Despite being one of the worst bushfires in Australian history, alarmingly, the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires of 2009, which killed 173 people, destroyed around 2,000 homes and incinerated millions of plants and animals, didn’t serve as a wake-up call.
The deeper we sink into denial, the more we commit ourselves to a reality where our children learn about environmental icons such as the Great Barrier Reef and our magnificent rainforests through history books, instead of being able to experience their wonder for themselves.
Choosing to turn away from this moment to act will be the ultimate betrayal of future generations.
THIS GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO BELIEVE SCIENTISTS AND WE ARE SUFFERING IN CONSEQUENCE!
*In discussing translations of the Bible, Matthew Vines indicates that the sort of same sex union which was referred to as unacceptable in the Bible was in fact pederasty or paedophilia, mistranslated, however, as homosexuality.
The LNP & Morrison Canter (ODT)
Jones is one of these illogical people. The problem is that he has been given a microphone to peddle his rubbish to thousands of listeners and give succour to far-right politicians who spruik similar rubbish in the party room.
“But really it’s no surprise considering Angus Taylor has continually argued against climate action and is part of a government that has continually lied about what their emissions data actually shows, which is that emissions are rising and we’re not on track to meet our international climate commitments.”
Apparently this government has a mandate to operate in secret and will continue to do so. (ODT
The Coalition’s Monash Forum has called for us to pull out of the Paris Agreement. We have reneged on our commitment to contribute to the UN Green Energy Fund. We have earned the Colossal Fossil Award for obstructing progress at climate change talks. Unlike other countries, we are using carryover credits in an accounting trick to make it look like we are meeting targets when we are not.
The Government, of course, blamed the drought which they also claimed neither to be an extraordinary event nor a man made regulatory failure. (ODT)
The CSIRO told the ABC that this increased regulation of river water and restricted water flow from low rainfall have caused an increased number of algal blooms in recent years in the Murray-Darling Basin.
“We’re really angry about it because we know that this is not a natural disaster, this is a man-made disaster,” said McBride.
“We really want to make sure that we change the way the lakes are managed so that we never see this again because it’s just heartbreaking.”
“You have scientists on both sides of it. My uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years, Dr. John Trump,” the president said. “And I didn’t talk to him about this particular subject, but I have a natural instinct for science, and I will say that you have scientists on both sides of the picture.”
After Australia cynically releases its catastrophic climate data the day before grand final weekend, Ian the Climate Denialist Potato holds a press conference
Let’s remind ourselves of the meaning of ‘zealot’. Historically, it denoted a member of a fanatical sect in Judea during the first century AD that militantly opposed the Roman domination of Palestine. Today it describes a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of religious, political, or other ideals.
We still have zealots in our midst. This piece exemplifies two instances of zealotry: the zealots that deny the reality of anthropogenic global warming, and those that cling tenaciously to trickle down economics.
Neither market forces, innovative business techniques, trickle-down economics nor individual determination can withstand drought. No matter what the marketeers throw at it, nothing can make it rain, and a failure to develop public policies which accept the forces of nature, will likely see off this current crop of right-wing nongs.
Almost as bad is the claim that ’99 per cent of scientists believe’ as if scientific truth is determined by votes rather than facts.”Votes? What votes?Abbott seemed to be suggesting that the 97 percent consensus (the 99 was a mistake by Abbott, it’s actually 97) was based on some bogus poll.Wrong.There was never any poll of scared scientists who pretended to be in furious agreement about climate change lest they be branded as heretics. In fact, the paper which first identified the 97 percent consensus was a 2013 survey of the scientific literature that was already out there.And what 97 percent of that scientific literature effectively said was: it’s happening and we’re causing it.
By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – – Eminent physicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s tweet pointing out that there are …
World powers line up against Donald Trump on climate change, reaffirming their support for efforts to fight global warming.
US President Donald Trump’s push to rejuvenate coal puts him and his America First policy at odds with the course of the rest of the world, writes Ian Verrender.
By Ad astra To whom do you believe I’m referring? There are no prizes for the correct answer! I’m referring to someone who I believe is guilty of immoral ignorance. His actions have the potential to destroy our civilization, not today or next week, but in the foreseeable future – we don’t know when, nor…
About 20,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes in northern New South Wales as flooding continues to hit the area
ATLANTA – Anchors at the Weather Channel are warning that thousands could still die as the result of Winter Storm Niko which is currently pounding the northeast.
Reporting from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, an area that was not getting any fucking snow at all at the time, anchor and Weather Channel resident lunatic Jim Cantore gleefully pointed out that thousands of people have been stranded by canceled flights, leaving them susceptible to frostbite, hypothermia, or instant death from the large number of lightning strikes accompanying this storm.
“Just look at Connecticut! It’s saturated with lightning strikes! And there’s more to come!” yelled a maniacal Cantore, while pointing a three iron at the sky to emphasize his point.
Cantore advised everyone within 500 miles of New York city to cower indoors like rats in a burrow in order to avoid the elements and extend their lives for a few precious hours.
He advised residents of Manhattan to seek shelter in outdated, vermin-infested 1950’s era fallout shelters deep below ground.
“The worst is yet to come,” said a smiling Cantore, doing his best impression of the Abominable Dr. Phibes.
“I feel certain that we’re going to see the body count rise on this one.”
ATLANTA – (CT&P) – Early this afternoon Weather Channel anchor and crazed lunatic Jim Cantore advised viewers in the southeastern United States to be sure that their wills were updated before Winter Storm Helena hits this evening.
“I can’t stress this enough: many of you people are fucking doomed,” said a gleeful Cantore.
“This storm packs quite a punch and it could be days for we dig out. If you’re old or infirm your best bet is to make sure your life insurance is paid up and your will is updated. You wouldn’t want your kids to have to pay to have you buried or cremated when the authorities finally find your decaying body, now would you?” said the maniacal meteorologist.
This isn’t the first time Cantore has lost his small mind during an extreme weather event. In 2010 the foreboding forecaster was treated for scrotal frostbite after coming unhinged and stripping off all his clothing during a thundersnow event.
Cantore closed his segment by advising viewers that were already feeling a little post-holiday depression to go ahead an commit suicide now in order to avoid the pain involved in freezing to death or skidding under a tanker truck, causing it to explode and slowly burning alive.
TALLAHASSEE – (CT&P) – At a press conference outside his bunker deep beneath the governor’s mansion, Florida Governor Rick Scott, surrounded by military and government officials who appeared to have been hypnotized, told reporters this morning that authorities were “hoping for the best while preparing for the worst” for the 113th time in less than 24 hours.
Pundits and pol watchers believe this sets a record for a governor saying the same fucking thing over and over again.
“We think this breaks the record set my Governor Brownback of Kansas when he said ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ 75 times in just three days as the state’s economy went in the toilet,” said Chris Hayes of MSNBC.
“Tea Party governors in particular tend to repeat the same phrase or sentence over and over and over again in hopes that the populace is ignorant enough to buy the bullshit they’re selling.
“This situation is really not that different; Scott is trying to convince the residents of Florida that he has some grasp of what the fuck is going on, which has never been true.”
ATLANTA – (CT&P) – The Weather Channel announced that because of the size and intensity of Hurricane Matthew management has deemed it necessary to pull its patented orgasmitron out of storage in the basement of their headquarters on Peachtree Street. “We just felt like it was the prudent thing to do,” said Weather Channel President David Clark.
“The last time I saw the team this horny was during Hurricane Katrina in 2005,” he said. “Katrina hit in August, and by May of 2006 the hospitals in metro Atlanta were literally overrun with newborns.
“It was one helluva party. By the time all the bodies were counted, we went through over three 55 gallon drums of cinnamon flavored Astroglide, twelve 32 oz containers of Studmaster Male Prolong Cayenne Pepper Sauce, an entire case of Viagra, and God knows how much alcohol, blow, and amphetamines.
“We hope the orgasmitron will help satisfy some of our female staff during the storm because frankly some of us are getting up there in age and we just don’t think we can keep up with a storm of this size.
“If anyone would like to help come by our offices. We have drop-off bins set out on the sidewalk for any lubricant, sex toys, or bondage costumes and equipment you may want to contribute.
“Don’t forget that we’re here to protect you, the public. The life you save may be your own!”
PEARLY GATES – (CT&P) – As part of an ongoing jihad on the people of Haiti, God has sent powerful Hurricane Matthew to drown as many innocent people as possible and set up favorable conditions for outbreaks of typhus, dysentery, and mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria, West Nile virus, yellow fever, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, and of course Zika.
Jehovah surrogate Pat Robertson told Wolf Blitzer of CNN that the Almighty Creator of the Universe also hoped that there would be extensive damage to an already decimated infrastructure followed by a shortage of food and potable water which would precipitate sporadic outbreaks of violence leading to even more deaths.
“The Good Lord was just not satisfied with the 2010 earthquake,” said a drooling Robertson, who is thought to be about 112 years old. “Sure, he murdered around 175,000 men, women, and children, but as he said at the time, he was ‘just getting started.’”
Blitzer asked Robertson why God hated Haitians so much that he was willing to kill babies in their cribs and drain innocent people of their precious bodily fluids until they died horrible deaths while lying in their own filth.
“Well, Haitians are a bunch of voodoo-worshiping negroes,” responded Robertson, as his head lolled to the right. “God is not that fond of black folks to begin with, and when you throw in all that voodoo shit it really pisses him off.”
Robertson went on to explain that after Haiti was destroyed, the hurricane will proceed to Cuba, where it will kill a bunch of godless commies, and ultimately end up wreaking havoc in Vermont, because it’s the home of Bernie Sanders, who is a fucking socialist.
Robertson also said that Hurricane Matthew will be followed up by hurricanes Mark, Luke, and John which will meander all over the Caribbean wiping out a bunch of atheists, agnostics, and Presbyterians, because God always hated John Calvin and “that stupid predestination thing.”
According to Robertson after the hurricane season is over God plans on getting back to murdering more of those idol-worshiping Nepalese.
It is looking ever-more likely that climate change is to be placed way down the order of business – at least for the major parties.
The Greens might be right that environmental protections in the TPP are as ‘weak as water’. Thom Mitchell reports.
TALLAHASSEE, CRETONIA – (CT&P) – Governor and ancient Aztec snake god Rick Scott has added to the list of terms and phrases that employees of the State of Florida are forbidden to use in official communications. Governor Scott is also backing a bill in the Florida legislature that would make use of certain terms by residents or visitors to the state punishable by up to two years in prison.
The dysfunctional state recently made national news again when it came to light that Scott had banned the use of “climate change” and “global warming” in any emails or in print. As if this was not ridiculous enough, Scott has moved to increase the list to almost 500 “objectionable” words and phrases.
The new list is so extensive it threatens to abolish the use of the English language within state organizations.
Some examples of the new forbidden words and phrases include “evolution,” “the big bang,” “union,” “Obamacare,” “Democrat,” “liberal,” “black,” “Hispanic,” “civil rights,” “atheist,” “homosexual,” “gay,” “cloudy,” “hurricane,” “sea weed,” “sink hole,” “meth lab,” “trailer park,” “man-eating shark,” and “human sacrifice,” just to name a few.
“Human sacrifice” was personally added by Governor Scott at the last-minute because he is extremely sensitive to the rumors circulating that he regularly removes the beating hearts of undocumented farm workers late at night in the basement of the Governor’s Mansion.
The new bill in the legislature, sponsored by Senator R. W. Scrotum (R-Panama City Beach), would expand the ban from state employees to include all residents and visitors to the insane asylum masquerading as a state.
“It’s high time we got a grip on all this sedition and traitorous talk going on down har,” said Scrotum. “We in the Republican Party know what’s best for Florida, and I’ll be goddammed if we’re gonna listen to any more of this unpatriotic garbage. If people can’t have the decency to just shut the fuck up and do what we say, well then they ain’t welcome here.”
Businesses who count on tourist dollars to operate successfully within the state have protested the ban as well as the new bill, but Governor Scott has remained unmoved, saying “We’ve got our priorities right in the GOP. The world was a much better place before the Enlightenment. Besides, I’ll be out of office before any negative effects from ban take place.”
Florida has long been the laughingstock of the country and is commonly known as “that penis-shaped dystopian hellscape down there,” and these new moves by Scott and the legislature will do nothing but reinforce that attitude.
There is hope however. In less than a hundred years the whole fucking place will be under three feet of water and the rest of America won’t have to worry about it anymore.
THE CABIN ANTHRAX, MURPHY, N.C. (CT&P) – A statement released this morning from the Criminally Negligent Parents Association announced that the annual Anti-Vaccination Convention and Voodoo Science Expo will be moved to Petersburg, Kentucky this year. The group was forced to find a new site for the event when it became apparent that the original choice, Disneyland, had become too dangerous to visit.
