Week ending 8 July 2012
Quote: “I’m a dig it up, chop it down, pave over it sort of guy.”
– AWU union boss Paul Howes, 11 May 2012
PICKS OF THE WEEK
Labor and the myth of the rational voter
Bernard Keane, Crikey, 2 July 2012
In climate debate, facts have become offensive and wild overstatement the norm
What’s Causing Unusually Hot Temperatures in U.S.?
Kevin Trenberth, PBS Newshour, 2 July 2012
We take a closer look now at the connection between these weather events and changes in the environment.
Coal curse: the black side of the subsidised resources boom
Stuart Rosewarne and Linda Connor, The Conversation, 3 July 2012
As we are so often reminded, Australia has abundant reserves of high quality coal. Mining magnates, industry lobbyists and politicians all talk up the value of coal for the Australian economy, with exports worth $44 billion in 2012.
We Are All ‘Climate Test Dummies’ Now, Providing Data On How Humans Respond To Extreme Weather
Joe Romm, Climate Progress, July 2, 2012
We have turned ourselves into test subjects for the single most terrifying “crash” the world will ever know — the crash of a livable climate.
Wild weather blamed for steep insurance price rises
Ben Cubby, SMH, July 6, 2012
Insurance premiums have risen up to 35 per cent, in some cases, in the last fortnight, amounting to hundreds of dollars a year in extra payments, with companies saying an unprecedented streak of ”extreme weather” is the cause.
US science official says more extreme events convincing many Americans climate change is real
Associated Press, July 6, 2012
Increasingly common experiences with extreme climate-related events such as the Colorado wildfires, a record warm spring and preseason hurricanes have convinced many Americans climate change is a reality, the head of a U.S. scientific agency said Friday.
‘New McCarthyism’ Described by Climate Scientist Michael Mann
Bill Blakemore, ABC, July 8, 2012
Interview with scientist Michael Mann, author of ‘The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches From the Front Lines,’ and the latest of many to describe efforts to intimidate climate scientists and create confusion about their findings.
THIS IS WHAT CLIMATE CHANGE FEELS LIKE
Huge number of bird species on decline in Canada
Sheryl Ubelacker, The Canadian Press, 27 June 2012
A huge proportion of Canada’s bird species are in serious decline, threatened by disappearing habitat and climate change, the first comprehensive report on the health of the country’s avian populations has found.
Goodbye to Mountain Forests?
Hillary Rosner, NYT blog, 25 June 2012
When the smoke finally clears and new plant life pokes up from the scorched earth after the wildfires raging in the southern Rockies, what emerges will look radically different than what was there just a few weeks ago.
Greenland Ice Sheet Melt Nearing Critical ‘Tipping Point’
Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, 29 June 2012
The Greenland ice sheet is poised for another record melt this year, and is approaching a “tipping point” into a new and more dangerous melt regime in which the summer melt area covers the entire land mass, according to new findings from polar researchers.
Unrelenting heat wave bakes half the US
The Age, 8 July 2012
Americans dipped into the water, went to the movies and rode the subway just to be in air conditioning on Saturday for relief from unrelenting heat that has killed at least 30 people across half the country.
Climate Change: ‘This Is Just the Beginning’
Amy Goodman, TruthDig, 3 July 2012
Evidence supporting the existence of climate change is pummeling the United States this summer, from the mountain wildfires of Colorado to the recent “derecho” storm that left at least 23 dead and 1.4 million people without power from Illinois to Virginia.
As Drought Hits Key Crops, Fears of Food Crisis Loom
Common Dreams, 3 July 2012
As commodity speculators seek to profit from diminished yields, the world’s poorest pay the price
Scientists say ongoing weather extremes offer proof of climate change
Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian, 3 July 2012
Record-shattering heatwaves, wildfires and freak storms are a sampling of what is to come in 2012 and a window to the future
Rising ocean temperatures have tide turning in favour of scorching sibling El Nino
Nicole Hasham, SMH, 4 July 2012
Following Australia’s wettest two years on record, which fuelled massive vegetation growth, a spell of dry, hot weather could lead to drought and ”a devastating bushfire season”.
