Sunday, April 19, 2015

Obama: climate change can no longer be denied or ignored

With Earth Day coming up this Wednesday on April 22 President Barack Obama has released a video saying that climate change can no longer be denied or ignored. He will deliver a speech at the Florida Everglades on Wednesday that will reinforce this message of the threat that climate change poses to the economy and to the world, in one of the most vulnerable habitats in the United States.

United States submits INDC to United Nations

The United States joined 32 other countries submitting their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) by 31 March, 2015. The USA set its climate target at 28 per cent emissions reduction on 2005 levels by 2025.

According to the UNFCCC nations, all countries "have agreed that there will be no back-tracking in these national climate plans, meaning that the level of ambition to reduce emissions will increase over time."

The United States commitment is for "an economy-wide target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 per cent below its 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28%."

The current United States climate policy and regulatory action places it firmly on the path of reducing emissions in the range of 17 percent below the 2005 level by 2020.

"Achieving the 2025 target will require a further emission reduction of 9-11% beyond our 2020 target compared to the 2005 baseline and a substantial acceleration of the 2005-2020 annual pace of reduction, to 2.3-2.8 percent per year, or an approximate doubling." says the INDC note.

Australian Government funds $4 million sweet deal for #climate contrarian Bjorn Lomborg

This sweet deal for statistician and climate contrarian Bjorn Limborg is likely to really piss off Australian climate scientists.

With one fell swoop the Government has alienated climate scientists, and probably a heavy proportion of other academics and the general public. The Abbott Government is funding climate contrarian Dr Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish Professor of Statistics, to establish a 'Consensus Centre' at the University of Western Australia at a taxpayer funded cost of $4 million for a four year period, at a time when the Treasurer is arguing we need budget constraint.

Of course most Australian climate scientists were probably already not very sympathetic to the Abbott Government with the failure to appoint a Science Minister, axing the Climate Commission (a budget saving of just $1.5 million), and cuts to science and research funding.

It has been clear for many years that 97% of research papers say climate change is happening, and while Lomborg does not directly deny anthropogenic climate change he casts doubt on climate impacts, often cherry picks his data selectively, makes straw man arguments, and runs cost benefit models to argue for delaying climate mitigation action.

Why is it so hard to close down Victoria’s dirtiest #coal power Stations?

Over 200 people rallied at lunchtime on the steps of the Victorian Parliament house to kickstart a campaign (again) to shut down Hazelwood and Anglesea coal fired power stations. I was there and wrote an original article for

Greens MLA Ellen Sandell made a statement to parliament during the morning (see bottom of article) calling on the Labor Government, led by Premier Daniel Andrews, to step up on climate action and phase-out these two ageing and very polluting power plants.

Here are excerpts of Ellen Sandell speaking to those on the parliament house steps:

But the present Labor Government has been conspicuously silent on the issue.

Why do I say again? Because between 2010 and 2012 there was a concerted campaign at both the State and Federal levels to get Hazelwood power station closed down.

Labor Premier John Brumby campaigned in 2010 for the phased closure of Hazelwood although activists wanted total phaseout.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Moreland roofs now generate 12MWh power annually from Solar PV

This article was originally published at Climate Action Moreland.

Moreland City Council has just installed an extra 100kW of solar PV panels - 390 new panels in all - on the Coburg Civic Centre roof. This adds to the existing 9kW system that was already functioning.

These panels will meet 30 per cent of the building's energy needs, as well as saving 160 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year, with an estimated saving of $23,000 from Council's electricity bill each year,

Read more at MEFL: Coburg Town Hall gets solar-powered.

We think this is great news. Keep up the good work City of Moreland in transitioning to zero net emissions.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tax exempt status of Environment NGOs targeted. Are you a #FriendofFoE?

Hundreds of thousands of Australians each year volunteer with or donate to environment not-for-profit organisations like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Wilderness Society, to name just a few. Now it seems the Federal Government is stepping up it's attack on these organisations through tightening the definition and taxation exemption status for donations to these organisations. An original post to

Australians do believe in a fair go and are willing to support in both unpaid time and money the ongoing environmental work and advocacy of these organisations. Millions of dollars is contributed each year by individuals to support a wide range of activities, including 'on the ground' work, education and training, grassroots activism and protests, and political advocacy.

Their work and operation, with limited funding, means running campaigns often on shoestring budgets with limited paid staff and high reliance on volunteers. Their work is a vital component of democracy and free speech in Australia.

Often their opponents in business or mining, or government bureaucracies, have engaged high profile public relations and legal teams with substantial budgets.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Port Augusta: Transition from #coal to #solar critical say locals

First published at

The Port Augusta community have called for South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill to step up to help fund construction of a solar thermal power station. The call from Repower Port Augusta comes in reponse to an Alinta Energy assessment (Draft Milestone 3 Balance of Study Report March 2015 PDF) that found a solar thermal power station was still uneconomic to build without government support. The proposed 50MW project is estimated to cost $577 million, about $150 million greater than it's commercial viability.

