Australian news, and some related international items

Australia and water: the driest inhabited continent in the age of climate change

Australia is the canary, and the coalmine, for the world when it comes to water stress, Guardian,  R Keller Kopf  , 11 Feb 19,

As extreme climate events happen around the world, Australian communities are running out of water

The skies are brass and the plains are bare,

Death and ruin are everywhere—

And all that is left of the last year’s flood

Is a sickly stream on the grey-black mud;

The salt-springs bubble and the quagmires quiver,

And this is the dirge of the Darling River.”

— Henry Lawson (1891)

The northern hemisphere faced a polar vortex, while Australia during December and January was the hottest on record. People and the environment are suffering at both ends of the planet because of the extreme events.

Australia’s heatwave has exposed cracks in our unsustainable water, land-use and climate policies.

Fish kills in the Darling River, followed by more in other waterways, are being blamed on drought. More than one million fish died following multiple events in December and January.

The public has been aghast. The catalyst for outrage has been viral videos of hundreds of Murray cod floating dead and being displayed by angry locals. Murray cod is an icon of Australian waterways and one of the world’s largest species of freshwater fish. The biggest Murray cod – allegedly 114kg – was caught in 1902, during the federation drought in a tributary of the Darling, near Walgett.

But extreme conditions and fish kills are natural here in the “land of drought and flooding rains”, right?

The Darling is the longest river on the driest inhabited continent – prone to harsh and variable conditions. Lawson’s 1891 poem, which followed one year after the largest flood, is used often to depict the naturally occurring extreme conditions of our rivers. Indeed, European explorers who set off to chart flows to the “great inland sea” were surprised instead to discover a drought-stricken river – the Darling. Though the water was too salty to drink, it abounded with pelicans, swans, ducks and leaping fish.

Heatwaves and drought have always occurred here but unsustainable levels of water extraction and climate change are much more recent. Vast quantities of water are now extracted and used, during drought and flood, to irrigate crops including rice and cotton.

The amount of water used for irrigated agriculture varies, but ranged from about 50% of all flows in the Murray during the 1980s and 90s, to more than 76% during the Millennium Drought. Standards for healthy rivers are debated, but extraction of more than 20% of flows typically results in adverse changes to biodiversity and the benefits people derive from clean water.

Worldwide the demand for fresh water is expected to increase by 55% by 2050.

Australia is experiencing this water stress now. We are thus a canary, and the coalmine, for the rest of the world………..

There is plenty of water to go around for people and the environment, but not enough to simultaneously sustain the current irrigation entitlements.

Banning cotton and rice and degrading farmers will not solve the problem.

What will solve it is reducing total water entitlements for irrigation and increasing flows for rivers and wetlands.

Environmental flows have expanded in many regions, but the Darling and northern-basin still seem to be a wild west of water extraction. Minimum environmental flow standards have either not been in place or have been insufficient to sustain dry-land rivers. Minimum flow standards and policies around land use and run-off must be sufficiently robust to prevent further large-scale blue-green algae events, which are the proximate causes of the current hypoxia and fish kills.

The best available science reviewed by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists has recommend an increase in environmental flows, to a minimum of 3,200 GL per year to maintain healthy freshwater ecosystems.

So, what can the world learn from our experience on the driest inhabited continent?……….

Subsidies that perpetuate the – hydro-illogical – cycle of unsustainable irrigation around the world should stop being funded. Instead, funding for communities must be targeted at helping farmers adapt and growing industries that will be viable during water scarcity, climate change and extreme conditions. Regional communities and freshwater ecosystems are much more than irrigation ditches and will thrive if presented with new opportunities.

If global carbon emissions remain high, the 48.3C record temperature in Bourke, situated near the Darling River, a few weeks ago should be expected to become 50C or 51C by 2090. Temperatures in Death Valley are sometimes that hot, but then again no one is growing cotton or cod there.

This does not have to be the dirge of the Darling, regional communities or farming. But it is time for change.


February 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment | Leave a comment

Adani ramps up propaganda war, intimidation of activists

Green Left , Margaret Gleeson, February 8, 2019
“Adani is continuing to run advertisements and opinion pieces in newspapers, along with paying for huge billboards in Brisbane, all talking up the supposed jobs that the proposed mine will create. …
Adani is also facing a legal challenge in the Federal Court by the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council (W&J TO), which is due to be heard in May. …
The Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) criticised Adani’s latest management plan covering the black-throated finch on January 22. …
The nationwide movement against Adani is gearing up for a busy few months. A national mobilisation is being organised to coincide with the first sitting day of federal parliament in Canberra on February 12. …
The Stand Up 2 Aurizon group is planning an action directed at the rail and port aspects of the project in Bowen from February 23 to March 3.
The next major national mobilisation will be the School Strike 4 Climate on March 15. …
Grey Power Climate Protectors, among others, will be targeting the seats of Melbourne and Brisbane for 50 days leading up to the federal elections. In NSW, anti-coal activists are targeting a number of marginal seats in the lead-up to the March state election. … “

February 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Global Warming: Temperatures To Rise By 1.5 Degrees Celsius In 5 Years; India To Get Knocked Out  11 February 2019 – Global warming in the recent years has comparatively become a larger threat to the world. And the latest trends of extreme weather activities are a clear testimony to this fact. Though, there are certain sections of the society seriously thinking in this regard and trying their bit in bringing about awareness among people across the world, the vicious destruction of our planet continues.

According to meteorological reports, by 2023 global warming could temporarily hit 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels. It will be the first time to ever happen and the results could be disastrous. There are also 10% chances of us experiencing a year where the average temperature will rise more than 1.5˚C.

So far, the hottest year on record was 2016, when Earth heated up to 1.11˚C above pre-industrial levels. Even though the heat has gone down in the past two years, it’s unfortunately only a small part of a long-term upward trend.

Due to certain natural factors, the heat we experience varies from year to year. However, scientists have estimated that we’re warming the planet about 0.2˚C in every 10 years.

Researches also state that, this rise in temperature would adversely affect regions prone to extreme weather conditions. This includes regions like South America, parts of Australia, Africa and India’s coastal areas.

Therefore, till the time we radically scale back our greenhouse gas emissions, the probability of each year creating some kind of a record cannot be ruled out.

– See more at:  

February 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Climate change ranks as the world’s most pressing security threat – Pew Poll

Climate Change, ISIS and Cyberattacks Are Seen as the World’s Top Threats in a New Pew Poll TIME, BCASEY QUACKENBUSH , 11 Feb 19

 Climate change increasingly ranks as the world’s most pressing security threat, with terrorism and cyberattacks also topping the list, according to a new survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center.

In a poll of 26 countries, 13 considered the warming planet the number one concern. This was followed by the threat of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which eight countries, including Russia, France, Indonesia and Nigeria, rated as the top threat. Four nations, including Japan and the U.S., cited cyberattacks as the most urgent issue………

February 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

America’s much touted “Green New Deal@” may succumb to the nuclear lobby

This would be the end of the Green New Deal, as far as I’m concerned.  Nuclear power is NOT GREEN, NOT CLEAN, as everybody knows.  Once this hypocrisy is introduced into “green thinking” then the game is up.   Might as well let Michael Shellenberger and his mates write the policy.    And I bet I’m not the only one who thinks this way.
Why the Green New Deal may include nuclear power

By Nathanael Johnson, February 10, 2019

February 12, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment