Who turned the heat up?

“Emissions increased the chances of seeing a summer as hot as 2017’s by at least a factor of 10”.

According to the New Scientist (pay-walled), that is the kind of information we could soon be getting with our evening weather report.

Better climate models and faster computers will soon give timely information which once took years about the human influence on significant weather events. Climate scientists used to say that it was impossible to attribute any specific weather event to climate change in real time. However, the science of climate attribution has matured. The World Weather Attribution project was able to make the above statement about the weather from June to August in 2017 by the following month in September.

Now scientists say they can connect individual weather events with the impact of human-made greenhouse gas emissions quite rapidly. In other words we could show that what’s going on outside someone’s window is directly linked to climate change.

It’s still a work in progress, but:

    Soon we should be able to answer that question quickly, thanks to a collaboration between European meteorological agencies dubbed EUPHEME. The aim is for your daily weather report to include information about how global warming influenced very recent or ongoing events. Those involved in the project say a prototype should be up and running next year. The Australian meteorological bureau is looking to develop a similar programme. (Emphasis added)

Those who follow climate science know that Hansen got it right. However, people have been complaining about the weather forever, and a common meme is “the weather is always changing”.

My father said that after World War 1 people thought all the artillery used in the war had changed the weather. In the 1950s there was a common belief that nuclear explosions had done the same.

Now records are being broken regularly, but a definite attribution delivered regularly could do much to change people’s consciousness of the all-pervading effect wrought by constantly dumping GHGs into the atmosphere in reckless disregard for the existential risks they pose.

It will be interesting to see if the Australian BOM provides the service whether the ABC and other media outlets take it up, and what the reaction would be generated from the aggressive sceptics/contrarians.

8 thoughts on “Who turned the heat up?”

  1. Brian,

    Now records are being broken regularly, but a definite attribution delivered regularly could do much to change people’s consciousness of the all-pervading effect wrought by constantly dumping GHGs into the atmosphere in reckless disregard for the existential risks they pose.

    Peter Hannam at the SMH has 3 recent articles about the effects of climate change, headlined:

    Big dry prompts NSW authorities to expand early start to fire season
    Extremely dry conditions across much of NSW have prompted authorities to increase the number of regions starting their official fire season on August 1.

    ‘Time bomb’: Tropics expansion nudges cyclone formation into new areas
    Cyclones are forming further from the equator as the planet warms, bringing new regions into the zone.

    Climate change to worsen urban air quality, lifting death toll
    Days of severe pollution will worsen in coming decades as a warming climate creates more intense temperature inversion events.

    And there are other media organisations.

    Unfortunately, there are other sections of mainstream media that downplay and deny the risks – I’m thinking of News Limited publications, the Macquarie Radio network, Sky News, etc.

    And governments and politicians hinder as well. I spotted this today from the Federal Member for Calare, Andrew Gee MP, in one of the local papers, the Village Voice, edition 220 (20 July 2018). See online edition, then flip to page 5, under the headline ACCC releases report into electricity market, that includes (bold text my emphasis):

    I welcome the ACCC’s report on power prices, which recommends that the Australian Government guarantee reliable baseload power in the electricity market.

    The report was much punchier and went a lot further than I thought it would. It’s also vindicated the position of The Nationals, which has been to get more baseload power into the network.

    We have some major power users in Central Western New South Wales, which collectively employ thousands of people, and without the Australian Government guaranteeing baseload power there is a real risk of investors walking away from them in the longer term.

    I thought the ACCC report was pretty clear: – allow existing coal-fired power stations to operate to the end of their technical lives (i.e. 50-years, or when the owners indicate they will end) – no new coal-fired power stations because new renewables supported with adequate energy storage and high-voltage interconnectors are cheaper/affordable energy supply. I’m puzzled how The Nationals position for more new coal-fired power stations is “vindicated” by the ACCC report.

  2. It looks as though Peter Hannan is doing a good job. Inter alia he links to the article The world’s tropical zone is expanding, and Australia should be worried:

    Since 1979, the planet’s waistline been expanding poleward by 56km to 111km per decade in both hemispheres. Future climate projections suggest this expansion is likely to continue, driven largely by human activities …

    If the current rate continues, by 2100 the edge of the new dry subtropical zone would extend from roughly Sydney to Perth.

    As these dry subtropical zones shift, droughts will worsen and overall less rain will fall in most warm temperate regions.

    I think this movement is very evident in our current weather. In Brisbane this winter season we are hardly getting any ‘westerlies’, but we are also not getting the rain that used to precede them either.

    Many jacaranda and poinciana trees are not dropping their leaves. They should be bare by now. Day temperatures are up to 5-7 degrees above normal and night temps about 5-7 below. It’s like desert weather.

  3. Correction to my comment (at JULY 24, 2018 AT 12:40 PM):

    I thought the ACCC report was pretty clear: – allow existing coal-fired power stations to operate to the end of their technical lives (i.e. 50-years, or when the owners indicate they will end) – no new coal-fired power stations because new renewables supported with adequate energy storage and high-voltage interconnectors are cheaper/affordable energy supply. I’m puzzled how The Nationals position for more new coal-fired power stations is “vindicated” by the ACCC report.

    I was thinking of the AEMO’s Integrated System Plan 2018, published on July 17, a few days before Andrew Gee MP had his electorate communication published in the Village Voice. I think the AEMO’s ISP-2018 clearly does not vindicate “the position of The Nationals, which has been to get more baseload power into the network.

    The Federal Coalition government has been in office since 7 Sep 2013, or 4 years, 10 months, 2 weeks and 4 days (1782 days) to date. The ACCC report Restoring electricity affordability and Australia’s competitive advantage: Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry—Final Report, released publicly a few weeks ago, includes in the Executive Summary, under the sub-heading How did we get here? (bold text my emphasis):

    There are many causes of the current problems in the electricity market. At all stages of the supply chain decisions have been made over many years by many governments that set the NEM on the wrong course.

    And then below the sub-heading Competition in generation (bold text my emphasis):

    As the Finkel review identified, there has been a failure to facilitate an orderly transition from carbon‑intensive generation technologies to cleaner ones. This is highlighted by the relatively sudden decisions by the owners of the Northern and Hazelwood power stations to close those plants. The short notice of closure of these plants did not enable the market to respond to expected shortfalls in capacity with adequate and timely investment.

    I think the ACCC and AEMO reports are hardly a “vindication” of the position of The Nationals, as Andrew Gee boasts. On the contrary, I think both the ACCC and AEMO recent reports are a damning indictment on the Coalition’s performance in government on energy policy.

  4. Geoff M, yes, that item was on the TV news. Investment risk, plus insurance companies, are, as you say, turning up the heat.

  5. Brian, in your post you say:

    However, people have been complaining about the weather forever, and a common meme is “the weather is always changing”.

    At Resilience.org is a re-post headlined Global Heatwave is Symptom of Early Stage Cycle of Civilisational Collapse, link here. It begins with:

    Welcome to a 1C planet: the precursor of an 8C catastrophe in 82 years if we keep burning up fossil fuels like there’s no tomorrow

    And ends with:

    So… welcome. Welcome to a 1C planet. Welcome to the fight to save ourselves from ourselves.

    Is humanity going to wake-up in time to act effectively to forestall its own extinction?

  6. Is humanity going to wake-up in time to act effectively to forestall its own extinction?

    Yes, little doubt about that, but it may be James Lovelock’s breeding pairs making a new life in Antarctica.

    Actually, I can’t see that happening, they will be somewhere else, but the ‘end of civilisation as we know it’ is a definite possibility.

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