The Earth today stands in imminent peril

The predicted warming over the 21st century due to business as usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario (IS92a) as reported by the HadCM3 climate model. The average warming in this model is 3.0 °C.

The predicted warming over the 21st century due to business as usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario (IS92a) as reported by the HadCM3 climate model. The average warming in this model is 3.0 °C.

Guest Post by Dr Andrew Glikson (former Principal Research Scientist, AGSO; Visiting Research Fellow, Australian National University) and Dr Barrie Pittock (Honorary Fellow, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research; former leader, Climate Impact Group, CSIRO).

THE GLOBAL VIEW

In a recent published statement (18 May, 2007) Professor James Hansen, NASA’s Chief Climate Scientist, states: ‘The Earth today stands in imminent peril and nothing short of a planetary rescue will save it from the environmental cataclysm of dangerous climate change’.1

Professor Hansen’s statement is consistent with the 4th IPCC Report 2, which states: ‘Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years’. The IPCC Report projects temperature rises in the range of 1.1 to 6.4ºC for the 21st century, depending on human carbon emissions2.

A major conclusion from the recent history of Earth indicates the atmosphere, climate systems, the oceans and ice sheets are extremely vulnerable to even minor changes in natural forcings, including solar and greenhouse forcing, atmospheric particulates and ice reflectance/albedo changes.

Following completion of the draft IPCC-2007 Report early in 2006, concern has been expressed by leading climate scientists regarding the pace of climate change. The balance of evidence may be swinging toward a more extreme climate change outcome, including4:

1. Global warming In the probable range of 2º–6°C by 2100, with more than a 50% probability of 3ºC or higher, a dangerous level in terms in droughts, storms, sea level rises and many other impacts.

2. Reduction in atmospheric particles and increase in permafrost melting reduce reflectivity (albedo), increase temperatures and positive feedback (amplification) by carbon dioxide and methane.

3. Climate change accelerated by emission from drying vegetation and increased wild fires.

4. Arctic sea ice rapid retreat speeds up global warming as reduced sunlight reflection increases surface heating.

5. Changes in air and sea circulations in mid and high latitudes results in pole-ward migration of climate zones and mid-latitude westerlies, transporting more heat pole-wards and changing rainfall patterns, and increases in storminess.

6. Rapid disintegration of ice shelves and acceleration of outflow glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica are adding to ice sheet melting, reduced reflection of sunlight, global warming and sea-level rise.

7. Tropical cyclones becoming more intense.

Sea level rise projections by the 4th IPCC Report in the range of 0.18 to 0.59 metres by 2100 (Working Group I Table SPM-2)3 take too little account of rapid changes in ice flow. However, such dynamical changes are now reported from both Greenland and west Antarctica5, with revised sea level rise estimates of 50 to 140 cm by 21006 and 3 to 5 metres by 2300, based on linear temperature-sea level relationships6. Nonlinear projections based on doubling of Greenland melt area and sea level rise over the last two decades predict sea level rises on the scale of about 5 metres7. Rahmstorf et al. 8,9 indicate CO2, temperature and sea level rises are currently tracking at the top of the 4th IPCC-2001 range of projections relative to 1990.

Sea level rise would flood and seriously damage much of the current world coastlines, including small island states, many large cities, most beaches and many coastal ecosystems.6,7

IMPLICATIONS FOR AUSTRALIA 3,11

Mid-latitude agricultural zones of Australia are vulnerable to climate change in terms of severe droughts, subtropical Australia is susceptible to the El-Niño effects and cyclones, and the concentration of Australia’s population in coastal zones and cities places the nation at risk from sea level rises. Already the pole-ward migration of climate zones is affecting Australia through the southward retreat of the moist westerlies and consequent decreased rainfall over southern parts of Australia, including the wheat belts of southwestern Western Australia, Victoria and the Murray Darling Basin. By contrast, precipitation is increasing in northern and northwestern Australia.

Temperature projections are given relative to the period 1980-1999 (referred to as the 1990 baseline for convenience). The projections give an estimate of the average climate around 2030, 2050 and 2070, taking into account consistency among climate models. Individual years will show variation from this average. The 50th percentile (the mid-point of the spread of model results) provides a best estimate result. The 10th and 90th percentiles (lowest 10% and highest 10% of the spread of model results) provide a range of uncertainty. Emissions scenarios are from the IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios. Low emissions is the B1 scenario, medium is A1B and high is A1FI.