Weird summer weather ‘is what global warming looks like,’ experts say
Seth Borenstein, Associated Press, 3 July 2012
Is it just freakish weather or something more? Climate scientists suggest that if you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, take a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks.
ENERGY AND INNOVATION
The case for shutting down Hazelwood power station – some facts and figures
Roger Dargaville, The Conversation, 5 July 2012
Under its Clean Energy Future, the Federal government will negotiate to close 2000 MW of the dirtiest fossil fuel power generating capacity in Australia by 2020.
Coal seam gas blamed for health problems
Samantha Turnbull and Joanne Shoebridge, ABC News, 6 July, 2012
Queensland doctors have reported seeing patients with health problems believed to be related to coal seam gas activities
A Risky Proposition: Why Cheap Coal Is Really, Really Dead
Justin Guay, Sierra Club, 2 July 2012
Despite what the coal industry would have you believe, the days of cheap, affordable coal fired power are over.
If you think King Coal is dead, think again …
Mike Sandiford, The Conversation, 5 July 2012
If you are like me, and concerned about the possibility that rising CO₂ levels in the atmosphere are jeopardising climate stability, the latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy makes for sobering reading.
How to put solar panels on your roof, even if you don’t have a roof
Lisa Hymas, Grist, 3 July 2012
Right now, if you want to embrace the solar-power revolution, you have to have a roof and a lot of money — or at the very least, a roof and a good credit score, so you can finance a solar system or work with a leasing company like SolarCity
Carbon Capture, Storage Too Expensive, Commercial Outlook Dim, CBO Says
Avery Fellow, BloombergBNA, July 2, 2012
CBO says carbon capture and storage technologies will not be commercially viable unless the government sets a price on carbon or restricts emissions.
IEA says renewable energy growth to accelerate
Giles Parkinson, RenewEconomy, 6 July 2012
The International Energy Agency has delivered a bullish outlook for renewable technologies, saying its deployment would accelerate even beyond the rapid growth of recent years, despite the winding back of incentives and subsidies in some countries.
AUSTRALIA’S CARBON PRICE
Abbott has pledged to repeal the carbon tax – but could it be done?
Andrew Macintosh, The Conversation, 2 July 2012
Opposition leader Tony Abbott has given Australians a “blood oath” promise that if the Coalition wins power at the next election, he will repeal the carbon tax within his first month in office.
Start a carbon tax? That’s so 1991. Clean innovation and partnerships is where it’s at.
Adam Bumpus, The Conversation, 2 July 2012
We price carbon. This is nothing new. The first time this explicitly happened, Vanilla Ice hit number one in Australia, and Bryan Adams was topping the global charts with “(Everything I do) I do it for you”.
Wasting carbon tax cash on the living dead
Tristan Edis, Climate Spectator, 3 July 2012
Have you heard the joke about the government that set up a carbon tax to reduce emissions but then spent nearly $100 million days before the scheme started to try to stop it from reducing emissions?
Hundreds of Australian businesses support carbon pricing to drive competitiveness
Media Release, Monday 2 July 2012
Almost 300 organisations have galvanised under the banner of Businesses for a Clean Economy to voice their support for putting a price on carbon. The 299 large, medium and small sized businesses and associations represent a wide variety of sectors from across the Australian economy and include AGL, ARUP, Fujitsu, GE, Grocon, HESTA, IKEA, Infigen, Pacific Hydro, The Body Shop Australia, Unilever, Vestas, and Westpac.
Carbon tax ‘seals fate’ of closing power station
ABC News, July 3, 2012
The carbon tax has been partially blamed for the decision to close a coal-fired power station in the Hunter Valley.
Good news: the carbon price is hurting coal power stations
POLITICS AND POLICY
Why Climate Change, Our Biggest Moral Challenge, Doesn’t Act Like One
KC Golden, GRIP Blog, 6 July 2012
Al Gore tried to invoke the moral imperative for climate action. “It’s not about right and left;” he said, “it’s about right and wrong.” Climate deniers cynically pounced on Gore’s leadership as an opportunity to assert the exact opposite.
