I remember when I was 16, having to get up in June at 5:00am for work start at 7:30, to have breakfast, shower, shave, etcetera, then catch a bus – I was 16 remember – It was ferking cold. I distinctly remember standing at the bus stop, shivering. I remember the winds in July-August howling through the concrete canyons of the city, bitterly cold. That was 1973, so 47 years ago. I wonder these days where those winters have gone.
I have vivid memories of living in Cairns, 1976 to 1979. Wonderful place, much smaller than it is today. The summers were hot & humid, but it IS in FNQ, the tropics. 32°C was commonplace daily in December. I’d hate to think what it is commonly these days. I recall the rainy season, January-February, when the rain would not stop falling for 10-14 days straight, and it was torrential rain, non-stop. Doesn’t happen a whole lot anymore.
You see, at 62 years of age, I’ve been around a bit, I’ve lived long enough to know in my bones that ‘things’ are changing. These ‘things’ have been changing for well over 2 decades now. The climate change deniers we see on the interwebs, in the Murdoch rags and on Foxtel….how much have they lived, how much have they experienced? How much are they being paid to say the things they do about denial of the blindingly obvious?
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has some fascinating statistics, if you’d care to look at them, dear reader. For example, the Australian Mean Temperature Anomaly.
There’s recorded data regarding rainfall….
and there are detailed descriptions of what influences elements of our regional climate, such as the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). This element, one of three important oceanic current thermoclines that impact on Australia, the others being the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO). These three ocean currents act on our island continent, driven by global winds in the depth of the planetary atmosphere and the planet’s orbital rotation. The currents rise and fall through the oceanic depths depending on temperatures at varying depths. As the oceans warm, which the global oceans are doing as a result of Human Induced Climate Change, those temperature depths change over time, altering the flow of the currents. Read the BOM website, it explains how these localised influences impact on our regional climate. The planet – the only home we have as a species – is 71% ocean. Here’s some interesting facts from the Hawaii Pacific University Oceanic Institute site:
- The oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and contain 97 percent of the Earth’s water.
- Less than 1 percent of the Earth’s water is fresh water, and 2-3 percent is contained in glaciers and ice caps.
- The oceans contain 99 percent of the living space on the planet.
- If the ocean’s total salt content were dried, it would cover the continents to a depth of 5 feet.
The North Atlantic Thermocline (NAT) – the Atlantic current commonly called the ‘Gulfstream’ – is what provides northern Europe with clement winters and temperate summers. A Thermocline is like a circular elevator and the NAT is a very large and complicated system of ocean current movements. Should the NAT be impacted sufficiently by changes in the planetary ecosphere from Human Induced Climate Change, it could, according to modelling which is on record, cease to function altogether, effectively plunging Northern Europe and the North American continent into a new ice age. Currently, due to warming of oceanic currents and the atmospheric envelope, the Greenland icecap is melting, contributing greater and greater amounts of fresh water into what is a self-sustaining, saline current. Reduce the salinity, you change the way the water moves between thermoclines. Change the salinity enough, and the thermoclines break down completely. No rise and fall of warm and cold water, no movement of the current.
The science of Climate Change is enormously complex, as is the planetary ecosystem we and millions of other species we cohabit with depend upon for our existence. There is not one single part of the planetary ecosystem that does not rely upon another part to provide the delicate balance we’ve come to treat as status quo. What I’ve very, very lightly touched upon above is only a tiny part of one aspect of what drives our planetary climate engine. I am incredibly saddened and enraged over petty arguments put forth from those who choose to ignore the science, and utterly disgusted at those who choose, or rather, are driven by selfish, greedy agendas to deny the science as having no value to our future whatsoever. The science, in it’s multitude of disciplines, is abundantly clear. Human beings are having an undeniable impact on the planetary ecosphere, it’s climate, it’s ability to continue to support life as we understand it, and if unacknowledged, will spell out right now a very, VERY unpleasant future for life on this world. If I am to step aside from my literary mode for a moment, we cannot continue to dig up dead dinosaurs, burn them, release sequestered carbon from 200 million years of storage, and not expect to see any changes to the environment we depend upon. We simply cannot. The ecosphere is warming, the Siberean and Canadian Tundra are melting. In that permafrost, that frozen solid earth which has a base estimated at 1.5km before being impacted by geothermal heating from within the mantle, lies millions of years of carbonised plant and animal material, together with the attendant gases of decomposition, such as Methane, a Greenhouse Gas 30 times more potent than Carbon Dioxide. Are we really going to risk, if it’s not already occurring (and it is) the release of that potential to raise this planet’s ecospheric temperature envelope to levels where no life can survive? Today it appears so.
Why should I be concerned? I’ll be dead in 20 or so years. You who might be reading this will also be dead and gone along with me before you experience anything drastic, but the changes we are wreaking work on geological timeframes, normally over millions of years, but we are accelerating those changes to thousands, if not hundreds of years. That acceleration is exponential. The less attention we pay, the faster the changes will occur. I’d be willing to put down good money today to say that by 2100, parts of Australia will be inhabitable, not farmable, no food production possible. Sea levels will rise, probably only to an inconvenient level, but levels will rise making coastal areas with shiny mansions built on them cave into tidal movements. The poor rich people, my heart bleeds. This country will burn periodically, and more often. Parts of it will flood, catastrophically, and more often. Loss of lives will increase, infrastructure will need to be upgraded, moved.
I’ll ask the question that’s been asked hundreds of times before now. What will be more expensive? Acting now, or waiting to see just what happens, and act as it happens?