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Is it politically possible to avert dangerous climate change?

In a comment a few days ago, I mentioned Mark Lynas' article in the Guardian titled "Climate chaos is inevitable. We can only avert oblivion." That article refers to a new report from the Stockholm Institute, which builds scenarios for climate change based not on technical possibilities, but instead on political possibilities. Even though we have the technological capability to avoid "dangerous climate change" if the will is there, what is the chance that the actions necessary will actually be implemented. Here's their rather oddly worded Press Release on the report:


Carbon Scenarios: Blue Sky Thinking for a Green Future

The Stockholm Network’s Carbon Scenarios – known as Kyoto Plus, Agree & Ignore and Step Change – describe 3 plausible futures resulting from 3 different approaches to climate policy at the international level. More specifically, they examine the various climatic, economic and social costs – and consequences – of international policy. Worryingly, none of the scenarios provides a policy which achieves climate ‘success’ as defined by the UK, EU and UN (a greater than 90% chance of no more than 2°C warming above preindustrial levels). Only one, Step Change, even meets the weaker definition of success of a greater than 90% chance of no more than 3°C warming above preindustrial levels that some in the UK and EU are now considering adopting in recognition of the fact that the 2 degree goal has already been missed. This should provide serious food for thought for environmental policymakers.

Summaries of the 3 scenarios follow:


  • This scenario presents one way of achieving a significant level of climate change mitigation, but still falls short of the current UK, EU and UN target.
  • It envisages a gradual process of cooperation, leading to a global cap on CO2 emissions by 2012.
  • Global average temperature has a greater than 90% chance of rising by no more than 3.15°C above preindustrial levels by 2100, and the global economy continues to grow, having successfully absorbed the costs.
  • However, longterm temperature may rise further beyond the threshold of ‘success’ and the cost and complexity of administering a global emissions trading system remains a longterm drag on growth.


  • This scenario examines the stages at which the positive momentum described above can stall and backslide, leading to competitive regionalism.
  • Global average temperature has a greater than 90% chance of rising by no more than 4.8°C above preindustrial levels by 2100, leading to a significant likelihood of substantial climate change to 2100 onwards. Moreover, while the initial costs of the global cap are not borne, regional schemes are less efficient.
  • Additional costs come from intensifying regional economic competition, including the use of carbon tariffs, and the very sizeable direct economic costs of a changing climate. Concerns about the economy in the short term lead to shortsighted decisions that substantially constrain growth in the long term and lead to serious direct human costs of climate change.


  • This scenario looks at the possibility that policy may take a radically different course in response to a step change in concern about climate change, which leads to the adoption of an entirely new policy framework – a global production cap.
  • This scenario shows the least climate change, with global average temperature having a greater than 90% chance of rising by no more than 2.85°C above preindustrial levels by 2100. As such, it is the only scenario that avoids crossing the 3°C threshold.
  • Initial costs are higher than in the other two scenarios, but the global economy sees the highest overall longterm growth due to the efficiency of the scheme, showing that a marketoriented system that focuses on the efficient allocation of carbon rather than a smorgasbord of specific sectoral policies offers the best chance of both avoiding severe climate change and maintaining economic growth while cutting emissions.

We invite readers to draw their own conclusions and use these scenarios as the basis for their own analysis. However, 3 lessons that stand out for us as critical for successfully addressing climate change are as follows:

The failure to achieve ‘success’ as defined by the UK, EU and UN: None of our scenarios has a greater than 90% chance of not going above the 2°C ceiling currently seen as the basis for climate ‘success.’ Policymakers must think seriously about adaptation to climate change now, as some degree of adaptation will be necessary, regardless of the scenario. While none of the scenarios meet the 2°C target, only Step Change meets the weaker 3°C target. The horse has bolted, but scope remains to contain the greatest damage via innovative and efficient policy.

The risks in the UNFCCC process: The current thrust of policy, although it may lead to significant climate change mitigation, is fraught with possibilities for backsliding, delay and inefficiency, as it relies on all the world’s countries moving forward slowly together. While this does not mean that this process cannot bring about significant climate change mitigation, it does mean that there are great policy risks involved.

The importance of wealth transfer: Although the developed world is responsible for the bulk of past carbon emissions, the bulk of future emissions will come from the developing world, especially its most dynamic economies. It is therefore crucial that the developing world is assisted with obtaining clean technologies. Furthermore, as at least in the short term, the bulk of the costs of a changing climate will fall on developing countries, financial assistance must be provided for allowing adequate adaptation.

Notes to Editors: The Stockholm Network is the leading panEuropean think tank and marketoriented network. It conducts research in the fields of energy & environment, health & welfare, intellectual property & competition, and offers a unique network of 130 + marketoriented think tanks across Europe.

Using emissions modelling done by the Stockholm Network on the basis of IEA Reference and Alternative Policy Scenario emissions models, the Met Office Hadley Centre used a simple climate model to project likely temperature rises to 2100 for all three scenarios. It is important to note that the emissions modelling was done by the Stockholm Network. The Met Office Hadley Centre's role was to convert the emissions into climate scenarios. The Met Office does not prefer any particular scenario or advocate any particular set of future emissions.

The scenario descriptions in the main report give a lot more detail, which gives us the chance to make some conclusions on the likelihood of their coming to pass.

All three scenarios make the giant assumption that the post-Kyoto process which began in Bali concludes in Copenhagen in 2009 with a global agreement on targets for reducing emissions from 2012 on, including China and the USA. If this doesn't come to pass, then the Agree & Ignore scenario probably represents the best outcome we can hope for.

The Kyoto Plus scenario assumes that the incoming US President moves quickly to implement a cap-and-trade scheme within the US and backs a global scheme; China and South Korea join in in 2013; and in 2015 there is global agreement on measuring and controlling emissions; although there are holdouts, generally the major emitters stay on board through the next twenty years.

The Agree & Ignore scenario basically assumes that many countries do not accept the provisional targets and there is considerable backsliding. Worth quoting some details:

The opponent in the 2012 Presidential election argues that the US must not yield sovereignty to an international body and must keep climate change policy implementation at home. In the course of a bitterly fought contest, the President narrowly loses the election.

After the global cap comes into force at the end of 2012, a number of problems start to emerge.There are cases of continued foot-dragging by certain governments, which fail to meaningfully implement their national carbon cap and continue to insist on overly large allowances.The argument most often put forward is that, despite the need to deal with climate change, for many developing countries economic growth still takes priority. Many countries thus avoid the cap and do not force their industries to accept carbon pricing. South Korea, for example, is unwilling to accept a national cap despite being near the top of the developing country ladder.

As a result, parties that intend to stick to their targets, such as the EU, increasingly face substantial domestic lobbying pressures from business, which is seeking some compensation for increased costs and lost international competitiveness. Business is sceptical that the international agreement will be enacted in a meaningful way and decides to focus on lobbying at the regional level.

