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Mayor of Lismore sends Kayak to Paris

At 10.30am on Monday the 12th of January, Steve will be farewelled from Lismore, NSW, by Mayor, Jenny Dowell at the Council Offices, 43 Oliver Ave, Goonellabah.

Steve travels to Canberra where his mammoth kayak journey begins. He will depart Engineering House at 11.00am on Thursday 15th of January. From there he drags his kayak to Port Kembla on foot and then paddles up the coast via Wollongong to Sydney, arriving at the Opera House at mid-day on 31st January. He will be greeted by Bob Brown and a numerous other well-wishers.

From Sydney, Steve will board a plane to the Gulf of Mexico where he paddles north up the Mississippi (that’s upstream), up the Illinois, through the Great Lakes and all the way to the sea at the top of Canada.  He then flies to the UK where he will paddle across the UK including the Thames, across the English Channel and up the Seine to Paris for the UN Climate Summit in November, 2015.

“I hope to represent all Australians who feel angered and dissatisfied by our government’s inaction around climate change,” Steve explained.

“Like so many people, I want deep emission cuts and a commitment from Canberra to treat the warming of the earth as the gravely important issue that it is. We know we are the worst emitters of CO2 per capita, and we know that we are the largest coal exporter in the world. I want to  represent all Australians , who want to accept our responsibility to make change, and do whatever it takes to contribute positively to the fight against  global warming.”

— ENDS —

About Steve

Steve Posselt is an engineer, author, adventurer, ecowarrior and grandfather. On January 12th, he will embark on a trip of truly epic proportions. In his Kayak4earth, he will Connect Climate Chaos across the globe; from Canberra to Sydney, throughout the length of North America and into Europe. He will travel approximately 8000kms paddling and dragging his wheeled kayak to deliver a message on behalf of all Australians to the rest of the world – we want to fight global warming.

Connecting Climate Chaos is about linking extreme weather events outside previously known parameters; Canberra’s Fire Storm, Sydney’s unseasonably early bush fires, Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, the melting of the Arctic, the UK’s floods and French drought.

Enquiries contact Connor Benfield from Men at Work Communications on 0401 756 643 or connor@menatworkcomms.com.au

Global Warming resources

Global Warming
This problem is real and it is not going away. The words climate change and global warming are perhaps too soft. What we are talking about is severe atmospheric pollution.It is all part of man’s inability to live sustainably. What will bite us first, polluting our atmosphere, using up our oil reserves, destroying our fisheries? The list is long. We need global action now. Targets for 2050 are ridiculous; it may be all over by then.
Recommended Reading
“The Last Generation” – Fred Pearce
“The Weather Makers” – Tim Flannery
“Climate Change: The Science, Impacts and Solutions (2nd. edition), –  Barrie Pittock, 2009:  http://www.publish.csiro.au/pid/6010.htm.“Storms of My Grandchildren” – James HansenThese books are about global warming and what it means. Barrie’s book is like a textbook. There are lots of facts which by themselves, coming from a person of Barrie’s calibre, are frightening. Tim Flannery’s book is excellent and well known but I think Fred Pearce’s is better and it is more recent. If you can take the science and want the absolute best and latest information then Storms of My Grandchildren is the best read.
Some of the politics of what went wrong
“Scorcher” – Clive Hamilton
This is about Australia and the politics around global warming. It makes you understand why Australian policy has been what it has.“The American Denial of Global Warming” – Naomi Oreskeshttp: www.uctv.tv/search-details.asp?showID=13459
This is an hour long video. There are many ways to reach it but the above is a link. It details some history and makes many things clear.Keep up to date with www.skepticalscience.com“This Changes Everything” – Naomi Klein. Use it like a text book. It is scary but very detailed, honest and gives some hope.
What you can do
Many sites have a list of things that you can do. Our list is short.1. Buy green power. Do whatever it takes to get your electricity supplier to provide electricity from renewable energy. Lobby your authority to make it easy for consumers to do this. Convince your friends to buy green power. If you don’t do anything else – do this.

2. Use less fuel. This means driving as little as possible and flying as little as possible.

3. Think about the word sustainable. Try to live your life in a sustainable way.

Sustainability: Forms of progress that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs – World Commission on Environment and Development

Fossil fuels
There is no doubt. The pollution is caused by releasing energy captured over millions of years in the space of a few centuries. Clean coal is like a healthy cigarette. It does not exist. Many things are bad. Coal is perhaps the worst of the worst. Instead of spending valuable research on capture and storage of the pollutant, which under best conditions is five times the volume of the original coal extracted, research should be directed to renewable energy. Coal seam gas is not a transition fuel. It is a perpetuation of everything that is bad in relation to climate change. Additionally, we simply do not know the effect on groundwater despite confident assertions by “experts”. Unless the well casings can last forever, all ground water will be connected to a poisonous gas. About 5-10% of well casings fail immediately, 50% over 30 years, and the probability of the rest lasting forever is zeroThe technology to solve global warming is available now. The will to do so is not.

