August 20, 2012


CSIRO: Climate Science and Solutions

Risks and Opportunities

  • The less we reduce emissions, the more we will have to adapt …
    The most sensitive sectors … are:
    • water,
    • the natural environments,
    • cities and infrastructure,
    • the coastal zone, and
    • agriculture.
  • [Adaptation] presents significant challenges [and] great opportunities …
    [Early] action will maximise our ability to capture [those] opportunities.
  • Successful adaptation [depends] on
    • developing the knowledge and skills base in the industries and communities most affected [and]
    • enhancing the adaptive capacity of government agencies to provide the best policy context for adaptation.
  • [Some] climate change and consequent impacts are unavoidable due to
    • the greenhouse gases that are already in the atmosphere and
    • [increasing] future emissions … due to our slow mitigation response.

(p 59)

Heatwaves and Floods

  • With an expected increase in the incidence of heatwaves and heat-related deaths, adaptation options are required that may include,
    • developing early warning systems to reach all citizens,
    • {social network back-up for those most at risk}
    • preparation of the health system and hospital emergency departments,
    • encouragement of behavioural changes to reduce exposure to heat stress …
    • better designed [new] homes {[and] retrofitting of old houses with better insulation
    • development of emergency response plans for heatwaves in all regions.}
  • Australia’s built environment suffers from heatwaves on very hot days.
    Adaptation options include
    • applying ‘cool cities’ concepts to reducing urban heat islands,
    • increasing the resilience of cities to heat-related failures through upgraded engineering design standards,
    • the use of less heat-sensitive materials in key infrastructure,
    • better maintenance routines,
    • emergency response plans that foster adaptability through collaboration across agencies and scales, and
    • management of peak demand loading on the electricity grid. …
  • Options for adaptation to coastal flooding include
    • retrofitting existing developed areas or building beach defences,
    • changing building codes, planning and design standards to accommodate extreme and unpredictable conditions,
    • converting current land uses to those less sensitive to flooding,
    • encouraging house insurance rates that send a clear signal about the advisability of living in flood-prone areas, and
    • developing effective early warning systems and evacuation pathways for extreme events.

(p 73)


  • There is a national imperative to equip Australian agriculture to be prepared to adapt to climate change.
  • Some agricultural communities, industries, or regions will have a greater capacity to adapt than others: understanding their constraints and incentives is important in ensuring that they do so successfully.
  • An early part of adapting agriculture to climate change involves helping communities to understand why adaptation is a needed part of today’s vision of the future and therefore of their management strategies.
  • Successful adaptation to climate change will require flexible, risk-based approaches that deal with future uncertainty and provide strategies that are robust enough to cope with a range of possible local climate outcomes and variations.
  • Many climate adaptation options for agriculture are similar to existing ‘best practice’ and good natural resource management, and do not require farmers to make radical changes to their operations and industries in the near term.
    These options can, and should be, prioritised as part of a ‘no regrets’ or win–win strategy for agriculture because they will provide immediate and ongoing benefits as well as preparing the sector for climate change.

(p 85)


Risks and Opportunities
Heatwaves and Floods

August 10, 2012


CSIRO: Climate Science and Solutions


  • The impacts of climate change are already clearly visible in Australia. …
  • Southern and eastern Australia’s water supply reliability is expected to decline [and] to be accompanied by a growth in water demand due to population growth.
  • Development and population growth in Australia’s coastal regions will exacerbate the risks from sealevel rise and … coastal flooding.
  • Significant losses of unique Australian animal and plant species are expected to occur … disrupting ecosystem function and causing the loss of ecosystem services.
  • The risks to infrastructure include the failure of urban drainage and sewerage systems, more blackouts, transport disruption, and greater building damage. …
  • Heatwaves, storms and floods are likely to have a direct impact on the health of Australians, such as causing an increase in heat-related deaths.
    Biological processes such as infectious diseases [such as dengue fever] and physical processes such as air pollution may affect health indirectly …
  • Moderate warming [and higher levels of carbon dioxide] in the absence of rainfall declines can be beneficial to some agricultural crops …
    However, these positive effects can be [more than] offset by changes in
  • Production from cropping and livestock is projected to decline over much of southern Australia, as is the quality of … crops.

(p 44, emphasis added)










August 7, 2012


ABC Local Radio

Oliver Sacks (1933–2015):
[Hans Asperger (1906–1980) wrote of a sort of “autistic intelligence” that was] scarcely touched by tradition and culture — unconventional, unorthodox, strangely “pure” and original, akin to the intelligence of true creativity.
(An Anthropologist on Mars, 1995, Vintage, 1996, p 253)


Strangers in a Strange Land

Doubts Must Remain

August 1, 2012


Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation


There is a great deal of evidence that the Earth’s climate has warmed over the last century.
  • Warming is apparent in a range of climate indicators including increasing temperatures over land and in the oceans, and increases in sea level.
  • Global average temperatures have risen in line with climate model projections for the last 20 years, while global average sea levels are rising near the upper end of the climate model projections.
  • [The] observed changes to the climate system are consistent with changes expected due to increasing greenhouse gases.
It is very likely that most of the warming over the last 60 years is due to increases in greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity.
(p 1)

Greenhouse Gases

  • Greenhouse gases (GHGs) influence the Earth’s climate because they interact with flows of heat energy in the atmosphere.
    The main GHGs influenced directly by human activities are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and synthetic gases. …
  • The amount of warming produced by a given rise in GHG concentrations depends on ‘feedback’ processes in the climate system …
    The net effect of all climate feedbacks is to amplify the warming …
  • The atmospheric level of CO2 (the most important GHG influenced by human activities) rose from about 280 ppm in 1800 to 386 ppm in 2009, and is currently increasing at nearly 2 ppm per year.
  • CO2 levels are rising mainly because of the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
    Over half of this CO2 input to the atmosphere is offset by natural CO2 ‘sinks’ in the land and oceans …
  • To have a 50:50 chance of keeping human-induced average global warming below 2ºC, it will be necessary to stop almost all CO2 emissions before cumulative emissions reach one trillion tonnes of carbon.
    The world has already emitted more than half of this quota since the industrial revolution, and (at current growth rates for CO2 emissions) the rest will be emitted by the middle of this century.
  • Climate change is a risk management issue — the longer we take to act and the weaker our actions, the greater the risk of dangerous outcomes.

(p 15)


  • The best estimate of annual average warming by 2030 (above 1990 temperatures) is around 1.0ºC across Australia …
  • Drying is likely in southern areas of Australia, especially in winter, and in southern and eastern areas in spring, due to a contraction in the rainfall belt towards the higher latitudes of the southern hemisphere. …
  • Intense rainfall events in most locations will become more extreme, driven by a warmer, wetter atmosphere.
    The combination of drying and increased evaporation means soil moisture is likely to decline over much of southern Australia.
    An increase in fire-weather risk is likely with warmer and drier conditions.

(p 35)



Greenhouse Gases