NO doubt about it, heads are buried in the sand over the impact of a changed climate.
Mediterranean climate for Tasmania trumpets The Examiner, in an attempt to put a positive spin on the climate crisis by those who are unaware of its potential impacts.
So let us examine this Mediterranean climate that we are promised before we pass further north into the climes of the Sahara.
Asssuming that we are already enjoying Tasmania’s maritime version of the climate of the Mediterranean coast of France or of northern Italy, ah Tuscany, as we lie about the southern equivalent of that latitude, what lies further south into the Meditteranean for our maritime influenced climate.
Perhaps the Iberian Peninsular where desertification is eating at its formerly dry farmlands, with a rainfall once similar to Tasmanian’s midlands it is now too low for viable agriculture to continue.
This would fit the current pattern of the west coast mountains wringing out the rain, those mountains will not be relocating soon. Still, the price of wool will remain low as the globe warms, so a reduction in supply could only assist in maintaining returns for the farms that are able to carry some stock.
Or possibly southern France where predictions are for more frequent fires.
Some cities with a dry summer subtropical climate are more prone to smog. Perhaps those days in Launceston will increase.
Cool nights in summer will be an artifice requiring greater electricity consumption and in that, if the trend continues, rainfall will decrease. The outcome for the electricity supply is Tasmanian will get its monies worth from the Bass Strait cable, power imports rising and sales from hydro falling.
Never mind, not only will the cost go up because of the cost of ameliorating the impacts of carbon released from the additional generation but the whole process will continue to add to warming the climate thus requiring further amelioration.
And who will buy those excellent woollen blankets woven at Waverley ?.
Such an economic stimulus, accompanied by an increase in floods and fires as the weather turns wilder, its fluctuations greater, will see private and public treasuries drained.
For those in the newspaper industry, its not just the temperatures that will change.
Reflect back on the small costs of landslips, whole beachside areas will be affected by sea level rise because a warmer climate means not only the disappearance of sea ice but also the further melting of the ice on land, rate and volume to increase.
Will we build walls hoping that a return to the climate of 1900 will arrive in time for the 2200 celebrations or will the houses be moved, the infrastructure and beaches abandoned, the Parliament relocated to Tarraleah, well above sea level, reasonably cool and close to drinking water.
Who will insure against fire, if in a drier world the incidence of it increases, and along with it, the damage. What will be the cost of rebuilding a less combustible home in a lower carbon economy, where energy intensive materials are bound to carry the cost of ameliorating the damage to the climate of the carbon released.
After all the homes will have to be less fire prone and bricks, steel and cement are all high energy consumers in their manufacture. Perhaps those made with alternative energy will have a price advantage and the adobe dwelling will become fashionable. It’s also cooler in summer if the roof is insulated.
And in that drier world, with the summer especially dry, one would expect the rate of tree growth [an unirrigated crop when a plantation, and dependent on rainfall when forest] to decline. What does this do to the economics of the forest based industries. A 20% decline may see another 7 years added to plantations maturity, if that is an evenly spread and all soil types react the same way to a greater water deficit. Areas of conditional forest are likely to increase.
Perhaps there is some good news. On unirrigated land salination rates should decline.
Of course any increased irrigation, without strict control over the input amount, will see more salt surfacing in land prone to salinity.
So over the next 20 years the climate will change, the gases being released now will ensure that, it is the subsequent decades where the impacts of the decisions and actions taken now will be felt.
Australia is without a proven method to reduce the carbon emitted from coal burning, without an alternative to the hydrocarbon fuels under rapid development [this is also a matter of economic security], and with a society dependent on high energy consumption and so a high carbon strategy. This will not address global warming.
California has adopted a a 60% reduction by 2050 goal
Our ally and trading partner has no national goals to reduce carbon production and they contribute 25% for 5% of the population. Interestingly the states, singly or in groups are setting in place mechanisms to reduce carbon dioxide output. California has adopted a a 60% reduction by 2050 goal. They have substantial areas of Mediterranean climate.
Whilst special interests are able to bring undue influence to bear on government, life on the planet is threatened. As I have written before, when the planet went greenhouse at the end of the Permian 95% of all species we know about went extinct. It took 100 million years for recovery to a semblance of the previous amount of diversity and another 235 million for the newspaper to emerge.
The test for the Asia- Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, meeting in Sydney for 2 days, will be what they agree to do practically and the time lines they set to achieve that.
I would put money on nuclear power to sell more uranium, more LPG use to sell gas and cleaner coal technologies including carbon sequestration to justify selling more coal, all to fuel the globalized economy. I also predict a major injection of effort into developing hydrogen as a fuel for cars.
The economies involved in this Partnership will need to commence substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions within the next decade and by 2050 have reduced emissions by at least 60% on 1990 levels, some 4% per annum from 2015.
Inevitably Tasmania’s climate will continue to warm, that is set by the greenhouse gases being released currently. The actions we take in the next few years are what will prevent sending it to the Sahara.
Failure of today’s elected representatives
phill Parsons draws on the CSIRO data for current and trend warming, on the Hadley Climate Research Centre modelling, on the predictions for more extreme weather evens by Nunez, followed by others and indeed the apparent appearance of these phenomenon and the research on the Greenland Ice Sheets retreat and thinning, on Hydro Tasmania’s rainfall data and on the recent experiences in south eastern Australia and southern Europe where drought was followed by fire, on the European heat wave of 2004 with deaths over 14,000.
There appears to be no point appealing to Bush or Howard about acting to ameliorate climate changes, their decisions are either simply to buy votes, to please big business interests or have no proven efficacy. Judy Jackson is to retire and so the promised new Tasmanian Greenhouse Strategy will most likely remain undone until another Minister appears to drive it. Perhaps they will have public consultations.
Whilst it is now too late to avoid some impacts from global warming, the failure of today’s elected representatives will pass on to their children and grandchildren a legacy they would scream about if it was their inheritance today.
Note; Recent work with Antarctic Ice Cores has taken the record from 350,000 years before present to 415,000. It shows more time has been cooler than warmer with current temperatures as a base line measure. It also shows that every other warm period has been followed by a descent to between 3.5 and 10dC. cooler than that base line.
In the 350,000 year record every cold period was preceeded by the atmospheric CO2 rising to 370ppm. We are past that point of parts per million for CO2  and over 400 for CO2 equivalents [all greenhouse gases].
Very few people support the view that the current rise in temperatures is a natural variation, the evidence supports the view that it is human induced by the release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere at a rate that cannot be compensated by natural systems.