Australia currently does not have any 'baseload' concentrating solar thermal with molten salt energy storage power plants. The Port Augusta proposed power station could be Australia's first using a Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) power tower with up to 15 hours molten salt energy storage included.

These type of CST plus molten salt energy storage power plants are already producing electricity or under construction at Crescent Dunes in Nevada, USA (110MW), Gemasolar in Andalucía, Spain (20MW), Planta Solar Cerro Dominador at Calama, Chile (110MW under contruction), Rice Solar energy project in California, USA (150MW), and Supcon Solar Project in China (50MW under construction).

Friday, March 27, 2015

A North Atlantic nasty surprise: AMOC slowing faster than expected

Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation slowing much faster than expected

It seems that the 2004 Hollywood blockbuster disaster movie The Day after Tommorrow, while highly exaggerated, had the seed of scientific fact based upon the possible disruption that could occur from the slowdown or catastrophic cessation of the Atlantic ocean Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), also known as the thermohaline circulation or Great ocean conveyor belt.

A new study by Rahmstorf et al (2015) published in Nature Climate Change has found evidence for a slowdown of the overturning circulation. This is based upon multiple lines of observation suggesting that over recent decades the current system has been weaker than ever before in the last century, or even in the last millennium.

The Gulf Stream is part of this circulation system with warm waters, which are naturally lighter, flowing north, and responsible for the mild climate of north western Europe. In the sub-polar region these waters cool, become more dense, and sink to the bottom before they start flowing south along the ocean bottom towards the tropics, then the South Atlantic and the Southern Ocean. The conveyor belt of currents connects the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans providing heat transfer and mixing throughout the globe.

Related Links: What’s going on in the North Atlantic? at Realclimate Blog | New Research Shows Exceptional Slowdown In Major Atlantic Ocean Currents Greg Laden's Science Blog

Monday, March 16, 2015

Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam devastates Vanuatu and other Pacific Island nations

Tropical Cyclone Pam, a category 5 storm as measured on both the Australian and Saffir-Simpson storm measurement scales, with wind gusts over 300km/hr, has devastated the Pacific Island Nation of Vanuatu.

The storm made a direct hit on the capital Port Vila of this island country on Friday night and the early hours of Saturday morning, causing widespread damage, blocking roads, power and communication outages and destroying many homes and buildings. Even the main Hospital in Port Vila suffered damage.

Tom Skirrow from Save The Children says 10,000 people need emergency shelter in Port Vila alone according to Liam Fox, an ABC News Pacific Affairs Reporter. According to Radio New Zealand (@RNZNews) Vanuatu's Disaster Management Office says part of the country's main hospital, Vila Central, have been destroyed. This has been confirmed by Vanuatu's lands minister, Ralph Regenvanu, saing only one ward of Vila Central Hospital is still operational.

The United Nations Relief web reported:
The cyclone was one of the strongest ever recorded in the Pacific Islands with sustained winds of 270km/hr gusting to 360km/hr. The United Nations has stated that Pam could be one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the Pacific. Vanuatu’s President, Baldwin Lonsdale, has appealed to the global community for help. Thousands of people are in temporary shelters. Entire communities were severely damaged in some areas. Islands in the north and south of Vanuatu were hit most directly.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Unprecedented acceleration in the rate of temperature change coming up

The latest research published in Nature Climate Change based on CMIP5 climate modelling, argues that we are likely to see rapid rates of temperature rise in the near term of the next 40 year period that is unprecedented in the last 2,000 years. The rate of temperature increase is likely to rise to 0.25 ± 0.05 °C per decade by 2020. Much of this rise will be disproportionately felt in the northern hemisphere regions of the Arctic, North America and Europe.

This acceleration will occurr over the next 40 years despite what efforts we make to reduce our emissions. What mitigation action we do take will affect the rate of temperature rise after this near term period.

"We focused on changes over 40-year periods, which is similar to the lifetime of houses and human-built infrastructure such as buildings and roads," said lead author Steven Smith. "In the near term, we're going to have to adapt to these changes."

Hang onto your hats and sunscreen because this is going to become a wild ride in learning to adapt to extreme weather, especially heatwaves.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Taking the earth's temperature and the influence of ocean sea surface temperature cycles

I had a go at charting the global mean temperature trend. An interesting thing to do as it gives you an insight into all those global mean temperature graphs you see.

I started off with the GISS temperature anomaly dataset that goes from 1880 up to the present. The temperature anomaly data is provided in monthly intervals based upon a 1951-1980 baseline of 14.0 deg-C, but I really only used the data from 1970 to the present.

Using monthly data you see the extremes that sometimes occurr, both on the warm side and the cold side. I added a 12 month running average trend line (red) and a 5 year running average trendline (dark blue) to make the temperature trend clearer.

Here is the result: