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Category Archives: Environment

Book Review: Surviving the 21st Century

Surviving the 21st Century Humanity’s Ten Great Challenges and How We Can Overcome Them is Julian Cribb’s latest book. I was halfway through Chapter Two when I thought, “This book should be mandatory reading for every politician around the globe.” Everyone, politician or not, can benefit and learn from the insights and information Cribb shares with us.

Cribb takes complex global issues and distills them into a crystal clear picture of where we currently stand. Surviving the 21st Century will not be as easy as our leaders would have us believe. After my thought of required reading for politicians, I read the dustjacket reviews. I know, I know – odd timing, convention suggests I should have read them first, but I prefer to make up my own mind.

One of the dustjacket reviews by Professor Clive Hamilton, author of Requiem for a Species and Earthmasters:

With astonishing breadth of knowledge and acute observational skills, Julian Cribb has given us a book that is a kind of report on the state of life on the planet. At the centre of life on earth, he tells us, is the creature known as homo sapiens – self-deceiver, degrader, destroyer, anything it seems but sapiens. And yet, if we peer through the gloom is that a spark we can just make out, the spark of wisdom?

Jenny Goldie, past president of Sustainable Population Australia writes, “This is an important book. Few others deal with so many confronting problems in an integrated way.” The added emphasis is mine. This is what I see as the greatest value of this book to any reader: scientist, politician, educator or layperson. Emeritus Professor Bob Douglas says, “… absolutely essential reading for all politicians and policy makers, voters and young people everywhere. … Grandparents should read the book with particular care.”

Ten Greatest Threats

Cribb takes the ten greatest threats to human existence and suggests we do “the very thing we humans have always done best: understand and find co-operative solutions to life-threatening challenges”. He doesn’t just describe the threats, he offers solutions.

Cribb got me in the first chapter, Homo suilaudans. The Self-Worshipper. He describes how we ended up with the sapiens tag simply so the father of taxonomy could avoid a massive dispute (or possibly worse, given the era) with the religious fanaticism of his time. Heaven help anyone who suggested humans were not some form of divine special creation. Cribb asks the question, did this actually set a terrible trap for humans? Perhaps it did. “A name is who you are.” Or who you think you are, or want to be. As this book so clearly describes, we are not wise. Not at all.

A Topsoil Fact

Some of the facts Cribb covers I was already aware of. But I have learnt much. One learning that I found particularly interesting involves topsoil. Cribb relates how today’s crop varieties are developed to grow in modern, degraded soils. Such crops are lower in micronutrients and higher in carbohydrates and this situation is a major driver of the global obesity pandemic and other diet related diseases. I look at such things from a personal perspective – is this likely to be contributing to the ever increasing and as yet unexplained incidence of auto-immune conditions? I share this to illustrate we are ALL impacted, all readers will find relevance. All of the threats are relevant to all of us – it is our survival at stake.

The water situation globally is horrifying. Deforestation. Population growth. Bringing all these problems together is what Cribb does so well. Big problems, readily solved. If we use some wisdom.

I don’t want to share spoilers – this book is one each reader needs to discover at their own pace. I could not read this book in one session. It is damn scary. It is also immensely encouraging because while the facts are disastrous, Cribb clearly shows there are ways we can get through this. Ways to ensure surviving the 21st century.

If we stop being Homo delusus.

The human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is that he wants to believe.” – Voltaire (Surviving the 21st Century, p 171)

Like, you know, “clean coal”.

Fund Science

One conclusion I came to is the current trend of many in power ignoring science, of slashing funding for scientific endeavour, has to stop. That, my friends, is up to us, the voters.

I’ve never demonstrated or marched – been tempted a few times over the years, but never did. On Saturday, April 22, I marched. For science. I’m interested in surviving. I want my grandchildren to survive. I publish this review on ANZAC Day. My father fought in World War II – he didn’t fight so we could become extinct – at our own hands.

March for Science

“Please let me know the truth about Adani”

In supporting the Adani coal mine has Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk contradicted her pre-election promises to defend the Great Barrier Reef and promote ecologically sustainable development? AIMN reader Miriam English puts this to the Premier in this letter.

Dear Annastacia,

I was filled with great hope and happiness when you and your government were elected here in Queensland, deposing the callous and autocratic Newman government, however I’ve since become worried about what is happening to you and your government. Many friends who are firm Labor supporters attempt to quell my fears, saying that you have good and sensible reasons for what you’re doing, though their explanations don’t really sound very plausible to me.

Please, please let me know the truth. I’d like to support you, but am increasingly concerned that you may have abandoned your voters.

Can you please let me know why you support the Adani coal mine despite all the evidence against it?

Jobs. Even Adani’s own accountants admit he lied that it would provide many jobs, as it would be one of the most heavily automated mines in the world. It won’t provide the 10,000 jobs he was fond of saying. It will be unlikely to provide more than a few dozen ongoing jobs. Balanced against the Barrier Reef and all the hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect long term jobs it provides, the mine seems a bad choice. And that’s not to mention all the countless jobs and long term potential income to Queensland if we fostered growth in the booming renewable energy fields rather than the collapsing market for coal.

Money. Adani has a very bad record of gaming the system and of outright corruption. Queensland won’t see tax income from the coal mine. He will undervalue what it mines, ship it through tax haven countries, jacking its value up, then to India where he will sell it at vast profit, with Australia seeing none of that money. The billion dollars the federal government wants to give him will likely go straight to the Caymans. I find it difficult to believe we’ll see a cent of that invested here. Australia, and more importantly, Queensland, will lose enormous amounts of money from this mine. Compare that with the Great Barrier Reef which reliably generates billions of dollars via tourism, being one of the greatest wonders of the world. And let’s not forget the flow of money from technological and medicinal developments that are constantly coming out of rich ecosystems, such as the Reef. Also, worldwide, far more money was invested last year in renewable energy than in coal. Renewable energy is now a booming industry. Every dollar spent on coal is a dollar not spent in tomorrow’s renewable energy bonanza.

Market. The coal market has collapsed and continues to free-fall all around the world. China and India have stopped more than 100 coal projects. USA has no new coal-fired power stations intended and is gradually decommissioning all their old ones. Scotland has now gone completely coal-free. Beijing has just this past weekend closed the last of its coal-fired power plants. China’s peak coal use was in 2013 and is falling rapidly. India has declared it will end all coal imports in a couple of years. The world’s largest coal companies have been going broke as the demand for coal falls through the floor. Now is the very worst time to open a new coal mine. No financial group wants to invest in it — it’s why Adani turned to the Australian government for handouts. In contrast, the worldwide market for renewable energy is booming. Queensland is uniquely positioned to cash in on that… if our government removes the roadblocks. We could be making billions from renewable energy technology instead of wasting billions on coal.

Law. The law on Aboriginal Land Rights states that their land can’t be stolen from them. They must agree to any use of their land. They don’t agree to the Adani mine. That should be the end of it. So… we steal it anyway? The transparently illegal swindle of changing the law to make the theft superficially “legal” doesn’t actually make it right or moral. It is still illegal under international law and violates UN treaties we’ve signed. How can anybody have respect for a government that doesn’t respect its own laws? How can anybody have respect for laws so easily perverted?

Image from abc.net.au. Photo by Leonie Mellor

Environment. Adani has a terrible record of environmental vandalism, even flouting local laws and bribing local officials rather than fixing such damage. He is the last person to be allowed anywhere near Australia’s hyper-delicate ecosystems.

Climate. We would have no hope of meeting our CO2 emissions limits if the Adani mine goes ahead. Climate change is a genuine problem for all of the world, but especially for Australia with our proneness to drought and heatwaves. 97% of climate scientists around the world agree on the danger of global climate destabilisation. If you asked 100 doctors for diagnosis of a pain and 97 diagnosed you with early stage cancer, but 3 said you’re fine and to ignore it, who would you believe? If you believed the 3, how about after you find they’re funded by organ harvesting companies? Coal and climate change are killing the Reef. The recent collapse of coal around the world is the first good news we’ve had on climate change for a long time. It means we just might be able to stabilise temperatures, and actually work toward reducing them again. If the Adani mine goes ahead that is a threat to that. If instead we encourage renewable energy we can create jobs, make money, improve our image, and meet our emissions obligations. We might even be able to save some of the Reef.

