Tasmanian Times


How Extreme Weather Is Shrinking the Planet

Forestry in Tasmania ...

With wildfires, heat waves, and rising sea levels, large tracts of the earth are at risk of becoming uninhabitable. But the fossil-fuel industry continues its assault on the facts …

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  1. Kim Peart

    November 21, 2018 at 3:05 am

    The primary question that I have raised has not been addressed or acknowledged. Is anyone checking the facts? This is the key environmental question that we now face on Earth. No other problem is greater in need or demand. The simple facts are that Hansen found that we needed to have CO2 in the air below 350 ppm to keep planet temperature rise under 1.5C, and this science is now accepted. The problem is, 350 ppm CO2 is a level that was sailed past in the 1980s. We were locked into 1.5C temperature rise in the 1980s. All CO2 rise since, which is now going beyond 400 ppm at 2 ppm per annum, is further heat rise waiting to happen. We need to know what that heat rise will be with the current and growing level of CO2 in the air. Will temperature rise go beyond 8C, and will this happen rapidly, as warned of by James Lovelock in a 2009 book, and more starkly now by Guy McPherson, who sees it happening in the coming decade? Are we in an undeclared state of emergency? The question then is, how much tonnage of CO2 in the air, and sea (when CO2 is removed from the air, it will come back out of the sea) is involved, how much energy will be required to remove this volume of CO2, and where will this energy come from? The problem is now growing rapidly with the increased release of CO2 and methane in a fast warming Arctic, and there is a huge volume of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, sitting on the ocean floor as methane hydrates .. the ice that burns. Faced with a challenge this huge, we will need a rather huge solution or we may be risking the runaway greenhouse effect that Hansen wrote about. Growing trees is not the answer. As McKibben pointed out, the drought in California killed millions of trees, and then the fires released the carbon into the air. Unless we have a clean green alternative to fight for, we will see governments employing the fossil fuel industries to pump sulphur into the air in an attempt to cool the planet, but the use of fossil fuel will continue. I wonder if that sulphur in the air would reduce the efficiency of solar modules.

    • Russell

      November 21, 2018 at 6:40 am

      A voluminous number of words … but no personal responsibility or action.

  2. Tony Stone

    November 19, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    What is the use of articles and commenting unless you have personally taken action? Being on the climate change bandwagon, without actually doing what needs to be done in your own life, is pure hypocrisy.

    This debate has been going on for decades. Moaning about it does nothing. Actually doing something in your life to mitigate the problems is all that counts. Blaming the fossil fuel industry when you continue consuming its products and providing it with a market, including the plastic industry, is a wonderful indication of where humanity really stands.

    Everyone seems more interested in the ideological approach of denial and asks “Why doesn’t someone do something .. as long as it’s not me?”

    No one is pushing or demanding that we start using non polluting and sustainable fuels and commodities. No one is demanding or pushing for the establishment of electric vehicle industries. No one is pushing for a change from fossil diesel to seed oils which would reduce emissions by 80% as we transition to electric and provide our farming industry with a certain long term future. No one is promoting or pushing for a change in wasteful plastic packaging and food containers to reusable materials like hemp which is so cheap and easy to grow, and which produces many excellent commodities which would replace the need to cut trees for paper, cotton for materials, and oils for converting to environmentally sustainable equivalent plastics.

    It’s just more of the same over and over year after year, and you will all vote for the incumbent parties even if there was a party that addressed every problems we had in Tasmania, as well as providing a sustainable, economic non-destructive future.

    Climate change and destructive weather has yet to really start, and the changes predicted are happening at least 50 years before it was claimed that they would occur. Just wait until it really gets underway .. and no one is prepared. It’s no different to what we see with the ferocious bushfires starting to encompass the planet. Just wait until we have a fire in Tasmania with 200 kph winds .. and see what is left!

    Take note, that since the Dunalley bushfires, nothing has changed at all. They are still approaching it the same way they always have .. and we know the outcome of that continuing insanity.

