This is the forth in a series of TPS Extra opinion pieces by Ad astra, originally posted in comments on The Political Sword.
It is holiday time, where your overworked ministers take a ‘well earned break’ from the turmoil and anguish of trying to work out how to run a vast nation of 23 million with a federal budget near one and a half trillion, so it might be excusable Tony that so far there has been no response from you or your Environment Minister to the the latest alarming report on climate. We will be interested to see how long it takes you to respond, if indeed you bother at all.
Now we all know that what you really said at that fateful meeting in Beaufort was: “the science behind climate change was crap”, and that since that unwise utterance, designed to curry favour with your audience, you have backtracked, as you so often do. But we wonder how you regard the latest science that confirms what rational people, who have regard for the facts, already know, namely that the planet is warming steadily and dangerously.
NASA has just released its annual report, which states categorically that: “The year 2014 ranks as Earth’s warmest since 1880, according to two separate analyses by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists. The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record, with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000. This trend continues a long-term warming of the planet, according to an analysis of surface temperature measurements by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York. In an independent analysis of the raw data, also released Friday, NOAA scientists also found 2014 to be the warmest on record.”
The report goes onto say: “Since 1880, Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius), a trend that is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet’s atmosphere. The majority of that warming has occurred in the past three decades.
“This is the latest in a series of warm years, in a series of warm decades. While the ranking of individual years can be affected by chaotic weather patterns, the long-term trends are attributable to drivers of climate change that right now are dominated by human emissions of greenhouse gases,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt.
“While 2014 temperatures continue the planet’s long-term warming trend, scientists still expect to see year-to-year fluctuations in average global temperature caused by phenomena such as El Niño or La Niña. These phenomena warm or cool the tropical Pacific and are thought to have played a role in the flattening of the long-term warming trend over the past 15 years. However, 2014’s record warmth occurred during an El Niño-neutral year.”
You don’t have to believe me Tony – read the report for yourself, and do take the time to play the short video at the top of the page and the graphics in the right panel. They might startle you; at least I hope they will. www.nasa.gov/…/#.VLmnp8YihHh
Commenting on the report, our own Professor Will Steffen, Director of the ANU’s Climate Change Institute said: “Effects of the steadily warming climate such as heatwaves, bushfires and extreme weather were happening more frequently and closer together. Historically in Australia, more people die from heatwaves than they do from any other type of natural disaster.” He told ABC’s AM: “It does have consequences and it isn’t the meteorological record that scientists and geeks like to look at, it’s actually affecting us on the ground, now.”
“There is no doubt that to really get on top of this problem we have to have deeper targets, more ambitious targets for 2020.”
Professor Steffen said the rise in sea level temperatures was the most significant aspect of the reports: “This is a real cause for concern because 93 per cent of the excess heat – because of the greenhouse gases we’re popping into the atmosphere – actually ends up in the ocean. When you start to see the ocean warming up as much as it is, there’s a lot more heat down there that’s going to come back to bite us.” www.abc.net.au/…/6022714 Hear him for yourself: www.abc.net.au/…/6022804
We know you’ve countered arguments supporting the reality of climate change by reminding us that it was hotter in Jesus’ time and that in this country we’ve had bushfires and floods for centuries, although you have conceded that man might have contributed to global warming. But we are still to be convinced that you or your Environment Minister are taking global warming seriously. You killed off the carbon tax that was reducing carbon pollution, and you tried unsuccessfully to knock it off the G20 agenda on the spurious grounds that this forum was about the global economy, although we all know climate is global too and affects every economy.
If you can remember any of the chemistry you learned at school, you will recall that when carbon dioxide dissolves in water, as it now is in alarming amounts, it forms carbonic acid, which dissolves calcium, a major component of coral reefs. You may also recall that as water gets warmer it expands, and so the sea level rises. Warming also melts ice, which falls into the sea and raises its level too, which will lead to inundation of low-lying seafronts, of which we have many in Australia.
For someone as intelligent as you must be to win a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford, and to become PM of this nation, it is complete mystery to me why you seem unwilling to acknowledge what climate scientists have been telling us for ages. NASA’s report now strongly reinforces the data scientists have assembled for many years.
Instead, you continue to be a vocal advocate for the coal industry, happy to tell us that it will be our main energy source for decades (while our scientists insist it should stay in the ground), and at the same time you have been seemingly prepared to reduce our renewable energy target, leaving environmentalists and the rewewables industry convinced you are determined to put renewables out of business.
The only explanation of this illogic I can muster is that you are so ideologically driven, so wedded to coal interests, so determined to prevent renewables from damaging the coal industry, that you have abandoned scientific facts and logic. Are you really prepared to irreparably damage our planet so that its becomes uninhabitable for your grandchildren and mine?
Tony, do you really still believe that the science behind climate change is crap?
Please awaken; please accept the science; please take decisive action now; please persuade all your counterparts to do so next year in Paris. Otherwise, life on earth is doomed. Seriously!
What do you, the readers, think?
Don’t miss out – make sure you also check out the current piece at TPS, ‘And that was . . . 2014‘. At this stage, the new more in-depth weekly pieces at TPS are due to return from January 25th.
Ad astra is a retired academic who lives two metres above sea level.