Temperature projections are given relative to the period 1980-1999 (referred to as the 1990 baseline for convenience). The projections give an estimate of the average climate around 2030, 2050 and 2070, taking into account consistency among climate models. Individual years will show variation from this average. The 50th percentile (the mid-point of the spread of model results) provides a best estimate result. The 10th and 90th percentiles (lowest 10% and highest 10% of the spread of model results) provide a range of uncertainty. Emissions scenarios are from the IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios. Low emissions is the B1 scenario, medium is A1B and high is A1FI.

Specific social and economic risks for Australia include3, 11-16

1. Drying of southern and eastern regions associated with bush fires, erosion, ecosystem losses and major economic impacts.

2. Sea level rise and storm surges with major impacts on coastal development, infrastructure, saline intrusion, loss of coastal wetlands.

3. Warming: crops and forests stressed, species threatened, fire, coral reef bleaching.

4. Severe floods and storms, large capital costs and down time.

5. Acidification of oceans, with consequent effects on marine life, reefs and fisheries.

6. International refugee and economic crisis arising from sea level rise and flooding of large population centers, in particular throughout southeast Asia (including Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, Bangladesh , and coastal cities and heavily populated deltas and low river valleys in China, Viet Nam, India and Pakistan).

7. Severe disruption of sea trade due to port/harbor flooding.

Recommended policies include:

1. It is essential Australia determines to make every effort to help prevent CO2 levels from rising above 500 ppm and global warming from rising above 2 degrees C relative to preindustrial temperatures, as is the European target.

2. Carbon emissions need to be reduced by 60-80% by 2050 to stabilize climate, commencing with reductions of 20-30% by 2020-2030, or 4-5% reductions per annum relative to business as usual.

3. Major improvements in public transport and rapid development of more energy-efficient private transport.

4. Major efforts at revegetating dried areas and planting new forests, aimed at carbon sequestration and erosion control.

5. International negotiations and agreements placing constraints on emissions from Australian coal exports.

6. Asia-Pacific Partnership (AP6) to be seriously strengthened to achieve less than the minimum 1.7°C warming by 2100 (relative to 1990) that was projected to result from AP6 by ABARE.17

7. Major incentives for development of clean energy technologies, including solar, wind, geothermal (hot rocks), hydrogen, tidal and wave.

8. Development of solar-powered coastal and ground water desalination systems.

9. Major incentives for development of large-scale clean energy utilities, including solarthermal, solar-desalination and wind-water extraction plants in outback regions using highly efficient high voltage DC cables to supply electricity to major cities10.

10. Emphasis on development of the above (item 9) for indigenous communities, enhancing new employment opportunities, thus reducing social problems.

11. Development of coastal protection and adaptation strategies.

12. Universal application/construction of water tank storage associated with residential, business and industrial properties.

CONCLUSIONS

The state of the Earth atmosphere which has allowed agriculture and civilization to flourish is changing fast. This is now acknowledged by the highest scientific and political authorities. Such are the scale and the urgency of the issue, it places future generations and much of the progress which has been achieved in relation to human civilization, human welfare and human rights in grave jeopardy. We are concerned that, due to inertia in the political system, the urgent mitigation required to arrest runaway climate change may not be forthcoming. Australia is in a pivotal position vis-à-vis climate change due to its coal wealth and good relations with relevant countries. The gravity of the situation calls for renewed efforts on an apolitical basis in an attempt to avert the worst consequences of runaway climate change.

REFERENCES

1. Hansen J. et al., 2007. Climate change and trace gases, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A (2007) 365, 1925–1954. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2007-2052

2. IPCC 4th Report, Climate Change 2007: SPM of Working Group I, The Physical Science Basis. 5th February, 2007. http://www.ipcc.ch

3. IPCC-2007 4th Assessment WGII chapter on Australia and NZ. http://www.ipcc.ch

4. Pittock, A.B., 2007, EOS 87, No. 34, 22 August, 2006, and Washington Summit on Climate Stabilization, 18-21September, 2006, http://washington_summit.climate.org/abstracts/pittock_tenreasons.html

5. Bamber et al., 2007. Rapid response of modern day ice sheets to external forcing. Earth. Planet. Sci. Lett., 257, 1-13, and Shepherd, A. and D. Wingham, 2007, Recent sea-level contributions of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. Science, 315, 1529-1532.

