Climate Change

This page brings together the shortest, clearest and most authoritative information about our predicament that I can find, and our ways out of it … except that we have left action so late that we will never be able to go back to a pre-1950 climate.

Any “Climate Change Reference” page can rapidly become misleadingly out of date, since the science is new and is developing very quickly while the effects of global warming are also new and are (sadly) growing just as quickly. It means that any data or analysis more than five years old has probably been superseded. The plan here is to replace older links with newer ones as they appear; as a fail-safe, dates are given.

Climate Change: what do we know? How do we know?

NASA: Evidence, causes, effects, consensus and FAQ’s – https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

Bureau of Meteorology & CSIRO: State of the Climate, 2020 summarised here – https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-13/bom-and-csiro-state-of-the-climate-2020/12871690  and in full here – http://www.bom.gov.au/state-of-the-climate/ (and older reports are linked from that page).

Climate Council: global temperature change visualisation – https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/140-year-heat-map-shows-clear-trend-global-temperature-change/

Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events

James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, told us in 2011 that global warming was “loading the climate dice”, making extreme weather events both more common and more extreme. Here are a quick introduction  and a more technical introduction to this work.

XR has a particularly good overview of the impacts of extreme weather around the world.

The ABC published this overview of the connections between major floods and climate change in the wake of the Sydney/NSW floods of March 2021. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-28/one-in-100-years-flood-talk-misleading/100030144

Debunking myths, calling out disinformation campaigns

Climate Council: a series of mythbusting articles – https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resource/mythbusting/

The Logic of Science: debunking briefly – https://thelogicofscience.com/2016/10/18/debunking-25-arguments-against-climate-change-in-5-sentences-or-less-each/

A good, concise introduction on The Conversation to the ongoing disinformation campaigns on fossil fuels, tobacco, pesticides and more – https://theconversation.com/on-the-origins-of-environmental-bullshit-80955

Disinformation database on Desmog Blog: look up individuals or organisations – https://www.desmogblog.com/global-warming-denier-database

A classic study which turns up every time this topic is mentioned is Merchants of Doubt by Oreskes and Conway (2010), reviewed by The Ecologist here. My summary of it, with more links, is here.

Solutions
carbon crunch Figueres
The carbon crunch (from Figueres et al, 2017)

Drawdown offers a  summary of solutions to the problem of reducing atmospheric CO2, ranked by their potential to help. Each solution reduces greenhouse gases by avoiding emissions and/or by sequestering carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. https://www.drawdown.org/solutions

Tipping Points in society may be as important as the tipping points in the environment. Vox explored some of them here in January 2020.

Carbon Brief shows that the Paris target of limiting warming to 1.5C is slipping out of reach. https://www.carbonbrief.org/unep-1-5c-climate-target-slipping-out-of-reach (it already looked very difficult to achieve eight years ago). The ABC (2021) has a good explainer …/acting-now-can-buy-us-time-on-climate-change/… about the carbon budget and why acting now is so important.

A group of scientists argues (April 2021) that we can and must aim for decarbonisation by 2030, and that less ambitious targets (e.g. 2050) are based on outdated climate science and outdated energy tech. https://cleantechnica.com/2021/04/10/47-scientists-world-should-go-100-renewable-electricity-by-2030/

Energy

Energy Cost comparison (Australia, 2019): “With all subsidies taken out, solar PV and wind wipe the floor with gas, coal and nuclear. Levelised cost of solar and wind is about $50 per megawatt hour, half that of gas and coal’s $100 per megawatt hour even without a carbon price. Nuclear is way off the money, priced anywhere between $250 and $330 per megawatt hour.” https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/coalition-wilfully-blind-to-economics-of-renewables-20200209-p53z4m.html.

The carbon cost of renewables is low and falling, too: https://www.forbes.com/…./2021/how-green-is-wind-power-really

(Global, 2020) Energy firms urged to mothball coal plants as cost of solar tumbles – companies could save billions as well as curbing carbon emissions. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jun/02/energy-firms-urged-to-mothball-coal-plants-as-cost-of-solar-tumbles

The myth that Nuclear power can save us is comprehensively demolished at https://energypost.eu/renewable-energy-versus-nuclear-dispelling-myths/ (2016).

Methane – an overview in the light of new science: https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2020-02-20/fossil-methane-anthropogenic-climate-change-human-contribution/11975396

Gas as a “transitional” fuel. In a word, no; in more detail – https://theconversation.com/a-single-mega-project-exposes-the-morrison-governments-gas-plan-as-staggering-folly-133435 (2020).

Hydrogen as a major alternative to fossil fuels: green hydrogen’s role will be to decarbonise industries and applications that can’t be electrified, while hydrogen from non-renewable sources has no future.  https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2021-01-23/green-hydrogen-renewable-energy-climate-emissions-explainer/13081872 (2021)

(Historical) The Changing Global Market for Australian Coal – Reserve Bank of Australia, 2019. Thorough. https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/bulletin/2019/sep/the-changing-global-market-for-australian-coal.html

History and current status of Adani’s Carmichael project on Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmichael_coal_mine

Electric Vehicles vs the rest: it’s complicated, but EVs have advantages even if their electricity is fossil-fuelled. https://www.theguardian.com/football/ng-interactive/2017/dec/25/how-green-are-electric-cars

Eating for the Planet

My own overview at https://malcolmtattersall.com.au/wp/2017/09/eating-for-planet/ and its follow-up at https://malcolmtattersall.com.au/wp/2019/12/towards-a-sustainable-diet/

Capitalism

It has become increasingly apparent that modern capitalism (aka hyercapitalism, neoliberalism) is incompatible with the health of the living world (including us). The IMF has recently warned of the dangers and business groups are taking action although, as always,more needs to be done. Samuel Alexander points out here, clearly and forcefully, that that we are living beyond our means and persisting with capitalism will stop us from achieving a sustainable society.

The Global Economy Is a Ponzi Scheme as Joe Romm noted in 2009 – https://thinkprogress.org/is-the-global-economy-a-ponzi-scheme-2c06fbd46c3/ – and a group of economists including Stiglitz said in 2013 – https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-entire-economy-is-a-ponzi-scheme-the-global-financial-system-is-insolvent/5331143 – and it’s going to collapse sooner or later. Managing the crash to make it as slow as possible, so that we have more time to adjust, may be the best we can do.

The elephant in the room

China is so big that its choices are central to the world’s chances of negotiating the emissions and climate challenges. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-23/china-climate-change-security-water-renewables-carbon-neutrality/12772034

Visions of possible futures

‘Air is cleaner than before the Industrial Revolution’: a best case scenario for the climate in 2050 and ‘The only uncertainty is how long we’ll last’: a worst case scenario for the climate in 2050 by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, architects of the Paris climate accords, in The Guardian.

‘A third of the world’s population may become climate change refugees’ – https://www.pnas.org/content/117/21/11350

And remember…

Pett cartoon - what if it's a hoax