 

Comments on the Latest IPCC Report and Communicating Risk

Comments by Barrie Pittock, former IPCC Lead Author, climate scientist and author:

 

The critical first volume of the fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is now published and the subject of wide discussion. It is the result of years of effort by many of the world’s leading climate scientists, and was subjected to approval by representatives of governments with widely differing views on what to do about climate change. These included Australia, the United States, Russia, India, China, Saudi Arabia and dozens of others.

Notable is that the new findings make it even clearer that the world is warming at an unprecedented rate and that this is almost certainly due to human pollution of the atmosphere. The report also concludes that the warming climate is increasing the severity and frequency of many extreme weather events, is changing rainfall patterns, causing rising sea levels, acidifying the oceans, and creating increasing risk for human well-being, the environment and the economy. Modern human society has developed to cope with the risks posed by normal climatic variations of the last century or so, including past variability and extremes. Adaptations include water storages, levee banks, zoning and design rules to cope with floods, coastal storm surges and other environmental hazards.

These and many other aspects of modern human society are now threatened by changes that could have serious human and economic consequences. Risks from normal climate variability include that to coastal development of ports, power stations, cities and holiday resorts, and modern agriculture, dependent on the normal temperature range and seasonal rainfall distributions. Increased risks will impose enormous extra costs on society if people and investments are to continue to be protected.

The climate system is very complex, with many cross-connections, including amplifying effects such as warming that reduces snow cover which in turn allows more solar heating of the surface and thus more warming and even less snow cover. A similar amplification is involved with loss of Arctic sea ice, and probably with ocean acidification as that threatens life in the oceans which at present absorbs a lot of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

So clearly climate change imposes extra risks. This has already been documented and acted upon by insurance companies, particularly the big international re-insurance companies such as Munich Reinsurance and Swiss Re, which insure other insurance companies.

A central task of the IPCC is to identify and quantify (as far as possible) the risks from climate change. Risk, as recognised in insurance and in engineering design, is in general the product of the probability of adverse impacts times their magnitude. For example, we generally insure a house against burning down even though the probability of this happening to our particular house is likely very small, because if it burnt down it would be very serious financially. The probability of it burning down may be less than 1 in 100 in any given year, yet we pay for insurance, or take other precautions like installing fire alarms and sprinkler systems, just in case.

Similarly, in the case of engineering design, for a road culvert we generally design it to take care of a flood that might occur only once in ten years. But for a bridge the cost of failure would be much larger so we design it to withstand a flood that might occur only once in 100 or more years, while for a major dam we would be extra cautious and design it to withstand a flood that might occur only once in 1000 or more years.

So even hazards that have quite low probability must be designed for or prevented if they are of great magnitude. So it should be with climate change hazards.

Take coastal zoning and design standards as an example. If we consider the risk to a new development over its anticipated life-time, for example of a house or tourist development, where the lifetime might be up to 100 years, we should design it to cope with a sea-level rise or storm surge that just might occur over that time.

This leads to a problem with the way the latest IPCC report fails to communicate the real problem of risk. The IPCC characterisation of uncertainty is stated as being from “virtually certain” (99-100%), through “about as likely as not” (33-66%), to “unlikely” (0-33%), to “exceptionally unlikely” (0-1%). I suggest that that fails to communicate the serious nature of the risk of extreme changes since an outcome labelled as “unlikely” is likely to be ignored by lay people when really a 1 in 3 chance of a disaster is really a serious risk. Uncertainty requires a more explicit risk assessment approach, so the less certain possibilities should be described as “quite possible” (0-33%) or “possible” (0-10%) and perhaps “just possible” (0-1%), or some similar description that allows for the risk of a calamity like a 5 meter sea-level rise.

Would you board an aeroplane if its chance of crashing was stated as 1 in 3, or even 1 in 10? Of course not!

A case in point is the uncertainty regarding possible rapid disintegration of the massive ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica. Decades back glaciologists thought this would only come about by surface warming and the slow conduction of heat to the bottom of the ice sheet, taking hundreds to thousands of years. Then the idea appeared that surface melt-water might flow through crevasses in the ice, lubricating the bottom of the outlet glaciers, which would thus flow faster due to less resistance. More recently it was thought that this might not be such a great issue, since melt-water may scour out only narrow channels, rather than lubricating the whole bottom layer.

