Sunday, July 31, 2011

Smears on integrity of Polar wildlife scientist a prelude to Arctic Oil Drilling



A misconduct complaint has been filed against the US Interior Department on behalf of an Arctic scientist who has been under investigation since the start of the year. The scientist, Dr. Charles Monnett, PhD, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) formerly known as the Minerals Management Service, has not been told why he is under investigation or what the allegations are against him, although a record of interview from February this year seemed to question his scientific integrity by focussing on a 2006 scientific paper co-written with Jeffrey Gleason - Observations of mortality associated with extended open-water swimming by polar bears in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea.

Related: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility - Arctic Scientist protests witch hunt on polar bear paper

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tim DeChristopher jailed for two years and fined $10,000 for climate civil disobedience

On July 26, 2011 in the Salt Lake City Federal courthouse Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years prison and a $10,000 fine for making false bids as 'Bidder 70' in disrupting auctions of public lands by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in December 2008 in the final days of the Bush Administration. DeChristopher was successful in 22 bids amounting to $1.8million and caused the prices to be bid up on many other parcels in bidding among the oil companies.

DeChristopher even offered an initial payment within two weeks to the BLM, but this was refused. Many of the parcels of land auctioned were subsequently ruled invalid by the Obama Adminstration, which underlines the injustice of this indictment.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Impacts of Climate change on the NSW South Coast and Illawarra Regions



A new report by the Climate Commission says the Illawarra region and South Coast of New South Wales highlights the increasing risks of the impacts of climate change. These impacts include an increase in the likelihood of large and intense fires as temperatures increase, rising sea levels causing coastal flooding of buildings and infrastructure, changing rainfall patterns and more intense storms increasing the dangers of severe flooding, and impacts to the regional biodiversity.

Professor Will Steffen, Climate Commissioner and author of the report, said "The evidence for climate change is overwhelming and clear. This report shows that the NSW South Coast and the Illawarra region are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lethal heat wave hits the United States



Over fourteen hundred maximum temperature records have been broken or tied across the United States so far this July as a heatwave lingers from the mid-western and southern states and expands to encompass the eastern states. High humidity accompanies the high temperatures making the heat further unbearable. Little relief is being found overnight with highest minimum temperatures recorded also breaking new records: with 1,951 new records and 1,421 tied records to 21st July.

Related: Human health limits of heat stress with climate change | The US 'normal climate' just got hotter | Higher Temperatures and Crop yields in the US

Platypus feeling the heat of Climate change



Some of Australia's most iconic animals are feeling the heat of climate change and global warming. Scientists have already reported that Koalas face starvation, extinction due to climate change and now it seems the Platypus is under threat due to increasing summer temperatures.

The video above of a platypus seen feeding mid-afternoon surrounded by half a dozen people watching is unusual. Platypus are generally nocturnal and shy creatures usually glimpsed at dawn feeding in streams and rivers.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Deforestation in Sarawak and Climate Change


Caption: Comparison of absolute forest area and deforestation rate trends for peat swamp forest (top) and all forest in Sarawak including peat swamp forest (bottom) during 2005-2010. (Sarvision 2011)

A report by Wetlands International in February reported on the Borneo Orangutan Survival website reports "Two thirds of Sarawak's peatlands were until recently covered by thick, biodiversity-rich rainforest. Between 2005-2010 almost 353,000 hectare of the one million hectare peatswamp forests were opened up at high speed; largely for palm oil production. In just 5 years time, almost 10% of all Sarawak's forests and 33% of the peatswamp forests have been cleared. Of this, 65% was for conversion to palm oil production. (2011; Sarvision, Impact of oil palm plantations on peatland conversion in Sarawak 2005-2010.)

Marcel Silvius from Wetlands International said: "As the timber resource has been depleted the timber companies are now engaging in the oil palm business, completing the annihilation of Sarawak's peat swamp forests."

Conservationists arrested protesting logging in Tasmania and Sarawak by Malaysian Company Ta Ann



Conservationists have today participated in a protest on Hobart's wharf, where a vessel is being loaded for the Malaysian logging company Ta Ann. The protest highlights the ongoing loss of high conservation value temperate forests in Tasmania and the rapacious logging of tropical rainforests of Borneo and destructon of habitat for Orangutan and dispossession of the indigenous Penan people from their ancestral forests and lands.

"Four conservationists have attached themselves to the vessel, we are participating in today's non violent protest to highlight the ongoing loss of high conservation value forests," Huon Valley Environment Centre's Jenny Weber said.

Youtube video | Photos of the action

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Forests play a major role as carbon sink say scientists

The world's forests remove over one quarter of current annual human carbon emissions from the atmosphere each year, the equivalent of about 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon according to the latest published scientific research. An international team of scientists, including from the US Forests Service and the Australian CSIRO, have quantified the greenhouse gas carbon sink provided by the world's tropical, temperate and boreal forests.

"This is really a timely breakthrough with which we can now clearly demonstrate how forests and changes in landscape such as wildfire or forest regrowth impact the removal or release of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2)," says Dr Pep Canadell, CSIRO co-author of the paper: A Large and Persistent Carbon Sink in the World's Forests. "What this research tells us is that forests play a much larger role as carbon sinks as a result of tree growth and forest expansion."

Friday, July 15, 2011

4 Degrees or more? - Science into Policy: Securing a Clean Energy Future for Australia - speech by Greg Combet

In an early morning session on Thursday the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, addressed the Four degrees or more? conference and spoke on the scientific imperatives driving the Government to price carbon and outlined the Government's carbon pricing policy and addressed some of the consequences of that policy for science and innovation.

