Monday, January 31, 2011

Fines for 73 climate change activists protesting proposed coal power station

The Muswellbrook Local Court today was crammed with activists. In the largest single court appearance for an Australian climate protest 73 people faced trespass charges for a mass civil disobedience protest on December 5, 2010. They were each fined $250 by the court.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Forests are not commodities - REDD under fire for narrow focus on carbon storage



A new report from some of the world's top experts on forest governance has criticised various international climate change accords including REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) and REDD+ for their narrow focus on carbon storage which has failed to stop rampant destruction of the world's most vulnerable forests and often acted to further marginalise indigenous peoples.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Green groups criticize Federal Government for slashing climate programs

Environment, climate change and green groups have criticized the Federal Government for budget cuts to solar development and carbon reduction programs, as part of its reconstruction program for rebuilding Queensland after the devastating floods.

Deferring expenditure in the solar flagship program is of major concern for the development of industry scale solar power stations in Australia, necessary for converting our reliance on carbon intensive coal fired power to renewable technologies. A US study has shown the feasibility of converting global power to 100 per cent carbon emission neutral alternative energy technologies in 20 to 40 years, similar to the Australian study by Beyond Zero Emissions with the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 report, launched in July 2010.

A carbon neutral solar and wind powered world in 20 to 40 years?



Is it achievable? You bet! All it takes is the political and social will to make it happen says two US researchers who have just published a study of the material resources and technology required to power the world 100 per cent by carbon emission neutral alternative energy technologies. It would also save 2.5 million to 3 million lives a year through slashing water and air pollution and simultaneously slow global warming and the problems of climate change, and develop secure, reliable energy sources and at costs comparable with what we spend on energy today.

It sounds like a no-brainer. Why don't we do it?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

US Banks greenwashing with carbon principles says RAN report

Coal smells like profit - Bank of America protest
Banks have still got a long way to go to meet their own carbon principles says a new report from the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) in the US. Three leading banks put forward these carbon principles in February 2008 to make it tougher to finance conventional coal-fired plants in the US as a way to mitigate carbon emissions and climate change.

Six banks have now signed on to the Carbon principles, but the RAN report indicates adherence to the principles has been hollow and is just a greenwashing exercise by the banks.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Albedo Feedback: Climate Models under estimate loss of reflectivity in the Arctic


Loss of reflectivity in the Arctic is double the estimate used in current state-of-art climate models according to new analysis of the Northern Hemisphere's "albedo feedback" over a 30-year period.

The albedo feedback is the change in the reflectivity of surfaces in a constant reinforcing feedback loop. In the Arctic snow and ice is highly reflective. Global warming has reduced sea ice exposing darker ocean and increased the size of dark melt pools on the Greenland ice sheet, which then increases the warming effect on ice in a positive feedback.

"The cryosphere isn't cooling the Earth as much as it did 30 years ago, and climate model simulations do not reproduce this recent effect," said Karen Shell, an Oregon State University atmospheric scientist and one of the authors of the study. "Though we don't necessarily attribute this to global warming, it is interesting to note that none of the climate models used for the 2007 International Panel on Climate Change report showed a decrease of this magnitude."

Greenland sets a new melt record in 2010 - sea levels to rise



The chilly fact is that the Greenland ice cap is melting at an accelerated rate. The big melt achieved a new record in 2010 according to new research.

"This past melt season was exceptional, with melting in some areas stretching up to 50 days longer than average," said Dr. Marco Tedesco, Director of the Cryosphere Processes Laboratory at the City College of New York (CCNY - CUNY), who is leading a project studying variables that affect ice sheet melting. "Melting in 2010 started exceptionally early at the end of April and ended quite late in mid- September."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Atmospheric nuclear testing stagnated mid 20th century global warming



New scientific research from Japan puts forward that the stagnation in global warming in the mid twentieth century was caused by the atmospheric nuclear testing carried out between 1945 and 1980. It seems that nuclear winter actually occurred, although on just a small scale.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2010 equal warmest year on record globally, say NASA and NOAA



2010 Global surface temperatures matched 2005 as the equal warmest year on record according to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Global precipitation was also the wettest on record since 1900 according to NOAA.

Several oraganisations track global average temperatures using slightly different methodologies including the UK Met office, NASA, NOAA and the Japan Meteorological Organisation (JMO). In late December the JMO released it's data on global average surface temperatures finding that 2010 was the second hottest year on record behind 1998.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2010 wettest year on record globally, and the wettest for Queensland



2010 was the wettest year on record globally according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with Australia experiencing it's wettest September on record, and the wettest year for Queensland with annual rainfall double the average.

La Nina is associated with flooding rains in South Asia, Australia, Brazil and central America. Not only Queensland and Brisbane has felt the force of La Nina, one of the strongest on record. Heavy rain and record flooding has also occurred in Victoria. Overseas, La Nina has brought torrential rains, flooding and mudslides to Brazil killing over 600 people, to Sri Lanka killing 38 and displacing over a million people, and in the Philippines killing 42 people.

Friday, January 14, 2011

La Niña brings torrential rain, floods to Philippines killing 42


The floods in Queensland have been tragic - similar weather and climate factors have brought tragedy to the Philippines. This is the cost of global warming.

Torrential Rains and flooding have battered 25 provinces in the Philippines over the last two weeks. Flooding and mudslides have killed 42 people, with 8 injured and 5 people missing. A damage bill to agriculture, housing and infrastructure has been estimated to be 900 million pesos (about US$23million).

