Showing posts with label climate change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label climate change. Show all posts

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Eight Byron Bay businesses closing shop for 20 September 2019 global climate strike

Echo NetDaily, 13 September 2019:

There are few better ways to prove you’re serious about taking action on climate change than putting your money where your mouth is.
And a handful of Byron business owners are doing just that, electing to forego their profits so their staff can take part in next Friday’s global climate strike.

The March School strike for climate change Byron. Photo Aslan Shand.
Bella Rosa, Endless Summer, Baskin Robbins, Tasa Jara, Retrospect Gallery, Etnix, Beyond Oil electric transport, and Sustainable Futures Australia will all shut up shop between 10am and midday on September 20 for the global day of action.
One of the local organisers of the strike, Emma Briggs, said volunteers would be speaking to other local businesses in the coming days to encourage them to get on board.
‘I understand this is a significant sacrifice for business owners in a busy period, but the sacrifices we’ll all have to make if we fail to turn around the climate crisis will be far greater,’ Ms Briggs said.
‘It is the young people who will have the most to lose if we continue with business as usual.’
‘We would like to thank all our supporters very much, and hope that consumers will consider patronising the participating businesses who have shown they care about more than just short-term profit.’
Following the success of previous school climate strikes in Byron Bay, students are organising buses to bring in hundreds of strikers from around the shire to rally at the Rec Grounds at 10am and march to Main Beach.
There will also be a screening of the film Inferno at the Beach Hotel at 8.30am, with the march to kick off at 10am.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

North Coast Voices going dark on 20 September 2019 as part of GLOBAL #CLIMATE STRIKE

In solidarity with the youth of the world and in consideration of their future and their children's future in a world wracked by the impacts of climate change, North Coast Voices is going dark on 20 September 2019 as part of GLOBAL #CLIMATE STRIKE.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Australian Medical Association formally declares climate change a health emergency

The Guardian, 3 September 2018: 

The Australian Medical Association has formally declared climate change a health emergency, pointing to “clear scientific evidence indicating severe impacts for our patients and communities now and into the future”. 

The AMA’s landmark shift, delivered by a motion of the body’s federal council, brings the organisation into line with forward-leaning positions taken by the American Medical Association, the British Medical Association and Doctors for the Environment Australia. 

The American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians recognised climate change as a health emergency in June 2019, and the British Medical Association the following month declared a climate emergency and committed to campaign for carbon neutrality by 2030. 

The World Health Organisation has recognised since 2015 that climate change is the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century, and argued the scientific evidence for that assessment is “overwhelming”. 

The AMA has recognised the health risks of climate change since 2004. Having now formally recognised that climate change is a health emergency, the peak organisation representing doctors in Australia is calling on the Morrison government to promote an active transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy; adopt mitigation targets within an Australian carbon budget; promote the health benefits of addressing climate change; and develop a national strategy for health and climate change. 

The AMA president, Tony Bartone, argues the scientific evidence is clear. “There is no doubt that climate change is a health emergency. The AMA accepts the scientific evidence on climate change and its impact on human health and human wellbeing,” he says. 

Bartone says the climate science suggests warming will affect human health and wellbeing “by increasing the environment and situations in which infectious diseases can be transmitted, and through more extreme weather events, particularly heatwaves”. 

“Climate change will cause higher mortality and morbidity from heat stress,” the AMA president says. “Climate change will cause injury and mortality from increasingly severe weather events. Climate change will cause increases in the transmission of vector-borne diseases. Climate change will cause food insecurity resulting from declines in agricultural outputs. Climate change will cause a higher incidence of mental ill-health. 

“These effects are already being observed internationally and in Australia.” 

Bartone told Guardian Australia the motion adopted by the federal council had followed an ongoing discussion among stakeholders, and medical practitioners within the AMA membership....... 

 The latest official data released last week confirms that greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise in Australia. National emissions increased by 3.1m tonnes in the year to March to reach 538.9m tonnes, a 0.6% jump on the previous year. 