6. Rahmstorf, 2007. A Semi-Empirical Approach to Projecting Future Sea-Level Rise Science, 315, 368-370.

7. Hansen, J.E., 2007: Scientific reticence and sea level rise. Environ. Res. Lett., 2, 024002, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/2/2/024002.

8. Rahmstorf, S. A. Cazenave, J.A. Church, J.E., Hansen, R.F. Keeling, D.E., Parker and R.C.J. Somerville., 2007. Recent Climate Observations Compared to Projections. Science, 316, 709.

9. Rahmstorf, S, 2007. Climate Change Fact Sheet, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (http://www.pikpotsdam.de/~stefan)

10. see http://www.TREC-EUMENA.net.

11. Pittock, A..B., 2007. The enhanced greenhouse effect: threats to Australia’s water resources. Part 1: Scenarios for the future. Jour. Aust. Water Assoc. 48-54

12. Pittock, A.B., 2007. The enhanced greenhouse effect: threats to Australia’s water resources. Part 2: Potential impacts and solutions. Jour. Aust. Water Assoc., 36-38.

13. Pittock, A.B., 2007. Keeping up to date on climate change. Clean Air (in press).

14. Climate Change and Infrastructure: Planning ahead. http://www.greenhouse.vic.gov.au.

15. Dupont, A. and Pearman, G. Heating up the planet, 2006. Climate change and security, Lowy Institute Paper 12. http://www.lowyinstitute.org.

16. Pittock, A.B., 2007. Climate Change: Turning Up The Heat. CSIRO Publishing, 316 pp.

17. ABARE Research Report 06.6, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, available at http://www.abareconomics.com

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36 Comments

  1. What a elegant, concise and easily understood explanation of the dangers we face if we continue on our current path. I am gratified to find a climate change site which is backed by the science and not by the deniers. I am comforted by the fact that the newspaper polls,and personal polls of my peers would suggest that the sceptics are a small, yet vocal minority and as such are irrelevant.This is not a political, economic or religious argument as some seem to think. I think many “deniers” are simply terrified of the science (as we all should be) but denying the existence of the problem will not make it go away. Let’s all get behind the scientists,and the policy makers and DO SOMETHING to avoid or mitigate this catastrophe. I will be letting my colleagues, friends and associates know of this site. KEEP UP THE EXCELLENT WORK!

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  2. Barry,
    That’s a lot of alarmism to get on one sandwich board.
    Do you ever feel slightly sceptical when you write this stuff just in case it doesn’t happen? Or not to the same degree?
    If you use small print you can leave room to hedge your bets in larger print on the back.

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  3. It’s not ‘alarmist’ SD, but I’d agree it’s alarming. There is a difference – one is based on science, the other is not.

    By the way, as I noted in the first line, that was a guest post by Andrew Glikson and Barrie Pittock – I wasn’t the author. But to your point about hedging bets – the appropriate uncertainties are clearly given (e.g. 1.1-6.4C, 18-59cm SLR, 9 different charts for Aust.)

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  4. In a recent article Clive Hamilton (http://newmatilda.com/2008/05/19/death-rattles-climate-change-skeptics) wrote: “If scientific advances cause scientists to reject the conclusions of past IPCC reports and agree that there is nothing to be alarmed about, it will be mildly embarrassing for people like me; but not too much harm will have been done – according to all of the economic studies, the costs of reducing emissions are low. But if Aitkin and his fellow skeptics were successful in stopping policies to cut emissions and the IPCC projections turn out to be correct, then environmental catastrophe will follow and millions of people will die. Do they lose sleep over this? Do they worry about how their grandchildren will see them? Or are they so consumed by their crusade that they know they will never be proven wrong?”

    One does no longer need to “believe” or “disbelieve” climate change theory: just take a trip down the Murray-Darling, or go to the Great Barrier Reef, or the poles to see for yourself. The poles serve as the “thermostat” of the Earth, “the Canary in the coal mine”. Once they melt and the Canary is dead, its time to get out from the coal mine”.

