Category Archives: Climate change

AUSTRALIAN CYCLONES September 2017

MONSOONS – HURRICANES – CYCLONES

Sea Temperatures
RISING OCEANIC SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE (sst.weekly, NOAA}

PREAMBLE                                                                                                                                     In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, Hurricanes hardly ever happen. (Pygmalion)

Perhaps not any more – this was the prevailing belief in 1913 when Mother Earth was not given to tantrums. One hundred years later, Ghia, that ocean in the sky, and Posieden have decided to give Homo sapiens stultus a very stern warning which should be well heeded by those of our species on the north-east coastal regions of Australia.                                                                                                                           Two August weather disasters and four other major weather events are currently occurring round the globe.  The root cause of these problems is the warming of the oceans due to the blanketing affect of greenhouse gas. These events have morphed into catastrophes. Hurricane Irma, roaring out of the Atlantic, is about to add to the woes of the southern United States. In early September, three hurricanes are now high-tailing across the Atlantic Ocean through the Carribean islands towards southern United States.                          The two disasterous weather events are the monsoon in the north-east of the Indian sub-continent and hurricane Harvey that has devastated the Houston region adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico.. The strange situation is that we have heard loud and clear that ‘Houston has a problem’ but very little about the far more terrible event on the Indian sub-continent.

THE INDIAN MONSOON                                                                                      North-west India, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh, covering an area of 720,000 sq. km. (NSW 809,000 sq. km.), has been devastated. An arc of the sub-continent some 1800 km in length  has been flooded and rendered virtually uninhabitable. The monsoon has affected more than 50 million people, deaths exceed 2000, more than 90,000 homes have been destroyed in Nepal and tens of thousands are affected by cholera and other water-born diseases. About 50% of Uttar Pradesh and 40% of Bangladesh (44,000 sq. km.) are flooded. Onto this devastated country have been forced around 270,000 Rohingya refugees while Myanmar maintains its genocide of this Muslim group. The monsoon originated in the warmed waters of the Bay of Bengal. Simultaneously the Mumbai region has been devastated by floods caused by 468 mm of rain in twelve hours which originated from the warmed waters of the Arabian Sea. This has been the heaviest rainfall event in over twenty years.

 

Indian Floodind
N E INDIAN MONSOON, FLOODED AREA.. (Relief Web. 29 August)

HURRICANE HARVEY                                                                                                By contrast, hurricane Harvey originated in the warmed waters of the Gulf of Mexico and exploded onto the Houston region where it  dumped 127 mm of rain. Comparative rainfall figures with the disastrous Hurricane Katrina (2006) are instructive; Katrina only unleashed 30 trillion litres while Harvey dumped 121 trillion litres on the regional swamp land. The hurricane flooded about 30,000 sq km along 800 km of country. It has significantly been classified as ‘one in a thousand year flood’.  30,000 to 40,000 homes have been destroyed and around 50,000 people are in shelters. (CNN, VOX, 3 September) In terms of comparative numbers, hurricane Harvey barely rates when compared to the social and material devastation generated by the Indian monsoon.                                                                     The economic significance of hurricane Harvey is that it has shut down roughly 11% of US refining capacity and 25% of US oil production which will put temporary upward pressure on global energy prices. These economic ramifications for the fragile Saudi economy and the stressed Russian economy are important and could lead to unwanted assertiveness. (Geopolitical Futures 30 August)

Cyclone Harvey
PATH OF HURRICANE HARVEY> (GEOPOLITICAL FUTURES)

ATLANTIC HURRICANES                                                                                           In early September, three hurricanes, Katia, Jose and Irma, gestated in the North Atlantic equatorial waters. Hurricane Irma (Category 5) has already established records as the most powerful storm ever recorded with wind speeds around 300 km/hr and it is now causing devastation in Florida. It is also an unusual omen that it has roared out of the Atlantic, not the Gulf of Mexico. This is troubling since it suggests the ocean waters are heating up as fast as the shallow gulf waters. Carribean islands, over a path 200 km wide, have been devasted. The significance of Irma, Jose and Katia are their frequency and intensity so soon after hurricane Harvey. This fact has serious implications for north-eastern Australia’s coastal communities and infrastructure. (VOX  7 September)

Hurricanes
ATLANTIC HURRICANES< KATIA, IRMA AND JOSE (NOAA)

CHINA                                                                                                                                Two typhoons have have hit the Chinese  mainland contemporaneously with the weather events in the north-eastern Indian region and the southern United States.  Hong Kong has been lashed by typhoon Hato and Macau by typhoon Pakar. The significance for all these events is they are occurring at the end of a warming northern hemisphere summer.

CLIMATE SCIENCE                                                                                                      The message coming from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is that hurricanes, typhoons and monsoons will increase in intensity and frequency because ocean waters are rising above historic averages due to atmospheric green house gases blanketing the planet and thus not permitting heat loss from the oceans. A feature of recent events is for the low preasure systems to remain stationary rather than moving inland and becoming rain depressions, which means flooding will become more catastrophic. (The Atlantic Magasine – Science)
It is concerning to note that even if carbon dioxide input into the atmosphere ceased today, upward trends would continue for over one hundred years. “After stabilisation of the carbon dioxide and other green house gases, surface air temperature will rise by a few tenths of a degree per century for a century or more. Sea level will rise over many centuries – it has already risen 20cm since the early 1900s due to volume increase from warming and contribution from Antarctic and Greenland ice melt. The slow transfer of heat to the ocean will continue over generations before stabilisation will commence.” (Climate Change, Synthesis Report, International Panel on Climate Change, 2001)

Air Temp
RISING GLOBAL AIR TEMPERATURE< CRITICAL SINCE 1980. (NOAA)

CYCLONE DEBBIE – A PORTENT                                                                  What has all this to do with cyclone Debbie in March 2017? A great deal, in fact; in the long run, the social and economic viability of coastal Australia will be seriously affected by summer cyclone activity.           Cyclone Debbie, at the end of the 2017 southern summer, has been branded as the deadliest event since cyclone Tracy in 1974, 43 years ago. Significantly, as with the preceding weather events overseas, cyclone Debbie has been described as unusually ferocious and was associated with heavier than usual rainfall. It cut a swathe of destruction over an area approximating to 450,000 sq km (1400 x 300 km). Rainfall records for north-eastern New South Wales were broken – 900 mm. in 48 hours was unprecedented. (The Conversation, Huffington Post, 31 March}                                                                     Psychologists have warned on the emotional impact among the affected population: people have been identified who have had to rebuild homes or business at least twice in the last few years due to cyclone activity. In the Tweed Heads-Lismore region, more than 11,000 have been made homeless, thousands of homes have been destroyed and there have been several deaths. Twenty-two Queensland coal mines curtailed production involving a $1.5 billion loss. The national economic impact is estimated to exceed $2 billion and will be a drag on first-half economic growth; it will add to inflation. (Daily Telegraph, The Australian, 3 April)
This is not intended as a rehash of destruction: this is a warning that. on current trends, future cyclones will become more destructive.

Cyclone Debbie
CYCLONE DEBBIE – RAINFALL. (BOM, 29 March 2017)

POSTAMBLE                                                                                                                  This offering highlights the relevance of current trends and weather disasters to the social stability and economic viability of the north-eastern Australian region. Proof, not anecdotal evidence, confirms storms, globally, are becoming more violent and destructive. Hurricane Harvey, the Indian monsoon, hurricane Irma and cyclone Debbie have all been described as the worst events in decades. All have occurred at the end of a long hot summer. Mention has been made several times of one in one hundred year events during this period but hurricane Harvey has been classified as one in a thousand year event. ((Washington Post)  What is significant is not the raw numbers but the trends. At these intensities and frequencies this global situation is becoming an enervating battle between an enraged Ghia and Homo sapiens stultus.                                                                                                    For Australian planners, the nation’s principal exports of coal in the east and iron-ore and gas in the west will face increasing production delays. It is not rational to expect that Australia can avoid increasingly destructive cyclones. The only practical precaution will be meticulous disaster planning and ensuring the Bureau of Meteorology is sufficiently resourced to provide accurate cyclone warning.

Sea Temperature
RISING SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE. (NOAA 2016)

With a final look at the warming oceans, it should be noted that the North Atlantic is cooling due to ice-melt from Greenland – a very bad sign.                                                                                                                              The Govenor of Florida has requested his citizens not to fire their weapons at cyclone Irma as it will not reduce her vitality – Homo sapiens stultus!