Energy. Coal is a dirty, polluting energy source. Even if it didn’t have so many drawbacks, it is simply more expensive now than wind power and solar thermal energy. Solar photovoltaics now rivals coal in cost, and as its efficiency and price trend continues, will soon be more profitable yet less costly than coal. Queensland has far more sunshine available than most places around the world. Geothermal “hot rocks” are also available to Queensland for similar cost as coal. It seems to be irrational to continue to subsidise a dirty, expensive energy source when we have such easy availability of sun and wind. People might suggest that coal gives baseload electricity, but so do solar thermal power stations — they give power 24/7. Smart grids, like the Northern European countries have built also allow wind to provide baseload power. Most Australians live along the coast, which is where wind power is most predictable, with the temperature differential between land and water causing wind to blow from the water onto land during the day and land to water during the night. Solar photovoltaics electricity can also be evened out using batteries.

I hope you can calm my fears and explain your reasons for apparently contradicting your pre-election promises to defend the Reef, promote ecologically sustainable development, and limit global warming.

Best wishes,

Miriam English

There are two wolves and they’re always fighting.
One is darkness and despair. The other is light and hope.
Which wolf wins?
Whichever one you feed.
— Casey in Brad Bird’s movie “Tomorrowland”

Would anybody else like to contact the Annastacia Palaszczuk about their similar concerns? You can reach her via her Contact the Premier page here).

Let’s talk about Energy subsidies

By Peter McCarthy

On March 13  2017, there was an opinion piece in the Australian Financial Review entitled Wind and Solar can only win on a tilted playing field. Not surprisingly, penned by Brendan Pearson, the chief exec of the troubled Minerals Council of Australia.

Knowing the track record of trickiness from the Minerals Council, I thought it would be interesting to see what a little background check might reveal. I must admit to some trepidation because, when politics is involved, you have to be careful about the sources you use, but as it turned out, by using the same sources as Mr Pearson, International Energy Agency, the picture is far more interesting.

As it turns out the figure quoted is just about right, but what Brendan failed to mention is that subsidies for the Fossil Fuel industry are 4 times the size of those for renewables. Ouch.

Let’s look at the Global figures for 2014 so we get a fair comparison:

  • Fossil Fuels $550 billion a year and climbing.
  • Renewables $120 billion and climbing too, but remember Renewables is gaining market share so it is to be expected.

Currently Renewables are meeting an impressive 30% of the Energy market just with current technologies and new developments like Reposit are heading towards covering peak demand issues. It’s just a matter of time before the basket of technologies cover the market. Maybe before they finally get “Clean” coal off the ground.

To me, those figures look about even given the percentage of the Energy market both serve. That alone makes a strong case for Renewables because on current figures, the attempt to meet 2DS (limiting the temperature rise to 2 degrees scenario) is predicted to fail when we hit 3.6 degrees. A horrifying figure almost double the target. (World Energy Outlook figures). We simply can’t afford to generate any carbon without serious damage to the climate.

Not feeling nervous yet?

Here is the killer punch. The US EPA did an in depth study of the cost that fossil fuel pollution has on the health of Americans. Bear in mind that chaps like Brendan Pearson give a wide berth to any consideration of the health impacts of his product.

On US figures, the fossil fuel industry gets a free pass to the tune of 14 to 35 cents per kilowatt hour which is actually higher than the unit price in some areas. To put that in perspective that’s a full 6% of US GDP. Compare that to the official subsidy of about 0.7% of GDP and you start to see how serious that oversight is.

Interestingly, this is not an issue with Renewables with the possible exception of manufacturing plants depending on what chemicals may end up being used. It will certainly be many orders of magnitude less than the problems caused by fossil fuels where everyone cops a serve.

Even leaving aside the health impacts, the case for Renewables is a strong one and unfortunately for Mr Pearson, the Industry is well aware of the problems facing his product. He may be able to influence a few pollies with things like “clean” coal, but it’s a non-starter with Energy companies and Financiers. Unless the taxpayer foots the massive bill, the sums just don’t add up. Even if a political party starts funding it via the taxpayers, at best it will only last until the next Election and then the Voters will deal with the incumbents.

Our Pollies get a 3 year term, the Industry needs about 20 years to turn a profit. Unless you can buy both sides of the political spectrum, you have 3 years to break even. No wonder only a few short sighted pollies are up for it.

This article was originally published on 1petermcc’s Blog.

 

Climate change, power and coal

You may have noticed it’s been a bit hot lately. In fact, if you were born after 1985, you have never experienced a cooler than average month. Let’s just read that again so it really sinks in – if you were born after 1985, you have never experienced a cooler than average month.

The UK Government (amongst a lot of other experts in the field) states that Climate Change is happening, noting that

13 of the 14 warmest years on record have occurred in the 21st century and in the last 30 years each decade has been hotter than the previous one. This change in temperature hasn’t been the same everywhere; the increase has been greater over land than over the oceans and has been particularly fast in the Arctic.

It’s probably stating the obvious to suggest the UK Government is by nature conservative, as the Conservative Party is the ruling party at present. The same UK Government website goes on to list a number of detrimental effects of life (as they know it) changing in the UK as a result of climate change.

Regardless of the date you choose to start to measure from, and the scale of the graph you choose to draw, there is an upward line going to the right. Great if you’re looking at a company’s sales or share price, not so good if you are looking at the health of the world we want to leave for our descendants.

A number of scientists explain climate change as similar to pouring water into a bath. There is a lot of water in the bath and the water level is continually moving upwards. Dependent on where the spout you are using to pump water into the bath is located, there is a reasonable chance that the waves created by the water entering the bath will appear to reduce the height of the water in the bath on a momentary basis at points along the waveform; your brain will see though that the level is still rising. Climate change is where we are continually pumping chemicals into the atmosphere, which changes the way heat is dissipated. Let’s look at the UK Government’s website again:

Rising levels of carbon dioxide and other gases, such as methane, in the atmosphere create a ‘greenhouse effect’, trapping the Sun’s energy and causing the Earth, and in particular the oceans, to warm. Heating of the oceans accounts for over nine tenths of the trapped energy. Scientists have known about this greenhouse effect since the 19th Century.

The higher the amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the warmer the Earth becomes. Recent climate change is happening largely as a result of this warming, with smaller contributions from natural influences like variations in the Sun’s output.

Carbon dioxide levels have increased by more than 40% since before the industrial revolution. Other greenhouse gases have increased by similarly large amounts. All the evidence shows that this increase in greenhouse gases is almost entirely due to human activity. The increase is mainly caused by:

  • burning of fossil fuels for energy
  • agriculture and deforestation
  • the manufacture of cement, chemicals and metals

About 43% of the carbon dioxide produced goes into the atmosphere; the rest is absorbed by plants and the oceans. Deforestation reduces the number of trees absorbing carbon dioxide and releases the carbon contained in those trees.

So what does our ‘adult’ and ‘mature’ government do when South Australia again suffers electricity shortages? It claims that the fault for the outages is solely due to the state’s high (by Australian standards) use of renewable generation capacity. To emphasise the fact, Treasurer Morrison acts like a 5 year old taking his new toy to show and tell by bringing a lump of coal into Parliament.

Turnbull started this crusade when the entire South Australia power supply went down in September 2016. Turnbull claimed that the network was not secure:

Today, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said several state Labor governments — not just in SA — had set “extremely aggressive, extremely unrealistic” targets for renewable energy use.

“If you are stuck in an elevator, if the lights won’t go on, if your fridge is thawing out, everything in the kitchen is thawing out because the power is gone, you are not going to be concerned about the particular source of that power,” he told reporters in Launceston.

“You want to know that the energy is secure.”

While Energy Minister Frydenberg did acknowledge that the September 2016 power failure was caused by a significant weather event, ‘home town hero’ Senator Xenophon claimed that South Australia had become the laughing stock of the nation.

The reality is that the weather caused significant damage to not only the interconnector from Victoria and the national grid, it also caused significant damage to high voltage towers that took power from the base load generation equipment in South Australia around the state, as well as local cables that feed power into people homes. To make it even better, Turnbull knew that the September 2016 blackout had nothing to do with renewable energy.

Turnbull said: “What we know so far is that there was an extreme weather event that damaged a number of transmission line assets knocking over towers and lines and that was the immediate cause of the blackout.”

However, Turnbull also linked the blackout to South Australia’s use of renewable energy, calling it a “wake-up call” for state leaders who were trying to hit “completely unrealistic” renewable targets.

He said state governments needed to stop the “political gamesmanship” that had seen a state like Queensland set a 50% renewable target when renewables accounted for only 4.5% of its current energy mix.

“What’s the pathway to achieve that? Very hard to see it. It’s a political or ideological statement,” Turnbull said. “We’ve got to recognise that energy security is the key priority and targeting lower emissions is very important but it must be consistent with energy security.”

Seems that the facts weren’t allowed to spoil a good story, as this event preceded President Trump’s advisor Kellyanne Conway’s invention of the ‘alternative facts’ term by some months.

Fast forward to 8 February 2017 and 40,000 South Australians underwent the torture, euphemistically called ‘load shedding’ – where the electricity supply doesn’t meet the demand. Intelligent Energy Systems have suppled three graphs which explain the problem. The ‘National’ electricity grid (which doesn’t operate in the NT or WA) works on an economic free market system. The economic theory being that if the demand is there, various operators of the (generally) privatised power stations will bid for the ability to supply power. On 9 February, according to the ABC:

South Australian Treasurer and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis slammed AEMO for choosing not to turn on the second unit at Pelican Point on Wednesday.

“AEMO admitted that they got their demand forecast wrong in SA, and when they realised that, it was easier for them to load shed customers than turn new generators on,” he said.

But Mr Koutsantonis also revealed that three generators were out of action due to technical issues.

“There were communication problems on Eyre Peninsula, which meant 75 megawatts of Port Lincoln baseload generation could not be dispatched into the system,” he said.

Yes, you read it right, the market regulator chose to ‘load shed’ rather than ask a South Australian power generator to commence generation. In essence, the market regulator chose to withdraw power from 40,000 people rather than generate more power! And Turnbull claims it is because South Australia uses too many renewable energy sources. Isn’t the Liberal Party the party of small business – don’t they understand how the free market works? If they did (and actually wanted to ‘fix’ the problem), surely they would be asking the market regulator A(ustralian) E(nergy) M(arket) O(perator) why it is not allowing the market to operate?

Maybe there is an ulterior motive here. Remember Treasurer Morrison passing a lump of coal around Parliament a couple of weeks ago? Remember Turnbull’s ‘stirring’ speech accusing Opposition Leader Shorten’s apparent desire to live in a waterfront mansion? Remember the brouhaha surrounding the shortage of electricity in a state that does successfully generate a fair proportion of its electricity need from renewables? Perhaps, according to Paula Matthewson, writing on The New Daily’s website they are all related.

Onlookers may have been puzzled to see the coal passed along the government’s frontbench and then among its backbenchers (in direct contravention of the parliamentary rule against the use of props), but the purpose of the Treasurer’s behaviour was clear.

Mr Morrison set out to prove to agitating Liberal conservatives that, if there’s going to be a change of Liberal leader, he is the man to take the fight to Labor on totemic conservative issues such as coal-based electricity.

There are a few points to note here. Apparently Queensland has larger spikes in demand for power than South Australia does. Surely, if there is a reason to question how individual states manage the generation of power, all eyes should be looking at Queensland!

The vast majority of Queensland’s energy is supplied by coal and gas. In 2015, Queensland had just 4% of its supply coming from renewables, compared to South Australia, which had 41%.

“Clearly these figures show that other dynamics like market concentration and gas prices are contributing to these price spikes and volatility, not the penetration of renewable energy,” McConnell [Dylan McConnell from the Climate & Energy College at the University of Melbourne] said.

While the events in Queensland have not raised an eyebrow, the smaller volatility in South Australia last year hit the front page of newspapers around the country, with politicians and rightwing commentators blaming the state’s reliance on renewable energy, calling for a halt to renewable energy expansion.

The push against renewables was supported by the coal lobby too, with the Minerals Council of Australia saying the reliance on renewables “exposed families and businesses to higher prices, supply instability and greater reliance on imported power”.

The right wing of the Liberal Party also genuinely believes that climate change isn’t happening and carbon pollution reduction processes don’t work! Well, no it doesn’t actually:

Peta Credlin admits the climate change policy under Julia Gillard’s Labor government was never a carbon tax, but the coalition used that label to stir up brutal retail politics.

Credlin, the former chief of staff to Tony Abbott when he was prime minister and now a political commentator for Sky News, said the coalition made it a “carbon tax” and a fight about the hip pocket rather than the environment.

And finally, Bloomberg New Energy Finance has calculated:

“Clean coal” plants that the Turnbull government has flagged could get clean energy subsidies, are more expensive than solar, wind and gas-fired power and would lead to higher electricity price rises, analysts have warned.

Support for what the government calls “clean coal” stations – ultra-supercritical plants, which still emit greenhouse gas – would also be at odds with a 2015 OECD agreement under which Australia agreed not to fund any type of coal power in developing countries if cleaner options were available.

 

This article by 2353NM was originally published on The Political Sword.

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Abrupt Climate Change: there’s strength in the science

By Keith Antonysen

Various contrarian opinions are based on the fundamental premise of anthropogenic climate change in relation to how light interacts with radiated infrared. Seth Miller, a scientist, provides some history; and then, criteria in relation to how science matters can be rationally evaluated (1). Seth Miller uses 9 criteria to show the strength of the science in relation to the greenhouse impact of carbon dioxide (2).

Experimentation has provided credence to the notion of CO2 and how it interacts with radiated infrared, Seth Miller’s article discusses computer experimentation (3); while, a number of physical experiments have also taken place beginning with Eunice Foote (4).

Scientists when they write up their research do so for the benefit of their peers, not for lay people who have no expertise.

It is very clear that lay persons often misinterpret science, for any credible argument to be made the criteria provided by Seth Miller need to be met (5).

The Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) has stated: “Our window of time to act on climate may be shrinking even faster than previously thought” (6). The MCC has come to the conclusion that with the most pessimistic assessment that carbon emissions will extend temperature up to 1.5C over pre-Industrial levels within a year (7). The optimistic view expressed by the MCC is that it will take  emissions 4 years before the 1.5C mark is reached (8).

In relation to 2C above pre-Industrial levels the MCC indicates that the most pessimistic view is that it will take 9 years to reach the mark (9). The more optimistic view is that it will take 23 years to reach 2C above pre-Industrial levels (10).

Anton Vaks et al studied cave structure in permafrost areas, areas where permafrost has been intermittent; as well as, caves where permafrost has not been evident (11, 12). Their research found that 1.5C above pre-Industrial levels was a temperature when permafrost began to thaw (13).

The issue being that permafrost areas contain huge amounts of carbon and methane.

A recent study in relation to soils has found that soils are expelling CO2 at quite an alarming rate (14, 15).

Quote:

“Here we present a comprehensive analysis of warming-induced changes in soil carbon stocks by assembling data from 49 field experiments located across North America, Europe and Asia. We find that the effects of warming are contingent on the size of the initial soil carbon stock, with considerable losses occurring in high-latitude areas.”16

Also:

“Under the conservative assumption that the response of soil carbon to warming occurs within a year, a business-as-usual climate scenario would drive the loss of 55 ± 50 petagrams of carbon from the upper soil horizons by 2050” (17).

The Washington Post explains that as soils become warmer microbes increase their rate of respiration leading to an increase in methane and CO2 (18).

The N-ICE2015 Research Team ventured into the Arctic to overwinter from January till June 2015 on the Ice Breaker Lance (19). They were able to show how ice structure is at risk of being melted during storms; storms create upwelling of denser warmer waters which then impacts on sea ice (20).

Quote:

“Atlantic water (~+3.0°C) that flows into the Arctic Ocean west of Svalbard is relatively heavy and it sinks down to below the fresher and colder Arctic water. If left alone, it ends up at 70 m depth – where it melts little ice! But it isn’t left alone.

