Saturday, 30 April 2011

How Australia dwarfs the US

In a recent Care 2 Causes post, they are taking advantage of the fact that those states affected by the disaster are the ones that, among the Enriched World, have the poorest environment records.

What these people do not realise and absolutely must, is that Western Australia has been hit by much greater and longer term climate changes that have ever been known in the Enriched World. Rainfall in its southwest has declined by as much as fifty percent vis-à-vis averages from before enhanced levels of greenhouse gases began to have a dominant influence in 1967. Although the fires that began this summer have not been major headlines and died down from significant rain in January, but the extraordinary spell of hot and dry weather for the three subsequent months suggests very strongly that in fact the region – which possesses probably the most unique biological diversity of any region in the world – already has had its climate altered irretrievably by anthropogenic greenhouse gases. The extremely conservative Australian Department of Climate Change has admitted that it is ninety percent certain that the observed decline of forty percent in southwestern Australian rainfall is due to man-made global warming. They admit that a decline of thirteen percent in wheat yields is likely by 2050. In reality, it is far more likely that under likely carbon dioxide levels then there will be no winter rain at all and that any crop or even pasture production will be totally dependent on erratic and very limited summer falls.

Yet, I recall a good deal of evidence (which a detailed search could not track down) that many politicians in Western Australia are either
  1. so ignorant of their state’s historical climatic data or
  2. much more likely given the state’s limitless and not fully discovered mineral resources:
    • too dependent on industries that would lose money if Australia was to achieve its long-required zero emissions target with no reductions abroad.
 Even if there is little outright scepticism, there is far too much ignorance of the radical climate changes that have swept Western Australia in the past forty-five years. What is galling still is that the southwest of WA is one of the most biologically diverse regions of the world and could lose its entire biodiversity at likely greenhouse gas levels by 2050, even if the Enriched World achieves zero emissions. Such a scenario of continuing increases even with major reductions in the Enriched World is, owing to the immense political power of the carbon industries in Australia outlined by Guy Pearse in Quarry Vision. It is exactly the reverse of a sane global greenhouse policy whereby Australia is required to achieve zero emissions and no requirements at all are placed on the mineral-poor Enriched World.

Such a policy, which the political leaders of the Enriched World should have known the necessity of in 1997, would actually have cost lower-class Australians very little, as Pearse says:
“Of course, in the event that carbon pirates did flee, the emissions picture for Australia would improve. If those sectors seeking compensation were put in a backpack and transported offshore tomorrow, Department of Climate Change figures suggest that around 94 per cent of GDP might survive, while Australia’s emissions would drop by more than 40 per cent… In practice, they will not flee. We needn’t wait for emissions trading to confirm this, either. As we’ve seen, companies predicting carbon leakage from Australia already produce the same commodities offshore with renewable energy and vastly lower emissions-intensity. The best-known aluminum producers (Rio Tinto Alcan, Alcoa, Hydro Aluminum and Rusal) all smelt the vast majority of their aluminum with renewable power. As for LNG, industry analysts believe Australian projects will not be rendered uncompetitive if producers are forced to pay for their emissions.

Not surprisingly, ABARE found in 2007 that even if Australia acted alone in cutting greenhouse emissions, for every tonne of greenhouse gas cut only around one-tenth of a tonne would leak offshore – and compensating polluters with free permits made little difference to that.”

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