16 Feb 2009

A Changed Climate

By Anna Rose
More devastating fires are just one of the things we know will come with runaway climate change. Now is the time to turn our horror into action, writes Anna Rose
It's hard to know what to write. Every time I think about it, tears well up and I can't see the screen properly. These fires have affected our nation at its very core, in a way I hadn't seen before.

Yet in a sense, I should have been prepared for this. How many talks have I given over the past five years about scientists' predictions of the "more frequent extreme weather events like bushfires, floods, droughts and hurricanes" that climate change will bring? Perhaps it had become a throwaway line. Just one of the many items you must include on the long list when someone asks you the question, "what will the impact of climate change be on Australia within our lifetimes?"

The human face of climate change impacts became real last weekend. Scientists have told us for a long time that climate change will increase the likelihood of events like these bushfires. In 2007, CSIRO research revealed that higher levels of global warming expose us to the risk of an exponential increase in fire weather — that warming above of between just 0.4 and 1.0 degree by 2020 (the IPCC's low-range scenario) will see an alarming increase in days classified as Very High and Extreme fire danger days.

By 2050, high global warming scenarios indicate a jump of between 20-100 per cent in the frequency of "very extreme" fire weather across much of southern and eastern Australia, and the expected frequency of "catastrophic-range" fire weather conditions near Melbourne (for example) will rise from once every 33 years at present to every 2.4 years.

No-one can say for sure right now how much less devastating these recent fires would have been if the climate were not changing, but at the very least, this is a glimpse into the window of the future of a warming planet. First the heat-wave, then the floods and now the firestorms.

After the images of Hurricane Katrina were beamed across the globe, millions of people realised that the effects of climate change are not abstract. Climate change is not, at its core, about ice sheets melting in the Arctic, or extinctions and mass loss of biodiversity somewhere far away. It's not about polar bears, or politics. Climate change is about survival — of all people, all species, and all nations.

In Victoria, whole towns have gone. Whole communities and their histories. Climate change doesn't just affect animals or humans on an individual level — it attacks the heart and the identity of our nation and affects us all.

What gives me hope in the face of such devastation is the way our country has rallied together to mourn, and also to help the survivors. Already tens of millions of dollars have been donated to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund. If we can unite around this crisis, it gives me hope that we can do the same around climate change.

The past week has shown the strength, courage and determination of the survivors, fire fighters and all those who have helped. When we are under threat, we join together to take action. We must treat reducing emissions to solve climate change with the same determination, strength and courage. This applies to our political leaders, too. The fact that politicians from all parties have for a few days left behind the political bickering and reacted with genuine emotion, compassion and empathy, shows their humanity — our humanity. Fundamentally, our politicians have more in common than they do differences.

It is during these raw and rare moments, when politicians can ignore the 24-hour news cycle and express their solidarity with the victims of the fires that I think: we all share a common interest in doing our best to make sure an event like this never happens again. And maybe they will realise that here is something that they have the power to do — and no longer have any excuse to avoid.

Just like you can't negotiate with a bushfire, you can't negotiate with climate science. The science says the world needs to do much more, or we will see increased extreme weather events like the ones we have just experienced. Taking a risk on runaway climate change is too great a risk for our country, which is one of the most vulnerable in the world to more frequent extreme weather events.

The latest science tells us that the end-game that the world must aim for is to stabilise greenhouse gasses at 350 CO2e or below. This is our best chance of preventing our planet spiralling into out-of-control climate change, the future effects of which we are now as a nation beginning to comprehend.

It's possible some people may feel upset by the link being made in the media here and overseas between bushfires and climate change. I understand that people are shocked with grief. But there are many things we can and must learn from this tragedy, and one of them is this: The climate has changed. Our 5 per cent by 2020 carbon pollution reduction target is no longer politically viable. We are facing a climate emergency and running out of time.

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Dr David Horton
Posted Monday, February 16, 2009 - 16:00

Good work Anna. And if anyone is upset "by the link being made in the media here and overseas between bushfires and climate change" they might consider that the Murdoch Press and Heather Ridout were very quick off the mark to deny any link (and instead to push the agenda of people who want ten times more prescribed burning with the lie that this is what Aborigines did and this is how you stop bushfires). They are dead scared that people will start to understand that they have been lied to for over ten years, and that climate change is happening, is gathering pace, and will affect everyone in Australia, badly, one way and another.

Dallas Beaufort
Posted Monday, February 16, 2009 - 16:42

Anna, what about the link made between the bush fires and the human casualties and prescriptive planning polices of the type now being described as necessary to save the planet. Maybe you should take a close up look at the results of these prescriptions on the landscape today. I think you should at least make that commitment.

Posted Monday, February 16, 2009 - 17:46

Anna, I agree. 5% by 2020 was never going to be enough.

Ross Garnaut said 25% and 450 ppm was in Australia's interests. He wrote “Strong mitigation, with Australia playing its proportionate part, is in Australia’s interests. In preparation for Copenhagen, Australia should support the objective of reaching international agreement around an objective of holding concentrations to 450 ppm CO2-e – inevitably with overshooting. It should express its willingness to reduce its own entitlements to emissions from 2000 levels by 25% by 2020 and 90% by 2050 in the context of an international agreement, so long as the components of that agreement add up to the concentrations objectives.”