Emissions in Australia have increased every year since the Abbott government repealed a national carbon price after taking office in 2013.

Friday, 30 August 2019

NSW irrigators still have their heads buried deep in the sand of dry river beds

Ahead of the NSW Local Government Annual Conference to be held from 14-16 October 2019 irrigators' demands are becoming evermore unrealistic in the face of growing surface water shortages due to drought and climate change.

And once again damming and diverting water from the Clarence River system is mentioned.

One has to wonder if the irrigators in the article below realise that, at the point where all the main river tributaries have contributed to the Clarence River flow, water height was only 0.89 metres or slightly less than 3 feet on 28 August 2019, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology which publishes recorded river heights for NSW Northern Rivers.

Water NSW graphs

Further upriver at Tabulum water height was recorded as only -0.04 metres.

The wide full river that these irrigators see on the Internet only runs from Grafton to the sea (approx. 52 kms as the crow flies) and all that way it is saline because the lower river is tidal and that additional undrinkable water volume comes from the ocean.

The Irrigator, Leeton NSW, 27 August 2019, p.5: 

Community leaders agreed to work together to "claw back" water from the NSW government at a Build More Dams meeting recently. 

The meeting attendees agreed to lobby the state government to return "voluntary contributions" of water, which have been siphoned from MIA irrigators since 2002. 

Irrigators had been giving up five per cent of their high security allocations and 15 per cent of their general security allocations, which translates to billions of dollars worth of water - and magnitudes more in today's water prices. Griffith City Council and Leeton Shire Council's mayors also agreed to support the lobbying efforts and urge other councils within the Murray Darling Association to join suit. 

Leeton's mayor Paul Maytom was present at the meeting. 

The committee also agreed to lobby the state government for a feasibility study into the Clarence River diversion scheme that was suggested by engineer David Coffey. 

The scheme would capture Clarence River water in dams and pump it into the Murray Darling system. 

The third and final motion agreed upon by the committee was to take an official stance and throw their support behind a royal commission into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. 

The committee will be joining the ranks of the NSW Farmers Griffith branch, which has also recently thrown their support behind a royal commission.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Australia is the world’s third biggest exporter and fifth biggest miner of fossil fuels by CO2 potential

The Australia Institute, Tom Swann, High Carbon from a Land Down Under: Quantifying CO2 from Australia’s fossil fuel mining and exports, July 2019:

Australia is the world’s third biggest exporter and fifth biggest miner of fossil fuels by CO2 potential. 

Its exports are behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia, and far larger than Iraq, Venezuela and any country in the EU. Yet Australia’s economy is more diverse and less fossil fuel intensive than many other exporters. 

Australia has an opportunity and obligation to decarbonise its exports in line with the Paris Agreement.

Yahoo! Finance, 19 August 2019:

(Bloomberg) -- Australia’s booming coal industry has made it the world’s third-biggest exporter of potential carbon dioxide emissions locked in fossil fuels, placing it only behind oil giants Russia and Saudi Arabia. 

Australia makes up 7% of all global fossil fuel exports by carbon dioxide potential, as it accounts for almost one-third of the world coal trade, according to a report Monday from The Australia Institute, which has been critical of the federal government’s efforts to combat global climate change.  
While China and the U.S. are the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters in absolute terms, the report highlights the role relatively smaller polluters play in selling fossil fuels to other nations.

Australia, which is also one of the biggest gas exporters, supplies economies throughout Asia, including Japan, China and South Korea.

Exports of fossil fuels and supply infrastructure play a crucial role in locking in increased emissions, and their impact is often ignored in climate change policy, The AI said in the report. 

“Australia has a unique opportunity, and obligation, to face up to the climate crisis through policies to limit its carbon exports, starting with a moratorium on new coal mines,” it said. 

“The scale of exports from countries like Australia bring into stark relief why efforts to reduce world emissions must limit both demand and supply.” In terms of its own greenhouse gas pollution, Australia generates 1.2% of the world’s emissions while having just 0.3% of the population, according to the report. 