Developing countries are still negotiating as a bloc and are unable to agree with the developed countries on the proportional distribution of the incoming revenue. The developed bloc remains reluctant to commit to making large wealth transfers to the developing world, particularly on an ongoing basis. Increasingly, developing countries read this delay in sorting out wealth transfer, particularly adaptation provisions, as evidence of the developed world’s unwillingness to help them to reduce their carbon emissions and to adapt to climate change. As redistribution fails to materialise, developing countries – especially the major emitters, flounder and fail to actively pursue the policies that are necessary for tackling climate change, blaming their lack of progress on the absence of a wealth transfer from the developed world.

All sounds terribly plausible.

The Step Change scenario assumes the intervention of chance: there are major climate disasters in 2010 and 2011 in both the USA and China, leading to popular pressure to do something drastic. That something is agreement on a global cap on the production of fossil fuels - oil, gas, and coal - with the market left to find the (much higher) price that will force consumption down to meet the emissions-reduction targets. Or essentially the exact opposite of current global political leaders' statements.

The Press Release wording is also somewhat opaque on the predicted outcomes: the desire to compare with the EU/UN targets leaves us with the horrible construction "greater than 90% chance of not going above ...", which tells us what we have a good chance of avoiding in each scenario, but doesn't tell us what is most likely. The full report has the graph below that we need to make that conclusion.

So, the lowest scenario (the deeply implausible production cap Step Change) still has a 50% chance of exceeding a 2°C rise, the "all goes as well as could be hoped in Copenhagen and thereafter" Kyoto Plus scenario has a 50% chance of exceeding 2.5°C and a 20% chance of exceeding 3°C, while the most likely scenario (Agree & Ignore) has a 50% chance of exceeding 4°C. We can assume that any scenario where the post-Kyoto talks collapse is at or above this level.

Now is a good time to remind ourselves of what this means for Australia, referring back to "How warm will Warming be?".  The essentially unavoidable 2°C rise means:

  • sub-tropical rain-bearing wind and weather systems will move further from the equator, meaning that drought events like those of the last few years will become more frequent and more prolonged: agricultural yields in the Murray-Darling will drop dramatically;
  • about half of Queensland's Wet Tropics will die, along with a large proportion of the species in them; the Great Barrier Reef will bleach, bleach again, die and then dissolve as the oceans absorb carbon dioxide and become more acidic;
  • cyclones will range further south and the combination of higher sea levels and consequent storm surges will wash away many coastal areas built on sand; bye-bye Noosa and Surfers
  • at two degrees or above, the Greenland ice shelf will melt: it may take centuries, but a 6-metre or so sea-level rise is coming sooner or later.

Predictions for Australia with a 3°C rise:

  • days above 35°C in NSW could increase 2- to 7-fold by 2070, while rainfall drops by 25%
  • in northern Victoria, rainfall will drop by up to 40%
  • the Murray-Darling basin will lose between a quarter and half its flow.

There is also the possibility of El Nino events that go on for decades or even the whole century.

"The combination of fire, heat and drought will make life in Australia increasingly untenable as the world warms. Farming and food production will tip into irreversible decline. Salt water will creep up the stricken river systems, poisoning groundwater supplies. Higher temperatures mean greater evaporation, further drying out vegetation and soils, and leading to huge losses from dwindling reservoirs stored behind dams.

At the very least, these changes mean big disruptions in everyday life for the average Australian, major economic losses and strict rationing of water. At worst, they may lead to population movements out of areas with too little water, and towards Tasmania and the northern tropical region whose rainfall remains more reliable. Life may simply not be possible in much of the interior as temperatures reach scorching new highs."

So that's the 3°C world - even the Kyoto Plus scenario probably gets us closer to this than to the 2°C rise: and as for the 4°C rise of the most likely political outcomes.

" none of the continent of Australia - except perhaps the extreme north and Tasmania - will be able to support significant crop production in the four-degree world because of heatwaves and declining rainfall."

For completeness, we should just remind ourselves that Agree & Ignore has a 10% chance of reaching the 5°C rise world - in Mark Lynas' words:

"With five degrees of global warming, an entirely new planet comes into being - one largely unrecognisable from the earth we know today. The remaining ice sheets are eventually eliminated from both poles. Rainforests have already burned up and disappeared. Rising sea levels have already inundated coastal cities and are beginning to penetrate far inland into continental interiors. Humans are herded into shrinking zones of habitability by the twin crises of drought and flood. Inland areas see temperatures ten or more degrees higher than now." 

"I find it difficult to avoid the conclusion that millions, and later billions, of people will die in such a scenario." 

We already know that our new not-so-shiny government thinks that it is more important to fund a tax cut for working families than it is to act to prevent this happening. It has shown itself firmly in the Agree & Ignore camp rather than Kyoto Plus.

We can hope for better: but hope is not a plan.


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"It ain't easy but it has been done before"

Organisations campaigning on climate change need to learn the lessons of the anti-slavery and anti-apartheid movements, says Ann Pettifor. By focusing on individuals rather than governments, initiatives such as the recent Energy Saving Day are bound to fail in their bid to reduce emissions, she argues.

To succeed, climate change campaigns first need first to unite - at both national and international levels.

Secondly, they must unite behind a radical goal that requires structural change, regulation and enforcement that will urgently drive down emissions and sequester carbon dioxide.

Thirdly, they need to exercise leadership by mobilising society in a concerted way behind this goal. This will intensify pressure on politicians and governments.

It ain't easy, but it has been done before; witness the Jubilee 2000 global campaign.

As things stand, the movement remains disparate, atomised and marginalised.

This frees politicians to expand airports and increase road capacity.

As most politicians continue rearranging deckchairs, those of us who believe that climate change is the biggest threat to the planet need to organise just like the movements that led to the abolishion of slavery and apartheid.

We must focus on governments we can bring about change, but we will have to mobilise.

Done before

John, The following is the first few paragraphs of an article printed in the features section of the Sydney Daily Telegraph dated August 2nd 1981.
It begins with the heading 'Armageddon is Nigh!'

THE 21st century is only 19 years away, but will there be anybody alive on Earth to celebrate its dawning? It's doubtful!
Doomsters have been prophesising the end of the world for centuries, but never before has scientific fact coincided so accurately with the forecasts of the ancient seers and prophets.
Short of a miracle — and one isn't forecast — only one conclusion can be drawn — life on Earth has too much going against it to survive for much longer.
The first ominous signs of the mind-numbing doom lurking less than two decades away are al¬ready beginning reveal themselves — exactly according to both the scientific and mystic forecasts.
There are two choices, either mankind will bring about its own destruction, or, as already scientifi¬cally calculated, a series of natural disasters on an unimaginable scale will change the face of the Earth, wiping out all life as we know it.

The whole article is gloom & doom from beginning to end. That was almost thirty years ago. Thirty years from now I predict that you will venomously deny believing what you believe today!

You do realise that fear is a marketable commodity and as such the media love it! So do the bludgers in the Global Warming industry who make a great living perpetuating the lie with their dubious computer models that can be tweaked to portray anything the warming fanatics care to put their devious minds to.

To my mind the 90min doco 'The Great Global Warming Swindle' easily shot down Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth' in flames.

Incidentally the ice caps have been freezing & thawing since time immemorial, a fact that can't be argued with as in Greenland the departing ice exposed countless proof of human agriculture that took place eons ago.

Stop believing all you see on TV. Most of it is diabolical crap designed to dumb down the masses, just like religion.

No one can prevent change. Humans will adapt.

Alan, I agree, when you wrote: "Incidentally the ice caps have been freezing & thawing since time immemorial." The climate has changed over history and humans have had to adapt to climate change in the past and we will have to adapt now.

The Greenland Ice Sheet is melting faster than previously calculated according to a scientific paper by University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher Sebastian H. Mernild published recently in the journal Hydrological Processes.

Ice melt serves as a highly visible, early indicator of the effects of climate change, and recent years have seen the pace of melting accelerate, producing sea-level rise that is faster than had been predicted. Rising sea level today is already worrying for many small island nations and low-lying coastal areas that face severe flooding and possible submersion. The geologic record, however, shows us that ice sheets have collapsed catastrophically in the past, producing rates of sea-level rise up to 20 times faster than today. Such examples warn us to take seriously today’s rapid ice melt as a possible harbinger of more serious and devastating consequences if greenhouse gas emissions are not brought rapidly under control.

The problems we face now are different are to those faced by earlier generations of humans. The point is that the current population is so high that we are already facing a food and water crisis.

When U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last January, his primary focus was not on the impending global economic recession but on the world's growing water crisis.

"A shortage of water resources could spell increased conflicts in the future," he told the annual gathering of business tycoons, academics and leaders from governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations.

"Population growth will make the problem worse. So will climate change. As the global economy grows, so will its thirst. Many more conflicts lie just over the horizon," he warned.

Glaciers and mountain snow are melting earlier in the year than usual, meaning the water has already gone when millions of people need it during the summer when rainfall is lower, scientists warned on Monday.

"This is just a time bomb," said hydrologist Carmen de Jong at a meeting of geoscientists in Vienna.

Those areas most at risk from a lack of water for drinking and agriculture include parts of the Middle East, southern Africa, the United States, South America and the Mediterranean.

Rising global temperatures mean the melt water is occurring earlier and faster in the year and the mountains may no longer be able to provide a vital stop gap.

"In some areas where the glaciers are small they could be gone in 30 or 50 years time and a very reliable source of water, especially for the summer months, may be gone."


THE UN World Food Program has singled out the drought in Australia as a major factor behind its difficulty in finding food aid for 80 million of the world's hungry.

WFP Asia head Tony Banbury told The Australian yesterday that the drought had hit the nation's grain harvest, not only driving up wheat prices but also drying up a traditional source of food for WFP.

"The drought in Australia, according to some scientists, could be evidence of the early impact of global warming and that's one of the causes of higher food prices," he said. "The weather events that have hurt production have obviously contributed to this (food shortage) problem.

In the past climate change has been caused by volcanic activity or comets striking the planet. Today the science is showing that it is human activity that is causing climate change.

Even agriculture and forestry are feeling the heat, claim scientists at 11 international institutions, including the University of Melbourne.

Co-author and Melbourne University climate scientist David Karoly said: "We are seeing the impacts of human-caused climate change in many natural systems much earlier than previous studies had projected.

"Without urgent action to slow global warming, much larger changes will occur."

Professor Karoly and his colleagues analysed data from published papers on changes to 829 physical systems and roughly 28,800 plant and animal systems, stretching back to 1970.

In roughly 90per cent of cases, they found the observed changes were consistent with previous predictions based on computer simulations, or models.

According to the scientists, their results build on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group I Fourth Assessment Report, which last year concluded that observed effects on biological and physical systems were likely caused by anthropomorphic, or human-induced, climate change.

It is hard to ignore the science, the climate is changing and most scientists believe that human activity is causing change.

We need to adapt again as we have in the past. This time moving to different more climate friendly parts of the planets is not an option. The best way for us to adapt is to reduce the human activity that is causing the change. We have the technology the only thing that is preventing us from change is ignorance.

It is only vested interests that are currently profiting from the use of fossil fuels that are trying to prevent human adaption. We will change as we have throughout history. We can be part of that change or we can try to block change. For me I want to help the human race to change and adapt to the current circumstances. That is why I support political parties that want to bring about change. It is the conservatives that are trying to prevent change and putting the planet at risk.

Climate crisis in Bangladesh and Australia

Johann Hari on his recent trip to Bangladesh:

"I decided to embark on this trip when, sitting in my air-conditioned flat in London, I noticed a strange and seemingly impossible detail in a scientific report. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – whose predictions have consistently turned out to be underestimates – said that Bangladesh is on course to lose 17 per cent of its land and 30 per cent of its food production by 2050. For America, this would be equivalent to California and New York State drowning, and the entire mid-West turning salty and barren."

And in Australia, a dismal snowfall in the mountain catchment at the head of the Murray threatens something similar for the Murray-Darling Basin. The governments involved face an invidious choice. They can can shut off water to the irrigators, and thus a substantial part of the cities' food supply, or open the barrages at the mouth of the Murray, and flood the accumulated salt out of the Koorong wetlands, killing them in the process.

Faced with this choice, and understandably perhaps, they opt to dither.

Farming in the Murray-Darling will end soon

The analysis in the original article suggests that there is very little chance of avoiding the Three-Degree World or higher by the end of the century. This implies that almost all farming between the Great Dividing Range and the Swan Valley will be gone by then. The only question is when.

This being so, I'm firmly on the side of shutting off water to the irrigators, and paying people to get out and do something else (or subsidising the transition into irrigation-free crops where that's viable).

Thanks, Akerman and the rest.

People just waited to see if the predictions from different boffins that gradually increased over the years, but always were sneered at by the rightwing think tanks and tabloid press in case they resulted in policies that might interfere with business as usual,"growth" and"development",for the vested interests that benefited from such mantras, were going to happened. As Cheryl Kernot said last week on Q and A, it was always going to be "tomorrow". Now "tomorrow" has arrived. It's just that nothing was done when it could have been.

And then there is the graft aspect. The big example, apart from Tasmanian rainforests, has been the twenty year epic involving the Queensland cotton-monster, Cubbie Creek. This has involved weakness and possibly corruption involving several politic parties and several governments, state and federal, and even in the current disastrous times no action has been taken to rein in the bloody thing, or operations like it.

