1. Is it climate change?
When the first named cyclone in July appeared off the Queensland coast some asked whether this was caused by climate change. My response would be that a single event is weather. Climate is about changes in the patterns of weather over time.
Carbon Brief has a post suggesting that climate change attribution studies are asking the wrong questions.
It’s difficult to summarise, but the bottom line is that there is no agreement between scientists working in this area. Focussing on individual events, some say that attribution should be restricted to components that are directly related to climate change, like temperature and the water carrying capacity of the atmosphere. But some say we can and we must include things like circulation patterns.
Mark Cackler, the Manager for Agriculture and Food Security at the World Bank, is frustrated with the lack of attention paid to agriculture at climate talks and calls for advances in “climate-smart farming”.
He says we need to produce 50% more food, but agriculture is responsible for 25% of the total greenhouse gas problem. Yet it is hardly mentioned in climate talks.
He says we need better climate-smart farming, especially in developing countries, to replace the largely 20th century technology we now use.
He says we need to price carbon in agriculture.
Finally, he says we need to be smarter in using water. Agriculture currently uses 70% of all fresh water. Too much is wasted.
3. Climate Change Authority tells Abbott government what to do
The Climate Change Authority’s issued its Final Report on Australia’s Future Emissions Reduction Targets on 2 July 2015. The report confirms the Authority’s preliminary recommendations for Australia to commit to the following package at the forthcoming Paris Conference:
- a 2025 target of a 30 per cent reduction in its emissions below 2000 levels (or a 36 per cent reduction if the Government should choose 2005 as its preferred base year); and
- further reductions within a range of 40 to 60 per cent below 2000 levels by 2030 (or a range of approximately 45 to 65 per cent below 2005 levels).
The Authority has two further tasks. First, a draft report on the case for an emissions trading scheme for Australia is to be completed
by 30 November 2015.
Second, a report by 30 June 2016 on the full suite of actions Australia should take to meet its commitments arising out of the Paris Conference.
According to Giles Parkinson Authority chair Bernie Fraser said
- even the CCA recommendations would not represent Australia’s fair share of a real 2C target, but it would get the country a lot closer.
Fraser rejects Greg Hunt’s claim that
- “what the CCA is proposing is not just the largest reduction in emissions intensity in the world but a third more onerous than any other country.”
The Climate Institute says the CCA recommendations are inadequate for a decent chance of avoiding 2°C warming.
4. Coral comeback
Coral reefs may be more resistant to climate change than previously thought, according to new research. It has been discovered that each individual coral polyp isolates a drop of water inside its body and de-acidifies it. Moreover, coral grows better in warmer waters, within limits.
That’s what the article says.
Furthermore, coral’s rich genetic diversity throws up types that are better adapted to warmer water.
Studies around the Seychelles, found that after the bleaching event of 1998, 90% of the coral was gone. Now coral cover is back to 23% compared to 28% before the bleaching and on a clear path to full recovery. Five factors were found to assist recovery.
- Reefs that were most likely to recover were deeper, had a lot of nooks and crannies, lived in less polluted waters, had lots of young coral and a lot of plant-eating fish.
The factors we can control are overfishing and pollution. In Asia, dynamite and cyanide are still used for fishing.
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director of the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland, and a world authority on reefs and oceans, thinks the chance to save the oceans is ebbing away. He says we need to be at zero emissions in 20 years to achieve 2°C of warming, and 2°C might be too much.
Of course there are vastly more shell-making organisms than corals, and more threats than acidification. However, he does not appear to concede that acidification is benign to corals, and has done a fair amount of experimentation in tanks to back that up.
The report Hoegh-Guldberg writes about was not just by him. It was the work of 22 authors around the world.
Nigel Peake of the University of Cambridge and his colleagues have emulated owls wings to dampen the noise of wind turbines. Noise has been reduced by a factor of ten.
The turbines do have more drag, but many wind turbines are braked to reduce noise. The new turbines could generate more electricity.
They are now working with a manufacturer to develop the idea further.