And now to the massive coal elephant in the room
Leigh Ewbank, ABC Environment, 4 Jul 2012
Australia has officially joined the ranks of nations pricing carbon emissions to address climate change. With the policy taking effect after years of campaigning, political drama and debate, many will wonder ‘what now?’
Climate Change Understanding Rebounds To 2009 Levels
Leo Barasi, Noise of the Crowd, 4 July 2012
Over a short period at the start of 2010, belief that climate change is real and manmade fell sharply. Since then, it recovered slightly but had remained lower than it was at the end of 2009. But now three polls have shown that the decline has been fully reversed.
Heat wave, fires have climate change activists going on the offensive
Oh Canada: the government’s broad assault on the environment
Ed Struzik, Yale Environment 360, 2 July 2012
Prime minister Stephen Harper’s government has been weakening Canada’s environmental regulations and slashing funds for oversight and research – while promoting aggressive resource development
Gosford Council repeals controversial sea level policy
Mary-Louise Vince, ABC News, July 04, 2012
A Council on the New South Wales Central Coast has voted to repeal its controversial sea level rise policy, just months after hundreds of waterfront property owners rallied against it.
Lake Council stands by sea level rise policy
ABC News, July 05, 2012
Lake Macquarie Council says it chose not to adopt a sea level rise planning clause, which neighbouring Gosford Council has now repealed.
Big polluters convinced carbon price is here to stay
Adam Morton, The Age, 5 July 2012
Even if the carbon price is repealed by a Tony Abbott government, it is likely to be brought back again within a few years, according to a survey of experts who work for the heaviest-polluting companies.
SCIENCE AND IMPACTS
As oceans warm and become more acidic, Britain’s seafood menu changes
Jeremy Lovell, E&E, Monday, July 2, 2012
The seas around Britain are starting to teem with fish species once deemed exotic as climate change raises water temperatures, forcing the former dominant occupants to flee northward toward the Arctic and opening the way for those from the hotter south, according to marine and fisheries scientists.
Arctic Warming Linked to Combination of Reduced Sea Ice and Global Atmospheric Warming
ScienceDaily, July 6, 2012
The combination of melting sea ice and global atmospheric warming are contributing to the high rate of warming in the Arctic, where temperatures are increasing up to four times faster than the global average, a new University of Melbourne study has shown.
What Is Causing the Climate to Unravel?
Jeremy Symons, Wildlife Promise, 7/3/2012
40,000 heat records have already been broken this year across the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Counting carbon: Pre-industrial emissions make a difference
Eureka Alert, 3 July 2012
When evaluating the historic contributions made by different countries to the greenhouse gasses found in Earth’s atmosphere, calculations generally go back no further than the year 1840. New research from Carnegie’s Julia Pongratz and Ken Caldeira shows that carbon dioxide contributions from the pre-industrial era still have an impact on our climate today.
Climate Change Is Already Shrinking Crop Yields
Tom Philpott, Mother Jones, 4July 2012
For years now, people have wondered how climate change will affect farming. How will humanity feed itself during a time of rising temperatures and recurring drought?
Climate change linked to narrowing leaves
Justin Norrie, The Conversation, 4 July 2012
Climate change is causing the leaves of at least one subspecies of Australian plant to narrow in size, a team from the University of Adelaide has found. Their study shows that the leaves of the Narrow-leaf hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa subspecies angustissima) have narrowed by 2mm since the 1880s – equivalent…
Top 20 Cities with Billions at Risk from Climate Change
Eric Roston, Bloomberg, Jul 6, 2012
By 2050, more than 6 billion humans are expected to live in cities, according to the United Nations. Ports, which constitute more than half the world’s largest cities, will face unique challenges as their populations swell.By 2050, more than 6 billion humans are expected to live in cities, according to the United Nations. Ports, which constitute more than half the world’s largest cities, will face unique challenges as their populations swell.