires and floods, but also takes in broader topics, such as the spread of tropical diseases and the impact of climate on the fundamental foundations of children’s health – clean air, food, water and social and economic stability.

The ABC has some commentary.

Psychological health should not be overlooked. After the 2003 Canberra bushfires, almost 50 per cent of children showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The report endorses the Climate Change Authority’s emissions targets of 40 to 60% reductions by 2030, which I find conservative. I’d prefer 100%.

4. Obama ties climate change to ‘likelihood of global conflict’ in Twitter Q&A

President Obama took to Twitter last week to answer climate change-related questions. He was asked:

    in the state of the union speech you said that climate change is a national security issue. Can you explain why it is?

His 137-character reply:

    more severe weather events lead to displacement, scarcity, stressed populations; all increase likelihood of global conflict.

In the exchange Obama also termed climate change a moral and religious issue because “we have a moral obligation to the most vulnerable and the next generation”.

On approving Shell’s exploration for oil in the Arctic he said that oil exploration in the region couldn’t be prevented, and as a result “the highest possible standards” had been set, which I find somewhat underwhelming.

5. Why Obama approved Arctic drilling

Climate Progress explains the various options Obama had in relation to Shell’s lease in the Chukchi Sea. Some options were open to legal challenge, some would be reversible by a subsequent administration. Making the area a park is not simple and would take longer than Obama has got. Drilling has already been shut off from the most sensitive areas.

6. Quggin on coal

John Quiggin has written a piece on the end of coal at The Conversation, reprinted at his place.

A recent report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that global fossil fuel use is subsidised to the tune of US$5.3 trillion a year (6.5% of global GDP). In calculating this they took into account all external costs, including the impact on climate change.

China is reducing its dependence on coal and ramping up renewables. For example they have closed down more than 1,000 coal mines this year and shut down all four coal-fired power stations supplying Beijing. China’s air pollution is killing more than half a million people every year.

India is set to follow.

In Australia the political class remains in denial about these developments. The coal boom is fading and will never be repeated.

    For the future, it is our nearly unlimited capacity to generate wind and especially solar power that is likely to be our biggest energy asset.

See also at Climate Progress:


7. Voters want renewable energy, not more hot air

Peter Lewis and Jackie Woods interpret the Essential Report in relation to questions asked about climate change.

A significant 45% want urgent action on climate change, and a further 10% want it within a year. But 15% think our leaders don’t need to act at all and 16% don’t know.

Lewis and Woods think considerable confusion has been created in voters’ minds by recent political action on climate change.

But voters are strongly in favour of putting more emphasis on renewable energy, especially solar, with 71% wanting more emphasis and 14% the same.

8. Renewable energy news

  • SA Power Networks, the monopoly network operator in South Australia, has caused a furore in the solar industry by proposing a $100 a year network surcharge on solar households. Apparently Queensland and WA have backed away from going down that track.

14 thoughts on “Climate clippings 141”

  1. Temperatures have reached 122°F (50°C), that’s 1°F less than the all-time record.

    The record high temp was 59 years ago, just to save people from having to look it up, the articles didn’t say.

  2. I looked out my central Victorian window this morning and saw a waddle of chinstrap penguins making their way up the driveway as the mercury hit -2.5 celsius. I locked the doors and dimmed the lights. I think Brian might be right about that Ice Age.

  3. For those who came in late, in the early part of this century I knew about ice ages and interglacials and knew that we were about due for an ice age. Then about 2006, I think, James Hansen declared that human activity had cancelled the next ice age.

    So when did you know that, Karen? Were you ahead of James Hansen?

    On cold nights, it was -2 at Roma and Miles last night in Qld near where my sister lives. We had 3 at Ipswich, not far from here.

  4. Karen, you clicked the wrong link. The Jo Nova website, and other Monckton fed locatons, is where you will find the next imminent ice age. Climate Plus is ahead of the denial game recognising the extensive wasteful exploitation of fossil fuels, along with most other natural resources, has arrested the general natural global cooling trend and has kicked in dramatic global warming, as Brian says above.

    And that is a good point, Brian. The global temperature increase is actually that observed plus the negative value that was present several hundred years ago, ie heating greater than is being recognised.

  5. Brian, my comment was tongue-in-cheek. It is hard not to joke about warming when five minutes outdoors gives me a purple nose and bright red ears due to the subzero temps!

    I applaud you for your good work on climate change.

    As to James Hansen, I’ve never listened to him. As I say, I chase consilience and consensus and avoid hero worship. But when I do pay particular attention to an individual scientist, it is nearly always a bright young thing. I’ve noted from reading several science histories that the young are usually right and the old are usually wrong, hence Planck’s famous saying about science progressing one funeral at a time.

  6. Stephen Colbert put it best:

    Global warming isn’t real because I was cold today!
    Also great news: World hunger is over because I just ate.

  7. Karen, I appreciate the humour, but just about every day one or two newbies show up on the site, have a look around and read one or two of the “Key Posts”, but don’t leave a comment. They might get the wrong idea.

    Climate scientists tend to work in many specialist areas. James Hansen as head of NASA GISS had access to the brains and private opinions of a heap of specialists. He was in a good place to get an overview. In addition in latter years he concentrated his own scientific effort on the important big picture questions. He did this in collaboration. I recall one of his papers having 41 joint authors, bringing many specialists from a range of institutions and continents together.

    I tend to take notice of him when he writes scary stuff. Same with Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, whose scary stuff tends to come in lectures. He’s head of the Potsdam Institute.

    Then there is Kevin Anderson of Manchester, who used to head up the Tyndall Centre.

    Finally I always look out for what David Spratt at Climate Code Red is up to. He has science qualifications and has a talent for sniffing out the important stuff.

    These guys aren’t so much science heroes. I tend to think of them as a breakaway group in front of the peloton, represented by the IPCC.

  8. BTW also, the post The folly of two degrees was posted in early December. This year after I included it in the “Key Posts” 54 people have read it, three yesterday. I tend to think they are newbies to the site.

  9. John, I’ve been keeping an eye on it. I was waiting to see how June worked out before posting on it. Neven at Arctic sea Ice Blog reckons that May and June are critical in determining how much the ice melts. He last posted on May 19 and has gone missing since then.

  10. I well remember days in north-west Queensland, back when I was a kid, when our household thermometer nudged around an unofficial 120*F (roughly 49*C) for some days; it was no fun at all.

    Well, you don’t have to go to India – as the world rotates and tilts, India will come to you.

    What does worry me is that government complacency and lack of planning will cost people here their lives. Demanding that some drongo or another be sued or charged or sacked will let off steam but it will no bring back to life anyone who has died of heat stroke or of unexpectedly swift dehydration.

  11. Graham, indeed, it’s perhaps opportune to remind ourselves that during the 2009 Victorian fires more people died from heat than from the fires.

  12. GB: When you live in places like the Pilbara you know what you have to do about seriously hot weather. The real problem happens when people who are not used to handling heat get hit with a scorcher.
    We gave some advice such as sitting in front of a fan in wet clothes to an elderly friend in Sweden during the European heat waves.
    The reply was that her mother had always told her to stay out of drafts. No wonder so many died.

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