But we poor consumers elsewhere are expected to get all anxious and frugal and do our bit when the powers that be whistle.

That's torn it!

Bastards!! I will never — repeat, never! — spend my tourist dollars in Iceland. And I'm thinking seriously of burning my Bjork dvd collection... er, all one of them... in protest. I think maybe there's a Sugarcubes song on some compilation cd or other that can go on the bonnie as well.

Iceland's inhumanity to ursine climate refugees would be enough to make baby Knut cry.

Fiona: Flocke (Nuremberg's little furry bundle) is also said to be most upset.

Kicking the "addiction to fuel-guzzling cars.

The fall in petroleum imports is paralleled by other trends, such as growing demand for smaller vehicles, hybrids and gas-powered engines, and growing numbers opting to catch or train or take a bus.

The figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that the rising cost of motoring is forcing people to drive less and use more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Petroleum imports in May were 28 per cent lower than a year earlier, casting doubt on the long-held view that Australians are unable to kick their "addiction" to fuel-guzzling cars.

The high price of fuel is changing our behaviour. This is great news for the economy (reduced imports should help our balance of payments). It is even better news for the planet. It shows that a carbon tax will change our behaviour. All we need now is political leaders with the courage to bite the bullet.

They'll move a lot of motions

The States and Fed Governments just keep on yakking on about the Murray being in its death throes with yet another gloomy report to be sat on it seems till November.

Surely with another dry winter forecast the urgency of the situation would move someone in the halls of power.

I just find the bureaucratic and government malaise on the Murray bordering on the absurd. It would be laughable if it were not so serious.

The inertia all reminds me of the similar inertia of a local Government body that was formed after the disastrous Kempsey floods in the late 40s and which planned to build mitigating earthworks on a grand scale to beat the next flood. Of that body with the most impressive name my late father wrote:

I have my doubts and trouble about this scheme they've planned
So many schemes lay buried 'neath the river's blackened sand
And though I'm not a knocker, I'll bet my Sunday shirt
That they'll move a lot of motions, but the won't move any dirt.

They did eventually move the dirt but it took a mighty long time. The Murray does not have that time.

I would love a dollar for every motion that must have been moved in various conference rooms over the poor old Murray in the last ten years, while the river just kept seeping slowly away.

Frostiest Canberra in 12 years - Aust. Bureau of Meteorology

Jenny Hume: "Mostly the lowest is around 5, and to date only one or two frosts this year."

Fiona Reynolds: "I was born in Canberra in 1955, lived there until 1979, and still return almost every year in July for at least a week. I have noticed a distinct change in the winter weather – overall both the days and the nights are warmer than they used to be."

"The average minimum temperature at Canberra Airport was 2.5 ºC, or 0.8 °C below the historic average minimum. However, at the more sheltered location of Tuggeranong the average minimum was 0.9 °C or nearly 2 °C below the historical average and the lowest since 1996.

A total of 19 frosts (minimum temperature below 2 °C) were recorded at Tuggeranong for the month, the highest at that site since records commenced in 1996.

The historical average is 14 days below 2 °C. Persistent high pressure systems with mostly clear, calm nights contributed towards the frosty conditions. The lowest temperature in the ACT was -3.5 °C at Tuggeranong on the 19th, following a cold front."

I think people's expectations are playing a big part in all of this.

Cold nights but ...

Above average maximum temperatures prevailed over the ACT during May. The mean maximum temperature for Canberra Airport was 17.2 ºC, which is well above the historical average2 of 15.3°C. This is now the 8th consecutive May with above average maximum temperatures in Canberra. Plentiful sunshine and a prevailing NW wind contributed towards the mild days. The highest temperature in the ACT was 21.1°C at Tuggeranong AWS on the 10th.

My emphasis.

Thank you so much, Eliot, for bringing the link to my attention.

May be gone wit' the wind, Eliot me lad

Tis June I be speaking of Eliot me lad but t'ank ye Fionasan for adding a touch of hot air to this verrrry important subject.  Eliot had me a tad worried there for a sec.  All those frosts in May ... goodness me, I must toddle off to that frosty hollow and try me feet at a bit o' skating on their little lake down there.

Meanwhile in the springylike month of June, the sun shines brightly o'er the hill o' home but I will try, try really hard, Eliot me lad, to get up termorrow with the sun and see if I can crack an egg in the freezin' dust in the Scot's backyard.......one should not lie and say grass coz there didn' be any. Oh for a crisp morn..

Now while we be on the important matter of 'ot and cold air, of which there be so much to share around 'ere, there be half a dozen antique brollies in this 'ere house so if you folk down there would like a bit o' shelter give a girl a call. They been cluttering up the cupboard for ten flaming years so I reckon they were a bad investment which I am now willing to trade for a shovel and a bucket to scrape up the frost for me one and only potplant. I reckon its worth saving coz its survived me this seventeen years gone by and.........now where was I? 

Oh yes, could someone let that polar cuddly know that there's nothin offering 'ere in the way of iceblocks to sit on, or suck on or....oh never mind. Tell 'im he's more than welcome coz we got our Eliot here to put things right for 'im.

Now for a nice hot cuppa and fill me hotty coz I got expectations that tonight's the night.....

Thaw in Iceland's zero tolerance on climate refugees?

The second bear has been shot too

Icelandic authorities had been harshly criticised for killing the first bear and had indicated they would try to capture the second animal, which was discovered by a 12-year-old girl as she was out walking her dog.

The chief veterinarian from the Copenhagen zoo had been flown in late Tuesday to help.

The police "tried to get close to [the bear] with our vet, but they did not get close enough to shoot it with the anaesthetiser," zoo spokesman Bengt Holst said.

"Then the bear started running, so the police were frightened they would lose control. The bear could run very close to the populated area, so they decided to shoot it."

Mr Holst said he believed Icelandic authorities had made the right decision.

"It was a security problem," he said.

That two polar bears that have made their way to Iceland in recent weeks could lend credence to warnings from experts that climate change is creating a more perilous environment for the majestic Arctic animals.

A warming climate means the ice - where the bears usually hunt their favourite prey, the seals - is receding and literally melting under their paws, forcing them to swim ever greater distances.

Environmental and animal conservation groups have long warned the polar bear was in danger, and recent studies indicated melting Arctic sea ice could cut their population by two-thirds over the next 50 years.

The world struggles to slow Japan's hunting of whales, and recently the Australia has been criticised for culling some kangaroos. The real threat to the all flora and fauna of the planet is climate change. The killing of these two polar bears is a taste of what our future holds as the effects of climate change and human population growth destroy the habitat of more and more endangered species.

Scientists agree on polar bears

John Pratt: "Those who still deny climate change will probably drink a toast the last polar bear."

Well, there's no denying the cold, hard, scientific facts:

"A scientific panel has urged Canada to act to safeguard the Canadian polar bear, which it deemed "a species of special concern" but not imminently threatened with extinction."


