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Extreme weather threatens crops, cities: official report

Extreme weather caused by global warming poses a growing risk to Australia’s crop lands, cities and iconic sites like Kakadu…

An infographic accompanying the report showed how different parts of Australia would be affected by global warming-induced extreme weather events. Climate Commission

Extreme weather caused by global warming poses a growing risk to Australia’s crop lands, cities and iconic sites like Kakadu National Park, according to a new report that calls for global emissions to be cut to almost zero by 2050.

The report, and an accompanying video, was produced by the government’s official advisory body on global warming, the Climate Commission, and aims to put the latest scientific data on extreme weather events into plain English.

A video, Climate Change Fuelling Wilder Weather, released by the Climate Commission to accompany the report

The new report, The Critical Decade: Extreme Weather, said that climate change was causing more heatwaves, bushfires, and sea-level rises, as well as heavier rainfall in some areas but drought in others.

“Key food-growing regions across the southeast and the southwest are likely to experience more drought in the future,” the report said.

“Some of Australia’s iconic ecosystems are threatened by climate change. Over the past three decades the Great Barrier Reef has suffered repeated bleaching events from underwater heatwaves. The freshwater wetlands of Kakadu National Park are at risk from saltwater intrusion due to rising sea level.”

The Climate Commission doesn’t recommend specific policy changes but the new report called for “strong preventative action”.

“The decisions we make this decade will largely determine the severity of climate change and its influence on extreme events that our grandchildren will experience. This is the critical decade to get on with the job,” the report said.

“Globally, emissions must be cut rapidly and deeply to nearly zero by 2050, with Australia playing its part.”

More intense, more frequent

Climate Change Commissioner and report co-author, Professor Will Steffen, said the report showed how climate change is making extreme weather events in Australia more intense and more frequent.

“For the first time, this report is looking thoroughly and in great detail at the range of extreme events that have affected Australians but importantly it looks at how the nature of these extreme events has shifted,” he said.

“This is the first report we know of that puts it in accessible language and not scientific jargon – what’s happening, why things are shifting and what we might expect in future.”

Professor Steffen said the report would be of use to members of the public but also urban planners and emergency services officials preparing for a future in which heatwaves, bushfire, floods and other extreme weather events are more common.

Dr Sophie Lewis, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow investigating climate change at the University of Melbourne, said the report takes “a systematic look at a suite of different extreme weather events in Australia, from heatwaves through to droughts and heavy rainfall.”

“It shows that these events have already been influenced by human-related climate change. The changes we are now seeing in extreme weather will only become more intense in the coming decades unless we take rapid action now,” she said.

“Its findings are novel, in that it shows how we are already seeing the impact of climate change day-to-day in different types of events and that they are likely to become rapidly worse in the coming decades.”

Repeating the message

The new report is the Climate Commission’s 24th publication but John Cook, Climate Communication Fellow at the University of Queensland, said there was value in repeating the message.

“I am sure the scientists are getting sick of repeating themselves and people paying attention are sick to death of hearing it but for much of the public, they are hearing it for the first time. So I think there is a real value in these reports,” he said.

“We’ve done studies showing that if you ask the general public, the average member of the public would say that less than 50% of scientists agree about the basic fact that humans are causing climate change, even though the consensus among climate scientists is 97%. So even though we are saying it over and over again, there’s a huge gap between reality and the public perception.”

Professor Steve Sherwood, Director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, said the main findings in the report are not new and are in line with the conclusions of researchers around the world studying the topic.

“However, the report is unique in providing an easily readable and comprehensive view of how extreme events are changing, and will change further, in Australia,” he said.

“International reports such as those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are much harder for the average person to penetrate, have less relevant detail on Australia, and don’t go as far to help the reader ‘connect the dots’ – so this new report looks like a very useful addition to the mix.”

Join the conversation

105 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Danderson

    logged in via Twitter

    I suppose if the sea level was falling then the salt-water estuaries would be put at risk by freshwater. Take a look at a long chart, the sea level has always been changing and "putting things at risk".

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Danderson

      This is about as meaningful as arguing that, if we were attacked by Martians at least we wouldn't be being attacked by Venusians.

