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The window of life

Climate change is one of the hottest topics (pardon the pun) when it comes to discussion on this site but we haven’t published many new climate articles recently so readers, justifiably, have sought out the older articles to continue the exchange of ideas and opinions.

A new article is clearly overdue.

And I have just the thing!

Well, it’s not exactly new. It’s a piece I wrote many years ago for the now defunct Café Whispers, but for want of a ‘new’ article here on climate change  … I’ve taken the easy option. Nonetheless, it is just as pertinent today as it was at the time of writing.

I wrote:

Life, whether it be teeming in the universe or just the rarest of miracles, has either way been lucky to find a home on our fertile planet; that small, insignificant rock (in galactic terms) that just happens to be sitting in the right place of our solar system for life to survive.

It’s quite nice here. Apart from the extremities it’s not too hot, not too cold. If we keep it like that then I’m sure our stay here won’t be tenuous.

But just how lucky are we mortal types to have found this nice little spot to populate?

Immeasurably lucky, actually. Paradises like planet Earth are as accidental as the creation of life itself. It is like an oasis amid a burning, scorching desert devoid of surrounding life.

The galactic desert that surrounds us does not welcome life. Even our own sun, without which our planet would be sterile and without life, is miraculously at a safe distance so that life can prevail.

It is worth considering how fortunate we are to be able to exist on this small rock.

The center of the sun is a ‘mere’ 14.5 million degrees Celsius. A piece of it the size of a pinhead would generate enough heat to kill a person from 150 million kilometres away. How wonderful that the outer layers of the sun are much ‘cooler’, thus enabling life to exist on this planet. The coldest places in our solar system can be found at its edges where it is minus 273 degrees. How wonderful that our planet isn’t any further, or closer, to the sun.

Under what temperature extremes could human life survive? I’m guessing somewhere from a chilly minus 40 to a blistering 60. In planet Earth the gods have offered us a very small window of life.

Why then, are we so determined to damage it?

Look at the sludge that this planet has become. Look at the filth in the air, in the water and the earth of western countries and developing countries. It’s beyond belief. We see industries which are happy to choke the land, waterways and air for the sake of more profits.

The planet, obviously, isn’t important any more. Our term here is considered a right, not a privilege.

As it is it is a hostile planet: no-one gets off alive, but it’s still the best home we have.

What was once the solar system’s paradise, is now its rubbish dump. If we keep trashing it, destroying it, polluting it, playing with its climate … how long before we receive our eviction notice? How long before the window of life closes on us?

 


42 comments

  1. Freethinker

    The sad part is that in the last 100 years we have built an immense knowledge and it have served as “food” to feed the human greed.
    IMHO that it is the main cause of destroying the planet ecosystem.
    Only a very small percentage of the population live a sustainable life, those without greed and well educated and the indigenous people in remote areas of the planet.
    Within the small educated percentage of the population that believe that a change in life style it is needed only a tiny percentage doing something about it by changing their way of living.
    Our Universities and other education institutions (world wide) persists in teaching economy models and theories that go hand on hand with greed and consumerism.

  2. helvityni

    People were more concerned about Global Warming earlier on, we were all trying to do the right thing, even young children were interested…. Now not even our leaders seem to take it seriously…it’s all so disappointing.

    Thank you Michael, for putting your article up for the second time, lest we forget….

  3. freefall852

    Michael..I would think the “arguement” for a quick (as in soon) and long-lasting policy toward climate changing has been satisfactorily concluded a while back..hence the lack of anything “new” to add…the fact that not much has been done to achieve this is more a political arguement…THAT is still being raged…unfortunately on deaf ears and dumb intellects.

    I spent many fruitless lines talking point to point on the old Jennifer Marohasy blog to some of her creatures there, but it was a futile battle…My examples of soil temp’ measurements, ground water/salinity measurements and historical examples were many times trumped by their logic of BOM conspiracy and CSIRO figure manipulations…and , of course, that other satanic exampler..: NASA.

    As for the fluke of Life on Earth, one has but to look to the paddocks around this area to see how it all works..

    In one paddock, being many years back into the early part of last century, cropped and grazed to the sub-soil (as any mallee resident is aware), leaving little or no fertile top-soil left over the wind-swept paddocks, one is sometimes quite surprised to find a resurrected species long extinct from the site and the only way one can surmise its reappearance is by dropping from an animal or bird or blown-in with the wind..and such (I would surmise) is the chance of life on this planet, where at some time in the billions of millennia years of the universe, another planet, perhaps much like ours now, teeming with life species, explodes and while all breathing / pulsating life may be extinguished, the microbes, bacteria, fungi or DNA of that planet’s life-species is blown out into space, to be picked up and transported to hell knows where on the “back” of satellites and rocks etc. to the ends of the universe.to hopefully land on another suitable planet such as ours. Surely a one in a billion(squared) chance….and here we are..and so we now seem to be pursuing the addicted gambler’s opportunity to have another “roll of the dice” for one more shot at those one in a billion (squared) chance.

  4. diannaart

    @Michael

    …it (climate change article) is just as pertinent today as it was at the time of writing.

    Am interested in the date when you wrote the above article… nevertheless, it is definitely as pertinent today as it ever was. Action on cleaning up our mess has been proportionally slower than the couple of hundred years of ‘industrialisation’ (spewing into atmosphere?) which have altered our climate and consequential changes to our ecosystem, Earth.

    Perhaps we have missed the tipping point where action can make a difference… no-one really knows for sure. However, we can still adapt and plan ahead, by halting the mining of carbons, cleaning our rivers, building in harmony with our environment and ceasing, as much as is possible, our use of pollutant materials. There is no excuse, we really do have the technology.

    https://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-helps-engineers-plan.html

    People who work on building infrastructure understand the risks of climate change. As the Earth warms, new stresses are applied to our buildings, bridges, roads, houses, and other structures. Some of the obvious threats to infrastructure are from extreme weather including heat waves, storms, and intense rainfalls. There are some other less obvious threats, and many of the threats vary by location.

    Regardless, the planning for infrastructure relies upon a reasonable estimation of future climate changes.

  5. Michael Taylor

    diannaart, I think it was either 2011 or 2012. The reason I said just as pertinent today as it was at the time of writing is because I had hoped that the world had done more since then to address climate change.

  6. Michael Taylor

    Crikey, was it only 4 years ago, Bacchus? Seems longer.

  7. havanaliedown

    “the world had done more since then to address climate change”… I think they have less grandiose spankfests in glamorous locations, after converging via carbon-spewing-planet-killing-business-class jet travel. When they declare the next globalwarmingclimatechangeextremeweatherclimatechaosfivestarhotel conference will be held via Skype (or fat Al Gore eschews all the benefits of living in a modern industrialised society and quit his gigantic mansions to live in a cave – whichever comes soonest) I might take notice.

  8. Keith

    Thanks Michael.

    Something I’m noticing is that deniers generally are not responding as much to articles I read at other sources.
    It is getting to the stage where the costs of climate change are accrueing at a rapid pace ( Munich Re) . Chile has been hit hard through collapse of their fishing industry by a huge algal bloom , almost 50% of the coral of the Great Barrier Reef has died etc, etc.

    Much effort is going into stopping the reckless Adani Carmichael mine; Gina Rinehart is waiting in the wings to develop a mine also, something generally not discussed.
    Trump is virtually denier in chief, happily he is not getting a good reception from the Pope or European leaders in relation to his views on climate change.

    Young people who are taking the US government to Court appear to have won a moral victory with major fossil fuel companies which at first wanted to also be in Court against the young people, now fossil fuel companies are petitioning to be able to leave the proceedings.

    http://www.ecowatch.com/our-childrens-trust-motions-2422789150.html?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=4d427b7692-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-4d427b7692-86074709

    News flash:

    While writing this note had a email from Getup:
    Quote:
    “In stunning breaking news, Premier Palaszczuk just announced the Queensland Government will refuse to give the money to Adani.

    For the loan to go ahead, it has to go via the Queensland Government. Now that Queensland Labor have refused to act as go-between on this dirty deal, Turnbull’s craven billion-dollar payoff to Adani has been left stranded. “

  9. diannaart

    Michael, your reasoning is clear, I guess my comments not so much.

    I thought your article must’ve been written in the early 2000’s.

    You’re quite correct that so little has been done since… well, since over 100 years ago when 19th century scientific observers noted differences in atmosphere, climate since the burgeoning of factories, steam engines and the application of coal, gas and oil. Even earlier, in fact, humankind has burning stuff since fire seemed liked a very good idea at the time.

    😉

    Deniers behave as if someone thought up the idea of ‘consequences from polluting our planet’ last week – just to piss them off. They think it is personal.

    Planet Earth does not give a rat’s… it will endure regardless.

  10. Matters Not

    Keith re:

    Premier Palaszczuk just announced the Queensland Government will refuse to give the money to Adani.

    I suspect the ‘devil will be in the detail’. Politically, she is in a very uncomfortable place. Eggshells everywhere.

  11. LOVO

    Premier Palaszczuk has gone from Newman-lite to ‘gawd knows’ in the shortest expanse of time…one wonders if’n the fifty percentage points of the GBR tourism industry decimation has given her/it an kick in the arse. Mayhap this right winger-lite has woken up to her ‘stranded assets ‘-lite political future.
    What an disappointment she has been…….what an pumpkin scone she are, ay…….no, really. 😐

  12. paul walter

    Mattes Not, it is a complicated issue, mainly because of the Feds, particularly the Nats wedging and th interference from MSM, particularly Murdoch.

    The events need to be reported and read very carefully because of the tricky language employed, with consideration for the political nature of the background.

    Here is an example of a misreporting, in this case from the ABC:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-27/adani-coal-mine-in-doubt-over-qld-stance-on-federal-loan/8565940

    In fact the situation is not that the “QLD government will refuse to give the money to Adani”.

    What the QLD government has said is that it will not “facilitate” funding from the fishy NAIF fund.

    “Funds need to come directly from the Federal government…” the Qld Deputy Premier said.

    So Qld can’t stop funding but has reduced risk for Qld by leaving a final decision to Canberra, which is, of course, infinitely better resourced than the state of Qld…eg “put you money where your mouth is”.

  13. Johno

    Thanks Michael,
    Trump is keeping the world in so called suspense. Mr Trump tweeted: “I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!”
    And the adani saga continues…… come on ozzzie, come on, come on… give up on adani !!!

  14. darrel nay

    Scientists can’t predict next week’s weather with any degree of certainty so, obviously, we would be fools to place unwarranted confidence in long-term forecasts.
    I am old enough to remember when, in the seventies, the scientific ‘consensus’ was that we were heading into an ice age (global cooling) and then in the nineties it was global warming and now it’s “climate change”. Interestingly big-oil money funded all three abovementioned lobbies – hmmm I smell a fraud.

    Plants need CO2 to live.

    CO2 is NOT toxic – period.

    Paris Accord is just one more example of proven liars and criminals trying to steal our money. I mean Obama flies around the world in private aircraft with giant motorcades and red carpets while lecturing us about our carbon footprint – give me a break.

    If you believe in anthropogenic climate change and you genuinely feel the planet is in danger, then have the guts to go and turn your mains power switch off. My guess is that none of you will go off grid and so you’ll have to excuse me if I call you out as being a bunch of good-hearted but self-righteous virtue signalers.

    Cheers

  15. corvus boreus

    darrel nay,
    There are so many errors and misrepresentations in your last missive that it is not even worth properly refuting.
    You’ll have to excuse me if I respond that you are a grand conspiracy nut and a scientific ignoramus.
    Cheers yourself, phuqwit.

  16. Michael Taylor

    Thank you, cb, you saved me the bother of a reply.

  17. Rossleigh

    “CO2 is NOT toxic – period:

    Is that why if someone is locked in air-tight space they don’t suffocate?

  18. darrel nay

    reply for corvus boreus,
    I bet you don’t have the heart to match your foul-mouth – this is not the first time you have responded to me or others on this site in such a disrespectful fashion. Your disgusting abuse is acerbic and only serves to demean YOU. Abusing me may leave you feeling empowered but it is not constructive. Don’t you realise that there are young people on this site who deserve better.
    I could choose to meet you in the ‘gutter’ (and you should make no mistake, that if I met you in the mire, YOU WOULD LOSE!) but I would prefer to encourage you to raise the tone – I firmly believe you have more positive contributions to offer this site.

    Cheers

  19. darrel nay

    reply for Rossleigh,
    as you well know, suffocation results from shortage of oxygen and has nothing to do with co2

    Cheers

  20. Keith

    Darrel

    The press pushed the notion of an ice age being imminent in the 70s, scientific consensus was that warming would occur. Scientists working for Exxon Mobil believed in the consensus position (Inside Climate News plus other publications).
    Check out “consilience”; that is, science disciplines such as Biology, Geology, Physics, Chemistry, Oceanography etc support the concept of anthropogenic climate change.

    Oceans are warming, they take longer to warm than the atmosphere, check out the situation off Chile with a very serious algal bloom crippling the fishing industry .

    Check whats happening to Antartica and the Arctic; Greenland in particular.

    Some people deny that CO2 has little impact as a greenhouse gas; without greenhouse gases Earth would be a frozen orb.

    Experimentation which can be replicated is the hallmark of science.
    On Saturday 8th April 2017 experiments were conducted in an open air situation to display the greenhouse effect.

    The main experiment used as equipment a radiator, a thermometer, 5×2 litre bottles, and a hose to transfer CO2 created in two of the bottles, into another bottle. CO2 was created by mixing 2 table spoons of bi-carbonate of soda with 1/2 cup of vinegar. Two capped bottles one containing CO2 and the other plain air were placed equidistant from the radiator (about 1/2 metre away); while the third bottle containing ice was placed about a centre meter equidistant behind the two other bottles. The bottles holding air and CO2 had probes connecting them to a sophisticated thermometer.

    The radiator represented Earth bouncing back infrared radiation, the bottles displayed two different atmospheres, and the bottle with ice represented outer space. The aim of the experiment was to demonstrate how CO2 retains energy. Warmth is pulled towards ice (outer space) when the concentration of CO2 (greenhouse gas) is lower.

    In the experiment conducted, the bottle with CO2 was consistently 3C warmer than the bottle with air.

    There are several experiments which display the interaction between CO2 and infrared radiation, first conducted in the mid 1800s by Eunice Foote.

    Deniers argue against whats happening in Miami and many other environments:

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/bipartisan-bill-proposes-to-fix-floods-21479

  21. darrel nay

    reply for Keith,
    The experiment you describe is a simplistic experiment which fails to account for many critical factors including the multiple buffering effects evident in nature – such as the fact that plant growth accelerates in high CO2 environments.
    Again, I point out the simple reality that if scientists can’t predict the weather in a month within an accuracy of 1 or 2 degrees then neither can they predict the weather accurately in ten years within 1 or 2 degrees of accuracy.
    Further, why should be believe the climate change priests when they won’t turn off their own main switches – these people talk the talk but don’t have the conviction to walk the walk. I for one, won’t be following the advice of people who claim the planet is in critical danger but can’t even be bothered to turn of their own power, rather they find it easier to lecture us “deniers”

    Cheers

  22. Johno

    OMG darrel, sounds like you’ve been hanging with Malcolm Roberts just a wee bit too much.
    Cheers

  23. Keith

    Darrel

    Through our solar panels we put energy into the grid, we have planted a number of trees and have reduced travel. Many others would have taken similar actions; but, what individuals do is far less than what can be accomplished by councils and governments.

    The greenhouse effect has been known for over a century; fossil fuel interests have been orchestrating a denier viewpoint to rail against scientists only in fairly recent times. Who do you believe funds such groups as Heartlands, the Cato Institute, ALEC or other Agencies pushing the denier viewpoint?

