Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ocean warming: Ocean Heat Content Change (W - year/m2) 1993-2003



"Not only is Earth absorbing about 0.85 Watts of energy per square meter more than it is radiating back to space, but a sizable chunk of that excess energy is “hiding” in Earth’s oceans, its full effect on the climate system still unrealized.

These maps show observed (top) and modeled (below) energy imbalances in the top 750 meters (2,461 feet) of the world’s oceans from 1993-2003. Areas where there was an energy surplus are shown in shades of yellow to red, while areas where there was an energy deficit are in shades of green to purple.

Think Not 'Global' Warming - Think 'Oceans' Warming

Guest post by Don Beck reposted from Sydney Indymedia

Global warming seems mysterious to most of us. A 1 degree rise in annual global temperature sounds minuscule, doesn't it....... until you remember that the oceans are involved ........... very heavily involved.

The oceans are simply unfathomably immense! Their mass is actually incomprehensible, being 70% of the earth's surface (310 million cubic miles). If you could stack water 100 cubic miles long and 100 cubic miles wide, that column would reach 31,000 miles into outer space. That is truly an astronomical amount of water!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Activists close Power station As Evidence mounts on Climate Change Accelerating

15 Greenpeace activists closed down Munmorah coal fired power station on Thursday in protest against the greenhouse gas emission policies of the Howard Government and Rudd opposition. The power station is located on the Central coast of NSW, 110 km north of Sydney, and has been identified as one of the most polluting coal stations in the world.

The protest ocurred as a new report (PDF) was published by the Climate Institute that said "the IPCC assessment is underestimating the risks of adverse impacts due to increased warming during this century and that impacts previously considered to be at the upper end of likelihood are now more probable. Greenhouse emissions are rising faster than the worst case IPCC scenarios."

Greenpeace Photos | videos 1, 2 | CARMA - Carbon Monitoring for Action | Carbon Equity | Video: Peter Costello on 2050 climate targets

Greenpeace is campaigning for greenhouse gas emission reduction targets of 30% by 2020 by switching from polluting coal power to clean energy systems and energy conservation. The activists draped a banner over the coal feed conveyor belt housing reading 'Climate change starts here'. Another group climbed onto the roof of the main building and painted the message "Coal Kills", which is clearly visible from the air.

Steve Campbell, head of Greenpeace campaigns said "With just one week until the election, both major parties are backing climate policies that will see emissions increase. Neither Howard nor Rudd have committed to making the deep cuts needed in the next decade if we are to avoid dangerous climate change,"

"Coal is killing our planet and our future. This week the world's top scientists are warning that we must slash emissions by 2020. There is no way we can do this unless we push the emergency stop on coal, starting with the oldest and dirtiest plants, like Munmorah."

"We can expect to see more and more people taking part in civil disobedience actions against coal power," Campbell said. "To stop climate change we need to make the switch from coal to clean renewable energy. We are calling on John Howard and Kevin Rudd to put in place the clean energy policies needed to make this happen."

Munmorah Power Station is NSW’s oldest power station, built between 1967 and 1969, with a capacity of 600MW and is owned by the State Government through Delta Electricity. Delta has said that unless Mumorah is refurbished, it will close in about 2012.

According to Greenpeace, in 2006 Munmorah generated 1,416Gwh of electricity, the most since 1994. Given that Munmorah emits 1.065 tonnes of greenhouse pollution for every megawatt hour of electricity generated, it would have produced about 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 in 2006, about 1% of NSW’s total.

Greenpeace suggests programs such as switching all households to solar hot water and upgrading household insulation would save approximately four times the outout of Munmorah. Energy conservation programs could save up to 30 per cent of energy demand, with the projection of wind and solar under present policies of meeting 15-20% of electricity consumption by 2020.

International Study on Power Station emissions

Coincidentally, the protest ocurred on the same day that an international study by the Centre for Global Development of the world's 50,000 power stations was released, which ranked Australia as the world's worst greenhouse gas emitter on a per capita basis. According to the study Australian power plants produce more than 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per person each year, ahead of the United States, rated second at more than nine tonnes per person, while China is down the list and only rates two tonnes per person.

The information has been collated in a huge database called CARMA—Carbon Monitoring for Action, that anyone can visit. “CARMA makes information about power-related CO2 emissions transparent to people throughout the world,” says Dr. Wheeler, an expert in the use of public information disclosure to reduce pollution. “Information leads to action. We know that this works for other forms of pollution and we believe it can work for greenhouse gas emissions, too.”

“We expect that institutional and private investors, insurers, lenders, environmental and consumer groups and individual activists will use the CARMA data to encourage power companies to burn less coal and oil and to shift to renewable power sources, such as wind and solar,” Dr. Wheeler said.

Report: Evidence of Accelerated Climate Change

The report prepared for the Climate Institute was peer reviewed by Graeme Pearman, former head of CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research. The report briefly looks at temperature increases, Greenhouse Gas Concentration, melting sea ice, collapsing ice shelves, sea level rise, declining sinks and growing sources. It comes just before the release of the 4th report by the IPCC, which it criticises as aleady out of date. It strongly argues "the case for a policy of risk management and more urgent intervention is strengthened."

Climate Institute chief executive John Connor told the ABC "It means we're running out of time to help stop dangerous climate change and our politicians need to be much more urgent and decisive in the actions that they're taking in cutting greenhouse pollution, making the switch to green energy and showing real international leadership on this," he said.