John Hill                                                                                                                        Current Affairs Flash Points                                                                 towawdsthefinalhour.com                                       lurgashall@westnet.com.au

READER COMMENT                                                                                                                        1  I remain unconvinced and am disappointed to see you confuse weather and climate. I dispute the contention that storms and floods of this magnetude have never happened before and that carbon dioxide contributes to global warming. The events you refer to are not unique whenever planet Earth was warm enough and had an atmosphere and oceans.. Yes, the effects have been devastating but this is the result of increased populations in vunerable locations and continuing failure (or ability) of Governments or Communities to undertake serious mitigation.                                                                                       I do not regard CNN, Washington Post or IPCC as anything but fake news. I will stick with Benny Peiser, Joane Nova, Jenifer Marohasy and Geof Derrick. You are welcome to attach yourself to Al Gore, Tim Flannery, John Cook, Will Stephan, the Labor Party, Malcolm Turnbull  and other Green and Lefty frauds perpetrating  the huge, costly and destructive  scam on a gullible public.

2  It always amuses me how often we have once in a hundred years’ events. Personnally without wanting to appear too gloomy I think we are only seeing the  beginning of the effects of global warming. Even if efforts to reduce greenhouse gases are implemented – by no means certain – it could be all to late.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated recently – current data bases indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century. The trend in numbers of major hurricanes making United States landfall has been slightly downward over the past century. The catagory 5/4 hurricanes Harvey and Irma have ended an unprecedented 12 year hurricane drought.

The Hurricane of Climate Change. Past the Tipping Point? February 2016

The Hurricane of Climate Change

Below is a significant global map with immense ramifications. Climate refugee mass migration routes can be deduced.

Warming and Yields
Estimated impact of +3*C on Crop yields by 2050. (World Resources Institute)

The Paris Climate Change Conference (COP 21), December 2015

  • Preamble
  • The Paris Conference
  • The Washup
  • ‘Social Europe’ Analysis
  • Global Warming Migration Refugees

Preamble 

2*C.  A number that has acquired the significance of the Golden Mean. Nothing of the sort. 2*C is an amalgam of political expediency and scientific doubt. This rootless number is derived from an estimation of global temperature calculated from ice cores over the past 100,000 years. 2*C represents an academic opinion that global temperature should not exceed the upper bound of these records. The 2*C limit is therefore a published political objective that global warming should not exceed 2*C above the global temperature at the commencement of the Industrial Revolution. It is a temperature which reflects the upper global temperatures determined from ice cores during the Holocene Period.

Based upon current observations and estimates in the science community, the 2*C limit will be breached by mid-century and perforce, international attention is being given to living in a hotter and more violent climate. The Scientific American (March 2014) published an article by Dr. Mann (N0AA) stating that by mid-2030s, based on estimated fossil fuel consumption, the critical 2*C of warming will be reached.

The merit of 2*C is it is a simple number that politicians can comprehend. A more scientific approach would be to use greenhouse gas concentrations but these are more complex. (The Economist, 10 December, 2015)

Carbon dioxide equivalent values released by NASA illustrate the increasing carbon dioxide problem swirling through Earth’s atmosphere:

  • 1880, pre-Industrial Revolution, 280 ppm
  • Safe limit for Homo sapiens and planet, 350 ppm
  • 2015, current carbon dioxide concentration, 405 ppm
  • Rate of carbon dioxide increase per year, 2 to 3 ppm
  • 2050, est. 2*C above 1880 level, 460 ppm 

 

CO2 concentrations
Carbon Dioxide parts per million, 1000 – 2000 AD
(hvfarmscape.org)

 

So, the background to the mid-December 2015 Paris Climate Conference is that global temperature above pre-Industrial Level will be breached by 2050. Very disruptive weather events are expected. The deliberations will  concentrate on living on a hotter, more violent world, not holding the global temperature below 2*C — this is a pipe dream.

The Paris Conference

The Economist (19 December) under the headline ‘Hopelessness and Determination’ summarised the principal conclusions arrived at by 195 countries.

  • The global temperature must not rise 1.5*C above pre-Industrial Levels.
  • The adopted Climate Agreement cannot prevent a global temperature rise above 1.5*C.

The Agreement (pledges) between the nations “will put the world on a course for something like 3*C of warming”. (The Economist 19 December) This elevated temperature will cause the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps to melt and over centuries sea level to rise by up to six metres.

The Nations have agreed they cannot control each others carbon dioxide emissions, and into the foreseeable future fossil fuels will still power national economies. Recognising this fact, the major international pre-occupation will be to reduce the risks of climate change and ensure populations can adjust to a hotter and more violent climate.