    Something like 12,000 articles are published in peer reviewed Journals about climate change, literally only a handful are published by skeptical scientists per year (Powell et al). Now scientists are peer reviewing a number of articles written by journalists; journalists who deny anthropogenic climate change get a poor rating with the reasons given by a panel of scientists.

    As stated there are several experiments increasing in sophistication that show the greenhouse effect, on the day mentioned before a number of other experiments were conducted.

    You might like to investigate how many trees are being lost in the US through insect attack.

    Professor Anderson states that 10% of the wealthiest people create 30% of CO2. Most people do not own jets, helicopters, or multi cabined cruisers.

    American experience in relation to trees and climate change:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/05/go-west-my-sap/526899/

  24. LOVO

    reply for Johno
    Yes, both are classic case’s of ‘small man syndrome’ , but ‘they’ are easily dealt with…😤
    1. Read what ‘they’ say, then laugh out loud 😂
    2. Wave little finger in air
    3. Then move on 😉
    4. Don’t feed the Trolls….’they’re’ already full of shit. 😛

  25. Johno

    Lovo
    To be sure, you are spot on.

  26. Ceridwen66

    Darrel,

    Even at the risk of you labelling me a global warming ‘priest/ess’, I had to comment. I don’t know all the scientific ins and outs of climate change, so I cannot begin to comment on your more objectively focused statements – even though my current formal education is scientific it is political and sociologically based. I don’t know if climate change – I prefer the term Earth Changes – is man made or cyclical, but I know that it is real and impacting the globe in myriad ways. Apart from reading countless academic and peer reviewed journals and articles on the accelerating effects of an escalating unstable global climate, I believe I am in tune enough, aware and awake enough to instinctively ‘feel’ there is something not quite right happening, that something momentous concerning this planet is at hand.

    Listening to my own intrinsically reliable radar makes more sense to me than the inane, stale and unevolved crud parasites such as the blind, deaf and dumb Malcolm Roberts vomit out. Do you garden? Get your hands dirty? Cultivate a patch of dirt? I do, and over the last several years have witnessed disturbing events such as heat ‘melting’ silverbeet, vegetables growing out of season, fruit trees shedding during peak growing times and an unusual influx of garden pests. I know something isn’t right when the thermometer reads 59.4c in early December and a week later 14c. Record breaking storms containing record lightning strikes, hail and rainfall, record breaking floods, droughts and bushfires. Once in one hundred year storms becoming common place. Are you really so confident in your denial of a changing climate to ignore what Nature is telling you? It tells so many stories if you take the time to listen but alarmingly, cognitive dissonance is strong in some.

  27. astra5

    Michael
    Thank you for re-posting your 2013 piece. Sadly, the deniers are as vocal as ever. Facts and reason are irrelevant. How do we account for their beliefs? The phenomenon must be akin to a religious belief that although impossible to validate, is embraced fervently, woven into catechisms, recited mindlessly, and repeated endlessly. Malcolm Roberts’ utterances spring to mind.

    Of course the climate deniers would accuse the believers of the same mindless behaviour.

    So who is right? I back those with verifiable facts and impeccable logic. The world awaits a ‘paradigm shift’, as described by Thomas Kuhn, when suddenly attitudes and beliefs turn turtle and global warming becomes the accepted paradigm, just as the oxygen theory of combustion replaced the phlogiston theory that had held sway, despite the accumulating contrary evidence, for so long.

    Verifiable evidence eventually overwhelms invalid facts and flawed reasoning.

  28. Johno

    A few weeks ago my partner and I went to a talk at the University of South Australia about the Adani Coal Mine. Sara Hanson-Young, Bob Brown and others all contributed. Before their discussion a 30 minute documentary was shown about the mine. Below is a link to the trailer.

    http://www.stopadani.com/film

  29. John Lord

    I also wrote this a long time ago.

    ‘In terms of the environment. I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today’

  30. Johno

    Keith
    There is an interesting weather pattern happening at the moment across the bottom of Oz. A large almost stationary high is stopping lows coming north (to Adelaide) so our rainfall for this month is not looking good. Our revegetation projects depend on natural rainfall. Early days yet and my fingers are crossed for rain.

