Weekly salon 21/10

The Wentworth by-election is still a thing, but interesting and perhaps important things happen elsewhere.

1. Spain lost all its men in an ancient invasion

The time was about 4500 years ago. Spain was invaded from the east by a group that stemmed from the Yamnaya herders on the steppes north of the Black Sea, the group responsible for founding the Indo-European language group. A genetic study led by David Reich of Harvard Medical School has found that the local male line disappeared instantly with that invasion (New Scientist, pay-walled), never to be seen again. After the invasion the resulting population had 40 per cent Yamnaya ancestry and 60 per cent local ancestry. However, the Y-chromosome of the male line changed completely to the Yamnaya line.

It means the local males were either killed or enslaved, according to the article. Continue reading Weekly salon 21/10

Weekly salon 20/10

I have to work today, helping my 89 year-old and his wife in the wilds of Upper Brookfield. We’ve had rain and you can see the grass grow.

Tonight my son Mark arrives from Sydney, and tomorrow I’m scheduled to do anther largish lawn because my ute is scheduled for repairs on Monday. So this is a quickie Salon ahead of the Wentworth by-election. Continue reading Weekly salon 20/10

Cool patch below Greenland is bad news

Two years ago this month I posted Global temperature, the North Atlantic cool patch and the Gulf Stream. The cool patch was still there, lasting throughout the 2018 northern summer:

This now needs to be recognised as an enduring feature associated with the slowdown of the overturning ocean circulation AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation) which James Hansen and Makiko Sato say is having an effect on the east coast hurricanes which have been so prominent during this summer. Continue reading Cool patch below Greenland is bad news

Trouble at the top of the world

Arctic summer sea ice minimum was the sixth lowest on record. So we can all relax, right?

Wrong.

I’ll come back to that. However, Tamino at Open Mind points out that while the Arctic warms three to four times as fast as global warming, the Arctic winters are warming at a much faster rate.

Using the NASA data, which is about mid-range in the major players, Tamino finds that the overall average warming rate since 1985 in the Arctic, at 6.48°C/century is fully 3.4 times as fast as the global rate since 1985 of 1.90°C/century. Continue reading Trouble at the top of the world

Weekly salon 14/10

1. The Liberal Party has been taken over by “extremists” of the hard right

That’s the message from Malcolm Turnbull’s son Alex:

    “This (leadership spill) isn’t exactly a first for Australian politics, but it does lead you to the conclusion that a stable government might not be as stable as some people would like you to think,” he said.

    “To me, this particular event seems to show the Liberal party has been taken over, frankly from extremists on the hard right who aren’t particularly motivated to win an election and aren’t particularly motivated to serve the general public – they just want to pursue a crazy agenda.”

Continue reading Weekly salon 14/10

IPCC on 1.5°C: the target is wrong, but we have a strong wake-up call

The target should not be 1.5°C; rather we should aim for a safe climate. James Hansen told us in 2007 that to achieve a safe climate we need to bring GHG concentrations down to 350 ppm as soon as possible. That’s CO2 equivalent, not CO2. Current CO2e is not often quoted, but would be around 500 ppm on the basis that CO2 is about 80% of total GHGs. Also we need to focus on what we are doing to the planet over centuries and millennia, not just the next 50 to 100 years.

However, the IPCC team putting the report together were not asked what the goal should be. They were asked to build a scenario for achieving the 1.5°C warming limit specified as desirable in the Paris Agreement of 2015, and to look at the impacts of a 1.5°C world as against a 2°C world. Two Degrees came out of Europe in the 1990s, achieved a general currency, then became the official goal of at the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC in Cancun in 2010. At that time there was a move mainly by many of the island states vulnerable it inundation for a more ambitious target. Essentially the whole group at Paris agreed to try.

However, while two degrees was commonly seen as a guardrail for a safe climate even by many scientist, it was never a scientifically derived goal for a safe climate.

The IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C is important because it shows that the path to 1.5°C has a high degree of difficulty and has implications which to most will not be acceptable. It’s importance is in changing the discourse, from being seen as an achievable safe guardrail to 1.5°C as difficult to achieve and far from safe. Continue reading IPCC on 1.5°C: the target is wrong, but we have a strong wake-up call

National emissions inventory scam(s)

There were three scams in the Government’s release of the latest quarterly update of the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory for March 2018.

The first, as reported by the ABC, FOI documents obtained by the Australian Conservation Foundation show that the Government sat on the report for seven weeks, then released it on 28 September, just before national football finals in the AFL and NRL, and amidst media preoccupation with the royal commission into banks.

That means the report was available to government from 10 August, fully two weeks before Malcolm Turnbull was turfed out on 24 August. Hence while political decisions were being made about the National Energy Guarantee, important information was being withheld.

Secondly, now the data is out, this is what the government wants us to concentrate on:

Continue reading National emissions inventory scam(s)

Heat begins to bite

Mira Adler-Gillies at the ABC looks at How deadly is 50-degree heat? Australia’s cities face the new reality of climate change:

    Buckled train tracks, grounded planes, melting bitumen and massive blackouts: the dystopian vision of the 50-degree city is closer to reality every day.

    With wildfires raging around the Arctic Circle, unprecedented heatwaves in the Northern Hemisphere and record temperatures being set from Algeria to Canada, the world is getting inexorably hotter.

Continue reading Heat begins to bite

More excitement than I need

Sometimes I yearn for a simpler world where the main thing we had to worry about was a nuclear holocaust – MAD (mutually assured destruction).

Now I have to warn anyone who was associated with me by email or Facebook not to open a video that is said to find me in a compromising position, apparently “looking hot” which would really be something for someone my age, caught on webcam (which I don’t have, as far as I know) and while streaming something really naughty.

I can stop this happening, it is said, by coughing up a substantial amount in Bitcoin by 3am tomorrow morning.

The main thing is, don’t open anything you might be sent about me, because it is almost certain to contain malware. Continue reading More excitement than I need

ABC: chaos at the top with more to follow

Just when the most important thing going on in our fair land was preparation for football finals, our national broadcaster puts on a reality TV spectacular, except it is real. First the ABC’s board sacks the managing director Michelle Guthrie, now the chairman of the board Justin Milne sacks himself. Or more accurately dug his own grave as this David Rowe cartoon suggests:

That was from an article by Philip Coorey, who says the whole board, including the ABC staff representative should go. Continue reading ABC: chaos at the top with more to follow

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff