201101

Country Energy Tathra Enduro

The Bega Valley Shire Council will support the Country Energy Tathra Enduro to the tune of $2000. That support is gratefully received, and will help this event become a big success.

The mountain bike race will benefit a lot more than a couple of hundred riders. The bike race has already raised the profile of mountain biking in the region. A huge amount of enthusiasm has been generated for track building around Tathra. Tathra already has some top quality tracks, but major extensions are planned. By race day Tathra will be able to boast some world class riding. Mountain biking is set to become a major drawcard for the Bega Valley Shire.

The Enduro team is developing a strong working relationship with the Aboriginal Land Council. Thanks to a Mumbulla grant, we are able to work together with the Land Council to complete some major extensions to the loops around Tathra. It is hoped that epic trails will attract cyclists from far and wide throughout the year.

If we can build this event over the next few years to one that attracts up to 1000 cyclists, we will fill up all the accommodation in Tathra. We have planned to hold this event in low tourist season, 27th March.

This event has the potential to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. All the money raised will go towards Tathra reaching its 50/50 by 2020 target. Initially we will look at getting solar panels onto the roof of the Tathra Uniting Church, more panels onto the roof of the Land Council office, and resurrecting the wind turbine on the Tathra Surf Club. Within a few years we should have all community buildings in Tathra set up with renewable energy, and then we can start looking at some really big projects.

The Tathra Enduro is not about a few hundred mountain bikers. This race is about putting the Bega Valley on the map.
Matthew Nott

2010 Ties With 2005 For Warmest Year On Record

Last year tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record for global surface temperature, US government scientists say in a report that offers the latest data on climate change.

The Earth in 2010 experienced temperatures higher than the 20th century average for the 34th year in a row, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Wednesday.

Overall, 2010 and 2005 were 0.62 Celsius above the 20th century average when taking a combination of land and water surface temperatures across the world, it said.

Those two years were also the highest in temperature since record-keeping began in 1880.

Last year was the wettest on record, NOAA said citing Global Historical Climatology Network which made the calculation based on global average precipitation, even though regional patterns varied widely.

When it came to hurricanes and storms, the Pacific Ocean saw the fewest number of hurricanes and named storms, three and seven respectively, since the 1960s.

But the Atlantic Ocean told a different story, with 12 hurricanes and 19 named storms, which include tropical storms and depressions, marking the second highest number of hurricanes on record and third highest for storms.

The analysis also tracked weather changes that contributed to massive floods in Pakistan and a heat wave in Russia, saying an “unusually strong jet stream” from June to August was to blame.

“The jet stream remained locked in place for weeks, bringing an unprecedented two-month heat wave to Russia and contributing to devastating floods in Pakistan at the end of July,” it said.

Expert Bob Ward at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science said the US data shows proof of climate change.

“These new figures show unequivocally that the Earth is warming and its temperature is at record levels,” Ward said.

Last year’s data “also showed that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had reached 390 parts per million, its highest level for at least 800,000 years and almost 40 per cent higher than the level before the start of the Industrial Revolution when humans started to burn fossil fuels in increasing amounts,” he said.

“The evidence is overwhelming that human activities are driving climate change.”

International studies published on Sunday warned that global warming could wipe out three-quarters of Europe’s alpine glaciers by 2100 and hike sea levels by four metres by the year 3000 through melting the West Antarctic icesheet.

This information comes from an article at AAP January 13, 2011, 5:02 am

Matthew Nott

The Politics of Climate Change

The science of climate change seems pretty intuitive to me. Atmospheric CO2 is on the rise. It is higher now than it has been for the last 800,000 years, and will continue to climb. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, so you would expect rising levels to warm the planet; that is a mathematical certainty. The last decade was the warmest ever recorded, and last year was the equal hottest (with 2005).

To be sceptical about climate change you need to either demonstrate that there is a natural cause for rising atmospheric CO2, or that CO2 is an inconsequential greenhouse gas. You also need to identify a natural cause for the steady global warming of 0.2 degrees per decade we have seen since 1970?s.

I can find no support whatsoever for a sceptical position in the peer reviewed literature, and I have looked hard.

So why are politicians so divided on the science?

Free market fundamentalists believes there should be no limit to growth, that the free market should have no constraint placed upon it.

Climate change mitigation requires some level of regulation, and so concerns about climate change, and constraints on emissions are seen as a threat to the market place.

That is why those who regard the market as king see climate concerns as a threat.

There is a profound irony at the heart of this story, because while sceptics have tried to delay acting on global warming, the problem has gotten steadily worse. The longer we wait, the more we increase the likelihood that we will need intrusive government action. By fostering delay, the merchants of doubt have made it more likely that the very thing they most dread (market regulation) will actually occur.

Matthew Nott

Why So Wet?

After an extended drought that produced a record dry in many regions, the recent heavy rains were a welcome reprieve. However, for Queensland and many parts of NSW, it has been a case of too much of a good thing. What is going on? Most capital cities are building desalination plants at huge cost, whilst much of the country is drowning under a sea of fresh water. Recent weather changes are proving to be a nightmare for policy makers. Spending billions to drought proof the country, and billions to cope with flooding is giving politicians a headache. What is causing these wild fluctuations in rainfall patterns?

The El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) provides some of the answers. What happens to water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean has a huge impact on Australian rainfall.

Under normal conditions, the Eastern Pacific is cooled by the Humbolt current. The Humbolt current flows north along the coast of South America, then heads west as it traverses the equator, warming before it strikes Indonesia and the east coast of Australia. The result is cool water in the Eastern Pacific, and warm water in the Western Pacific. The resulting high air pressure over the relatively cool eastern Pacific drives Easterly tropical trade winds towards Australia.

A La Nina event (as we are currently experiencing) is an intensification of the ocean temperature and air pressure gradient across the Pacific. This strengthens the rain bearing easterly trade winds, which bring rainfall and risk of flooding to Australia.

An El Nino event occurs when the eastern Pacific warms up, and the whole process is reversed, with the development of Westerly trade winds, and a consequent increase in the risk of drought in Australia.

The important point to consider is that since the 1970?s, El Nino events have been intensifying and occurring more frequently, whilst La Nina events have become rarer. It is always difficult to sort out natural variation from human induced climate change, but it would seem short-sighted to suggest that recent good rainfall negates a long term drying trend across many parts of Australia. Those statements are supported by information from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), and the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Colarado.

We need to work harder to build the appropriate infrastructure to mitigate against drought and reduce flood damage. We need to come up with better ways to store water during time of excess rainfall so it can be used efficiently when it is dry. Science suggests that Australians are going to have to get a lot smarter about long term water management.

Matthew Nott

Snowy Mountains LifeSaving Energy Big Swims

Mick and Kate Greenwood at the finish of last years swim
Mick and Kate Greenwood at the finish of last years swim

The Snowy Mountains Big Swim (7.2km) , the Strzelecki Dash (1.5km) and the Little Swim (100m) Lake Jindabyne, Saturday 19 February 2011

Calling all swimmers! Start training – the Snowy Mountains Life Saving Energy swims are on again in 2011. Held as a part of Clean Energy For Eternity?s Life saving Energy Big Swim series, next year?s swim will be again be held in conjunction with the Lake Jindabyne Flowing Festival, on Saturday 19th February. Last year?s event was a great success with swimmers from as far away as Forster and even New Zealand taking part. The introduction of the shorter ?Strzelecki Dash? saw a number of locals don the swimmers and goggles for an enjoyable swim around the foreshore. In 2011, the Strzelecki Dash will be slightly longer, around 1500m, from the Claypits to Banjo Paterson Park. Clean Energy for Eternity?s Kate Greenwood, who is organising the swims, hopes to see an increase in entries for this more manageable swim this time around. ?Many people would not contemplate swimming over 7km, but 1.5 km presents a more realistic challenge which I hope to see lots of locals take up,? she says.

The 7.2km Snowy Mountains Big Swim will, as usual, proceed from Hilldowns Rd Reserve near Kalkite, straight along Lake Jindabyne to Banjo Paterson Park. Swimmers can participate either solo (accompanied by a support paddler) or as a relay team of up to 6 people.

For the young and young at heart, the Little Swim is planned after the conclusion of the other swims. It will be held on an out and back course of approximately 100m, near the finish line of the other swims. Entry for this swim is by a gold coin donation on the day. (All swimmers, or their parent or guardian if under 18, must sign a risk waiver and indemnity form in order to participate.)

As in previous years, swimmers are asked to raise sponsorship in addition to paying a small entry fee. A prize will be awarded for the most sponsorship money raised. The 2010 event generated over $6000. When added to a similar amount from the 2009 swim, CEFE was able to have a 2kw solar system installed on the Jindabyne Rural Fire Service shed and pay half of the cost of a similar installation on the Wollondibby RFS shed. (The balance for Wollondibby was contributed by Pyramid Power as a commitment from its solar bulk buy in the Jindabyne area.) The gross feed in tariff from these two systems will be added to money raised in the 2011 Live Saving Energy swims to fund more solar installations on RFS sheds in the Snowy River Shire.