Storms over open water mix the ocean and bring the warm Atlantic water to the surface. The same storms set the ice adrift, which also causes mixing. Storms in the Arctic can be fierce….” (21).

Satellite technology is able to display ocean level rise, and temperature of oceans (22). The so-called “hiatus” did not occur, oceans were taking in temperature while surface temperatures were not increasing as quickly as they had previously (23).

For climate change contrarians to have any real arguments, they need to show how the 9 criteria outlined by Seth Miller are met.

The Arctic influences climate of the Northern Hemisphere particularly. Upwelling of warm waters off Antarctica is causing melting of ice sheets from below has been noted. Oceans comprise about 70% of the Earths surface; they store huge amounts  of energy. The prospect of stopping temperature increasing over 2C above pre-Industrial times is almost impossible without huge changes being made. Coal must stay in the ground, gas needs to be phased out, and transport needs to be changed to electric power. Currently politicians are fiddling at the edges, when strong policies are needed.

References:

(1) https://extranewsfeed.com/what-climate-skeptics-taught-me-about-global-warming-5c408dc51d32#.ctb2gbxyl

(2) ibid

(3) ibid

(4) http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/09/02/the-woman-who-identified-the-greenhouse-effect-years-before-tyndall/

(5) https://extranewsfeed.com/what-climate-skeptics-taught-me-about-global-warming-5c408dc51d32#.ctb2gbxyl

(6) http://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/01/10/ticking-carbon-clock-warns-we-have-one-year-avert-climate-catastrophe

(7) ibid

(8) ibid

(9) ibid

(10) ibid

(11) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130619101521.htm

(12) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N71YvYqJWQc

(13) ibid

(14) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/11/30/the-ground-beneath-our-feet-is-poised-to-make-global-warming-much-worse-scientists-find/?utm_term=.efe2ee660e8c 

(15) http://www.nature.com/articles/nature20150.epdf?referrer_access_token=BmdEW8DcS0_ks0i61YBpCNRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0Mik0TTmks8PdSiUZYeb2RTaphlX9NVLOupuFx1YhgjDvGGeCLPerMk5rv-tyJz7fQBSvInaTGQGDbQKyl8dEQ3ryikLEhZzteF3zYBsc5xuxW-J1mRmwTlD1g7oRmO-wYU13uaJWxiX_JYo73-QOiw-xbfizWVmxTl7WobjHv0aA3HuaRfCjjDo7iAXcmTnopHAVNo1IUS6t-uks2yPD8Njji9_kt4Cuq_XDe05iWGzAG2Opek86KQOQ56qcKDZ2dz-axysuRpK0HrijYzRjCMBhUKZpSj6yvsSA3vHISGvLc_9lwCgYE7xpjDspdEFU_afQfXEtjGYp3Rj-QzZz3X&tracking_referrer=www.washingtonpost.com

(16) ibid

(17) ibid

(18) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/11/30/the-ground-beneath-our-feet-is-poised-to-make-global-warming-much-worse-scientists-find/?utm_term=.efe2ee660e8c

(19) http://www.framsenteret.no/n-ice2015-following-sea-ice-from-dark-winter-to-sunny-spring.5852100-373134.html#.WIfFXLGr2YX

(20) ibid

(21) ibid

(22) https://youtu.be/aDB7QBjxoW8

(23) ibid

About the author: Keith Antonysen is retired. He is a keen gardener, photographer, and recreational fisher. The Vietnam War and later the flooding of Lake Pedder created an interest in politics which led to a passion for social justice issues. Currently very concerned about lack of action on climate change. Not a paid up member of any political party.

 

The Australian Government’s planned phase out of unleaded petrol is on the nose

By Dr Anthony Horton

Earlier this week, the Australian Federal Government announced a plan to phase out unleaded petrol within 2 years. The basis of this plan is unleaded fuel sold in Australia has the highest sulphur concentration of 35 OECD countries – according to the current Australian fuel quality standards, the sulphur concentration of unleaded fuel is 500 parts per million (ppm). As part of their announcement, the Government launched two Regulations and a discussion paper covering fuel quality, vehicle efficiency and vehicle emissions in Australia. Having reviewed these documents, the omission of the health impacts of benzene emissions from petrol leaves me to conclude that the Government’s planned phase out of unleaded petrol is a bit on the nose.

In the Regulations and discussion paper there is a clear focus on the economic impact(s) of increasing the fuel efficiency of vehicles sold in Australia and of tightening Australia’s fuel quality standards. Economic impact(s) are certainly an important consideration – cost benefit analysis has been part of standard business operations for decades. Drilling down into the economic positions presented in these documents however, I find it particularly interesting that the economic impact in terms of health outcomes is discussed in terms of particles, oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and Sulfur (SOx) and ground level ozone. This is interesting because while particles, NO2 and SO2 and ozone are important emissions from vehicles, a thorough economic assessment of the health outcomes should also include benzene. Benzene has replaced lead in petrol and is an aromatic compound – one of the first chemicals you may smell when filling up your petrol tank.

As someone who has worked in air pollution monitoring and management for more than 15 years and completed a PhD examining the excess lifetime leukaemia risk of exposure to benzene in petrol, I find the omission of benzene from the health outcome discussion disappointing. Like many chemicals, benzene has acute and chronic exposure symptoms and has been known to be carcinogenic (extremely harmful to humans) since the 19th century. The acute (short term) exposure health effects range from dizziness and euphoria to vomiting and loss of consciousness. The chronic (long term) exposure heath effect is leukaemia – based on exposure to very high concentrations over many years in occupational settings. As a result of the link between occupational exposure to benzene and leukemia, benzene has been phased out in many industries in which it was used (e.g. chemical manufacture).

As part of my PhD I conducted a study of personal exposure to benzene in petrol and recruited participants who were not exposed to benzene as a result of their occupation or from smoking. In addition to monitoring participants’ personal exposure, I monitored benzene concentrations at petrol bowsers, along freeways and in multi-storey carparks. Suffice it to say the highest concentrations were found at the bowsers which may surprise some people given that refuelling may only take 1 minute or so (depending on the capacity of the fuel tank). I suspect that many people fill up their vehicle fuel tank without giving much thought to the emissions that are around them.

The last stage of my research was a risk assessment which sought to determine what added cancer risk refuelling once per week posed over a lifetime. I used a World Health Organisation (WHO) risk assessment methodology which based the risk on a lifetime of 70 years. I found that the excess lifetime risk of refuelling once per week was approximately double that of commuting in Perth. Throughout most of North America and Europe, laws have existed for decades which mandate equipment being attached to the bowser hose that is essentially a vacuum. When you insert the nozzle from the bowser into your vehicle fuel tank, the vacuum forms a seal around the nozzle and tank so that your exposure is greatly minimised (if there is any exposure at all). To date, only one Australian state (New South Wales) has introduced a rollout of vapour recovery at petrol bowsers.

A previous article I wrote last year ‘Australian Government review of vehicle emissions has a now familiar aroma of disappointment’ discussed the Federal Government’s announcement of a working group charged with the responsibility of examining the implementation of Euro 6 vehicle emission standards for light duty vehicles (cars and vans), fuel quality standards, fuel efficiency measures for light duty vehicles (focusing on CO2) and vehicle emissions testing. In my article I expressed concern that the Government was ignoring the exposure of petrol station customers to benzene at the point of sale and in this week’s announcement regarding the planned phase out of unleaded petrol, it appears that the Federal Government has again missed an opportunity to reduce air pollution emissions and improve the health outcomes of Australian motorists by failing to acknowledge that any review and discussion of fuel quality and vehicle emissions in Australia must include benzene.

About the author: Anthony Horton holds a PhD in Environmental Science, a Bachelor of Environmental Science with Honours and a Diploma of Carbon Management. He has a track record of delivering customised solutions in Academia, Government, the Mining Industry and Consulting based on the latest wisdom and his scientific background and experience in Climate/Atmospheric Science and Air Quality. Anthony’s work has been published in internationally recognised scientific journals and presented at international and national conferences, and he is currently on the Editorial Board of the Journal Nature Environment and Pollution Technology. Anthony also blogs on his own site, The Climate Change Guy.

 

Protecting the Sacred

By R D Wood

At present many of our best natural features are treated as a resource rather than the precious environment they really are. That is to say, sites that are sacred are not seen as such. If one considers current regulation surrounding Indigenous sacred sites in Western Australia one notices the paucity of the system.[1] If a site is declared sacred it enters a registry. This is determined through a bureaucratic process involving traditional custodians. Whether the site is worthwhile to begin with must come from Indigenous people themselves even as the government can veto this. However, if a mining company desecrates the site, the fine it pays goes to the state government. In other words, the state government accrues revenue based on a value system that it does not take entirely seriously, and hence is complicit with companies in neglecting sites of profound importance. It is not only that the fine is set too low to act as a deterrent against multinational entities; it is that there is no incentive to stop desecration because the state government does not sufficiently care.

As a comparison, imagine if the Buddhists, Sikhs or Muslims were the ones who gained a fee if the Sistine Chapel was destroyed? It would rely on their goodwill or economic self-interest to ensure they did not change it or simply knock it down. This means there is a mismatch in a system of value, which simply underscores the colonial tensions at the heart of Australia. We need to realise that Indigenous legal systems deserve better representation when administering their own affairs through prescribed body corporates, which includes the ability to set and manage boundaries, raise fines, and ratify sacred sites. This way we will get a better outcome for people in the community and manage to educate people about how sacred the place really is. That this is the only moral outcome needs not be restated.

This is also the case when it comes to recognising the importance of wilderness as wilderness be that James Price Point, Beeliar Wetlands or the Great Barrier Reef. How do we put a price on the great outdoors? How do we put a price on exploring beautiful places that interest us all? Our frontier needs to be there as a possibility for how we live our lives right now, and how we intend our children too as well. Why do we continue to pollute our oceans rather than see them for the deep wellspring of life that they truly are? To overcome this we need to elevate all sorts of collective action that already takes place such as Clean Up Australia Day and the Walkajurra Walkabout. We are doing OK, but we must do better.

In that way we often think of the whale and not the water. We fail to see the forest for the trees. A whole permacultural vision of Australia acknowledges that we need to integrate systems-level thinking into our environmental consciousness. That means understanding that a price on carbon is simply one beginning. We need to think through all pollutants as symptoms rather than simply blame one part of the system. We need to undertake a reorganisation that is sustainable through understanding the whole and not the part. This is not to say we cannot tinker at the edges, but that we need to keep going to encourage genuine structural change through legislation that encourages a better form of daily life. We know enough is never enough when it comes to protecting the places that matter to us.

It might mean turning our waste into a resource so we do not further encroach on places that are sacred. This is not only through encouraging the consumption of recycled products as a type of substituted good, but also about finding worthwhile things in our discarded piles. Why can’t a tip be mined? Why can’t water be recycled for toilets? Why can’t we have fruit trees on public property? At the level of re-using though, there is something to a society that does not pride itself on a cycle of fast consumption and inbuilt obsolescence, something to those old glass milk bottles, something to the fact that a car once lasted twenty years. The government can regulate in this regard. This is not only about banning pollutants, but protecting consumers from the harm that ails us all.

 

[1]To read more about this I recommend Tod Jones’ article, ‘Separate but unequal: the sad fate of Aboriginal heritage in Western Australia’, The Conversation, 7 December 2015.

 

Technology Population and Behaviour; Connecting the Dots

By Sean Hurley

Our species has come a long way since early human history; we have left behind the life of the hunter gather and learned to manipulate our environment to our benefit. We have continually enhanced our ability to create to such a point that it is now having detrimental impacts on our tiny planet. Where once the horizon appeared to be a far off place, the world an expanse beyond our comprehension, and our desire to explore and learn has revealed just how confined we are on this rock hurtling through space. While we have learned to dominate our surroundings, we failed to consider the damage our actions are having on our life support systems.

As we come to understand the harm we have inflicted upon our global home, we have still found it difficult to question the fundamental social systems which have encouraged that behaviour. Instead we can tend to blame technology for certain undesirable social outcomes, or blame overpopulation for our inability to provide for each other.

We appear to be predisposed to maintaining the system whatever the cost, and we find anything else we can to point at as we try to find reasons for poverty, unemployment, climate change and species extinctions to name a few. However, we show a deep reluctance to question the fundamentals of advanced human society. How are we behaving and what drives that behaviour? What is driving the numerous global declines we are experiencing in the 21st century: technology, overpopulation or is there something else behind it? Something we don’t want to see.

Abrupt Climate Change: A Shallow Dip Displaying the Complexity of Climate Change.

By Keith Antonysen

On a New Zealand radio station Guy McPherson suggested that humans would be extinct within 10 years, he made these comments on 24 November 2016. (1) McPherson thankfully is an outlier in the concept of human extinction in such a short time frame.

Other commentators debunk McPherson (2); though, in research terms the referred article has been bypassed by new research. Powell, when assessing climate science journals suggested that there are something like 12,000 peer reviewed articles published each year (3).

In 2016 meta Reports have been published in relation to the Oceans (4 ), the state of the Arctic (5), and a UNEP Report on Emissions (6 ). These Reports have used hundreds of references, and represent the work of numerous climate scientists. It is facile to merely write these major Reports off with the comment that they belong to some kind of conspiracy which has an ideological basis, or they are being promoted for monetary reasons. The Reports rely on observed data, satellite data, and modelling.

All of these meta Reports have as an underlying theme of CO2 being a greenhouse gas. Already in the 1850s Eunice Foote was experimenting with CO2 and found that the interaction of light and CO2 created warmth (7).

The lead comments from chapter 2 of the Oceans Report states:

“Rapid and substantial reduction of CO2 emissions is required in order to prevent the massive and effectively irreversible impacts on ocean ecosystems and their services.”

“It is thus of critical importance that changes in the ocean are taken into account in climate talks, and a relevant architecture for this must now be developed. “ (8)

Also, from the Executive Summary:

“Sea surface temperature, ocean heat content, sea-level rise, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, CO2 emissions and atmospheric concentrations are increasing at an accelerating rate with significant consequences for humanity and the marine species and ecosystems of the ocean.” (9).

The Report comments on how there are already changes in Oceans providing difficulties for coral reefs, trouble for particular species and ecosystems. These matters need to be dealt with in a changing and uncertain future (10).

Through the warming of Oceans there has been significant changes in the distribution of sea weeds. Warm water based sea weeds have moved their habitat range from 26 to 1,250 kilometres North and South of the  Equator from environments they had traditionally been found at (11).

An assertion from UNEP Report: “The strengthened long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement require even stronger actions than previously identified, calling for accelerated efforts pre-2020, as well as increasing the ambition of the Nationally Determined Contributions. “ (12)

The Oceans and UNEP Reports provide information that indicate the enormity of the scale of climate change; in relation to Oceans normally sea level rise and acidification are discussed; whereas the Oceans Report extends discussion through broaching aspects of flora and fauna, some examples being micro-organisms, plankton, sea weeds, sea birds, and marine animals. The UNEP Report stresses the need for more action to be completed by nations to keep emissions lower than discussed at COP21 in Paris.

In relation to the Arctic “The fact that the Arctic is changing fast is well known: extent of sea ice, the condition of the Greenland ice sheet, the unusually warm temperatures are all widely reported – as are the new shipping routes opening up, and the oil exploration efforts. Less prominent, but also reported, are the stories of Indigenous Peoples whose livelihoods are disappearing, or whose villages are becoming uninhabitable.” (13) The Arctic Resilience Report discusses a number of changes; including shift to ice free summers, collapse of fisheries, and changes in the landscape (14).The Arctic is subject to human driven climate change which has an impact on risk factors in the Arctic Region (15).

A matter of concern: “The great ice sheet of Greenland was long believed to be resistant to climate change, as it takes thousands of years to respond to changing conditions. Recent observations suggest, however, that major changes in the dynamics of parts of the ice sheet are occurring over time scales of only years. The ice has been thinning at rates higher than expected due to warmer summers as atmospheric temperatures rise.” (16)

The ABC (US) found some stark comments in the Arctic Resilience Report: “While some changes, such as warming temperatures, are gradual, others, such as the collapse of ice sheets, have the potential to be not only abrupt, but also irreversible,” says the Arctic Resilience Report. “This means the integrity of Arctic ecosystems is increasingly challenged, with major implications for Arctic communities and for the world as a whole.” (17).