    Andrew Glikson
    Earth and paleo-climate research
    Australian National University

    18.8.08

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  5. Hansen’s thesis has one critical plank that has been missed
    in this post. For the detail see:

    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2007/2007_Hansen_etal_2.pdf

    But to summarise Hansen, if we don’t sharply reduce CO2
    emissions then we are toast. But if we do, then
    we may still be toast — but our best chance of avoiding
    total loss of climate control is to also
    seriously reduce the trace gases (eg. methane, NOx,
    black carbon). Methane is Australia’s biggest forcing, but
    virtually everybody in Australia (except our gracious
    Blog host :)) ignores this.
    I’d love to know why? Rajendra Pachauri doesn’t ignore it, James
    Hansen doesn’t ignore it, but everybody from Rudd through to
    Flannery ignores it. Its like there is some
    special Australian disease. Flannery managed to write a whole
    book on climate change and consign it to a small mention
    in one paragraph.

    So Andrew and Barrie, how about it, why did you neglect to
    mention Australia’s biggest climate forcing?

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  6. Barry …I have a question. As you are aware global temperatures have plateaued over the last 10 years with 2007 being particularly mild. However CO2 levels have continued to spiral. If we were to take man made emmissions out of the equation then what would have happened to the global temerature over the last 10 years? Or do you think this is irrelevant?
    You are probably also aware that there is a ground swell of skeptics gaining traction in the media (hell even 60 minutes is doing a 180), do you think you need to study their claims in more detail or are you prepared to be the last man standing?

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  7. #9 “…even 60 Minutes”, well then, we had all better reevaluate! Go and look at any climate record (eg link in #7) and trends that
    are perfectly clear are not monotonic. For example, after the last
    ice age, when things were clearly warming up, the temperature in succeeding Januarys wasn’t always a little bit warmer than the preceeding January. Likewise when the planet has been getting colder it doesn’t proceed smoothly, but the trend is clear. 1998 was a
    spike, the next spike may not come for 5 years or more, but when
    it does, it will be hotter again. As summer arrives, does it arrive
    smoothly with each midday temperature being hotter than the next? Absolutely not. Likewise global warming.

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  8. You are probably also aware that there is a ground swell of skeptics gaining traction in the media

    But not, of course, within science, nor are they even *trying* to publish science. Even their pet “journal”, Energy and Environment, publishes little these days.

    Interestingly, the Intelligent Design Creationist types also point to the “ground swell of evolution skeptics gaining traction in the media”, don’t publish science, and have a pet journal that hasn’t published anything in several years.

    I wonder why these two denialist movements share the same tactics, including ongoing proclamations of victory over science? Rather than actually do science?

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  9. Response to Geoff Russell:

    Correct.

    The global warming potential of CH4 relative to CO2 over 20 years period is x72. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_potential#Values. This renders the role of CH4 EXTREMELY important in terms of climate projections for the next few decades.

    CH4 is oxidized into CO2 at different rates. Because the relatively short lifetime of CH4 (12 years) as compared to CO2 (decades to centuries), the role of the latter is emphasized in IPCC reports which focus on long term projections. Thus, radiative forcing in 1998 relative to 1750 was: CO2=1.46 W/m2 (corresponding to a concentration of 365 ppm), CH4=0.48 W/m2, N2O=0.15 W/m2 and other minor gases =0.01 W/m2, totalling 2.10 W/m2, representing a total a rise to 412 ppm CO2-equivalent.

    These factors need to be taken into account when reading the Garnaut Draft Report (4 July 2008), which states “Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas, responsible for 14 per cent of the total; nitrous oxide is responsible for 7 per cent; and a range of industrial gases for the remaining 1 per cent.” (page 88).

    Studies by US climate scientists and the rapid melting of Arctic Sea Ice indicate the ice melt/feedback climate forcing is of similar magnitude as GHG forcing, the two factors being mutually intertwined. Consequent non-linear/accelerating global warming renders the long-term IPCC projections less relevant. The various emission targets based on the IPCC (e.g. 20% by 2020, 60% by 2060) are therefore increasingly diffiuclt to sustain.

    It is considered by Hansen et al. 2008 the ice sheets formed when CO2 levels declined to below 450 ppm, about 34 million years ago. Since atmospheric CO2-equivalent levels are already higher than 400 ppm, given ice sheet melt rates in Greenland and west Antarctica, these authors call for draw back of some 50 ppm CO2 below the current level of 387 ppm (relative to about 280 ppm of pre-industrial times), which they consider dangerous.

    There may be no “safe” emission targets.