Domestic emissions have been rising in recent years as a number of giant gas export projects come on stream, while coal-fired power is still the mainstay of its electricity grid.....

Sunday, 18 August 2019

CLIMATE CHANGE 2019: The Morrison Government and much of the media are obviously not listening, so ordinary Australians have to

Media Matters (USA), 14 August 2019:

In the early hours of August 8, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report detailing climate change’s effects on land and agricultural practices. The next morning, on August 9, a majority of top newspapers in each of the top 10 agricultural producing states failed to mention this report on their front pages. Additionally, neither NBC Nightly News nor any of the Sunday political news shows discussed the report.

According to the new IPCC report, climate change is drastically altering the planet’s agricultural land and humankind’s ability to survive from it. Land use accounts for about 23% of human greenhouse gas emissions, and practices like deforestation and intensive farming are adding more stress to it. Fertilizer emissions have risen sharply since the 1960s, and soil is being lost at an almost unprecedented rate. Land is heating up faster than the oceans, and the consequences -- more droughts, floods, coastal erosion, and melting permafrost -- have major food security implications. Food insecurity will hit people from developing and lower-income countries the hardest.

The IPCC has laid out a number of solutions to this crisis, including cutting food waste, adopting smarter farming methods, and protecting forests. Ultimately, the report states that humanity needs to become better stewards of its land if we want to tackle the climate crisis.

In Australia the mainstream media response to the UN report was almost as desultory, with only the AAP wire service and three print mastheads running articles in the first two days.

For those who have not yet read the 43 page IPCC summary or started on the much longer full report, here are some of the predictions set out below.

As of June 2019 the world population is an est. 7.7 billion men, women and children. This figure is too high to guarantee that people will not die of thirst, starvation, heat stress, severe cold, infection or natural disaster as climate change intensifies.

A1.5. About a quarter of the Earth’s ice-free land area is subject to human-induced degradation (medium confidence). Soil erosion from agricultural fields is estimated to be currently 10 to 20 times (no tillage) to more than 100 times (conventional tillage) higher than the soil formation rate (medium confidence). Climate change exacerbates land degradation, particularly in low-lying coastal areas, river deltas, drylands and in permafrost areas (high confidence). Over the period 1961-2013, the annual area of drylands in drought has increased, on average by slightly more than 1% per year, with large inter-annual variability. In 2015, about 500 (380-620) million people lived within areas which experienced desertification between the 1980s and 2000s. The highest numbers of people affected are in South and East Asia, the circum Sahara region including North Africa, and the Middle East including the Arabian peninsula (low confidence). Other dryland regions have also experienced desertification. People living in already degraded or desertified areas are increasingly negatively affected by climate change (high confidence). {1.1, 1.2, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, Figure SPM.1}

A2.5. In some dryland areas, increased land surface air temperature and evapotranspiration and decreased precipitation amount, in interaction with climate variability and human activities, have contributed to desertification. These areas include Sub-Saharan Africa, parts of East and Central Asia, and Australia. (medium confidence) {2.2, 3.2.2, 4.4.1}

A4.5. Changes in forest cover for example from afforestation, reforestation and deforestation, directly affect regional surface temperature through exchanges of water and energy27 (high confidence). Where forest cover increases in tropical regions cooling results from enhanced evapotranspiration (high confidence). Increased evapotranspiration can result in cooler days during the growing season (high confidence) and can reduce the amplitude of heat related events (medium confidence). In regions with seasonal snow cover, such as boreal and some
temperate, increased tree and shrub cover also has a wintertime warming influence due to reduced surface albedo28 (high confidence). {2.3, 2.4.3, 2.5.1, 2.5.2, 2.5.4}

A. Risks to humans and ecosystems from changes in land-based processes as a result of climate change
Increases in global mean surface temperature (GMST), relative to pre-industrial levels, affect processes involved in desertification (water scarcity), land degradation (soil erosion, vegetation loss, wildfire, permafrost thaw) and food security (crop yield and food supply instabilities). Changes in these processes drive risks to food systems, livelihoods, infrastructure, the value of land, and human and ecosystem health. Changes in one process (e.g. wildfire or water scarcity) may result in compound risks. Risks are location-specific and differ by region

A5.2. With increasing warming, climate zones are projected to further shift poleward in the middle and high latitudes (high confidence). In high-latitude regions, warming is projected to increase disturbance in boreal forests, including drought, wildfire, and pest outbreaks (high confidence). In tropical regions, under medium and high GHG emissions scenarios, warming is projected to result in the emergence of unprecedented29 climatic conditions by the mid to late 21st century (medium confidence). {2.2.4, 2.2.5, 2.5.3, 4.3.2}

A5.3. Current levels of global warming are associated with moderate risks from increased dryland water scarcity, soil erosion, vegetation loss, wildfire damage, permafrost thawing, coastal degradation and tropical crop yield decline (high confidence). Risks, including cascading risks, are projected to become increasingly severe with increasing temperatures. At around 1.5°C of global warming the risks from dryland water scarcity, wildfire damage, permafrost degradation and food supply instabilities are projected to be high (medium confidence). At around 2°C of global warming the risk from permafrost degradation and food supply instabilities are projected to be very high (medium confidence). Additionally, at around 3°C of global warming risk from vegetation loss, wildfire damage, and dryland water scarcity are also projected to be very high (medium confidence). Risks from droughts, water stress, heat related events such as heatwaves and habitat degradation simultaneously increase between 1.5°C and 3°C warming (low confidence). {Figure SPM.2, 7.2.2, Cross-Chapter Box 9 in Chapter 6, Chapter 7 supplementary material}

A5.4. The stability of food supply30 is projected to decrease as the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events that disrupt food chains increases (high confidence). Increased atmospheric CO2 levels can also lower the nutritional quality of crops (high confidence). In SSP2, global crop and economic models project a median increase of 7.6% (range of 1 to 23%) in cereal prices in 2050 due to climate change (RCP6.0), leading to higher food prices and increased risk of food insecurity and hunger (medium confidence). The most vulnerable people will be more severely affected (high confidence). {5.2.3, 5.2.4, 5.2.5, 5.8.1,, 7.3.1}

A5.5. In drylands, climate change and desertification are projected to cause reductions in crop and livestock productivity (high confidence), modify the plant species mix and reduce biodiversity (medium confidence). Under SSP2, the dryland population vulnerable to water stress, drought intensity and habitat degradation is projected to reach 178 million people by 2050 at 1.5°C warming, increasing to 220 million people at 2°C warming, and 277 million people at 3°C warming (low confidence). {3.5.1, 3.5.2, 3.7.3}

Thursday, 15 August 2019

The controversial carbon credits Australia wants to use equals around 8 yrs worth of fossil fuel emissions of all its Pacific neighbours, including NZ

The Australia Institute, media release, 13 August 2019: 

Morrison’s Pollution Loophole Will Weaken Pacific Climate Change Action 

Prime Minister Morrison is undermining Pacific action on climate change, with new analysis from the Australia Institute revealing that his pollution loophole is equivalent to around 8 years fossil fuel emissions for the rest of the Pacific and New Zealand. 

The Government plans to use Kyoto credits to meet emissions targets – a loophole that means Australia will count controversial past reductions to meet current targets – and essentially be able to keep pollution at the same level. 

New research from The Australia Institute shows that if Australia uses this loophole, it would be the equivalent of around eight years of fossil fuel emissions of all its Pacific neighbours.
Australia intends to use 367 Mt of carbon credits to avoid the majority of emission reductions pledged under its Paris Agreement target, meanwhile the entire annual emissions from the Pacific Island Forum members, excluding Australia, is only about 45Mt. 