Elements of the final communique are:

  • More international funds will be available to to assist the poorest and most vulnerable countries.
  • A task force will assist those communities unable to adapt and require a new ‘home’.
  • Carbon pricing activities will need to be expanded.
  • Countries are to be encouraged to ‘fight and survive’. This appears to be a clear objective of Wealthy Countries who do not wish to accommodate millions of climate refugees.
  • Wealthy Countries must increase research into clean energy alternatives.
  • To slow the rate of global warming, countries must increase emission costs and accelerate industrial and domestic alternative power adaption and storage for decades to come.

Apparently not dealt with was a discussion on the nexus between sustainability, pollution and global warming.The philosophe, F Scott Fitzgerald, once uttered the sanguine comment “Things are hopeless and yet there is a determination to make them better”.

The Washup 

The Conference concluded with motherhood statements such as ‘the world stands as one’ and ‘the benefit of collective effort’. Low lying nations heaved a collective sigh of relief muttering ‘now we have a pathway to survival’. These comments sit uneasily alongside  ‘Hopelessness and Determination”. The overarching policy objectives are:

  • To keep global temperatures well below 2*C  and to make strenuous  efforts to keep temperatures below 1.5*C. This will be funded by ‘intended nationally determined contributions’. (INDCs)
  • By 2050 greenhouse gases will be removed from the atmosphere at the same rate as they are added – 43 giga tonnes. (IPCC est. 2016). There appeared to be no mention of technology or greenhouse gas dilution rates in the atmosphere.

A contentious issue administered by the UN Convention on Climate Change has now been modified. Nations were previously required to ‘act in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities’ This meant ‘rich’ countries had to reduce emissions while ‘poor’ countries were required to make no reductions. This inconsistency was well illustrated between China and America, both are the world’s largest emitters.

The Paris Agreement requires that ‘developed’ countries donate $100 billion INDCs a year by 2020 to assist ‘less developed countries’:

  • to adapt to climate change rather than attempt to slow it down,
  • donor countries will be ‘policed’ to ensure the voluntary commitments are honoured.

A critical fact is that the ‘intended nationally determined contributions’ will not keep global warming below 1.5*C because donors only sign up to what the think they can do. The Economist (15 December) considers the pledged contributions are expected to lead to global warming of 3*C. My December Blog cited a 1.5*C would be a calamity, a 2*C rise a disaster and a 2.7*C rise a catastrophe. (IPCC)

Global Warming
Global Temperature Rise from 1880 to 2016
(NOAA – Bloomberg)

Since a 1*C warming above pre-Industrial Levels has occurred, ‘to hold warming below 1.5*C would exceed the heroic’. (International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis, Vienna), its opinion is that carbon dioxide emissions would have to reduce to zero by 2060. This is impossible since new coal mines are coming on stream and ruminants are annually producing over 100 million tonnes of methane – 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. (UNFAO)

The 1.5*C waypoint defined by the Paris Agreement is only a symbol because as a goal it is not feasible since global temperature is forecast to rise above this benchmark.

The political class appear now to be taking global warming seriously. The Paris Conference has formalised an oversight forum where national progress in carbon dioxide reduction will be monitored and pledges contributing to the $100 billion INDCs fund checked. All good housekeeping!

There appears to be two matters not dealt with:

  • Lead time estimates for global temperature decline related to a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions. Is Homo sapiens looking at tens to hundreds of years before atmospheric concentrations ofcarbon dioxide start falling?
  • Will the ‘selfish gene’ in human nature overwhelm the requirement for all to reduce emissions? Is it possible there will be significant numbers who will want others to do more while others do less? (Jarad Diamond, ‘How Societies choose to fail or survive’, UCLA)

‘Social Europe’ Analysis

 An article in Social Europe (18 February) states that commitments made by the contributing countries will not keep global warming below 2*C by 2100.

The greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) between 2010 and 2030 will actually increase from 49 Gt to 58 Gt (rounded) However, the emissions gap for a 2*C pathway is still 16 Gt. The reduction, INDCs or pledges, if implemented will still push global warming to a range of 2.7-3.0 *C.  Thus the emission gap to bring global warming below 2*C is 16 Gt. (1 Gt = 1,000,000,000 metric tonnes.) (Climate Action Tracker)

Furthermore, to bring warming below 2*C, net zero emissions must be achieved between 2055 and 2070. Net zero emissions require all GHG emissions to be buried or chemically neutralised. The technology for this process is not yet available.

Finally, the Emissions Trading System (ETS) has failed due to a collapse in the carbon price –  the intention is to revamp the system by 2020. The ‘low carbon economy’ policy has also faltered due to a low carbon price and historically low fuel prices. To reach net zero emissions by 2050 the overall system must be improved.(After COP21. The EU needs to revise Climate Policy Targets, 18 Feb.)

 Global Warming Migration Refugees 

Scientific authorities warn the searing miasma of global warming will, by mid-century, precipitate the forced migration of millions of thirsty, starving, destitute humans. The IPCC estimates by 2050 more than 200 million people will become climate migrants due to shoreline erosion, coastal flooding and agricultural disruption.

Planet earth is no stranger to climate induced migrations:

  • Fourth Century. A cold period over many decades forced Huns and Germans to invade Gaul and the Visigoths to sack Rome and destroy an Empire.
  • Eighth Century. Decades of drought in the Middle East forced Muslim hordes across North Africa and into Europe.
  • Seventeenth Century. The fifty year Little Ice Age convulsed populations into survival migrations. Between 1600 and 1700, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations fell from 220 to 180 ppm. By 1850 the concentration had commenced its vertiguous ascent into the Anthropocene.
  • 1998. Floods in Bangladesh and the Yangtze basin required resettlement of 35 million people.

The concentration of the many serious global weather events at the commencement of the 21st Century can only be harbinger to more disruptive events.

The NASA – GISS image of global temperature between 1970 and 2004 (34 years) permits certain deductions if the temperature trends continue.

 

Global Temperature Change
Global Temperature Change in *C 1970 – 2004
(NASA – GISS)

Conclusions that may be derived from this image:

  • The high latitudes are heating rapidly triggering concerns over the melting of the Greenland ice cap which, over a century, would raise sea level by a few metres.
  • The Bering Strait region shows an extreme rate of change. Spontaneous methane fires have erupted as the tundra melts and fears have been expressed that fires could spread round the Arctic rim.
  • North-eastern United States and western Europe are still relatively cool.
  • North Africa, Middle East and Asia are indicating a worrying rate of temperature increase.
  • South America, equatorial Africa and south-east Asia (jungle covered) remain relatively cool.
  • Australia is perhaps an aberration- evidence indicates this continent is becoming markedly hotter.
  • Antarctica remains cool with a small rate of temperature change.

The above observations are based on data more than a decade old: anecdotal and scientific records indicate trends are continuing.

The IPCC has classified potential near future disaster regions with respect to drought, flood and wind storms. (Assessing the impact of Climate Change on Migration and Conflict, World Bank, 2008)

DroughtFloodWind Storms
Burkina FasoAfghanistanBangladesh
MozambiqueBangladeshMadagascar
RuandaMalawiMozambique
SomaliaMozambique

Western nations are establishing Departments of Homeland Security to protect vital infrastructure and to control mass migrations at their international borders. The White House (May 2015) has instructed the United States Homeland Security to be responsible for:

  • Protecting infrastructure and military installations from sea level rise. Since 1900 sea level has risen by 30 cm round the Statue of Liberty.
  • In Arctic regions temperature is rising fast, fish stocks and food security are at risk and require protection.
  • National security threats are considered to be mass migration, power supplies and storm surges.
  • Weapons systems must be redesigned for use in extreme weather conditions.

The image of declining crop yields with global warming reflect a sombre picture. (World Resources Institute)

 

Warming and Yields
Estimated impact of +3*C on Crop yields by 2050. (World Resources Institute)

From the NASA and WRI images it may be deduced:

  • Europe and Russia will attempt to deny access to millions of climate change refugees from North Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East.
  • Expanding habitable areas may form in Greenland and northern Europe but melting permafrost and methane eruptions may render northern Russia and Canada uninhabitable.
  • India and South-East Asia might become overwhelmed by Arabs, Persians and Chinese, however, declining Himalayan snow may create water shortages.
  • The jungles of Brazil, central Africa and Indonesia/Malaya may not be able to support large numbers of climate migrants.
  • New Zealand may become a ‘Mecca’ and will have to repel boarders,
  • Coastal Australia will experience an influx of Pacific Islands inhabitants’. Becoming the south aast Asian ‘food bowl’ may not be possible.
  • Patagonia, Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Macquarie Island might become bracing retreats for political, industrial and military elites.
  • Antarctica might become a new home for a privileged few.

Scenarios that could resemble the above may become apparent as the 21st Century passes the halfway mark. A critical factor for mankind is when carbon dioxide concentrations start to substantially decline. A time frame of at least 100 years should be expected.