      Sea level, of course, has always changed but at nothing like the speed or extent that is happening now at any time since we had enormous populations and infrastrucure in vulnerable places like river deltas and bays.

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    2. Danderson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      No, it's like saying the sea level is always changing and always has ramifications to the surrounding environment.

      Your nonsense example presumes Martians and Venusians can't both attack us which doesn't make a lot of sense. If they both did both will inflict damage. Defending against either attack will mitigate the net damage. So your nonsense example isn't even logically similar.

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    3. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Danderson

      "... if the sea level was falling then ..."

      Dream on; they're not falling, and we know why they're not falling. But for human activity, sea levels would indeed be falling as the world drifts to a glaciated state with atmospheric CO2 declining to 200-250 ppm over the next millennium or so.

      Instead, thanks largely to human fossil fuel use (but also with a contribution to human removal of earth's CO2-removing infrastructure aka forests, we will get large-scale changes in rainfall distribution around the world, pronounced increases in severe and extreme weather events. Atmospheric CO2 is instead rising past 400 ppm thanks to fossil fuel use, and soon natural carbon sinks permafrost and soils will emit further CO2 and methane to the atmosphere.

      Coastal inundations associated with weather events will be commonplace by the end of this century, as will rising mean sea level of ~1-2 m.

      Next century, sea level rise will be much more pronounced.

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    4. Danderson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, chap, the point is that what some might call risk is simply never ending change. A perspective which is not dominated by an alarmist bent will acknowledge difference rather than damage for there is no objectively defined undamaged state.

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    5. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Danderson

      change is natural, the rate of change is also natural, but super charged by human activity

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    6. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      We have enormous populations and infrastructure in Sydney and Melbourne where the sea level remains stubbornly stable. Kakadu? Not so much of either.

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    7. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      It's 9.09 am and bright and sunny as I write this Mark. Obviously that means night will never fall.

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    8. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Danderson

      Danderson, my 'nonsense example' was offered as a way of demonsatrating the nonsense of your original post. obviously you are unable to distinguish intentional from accidental nonsense.

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    9. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Danderson

      Why does there have to be a pre-existent 'objectively defined undamaged state' before present and future damage can be recxognised and dealt with? the argument in the article that we are facing present and increasing future damage does not in any way require a pre-existing pristine state - merely a well-documented recent past, which we have, that can be compared with current changes, which we can.

      Difference is obviously the case, but that doesn't preclude damage at the same time.

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    10. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Danderson

      Danderson

      Change is natural, of that there is no doubt. The problem is, that when you have set up your organisation and infrastructure based on a particular state, then any change to that state will require adaption, and will come at a cost.

      If the rate of change is small, then it is relatively easy to adapt and the costs can be amortised over a long period. However, when both the rate and degree of change are high, then the 'risk' of being unable to adapt or to afford the associated costs is also high.

      It is not 'alarmist' to put in place prudent measures to deal with inevitable change (ie risk management strategies), nor to implement measures which reduce undesirable change. However, it is both naive and foolish to pretend that change will not occur, and it is catastrophically stupid to see that change is occuring, yet take no action to deal with that change.

      I am sure you would agree with that.

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  2. John Newlands

    tree changer

    The ominous aspect of the January bushfires was the way emergency resources were spread so thin. In some areas houses could not be checked for casualties until days afterwards. My neighbours say 'we won't see that again for a few years'. I wish. Perhaps we'd be better prepared remaining constantly on our toes rather than relaxing our guard..

    That's the extent of the fires. There is also the unprecedented ferocity. Recall that cars were incinerated just a few metres from the water's edge at Dunalley. A helicopter pilot described it earlier as a fireball. Welcome to the new climate.

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    1. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Newlands

      And then there are people like Danderson above that is sticking to the 3%....

      I wonder what makes people with no qualification in the field talk as if they are experts. It reminds me of the times when either the winter or summer Olympics are on.... we all suddenly become experts on rhythmic gymnastics or figure skating and can score with confidence the technical merits and artistry of each performance.

