Category Archives: Climate Science

Climate clippings 223

1. Climate as an existential threat

Last September I half-finished a post on this topic, with a paper by David Spratt and Ian Dunlop as the centre-piece. Their 28-page report on the state of climate science, action and politics entitled What lies beneath? The scientific understatement of climate risks is introduced as a post at Climate Code Red, but I suggest you go directly to the paper itself. Read any part of it, and I can promise you will be alarmed. Continue reading Climate clippings 223

Saving the Great Barrier Reef – seriously?

Back in February this year Malcolm Turnbull (acting for the Commonwealth Government, of course) stumped up $60 million to future proof the Reef. Now we have Great Barrier Reef gets funding boost as PM tells ‘doomsayers’ to be optimistic. Via the NY Times and Gizmodo There’s $500 million more now to save the Great Barrier Reef:

    including $200 million in funding to reduce agricultural pollution and $100 million for “reef restoration and adaptation,” which includes a project to grow stronger corals in laboratories. Other projects include killing off invasive species like the crown-of-thorns starfish and community engagement and enforcement

Everyone, except the ABC, is telling Turnbull, that’s fine and dandy, but won’t do much good unless we get serious about climate change. Continue reading Saving the Great Barrier Reef – seriously?

Climate clippings 222

1. Warming could soon exceed 1.5°C

The UK Met Office has warned that temperatures could break through the 1.5°C threshold within five years.

    The 1.5C threshold was set at Paris as an ambitious target because scientists fear that a world warmer than that would be susceptible to ever wilder climactic events that in turn would precipitate greater drought, habitat loss, food insecurity and mass migration.

The UN Environment Program in its annual emissions gap report, published last October, said government commitments were only a third of what was needed. Continue reading Climate clippings 222

Cosmic ray theory strikes again

Last Monday the ‘cosmic ray’ theory of climate change struck again when Amanda Vanstone at ABC RN’s Counterpoint found:

    Climate change may be largely caused by solar events, letting humans off the hook, claims Danish researcher Henrik Svensmark.

It has been a standard myth, debunked at Climate Skeptic. Now Svensmark and others have conducted new research published in Nature, which got this billing at Science News:

    The missing link between exploding stars, clouds, and climate on Earth
    Breakthrough in understanding of how cosmic rays from supernovae can influence Earth’s cloud cover and thereby climate

Continue reading Cosmic ray theory strikes again

Oceans heading for mass extinction

    a 2015 study found there is no techno-fix to prevent a catastrophic collapse of ocean life for centuries if not millennia if we continue current CO2 emissions trends through 2050.

A study published in May 2017 tells us that oxygen is depleting in the oceans two or three times faster than expected.

From Think Progress:

    by combining oxygen loss with ever-worsening ocean warming and acidification, humans are re-creating the conditions that led to the worst-ever extinction, which killed over 90 percent of marine life 252 million years ago.

Continue reading Oceans heading for mass extinction

Sizzling summers presage a global future

Back in 2003 a heatwave centred in France killed over 70,000 people. Another which struck Moscow in 2010 killed 10,000. During the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria 173 people tragically lost their lives from the fire. However, health authorities believe Victoria’s record-breaking heatwave may have contributed to the deaths of about another 374 people with the state’s death toll 62% higher than at same time in the previous year.

The elderly were worst affected, but the very young and those in frail health are also typically affected in events like this. Continue reading Sizzling summers presage a global future

Climate change: the end of civilisation as we know it

James Hansen said in his book Storms for my Grandchildren that if we burnt all the available coal, tars, and oil then the ‘Venus Syndrome’ would be a dead certainty, extinguishing life as we know it on the planet. He has now thought further and says that is not going to happen, the time-scales make it impossible. It would take 100 million years to get enough carbon into the atmosphere, and by that time much of it would be back on the sea floor.

However we are on a path to make living at low latitudes impossible, plus more than half the major cities in the world cling to the coastline and are subject to sea level rise. The world, he says, would become ungovernable.

How likely is this? The short answer is that we appear to be on a path to achieve an ungovernable world within a century. Continue reading Climate change: the end of civilisation as we know it

Abbott’s ‘Daring to doubt’ – how does the science stand up?

Not well at all, according to the scientists. Actually it is a travesty of language to call Abbott’s position “science”. In this piece I’ll highlight the kind of thinking that unfortunately cannot be dismissed as an Abbott aberration, but has the Turnbull government in it’s thrall. Let’s start with David Rowe’s amazing cartoon from the AFR:

Continue reading Abbott’s ‘Daring to doubt’ – how does the science stand up?

Climate clippings 117

On Monday and Tuesday this week we are going to have the AFR national Energy Summit in Sydney with everyone there, including Josh, Jay, Bill, Andrew Vesey and a different Malcolm Roberts (Chief Executive, APPEA). Should be fun.

The Weekend AFR had about half a dozen articles, led off by an article by Ben Potter, Angela Macdonald-Smith and Mark Ludlow (no doubt pay-walled) which said our energy has become dirty, expensive and annoyingly unreliable. They reckon something has to be done, it’s just that:

the causes identified by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – or unofficial backbench energy spokesman Tony Abbott – are not the same as the causes power industry experts and regulators highlight. Continue reading Climate clippings 117

Storms for our grandchildren

For me the main point of George Monbiot’s article about Hurricane Harvey is that the course we are currently on to achieve 3.5 to 4°C of warming by the end of the century is equivalent in magnitude to the change between the last ice age and the balmy times of the Holocene. To talk about whether this or that extreme weather event was caused by anthropogenically induced climate change seems beside the point.

The short answer is that everything about the climate has changed, so we are experiencing a climate that is different from how it would have been, and it will change much more during the life spans of the next few generations. Generally speaking, as Climate Central’s Climate Extremes Index indicates, extreme weather events are on the increase: Continue reading Storms for our grandchildren