The anti-vaxxers will join the Dumb Ass Conspiracy Theorist’s League, the Climate Change Denier’s Guild, and the Open Carry Accidental Gunshot Wound Alliance at the Creation Museum in mid September in one big celebration of ignorance. The American Family Association has also changed the dates of its annual “Jesus Hates Fags” Homosexual Hatefest and Chili Cookoff to coincide with the event.
“We thought that combining our convention with those of like-minded organizations just made economic sense, and as far as we have been able to determine, the measles outbreak currently ravaging the west coast has not yet spread to the backwoods of Kentucky, so it should be safe,” said Jenny McCarthy, spokesperson for the organization of twits.
“The Creation Museum was the perfect choice,” said Glenn Beck, keynote speaker for the event. “Ken Ham has built a veritable altar to ignorance there in Petersburg. He, like me, has managed to build a profitable career on the utter ignorance of the American public.”
Turd McPherson, president of the Climate Change Denier’s Club, agreed. “Ken has done a great job building a child-friendly environment that erases 300 years of scientific progress. He’s gone to great lengths to replace it with superstitious nonsense out of a book written before we knew our ass from a hole in the ground.”
“We all know that the Bible says we can’t change the climate, just like we all know that Noah put giant dinosaurs on a lifeboat along with every other species of animal on the planet. It’s just common sense. Science is the real enemy in the modern world, and we have to fight it tooth and nail,” said McPherson.
The convention, which was originally scheduled for June, had to be delayed because federal authorities insisted on the erection of a giant electric fence encircling the museum and the entire city of Petersburg.
“We can’t take the risk that any pathogens might escape,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. “We’re coordinating with Homeland Security and FEMA in order to reduce the chance that we might have some sort of plague outbreak that could harm the citizens of our country who actually have functioning forebrains.”
“This combined convention will be the largest concentration of dolts, cretins, morons, and dunderheads in one location that the nation has seen since the 2010 National Tea Party Convention in Dimbulb, Texas,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “We have to be prepared for the worst.”
Group hopes to kick-start wind and solar projects that have stalled because of uncertainty over the renewable energy target
A group of Melbourne councils are banding together to bypass the renewable policies of the state and federal governments and directly appeal to clean-energy providers.
In what could evolve into a national initiative to directly boost renewable energy uptake, the City of Melbourne, City of Maribyrnong and City Of Yarra will open a dialogue with clean energy producers ahead of a potential full tender process.
The trio of councils have partnered with businesses including Mirvac and Federation Square for the project. Renewable providers, such as solar and wind farms, will be asked whether they can supply the group’s combined 100GWh worth of energy at similar or lower cost than fossil fuel providers.
This 100GWh is the equivalent to around 250,000 solar panels or 15 wind turbines.
The consortium hopes to find renewable energy projects that are ready to proceed but have been hindered by uncertainty over the renewable energy target, which has seen investment in the sector grind to a virtual halt.
Victoria’s renewable energy industry has also been hit by severe restrictions on new wind farm developments, allowing states such as South Australia surge ahead of it in terms of clean energy.
By joining together, councils and businesses can offer a reliable demand for renewable providers to allow their projects to proceed, while at the same time potentially driving down the cost for users.
The City of Melbourne has a goal of zero net emissions by 2020. This target is supplemented by a goal of sourcing 25% of electricity from renewable sources by 2018. Just 5% of this target has been achieved via rooftop solar panels in Melbourne’s CBD, prompting the council to look to large-scale renewable projects in other parts of the state.
City of Melbourne councillor Arron Wood said the new approach will help counteract the “worrying” renewable energy policies of both state and federal governments.
“We are literally going out to test the market and find out what the price is,” he told Guardian Australia. “Our hope is that they will be on a par with fossil fuels or cheaper, because then the business case becomes a no brainer because renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels in the long-term.
“There are certainly some worrying signs over the state government’s attitude to renewable energy. There are genuine business opportunities for the state and we’re saying we’re open for business for renewable energy.
“There’s been the removal of the carbon price and uncertainty over the RET, meaning that in quick time a $1bn industry has ground to a halt. We can demonstrate a model that isn’t just a purchase of green energy, it can drive investment in new renewable energy.”
Wood said he expected other councils in Melbourne and across Australia to look closely at the concept in order to bolster renewable uptake. The City of Sydney, for example, has a 30% renewable energy target by 2030.
“Most metropolitan councils in Australia have a renewable energy target,” he said. “Cities are well set-up to band together for large-scale renewable generation. I feel many of them would be interested in this.”
