Yesterday saw the release of the third biennial “State of the Climate” report from the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). Nothing much seems to have improved in the past two years and it doesn’t paint as pretty picture of our “sunburnt country”…
Australia’s climate has warmed by 0.9°C since 1910, and the frequency of extreme weather has changed, with more extreme heat. Rainfall has declined since 1970 in the southwest, dominated by reduced winter rainfall. Autumn and early winter rainfall has mostly been below average in the southeast since 1990.
Well, everyone, it’s crunch time.
Contrary to claims in the mainstream media, the UN has not called an emergency meeting to discuss the 5th report on the state of the science of Climate Change. The IPCC have said:
The IPCC will convene a plenary session to finalize the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, in line with its normal procedures, in Stockholm on 23-26 September 2013.
Talk of geo-engineering as a possible solution to Climate Change scares me.
It suggests that some believe we can continue using fossil fuels as we are doing at present and still ‘dodge’ the repercussions. Apart from the costs (and who should bear these) and the possible unintended side effects, geo-engineering, unless it were to ‘scrub’ CO2 from the atmosphere, still wouldn’t address ocean acidification which has seen a 30% reduction in shell thickness of crustaceans and which threatens to collapse the marine food chain. That we are even considering geo-engineering shows how desperate our situation is becoming.
Climate Change is an issue that requires long-term thinking, planning and execution. Unfortunately for most people in Western democracies, this kind of issue does not fit into either the media cycle or the election cycle.
The media cycle is now just a 24 hour beast, whilst the election cycle is limited to either 3 or 4 years. Increasingly, anything that falls outside these parameters is considered too difficult to implement. Opinion polls have become the arbiters of good policy rather than being advocated and sold by the government of the day. Also increasingly, it seems that the role of the opposition party(ies) is purely to oppose anything proposed by the incumbents, as if this provides an alternative view or policy perspective when in point of fact it is purest laziness.
The eighteenth annual session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18) will take place from Monday, 26 November to Friday, 7 December 2012 at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha, Qatar. Our “leaders” will again be talking about and considering proposals for the mitigation of and adaptation to Climate Change. I place the term “leaders” in inverted commas since it would appear that, even after 18 years of these talks, not one of them seems to want to “lead” on this issue which the science tells us will have a profound effect upon all of us.
Recently, in our street in suburban Melbourne, we have had “smart” meters installed. The program of smart meter installation has been legislated by the Victorian Government – you don’t have a choice about whether you get one or not; it will come to you. Last week I received a letter from my retailer, Origin, flagging “Time-of-Use” (ToU) energy prices. For the vast majority of us, this will result in major increases in bills.
Gambling is a societal issue and one that creates a lot of grief in our communities. There are many opinions as to why people are willing to make inordinately risky decisions; be it lifestyle, financial or social. This is no more so than when the risk is perceived to be in a nebulous future and especially so if there appears to be a debate about the facts. I guess this is probably the reason that Climate Change is failing to stir the hearts and minds of many people in the US and here in Australia but, strangely enough, not in the vast majority of the rest of the world. Both here and in the US, this issue has been badly politicised.