Now that understanding has changed once more: the melt-water penetrating deep into the ice sheet will warm the ice, causing it to be softer, like butter, and thus flow faster. This could have a much wider effect and lead to great increases in flow of outlet glaciers. Large rises in sea level are thus possible, even though they are as yet poorly quantified. Indeed, there is a real risk of multi-meter sea-level rises within a century or so.

This raises two problems for IPCC: firstly that of increasing uncertainty about the rapidity of sea-level rise, and secondly how the risk implied can be communicated. Given large uncertainties about possible disastrous impacts, IPCC needs to communicate what this means in terms of risk. The risk is obviously great for large impacts even if they have only a small but appreciable probability of occurring. So climate-driven changes that have only a small but non-negligible chance of occurring do need to be taken seriously. So far IPCC has not clearly communicated this.

Time scales for damaging climate changes are also vitally important, as is their possible damaging effect on investment, either from the destruction of infrastructure or the need for costly adaptations such as massive sea walls or retreat from the coast. Insurance companies tend to understand this risk, but many other companies seem less clear.

I am reminded for instance of ski resort owners who in the 1990s were affronted when my research group identified future loss of snow cover in future decades. The resort companies accused us of wanting to shut down the ski industry, and said that if they invested in a new ski run they would make a profit in a few years, and if they invested in a new ski resort they could profit within a decade. So they were not concerned about global warming that might take several decades to damage their investments. Later, however, new resort owners actually asked us for improved estimates of loss of snow cover so that they could plan investments in artificial snow making machines.

Today in Australia new investments are being made or planned in coal mines, railways to carry the coal and new ports for exporting the coal. These new mines will take a decade or more to come on-line, by which time many of the coal consuming countries such as China may well have decided to do away with highly polluting coal-fired power stations for two reasons. First is local air pollution which poses increasing health risks, and secondly their countries will be increasingly threatened by rising sea levels and changing climates. China and India are already taking measures to deal with these problems

These potential coal consumers will thus be moving increasingly towards renewable or nuclear energy and energy efficiency. If they do that the investors in new coal mines and export facilities will have stranded assets. Thus potential investors must look ahead, not to make profits in a year or two but to anticipate longer term threats to their investments. They would do much better in the long run by investing in renewable energy technology.

One interesting irony in Australia has been the recent serious flooding of many open cut coal and indeed uranium mines in this country due to increasing heavy rain events. Such an increase was predicted by climate scientists in the early 1990s, but investors took no notice. Now they are having to build bigger tailings dams (in the case of uranium mines) and install pumps, levee banks and better drainage facilities.

It is thus time that businesses and investors took enhanced climate change seriously and planned ahead by investing more appropriately in a changing environment. And it is up to climate change scientists and environmental advocates to get businesses on side. This is serious. Scientists, environmentalists and investors need to work together. That is the second major communication problem. First we must better communicate the risk of extreme effects and secondly we must help investors to understand what this means for them.

Campbell Newman Backflip

Catch the Premier of Queensland in the middle of his Climate Change flip as Mayor of Brisbane. This is before the back flip.

“Two years ago I was a sceptic and then I did my research and now I’m very firmly of the belief that we have to do something about ‘the issue’. … That’s why the Brisbane City Council in the coming financial year will be undertaking one of the most significant climate awareness campaigns.”
What happened Campbell? Did you sell your soul for coal?

Kayak4Earth video released

A quick video compilation of Kayak4Earth’s previous trips set to Dennis Nattrass’ Down By The Water has been released on You Tube.

Steve Posselt on the Murray River (Australia’s Mississippi) and its major tributaries, talking to politicians, the media and scientists about the impact of Climate Chaos and Global Warming on our river systems and the communities who depend on them.

 

Flannery reviews Glikson

m2x4hpERimLJfGSS8n35E7oS0UBz20WpAndrew Glikson, a Canberra-based geologist, is an exception. No better description of the Earth system exists than his Evolution of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizon (Springer; $106.95), though the slender volume is not for everyone. Its concise, technical language will be heavy going for those with little geology or chemistry. It is, however, a must-read for every engineer and geologist who is in denial about anthropogenic global warming.

