Category Archives: Climate Change & Sustainability

Posts on aspects of climate science, climate action and climate policy & planning.

Barnaby is back

When Warren Truss was leader of the National Party from 2007 to February 2016, just about no-one in the general public knew who he was. That was one of the reasons why Barnaby Joyce succeeded him.

Now lots of people know a lot about Barnaby for a variety or reasons, and a saw enough of his successor Michael McCormack this week to realise he was simply not up to the job. The numbers that matter are the 21 members of the federal National Party room. More than half prefer Barnaby Joyce, warts and all. So we have Barnaby Joyce victorious in Nationals leadership challenge.

I have to say that his deputy, David Littleproud, looked absolutely miserable next to Barnaby on TV, although he says he was just cold. Word is that Matt Canavan moved the spill motion, and Littleproud’s support made the difference, in the interests of longer term stability.

If so, strange thinking. As Jennifer Hewitt says in the AFR today:

    The public will now have a front row seat at Joyce’s more explosive brand of political fireworks. And he does bear grudges.

Continue reading Barnaby is back

Climate policy or biffo?

Our media, it seems to me, are more interested in biffo than policy. For example, can anyone in the media tell me why they constantly interview Joel Fitzgibbon as though he had any influence on Labor’s climate policy?

James Massola in the SMH in February gave us an explainer What are Labor’s factions and who’s who in the Left and Right? To cut to the chase, Joel Fitzgibbon is nominally in the Right, but he says:

    The Left’s national conveners are Victorian MP Julian Hill, NSW Senator Tim Ayres and MP Sharon Claydon, while MP Matt Thistlethwaite is the national convener of the Right along with South Australian Senator Don Farrell.

What, no Joel Fitzgibbon?

No Joel Fitzgibbon. Massola says this:

    While Thistlethwaite is the national convener of the Right – and his state faction – frontbench MPs Chris Bowen and Tony Burke are the most influential in that state. Joel Fitzgibbon, long the convener of the NSW and National Right, is now seen as on the outer for the “whatever it takes” faction.

Continue reading Climate policy or biffo?

The fierce urgency of now: ie 2009…2021…?

Back in May 2009 some 60 Nobel Prize winners, some of the best minds on the planet, meeting as the St James’s Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium issued a memorandum under the call of The Fierce Urgency of Now:

    calling on world leaders for a global deal on climate change that matches the scale and urgency of the human, ecological and economic crises facing the world today. [ie, May 2009]

Continue reading The fierce urgency of now: ie 2009…2021…?

The dark side of clean energy and digital technologies

A man working at a rare earth metals mine in Nancheng county, China REUTERS/Springer

That’s from an article by Simon Ings in the New ScientistWhy using rare metals to clean up the planet is no cheap fix, about a book by French journalist and filmmaker Guillaume Pitron now translated as The Rare Metals War: the dark side of clean energy and digital technologies. Continue reading The dark side of clean energy and digital technologies

Climate action core Labor business in rebuilding Australia

When I attended a LEAN (Labor Environment Action Network) conference in September 2019, the concern was to make environment action part of Labor’s DNA and to cast climate action in terms of a positive vision for the future. However, people were tired. Labor had lost the unloseable election to Scott Morrison Scotty from Marketing, with nothing more than slogans and tax cuts to offer, plus scare campaigns boosted by Clive Palmer’s multi-million advertising blitz, a smear campaign directed at Opposition leader Bill Shorten, and a totally misconceived anti coal-mining intervention by former Greens leader Bob Brown.

Yes, there is more to say, and mistakes were made by Labor, but understandably many were tired and discouraged. Still, some were working on strategies inspired by the Green New Deal, in short a regeneration of the fossil fuel economy with a vision of planet-friendly, sustainable restoration and growth. Some were talking about the possibilities of hydrogen.

Post-bushfires, post-COVID, and prior to the ALP Party Conference and a possible election, LEAN has now come up with a simple and I think compelling story, to be found Climate action is core Labor business and Rebuilding Australia on the interwebs. Continue reading Climate action core Labor business in rebuilding Australia

Mad March – looking forward to Easter

The first three months of the year are always difficult for me. It’s hot and humid, and there is a lot of physical work to do. I tend to have annual medical check ups, and our tax return for last year needs to be done by the end of March.