WestWind, a German wind farm developer that has two approved projects in western Victoria, said it welcomed the initiative.
Tobi Geiger, managing director of WestWind, said there should be plenty of interest from solar and wind providers.
“I’d say there are around 10 projects in Victoria that would go for it, predominantly wind because we are blessed with wind all year round in Victoria,” he told Guardian Australia.
“We’ve had to wind back activities quite dramatically because of uncertainty over the future of the RET. We’ve been Abbott-proofing our company by looking at opportunities in renewable energy that don’t require government support.
“I think this kind of partnership will do well as long as we have a recalcitrant government. There’s a lack of government leadership so councils are stepping into the vacuum. The more Neanderthals that go back to fossil fuels, the more of these things we’ll see.”
What a week! First President Barack Obama announces a massive climate agreement with China designed to lower both countries’ carbon emissions while doubling down on clean energy development. Now this morning, the New York Times is reporting that the president will soon announce a $3 billion contribution to the Green Climate Fund, a UN-administered account that will help developing countries clean their energy sectors and adapt to the impacts of global warming.
A $3 billion pledge from the United States would double the size of the fund; the biggest donations up to this point were $1 billion each from France and Germany. More countries are expected to make commitments at a UN meeting in Berlin next week. The fund’s stated goal is to reach $15 billion before a key meeting next month in Lima, Peru.
Obama’s pledge “is a strong and important signal to developing countries that the US is serious ahead of climate negotiations in 2015,” said Alex Doukas, a sustainable finance analyst at the World Resources Institute.
From the Times:
It is not clear whether Mr. Obama’s $3 billion pledge will come from existing sources of funding, or whether he will have to ask Congress to appropriate the money. Since 2010, the Obama administration has spent about $2.5 billion to help poor countries adapt to climate change and develop new clean sources of energy, but Republicans are certain to target additional requests for money linked to climate change and foreign aid.
So there are still some details to work out. But like the US-China climate deal, the most immediate impact of this pledge announcement will be to encourage other countries to up the ante on their own commitments.
Wednesday’s news doesn’t mean that global climate negotiations will succeed. But it means they’re no longer guaranteed to fail.
I’ve been offline for many hours and am just now seeing the announcements from Beijing. The United States and China have apparently agreed to do what anyone who has thought seriously about climate has been hoping for, for years. As the No. 1 (now China) and No. 2 carbon emitters in the world, and as the No. 1 (still the US) and No. 2 economies, they’ve agreed to new carbon-reduction targets that are more ambitious than most people would have expected.
More coverage of the historic US-China climate deal.
We’ll wait to see the details—including how an American president can make good on commitments for 2025, when that is two and possibly three presidencies into the future, and when in the here-and-now he faces congressional majorities that seem dead-set against recognizing this issue. It’s quaint to think back on an America that could set ambitious long-term goals—creating Land-Grant universities, developing the Interstate Highway System, going to the moon—even though the president who proposed them realized that they could not be completed on his watch. But let’s not waste time on nostalgia.
Before we have all the details, here is the simple guide to why this could be very important.
1) To have spent any time in China is to recognize that environmental damage of all kinds is the greatest threat to its sustainability—even more than the political corruption and repression to which its pollution problems are related. (I’ll say more about the link some other time, but you could think of last week’s reports that visiting groups of senior Chinese officials have bought so much illegal ivory in Tanzania that they’ve driven the black market price to new highs.)
You can go on for quite a while with a political system like China’s, as it keeps demonstrating now in its 65th year. But when children are developing lung cancer, when people in the capital city are on average dying five years too early because of air pollution, when water and agricultural soil and food supplies are increasingly poisoned, a system just won’t last. The Chinese Communist Party itself has recognized this, in shifting in the past three years from pollution denialism to a “we’re on your side to clean things up!” official stance.
Analytically these pollution emergencies are distinct from carbon-emission issues. But in practical terms pro-environmental steps by China are likely to help with both.
2) To have looked at either the numbers or the politics of global climate issues is to recognize that unless China and the US cooperate, there is no hope for anyone else. Numbers: These are far and away the two biggest sources of carbon emissions, and China is the fastest-growing. As John Kerry points out in an op-ed in tomorrow’s NYT, reductions either of them made on its own could just be wiped out unless the other cooperates. Politics: As the collapse of the Copenhagen climate talks five years ago showed, the rest of the world is likely to say, “To hell with it” if the two countries at the heart of this problem can’t be bothered to do anything.
