Monday, August 31, 2015

Atmosphere of Hope: Tim Flannery and Clive Hamilton on #climate engineering at #MWF15



This article was originally published at nofibs.com.au

Professors Clive Hamilton and Tim Flannery on the morality, necessity and possibilities of engineering the climate by carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies. A Melbourne Writers Festival event, Saturday 29 August 2015.

I attended the discussion between Professors Clive Hamilton and Tim Flannery at the Melbourne Writers workshop on Saturday morning. Climate change has been a prominent theme of this year's festival, and I have attended a few sessions examining climate stories, sense of place, and importance of communication and narrative.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Storify: A Melbourne audience with Naomi Klein on climate change at #MWF15


Even though in Melbourne, I missed out on a ticket to Naomi Klein at Melbourne Writers Festival. The two Naomi Klein sessions at the Melbourne Writers Festival were booked out well in advance.

I did the next best thing and followed the event on twitter, then used storify to document the session from those who were there, in 81 tweets.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Writers and climate scientists on narrative and climate stories at Melbourne Writers Festival


This post was originally published at Melbourne Polytechnic.

Novelist and lecturer Dr Alice Robinson from the Melbourne Polytechnic Bachelor of Writing and Publishing course joined two climate scientists and a lecturer in journalism to discuss the different styles of writing between science and literature in motivating people on the issue of climate change.


The Melbourne Writers Festival brought together the panel to discuss stories of climate action. The featured panelists were: Monash University Journalism lecturer Deb Anderson, Monash University climate scientist Ailie Gallant, climate scientist Associate Professor Kevin Walsh from Melbourne University, and novelist and Bachelor of Writing and Publishing lecturer Alice Robinson from Melbourne Polytechnic.

The event was held at the fortyfivedownstairs Gallery on Friday 21st August, which also featured an exhibition of handwritten letters of 22 climate scientists responding to the question: "How do you feel about climate change"?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Reflecting on Hurricane Katrina 10 years on



I wrote this in response to a facebook discussion on whether Hurricane Katrina can be attributed to climate change. It is an argument I put together with limited time and research, but still valuable to answer the question..

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Talking Climate Change and Place at Melbourne Writers Festival event Footscray


This post was first published at nofibs.com.au

How we communicate climate change is important.

Whether it remains a distant event in time or space, or can be intimately connected to the present and locations we know and love, can make all the difference in how people perceive and act on the issue.

Writers are coming to terms with this in different ways, in different places. The Melbourne Writers Festival in 2015 features several sessions associated with climate change, including two sessions with Canadian journalist and activist Naomi Klein.

I attended one at Victoria University at Footscray on 'Climate Change and Place' which proved thought provoking and interesting. The panelists for this session included Tony Birch, a writer/lecturer from Victoria University, Jacynta Fuamatu from 350 Pacific, journalist Michael Green and Vanessa O’Neill from the Malthouse Theatre.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Australia moves to 2005 baseline, releases low post 2020 climate targets half of what is needed say scientists


This article may be updated frequently through the day.

Australia's post 2020 climate targets were approved in cabinet last night ahead of a Liberal and National Party room caucus meeting today. The post 2020 climate targets were announced at a press conference (See transcript and media release) today and amount to 26 to 28 per cent emissions reduction on 2005 levels by 2030.

In comparison, the Climate Change Authority which has investigated both the science and comparative international action, called for a 40 to 60 per cent cut on 2000 levels by 2030. Other reputable organisations have also called for higher targets. The Australian Academy of Science called for emissions cuts of 30 to 40 per cent for the same period. The independent Climate Institute urged a 45 per cent cut on 2005 levels by 2025.

“The initial target offer ahead of the Paris climate negotiations in December is a core test of the government's climate and economic credibility,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute in a media statement. “This target fails tests both of scientific credibility and economic responsibility in a world increasingly focused on modernising and cleaning up energy as well as economic systems. This target is bad for the climate and bad for our international competitiveness.”

During the press conference Tony Abbott outlined that protecting the coal industry was more important than protecting the environment: "Our policy doesn't depend upon the demise of coal. In fact, the only way to protect the coal industry is to go with the sorts of policies that we have. That's why I think our policies are not only good for the environment but very good for jobs." he said.


