phill Parsons

Well smoke watchers, what happens to those emissions as they rise into the Tasmanian sky.
Work by Dr David Rosenfeld has shown that particles generated by forest fires and industrial activity suppress the ability of the atmosphere to form rainfall bearing clouds.

This is influenced by the predomination in clouds of particles too small to allow raindrops to form.

However, smoke generated by forest fires, including regeneration burns, has a limited window of activity.

How many small particles will the pulpmill add to the particle emissions from the Tamar.

Current emissions already impact on rainfall along the coast of SE Australia every day.

Emissions from Melbourne and the Latrobe Valley impact on inland Victoria and the catchments of the Snowy Scheme and so on, in a cascade across NSW and into SE Qld as the particles emitted by industrial activity are carried and dispersed by the higher wind streams.

This is not the sole reason for the prolonged drought afflicting much of the area of high yield primary production and population, the climate crisis is also building momentum.

Every addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is affecting the engines that drive climate with the business as usual model adopted by Howard and Bush taking us into the realm of dangerous climate change.

Whilst a full El Nino Southern Oscillation has not yet occurred this year, the expansion of this warm ocean zone and its increased frequency is impacting on the nations climate and predictions are that it may run for some years yet.

Decade long dry spells in Australia are not unknown. However with the added impetus of global warming can we be sure that this mechanism will swing back and ‘normal’ rains return to any where near the frequency that our environment, our agricultural systems, our cities water supplies and our hydro schemes depended upon.

The ice of the polar regions is shrinking and so its cooling effect through reflection is also falling, the Arctic leading the race along with assosciated species extinctions with ice melt. That ice melt is feeding the volume of the ocean and will raise sea levels beyond the current 6cm or so.

Ice melt is altering the thermohaline circulations. The warming Gulf Stream will be diluted by the flow of fresh water from Greenland and so whilst the world is warming the British Isles may see a fall in temperatures as it looses the engine that cycles tropical heat to warm it.

We have seen the effect of Cyclone Katrina. A body of scientific opinion is of the view that intensity has, and will continue to increase due to a warmer ocean.

The great tropical forests, the terrestrial lung and cooler, are shrinking under human assault. Mined for timber, cleared for grazing and now to produce biofuels in order to save us from the very impacts we need them to ameliorate.

This year in northern Saskatchewan they have had multiple tornado warnings, not a usual event.

The oceans will be acidified

As the glaciers of the Himalayas melt the 5 great rivers of Asia will dry leaving the millions dependent on them with enormous problems.

The oceans will be acidified by their uptake of CO2 and this affect will ripple through all ocean functions.

Besides being the other lung, phytoplanktons replenish the atmosphere with dimethylsulphate, a basic cloud forming material, whose particles are of the size for rain bearing clouds. Their populations will be reduced by higher levels of ocean acidification.

And what is Howard’s reaction to the complex causes of environmental degradation impacting on Australia.

Clever enough to agree it is happening, avoidance of any real and immediate action is his main political objective as he protects the dirty coal and oil industries form the essential investments that are needed to reduce their impacts along with charting a path to a low carbon economy with its inherent much reduced greenhouse gas emissions

He has recycled his dissociated energy and water policies when the whole economy must be put on a sustainable path if the impacts on us are to be reduced and the impacts of global overpopulation and dangerous climate change are not to combine in a complete collapse of international cooperation and national governance.

Of course a cynic could say that the water policy is essential as the impacts of the energy policy will be to dry the continent into a state of permanent drought in the years that it takes to implement geosequestration and overcome the inertia of a hydrocarbon fuelled global economy.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with recycling water, it is after all how all fresh water occurs, the cost of addressing global deficiencies on a planet whose climate has been heated, and thus altered beyond local recognition, will be tremendously and unnecessarily expensive.

Indeed it may not be possible without remediation actions being taken now.

The destabilizing geopolitical potential of limited water resources have a corollary in the current struggles over control of oil resources in the Middle East and Central Asia.

And of course there are the broader energy questions, gas produces less CO2, carbon sequestration may put much of the carbon underground and, yes, uranium can supply nuclear fuel, provided you are not Iran, an enemy of the conservatives in the USA never to be forgiven.

However, they are all finite, the only source that runs every day all day is the sun, generating winds, providing light that also heats, driving the water cycle and the tides. Predicted useful life is several billion years, the time life has been on Earth.

Indeed we now have steam produced by the sun used directly to generate electricity. No expensive solar cells here to put off action with excuses about cost.

Missed opportunities

What can one say about policies that are so short sighted.

Missed opportunities in growing sustainable energy industries will impact on the capacity of the Australian economy to lead in a world if it has the foresight and will to grasp the nettle and seriously address the climate crisis and sustainability.

Living off mining finite resources without building the wherewithal to produce energy will degrade the nation’s intellectual capital and leave us as a buyer in a sellers market.

And what do we see among the States

In NSW, the Leader of the Opposition Peter Debnam is attempting to capture the environmental vote by suggesting an end to ocean outfall of sewerage. Clean beaches for all.

In Qld Peter Beattie is attempting to balance water supply with rivers running free and lungfish remaining in their natural environment. Last election he courted the ‘Green’ vote and no doubt is attempting to do so again.

In SA energy is an issue for the government, a balance to uranium mining?.

In WA the Attorney General, John McGinty publically supports the anti whaling direct action crew of the ‘Farley Mowat’, the Sea Shepherd organizations Antarctic vessel last whaling season.

In Tasmanian we have seen the government suddenly support Recherche Bay’s conservation at a critical time of re-election only to return to its environmental vandalism with a rush to trash Ralphs Bay.

Perhaps some of the environmental views of the States leaders are their true beliefs, the weight of individual arguments swaying them.

However, the behavior of the whole exposes its limitations.

Throughout the developed world political struggles between competing parties feature elements of environmental conservation, attempting to capture the vote of those concerned.

Piecemeal will not provide a world where the lifestyle of the west, that would require at least 5 earths of resoueces if supplied to all, several if only China and India are added, and those 2 are busy growing their standard of living at a cost to the natural functions upon which we all depend and cannot afford to replace.

phill Parsons wonders if one of the first projects of Howard to supply the new pulpmill with recycled water, saving the Tamar from Launceston’s sewage treatment outfall and making one of the dumb parts of the project smarter.

Certainly any addition of more particles to the atmosphere from the pulpmill is dumb.

What will we have to spend to address the impacts of our current industrial activities. Denial of such impacts will not avoid them, only confuse and delay important action to address them and improve life for all.

Whilst government fails its full responsibility in the environmental and sustainability areas and it places all life at risk it is in contradiction with the basis of democratic government, to protect all of us, and so no longer deserves support.

References

The works of Dr Rosenfeld are available on his website and are worth a read.