Thursday, April 30, 2015
The original of this article was published at nofibs.com.au
The latest study of extreme weather events has concluded that 3 out of 4 heatwaves and extreme heat events and nearly one in five heavy rainfall events, on a global scale, can be attributed to human contributions to global warming through greenhouse gas emissions. As temperatures continue to rise, the percentage is set to increase even further.
The researchers looked at 'moderate' extremes, which they defined as events expected to occur on 1 in every 1,000 days under present conditions. It involved examining data on extreme weather events around the globe in a dataset going back more than 100 years, and using two dozen climate models.
There has been a growing ability to attribute some single extreme weather events via Fractional Attribution of Risk (FAR) to anthropogenic climate change. Some of the specific individual extreme heatwave and precipitation events that have directly been attributed include the flood risk in England and Wales in autumn 2000 (Pall et al 2013), the European heatwave of 2003 (Stott et al 2004), the 2010 Russian heat wave (Otto et al 2012), and Australia’s record summer temperatures of 2013 (Lewis and Karoly 2013).
This study, rather than looking at individual events, examined the change in extreme weather events on a global scale for the statistical attribution to climate change.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Pristine beaches along Eyre peninsula under potential threat if an oil spill occurs Photo: John Englart This original article was published at nofibs.com.au
The fifth anniversay of British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon oil spill has just passed. Could such a devastating oil spill happen in Australia? Conservationists with the Wilderness Society and other environmental groups say it is a distinct possibility, off Australia's southern shores in the Great Australian Bight. And it is British Petroleum (BP) again in the hot seat with exploration licences about to do some deep sea exploratory drilling.
On Monday April 20th activists from the Wilderness Society converted the statue of Colonel Light in Adelaide to a sea of black to imitate an oil spill. They were highlighting that BP is refusing to release oil spill modelling or emergency plans for their exploratory drilling in the Bight and the potential for catastrophic environmental damages to pristine ocean ecosystems and beaches on the South Australian coast.
Wilderness Society director, Peter Owen, told the ABC: "The potential of oil all over South Australia's beaches was not Colonel Light's vision for South Australia," he said. "This is high risk. Why are the people of South Australia being asked to carry the risk for these big companies whilst they refuse to disclose their oil spill modelling, their plans to respond to an emergency?"
"In order to get that approval they [BP] have to consult with the community yet they are refusing to disclose any oil spill modelling, they're refusing to disclose any oil spill emergency planning. They are not being transparent with the people of South Australia." said Owen.
"We are confident that when we publish the clear, complete and accessible summary, it will satisfy the needs of our stakeholders and inform discussion," a BP spokesperson told the ABC.
But oil spill modelling and emergency response plans still remain unavailable to the general public to assess.
Monday, April 20, 2015
This original article was published at nofibs.com.au
Australia is already feeling the pinch of economic and carbon transitions underway as the world inches closer to a climate agreement in Paris in December, 2015.
Our Prime Minister has backed coal as a path of human prosperity right at the moment when coal is rapidly becoming anaethema due to the toxic affect of coal on human health (See CAHA: Coal and Health in the Hunter: Lessons from one valley for the world) and greenhouse gas pollution causing climate change.
A report just released by Environment Victoria found that the social and health costs of coal in Victoria amounted to about $3.7 billion each year. Tom Arup and Adam Morton at the Age report on The hidden cost of the Hazelwood coal power plant. There is so much in cost being born by the taxpayer, while companies like GDF Suez, Energy Australia and AGL Energy rake in the profits, yet we can't manage to close a redundant, dirty, aging coal plant like Hazelwood.
Sunday, April 19, 2015
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.
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.
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 nofibs.com.au
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
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
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 nofibs.com.au
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
First published at nofibs.com.au
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).