Saturday, August 23, 2014

Open Letter: Respect climate science expertise, Maurice Newman

Dear Mr Maurice Newman AC,

As the head of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's Business Advisory Council and a person advising the Prime Minister on business related matters I expect you to give factual, informed and considered advice. It is particularly important that you take the time, effort and responsibility to respect expertise, particularly scientific expertise, and educate yourself on areas outside of your own business and management focus that impinge on government decisions that effect the management of Australia's economy and environment and international relationships.

I would expect that on matters of science and climate change you would seek the advice and collaborate with Australia's chief scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, and the premier scientific organisations active in this research including the CSIRO, BOM, and the Australian Academy of Science.

Of course you have a right to your personal opinions, but not to proffer them as factual advice to Government when they are clearly inaccurate or misleading according to the people of expertise working in these specialist areas.

Your recent opinions published in the The Australian newspaper ('We’re ill-prepared if the iceman cometh' 14 August 2014) are contrary to the findings of every major scientific and meteorological body on the planet, and ignore the reality that the long term trend is that the Earth is getting hotter, with a more active hydrological cycle causing more extreme weather events.

Why should the Australian public have confidence in your role if you display such little regard for scientific fact and the expertise offered by our scientists, including by Australia's chief scientist?

I understand that the Climate Council's Professor Tim Flannery has offered an opportunity for the Business Advisory Council to be briefed by a group of our nation's top scientists on climate change and business risk. I urge you to take this opportunity.

To assist you, I suggest you watch Professor Michael Raupach in his speech he delivered during National Science Week at the Australian Academy of Science on Tuesday 19 August 2014. Dr Raupach is Executive Director of the Climate Change Institute, Australian National University and has led a highly respected and exemplary career in climate research with the CSIRO. He is regarded as one of Australia's leading experts on climate change.

The speech contains a brief overview of climate science and some of Australia's important contributions to this science. It is as good as any place to start for accurate scientific information on climate change. Grab a cuppa tea or coffee and sit down and watch it for an hour. Is that too much to ask?

If you cannot accommodate and incorporate the expert advice from specialists, such as from Australian climate scientists, in your business advice to government, then I expect you to step down from your position as there is a serious conflict of interest between scientific factual information and the national interest with your personally held views.


John Englart

Friday, August 22, 2014

Coral reef ecosystems acidifying 3 times faster than open ocean

New research shows that the rate of ocean acidification in coral reef ecosystems is more than three times faster than in the open ocean, much more than previously thought. This has big implications for reef ecosystems around the globe suffering under multiple stressers of increased sea surface temperatures, nutrient and other pollution and commercial fishing pressures.

Biogeochemist researchers from Southern Cross University Led by recent graduate Dr Tyler Cyronak detailed this new insight in a study published in Geophysical Research Letters titled Enhanced coral reef acidification driven by regional biogeochemical feedbacks.

Ocean acidification is well documented in open waters. Cold waters like in the southern ocean can more readily absorb carbon dioxide, so ocean acidification was thought to be proceeding more rapidly in marine ecosystems in cooler waters (see my 2007 article: Scientists say Ocean Acidity Increasing at Faster Rate)

This new research highlights that coral reef waters are also rapidly acidifying. This research examined studies done in coral reefs since the 1960s and found that the rate of acidification in coral reef ecosystems was more than three times faster than in the open ocean.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Climate Change moving the goal posts for Aussie Rules

Climate change is already impacting Australia's homegrown game of football - Aussie Rules. This video features climate researcher Alliance Rance, who works with the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research (VCCCAR), interviewing her brother Alex Rance who plays with the Richmond Tigers.

Climate impacts are already being felt in more weather extremes affecting playing field surfaces and the need to change player training regimes, especially in the summer off season. Many of our sports and outdoor recreational activity are already being affected by changing weather extremes requiring behaviour adaptation.

Humour: Addressing false equivalence in the climate debate

John Oliver's show Last Week Tonight has provided at last an accurate balance on debating the issue of climate change on television. For too long media shows have presented it as a debate between two equal sides - but this is false equivalance.

The overwhelming scientific consensus is that climate change is occurring, impacts are happening now, and we need to rapidly reduce emissions to avoid dangerous climate impacts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Guest Post: Who's Killing the Krill?

The joys of a parent in assisting with a homework assignment. Tarryn Clancy is in year 8 Geography exploring Antarctic and Marine Science. As some of my blogging has concerned the southern ocean, whales and Antarctica, and I had recently completed the Open2Study Marine and Antarctic Science online course I was able to assist her with some source material and format of references at the end. But the writing and presentation is all hers. Written By Tarryn Clancy

Whales. Each day they eat tons of krill. And that is only one whale. But what would you say if I told you that 'Mr Bigs' is not the one who is responsible. It is in fact, something much closer to home. Climate Change. We overlook It because some people still do not believe it exists. But it does. And the declining number of krill is evidence of that.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Politician statements on Australia abolishing the carbon price

On 17th July the Australian Carbon price was repealed on the third attempt through the Australian Senate with the amendments of the Palmer United Party adopted by the Government to ensure it's success.