  31. Keith

    Johno

    It certainly is interesting but can’t really draw any conclusions.

  32. Freethinker

    IMHO if Australia follows the Finkel’s report recommendations will be like getting out of the Paris agreement.
    I hope that the Labor party will be no part on it just to do something about, the recommendations are weaker that what Howard recommended back in 2007

  33. diannaart

    FT

    From what I have read so far, there are loopholes the size of coal-mines in this report – no wonder the Finkel report is getting such a positive call from the LNP. Except for, maybe, Tony Abbott whose ability for comprehension remain MIA.

  34. Freethinker

    Yes diaiiaart, is not the best report and I am worry to see what will be the ALP reply to it.

  35. diannaart

    FT

    A convenient opportunity for Shorten to appear to be in bi-partisanship with LNP.

    If Adani mine gets up, it will be because Finkel’s report allowed way to much wriggle room.

  36. guest

    The deniers keep on denying but never really talk much about the science. Their discussion is mainly about economics or the politics. Deniers have no coherent science to justify their denial. Basically, they just deny.

    An example of a denial argument appeared as a paid advertisement in The Australian (9/6/17) from The Climate Change Study Group 2017, whoever they are. It was presented as a Socratic conversation between a Mr Smith and Socrates.

    The argument leads Mr Smith to admit the importance of CO2 in plant growth of the kind which became coal during the Carboniferous Period (c.359 – c. 299 million years ago). It says this:

    “Plants absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere prior to the formation of fossil fuels. Plants need CO2 and evolved when CO2 was at least four times the present level.”

    Which leads to this conclusion:

    “You have observed there was no dangerous warming prior to CO2 being absorbed to form fossil fuels. So how could the same CO2 that formed fossil fuels and now being released cause dangerous global warming?”

    It is a pathetic piece of sophistry in which Mr Smith is led down the garden path. And of course there are real people who are willing to believe it because they do not know enough to refute it.

    Wikipedia tells us about the Carboniferous Period:

    “The atmospheric content of oxygen also reached the highest level in geological history during the period, 35% compared to 21% today, allowing terrestrial invertebrates to evolve to great size.
    A major marine and terrestrial extinction event, the Carboniferous rainforest collapse, occurred in the middle of the period, caused by climate change.”

    Deniers and sceptics rely heavily on the fact that there have been climate change events in the past and see present climate change as just another example. But what they forget or ignore is the rapidity of present climate change. The changes in the Carboniferous Period occurred over 60 million Years. In the Devonian Period prior to the Carboniferous, CO2 was 8x present CO2 levels and over the 60m years of that period there were changes in aridity, glaciation and sea levels – as there are today.

    Tony Eggleton (2013) tells us (p.132) “At present the world is warming at the rate of 1 degree C in 60 years: that is, 20 times faster than any previous sustained rate of temperature change.”

    The idea that there were no ‘dangerous warmings’ in the past and that releasing CO2 from fossil fuels will have no effect is a complete furphy.

    Ask yourself, too, how many humans were there living in the Carboniferous Period who were affected by climate change then? How many people in the world today?

  37. Johno

    Keith
    This weather pattern across the bottom of Australia is continuing, the highs are rolling across back to back. June, July, Aug are trad. our wettest months. So far this June we have had 6 mm.

  38. Keith

    Johno

    Not good news in relation to poor rainfall.

    Where I live we are down almost 2 inches in our rainfall for the year so far, which is not particularly significant yet. A mate who lives about 250 ks away, has commented on the lack of wind.

    In relation to Perry and Pruit, only fools are dismissive of science. Trump’s cabinet comprises of climate change deniers.

    Yesterday a small township in Greenland was hit by an earthquake and tsunami: sadly, a few people are missing and a some houses were washed away.

    http://robinwestenra.blogspot.com.au/2017/06/tsunami-in-greenland.html?spref=fb

    It potentially is a serious matter in relation to climate change; further seismic action in the Arctic would be extremely bad news, though it is too early to tell yet.

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