Australian climate scientists said 450 ppm was too high. In September 2008, 18 scientists wrote Kevin Rudd and said, "Based on current scientific understanding, this requires that global greenhouse gas emissions be reduced by at least 50% below their 1990 levels by the year 2050. In the long run, greenhouse gas concentrations need to be stabilized at a level well below 450 ppm [part per million; in CO2-equivalent concentration]. In order to stay below 2oC, global emissions must peak and decline before 2015, so there is no time to lose.”

Recent science suggests greenhouse gas concentrations need to be stabilized at 300 ppm - well above the current level.

Posted Monday, February 16, 2009 - 22:27

A complete list of things caused by global warming. With links. http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

Acne, agricultural land increase, Afghan poppies destroyed, Africa devastated, Africa in conflict, African aid threatened, African summer frost, aggressive weeds, air pressure changes, airport malaria, Agulhas current, Alaska reshaped, moves, allergy season longer, Alps melting, Amazon a desert, American dream end, amphibians breeding earlier (or not), anaphylactic reactions to bee stings, ancient forests dramatically changed, animals head for the hills, animals shrink, Antarctic grass flourishes, Antarctic ice grows, Antarctic ice shrinks, Antarctic sea life at risk, anxiety treatment, algal blooms, archaeological sites threatened, Arctic bogs melt, Arctic in bloom, Arctic ice free, Arctic ice melt faster, Arctic lakes disappear, Arctic tundra to burn, Arctic warming (not), Atlantic less salty, Atlantic more salty, atmospheric circulation modified, attack of the killer jellyfish, avalanches reduced, avalanches increased, Baghdad snow, Bahrain under water, bananas grow, barbarisation, beer shortage, beetle infestation, bet for $10,000, better beer, big melt faster, billion dollar research projects, billion homeless, billions face risk, billions of deaths, bird distributions change, bird loss accelerating, bird strikes, bird visitors drop, birds confused, birds decline (Wales), birds driven north, birds return early, bittern boom ends, blackbirds stop singing, blackbirds threatened, Black Hawk down, blood contaminated, blue mussels return, bluetongue, brain eating amoebae, brains shrink, bridge collapse (Minneapolis), Britain Siberian, brothels struggle, brown Ireland, bubonic plague, budget increases, Buddhist temple threatened, building collapse, building season extension, bushfires, business opportunities, business risks, butterflies move north, camel deaths, cancer deaths in England, cannibalism, caterpillar biomass shift, cave paintings threatened, childhood insomnia, Cholera, circumcision in decline, cirrus disappearance, civil unrest, cloud increase, coast beauty spots lost, cockroach migration, coffee threatened, cold climate creatures survive, cold spells (Australia), cold wave (India), computer models, conferences, conflict, conflict with Russia, consumers foot the bill, coral bleaching, coral fish suffer, coral reefs dying, coral reefs grow, coral reefs shrink , coral reefs twilight, cost of trillions, cougar attacks, crabgrass menace, cradle of civilisation threatened, creatures move uphill, crime increase, crocodile sex, crops devastated, crumbling roads, buildings and sewage systems, curriculum change, cyclones (Australia), danger to kid's health, Darfur, Dartford Warbler plague, death rate increase (US), Dengue hemorrhagic fever, depression, desert advance, desert retreat, destruction of the environment, disappearance of coastal cities, disasters, diseases move north, Dolomites collapse, dozen deadly diseases, drought, ducks and geese decline, dust bowl in the corn belt, early marriages, early spring, earlier pollen season, Earth biodiversity crisis, Earth dying, Earth even hotter, Earth light dimming, Earth lopsided, Earth melting, Earth morbid fever, Earth on fast track, Earth past point of no return, Earth slowing down, Earth spins faster, Earth to explode, earth upside down, earthquakes, earthquakes redux, El Niño intensification, end of the world as we know it, erosion, emerging infections, encephalitis, English villages lost, equality threatened, Europe simultaneously baking and freezing, eutrophication, evolution accelerating, expansion of university climate groups, extinctions (human, civilisation, logic, Inuit, smallest butterfly, cod, ladybirds, pikas, polar bears, possums, walrus, toads, plants, salmon, trout, wild flowers, woodlice, a million species, half of all animal and plant species, mountain species, not polar bears, barrier reef, leaches, salamanders, tropical insects) experts muzzled, extreme changes to California, fading fall foliage, fainting, famine, farmers benefit, farmers go under, farm output boost, fashion disaster, fever, figurehead sacked, fir cone bonanza, fish bigger, fish catches drop, fish downsize, fish catches rise, fish deaf, fish get lost, fish head north, fish stocks at risk, fish stocks decline, five million illnesses, flames stoked, flesh eating disease, flood patterns change, floods, floods of beaches and cities, flood of migrants, flood preparation for crisis, Florida economic decline, flowers in peril, food poisoning, food prices rise, food prices soar, food security threat (SA), football team migration, footpath erosion, forest decline, forest expansion, frog with extra heads, frostbite, frost damage increased, frosts, fungi fruitful, fungi invasion, games change, Garden of Eden wilts, genetic diversity decline, gene pools slashed, giant oysters invade, giant pythons invade, giant squid migrate, gingerbread houses collapse, glacial earthquakes, glacial retreat, glacial growth, glacier grows (California), glacier wrapped, global cooling, global dimming, glowing clouds, golf course to drown, golf Masters wrecked, grandstanding, grasslands wetter, Great Barrier Reef 95% dead, Great Lakes drop, great tits cope, greening of the North, Grey whales lose weight, Gulf Stream failure, habitat loss, haggis