March 24, 2012

Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation

Green Army: Research and Development


State of the Climate 2016

  • Australia’s climate has warmed … by around 1 °C since 1910.
  • The duration, frequency and intensity of extreme heat events have increased across large parts of Australia.
  • There has been an increase in extreme fire weather, and a longer fire season, across large parts of Australia since the 1970s.
  • May–July rainfall has reduced by around 19% since 1970 in the southwest of Australia. …
  • Global average annual carbon dioxide levels are … likely the highest in the past two million years.
  • 2015 was the warmest year on record for the globe since … 1880.
    The last 15 years are among the 16 warmest years on record.
  • Globally-averaged ocean temperatures and heat content are increasing.
    Observations reveal this warming extends to at least [2 km] below the surface.
  • Globally-averaged sea level has risen over 20 cm since the late 19th century, with about one third of this rise due to ocean warming and the rest from melting land ice and changes in the amount of water stored on the land.

(p 3)

The recent drying across southern Australia is the strongest recorded large-scale change in rainfall since national records began in 1900.
(p 10)

The impact of all greenhouse gases in the atmosphere combined can be expressed as an ‘equivalent CO2’ atmospheric concentration, which reached 487 ppm in 2015.
(p 19)

The global annual CO2 increase in 2015 was 3.0 ppm, the largest ever observed. …
During 2015 the rate of increase in fossil fuel emissions slowed.
However, the strong El Niño, which led to increased fires and associated greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a weakening of natural CO2 sinks through drought and reduced rainfall over large regions led to increased emissions from natural sources in 2015.
(p 20)


State of the Climate 2014

  • {2013 was Australia’s warmest year on record …}
  • Australia’s climate has warmed by 0.9°C since 1910 …
  • Global mean temperature has risen by 0.85°C from 1880 to 2012. …

Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise and continued emissions will cause further warming over this century.
Limiting the magnitude of future climate change requires large and sustained net global reductions in greenhouse gases.
(p 3-4)


Australian Climate


Seven of the ten warmest years on record have occurred since 1998.

Over the past 15 years,
  • the frequency of very warm months has increased five-fold and
  • the frequency of very cool months has declined by around a third,
compared to 1951–1980. …

Since 2001, the number of extreme heat records in Australia has outnumbered extreme cool records by
  • almost 3 to 1 for daytime maximum temperatures, and
  • almost 5 to 1 for night-time minimum temperatures.
(p 5)

[Overall,] Australian average annual rainfall has increased since national records began in 1900, largely due to increases in rainfall from October to April, and most markedly across the northwest. …
[However, since] 1970 there has been a 17% decline in average winter rainfall in the southwest of Australia.
{In the far southwest, streamflow has declined by more than 50% since the mid-1970s.}

The southeast has experienced a 15% decline in late autumn and early winter rainfall since the mid-1990s, with a 25% reduction in average rainfall across April and May. …
[And in] the far southeast, streamflow during the 1997–2009 Millennium Drought was around half the long-term average.
(p 6)




Number of days each year where the Australian area-averaged daily mean temperature is above the 99th percentile for the period 1910–2013. …
This metric reflects the spatial extent of extreme heat across the continent and its frequency.
Half of these events have occurred in the past twenty years.




Recent studies examining heavy monthly to seasonal rainfall events that occurred in eastern Australia between 2010 and 2012 have shown that the magnitude of extreme rainfall is mostly explained by natural variability, with potentially a small additional contribution from global warming. …

The research on cyclone frequency in the Australian region is equivocal, with some studies suggesting no change and others a decrease in numbers since the 1970s.
(p 8-9)


Global Atmosphere and Cryosphere

  • Ice-mass loss from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets has accelerated over the past two decades.
  • Arctic summer minimum sea-ice extent has declined by between 9.4 and 13.6% per decade since 1979, a rate that is likely unprecedented in at least the past 1,450 years.
  • Antarctic sea-ice extent has slightly increased by between 1.2% and 1.8% per decade since 1979.

The mean estimated rate of ice loss from the Antarctic ice sheet has increased nearly five-fold
  • from an estimated mean of 30 gigatonnes per year (Gt/yr) for the period from 1992 to 2001,
  • to 147 Gt/yr for the period 2002 to 2011.
The rate of ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet has increased [more than six-fold] from 34 to 215 Gt/yr over the same period.

The average rate of ice loss from glaciers around the world, excluding glaciers on the periphery of the ice sheets, was
  • very likely 226 Gt/yr over the period 1971 to 2009, and
  • very likely 275 Gt/yr over the period 1993 to 2009. …

The [slight] increase in Antarctic sea-ice extent has been linked to several possible drivers, including
  • freshening of surface waters due to increased precipitation and the enhanced melting of ice shelves, and
  • changes in atmospheric circulation resulting in greater sea-ice dispersion.
(p 10)


Oceans

  • Global mean sea level … in 2012 was 225 mm higher than in 1880. …
  • Ocean acidity levels have increased [by 26% since 1750.]

Warming of the world’s oceans accounts for more than 90% of additional energy accumulated from the enhanced greenhouse effect …
The ocean today is warmer, and sea levels higher, than at any time since the instrumental record began.
  • The upper layer of the ocean, from the surface to a depth of 700 metres, has increased its heat content by around 17 × 10^22 joules since 1971, accounting for around 63% of additional energy accumulated by the climate system.
  • Warming below 700 metres over the same period accounts for approximately 30% of additional energy.
  • The remaining 7% has been added to the cryosphere, atmosphere and land surface.


Change in ocean heat content (in joules) from the full ocean depth, from 1960 to present.
Shading provides an indication of the confidence range of the estimate.
(p 11)

Global sea level fell during the intense La Niña event of 2010–2011.
This was ascribed partly to the exceptionally high rainfall over land which resulted in floods in Australia, northern South America, and Southeast Asia.
[And] was compounded by the long residence time of water over inland Australia.
Recent observations show that sea levels have rebounded in line with the long-term trend.
(p 12)


Greenhouse Gases

  • The increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations from 2011 to 2013 is the largest two-year increase ever observed.

Global anthropogenic CO2 emissions into the atmosphere in 2013 are … about 46% higher than in 1990.
Global CO2 emissions from the use of fossil fuel are estimated to have increased in 2013 by 2.1% compared with the average of 3.1% per year from 2000 to 2012.
(p 13)

Global atmospheric CH4 … and N2O [concentrations] are at their highest levels for at least 800 000 years.

[The combined] ‘equivalent CO2’ atmospheric concentration [of all GHGs] reached 480 ppm in 2013.
(p 14)


Future climate scenarios for Australia

  • [An up to 3-fold] increase in the number of extreme fire-weather days is expected in southern and eastern Australia [by 2015,] with a longer fire season in these regions. …
  • The frequency and intensity of extreme daily rainfall is projected to increase. …
  • Projected sea-level rise will increase the frequency of extreme sea-level events.

[Between] 1910 to 1990 [Australia] warmed by 0.6°C.
Warming by 2070, compared to 1980 to 1999, is projected to be
  • 1.0 to 2.5°C for low greenhouse gas emissions and
  • 2.2 to 5.0°C for high emissions [ie business as usual. …]

Further decreases in average rainfall are expected over southern Australia …
[Consequently, droughts] are expected to become more frequent and severe in southern Australia. …

Reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions would increase the chance of constraining future global warming.
Nonetheless adaptation is required because some warming and associated changes are unavoidable.
(p 15)


State of the Climate 2012


Australian average temperatures over land


Each decade has been warmer than the previous decade since the 1950s. …
[Daily] maximum temperatures have increased by 0.75 °C [and] overnight minimum temperatures have warmed by more than 1.1 °C …
2010 and 2011 were Australia’s coolest years recorded since 2001 due to two consecutive La Niña events. … (p 3)


Oceans


Global-average mean sea level for 2011 was 210 mm above the level in 1880.
Global-average mean sea level rose faster between 1993 and 2011 [3 mm/year] than during the 20th century as a whole [1.7 mm/year.]
(p 6)


State of the Climate 2010


Since 1960 the mean temperature in Australia has increased by about 0.7°C. …
Some areas have experienced warming since 1960 of up to 0.4 °C per decade [3 times the global average] resulting in total warming over the five decades of 1.5 to 2ºC.
(p 1)

March 18, 2012

Prosperity Without Growth 4

Sustainable Development Commission

Adam Smith (1723 – 1790):
A linen shirt, for example, is, strictly speaking, not a necessary of life …
But in the present times, through the greater part of Europe, a creditable day labourer would be ashamed to appear in public without a linen shirt, the want of which would be supposed to denote that disgraceful degree of poverty which, it is presumed, no body can well fall into without extreme bad conduct. …
(The Wealth of Nations, 1779)

Amartya Sen:
[To lead a] life without shame [is] to be able to visit and entertain one’s friends, to keep track of what is going on and what others are talking about … requires a more expensive bundle of goods and services in a society that is generally richer …
(The Living Standard)

Gerhard Bosch:
One of the fundamental preconditions for the working time policy pursued in Germany and Denmark … was a stable and relatively equal earning distribution.