We see our own domestic version of this response when people say, “Why go through the hassle of a carbon tax, when the Chinese are just going to smoke us to death anyway?” This new agreement does not mean that next year’s global climate negotiations in Paris will succeed. But it means they are no longer guaranteed to fail.
3) China is a big, diverse, churning, and contradictory place, as anyone who’s been there can detail for hours. But for the past year-plus, the news out of China has been consistent, and bad.
Many people thought, hoped, or dreamt that Xi Jinping would be some kind of reformer. Two years into his watch, his has been a time of cracking down rather than loosening up. Political enemies and advocates of civil society are in jail or in trouble. Reporters from the rest of the world have problems even getting into China, and reporters from China itself face even worse repression than before. The gratuitous recent showdown with Hong Kong exemplifies the new “No More Mr. Nice Guy” approach.
A nationalistic, spoiling-for-a-fight tone has spilled over into China’s “diplomatic” dealings too. So to have this leader of China making an important deal with an American president at this stage of his political fortune is the first news that even seems positive in a long while.
We’ll wait to see the details. But at face value, this is better news—about China, about China and America, and about the globe—than we’ve gotten for a while.
GREENBELT, Md. — I’M a climate scientist and a former astronaut. Not surprisingly, I have a deep respect for well-tested theories and facts. In the climate debate, these things have a way of getting blurred in political discussions.
In September, John P. Holdren, the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, was testifying to a Congressional committee about climate change. Representative Steve Stockman, a Republican from Texas, recounted a visit he had made to NASA, where he asked what had ended the ice age:
“And the lead scientist at NASA said this — he said that what ended the ice age was global wobbling. That’s what I was told. This is a lead scientist down in Maryland; you’re welcome to go down there and ask him the same thing.
“So, and my second question, which I thought it was an intuitive question that should be followed up — is the wobbling of the earth included in any of your modelings? And the answer was no…
“How can you take an element which you give the credit for the collapse of global freezing and into global warming but leave it out of your models?”
That “lead scientist at NASA” was me. In July, Mr. Stockman spent a couple of hours at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center listening to presentations about earth science and climate change. The subject of ice ages came up. Mr. Stockman asked, “How can your models predict the climate when no one can tell me what causes the ice ages?”
I responded that, actually, the science community understood very well what takes the earth into and out of ice ages. A Serbian mathematician, Milutin Milankovitch, worked out the theory during the early years of the 20th century. He calculated by hand that variations in the earth’s tilt and the shape of its orbit around the sun start and end ice ages. I said that you could think of ice ages as resulting from wobbles in the earth’s tilt and orbit.
The time scales involved are on the order of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years. I explained that this science has been well tested against the fossil record and is broadly accepted. I added that we don’t normally include these factors in 100-year climate projections because the effects are too tiny to be important on such a short time-scale.
And that, I thought, was that.
So I was bit surprised to read the exchange between Dr. Holdren and Representative Stockman, which suggested that at best we couldn’t explain the science and at worst we scientists are clueless about ice ages.
We aren’t. Nor are we clueless about what is happening to the climate, thanks in part to a small fleet of satellites that fly above our heads, measuring the pulse of the earth. Without them we would have no useful weather forecasts beyond a couple of days.
These satellite data are fed into computer models that use the laws of motion — Sir Isaac Newton’s theories — to figure out where the world’s air currents will flow, where clouds will form and rain will fall. And — voilà — you can plan your weekend, an airline can plan a flight and a city can prepare for a hurricane.
Satellites also keep track of other important variables: polar ice, sea level rise, changes in vegetation, ocean currents, sea surface temperature and ocean salinity (that’s right — you can accurately measure salinity from space), cloudiness and so on.
These data are crucial for assessing and understanding changes in the earth system and determining whether they are natural or connected to human activities. They are also used to challenge and correct climate models, which are mostly based on the same theories used in weather forecast models.
This whole system of observation, theory and prediction is tested daily in forecast models and almost continuously in climate models. So, if you have no faith in the predictive capability of climate models, you should also discard your faith in weather forecasts and any other predictions based on Newtonian mechanics.
The earth has warmed nearly 0.8 degrees Celsius over the last century and we are confident that the biggest factor in this increase is the release of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning. It is almost certain that we will see a rise of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) before 2100, and a three-degree rise (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher is a possibility. The impacts over such a short period would be huge. The longer we put off corrective action, the more disruptive the outcome is likely to be.