    Andrew Glikson
    18 August, 2008

    Like

  10. Reply to Kimbo,

    The denialists will have us believe global cooling is occurring over the last 10 years or so, but when you look at the T plots — following the 1998 high-T anomaly the MEAN TEMPERATURE continued to rise, albeit at a slower rate than earlier, due to the decline in the sun-spot activity since 2002. This decline is an integral part of the 11-years-long sun-spot cycle.

    These people selectively use decade-scale and even annual-scale irregularities in climate change to argue their case. They need to go back to school to learn the meaning of “AVERAGE” (or “MEAN”) values.

    Andrew
    18-8-08

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  11. Kimbo, I covered this material in detail in my first CCQA lecture, available as slides and an audio podcast from this site. So why aren’t you asking me questions which respond to what I’ve already said? Or did you not bother to listen to them and just wish to troll?

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  12. Comment in response to Dhogaza,

    Denial arises from multiple factors. An obvious one is vested interests. A second factor, the more worried people become, the greater the temptation to deny.

    It is a good question whether a ground swell of denial will, or will not, be abated by the realization of another kind of swell, namely, the acceleration of sea level rise — now near 3.5 mm/year as compared to 0.5 mm/year early in the 19th century.

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  13. Ok lets have a go at the ad hominem thing so beloved of some here.

    An expert on crustal effects of major asteroid and comet impacts (a non-climate scientist dhogaza) and a bloke that’s been retired for nearly ten years and is apparently trying to sell a book tell us that “we are concerned that, due to inertia in the political system, the urgent mitigation required to arrest runaway climate change may not be forthcoming.”

    Oh ok, yup I agree.

    Cue personal abuse from dhogaza.

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  14. Could I please ask everyone to remain civil and play the ball, not the man. The debate is interesting and revealing about many things (to me, at least – in where people with different perspectives are coming from). So let’s not ruin it by making aspersions on character or position – I get enough mud flung at me via email and on other blogs (2nd hand) to know that it takes time to wipe off and is inevitably an unpleasant job.

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  15. Incidentally, an argument is denialist if it denies the existence of relevant evidence or alternative (more plausible) explanations. This, fundamentally, is my and Dhogaza’s point – the ‘pretend debate’ of the non-greenhouse theorists is not being conducted on proper scientific grounds or according to the principles and procedures of good science.

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  16. Finally (I really didn’t need 3 comments for this, but still) – I’m interested PeterW, Spangled Drongo and Kimbo – which of the above points do you dispute on the grounds of contra scientific evidence? What data, specifically do you have or can make reference to, which refutes the points Andrew and Barrie are making here? What alternative theory are you proposing? Or do you simply disagree that these observations are important or relevant or that the impacts that follow are unconcerning?

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  17. Kimbo – “Are you aware global temperatures have plateaued…”

    No, I am not!. According to NASA

    http://www.data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2007

    Globally 2005 was the hottest year on record and 2007 has tied with 1998 (a fierce El Nino year) for the second hottest, noteworthy because the Pacific Ocean was in its cool La Nina cycle during 2007. Eight of the hottest years on record have occured since your beloved 1998! Sure 2008 is cooler (natural variation) but is still the hottest La Nina year ever recorded.

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  18. Scientists can not deny the overwhelming evidence for dangerous human-triggered deterioration of the atmosphere, by ignoring its direct manifestations in nature — polar melt, sea level rise, desertification, intensification of storms — as this would have been as irresponsible a behaviour as that of a medical doctor covering up on a looming epidemic.

    Those who attempt to question the reality of dangerous climate change through ‘ad-hominem’ and conspiracy theories, by criticizing climate scientists like James Hansen or Barrie Pittock, or Earth scientists and biologists like Tim Flannery or David Suzuki, or environmentalists like Jared Diamond or Christine Milne, or leaders like Al Gore or Arnold Schwarzenegger, miss the point.

    Rather than trying to “shoot the messenger”, in so far as “skeptics” accept the fundamentals of the scientific method, they need to research the literature on the basic physics and chemistry of the atmosphere, the behaviour of the atmosphere through the recent history of Earth, and the response of species to changing circumstances.

    Should they choose to do so, they will find that:

    1. Whereas glacial terminations were triggered by small (<0.5 watt/m2) mean solar orbital forcing, current global warming was triggered by over 300 billion tons of Carbon, inducing atmospheric energy (=heat) rise larger than 1.5 Watt/m2
    2. The current CO2 level (387 ppm) is 40% higher than any measured for the Pleistocene (the last 1 million years or so)
    3. The current CO2-equivalent level (including CH4)is fast-tracking toward level above 450 ppm above which the Earth was free of ice.