threatened, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, harmful algae, harvest increase, harvest shrinkage, hay fever epidemic, health affected, health of children harmed, health risks, heart disease, heart attacks and strokes (Australia), heat waves, hibernation affected, hibernation ends too soon, hibernation ends too late, HIV epidemic, homeless 50 million, hornets, high court debates, human development faces unprecedented reversal, human fertility reduced, human health risk, human race oblivion, hurricanes, hurricane reduction, hurricanes fewer, hurricanes not, hydropower problems, hyperthermia deaths, ice age, ice sheet growth, ice sheet shrinkage, icebergs, illness and death, inclement weather, India drowning, infrastructure failure (Canada), industry threatened, infectious diseases, inflation in China, insect explosion, insurance premium rises, Inuit displacement, Inuit poisoned, Inuit suing, invasion of cats, invasion of crabgrass, invasion of herons, invasion of jellyfish, invasion of king crabs, invasion of midges, island disappears, islands sinking, itchier poison ivy, jellyfish explosion, jets fall from sky, jet stream drifts north, Kew Gardens taxed, kidney stones, killer cornflakes, killing us, kitten boom, koalas under threat, krill decline, lake and stream productivity decline, lake empties, lake shrinking and growing, landslides, landslides of ice at 140 mph, lawsuits increase, lawsuit successful, lawyers' income increased (surprise surprise!), lawyers want more, legionnaires' surge, lives saved, Loch Ness monster dead, locust plagues suppressed, lush growth in rain forests, Malaria, mammoth dung melt, mango harvest fails, Maple production advanced, Maple syrup shortage, marine diseases, marine food chain decimated, Meaching (end of the world), Mediterranean rises, megacryometeors, Melanoma, Melanoma decline, methane emissions from plants, methane burps, methane runaway, melting permafrost, Middle Kingdom convulses, migration, migration difficult (birds), migratory birds huge losses, microbes to decompose soil carbon more rapidly, minorities hit, monkeys on the move, Mont Blanc grows, monuments imperiled, moose dying, more bad air days, more research needed, mortality increased, mountain (Everest) shrinking, mountaineers fears, mountains break up, mountains green and flowering, mountains taller, mortality lower, Myanmar cyclone, narwhals at risk, National security implications, native wildlife overwhelmed, natural disasters quadruple, new islands, next ice age, NFL threatened, Nile delta damaged, noctilucent clouds, no effect in India, Northwest Passage opened, nuclear plants bloom, oaks dying, oaks move north, ocean acidification, ocean acidification faster, ocean dead zones unleashed, ocean deserts expand, ocean waves speed up, oceans noisier, opera house to be destroyed, outdoor hockey threatened, ozone repair slowed, ozone rise, Pacific dead zone, penguin chicks frozen, personal carbon rationing, pest outbreaks, pests increase, phenology shifts, plankton blooms, plankton destabilised, plants lose protein, plants march north, plants move uphill, polar bears aggressive, polar bears cannibalistic, polar bears deaf, polar bears drowning, polar tours scrapped, popcorn rise, porpoise astray, profits collapse, psychiatric illness, puffin decline, radars taken out, railroad tracks deformed, rainfall increase, rape wave, refugees, reindeer endangered, release of ancient frozen viruses, resorts disappear, rice threatened, rice yields crash, rift on Capitol Hill, rioting and nuclear war, river flow impacted, rivers raised, roads wear out, robins rampant, rocky peaks crack apart, roof of the world a desert, rooftop bars, Ross river disease, ruins ruined, Russia under pressure, salinity reduction, salinity increase, Salmonella, satellites accelerate, school closures, sea level rise, sea level rise faster, seals mating more, sewer bills rise, severe thunderstorms, sex change, sexual promiscuity, shark attacks, sharks booming, sharks moving north, sheep shrink, shop closures, short-nosed dogs endangered, shrinking ponds, shrinking shrine, ski resorts threatened, skin cancer, slow death, smaller brains, smog, snowfall increase, snowfall heavy, soaring food prices, societal collapse, soil change, songbirds change eating habits, sour grapes, space problem, spectacular orchids, spiders invade Scotland, squid aggressive giants, squid population explosion, squid tamed, squirrels reproduce earlier, stingray invasion, storms wetter, stormwater drains stressed, street crime to increase, subsidence, suicide, swordfish in the Baltic, Tabasco tragedy, taxes, tectonic plate movement, teenage drinking, terrorism, threat to peace, ticks move northward (Sweden), tides rise, tigers eat people, tomatoes rot, tornado outbreak, tourism increase, trade barriers, trade winds weakened, traffic jams, transportation threatened, tree foliage increase (UK), tree growth slowed, trees in trouble, trees less colourful, trees more colourful, trees lush, tropics expansion, tropopause raised, truffle shortage, truffles down, turtles crash, turtle feminised, turtles lay earlier, UFO sightings, UK coastal impact, UK Katrina, uprooted - 6 million, Vampire moths, Venice flooded, volcanic eruptions, walrus pups orphaned, walrus stampede, war, war between US and Canada, wars over water, wars sparked, wars threaten billions, wasps, water bills double, water scarcity (20% of increase), water stress, weather out of its mind, weather patterns awry, Western aid cancelled out, West Nile fever, whales lose weight, whales move north, whales wiped out, wheat yields crushed in Australia, wildfires, wind shift, wind reduced, wine - harm to Australian industry, wine industry damage (California), wine industry disaster (US), wine - more English, wine - England too hot, wine -German boon, wine - no more French , wine passé (Napa), wine stronger, winters in Britain colder, winter in Britain dead, witchcraft executions, wolves eat more moose, wolves eat less, workers laid off, World at war, World War 4, World bankruptcy, World in crisis, World in flames, Yellow fever.

