Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Critical Decade

Yesterday, Australia's Climate Commission released a new report with important messages:

The following points highlight the key messages arising from the accompanying report The Critical Decade:
1. There is no doubt that the climate is changing. The evidence is overwhelming and clear.
  • The atmosphere is warming, the ocean is warming, ice is being lost from glaciers and ice caps and sea levels are rising. The biological world is changing in response to a warming world.
  • Global surface temperature is rising fast; the last decade was the hottest on record.
2. We are already seeing the social, economic and environmental impacts of a changing climate.
  • With less than 1 degree of warming globally the impacts are already being felt in Australia.
  • In the last 50 years the number of record hot days in Australia has more than doubled. This has increased the risk of heatwaves and associated deaths, as well as extreme bush fire weather in South Eastern and South Western Australia.
  • Sea level has risen by 20 cm globally since the late 1800s, impacting many coastal communities. Another 20 cm increase by 2050, which is likely at current projections, would more than double the risk of coastal flooding.
  • The Great Barrier Reef has suffered from nine bleaching events in the past 31 years. This iconic natural ecosystem, and the economy that depends upon it, face serious risks from climate change.
3. Human activities – the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation – are triggering the changes we are witnessing in the global climate.
  • A very large body of observations, experiments, analyses, and physical theory points to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere - with carbon dioxide being the most important - as the primary cause of the observed warming.
  • Increasing carbon dioxide emissions are primarily produced by the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, as well as deforestation.
  • Natural factors, like changes in the Earth’s orbit or solar activity, cannot explain the world-wide warming trend.
4. This is the critical decade. Decisions we make from now to 2020 will determine the severity of climate change our children and grandchildren experience.
  • Without strong and rapid action there is a significant risk that climate change will undermine our society’s prosperity, health, stability and way of life.
  • To minimise this risk, we must decarbonise our economy and move to clean energy sources by 2050.
  • That means carbon emissions must peak within the next few years and then strongly decline.
  • The longer we wait to start reducing carbon emissions, the more difficult and costly those reductions become.
  • This decade is critical. Unless effective action is taken, the global climate may be so irreversibly altered we will struggle to maintain our present way of life. The choices we make this decade will shape the long-term climate future for our children and grandchildren.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Murray Darling Plan turning into a fiasco, with the Wentworth Group of Scientists leaving the process

Late last year the then Chair of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Mr Mike Taylor, quit because the Government made demands that were not only in conflict with the Water Act but were impossible to achieve.

Now the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists have left the process on the grounds that the plan is proposing to let the river die by not ensuring sufficient flow. (A paper on the Murray-Darling by the Wentworth Group can be found here.)
A group of leading scientists contributing to the development of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority's (MDBA) plan has pulled out of the process, calling the plan to fix the ailing river system seriously flawed.

The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists says it can not be part of a plan which it says will fail to fix the river system but waste billions of taxpayer dollars.

The group says no less than 4,000 gigalitres must be returned to the Murray-Darling river system in order to fix it, but says it appears that will not happen under the draft plan so it has resigned from the process.

"There's no point in us being part of a process if the process is fundamentally flawed, and unless there is an independent review of the science then we believe it is a fundamentally flawed process," Wentworth member Peter Cosier said.

The group says the MDBA is now aiming to return less than 3,000 gigalitres to the system following angry protests by irrigators when the initial figures and cuts to water entitlements were released last year.

More on the ABC website.