In a recent public opinion poll 50 per cent of respondents wanted renewables favoured over coal and only 6 per cent favoured support for the coal industry over renewables.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, to a question whether Australia is still committed to keeping temperature rises below two degrees? how Australia's target fits in with that goal which we agreed to in Cancun in 2010, responded by evading and not answering the question. "The Paris meeting is about getting a global agreement where every country puts forward their targets in advance of the meeting and then there will be a discussion about the framework action that would be required in order to meet the two degree goal." she replied.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt outlined how the Government would achieve these targets without a carbon price. They will continue using the Emissions Reduction Fund with the addition of the safeguards mechanism. Other measures include developing vehicle efficiency standards, implementing ozone and fluoro carbon measures as part of the next round of the Montreal Protocol, and develeopments in technological change such as in battery storage technologies.

When asked if other abatement measures would leave room for lifting the Renewable energy target, Prime Minister Abbott responded, "It doesn’t depend upon a higher Renewable Energy Target. It assumes the target that is now in place, which is effectively a 23 per cent target."

Professor Wadhams: If we take really serious action we can survive


Professor Peter Wadhams has spent the last 40 years working on sea-ice research, polar oceanography and how the changes in Arctic and Antarctic ice are affecting climate. He has particularly warned about the impacts of the retreat and loss of Arctic sea-ice and the threat from an Arctic methane breakout to give a substantial acceleration to global warming.

In this May 2015 interview with Judy Sole, founder of the Green Party of South Africa, he outlines the reduction of Arctic sea ice, the loss of most of the multi-year ice, where he thinks more research should be devoted and what we should do for a best chance of survival for our children.

Wadhams is professor of Ocean Physics, and Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge. He is also president of the International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans Commission on Sea Ice and Coordinator for the International Programme for Antarctic Buoys.

He is one of the few scientists who has been prepared to publicly speak out on major climate risks associated with loss of sea-ice and the dangers in massive methane release from methane hydrates contained in the shallow continental shelves of the Arctic, and what this means for human survival. His warnings, along with those of James Hansen and Kevin Anderson should not be ignored.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Guest Post: Stopping mangrove deforestation in Indonesia could help slow climate change



Coastal wetlands are important carbon sinks, all too often ignored as important ecosystems for preserving and indeed fostering and growing, for mitigation of climate change. In January 2013 I looked at how Mangrove forests threatened by Climate Change in the Sundarbans of Bangladesh and India. In December 2013 I featured a guest post on Philippines steps up restoration of mangroves as defence against typhoons, tsunamis, sea level rise. Read more of my posts on blue carbon. Research has shown that Mangroves among the most carbon-rich forests in the tropics (Donato etal 2011).

Now a new study published in Nature Climate Change identifies the importance of preserving the extensive mangrove forests remaining in Indonesia for reducing it's greenhouse gas emissions.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Export solar not coal, a 21st century Australian infrastructure project



This article was originally published at nofibs.com.au

If our Australian political leaders had any vision they might consider a 21st century renewables energy scheme similar in scope and vision to the Snowy Mountains Hydro scheme, for northern Australia, and linking us with some of our northern neighbours.

Instead we have seen political pandering to the greed of fossil fuel companies, like the Chinese state owned company Shenhua proposing to develop the Watermark open cut coal mine on the fertile Liverpool Plains of NSW, with the dangers to groundwater, wildlife and agricultural productivity and food security.

Or the Indian conglomerate Adani that wants to develop the giant Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee basin of Queensland and hires Labor and Liberal staffers to make its case. Development of the Galilee basin coalfields by Adani and other Coal barons will enhance climate change and help drive destruction of World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Portland bridge danglers delay Shell ice-breaker leaving for Arctic oil drilling #ShellNo


Note: this article is updating with developments

Portland, Oregon: Climate protestors with Greenpeace and Rising Tide have set up a blockade to stop the Finnish ice-breaker Fennica, hired by Shell, to leave port with needed parts for their Arctic oil drilling program in the Chukchi Sea.

13 Greenpeace protestors dangled across the river below the St John's bridge with linked lines to prevent passage of the ship.

They were supported by a crew of 13 on the bridge roadway, a flotilla of kayaktivists, and people gathered in the riverside park.

The same day as the Fennica icebreaker was being blockaded in Portland, news was published that Shell is sacking 6500 workers globally due to the downturn in oil prices. Shell joined oil giants BP and Chevron in cutting costs due to a 50 per cent slump in crude prices in the past year. The company's share price rose 4.7 per cent, but the stock has still dropped 17 per cent this year, reported Bloomberg.