Monday 25th of September 2017

perfect logic from a man whose hat is too tight around the ankles...



Australia’s deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, has warned of a summer of blackouts unless politicians embrace coal power solutions.

Energy policy was front and centre at the Nationals federal conference in Canberra, which Joyce addressed on Saturday.

“Somewhere between floor 13 and 14 the lift will stop with you in it – an uncomfortable experience if you need to go to the bathroom,” the Nationals leader said.

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at the edge of possibility...

I met University of New Hampshire paleoclimatologist Matthew Huber at a diner near his campus in Durham, New Hampshire. Huber has spent a sizable portion of his research career studying the hothouse of the early mammals and he thinks that in the coming centuries we might be heading back to the Eocene climate of 50 million years ago, when there were Alaskan palm trees and alligators splashed in the Arctic Circle.

“The modern world will be much more of a killing field,” he said. “Habitat fragmentation today will make it much more difficult to migrate. But if we limit it below 10C of warming, at least you don’t have widespread heat death.”

In 2010, Huber and his co-author, Steven Sherwood, published one of the most ominous science papers in recent memory, An Adaptability Limit to Climate Change Due to Heat Stress.

“Lizards will be fine, birds will be fine,” Huber said, noting that life has thrived in hotter climates than even the most catastrophic projections for anthropogenic global warming. This is one reason to suspect that the collapse of civilisation might come long before we reach a proper biological mass extinction. Life has endured conditions that would be unthinkable for a highly networked global society partitioned by political borders. Of course we’re understandably concerned about the fate of civilisation and Huber says that, mass extinction or not, it’s our tenuous reliance on an ageing and inadequate infrastructure, perhaps, most ominously, on power grids, coupled with the limits of human physiology that may well bring down our world.

In 1977, when power went out for only one summer day in New York, swaths of the city devolved into something like Hobbes’s man in a state of nature. Riots swept across the city, thousands of businesses were destroyed by looters and arsonists lit more than 1,000 fires.

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denialistic boots...



Three decades ago when serious debate on human-induced climate change began globally, a great deal of statesmanship was on display. A preparedness to recognise that this was an issue which transcended nation states, ideologies and political parties. An issue which had to be addressed proactively in the long-term interests of humanity, even if the existential nature of climate risk was far less clear cut than it is today.


Then, as global institutions were put in place to take up this challenge and the extent of change this would impose on the fossil-fuel dominated world became more obvious, the forces of resistance mobilised. Today, despite the diplomatic triumph of the Paris climate agreement, debate around climate change policy has never been more dysfunctional, indeed Orwellian, particularly in Australia.

In his book Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell describes a double-speak totalitarian state where most of the population accepts “the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane.”

Orwell could have been writing about climate change and policymaking.

International agreements talk of limiting global warming to 1.5–2°C, but in reality they set the world on a path of 3–5°C. Goals are reaffirmed, only to be abandoned. Coal, by definition, is “clean”. Just 1°C of warming is already dangerous, but this cannot be said. The planetary future is hostage to myopic, national self-interest. Action is delayed on the assumption that as yet unproven technologies will save the day, decades hence. The risks are existential, but it is “alarmist” to say so. A one-in-two chance of missing a goal is normalised as reasonable.

Climate policymaking for years now has been cognitively dissonant, “a flagrant violation of reality”. So the lack of understanding among the public and elites of the full measure of the climate challenge is unsurprising. Yet most Australians sense where we are heading: three-quarters of people see climate change as a catastrophic risk and half see our way of life ending within the next 100 years.

The previous norms of statesmanship and long-term thinking have long since disappeared, replaced by an obsession with short-term political and commercial advantage, particularly where climate and energy policy is concerned.

An emergency-scale transition to a post-fossil fuel world is essential to address climate change. But this is considered to be too disruptive. The orthodoxy is that there is time for an orderly economic transition within the current short-termist political paradigm. Discussion of what would be safe – less warming that we presently experience – is non-existent. And so we have a policy failure of epic proportions.

In the magical thinking of Australian policymakers, a pathway of gradual change, constructed over many decades in a growing, prosperous, coal-fired world stretches enticingly before us. The world not imagined is the one that now exists: of looming financial instability; of a global crisis of political legitimacy; of a sustainability crisis that extends far beyond climate change to include all the fundamentals of human existence, and of severe global energy sector dislocation.

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too easy...



