20150701 Thanks to all who contributed to 2015 Tathra Enduro

The 2015 Tathra Enduro Mountain Bike race was a huge success with more than 500 riders racing around the beautiful Tathra single tracks.

I would like to thank this year’s sponsors for their support.

Our major sponsors included Rubena Tyres, Tathra Beach Holiday Apartments, the Tathra Big 4 Caravan Park, the Tathra Beach Family Park, Lake Crackenback Resort, Bega Valley Motors and Bega Cheese.

Many local businesses donated local produce for prizes.

I would also like to thank the musicians who entertained the riders as they rode around the course.

Clean Energy for Eternity and Tathra Pub donated prize money for the best musical acts.

The Tathra Mountain Bike Club put an enormous effort into building and maintaining the tracks which are now some of the best single track in Australia.
I would like to thank Josh Johnson who donated a huge amount of time and expertise in running the timing and computers on race day.

The Enduro Race Committee works throughout the year to make this event a very special one.

The proceeds from this year’s race will be donated to Tathra Pre-school, the Tathra Surf Life Saving Club, the Tathra Rural Fire Service Shed as well as completing funding for the IMAGINE solar farm

Matthew Nott

201310

IT WAS a rare grey morning yesterday, but the sun is definitely shining on Tathra.

With solar panels now installed on the iconic ‘Green Shed’, the small seaside town can now lay claim to having every community building powered by the sun – all through the efforts of a region determined to make a difference.

Founder of Clean Energy For Eternity Matthew Nott celebrated the achievement yesterday with similarly elated members of the community.

“What this demonstrates is that Tathra is a community that wants to show leadership on climate change,” Dr Nott said yesterday.

“What we want to achieve is to show other regional towns that a community working together can achieve community-based solution to climate change. We want to inspire other communities and towns around Australia to get off their bums and do something.

“People can get frustrated with the politics of it all, so we are getting on with doing it. We’re not sitting around waiting for politicians to do it for us,” he said.

The campaign for a clean energy future began in Tathra in 2006 when more than 3000 people took part in a human sign spelling out Clean Energy For Eternity on the beach.

A year later, solar panels and a wind turbine were installed on the Tathra Surf Life Saving Club in the first of the organisation’s community projects.

Now due to a partnership between CEFE and the Tathra Mountain Bike Club, all eight community buildings in the town will benefit from both reduced power bills and the knowledge users will be doing their bit against climate change.

Along with the Green Shed, solar installations now adorn the surf club, Tathra Pre-school, Rural Fire Service shed, Tathra Hall, Uniting Church, Star of the Sea Catholic Church and St Martin By The Sea Anglican Church.

Funds for the installations have come predominantly through the major annual fundraiser the Tathra Enduro, hosted by the Tathra MTB Club.

Support from throughout the community has been ongoing, including at yesterday’s announcement.

“Pyramid Power has been great, doing all the installations for us,” Dr Nott said.

“NGH Environmental has been very supportive of the campaign right from the start as well.

“We’ve also had great support from Energy Options, who have been sponsors of the Enduro, as well as the Tathra caravan parks, Beach House Apartments and local businesses.”

Dr Nott said the cost of installing solar is becoming more affordable by the day.

The Tathra SLSC installation six years ago cost in the order of $20,000; the Green Shed’s less than $4000.

“We were hoping the overly generous feed-in tariffs on our first projects would help generate funds for further installations,” Dr Nott said.

“Now with no feed-in tariffs it reduces the benefits, but it also reduces the power bills for all these community groups for their daytime usage of the buildings.

“Solar is so cheap you can’t afford not to have it,” he said.

The next big project for Dr Nott and CEFE is a plan to build the biggest solar farm in the South-East – potentially the biggest community solar farm in the country.

More details will come to light if and when council approval is gained.
David and Goliath

The story of David and Goliath is a familiar one.

In the second half of the 11th century BC the battle-tested and dangerous Philistines started moving East with the aim of capturing a mountain ridge near Bethlehem. The Israelites squared off against the approaching army across the Elah Valley. With a deep ravine separating the two armies, a stalemate was reached. To resolve the deadlock, the Philistines sent their best warrior Goliath to challenge the Isrealite’s best, hoping to resolve the conflict with minimal bloodshed.

Goliath was huge. Wearing heavy armour and a bronze helmet, he carried a javelin, spear and a massive sword. It’s estimated that he was weighed down by2 100 pounds of weaponry and armour. He shouted out: “Choose you a man and let him come down to me! If he prevail in battle against me and strike me down, we shall be slaves to you.”
On the Israelite’s side a shepherd boy named David stepped forward and volunteered. He had faced more ferocious opponents than this protecting his sheep from lions and bears, he argued.
Thus began one of history’s most famous battles. David picked up 5 smooth stones and descended to the valley floor.
A ballistics except with the Israeli Defence Forces recently did a series of calculations showing that a typical-sized stone hurled by an expert slinger at a distance of 35 meters would have hit Goliath’s head with a velocity of 34 meters per second. In terms of stopping power that is equivalent to a fair-sized modern handgun. Poor old Goliath never had a chance.
Giants are not always what we think they are!
In the battle to preserve our climate and the future of our planet, many giants stand in our way.

The public are apathetic. Who cares about a sea level rising 3mm per year? How can anyone be concerned about something that is beyond individual perception? We must depend on science to inform us that the planet is warming, that the oceans are rising, that the ice caps are melting and our oceans are becoming more acidic. But hardly a week goes by without a letter to the editor warning readers about evil scientists striving for world domination. Public apathy and distrust of scientists gives politicians the confidence to ignore the problem.
Apathy is our Goliath. For Clean Energy For Eternity, David’s smooth pebbles are the humble solar panel. Being small does not equate to being weak.

When it comes to climate change, science is very much the underdog. Throughout history it is surprising how often the underdog prevails.
Matthew Nott

Solar Revolution

Australia is now right up there with the rest of the world in terms of the proportion of houses with solar PV. The next big step in the solar revolution is getting solar PV onto the roofs of commercial and government owned properties. Commercial properties have the advantage of having bigger roof spaces which gives economies of scale and provided all the electricity can be generated on site the system pay-back time is now less than five years. Once paid for the system goes on generating free power for a further 20 years.

It might seem a no-brainer for any business to install solar under these circumstances but for a business long term benefits don’t count nearly as much as this year’s bottom line.

The Northern Beaches Chapter of Clean Energy for Eternity has just established a not-for-profit company that overcomes this obstacle. Capital will be raised from community investors to install the system. The business will pay the investors for the electricity generated at the price they are currently paying their utility. Then, after seven years the business is given the installation.

ClearSky Solar Investments was launched in Narrabeen in Sydney last week – the culmination of a lot of hard work by the CEFE team with funding from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. The NSW Minister with responsibility for renewable energy Rob Stokes spoke at the launch and was warm in his praise for the initiative. Dr Mark Diesendorf from UNSW set the scheme in the wider perspective of Australia’s inevitable transition to 100% renewable energy. CEFE Northern Beaches convener Dr Christina Kirsch pointed out that similar schemes has been operating in Germany for many years and now it is hard to find a commercial roof without solar PV, despite Germany’s reduced sunshine. CEFE Secretary Prue Kelly and CEFE Public Officer Warren Yates attended the launch.

At this stage the locations which give the best return to investors are in Western NSW, but as panel prices fall South Coast properties will come into play. ClearSky’s proof of concept project is the Royal Hotel Boggabri. It is proving a win for everyone with investors getting an 8% return and the hotel proprietor getting a 15 kW solar system after 7 years, while paying less for their electricity between now and then.

The Corporations Act prohibits Investment opportunities of this type being advertised to the general public. However if you have a long term commitment to seeing Australia make the transition to renewable energy you can sign-in to the website www.clearskysolar.com.au. As projects come up they will be announced in the members area of the website.
Warren Yates

Dire Prediction for Australian Ski Resorts

The future of the alpine ski industry is on shaky ground, according to a government commissioned report, with ski seasons predicted to be up to 10 weeks shorter and snow depths considerably diminished.

The report predicts that by 2050 the maximum snow depth could decrease by up to 80 centimetres and the ski season might shorten by more than two months.

Dr Jonas Bhend from the CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research was one of the authors of the report.

‘The maximum snow depth [could] decrease by around 50 percent by 2050 in the higher elevation sites. Although in the lower elevation sites by 2050, the strongest emission scenario suggests the snow might be gone by then,’ said Dr Bhend.

‘The worst scenario is in 2020 the reduction is 30-40 per cent for the higher sites and by 2050 it’s 70-80 per cent.

‘It depends on what emissions reduction we decide on. At the moment we look like tracking the higher emissions scenarios.’

The snow industry in Australia is worth 1.8 billion dollars and employs 18,000 people.
Matthew Nott

Global Push For Carbon Pricing Grows

The global push in favour of carbon markets is getting stronger. This week the IMF, the World Bank and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) all stressed the need for carbon pricing to address climate change. And a new survey has found that there are high expectations that China will have a carbon trading scheme and a carbon tax in place by the end of the decade.

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has a two-pronged message for the world’s finance ministers on climate policy: put a price on carbon and get rid of fuel subsidies.
Her counterpart at the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, agrees. He concedes pricing carbon and cutting subsidies is politically difficult, but says there’s a growing urgency about the need to act in key countries.

Expectations are high that China will move quickly to an Emission Trading Scheme. China has seven regional pilot emissions trading schemes planned, which will cover 250 million people. It’s committed to a national scheme but the timing on when that will begin isn’t clear. The ANU’s Centre for Climate Economics and Policy, in conjunction with the China-based NGO, the China Carbon Forum, has surveyed 86 China-based analysts, including from industry and research institutes. The ANU’s Frank Jotzo led the survey and says almost all respondents expect China to have a national ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme) and a carbon tax in place by the end of the decade. “When you talk to policy makers here, they’ve really understood that market mechanisms for pollution control are much more efficient in general than the sort of command and control and direct regulatory interventions that they’ve tended to use so far”.

Last week the OECD secretary-general, Angel Gurria, said a price on carbon should be a cornerstone of climate policy and he released a report showing emissions trading systems are the lowest-cost way of reducing emissions.

In repealing a carbon price, Australia will be moving in the wrong direction.
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

 

201309

Five Reasons Why Labor Should Block Repeal of the Carbon Tax

Tony Abbott has won the election he billed as a referendum on the carbon tax. The Coalition argue that Labor copped a belting from the electorate from a deeply unpopular tax (what tax is popular?), so Labor should support Abbott’s repeal of the carbon tax.

There are five reasons why Labor should not support a repeal of the cabon tax.

First of all, this election was not a referendum on the carbon tax.

There were a wide array of reasons why some people switched their vote away from Labor. Exit polling indicated that the economy and jobs was far and away the biggest issue, with 31 per cent of those surveyed nominating it as their major issue. By comparison, the carbon tax was nominated by just 3 per cent of voters as the biggest issue of the election.

Secondly the public’s fear about the carbon tax has subsided.

Before the carbon price was introduced polling in May 2012 indicated that 48 per cent favoured repeal and three-quarters thought they?d be worse off. By November, a few months after the carbon price came into effect, a Fairfax poll found 56 per cent felt no worse off. Another Fairfax poll in July 2013 found 62 per cent did not favour repeal of the carbon price.

Thirdly the longer repeal of the carbon tax is delayed, the more likely it is to stay.

The carbon tax didn’t end up being an economic “wrecking ball”. If Labor and the Greens resist repeal then the carbon price is likely to stay in place until July 1, 2015. That?s because the new Senate won’t be able to vote on repeal until after June 30, 2014. This means a full three years for it to sink in to the electorate that the sky didn’t fall in.

Fourthly resisting repeal puts the scrutiny onto Abbott’s weakness – his inadequate climate change policy

Abbott was elected with the understanding that he remained committed to a 5-25 per cent emission reduction target.

Labor can argue that until the Coalition provides a credible plan for how they’ll deliver on these targets, Labor cannot, in all good conscience, vote for repeal of the carbon price. This then provides an opportunity for Labor to do what Abbott did to them – use opposition to focus critical scrutiny onto the government. So far the Coalition has managed to get away with providing scant detail on its Direct Action policy.

Finally, and most importantly, a price mechanism on carbon, whether it be a tax or an emission trading scheme is the most cost effective way for this country to reduce emissions. Labor must not lose sight of that fact.
Matthew Nott

Coal Has No Future

Coal-fired electricity may have little or no economic future in Australia, a new analysis has found. A team from the University of NSW has shown that even without a carbon price, and even with the assumption that carbon capture and storage will eventually become commercially available, coal may not be able to compete with renewable electricity.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) captures CO2 emitted by fossil-fuelled power stations, compressing and transporting it by pipeline, and burying it in repositories deep underground. In practice CCS technology has turned out to be more complicated and expensive than initially appreciated. Large-scale CCS systems for electricity generation haven?t been built. They appear to be years ? likely decades ? from possible commercial deployment.

The University of NSW team used government estimates of the prices for different generation technologies and fuels in 2030. They also looked at a wide range of possible future carbon prices and carbon capture and storage prices.

The results show that coal with carbon capture and storage scenarios are likely to struggle to compete economically with 100 per cent renewable electricity in a climate-constrained world, even if CCS is commercialised by 2030.

Even in the unlikely event that the carbon price were to be zero in 2030, electricity generated from coal with CCS would at best be equal in cost to the 100 per cent renewable energy scenario. However, if there were no carbon price, there would be no incentive for bringing CCS to commercial maturity in the first place.

In summary, the UNSW modelling suggests that, in a future climate-constrained Australia, there would be little role for a domestic coal-fired electricity industry, with or without CCS.

The research confirms that policies to pursue very high penetrations of renewable electricity, based on commercially available technologies, offer a reliable, affordable and low risk way to dramatically cut emissions in the electricity sector. There is no need to invest in new, expensive, unproven, high-risk, fossil fuel technologies.
Matthew Nott

How To Vote?

Climate policy has been missing in action in all the leaders debates, with focus falling on balancing the budget and dealing with asylum seekers. But neither of these issues are likely to be resolved without considering climate change.

Most people know where the major parties stand on climate change and renewable energy. But what about the candidates in Eden-Monaro? The Solar Scorecard website (http://www.solarscorecard.org.au) rates each depending on their responses to several key questions. The questions cover their support for the carbon price, for the current Renewable Energy Target – or for an increase – and whether they support government investment in renewable energy development and projects. Where candidates haven?t completed the survey, their party positions are shown.

Remember that you must vote for every candidate in the House of Representatives, in your order of preference. You don?t have to follow the order in any ?How to Vote? leaflet. Voting ?1? for a party that might not win is not a wasted vote, nor does it weaken or split the vote in any way. If your chosen candidate doesn?t get enough votes to be elected, those votes will be redistributed to their next preference, until one candidate has an outright majority.

In the Senate, you must either vote for every single candidate in order from 1 to 110 (for NSW), or simply place a ?1? above the line for the party of your choice. This saves the trouble of making your own selections byhanding over your right to choose preferences to that party. Above-the line voting locks you into the preferences shown on that party’s ticket.

The system of voting in the Senate election gives the best chance for the smaller parties to get at least one representative elected. If they don’t get enough, your vote will still be transferred to your next preference: so it’s safe to follow your heart first, and then your head!
Matthew Nott

Direct Action needs numbers.

The Coalition’s Direct Action policy states:

“Businesses that undertake activity with an emissions level above their ‘business as usual’ levels will incur a financial penalty.”

It seems reasonable to assume that a fair proportion of firms are likely to exceed their baselines.

‘Business as usual’ emissions for many companies has been relatively low over the last 5 years, for three reasons.

The last five years includes the period of the Global Financial Crisis, which led to a major drop in industrial production for many firms.

Also, a number of mining firms have expanded capacity during the five-year period, and their steady state production going forward is likely to be noticeably higher than the average over the past five years.

Lastly, since 2008 demand for electricity has gone against past trends and declined. If electricity demand returns to growth as expected, then generators will find themselves exceeding their baselines.

Penalties are therefore likely to come into play.

A large number of companies are likely to be paying penalties under the Coalition’s Direct Action scheme. These companies include Origin Energy, Rio Tinto, BHP, OneSteel, Qantas, Virgin, Alcoa, Xstrata, Woodside Petroleum and Santos.

The Coalition’s climate spokesman Greg Hunt hasn’t indicated the level of penalty the Coalition might impose for companies exceeding their baselines.

That is important information and should be released before the election.
Matthew Nott

201308

How to Reduce Emissions?

Labor’s carbon price.

Under the first three years of a carbon tax 370 companies are charged a fixed price for every tonne of CO2 they emit. The revenue raised is used to compensate industry and households for price rises and fund clean energy programs. In 2015 the carbon tax will be changed to an Emission Trading Scheme with the price set by the market. Emissions are capped and reduced over time. The scheme will be linked to the European carbon market, which means the price of emissions is likely to drop significantly. Industry will be able to purchase up to 50% of their carbon permits offshore.
Coalition’s Direct Action.

Direct Action will punish companies that emit more than their historical baseline pollution. There is no penalty for business-as-usual pollution. $2.55 billion over the first four years will be used to pay industry and farmers to make emissions cuts such as storing carbon in soil and increasing energy efficiency. A further $670 million has been committed over four years to encourage the installation of 1 million more rooftop solar panels and plant trees using the ‘Green Army’.
There are pros and cons to Labour and the Coalition’s plans to reduce emissions. There is a risk that Labor’s plan to link an Australian ETS to a European scheme will see the price of carbon crash, which will reduce the incentive for industry to reduce emissions. Whilst purchasing cheaper carbon offsets overseas reduces the cost impact to Australian industry, I would prefer to see that investment made in Australia.
Direct Action is cheaper, with costs capped at $2.55 billion over the first 4 years, but you get what you pay for. The Coalition’s climate change plan is $4 billion short of the funding required to meet its promised 5% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and is on track for a 9% increase by that date, according to analysis commissioned by The Climate Institute. The biggest feature of Direct Action is carbon sequestration in soil by changing farming practises. The CSIRO is unsure how CO2 in soil will be measured, and there is uncertainty about how long carbon stored in soil will stay there for.
All major political parties in Australia accept the science of climate change and agree that something needs to be done to limit CO2 emissions. There is bipartisan support for a 5% reduction in emissions by 2020, and a 20% renewable energy target by 2020. What industry desperately needs is market certainty so strong investment decisions can be made. An Emission Trading Scheme is the most cost effective way to reduce emissions steadily over time, and forces the market, rather than government to pick the winning investment decisions.
Matthew Nott

Climate of the Nation

Here are the most recent results of the Climate Institute’s research into Australian attitudes to climate change and related policies.

They find that two-thirds of Australians think that climate change is occurring and almost all of them believe that it is impacting Australia now. People are genuinely worried about the cost impacts of extreme weather and climate change on everyday concerns such as crop production and food supply, insurance premiums, water shortages and climate refugees.

Only around a third of Australians think that the carbon laws should be repealed. Opposition to carbon pricing is dropping. While support remains soft, it strengthens significantly when the policy is explained. This matches the findings of other recent polls.

There is evidence that Australians do not believe that carbon pricing has been as financially detrimental as they anticipated.

Today, more people want to give carbon pricing a go than get rid of it. Indeed, more Australians want greater action and leadership than in recent years.

This year the number of those agreeing that Australia should be a world leader in finding solutions to climate change is significantly higher. Despite the toxic politics, 60 per cent still think the Federal Government should be playing a leading role.

Only 6-8 per cent of Australians believe that local, state or federal government should take no action.

Strong majorities recognise that doing nothing on climate change will increase the risks and that there are economic opportunities in acting in areas like renewable energy. There is overwhelming support for renewables. Support this year is even stronger for wind and solar as preferred energy sources. Support for both nuclear and coal has declined, while Australians remain divided over gas.

There remains confusion about carbon pricing, however, and most Australians still believe that there are too many conflicting claims amongst scientists for the public to be certain. This is despite the fact that 97 per cent of published climate research accepts the science¹. Almost as many think the seriousness of climate change is exaggerated as do not.

Notwithstanding these differences of opinion, the underlying call for climate action is relatively resilient. Matthew Nott

Candidates Forum

We have a new candidate joining us for the CEFE candidates forum at 6pm Saturday 3 August at the Bermagui Country Club.

Andrew Thaler will be running for the seat of Eden-Monaro as an independent, and will join Mike Kelly, Peter Hendy, Catherine Moore, Ray Buckley and Dean Lynch in a Q&A session hosted by Clean Energy For Eternity.

I will be most interested to learn from each of the candidates what their position is on the science of climate change. I will look forward to hearing whether candidates feel that Australia can contribute to a global solution. Most of all I would like to hear how candidates feel about the best way to attract renewable energy business and jobs to our part of the world.

Each candidate will be allowed a 5 minute presentation. Following that, the floor will be open to all members of the audience. Questions need to be succinct, and can address any topic but I am hoping that most questions will be related to sustainability and renewable energy business.

The meeting will be over by 8pm, but there should be ample opportunity for members of the audience to meet candidates after the formal part of the evening.
Matthew Nott

201307

Eden-Monaro candidates face grilling on hot topics

Clean Energy for Eternity president Matthew Nott introduces the candidates for Eden-Monaro at Saturday?s forum at the Bermagui Country Club. Answering a range of questions on the night are (from left) Ray Buckley, Peter Hendy, Mike Kelly, Dean Lynch, Catherine Moore and Andrew Thaler.
Clean Energy for Eternity president Matthew Nott introduces the candidates for Eden-Monaro at Saturday?s forum at the Bermagui Country Club. Answering a range of questions on the night are (from left) Ray Buckley, Peter Hendy, Mike Kelly, Dean Lynch, Catherine Moore and Andrew Thaler.

FEDERAL election candidates may have become a little hot under the collar at times, but fingers crossed Saturday night’s Clean Energy For Eternity forum didn’t raise temperatures outside the Bermagui Country Club.

All six candidates for Eden-Monaro attended – Labor’s sitting member Mike Kelly, Liberal Peter Hendy, Catherine Moore from the Greens, Dean Lynch of the Palmer United Party and independents Ray Buckley and Andrew Thaler.

The focus was on each candidates party’s platform on renewable energy, but questions raised from the audience also included topics around small business support, the NBN, asylum seeker policies, Eden Port and the national economy. Saturday night’s forum raised several key topics for Eden-Monaro, all taking on even more relevance now the election date has been set for September 7.

All the usual suspects were there – Bega Valley Shire councillors, South East Region Conservation Alliance representatives, and several self-confessed political party members from both sides of the fence.

Each candidate led off the forum with a five-minute presentation before questions were invited from the floor.

The forum was emceed – and on occasion hurried along, by CEFE president Matthew Nott.

To kick the questions off, a representative from the “100% Renewable” community campaign asked all candidates whether they supported increased renewable energy targets and reduced emissions.

Mr Buckley said action is needed now and targets need to be set higher.

Mr Hendy said the Liberals supported a five per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, and a 20 per cent renewable energy target.

Dr Kelly said Labor is aiming even higher with its goal an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050.

“The systems are already in place here [in Eden-Monaro] and are working, but it depends on deep economic transition,” Dr Kelly said.

Ms Moore said the Greens were very supportive of growth “but not if it has anything to do with fossil fuels” and proposed a 90 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.

Such a move would inevitably create jobs, not destroy them, Ms Moore said.

Mr Lynch said as the Palmer United Party hadn’t officially released its platforms yet, he had no set policy, but highlighted he is entitled to a conscience vote on the matter.

It was a stand also taken by Mr Thaler, who put it back on voters to determine what the target should be.

“That’s the benefit of an independent,” he said.

“Prosecuting for higher renewable targets is valid, but talking about it in terms of reducing your energy bill is only a small part of the equation.”

SERCA spokeswoman Prue Acton highlighted “a new industry threat” of burning wood waste for ‘green energy’. She wanted Mr Hendy to acknowledge native forests were more valuable left in the ground.

Dr Kelly said with the array of renewable projects and technologies being implemented already in Eden-Monaro there was “no need to move to native forest power generation”. My Hendy said the Liberals believed the forest industry can be sustainable and “we think there is a case for biomass energy”, but neglected to distinguish between plantation and native forest use in his reply.

Meet the Candidates.

With all the politics surrounding climate change, a report by the World Meteorology Organisation largely went unnoticed a couple of weeks ago.

According to the World Meteorology Organisation “The fist 10 years of this century were the hottest in 160 years and filled with more broken temperature records than any other decade, as global warming continued to accelerate. The record warmth was accompanied by a rapid decline in Arctic sea ice and accelerating loss of net mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and from the world’s glaciers. Global sea level rose about 3mm per year, more than double the observed 20th century trend.”

Many Australians seem more concerned about the politics of climate change than the impact of a warming world. Already we are seeing significant changes in weather systems and the planet has warmed by only 0.8 degrees. We are likely to see a 4 degree warming by the end of the century; something politicians working in three year cycles tend to ignore.

In three months time, will we have a carbon tax, an Emission Trading Scheme or Direct Action? What a terrible time to be an investor in renewable energy technology!

The essential difference between a tax and a trading scheme is that with a Carbon Tax the price per tonne of carbon is fixed (in Australia’s case around $25 per tonne) and the target we arrive at is uncertain (in Australia’s case a 5% reduction in emissions over 2000 levels). With an Emission Trading Scheme the target we arrive at is fixed (by issuing a fixed number of permits to pollute) and the price of every tonne of carbon is determined by the market.

If the tax and trading schemes are properly designed, the eventual price on carbon should end up being very similar.

In Australia’s case, the ETS will probably be linked to the European Trading Scheme, which means the price on Carbon is likely to be a very low $6 per tonne. The Europeans have experienced problems with their ETS, largely because too many permits to pollute were issued, which lead to a collapse of the carbon price. With a low carbon price, the incentive for big business to invest in low emission technology was lost, and emission reduction targets are unlikely to be met.

Australia should be wary of issuing too many permits to pollute.

The alternative is the Coalition’s Direct Action policy. Federal Treasury modelling suggests a carbon price of $62 a tonne would be the cost needed to abate 159 million tonnes in 2020 from the Direct Action plan.

An earlier shift to an ETS may be a good political manoeuvre by Kevin Rudd. It takes the wind out of the “axe the tax” campaign and will reduce the cost to household by over $350 per year, but will it be a good move for the environment? The answer to that question will depend on whether or not Australia can learn from the European experience.

Renewable energy policy will have big implications for the electorate of Eden-Monaro. Clean Energy For Eternity will be holding a “meet the candidates” forum at the Bermagui Country Club at 6pm on Saturday 3 August to discuss how we can best look at getting renewable energy established in our part of the world. Mike Kelly (ALP), Peter Hendy (Lib), Catherine Moore (Greens), Dean Lynch (Palmer United), and Ray Buckley (Ind) will be there to present their positions, and conduct a Q&A session.

Entry is a gold coin donation. Money raised will go towards CEFE’s next community renewable energy project.
Matthew Nott

El Nino is Intensifying

El Nino, or ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) is a band of anomalously warm ocean water temperatures that occasionally develops off the western coast of South America and can cause climatic changes across the Pacific Ocean. The Southern Oscillation refers to variations in the temperature of the surface of the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean – warming and cooling known as El Nino and La Nina, respectively.

El Nino has profound implications implications for drought in Australia.

The El Nino weather pattern was “unusually active” at the end of the 20th century, possibly due to climate change, a University of Hawaii study has found.

Researchers studied 2,222 tree-ring records as proxies for temperature and rainfall over the past 700 years, the university wrote in an online statement last week. The records indicate the El Nino-Southern Oscillation weather phenomenon has been increasingly active in recent decades relative to the past seven centuries.

The drought associated with El Nino’s warm phase can cause smaller rice crops in Asia and cut wheat production in Australia, while the rains can cause flooding in South America and weaker cold ocean currents reduce anchovy catches off Peru.

“If this trend of increasing ENSO activity continues, we expect to see more weather extremes such as floods and droughts,” Shang-Ping Xie, a meteorology professor at the University of Hawaii’s International Pacific Research Centre and study co-author, was cited as saying in the statement.

“The unusually high ENSO activity in the late 20th century is a footprint of global warming,” study lead author Jinbao Li was cited as saying.

We have seen a 0.8 degree warming of the planet since the commencement of industrialisation. That warming is already starting to generate substantial changes to weather patterns. What changes will we see with a 4 degree temperature ride by the end of the century. No-one (apart from climate scientists) really seems to care.

Matthew Nott
A price on Carbon is working.

This week is the first anniversary of the carbon tax’s introduction. It has helped achieve a 7% reduction in emissions, and renewables have increased by almost 30%.

One year on from the introduction of Australia’s carbon tax, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) says it’s clearly working, and despite the rhetoric of its opponents, the world hasn’t ended.

Pollution from electricity generation has fallen by 12 million tonnes in the past year – the equivalent of taking 2.6 million cars off the road, the foundation says. Australia is also using 13 per cent less brown coal and 28 per cent more renewable energy.

“Despite the wild rhetoric, the sky has not fallen in, the Sunday roast does not cost $100 and the economy continues to grow while pollution falls,” ACF climate change manager Tony Mohr said in a statement. “The three-year fixed carbon price is helping Australia catch up to other countries that have been cleaning up their economies for years.”

The carbon tax works by putting a price tag on each tonne of carbon pollution released into the atmosphere by 370 of Australia’s largest industrial concerns, like coal-fired power stations.

Putting a price on each tonne of carbon pollution means businesses take the environmental cost of pollution into account when making investment decisions. It creates a financial incentive for businesses to invest in new ways of saving energy and reducing pollution. It generates revenue which the Government is using to help businesses to make these investments.

Why is carbon pollution from electricity generation falling?

A key reason is that the electricity supplied to the national grid has been cleaner since the carbon price started.

This investment is not only reducing carbon pollution, it is also creating new jobs and industries – there are now more than 24,000 jobs in Australia’s renewable energy industry.

One of the main policies promoting clean energy investment is the Renewable Energy Target – this will guarantee that at least 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020. The Renewable Energy Target has bipartisan support.

Individual households and businesses are playing their part by installing solar panels and solar hot water systems on their roofs.

There are now more than 1,046,600 rooftop solar power systems in Australia – an increase of more than 1 million systems over the past 5 years. And new systems are being installed at the rate of around 3,300 rooftops a week.

Carbon pollution can be reduced on the land through initiatives like growing trees and reducing emissions from livestock, fertiliser and waste deposited in landfills.

Farmers who carry out projects like this can earn carbon credits from the Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative. That has important implications for our part of the world.

A price mechanism on carbon, whether it be via a carbon tax or Emissions Trading Scheme, is a cost effective way to reduce emissions.