By using this loophole, the federal government is giving the green light to pollution equivalent to: 

• Annual emissions of 77,919,000 cars on the road 
• Emissions from 95 coal-fired power plants for a whole year 

“If Australia is to be a climate leader at the Pacific Island Forum, the federal government needs to show with meaningful action – and that begins with ruling out the use of Kyoto credits to meet climate change obligations,” said Richie Merzian, Director Climate Change & Energy at The Australia Institute. “The Government’s policy to use Kyoto credits is an insult to Pacific leaders. You can't "step up" in the Pacific while stepping back on climate action. “The Pacific Island Forum is focused on securing our future in the region – and there is no future without a secure and safe climate. “Scott Morrison has a choice – Australia can be a leader in the region and a partner in combatting the impact of climate change, or we can continue to completely undermine any efforts by our Pacific partners by using these dodgy credits.” 

Adani Group's problems continue to make news in 2019

“The commerciality of Adani’s Carmichael mine remains challenging given the significant capital spend and low-quality thermal coal product expected from the mine,” said Brent Spalding, a principal analyst at Wood Mackenzie." [Financial Review, 9 July 2019]

"Adani allowed stormwater discharges from the port in March 2017 (to the marine environment and to the Caley Valley Wetlands) and again in February 2019 (to the wetlands) in excess of licence limits.....In February 2019, Adani announced it had again discharged stormwater into the Caley Valley Wetlands in excess of its EA limit. Government investigations also confirmed the exceedance, and Adani paid an infringement fine of $13,055 for the breach." [Environmental Defenders Office Qld, 23 May 2019]

"....Abbot Point Bulkcoal Pty Ltd, an Adani subsidiary, for a substantial exceedance of a license to pollute the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area with coal dust when Cyclone Debbie made landfall in 2017, even though the license was granted specifically to account for possibly increased emissions resulting from the cyclone. During the course of this prosecution, the DEHP discovered that Abbot Point Bulkcoal Pty Ltd may have submitted an altered laboratory report showing reduced levels of pollution." [Environmental Justice Australia, March 2019]

ABC News, 13 August 2019: 

The announcement by Suncorp that it will no longer insure new thermal coal projects, along with a similar announcement by QBE Insurance a few months earlier, brings Australia into line with Europe where most major insurers have broken with coal.

US firms have been a little slower to move, but Chubb announced a divestment policy in July, and Liberty has confirmed it will not insure Australia's Adani project.

Other big firms such as America's AIG are coming under increasing pressure.

Even more than divestment of coal shares by banks and managed funds, the withdrawal of insurance has the potential to make coal mining and coal-fired power generation businesses unsustainable.

As the chairman and founder of Adani Group, Gautam Adani, has shown in Queensland's Galilee Basin, a sufficiently rich developer can use its own resources to finance a coal mine that banks won't touch.

But without insurance, mines can't operate. 

(Adani claims to have insurers for the Carmichael project, but has declined to reveal their names.) 

By the nature of their business, insurers cannot afford to indulge the denialist fantasies still popular in some sectors of industry. 

Damage caused by climate disasters is one of their biggest expenses, and insurers are fully aware that damage is set to rise over time......

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

The awful truth that over 8 million* Australians refuse to face

The Monthly, August 2019:

In June, I delivered a keynote presentation on Australia’s vulnerability to climate change and our policy challenges at the annual meeting of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, the main conference for those working in the climate science community. I saw it as an opportunity to summarise the post-election political and scientific reality we now face.

As one of the dozen or so Australian lead authors on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sixth assessment report, currently underway, I have a deep appreciation of the speed and severity of climate change unfolding across the planet. Last year I was also appointed as one of the scientific advisers to the Climate Council, Australia’s leading independent body providing expert advice to the public on climate science and policy. In short, I am in the confronting position of being one of the few Australians who sees the terrifying reality of the climate crisis.

Preparing for this talk I experienced something gut-wrenching. It was the realisation that there is now nowhere to hide from the terrible truth…...

The results coming out of the climate science community at the moment are, even for experts, similarly alarming.

