Saturday, June 28, 2008

World might have already reached the tipping point of climate change

June 28th, 2008

Washington, June 28 (ANI): Climate experts have warned that the world might have already reached the tipping point of climate change, where immediate actions needed to be done to avert the effects of global warming.

According to a report in Discovery News, the scientist who first put forward this theory is NASA climate scientist James Hansen.

Though Hansen had earlier warned about the dangers of climate change in 1988, his latest theory determines that we have used up all slack in the schedule for actions needed to defuse the global warming time bomb.

Hansens message painted a stark and urgent picture of a world already past the point where significant damage would occur.

According to Hansen, the safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide should be no more than 350 ppm (parts per million), and it may be less.

This recommended level is less than the amount currently in the atmosphere - 385 ppm.

Already, arid lands are expanding, glaciers are receding, and Arctic sea ice is shrinking, driven by cycles of positive feedback, where melting leads to more warming of the exposed dark ocean water, which leads to more melting, according to Hansen.

As a result, without any additional greenhouse gases, the Arctic soon will be ice-free in the summer, he added.
When Discovery News got in touch with other scientists, they more or less agreed with Hansen on his hypothesis.
While other scientists agree that 350 ppm is a safer target that increases the likelihood we will avoid many of the negative effects of climate change, some also think its unrealistic.

Three hundred and fifty is impossible. Were going to overshoot 350 and 450 and probably 550, though I sure hope not, according to climatologist Stephen Schneider of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

My cynical scenario is that there will be more Katrinas, massive fires, melting of the Arctic, and people will say, Oh my God, what have we done. Wed better undo this, he said.

Such catastrophes could finally spark the dramatic change thats needed, if we dont take action sooner of our own accord, he added.

My view is that weve probably passed some tipping points. Weve entered some realms of irreversibility. There are probably many more, but we dont know where they are, said John Harte of the University of California, Berkeley.

Many scientists have agreed that the problem is urgent and that not doing anything will lead to disaster, which includes rising sea levels, food shortages, spread of infectious diseases and extinctions.

We know that if we dont take action, it will be a disaster. Thats all we need to know, said Harte.

North Korea blows up its nuclear cooling tower

North Korea destroyed the most visible symbol of its nuclear weapons program Friday, blasting apart the cooling tower at its main atomic reactor in a sign of its commitment to stop making plutonium for atomic bombs.

'Saving God's Creation'

67% of Americans said they care about the environment because it is God's creation.

This was the finding according to the Sierra Club report:

Faith in Action: Communities of Faith Bring Hope for the Planet

USA today reporting here:

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Pope believes in Global Warming !!!


Monday, June 23, 2008

"global warming time bomb"

New warning from US climate change prophet

Andrew Revkin, Washington
June 24, 2008

TWENTY years ago yesterday, James Hansen, a climate scientist at NASA, told the world that he was "99%" certain that humans were already warming the climate.

"The greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now," Dr Hansen said then, referring to a string of warm years and the accumulating blanket of heat-trapping carbon dioxide and other gases emitted mainly by the burning of fossil fuels and forests.

To many observers of environmental history, that was the first time global warming moved from being a looming issue to breaking news. Dr Hansen's statement to a Senate committee helped propel the first pushes for legislation and an international treaty to cut emissions of greenhouse gases. A treaty was enacted and an addendum, the Kyoto Protocol, was added.

Even as the scientific picture of a human-heated world has solidified, emissions of the gases have continued to rise.

A series of events around Washington will commemorate Dr Hansen's appearance before the Senate committee. Dr Hansen, 67, was to appear before a House committee on global warming overnight. He planned to testify that it was almost, but not quite, too late to start defusing what he calls the "global warming time bomb".

He will offer a prescription for emissions cuts and a warning on the risks of further inaction.
"If we don't begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the next several years, and really on a very different course, then we are in trouble," Dr Hansen said in New York at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which he has directed since 1981. "Then the ice sheets are in trouble. Many species on the planet are in trouble."

In his testimony, Dr Hansen said, he will say that the next US president faces a unique opportunity to galvanise the country around the need for a transformed, non-polluting energy system.

Many climate experts say Dr Hansen, despite some faults, has been an essential prodder of the public and scientific conscience.

Jerry Mahlman, who recently retired from a long career in climatology, said he disagreed with some of Dr Hansen's characterisations of the climate problem and his ideas for solutions. "On the whole, though, he's been helpful," Dr Mahlman said. "He pushes the edge, but most of the time it's pedagogically sound."

Activists say that history will see Dr Hansen's 1988 testimony as a turning point - a moment when the word "if" started to disappear from the debate on climate change.