    It depends whether people accept the scientific method. Should any denialist be able to refute the evidence, there is bound to be a huge sigh of relief all over the place, including my own.

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  19. Not for the first time I find Andrew Glikson arithmetically challenged: “current global warming was triggered by over 300 billion tons of Carbon”; according to his favourite source cited by him several times today, James [deleted inappropriate slur] Hansen, 300 billion tonnes of carbon equates to 150 ppm of CO2. The increase in CO2 from 1750 is as all agree from 280 ppm to 384 at end 2007, an increase of 104. Whence the extra 46 ppm or 92 GtC? I shan’t lie awake waiting for an answer, as Barry does not believe in accuracy or acknowledgment of error [you are sailing close to the wind here Tim Curtain – any more ad homenim attacks on myself and I won’t bother to continue to let your posts through – you have been warned].

    Glikson also owes it to us to give the exact coordinates of the 250 miles “expansion” of the Australian sub-tropics that according to his quote from [deleted slur] has “already occurred”.* Looking at the BoM map of Oz rainfall distribution since 1900, it would appear that the tropics are gaining on the rest of us.

    * Hansen is on record as saying that anyone critical of his position is no better than Nazi concentration camp officials etc. [no, he compared lines of coal cars to concentration camp trains, with the coal loads representing species consigned to extinction – get the context right, mate, or go and spread your slander elsewhere]

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  20. Tim, note my inserted comments with due contemplation – this is strike 2.

    As to your question, I thought you knew the answer – carbon sinks. Or do you now also dispute CDIAC data?

    Regarding tropical expansion – that is a valid question. Interestingly, I am planning to write a post on that very point fairly soon – it is a very concerning problem.

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  21. In response to Tim and Barry:

    Climate zone migration in Australia: The Bureau of Meteorology charts display the following:

    Temperatures:
    1910 – 2006 (mean values): +0.1C/decade in southern Australia; +0.2C/decade in central Australia.
    1950 – 2006 (mean values): +0.1 to +0.2C/decade in southern Australia; +0.2 to +0.3C/decade in central eastern Australia;

    Rainfall:
    1900 – 2007 (mean values): +5 to +10 mm/decade in southern Australia
    1970 – 2007 (mean values): -15 to -50 mm/decade in eastern Australia; +10 to +50 mm/decade in most of Western Australia except for west coastal and SW areas.

    Observations:

    1. A total of 1 to 2 degrees C warming in southern and central Australia over the 20th century.
    2. A total 10 mm rise in rainfall over southern Australia over the 20th century
    3. Sharp decline in rainfall by about 150 mm in central and eastern Australia since the 1970

    Note:
    1. Due to rising tempratures the minor increase in mean rainfall is canclled by evaporation.
    2. The bulk of the agricultural regions – SW Western Australia, Victoria, NSW (Murray-Darling) and Queensland suffer from both temperature rise and rainfall decline through the 20th century and in particular since the 1970s.
    3. Hansen’s estimate of about 250 miles is an average figure for the US, Mediterranean region, South Africa and Australia is consistent with the observed increases in temeprature.

    The search by “skeptics” for accuracy in projected climate projections betrays a lack of understanding of the science. Where multiply complex systems are concerned, such as the Earth’s atmosphere, given natural and statistical variations the best research aims at identifying MAJOR TRENDS consistent with direct observations.

    IF ANYTHING, CLIMATE PROJECTIONS BY THE IPCC AND MANY CLIMATE SCIENTISTS HAVE BEEN EXCEEDED BY TEMPRATURE RISE, ICE MELT AND SEA LEVEL RISE — DEMONSTRATING A CAUTIOUS CONSERVATIVE NATURE ON THE PART OF CLIMATE SCIENTISTS.

    Ad-hominem slur does not render “skeptical” comments more convincing.

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  22. Uh Barry, I said I agree with their statement “we are concerned that, due to inertia in the political system, the urgent mitigation required to arrest runaway climate change may not be forthcoming.”

    Not much doubt about that and despite what Australia chooses to do in regard to CO2 neither India nor China can or will do anything to reduce the pace of their development in the foreseeable future.

    India in particular has an avowed economic imperative to accelerate its growth. The Indian Government maintains that 48% of its people don’t have access to electricity and 28% live under even their abysmal poverty line. Having visited India and witnessed a tiny slice of life in that country I can’t say I blame them.