At the book’s heart are a series of complex interactions in which the Sun, greenhouse gases and life itself influence conditions at and near Earth’s surface. Here, we are talking of fundamentals: Is the air breathable? Are the oceans acid or alkali? Does life prosper or not? Glikson’s areas of expertise include asteroid impacts and Earth’s early evolution, but he’s no less masterful at describing the changes wrought by the industrial revolution. Earth is revealed in all its manifestations: from an oxygen-free infant with toxic oceans and precious little land 3 billion years ago, to an ageing planet destabilised by a plague of bipedal apes. His description of the ocean during the “greenhouse Earth” episode of 55 million years ago offers a good example of his style:

Elevated CO2 led to acidification of ocean water from ~8.2 to ~7.5 pH and the extinction of 35–50% of benthic foraminifera over ~1000 years.

This neatly summarises countless hours of research, and describes an Earth whose atmosphere was so supercharged by greenhouse gases that the acidifying oceans led to mass extinctions, ecosystem crises and an ocean floor corroded red with acid. Only when conditions are reduced to such simple terms can meaningful comparisons between various crises in Earth’s history be made.

Evolution of the Atmosphere is not all numbers. Glikson’s greatest insight concerns humanity’s acquisition of fire. The massive energy flows and consequent chemical changes unleashed by controlled combustion have, he demonstrates, unbalanced the Earth system, and are now pushing it into a new, hostile state. As Glikson puts it, “Planeticide emerges from the dark recesses of the prehistoric mind, from the fears of humans watching the flames round camp fires, yearning for immortality.”

So how grave, in comparison to earlier episodes in Earth’s history, is current climate change?

The atmospheric CO2 rise from ~280 to 397–400 ppm, with a mean of 0.43 ppm per year … exceeds any measurement in the geological record.

Glikson is telling us, in his own precise way, that the coming extinction crisis may well be worse than that of the greenhouse Earth of 55 million years ago or the extinction of the dinosaurs 10 million years earlier. In the last decade, he writes, “it was becoming clear that Homo sapiens was not going to undertake a meaningful attempt to slow down, arrest, or reverse global warming”.

Writing perhaps of his own awareness of the impending apocalypse, he says that “human insights into nature entail a terrible price”. I’m not so sure we are doomed. There are dawning indications that humanity is using this critical decade to curb at last the use of fossil fuels. Each wind turbine, each solar panel, and each development in battery technology and electric vehicles is a skirmish won. There is no doubt, however, that much remains to be done if we are to stave off Glikson’s predictions.

Burning a billion years of sunlight

Dr Andrew Glickson has released a paper and a book on this topic
Dr Andrew Glickson has released a paper and a book on this topic

A new paper, released last month, measures the impact of burning fossil fuels on a geological timeframe.

Doctor Andrew Glickson’s paper, Fire and Human Evolution, measures the amount of energy, carbon and oxygen stored or created by plants in early geological ages and its rate of release throughout human history.

“Human respiration dissipates 2 to 10 calories per minute, a camp fire covering one square metre releases approximately 180,000 Calories per minute, and the output of a 1000 megawatt/hour power plant expends some 2.4 billion calories per minute, namely some 500 million times the mean energy level of individual human respiration.”

It breaks the era of human intervention in the Earth’s systems (the Anthropocene) into three distinct phases.

  1. Early Anthropocene” ∼2 million years ago, when fire was discovered by Homo ergaster.
  2. Middle Anthropocene” when extensive grain farming developed.
  3. Late Anthropocene” with the onset of combustion of fossil fuels.

Glickson concludes that the discovery of fire leads directly to the consequence of runaway climate change.

“ It would take a species possessing absolute wisdom and total control to prevent its own inventions from getting out of hand.”

This provides academic rigour for the simple contention that by burning a billion years of sunlight in a little over a century we are inevitably going to warm the earth enough to lead to climate chaos.

Global warming – It’s time to act!

Global Warming
This problem is real and it is not going away. The words climate change and global warming are perhaps too soft. What we are talking about is severe atmospheric pollution.

It is all part of man’s inability to live sustainably. What will bite us first, polluting our atmosphere, using up our oil reserves, destroying our fisheries? The list is long. We need global action now. Targets for 2050 are ridiculous; it may be all over by then.

Recommended Reading
“The Last Generation” – Fred Pearce
“The Weather Makers” – Tim Flannery
“Climate Change – Turning Up the Heat” – Barrie Pittock
“Storms of My Grandchildren” – James Hansen

These books are about global warming and what it means. Barrie’s book is like a textbook. There are lots of facts which by themselves, coming from a person of Barrie’s calibre, are frightening. Tim Flannery’s book is excellent and well known but I think Fred Pearce’s is better and it is more recent. If you can take the science and want the absolute best and latest information then Storms of My Grandchildren is the best read.

