The Bullroarer - Friday 19th June 2009

ABC - Climate report stresses urgent action

A new report says greenhouse gas emissions and other indicators are closing in on the upper limits forecast by the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change two years ago. - Will fertiliser scarcity harm farm economy?

Wills won't fertilise his fields this year. At $392 a tonne for superphosphate, it's unaffordable. To put that in perspective, in April last year it was $261 a tonne. For Wills, it's uneconomic to fertilise until superphosphate drops below $300.

ABC - Coast residents warned to brace for climate change

Dr John Hunter from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre says it has designed a new web-based program that can predict the risk of flooding in Cairns and other regions based on sea level rises.

North Queensland Register - Mixed future for sugar ethanol

SUGARCANE has been recognised as the cheapest renewable crop from which to produce ethanol but waiting for technology to catch up in order to make it viable could be the hardest thing for growers.

National Business Review NZ - Kiwi climate change software in $1 million New York deal

The city of New York has chosen software from New Zealand’s CLIMSystems to help it manage the impact of climate change on its water supply, storm and waste water systems.

Beyond Zero Emmissions - Graham Ford, CEO of Heliodynamics, maker of Combined Heat and Power for urban and industrial environments
Not strictly speaking an Australian link, but they have a company here and an idea that may have a place here.

Graham: Yes, well we’ve set out to target solutions on a range of scales from what might be called ‘facility scale’ which might be like a school, a hospital, a factory or a shopping mall, upwards. So, a typical smaller-scale installation would be where you need to provide some power and air-conditioning and maybe some heat in winter to a building, and so with our technology you can shade the car-park and use the sun which would usually beat down uselessly on the cars in the carpark, capture that, and convert some of that energy directly into electricity and then the rest of the energy would be collected as heat. Normally that heat is near the boiling point of water. And then we use that heat either to drive a kind of air-conditioning unit called an absorption chiller or it can provide heat for the central heating system in the winter.

NZ Herald - Transport spending policy 'stuck in 50s time warp'

Heftier spending on state highways and less for public transport risked damaging economic development, Auckland transport politicians warned a senior government funding official yesterday.

National Business Review NZ - Sustainability not on hold despite downturn

Sustainability is not about sustainability – it’s about the incremental reduction of unsustainability, according to Al Gore Climate Change Ambassador Simon Carter.

Courier Mail - It's climate versus the economy

NEXT week Parliament is almost certainly going to decide the first-time fate of the Federal Government's emissions trading scheme.

Here's an informed tip – the Coalition will vote it down, mainly because the internal debate demands it. While the Liberals can live with the Nationals voting against an ETS they have to make sure their own numbers do not fracture, despite the divide of opinion within the Liberal Party.

Radio Australia - Fuel costs blamed for Pacific patrol shortfall

Air Commodore Tony Jones says fuel cost is one factor limited the use of the boats.

"They are large vessels, they have a long range, which means they carry a lot of fuel, and fuel is becoming more and more expensive," he said.

"So one of the key drivers for the lack of patrol days that we're seeing from these nations is that they simply can't afford to pay for the fuel."

National Business REview NZ - Renewable energy sources power NZ

Nearly three quarters of New Zealand's electricity was generated from renewable sources in March, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Economic Development.

So everyone's preparing for the impact of runaway Climate Change except Senator Steve Fielding...

STEVE FIELDING: ... as major driver of temperatures is a question that's been put to me, and I think I need to get to the bottom of it. And it really is important. I don't know what training that you've got, but as an engineer, I'm trained to actually look at both sides of equation and that's what I'm doing.

...And what's worst, if we make the wrong decision, what's worse than that is if we make the right decision too late. And so the issue is that if you look at the graphs, if you look at the temperatures over the last 10 years, yes, they've gone up and down, but they've actually, if you look at the average, it stayed reasonably level, and CO2 emission over that time have gone up drastically. So, the whole idea about that there's a direct link between CO2 ...

...Well, as an Engineer myself, I'm wondering how he even gets two sides to this "equation" in the first place...

Fielding is a "fairies at the bottom of the garden" believer - ie - a faith based approach.
If he really is an engineer I wouldn't like him designing bridges.

I wonder why seemingly so many geologists,engineers etc think they are qualified to jump,boots and all,into a very different field,like climate science with opinions so contrary to those of most scientists in that field.

Perhaps part of the answer can be found in this statement

I'm trained to actually look at both sides of equation and that's what I'm doing.

Let's not make this an interdisciplinary slanging match but...

Some of us technically minded people adopt a very reductionist linear approach to nature. IE it's an "equation", the clockwork universe of Newton etc. This seems (I say seems) to be more prevalent among what might loosely be termed "engineers"... where a given input is expected to produce a given output a la "the equation" statement above.

This attitude may perhaps be further entrenched if one has a particular fatalistic religious outlook ... predestination/predetermination. The concept of certainty/perfection is in my experience much higher among this group - especially those with happy comfortable middle class lives. Stochastic behavior is unknown and distrusted. Statistics beyond putting a straight line thru 5 points (yes, I know...) is just guess work to them.

Thus perhaps Fielding looks at the selective data at an inappropriate time scale to the phenomena.. finds it doesn't fit with his mechanistic universe schema and rejects it.

"Geologists" I think fall into a different time scale trap. Their argument seems to be that high CO2 happened naturally in the past, therefore it is entirely consistent that it can happen again. However I have read more than one such piece in the popular press referring to geologic periods when either life didn't exist, or was just evolving. IE those periods, and the rates of change are often not relevant to now.

Let's not forget that it took main stream geology a long time to accept plate tectonics (and longer in the US) over the, what was it called ... dimpled apple theory?


"Wrinkled Apple Skin", methinks.

Also your link above doesn't open for me, but here's a good short summary of the topic

The irony is that even today there's a huge argument going on concerning the underlying driving forces of plate tectonics - for example one geoscientist will argue that the Pacific will eventually close, while another will argue that the Atlantic will close first - and they can't both be right! This is a surprisingly big gap in our knowledge, considering that every Geology textbook now starts with a description of this stuff.

I find it ironic that Plimer, a man who was burnt trying to sue creationists is now chummy with a party, a large number of which probably are such believers!

Is it some kind of joke?

"Geologists" I think fall into a different time scale trap. Their argument seems to be that high CO2 happened naturally in the past, therefore it is entirely consistent that it can happen again.

By which reasoning, since heart attacks existed before tobacco and burgers, smoking and eating lots of fried meat must be harmless :)

I point them to my article, "but global warming could be partly natural!"

As for high CO2 in the past, geologists have no excuse for this silliness, since they know about isotopes; the isotopic mix of carbon in fossil fuels is different to that occurring naturally in the atmosphere, from volcanoes, and so on. The extra carbon in the air matches perfectly the isotopes of fossil fuels. So the extra CO2 comes from fossil fuels. If they want to dispute that, they have to explain where it all went after we burned it.

I'm not sure if Fielding knows what an isotope is.

That leaves them disputing whether the extra CO2 causes warming. If they dispute that it does, they must explain why the naturally-occurring CO2 causes warming, but extra CO2 does not. Which of course they can't.

And that's where it gets technical, arguing about exactly how much more CO2 (and methane, nitrous oxides, etc) causes exactly how much more warming, and maybe this or that factor is more important. Which as you say, that's not a simple linear equation. It's a process, not an equation.

But like someone smoking and eating heaps of burgers, the general trends and probabilities of outcome are clear. We can't explain what happens to each and every cell, or predict the day of first heart attack... but we can say with certainty that it won't do the guy any good.

I don't think Fielding appreciates the complexity of it all. Which probably explains why he's an ex-engineer.

Oh well, at least we can bin him at the next election.

The Age - We can't afford sprawl

DO WE really want Melbourne stretching from the You Yangs to the Bunyip River, way beyond Berwick, a distance of more than 120 kilometres? A close reading of the Brumby transport plan, the Melbourne@5 million document, and Planning Minister Justin Madden's just released Urban Growth Boundary Review shows that's where the State Government is going.

They envisage a city much larger in area than London or New York, with freeways from Pakenham to Greensborough to way beyond Werribee, and from Sorrento to Torquay, slicing through tens of thousands of hectares of prime land. Like it or not, that's what Madden and his cabinet masters have in store for us.

The Oz - Oil Age still has some time to run

The peak oil brigade say all the big and easy oilfields around the world have been discovered and global oil discovery has therefore peaked, while at the same time oil demand is showing no serious sign of dropping.

All of which suggests we might still be arguing about the end of the Oil Age in 50 years. Let's hope that by then it will all be hypothetical thanks to the development of other energy sources.

And remember, the world did fine without crude oil for 99.999999 per cent of humanity's history on Earth.


Falls Church News - The Peak Oil Crisis: The Year of the Dollar

Our peak oil crisis is morphing into a dollar crisis. Despite record inventories, and millions of barrels sitting in anchored tankers, oil prices continue to rise. Earlier this week the average price of gasoline rose to $3 in California and many are predicting that the rest of us will be seeing $3 gasoline later this year.

While analysts are moaning that $70 oil is not justified by supply and demand, it seems that oil has become a favored store of value as massive US deficits eat away at the value of the dollar. The dollar goes down; oil goes up. For now there is so much excess capacity that geopolitical developments, stockpile reports and run-of-the-mill oil news has only a minor effect on oil prices.

The underlying cause for the dollar’s weakness is the massive deficit the U.S. government is running, and the continuing sale of billions of dollars worth of treasury securities. This in turn has left foreign investors worried that the value of their U.S. treasury holdings will one day be worth much less than they invested. For the foreseeable future, these investors have nowhere else to turn, for the minute they stop buying or try to sell significant quantities of U.S. obligations, they would immediately crash the dollar and their worst fears would be realized.

And remember, the world did fine without crude oil for 99.999999 per cent of humanity's history on Earth.

99.999999% of Humanity's history on earth was spent living in caves or up trees, keeping a vary eye out for sabre-toothed cats, herding Mammoths off cliffs, and eating grass and litchens...

A few new CSG articles :

Bloomberg - LNG Demand Supports Australian Projects, Conoco Says

Global liquefied natural gas demand will prove strong enough to support development of proposed LNG projects in Australia’s Queensland state, a ConocoPhillips executive said.

“Demand will be there going forward,” Ryan Lance, senior vice president for international exploration and production at the second-largest U.S. oil refiner, said in Darwin today. “LNG will be a fuel for the future” as pressure grows on countries to reduce emissions of harmful greenhouse gases, he said.

Conoco’s venture with Origin Energy Ltd. is the biggest of the four most-advanced projects aiming to convert gas extracted from coal seams into LNG near the central Queensland city of Gladstone. The partners target the first exports in 2014. There are some 10 LNG projects in Australia and Papua New Guinea seeking to tap a forecast increase in demand in north Asia for cleaner fuels, even as the global recession temporarily curbs growth in energy use.

Drilling & Exploration - Linc Energy commences Galilee Basin exploration program

LINC Energy has announced it has commenced its exploration and appraisal drilling of its Galilee Basin tenement area in Queensland. Linc Energy completed the first 4 exploration holes of the proposed 39 hole coal seam gas exploration program, with 24 core holes and 15 chip holes.

Solar-powered plane is *almost* a night-flyer...

Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard has unveiled a prototype of the solar-powered plane he hopes eventually to fly around the world.

The initial version, spanning 61m but weighing just 1,500kg, will undergo trials to prove it can fly at night.

...The flight would be a risky endeavour. Only now is solar and battery technology becoming mature enough to sustain flight through the night - and then only in unmanned planes.