A STUNNING new Climate Council report that reveals the climate system is changing more rapidly than expected and with larger and more damaging impacts paints a stark picture of the urgent need for action, Professor Tim Flannery said today.
Climate Change 2015: Growing Risks, Critical Choices provides the most up-to-date, comprehensive synthesis of climate science in Australia and exposes the extent of the dramatic changes in the climate system worldwide.
“In short, the more we know about climate change, the riskier it looks,” Prof Flannery said.
“Heatwaves, sea level rise and ice loss are all increasing as the air, the ocean and the land continues to warm strongly. Extreme weather events like dangerous bushfire weather are becoming more severe and frequent.
“But this is a future we don’t have to have. Tackling climate change and moving to clean, renewable energy is the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do to protect our health and wellbeing. The right thing to do to protect us from economic shocks from worsening extreme weather and opening new opportunities for jobs and investment in new industries. Unfortunately the barriers to action are political.”
The report found:
- SEA LEVEL RISE: Australian sea levels are projected to continue to rise through the 21stcentury at a rate faster than that over the past four decades or over the 20th century as a whole. More than $226 billion of buildings and infrastructure are vulnerable to 1.1m of sea-level rise.
- EXTREME HEAT: Hot days have doubled in the last 50 years and heatwaves have become hotter, longer and happen more often. The number of deaths in summer in Australia has steadily increased over the last 40 years. In the future extreme heat increases are very likely with more frequent and hotter hot days and longer and more severe heatwaves.
- BUSHFIRE: Extreme bushfire weather has increased in the south east of Australia in the last 30 years and a “Catastrophic” category was added following Black Saturday bushfires. Longer and hotter fire seasons in eastern and southern Australia are likely in the future.
- HEATWAVES: In Adelaide, the number of heatwave days has nearly doubled since 1950 and the average intensity of the peak heatwave day has increased by 4.3°C. In 1995, Adelaide experienced 20 days above 35°C. By 2090 it could experience up to 47 per year. Deaths from heatwaves in Australian cities are projected to double over the next 40 years.
- BUSHFIRES: Climate change is already increasing the risk of bushfires in southern South Australia; extreme fire weather has increased over the last 30 years in South Australia. The fire season in South Australia is starting earlier and lasting longer. In 2014 the bushfire season started earlier in seven of 15 districts in South Australia. By about mid-century, the total economic costs of South Australian bushfires are projected to almost double, potentially reaching $79 million.
- COASTAL FLOODING: In Adelaide, today’s 1-in-100–year flooding event would occur every year or so by 2100 under a high emissions scenario. A sea level rise of 1.1 m exposes a significant amount of infrastructure to the impacts of flooding and erosion in South Australia, including between $5 billion-$8 billion worth of residential buildings
- Arctic sea ice retreat over the past three decades was unprecedented in at least the last 1,450 years.
- The 1980s, 1990s and 2000s were all hotter than any other decade in recorded history.
- Sea level rise is accelerating – the average rate of sea-level rise between 1901 and 2010 was 1.7 mm per year, increasing to 3.2 mm per year between 1993 and 2010.
The report underscored that Australia’s post 2020 emissions reduction targets were too weak to protect Australians from worsening climate change impacts, Professor Will Steffen said.
“As the escalating risks of climate change have become clearer and more disturbing, other countries have started to heed the warnings, putting in place tangible and ambitious policies,” he said.
“But Australia’s response to meeting the challenge of Paris is disappointingly weak; it is out of step with the science and out of step with most of the developed world.”
Professor Lesley Hughes said Australia had critical choices to make as country.
“We can embrace the range of solutions to climate change, which are more feasible and less costly than ever before, and build a healthier and more economically viable future or we can continue to pay the many costs that come from delaying action on climate change,” she said.
The Climate Council is an independent, crowd-funded organization providing quality information to climate change to the Australian public. For media enquiries, please contact Senior Media Advisor Jessica Craven on 0400 424 559.
Climate system changing faster than expected: Climate Council, ABC Radio Angela Lavoipierre reported this story on Tuesday, August 25, 2015
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The Climate Council says the case for the link between climate change and severe weather events has become much stronger. In a new report the Council states that the world’s climate system is changing more rapidly than expected.
ANGELA LAVOIPIERRE: The Climate Council’s report gives a snapshot of the changes so far to Australia’s climate, as well as changes it expects over the coming century.