Last year I was in better shape because the blog was broken over the festive season, which allowed me to get a head start. This year the time to get it all sorted is now, so that is what I’m going to have to do.

I intend to keep blogging, mainly short ones and perhaps Climate clippings and Weekly salons, until things get sorted. Continue reading Mad March – looking forward to Easter

Texas is freezing, but the Arctic is hot

Well, hotter than normal.

That is the temperature for Wednesday 17 February, referenced to a 1979-2000 base, from John Englander’s blog.

Some parts of the planet’s surface are 15 – 20 degrees Celsius colder than we would expect, and other parts are 15 – 20 degrees Celsius warmer.

However, with climate change one of the big effects is destabilisation of the weather. Continue reading Texas is freezing, but the Arctic is hot

Climate tipping points: real and present

The planet has changed. This is Iceland’s Skaftafellsjokull glacier in 1989 and 2020:

As reported in Al Jazeera, Christiana Figueres, one of the architects of the Paris Agreement, was stunned speechless when:

    She was told by leading climate scientist Johan Rockström, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, that we have already gone beyond some key tipping points. Losing the resilience of the planet was the nightmare that is keeping scientists awake at night, Rockström said.

He was referring to (1) the Arctic summer sea ice (2) West Antarctic glaciers, and (3) tropical coral reef systems. Continue reading Climate tipping points: real and present

Holocene heat corrected

To set this up, the following is a graph of the temperature during the Holocene Era comes from a 2017 James Hansen publication, with explanatory enhancements by David Spratt:

It was thought that both the Holocene and the Eemian, 130 to 118,000 years ago, experienced an early thermal maximum reflected in the big hump in the graph.

Research done by Samantha Bova et al Seasonal origin of the thermal maxima at the Holocene and the last interglacial gives quite a different picture, one of steady warming. This has important implications for where we are at with global warming. Continue reading Holocene heat corrected

Pivotal moments in climate change: Part 1-Climate Targets Panel report

In recent times the biggest pivot in climate change action has undoubtedly been the election of Joe Biden and President of the United States, whose vision and plans have been described as ‘breathtaking’. More of that later.

However, here in Oz a number of things changed within a 24 hour period.

  • There was a seeming capitulation by Labor to the demands of Joel Fitzgibbon to get rid of Mark Butler in the climate change portfolio,
  • An ad hoc group including John Hewson and Will Steffen, the Climate Targets Panel, released a report that took a look at what Australia’s fair contribution to the Paris Agreement should be,
  • The National Party issued a report arguing the necessity of building coal-fired power stations, inter alia,
  • and Dr Andrew Forrest AO delivered the first Boyer Lecture 2020 on Rebooting Australia — How ethical entrepreneurs can help shape a better future.

Seriously, Forrest’s lecture was amazing, and the Dr is not honorary, he actually completed a PhD in marine ecology last year.

In this post I’ll look at the Climate Targets Panel report. Continue reading Pivotal moments in climate change: Part 1-Climate Targets Panel report

Five climate graphs that matter: 2020

The numbers are in for 2020.

Remember Greta Thunberg, the girl who can’t quit, said:

    The emissions are increasing and that is the only thing that matters.

In September 2019 I posted the Four graphs that matter in the climate emergency with some bonus graphs. I’ve decided that we should be watching sea level rise also, because of the future destruction it will wreak, and because sea level rise was the chief motivation behind the move from the island states to target 1.5°C of warming rather than 2°C.

The big news, however, is that 2020 was basically tied with 2016 as the warmest year ever, which is now reckoned to be 1.25°C or more above pre-industrial, depending on where you start. Continue reading Five climate graphs that matter: 2020

Temperature pushes Great Barrier Reef to tipping point

In this post we find that the 2020 global average surface temperature was 1.25°C hotter than pre-industrial, equal first with 2016, according to The European Copernicus Climate Change Service. This is important for the Great Barrier Reef, because in a little known report in 2013 scientists found that 1.2°C is the warmest compatible with the Reef remaining a coral-dominated system. Focus recently has been on the emergence of annual severe bleaching (ASB) when the affected reefs are effectively dead. Climate change action of the type we are engaged in will only delay the emergence of ASB on average from about 2034 to 2045. Continue reading Temperature pushes Great Barrier Reef to tipping point