and all on 0.006 deg C per year!

Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - 00:05

Dear Anna,

The devastation in Victoria has been devastating for individuals, families and friends as well as for the whole nation. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods.

However, such tragedies will not be avoided in the future by ascribing blame to easy, inanimate targets such as anthropogenic "Climate Change" which cannot respond to such criticism. There has been far too much of an apologetic approach to this tragedy already and if I am not mistaken, this will lead inexorably to the neglect of the real problem and thus to future tragedies of similar dimensions.

Since almost identical conditions in South Eastern Australia occurred in 1908 and somewhat similar weather has been recorded in other earlier years when Global Warming was not an issue, it is to draw a very long bow indeed, to claim that these conditions were predictable on the basis of modelling. If that were the case, why did the experimental global warming models not tell us that those conditions would be present in February 2009? The correct answer of course is that they simply cannot, because, in spite of the claims made about future predictions, they are not sufficiently accurate. Let's not get hung up on their claimed ability to predict the climate 50 to 100 years in the future even though, as acknowledged by the modelers, they were totally unable to determine the climate next year. If the claims are correct, why can they not use the well known global climate conditions from forty or fifty years ago to predict the climate now? This is not good science Anna! Think about it!

The average rainfall, over the Murray-Darling Basin, as recently published by the Australian Bureau of meteorolgy, shows that in the first thirty years of the last century (20th), was significantly BELOW that of the last twenty five years. Yet people are happy to claim that the current problems are because of Global Warming. This in the face of records that in 1914, the Murray River stopped flowing, when the drainage by irrigation was much less than it is today since the sell off of generous water licenses during the very wet 50's and 60's. Records also show that before 1900, the Darling River had not flowed for three consecutive years, also consistent with the Bureau's publications. It is thus very difficult to observe the fingerprint of Global Warming on the climate/weather of South East Australia.

Overseas, the claims are of similar substance. Take the "Melting" of the Arctic. Englishman Pugh in 2007, kayaked to within 900 km of the North Pole - to publicise the problems of Global Warming. Norwegian Nansen in 1893, kayaked to within 560 km of the same pole, 340 km closer, 114 years earlier - just for the fun of it!!

Back to the tragic fires. Nothing should be allowed to impinge on efforts to implement the recommendations by experienced fire fighters such as Mr Packham, who advocate the very obvious need for local authorities and government to either restrict the areas in which people are allowed to build, which so logically must be ONLY in FIRE FREE zones, or allow proper clearing and adequate fire breaks to be created to remove the possibility of a repetition of last week's tragedies. (Just heard on ABC Late Line from a man called Liam who was fined fifty thousand dollars and convicted on a charge brought by his caring local government, for clearing trees around his house, which surprise, surprise, survived the fires. What a miscarriage of justice. Many of those who obeyed the nonsensical restrictions are no longer with us or will require substantial support to get back on their feet.

After all, more than one Victorian local Government has refused building permission for land which might be inundated in the very unlikely event that sea rises occur over the next 100 years, induced of course by Global Warming. This problem, if in the unlikely event that it did arise, would be unlikely to result in any loss of life, just the necessity to shift the house at the cost of the owner. N.B. The recent vicious floods in North Queensland did not lead to any loss of life! There seems to be some wildly inconsistent regulations by Victoria's Local and state governments, wouldn't you agree?

Global Warming or Global Cooling, there is nothing in the world more certain than that the forests in Victoria and elsewhere in Australia, will be burning in the future as a result of the ubiquitous lightening and the apparently careless firebugs. This will happen randomly and without respect for particular areas.

Anna, please give Global Warming a break from being condemned for every possible disaster and look a little more closely at how these problems may be realistically avoided in the future.

John Nicol

Anonymous (not verified)
Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - 00:34

Anna Rose

"<strong>Scientists have told us for a long time that climate change will increase the likelihood of events of ...</strong>"

[ Insert pet peeve -->...............<-- here. ]

Why is it always liberal art's majors that clang the climate cook-out clarion call? By what mechanism do they self-anoint as the archangel's proxy to the rather withdrawn and socially maladapted science faculties¿

... for what makes 'Scientists' so cold hearted and distanced that they cannot warn us in their own voice¿

What perverse, limited and somewhat restricted 'rainbow covenant' gave short shrift to The-Gilgamesh-Flood-Insurance - underwritten by Utnapishtim - yet was silent in regard to fire, global warming and other natural disaster or the ongoing writhing wrath of <strong>vis major</strong>¿

In God's name, are we NOT covered?

Who truly knows/Noah's?

Oy vey!

Anonymous (not verified)
Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - 00:42

Yes John

... and, off coarse, matches and kerosene have been identified as the immediate cause, too¿

Well so it goes?

[Ought pyromaniacs not be considered for mitigation in an anthropogenic Global Warming environment - they where just doing what was going to happen - anyway!]


Tom McLoughlin
Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - 11:43

Yes, Ms Rose, you are on the right track. Do not fear.

Interesting (sophistry?) about the lower rainfall early 20C in the Murray. Regardless the CSIRO July 2008 reported a trend down in rainfall for SE Australia and predicted worse via climate change [pdf link]:


I take their word for it. So did Commissioner Tim Moore, Land & Environment Court in evidence August 2008, former Lib NSW environment minister.

Less rain aka drought feeds bushfires two ways I can see: Moist vegetation allows fungi, lichens, mosses to break down ground litter to soil. This is well demonstrated in bouncy deep top soil of wet old growth forests. Less fuel for fire.

Secondly moist vegetation doesn't burn nearly as well.

Which brings us to another devastating environmental trend. The last 50 years have seen a systemic removal of rainforest first, and now wet old growth forest areas such that the forest estate is less than 10% by proportion with dry sclerophyl types (refer Tony Norton 1993, now ANU CRES). So now via highly mechanised chainsaw and D9 bulldozer the loggers have converted whole landscapes to dry sclerophyll and radically altered the surface water cycle.

Turbo charge this with extreme heat events, climate related or not, and we have bushfire morphing to wildfire morphing to megafire. My intuition is that this likely is also a factor in the ACT 2003 megafire making it's own brutal wether pattern, destroying 400 houses apparently. Recall that alot of national park has been created only in the last 50 years post logging of wet old growth ocnversion to dry regrowth. The industry are very strategic like that.

The grim truth is there is likely no easy way to repair that wet forest water cycle. It took hundreds of years to establish in the first place. Some forest never burned even by the Indigenous eg Goolengook East Gippsland, no logged early 21C. This is truly the loggers legacy. And they greatly fear their history being told. Especially as the pathway of the latest megafire in central Victoria is revealed via cleared crown land, highly disturbed state forest, fraction of national park, timber plantations, open farmland, and finally inner circle of towns like Kinglake West with arguably too much local garden or pocket park to be safe. (But then they prepared for a bushfire, maybe a wildfire, but not a megafire.) At least that's my understanding. Wait for the Royal Commission. And buck up. We have our vocation to pursue.

Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - 14:00

Dear Denko,

As one of the scientists that you decry for their lack of communication - "what makes ‘Scientists’ so cold hearted and distanced that they cannot warn us in their own voice" - we have been trying - no matter how ineffectually - for some 20-30 years that I recall, without much notice being taken. On the other hand, spin doctors with axes to grind have been far more effective where it counts - with politicians and the swinging voter.

Perhaps our error is that we have been too conservative in eliminating risk from our predictions, or perhaps what readers we have obtained have been overwhelmed by the complexity of the issue. Perhaps the most important one of these is to differentiate between long term and short term trends. "Short term" (say 20 -30 years in this case) fluctuations (increases and decreases) have to be separated from long term increases. This is not easy to the mathematically challenged!

You ask "Why is it always liberal art’s majors that clang the climate cook-out clarion call". Perhaps it is because they have been trained to study, think and then communicate their conclusions. In future, scientists will need more of this last skill in order to counter the knee jerk jumping to conclusions so effectively used by spin doctors and many journalists.

Thanks to Anna for joining in the fight, we need your skills and help badly.

CSIRO SPRS (retired)

Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - 17:01

Good article Anna. As David Horton wrote, "Here come the denialists". Even if there is no such thing as human induced climate change, there most definitley has been a change in the climate, whatever the reason. It is surely prudent to take precautions to cope as best we may with the proven change in the weather and to minimise and to rectify the possible causes. I remember the oak trees in Britain getting bowled over by hurricane force winds which the trees had never encountered, so that their roots were not deep enough. One of the many things which show that extreme weather is with us as a matter of course. There is no need to list further evidence for climate change in addition to that already presented. A message to the denialists - Gentlemen, you have lost the arguement so get used to it and have the grace to shut up as you are becoming boring! Your profits and regretably the earnings of your workers (which you couldn't give a toss about in any case) will have to go in order that we (including you and your employees) have a chance to survive. Thank you for your attention.

Dallas Beaufort
Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - 17:47

Dear martyns, the weather is always changing, its just that most were not aware of the changes until governments financed the looking.

Posted Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - 22:16

from Bob Futtocks
somewhere in the past.

Well, Anna Rose, it's been a quite a while since I read such utter rubbish.
It would be so much better for you to try and learn something first before you go spouting off about it. You evidently have no qualification(s) in the subject you have written about, have you ?

You say your objective is "to build a movement to solve climate change": well, you certainly can cause a "movement", the kind with a vented stench.

Let me explain, for the benefit of the uneducated amongst your offices: neither you nor anyone else is able to change the climate of earth.

