Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Storms and flooding for Melbourne Cup day, but media dares not mention climate change



Melbourne Cup day dawned with rain falling. Storms escalated with torrential rain through the morning. Power outages, train disruptions, flashflooding of stations and many low lying roads across the city eventuated. But the mainstream media failed to add 2 + 2 with the influence of climate change in this extreme weather event.

The previous day racing officials had ordered more racetrack irrigation overnight to reduce the firmness of the track. Perhaps they should have checked the weather forecast.

Intense rain events are becoming more frequent, the science is clear not only from models but also observational data. Part of the reason for this is a Warmer atmosphere that can carry more moisture. For every 1 degrees Celsius of warming the extra atmospheric carrying capacity is increased by an extra 6-7 per cent. So heavier rain. That means more flash flooding.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The IPCC 1.5C report and a visit to Bill Shorten to #stopAdani



In this photo I am making a short speech outside Labor MP and Opposition leader Bill Shorten's office at Moonee Ponds on the major transformation necessary if we are to meet the 1.5C Paris climate target, as detailed by the recent IPCC 1.5C report (which I am holding up in the air). The climate science report says unequivocally that there is no physical or chemical impediment to us limiting climate change warming to 1.5C, the problems are entirely political and would entail at this stage massive social transformation of our energy, transport, agriculture and social systems.

We have at most perhaps another decade to start significantly on the path of this social transformation. Actually, I think we need to be well on the path to deep decarbonisation by 2020.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

IPCC 1.5C report needs to inform Moreland's transport strategy


I attended the Brunswick Town Hall, for a special hearing by Moreland Council considering oral presentations to submissions on the Moreland Integrated Transport Strategy and the Moreland Parking Policy.

I was number 19 on the list of presenters as I had made a submission on behalf of Climate Action Moreland (Read it here).

Many of the presenters spoke on the personal circumstances of traffic, parking, cycling and walking in Moreland, and concerns how the strategy and policy might affect employment or business.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Guest Post: Why our carbon emission policies don't work on air travel

Just came across this post from the Conversation from July 2018. It argues that there are two possibilities to reduce aviation emissions as part of an across the board reduction in Australian emissions.

Firstly, and given the difficulty of technological change, this will require that people fly less.

The second option is to be much more aggressive in reducing emissions in another sector, say electricity, where known solutions are far more viable and can be done relatively quickly.

"Airline emissions are likely to remain a difficult problem, but one that needs to be tackled if we’re to stay within habitable climate limits." the article concludes.

I would add that we need to consider demand management of flying through either taxing frequent flyers or using a personal carbon budget allowance system, both of which the airline and airport industry will strongly argue against but are far more equitable for constraining aviation demand. See Alice Bows Larkin assessment in the December 2014 research paper: All adrift: aviation, shipping, and climate change policy.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Report on Darebin Climate Emergency Conference



The last two days - 11-12 September - I attended the Darebin climate emergency conference in northern Melbourne suburb of Northcote. I was one of 350 people that registered and attended. Some good speeches and presentations, interesting panel discussions and useful one-on-one conversations.

This was Darebin Council hosting and facilitating this conference as part of it's climate emergency strategy and plan. There were a small number of councillors from other cities present including the Deputy Mayor of neighbouring municipality of Moreland, and other organisations. But mostly local people and people from neighbouring suburbs. I saw Lidia Thorpe, the local Greens State MP there, but no other state or federal politicians.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Aviation Emissions and Consultation on the Melbourne Airport Masterplan



Last night I attended the last public consultation on the Melbourne Airport Masterplan which involves substantial expansion of the terminals, roads and a future 2nd east-west runway. And complete silence on aviation emissions, except when I pushed the Environment Manger to reluctantly concede this impact.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Guest Post: What's your heatwave plan?

Australia's 'deadliest natural hazard': what's your heatwave plan?





Andrew Gissing, Macquarie University and Lucinda Coates, Macquarie University

Heatwaves are Australia’s deadliest natural hazard, but a recent survey has found that many vulnerable people do not have plans to cope with extreme heat.

Working with the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre and the Bureau of Meteorology, my colleagues and I surveyed 250 residents and 60 business managers in Western Sydney and the NSW North Coast.

We found that 45% of those at risk – including the elderly, ill and very young – did not proactively respond to heatwave warnings as they did not think it necessary or did not know what to do.




Read more:
Cities need more than air conditioning to get through heat waves



Few at-risk people reported moving to cooler locations, and more than 20% of people in Western Sydney were concerned about the impacts of energy prices on their ability to use air-conditioning. For most people, extreme heat left them feeling hot and uncomfortable or unable to sleep, though around 15% felt unwell. Few people reported checking on vulnerable family members, friends or family during heatwaves.

Businesses also suffered disruption, and most companies with employees working on machinery or outdoors reported lower than normal productivity.

Many people said that they didn’t need to take any further actions to adjust to future extreme temperatures. However, for some extreme heat is already impacting their living preferences, with around 10% of people indicating that they are considering moving to a cooler town or suburb.




Read more:
Are heatwaves 'worsening' and have 'hot days' doubled in Australia in the last 50 years?



A history of deadly heatwaves

Australia has a long history of deadly heatwaves. The table below shows numbers of deaths and death rates per 100,000 population from episodes of extreme heat in Australia by decade, reaching back to 1844. The information comes from PerilAUS, a database that records the impact of natural hazards reaching back to the early days of Australia’s European settlement

The death rate is the number of deaths per head of population in the country at that time, and was consistently, significantly higher between 1890 and 1939 than for any period before or since.


An extraordinary heatwave occurred between October 1895 to January 1896 that impacted nearly the entire continent but especially the interior. PerilAUS records 435 deaths, 89% of them within New South Wales. Deaths also occurred in South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria and Queensland. Bourke, in NSW, lost 1.6% of its population to the heat: temperatures of 40℃ in the shade were already being recorded in October, mid-spring.

During the disastrous 1939 Black Friday bushfires, 71 people died in Victoria. But at least 420 people died in the heatwaves which preceded the fires, largely in New South Wales. The heatwaves were accompanied by strong northerly winds and followed a very dry six months, increasing the severity of the subsequent fires.

Most will remember the catastrophic bushfires that destroyed several towns in Victoria in 2009 but not many will remember that these fires also followed two heatwave events across Victoria and South Australia, where at least 432 people died.

In 2009, new records of three consecutive days over 43℃ in Melbourne and eight over 40℃ in Adelaide were set. A feature of these heatwaves was the very hot minimum temperatures, with Melbourne’s temperature falling to between 20-25℃ overnight and Adelaide to just 30℃.

We must all plan ahead

There is no reason why a deadly heatwave could not strike Australia again this summer, and there’s at least some evidence that the frequency of heatwaves in Australia is increasing. Sudden peaks in air-conditioning use also creates the risk of overloading electricity grids and prompting blackouts, so it’s important to think about how you can stay cool without power.

Some easy ways to stay safe include tuning into heatwave and emergency warnings by listening to radio broadcasts or searching emergency websites.

Simple measures, like rescheduling outdoor activities to cooler parts of the day, closing curtains and blinds and staying indoors are always sensible. Research suggests that elderly people may be particularly reluctant to use air conditioners, but if your household contains vulnerable people it’s important to use every cooling option available.

It may be possible for some people to use an app or timer to turn on their air conditioners during the afternoon to cool their house, then turn it off after 6pm to avoid contributing to peak demand.




Read more:
High energy costs make vulnerable households reluctant to use air conditioning: study



If you have friends or family who are elderly, sick or very young, make sure to check in on them. Consider selecting a cooler place, like a shopping centre or library, you can visit during peak temperatures.

Make a plan for pets and animals, particularly those who will be left outside during the day while the household is at work or school. Ensure they have shade and access to plenty of water.

On a larger scale, better urban planning and house design – and even planting shade trees near houses – are needed. Unfortunately, deadly heatwaves are part of Australia’s summer, and it’s likely they will worsen under climate change. Planning ahead can literally be a life saver.

Andrew Gissing, Adjunct Fellow, Macquarie University and Lucinda Coates, Risk Scientist, Risk Frontiers Natural Hazards Research Centre, Macquarie University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.