Climate change needs action from politicians

Marching for political action on climate change in Australia

Marching for political action on climate change in Australia – Photo: People’s Climate Change March 28 November 2015

Are our political leaders doing something about climate change, or do they plan to? As a custodians of our nation and people, are they thinking ahead about our children and their children?

The established facts include that for three million years, Carbon dioxide (CO2) has been at a concentration of less than 3 molecules per 10,000 in the atmosphere. Analysis of air trapped in ice cores drilled in Greenland and Antarctica confirms this.

The level of atmospheric CO2 over this time was primarily controlled by the seasonal growth cycle of plants – inhalation during growth and exhalation during leaf decay. The balance was absorbed by the ocean and used by algae to build carbonates.

Human activity currently pumps 30 billion tons of CO2 per annum into the atmosphere. Volcanoes contribute less than 500 million tons, thus accounting for less than 2% of total emissions. We can tell because volcanic CO2 has a specific atomic signature.

From 1880 to now, the burning of fossil fuels to power our civilisation has caused the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere to increase by 40%.

CO2 is a so-called “greenhouse gas” in that it traps some of the heat radiation leaving the earth, with the result that the air, land and sea get hotter. CO2 is a mixed blessing – too little and the earth would be frozen; too much and it would be a runaway inferno like Venus.

There’s a mistaken belief that if we have a cooler or hotter decade, this says: “No, we don’t have climate change with higher temperatures”; or “Yes, we do”. But the truth is that weather is not the same as climate because climate is the average of weather over a much longer time.

So, then, are we getting hotter over the long term? The answer is yes: a NASA chart starting at 1880 tracking temperatures clearly shows an increase in global temperature; an increase to date of about 1 degree Celsius. The rate of this increase correlates closely with the rate of industrial fossil burning.

We can’t blame the sun. There has been no abnormal change in solar output for more than a century. Moreover, one of the predicted consequences of increased CO2 in the atmosphere is that the earth warms more at night and during the winter. The only reasonable explanation for the increase in heat is the atmospheric CO2 caused by human activity.

Increased heat causes severe environmental problems: heat-waves, drought, famine, wild storms/fires, extinctions, melting glaciers and polar ice, loss of habitable land due to rising sea levels and loss of coral reefs.

There is an observed, positive feed-back loop with polar ice. As it melts, the larger area of ice-free water reflects less solar energy back into space, instead getting hotter, which in turn further melts the polar ice.

In another loop, permafrost areas in Alaska, Canada and Siberia are thawing. The resultant rotting of vegetation could potentially double atmospheric CO2 by the end of the century. It also releases methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas.

Such vicious cycles show that our planet’s climate stability is a delicate balance; that we may be approaching a tipping point beyond which the consequences may be disastrous for future generations.

This is a summary of the facts and arguments presented by cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson in his “Cosmos” series.

I ask our elected representatives, if you’re a leader of people and opinion. Are you doing something about climate change, or plan to?

I ask this of you as a custodian of our nation and people, are you thinking ahead about our children and their children?


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A letter to the editor published by Redlands2030 – 29 January 2018

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8 thoughts on “Climate change needs action from politicians

  1. To Peter, there are over a dozen groups in the general area with multiple spokespersons ,and many retired experts and individuals who have been contesting singular , multiple issues and perhaps encyclopedic issues here for 20-30 years (and treeplanting). It is like serious campaign facebook ,if there is such a thing , don’t clog up the timeline or the Redlands 2030 Replies(about 4500 readers? ) with introductions,just do it.

  2. Reading some of the comments here, I’m reluctant to join the discussion as an outsider – someone who’s not known to anyone here, but I would like to contribute the knowledge I’ve gained for the benefit of all, if I may.

    I’m reluctant to contribute to the discussion because the knowledge I’ve gained and thoroughly verified indicates that the truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Considering this issue, rather than launch into a long-winded academic discussion of the science around climate change, which usually only obscures the simple truth, I’ll introduce myself as a courtesy to you all first. If you’re then intrigued to read what I know, since each step has been verified thoroughly by research, I’ll be pleased to oblige.

    Briefly, I’m 60 this year, and grew up on a grain farm on the Darling Downs west of Dalby. Since leaving school in – St Mary’s and Downlands in Toowoomba, I’ve worked on farms, in motorcycle shops, engineering, and whatever else I could find until turning 25. That was when I decided I’d better finish year 12, so I could qualify to join the RAAF as a trainee pilot. I did get accepted, and failed the course in 1985, so I left and paid for commercial pilot training. Following 20 years flying around the country for various General Aviation operators, during which I’d married, and had 4 kids, I bought a business which is based in Capalaba.

    Perhaps as a consequence of failing on Pilot Course in the RAAF, and other adverse experiences, I’ve become very conservative and careful about checking things thoroughly. It may also be attributed to professional flying as well, since checks are an accepted part of safety.

    So, now that I’ve introduced myself, I’d like to hear a brief introduction from others, if you’d be so kind.


  3. There is a 2 page article “Resetting Coastal Planning in the era of Climate Change” p20-21 in Winter Edition 2017 Queensland Planner vol 57 no2 relating to flood /sealevel rise or surge? mapping in Moreton Bay Regional Council (MBRC) and the Scheme. This mentions Labor Government reversal of Newman Government omissions of Climate Change and sea level rise in Planning Documents(MBRC.) However it does not mention the LNP damage to; say 5 pieces of Environmental Legislation , and Coastal Management Act and Plans(still unrectified and causing irreparable decisions and damage), as well as 7 pieces of the worst planning practice in Australia -theTRAD Planning legislation and SEQ Regional Plan
    Further the article fails to mention or feature major CC Items; 1. climate change Refugia, 2. Climate Change Corridors ,3. water, and temperature rise in the future landscape and 4 .sustainable landscapes or resilience, 5. climate change flood mapping of coastal streams,which are now appear partly missing among other things, in the deleterious MBRC Planning Scheme Amendments in Warner. So much of the impacts of climate change on Biodiversity are not known while unidentified species are vanishing under the bulldozer(new small mammal in Warner)
    The Sea Level Rise and Climate Change are important for Moreton Bay , Redlands,NSI and Toondah.
    Scrutiny of these climate change fundamentals and others is warranted at 3 levels of government and the Institutions to really ” RESET CLIMATE CHANGE COASTAL PLANNING”.

  4. I agree politicians need to do something constructive re climate change. I am not impressed by The Turnbull Government’s allocation of $60 million for the GBR when the same government is implementing policies that put the GBR at risk. For example, the development of the Adani mine in the Galillee Basin in Central Qld which will increase the burning of fossil fuels and hence increase the global carbon footprint.

    This sort of action treats the electorate as stupid. They take with one hand and give with the other so that the threat to the GBR is not decreased and we voters apparently won’t be aware of this. What did we do to deserve representatives like this?

  5. Just read the comments posted by Ian on 29th January. He shows as much intellectual thought as some of the previous politicians, like Tony Abbott, who cannot understand climate change so he just calls it “crap.” Ian talks about the loony left because unless climate change strikes him like a bolt of lightening he chooses to keep his head in the sand. Donald Trump is known as a man who never reads and doesn’t understand anything with a scientific base. So naturally he doesn’t even think about the effects of climate change because his world is all about himself. If future generations have to grapple with higher temperatures and rising sea levels what does he care ? He will be dead. In fact we do need the input of science to give us the facts and avoid both extremes in thinking. We need meaningful measures to reduce the impacts of human activities (anthropogenic) in the world we live. In future decades coal will be a useless commodity so we should be gearing our energy resources now, not in 10 or 15 years from now.

  6. Thank you for asking this question. I also would like to know what our local elected representatives are doing about climate change – both to mitigate it and to prepare for its effects.
    Local government actions directly affect climate change. Our local policymakers can, for instance, choose to enforce building regulations to ensure energy efficient buildings which will save electricity thus reducing carbon emissions; they could enforce tree planting and reduce building footprint size; they could encourage the use of porous ground covers instead of concrete. Or – lets be really radical – they could partner with communities in setting up local power companies; change the council car fleet to electric……Have they even set a date for Redlands to become carbon neutral? It is so tiresome always being the rednecks and never the innovators.

  7. Wow! So all the loony left who swallow the climate control disinformation can take comfort that there is now genuine concern that in the next fifty years we could see the return of a mini ice age and the present downward graph of global temperatures must, all costs, be hidden from public view!

    And the people of South Australia who set “a global example by investing heavily in non fossil fuels now have the HIGHEST POWER RATES IN THE WORLD and the lowest reliability of a steady flow of power!

    Yep, global warming is here ……. just that nobody can see it!

    • The signs are there but apparently you do not recognise them. Why is it that the trend has been for increasingly hottest years on record. If you look a a graph of the average theperatures in Oz such as, you can see at a glance the colder years are grouped before 1960, whereas the hottest ones are grouped after 1978.
      Of the 10 hottest years on record are after 1977. The hottest year on record in Oz was in 2013 and the second was in 2005 and then third 2017. In fact the 6 hottest years on record in Oz occurred between 2005 and 2017 and we have made a bumper start in 2018 to adding the 7th.

      Associated with the increased temperatures is an increase in the intensity of storms and other extreme weather events. Consider the damage done by cyclones which have pounded the Qld coast over the past 20 years. Consider the intensity of bushfires and their frequency on the eastern coast of Australia. the overall pattern is making it clear that this is climate change in action. This pattern in climate change is reflected in teh frequency and intensity of bleaching events of corals on the GBR. What would you consider to be signs of climate change?