For the sake of keeping things manageable, let’s confine the discussion to a single continent and a single week: North America over the last seven days.


In Houston they got down to the hard and unromantic work of recovery from what economists announced was probably the most expensive storm in US history, and which weather analysts confirmed was certainly the greatest rainfall event ever measured in the country – across much of its spread it was a once-in-25,000-years storm, meaning 12 times past the birth of Christ; in isolated spots it was a once-in-500,000-years storm, which means back when we lived in trees. Meanwhile, San Francisco not only beat its all-time high temperature record, it crushed it by 3C, which should be pretty much statistically impossible in a place with 150 years (that’s 55,000 

That same hot weather broke records up and down the west coast, except in those places where a pall of smoke from immense forest fires kept the sun shaded – after a forest fire somehow managed to jump the mighty Columbia river from Oregon into Washington, residents of the Pacific Northwest reported that the ash was falling so thickly from the skies that it reminded them of the day Mount St Helens erupted in 1980.

That same heat, just a little farther inland, was causing a “flash drought” across the country’s wheat belt of North Dakota and Montana – the evaporation from record temperatures had shrivelled grain on the stalk to the point where some farmers weren’t bothering to harvest at all. In the Atlantic, of course, Irma was barrelling across the islands of the Caribbean (“It’s like someone with a lawnmower from the sky has gone over the island,” said one astounded resident of St Maarten). The storm, the first category five to hit Cuba in a hundred years, is currently battering the west coast of Florida after setting a record for the lowest barometric pressure ever measured in the Keys, and could easily break the 10-day-old record for economic catastrophe set by Harvey; it’s definitely changed the psychology of life in Florida for decades to come.

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The main problem is not so much accepting there is "global warming" but to accept its origin. Read:


aircon failure...


HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The first evacuee was rushed into the emergency room of Memorial Regional Hospital around 3 a.m. on Wednesday, escaping a nursing home that had lost air-conditioning in the muggy days after Hurricane Irma splintered power lines across the state.

Another arrived at 4 a.m. After a third rescue call, at 5 a.m., hospital staff members were concerned enough to walk down the street to see the facility for themselves.

What they found was an oven.

The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills needed to be evacuated immediately. Fire and rescue units were hurrying the nursing home’s more than 100 residents out. Dozens of hospital workers converged on the area, establishing a command center outside with equipment designed for a multi-casualty episode like a bus crash. Red wristbands went to patients with life-threatening conditions, yellow and green for those in better shape.

Checking the nursing home room by room, hospital workers found three people who were already dead and nearly 40 others who needed red wristbands, many of whom were having trouble breathing. The workers rushed them to the emergency room, where they were given oxygen. The rest went to other hospitals nearby.

Four were so ill that they died soon after arriving at those hospitals. In the afternoon, the authorities learned that another person had died early in the morning and was initially uncounted because the person had been taken directly to a funeral home.

In all, eight were dead.

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see toon at top...



coal kills people...

Coal kills people. This isn’t even slightly scientifically controversial.
From the mines to the trains to the climate disruption; from black lung to asthma, heat stress to hunger, fires to floods: coal is killing people in Australia and around the world right now.

Yet we are once again having what passes for political debate about extending the life of coal-fired power stations and, extraordinarily, building new ones. The conversation is completely disconnected from the fact that two thirds of Bangladesh was reported to be underwater, record-breaking hurricanes were battering the US, and wildfires were roaring in both the northern and southern hemispheres at the same time.

Even the Greens only talk coyly about the impact of climate change on our “way of life”. It’s time we put it clearly: If Malcolm Turnbull, Barnaby Joyce and their colleagues succeed in extending the life of the Liddell power station, let alone building new coal, they will kill people. Burning more coal, knowing what we know, is a deliberate act of arson, lighting a match in dry bushland, with homes just around the bend and a hot wind blowing in their direction.
It’s hard to say that. It’s hard to read it. But we must come to grips with this connection urgently.

And it is connection – and disconnection – which is at the heart of the problem, and which points the way to the only hope for a solution.

How is it that our politicians can be so drastically disconnected from the consequences of their actions? How can citizens not be out on the streets? How can corporate executives be continuing business as usual (a business as usual that is moving away from coal, but still nowhere near fast enough to avoid catastrophic climate disruption)? How can journalists and editors report on the politics of coal on one page and bushfires around Sydney in September on another without making the connection?

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