One common metric used to investigate the effects of global warming is known as “equilibrium climate sensitivity”, defined as the full amount of global surface warming that will eventually occur in response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations compared to pre-industrial times. It’s sometimes referred to as the holy grail of climate science because it helps quantify the specific risks posed to human society as the planet continues to warm.

We know that CO2 concentrations have risen from pre-industrial levels of 280 parts per million (ppm) to approximately 410 ppm today, the highest recorded in at least three million years. Without major mitigation efforts, we are likely to reach 560 ppm by around 2060.

When the IPCC’s fifth assessment report was published in 2013, it estimated that such a doubling of CO2 was likely to produce warming within the range of 1.5 to 4.5°C as the Earth reaches a new equilibrium. However, preliminary estimates calculated from the latest global climate models (being used in the current IPCC assessment, due out in 2021) are far higher than with the previous generation of models. Early reports are predicting that a doubling of CO2 may in fact produce between 2.8 and 5.8°C of warming. Incredibly, at least eight of the latest models produced by leading research centres in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and France are showing climate sensitivity of 5°C or warmer.

When these results were first released at a climate modelling workshop in March this year, a flurry of panicked emails from my IPCC colleagues flooded my inbox. What if the models are right? Has the Earth already crossed some kind of tipping point? Are we experiencing abrupt climate change right now?

The model runs aren’t all available yet, but when many of the most advanced models in the world are independently reproducing the same disturbing results, it’s hard not to worry.
When the UN’s Paris Agreement was adopted in December 2015, it defined a specific goal: to keep global warming to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels (defined as the climate conditions experienced during the 1850–1900 period). While admirable in intent, the agreement did not impose legally binding limits on signatory nations and contained no enforcement mechanisms. Instead, each country committed to publicly disclosed Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to reduce emissions. In essence, it is up to each nation to act in the public interest.

Even achieving the most ambitious goal of 1.5°C will see the further destruction of between 70 and 90 per cent of reef-building corals compared to today, according to the IPCC’s “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C”, released last October. With 2°C of warming, a staggering 99 per cent of tropical coral reefs disappear. An entire component of the Earth’s biosphere – our planetary life support system – would be eliminated. The knock-on effects on the 25 per cent of all marine life that depends on coral reefs would be profound and immeasurable.

So how is the Paris Agreement actually panning out?

In 2017, we reached 1°C of warming above global pre-industrial conditions. According to the UN Environment Programme’s “Emissions Gap Report”, released in November 2018, current unconditional NDCs will see global average temperature rise by 2.9 to 3.4°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century.

To restrict warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, the world needs to triple its current emission reduction pledges. If that’s not bad enough, to restrict global warming to 1.5°C, global ambition needs to increase fivefold.

Meanwhile, the Australian federal government has a target of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which experts believe is more aligned with global warming of 3 to 4°C. Despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s claim that we will meet our Paris Agreement commitments “in a canter”, the UNEP report clearly identifies Australia as one of the G20 nations that will fall short of achieving its already inadequate NDCs by 2030.

Even with the 1°C of warming we’ve already experienced, 50 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef is dead. We are witnessing catastrophic ecosystem collapse of the largest living organism on the planet. As I share this horrifying information with audiences around the country, I often pause to allow people to try and really take that information in.

Increasingly after my speaking events, I catch myself unexpectedly weeping in my hotel room or on flights home. Every now and then, the reality of what the science is saying manages to thaw the emotionally frozen part of myself I need to maintain to do my job. In those moments, what surfaces is pure grief. It’s the only feeling that comes close to the pain I felt processing the severity of my dad’s brain injury. Being willing to acknowledge the arrival of the point of no return is an act of bravery.

But these days my grief is rapidly being superseded by rage. Volcanically explosive rage. Because in the very same IPCC report that outlines the details of the impending apocalypse, the climate science community clearly stated that limiting warming to 1.5°C is geophysically possible.

