Experts have a say on sea level rise

The recent IPCC report estimated sea level rise (SLR) thus:

SLR by 2100_cropped

For the scenario RCP8.5 (the most likely) the rise by the year 2100 is 0.52 to 0.98m, with medium confidence.

A new study (Horton, Engelhart and Kemp) asked experts in the subject for their view. For the RCP8.5 scenario they came up with 0.7 to 1.2m, as shown here:

Horton_SLR_Survey_580

Fully 65% of experts expect SLR greater than the IPCC forecasts.

The dotted lines on that graph represent NOAA projections of December 2012.

Meanwhile if, against the odds, we can hold temperature rise to about 2°C, then what happened during the last interglacial, the Eemian, has some relevance. This from the IPCC report: Continue reading Experts have a say on sea level rise

If a tree falls in the forest…

…does anybody hear?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the past few days you will have heard/seen Joe Hockey say that the budget is in terrible shape and he’ll have to clean up Labor’s mess. You see it’s all Labor’s fault.

Chris Bowen has been saying that $20 billion of the $17 billion budget deterioration since Labor’s pre-election statement is due to Hockey’s own decisions, that Hockey is setting us up for swingeing cuts in the budget in May next year.

I think the $20 billion is across the forward estimates (four years) and the $17 billion is just this year – it’s confusing.

Anyway, the AFR provided this helpful graph, which was sourced from Treasury, but I can’t find there:

951e60a8-66d4-11e3-b959-55a7b594860c_MidYear-onlineV3_cropped_580

Laura Tingle says the budget has been mugged by the deteriorating economy as well as alarming spending blowouts. There is a need, she says, not to “crunch a soft economy facing a continuing decline in national income, yet in the medium term there is a need to profoundly re-engineer the budget – and voters’ expectations.”

Yet there is so far a complete lack of what she calls “fiscal rules” to measure Hockey’s performance. There are no yardsticks or performance indicators. The future is completely open. We await the National Commission of Audit and the Government response with some trepidation.

Bruce Cockburn’s song If a tree falls sees vast swathes of forest felled. Yet single trees falling also go unnoticed. What’s happened in Queensland in the last couple of years foreshadows what we can expect. Ben Eltham’s report on the massive cuts to small and medium arts organisations in Queensland, for example, warns of worrying reverberations through the entire national arts sector. Cuts of that kind may not impinge directly on my experience, but I feel the life blood is being sucked out of the place. Yet the Newman government are now telling us how worthwhile the whole exercise has been. They are very proud of themselves. Continue reading If a tree falls in the forest…

Real clothes for the emperor

“When I look at this [CO2] data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius, which would have devastating consequences for the planet.” Fatih Birol, IEA chief economist

That’s one of the favourite quotes by Professor Kevin Anderson of Manchester University and the Tyndall Centre (personal website here) who, like James Hansen in the US and John Schellnhuber in Germany, is a leading climate scientist who speaks plainly about the dangers of global warming and the situation we’re in. Much of his important work seems to have been done with Alice Bows, now Bows-Larkin. In this piece I’ll refer to “he” or “they” depending on my perception of the source.

Real clothes for the emperor was the title of a talk Anderson gave to unionists in June 2013 (slides here).

Their basic point is that no real progress has been made since the Rio Summit in 1992 from which international action flowed through the agency of the UNFCCC and the IPCC. Policy makers in nations with ostensible targets seriously fudge the game so that economic growth is not inconvenienced.

Another favourite quote of theirs is:

“… dangerous climate change can only be avoided if economic growth is exchanged, at least temporarily [until low carbon energy supply is widespread], for a period of planned austerity within Annex 1 nations…” – Anderson and Bows, 2011

I’ll proceed by stating their main summary points in turn followed by a brief explanation. Continue reading Real clothes for the emperor

Analysing the polls

Dr Kevin Bonham has a post Abbott Fastest Ever To Lose Poll Lead with this helpful advance summary:

