It is 9 am Wednesday 11 August, when I begin writing this piece. I delay because new facts are coming to light. Because the day’s forecast is for a warm sunny day of 21 degrees that invites an early spring, one side of me wants desperately to venture into my garden. Still, the other summons the necessity of critical news.
Climate Change is now a statement of fact.
Landmark assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) has confirmed beyond doubt that human activities were overheating the planet with temperatures not seen for hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of years.
Here are some of the key points in the IPPC report:
A.1 It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.
A.2 The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole and the present state of many aspects of the climate system are unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years.
A.3 Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Evidence of observed changes in extremes such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, and, in particular, there attribution to human influence, has strengthened since the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).
A.4 Improved knowledge of climate processes, paleoclimate evidence and the response of the climate system to increasing radiative forcing gives a best estimate of equilibrium climate sensitivity of 3°C, with a narrower range compared to AR5.
B.1 Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.
B.2 Many changes in the climate system become larger in direct relation to increasing global warming. They include increases in the frequency and intensity of hot extremes, marine heatwaves, and heavy precipitation, agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions, and proportion of intense tropical cyclones, as well as reductions in Arctic Sea ice, snow cover and permafrost.
B.3 Continued global warming is projected to further intensify the global water cycle, including its variability, global monsoon precipitation and the severity of wet and dry events.
B.4 Under scenarios with increasing CO2 emissions, the ocean and land carbon sinks are projected to be less effective at slowing the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere.
B.5 Many changes due to past and future greenhouse gas emissions are irreversible for centuries to millennia, especially changes in the ocean, ice sheets and global sea level.
C.1 Natural drivers and internal variability will modulate human-caused changes, especially at regional scales and in the near term, with little effect on centennial global warming. These modulations are important to consider in planning for the full range of possible changes.
C.2 With further global warming, every region is projected to increasingly experience concurrent and multiple changes in climatic impact-drivers. Changes in several climatic impact-drivers would be more widespread at 2°C compared to 1.5°C global warming and even more widespread and/or pronounced for higher warming levels.
D.1 From a physical science perspective, limiting human-induced global warming to a specific level requires limiting cumulative CO2 emissions, reaching at least net zero CO2 emissions, along with strong reductions in other greenhouse gas emissions. Strong, rapid and sustained reductions in CH4 emissions would also limit the warming effect resulting from declining aerosol pollution and would improve air quality.
D.2 Scenarios with low or very low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (SSP1-1.9 and SSP1-2.6) lead within years to discernible effects on greenhouse gas and aerosol concentrations, and air quality, relative to high and very high GHG emissions scenarios (SSP3-7.0 or SSP5-8.5). Under these contrasting scenarios, discernible differences in trends of global surface temperature would begin to emerge from natural variability within around 20 years, and over longer time periods for many other climatic impact-drivers (high confidence).
And there it is in all its naked truth. In Australia, the reaction is one of apathy. The government’s reaction is a mixture of boredom, insult and sarcastic yawning. If only we had a leader with the courage to take the lead and make the right decisions.
Reinstated Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has not changed his mind. He has rejected all calls for more vital targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions. He said that the latest United Nations report on catastrophic climate change wouldn’t change his mind without a cost of action.
In his typically incoherent mindset, the cost of doing nothing went over his head completely.
He wants some competent organisation to develop a costed plan for the government. He is part of the government responsible for putting the plan together, which has also escaped him.
We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet.
Now with Joyce back in charge of the Nationals, we have a Coalition entirely at odds with each other on how to proceed with the problem. The climate lunatics who have never been able to admit that they were wrong and that Labor was right are still dictating policy in the Party Room.
The Guardian reported that Scott Morrison has already contradicted Barnaby Joyce saying that:
“His cabinet will formulate a plan to reach net zero emissions after the deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce declared climate action plans were formulated by agencies, not by politicians who lacked relevant expertise.”
The same edition of The Guardian also reported that Dr Jonathan Pershing, the deputy to US presidential climate envoy John Kerry, said:
“I think you can say, observing from the outside, that – as a G20 member, as a leading developed country – the commitments they made in Paris are not sufficient.”
What has been missing is a leader with the intestinal fortitude to put politics aside and tackle the crisis head-on.
In terms of the environment I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today.
An often-used lie is that we are a small player, and our efforts won’t make any difference. If you combine our efforts with countries of similar emissions, then totally we are of great significance.
In another lie, the Prime Minister said that he didn’t say in 2019 that Labor policies to reduce vehicle emissions would “end the weekend” he wasn’t opposed to electric vehicles, even though he told voters they were expensive, would not tow trailers or boats, or get Australians to their favourite camping spots.
The evidence of him saying it is in black and white wherever you care to look.
So Labor’s Shadow Climate minister Chris Bowen last Tuesday asked the Prime Minister if he believed no one would match Australia’s “ambition for a technology-driven solution” – why did he claim before the last election “that electric vehicles would end the weekend?”
Yet another lie is the one that Scott Morrison repeats all the time, insisting that we are meeting our commitments. It is a lie of omission because, without the credits allocated to us at Kyoto and a pandemic called COVID-19 that has reduced our production enormously, we would not.
As reported in the Australian Financial Review:
“Australia is the only country in the world openly planning to use Kyoto carryover credits to meet its Paris agreement targets.”
They accepted the science of a pandemic so quickly, so readily. Still, in their stupidity, the government cannot take climate change seriously, yet it has the power to end the world as we know it.
Labor was right and they were wrong.
Think about this: If we fail to act and disaster results, then massive suffering will have been aggravated by stupidity.
Before Australians vote at the next election, before they move the curtain that hides their vote from view, they should ask themselves: “What exactly was the point of this decade-long government?”
My thought for the day
At the last G7 conference the Prime Minister described himself as a “conservationist”. In Australia we know that all the evidence suggests he is an environmental vandal.
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