At long last! Climate Change figures in the debate

After a long election campaign of some 7 months, including a change of leader and many policy debates, Climate Change finally raised its head on Monday – just three days before the media blackout.

The most important issue! And ne where the main parties differ:-  How to deal with Climate Change. There are two parts to this:- one is how to mitigate (reduce emissions) and the other is how to adapt. Adaptation has not raised a single question during the entire campaign. Not even the Greens have raised this issue or perhaps the media have failed to report such. But I will focus on mitigation as that has been the main part of the political debate for a long time.

First, lets look at the target: 5% is agreed by both Labor and Coalition parties, that is, 5% reduction on Australia’s year 2000 emissions by 2020. The argument is that this is a lot as on projections for increased demand in recent years, we would have increased our emissions by around 10% between 2008 and 2020 under the business as usual scenario. It should be pointed out that this is a 4% reduction on 1990 emissions – a woeful target when compared to the EU which has already reduced their emissions from 1990 levels by 11% and plan to reduce a further 10% or so by 2020.

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Fear the Fossil Fuel Future Shock

Just how much of Australia’s coal should we export or allow to be burned and what is the implication for Australia’s economy if we leave our current reserves in the ground?

Well, the latest report from Carbon Tracker Initiative deals with just this issue and follows hard on their report regarding the investment bubble in the fossil fuel industry (

The report on Australia’s coal reserves labels Oz as a “carbon bomb”. If we burn our reserves (or sell to someone else to burn) Australia would be responsible for 150 Gigatonnes of CO2 emissions or roughly one third of the total world budget.

Climate Progress has a round up in their own inimitable style here:-

Scientists have been telling us for a long time now that we need to replace our fossil fuels. Lets make it a priority for this election to have a plan for this replacement, for the shutting down of our coal mining, even of our gas industry. There is no reason why we cannot change over to renewables on a nation-wide scale.

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Human work output drops 10% and set to go even lower

A new report at Climate Central says we have lost 10% of human productivity due to increased temperatures and humidity. Recent extreme events have shown the impact of increased moisture in the air on our climate. This study investigates the impact on physical work output.

High humidity makes it harder to work. A temperature may be OK if the air allows sweat to evaporate, but if it is humid, the body cannot cool down by evaporation of sweat and can get over heated.

The study by NOAA projects a further loss of another 10% to human productivity by 2050 and under a 6 degree C increase (by 2200) people would be able to work only 40% of what they did before the industrial revolution during the summer months.

The impacts of global warming get more serious with every new discovery. Why should we allow our politicians to remove hard won climate protections when they should be strengthening them.

In this year of a federal election, I urge you all to vote for the climate. We have a moral responsibility to think of the future.

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The Moral Responsibility

Our politicians have a moral responsibility to put their own prejudices behind them in the pursuit of their duties:
Although ordinary individuals may have no duty to go beyond their own personal opinion about the science of climate change, government officials — who have the power to enact policies that could present catastrophic harm to millions of people around the world — may not, as a matter of ethics, justify their refusal to support policies to reduce the threat of climate change on the basis of their uninformed opinions on climate science.

This is so because government officials, unlike ordinary citizens, have the power to prevent or minimize great harms to millions of people around the world, that mainstream scientists have concluded that their constituents or governments that they represent are causing or contributing to. That is, government officials have more responsibility than the average citizen to understand the state of climate change science because government officials can uniquely prevent harm that their constituents or governments are causing.”

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Real Climate rounds up Earth’s Sensitivity

Real Climate has a roundup of the latest scientific papers dealing with sensitivity of our climate to CO2 increases with Part 1 of a planned series of posts.

I will leave the detail up to you to read if you wish at . I particularly like the graphic for its clarity in showing the various timescales for feedback systems:


It sets out in simple terms the time scale of the different methods of looking at climate sensitivity.

For example, the difference between the sensitivity often mentioned in the media of around 2 degrees and that of the longer term or so-called ‘slow feedbacks’ is clearly highly significant. It is a policy critical issue whether to regard the longer term as a consideration when making decisions today.

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Dire Warning from World Bank

I cannot think of a more conservative organization than the world bank. With a forward written by the President of the bank, “Turn Down the Heat – Why a 4 degree world must be avoided” was released on 19th November.

The Report sets out the litany of indicators that prove we are heading for a hotter planet. The World Bank warns that we must stop using fossil fuels or disaster will be inevitable.

The science has got worse, it says, since 2009 when the world failed to achieve an international plan to do something about the problem at Copenhagen. The Report indicates that if the countries implement the promises they made in the Bali round that followed, we would have a very small chance of limiting the rise to 2 degrees – the pledge agreed on at the time.

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Report Released

At Woytopia, 28th Oct, Climate Future released its report on the Sea Level Rise Forum held recently in Woy Woy. The Report details the opinions of the community on what we should be doing to adapt to sea level rise and how they want our governments to behave.

CF-WoyWoy Report-V2-20120825

The community called for more consultation on government measures and more communication with the community affected.

The information from Laurie Ratz of the Insurance Council of Australia helped to dispel some of the myths around the increases in premiums being experienced by water front owners. ‘Shop around’ was the advice.

Besides the release of the Report, there were three other talks given at Woytopia: More>

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