Australia now has the dubious honour of being the only country in the world to abolish a price on carbon. Just as global action to price carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is ramping up, Australia goes backwards.

So lets have a review of what the party leaders said in this debate:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Opinion Surveys: Climate leadership demanded of Australian Government

Climate change action continues to be an issue of concern in national politics and debate with federal politicians being way more conservative than the general public according to several recent public opinion polls. The polls say that nearly 70 per cent of people want companies to pay for their carbon pollution through some sort of carbon pricing and that the Australian Government should take a leadership role in climate mitigation solutions.

It is perhaps one reason why conservative populist politician Clive Palmer had an inconvenient truth moment with Al Gore this week.

Even last year during the 2013 election campaign a substantial majority of people supported action on climate change with 49.2 per cent supporting to some degree the carbon pricing scheme presently in operation according to the ABC Votecompass survey. Read my analysis: Australian Public opinion on carbon pricing and climate change

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Al Gore persuades Clive Palmer in an Inconvenient truth moment on climate policy

At a press conference Clive Palmer, Leader of the Palmer United Party, along with climate campaigner former US Vice President Al Gore, announced his party's policies in response to the Government's changes to carbon pricing and clean energy laws. Walking onstage with former US Vice President Al Gore, you could feel this was a momentus occasion for Clive Palmer.

"I'd like to thank him for the productive discussions today. My discussions allowed me to reconsider important considerations for all Australians and the rest of the world." Palmer announced transforming himself into the contradictory personas of both coal baron and climate warrior.

The big announcement was that the block of Palmer United Party senators would vote to abolish the present carbon price and move an amendment for the establishment of a conditional Emissions Trading Scheme with a carbon price rated as zero at the start. The carbon tax repeal is conditional on all energy price savings being passed on to consumers. The Government's Direct Action Plan and Emmissions Reduction Fund was labelled as a waste of money and would not be supported.

Palmer outlined that the PUP voting block would vote against abolition of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which was established to loan $10 billion over 5 years to companies and organisations to help transition to clean energy through renewable and energy efficiency projects. The Climate Change Authority would also be saved, as well as support for continuing the Renewable Energy Target (RET) until at least 2016, after the next election.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Double dissolution trigger: Greens and Labor challenge Abbott on climate, clean energy

The Labor Party and Greens have defeated for a second time in the Senate a bill by Tony Abbott's Government to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. This gives a first trigger for the Government to call a double dissolution election.

"Prime Minister Abbott if you really believe that this is absolute crap and that the Clean Energy Act is going to wipe Whyalla off the map, how’s that working out?" he told the Senate.

"If you really believe that renewable energy can't deliver, then here is the double dissolution election trigger you’ve been waiting for."

"The world is starting to move, in fact parts of the world are well ahead of Australia, we’re lagging and the hour is late, so if its an election you want then bring it on." explained Senator Ludlum.

Watch Western Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlum challenge the Abbott Government to bring on a 'globalwarming' double dissolution election.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation was established by the Gillard Labor party in consultation with the Greens and Independant MPs in 2011 to help fund renewable energy projects through assisting private funding. As an investment catalyst, it has actually proved a successful business generating about $200million annually to aid the budget, while also helping establish clean technologies in existing businesses.

Open letter to Origin Energy on the Renewable Energy Target

Dear @originenergy, as a customer I have just contributed to put this ad on air in support of the RET in opposition to the submissions your company and of AGL Energy and Energy Australia.

I have been a good customer of Origin energy for several years buying 100% greenpower, and the purchase of my solar PV system through your solar division. In the past you have been an innovative market leader with your green electricity plans.

However, I am particularly distressed with your submission to the current Federal Government Renewable Energy Target review.

The review of the Renewable Energy Target was the proper job for the Climate Change Authority as contained in its legislative authority. This Government has chosen to ignore this legislative detail with their intention to abolish this authority through repeal of the legislation. This has still not been done and there is some doubt whether this legislative change will be made in the Senate. The government has instead chosen to setup their own review with handpicked people, like Dick Warburton, with strong biases against climate change and the importance of transitioning to renewable energy as part of Australia's commitment to reducing carbon emissions to mitigate global climate change under the UNFCCC process.

I disagree with your submission (PDF) that the LRET and SRET should be rolled back into one scheme and remove deeming. I also disagree with resetting the target to a "true 20%". This would effectively mean cutting the target from 41,000GWh (plus uncapped rooftop solar), to 23,000GWh (including rooftop solar).