  • 1. Following the recent Newspoll, the new Abbott Government has lost the two-party preferred polling lead.
  • 2. This does not necessarily mean the government would lose an election if one was held now.
  • 3. The Abbott Government has lost the 2PP polling lead much faster than any other new government elected from Opposition in federal polling history.
  • 4. Tony Abbott has also recorded negative personal ratings much faster than any new PM elected from Opposition in federal polling history.
  • 5. While polling taken at this stage has very little if any predictive value, governments that have lost the lead very early in their terms have a historically greater risk of defeat at the next election.
  • 6. Bill Shorten’s polling as Opposition Leader appears good, but is nothing unusual by the standards of other Opposition Leaders at the same stages of their careers.
  • 7. Furthermore the strength or otherwise of an Opposition Leader’s personal polling after only two months in the job has no relationship with their success at later elections.

I’ll leave you to read the rest. Continue reading Analysing the polls

Deja vue all over again: the new NBN

Laura Tingle reckons the arrival of Turnbull’s NBN Strategic Review is deja vu all over again:

The raw politics of this is that, no matter how much the Coalition can complain that it has been left to clean up a Labor mess, a mickey mouse broadband network is now a mess that it owns and has insisted it will put its own stamp on. The cost of this decision is that we have to go back to the start to redesign NBN Co itself; the technological platform of the broadband system, the competition regime and a myriad of contracts.

This will take time.

There is going to be a cost benefit analysis and a review of NBN regulation. There will be changes to procurement strategy, renegotiation of deals with Telstra and Optus, of the special access undertaking lodged with the ACCC, reviews of NBN Co’s fixed wireless and satellite programs, a corporate plan, possible legislative and regulatory changes to access multi-dwelling units and utility infrastructure.

Tony Boyd spells out some of the detail. Significantly, the ‘multi-technology mix’ (MTM) is going to mean that

the entire NBN network technology management system will have to be redesigned. The IT systems will have to be changed and operational processes will have to be modified to support copper, HFC and FTTN.

Continue reading Deja vue all over again: the new NBN

The General goes

holden21_275Abbott, Hockey et al would have you believe that GM have made a decision to cease manufacturing in Australia. Kim Carr and Jay Weatherall have been saying that GM were willing to continue and had specified exactly what was required. My recall is that Weatherall said they wanted the Government to chip in $130 million. Carr told Waleed Aly that the price was significantly less than $150 million. Carr said further that the hectoring and bullying by Hockey, Abbott and others clearly let GM know they were not wanted.

I think Carr is right. The Government wanted to make the decision look as though it was made by GM alone and to a degree they have succeeded.

Tim Colebatch, in a column written before the decision was announced (sadly, his last) was clear that the decision was made by Abbott. He thinks it could precipitate a recession. And:

car programs cost $400 million a year, nothing like the $3 billion a year for diesel fuel rebates to mining companies, or the $5 billion to subsidise negative gearing. The budgetary cost of losing this industry will dwarf the cost of keeping it.

Continue reading The General goes

Assessing dangerous climate change

Seventeen high-profile academics with expertise across the climate research spectrum, from atmospheric science, earth science and environmental science, to economics, global change and public health led by James Hansen, now at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, have published a paper Assessing “Dangerous Climate Change”: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature which demands attention.

The bottom line is that “aiming for the 2°C pathway would be foolhardy” because it “would have consequences that can be described as disastrous”. The authors believe that humanity and nature, the modern world as we know it, is adapted to the Holocene climate that has existed more than 10,000 years. Departing from this climate by more than 1°C would have intrinsically harmful effects. At 2°C these effects become unacceptably severe. Moreover we enter a zone where further feedbacks, such as ice sheet response, methane release and vegetation change, are likely to push the climate towards further warming, of probably at least 3°C.

James Hansen and Pushker Kharecha have done a summary with discussion here, then there’s Joe Romm at Climate Progress, Tim Radford at Climate Code Red, Damian Pattinson, Editorial Director, PLOS ONE, at Huff Post and John Rennie with links to further material at PLOS Blogs. My partial summary is below. Continue reading Assessing dangerous climate change

Climate clippings 89

Climate clippings_175These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as a roundtable for readers to contribute items of interest. Again, I do not want to spend time in comments rehashing whether human activity causes climate change.

