All posts by Brian

Brian Bahnisch, a survivor from Larvatus Prodeo, founded Climate Plus as a congenial space to continue coverage of climate change and sundry other topics. As a grandfather of more than three score years and ten, Brian is concerned about the future of the planet, and still looking for the meaning of everything.

Climate implications of the fire season

Anger has flared leading to has been more than a little trashy talk about bushfires and climate change. I would tend to agree with Phillip Coorey when he says (in the print edition) We can do without these dumb, nasty arguments.

    Apart from the United States, it is hard to think of any other educated country where this argument would be raging, let alone one as dumb and nasty as this one.

    The rest of the world long ago accepted climate change was a reality and grapples with how to combat it.

    Here, powerful people in media and politics with no qualifications or expertise whatsoever, continue to ridicule those women and men who have devoted their professional lives to science and fact with no ideological axe to grind.

David Rowe’s cartoon was priceless:

Continue reading Climate implications of the fire season

Aged Care in Australia: A Shocking Tale of Neglect

Aboriginal Elder Mildred Numamurdirdi, with GP Meredith Hanson-Knarhol, had to travel 800 kilometres to receive care.
    A sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation.

The media release began as follows:

    The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s Interim Report has found the aged care system fails to meet the needs of its older, vulnerable, citizens. It does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care, is unkind and uncaring towards older people and, in too many instances, it neglects them.

    Commissioners Richard Tracey AM, RFD, QC and Lynelle Briggs’s AO investigation into Australia’s aged care system led them to describe the aged care system as “a shocking tale of neglect”. Continue reading Aged Care in Australia: A Shocking Tale of Neglect

Weekly salon 1/11

1. Sydney

The purpose of LEAN is to make concern for the environment and climate change an essential part of Labor’s DNA. I’d say with the roomful of awesomely talented people we had at Lane Cove, the prospects look bright. Certainly the ALP branches around and near the suburb I live in are already there. Mark Butler is held in very high regard by the people who know him.

Second comment, I’m from the Silent Generation, according to this listing. At the meeting there was a pleasing quota of Millennials, of Gen Y (born 1977-1995). I’d never encountered them in sizable groups before. I found that a cluster of Millennials talk very fast and laugh all the time. I saw an article recently (not this one) that said human speech varies culturally from just over four phonemes per second to just under six. That’s nearly 50% faster, and not what my brain is used to. Continue reading Weekly salon 1/11

Health warning on PFAS

Unless you were living under a rock you would know that Erin Brockovich was here in Oz earlier this week announcing a Landmark class action over PFAS contamination in Australia.

PFAS has notoriously been used by the defence institutions in firefighting foam across the country. The chemicals have leaked into the surrounding environment. Now Shine lawyers are about to file a class action on behalf of up to 40,000 people who live and work on land contaminated by PFAS, suing the Australian Government, arguing their property values have plummeted.

The focus is on eight defence bases in particular, but there are plenty of hotspots around, as this map shows:

As it happens, on the weekend I read an article in the New Scientist Takeaway food packaging may be source of synthetic chemicals in blood which in the dead tree version carried the more accurate title Eating out can bring a side serving of suspect chemicals, also fingering PFAS. Continue reading Health warning on PFAS

Comments on Labor’s National Platform Chapter 4 (Aug 2019)

This document was my personal contribution to a review of the climate change policies that the ALP took to the 2019 election, and where the party might go from there. Policy within the ALP is based on the national party conference, in this case in December 2018. So I took a look at how existing policy might be modified for the future. These comments represent my views as they were expressed in August, with minor editorial tweaking.

Again, it’s a long read. Some may prefer to skip down to the Recommendations section, which is a more digestible 1773 words. Continue reading Comments on Labor’s National Platform Chapter 4 (Aug 2019)

Climate emergency – ecological sustainability within planetary boundaries, and a safe climate

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That image is a shot of the earth rising over the moon, photographed on Christmas Eve 1968 from Apollo 8, taken from a 2016 article by Martin Rees, looking at the dawn of the Anthropocene.

He plots two futures, one where we continue to degrade the planet, another more optimistic, where human societies could navigate current threats, achieve a sustainable future, and inaugurate a future more marvellous than what was achieved in the Holocene. He is interested in humans becoming electronic beings, which I’d see as a dystopia. Nevertheless, if humans act together, in the interest of the the broad ecology, including our species as a whole, our future could be bright.