      I am no scientist but as thins stand, I'll go with the 97% and what I've read, through some…

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to John Newlands

      " That's the extent of the fires. There is also the unprecedented ferocity. Recall that cars were incinerated just a few metres from the water's edge at Dunalley. A helicopter pilot described it earlier as a fireball. Welcome to the new climate. "

      Hardly anything new there John for if you have dry enough scrub down to waters edge and cars close enough, they'll go up just like houses do when engulfed in wild bush fires and you can think Canberra a few years back or the many houses in Victoria and…

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    3. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens, you said "I think it has come to the point where those that say there is no problem or that it's not man's fault or that we can do nothing about it because these things happen naturally should just be shut out of the debate."

      The problem is that those who insist we should continue with business as usual are those with the money and the motivation to spread their misinformation through the mass media. The fact that the 'debate' is only going on away from the scientific arena of peer review never occurs to the average man in the street. If Faux News and other organs of the Murdoch empire deliver the line of do-nothing blissful ignorance, it is very hard for the truth to displace such misinformation in the minds of the public.

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    4. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Greg North

      "Hardly anything new there John"

      Hobart set a new record high temperature and I expect Dunalley did too.

      Is that new enough for you?

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  3. Mike Swinbourne

    logged in via Facebook

    I thought I would get in first with this particular point......

    If only people would stop flying overseas on their holidays and burning Jet A-1 - isn't that right Gerard?

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    1. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, you swine!.... You stole his one line.... How is Gerard going to get to sleep now? He'll have to keep the light on and burn some more coal to feel better...

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  4. Bruce Wallace

    Registered Nurse

    Are our prospective carbon abatement schemes, Labor's Carbon Tax leading to a ETS, Liberals Direct Action paying the big polluters billions of dollars, of any use?
    Should we be doing much more?
    I honestly don't know.
    This will require a big intelligent response from Parliament. Is our current Parliament capable?
    I say no.

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    1. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Bruce Wallace

      Bruce

      You miss the point of the carbon tax…. It is not about the climate per se; it is about our economy

      In due course, the world will act in concert to tackle climate change. It is a slow beginning at present I grant you, but once major economies like China and the US reach a certain stage into the forays they are making into green technology and in pricing carbon they will reach a tipping point. It is then that they will accelerate the process and in doing so will drag the rest of the developed…

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    2. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Well said, a clear explanation of the need to gradually de-carbonise our economy.

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    3. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Bruce Wallace

      Parts of our parliament are intelligent enough to respond appropriately, but they aren't honest enough. If they were honest enough, then they'd

      1) start by shutting down the fossil fuel subsidies identified by the IMF (http://www.imf.org/external/np/pp/eng/2013/012813.pdf),

      2) replace their Clean Energy Futures package (aka dog's breakfast) with a nice, simple, revenue-neutral Fossil Fuel Consumption Tax (FFCT) along the lines discussed by Thomas Friedman in his 16 March NYT op-ed ("It’s Lose-Lose vs. Win-Win-Win-Win-Win", http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/opinion/sunday/friedman-its-lose-lose-vs-win-win-win-win-win.html)

      3) Continue cutting other taxes and increasing the rate of the FFCT until they've priced fossil fuel use out of the economy.

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    4. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens, you said "it brings into question the intellect of a lot of Australians". I think the average bloke is smart enough to make wise choices, when presented with unbiased information. Sadly, his only source of information is the mainstream media, which is highly coloured by the political leanings of the owners of said media. How on earth are we going to be able to get the truth into the media, when there is such a tendency for untruths to be presented to the consumers of popular news and information sources? Sigh!

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  5. Mark Pollock

    Analyst

    I see John Cook is repeating the old 97% consensus story again. Someone should tell him how this number was fabricated.

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    1. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      What percentage of scientists does your pocket calculator indicate the true percentage is?

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    2. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Mark,

      Please provide a source for your statement that "the old 97% consensus story..."was fabricated".

      All I know is that an overwhelming percentage of climate scientists are in agreement that climate change is happening, is caused mainly by humanity and will be largely detrimental in its impacts.

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    3. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Mark,

      You do realise this is an open forum, right? So instead of bemoaning that 'someone' should tell John Cook he is wrong, why don't you do it yourself? We would all appreciate being educated - I would at least.

      So if you have the correct information, properly supported by evidence, please provide it. Otherwise...............

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Wanna have a go then, Mark, or would you rather not expose the vacuity of the argument?

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    5. Greg Edeson

      PhD candidate at School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Mark Pollock, how was this fabricated?

      http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/06/04/1003187107.abstract

      "Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers."

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    6. Neil Gibson

      Retired Electronics Design Engineer

      In reply to Greg Edeson

      That is like saying that when a Catholic seminary only turns out Catholics it follows that Protestants are wrong. Of course the Climate Change Industry and it's employees support AGW . How do scientists who do not believe in catastrophic warming get a job, get grants and publish. For the 97% it is the only way they can get paid. Get real!

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    7. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      Wow, what infallible logic. Except for that pesky fact that science relies on evidence, not dogma.

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    8. Neil Gibson

      Retired Electronics Design Engineer

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      The science has run out after 20 years of no warming - we are up to our ears in dogma from the Climate seminary now!

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    9. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      Odd that you would comment on an article you haven't read, let alone the report it is talking about.

      Because both are very clear on the fact that there has been warming in the past 20 years, going as far as to identify the ramifications of this.

      Don't worry, I can wait whilst you read both so that we can have a rational and informed discussion.

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    10. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      Really Neil? You don't take any notice of scientists when they tell you something based on evidence? Go figure!

      First of all, did you actually read any of the papers and articles at that link you provided? No need to answer - we all know that you didn't. The source of your opinion on this issue is what denier bloggers have told you to think. But then, if you had actually tried to read the papers you - with your logical engineer brain - would have noticed how the website you linked to shockingly misrepresented what was in the papers and articles by cherry picking and quote mining the information that suited their agenda.

      But being an engineer, you wouldn't tolerate that, would you?

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    11. Neil Gibson

      Retired Electronics Design Engineer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      I agree that these climate "scientists" are 100 % accurate , in hindcasting that is . Their forecasts so far have been worth diddly squat. The good thing is that because they are "scientists" they can find some obscure theory to explain their gross errors as those they made with the last 5 horrific European winters.
      When the Orwellian Climate Department of Truth says global warming causes huge snowfalls you know that the natural global cooling cycle which has now started will be caused somehow by global warming also.

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    12. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but Tim Flannery isn't a climate scientist, he has just taken on a communication role in the field.

      And, I'll think you'll find that this article is all about hindcasting and showing how bad certain things have been as a result of climate change. That isn't the predictions you have a problem with, but the actual measurable that you supposedly support.

      And, I'll also think you'll find that the current European conditions are as a result of changed positioning of systems such that Arctic air masses are being drawn down and cooling warmer air that is now able to hold more moisture, which is leading to the heavy snow falls. This is all within the current climate observations and can't be used to dismiss climate change. That would be like pissing on someone's leg and telling them that the biblical floods are repeating.

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    13. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      I don't know where you are looking but from what i have seen and read, things are progressing generally in line with the climate models, albeit a little more quickly than originally anticipated

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    14. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      ps most snow fall starts off as moisture evaporation from the oceans and forests, the warmer the climate, the more moisture in the atmosphere and when forced into the upper regions of the atmosphere then condenses and freezes to form snow.. ergo, more heat, more moisture, more snowfall.

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  6. Mark Pollock

    Analyst

    John Cook claims that "we've done studies...showing that" the public think that less than 50% of scientists agree that blah blah blah. That is one of the most convoluted paragraphs that I have read here. I wonder whether Mr Cook is remunerated for his role as a communications fellow, whatever that is.

    I also wonder who this "we" is that has supposedly done these studies. Has Mr Cook ever any study?

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    1. Rubens Camejo

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Oh, Mark; if you're going to throw grammar stones you have to make sure yours is spot on or else, you'll break some of your own windows.

      "Has Mr Cook ever any study?"

      Now, can you enlighten us on whether you have an opinion on the article, aside from the grammar, that is?

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    2. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Rubens Camejo

      Rubens, you know that I meant "done any study" . So once again, has he DONE any study?

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      So, we must read your mind and do your work for you, whereas John Cook must always phrase everything in ways that you are able understand (despite the fact that everyone else seems to have been perfectly able to understand his perfectly clear point) or he is a poor communicator and, therefore in your strange version of reasoning, a liar?

      Do you actually have anything substantial to offer here, or just unsupported slurs and insults?

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    4. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Mark,

      It says in your 'title' that you are an 'analyst'. I assume that means you are competent at research and know how to use a computer.

      If you want to know if John Cook has ever 'done any study', how about you look him up? It is not as if his CV is a secret.

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    5. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      i'd say that has more to do with the manner in which the "debate" is being framed by the MSM, those commercial empires whose affluence is dependent upon continuing use of fossil fuels, and perhaps a touch of apathy in the general public.

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  7. Lee Emmett

    Guest House Manager

    Even if the science of climate change is not 100% proven, common sense says it's wise to go with world opinion, and in the Australian context, this report's findings are serious: 'climate change was causing more heatwaves, bushfires, and sea-level rises, as well as heavier rainfall in some areas but drought in others'. It would be great to have bipartisan support for a strategy to reduce carbon emissions. It is brave for the Labor-Greens-Independents alliance to set a carbon price to encourage industry and individuals to move away from fossil-fuels and adopt alternative solutions, including renewable energy generation. It is also heartening to see China's national congress put pollution-reduction high on it's agenda for change.

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    1. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Lee Emmett

      it is a great shame that the conservative political forces imbeded in the broader spectrum of our crop of politicians feel that it is appropriate to play dice with a globally important issue for political gain and expediency. Also a great shame that Malcolm Turnbull was stabbed in the back by Abbott over the issue.

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  8. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    How disingenuous to come up with such a supposedly wild summer we have had as if there have not been floods and bushfires before, many in fact and then claim this is climate change brought on by CO2 levels without so much of a thought about what else is occurring.

    There are scientists out there in respected organisations who study the sun cycling and some of you may have even noted reference in the media from time to time of solar storm intensities and yes they were being spoken of last year for…

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    1. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg

      this is from skepticalscience.com

      "Over the last 35 years the sun has shown a slight cooling trend. However global temperatures have been increasing. Since the sun and climate are going in opposite directions scientists conclude the sun cannot be the cause of recent global warming.
      The only way to blame the sun for the current rise in temperatures is by cherry picking the data. This is done by showing only past periods when sun and climate move together and ignoring the last few decades when the two are moving in opposite direction".
      If you have a peer-reviewed source that you'd care to share that backs up your argument please do so.
      And do not try to denigrate Skepticalscience. It draws on reputable science that does not seek to mis represent the data or cherry pick.

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      So Henry, if you want to ignore the NASA site, that's fine and as for the sun cooling in the last 35 years!, just 35 years!
      " "Over the last 35 years the sun has shown a slight cooling trend. However global temperatures have been increasing. Since the sun and climate are going in opposite directions scientists conclude the sun cannot be the cause of recent global warming. "
      I would question the reliance of any analysis based on just 35 years for even IPCC scientists will admit that the earth has…

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    3. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg did you read that paper? It states that, " researchers have considered the possibility that the sun plays a role in global warming" "however, that the influence of solar variability is more regional than global." also, " If there is indeed a solar effect on climate, it is manifested by changes in general circulation rather than in a direct temperature signal. This fits with the conclusion of the IPCC and previous NRC reports that solar variability is NOT the cause of global warming over the last 50 years." (Their captions)
      The "Total Solar Irradiance Composite" graph shown didn't to my eyes seem to match temperature rises for the years shown either.
      Perhaps you could tell me how I should really read it, your way.

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    4. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg your new first link is about sat-navs, the second a solar storm, the third the future of the sun billions of years from now, and the fourth the current biotic crisis caused by our technology and the earth and sun billions of years into the future.
      This article is about what we are doing now. Climate change we cause. Solar storms are interesting, but not relevant to "the problem" we are making now. Did you read that nasa paper again? What is Henry ignoring in the nasa paper greg?

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    5. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg,

      I think you are on to something there! Obviously, as you suggest, climate scientists have only been considering the influence of CO2, and have been completely ignoring other factors such as the sun and 'natural cycles' such as ENSO.

      Well done! If it wasn't for observant lay peope such as yourself, these scientists wouldn't have a clue what goes on in the real world. I shall alert the Nobel committee right away!

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    6. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice, I am happy for you to read the paper anyway you like and you might even want to read again what I have said to help you with that for I have not claimed at all that it is the sun's cycle contibuting to global warming and the paper refers to how the sun's cycle can affect weather patterns.
      That being the case, I would claim that Tim Flannery, ( same guy who allegedly has said it would not rain again to fill dams up ) may not be too accurate with his terminology of wild summer nor it being…

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    7. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      The new first link Alice is not so much about Sat Navs but the scientific research going on so as to provide a defense process against solar storms and yes the second on solar storms, both for Henry who seemed to be assuming that I was putting up something of no substance.

      And yes, the third and fourth links on what some predict will be happening to Earth and our solar system well into the future, nothing at all about our current climate change predictions or claims of proof and just to let H

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    8. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Greg North

      and to finish the above,......to let H know that there are indeed many websites up that cover all manner of scientific possibilities.

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    9. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      "as you suggest, climate scientists have only been considering the influence of CO2, and have been completely ignoring other factors such as the sun and 'natural cycles' such as ENSO."

      Rather ironic for a denialist to imply that scientists have ignored ENSO when that is EXACTLY what deniailists do when they draw attention to the global temperature trend beginning near a big El Nino in 1998.

      Shameless hypocrites they are.

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    10. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg

      "......When we have people in authoritarian positions pushing a single barrow and ignoring all else, it is no wonder that confidence in such people is often lacking...."

      So I assume from this that you won''t be voting for the coalition then?

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  9. Alice Kelly
    Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

    sole parent

    "Only strong and preventative action now and in the coming years can stabilise the climate and halt the trend of increasing extreme weather for our children and grandchildren.
    > Averting danger requires strong preventative action. How quickly and deeply we reduce greenhouse gas emissions will greatly influence the severity of extreme events in the future.
    > The world is already moving to tackle climate change. Ninety countries representing 90% of global emissions, are committed to reducing their…

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      I do not subscribe so much to your black and white descriptions Alice for commitment is a word and just what it means will be interpreted differently by many leaders.

      And then for instance there is the what if and not a what if climate change cannot be averted by us humans but what if for instance we are not so far away from the next ice age and entering an environment where the more burning of fossil fuels could help warm a very cold atmosphetre.
      It could be that it is more to do with natures…

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    2. Danderson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Well actually Alice, I agree with you, sort of.

      IF the future is so dire then we should be taking extreme measures to avert the disaster.

      But instead we get an ineffectual carbon tax and platitudes from middle class activists who continue to pursue a life of relative luxury.

      Have a look at the staff car parks at Australian university science wings, or the Department of Climate Change, and you'll see what I mean.

      Tim Flannery, sponsored by Panasonic. They sure have progressed from "The End Is Nigh" sandwich boards.

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  10. Tim Scanlon

    Debunker

    There needs to be a "The Conversation Law". It would state that for every climate related article posted there will be a disproportionate series of comments from climate change deniers ignoring the content of the article and instead pretending climate change isn't happening.

    The second part of the law would have to be: For every climate related article, the first comment must be from a climate change denier.

    The third part of the law would have to be: The climate change denier comments on the climate related article must continue to raise the same tropes raised after every other article, regardless of how many times said tropes have been shown to be false.

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    1. Greg Edeson

      PhD candidate at School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      The fourth law - if you feed the trolls, they learn where the sustenance is and keep coming back.

      I'd suggest that leaving the retired engineers, 'analysts', 'managing directors' and EFL teacher trainers to have their own threads will leave them starving, and allow people with a genuine interest in the field of climate change to discuss the finer points of the articles being commented on.

      I'm often baffled (and occasionally offended) by some of the bizarre claims that come from the denialistas and trolls but have learned that they aren't here to learn or engage in discussion, rather they just seek to have their own voices validated by sparking a response. Why else would one "continue to raise the same tropes raised after every other article, regardless of how many times said tropes have been shown to be false"?

      As an aside, wouldn't it be great to have a 'troll' button next to the 'recommend button'?

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    2. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Tim, your 'The Conversation' law should also have a fourth part: the the first to mention Jet A-1 fuel automatically loses the debate. "8-)

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    3. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Greg Edeson

      Agreed, Ignoring them is the best option, I keep meaning to, but then.. It's the strange dis-jointed logic, inability to think, insults etc. One option is to see them as attention seeking children, (positive parenting theory), don't reward unwanted behaviour. I suspect reality will shut them down over time.

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    4. Danderson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Does this mean trolling can be added to the list of climate impacts?

      Wouldn't have to draw the bow longer than it already has been.

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    5. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Danderson

      When you can do a search for deniers commenting here and find their same rhetoric all over the interwebz, the title of troll becomes appropriate. You'd think with all the articles they comment upon that they would have read the occasional one and learnt something.

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  11. Michael Marriott

    logged in via Twitter

    Firstly, I like to commend the CC for an excellent publication. Hopefully it is read by enough members of the public and further their understanding of the science and the challenges we face as a nation.

    The most challenging aspect is making the science and impacts less abstract and distant (i.e. a problem for the far future or something that happens in far away countries). The reality is that Australia will be exposed to significant impacts, and thus preparation is required. This report makes a valuable contribution towards addressing these issues.

    In this politically charged environment there is some musing about the future of the CC - whatever happens, I believe such publications will provide a solid framework for future discussions on climate change and adaptation. The positive legacy of the CC is more than assured, while its work to date has been invaluable.

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    1. Greg Edeson

      PhD candidate at School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      The CC and its work are great, but making the dangers less abstract and distant is a daunting challenge. There's been a bit of tinkering around the edges in LA and San Francisco, but the populations there don't really take the San Andreas fault seriously. This is despite there having been big earthquakes in living memory and a strong probability of bigger ones soon. This is a clear and present threat to people, yet they appear to value their day to day routine more than long term safety.

      Climate…

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      Michael, I've just read the publication myself - it's really very good indeed - clear, simple language, but backed by solid references for those who want them.

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    3. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Greg Edeson

      Greg, some valid points. Understanding how a society can ignore any risk is both complex and challenging to comprehend.

      I'd highly recommend the work of Kari Marie Norgaard in "Living in denial: climate change, emotions and everyday life". A sociologist, she spent time in a Norwegian town interviewing and observing its residents reaction to the impact of climate change and how it was reported.

      http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/living-denial

      "Norgaard finds that for the highly educated and…

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    4. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Michael Marriott

      i'd say that quite a few people deep down know there's a problem, but don't really want to know about it, more interested it seems on getting baby bonuses, electricity prices and the latest iphones

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    5. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      no excuses though for the fossil fuel industries, IMO they don't care as long as the money keeps coming

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  12. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    Didn't the CSIRO model these effects in a warming world way back in the late 1980's, and didn't the public rightly recognise the validity of the projections, more frequent and more intense weather events.
    Is the concept of energy really so alien to the common understanding?
    The fact is that the field was politicised by those seeking to attribute blame to a culprit for the purposes of condign punishment.
    And the debate has been distorted ever since by this seeking out of scapegoats when, arguably the results are everyone's responsibilty.
    A quarter century of impotent squabbling just to take us back to the understanding of 1988.
    Well, the results are in and they confirm that CSIRO modelling.
    Next? Stop the blame game and get on with remedial action.
    Remember Hawke's Billion Trees program, Landcare?
    Get on with what has been going on for a while now and forget the punishment fetish.

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    1. Danderson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to James Hill

      Unfortunately we're dealing with a case of some people knowing a little but not enough.

      Energy is important, differentials more so i.e. temperatures differentials, pressure differentials.

      Guess what greenhouse warming does to those differentials?

      (Tip: What's the temperature differential between night and day on our moon?)

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    2. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to James Hill

      forget the government, they always follow, not lead. Instead concentrate on what you as an individual can do whether it be planting trees, installing renewable energy, reducing energy consumption, passive solar designs etc

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  13. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    Climate Communication Fellow John Cook comment above, ' there’s a huge gap between reality and the public perception.' surprises me because has identified the real problem in his earlier writings.

    As you know I decry those who claim they believe in climate change, then choose to burn JetA1 fossil fuel to fly to Europe. John Cook identified these people as Implicit Deniers on a recent article he wrote for The Conversation (How do people reject climate science).

    His comment, "Then there's implicitary denial where people's behaviour does not align with their beliefs." will remain one of his most quoted, and accurate, thoughts in the climate change debate.

    I could never put it so succinctly, Bravo John Cook

    Gerard Dean

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    1. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      But Gerard, the huge gap in your understanding is that the people who accept climate change want changes to industry made so that instead of fossil fuels, something else is used. Your lack of support is directly responsible for the lack of options.

      So if you don't want people burning JetA1 fossil fuels, you need to support changes to industry so that we have renewable sources.

      Unless, of course, you are just pretending to care about the environment because you aren't intelligent enough to understand the real problem at hand.

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    2. Danderson

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      Tyson with such gloomy predictions floating around shouldn't we all do away with jet-setter holidays regardless? Already most of the world simply doesn't have the means to go on any kind of substantial holiday, we're just asking the first world middle class to holiday closer to home.

      Of course John Cook himself could do his AGU lecture over broadband and spare one seat on a trans-pacific return flight.

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    3. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Danderson

      I don't disagree. I've noted that air travel for holidays is very common now, where it was a rarity when I was younger. This is likely an affluence thing.

      I'd state that we should all be trying to have a low carbon footprint, especially those that travel a lot for work (business, meet internet). The various plans available have ways you can halve your footprint without changing lifestyle that much. But that doesn't address how our fuels and power are generated, which remains the much bigger issue. We need renewables. Now.

      Oh, and Gerard doesn't give a toss about people flying places. It is just his little tu quoque logical fallacy argument to cover his climate change denial.

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  14. Lee Emmett

    Guest House Manager

    Today I heard our pal, Kevin Rudd, telling the US crowd that they need to be doing more to alleviate global warming and associated climate change problems. Apparently the US is the second worst culprit in the world when it comes CO2 emissions. Good onya mate! But Tony Abbott is still steering his ship away from engaging in the issue, and saying he will abandon the carbon price if elected. Hasn't he been following world affairs lately? Even China is making moves to adopt an ETS and wanting to clean up its cities as pollution has become an immense problem.

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  15. Yoron Hamber

    Thinking

    Good on you Australia. The sooner you begin to adapt the better the future will be.There are some real hard myths to crack for humanity at large.

    1. Earth's resources are inexhaustible.

    That one belongs to the same idea as 'the market know best'. Both builds on the concept of personnel greed and exploits, and f* the environment. And they are both terribly wrong.

    2. Humans can't change Earth, or the climate.

    Really? Did you open the curtains today, took a look around?
    Try this one. http://proglacial.com/Public%20Links/FAQ%20-%20Holocene%20Temperatues.html

    And see what it say about the last 150 years or so. Also notice the cooling we otherwise would be expected to be in, assuming Earths cycle to be a normal one.

    Crack those two and peoples mind will open.

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    1. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      ahem, 'personal' not 'personnel'
      Why do you people keep insisting on speaking English?
      There are easier languages, for me that is :)

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  16. Garry Baker

    researcher

    I for one, think that scientists have no business in trying to get their message across to the public. Simply put, they lack the expertise of Andrew Bolt, who explains things rather well from a Murdoch perspective. More to the point, the 31000 climate scientists(or so) who seem to be in common agreement that there is indeed, >90% chance of their predictions being accurate(or probably understated), should get their own ducks in order. Like - timely reports to political bodies, along with those to…

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    1. Tyson Adams

      Scientist and author

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Yes, people do have the right to be ignorant and stupid.

      I'd question their right to mess up the planet for the rest of us though. As ever, science has to drag them kicking and screaming to the correct answer and then convince them that it is self evident.

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    2. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Tyson Adams

      or make them personally legally culpable for the impacts of climate change, what a messed up hornets nest that would become

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    3. In reply to Tyson Adams

      Comment removed by moderator.