Category Archives: Sundries

Posts on sundry matters of life the universe and everything: Culture, Environment, Life, Politics & Government, Science, Social Science and Society, Technology etc.

Climate clippings 25

Sea level risk worsens: Need for greater urgency as Arctic ice melting faster

The ice of Greenland and the rest of the Arctic is melting faster than expected and could help raise global sea levels by as much as one and half metres this century, dramatically higher than earlier projections, an authoritative international assessment says.

The findings ’emphasise the need for greater urgency’ in combating global warming, says the report of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the scientific arm of the eight-nation Arctic Council.

The melting of Arctic glaciers and ice caps, including Greenland’s massive ice sheet, is projected to help raise global sea levels by 90 to 160 centimeters by 2100, AMAP said, although it noted that estimate was highly uncertain.

Now the AMAP assessment finds that Greenland was losing ice in the 2004-2009 period four times faster than in 1995-2000.

The last bit is interesting, the rest is not news, except that the article appeared in the Courier Mail. Probably just a page-filler grabbed off the wires. Turn over a few pages and there was a column by Jennifer Marohasy. Normal service restored. Continue reading Climate clippings 25

Climate clippings 17

These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.

They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.

The permafrost giant is stirring

We predict that the PCF [permafrost carbon flux] will change the Arctic from a carbon sink to a source after the mid-2020s and is strong enough to cancel 42–88% of the total global land sink. The thaw and decay of permafrost carbon is irreversible…

Continue reading Climate clippings 17

Climate clippings 14

These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.

They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.

Monckton madness

John Cook at Skeptical Science has a post on two of Monckton’s oft-repeated pieces of climate change misinformation – that climate sensitivity, a measure of how much the earth warms from rising CO2, is so low that you can burn coal with impunity and that sea levels are not going to rise much in the future.

Cook has conveniently collected all his articles on Monckton Myths. Indeed this one lists 15 of them together with their antidotes. For example, Monckton claims that Arctic sea ice loss is matched by Antarctic sea ice gain, whereas in fact Arctic sea ice loss is three times greater than Antarctic sea ice gain.

Oops, said I wasn’t going to mention ice this time. Continue reading Climate clippings 14

Open thread on floods

We now have a number of specific threads running on aspects of the Queensland floods. This thread is for comments that don’t fit the specific threads or if you want to comment on other current floods lacking a thread, such as those in Victoria, Brazil or Sri Lanka .

These are the previous threads I can identify:

Brian on Queensland floods

Robert on Queensland floods get worse

Mark on Brisbane flood maps and up to date flood information

Brian on Toowoomba flood pics

Brian on Brisbane floods in retreat

Kim on Political cheap shots and the Brisbane floods

Kim on Quick link: Quiggin on water policy after the Queensland floods

Kim on Quicklink: Interactive map of Brisbane flood damage

Kim on Germaine Greer wrong on Brisbane floods

Mark on Social capital, social networking and the Brisbane floods

Hope I haven’t missed any.

Brisbane floods in retreat

The flood clean-up begins as the river retreats.

The swollen Brisbane River has dropped to 2.7 metres and emotions are running high as residents start returning home to survey the damage caused by yesterday’s flood peak.

About 26,000 homes had either major or partial flooding when the river peaked at 4.46 metres.

Weather bureau senior hydrologist Jess Carey says the river system has fallen to 2.7 metres but will rise again to about 2.85 metres this morning.

“It’s certainly been dropping fast. It’s been expected,” he said.

He says the Bremer River is also falling quickly at Ipswich where 3,000 homes were flooded.

Continue reading Brisbane floods in retreat

What is our legacy on climate change? Where should our grandchildren live?

Midwest superstorm

The image is a satellite photo of the US superstorm taken on October 26, 2010. At the time, Bigfork, Minnesota reported the lowest pressure ever recorded in a U.S. non-coastal storm, 955 mb. It was just one of the many records broken in 2010 when the weather seemed to go a bit crazy. Continue reading What is our legacy on climate change? Where should our grandchildren live?