"The US government has listed polar bears as an endangered species, warning that melting of Arctic sea ice was threatening their habitat."

Glad that's been cleared up.

Options bets on Friday's price

Buyers of options closed out July's bidding yesterday generally betting on Friday's price being between $134 and $136. Impossible to tell at this point whether that's speculators or real oil buyers, but we'll see whether they're right. If the settlement price on Friday is above $136, I'd take that as a sign that the speculators are followers, not leaders on this.

Not definitive, by any means, but a sign. 

Shooting climate change refugees

Polar bears are rare sightings in Iceland, since they have to swim hundreds of kilometres through icy waters to reach the island from their natural Arctic habitats.

The bear discovered on Monday is the second spotted on the island in the past two weeks.

Police shot the first bear dead after it swam ashore, saying it posed a threat to humans.

As the ice sheets melt polar bears are searching for new territory. When they arrive we humans shoot them. I wonder how long it will be before we shoot other climate change refugees.

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration on Wednesday declared the polar bear a threatened species, saying it must be protected because of the decline in Arctic sea ice from global warming.

Those who still deny climate change will probably drink a toast the last polar bear.

Algal bloom idea stone dead

One of the proposed technical fixes to CO2 build-up - seeding the oceans with iron to promote algal blooms - has been pronounced dead this week: not only has the UN banned it because the potential dangers outweigh the benefits, another study shows that it potentially produces massive doses of a powerful neurotoxin (Bad Idea). 

In coastal waters, domoic acid is infamous. Shallow water blooms of algae in the genus Pseudo-nitzschia create large quantities of the poison, which can sicken and kill marine mammals, birds and even people who eat contaminated shellfish (New Scientist, 16 June 2007, p 18).

 ... when Silver seeded the [deep ocean] samples with iron, the Pseudo-nitzschia population exploded, and so did domoic acid levels. "They're really the first responders in the iron experiments," says Silver. "And domoic acid is a big reason why." The acid is a "chelator", she explains, binding to iron to make more of it available to the algae. Easy access to this nutrient would allow algae to out-compete other species.

Taxing on day one; shooting the taxers on day two..

David Roffey: "As for "the same reasoning as for Iraq", bushshit.  GWB said "on the basis of this evidence invented by Iraqi exiles, and ignoring the evidence from anyone who had a reason to know the truth, I believe we're in danger." The position on this debate that matches most closely to Bush's on Iraq is yours. Malcolm and Paul.

I don't care whose position you think it matches. I also couldn't care less about moral arguments. The economics of it are flawed and it's doomed to fail before begins. It's nothing more than a excuse for an idiotic attempt at wealth transfer and bigger more intrusive government. Failed before, and will fail again, and again, and again, and.......

Sorry, I thought you meant Canberra, ACT, Australia

Jenny Hume: "Yes Eliot, truly balmy spring days. Beautiful sunshine, parrots dining on the early  blossoms, daffs in flower and not a cloud to shadow one's day."

Are you sure you are in Canberra, ACT Australia, Jenny?

 I just googled "Canberra weather" and got this:

Weather for Canberra ACT
Mostly Cloudy
Wind: N at 11 km/h
Humidity: 51%

Tue 17°C | 6°C

Wed 17°C | 6°C

Thu 16°C | 3°C

Fri 14°C | 5°C

And in Sydney, it's cold and raining for the 16th day straight...


To my surprise, Eliot and Jenny, I cannot find montly average minima and maxima for any Australian city on the Bureau of Meterology website, so I had to email Melbourne requesting information from the excellent Met Bureau calendar in my study.

According to this source, the mean minima and maxima for June and July for Canberra are as follows:

June 0.9 to 12.2 averages
July -0.2 to 11.2 averages

I have no hesitation about agreeing with Jenny’s description of the weather as being “balmy”. I was born in Canberra in 1955, lived there until 1979, and still return almost every year in July for at least a week. I have noticed a distinct change in the winter weather – overall both the days and the nights are warmer than they used to be. Even my elderly parents, who feel the cold, turn the central heating off for a good six or seven hours during the day and not for reasons of economy.

Still balmy, Fiona

And it is still sunny and balmy outside, Fiona. So if 12 is the June max average we are running about 3 above for that at this point, even more for the minimum. Mostly the lowest is around 5, and to date only one or two frosts this year. So the 0.9 is way off target at the moment. And yes we do not bother to stoke the fire overnight yet to keep it going. Just let it go out and light again about 5pm.

The Scot is booked to go skiing in July.  Aint no snow to date.

I have never in fifty years seen the daffodils out in Goulburn in June. I planted the darned things to have spring flowers for the spring tourist period at the old home, but it seem they will be long gone by then. I guess I had better start planting summer flowers right now.

A common saying here and in Goulburn to each other is ...it just never rains. Who would have thought in cold old Goulburn that would be the case. I recall long wet weeks back in the fifties, muddy paddocks, the river breaking its banks up to twelve times a year on the farm there. It has now done that once in the past 10 years and only one moderate flood in 18 years. We always got floods in February most years. I guess Lake George tells the story.

I think since it has now become a dry plain, 19 miles long and 7 wide it should be renamed Georges Plains. No more cross lake swimming competitions. They could have two signs, one for when it is full when it can be called Lake George and the other Georges Plains for when it is totally dry. It has now been so for at least seven years.

Cheers from sunny warm Canberra to grey old Sydney.

Fiona: Meanwhile here on Groote Eylandt it is the peak of the dry season. The days should be sunny and calm, the nights just cool enough for a light jacket if outdoors. Instead the skies are grey, the winds strong; there's even been some rain - 5 mm on Sunday. Strange times?

Wet stuff

Eliot : "...Sydney...raining for the sixteenth straight day".

The New South Welsh now even swipe our (Adelaide's) share of the rain.


That's that wet stuff I almost remember from infancy...

Very droll Eliot

Very droll Eliot: Now perhaps the weather man should step outside occasionally and take a peek and lo, he will behold here a bright sunny day and not flutter of a leaf.

16 days you say. And there was I planning to make my first visit to the big smoke in God knows how many years, but sounds like one should stop at home or better still, head back to the western plains. Now there one can be assured it will never rain.

Cause and effect

Bill Avent: "It is well known that during periods in the planet's history when temperatures were in a state of flux, the earth's crust was wriggling around all over the place."

Great geological phenomena, like large volcanic eruptions and plate tectonics, could indeed cause climatic changes, but not the other way around.

The earth's crust is always "wriggling around all over the place" due to plate tectonic events. Not the weather.

Another theory being bandied around the web is that earthquakes are due to "oil extraction" and "mining".

If I'm a climate change skeptic, it's because so much of what is written about it on blogs like this has roughly the same level of scientific plausibility as Elvis Presley sightings and UFO abduction reports.