Matthew Nott

201306

We must leave coal underground

Scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming is stronger than ever; greenhouse gases have reached the highest level in over one million years and continue to climb at the fastest rate on recent record; and the world is rapidly squandering its dwindling carbon budget – the allowable amount of greenhouse gases we can emit up until 2050 to have any hope of restricting global warming to 2°C and thus limiting ‘dangerous’ climate change.

The Climate Commission’s latest report card, The Critical Decade 2013: Climate Change Science, Risks and Responses is a comprehensive document that sets out the scientific basis for urgent action on climate change, reminds us of the risks for Australians, and warns that we?ve got some serious work to do.

The main take-away message from the report is that it is still possible to keep global temperature at ‘manageable levels’ if global efforts, including from Australia, accelerate.

A big part of this accelerated effort, says the report, will mean “major changes to the ways in which energy is produced.” And one of the most major changes is that most of the world?s known fossil fuel reserves will have to be left in the ground.

The current amount of carbon embedded in the world’s indicated fossil fuel reserves (coal, oil and gas) would, if burned, emit an estimated 2,860 billion tonnes of CO2 – nearly five times the allowable budget of about 600 billion tonnes of CO2 scientists say we can emit to 2050 for a 75 per cent chance of limiting temperature rise to 2°C.

As it is, says the report, “the rate at which we are spending the (carbon) budget is still much too high”. Under a business-as-usual scenario, scientists say we are on track to have spent it by 2028, at which point we could emit no more and the world economy would need to be completely decarbonised.

For Australia, this means leaving most of its coal in the ground.
Matthew Nott

Earth Masters; Playing God with the Climate

Clive Hamilton is the Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy at Charles Sturt University. He is a member of the Australian Governments Climate Change Authority and is the Founder and former Executive Director of The Australia Institute. Hamilton was granted the Order of Australia in 2009 for “service to public debate and policy development, particularly in the fields of climate change, sustainability and societal trends”.

Clive Hamilton has written a new book “Earth Masters; Playing God with the Climate” and will be launching it at the Candelo Bookshop in Bega at 5pm on Friday June 14th.

In his book, Hamilton investigates the scientific basis and ethical dilemmas of geoengineering, a process whereby humans can physically alter the planet to reduce the rate of global warming.

This can be done by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and depositing it elsewhere, or by reducing the amount of solar irradiation absorbed by the planet.

Whist it would be infinitely easier to reduce the cause of the problem, it is becoming increasingly obvious governments around the world are incapable of stopping the relentless increase in CO2 emissions that is fuelling both economic growth and disastrous global warming.

At first glance, geoengineering solutions seem to be an easy way out of the environmental crisis, and the range of possible solutions have been attracting significant funding from oil companies like ExxonMobile, and billionaires like Richard Branson and Bill Gates. However, our understanding of the total impact of these technologies is embryonic, and there is no way to safely test most of them without full-scale deployment.

Earth Masters covers the processes involved in the two most well-known and ‘viable’ geoengineering techniques: those that aim at removing carbon dioxide from the atmospher, and solar radiation management, a technique designed to cool the planet by reflecting radiation into space.

For the carbon removal methods, Hamilton describes ocean iron fertilisation and liming as well as land-based storage in trees, crops, agricultural wastes, soil, and algae. Solar management techniques includes such methods as cloud brightening and simulating the impact of volcanic eruptions through the spraying of sulphate particles into the upper atmosphere to cool the earth.

The point that Hamilton makes is that none of these methods are really testable in anything other than a very small scale or simulated way: there’s no way to see what implications of these techniques would be without actually doing it.

Of particular concern is that, regardless of any potential damaging impacts, geoengineering solutions appear to be politically easier to handle than emission reductions. In addition, our efforts to find an ‘easy’ solution have caused us to lose precious and limited time that could have been spent reducing emissions. We risk subsuming the ability to work with the environment and curb our outrageous hunger and desire for growth to “a lobby that unites fossil fuel corporations opposed to carbon reduction policies with investors in geoengineering technologies”.

The Australian Book Review says “It is a book that every politician, policy-maker, and citizen should read. The future of the planet and its inhabitants simply demands it.”

All are welcome to the book launch. Entry is with a gold coin donation.
Matthew Nott

201305

Strong Climate Consensus

Having doubts over climate change and the role of humans? You’re unlikely to find many scientists who share your uncertainty.

That is the finding of a University of Queensland led study that surveyed the abstracts of almost 12,000 scientific papers from 1991-2011 and claims to be the largest peer-reviewed study of its kind.

Of those who a stated a position on the evidence for global warming, 97.1 per cent endorsed the view that humans are to blame. Just 1.9 per cent rejected the view.

The report’s lead author, John Cook, a fellow at the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute, said the scientific consensus was overwhelming, growing and had been around since the early 1990s.

He said that while the number of papers rejecting the consensus was “vanishingly small”, his research suggested the public was under the impression the debate was split 50-50.

“When people think scientists agree, they are more likely to support a carbon tax or general climate action,” he said.

“But if they think scientists are still arguing about it, they don’t want to do anything about it.” Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are about 400 parts per million and rising ? the highest in more than 3 million years.

The survey is published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The strength of the scientific consensus could be likened to the theory of plate tectonics, or continental drift, that took 50 years to gain acceptance. In that case, he said the media found little reason to stoke controversy because there was “no political or ideological issue with plate tectonics”, he said.

Opinion polls in some countries show widespread belief that scientists disagree about whether climate change is caused by human activities or is part of natural swings such as in the sun’s output.

A survey by the US Pew Research Center published in October last year found 45 per cent of Americans said “Yes” when asked: “Do scientists agree Earth is getting warmer because of human activity?” About 43 per cent said “No”.
Matthew Nott

Media Release: Damning evidence on health impacts of coal & CSG

A new doctors report reveals worrying evidence of likely health impacts from Australian coal and coal seam gas projects.

Doctors have released a damning report today about the potential health effects on communities across Australia from coal and coal seam gas projects. The Health Factor by Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) reveals the costly legacy unfolding for Australia from under-regulation of the pollution caused by many resource projects.

The Health Factor describes cases where coal projects have been allowed to pollute at levels known to compromise human health and where inadequate monitoring of air quality disguises the dangers.
The report describes how cardio-respiratory and other diseases in nearby communities are likely to be caused or exacerbated by pollution from coal mining and transport. The report also points out that the research and regulation on coal seam gas lags well behind these developments, and the degree to which they harm human health is not yet understood.

“It is clear that State government approvals of coal and coal seam gas projects are often influenced by potential economic gain without thorough assessment of potential harms”, said DEA spokesperson, Dr David Shearman.”Permitting dangerous pollution is creating a costly legacy for Australia that is being picked up in the healthcare and other sectors.The social and financial costs of this pollution are not being measured or factored in when projects are given the go ahead. Those who believe Australian resource projects are operating with ‘world’s best practice’ are simply mistaken. What we are seeing is a trend to “cutting green tape” without consideration of the consequences. There is room for assessment to become much more efficient by using the same standards in all States.”

The Health Factor describes the failure of governments and resource companies to protect human health and it advocates for health impact assessments to be a mandatory part of the approval processes for any polluting industrial project.

“Assessment of the health impacts of resource projects need to be much more robust and consistent across all States.” Dr Shearman said. “Governments need to conduct proper health impact assessments before projects are approved to better protect the health of communities. Rules for monitoring pollution during the life of the project and beyond must be introduced.

“The Health Factor analysis shows the need for urgent national reforms.” Dr Shearman said.

The report is available online:
dea.org.au/images/general/DEA_-_The_Health_Factor_05-13.pdf.
Matthew Nott

CEFE wins another grant

The Northern Beaches (Sydney) chapter of CEFE has just been awarded a $58,000 Community Renewable Energy grant by the NSW Offfice of Environment and Heritage. The grant is one of six made to community groups across the NSW striving to make community owned local renewable energy generation a reality.

