Monday, April 06, 2020

I visit the Australian Antarctic Division, a sprawling space station-like complex on Hobart’s southern fringe, for a briefing from its director, Kim Ellis

Most of the article excerpt reproduced below is devoted to prophecy of disaster from Antarctic melting.  The melting is seen as an ongoing process that will eventually "tip" into disaster

When we get to the actual facts however, it is a different story. Note in the last two paragraphs reproduced below that the senior antarctic scientist stresses how random are the actual changes in the Antarctic.  They are so far from a steady progression towards disaster that he prefers "term “climate strange” to “climate change”.

Clearly, what is actually going on is nothing more than the random walk that we would expect from natural changes in the weather.  Global warming is not only completely superfluous as an explanation, it does not fit the facts at all.

Though the effects of climate change are less visible across the Australian Antarctic Territory on the east of the continent, which Ellis administers, than on the western Antarctic Peninsula, where I’m headed, he has no doubt that warming on the continent is a concrete and not a spectral thing. The Antarctic is estimated to have lost three trillion tonnes of ice over the past 25 years and Ellis holds grave fears of an approaching tipping point.

“As ocean salinity changes due to the melting ice sheet and freshwater run-off, so do ocean currents,” says the 64-year-old former army officer in a bright bureaucratic tone that conceals the gravity of this grim scenario.

“The currents around the Antarctic are a major cooling factor. The Antarctic is the Earth’s airconditioner.”

If and when it tips – a moment unlikely to be discernible until it’s already past – Antarctica will become an aggressive driver of climate change. A warming, melting Antarctic would likely propel global sea levels one to two metres higher by 2100, washing an erstwhile frozen continent to the doorstep of many coastal communities.

Experts believe it would also stimulate a change in the direction and strength of the world’s big currents, and deplete oceanic oxygen levels and nutrition to the point where the Earth’s surface water would resemble a “marine desert”.

In the same facility I meet the Australian Antarctic Division’s acting chief scientist, Dirk Welsford, who is dressed in jeans and a black T-shirt bearing a cartoon of a rather wan-looking penguin. He’s a marine ecologist and like his boss, bearded.

Ellis sports a trimmed, almost Elizabethan beard; Welsford’s whiskers are more bearish. He stresses the dramatic temperature fluctuations on the continent between years, seasons and regions, preferring the term “climate strange” to “climate change”.

“The key thing we’re seeing is that everything is less predictable than it used to be,” he explains. “The ice might break out earlier than normal, or later than normal. That’s the big message for us from climate change – it’s not a steady upward swing. It’s pulsing in unpredictable ways.” The new normal, for Welsford, is the abnormal.


Queen wins battle with greens to build hydroelectric turbine to generate £650,000-worth of power a year and make Balmoral self-sufficient

The Queen has won a battle with environmentalists to go green and build a hydroelectric turbine on her land.

Her Majesty wanted to build a two-megawatt generator on the River Muick, which runs through her 50,000-acre Balmoral estate in Scotland.

The plans will generate up to £650,000 of power a year, which will power the estate, and surplus electricity could be sold on to the National Grid.

But the plans were opposed by environmentalists who feared it would be too noisy for woodland creatures living nearby.

Aberdeenshire Council's Environmental Team objected to the proposals.

Spokeswoman Louise Cunningham said in planning documents: 'Typically, hydropower turbines can emit significant amounts of noise.

'The noise information currently provided in the Environmental Statement offers no measurements of the current background noise nor any site specific predictions.'

Consequently, the plans were 'called in' by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) in order to further scrutinise the environmental impact of the idea.

But the authority recently approved the plans along the river. It comes after a similar hydropower scheme began on the Gelder Burn, a stream that also runs through the area.

Richard Gledson, on behalf of Balmoral Estates, said of the plans: 'Balmoral Estates has already developed a hydro scheme on the Gelder Burn, which was commissioned in 2014.

'Following on the success of this project, and with a view to increasing the economic and environmental sustainability of Balmoral Estates, a study was carried out in 2013 into the potential for additional hydro generation.'

Outlining the decision, the CNPA ruled that it would jar with the national park but stressed that no work should be undertaken during the nesting bird season between February and August.

The hydro scheme will provide electricity to the Balmoral estate to help provide a focus on green energy. The turbines will be the fourth and fifth installed there. The first was supplied to provide electric light to Queen Victoria in 1898.


Plastic bags rise again

Since the 1970’s, the enviro freaks have been taking us on various rides in the name of protecting Earth that are all over the place. We were going to freeze to death. Then we were going to boil to death.

On a smaller scale, we were told that we had to stop using paper grocery bags because we were killing too many trees to make them. The switch to plastic bags was on, all in the name of being noble and Earth-saving do-gooders.

By the time the 21st century rolled around, the plastic bags were Satan because they were assaulting dolphins -- it’s always dolphins -- or something. Another switch was on, this time to either the tree-killing paper bags, or reusable bags made out of a variety of things.

Before I had escaped from Los Angeles, plastic bags had been banned and everybody got to virtue-signal with cloth bags.

Fast-forward to 2020 and PLAGUE TIMES.

It turns out that the reusable bags are filthy little germ catchers and carriers, the last things anyone wants around while trying to slow the spread of a pandemic virus.

The Poop Sidewalk brain trust that runs San Francisco has even gone so far as to reverse the ban on plastic bags that has been in place for over a decade.

The lesson here is obvious: hippies and enviro freaks are always wrong.


Short environmental notes from Australia

Victoria renews logging

Late on Wednesday night, the federal and Victorian governments decided to extend five regional forest agreements that exempt the logging industry from conservation laws.

Environmental groups immediately criticised the move, given the summer’s devastating bushfires will already have deforested large swathes and impacted wildlife.

Big polluters increased emissions

One in five of Australia’s biggest polluting sites actually increased their greenhouse gas emissions last year, above the government limit.

Under the safeguard mechanism, companies that breach their limit have to buy carbon credits or pay a penalty. But the Australian Conservation Foundation found that 729,000 tonnes of emissions went unpunished.

Water flows into Menindee

In good news, water has flowed into the drought-stricken Menindee Lakes, the site of infamous mass fish kills last year.

For the first time in years, significant flows and water releases are under way, meaning the lower Darling River will finally reconnect with the Murray.

Government allows coalmining under Sydney reservoir

The New South Wales government has approved the extension of coalmining under the Woronora reservoir.

It’s the first approval in two decades for coalmining directly beneath one of greater Sydney’s reservoirs, and environment groups say it could affect the quality of drinking water.

2019 was the century’s worst year for the environment in Australia

The annual Australia’s Environment report came out on Monday, finally confirming something we may have already seen coming.

Unprecedented bushfires, record heat, record low river inflows, dry soil, low vegetation growth and the 40 new species that were added to the threatened species list meant that 2019 was the worst year since 2000.

In other environmental news, land-clearing approvals in NSW increased 13-fold since the Coalition government changed laws in 2016, according to a secret report provided to the state cabinet.



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