Here are a few cold, hard questions:-
1. What is Carbon dioxide ?
clue: it is not carbon.
2. Where does most of our carbon dioxide come from ?
clue: the deep blue ...
3. What is the major "gas" above the earth ?
clue: boil your billie.
4. What very large thing is the ultimate source of all energy on earth ?
clue: she come wid dee dawning

Oh there is so much more you need to learn, so perhaps you can do us all a favour and change your life or at the very least stop writing hysterical misinformation.

Just calm down and remember that ninety-nine percent of what you have written is poppycock AND four percent of what you breath out is ... yes, you guessed it (please see question number one above).

Anonymous (not verified)
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2009 - 02:32

David Horton

Is this the only dichotomy - denialists and scientists?


I've always liked your clear examination of the GW science, and your clear explanation - whenever I've asked - as well?

Thank you!

But I doubt that I am in denial, neither are so many other who simply question the conclusions of which there seem to be so many.

One issue that is vital, but only broaches the emotive nature of the subject, is the very well articulated redistributed tax theory espoused in the carbon credit scheme.

Has a tax ever resolved a scientific issue before? Less so, one of such epic global proportion - as we are so told in this case? Less so, such a new and untested proposed self-regulated international tax system?

Furthermore has any international tax, of what ever form, ever worked? Besides perhaps the pervasive airport taxes administered on hapless travelers as they wend their way about the planet.

Could we at least test the voracity of administering a robust carbon credit tax on a fairly neutral and well understood enterprise?

Lets say the world were to exact a Whaling Tax on Norway and Japan, the gross proceeds of with are transferred through the purchase of whale-oil-credits which are sold by, say, desirable free range tomato/potato farmers in Idaho.

If this simple and equitable trade system can be applied to two of the planets most sophisticated counties - on a subject that has no Armageddon inspiring science whatsoever - but is strictly couched in the ethics of slaughtering rather big mammals in preference to a host of other smaller ones - then we may have made a start?

Then should this implementation and administration actually work, we can then examine whether the desired outcome is achieved? Is there in fact a desired equitable whale cull reduction, while the international commended production of potatoes and tomatoes is increased?

Or would the test simply show that we fail.

Perhaps simply to create another tier of bloodsucking and somewhat boring bureaucrats? Or at the same time exhaust all potential benefit in their inevitably complex implementation of a tax code, and likely criminalization of many in an otherwise free industry?

Yet these are small issues - when compared to the predictions of the Global Warming Theorists.

Realize perhaps that at the fringe of scientific fact a ring of belief emerges?

Has man ever rationally gone to war over a scientific fact?


Has man ever rationally gone to war over his system of belief?

The more the evangelical fringe proclaims the science - the more it is clear that the science borders irrationality and is reduced to an unsubstantiated belief by the very disposition of believers to believe almost anything?


The conclusions of meteorology are based on the arguments of statistical probability theory. Gaussian theory is 'probable' hence its epistemology does not go to a strict implicative casual basis of its knowledge base and understanding.

It never has, and it never will.

Should 10 000 if-then scenarios be shown to be true, it still does not exclude explanation 10 001 potentially defying the model and the science in a Popperian falsification...

Hence, as we have recently seen in the epic and colossal crash and burn of applied Gaussian theory - Gaussian theory is the core understanding to the pricing of risk assets in the investment industry and its science is based on countless affirmation by countlessly more academic papers by the planet's best and brightest statisticians and quantitative analysts.

In this case Moody's, Standard and Poor, and Fitch's have hosted schools of the best available Phd's to their payrolls - So too have the large research and actuarial departments to the now defunct investment banks.

A tenant of their theory is that asset prices behave randomly and can thus be gauged and priced, and their RISK ASSESSED by distribution theory.

On this premise a trillion dollar industry was fostered, and has now collapsed with devastating international economic consequence!

We now learn that at the 'fat-ends' to a normal distribution Gaussian modeling does not apply and is an academic crock...

Yet a minute cabal of universally underfunded international meteorologists pontificate obstinately based a this universal theory so recently AND dramatically discredited!

Just so plain wrong, wrong and well wrong!

Yet now these meteorologists ask that we accept their RISK ASSESSMENT based on the exact same theory and understanding!

Hmmmm… dare we hold our breath?



Dr David Horton
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2009 - 08:14

Denko - the dichotomy is between denialists and those of us living in the reality based community which includes most (though not all, sadly) scientists. This thread, though short, has helped me in one of my hobbies, collecting specimens of the silliest denialist posts. A number of candidates here, but Bob Futtock's is a very rare perfect specimen of a denialist completely out of touch with reality, and yet asking meaningless questions with all the authority of an armchair general. Almost like a haiku of denialism. I shall treasure it always Mr Futtock, and take it out occasionally, in my dotage, and read it again and have a little chuckle. It is small, and yet beautifully formed.

Anonymous (not verified)
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2009 - 09:16

Dear jonical

<em>The devastation in Victoria has been devastating for individuals, families and friends as well as for the whole nation. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods.

However, such tragedies will not be avoided in the future by ascribing blame to easy, inanimate targets such as anthropogenic "Climate Change" which cannot respond to such criticism.</em>

An appreciated an pervasive sentiment as well as a real insight.

Thank you.


Doubtlessly it is being shown that the planet is in a long term process of heating...

But to ascribe this years Victorian heat wave on Global Warming does seem to be false. Both wildern and David Horten could possibly clarify.