Temperatures have been extremely high in the Arctic over the last months with measures being up to 20C above normal. (18) (19).

In conclusion, it is very difficult to do justice to the meta Reports discussed; the aim of these comments was to display the complexity of climate change.  Clearly, many matters which have a bearing on what is happening in relation to climate have not been discussed. The meta Reports provide some optimism providing real attempts are made to reduce carbon emissions. Though real efforts to create change have not yet occurred, McPherson states that extinction is inevitable; a more likely situation is that the carrying capacity of humans, and flora and fauna species on Earth will be heavily reduced.

(1) http://planet3.org/2014/03/13/mcphersons-evidence-that-doom-doom-doom/

(2) http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/07/09/climate-consensus-deniers-97-percent-is-wrong

(3) http://www.csicop.org/si/show/the_consensus_on_anthropogenic_global_warming

(4) https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/2016-046_0.pdf

(5) http://www.sei-international.org/mediamanager/documents/Publications/ArcticResilienceReport-2016.pdf

(6) https://newclimate.org/2016/11/03/emissions-gap-report-2016/

(7)  http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/09/02/the-woman-who-identified-the-greenhouse-effect-years-before-tyndall/

(8) https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/2016-046_0.pdf

(9) ibid

(10) ibid

(11)  ibid

(12) https://newclimate.org/2016/11/03/emissions-gap-report-2016/  (through second hyperlink)

(13) http://www.sei-international.org/mediamanager/documents/Publications/ArcticResilienceReport-2016.pdf

(14) ibid

(15) ibid

(16) ibid

(17)  http://abcnews.go.com/International/arctic-undergoing-rapid-ice-melt-speed-global-warming/story?id=43806027

(18) http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/11/17/the-north-pole-is-an-insane-36-degrees-warmer-than-normal-as-winter-descends/?utm_term=.f11749cbda18

(19)  http://www.techtimes.com/articles/187237/20161128/a-warming-arctic-svalbard-archipelago-to-experience-average-annual-temperatures-above-freezing-point-for-the-first-time.htm

Keith Antonysen is retired. He is a keen gardener, photographer, and recreational fisher. The Vietnam War and later the flooding of Lake Pedder created an interest in politics which led to a passion for social justice issues.  Currently very concerned about lack of action on climate change. Not a paid up member of any Political Party.

Something we don’t want to talk about

By Sean Hurley

I advocate for fundamental social change.

I advocate for fundamental social change because I want our species to have a future. Even in the face of insurmountable evidence to the contrary, I tell myself that as humans we can change and create better outcomes for our children.

I had the idea for this post over a week ago, and it was going to be a very different article. I had intended to write about all the reasons I have for wanting to see our species change direction. To briefly summarize what I have looked into and explain how they relate to each other. For me climate change has been a part of that picture, but it was not alone, it was not the only reason to change. It still isn’t.

That was over a week ago now.

Since then I have taken in some material produced by Guy R. McPherson, professor emeritus of natural resources and ecology and evolutionary biology. Some of you may be aware of his work, others may not. He has what some people, well, probably most people, would call an extremely pessimistic view of the future for our species. I created a short video in 2013 out of an interview he did, in six minutes it gives you an overview of his position.

Basically, Guy expresses that we are doomed to extinction in the relatively near-term. I came across an interview he did in New Zealand the other day in which he has revised his expectations. Guy is now saying that there will not be humans on the planet in ten years. A decade!

How do you react to that when you hear it or read it? Of course the initial response by many, probably the vast majority, will be to reject it or dismiss it. A very good friend of mine after seeing the interview, a friend who I most deeply respect, expressed that it was one man’s opinion. To be sure it is, and of course hearing what Guy has to say is difficult at best.

I struggled with it. I am still struggling with it. I have been writing with Social Rebirth for a few years now. Long enough that we have had an initial release of the site, then changed tack and produced material on three different sites and finally came back and relaunched Social Rebirth again. That of course has made our content look like it has only been written in the past 2 years, when actually much of it was written previously and went through a re-edit to be posted after the relaunch.

Back in 2012 when Stuart Dobson pitched the idea of starting a website to Jules Elbeshausen and myself I decided that I would try to do my best to always address causality in my content. I have never felt like I was a great writer by any stretch of the imagination but, thanks to Stuart and Jules I think I have improved and come to really enjoy putting articles together. From the outset I have had a plan with my writing to try and produce articles that would work in conjunction with each other. I wanted them to not only be stand alone pieces but to also support each other, which recently culminated in Stuart and I selecting a range of our articles and putting them together into our first book From the Ashes of Capitalism.

I have, since starting the blog, been interested in showing the connection between our economic system, climate change, social disparity and ecological decline. I think that is an important picture for us all to be able to see, which is why I am struggling with the most recent Guy R. McPherson interview.

I have been researching what he is talking about for a few years now, and writing about aspects of it, so how did I not see the timeline? Maybe it is because I have been writing and reading about things in isolation from each other, which is exactly what I did not want to do. Even after collating the articles into the book, knowing things were not great, I did not allow myself to appreciate just how bad they were. Maybe subconsciously I did not want to. Who really wants to see the big picture when it is a picture of almost certain death? I just had to stop and laugh to myself. You see I am still doing it, where Guy points out species extinction is unavoidable in the near-term I want to add the word ‘almost’.

Perhaps I am optimistic to a fault; I want to hold onto the idea that as a species we still have hope, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The most troubling thing about what Guy is saying is that the evidence to support those claims is not hidden away. It is all around us, multiple agencies have been publishing the information for a long time. The thing is they have been published in isolation. We read articles about co2, species extinction, melting ice, ocean acidification, global dimming etc, but we don’t see them all wrapped up together at the same time.

This is what Guy has spent his time doing, he put the pieces together. It is extremely emotional to see, and it is difficult if not impossible to not have an emotional response to being told we are all going to die inside ten years. There are bound to be a range of responses to what he presents, people laughing at him, dismissing him, getting angry, depressed, we are humans after all and will have that range of responses. Which is why I find myself struggling with it, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I am finding myself constantly needing to remind myself to not be dismissive of what he is saying, to not look for people to blame out of anger, to not get upset about it because maybe it is not correct, to not just give up.

I know climate change is happening, I think the clear majority of people have come to accept that reality. I also accept that although our climate has changed in the past, and will continue to change into the future, the current change we are experiencing is human induced, or ‘anthropogenic’. So in the end I come to the conclusion that I need to try and be objective. I need to look at the information available and see where it leads. Do we still have time to change and avert disaster for our species and the many others we share this planet with? I hope so.

The one thing I think I can be certain of is that if we don’t do something serious now then the outcome will not be one we will want to talk about: our own deaths. If you want to take in the talk by Guy about climate change and our future it is in the video below. I don’t know if I want to recommend it. I will say this, if you are going to watch it try and remain objective. Try to catch yourself if/when you start to have an emotional response. I am going to try and prepare a series of work that will look at the current state of our planetary environment and explain what I find. I am also going to remain optimistic, because I feel we are a species with great potential. We will act or we will die.

You can review the work of Guy at his website, I encourage you to check his source.

Healthy States

By R D Wood

We need to be organised in such a way that we create a society where our good health is possible and enabled rather than fraught and fought for. The money we raise from taxing sources of our health problems (sugar, cigarettes, alcohol, gambling) needs to go into regulation and enforcement as well as prevention and education.

Even if we can agree that denatured, processed, sugary food is not good for anyone, we need to realise that every body is different. My traditional food is not the same as your traditional food; what is healthy for me is not necessarily healthy for you. People I know in communities in the Pilbara and Kimberley stay strong because they eat their traditional food. I know cancer survivors who swear that it was kangaroo or bush turkey or emu that kept them alive while they were undergoing chemo. And they are more than likely right. When I have visited my mother’s homeland in southern India, I have felt healthier after eating fish curry than I have on many occasions in many other places.

