Thursday 3rd of December 2020



confusion from the idiotman...

The Federal Opposition has moved to defend Tony Abbott's apparent inconsistency over climate change in the face of criticism by the Government's climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut.

On Monday Mr Abbott told a community forum in Perth that "the science is not settled" and that carbon dioxide is not quite the "environmental villain" some people make it out to be.

A day later he said action needed to be taken on carbon emissions and that "the Coalition's position is that climate change is real. Humanity is making a contribution".

Yesterday, launching his latest paper on climate change, Professor Garnaut was scathing of climate change deniers, saying the statistics on global warming are clear.

a small step for starters...

Low- and middle-income earners could actually be better off when there's a price on carbon, if climate change adviser Ross Garnaut has his way.

Professor Garnaut wants to redirect billions of dollars raised by charging big business to pollute into reforming the tax and welfare system.

In the sixth update to his 2008 climate change review, Professor Garnaut said the federal government's carbon tax should kick off next year with a starting price of between $20 and $30 a tonne, rising by 4 per cent annually.

An emissions trading scheme (ETS) with a floating price should begin in mid-2015.

Past modelling suggests $26 is the minimum price needed for Australia to meet its target of reducing emissions by 5 per cent by 2020.

That would bring in $11.5 billion in 2012/13.

mr burns does not glow at night...

The popular conception of nuclear power is straight out of The Simpsons: Springfield abounds with signs of radioactivity, from the strange glow surrounding Mr. Burn's nuclear power plant workers to Homer's low sperm count. Then there's the local superhero, Radioactive Man, who fires beams of "nuclear heat" from his eyes. Nuclear power, many people think, is inseparable from a volatile, invariably lime-green, mutant-making radioactivity.

Coal, meanwhile, is believed responsible for a host of more quotidian problems, such as mining accidents, acid rain and greenhouse gas emissions. But it isn't supposed to spawn three-eyed fish like Blinky.

Over the past few decades, however, a series of studies has called these stereotypes into question. Among the surprising conclusions: the waste produced by coal plants is actually more radioactive than that generated by their nuclear counterparts. In fact, the fly ash emitted by a power plant—a by-product from burning coal for electricity—carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy. *


All the more reasons not to have coal power stations nor nuclear power stations...

the big one...

“People talk about the Big One. This is it,” said Tom O’Rourke, a Cornell professor of civil and environmental engineering and a member of the federal Advisory Committee for Earthquake Hazard Reduction. “This is what the Big One looks like. We’ve had an imaginative idea of what the Big One would be like if it struck a major, populated, modern society.”

Japan’s nightmare comes in the wake of two other events that scientists found surprising in their location and intensity: the highly destructive earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Feb. 22, which was triggered by a little-regarded fault; and the tsunami-spawning Sumatra earthquake Dec. 26, 2004, on a trench not considered likely to cause such a “mega-quake.”

It may seem as if there are more natural disasters these days, but the real issue is that there are more people and more property vulnerable to the violent forces of Earth. Natural disasters are supplemented by technological disasters — last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico being one example. Disaster planners in the United States have to ask themselves how they would deal not only with the obvious types of calamities — Gulf Coast hurricanes, for example — but also the events that are of low probability but come with high consequences.

“You don’t get to pick the next disaster. You don’t necessarily know where the threats are,” W. Craig Fugate, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said this week as he contemplated Japan’s horrific combination of catastrophes. “We plan for the things we know, but we also plan for the things we don’t know.”

‘The highly improbable’

The term “black swan” was coined and popularized by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a New York University professor of risk engineering and author of “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.”

People debate what qualifies as a black swan. Most alleged black swans turn out to have obvious precursors and warning signs — the Sept. 11 attacks included. Nothing comes out of the blue, truly.

The next big disaster could be something off the radar of most Americans. A solar flare, for example, could trigger a geomagnetic storm that could knock out much of the nation’s power grid. Or an earthquake could hit an East Coast city not generally considered vulnerable to a major temblor. That sounds like paranoia, but mainstream scientists and government officials research such things.

“South Carolina’s got a very significant seismic history,” Fugate noted. “There’s a fault that runs through Charleston, South Carolina, that has devastated that area before.” That 1886 event, with an estimated magnitude of 7.3, killed 60 people and was felt as far away as Wisconsin, Boston and Cuba.

That was what geologists call an intraplate earthquake, an event within one of the planet’s major tectonic plates rather than along the margin, where earthquakes are easier to understand and anticipate. What causes these intraplate earthquakes is a thorny scientific question. Some intraplate faults might have a major quake every few thousand years, so infrequently that they are not in sync with the human time scale and do not factor significantly in the U.S. Geological Survey’s seismic hazard maps.

Conversely, some hazards are well publicized at this point but highly unlikely for centuries to come, such as a full-blown eruption of the Yellowstone caldera, sometimes referred to as a supervolcano. If Yellowstone were to explode, it would be an event thousands of times more violent than the Mount St. Helens eruption, and its effect would be felt across much of the western United States. But it has been 640,000 years since the last such event and, although the caldera is active and generates swarms of small earthquakes, there is no sign that a major event will happen in the lifetime of anyone around today.


The next big one is the one we don't see or feel... Global Warming... because it's incremental and does not come as an instant shock. Another big one will be the reversal of the Earth's magnetic polarity... This will come as a big shock and we're due for one soon... This happens reasonably often in geological times. The sea-floors are telling the story of this weird and amazing change. The northern magnetic pole becomes the south magnetic pole in a jiffy. Who knows the array of nearly 500 earth tremors in Japan over the last few days could be an indication of this phenomenon...

But meanwhile, carbon dioxide is our immediate worry. See toon at top...

catch 22 and a half carbon...

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22.

Julia Gillard asked Greg Combet what to do about putting in place a price on carbon.

"The problem," he said, "Is you have to explain the system in a simple clear way in which the people will be able to understand."

"So all I need to do is that and all will be well?"

"No, if you do that you will be accused of lying because you're not telling the full story."

"So I should tell the full story - including all the intricacies of the timings on when prices will change to an extent great enough to ensure changes in behaviour subject to the cross price elasticity of high carbon emitting products?"

"No if you do that you'll be accused of not being able to sell the carbon price because you won't cut through."

"So I should speak in a way that cuts through?"

"No because if you do that you'll be accused of lying because you're not telling the full story."

Julia was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," she observed.

"It's the best there is," Greg Combet agreed.