This years Northern Hemisphere’s winter has been the coldest on record in recent years. Unusually cold polar winds have contracted and distorted the northern hemisphere's Ferrell and Hadley Cells and in all likelihood raised the equatorial belt about the planet in response to these effects - which equatorial effect impacts our Northern Australian states.

This strong chill extended from Northern China, through most of Europe and the North Americas.

But more notable this year has seen the return of La Nina. (A phenomenon that could be caused by the unusual Northern Hemispheres cooling... who knows?)

This cooling effect of La Nina has possibly changed temperatures about the Arafura, Timor and Coral seas such that the continental land warming of the northern states has allowed for the longest and wettest monsoon (a reversal of the normal or prevailing trade wind) for many years.

The Northern states have been flooded.

While the north of the continent has been able to draw moist winds from the equator through a persistent rain belt, the resultant --> cooling <--has resulted in stronger off shore winds to the south of the continent.

An off shore domestic 'foehn wind' - the hot dry wind blowing from the interior to the coast.

This is a likely and perhaps credible chain to Australia's summer weather pattern.

If it is true - and meteorologist cannot answer this type of question - not only because they tend to be - as mildern would suggest the only people who are mathematically gifted - but also because it isn't possible to codify the data of one season into an uncontestable theory and, well, provable case.

Important to differentiate between long term trend and short term anecdote - for Victoria’s heat wave points not to global warming but rather to robust evidence of a much cooler year!

The more important point though is - while it is easy (easier¿) to show a Global Warming long term trend, the real explanation and the viable mechanisms = moot/contestable and a whole lot harder to do.

...and this isn't simply denial for the sake of denial!

But neither is it, as some Victorian heat wavers would have, a confirmation simply for the sake of confirmation!

As always … dunno4sure¿

Anonymous (not verified)
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2009 - 11:14


Included in that err, ehaustive list and off course --> <strong>better beer</strong> <---.


Not all half bad, ey?

Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2009 - 12:47

Dear Denko,

I do not have the figures, but the probability of climate change being due to anthropogenic carbon dioxide (and methane) must be somewhat higher than the risk of dying on the road. Therefore, are you arguing that all the money spent on road improvements, black spot elimination, car seat belts, air bags, anti skid braking etc is wasted?

CSIRO SPRS (retired)

Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2009 - 14:43

Thanks for your article Anna. Went to a party in the local hall here in our little bush town on Saturday night and the first thing the host said was: those scientists' have been warning us about this for years.

I've just looked at your bio and once again I feel that young people such as yourself will be our saviours and not the pig-headed older ones who love nothing better, including this earth, than a bit of argy-bargy on the net.


Anonymous (not verified)
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2009 - 15:57

Dear wildern...


<em>Therefore, are you arguing that all the money spent on road improvements, black spot elimination, car seat belts, air bags, anti skid braking etc is wasted?</em>

No I don't think so - in fact I hope not!


...what I am ardently arguing is, in terms of your metaphor, that if when automobiles where first designed HAD we then had full knowledge and common consensus THEN, which would have accurately predicted what we know today – that is - that we would legally propel ourselves past each other at 110Km's per hour within a 1m to 2m channel armed within a dangerous chassis/shell/capsule that would lead on auto error to a crash mortality of about :-

[US statistics - after the inclusion of the best ad hoc 'safety road and car standards']

1 person in 20 head-on crashes
1 person in 73 fixed object crashes
1 person in 30 rollovers
1 person in 200 side swipe accidents
1 person in 787 rear-enders
and a death toll for pedestrians and cyclists as high as head-on crashes
and that about 43 000 people would die each year on US road deaths annually


<em>Contra bonos mores</em> if not outright insanity and road improvements, black spot elimination, car seat belts, air bags, anti skid braking would not have helped that position as they are only inefficient ad hoc attempts to mitigate a gruesome international scientific disaster!


Yet would this have been rational?

Would not that response have been emotive and thus poorly considered?

Would not that emotive response parallel with what we are doing to the GW phenomenon?

Yet today automobiles are not only universally embraced - they are a symbol of the USA great industrial age, for those grusome statistics have to be understood within a fuller understanding.

A fuller understanding was nothing they had at the advent of the automobile, and a fuller understanding is nothing we have at the advent of the global warming spike...

Without the automobile the 6 Bn estimated persons alive on the planet could not be supported? Perhaps as many as 3 Bn people would simply have to die!

So lets us as humainty go slaughter our goat, resticting the exploitation of our known capability to feed house and provide for humanity, on the unknown alter of Global Warning


So perhaps in that context (which I've tried to align with your suggestion – it would never be my perfect metaphor) I argue in the broadest, that although recognizing that there is global heating -

1) it isn't entirely manifest that anthropogenic CO<sub>2</sub> emission is necessarily the sole cause.

2) it isn't clear that a carbon emission trading scheme will reduce CO<sub>2</sub> emission - in our perhaps Quixotic tilt at it.

3) it isn't clear that Australia's burden of guilt parallels with its cause of global CO<sub>2</sub> emission.

4) it isn't clear that Australia's planned sacrifice in combating CO<sub>2</sub> emission will be matched, by our neighbours or the world. The proposals actually exclude the prime known international polluters?

