Monday, 17 October 2011

The View from a Far Country

Here's a view of Australia from “across the water” – lots of water, and not rising much, by my analysis. What I see is a microcosm of what's wrong with the world, and politics today. I see the government of a country which was built on coal, whose prosperity resulted from coal, which currently depends on coal, turning its back on it. This degree of economic and political suicide is arguably unmatched anywhere else.

I see a government which has abandoned policies which work for policies which demonstrably don't work, and can't work. I see a government pandering to a tiny minority in order to retain power. Expensive desalination plants have been, and are being built instead of much cheaper dams which serve not one but two purposes, water storage and flood control. Dams apparently “destroy the environment”, whereas clearly it's uncontrolled flooding which does that very efficiently, as well as destroying property, livelihoods and lives.

I see local authorities banning coastal development, or allowing it only if houses are built on piles, because of a projected rise in sea-level which, even if it occurs, will post-date the likely (or useful) lifespan of the buildings.

I see a government which appears to be considering “controlling” the media, presumably because they don't like contrary opinions being expressed. Shades of 1984 indeed. That same government is under pressure from Luddites who want to see a large coal-fired power station closed down, with no alternative sources of energy in place. That same government is introducing a "carbon tax" in order to reduce Australian CO2 emissions by a small fraction of a whole which itself is a tiny 1.5% of worldwide emissions. The economic damage will be tangible, the effect on world climate (even if "worst case scenarios" become reality) will be immeasurably minuscule.

I see state-funded organisations distributing exaggeration and propaganda, some would say lies (I would), about future climate and sea-level rise, in an obvious attempt to scare the population into submission. This in a country whose people's instinctive common-sense and aversion to bullshit is (or at least was) legendary worldwide.

God help Australia.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Tuvalu - "The Economist" makes up sea-level statistics

Tuvalu, that icon of alarmists everywhere, is suffering a severe drought. The Economist explains why
Observers blame the shortage on the changing weather patterns and rising sea levels associated with climate change—and warn they could be a sign of things to come for the whole region. 
Freshwater supplies had already been running dangerously low for the 11,000 people who live on Tuvalu. The drought caused by nearly a year of sparse rainfall has been made worse [by] rising sea levels, which have contaminated the low-lying country’s underground aquifers with salt water.
As an archipelago whose highest elevation is a meagre 4.5 metres, Tuvalu feels it when the sea level climbs by an average of 5.77 mm annually. The whole country, a cluster of white sandy beaches as far as can be from the rest of the planet, is expected to disappear entirely within the next 50 years. That fate portends ominously not just for Tuvalu, but also for every other low-lying coastal area, from the Maldives to Manhattan. 
Let's see what Tuvalu is "feeling". If sea-level is rising at a rate of 5.77 mm/year, that should be readily detectable at the capital, Funafuti. Data is available to August this year (click to enlarge).

Sea-level at Funafuti, Tuvalu; Jan 1999-Aug 2011, trend -0.33 mm/year

So much for that "5.77 mm/year rise" - the trend is slightly negative. See the end of this post for details of data source. Newspapers and journals should be required to quote a source for data they include in articles and blogs. Tuvalu's "white sandy beaches" seem to be free of any immediate threat, and it would appear that the country's underground aquifers have become contaminated with sea-water due to over-extraction, not "rising sea levels".

A picture is worth a thousand words.