"Before Jim Hansen's testimony, global climate change was not on the political agenda. It was something that a few environmentalists and a few politicians … were talking about," said Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute, an environmental group.

"Hansen was clear, explicit and unequivocal," he said. "It put global climate change at the centre of the discussion."


Friday, June 20, 2008

Frog of the day . . .

I took this photo when I was on my ecology fieldtrip.

Not sure what sort of frog it is . . . any suggestions??

If you enjoyed this post, please check out:

Penguin Protest

Random Man supports the actions of this brave penguin !!
When the brave penguin was asked "what it was all about?", he replied

"Please reduce your carbon emissions."

The brave penguin said you can help save vital ecosystems (including his home) by:

Eating less meat

Think about cutting down on your meat intake or choose meat that has a lower carbon footprint. Vegetarians don't eat meat at all (well some only eat fish or only eat eggs or only eat chips that were cooked in animal fat) and vegans don't eat meat and don't use animal products such as leather or animal fats (well). Thinking more about what you eat and where it came from is a good start. Eating free range rather than caged eggs seems to have started to gain popularity. So more people are starting to think about these complex issues when it comes to what they eat.

Reduce unnecessary consumption

Do you really NEED those new shoes or do you just WANT them?

Driving less

Some suggestions may include walking for short trips or riding your bike on short to mid-range journeys or perhaps planning better use of the car.

Recycling, repairing and reusing things.

Heaps of things can be recycled (e.g. paper or glass). Repairing things can often save you money (rather than simply throwing it away because it is broken). Reusing things can also give them a longer life. Be creative!

Comments are most welcome !!

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Saving the Superb Parrot

Gorilla Slaughter

Poor Turtle

Penguin Protest

Experts warn species in peril from climate change

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Total Australian Emissions 2004

Hmmm, interesting . . . stationary energy (which includes electricity production among other things) is responsible for 52% and agriculture also seems to produce a lot of emisssions at 17% of the total.

Orange Bellied Parrot

On the brink of extinction the orange-bellied parrot has been ranked as one of the world's rarest and most endangered species. The orange-bellied parrot is a migratory bird, which breeds only in coastal south-west Tasmania and spends the winter in coastal Victoria and South Australia. It nests in hollows in eucalypt trees which grow adjacent to its feeding plains. In early October the birds arrive in the south west and depart after the breeding season usually in March and April.

It feeds on the seeds of several sedges and heath plants, including buttongrass. Its main food preferences are found in sedgelands which have not been burned for between 3-15 years. Also included in the diet are seeds of three Boronia species and the everlasting daisy Helichrysum pumilum. After breeding, migrating birds move gradually northwards up the west coast, through the Hunter Group and King Island in Bass Strait and on to the mainland. On the journey the birds usually feed on beach-front vegetation including salt tolerant species such as sea rocket Cakile maritima. They also eat various coastal native and introduced grasses.

The orange-bellied parrot is approximately 20 cm long, a little larger than a budgerigar. Its plumage is bright grass-green above and mostly yellow below with a bright orange patch in the centre of the lower belly. It has a bright azure blue patch on the outer wing and a blue bar across the forehead above the nostrils.

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Yellow crazy ants on the march in Australia

Australia is being threatened by the invasion of the Yellow Crazy ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes). The ant is recognised as one of the world's worst invaders by the Global Invasive Species Programme, and represents a major environmental and economic threat.
"The density of foraging worker ants in super-colonies is amazing, reaching around 1000 per square metre or 79m per hectare of bush," explained Dr Ben Hoffmann, senior research fellow for CSIRO (
"They are a serious pest to agriculture as they cause outbreaks of sap-sucking insects which harm plants."
The Yellow Crazy ant, believed to have originated from India, was accidentally introduced to Australia 60 to 70 years ago.
Native species are at risk including red land crabs (a keystone species in the forest ecology by digging burrows, turning over the soil, and fertilising it with their droppings), whose numbers have fallen by 30 per cent since super-colonies were first reported in 1989.
The ants are also a threat to human health as their acid spray can make people and animals blind if people, particularly children, accidentally rub it into their eyes.