In the real world we take action within nation states, which typically put the nation’s interest, however derived, ahead of other nations or indeed ahead humanity as a whole.

Internationally through the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) we are offered scenarios on climate change where, at best, the already bad will get worse. In the case of the latest IPCC 1.5°C report we are offered a 50% chance of avoiding the worst of a dangerous climate. Meanwhile, even if ‘successful’ sea levels will continue to rise, the Great Barrier Reef will be devastated, bad weather, droughts, floods and wildfires will get worse.

Unfortunately in Australia we have a government in power that intends to meet it’s commitments through cheap accounting tricks, where its environment department sees emissions continuing to rise through to 2030. Given that we are one of the largest per capita emitters in the OECD, our Paris commitments are exceptionally modest at 26-28% from 2005 levels. Those were initial commitments. A point overlooked is that under the Paris Agreement parties we undertook to ratchet up our commitments post 2020.

So what should Labor do if elected in 2022 to work towards a safe climate and a world were responsible growth and development is possible? What is a climate emergency, and can we respond appropriately? Continue reading Climate emergency – ecological sustainability within planetary boundaries, and a safe climate

Joel Fitzgibbon forces the issue on Labor climate plans

Yesterday my heart sank when I heard that shadow resources minister Joel Fitzgibbon was going to make a speech at the AFR National Energy Summit proposing that Labor end the climate wars by adopting the Coalition’s target of 28 per cent emissions reduction by 2030. Frankly, I knew Mark Butler would be spewing, but Fitzgibbon is a senior cabinet minister, so which way would Anthony Albanese choose?

By the end of the day the matter was settled. I’ll link to a couple of articles later, but the most important media piece came in Patricia Karvelas’s interview with Pat Conroy, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific and Minister Assisting for Climate Change, on ABC RN Drive. Labor will honour our Paris commitment, that means a meaningful contribution rather than the pathetic formal commitment by the Abbott government made. labor will take a backward step on it’s 2019 election commitments. Continue reading Joel Fitzgibbon forces the issue on Labor climate plans

Good news ignored by Queensland media

In a one newspaper town, the Courier Mail will never miss an opportunity to slam the Palaszczuk Labor government, even if they have to distort or mislead, while generally neglecting good news.

So we’ve had another front page headline:

Screenshot of Courier Mail Wednesday, 2 October 2019
Continue reading Good news ignored by Queensland media

Weekly salon 29/9

1. Can Richmond save Australia

Unless you were living under a rock, or in hospital in an induced coma, you would know that:

    Richmond has swept to victory in the AFL grand final, extinguishing GWS hopes of glory with a dominant 89-point win at the MCG for the club’s 12th flag.

    GWS was hoping to complete a fairytale finals turnaround to win the flag from sixth but after the Giants kicked the first goal of the day, they then conceded the next 11.

    Out-tackled, out-performed, out-scored — it was a dirty day for the Giants, as a terrific Tigers outfit made it two flags in three years with a 17.12 (114) to 3.7 (25) victory.

Continue reading Weekly salon 29/9

UN meeting failure, so what now?

This is the final version of a post first published on Thursday 26 September. This version contains additional material, and a considerable amount of the earlier version has been pruned.

I hope to do a specific post on the UN Climate Action Summit in New York. Meanwhile we have a closing media release from the summit. While it tells us that “77 countries committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, [and] while 70 countries announced they will either boost their national action plans by 2020 or have started the process of doing so”, none of the large emitters were included. Matt McDonald, Associate Professor of International Relations at the The University of Queensland, gives a neat summary with lots of links in Highly touted UN climate summit failed to deliver – and Scott Morrison failed to show up.

One success of the Summit was Greta Thunberg’s amazing speech:

Greta Thunberg “We’ll be watching you!”
Continue reading UN meeting failure, so what now?

Weekly salon 22/9

1. From the sublime to the ridiculous

I loved learning German at university through it’s poets and other great writers. One reason I never mastered colloquial German was it’s practice of borrowing foreign words and then rendering them in a way that just isn’t true to the Sprachgefühl (intuitive feeling for the natural idiom of a language. So we have:

Borrowed from Mark’s Facebook, not sure where he got it from. Continue reading Weekly salon 22/9