25 June 2024

1.5 degrees Celsius is here and now

Surface air temperatures, 21 June 2024.
Credit: C3S/ECMWF (pulse.climate.copernicus.eu)
By David Spratt

Has the world already reached a global warming trend of 1.5°C (compared to ~1900 pre-industrial baseline)?

There have been some sharp disagreements between scientists over this question, with former NASA climate science chief James Hansen saying that for all practical purposes the climate system trend is now at the 1.5°C mark, whilst Penn State University’s Michael E Mann and others disagree and say we have up to a decade to go.

In May 2024, Hansen wrote that the 12-month mean global temperature “is still rising at 1.56°C relative to 1880-1920 in the GISS analysis through April. Robert Rohde reports that it is 1.65°C relative to 1850-1900 in the BerkeleyEarth analysis (for the same period).  El Nino/La Nina average global temperature likely is about 1.5°C, suggesting that, for all practical purposes, global temperature has already reached that milestone.”   [El Niño (the warm phase) and La Niña (the cool phase) lead to significant differences from the average ocean temperatures, winds, surface pressure, and rainfall across parts of the tropical Pacific. Neutral conditions are near their long-term average.]

13 May 2024

One event could wreak global climate havoc. Neither side of Australian politics has got a clue about it.

This a case study from the report, Too hot to handle, recently published by the Australian Security Leaders Climate Group.

There is no greater disruptive physical climate risk than the collapse of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), the main current system in the South and North Atlantic Oceans, which is linked to circulation in the Southern Ocean. 

There is a non-trivial and unacceptable risk that the AMOC flow will collapse this century, with devastating consequences for global food production, for sea levels and for flooding in Australia. Shifts in global weather patterns would likely deprive Asia of vital monsoon rains, with enormous security consequences for the region and for Australia.

Yet in the Australian Government’s analysis of climate risks, no attention has been paid to the AMOC collapse. In fact, it does not get a mention in the Defence Strategic Review, or the first report of the current National Climate Risk Assessment (NCRA). 

No minister or member of either major party has even mentioned it in parliament since the ALP came to power in 2022. Neither side of Australian politics has got a clue about it. One of the greatest climate-related threats to our future appears completely absent from the Australian Government’s thinking. 

11 May 2024

Are climate risks ‘too big’ for politics?

 by Adm. Chris Barrie (Rtd), first published at The Canberra Times.

We all know that climate change is a massive issue. So why is it not a priority for the powers that be?

The biggest risk to Australia’s future is not a priority for either side of politics in Australia, and that’s a problem for all of us.

Both the  government’s and the opposition’s security narratives are that China is the greatest threat to our future. It’s man-made. Hence we have AUKUS, the Quad, continual regional hand-shaking, more joint military exercises, the illusion of nuclear-powered submarines and an enhanced US presence in in Australia's north where bases are being expanded.

But this narrative represents siloed thinking on security. It does not align well with international perceptions. The World Economic Forum’s 2023 survey of public and private sector global leaders found that the biggest three risks in the coming decade were all climate-related, whilst “geo-economic confrontation” (read China) came in ninth.

10 May 2024

Climate security risks and Australia’s failure

 by Ian Dunlop, first published at Pearls and Irritations

 “Too hot to handle: The scorching reality of Australia’s climate–security failure” is a report published on 2 May by the Australian Security Leaders Group (ASLCG) . This article is an extract from the report

You can’t solve a problem without talking about it, honestly. Take the impact of climate disruption on security.

One line of evidence for the Australian Government’s seriousness about climate–security risks is government activity, but there is little to see. The government’s most valuable initiative, the Office of National Intelligence risk assessment, has been buried. There have been no significant or specific announcements on climate-related security issues since the report was finished, and the government has not responded to a number of requests made by ASLCG for the report’s release of any of its key findings.

03 May 2024

Climate-security risks too hot to handle for Australian Government


Register here for webinar.

by David Spratt

This week, the Australian Security Leaders Climate Group (ASLCG) released a new report, Too hot to handle: The scorching reality of Australia’s climate–security failure.

There will be a webinar on the report next Wednesday,  8 May at 6pm, and you can register here. I will be one of the speakers.

Ret. Adm. Chris Barrie, former head of the ADF and a member of the ASLCG Executive Committee says that: “It appears that the government either doesn't understand what our scientists are telling them, or they are deliberately hiding the facts from the Australian community. Facing down the climate threat will require unprecedented global cooperation, not a new arms race.”

09 March 2024

Is scientific reticence the new climate denialism?

Jonathon Porritt (technically, Sir Jonathon Espie Porritt, 2nd Baronet, CBE) has an excellent piece out, called "Mainstream climate science: The new denialism?" 

It really is worth the read.  For people who have followed this blog, it won't be shockingly new, but in a forthright manner  he questions the startling new reality we are facing, which we discussed in  recent series for Pearls&Irritations

Porritt focusses on the "deceit" of "mainstream scientists, NGOs and commentators" have been "holding back" because of the alleged need to "protect people from the truth of climate change", noting that this strategy has not worked "as a way of enlisting the huge numbers of people required to force our politicians to start getting serious".

And he concludes that "we have to see off this patronising, manipulative, self-serving deceit ONCE AND FOR ALL".

29 February 2024

Pigs might fly: Australian aviation’s delusional emissions future

by Mark Carter, first published at Pearls and Irritations

Australian aviation is in the news again. Having ripped off passengers, illegally sacked workers, and impacted the health of residents under airport flight paths, the industry has now received $30m from taxpayers to manufacture “sustainable aviation fuel” (SAF). And investors and airlines are clamouring for more.

Having “committed to net zero emissions by 2050”, or Net Zero 2050, (Aviation Green Paper, p.1) the federal government says sustainable aviation fuel will help maximise “aviation’s contribution” (Aviation Green Paper, p.73).

So, yes. Pigs might fly. Literally and metaphorically.

Literally as pig fat in SAF. And metaphorically because the government’s emissions reduction proposals for aviation can never make flying climate safe.

14 February 2024

As warming accelerates and 1.5°C is breached faster than forecast, Australian Government stumbles on climate risks

 by David Spratt and Ian Dunlop, first published at Pearls and Irritations

If there was shock and awe last week when the Copernicus Climate Change Service announced that global average warming over the last twelve months — February 2023 to January 2024 — had exceeded 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C), it was likely because too many people had succumbed to the predominant but delusional policy-making narrative that holding warming to 1.5–2°C was still on the cards.

What does this symbolically important moment mean for the poor understanding of climate-risk analysis by Australian governments? To begin, the idea that emissions could continue till 2050 and still achieve the 1.5–2°C goal was always a con; now it is fully exposed.

26 January 2024

Towards an unliveable planet: Climate’s 2023 annus horribilis

The "production gap". Government plans and projections would lead to an increase in global coal production until 2030, and in global oil and gas production until at least 2050 (UNEP).

by David Spratt and Ian Dunlop, first published at Pearls and Irritations.

This is the second article in a two-part series.  Read the first part here.

 The heat and extreme climate records of 2023 shocked scientists. So where are we heading? Given current trends, the world will zoom past 2°C of warming and the Paris climate goal of limiting warming to 1.5-2°C.

Climate model scenarios similar to current policies project 2°C of warming before 2050; if James Hansen is right (see Part 1) and warming sharply accelerates, it could be a decade sooner. These outcomes will be driven by the high energy imbalance, continuing high emissions, the accelerating accumulation of heat in the oceans, and decreases in short-term aerosol cooling.

Several years ago a group of eminent scientists proposed a “carbon law”, which said that keeping warming to 2°C required emissions to be halved every decade from 2020 onwards, including a halving between 2020 and 2030, plus some carbon drawdown. Instead, the level of greenhouse gases and coal use both hit record highs in 2023. And the largest national fossil fuel producers plan to keep on expanding production As a result, current government plans worldwide will likely result in emissions in 2050 almost as high as they are today, according to the UN Environment Programme’s 2023 Production Gap report.

25 January 2024

Humanity’s new era of “global boiling”: Climate’s 2023 annus horribilis


by David Spratt and Ian Dunlop, first published at Pearls and Irritations

For climate change, 2023 was an “unprecedented” year, “absolutely gobsmackingly bananas” and “scary” and “frightening”. And that was what climate scientists said! The UN Secretary General called it the year in which humanity crossed into a new climate era — an age of “global boiling”.

Climate disruption shocked climate scientists in 2023. “Surprising. Astounding. Staggering. Unnerving. Bewildering. Flabbergasting. Disquieting. Gobsmacking. Shocking. Mind boggling,” said Prof. Ed Hawkins when September 2023 exceeded the previous September record by a huge 0.5°C.

The decline in Antarctic sea-ice extent was much greater than model projections, leading the National Snow and Ice Data Centre’s Walt Meier to exclaim: “It’s so far outside anything we’ve seen, it’s almost mind- blowing.”

Many records were set for new climate extremes — record heat, rainfall and floods — with some of it driven by the destabilisation of the polar jet stream. “We are hitting record breaking extremes much sooner than I expected. That’s frightening, scary, and concerning, and it really suggests that we’re not as aware of what’s coming as we thought we were,” said Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick of the University of NSW.