The Council’s professor Will Steffen paints a grim picture.
WILL STEFFEN: One of the things that we can say is that we’re already seeing some impacts. Heat waves are lasting longer and starting earlier.
We’re seeing in the south-east of the country high bushfire danger weather has increased significantly over the last 30 years. We’ve seen that sea level has risen about the global average around Australia. That’s led to a threefold increase in coastal flooding.
ANGELA LAVOIPIERRE: And then, there’s what’s to come.
WILL STEFFEN: If we keep, if the globe keeps emitting fossil fuel emissions like we are now, we could see up to a metre of sea level rise around Australia. That could for example make a one in a hundred year flooding event in Sydney a daily event……..http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2015/s4299445.htm
Global warming to drive quadrupling of extreme weather trifecta, study finds August 18, 2015 Peter Hannam Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald The worst combination of extreme weather patterns in the Indian and Pacific oceans will likely rise four-fold this century if greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current trajectory, leading researchers have said.
Australia’s already variable climate may be particularly susceptible to a punishing sequence of events. This starts with reduced rainfall sourced off the nation’s north-west, combining with a strong El Nino in the Pacific to intensify drought over the food bowl regions of south-eastern Australia, only to be followed by floods during a powerful La Nina event the following year.
That extreme and rare trifecta – similar to the combination that occurred during 1997-99 – will happen about once every 48 years compared with about once every 187 years in the past, research published on Tuesday in Nature Climate Change says. The research is based on more than 20 climate models.
But even weaker versions of the three elements are likely to have an amplified impact as background warming from climate change makes rainfall shifts and heatwave conditions easier to generate.
UN climate expert warns Australia’s emissions target should not be final offer, The Age, August 13, 2015 Nicole Hasham Environment and immigration correspondent Australia should not attend global talks in Paris refusing to budge on its greenhouse gas emission pledge, the UN’s scientific body on climate change has said, ahead of expected international pressure on the Abbott government to do better……….
In Canberra on Wednesday, Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice-chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the December talks in Paris were negotiations.
“No country can go to negotiations knowing or thinking, really, that the [emissions target] numbers cannot be touched,” he said. Professor van Ypersele said targets from each nation would be collated and assessed, adding the collective efforts may not be enough to keep warming below 2 degrees. That would lead to “a discussion on how to increase the level of ambition and who needs to increase it first”, he said.
While pledges from nations may not be formally negotiated at Paris, leaders will probably be urged to increase their ambitions, either during the conference or afterwards……….
On Wednesday Labor leader Bill Shorten said he would attend the Paris talks.
The Marshall Islands, a Pacific nation highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, has decried Australia’s pledge as a “weak target” that erodes our international reputation.
Mr Abbott said the Minerals Council of Australia, which represents the mining industry, called the target is “ambitious”.
The target has been interpreted as an effort to placate climate sceptics in the community and the government, while doing the minimum needed to meet Australia’s international obligations.
Climate Institute deputy chief executive Erwin Jackson said Australia’s target was “not the end of the story”. “Countries in Paris will be under pressure to lift their ambitions,” he said.
“Both diplomatic and economic pressure is [also] going to build through time after Paris for countries to get in line with where the world needs to go, which is towards net zero emissions.” http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/un-climate-expert-warns-australias-emissions-target-should-not-be-final-offer-20150812-gixa98.html#ixzz3ijcqRmdX
Abbott won’t attend UN climate change talk http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/abbott-wont-attend-un-climate-change-talk/story-fni0xqi4-1227478782154 PRIME Minister Tony Abbott won’t attend the United Nations climate change summit at the end of the year.
INSTEAD, he will send Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to Paris for the talks to nut out a post-2020 global approach to dealing with climate change.
Labor says if world leaders like US President Barack Obama can find time to attend there is no excuse Mr Abbott can’t as well.
Never mind the target – can the government actually deliver? No.
The government plans to meet the 2030 target essentially on a wing and a prayer. There were graphs galore at today’s media conference, but the crucial one from Greg Hunt committed the government to extending Direct Action all the way out to 2030……..That’s the sort of obfuscation we’ve come to expect from the Abbott government when it comes to climate. This is a government viscerally opposed to meaningful action on climate change on any level beyond the symbolic.
To see why, judge the government not by its words, but by its actions.
