Thursday, June 23, 2011

Australia increasing GHG pollution

Australia INCREASED Greenhouse Gas Pollution in 2008 by 2% over 2007 value

Australia went to the polls in November 2007 with Climate Change being a major issue. However 1 year later under a new administration, it is estimated that Australia has INCREASED annual Domestic and Exported Greenhouse Gas (GHG) pollution by 2% over the 2007 value - this being indicative of a mounting threat to Australia's (and the World's) Great Barrier Reef, the Kakadu wetlands, the Murray Darling River System ... and indeed to the Biosphere.

Australia’s coal exports (roughly equivalent thermal and coking coal exports) increased under Rudd Government from 247 mt (2007) to 260 mt (2008), this corresponding to a 5% increase in coal-based exported CO2 pollution from 499 mt (million tonnes) to 525 mt ; this corresponds to an increase in “annual per capita coal-based exported CO2 pollution” in Australia (population 21.4 million) from to 499 mt/21.4 million persons = 23.3 tonnes per person per year in 2007 to 525 mt/21.4 million persons = 24.5 tonnes per person per year in 2008 (see “Australian coal exports”, Greenlivingpedia: quoting ABARE, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics).

ABARE forecast Australian Coal Exports to increase from 250 mt (2007), to 258 mt (2008) to 275 mt (2009), corresponding to estimates of “annual per capita coal-based exported CO2 pollution” of 23.5 (2007), 24.2 (2008) and 25.8 t per person per year (assuming a population of 21.4 million; Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), Australian commodities, September quarter, volume 5, #3, 2008, “Thermal coal”: and “Steel and steel-making raw materials”: ).

Australia’s Natural Gas Exports in terms of mt CO2 were projected from linear extrapolation of US IAE data (see: ) to be 27.5 (2007), 28.3 (2008) and 29.2 mt CO2 (2009), corresponding to an “annual per capita natural gas-based exported CO2 pollution” of 1.3 (2007), 1.3 (2008) and 1.4 t CO2 per person per year (assuming a population of 21.4 million). Australia’s “annual per capita Domestic greenhouse gas pollution” in CO2 equivalent (CO2-e) was 28.1 mt per person per year in 2006 according to Australian Government climate change economics adviser Professor Ross Garnaut (see: ; DCC (Department of Climate Change), Australian National Greenhouse Accounts (as of May 2008), Australian Greenhouse Emissions Information System: ; ) . Assuming that the 2% annual growth in Australia’s fossil fuel-derived CO2 pollution (see US Energy Information Administration: ) also applies to Australia’s domestic greenhouse gas pollution, then 28.1 (2006) would imply 28.7 (2007), 29.2 (2008) and 29.8 t CO2-e per person per year (2009). Using the US IAE and ABARE projections above, we can see that Australia’s “annual per capita Domestic plus Exported greenhouse gas emissions” in t CO2-e per person per year totalled 53.5 (2007) and 54.6 (2008) – and are projected to increase to 57.0 t CO2-e per person per year in 2009 as compared to the 2005 OECD average of 14.0 and the World average of 6.6 t CO2-e per person per year (see Figure 7.1, p154, Garnaut Report: ) . On the first anniversary of the accession to power of the new Labor Federal Government in November 2007, Australia’s annual Domestic and Exported Greenhouse Gas (GHG) pollution has INCREASED from that in 2007 under the Coalition Federal Government by 2.1% - but based on the above trends, by the second anniversary in 2009 Australia’s annual GHG pollution is expected to have increased by 6.5% over that in 2007. The only thing on current trends that might diminish Australia’s appalling greenhouse gas pollution (0.3% of global population, 3% of global fossil fuel-derived CO2 pollution) will be the current global recession.

According to Dr James Hansen (Head, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) : “we face a climate emergency” (see: ) ; Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty “we are in real danger” (see: ); Professor David de Kretser AC: “There is no doubt in my mind that this is the greatest problem confronting mankind at this time and that it has reached the level of a state of emergency” (see: ).

According to Dr Hansen and 8 UK, French and US climate change scientist co-authors (2008): “Decreasing CO2 was the main cause of a cooling trend that began 50 million years ago, large scale glaciation occurring when CO2 fell to 450 +/- 100 ppm [parts per million], a level that will be exceeded within decades, barring prompt policy changes. If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm” (see: ).

With atmospheric CO2 at 387 ppm (versus 280 ppm pre-industrial and presently increasing at 2.5 ppm per year) and global average temperature 0.8 degree C above pre-industrial, the World is already seeing mass species extinction at rates 100-1,000 times that in the fossil record (see: and; major ecosystems are being destroyed due to drought, deforestation, Arctic ice melting, tundra melting, glacier melting, and ocean warming and acidification (see IPCC: ); world coral reefs have already been severely damaged and will die above 450 ppm CO2 from ocean warming and acidification (see: and; ocean phytoplankton and the Greenland ice sheet go above 500 ppm CO2; (see Dr James Lovelock’s book “The Revenge of Gaia”); already 16 million people die avoidably each year due to increasingly climate-impacted deprivation (see my books “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”: and “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability”: ); and according to top UK climate scientist Dr James Lovelock FRS over 6 billion people will perish this century due to unaddressed anthropogenic global warming (AGW) (see: ).

Yet for “Coal is King” Australia it is “business as usual” – DESPITE the clear and repeated warnings by leading scientists and economists about the impending loss of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef at atmospheric CO2 levels above the Australia Government’s minimum target of 450 parts per million and catastrophic damage to the Australian Northern Territory Kakadu wetlands, the Murray –Darling River System and Australian agriculture, fisheries and tourism.

Professor Jared Diamond’s seminal book “Collapse. How societies choose to fail or succeed” (Penguin, 2005: ) brilliantly analyses the economic and social collapse of a variety of civilizations due to environmental degradation and other causes. He devotes the final chapter of the “Modern Societies” section to contemporary Australia and concludes by outlining a race between exponentially increasing environmental damage and societal responses, finally observing (p416): “Which horse will win the race? Many readers of this book are young enough, and will live long enough, to see the outcome.”

Australia is currently on a path to ecocide (destruction of ecosystems) and terracide (destruction of the biosphere as a whole) that prompted outstanding Australian climate scientist Professor David Karoly ((Federation fellow at Melbourne University; head of the Victorian Premier's climate change advisory group; member of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 2; School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne; a top Australian and world climate scientist: ) to comment recently on the Australian national ABC TV Lateline program: “The only way that I could see the climate system in 50 years time or 100 years time being cooler than at present is if the earth got hit by an asteroid and basically human civilisation was destroyed.” (see: ).

Australia is currently on a path to national and global suicide.

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