We need to diversify our idea of healthy food then rather than project a universal notion from a basis of perceived superiority. Spinach is good for some, coconut oil is good for others, goanna for others yet. We need to get away from the fetish for a particular ingredient be that avocado, quinoa or kale, not simply because different rules apply to different people but also because of the complicated flow of resources that happens when one is neither strictly local nor living in one’s ancestral homeland. This focus on food as a source of prevention and primary care could be traced back to Hippocratic principles, but it is there too in Ayurveda and traditional health systems as I have experienced them on Ngarluma and Martu country.

This is where the work performed by local primary providers, from GPs to nurses to food providers and educators, is essential to ensuring we can be as healthy as possible. One particularly heartening example of this is the Eon Foundation, which operates in 16 remote communities across Australia. It performs the work of the local farmers’ market in places where access to fresh produce is difficult. Founded in 2005, Eon builds:

Edible gardens in remote Indigenous schools and communities for a secure supply of fresh food, and partner with them to deliver a hands-on practical gardening, nutrition education, cooking and hygiene program.

It is a practical and holistic early intervention program that allows children the best possible start in life. They invest in a community for a minimum of five years, and contra the intervention, only go to communities where they have been invited. They have partnered with the private and public sector to deliver the best possible outcome for children on the ground.  As the 2013 KPMG report on Eon suggested, ‘it is a genuine community development approach that values long term engagement over rapid delivery, local capacity-building over passive hand-outs, and practical cooperation over top-down intervention, in the approach most likely to be effective.’

These kinds of initiatives are vital in places not only because of the healthy eating they promote, but also because they provide meaningful modes of positive engagement for young people. In the Kimberley these forms of positive engagement are vital to providing a supportive community in the face of unfolding trauma, which includes a continuing battle with youth suicide.

This is a mental health issue that needs our attention in the long term rather than simple outrage and media commentary when it is clickbait. Support for mental health services is vital. As with the case of healthy eating, this means sustained investing in the grass roots service providers who are working at the coalface. This early intervention is key and as Amanda Lee and Nicole Turner state in regards to remote Indigenous health:

Effective primary care strategies such as targeted family support, “well person’s health checks”, breastfeeding promotion and infant growth assessment and action programs are ready and waiting for funding to be implemented and expanded.

Preventative care such as good food provision and health checks are even more acute in these remote places because of the absence of tertiary services. We must rail against the expectation that one will have diabetes or become obese or suffer from depression and we must also challenge the idea that the services provided for those most in need cannot be different. In Jigalong for example, a mining corporation established a dialysis centre but only funded it for three years initially. That long-term instability means we cannot plan adequately and our costs skyrocket when we are being simply reactive, which is no way to provide good services for those who are suffering in our very midst. Access to a healthy diet means access to traditional foods, which means encouraging community-led health initiatives that acknowledge the realities of life in remote Australia. This is one way we can all take a step forward together.

 

Further illegal logging exposed in Tantawangalo State Forest

MEDIA RELEASE

Police and State Forests now at the scene.

Logging has been halted in Tantawangalo State Forest near Bega this morning. A tree sit is suspended 35m by steel cables connected to 3 logging machines. Evidence of systematic damage to forests in southern NSW as a result of government-supervised logging has forced the environment department EPA to again investigate the state-run logging agency, Forestry Corporation of NSW, Australian Natural Wood Exports (ANWE, the Eden woodchip mill) and their logging contractors.

Recent inspection of native forest logging practices in several compartments of Tantawangalo State Forest by conservation group South East Forest Rescue (SEFR) has uncovered fresh evidence of illegal logging of rock outcrops in the escarpment forest. The logging contractor has been caught red-handed parked right next to the breach in what should have been an exclusion zone.
.
Six years ago half of the coups in the compartments in this area were logged and SEFR reported numerous breaches, which were confirmed by the EPA. One concerned the logging of a rocky outcrop that continued into an adjoining coup. A year ago when SEFR became aware that Forestry Corporation were to log the remaining coups we notified the EPA of our objection to this operation because of the extremely high probability of further breaches and specifically the half logged outcrop.

Despite this Forestry Corporation has logged what should have been a 40m exclusion zone. SEFR has also identified several other probable breaches that need to be further investigated. Forestry Corporation has gone rogue and the EPA has failed to enforce compliance of the rules.

“This situation is outrageous.” Said SEFR spokesperson Mr Scott Daines. “ All these breaches should never have happened after we notified the EPA a year ago. These are systemic breaches, past audits have exposed illegal logging of endangered ecological communities, old-growth and rock outcrops, we have proven systemic re-occurring breaches on the south coast that show a pattern of wilful non-compliance.”

The EPA has handed out penalty notices to the Forestry Corporation in the past for breaking these logging rules, and is now prosecuting over breaches in Glenbog State Forest, yet despite this SEFR today confirmed that the illegal logging of native forests continues by Forestry Corporation.

SEFR has reported on rocky outcrop breaches in this area as far back as April 2010, and still there has been no noticeable change in the practices of logging contractors.

“The chipmill ANWE and the Forestry Corporation have gotten away with actions the average person would be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for,” said Mr Daines.

Damage similar to that at Tantawangalo State Forest was identified by South East Forest Rescue in other Tantawangalo compartments as well as Glenbog and Yambulla State Forests, after ANWE and Forestry Corp’s logging operations.

“These regulations have been in place for 18 years, they are simple to follow and yet they are being broken regularly,” said Mr Daines. “The EPA has tried ‘education’, warning letters, its tried fines, but nothing is working. Citizens can’t take FCNSW to court. It’s time the NSW Government cut the cord and ended destructive native forest logging.”

This peaceful action has also taken place because deforestation is one of the biggest causes of climate change and Forestry Corp are incurring a massive financial loss in native forests.

“South East Forest Rescue calls on the state government to suspend all native forestry operations on the south coast immediately. The unsustainable wood supply agreements have surpassed the tipping-point of credibility and integrity. The citizens of the state of NSW have been defrauded, and the forest-dependant species of our region have been the silent victims” said Mr Daines.

The time has come to follow New Zealand’s lead an end native forest logging once and for all.

Depopulate . . . or perish

By Harquebus

The overpopulation problem is one that never seems to be discussed by our misleaders politicians and misinformers journalists. It is time for these shirkers them to face up to their responsibilities and address this very real threat that is ‘population overshoot’.

It is only recently in the history of humankind that our numbers have been able to increase so dramatically. From an estimated 1 billion at the turn of the 19th century to the several billion that we have now, the increase has been truly spectacular. The main factors that have enabled this increase are sanitation, modern medicine, and modern agriculture.

With increased survival rates and the ability to feed the growing hordes, we have flourished in a world of natural abundance and surplus. Unfortunately, that world of abundance and surplus is no more. We have consumed most of it and are now entering a new era dubbed ‘the anthropocene’ along with our planet’s sixth mass extinction event.

When once trees regrew faster than we could chop them down, now we have destroyed all but two of the world’s large natural forests. When once our fish catch was limited by the number of fisherman, now it is limited by the pace at which fish can reproduce and most global fisheries have either been destroyed or are in terminal decline. Minerals and fossil fuels were abundant and obtaining them was relatively easy, now we dig and drill kilometers into the Earth’s crust to obtain them.

If our numbers continue to increase, the raping and pillaging of the natural world will continue until all that is needed to sustain us is either destroyed, poisoned or so difficult to obtain that doing so becomes pointless. And it will accelerate.

There are two main factors that contribute to this destruction: the number of people, and per capita consumption. One way or another, per capita consumption is going to decrease. The natural world on which we depend just can not support the current rate of consumption and survive. As crude oil depletes – and it will – the agricultural revolution that has fed us will collapse and there goes most of the population. No more will we be able to drive to the shops to purchase our daily needs and even if we could, there will be nothing there.

Do you want future generations to live with extreme hunger and poverty? A world where every man, woman and child scrambles and fights for every scrap that hasn’t already been consumed. In some places this has already begun. Would it not be better to reduce our numbers voluntarily, conserve what precious resources remain and give the natural world time to recover? Future generations must be owed at least this much.

Without voluntary population reduction and control, make no mistake, the natural world will do it for us . . . and it will not be pretty.