Tony Abbott Has No Intention Of Reaching His Flimsy Emissions Target, New Matilda, Ben Eltham, 11 Aug 15 The combination of policies being deployed by the government will not help them achieve even the weak target announced today, writes Ben Eltham.
The news that the Abbott government has settled on an emissions reduction target for Australia out to 2030 heralds a new turn in climate politics in this country. The target, announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott today, is a 26 per cent reduction on 2030 levels compared to 2005. It would put Australia at the back of the international pack – offering less than Canada, the United States or Europe. Only Japan is offering a smaller target.
On the one hand, of course, this target is manifestly inadequate. Continue reading
Taylor’s book shows how Australia could have acted on climate change a quarter of a century ago, but how corporate interests and economic ideologies not only stopped the clock on action, but wound it back
Australia was ready to act on climate 25 years ago, so what happened next?, Guardian, Graham Readfearn, 7 Aug 15 New book investigates how corporate interests and ideologues worked to make Australia doubt what it knew about climate change and its risks.
There’s something about climate change that almost everyone in Australia has either forgotten or never knew in the first place.
In 1990 Bob Hawke announced his government wanted the country to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by the year 2005.
For a fleeting moment, it seemed the Australian public, politicians and the media were in agreement with the science.
But a new book investigates how the industries that stood to lose the most worked to undermine the science and entirely reshape the story being told to the public.
“We have been propagandised,” says the author, Maria Taylor. Continue reading
According to the South Australia Country Fire Service, nearly 1/2 of people living in bushfire prone areas don’t understand the threat. This is apparently true of those proposing adding nuclear anything in Australia.
The role of water in Australia’s uncertain future, The Conversation Amgad Elmahdi Manager Water Resources Assessment Section at Australian Bureau of Meteorology Matthew Hardy Manager, Urban Water at Australian Bureau of Meteorology August 3, 2015 “…….Water security is threatened by a number of factors. These include climate change, rainfall variability, population growth, economic development, and drought.
For instance, across southern Australia climate change is projected to decrease winter and spring rainfall by up to 15% by 2030 regardless of whether greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.
Rainfall declines are amplified in reduced streamflow and in turn the water in storages. Southwestern Australia has seen streamflow declines of 50% since 1970, while streamflow during the Millennium Drought (1996-2010) in southeastern Australia was half of the long-term average………
Australia also has naturally highly variable rainfall influenced by events such as El Niño and La Niña. An El Niño was declared in May 2015.
The El Niño’s likely impact will be drier and warmer conditions across inland eastern Australia. Importantly the strength of an El Niño does not always indicate how severely Australia may be affected.
These dryer conditions, should they arise, will place increased pressure on the water supply of effected regions. In particular, increased water demands and reduced stream flows will see declining surface water storage volumes. This could mean we need to develop and use more climate resilient sources………https://theconversation.com/the-role-of-water-in-australias-uncertain-future-45366
Turn and burn: the strange world of fire tornadoes December 17, 2012 Rick McRae, ACT Emergency Services Agency and Jason Sharples, UNSW Australia Rick McRae is Researcher at ACT Emergency Services Agency. Jason Sharples is Lecturer, School of Physical, Environmental and Mathematical Sciences at UNSW Australia.
We’ve all seen footage of out-of-control bushfires sweeping the Australian landscape, burning out hectares of native forest in their wake. But you might not have heard of a fire tornado, let alone seen one.
For many years now researchers have theorised that fire tornadoes could be possible. Now, in studying the 2003 Canberra bushfires, our colleagues and us have shown fire tornadoes do indeed exist.
So what are fire tornadoes? Where do they come from? And what sort of damage can they cause?
To answer these questions, we first need to understand a separate – but related – phenomenon: fire thunderstorms, also known as pyro-cumulonimbus clouds……….
Tracing the tornado
We showed that the weather conditions the fires were burning in were also suitable for tornado formation. We mapped the damage path, from the air and on the ground and could track the tornado in weather radar data………..
The 2003 Canberra fire tornado
Unlike the fire whirls observed by firefighters, the 2003 Canberra fire tornado was linked to the base of a thunderstorm, lifted off the ground, and then touched down again, three times.
What made this fire different to other fires was the wide range of observations being made as the edge of Australia’s capital was threatened.