It is my pleasure and duty as a scientist and civil servant to discuss the challenge of climate change with elected officials. My colleagues and I do our best to transmit what we know and what we think is likely to happen.
The facts and accepted theories are fundamental to understanding climate change, and they are too important to get wrong or trivialize. Some difficult decisions lie ahead for us humans. We should debate our options armed with the best information and ideas that science can provide.
The ‘Cut and Paste’ section of The Australian on October 8 had the following headline:
So who’s in denial now about what the science is saying about global warming?
It was followed by the sub-heading:
Here at the sheltered workshop we’re enjoying reading the reports from NASA and the IPCC.
‘Cut and Paste’ was principally devoted to attacking my review of Paul Kelly’s Triumph and Demise. The plain suggestion of the headline and the sub-heading is that I am in denial about what the science is now saying about global warming and that both NASA and the IPCC have joined the ranks of the climate change sceptics.
In the age of the internet anyone can discover the current position of NASA and the IPCC on global warming in a matter of moments.
Here are some statements of the current position of the IPCC, all taken from the Summary for Policymakers of the first volume of the IPCC’s Fifth Report published earlier this year:
Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentration of greenhouse gases have increased.
Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any previous decade since 1850…
Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence). It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0-700 m.) warmed from 1971 to 2010…and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971.
Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence).
And here is the current position of NASA. All of the following quotes come from its website:
Certain facts about Earth’s climate are not in dispute:
Sea Level Rise—Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century.
Global Temperature Rise—All three major global temperature reconstructions show that the Earth has warmed since 1880. Most of the warming has occurred since the 1970s, with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981…
Warming Oceans—The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.
Consensus—Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.
It is one thing for The Australian to publish the opinions of dozens of people without scientific knowledge or capacity, like the stockbroker, Maurice Newman, who think they have a firmer grasp on the question of global warming than ninety seven per cent of climate scientists.
This is merely risible.
It is another thing for The Australian to try to lead its readers to believe that the climate scientists represented in the reports of the IPCC or at NASA are now climate sceptics.
This is quite simply an outrageous lie.
It is little wonder that The Australian is now waging a war against the Australian Press Council, the body empowered to expose unethical and unprofessional behaviour of this kind.
Some of the nation’s top scientists have warned short-term political fixes pose a threat to both the environment and the nation’s future prosperity.
The first major report in more than a decade from the influential Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists suggests the Federal Government eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and provide tax breaks to landowners who work to protect threatened species and ecosystems.
“We’re increasingly seeing the consequences of our current short-termism and the cost that will impose on this society in the future, because, in the long run, environmental degradation will come at an enormous cost,” Wentworth Group director, Peter Cosier, said.
The report included contributions from former treasury secretary Ken Henry and Clean Energy Finance Corporation director Martijn Wilder.
The group said the Abbott Government’s tentative steps towards reforming the tax system provided an opportunity to better protect the environment.
“Tax is an effective way [to protect the environment] because it’s something you have to pay and it’s a measure which governments use all the time to pull triggers in the economy,” Mr Wilder said.
“There’s an opportunity here to look at our tax system over the long-term to make it such that it has measures that are beneficial to the environment and the economy.”
There’s an opportunity here to look at our tax system over the long-term to make it such that it has measures that are beneficial to the environment and the economy.Martijn Wilder
The report recommends removing fossil fuel subsidies and instead paying farmers, indigenous communities and other landholders to restore and protect environmental assets.
“A farmer may take particular steps to look after and manage their land in a more sustainable fashion and by doing that they may be rewarded with some sort of tax concession,” Mr Wilder said.
Professor Bruce Thom, a founding member of the group, said with climate change predicted to bring more extreme heat, bushfires, and damaging storms, smarter planning decisions need to be made now.
“We spend 10 times more on recovery after a disaster than we spend on mitigating their impacts,” Professor Thom said.
He said he believed preparing communities for climate change has not been well coordinated to date between different tiers of government.
Professor Thom said recent discussions about tax and federalism should be expanded to include the management of the natural environment.
“The Federal Government is the driver of the economy and the states are the deliverers,” he said.
“We feel that all three levels of government must be closely working together in better managing our natural capital for the long-term future.”
The authors cite advice from the Productivity Commission, Treasury, and the Garnaut Review that an emissions trading scheme remains the most cost-effective way for Australia to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A copy of the Wentworth Group’s report will be sent to every state environment minister and every federal MP.