The grant comes at a good time. Although there is no longer a feed-in tarriff for new solar installations, the price of solar PV has dropped low enough for it to be competive with grid power. So provided you can consume all the power generated by your panels, the pay back for a system is less than 5 years. Every year for the next 20 after that you will be getting for free, power that you would otherwise have had to pay 40c/kWh for. Any power you don’t need will be exported to the grid for 8c/kW hour so for maximum benefit you need to choose a system matched to your consumption needs

The economics works best right now for facilities that operate seven days a week and can consume the power generated by a 100kW solar PV array. Council libraries and swimming pools, clubs, supermarkets and factories are perfect candidates, but despite the long term benefits, few can afford the up front cost.

This is where the community comes in. CEFE Northern Beaches is aiming to set up a trustee company that will manage unit trusts, one for each building equipped. Community investors will provide the necessary funds for the installation. A power purchase agreement will be negotiated with the facility owner that will given them cheaper power than they could get from the grid, but also give the community investors a good return for the seven year life of the contract. After seven years the panels will become the property of the facility owner.

CEFE Norther Beaches will use its grant to set up the trustee company as a viable operaiton ready to negotiiate power purchase agreements with facility owners and accept funds from community investors.
Warren Yates

A new record for atmospheric CO2.

20,000 year old Kakadu Lightning Man
20,000 year old Kakadu Lightning Man

Carbon dioxide levels are about to rise to the highest they have been in five million years, triggering warnings a move towards low carbon economies is not happening quick enough.

The atmospheric concentration of CO2 is expected to rise to 400 parts per million in the next few days, according to readings at the American government’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory in Hawaii. There is a growing amount of peer reviewed literature that suggests that 400ppm has not been exceeded for over 20 million years and has not been above 280ppm for at least the last 800,000 years.

To put that timeframeinto perspective, some of the oldest examples of aboriginal rock art in Australia are about 20,000 years old. The human species is launching into unchartered territory.

University of Queensland Global Change Institute Director, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, said there have been few, if any, examples in the earth’s history of CO2 rates increasing at the current rates.

“This is a really serious problem that demands immediate action,” he said.

“There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that we should stay well clear of the 450ppm or 2 degrees celcius guardrail set by the IPCC and other scientific organisations.

“But we are really underestimating the rate of change.”

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said extreme weather events which were predicted to happen at higher levels of carbon dioxide were happening now.

He said man-made greenhouse gases were driving the rapid changes.

“This week’s milestone serves as an important wake-up call for policy-makers and industry to re-double their effort to deal with the planet-threatening problem of climate change,” he said. Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said the changes in marine ecosystems because of rising CO2 levels were less abundant coral reefs, sea grasses and mangroves; fewer, smaller fish; a breakdown in food chains; changes in the distribution of marine life; and more frequent diseases and pests among marine organisms.

“Rising sea surface temperatures, caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, including CO2, in the atmosphere, increase the likelihood of mass bleaching events, which kill coral reefs,” he said.

“If the current trends of increasing atmospheric CO2 levels continue the Great Barrier Reef will not exist.”
Matthew Nott

www.cleanenergyforeternity.net.au
A Big Thanks

Last weekend’s Tathra Enduro mountain bike race was a wonderful success, but tin ever would have happened without the help of a huge number of people.

Thanks to our major sponsors, The Bega Valley Shire Council, and Clean Energy For Eternity. The Tathra Beach Family Park, Tathra Seabreeze Caravan Park, Tathra Beach Apartments and the Tathra Beach Motor Lodge all made significant contributions, as did the Tathra Chamber of Commerce. The NZ based outdoor clothing company Ground Effect was also an important supporter. The Enduro team would like to express their gratitude to all those sponsors.

the event would not have been possible without the help of hundreds of volunteers.

The Tathra Rural Fire service, the Tathra surf club, the Bega VRA and the Tathra pre-school all put in a massive effort to help with marshalling and traffic control. Drink stations were manned for hours by the surf club, the Tathra Uniting church, and CEFE.

Mark from The Nook donated his Sunday to make coffee with a machine donated by the Tathra Cafe. The Lions Club put on a BBQ for us and Rudy make biscuits for the riders.

Thanks to the drummers, bagpipers, cow-bell percussionists and ukulele player who helped give our event a local flavour. Thanks to the photographers who donated their expertise, in particular Katrina Walsh and Dave Gallen. Thanks to Warren Parnel from OverU for aerial photography with his radio controlled quad-copter, and David and Justine Forrest for bouncing round in a low flying Cessna to photograph the event from the air.

Thanks to Gabe Khouri for providing his services as event doctor, and to the many first aid offices on the course.

Many thanks to the Enduro team and the Tathra MTB club who have been working all year to make this event happen, and to Andrew Johnson, who has devoted a decade to ensuring that Tathra has some of the best single track mountain biking in Australia.
Matthew Nott

201304

Final Call For Spectators and Musicians.

This Weekend, the third Tathra Enduro will kick off. This fast and furious mountain bike race will see some of the top Australian riders take on the fast and flowing labyrinth of track around Tathra.

For those wanting to get a look at the action, come to Thompsons Drive at Tathra. Plan to be there from about 9-11 o’clock to .

To get to the vantage point, if you are coming from Bega turn left into Thompsons Drive, just before you get into Tathra. Drive north for about 500 meters, you will see some cars parked on the left hand side of the road adjacent to a water tower. Park there, and walk across the road where you will see spectators and lots of music spur riders on in this challenging event. .

We have drummers, a choir, bagpipes, an industrial sized PA system blaring out inspiring Digeridoo music, and people making noise to help get riders up the steepest part of the Bungadung tracks. ‘Evil Tom’ is a punishing climb that will test the best of the racers on the day, and we are calling for spectators, musicians and noise makers to give riders a shot of adrenaline as they hit the top of the climb.

The track is fast, the weather forecast is perfect, and the stage is set for a great weekend of riding.
Matthew Nott

Henry Nott gets his wheels off the ground at the recent Mont 24hr Race in Canberra
Henry Nott gets his wheels off the ground at the recent Mont 24hr Race in Canberra

The Tathra Enduro mountain bike race is now into its third year, held on the weekend of 27/28 April.

On Saturday, there will be free kids races (starting at 2:20pm) and a 10km Prologue time trial (3pm-5pm). Race headquarters will be at the Tathra Country Club.
On Sunday, the real racing starts. For the ultra-keen, the 100km race kicks off at 7:30 am. Riders will steadily climb to the Dr George Mountain trig at an altitude of about 300m. The iconic Dr George fire trail will give riders stunning views of the Bega Valley to the west, and the Pacific Ocean to the east as they traverse some of the most rugged, majestic terrain the Bega Valley has to offer. If riders can afford a moment, they will discover beautiful coastal native forest as they take on the challenging terrain of the Mimosa Rocks National Park.

The 50km race starts at 8:30. The continued development of the Bundadung track will see riders take on almost 50km of sweet, fast, flowing single track, all within 5km of the Tathra township. The Bundadung tracks are in pristine condition and ready for action.

The Tathra Enuro is an event organised by local volunteers, who aim to see the event raise money for ongoing track development and renewable energy installations for the town of Tathra.
This year we are hoping to raise money for a wind turbine for the Tathra Hall. We aim to fix the wind turbine for the Tathra surf club (which has been hit by lightning), and relocate solar panels for the Bega Aboriginal Land Council. In 2011, the Enduro raised money for solar panels for the Bega Land Council, but they have subsequently moved offices, so the solar panels will have to be shifted. We are also keen to finish fundraising for a stand-alone solar system for the Upper Brogo Rural Fire Shed. This has been a work in progress since the Brogo LifeSaving Energy Big Swim in March 2012, and I am determined to make it happen. If there is money left over, we would like to consider getting solar panels onto the heritage listed Tathra Wharf.
Many thanks for the generous backing of local businesses and the Bega Valley Shire Council who have helped sponsor the event. If anyone is interested in entering or providing financial support to the event, go to www.mountainbiking.com.au. The Tathra Enduro is a community event organised by a large number of local volunteers who have a vision for their local region.

There are two things I am certain of. The Tathra Enduro is going to be one of the premier mountain bike races in Australia, and Tathra will be a community that benefits hugely from showing leadership on climate change.
Matthew Nott

Changing Polar Climate Affects Food Chain

Major changes to the food chain, weather and landscape of Antarctica have provided stark evidence of the impact of global warming, a report on a polar expedition has revealed.

The preliminary report on the research by scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute near Boston suggest significant changes at the lowest level of the food chain, a vital source of sustenance for seabirds, seals and whales.

The expedition senior scientist of the Australian Antarctic Division, Steve Nicol, said in 25 years of surveying Antarctica, this was the first time he had experienced rain.

”Warming is evident in the moistness of the air in this area of the world’s driest continent. Rain is now not uncommon and whilst this may encourage plant life, it is probably detrimental to the health of many of the breeding birds,” it found.

”This moistness also results in more snow falling and this too can affect the breeding habits of nesting birds when it falls during their incubation period, burying their eggs in the cold snow.

”The glaciers draining the ice caps of the islands and the mountains of the peninsula are shrinking, too. This has resulted in the formation of more icebergs and a greater run-off of freshwater.”

Expedition leader Michael Aw said the team witnessed an increase in herbivores called salps, possibly at the expense of phytoplankton, which are consumed by fish and krill.

”The balance in the herbivore elements of the food chain determine the types of larger animals that can be supported,” he said. ”There are suggestions it is changing from one that supports krill and its predators [seabirds, seals, whales] to one that may result in more fish and possibly squid ? The whales also feed on the krill so there is a chain reaction.”

[Sourced from SMH 7/4/13]
Matthew Nott

CLIMATE COMMISSION REPORT ON EXTREME WEATHER A WAKE-UP CALL

The latest report from the Climate Commission on extreme weather should be a wake-up call for those living in the South East. The report, called The Critical Decade: Extreme weather was released on the 3rd April and can be found at climatecommission.gov.au. I suggest anyone interested in the future of our region should take a look at it.

According to the report climate change is already increasing the intensity and frequency of many extreme weather events.

The Summer of 2012/13 was the hottest on record and included the hottest sea-surface temperatures on record for the Australian region for January and February. All-time high maximum temperatures were measured at 44 weather stations across the country. Over the period 1971-2008, the duration and frequency of heatwaves have increased, and the hottest days during a heatwave have become even hotter.
Over the 2010-2011 period every state and territory had sites that set all-time rainfall records. Across Australia, it is more likely than not, that heavy rainfall events will become more frequent as the temperature increases.
For southeast Australia, nearly all of the climate models used in a recent analysis project a significant increase in drought by the end of the century.
The Forest Fire Danger Index, one of the measures of bushfire threat, has increased significantly in Australia. The increase has been most prominent in southeast Australia, and has been manifest as a longer duration fire season, with fire weather extending into November and March.
A sea-level rise of 0.5 m (compared to 1990), which lies near the lower end of the estimates for 2100, leads to surprisingly large impacts. For coastal areas a sea-level rise of 0.5 m would lead to very large increases in the incidence of extreme events, typically by a factor of several hundred and in some places by as much as one thousand.
An ever increasing level of atmospheric CO2 is giving weather systems a shot of adrenaline.
We are going to have to strengthen our Rural Fire Service and prepare communities for more frequent catastrophic bushfire events. We will have to change agricultural practices to cope with longer and more severe droughts, and we’ll have to start coping with more severe rainfall events and flooding. We will have to get smarter about water storage. We are going to have to plan for sea level rise, and work out how to absorb the huge cost of coastal inundation. We are going to have to adapt to changing fisheries. We will have to come up with strategies to protect the elderly from heat waves, and we will have to adapt to changing patterns of infectious and vector borne diseases. We are going to have to build a stronger sense of community resilience, and we going to have to stop looking for excuses.
Above all we are going to have to reduce our dependance on fossil fuels, and we need to do it quickly. Only strong preventive action now can stabilise the climate and slow the trend of increasing extreme weather for our children. We need strong leadership from politicians who are prepared to stand up and face the challenge of climate change.
Matthew Nott

Tathra Enduro 2013

This years Tathra Enduro mountain bike race is fast approaching.

The weekend of April 27/28 will see hundreds of intrepid bike riders racing around a 10 km prologue event on Saturday, and 20, 50 and 100 km events on Sunday.

Andrew Johnson and the Tathra crew have been working all year on course maintenance and track building to ensure that this years event will have one of the best mountain bike courses in Australia.

Sweet flowing trails, hilly terrain, beautiful native forest, ocean views, and access to great cafe’s and accommodation are combining to turn Tathra into a mountain biking mecca. The Tathra Enduro is destined to become one of Australia’s premier off-road bike races.

The Tathra Enduro is a community event.

The tracks are built and maintained by the people of Tathra, the race is run by volunteers, and money made from the event goes towards renewable energy installations for community buildings in Tathra.

The race has a strong local flavour. Last years event was accompanied by an array of musicians, belly dancers, drummers, bag-pipers, and a couple of gorillas.

We need help to make this race a memorable one. If anyone is interested in making some noise in the bush on Sunday 28 April, turn up on Thompsons Drive, Tathra at about 8:30 in the morning for a couple of hours. Bring flags, costumes, a vuvuzela, or anything else you can think of that will make a bit of noise. You’ll have a chance to see some of the best mountain bikers in the world.
Matthew Nott

201303

Join an Online Petition

Recent changes in how Australia generates electricity has been illustrated by the share coming from coal falling below three-quarters for the first time – a shift that has helped cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Coal-fired power stations supplied 74.8 per cent of national electricity last month. The share from renewable sources hit a record 12.5 per cent, whilst gas (a fossil fuel with less than half the emissions of coal) supplied 12.7 per cent, according to a monthly survey by consultants Pitt & Sherry.

Demand for power in the national market is falling. Emissions from eastern states generators has fallen by 3.5 per cent since the carbon price was introduced in July.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is there are currently proposals on the table to build a staggering nine new coal ports along Australia’s Eastern seaboard, which would double our capability to export coal.

Working to reduce our national dependance on coal, whilst increasing our export capability is a schizophrenic approach to climate change.

A couple of weeks ago, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition started talking about this issue in schools and universities across the country – and the response has been impressive. Next week they will be taking an online petition to key politicians.

A future powered by 100% renewable energy isn’t just possible – it’s becoming a reality, with renewable energy almost cheaper than fossil fuels in many parts of the world. As the world’s biggest exporter of coal, Australia’s actions in the coming years could tip the scales and drive massive global investment in renewables.

To join the Australian Youth Climate Coalitions online petition, visit aycc.org.au/climate-game-change/
Matthew Nott

Consensus is Important

A number of surveys of the climate science community since the early 1990s have measured the level of scientific consensus that humans were causing global warming.

Over time, the percentage of climate scientists agreeing that humans are causing global warming has steadily increased. As the body of evidence grows, the consensus is getting stronger. Two recent studies adopting different approaches have arrived at strikingly consistent results.

A survey of over 3000 Earth scientists (Peter T Doran­ and ­Maggie Kendall Zimmerman,­Earth ­and­ Environmental­ Sciences,­University­ of­ Illinois ­at­ Chicago) found that as the climate expertise increased, so did agreement about human-caused global warming. For climate scientists actively publishing climate research there was 97 per cent agreement that humans were causing our climate to change.

This result was confirmed in a separate analysis compiling a list of scientists who had made public declarations on climate change, both supporting and rejecting the consensus. Among scientists who had published peer-reviewed climate papers (908 scientists in total), the same result: 97 per cent agreement that humans are causing the Earth’s climate to change.

An analysis of peer-reviewed climate papers published from 1993 to 2003 found that out of 928 papers, none rejected the consensus.