    Sorry, the Dhogaza reference was just a tease as I fully expect he/she to jump in and condemn my comment because although I’m not a climate scientist I had the temerity to comment.

    As for the other stuff… see para 4, but what the hell, I’m happy to make a few observations though most of the list of doom and gloom is so general it’d take a novel length post to discuss.

    Sea levels up by 3 to 5 metres by 2300 – nearly 300 years away, so what’s that, a centimetre or so a year? Surely that gives populations time to ameliorate the negative aspects of such a ‘calamity’. What have the Dutch done for the past few hundred years?

    Crops and forests stressed – what no answer from the GM crowd, won’t plants and animals more adapted to warm dry/warm wet conditions migrate and replace the current lot if they can’t adapt, won’t they move on too – we humans will adapt I have no doubt. Rainfall patterns change – move the farms, plenty of water in Lake Argyll and they are growing bugger all up there at the moment.

    Acidification of the oceans? I would have thought that by the time acidification has any noticeable impact most of the world’s food fish outside fish farms will have been fished out. (Good grief what a sentence, is there another word for fish?)

    The port/harbour flooding point is ridiculous – are we supposed to believe that Patrick and P&O management will sit in their offices 250 years hence and say “gosh where’d all the ports go? Pity we can’t make a buck now.

    I agree with the majority of the recommendations listed. They are mostly good practices based on common sense and should be implemented regardless of any AGW predictions.

    I mean, improved public transport and re-vegetating cleared areas, no brainers (I’m re-treeing my property with indigenous plants – not because of the CO2 scare, but because it looks nicer and I can attract more birds).

    The high voltage DC cables sound great as does the previous post regarding Australia becoming an exporter of electricity – that’s called being entrepreneurial. As is the generation of cheap electricity using clean technologies. Anyone who has lived or even visited the La Trobe Valley knows how filthy the power stations are and it’s not odourless invisible CO2 that’s the problem it’s soot, grit and sulphurous smells.

    I’m all for tidal, geo-thermal and the like as well, although windmills are ugly and inefficient except for small communities not connected to the grid like Coral Bay in WA.

    What about some research into Thorium reactors in Australia? Let’s go nuclear, how are pebble bed reactors coming along?

    A mix of all the above should do us nicely – I’ll be able to keep my hi-def plasma telly and air conditioner running 24/7, it is the 21st century after all.

    Development of coastal protection and adaptation, great stuff, it’s about time the mangroves were left alone. Look what happened to Burma as a result of large scale mangrove clearing.

    But placing emissions constraints on Australian coal is a pointless exercise – if it puts up the cost of procuring or burning our coal it will just end the Australian coal industry with much economic pain for no gain. China produces around 2400 million tons per year as apposed to our meagre 300 million or so. There’s lots in Russia, Romania, South Africa (all of Africa actually), the USA and probably South America and it is a buyers market.

    I’m all for desalination plants too, but installing rainwater tanks at every house is extremely expensive when compared to recycling the ‘waste water’ (including storm water runoff)of our major cities – pity the Victorian Government hasn’t bitten the bullet and built a massive water reclamation plant at Werribee instead of fiddling about with a desal plant.

    There are real health concerns associated with drinking untreated water collected from roof tops in both rural and urban environments.

    I only have rain water tanks (no mains supply available) but the amount of bird shit, fertilizer and pesticide laden dust which washes into my tanks puts me off drinking it – my two 50,000 litre tanks are full though despite this year’s rainfall being slightly below average.

    I drink my water filtered through Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and settled in French Oak barrels – it’s a wonderful natural filtration method. (grin)

    Anyway times up, off to work now, colours to mix, funky shapes to create, blacker blacks to … well… make blacker.

    Ciao (goes with black this year)

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  23. In assistance of PeterW’s plea:

    …most of the world’s food fish outside fish farms will have been fished out. (Good grief what a sentence, is there another word for fish?)

    You can use the word ‘ghoti’ if you choose (special section in the journal Fish and Fisheries):

    …It is named for George Bernard Shaw’s joke spelling of ‘fish’ – ‘gh’ as in ‘rough’, ‘o’ as in ‘women’ and ‘ti’ as in ‘palatial’.

    Alternatively, you could use ‘aquaculture’ and ‘harvest’ in the appropriate places.

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