The massive flooding affected over 1.3 million people from 144 towns in the eastern provinces. 101 evacuation centres were set up to temporarily house people. More than 22,000 people remain in government-run temporary shelters while waiting for floodwaters to ebb, with nearly 1,300 houses damaged or destroyed.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Goodbye Mountain Glaciers, hello sea level rise

Fox Glacier
Photo: Fox Glacier in New Zealand (2007) by Andrew Turner

New research from Canada says that most mountain glaciers are on the retreat. Many glaciers in Europe, New Zealand, Africa and the US Rocky Mountains will lose up to 75 per cent of their mass by the end of the century. The study reveals that the melt from mountain glaciers will contribute up to 12 centimetres of sea level rise by 2100.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

La Niña event likely to be strongest on record



The current La Niña weather pattern, part of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (El Nino) weather cycle that impacts weather around the Pacific, indeed around the globe, is likely to be the strongest on record, according to Professor Neville Nicholls, current President of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Floods threaten Brisbane, one third of Queensland declared a disaster area



Over a third of the Australian state of Queensland has been declared a disaster area with the capital Brisbane on flood alert expected to experience it's worst flooding in living memory. Early report: Brisbane flood, from an island in suburbia. Total deaths from Queensland floods now number 27 - 10 from the regional floods in 2010 and 17 from the flooding in Toowoomba, Lockyer valley and Brisbane, with 14 people now listed as missing feared dead (revised down from 55).

This flood event follows widespread flooding across northern and central Queensland over the christmas holiday period that affected over 200,000 people, closing major highways and airports, closing most of the mines in the state, damaging crops, and causing billions of dollars worth of damage.

Friends of the Earth have warned about heavy metals released in flood waters and a Wiradjuri elder has warned of the risk of groundwater poisoning from gold mine at Lake Cowal if floodwaters breach the open cut mine owned by Canadian company Barrick Gold. The Great Barrier Reef is under threat from toxic pollution from floods according to the WWF.

The question that few people are publicly discussing is to what extent is climate change contributing to this disaster presently unfolding in Australia.

While Queensland is suffering disasterous floods, one of the world's largest insurers, Munich Re announced that the number of climate related disasters soared in 2010 killing as many as 295,000 people. "The high number of weather-related natural catastrophes and record temperatures both globally and in different regions of the world provide further indications of advancing climate change." said Munich Re in a press statement. Nine tenths of the disasters in 2010 were severe weather-related events.

Torrential rain drenched Toowoomba on Monday 10 January, a city located at 700 metres altitude high on the Great Dividing Range 125 kms west of Brisbane. Extreme flash flooding occurred in the suburbs and central business district. Reports of 150mm of rain falling in a 40 minute period quickly swamped stormwater drains and creeks and turned roads and suburban streets into raging rivers.

Flood photos | Youtube Video: Toowoomba Flood 2011.01.10 - cars swept away into East Creek near Chalk Drive.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Murray Darling Basin Plan needed despite floods says Conservation Foundation



While flood waters continue to rage in Queensland with more rain continuing to fall, debate on the Murray Darling Basin is stepping up. Flood waters are slowly making there way down the Murray Darling system to the Lower Lakes of the Coorong.

The Murray Darling Basin has experienced its wettest year on record and there are now calls for the basin water plan to be deferred and for dams to be built to mitigate future flooding. The Australian Conservation Foundation argues strongly the water basin needs to be reformed now.

“Basin communities depend on a healthy Murray-Darling. The Basin Plan must not be delayed, stymied and used as a political football or the Murray-Darling and its communities will lose out and continue facing uncertainty. The Murray-Darling needs a solution, not more delay and inaction.” said Ruchira Talukdar, ACF Healthy Ecosystems campaigner. in a media release.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A dangerous sting for agriculture: climate change implicated in bee decline



The first in depth national study of wild bees in the US has established that several species have suffered a severe decline in population and range. Honey bees are important for commercial crop pollination of fruit, nut, vegetable and seed production in the United States, indeed globally.

"We have 50 species of bumble bees in North America. We've studied eight of them and four of these are significantly in trouble," said University of Illinois entomology professor Sydney Cameron, who led the study. "They could potentially recover; some of them might. But we only studied eight. This could be the tip of the iceberg," she said.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sea Surface temperatures continue to climb around Australia



According to the The Bureau of Meteorology in the annual climate statement for 2010 released on January 5, 2010:


Based on preliminary data (to November 30), sea surface temperatures in the Australian region during 2010 were +0.54 °C above the 1961 to 1990 average. This is the warmest value on record for the Australian region. Individual high monthly sea surface temperature records were also set during 2010 in March, April, June, September, October and November. Along with favourable hemispheric circulation associated with the 2010 La Niña, very warm sea surface temperatures contributed to the record rainfall and very high humidity across eastern Australia during winter and spring. The most recent decade (2001−2010) was also the warmest decade on record for sea surface temperatures following the pattern observed over land.


According to the European Environment Agency "Global sea surface temperature is approximately 1 degree C higher now than 140 years ago, and is one of the primary physical impacts of climate change."

Queensland's big wet, disastrous floods and climate change

Rockhampton in flood

Have you noticed that no-one in the media is discussing Climate Change and the devastating Queensland floods? Floods that are directly affecting over 200,000 people, closing down three quarters of the coal mining industry in the state, plus major highways, rail links and public airports. Estimates of the damage are now running into the billions of dollars with at least 10 people killed so far.

The extent of the flooding has been described as a ''disaster of biblical proportions'' affecting an area the size of New South Wales, or of France and Germany combined, with at least 40 towns and cities suffering innundation. The flooding has set new river flood height records, with some saying the flood is the worst in living memory, at least a one in a 100 year event. Widespread flooding of mines has also caused Heavy metals to be released into flood waters.