Despite these and many other indicators of consensus, there is a gaping chasm between reality and the perceived consensus among the general public. Polls from 1997 to 2007 found that around 60 per cent of Americans believe there is significant disagreement among scientists about whether global warming was happening. A 2012 Pew poll found less than half of Americans thought that scientists agreed humans were causing global warming. Similar results are found in Australia.

Consequently, a key strategy of opponents of climate action has been to cast doubt on the scientific consensus on the basis that we are being held ransom by a scientific conspiracy.

The CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, Australia’s Chief scientist, the chief scientists of all states in Australia, the Australian Acadamy of Science, the Scientific Acadamies of ALL G20 countries, NASA, the Met Office in Britain, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association of North America, and ALL peer reviewed climate scientists must somehow have got together to deceive the world on climate change.

Really?
Matthew Nott

Direct Action

It’s a good time to talk about the Coalitions ‘Direct Action’ policy to reduce Australia’s greenhouse emissions. It is worth pointing out from the outset that the Coalition has the same target as Labor’s to reduce emissions by 5% by 2020 over 2000 levels, and they support the national 20% renewable energy target.

The Coalitions Direct Action policy has a number of strategies.

The Coalition says the majority of its emission reductions will come from soil carbon sequestration. Soil carbon is a promising technology being investigated by a number of countries. The coalition is basing 60% of its emission reductions on soil sequestration.

The Coalition’s policy doesn’t explain how it will measure soil carbon. The CSIRO says it is “extremely difficult” to predict whether soil carbon farming practices will work in the future. The Coalition is basing 60 per cent of its Direct Action policy on a technology that the CSIRO says it can’t predict will work, and can’t measure adequately

Another key part of the Coalitions policy is what Tony Abbott describes as a 15,000-strong standing green army. The “green army” would have the job of planting 60 million new trees in Australia. When Tony Abbott introduced Direct Action, he said the 15,000 people would be recruited at an average cost of $50,000 a year per person.

The “green army” seems to have fallen off the radar, and it is unclear to me whether or not it is still part of Direct Action policy.

Like the Gillard Government’s policy, Direct Action will spend billions on retiring dirty power plants in the La Trobe valley like Hazelwood. Like the Government’s plan, Direct Action promises to invest in clean tech and renewable energy.

Unlike the Government’s scheme, however, it will not cap Australia’s carbon emissions, it will not allow carbon pollution credits to be traded on a market, and it will not charge polluters for their emissions. Instead, the Coalition plans to tackle carbon emissions by paying industry to pollute less, through an Emissions Reduction Fund. It is envisaged that the Fund will invest around $1.2 billion in direct CO2 emissions reduction activities through to 2020.

The Coalition will also spend another billion on policies such as its $400 million “one million solar roofs” program.

That’s money that the Coalition says will come from “normal budget processes”. Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have already promised that money will not come from extra taxes. That means an incoming Abbott government has committed to more than $10 billion in spending cuts in order to pay for its carbon policies.
Matthew Nott

201302

Public Meeting

On Monday March 11 at 6:30pm, Clean Energy For Eternity is hosting a public meeting at the St Johns Anglican Church in Bega.

The guest speaker will be Professor Lesley Hughes.

Commissioner Lesley Hughes
Commissioner Lesley Hughes

Professor Lesley Hughes is an ecologist in the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University and an expert on the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems. She is the co-convenor of the Terrestrial Biodiversity Adaptation Research Network, Chair of the Tasmanian Climate Action Council and a member of Climate Scientists Australia and the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists.

Professor Hughes was also a member of the Expert Advisory Group on Climate Change and Biodiversity for the Australian Greenhouse Office and the Department of Climate Change, and a lead author for the UN?s IPCC Fourth and Fifth Assessment Reports. Her research has been published extensively in peer-reviewed journals.

The meeting will be opened by Mayor Bill Taylor, I will give a brief up-date on what CEFE is up to, and Professor Hughes will give the guest lecture. I am hoping she will focus on how climate change will impact the Bega Valley, particularly in relation to sea-level rise, changing rainfall patterns and bushfire risk. Admission will be free, and CEFE is very grateful to St Johns for providing a venue.
Matthew Nott

Climate change impacts on fire weather

A new study produced by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology provides important new information about increased bushfire risk across south-east Australia due to climate change. The study will help communities across south-east Australia prepare for a possible increased bushfire risk.

Researchers assessed changes associated with climate change and influences on fire-weather risk. The study, entitled “Climate change impacts on fire-weather in south-east Australia”, was completed by Kevin Hennessy from CSIRO and co-authors from the Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
Fire-weather risk relates to how a combination of weather variables influences the risk of a fire starting or its rate of spread, intensity, or difficulty to suppress. Fire risk is influenced by a number of factors including fuels, terrain, land management, suppression, and weather.

The study is based in south-east Australia, an area projected to become hotter and drier under climate change. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, in south-east Australia since 1950 rainfall has decreased, droughts have become more severe, and the number of extremely hot days has risen.

The study provides an indication of fire risk based on various combinations of weather variables including daily temperature, rainfall, humidity, and wind-speed. Two climate change models are then used to generate climate change scenarios for 2020 and 2050. The CSIRO climate models used for this report were developed with assistance from the Australian Greenhouse Office. Fire danger indices are then calculated for 2020 and 2050.

The key finding of this study is that the frequency of days with very high and extreme Forest Fire Danger Index ratings are likely to increase in south-east Australia by 4-25 per cent by 2020, and 15-70 per cent by 2050.

Several uncertainties in the study include changes in El Nino-Southern Oscillation events under climate change, the possibility of different results from use of other climate models, changes in rainfall thresholds required to control fires, and the quality of data for some weather variables.

For anyone interested in the threat of bushfires in Australia, ‘Burn-the epic story of bushfire in Australia’ by Paul Collins gives an excellent account of the history of catastrophic bushfire events, and our increased vulnerability due to climate change.
Matthew Nott

The warming impact on rainfall

Rainfall extremes are increasing around the world, and this lift is linked to the warming of the atmosphere which has taken place since pre-industrial times. This is the conclusion of a recent study which investigated extreme rainfall trends using data from 8326 weather-recording stations globally, some of which have records spanning more than a hundred years. The study, “Global increasing trends in annual daily precipitation” was published in Journal of Climate last month
Of all the stations analysed, two-thirds showed increasing trends over the course of the 20th and early 21st centuries.
“This kind of change is precisely what can be expected if one assumes that the intensity of the most extreme rainfall events will scale with the capacity of the atmosphere to hold moisture. This is well known to increase with temperature at a rate of about 7 per cent per degree.” said the lead author Seth Westra from the University of Adelaide.

“The greatest increases occurred in the tropical belt; the smallest in the drier mid-latitudes where you find most of the world?s deserts. In the higher latitudes, particularly in the northern hemisphere, the rate of change was close to the global average. Again, such changes seemed to be in quite close agreement with what global climate models say should happen as a result of global warming: a reassuring case of observations confirming theory.”

“The implications of this are likely to be significant for flood risk around the world. If the relationship between extreme rainfall and atmospheric temperature continues to hold, then this could mean as much as a 35 per cent increase in extreme rainfall intensity on average globally.”
Most flood-defence infrastructure, such as dams, levees, storm water systems and coastal flood defences, have been designed to handle historical flood risk. If the risk of flooding increases, then such infrastructure will have increasing difficulty managing floods in the future. This would either lead to increased damage costs due to the flooding, or necessitate expensive infrastructure upgrades or resettlement of low-lying communities. Even the increase in extreme rainfall intensity observed thus far is likely to lead to substantial challenges for some existing infrastructure.
This recent study shows that the intensification of rainfall extremes is not just a projection made by climate models but can already can be detected in the observational record.

In Australia we need to rapidly adapt to longer more intense droughts punctuated by increasingly extreme rainfall events.
Matthew Nott