The technology trap Could new types of nuclear power station solve the problem? “Fast breeder reactors” produce more nuclear fuel than they use and so would theoretically have much lower life-cycle CO2 emissions than existing “burner” reactors. But in practice breeders are even more complex, dangerous and expensive than burners. As a result they have been stuck at the demonstration stage for decades and even some nuclear proponents admit that breeders are unlikely to be commercialized for at least another two decades, if ever.
The government’s issues paper mentions the possibility of nuclear reactors based on the thorium fuel cycle, but these are also more complex than uranium-based nuclear energy and there are no commercial systems operating as yet.
To sum up, based on existing commercial technology, nuclear energy is not a solution to the global climate crisis, because it will soon become too emissions-intensive. It is also not a short-term solution, because it is a very slow technology to plan and construct. It is dangerous and very expensive.
Sure, let’s debate nuclear power – just don’t call it “low-emission”,
miningawareness Mark Diesendorf, UNSW Australia, 31 July 15 Nuclear power is back on Australia’s radar. In its recent issues paper released as a preface to September’s Energy White Paper, the Abbott government reopened the debate thus:
With environmental considerations constraining the further development of hydro-electric sources, nuclear technologies continue to present an option for future reliable energy that can be readily dispatched into the market.
This sentence appears in a passage dealing with the “move to low-emissions energy”, and although nuclear is not explicitly described as a low-emission option, it certainly looks as if the government is prepared to consider embracing nuclear power as part of an alleged move away from fossil fuels.
Is nuclear energy really low-emission?
Unfortunately, the notion that nuclear energy is a low-emission technology doesn’t really stack up when the whole nuclear fuel life cycle is considered.
In reality, the only CO2-free link in the chain is the reactor’s operation. All of the other steps – mining, milling, fuel fabrication, enrichment, reactor construction, decommissioning and waste management – use fossil fuels and hence emit carbon dioxide.
Several analyses by researchers who are independent of the nuclear industry have found that total CO2 emissions depend sensitively on the grade of uranium ore mined and milled. The lower the grade, the more fossil fuels are used, and so the higher the resulting emissions. Continue reading
Was carbon taxation ever given a fair go?……..
Pricing carbon: the simpler, the better..….. If we are to reduce carbon-emitting activities, the prices of those activities must be increased. Appropriate prices are the key here, and one way to make people happier about paying them is to make them as simple and transparent as possible. That’s what a carbon tax does
Politics aside, a simple carbon tax makes more sense than a convoluted emissions trading scheme, The Conversation, David Hodgkinson Associate Professor at University of Western Australia Rebecca Johnston Adjunct Lecturer, Law School at University of Notre Dame Australia July 31, 2015 Writing recently on The Conversation, Clive Hamilton correctly pointed out that an emissions trading scheme (ETS) can in no sense be called a tax – the two are fundamentally different. Under an ETS, the amount of emissions is fixed by the government and the market then sets the price; under a carbon tax, the price of emissions is fixed and polluters decide how much to emit.
In this sense, Hamilton is right to opine that “emissions trading is the opposite of a carbon tax”. But during Australia’s fractious debate about climate policy in recent years, the two have often been conflated together, and we have generally been starved of sober analysis of the contrasting merits of different policy instruments.
To put it more succinctly, what are the actual merits of a carbon tax, specifically as opposed to an ETS?
Vanishing Paradise Kiribati – A Case of Ecomigration : Dr Abe V Rotor http://avrotor2.blogspot.com.au/ 31 July 15 Kiribati main island is formerly Atoll Christmas, named by Captain Cook when he arrived on Christmas Eve in 1777. The island, like most islands in the region, faces irreversible submergence and sea water intrusion as a result of rising sea level brought about by global warming. The island was used as nuclear testing ground by the United States in the fifties and sixties.
Aerial view of the Kiribati group of islands. Rising sea level is forcing inhabitants to leave permanently their home islands, a classical example of modern day exodus – ecomigration. Displaced inhabitants are being settled mainly in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Kiribati (pronounced /ˈkɪrɨbæs/ ( listen) KIRR-i-bas; Gilbertese: [ˈkiɾibas]), composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres, (1,351,000 square miles) straddling the equator, and bordering the International Date Line at its easternmost point. Kiribati is the only country in the world located on both hemispheres and lying on both sides of the 180th meridian.