Still, I suppose we should be grateful that the earthquakes and floods in China have not been subject to the same level of insane, hysterical gobbldygook, apocalyptic ranting and tendentious finger-pointing that accompanied the Katrina floods in New Orleans.

Of course, if they could be blamed on George W Bush somehow...?

How do you know what causes what?

Eliot Ramsey: Of course, if they could be blamed on George W Bush somehow...?

Well, we could speculate on the effect of those bunker busters he's so fond of.

Earthquakes in China a result of climate change

Bill Avent: "The earthquakes in China have been attributed by some as being a result of climate change."

That wouldn't surprise me. Not that climate change would actually cause earthquakes - that would astonish me.

But that someone would attribute earthquakes to climate change - that wouldn't surprise me at all.

Next? Climate change causes "binge drinking"?


Eliot, many people would disagree with your skepticism, some of them with higher scientific credentials than your own (I'm guessing).

It is well known that during periods in the planet's history when temperatures were in a state of flux, the earth's crust was wriggling around all over the place.

They're going balmy in Canberra

Jenny Hume: "It is so warm it is like a late spring day." - June 16, 2008

Canberra temperature according to the June 16, 2008 Canberra Times: 4°C - 16°C.

Yes - warm, Eliot

Yes Eliot, truly balmy spring days. Beautiful sunshine, parrots dining on the early  blossoms, daffs in flower and not a cloud to shadow one's day. Global warming does have its upside. Meanwhile in miserable damp and grey old Sydney ... what lark could pipe to skies so dull and grey?

But I am sure nothing will stop you from piping dear lad, or is it lass?

I won't be looking at that wall any more

Malcolm, if you keep using something up, it will inevitably run out. Do you really need "credible scientific evidence" to understand that?

"The writing on the wall" comes from the Old Testament. I didn't know that. Now that I do, I can see that the concept it stands for is not worth considering. Thanks.

PS: Those rousing speeches of yours arouse …what? Not ennui, by any chance?

This is how science works ...

... in the modern world. Spare me phlogiston and other examples from a lost era where experimental philosophy was undertaken by lawyers and the like reading and debating, and not by testing theories against the real world. 

You have a theory: I have a theory. We both predict what we think will happen if our theory is right, and we see what the universe actually gives us. This gives us a clue about which theory was right. If it does what I predicted, I might be right, and I go forward to the next round. If it doesn't do what I predict, my theory falls by the wayside. While we're waiting for the universe to come down on one side or the other we can point out bits of evidence that support either side, but the weight of them moves the real scales not a bit.

Let's take the state of the oil market, it having a billion less variables than the climate stuff to make predictions on: I say the world's capacity to produce the stuff is limited to a number very close to demand, and predict on the basis of that, that the WTLI barrel price will go up to at least $120 by June 2008: others say there's no shortage and this is a speculative blip; eg Jay White: "mark my words, petrol will be back below $1 a litre soon and definitely by Christmas" [2005]. 

On the climate stuff, if we wait for the universe to prove the answer one way or the other we may be irrecoverably in a world where our civilisation may well end (read the whole Five Degree and SIx Degree chapters in Lynas' book if you think that's excessive - and those aren't predictions, they're descriptions of what the world was like last time it was that hot). In the meantime we have lots of smaller predictive tests to perform, and the fact is that thousands of those studies have been undertaken in the last twenty years, and the score so far is: reasonable backing for predictions based on GHG forcing of temperature: several thousand; backing for predictions based on any other source of forcing: nil - the temperature fluctuations go up and down at different times that when they would if the other causes were the culprit.

As for "the same reasoning as for Iraq", bushshit.  GWB said "on the basis of this evidence invented by Iraqi exiles, and ignoring the evidence from anyone who had a reason to know the truth, I believe we're in danger." The position on this debate that matches most closely to Bush's on Iraq is yours. Malcolm and Paul.

And, Paul, as for the chances of carbon taxes being implemented at a meaningful level, you're on the same (predictive) side as me: but that's exactly what the Stockholm scenarios are about, and I've made it clear that I think it's much more likely that the answer is no, which takes us to the Agree & Ignore scenario. But note that "carry on as we are" isn't the likely outcome of that scenario, it's a world where free trade ends between those regions that apply a carbon tax and those that don't, where energy efficiency doesn't rise as fast, leading to more wasted expenditure and lower economic growth.

Carbon here today gone tomorrow

David Roffey

The simplest line I can extract for you from the data above is this: on the best available estimates there is a better than 10% chance that the majority of Australia will become uninhabitable in the lifetime of our grandchildren, and that perhaps the majority of the world's population will die prematurely in that timeframe. Fine, party on down, it's only a 10% chance: you'd no doubt happily go out a mate's boat if he told you there was only a 10% chance of you being killed on the trip, but he served good wine.

The same percentage line of reasoning was used by the Bush administration before Iraq (immediate threat and all that). The tried and true appeal to emotion. Naturally if the percentages are wrong, it's only caused a minimum of problems, and it's of course for the overall good........

Most of the arguments about carbon taxes are irrelevant anyhow - they'll never see the light of day - or be so diluted as to be meaningless (symbolic). The carbon push will end the same place it began, in Europe of course, and the process is already underway.

It all must have seemed such a simple plan to begin with: Europe having nothing in the way of commodities, low level manufacturing, and the protection of a socialist economic relic to mindful of. Throw in an emerging "low wage" Eastern Europe, commodity deals with Russia, and a major commodity bubble (blockades today, burning down the cities tomorrow), and it all must seem a million years ago.

The taxes are a non starter simply because they're top down. Similar to pass the parcel, the taxes progress down the line (taking a piece of the middle as it goes), until the music stops (with the poor). The environmental fight around carbon taxes is a middle-class battleground. The poor don't care (they can't afford to), and the rich don't care (they don't have to), so here we all are stuck in the middle (yet again).

Industrial rising middle-class versus professional middle-class, who's going to win the battle and claim their rightful place in societies pyramid scheme? Actually, neither; they just don't know it yet. Rest assured they eventually will - reality has habit making itself known. Food, produce, housing, gasoline prices become more affordable yet? Anyone?

The problem with risks on small percentages: the percentage is always against you - eventually you lose. Any government thinking they'll win, bringing about great economic harm to the highest percentage of their voters, isn't going to remain a government very long. These politicians are, though, if not much else, pragmatic self survivalists. That'll mean however reluctantly, they'll eventually come to the right conclusion - lets call it the beauty of democracy.

Eh, hem

David Roffey, it's a long time since I got a decile 6 in First Level Chemistry (and I still haven't forgiven myself for getting the colour of burning sodium wrong) but it is more recently that I was exploding small arms fire. The combustion of cordite and HE produces CO2 doesn't it (as well as some nitrogen by-products)? That was my point.

