4 Degrees Warmer

The World Bank recently released a report spelling out what the world is likely to experience if warmed by 4 degrees Celsius. The World Bank declares that 4 degrees is looking increasingly likely by the end of the century without some serious policy changes by governments globally.

Here are a few of the comments made in the report.

If governments follow through on the emission reduction pledges they made in Copenhagen then it would put us on a trajectory for a 3 degrees Celsius warming of the planet by the end of the century. According to the World Bank report there is a 20 per cent chance of a global temperature rise exceeding 4 degrees.

Even if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius, global mean sea level could still rise by between 1.5 and 4 meters above present-day levels by the year 2300.

Rising temperatures will lead to increased likelihood of extreme weather events and heat waves. The report notes that the past decade has seen an exceptional number of extreme heat waves around the world.

Another well understood feature of this warming will be a strengthening of the hydrological cycle because a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapour. This tends to exacerbate droughts and flooding rains.

While modelling prior to 2007 predicted some improvement in food production with warming of 1 to 3 degrees, according to the analysis, “research since 2007 is much less optimistic.” The report observes, “These new results and observations indicate a significant risk of high-temperature thresholds being crossed that could substantially undermine food security globally in a 4°C world.”

The effect of 4 degree warming would be disastrous for coral reefs. Coral reefs would stop growing at a CO2 concentration of about 450ppm, which we’re well on the way to hitting within the next few decades.

The full report can be found at climatechange.worldbank.org
Matthew Nott

New Kyoto?

The Australian government has announced its commitment to take on a new carbon pollution target under the Kyoto Protocol.

As a non-EU and large per capita emitter, Australia?s participation will reduce the influence of those countries that will seek to use backsliding on participation in Kyoto as an excuse not to take on legally binding commitments themselves. Kyoto participation also helps guarantee Australian business straightforward access to UN emission credits to meet their obligations under our domestic carbon laws.

Countries representing over 80 per cent of global emissions have now committed to limit or reduce their pollution. Countries are implementing policies to meet these targets and drive investment in clean energy and low carbon solutions. Many are seeking to maximize energy security, deliver energy productivity improvements, reduce harmful pollution levels, support regional development and develop export opportunities. Along with Australia, China and South Korea are on the path to emissions trading schemes. They join the European Union, California and New Zealand.
Taxes on carbon and/or coal, as well as renewable energy funds are in place in Japan, India and South Africa. Regulations on new power stations and vehicles are in place in the United States and Canada.

However, whilst many of these actions are significant, collectively, they remain insufficient to keep global warming to less than the UN agreed limit of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, let alone the 1.5 degrees Celsius guardrail that most countries have sought to be formalised in an international agreement.
Matthew Nott

Solar for Tathra

Image_Nov12_TathraChurchLast week Pyramid Power installed 1.5kW of solar photovoltaic cells on the roof of the Star of the Sea church in Tathra. This is the latest in a series of renewable energy installations for community buildings in Tathra as a result of fund-raising from the Tathra Enduro mountain bike race.

All places of worship in Tathra are now powered in part by renewable energy.

Next years Tathra Enduro will be held on 27/28 April, and will be bigger and better than ever. Tathra now boasts 46km of world class single track which is starting to attract riders from Canberra and beyond.

Money raised from the Enduro next year will go towards solar for the Upper Brogo fire shed and a wind turbine for the Tathra Hall. We plan to start discussions with the council and stakeholders about getting solar onto the roof of the Tathra wharf.

By 2014, all community buildings in Tathra will be powered by renewable energy. Beyond 2014 we will start working on bigger projects that will enable Tathra to achieve a 50/50 by 2020 target.
Matthew Nott

Sea Level is Rising

There has been a lot of discussion about sea-level rise lately, which is a very good thing. Rising sea-levels will potentially have an enormous impact in SE NSW.

The discussion was precipitated by our local member Mr Andrew Constance when he described the NSW Chief Scientist?s sea-level rise benchmarks as ?based on very questionable science?.

Is sea-level rising and will it continue to do so? They are vitally important questions.

The CSIRO is in no doubt that sea level is rising saying “around the world, rising sea levels, as a result of human induced climate change, are already having an impact.

In Australia the consequences of sea level rise will include increased flooding of low-lying coastal, including tidal, areas and are likely to result in coastal erosion, loss of beaches, and higher storm surges that will affect coastal communities, infrastructure, industries and the environment. Coastal inundation and more frequent storms are likely to impact on the built environment through damage to structures, or disruption of the services they provide.”

Information about the CSIRO?s position on sea level rise can be found at www.csiro.au/science/coastal-inundation

For readers who are interested, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s National Tidal Centre has been monitoring sea level for several decades. Their results are publicly available at www.bom.gov.au/oceanography/projects/ntc/ntc.shtml, and demonstrate significant sea level rise at each of their 14 SEAFRAME sea level monitoring stations.

Further support for sea level rise can be found on the web site of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It is freely available on the internet. They say “there is strong evidence that global sea level is now rising at an increased rate and will continue to rise during this century. Records and research show that sea level has been steadily rising at a rate of 1 to 2.5 millimeters per year since 1900. This rate may be increasing. Since 1992, new methods of satellite altimetry indicate a rate of rise of 3 millimeters per year.”

At NASA, the Jason-1 and Topex-Poseidon satellites have been monitoring sea level rise since 1994, and since that time have demonstrated a steady sea level rise of 3.17mm per year. There results are freely available at climate.nasa.gov/keyIndicators/

Don’t take my word for it. It is such an important issue that I suggest readers do some quick research of their own. I respectfully suggest that Mr Andrew Constance should also take a look at the science.
Matthew Nott