The groups of islands are:
* Banaba: an isolated island between Nauru and the Gilbert Islands
* Gilbert Islands: 16 atolls located some 930 miles (1,500 km) north of Fiji
* Phoenix Islands: 8 atolls and coral islands located some 1,100 miles (1,800 km) southeast of the Gilberts
* Line Islands: 8 atolls and one reef, located about 2,050 miles (3,300 km) east of the Gilberts.
Caroline Atoll channel between west side of Long Island and Nake Island.
Used for nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s, the island is now valued for its marine and wildlife resources. It is particularly important as a seabird nesting site—with an estimated 6 million birds using or breeding on the island, including several million Sooty Terns.
According to the South Pacific Regional Environment Program, two small uninhabited Kiribati islets, Tebua Tarawa and Abanuea, disappeared underwater in 1999. The islet of Tepuka Savilivili no longer has any coconut trees due to salination. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that sea levels will rise by about half a metre (20 in) by 2100 due to global warming and a further rise would be inevitable. It is thus likely that within a century the nation’s arable land will become subject to increased soil salination and will be largely submerged.
Rising level level is also being felt in many countries, particularly island-countries like the Philippines.
Open Letter to Flinders Uni – Keep Us Bjorn-Free http://www.aycc.org.au/bjorn_free
To Flinders University Vice Chancellor Colin Stirling and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Robert Saint,
We, the below signatories, object to controversial Danish academic Bjorn Lomborg being offered $4 million to set the Australian Consensus Centre at Flinders University. We are students, teachers, academics, alumni, and the general public. We are concerned that Flinders would consider such a reputationally risky and academically damaging appointment.
Lomborg’s “Consensus Centre” has already been kicked out of Denmark for its dangerous opinions that don’t align with scientific consensus . Flinders should learn from the decision of the University of Western Australia, where Lomborg was ousted because of his outdated views on climate change and record of poor academic integrity.
In a time when young people are attending university to equip themselves with the skills they need to make a positive impact on the world, there is no place for Lomborg’s backwards views at Flinders University.
This funding allocation sits outside of the competitive research grant process – an insult to students and researchers who are facing hefty cuts and job losses, doing important scientific research.
Lomborg’s views are dangerous. He trumpets the same ideology as the fossil fuel lobby – that we can solve energy poverty with coal, that Pacific Islanders don’t care about climate change, and that climate action should not be a priority for governments.
Bjorn Lomborg’s views on climate change, fossil fuels and economics are outdated and have been repeatedly discredited.
We will not stand by while ideologically motivated fossil-fuel industry mouthpieces are invited onto university campuses for political gain.
In the name of science, academic integrity and a safe future, we are calling on the Vice Chancellor to reject the appointment of Bjørn Lomborg.
If the radiation leak lasts more than a few hours, there is no viable safe plan. If the radiation plume passes, the ground will probably still be contaminated
Wildfires also threaten Nuclear Waste and Nuclear Waste Shipments
Wildfires and Nuclear Don’t Mix: Lessons from San Onofre and Chernobyl to Australia https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/4410547/762849951 [good photos] miningawareness 27 July 15 As the deadline looms (3 Aug.) for comments regarding the risks of the nuclear fuel chain for South Australia – whether uranium mining, which is already occurring, or any proposed additions (uranium enrichment, nuclear energy, nuclear waste), foremost in everyone’s minds should be the risk of Bushfires (Wildfires), as well as endangerment to the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) aquifer, upon which so much of Australia is dependent for water, and which is being depleted, and most assuredly contaminated, by uranium and other mining:https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/nuclearcommissionsaust-have-your-say-for-the-future-of-south-australia-submissions-close-soon-july-theme/ (Australia’s uranium mining “generates less than 0.2 per cent of national export revenue and accounts for less than 0.02 per cent of jobs in Australia.”http://www.conservationsa.org.au/images/Nuclear_Royal_Commission_issues.pdfMeanwhile it is laying waste to the land and provided nuclear fuel for Fukushima)
“The Australian climate is generally hot, dry and prone to drought. At any time of the year, some parts of Australia are prone to bushfires with the widely varied fire seasons reflected in the continent’s different weather patterns. For most of southern Australia, the danger period is summer and autumn.” http://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/hazards/bushfire/basics/where
2015 Wildfires Near Chernobyl http://www.mns.gov.ua/news/40286.html
In April of this year, and again from the end of June into mid July, hundreds of firefighters in the Ukraine bravely battled fires in the area of the Chernobyl nuclear power station. Smoldering peat fires were the hardest to put out.