Monday, July 07, 2008

Not Like They Didn't Have It Coming

Australia - the untamed Outback, the Great Barrier Reef and some of the busiest coal pits on the planet.

Long on coal, short on oil, Aussie leaders like the munchkin Howard have fought tooth and nail against calls for climate change action. Now, it seems, the hens are coming home to roost.

As you may be aware, Australia has been staggered by a recent, multi-year drought. The Guardian reports on a new Australian study that shows this is only the beginning:

"A new report by Australia's top scientists predicts that the country will be hit by a 10-fold increase in heatwaves and that droughts will almost double in frequency and become more widespread because of climate change.

The scientific projections envisage rainfall continuing to decline in a country that is already one of the hottest and driest in the world. It says that about 50% of the decrease in rainfall in south-western Australia since the 1950s has probably been due to greenhouse gases.

The analysis, commissioned by the government as part of a review of public funding to drought-stricken farmers, was published days after another report, by Professor Ross Garnaut, warned that Australia had to adopt a scheme for trading greenhouse gas emissions by 2010 or face the eventual destruction of sites including the Great Barrier Reef, the wetlands of Kakadu and the nation's food bowl, the Murray-Darling Basin.

Yesterday's report revealed that not only would droughts occur more often but that the area affected would be twice as large as now. The proportion of the country having exceptionally hot years could increase from 5% each year to as much as 95%, according to the projections.

The report says rainfall in Australia has been declining since the 1950s and about half of that decrease is due to climate change. It says the current thresholds for farmers to claim financial assistance are out of date because hotter and drier weather will become the norm."

The report is expected to add pressure for new prime minister Kevin Rudd to act on greenhouse gas emissions. Many Australians who initially supported Rudd's environmental message have recently lost their appetite for strong climate change measures.

Australia may be one of those countries that will write the textbook for how to respond to the challenges of global warming and what lies in store if we don't.


Anonymous said...

I do find it interesting that the quoted portions of the article imply that Australia can stop local climate change by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. If climate change is a global problem then the effect will be mitigated by the overall decrease in emissions by the entire world.

As long as China and the US continue to dominate emissions levels, then all the effort in the world by Australians will not stop their local climate from altering.

The Mound of Sound said...

Think globally, act locally. Nothing else is going to work, especially finger pointing. Got a better idea that WILL work? Love to hear it.

Anonymous said...

Nothing else will work unless someone can convince all countries to reduce. No per-capita weaseling either - it has to be raw tonnage.

It would be nice though to hear someone say something to the effect of "we're going to try our best, but we could end up getting screwed anyway if the other guys don't buy in".

Troy Thomas said...

There is a point where 'I won't do it if you don't do it' doesn't look childish but instead completely responsible, manly, and sexy too.

If and when Bush decides to jump off a bridge, and then Harper with his 'because he's done it, I can do it too' mentality follows his leader, I won't but cheer him for his dive.

rabbit said...

Anon is correct.

Australia is responsible for about 1% of the world's CO2 emmissions. They should reduce this, but whatever they do will make bugger all difference to their own climate.

To suggest different, as the article seems to, is dumb.

The Mound of Sound said...

"No per-capita weaseling either." Why is that, Anon? Is it so that your lily-white ass can preserve, in perpetuity, the right to a carbon footprint four or six times that of a brown or yellow man? What gives you the right to produce more greenhouse gases than a guy from India or China?

We're the weasels. We talk of equality when it suits us and only on terms that suit us.

Would you have a problem with the Chinese agreeing to a mere half of our ghg emissions per capita? And what about the Golden Rule of he who has the gold, rules? Pretty soon that'll be China and India.

And Bunny, global warming is a planetary phenomenon but Australia has been working overtime to thwart global efforts to stop it. Your fatalistic cynicism is what's dumb, pal. Got a brilliant solution Bunny? Let's hear it.

Anonymous said...

Let's assume that if 1 million tons (totally made up number) added to the atmosphere yearly will result in catastrophic climate change. It doesn't matter if that 1 million tons was emitted by one person or 1 million people at a ton each. The net effect is still the same - catastrophic climate change.

To be completely equal, we should then allot a CO2 ration per person that is the same for all people throughout the world. Some will be big losers (eg. the West including Canada) and some will see their standard of living improve.

"Is it so that your lily-white ass can preserve, in perpetuity, the right to a carbon footprint four or six times that of a brown or yellow man? "

I'm not sure what my race has to do with this discussion...but whatever.

What I am sure is that Al Gore is probably working overtime to keep his massive carbon footprint. Remember, he can only keep is mansion if some larger number of people around the world do without.

Let me know when Gore scales down to a 2000 sq foot or smaller house and Suzuki eliminates his multiple dwellings as well.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon, you brought up the race issue when you said "no per-capita weaseling either." That's the argument that comes from the big footprint nations (Canada and the US to be precise) to cut off complaints by the small footprint emerging industrial economies.

In reality, our side's position is all about preserving a per-capita carbon output advantage of three to fourfold that of the non-white states.

As for carbon rationing, Gwynne Dyer did an interesting piece on just that about a year ago which you can probably still find on his web site.

As for Gore and Suzuki, if you want information about their lifestyles why not ask them directly? I can't give you any useful information about their personal lives.

The Mound of Sound said...

Troy, if that day ever comes, be sure to let me know. I'll bring the beer, the chips AND the camera.


Oldschool said...

Must be due to the cooling oceans . . . last winter 3,000 sensors were placed in the southern oceans . . . the results were that the ocean had not warmed, but slightly cooled . . . the scientists were distraught. They exclaimed "where did the heat go? Did it go down deeper? Did it go up in the high atmosphere?" Well weather baloons were released, but the missing heat was never found. Funny how facts can cloud your perspective!!!
The fact is the globe has cooled .5 a degree in the last 8 years, the Hansen fool is once again playing the role of prophet of doom, even though he was 100% wrong 20 years ago.
Australia is half desert, they are having a few dry years . . . it certainly is not a global problem, although the last winter, among the coldest in decades, was a global affair.

The Mound of Sound said...

Where are you getting this earthshaking science, Preschool? Fox News or NewsMax? Either way you need to shut your cake hole and spend hours, in your case many, reading the latest actual, peer-reviewed, legitimate science. You bring nothing to this discussion but your bias and ignorance.