Tag Archives: predictions

#Australia – new climate change predictions

Sitting here with the aircon turned on, and a hot north wind blowing outside, it’s hard not to be afraid, especially after seeing this graph:

climate-change-temperature-graph

The graph charts temperatures over the last 100 years – from 1910 to 2010. Not surprisingly, blue represents years of below average cold and red represents years of above average heat. And no, it wasn’t your imagination – summers really have been getting hotter.

My growing up years [1950s to 1970s] were mild. We did get the odd hot day in Melbourne. We even experienced the odd heatwave, but they were unusual events. I know, because we did not even own a fan back then! Now, I can’t imagine living without an air-conditioner.

Unfortunately, heat is not the only thing that’s changed. Nor will it be the only thing that gets worse. I highly recommend reading the complete report from the Climate Council:

https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/uploads/1b331044fb03fd0997c4a4946705606b.pdf

You can also read an abbreviated, ‘highlights of’ article about the report here:

http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/longer-hotter-summers-predicted-in-extreme-weather-report-by-climate-council/news-story/958f45a1141453664fcb5933921b4c14?utm_source=Daily+Carbon+Briefing&utm_campaign=4b550aee94-cb_daily&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_876aab4fd7-4b550aee94-303473869

Now think about these facts – every year for the last three years has been the hottest on record. That means since we’ve been measuring and recording temperature.

According to the Climate Change deniers and skeptics, what we’re experiencing is just another ‘cycle’ in the earth’s climate history. We’ve had ice ages, now we’re having a period of heat. The one thing they’re not ‘having’ is that this period of heat might be caused by humans rather than natural fluctuations.

So let’s take that perspective to its natural conclusion: the world may be getting hotter and climate may be getting more extreme, but it’s not our fault so there’s nothing we can do about it except ‘suck it up’ [and hope we all survive].

To me, that is the most terrifying, defeatist outlook possible. Yes, it does allow for ‘business as usual’, but only because disaster is inevitable so we may as well make money while we can.

By contrast, almost all of the actual climate change scientists say that this distopian outlook is not inevitable. It will take a lot of work, and things will get worse before they get better, but there’s a good chance that we’ll survive…if we clean up the mess we’ve made.

As one of the canaries in the coal mine, I much prefer the optimistic outlook, don’t you?

But why do I imply that Australians are canaries in the coal mine? Isn’t that fate reserved for the island nations of the Pacific?

Um, no, actually. Australia has quite a delicate climate. Yes, I know, how can deserts and bushfires be delicate? What I mean is that we already experience extremes thanks to our geography which means that climate change will have less work to do to make extreme turn into unbearable.

But it is the Australia inhabited by this generation’s grandchildren, 2090, where the heat will really be on, if greenhouse gas emissions worldwide fail to meet current reduction targets.

By that year the report predicts Darwin will have a staggering 265 days each year above 35C.

That quote was taken from the news.com.au article, but the data comes from the Climate Council report [linked above].

Melbourne won’t fare so badly in terms of temperature, but we’ll have other worries – such as increased droughts and a great many more bushfires. If we continue with business as usual, life will be close to unbearable for our children and their children. This is not some dystopian, science fiction plot line I’ve come up with to give you all a good scare. This is real, my friends, and becoming harder to fix with every day we procrastinate.

Back in 2009, eight years ago now, Malcolm Turnbull lost the leadership of the Liberal Party because he supported the Rudd, Labor government, in its attempts to get a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme up and running. Many Australians honoured Turnbull for that, seeing him as a politician of integrity. Many Australians supported his return to the leadship of the Liberal party for the same reason. I know I did. 😦

But where is Turnbull now? Shackled to the idiology of the ultra Right, that’s where. These Conservatives do not believe in human induced climate change. As a result, they fight tooth and nail to keep Australia from shifting to a low or neutral carbon economy [read renewables instead of coal]. If Turnbull wants to stay in power, he has to appease these deniers and skeptics.

Well guess what? Turnbull has been appeasing these deniers and skeptics. The latest ‘clean’ coal proposals are the greatest betrayal possible because Turnbull must know that the holy grail of clean coal will never be achieved. Even with the most stringest technologies currently available [which would make electricity from coal more expensive not less], coal fired power plants would still produce more emissions than gas fired power plants. Yes, gas. Not solar, not wind, not wave or geothermal, but gas.

I no longer believe that Malcolm Turnbull is a man of integrity. He has what he wanted all along – the Prime Ministership – and he’ll betray everything he believes in to keep it. Thanks, Malcolm. I hope your stay at Kirribilli House is short.

Meeks

 


Where were you when… ?

… Gough Whitlam was deposed as Prime Minister of Australia?

Some of you will be too young to remember the furor the Whitlam sacking caused. Some will not have even been born. But I was there, and I was shocked that such a thing could happen to an elected government. 

We were all shocked again in 2010 when a second Australian Prime Minister was ‘sacked’. The fact he was sacked by his own party just made the betrayal even blacker. 

Last night it happened again, with the sacking of Prime Minister Julia Guillard, but this time there was an element of poetic justice about it. 

For those of you unfamiliar with recent Australian politics, let me give you a quick recap of events.

2007 – Kevin Rudd led Australian Labor to a huge victory in the polls. His Deputy was Julia Guillard.

2010 – Julia Guillard, helped by a faction boss called Bill Shorten, deposed Kevin Rudd as leader of the Labor Party, and hence as Prime Minister.

2013 – Bill Shorten [yes the same man] helped Kevin Rudd to regain leadership of the Labor Party, and become Prime Minister a second time.

Those are the bald facts. Woven in and around those facts are a number of disturbing trends. Foremost amongst them is the power of opinion polls.

A drop in popularity amongst voters, and Kevin Rudd’s abrasive leadership style amongst his colleagues led to his original sacking by the party. Julia Guillard’s plummeting approval rating led directly to her sacking. And all these popularity contests were decided by opinion polls.

In one sense, the rising power of opinion polls can be seen as democracy at work. These polls purport to take the ‘pulse’ of a nation, and as a curiosity they are fine. However I take issue with opinion polls being used as the drivers of political changes such as these.

Why? 

1. Because by their very nature, opinion polls can only sample public opinion. If you know anything about statistics you will know that the smaller the sample size, the less reliable the results. Have you ever been approached by a pollster asking your opinion about politics? No, me neither. The only way anyone can ever know exactly what the voters are thinking is by asking them in an election where every single voter gets to be heard.

2. Because by their very nature, polls are hypotheticals and gauge only how a particular respondent is feeling on that day. Those feelings can be influenced by a number of factors, including the slant of the news media on that day. They are also not indicative of how someone will vote during a real election. I’ve been most unhappy with Labor for a very long time, but even I do not know how I would have voted if Julia Guillard had gone to the election as PM. You see I was not happy with her, but I am and will remain even more unhappy with Tony Abbott.

3. Because I do not believe that off-the-cuff public opinion should be allowed to decide such momentous changes. It’s the equivalent of a husband and wife having a spat about who should take out the rubbish, and then having an outsider forcing them to divorce over it.

In Australia, we do not have Presidential style elections where personality plays a big role in deciding who gets elected. At least, that is not how it’s supposed to work. We are supposed to elect our governments on the basis of party policies. The reality, of course, is never quite so clear cut. 

I believe both Whitlam and Rudd were elected because we saw them as men of vision… and we felt we needed visionaries in the top job. As such, they were both viewed as more than just talking heads. We felt we knew them, and could trust them. And we believed they had a blueprint for a better future instead of just more of the same old same old. In that sense, our relationship to them was much stronger than what we normally feel for our politicians. It was a marriage of sorts, and in both cases, we should have been given the opportunity to decide whether we wanted to end the marriage or not.

At its heart, Julia Guillard’s demise was predicated from the moment she sacked Kevin Rudd. She was a good politician, and under different circumstances she would have made a great Prime Minister, but her every mistake was seen through the prism of what came before. And, of course, Tony Abbott made sure that those mistakes were amplified in the public eye. Sound bites and opinion polls did the rest.

As a Rudd supporter [and Abbott skeptic] I am glad to have him back, but I do wish our first female Prime Minister could have left under better circumstances. I also wish Kevin Rudd had a better chance of leading Labor to victory in the coming election. I think he will drag the Party back from the brink of disaster, but I don’t think he will have the time to forge a victory. 

I don’t have a crystal ball but these are my predictions :

1. Labor will lose at the coming election, but only by a small margin.

2. After the election, Kevin Rudd will be deposed because those within the Party who still hate him will have no further reason to support him.

3. The Abbott government will quickly become very unpopular and will lose the next election. 

4. With luck, Abbott will be replaced by Malcolm Turnbull.

5. For the next three years of opposition I believe Labor will be lead by Bill Shorten. I think he fell on his sword for the good of the Party and that sacrifice will be rewarded, eventually.

6. Somewhere down the track I believe Penny Wong will become the first ethnic, gay, female Prime Minister. She has both charisma and brains. More importantly she is perceived as having integrity. By the time a couple of elections have been and gone, we will need integrity even more than we need vision. 

We live in interesting times, but at least I now have someone to vote for at the coming election. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

p.s. The new pc is up and running beautifully. I can’t say that setting it up was a pleasure, but it was a lot less onerous than I thought it would be. More about that when the dust settles in the political arena.


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