5) it isn't clear that a long term reversion to temperature bands that existed at the Eemiam would be globally that in-hospitable for man.

Rather its seem that those temperatures accord well with Neolithic man - they certainly accord with the paradise myths that originate at about that time - the time of nascent cognizant modern man.

6) it is clear that the Victorian bush fire tragedy has dumped vast quantities of CO<sub>2</sub> such that it not only dwarfs the Australian anthropomorphic goals, objectives and stated reduction it reduces the debate to a context of miniscule and irrelevant proportion!

Why bother - if our best efforts are obliterated by a single state's bush fire season? Queensland will begin to burn later this year...

7) it isn't clear why through the entire Neolithic period - global temperatures declined rather than rose.

Yet the fundamental premise of the anthropogenic "Climate Change" thesis suggests the exact opposite should have been anticipated?

Are these not valid lines of enquiry?



Anonymous (not verified)
Posted Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 11:06


Hi! Again ...

<em>"...the probability of climate change being due to anthropogenic carbon dioxide (and methane) must be somewhat higher than the risk of dying on the road."</em>

Yes I would hope so too (that the probability is way, way higher)! For <strong>if</strong> it is at the road death rate - we certainly waste our time discussing the issue.

<strong>If</strong> it is at the road death par - we are talking about [again USA statistics] slightly less than 8 mortalities per 100 000 persons per annum - more or less ...

That, if my math = okey/dokey = an incidence of 0.00008 % or a Z of about -3.76 or so about the standardized normal distribution mean.

Statistically at a CAR DEATH benchmark your statement translates to: "the probability of climate change being due to anthropogenic carbon dioxide (and methane) - is virtually nothing!"

Even the most caustic climate change cynic must surely accede odds way, way in excess of this!

I believe the risk of a large asteroid strike in each century may be about as high as the annual car death rate;

A devastating asteroid significantly, much less;

An O.M.G. Armageddon asteroid strike an absolute unlikelihood - that is to say 'no chance' - and on an equal footing with 'there is no virtually no chance that man is the cause of global warning'!

So armed with your benchmark 'nugget' - are we perhaps NOT directing our energies in the wrong direction¿



Off cause - we do know after the Fitch/Standard & Poor/Moody's International Statistics Debacle that anything said about those 'lower tails' = meaningless tales!

[Despite your auto insurer making some outstandingly accurate long term assessments based on the thinking (...in all probability!)]


PS - i think i know what you were meaning to say!

PPS - i think¿


Posted Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 21:15

Bob Futtocks
somewhere in the past.


The sun warms the earth.

As oceans warm they release more carbon dioxide than usual.

Water vapour is the main element surrounding the earth.

Earth sometimes gets cooler.

Earth sometimes gets warmer.

The Emperor has no clothes on.

There is no evidence that we are, or ever could cause global climate change.

Until you have challenged the prevailing wisdom you have no idea how nasty people can be.

FINALLY and before you type another word, I offer you, two, simple, straight forward questions: if you do give the correct answers you will be given some respect.

Q 1.
What is the meaning of the word "quantum" ?

Q 2.
Of the entire gas elements surrounding earth, what percentage of those gas elements is made up of carbon-dioxide (CO2) ?

Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2009 - 23:11

Bob Futtocks, may I have a go at your questions since Anna seems to have missed out:

1. What is Carbon dioxide ?
clue: it is not carbon.
2. Where does most of our carbon dioxide come from ?
clue: the deep blue …
3. What is the major "gas" above the earth ?
clue: boil your billie.
4. What very large thing is the ultimate source of all energy on earth ?
clue: she come wid dee dawning

1 Carbon dioxide is the oxide of carbon containing the highest amount of oxygen, cf carbon monoxide and carbon suboxide. Boring but accurate.
2 Where does most of our carbon dioxide comes from? Well, seems it used to be about 280ppm but has risen to nearly 390ppm after quite a long time of us burning coal and oil like they are going out of fashion. Which they are. I'm prepared to bet that is cause and effect, so I'd like us to wind back on fossil fuels, at least as a precaution. But in any case, you are welcome to be a contrarian (I do so prefer James Hansen's term - a sceptic is what every scientist and voter should be) provided you realise that stopping burning coal and oil is what we have to do anyway BEFORE THEY RUN OUT, so it doesn't much matter which reason you choose.
3 The major gas above the earth is nitrogen. Did your little clue mean you wanted the answer "water vapour"? Well, even at 30decC and saturated at that, a cu M of air contains only ~30gm water vapour compared to a bit over a kilogram of nitrogen. And I'd guess most of the atmosphere contains a lot less water than that.
4 Almost all energy ON EARTH originates indeed from very large things - called super novae, which generated nearly all the materials under our feet, including the u235,u238,th232 and k40 that gradually decay and top up the geothermal energy. Of course, a lot more energy than that is sent TO EARTH from the sun, and a little bit more arrives as a result of the gravitational activity of the moon and the sun on the tides.

I look forward to my marks. I hope you agree I have accurately answered your questions, and dodged those tricky little clues you gave to throw us off the scent.

I also look forward to the time, as implied in my answer to #2, when we stop arguing about whether climate change is our fault or nature's, and get on with the blindingly obvious activities which are both precautionary and recognisant that we are using up non-renewable resources. We can't go on doing that. can't Can't CAN'T. Got it?