Credit: CSIRO

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

China, US sign 10-year energy, environment framework

Here is some info on the United States and China signing an environmental and economic framework, which has 5 goals:
1) Clean, efficient and secure electricity production and transmission
2) Clean water
3) Clean air
4) Clean and efficient transportation
5) Conservation of forest and wetland ecosystems
Here is some of the story from the China Daily(19th June 2008)
China and the United States signed a 10-year energy and environment cooperation framework here Wednesday after the two nations concluded their fourth round of Strategic Economic Dialogue, or SED.
Speaking to reporters before the signing ceremony at the US Treasury Department, visiting Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan said the deal was "a major achievement of the meeting," which will influence future bilateral economic cooperation and contribute to the sustainable development of the world.
The framework also highlights the great importance and strategic influence of the SED mechanism, he added.
US Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson said through the framework, "we will address some of the most important and difficult challenges facing our nations and the world today -- energy security, environmental sustainability and climate change."
He said interests of China and the United States in this area are "very aligned."

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JOINT STATEMENT: Last call on Climate Change

A statement from the 2008 Manning Clark House Conference:

“Imagining the Real Life on a Greenhouse Earth”,

11-12 June, Australian National University, Canberra.

Global warming is accelerating. The Arctic summer sea ice is expected to melt entirely within the next five years, - decades earlier than predicted in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment Report.

Scientists judge the risks to humanity of dangerous global warming to be high. The Great Barrier Reef faces devastation. Extreme weather events, such as storm surges adding to rising sea levels and threatening coastal cities, will become increasingly frequent.

There is a real danger that we have reached or will soon reach critical tipping points and the future will be taken out of our hands. The melting Arctic sea ice could be the first such tipping point.

Beyond 2ยบC of warming, seemingly inevitable unless greenhouse gas reduction targets are tightened, we risk huge human and societal costs and perhaps even the effective end of industrial civilisation. We need to cease our assault on our own life support system, and that of millions of species. Global warming is only one of many symptoms of that assault.

Peak oil, global warming and long term sustainability pressures all require that we reduce energy needs and switch to alternative energy sources. Many credible studies show that Australia can quickly and cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions through dramatic improvements in energy efficiency and by increasing our investment in solar, wind and other renewable sources.

The need for action is extremely urgent and our window of opportunity for avoiding severe impacts is rapidly closing. Yet the obstacles to change are not technical or economic, they are political and social.

We know democratic societies have responded successfully to dire and immediate threats, as was demonstrated in World War II. This is a last call for an effective response to global warming.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

$150m plan to slash energy use

Brian Robins
June 18, 2008

HOUSEHOLDS and businesses will be asked to make deep cuts in their energy use under a State Government plan that mirrors the way household water consumption was cut during the drought, with the ambitious aim of slashing the growth in energy consumption to zero.

A $150 million package to be released today includes tough new energy targets for business, energy-saving kits for low-income families and advice for 6000 small- and medium-sized businesses that focuses on lighting upgrades and improving air-conditioning and refrigeration.

The program also aims to cut by at least 10 per cent the energy use of 800 medium to large businesses, while overhauling the energy efficiency component of the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme with new targets.

More importantly, legislative targets will be imposed on the state's 200 largest energy users. This alone is expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 120,000 tonnes a year. The largest energy users have drawn up detailed assessments of their energy use and potential savings, which will have to be implemented under the new plans.

"Energy consumption is rising at 1 to 2 per cent a year," Verity Firth, the Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, said. "It would be good if this target offsets this growth, curbing our growth in energy demand. Hopefully this program will deliver very real energy savings in terms of electricity bills."

A 25-year program of energy efficiency in California has seen energy consumption per person rise by only about 10 per cent since 1980, while in the rest of the US it rose by 50 per cent. If NSW matched California, this would cut household electricity bills by close to $300 million a year, or about $115 a household, Ms Firth said.

The Government expects a saving of $415 million from the $150 million spent in this newly flagged series of measures, with the details of the statewide energy reduction targets to be decided by industry experts over the next few months and introduced from January 2009.

"For the next five to 10 years, one of the best and easily implementable means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is energy efficiency," Jeff Angel of the Total Environment Centre said.

The largest component of the spending program is the $63 million for energy advice and kits to 220,000 low-income households, with $15 million on the program targeting small businesses and $20 million for mid-sized companies.

In addition, $20 million is to be provided for extra training for tradesmen and businessmen to meet increased demand for plumbers, electricians and interior designers who can provide energy-efficient design and building services. A further $27.5 million will be spent on an awareness program.

Part of the funding for the $150 million package will come from the Climate Change Fund, which receives the levy imposed on retailers such as EnergyAustralia and Integral Energy.

The package of measures to be outlined today forms part of a series of other energy programs already under way, such as phasing out electric hot-water storage and installing "smart" meters measuring electricity consumption in the home.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Coal free by 2030: Greenpeace report

The World Today

16 June , 2008
Reporter: Sarah Clarke

ASHLEY HALL: Greenpeace says green renewable energy can be cheaper, cleaner, and create more jobs than fossil fuels.If embraced now, it could see the phasing out of coal use by 2030.In a report released today, the group says with the right recipe, 40 per cent of Australia's energy could be from a clean source within a decade.Here's environment reporter

Sarah Clarke:SARAH CLARKE: The report is titled "Australia's Energy Revolution", and not surprisingly, it found Australia has a lot of sun and wind. So much in fact, it declares that there's more than enough to power Australia's energy needs long-term. Professor Hugh Saddler who conducted the modelling says his findings are in fact conservative and in just over a decade, 40 per cent of Australia's electricity could be from a renewable source.

HUGH SADDLER: The resource is such that that's quite feasible and the companies that are involved with the various technologies certainly think that is achievable.

SARAH CLARKE: Hugh Saddler is a scientist specialising in energy needs, and using his modelling, he believes Australia could cut its carbon emissions from transport and energy by two-thirds by 2050. The recipe he uses is a large scale roll-out of electric vehicles, setting strict fuel efficiency standards to deliver more efficient cars and cutting aviation demands by improving rail networks. On electricity consumption, he says by enforcing simple efficiency measures, energy use could be reduced by 10 per cent in just over a decade. If this is achieved, Hugh Saddler says renewable power could adequately meet demand and the cost per household would in fact, be cheaper.

HUGH SADDLER: There is so much potential for increased energy efficiency which is cost effective even now, so that although the price per kilowatt hour for each unit of electricity consumed will be higher, the total cost of all the kilowatt hours that are consumed will be less because it's been used more efficiently.

SARAH CLARKE: And by embracing solar and wind, the report has found that coal-fired power stations could be phased out entirely by 2030.It's a bold recommendation, given the Federal Government is yet to legislate its target of 20 per cent of Australia's energy to be renewable by 2020. Even so, Julien Vincent from Greenpeace says this report shows it can be done, and what is in fact needed is the political will to take the next step.

JULIEN VINCENT: It's ridiculous that a country with enough renewable energy resources, it's now half of Asia, still bases its electricity supplies and 30 fossil fuels. And by increasing the amount of renewable energy in the mix, by driving energy efficiency quite significantly, we can start taking the dirtiest fossil fuels such as coal, off the grid.

ASHLEY HALL: Julien Vincent from Greenpeace, ending that report from Sarah Clarke.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Government 'knew about' climate change in 1984

June 11, 2008

The Hawke government knew about the risks of climate change 25 years ago but did little about them, according to Labor heavyweight Barry Jones who was a federal minister at the time.

Dr Jones cast himself as an Australian version of climate campaigner Al Gore in a speech to a Canberra conference on Wednesday.

He said he was the first politician to sound the alarm on global warming, as science minister in 1984.

But his cabinet colleagues did not listen.

"Of course I wish I'd been listened to," the former national president of the ALP told AAP.

"The response from my political colleagues in Canberra was distinctly underwhelming.

"I think some of them were persuaded by (industry) lobbyists to say sooner or later a technological fix will come up."

Dr Jones said the danger of increased carbon dioxide emissions was raised with him in 1983 when scientists were worried about ice depletion caused by global warming.

He spoke publicly on climate change in 1984, put it high on his agenda, and oversaw extensive publishing in the field.

"Talking about climate change was an isolating factor," Dr Jones told the conference.

Some of his government's efforts on climate change were feeble, he added.

"We were seen as understanding (climate change) and going along with it but not doing very much about it," he said.

An obstacle to tackling climate change was vested interests such as the coal industry and unions, Dr Jones said.

"Our politicians are too much influenced by vested interests in every area," he told AAP after the speech.

"Vested interest tends to win out."

Dr Jones said he did not want to target past Labor governments over climate change.

There had been a feeling Australia could achieve little by acting alone, and he also criticised the previous Howard government for not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.

Dr Jones told the conference - Imagining the Real Life on a Greenhouse Earth - climate change posed a great challenge to democracy and pluralistic values.

He said it could inflame fundamentalism and tribalism, lead to wars over food and water, and cause mass migration.

It could also lead to a "revolt against reason" of the kind society's thinkers had battled against since the Enlightenment in 18th century political thought.

The conference, organised by the cultural and scholarly centre Manning Clark House, continues at the Australian National University on Thursday.

Changing Sydney (1975-2002)

Figure 1:
Sydney in Oct 1975
Figure 2: Sydney in July 2002
Images of Sydney (1975-2002) from the "Atlas of Our Changing Environment" released by the United Nations Environment Program.
Source available here
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So please, tell us what you think.