Past emissions alone are unlikely to raise global average temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC report states that any further warming beyond the 1°C already recorded would likely be less than 0.5°C over the next 20 to 30 years, if all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions were reduced to zero immediately. That is, if we act urgently, it is technically feasible to turn things around. The only thing missing is strong global policy.
Although the very foundation of human civilisation is at stake, the world is on track to seriously overshoot our UN targets. Worse still, global carbon emissions are still rising. In response, scientists are prioritising research on how the planet has responded during other warm periods in the Earth’s history.

The most comprehensive summary of conditions experienced during past warm periods in the Earth’s recent history was published in June 2018 in one of our leading journals, Nature Geoscience, by 59 leading experts from 17 countries. The report concluded that warming of between 1.5 and 2°C in the past was enough to see significant shifts in climate zones, and land and aquatic ecosystems “spatially reorganize”.

These changes triggered substantial long-term melting of ice in Greenland and Antarctica, unleashing 6 to 13 metres of global sea-level rise lasting thousands of years.

Examining the Earth’s climatic past tells us that even between 1.5 and 2°C of warming sees the world reconfigure in ways that people don’t yet appreciate. All bets are off between 3 and 4°C, where we are currently headed. Parts of Australia will become uninhabitable, as other areas of our country become increasingly ravaged by extreme weather events.

This year the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society’s annual conference was held in Darwin, where the infamous Cyclone Tracy struck on Christmas Day in 1974, virtually demolishing the entire city. More than 70 per cent of the city’s buildings, including 80 per cent of its houses, were destroyed. Seventy-one people were killed and most of the 48,000 residents made homeless. Conditions were so dire that around 36,000 people were evacuated, many by military aircraft. It was a disaster of monumental proportions.

As I collated this information for my presentation, it became clear to me that Cyclone Tracy is a warning. Without major action, we will see tropical cyclones drifting into areas on the southern edge of current cyclone zones, into places such as south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales, where infrastructure is not ready to cope with cyclonic conditions.

These areas currently house more than 3.6 million people; we simply aren’t prepared for what is upon us.....


* the over "8 million Australians" are the 8,018,310 voters who did not give their first preference vote at the May 2019 federal election to a political party with a solid climate change policy.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Sydney Uni Business School Professor Sandra van der Laan: Adani Group's Australia operations effectively insolvent

Image: BBC, 29.11.18

The Adani Carmichael coal mine set to be built in Queensland’s Galilee Basin has courted controversy like no other project in recent memory. 

Central and northern Queenslanders and MPs alike have lauded the jobs and economic stimulus the project promises to provide. Elsewhere, others scratched their heads as to why the country needed to build a brand new coal mine right next to the iconic Great Barrier Reef. At the same time that Australia tries to meet its Paris climate targets, no less.

Adani’s Australian operations could be on the brink of collapse before its Carmichael coalmine is ever built, a forensic accountant has claimed to the ABC.
Professor Sandra van der Laan examined the limited publicly-available financial statements from the private company and concluded that the company was in “a very fragile, even perilous, financial position”.
Adani was quick to reject the claims, slamming them as “false and misleading” and the latest in a series of attacks aimed to destroy the Australian project.

The Adani Carmichael coal mine set to be built in Queensland’s Galilee Basin has courted controversy like no other project in recent memory.

Despite battling for eight years to be approved, receiving the final environmental green light last month, the project finally looked to be going ahead. 

But now, a forensic accountant has warned that the divisive Adani Carmichael coal mine could be on the brink of collapse before it even begins operation. 

University of Sydney Professor Sandra van der Laan has sounded the alarm on the project after analysing Adani’s financial standing.

“It looks to me like a corporate collapse waiting to happen,” she told the ABC. “It has all the hallmarks of the big corporate failures we’ve seen over the last 20 to 30 years.” 

She should know — van der Laan has a track record of picking corporate collapses. It was she and colleague Sue Newberry who warned in 2007 that ABC Learning, Australia’s biggest private childcare provider at the time and the world’s largest publically listed childcare company, was heading for disaster.....

“Adani Mining is in a very fragile, even perilous, financial position,” van der Laan told the ABC. “The gap between the current assets and liabilities is what’s really concerning.” 