The report summary says in full:

"Managing the risk of climate change requires consideration of those consequences that we understand and those where there is the potential (particularly if it is large) for impacts, even though at this stage the probability of the occurrence is unknown. This paper suggests that there exists evidence that the IPCC process may have led to an underestimation of the risk of greater warming and that the impacts of climate change are occurring more rapidly then previously projected. In part this may reflect the rapidly unfolding observations and theoretical understanding of climate change. This range of issues will require close monitoring and further research, and inclusion into the risk management process preceding policy development. To the extent that the impacts of climate change may be in the more severe range of those outlined in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, the case for a policy of risk management and more urgent intervention is strengthened."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thousands march for Action on Climate Change

Over 100,000 people marched around Australia against the lack of action on climate change by our political leaders including 30,000 people in Sydney, 8,000 in Canberra, 1,500 in Adelaide, 3,000 in Hobart, and up to 50,000 in Melbourne. At more than fifty locations around Australia people participated in the Walk Against Warming.



Quit Coal - Reduce CO2

Photos: Melbourne1 2 | Perth1 2 | Goldcoast | Sydney | Adelaide1 2 | Cairns | Brisbane | Canberra



Video: Thousands march in Melbourne | Hobart Walk says no to Pulp Mill

In Sydney shadow Environment Minister Peter Garret from the Labor Party was booed with some people in the crowd turning their back when he spoke. Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull, although invited, did not attend. Leader of the Greens Bob Brown also addressed the Sydney rally to warm applause. Other speakers included executive director of GetUp Brett Solomon, and the 9-year-old star of The Climate Institute’s TV ad campaign, Jack Simmons. Both the Government and the Labor Party have not given commitments to short term targets, and their longer term targets are being criticised as too little too late.

“Neither of the old parties will tackle these priority issues – we need a seismic change of thinking at the top." said Senator Bob Brown. The Greens have a target of 30% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020. Senator Brown said that Labor’s Peter Garrett ‘copped some stick’ from the crowd, “but Peter turned up and put Labor’s climate change strategy to the Australia people. Malcolm Turnbull squibbed it. “

Like the USA, Australia has refused to sign the Kyoto protocol. The climate policies of both major Australian parties allow Australia’s emissions to continue to rise. New coal-fired power stations continue to be built, with 11 new coal projects under construction or planned which will see emissions increase by 10% over current levels, according to Greenpeace.

Solar and Wind not NuclearCate Faehrmann, Executive Director of the NSW Nature Conservation Council called on the next elected government for a short-term target to reduce greenhouse pollution by at least 30 per cent by 2020. “Walk Against Warming has been the biggest public rally of the federal election campaign, which demonstrates how concerned Australians are about climate change and just how important an issue it is for the coming election,”

"The election countdown now stands at less than 2 weeks and Australians have voted with their feet to let politicians know they expect leadership on climate change, not half measures. An important test of leadership on climate change is now to act on the scientific evidence of global warming and reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.” said Ms Faehrmann.

Across New South Wales many of the 32 Walks were held in marginal electorates including Parramatta, Dobell, Page and Eden-Monaro.

In Melbourne many families with kids attended the march, with prepared placards from Greenpeace, Zero Emissions Network, Get Up!, and other environmental and activist groups. There was an abundance of home made placards and banners. Turtles, polar bears and John Howard puppets enlivened the march, along with several street bands.

Funny enough the Age newspaper in Melbourne focused on the Sydney rally where some of the crowd (SMH report) turning their backs on Peter Garrett. (Age Report) The main photo in Monday's Age shows an estimated crowd of up to 50,000 people (Herald Sun, SBS news, Age), in Swanston Street. The rally was adressed by head of World Vision Tim Costello (brother to Treasurer Peter Costello) at the State Library before the march down Swanston Street to a festival in the Alexandra Gardens where the Counterfeit Gypsies performed for the crowd.

See Also: Green Left Initial Report: Rallies call for action on climate change. | The Big Switch

Walk Against Warming 2007: Photos by Takver

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Climate activists blockade Newcastle Coal Port

More than a hundred people participated in a maritime blockade of Newcastle Port on November 3 to protest the expansion of the export coal industry and its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Hundreds more people watched the protest from shore. The protesters, in a flotilla of kayaks, canoes and small boats blocked the main shipping channel for about 5 hours.

Related: George Darroch Photos | Sutherland CAN Photos | Rising Tide Australia

Newcastle is the world's biggest coal port, with the NSW Government committing to a third export coal terminal and new coal mines, while the world faces a climate crisis. According to the latest figures submitted to the United Nations, Australia is one of the worst greenhouse gas emitters in the developed world, and rapidly getting worse. Australia's emissions increased by 26 per cent from 1990 to 2005, which was one the fastest rates of emissions growth among developed nations. Average emissions per person in Australia is now 26 tonnes per year, outranking the USA (25t), Russia (14t), India (10t), and China (4t).

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle participated in the blockade and claimed later that the action had delayed the transport of coal which when burnt would put 1.66 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

"If Labor and the government were serious about stopping climate change they would have a plan for the transition from dirty coal to renewable energy, but they don't," she said according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The protest was organised by climate protest group Rising Tide Newcastle. Spokesperson Georgina Wood said the protest against the expansion of coal export facilities was a success. "It is clear the community is calling for change, and that our governments need to heed that call."

A woman suffered back injuries from a police jetski that failed to stop in time during the protest. She was taken to hospital but released a short time later. A Rising Tide spokeperson told the ABC the incident was due to aggressive actions by police. Police are investigating the incident.

The United Nations International Panel on Climate Change is due to hand down the final part of the Fourth Assessment report on November 17, which will help set the agenda for climate talks scheduled in Bali in December 2007.