Governance for Prosperity


[That it is legitimate] for the state to intervene in … the social logic of consumerism is far less problematic than [it is generally] portrayed.
[The] task is to identify (and correct) those aspects of [the] social structure which [incentivize] materialistic individualism and [by so doing] undermine the potential for a shared prosperity. …
[Balancing] individual freedoms against the social good.
[Exercising] prudent choices … between the present and the future. …

[To] prevent ourselves from trading away [long-term wellbeing for] short-term pleasures, society has evolved a [range] of 'commitment devices': social and institutional mechanisms which [tip] the balance of choice away from the present and in favour of the future. …

[Affluence has progressively eroded and undermined] these commitment devices [through] the relentless pursuit of novelty [and increasing] family breakdown and [declining community trust has been the result].
(p 95, italics added)

[The current schizophrenia of the state has been induced by an] unsustainable macroeconomics.
[To heal both itself, and society more broadly, government must:]
  1. develop and [implement] a robust macro-economics for sustainability
  2. redress the damaging and unsustainable social logic of consumerism [and]
  3. establish meaningful resource and environmental limits on economic activity.
(p 99)

March 7, 2012

British Broadcasting Corporation

Green Army: Communications




Small girl looking at a New Home New Life book in Afghanistan

Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797):
One of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated is, lest the temporary possessors … unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors or of what is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the entire masters …
[That] they should not think it among their rights to … commit waste on the inheritance by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society, hazarding to leave to those who come after them a ruin instead of an habitation …
(Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790)

Yo Hayek:
Legend has it that, at her first cabinet meeting as Prime Minister in 1979, Margaret Thatcher thumped a copy of Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty on the table declaring:
This is what we believe!

Alistair Cooke (1908–2004)


I myself think I recognize [in America] several of the symptoms that Edward Gibbon saw so acutely in the decline of Rome …
  • a love of show and luxury;
  • a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor;
  • the exercise of military might remote from the centers of power;
  • an obsession with sex;
  • freakishness in the Arts masquerading as originality and enthusiasm pretending to creativeness; and
  • a general desire to live off the state: whether it's a junkie on welfare; or a government subsidized airline. …

[In 1972, I] made the point that, in the welfare state, too many of us expect a handout, a government subsidy, big daddy will provide.
But I didn't think, so soon, we would elect a president in protest against this liberal system that we've come to take for granted. …

I have tried to show that the original institutions of this country still have great vitality.
[That much] of the turmoil here springs from the energy of people who are trying to apply those institutions to forgotten minorities.

[As] for our rage to believe that we've found the secret of liberty in general permissiveness from the cradle on, I can only recall the saying of a wise Frenchman:
Liberty is the luxury of self-discipline.
And, historically, those peoples that did not discipline themselves had it thrust on them from outside …

As I see it, in this country, … the race is on between
  • its decadence, and
  • its vitality …

I believe that Monroes' solution, shipping negros back to Africa to form their own nations, might have been wise in 1820; but it's a century and a half too late.
I do not know what the realistic solution is. …
I do know … that nothing is more mischievous to good government than splendid rhetoric that doesn't pay off.

Now look what's being asked:
  • the rehousing of the population,
  • the chance of free education through college,
  • the strangling of the drug traffic at the roots, and
  • the radical overhauling of the prisons, the jury system, the courts.
Now this is going to call for … a massive subsidy of taxes, white taxes, beyond our experience.

As an historian, I'm not sure and integrated society will work.
As an old reporter, I suspect the blacks will not get more than Lincoln's "the mass of whites", who live here in the ratio of nine to one, is willing to give them.
[Perhaps the] only sensible hope is that the mass of whites have greatly changed since Lincoln's day (or will change) so that the blacks … can become an equal race, separately respected. …

[Since 1972, the] black revolution has achieved less and more than it promised. …
I would never have dreamed
  • that by today most of the big cities of America would have black mayors — Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Washington; or
  • that there would be black generals in the armed forces; or
  • that my bank manager would be a young black woman. …

(David Heycock, The More Abundant Life, America, Episode 13, 1972)


Shandi: Indian For Matilda


There was a young girl in [the Indian radio drama] Taru called Shandi [who] goes to her mother and says:
"Hey Mom, can I have a birthday like my little brother?"
And her mother explains:
"In our caste, in our society, girls don't have birthdays."
… Shandi is a very precocious, persistent young girl [so] she goes to her grandmother and says,
Grandmother, can I please have a birthday like my little brother?
Grandmother goes:
No, we don't do that.
[Finally Shandi] meets Taru [who] has come back to village [to work] in the health care sector …
[She's] from a different caste, she's a little bit more educated, and she [gives] Shandi the answer she wants to hear:
"Yes Shandi, let's make you a birthday party."
Over the next 10 episodes, the 250 million people of Bihar, hear something they've never heard before.
They hear about a girl choosing what cake she wants.
They hear about invitations going out.
They hear about presents.
And finally … Shandi has her birthday party. …

[A] month later, two months later, across Bihar, little girls are having birthday parties.
No just one, but you have whole villages, that are committing, and signing up for,
"We will treat our boys and our girls equally."
[Shandi] showed people the power of a persistent young girl; and, through Taru [they] learnt the power of being able to change. …


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