Tuesday 13th of April 2021

ten times more bullshit than the average country...


The Morrison government has been accused of taking credit for a dip in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, with climate scientists slamming the federal government for leaving the heavy lifting to states and territories.

The latest National Greenhouse Gas Inventory data shows a 4.4 per cent decline in emissions in the year to September 2020,  falling to the lowest levels in the country since 1995.

The results reflect a growing global trend, with emissions falling by 2.4 billion tonnes last year, a 7 per cent drop from 2019 – largely driven by the coronavirus lockdown.

In Canberra, it was a small cause for celebration, with Energy Minister Angus Taylor touting Australia’s “world-leading deployment of solar and wind” as the reason emissions were 19 per cent below 2005 levels.

“Since 2017, Australia has invested $35 billion in renewables and we are continuing to deploy new solar and wind 10 times faster than the global-per-person average,” Mr Taylor said.


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simple enough?...

I’ve been sticking stuff in the correct recycling bins for years, so there’s no room for improvement there. And I’ll be honest, I don’t know all that much about electric cars or solar power. Both those things kind of bore me, but I have been worried enough to check them out. 

This is what Charlie Stone tells us:

So here we go… Have you got a spare £40,000 lying around? Cool. That’ll get you, more or less, the basic-level Tesla electric car. There’s a problem that immediately comes to mind, though, even if you do shell out the cash and plug your shiny new toy into the wall every night.

Your old car you just scrapped to make way for your Tesla ran on a fossil fuel in the form of diesel or petrol, right? And the power being fed to your home and down the wire to your Tesla’s batteries is most likely from… fossil fuels. In the UK, for example, most of the power generated to this day is still from ancient organic material buried deep in the Earth’s crust, be it oil, gas or even coal.

I’m sure a scientist or mathematician can argue the pros and cons of electric cars in infinite detail, but the fact remains: the source of one is the same as the other. Fossil fuels. 

Bugger! Right then, solar power. I'll bung some of those black glass panel things on the garage roof and plug the Tesla in there. Sorted. And, I must say, this is very tempting. You’d have to shell out between £15,000 and £30,000, which is a load of cash. But it would be such a buzz to tell those rip-off energy companies where to stick their bills.

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Yes there is a bit of fiddle by profiteers, and we need to do something more than recycle old bottles… So far we’ve been tinkering on the edges of the problem. We have not fully understood the consequences which are far more than having to pay heaps for an electric heap. We might have to live underground… We’re still on the teat of carbon-burning and are afraid to give it up. 

Global warming is long terms for human generations (not-long really, about 5 to ten generations) for its full effects to be felt. On the geological scale, global warming is like an F-1 Ferrari on a straight line going through a pack of cyclists. FAST! DANGEROUS!...

Yes, the likes of Greta and Attenborough have warned us about the incoming disaster. The Australian government is talking bullshit as usual...

Stones finishes his article by becoming slightly sceptical about his own arguments:

Ice ages have come and gone. Asteroids have smashed into her and basically blacked out the sky. But just give it a few thousand years or so, and she will clean herself up and be perfectly fine. The only problem is, we won’t be around to enjoy her. Just ask the dinosaurs.

Err. No. No. No, no — yes... I asked the dinosaur descendants yesterday, the birds, and the old plants from these times gone-by, still pushing along but getting somewhat disturbed… The old cycad is struggling. They tell me something is not quite right. Branches fall off. Yes, Ice ages have come and gone and the specific natural setting for these are scientifically well-known. Presently according to these natural settings we should be on our merry way to another ice age within another 100,000 years. Slowly but surely… Sweet as snow in Texas. But the natural settings have been upset. The surface of the planet is warming up — a bit too fast for those who study the problem in detail. 

Is this global warming, that includes snow storms in Madrid, a natural occurrence? The sciences say no… Something has upset the climate zoning process. We know from extensive studies that ice ages are related to low CO2 — 180 ppm at the coldest in the recent one million years past. Warmer periods are related to an upward concentration of CO2 — 300 ppm for the warmest of these natural warm periods. 

The relationship between CO2 and induction of warmth has long been established, as CO2 is a “warming gas”. It’s like water in your microwave. Push the button and the energy of the (calibrated/specific) microwave is transferred to the water. The water boils. 

In the atmosphere, the energy of the sun, specific wave lengths of infrared (heat), are transferred to the CO2, which in turn warms the atmosphere. Other wavelengths of sun energy also warm up methane and NOx gases — and water vapours. NOTE: more energy comes from infrared than from microwaves.

Add more CO2 (presently we've added more than 120 ppm to the 300 natural maximum), methane an NOx to the atmosphere and it will warm up incrementally — then in reducible proportions which are calculable, the amount of extra energy added in the atmosphere is dissipated into the void. But this maximum “balance” in the last few million years for planet earth is hot (around +14 degrees Celsius on present average).

Simple enough? 

The scientific study of previous eons, eras and periods via geological data and other information, can indicate that for example towards the end of the Cretaceous, there was a warming event that led to sea level going at least 75 metres above present and no polar ice. and this is what we are facing. Are we? Yes we are… Sure, not today or tomorrow, but by 2201, there will be some very unhappy customers...

Simple enough?

Are the sciences wrong? So far they have been proven correct… including the style of polar vortex cooling in the US, down to Texas and in Europe. 

What are the dire predictions? 

First the UN is trying to get human activities to become carbon neutral, basically reducing CO2, methane and NOx emissions to ZERO by 2050. Why? Between now and then, there should be enough time to find alternative energy sources that are carbon neutral FROM INCEPTION TO USAGE. We also need to find non-polluting, non-radioactive energy sources and so far, the natural energies of the sun and the wind seems to be the go. CO2 storage is an expensive dream pipe, but we might need to use CO2 sequestration NOT FOR MORE ADDED EMISSIONS OF CO2 but on what we’ve already pumped into the atmosphere since the “industrial revolution”. 

Simple enough?

There is already enough CO2 and extra warming gases in the atmosphere to increase the global temperature by 3 degrees Celsius by 2050 and by 4.5 to 6 degrees Celsius by 2100. These estimates are bracketed of course because, like when defrosting your old-style fridge, there will be ice and water on your kitchen floor, making the kitchen feel a bit “fresher” (cooler than the lounge room). And we are still pumping about 3 per cent more CO2 per annum...

Simple enough?

Addling more CO2 and other warming gases in the atmosphere like we do at present only compounds the problem. Stopping the emissions of warming gases isn’t going to prevent some uncomfortable situations, including rising of sea level by more than 45 cm by 2100. But keep adding CO2 and other warming gases in the atmosphere, the problem can only accelerate and reach very serious consequences: Warmer by 12 degrees Celsius than the present lovely temperature and the sea level reaching more than 50 metres above present by much too soon. Yep...
Simple enough? 
This has nothing to do with other possible catastrophes, like a cannon-ball coming from space, and nothing to do with the dinosaurs… The’ve gone. Kaput. At this level we can still try to mitigate the damage. Do we want to? That is the question that we have to understand: we are doing the damage to ourselves (and to other creatures of evolution on this lovely planet)… Do we want to continue?

Simple enough?

Yep. Simple but hard...

See also: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/science-environment-56175714

effects from the cause...

A Queensland family honoured for 100 years of service to the Bureau of Meteorology as rain observers say the past 10 years have been the driest on record.


Key points:
  • Farmers in the Southern Downs are dealing with declining winter rainfall
  • Gerald Walsh says things do not look like they are going to get any easier
  • Climate scientist Chelsea Jarvis says that multi-year droughts "need to be considered a regular thing"


Overlooking the old family farmhouse on Gerard Walsh's farm is a hill covered in hundreds of dead ironbarks.

"Two years ago, they would have all been alive and flourishing. Basically every tree has died," Mr Walsh said.

Across all of 2019, his property at Greymare in southern Queensland recorded just 144 millimetres of rain — the driest in 100 years.

"Certainly the rainfall has changed, all for the lesser," Mr Walsh said.



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In the wake of the recent Wooroloo bushfires in Western Australia, fire experts have warned a long-term reduction in rainfall in the state's south-west is making blazes there worse. 


Key points:
  • Serious bushfires are becoming more frequent in south-west Western Australia
  • The increased frequency of serious fires is linked to a drying trend in the region
  • Droughts and bushfires are increasing in Mediterranean climates around the world


"I think serious fires have become more frequent," said Murray Carter, executive director of the Rural Fire Division in WA's Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES). 

"Those which you characterise as causing damage to property or worse, human fatality, which we obviously don't want to see.

"Two decades ago we would've had those fires maybe once every five or six years, now we get them every two or three."



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Read from top.

ecosystems in peril...

‘Existential threat to our survival’: 19 Australian ecosystems already collapsing


By THE CONVERSATION | On 28 February 2021

This is not a warning but a dire wake-up call. Current changes across the continent, and their potential outcomes, pose an existential threat to our survival. But there are actions we can take to help protect or restore ecosystems. 

In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were “on a collision course”. Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a “safe space to operate”. These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.

Crossing such boundaries was considered a risk that would cause environmental changes so profound, they genuinely posed an existential threat to humanity.

This grave reality is what our major research paper confronts.

In what may be the most comprehensive evaluation of the environmental state of play in Australia, we show major and iconic ecosystems are collapsing across the continent and into Antarctica. These systems sustain life, and evidence of their demise shows we’re exceeding planetary boundaries.

We found 19 Australian ecosystems met our criteria to be classified as “collapsing”. This includes the arid interior, savannas and mangroves of northern Australia, the Great Barrier ReefShark Bay, southern Australia’s kelp and alpine ash forests, tundra on Macquarie Island, and moss beds in Antarctica.

We define collapse as the state where ecosystems have changed in a substantial, negative way from their original state – such as species or habitat loss, or reduced vegetation or coral cover – and are unlikely to recover.

The good and bad news

Ecosystems consist of living and non-living components, and their interactions. They work like a super-complex engine: when some components are removed or stop working, knock-on consequences can lead to system failure.

Our study is based on measured data and observations, not modelling or predictions for the future. Encouragingly, not all ecosystems we examined have collapsed across their entire range. We still have, for instance, some intact reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, especially in deeper waters. And northern Australia has some of the most intact and least-modified stretches of savanna woodlands on Earth.

Still, collapses are happening, including in regions critical for growing food. This includes the Murray-Darling Basin, which covers about 14% of Australia’s landmass. Its rivers and other freshwater systems support more than 30% of Australia’s food production.

The effects of floods, fires, heatwaves and storms do not stop at farm gates; they’re felt equally in agricultural areas and natural ecosystems. We shouldn’t forget how towns ran out of drinking water during the recent drought.

Drinking water is also at risk when ecosystems collapse in our water catchments. In Victoria, for example, the degradation of giant Mountain Ash forests greatly reduces the amount of water flowing through the Thompson catchment, threatening the drinking water of nearly five million people in Melbourne.

This is a dire wake-up call — not just a warning. Put bluntly, current changes across the continent, and their potential outcomes, pose an existential threat to our survival, and other life we share environments with.

In investigating patterns of collapse, we found most ecosystems experience multiple, concurrent pressures from both global climate change and regional human impacts (such as land clearing). Pressures are often additive and extreme.

Take the last 11 years in Western Australia as an example. In the summer of 2010 and 2011, a heatwave spanning more than 300,000 square kilometres ravaged both marine and land ecosystems. The extreme heat devastated forests and woodlands, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. This catastrophe was followed by two cyclones.

A record-breaking, marine heatwave in late 2019 dealt a further blow. And another marine heatwave is predicted for this April.

What to do about it?

Our brains trust comprises 38 experts from 21 universities, CSIRO and the federal Department of Agriculture Water and Environment. Beyond quantifying and reporting more doom and gloom, we asked the question: what can be done?

We devised a simple but tractable scheme called the 3As:

  • Awareness of what is important
  • Anticipation of what is coming down the line
  • Action to stop the pressures or deal with impacts.

In our paper, we identify actions to help protect or restore ecosystems. Many are already happening. In some cases, ecosystems might be better left to recover by themselves, such as coral after a cyclone.

In other cases, active human intervention will be required – for example, placing artificial nesting boxes for Carnaby’s black cockatoos in areas where old trees have been removed.

“Future-ready” actions are also vital. This includes reinstating cultural burning practices, which have multiple values and benefits for Aboriginal communities and can help minimise the risk and strength of bushfires.

It might also include replanting banks along the Murray River with species better suited to warmer conditions.

Some actions may be small and localised, but have substantial positive benefits.

For example, billions of migrating Bogong moths, the main summer food for critically endangered mountain pygmy possums, have not arrived in their typical numbers in Australian alpine regions in recent years. This was further exacerbated by the 2019-20 fires. Brilliantly, Zoos Victoria anticipated this pressure and developed supplementary food — Bogong bikkies.

Other more challenging, global or large-scale actions must address the root cause of environmental threats, such as human population growth and per-capita consumption of environmental resources.

We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, remove or suppress invasive species such as feral cats and buffel grass, and stop widespread land clearing and other forms of habitat destruction.

Our lives depend on it

The multiple ecosystem collapses we have documented in Australia are a harbinger for environments globally. The simplicity of the 3As is to show people can do something positive, either at the local level of a landcare group, or at the level of government departments and conservation agencies.

Our lives and those of our children, as well as our economies, societies and cultures, depend on it.

We simply cannot afford any further delay.

This article, republished from The Conversation, was written by:
, Principal Research Scientist, University of Wollongong
, Professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences, Deakin University
, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University
, Professor and Chair, Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter



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saving the planet in south australia...

Less than two decades ago, South Australia generated all its electricity from fossil fuels. Last year, renewables provided a whopping 60 per cent of the state's electricity supply. 

The remarkable progress came as national climate policy was gripped by paralysis — so how did it happen?

Our research set out to answer this question. We analysed policy documents and interviewed major actors in South Australia's energy transition to determine why it worked when so many others fail.

We found governments need enough political power to push through changes despite opposition from established fossil fuel interests. They must also watch the energy market closely to prevent and respond to major disruptions, such as a coal plant closing, and help displaced workers and their towns deal with the change.

South Australia shows how good public policy can enable dramatic emissions reduction, even in a privately owned electricity system. This provides important lessons for other governments in Australia and across the world.

Why is the energy transition so hard?

In decades past, fossil-fuel-dominated energy markets revolved around a few big, powerful players such as electricity generators and retailers. Overhauling such a system inevitably disrupts these incumbents and redistributes benefits, such as commercial returns, to newer entrants.

This can create powerful — and often vocal — losers, and lead to political problems for governments. The changes can also cause hardship for communities, which can be rallied to derail the transition.

The change is even harder in a privatised energy market, such as South Australia's, where electricity generators and other players must stay profitable to survive. 

In the renewables shift, fossil fuel businesses can quickly become commercially unviable and close. This risks supply shortages, as well as price increases like those after Victoria's Hazelwood coal plant closed in 2017.

The obstacles help explain why a wealthy nation such as Australia, with extremely high per capita emissions and cheap, plentiful renewable resources, has struggled to embrace its clean energy potential. Even frontrunners in environmental policy, such as Germany, have struggled to make the switch.

How South Australia did it

South Australia is a dry state — extremely vulnerable to climate change — with abundant wind and solar resources. These factors gave it the motivation and means to transition to renewables.

The South Australian Labor government, elected in 2002, adopted a target for 26 per cent renewables generation by 2020. At the time, wind energy was already a competitive supplier of new generation capacity in Europe, creating an established wind farm industry looking to invest.

Some of South Australia's best onshore wind potential was located near transmission lines running 300 kilometres from Port Augusta to Adelaide. This greatly reduced the cost of connecting new wind generators to the grid.

South Australia benefited greatly from the federal renewable energy target, established by the Howard government in 2001 and expanded under the Rudd government.

The scheme meant the South Australian government didn't need to offer its own incentives to meet its renewables target — it just had to be more attractive to private investors than other states. This was a relatively easy task. Under the state Labor government, South Australia's energy and environment policy was consistent and coordinated, in contrast to the weak and inconsistent policies federally, and in other states.

To attract renewable energy investors, the government made laws to help construct wind farms in rural zones away from towns and homes. New wind farms were regularly underwritten by state government supply contracts.

As the transition progressed, the state's largest coal generator, at Port Augusta, was wound back and eventually closed. To help workers and the town adjust, the state government supported employment alternatives, including a A$6 million grant towards a solar-powered greenhouse employing 220 people.

The Labor government enjoyed a long incumbency, and the state was not heavily reliant on the export of fossil fuels. This helped give it the political leverage to push through change in the face of opposition from vested interests.

It's not easy being green

South Australia's transition was not without controversy. 

Between 2014 and 2018, the state's consumer electricity prices rose sharply. While critics sought to blame the increasing renewables share, it was largely due to other factors. These include South Australia's continued reliance on expensive gas-fired power and the closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station in neighbouring Victoria, which fed large amounts of power into South Australia.

And in late 2016, South Australia suffered a statewide blackout. Again, renewables were blamed, when the disaster was in fact due to storm damage and overly sensitive trip switches.

After a second, smaller blackout six months later, the then federal treasurer Scott Morrison brought a lump of coal into parliament and argued South Australia's renewables transition was:

…switching off jobs, switching off lights and switching off air conditioners and forcing Australian families to boil in the dark as a result of their Dark Ages policies.

In 2018, Labor lost office to a Liberal party highly critical of the renewables transition in opposition. But by then, the transition was well advanced. In our view, specific legislation would have been required to halt it.

The state Liberal government has now firmly embraced the renewables transition, setting a target for 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2030. By 2050, the government says, renewables could generate 500 per cent of the state's energy needs, with the surplus exported nationally and internationally.



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