Despite the policy failing to match the emissions reductions that are needed to close the Global Emissions Gap to limit temperatures to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius of global warming, most of those present saw the policy as necessary first steps and were impressed with the multifaceted comprehensive features which will help to decarbonise the economy and drive innovation towards clean energy to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Here is a transcript of his full speech.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

4 Degrees or More? Climate Change: The Critical Decade - a speech by Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber


This was the 1st keynote address to the Four degrees or more? conference Australia in a hot world which is currently meeting in Melbourne. After a day and a half of listening to climate scientists detailing the present climate impacts and future projections, understandably I, and many others, felt a little depressed.

But most of these scientists and other delegates are possessed of a human optimism that the challenge can be overcome. That human society has the technical and engineering capability to avoiding a 4 degree or higher world, to limit global warming to 2 degrees celsius as agreed to in Copenhagen in 2009 and affirmed in Cancun in 2010.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Australian Carbon pricing policy a small start to tackling climate change

On Sunday the Gillard Federal Government announced it's carbon tax at $23 a tonne of carbon to be imposed on the 500 largest carbon polluting companies starting from July 1st, 2012. More than half the money raised will be returned to low and middle income earners, pensioners and retirees as compensation. Additional packages include $10 billion renewable energy and low emissions technology fund, substantial assistance packages to 'trade exposed' industries, $1.9 billion to fund carbon geo-sequestration in the land sector, and a $1 billion biodiversity fund.

The initial rate of $23 a tonne will be indexed at 2.5% for 3 years before an Emissions Trading Scheme is introduced in 2015 with a cap and floor price set by the Government. An independent Climate Change Authority will be established to recommend targets when the emissions trading scheme commences to take some of the politics out of the process. A target of 80% emissions reduction from 2000 levels by 2050 will be set.

See also: Carbon price in a nutshell according to the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. Full Details are available on the Government compensation package and of the carbon price modelling from Treasury Department.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Carbon price in a nutshell according to the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC)



Australian Prime Minister Julia Guillard announced the major details of the carbon price (carbon tax) at midday today flanked by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet and Treasurer Wayne Swan. The package entails substantial compensation to middle and low income households, taxpayers, pensioners and self funded retirees. It also establishes a $10billion renewable energy fund. More on the details and responses later. Here is a short video from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition explaining the policy in a nutshell.

"Using the latest in Power Point technology, the AYCC communications team has been up all night preparing this short explanation of how the Gillard Government’s announced carbon price will work." explained Glen in posting this video on the AYCC website.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Scientist: Less rain across southern Australia a long term climate trend

Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is increasing atmospheric temperatures changing the dynamic of the sub-tropical jet stream and thus the number and intensity of storms bringing autumn and winter rainfall to southern Australia, according to CSIRO climate scientist Dr Jorgen Frederiksen. He was addressing the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics conference in Melbourne this week regarding recent research on changes to atmospheric circulation, storm intensity and reduction in winter rainfall in Australia.

Warming Arctic air temperatures causing less snow, more rain, faster ice melt

Arctic air temperatures are warming faster than anywhere else on Earth. Although the level of precipitation is remaining unchanged, there is reduced snowfall in summer which is being replaced by increasing rain. The loss of summer snow and increase in rain is resulting in a positive feedback mechanism increasing warming and melting of the Arctic ice.

We are already witnessing an increase in the Albedo feedback mechanism - loss of reflectivity in the arctic leading to more warming and greater ice melt. Research published early in 2011 revealed Loss of reflectivity in the Arctic is double the estimate used in climate models. With the change in precipitation we have a further feedback mechanism contributing to Arctic warming and melting of snow and sea ice.

Friday, July 8, 2011

'The carbon tax' launches on Sunday - satire by Clarke and Dawe



Some satirical commentary by comedians John Clarke and Brian Dawe on the launch of the Carbon tax for Australia. Originally aired on The 7.30 Report on Thursday July 7, 2011.

The US 'normal climate' just got hotter

For the USA the 'normal climate' just got warmer. Every decade the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) updates a range of climate measures averaged over the previous 30 years. These measures are called the climate normals.

From July 2011 the latest climate normals will be for the 30 years from 1981 to 2010. Climate measures for the 1970s has been dropped and the first decade of the 21st century, the hottest on record has been added. This has resulted in both maximum temperatures and minimum temperatures being about 0.5F warmer on average in the new normals. "The climate of the 2000s is about 1.5 degree F warmer than the 1970s, so we would expect the updated 30-year normals to be warmer,” said Thomas R. Karl, L.H.D., National Climate Data Centre director.


Caption: Comparing average temperatures year round, every state experienced warmer temperatures in 1981–2010 compared to 1971–2000. Image by NOAA.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tony Abbott arguing for a carbon tax in 2009



This is Tony Abbott in 2009, denying climate change, arguing against the 'complex' CPRS scheme and arguing for a 'simple carbon tax'. At least former leader Malcolm Turnbull was approaching climate change action in a bipartisan way. Abbott doesn't even have the intellectual rigour to appreciate climate science and the impacts already being felt in a warming world.

Victorian Government needs to come clean on plan to achieve 20 percent emissions cut by 2020



On July 1st 2011 the Victorian Climate Change Act became law. It was passed last year with bipartisan support. The Act sets into law that Victoria will cut the state's emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 based on year 2000 emissions baseline and empowers the Environment Protection Authority to regulate emissions from industry.