- Extreme weather is increasing the levels of toxins in our food, according to a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Crops affected include barley, maize or millet, cassava and sorghum.
Poisons include nitrates, “prussic acid” or hydrogen cyanide, and fungai.
Effects include cancer, stunting fetal and infant growth, suppression of the immune system and even neurological collapse. Apparently its already an issue in parts of the world where there are inadequate detection and monitoring systems.
According to a Bureau of Meteorology report autumn 2016 was the hottest on record, beating the previous record, set in 2005, by 0.22℃.
- More than 53% of the country experienced highest on record mean temperatures. All States and Territories recorded very-much-above-average mean temperatures during autumn, with Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory all reporting their warmest autumn on record. In addition, the autumn national mean temperature anomaly was the largest such departure from average for any calendar season since national temperature records began in 1910.
Here’s the map:
Yes El Niño was an issue, but record breaking is roughly 20 times more likely because of human influence.
Andrew Glikson, earth and paleo-climate scientist at ANU looks at the broad sweep of geological and human history. He says:
- Over the past year, carbon dioxide (CO₂) levels in the atmosphere have risen faster than any period in the past 55 million years.
This is alarming:
- CO₂ levels above 400ppm have not been observed in the Earth’s climate record since the Pliocene, 5.3-2.6 million years ago, when sea level was about 25 metres higher than at present.
I think you’ll find that 25 metres would inundate large swathes of our coastline, carving large chunks out of our coastal capitals. You can check on flood maps here.
Glikson reckons two essential factors have made humans so effective at causing environmental change.
First, we invented fire at least a million years ago, or our progenitors did, so we are masters of combustion.
Secondly, the last 7000 years have been unusually stable, allowing the invention of agriculture, and modern society as we know it.
4. Can weather events be attributed to climate change?
Carbon Brief reports on the growing area of attribution science within climate science.
Attribution depends on the quality of climate models. This was the part that interested me:
- attribution studies tend to be, at least for the time being, reliable for some types of event, but not others. Heatwaves and, to some extent, extreme rainfall events, are well-understood because they relate directly to how much extra heat the atmosphere has accumulated.
Things get more complicated for types of extreme weather that involve the chaotic and complex dynamics of the atmosphere or oceans. This includes hurricanes (also called cyclones or typhoons, depending on which part of the world you’re in), floods and often droughts.
And this from Prof Gabriel Vecchi, head of the climate variations and predictability group at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):
- “It’s true – and will always be true – that the world is now fundamentally different because of global warming, so everything we see is impacted by global warming…[But that] has very limited utility in meaning. It doesn’t help predict anything…We need to be much more specific and much more quantitative.”
Seems they have a way to go.
Adelaide aims to be the first carbon neutral city in the world, and it aims to get there by 2025.
- The Adelaide City Council says it has received a big response to its incentive scheme for rooftop solar installations, batteries storage, energy efficient lighting and electric vehicle charging controllers as it aims to be the first capital city to be “carbon neutral”.
The city council said that 1MW of solar PV had been installed since it expanded its Sustainable City Incentive Scheme in July 2015, more than 800 halogen downlights had been replaced with LEDs, and 90 kilowatt hours of energy storage had also been installed.
The Scheme provides incentives for residents and businesses to install energy generation, storage, electric vehicle charging stations and energy efficiency devices (see details below). The Scheme is jointly funded by Council and the State Government.
Wind energy had a record month in May, overtaking hydro to provide 8.5 per cent of electricity demand in the country’s main grid.
A study has also found that the effect was to exert downward pressure in prices in May, contra to some of the critics.
7. Scary graph
If you want to see a scary graph on temperature rise, have a look at this one.
To be honest, the gathering momentum of temperature change is boosted by the outward circular spiral. As you go each degree occupies more space on the page.