Monday, January 14, 2013

Australia's heatwave forecast in one animated map - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Australia's heatwave is shifting north to northern New South Wales and southern Queensland, and the high temperatures are forecast to continue for the coming week.

Australia's heatwave forecast in one animated map - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)


  1. An "animated gif".

    Learnt another one.

    Where o where is the bloody Monsoon?

    We are becoming fungi !


    As Australia burns, attitudes are changing. But is it too late?

    Raging wildfires are forcing many to rethink their stance on climate change. But there's little time left to reduce emissions

    Tim Flannery

    The Guardian, Friday 11 January 2013 18.59 GMT

    ‘Large parts of the continent will be uninhabitable, not just by humans but by Australia's spectacular biodiversity as well"

    ....The superheated air currently monstering the continent is fickle. This week, Sydneysiders watched in relative thermal comfort as those living just 100km to the south endured scorching heat, blustering winds, and unstoppable fires. The forecast for coming days indicates that Sydney might once again be lucky, with the worst fire conditions striking 50km to the north of the city. But, of course, things might work out differently.

    The unprecedented conditions of recent weeks have seen many Australians rethinking their attitude to climate change. A good friend of mine farms just outside Canberra. A few years ago the drought was so severe that his 300 year-old gum trees died of thirst. Then the rains came on so violently that they stripped the precious topsoil, filling his dams with mud and sheep droppings. This week he watched as his cousin's property at Yass was reduced to ashes. When I called he was trying to secure his own historic homestead and outbuildings from fire. He asked me if I thought the family would still be farming the area 50 years from now. All I could say was that it depended upon how quickly Australia, and the world, reduced their greenhouse gas emissions.

    Australia's average temperature has increased by just 0.9 of a degree celsius over the past century. Within the next 90 years we're on track to warm by at least another three degrees. Having seen what 0.9 of a degree has done to heatwaves and fire extremes, I dread to think about the kind of country my grandchildren will live in. Even our best agricultural land will be under threat if that future is realised. And large parts of the continent will be uninhabitable, not just by humans, but by Australia's spectacular biodiversity as well.


    Australia is the world's largest coal exporter, and the mining lobby is exceptionally strong. As calls to combat climate change have increased, the miners have argued that "mum and dad investors" will lose out if any effort is made to reduce the export or use of fossil fuels. But the smart money is no longer backing fossil fuels. In South Australia, wind energy has gone from 1% to 26% of the mix in just seven years, and nationally solar panel installations are 13 years ahead of official projections. Last year, in fact, Australia led the world in terms of number of individual solar installations.

    And finally, with a carbon price in place, Australia's emissions curve is beginning to flatten out. Despite these efforts, Australians are already enduring the kind of conditions they'd hoped to avoid if strong, early action had been taken. Now, more than ever, we're in a race against time to avoid a truly catastrophic outcome.

  3. Climate change inaction the fault of environmental groups, report says

    Academic paper largely clears President Obama of blame over failure to pass climate legislation through Congress

    A Harvard academic has put the blame squarely for America's failure to act on climate change on environmental groups. She also argues that there is little prospect Barack Obama will put climate change on the top of his agenda in his second term.

    In a research paper, due to be presented at a Harvard forum next month, scholar Theda Skocpol in effect accuses the DC-based environmental groups of political malpractice, saying they were blind to extreme Republican opposition to their efforts.

    Environmental groups overlooked growing opposition to environmental protections among conservatives voters and, underestimated the rising force of the Tea Party, believing – wrongly, as it turned out – they could still somehow win over Republican members of Congress through "insider grand bargaining".

    That fatal misreading of the political realities – namely, the extreme polarisation of Congress and the Tea Party's growing influence among elected officials – doomed the effort to get a climate law through Congress. It will also make it more difficult to achieve climate action in the future, she added.

    Skocpol, meanwhile, lets Obama off the hook for the political inaction on climate change, overturning the conventional wisdom among environmental leaders that political cowardice by the White House ultimately doomed climate legislation.


    Late last week, the New York Times made news – when it broke that the paper has shuttered its environment desk. The change isn't supposed to result in any layoffs, and the managing editor for news operations, Dean Baquet, told the news site Inside Climate that it "is purely a structural matter" – they haven't lost interest in covering environmental issues. The reporters will just be doing it from other formal desks.

    The change is still disheartening, to put it mildly. Compelling, well-reported environmental stories are only becoming more important, and the Times has, without a doubt, been a leader of that coverage – especially since it launched the environment desk in 2009.

    Take just one example of environmental coverage: climate change. Even as the issue gets more imperative, the science more complicated, and the implications more apparent, climate coverage has dropped around the world last year, according to a study by the Daily Climate. The Times was notable in that it led the five largest daily papers in the US in coverage of the issue, and actually increased the number of stories on it last year.

  4. Beijing smog continues as Chinese state media urge more action

    Unusually frank discussions of pollution come as Beijing implements new emergency response plan in response to smog

    China's state media have called for environmental improvements in unusually frank discussions of the country's pollution problem, as thick smog continues to shroud Beijing and other cities.

    Stores sold out of masks and the capital implemented its new pollution emergency response plan for the first time after visibility plummeted at the weekend. Several construction sites were ordered to halt work, factories slowed production and authorities ordered a curb on the use of government cars. Schools cancelled outside activities and authorities advised residents to stay inside.

    Hospitals reported increases of up to 30% in the number of patients reporting breathing problems as officials warned that the conditions were likely to last until Wednesday – a day longer than previously predicted – when winds should help to disperse the pollution.

    Outside the capital there were mass flight delays and highway closures on Sunday. Visibility in Changsha, the capital of Hunan, reportedly dropped to 50m.

    Beijing's levels are by far the worst recorded since the government began early last year releasing figures on PM2.5 particles – tiny particulate matter thought particularly damaging to health because it can penetrate deep into the lungs – and the US embassy began issuing its own measurements four years ago.

    "How can we get out of this suffocating siege of pollution?" the People's Daily, the official Communist party newspaper, asked in a front-page editorial.

    "Let us clearly view managing environmental pollution with a sense of urgency."

    It said around half of more than 70 Chinese cities monitored for air quality showed severe pollution over the weekend.

    The populist state-run Global Times newspaper said the problem had triggered public calls to shift development "away from the previous fixation on economic growth", while the China Youth Daily titled a front-page commentary: "More suffocating than the haze is the weakness in response."

    Well-known environmentalist Ma Jun said: "Given the public's ability to spread this information, especially on social media, the government itself has to make adjustments."

    While Chinese environmental regulations have become far more stringent, environmentalists have complained that officials are often reluctant to enforce standards for fear of holding back economic growth.

    But John Cai, the director of the centre for healthcare management and policy at Beijing's China Europe International Business School, warned: "The increased disease burden [due to poor air quality] has caused a serious financial burden on government and individuals.

    "The recent serious pollution will send a serious warning to the government and will have an important impact in making the government speed up its regulation and enforcement."

    Shops have been unable to keep up with the surge in demand for masks and air purifiers, with many running out.

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