Toowoomba flood pics

The main purpose of this post is to share some photos sent to me taken by my cousin’s brother-in-law in Toowoomba. But first some context.

Paul Norton described the topography of Toowoomba thus:

    Just to give people some idea of what seems to have happened in Toowoomba, the city of Toowoomba is located just on the west side of the Great Dividing Range. As you travel from Brisbane to Toowoomba, the road begins climbing slowly after about Grantham and Helidon, then climbs steeply west of Withcott before cresting the range at a bit under 700 metres. The eastern suburbs on Toowoomba are built on the western slope of the range, whilst the CBD is located in something of a hollow at the bottom of this slope, with gentler slopes to north and south. The “cloudburst” (to used Brian’s word on the older thread) on the range looks to have basically been funnelled into the CBD by the topography.

    Further to my previous comment, the range forms a neat half-circle around Toowoomba on the east side, centered on the CBD.

Continue reading Toowoomba flood pics

Climate clippings 6

These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.

They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.

Clouds and climate sensitivity

Climate sensitivity is the temperature increase caused by a doubling of the trace gas CO2 in the atmosphere. The IPCC AR4 gave this as between 2 and 4.5 °C for short term “Charney” feedbacks, which is a large uncertainty range for such an important number. Clouds are largely to blame.

Recent research indicates less cloud cover as the sea surface warms. Thus uncertainty is taken away from the low side. Continue reading Climate clippings 6

Climate kills

According to Oxfam 21,000 people died due to weather-related disasters in the first nine months of 2010 – more than twice the number (10,000) for the whole of 2009. Their information comes from reinsurance company Munich Re.

The number of extreme weather events was 725 to September, as against 850 for 2009. The number of extreme events is likely to exceed the ten-year average of 770, but not by a large margin. This year included some particularly serious ones, such as the floods in Pakistan and the heatwave in Russia.

The Pakistan floods affected more than 20 million people, submerging about a fifth of the country, claiming 2,000 lives and causing $9.7 billion in damage. Summer temperatures in Russia exceeded the long-term average by 7.8°C, doubling the daily death rate in Moscow to 700 and causing fires that destroyed 26 per cent of the country’s wheat crop. Russia banned grain exports as a result and soon after world grain prices increased, affecting poor people particularly.

Statistics relating to extreme weather events are tricky. The number of deaths obviously relates to the severity of the individual events and how many people were living in areas where the events occurred and hence vulnerable. Continue reading Climate kills

Cochabamba to Cancún: The Rights of Mother Earth


Back in April 17-19 this year Bolivia organised a World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in a university town on the outskirts of Cochabamba. I bring it up now because it was a radical reaction to Copenhagen in an effort to set a new agenda for Cancún, which will commence on November 29. Bolivia was acting on behalf of the ALBA countries (The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America). ALBA has a membership of six countries with a population a bit larger than three times ours and a combined GDP about half ours.

Some island states react to climate change out of a threat of sea level change and inundation. Naomi Klein points out that Bolivia has it’s own existential crisis because “its glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, threatening the water supply in two major cities.”

The Council of Canadians tells us in their report that some 10,000 of the 34,000 participants came from outside South America. Government representatives from 147 countries were present, and at least 45 were active participants.

It seems clear that the conference outcomes were designed into the structure of the 17 working groups. The main formal outcome was a Peoples agreement. Here are a few extracts to give you the flavour: Continue reading Cochabamba to Cancún: The Rights of Mother Earth

What can save the majestic rainforests of West Kalimantan?

One of the most depressing articles I’ve read in a while is Borneo’s majestic rainforest is being killed by the timber mafia recently in The Guardian. This comes on top TV programs on of what seem like futile attempts to save the Orangutan. Wikipedia tells us:

The total number of Bornean orangutans is estimated to be less than 14 percent of what it was in the recent past (from around 10,000 years ago until the middle of the twentieth century) and this sharp decline has occurred mostly over the past few decades due to human activities and development.

The IPCC AR4 report put the net emissions from forestry at 17.4% of the total:

Continue reading What can save the majestic rainforests of West Kalimantan?