To understand why we are at this point
“Scorcher” – Clive Hamilton
This is about Australia and the politics around global warming. It makes you understand why Australian policy has been what it has.

“The American Denial of Global Warming” – Naomi Oreskeshttp: www.uctv.tv/search-details.asp?showID=13459
This is an hour long video. There are many ways to reach it but the above is a link. It details some history and makes many things clear.

What you can do
Many sites have a list of things that you can do. Our list is short.

1. Buy green power. Do whatever it takes to get your electricity supplier to provide electricity from renewable energy. Lobby your authority to make it easy for consumers to do this. Convince your friends to buy green power. If you don’t do anything else – do this.

2. Use less fuel. This means driving as little as possible and flying as little as possible.

3. Think about the word sustainable. Try to live your life in a sustainable way.

Sustainability: Forms of progress that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs – World Commission on Environment and Development

Fossil fuels
There is no doubt. The pollution is caused by releasing energy captured over millions of years in the space of a few centuries.

Clean coal is like a healthy cigarette. It does not exist. Many things are bad. Coal is perhaps the worst of the worst. Instead of spending valuable research on capture and storage of the pollutant, which under best conditions is five times the volume of the original coal extracted, research should be directed to renewable energy.

Coal seam gas is not a transition fuel. It is a perpetuation of everything that is bad in relation to climate change. Additionally, we simply do not know the effect on groundwater despite confident assertions by “experts”.
The technology to solve global warming is available now. The will to do so is not.

Racing the moon

Steve and Denise in the outrigger
Standard OC2 with 2.5kg timber with spare paddle and dry bag.
Bag contains 10m of 8mm rope, nylon cord, sharp knife,
electrical tape, Elastoplast, scissors, sparehat and spare sun
glasses. Denise has a small porthole in front of her with phone,
a small toolkit, protein bars and duct tape. In my shirt with
Velcro pocket covers is my waterproof phone, sunscreen, lip
balm and insect repellent. Denise has a bum bag for drinks and
I have a 1.5L plastic bottle tied on under my leg.

It was 5.20am when we left Ballina.

The sun was still preparing to rise as we crossed the bar but with a 95% moon we could see the waves. The crossing was therefore exhilarating but uneventful. Heading south and with a significant swell coming over our left shoulders, we managed to catch many small runners barrelling along past the familiar beach.

Denise thought it was a good idea when I suggested it a few weeks beforehand. The rest of the club thought we were both stark raving mad. Although there have probably been people who have done the circumnavigation, we doubted anyone would have done it in one day.

The plan was to head south to Evans Head, up the Evans River, through the Tuckombil Canal, portage over the barrage at the Pacific Highway, connect to the Richmond River and then paddle down the Richmond to Ballina. The distance is 91km. The craft was to be an OC2 which is a two seat outrigger canoe. Canoe means paddling with a one blade paddle and after every 19 strokes we change sides. That means as the counter, I have to be able to count to 18. As an IQ test this does not seem too difficult but you would be surprised how hard it can be to get it right 2000 times in a row

Read the full story here.

It’s Time

Steve on the Goulburn
Steve Posselt has paddled the length of the Darling Murray river system

We know that Climate Chaos will tear our civilisation apart but we allow our governments to protect a handful of investors while they risk the future.

It’s time to take the action into our own hands and show that we will not stand idly by and allow our future to be flushed down the toilet in the interest of short term profits.

It’s time to divest our savings from the fossil fuel sector

It’s time to vote out those politicians who claim science as a servant of the economy instead of a method for discovering the truth.

It’s time to embrace the revolution in every community, support local enterprise, reduce our ecological footprint and to build a stable future, not a future based on mythical infinite growth.

Steve Posselt has dragged his kayak upstream and overland down Australia’s largest river network and some of its most embattled rivers.

Many of Australia's Rivers are dry as a result of climate change
Many of Australia’s Rivers are dry as a result of climate change

He has backed a successful plan to stop the damming of the Mary River.

He has argued the toss with Mayors of capital cities and country towns about climate chaos and the impact on their communities.

He has decided that It’s Time to take his mission all the way to the top, starting at the northern edge of the North American continent and heading all the way down to New Orleans.

He will visit many of the scenes of drastic weather conditions where people have experienced first hand the climate chaos caused by the incredible amounts of carbon dioxide we have pumped into the air.

He will be calling on you, to support him and show your local, state and federal politicians that it is time they take this issue seriously or be left behind in the global movement that is going to take its money out of the system unless the system wakes up.

We will not allow our children and grandchildren to be cooked by the short sighted selfish investors backing the fossil fuel sector.

It’s time for a change.