    • Kim Peart

      November 20, 2018 at 1:57 am

      Hammer on nail Tony, except for the detail that Bill McKibben is one of the planet’s leading environmentalists, who does take action, which I touch on in my comment ~ read the second comment first. But, for other reasons, I wonder if Bill is missing the point, bones that I rattle as well, and by default, presents no real challenge to the fossil fuel monopolies. As a consequence, we see the same old, same old with environmental activism since the 1960s, and the strife on Earth is going into a nose-dive: and as Bill puts it, we are on an escalator into hell. Bill, the great campaigner, is offering no hope. His narrative begins in the 1980s, which for me, is two decades after the trouble began. The carbon crisis could have been entirely avoided, by investing in solar power in the only way that was possible to make a difference. Carbon energy propaganda has been exceptionally clever at twisting the truth about how much energy radiates from the Sun, that space based solutions are not possible, and that we could not survive in space. Speaking with a French woman in Second Life yesterday (which can be used as an advanced Skype style communications format), I was being told that the radiation from the Sun is very weak. Where did this kind of nonsense come from in an educated woman. I suspect that carbon energy propaganda to turn the people of Earth away from space solutions began in the 1960s, as they most likely figured out that space based solar power was an option, and did all they could to retain a strangle-hold on energy profits. Bill points out how they did there homework on the strife they were driving with CO2 emissions, and then went ahead to be better planet killers. I fear that environmentalists, conservationists, academics and politicians have been thoroughly hoodwinked by carbon energy industry propaganda. Why is there no great debate over the space options, because we can build in space, and survive there, and we can deploy robots to do the work. We can build solar power stations in space, and beam the power of the Sun to Earth, because it is only from the Sun that we will get enough power to do the work of carbon extraction from the air, which is the key environmental action needed on Earth to turn the tide of death on this planet. We need to get CO2 below 350 ppm, a level passed in the 1980s, when space based solar power could have come on line, and begin the transition out of fossil fuel. Its 350 ppm CO2 that would keep planet temperature rise at 1.5C. Am I wrong? That means all the CO2 added to the Earth system since the 1980s, is future heat rise, and a few scientists have been warning of a sudden rise in heat. Who is looking at the work of these scientists, and checking their claims? Then the news arrives that there is 25% more heat in the oceans than previously detected, and ocean heat waves are expected to hit the Great Barrier Reed, again, in coming months. With industry in space we can construct an adjustable sunshade above the Earth, to cool the planet as excess carbon is being extracted. Then all people on Earth will be motivated to do all the other things needed to win back a safe Earth. I will be taking this massage to a giant space conference in Washington, D.C., in October next year. Will I be alone and ignored? Or will the debate finally rise, in Tasmania and globally, of how we can put space to work to save the Earth? The environmentalist failure to keep the Earth safe has only served to empower the fossil fuel tyrants.

      • Russell

        November 20, 2018 at 7:34 am

        Speaking of actually doing what needs to be done, have you put any solar panels or a wind turbine on your roof yet, Kim?

        • Kim Peart

          November 20, 2018 at 10:24 am

          Russell, that’s a fine tune, but the sound of fiddling while the planet burns, like the orchestra on the deck of the Titanic, will not turn the tide of death that is now underway. What is your plan to turn the tide of death? When a plan is mobilised that can win back a safe Earth, even though there will be over-shoot and much, much more killing by CO2 of people, animals and ecosystems. A plan that actually works will inspire everyone on Earth to do all those little things to help, as you suggest. Meet me in Ross and debate a plan that will save the Earth, even while the planet sinks. Bring facts. Quit the fiddling. We can also walk over our land and you can offer advice on solar power and wind, which is in the pipeline. We can also look at the design of a survival habitat, and how we preserve the technology to have another crack at space later, should the world go to hell. Tasmania will not be safe if the world goes to hell. Don’t smash the fiddle to splinters. I love good music. Let’s get real about survival .. and on a larger scale, cosmic survival, as getting stuck on a planet gone to hell and heat is rat tail soup, and even that could be radioactive.

          • Russell

            November 20, 2018 at 3:59 pm

            So you agree whole-heartedly with Tony Stone that there is no “use of articles and commenting unless you have personally taken action”, BUT you lecture me and avoid answering when I ask if you have actually done something yourself like putting any solar panels or a wind turbine on your roof?

            “Hypocrite” – A person who professes beliefs and opinions that he or she does not hold in order to conceal his or her real feelings or motives.

            Sounds bang on to me.

  3. Christina Macpherson

    November 19, 2018 at 11:58 am

    This is a tremendous article by Bill McKibben. Thanks for drawing attention to it. It should be read by everyone!

    • Kim Peart

      November 19, 2018 at 3:09 pm


  4. Peter Black

    November 19, 2018 at 10:34 am

    Keith Antonysen, Hello. Thank you for your input on Climate Change awareness.

    I’ve been wishing to know, when these corrupted LNP self-serving denial retards reject the advice of 99% of the world’s scientists, how many scientists are we in fact talking of?

    Christopher Eastman-Nagle, your given outline of past history does not justify doing nothing.

    The energy required to run Capitalism will need to evolve .. as in evolution.

    But one could imagine as the Climate worsens, changes to consumption will occur, as will peoples attitudes.

    Good People, a Group worth looking at, is International Extinction Rebellion: xrebellion#org

    • Keith Antonysen

      November 19, 2018 at 11:30 am

      Peter … Many research papers written by climate scientists have multiple authors, eg Powell et al studied thousands of papers published in peer reviewed journals, and he states that during 2013 and 2014, 69,406 authors were reviewed. I haven’t gone back to this study, but if my memory is correct 24,000 research articles were assessed. There have been a number of research articles produced and all have come up with more than 90% consensus. Powell is given as an example on the basis of the number of authors reviewed; the current source is different to what I viewed a few years ago .

      “The extent of the consensus among scientists on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) has the potential to influence public opinion and the attitude of political leaders and thus matters greatly to society. The history of science demonstrates that if we wish to judge the level of a scientific consensus and whether the consensus position is likely to be correct, the only reliable source is the peer-reviewed literature. During 2013 and 2014, only 4 of 69,406 authors of peer-reviewed articles on global warming, 0.0058% or 1 in 17,352, rejected AGW. Thus, the consensus on AGW among publishing scientists is above 99.99%, verging on unanimity.”

      The above is part of Abstract from: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0270467616634958

  5. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    November 19, 2018 at 9:25 am

    When I was at Uni, reading history, we did a comparative study on the Chinese and Japanese responses to modern pressure.

    Capitalism, the imperial power it made possible, and the modern ideology and practice it brought in its wake, was an existential threat to everyone it touched right from the beginning when peasant populations were forced off their land as part of the modernisation and intensification of agriculture, and the creation of the initial capital accumulations for urban industrialisation. As it spread out globally, everyone felt the same kind of shock and angst as business-as-usual was systematically steam rolled.

    The immediate effect was to divide populations between those who wanted to hang on to tradition and those who advocated adaption to the new realities.

    The Japanese samurai ruling class quite quickly concluded that while defeat could be ameliorated by glorious death, defeat and living to tell the tale was intolerable. And military defeat at the hands of the western barbarians was inevitable unless they had whatever it was they were having.

    Japanese traditional culture was shifted into the personal, organisational and domestic, but everything else had to be western because they very pragmatically understood that to create a modern military industrial state they had to acquire and adopt the entire suite.

    The Chinese on the other hand had much more traditional baggage. The imperial administration ran on a Confucian educational and philosophical model which until the industrial revolution was the most advanced administrative system in the world, by a long way. To modernise like the Japanese meant dumping Confucianism, and their sense of who they were. They tried to add western technology as a bolt on to the traditional system, but the pre-modern system kept getting in the way. As China endured repeated external defeat and internal disorder, the balance was shifted towards more western and fewer Chinese inputs, but never enough in a sufficiently timely fashion .. until the system completely collapsed.

    We are very much in the Chinese camp when it comes to dealing with the limits to growth and the adverse impacts of living wildly beyond our ecological means. Capitalism has to keep growing and the free market mechanisms which have served the system so well for so long just aren’t up for negotiation, as aren’t the carbon chemicals and materials technologies that made it all possible in the first place. The fact is that less than half of every barrel of oil actually gets used as energy.

    Capitalism is, and always has been, par excellence, a hydrocarbon beast from the ground up, and while that can be modified, it is profoundly energy and throughput intensive.

    To electrify all industrial processes using renewables is the most massive economic and technological shift ever attempted. But far more difficult is slowing the beast down sufficiently to prevent it taking out every last remaining natural ecological niche. It would be an unprecedented process. It only ever slows down temporarily during its periodic phoenixlike crashes and burns, and reducing global human populations sufficiently to contain economic demand would also be unprecedented.

    As things go, the only people living on less than two tonnes of carbon dioxide per head per year, which is about what the biosphere can withstand, are poor subcontinent Indian peasants.

    Fundamentally, the necessary moves to make our economic system sustainable are out of the question.

    The brutal reality is that in order for all this to happen, the modern period is going to have to end, and with it, capitalism as we have known it. Capitalism ‘Lite’ might look a bit like its status before the modern period, as a small urban add-on to a basically agricultural society, but it will have to invest most of its surplus capital into ecological defence and restitution because capitalism ‘Heavy’ is leaving a colossal legacy of damage that we will never be able to make good.

    Right now, sticking the head in the sand is by far he most attractive option .. until it isn’t.

    • Simon Warriner

      November 19, 2018 at 12:44 pm

      “The brutal reality is that in order for all this to happen, the modern period is going to have to end, and with it, capitalism as we have known it. Capitalism ‘Lite’ might look a bit like its status before the modern period, as a small urban add-on to a basically agricultural society, but it will have to invest most of its surplus capital into ecological defence and restitution because capitalism ‘Heavy’ is leaving a colossal legacy of damage that we will never be able to make good.

      Right now, sticking the head in the sand is by far he most attractive option .. until it isn’t.”

      And that time will come when we get assaulted by reality. The ‘head in the sand image’ is apt.

      This is why we all need to agitate for leadership that is up to the task of managing that decline to preserve the knowledge acquired to date to avoid the future being as bad as it can be if we don’t. And that leadership will not come from people who conflict their desire for power, comfort and privilege with the need to be frugal, restrained and responsible.

      CE-N, that is the best bit of writing on the subject I have seen in a very long time, possibly ever. Clear, concise, informative and coherent. It deserves to be sent far and wide.

  6. Keith Antonysen

    November 19, 2018 at 8:39 am

    The latest IPCC Report has been criticised by deniers, as per usual, though the reasons for such criticism do not rely on data.

    The last IPCC Report was written by 91 scientists using thousands of peer reviewed research projects published in peer reviewed journals. Much criticism comes from non-scientists; we have Craig Kelly in the Australian Parliament leading the Monash fringe group.

    Meanwhile, science research and observations are continuing in many fields …

    Acidification of Oceans has been held back by calcite deposits on the sea floor, a conclusion reached through experimentation, and the expectation is that acidification will increase when calcite deposits dwindle:


    Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has become thin, and all we need are conditions similar to those experienced in 2012 to really make a mess:


    The longer term issues created by extreme weather:


    Brazil’s new President hardly provides confidence:


  7. Kim Peart

    November 18, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    CONTINUED ~ To understand the CO2 problem, a couple of details need to be understood. Expansion is the primary force in Nature from the beginning of time, and is seen ‘at work’ evolution. And, in evolution on Earth, the survival of the fittest is how we got here. Evolution has not been suspended. We have used fossil fuels to build an artificial barricade against the normal forces of Nature, but we remain subject the the primary drivers of expansion and survival. In the 1960s the way was opened beyond Earth with six expeditions landing on the Moon. One Apollo scientist, Dr Peter Glaser, worked out how to build solar power stations in space and beam the power to Earth. Glaser was awarded the patent on beaming power from space in 1972. At the same time the Princeton physics professor, Gerard K. O’Neill, worked out the blueprint for space settlement and industry, presented in a peer-reviewed study. O’Neill proposed using space based solar power to establish industry in space, and supply power to Earth. This would have initiated energy transition out of fossil fuel, which would have been in full swing in the 1980s .. that critical year for atmospheric CO2. Read in the article how the fossil fuel industries worked fiercely to maintain profits .. and should we wonder if the means to avoid the carbon crisis and energy transition was blocked? Did the carbon barons successfully convince the world to keep focused on the belly of their Earth for energy and all our dreams? To fix the carbon crisis, we need to extract excess carbon from the air. The only place we can get that much energy, to turn CO2 back to the 1980s level of 350 ppm, is by directly accessing the power of the Sun in space, beam this power to Earth and use the energy to deal with CO2, even cracking the CO2 into carbon and oxygen and processing the carbon into a useful resource for Earth and space industries. The initial work in space will be mainly robotic. We would be establishing an industrial presence in space with which we could construct an adjustable sunshade above the Earth to cool the planet as CO2 is being extracted from the air. We live on Earth, and we have made the planet dangerous. We can build safe orbital habitats in space with an Earth gravity generated by rotation. There is one detail about space that dawned on me in 2006. Once we have a sustainable industrial presence in space there will be no further real cost with all further space development. From a sustainable and survival presence in space, initially machine focused, we will be in position to deal with all problems on Earth using the power of the Sun. With a plan of action, we can hope to inspire people to rise to the challenges of space and Earth. On Earth alone, as McKibben puts it, we are on an escalator into hell. What are we waiting for?

  8. Kim Peart

    November 18, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    I have dug deep into this nightmare of climate change, read McKibben’s book ‘Eaarth’ (extra “a” intended, because we are changing the Earth) in which he describes how he relied on James Hansen to conclude some key maths about CO2, before naming 350.org. What does 350 mean? Hansen concluded that with atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) above 350 parts per million (ppm) we would get a 1.5C temperature rise above pre-industrial levels. As McKibben says, that temperature rise is now 1C. When I look at this science from Hansen, now embraced widely, with the aim of keeping temperature rise below 1.5C, I see a problem. Am I missing something? Look at the rise in atmospheric CO2, and you will find that 350 ppm was a level passed in the 1980s, and now going beyond 400 ppm at 2 ppm per annum. Each extra ppm CO2 is a huge volume of and extra future heat. Looking at the simple CO2 maths and Hansen’s conclusion on 1.5C temperature rise, it is clear to me that we locked in 1.5C temperature rise in the 1980s. All the additional CO2 released since the 1980s is simply future temperature rise above 1.5C. A study recently found that 25 percent more heat has gone into the oceans than previously known about, and at the present 1C rise there is the prediction of a third bleaching of Great Barrier Reef coral in coming months, a killing driven by ocean heat waves and rising levels of ocean acidity caused by the sea absorbing CO2. James Lovelock warned of a rapid heat rise in a 2009 book.

    Environmental scientist Guy McPherson suggests that a rapid rise in heat will end our game in around a decade. On Earth alone, we face a survival threat. What should we do? ~ TO BE CONTINUED

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