According to Adani’s most recent financial statements, provided to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in March this year, that gap is enormous. The ABC reports that the business’ liabilities exceed its assets by more than half a billion dollars. 

Moreover, the ABC reports that the company will have $1.8 billion in liabilities come due over the next 12 months, compared with just $30 million in assets. Those liabilities are largely made up by an internal loan from parent company Adani Global on which the van der Laan says the Australian operation is reliant. That’s because the Australian mine was forced to self-fund after banks and wealth funds turned their back on it

“Effectively on paper, they are insolvent,” van der Laan said. "I wouldn’t be trading with them, as simple as that. I wouldn’t have anything to do with them."....

Monday, 29 July 2019

247,000 coastal homes in Australia are in the firing line if sea level rises reach 1.1metres

ABC News, 22 July 2019:

The latest figures from the Department of Environment  warn a sea level rise of 1.1 metres, considered a high-end scenario, would cost $226 billion nationally by the end of the century.

If that eventuates, it would put up to 68,000 homes at risk in Queensland and the same number in New South Wales.

In Victoria and South Australia, it would be up to 48,000 homes, up to 30,000 in Western Australia and up to 15,000 in Tasmania.

Every coastal community in Australia is doing its own mapping, but Noosa may take it a step further.

The Noosa Shire is now considering how best to warn owners, both current and future, about the risk.

Councillors say the estimated 2,232 Noosa properties likely to be affected by storm flooding in 80 years' time could be told directly via rates notices.

Possible buyers may also be alerted through routine property or rates searches.

Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington said it was "a problem that every coastal council is facing around the world now — and it's an issue of defend or retreat obviously".

"What we have to look at is whether it is feasible and possible to defend property, in a worst-case scenario, or whether it is not possible, and what the cost implications are," he said.

"And then you have to ask whether all residents should be funding for protection of a few properties.

"It's a very complicated issue."

The Mayor also said it was a matter of "buyer beware" and those in low-lying areas ought to know the risks.

In 2015, a report to Byron Bay Council warned that certain homes may become "voluntary house purchases" where the council buys homes at risk of flooding "to reduce risk to life and limb"…..

The Insurance Council of Australia said climate declarations and long-term fears of flooding would not affect premiums, but actual storm or water damage could.
"If you're already at risk and climate change predicts that you will become further exposed, then your premiums over the next 30–80 years will go up to reflect changes in that risk," the council's Campbell Fuller said.

Even the current rate of global sea level rise at 3.4mm each year has the potential to impact on vulnerable coastal towns such as Yamba on the NSW Far North Coast.

Excerpt from Clarence Valley Council Yamba Floodplain Risk Management Plan, February 2009:

Flooding at Yamba can occur as a result of a combination of high flows in the Clarence River, high ocean levels, wind wave action along the foreshore or from intense rain over the local catchment. The risk to life due to river flooding is considered to be low as inundation occurs gradually and with several hours (or days) warning. Similarly, flood hazard resulting from ocean storm surge is also considered low as there is likely to be several hours warning of an event, with the peak of the storm lasting for less than a day. The Floodplain Risk Management Study indicates a storm surge warning time of 6 to 24 hours. It should be noted however that the flood hazard can become high if the low lying community to the west of the town does not respond to flood warnings as the available high ground is only accessible by Yamba Road, which is readily cut by floodwaters. The only road out of Yamba to the Pacific Highway is also inundated in the 10y ARI and greater flood events. [my yellow highlighting]

Ballina is another  coastal town on the Far North Coast. Its CBD is on the banks of the tidal Richmond River where it empties into the sea.

Sea level rise is something Ballina has been discussing for many years because for the Ballina community the evidence is right before residents’ eyes.

This was Tamar Street in the CBD in January 2018 showing saltwater intrusion at high tide.

Photograph supplied by @Captainturtle

Other Far North Coast towns and villages are also under threat of foreshore/beach erosion, wave overtopping and/or innundation, including Wooli, Belongil Beach and Clarkes Beach.