We have reached the limits. It is now time to face this reality and abandon the growth ideology or face an unimaginable horror in a world that has become increasingly hostile for us and the natural world that sustains us.

How we reduced populations voluntarily is another debate. Bringing this subject to the front of public discourse is the first priority and hopefully, this submission will help towards that aim. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

“Ecological reductionism begins with the true insight that humans and markets are not exempt from the laws of nature.” — Herman Daly.

 

How far off is abrupt Climate Change?

By Keith Antonysen

The debate about coal verses renewables can go on for a long period, but, nature makes the decisions in the end.

Previously, I have written about volume of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean; providing figures only for the break down of volume, the graph and comments by Dr Joe Romm ( physicist) put more of a perspective on it through comments and graph (1).

The headline from the article is:

“A collapse in Arctic sea ice volume spells disaster for the rest of the planet. Global warming drives a stunning collapse in sea ice volume.” (2).

Quote:

“The sharp decline in Arctic sea ice area in recent decades has been matched by a harder-to-see, but equally sharp, drop in sea ice thickness. The combined result has been a warming-driven collapse in total sea ice volume — to about one quarter of its 1980 level.” (3).

Also:

“Unfortunately, what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. The accelerated loss of Arctic sea ice drives more extreme weather in North America, while speeding up both Greenland ice sheet melt (which causes faster sea level rise) and the defrosting of carbon-rich permafrost.” (4).

Europe also is impacted by what happens in the Arctic, and ultimately the rest of the globe is affected.

PIOMAS is supported by data created by satellite … CryoSat-2 . (5).

Supporting incidental information comes from the thawing of permafrost; it occurs when temperature has been high for a considerable time. Islands off the Siberian coast are disappearing as permafrost is thawing and wave action is eroding them.  (6).

A British yacht sailed both routes of the North West Passage in 2016. In a press release it was stated :

“The Polar Ocean Challenge successfully completed their quest to sail the North East Passage and North West Passage in one season.  The North West Passage was completed in an astonishing 14 days due to the fact that it was almost totally ice free.  They encountered ice only twice in their 1800 mile NW Passage part of the voyage.  This highlights an extraordinary loss of sea ice in the Arctic in the 30 years that David Hempleman-Adams has been coming to the area….” (7).

Methane explosions have been reported by the Siberian Times and Western sources.

What is the significance of the Arctic sea ice breaking down?

Remember, Dr Romm’s article uses observed data to provide a fearsome headline indicative of the future.

The cryosphere (snow and ice) has a moderating impact on temperature and is a determinant of climate. We do not know what tipping points will be reached as the Arctic sea ice disappears. The trend line is not appearing healthy and is suggestive that the Arctic Ocean could be ice free in a decade plus/minus. Meaning worse extreme weather; damage to crops, fresh water being contaminated, war, and creation of climate change refugees.

Deniers have delayed a sequential approach to tackling climate change for about two decades. Action is becoming increasingly more urgent.

References

1. http://thinkprogress.org/watch-the-arctic-death-spiral-in-this-amazing-video-b63486b99383#.y6ogew60z
2. ibid
3. ibid
4. ibid
5. ibid
6.  http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/oct/14/thawing-permafrost-destroying-arctic-cities-norilsk-russia
7.  http://polarocean.co.uk

Keith Antonysen is retired. He is a keen gardener, photographer, and recreational fisher. The Vietnam War and later the flooding of Lake Pedder created an interest in politics which led to a passion for social justice issues. Currently very concerned about lack of action on climate change. Not a paid up member of any political party.

This article was published on tasmaniantimes.com and has been reproduced with permission.

 

Are we really doomed?

Many people are rightly concerned about the world’s growing population and its dwindling resources and if they aren’t, they should be.

As of August 2016, world population was estimated at 7.4 billion. The United Nations estimates it will further increase to 9 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in the year 2100.

But this doesn’t have to be and we don’t have to rely on plagues, famine, enforced sterilisation or murder to curb growth.

“Unsustainable population growth can only be effectively and ethically addressed by empowering women to become pregnant only when they themselves choose to do so.”

Examples from around the world demonstrate effective policies that not only reduce birth rates, but also respect the reproductive aspirations of parents and support an educated and economically active society that promotes the health of women and girls. Most of these reproduction policies are relatively inexpensive to implement, yet in many places they are opposed on the basis of cultural resistance and political infeasibility.

Eschewing the language and approaches of “population control” or the idea that anyone should pressure women and their partner on reproduction, Worldwatch Institute President Robert Engelman outlines nine strategies that could put human population on an environmentally sustainable path:

  • Provide universal access to safe and effective contraceptive options for both sexes. With nearly two in five pregnancies reported as mistimed or never wanted, lack of access to good family planning services is among the biggest gaps in assuring that each baby will be wanted and welcomed in advance by its parents.
  • Guarantee education through secondary school for all, especially girls. In every culture surveyed to date, women who have completed at least some secondary school have fewer children on average, and have children later in life, than do women who have less education.
  • Eradicate gender bias from law, economic opportunity, health, and culture. Women who can own, inherit, and manage property; divorce; obtain credit; and participate in civic and political affairs on equal terms with men are more likely to postpone childbearing and to have fewer children compared to women who are deprived of these rights.
  • Offer age-appropriate sexuality education for all students. Data from the United States indicate that exposure to comprehensive programs that detail puberty, intercourse, options of abstinence and birth control, and respecting the sexual rights and decisions of individuals, can help prevent unwanted pregnancies and hence reduce birth rates.
  • End all policies that reward parents financially based on the number of children they have. Governments can preserve and even increase tax and other financial benefits aimed at helping parents by linking these not to the number of children they have, but to parenthood status itself.
  • Integrate lessons on population, environment, and development into school curricula at multiple levels. Refraining from advocacy or propaganda, schools should educate students to make well-informed choices about the impacts of their behavior, including childbearing, on the environment.
  • Put prices on environmental costs and impacts. In quantifying the cost of an additional family member by calculating taxes and increased food costs, couples may decide that the cost of having an additional child is too high, compared to the benefits of a smaller family that might receive government rebates and have a lower cost of living. Such decisions, freely made by women and couples, can decrease birth rates without any involvement by non-parents in reproduction.
  • Adjust to an aging population instead of boosting childbearing through government incentives and programs. Population aging must be met with the needed societal adjustments, such as increased labor participation, rather than by offering incentives to women to have more children.
  • Convince leaders to commit to stabilizing population growth through the exercise of human rights and human development. By educating themselves on rights-based population policies, policymakers can ethically and effectively address population-related challenges by empowering women to make their reproductive choices.

If most or all of these strategies were put into effect, Engelman argues, global population likely would peak and subsequently begin a gradual decline before 2050, thereby ensuring sustainable development of natural resources and global stability into the future. By implementing policies that defend human rights, promote education, and reflect the true economic and environmental costs of childbearing, the world can halt population short of the 9 billion that so many analysts expect.

14 million girls are married before the age of 18 every year. In the developing world, poverty and traditional gender roles magnify this problem. 1 in 7 girls is married before age 15, and some child brides are married as young as 9 years old.

Each year, an estimated 16 million girls aged 15-19 give birth. Only 35% of unmarried girls and women in developing countries use a modern method of contraception — so most teen pregnancies are unplanned.

For every dollar spent on family planning, governments can save up to 6 dollars on health, housing, water and other public services. Family planning enables millions of girls to stay in school, saves lives and has the capacity to lift entire communities out of poverty.

31 million girls in the world don’t have the opportunity to pursue an education. Every day, they are taken out of school and forced to work or marry. One out of five girls in the developing world doesn’t even complete the sixth grade.

When girls have the opportunity to complete their education through secondary school, they are up to six times less likely to be married as children than girls with little or no education. Educated girls are also less likely to have unintended pregnancies as teenagers.

Educated girls and women are healthier, have the skills to make choices over their own future and can lift themselves, their communities and their countries out of poverty. Even one more year in school makes a difference.

Poverty is also a factor in people having large families due to previous high infant mortality rates and the need for more hands to help work.  Wealth eventually stops procreation in its tracks, a fact demonstrated by countries as diverse as Italy and Japan.

Most religions are going to have to do some soul-searching and change their views about women and  the sacredness of sperm.

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