Agree and ignore? Not at all: don't agree and I shan't until convinced by some cogent evidence but I can see merit in reducing unnecessary output and a lot of merit in using a free resource - solar power - rather than an expensive one - uranium or coal. Having seen that, my real point is: how do we adjust the economy to do it not only with the least negative impact but a positive plus - solar power (probably from space) to make us the world's largest net energy exporter.

As for the "We'll all be runed" mob. We shall. We're all going to die and I'm not planning a return on day 3 but the doomsayers have been around since Delphi (and that wasn't always easy to interpret). Bill Avent's "writing on the wall" comes straight from the Old Testament but I think some Arab had the view that the moving finger had moved on. Remember that Malthus bloke? Really bright but dead bloody wrong. Yeah, the weather's funny - the weather's always funny. We don't have very good records of it historically in the mid to upper atmosphere - only been collecting data since the 50s really. The rest is inferential.

Oh, bugger it, what's the use of trying to reason with you people? Let's hope the North Island of New Zealand blows up about six weeks after I've won Lotto. You'll all be out in a fortnight calling for global warming if that happens and North Bondi will never be the same - wait for the secession movement.

Oh, and Mr Pratt, we do have a Churchill in the wings - it's just that no-one will elect me.  Dunno why, my painting's terrible and I couldn't built a straight wall in a fit. By golly I give a rousing speech but.


Malcolm, the evidence is there in spades, and we have reasonably good analog measures for temperature records running back around 60,000 years. As for the upper atmosphere stuff, since the 1950s is fine - we didn't start overloading the carbon cycle until then, anyway, so that's all the records we need to 1) establish the carbon/weather linkages and 2) eliminate all the other proposed causes (sunspots etc etc) for lack of correlation with the data.

The world will end for all of us, but what we're talking about here is the world ending prematurely for a large number of our grandchildren. You may not care about what legacy we leave for generations to come, but I do. The simplest line I can extract for you from the data above is this: on the best available estimates there is a better than 10% chance that the majority of Australia will become uninhabitable in the lifetime of our grandchildren, and that perhaps the majority of the world's population will die prematurely in that timeframe. Fine, party on down, it's only a 10% chance: you'd no doubt happily go out a mate's boat if he told you there was only a 10% chance of you being killed on the trip, but he served good wine.

We have jumped off a twenty-story building and haven't hit the ground yet, so some of us are saying "well, people have been saying this is dangerous for ages, but it hasn't hurt yet". As Terry Pratchett's Rincewind said: "I'm not frightened of heights, heights don't kill you, it's the ground that kills you." 

Flow jist on, sweet Avalon and take David Roffey with you

There is no credible scientific evidence I have seen for global warming caused by human intervention other than the increase in the depletion of the ozone layer. That is credible and has been largely reversed although we might be on the border there on latest figures. The Ozone problem is a specific one about oxygen capture by radicals not by increased CO2.

Your rhetoric, Mr Roffey, like most, is hollow. I really don't care about your grandchildren. I have always been interested in the survival of the species. Other species have gone extinct before, what makes you think your sprogs are special?

When species go extinct it seems, as best we can judge, that it is some cataclysmic event - no control over those - that is the cause. Universes just evolve and there is no reason for them to regard your progeny as in any way special.

Now, I repeat, no doubt to the level of tedium, that I think there may be a better way of us doing things but I don't believe in immortality.

If you can give me any credible scientific evidence either that we have run out of oil, outstripped its supply or that we have contributed to 'global warming" other than the links provided so far, please do so. I am always amenable to rational persuasion.

Millions of people are going to starve, the contours of the continents will change: well there's a novel idea. Why is it bad? Why should the Universe be moral?

50,000,000 scientists can't be wrong - betcha they can. Try phlogiston. Try the idea of the atom. Try intervening variables. John Maze wrote a so-far unanswered article on that in the International Journal of Philosophy and my own contribution on the subject is not without merit.

Perhaps you should concentrate on hitting the ground running.

Slothfully yours,


A transcontinental soiree: why not?

Malcolm and Kathy, have I got the website for you two! Here it is: Climate Debate Daily. The calls to action are on the left hand side of the screen, and the paeans to complacency on the right. (Where else?)

Mind you, I only found out about it because it is a spin-off from Arts & Letters Daily, which I regard as a far more interesting site.

If you both visit CDD, Malcolm in Sydney with a good whisky (single malt of course) and Kathy in WA with a nice red (Margaret River of course), and compare notes by email, (real time exchange of course) I'm sure you'll have a cetacean of a celebration and an aggregated acropolis of agreement. But a warning: do not move to the left of the screen; you may become corrupted.

As for me, I'm a GH&GW sceptic too. Those on the LHS of the screen could all be wrong. Except that if it is they who are wrong, I will have lost a bit of time writing my big critique of carbon capture and storage (for Webdiary of course - coming soon to a computer near you). But if mob on the right are wrong, and too many have been persuaded by them, it will be utter catastrophe, and coming on like an express train. To everything near you. And me. Old Uncle Tom Cobbley and all.

If you are already aficionados of the CDD site, then please disregard everything in this post except the paragraph immediately above.

Good night and good luck.

Hi Ian

Hi Ian, thanks for the link, some interesting stuff there. Will have more of a look when I get the time. Whilst I am a global warming sceptic, and I feel that much unfounded hysteria has been generated from some quarters, I do believe that we need to look after the earth and its environment. We can all do our bit . Recycling. Walking instead of using the car. I always walk with the kids to school, even when it rains. My seven year old boy loves it .The puddles are very tempting!

An economy based solely on the profligate use of fossil fuels is not wise, anyway. We must concentrate on developing other energy sources, thereby reducing the amount of pollution in our precious world.

We need to preserve our earth for future generations, so I am certainly not averse to taking sensible, reasonable, and efficient measures to achieve this outcome.

I found this article Has Global Warming Stopped by David Whitehouse quite interesting, Ian.


PS A nice Margaret River Red sounds wonderful. Maybe tonight.

David R: on the New Staggers article, better to start with Mark Lynas' response to it: helpful quote: "Whitehouse got it wrong – completely wrong. The article is based on a very elementary error: a confusion between year-on-year variability and the long-term average."

Whitehouse vs Lynas

Kathy: Greetings.

I read the Whitehouse article a short time after it was published (Dec 2007), and I had my reservations straight away - mainly for the following statement:

"Temperatures across the world are not increasing as they should according to the fundamental theory behind global warming – the greenhouse effect. Something else is happening and it is vital that we find out what or else we may spend hundreds of billions of pounds needlessly."

Whitehouse would certainly appear well enough qualified scientifically:

"David Whitehosue was BBC Science Correspondent 1988–1998, Science Editor BBC News Online 1998–2006 and the 2004 European Internet Journalist of the Year. He has a doctorate in astrophysics and is the author of The Sun: A Biography (John Wiley, 2005)."

So it says at the end of his article. But what he says in the above quote is clear: until we know (presumably however long it takes to find out) what causes the temperature anomalies we find, no action on climate change or CO2 should be taken.

That I find to be extraordinary. Because the "hundreds of billions of pounds" (?) that we might save by going about business as usual and doing nothing until all the facts are in and we are sure and certain will be trifling beside the loss of the whole planet, which could happen if our carbon politics are based on the thought of people like Whitehouse rather than on majority opinion in climate science and bodies like the IPCC.

There is never final absolute certainty in science. Moreover, it requires a constant scepticism and a readiness to challenge even the most fundamental assumptions, as its trailblazers like Einstein, Wegener, Hutton, Darwin, Lavoisier, Galileo and numerous others did. Though I would rather that Whitehouse was right and Lynas wrong, one cannot follow such a preference and the Precautionary Principle at the same time.

The New Statesman article now has 1,289 comments in its comments boxes. (Puts even the most controversial WD thread to shame.) Most of them seem to be solidly against Mark Lynas, without managing to put a single dent in his case as I see the situation. It makes me wonder just what sort of people these days reads that august journal; though the commenters might all be blow-ins from cyberspace who have never seen a print copy.

As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow

Eliot Ramsey

Or a worst case scenario - there are no major climate disasters in 2010 and 2011!! What then?

The chances of a disaster not happening are slim, and he just left town. I find it highly unlikely that there's ever been a year without at least one natural disaster - it's called the weather. Those sneaky insurance guys would call it an Act of God.

Of course once people blamed such things on "a God". There was a virgin sacrifice or some such, and all was well again. Things were at least a little more entertaining back then - if not any less irrational.

June blooms

Well its mid June here in Canberra and Goulburn. Today I notice the daffodils are starting to flower, the Cootamundra wattle is about to burst into glory, (that is those that the ACT Government managed to miss in its clear out of them under its pest weed program), the neighbours peach or whatever it is is in bloom and the lilacs are budding. It is so warm it is like a late spring day.

All a couple of months earlier than usual. Wattle day is August 1. Maybe they better change that in future. And the Pressies their Daffodil Day too.

Which reminds me: I must plant those Cootamundra pods I scrounged from the last one the nursery sold, as it is now a prohibited plant in Canberra nurseries. Did you ever hear of such a thing?

Yes, Eliot

I am not talking about imagined scenarios, but in real things happening now. And writing on the wall. Real big writing on a real big wall.

The earthquakes in China have been attributed by some as being a result of climate change. Burma has been blown inside out. Floods in the USA have been described as one in a hundred, or two hundred, year events.

Closer to home, the climate has gone crazy. Lakes where people used to sail and water ski are dry. Weird weather events occur where they have never occurred before.

Read the writing on the wall.

The circle of life

Malcolm B Duncan: "The Club of Rome was predicting gloom and doom when I was at school."

In the seventies the two concerns were "global freezing" (I don't write of a return), and the end of all oil reserves by 1980. I also note the recent return of the disaster film genre, yes, made famous in the seventies. Seems that doom and gloom has been amongst every generation.

Bill Avent: "The people who believed in Santa would be the fools. "Gimme gimme gimme," they would say. "Look after me, I'm too foolish to be expected to look after myself!""

Alternatively they could be asking "get off my back". After all, it's the government taking their "earned" money. Judging by Australia's huge surpluses, it (taxation) is the best business in town.

They've never yet bulit a monument in honour of a guy that invented a tax. I don't see that healthy attitude changing in the near to long term future.

The continued calls for taxes (price hikes) on gasoline, and produce, even during record prices, tells people all they need to know. This is punishment for punishment's sake - a common thread through religions, and religious zealots. The rise of the "morals tax" isn't a coincidence.

The dogs are acting strangely

Bill Avent: "Aren't there major climate disasters happening in the USA and China now?"

Yup, floods in China and tornados in the Mid West. Don't know what to make of it.

David R: ... and that's your ten for today, Eliot ... 

Avaaz petition to G8 on climate change



Aren't there major climate disasters happening in the USA and China now?

David R: need to be big enough for people to be clamouring for the price of gas to go up, instead of the opposite ... The specifics of the scenario:

What really brings a new sense of urgency to the agenda are events in the US and China, which this time round experience the brunt of nature’s force. Like the European continent, North America experiences an unprecedented heatwave that leads to deaths in the thousands and ongoing blackouts across the Eastern seaboard. Meanwhile, in China a super-typhoon severely damages the port infrastructure at Shenzhen, while the smaller port at Fuzhou is almost entirely destroyed by another. At the same time, rain from the storm surges leads to flooding all the way up to Guangzhou, disrupting overland transport. The combined disruptions to the transport system caused by these events lead to significant interruptions and delays in China’s exports, causing some Western firms to question whether Chinese components can be a reliable part of their ‘just in time’ logistical chains. Of course, the super-typhoon not only damages the Chinese maritime infrastructure (consequently impacting on international trade), it also causes widespread damage to the region’s coastal areas, with social and environmental consequences. As the international community and the global economy struggle to adjust adequately to this series of misfortunes over the ensuing months, the summer of 2011 brings more of the same. Although the climatic elements are not as forceful this time round, the areas affected by the events of 2010 have only made a partial recovery. The destructive effect of further climatic chaos thus only serves to compound the problem. The social consequences of the two disastrous summers are felt globally, whether directly or indirectly.

worst case scenario

"The Step Change scenario assumes the intervention of chance: there are major climate disasters in 2010 and 2011 in both the USA and China, leading to popular pressure to do something drastic."

Or a worst case scenario - there are no major climate disasters in 2010 and 2011!! What then?

David R: well, duh, Elliot, then we get either the Agree & Ignore or the Kyoto Plus scenarios, more likely the former.

No, Eliot

The people who believed in Santa would be the fools. "Gimme gimme gimme," they would say. "Look after me, I'm too foolish to be expected to look after myself!"

 Just conduct a poll, and see what they say.

As I travel around the country making absurd promises

Bill Avent: "And bigger presents from Santa Claus."

Santa would be a complete fool to promise something he cannot deliver, wouldn't he? But don't worry, the House of Saud is coming to the rescue - of OPEC.

Must be time for another feel-good PR stunt. Maybe a 'Fuel Summit' in which media identities and rock stars can get together over a weekend and 'share their ideas' on 'green alternative technologies...'?

80% of voters would prefer Santa

Eliot, well, of course people would want lower fuel prices, wouldn't they? And lower alco-pop prices. And a bigger slice of pie. And bigger presents from Santa Claus.

Maybe they shouldn't have supported Howard's support of Bush's interference in that part of the world where most of the oil comes from, eh? Maybe they expected Rudd to turn the clock back?

Maybe they need to learn to read the writing on the wall.

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