Category Archives: Climate Change & Sustainability

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

SOME STATEMENTS ON 2019 AUSTRALIAN FIRES

Australia has had a history of bushfires stretching back long before the English invasion. There seems to be little doubt that the fire related activities of Aborigines have had a substantial effect on local ecologies and the species that have survived and gone extinct.

This post consists of a number of fire related statements written as a prod to discussion. Continue reading SOME STATEMENTS ON 2019 AUSTRALIAN FIRES

Australia succeeds in reaching a new low in climate action

Australia succeeded in coming bottom of the class of 57 countries on climate policy, achieving a score of 0.0, ahead of the USA on 2.8 and Turkey on 4.8 in a race to the bottom. That is out of 100, where Portugal got 98.7 and Finland 98.

Internationally we are seen as ‘an increasingly regressive force’, so a negative score would have been appropriate. Continue reading Australia succeeds in reaching a new low in climate action

Weekly salon 9/12

1. Leading scientists condemn political inaction on climate change as Australia ‘literally burns’

    Leading scientists have expressed concern about the lack of focus on the climate crisis as bushfires rage across New South Wales and Queensland, saying it should be a “wake-up call” for the government.

    Climate experts who spoke to Guardian Australia said they were “bewildered” the emergency had grabbed little attention during the final parliamentary sitting week for the year, which was instead taken up by the repeal of medevac laws, a restructure of the public service, and energy minister Angus Taylor’s run-in with the American author Naomi Wolf.

Continue reading Weekly salon 9/12

Has the climate tipped?

‘Tipping point’ is a metaphor, first used by science and the media about climate change from about 2005 as this article explains. The metaphor has become topical now because some of the most senior climate scientists on the planet have used it to warn everyone, just before the nations of the world meet in the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC meet in the first two weeks of December, as they do every year, this time in Madrid, to plan an international response to what was identified in the Rio Earth Summit as dangerous anthropogenic interference [DAI] with the climate system”.

The article, commentary rather than research – Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against – is freely available at Nature. The authors are Timothy M. Lenton, Johan Rockström, Owen Gaffney, Stefan Rahmstorf, Katherine Richardson, Will Steffen and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber with the message;

    The growing threat of abrupt and irreversible climate changes must compel political and economic action on emissions.

Continue reading Has the climate tipped?

How do we prepare for the bushfires of the future?

Some are still suggesting that there is no direct link between climate change and Australia’s 2019 early bushfire season.

Adam Morton, Nick Evershed and Graham Readfearn did a factcheck at The Guardian. This graph shows that with summer about to begin 2019 was already streets ahead of anything we’ve seen in NSW since 1984:

Continue reading How do we prepare for the bushfires of the future?

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

Don Watson On Inspiring Support for Radical Change

 

Don Watson’s article in The Monthly poses a powerful message to all of us seeking the radical changes needed to give the world a future. The target was Labor supporters but the message is equally important to the Greens and other progressive parties.  In a sense the article supplements Greta Thunberg’s speech to the UN with its memorable bottom line of: “We are in the beginning of mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” (Given that the human plague has grown by over 22% (1.5 billion) since she was born and 3 times since 1950 perhaps she should have added eternal population growth to the fairy tales that require urgent action.)
The future desperately needs leadership that can inspire us to support the action required to minimize the damage being done by the human plague in a way that doesn’t make the people at the bottom of the pile even worse off than they are now.
Don Watson’s article was about the importance of speech writers like Labor’s Graham Freudenberg who have a clear vision on policy and ideas combined with the skills to turn these things into memorable, stirring speeches like Gough’s “It’s Time” speech.

Read and discuss.

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

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