This edition is a mixture of science and implementation issues that found me rather than I found them. A couple came from Mark’s Facebook. The last item was drawn to my attention by John D.

1. Electric tents

If you want a tent for the holiday period that stands out from the pack and generates enough electricity to power computers, phones, cameras and loud speakers then
Bang Bang Tents is for you.

Bang Bang tents_cropped_500 Continue reading Climate clippings 89

Saving the CEFC

Sophie Vorrath at RenewEconomy reports that both Senators Xenephon and Madigan spoke against the bill to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). The Abbott government may not be able to complete their destructive war against renewable energy, even with the new senate next July. My understanding is that they need six votes from the cross benches. These may be hard to find.

However, Vorrath gave prize for best and most impassioned Senate speech in defence of the CEFC to WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, who repeatedly pointed out the lack of Coalition Senate representatives to argue their side of the debate. I’ve republished here her selection of highlights in plain text rather than italics. Continue reading Saving the CEFC

Galilee Basin coal: a vision splendid or a kind of madness?

This map gives some idea of the geographic positioning of the vast Galilee Basin, one of the greatest untapped coal reserves in the world.

Galilee basin18

This map locates it in relation to some well-known towns.

Last year we were told that nine coal mines are proposed. The Alpha proposal and Kevin’s Corner (GVK and Hancock Coal) could each produce 30 million tonnes per annum for export, Palmer’s China First hopes for 40 million tonnes. The Carmichael deposit (Adani) at 10 billion tonnes is the world’s largest coal deposit. I think the plan there is for another 30 million tonne mine.

Greame Readfearn has calculated that the Alpha and Kevin’s corner projects alone will produce 3.7 billion tonnes of CO2-e when burned. He compares that to the UK which emitted 571.6 Mt of CO2-e last year. He also outlines some of the difficulties being encountered, including contestation in the land Court.

Greenpeace calculated that if the Alpha coal project was a country, its annual emissions would be higher than the likes of Austria, Columbia and Qatar.

Last week Lateline highlighted the problems encountered by Adani, mainly high debt. A report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis commissioned by Greenpeace found the project “uncommercial” and found that Adani Power was losing money on its other operations. Continue reading Galilee Basin coal: a vision splendid or a kind of madness?

Is the Pope a communist?

Hardly, but he is certainly a severe critic of market capitalism. George Weigel sees his recent apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) as

a clarion call for a decisive shift in the Catholic Church’s self-understanding, in full continuity with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Austen Ivereigh begins his broader treatment this way:

The first teaching document mainly authored by Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, is a bold and thrilling bid to send the Catholic Church worldwide on mission. Energetic, direct, lyrical, its language and style model the evangelization to which the Pope is calling Catholics. In sharp critiques and passionate prose, it polarises the choices faced both by the Church and the world, gently but insistently inviting people to opt for mission – and to a journey of transformation and reform.

Pope-Francis-AFP1_500

Be sure to read, however, Travis Gettys’ Pope Francis rips capitalism and trickle-down economics to shreds in new policy statement. Continue reading Is the Pope a communist?

Keating the maddie

Politicians come in three types – straight men, fixers and maddies. … I am certainly a maddie!

That or something like it was the grab used on radio to promote the final episode of the Keating interviews with Kerry O’Brien.

Keating_1346_1_keat_90

I was left wishing for more. I’d be interested in what he has to say about anything, but his comments on Labor since his time would have been especially interesting – even on Gillard/Rudd!

Laying the groundwork for the annual APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting will be an enduring achievement.

We were left with a haunting glimpse into the personal cost to Keating’s family life.

The earlier post is here.

I can still remember the fateful day on 2 March, 1996. I was mowing a lawn in Milton. There was daylight saving and by 5.20pm our time it was clear that an era had ended. Labor retained only 49 seats though the 2PP ended up 46.37/53.63. This time it was 46.51/53.49. The furniture disappears very quickly when you get into that zone!

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff