Gippsland’s Seas are Warming 17.4.15

A CSIRO article by Alistair Hobday and Jason Hartog entitled Sea temperatures and climate change in Victoria clearly illustrates that the ocean is warming in the Gippsland region. This warming is pronounced. They note that in “…eastern Victoria, offshore water temperatures are influenced by the East Australia Current (EAC), which flows south. This current does not penetrate into Bass Strait, as the Bass Strait flow is generally from west to east. The seasonal cycle of the EAC along the east coast is visible as warm water pulses pushing south in the summer, and then a retraction of warm water to the north in winter.”

The article identifies a 0.8C increase in our sea temperatures above the long term average. Whilst this “…doesn’t sound like much, it can have a real impact on Victoria’s marine ecosystems and fish distributions. Marine species have their own set of conditions they prefer to live in, like temperature and pH. Some biota will move (if they can) – also known as shifting their range – in search of these conditions if things get too hot at home. Others may adapt well to warming seas; while some will not survive in the changing conditions.”

An example of this is “…the Common Sydney Octopus (Octopus tetricus), usually found in NSW and southern Queensland seas, has been spotted in Victorian waters in recent years. It’s no wonder some marine animals are being spotted further south of their usual range: possibly looking for cooler waters?” A number of other species can be added to this example including four species of shark and a number of otherwise unidentified jellyfish species that are now found in the Gippsland Lakes. All this is just another example that shows that concerted action on climate change is needed now. The full article can be accessed here.

http://www.redmap.org.au/article/sea-temperatures-and-climate-change-in-victoria/

 

 

Gasfield Free Bairnsdale’s Second Declaration

Gasfield Free Bairnsdale (GFB) have just held their second declaration of gasfield free districts including Broadlands, East Bairnsdale, Nicholson, Eagle Point and Newlands Arm. The declaration was held at the picnic shelter at Eagle Point. Representatives of the areas collected their gasfield free signs representing 98% and over of the surveyed landholders who stated they did not want any CSG or unconventional gas developments on their land. GFB co-ordinator Debbie Carruthers invited Ignite Energy to “go fly a kite” as did many of the participants. Speakers included Ross Scott of Gippsland Environment Group who spoke on the importance of a healthy Lakes system, Ursula Alquier of ‘Lock the Gate’ and East Gippsland Shire Mayor Peter Neale who offered words of encouragement. After the speeches and presentations a number of the participants posed for a photo besides Lake King. Over 100 attended. Well done everyone.

Bioenergy Forum 18/19 June

The Victorian Bioenergy Network, in partnership with Agribusiness Gippsland Inc. is organising a two day bioenergy event on the 18th and 19th June in Gippsland. This event will focus on activities and opportunities in eastern Victoria for bioenergy projects and related developments. This is of particular interest to local government authorities, regional businesses, community organisations and anyone interested in looking to reduce heating, cooling and power costs, utilise waste streams or explore options for developing renewable energy alternatives to mains electricity, LPG and briquettes.

Day 1 will be held in the Latrobe Valley and whilst the program is still being developed, we do have a number of speakers confirmed. They will be covering topics including the business case for bioenergy, grants and financing options, bioenergy technologies and their application in various biofuel production systems, and practical experiences and lessons learnt from developing recent bioenergy projects in eastern Victoria. Day 2 will be a field trip to visit a number of bioenergy installations in the Latrobe and Wellington Shires. A program and event booking details will be forthcoming in a couple of weeks, once most of the speakers and the field trip itinerary have been confirmed.  Liz Hamilton Victorian Bioenergy Network  bioenergyinvictoria@gmail.com

 

Report on the Forest Fire Severity & Biodiversity Forum Bairnsdale 12.3

The Forest Fire Severity & Biodiversity Forum held in Bairnsdale on 12 March drew a good crowd of about 70. The two speakers were Dr Chris Taylor from Melbourne University and Phil Ingamells of the Victorian Nation Parks Association (VNPA).

Dr Taylor’s studies centred on how Mountain Ash plots of various ages responded to the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. The Mountain Ash is a fire sensitive species and because of the height of the forest it is difficult for a fire under most conditions to scorch the crown. Taylor’s studies found that regrowth stands of between 5 and 40 years old were highly susceptible to crown fires in extreme weather conditions. This has implications for the logging industry. Is logging increasing the intensity of severe fires? Taylor concluded by noting that the frequency of both severe fires and the disturbance of the bush of the bush had greatly increased and that management must adapt to the changed circumstances.

Phil Ingamells spoke of the role of the VNPA and emphasized that the two priorities of the Black Saturday Royal Commission were the preservation of life and property and secondly the preservation of the environment with which he and the VNPA concur. He questioned the value of the 5% target of control burning and pointed out that this has been achieved only once in the history of controlled burning. Having a set target meant that a lot of country that did not need burning was burnt and a lot of country was burnt more frequently than it should. The loss of hollow trees for a diversity of habitats was also emphasized. Ingamells made a number of suggestions with regards control burning and fire fighting including control burning close to communities and purchasing a number of “Elvis” fire fighting helicopters to station across the state. He finally mentioned the affect climate change was having on fire severity and frequency. “The affects of climate change” he stated “are perilous. There is more fire in the landscape now than there has been for the last 50,000 years”.

Letter to the Minister for Energy and Resources 12.2.15

Lily D’Ambrosio MLA, Minister for Energy and Resources

Dear Ms D’Ambrosio,

I am writing to you with regards the parlous situation we find ourselves in with regards climate change and your portfolio. There are many reports that suggest we are currently heading for worst-case climate scenarios in Australia. e.g. See a recent report from the UK’s prestigious journal The Economist http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21642247-predictions-wide-brown-lands-future-get-ever-more-dire-droughts-and-flooding-rains?fsrc=scn/tw_ec/of_droughts_and_flooding_rains

It is becoming increasingly clear that we cannot burn all our carbon resources without destroying the planet. This is known as the ‘Carbon Budget’ – a term you are no doubt familiar with. The US citizen first to raise the ‘Carbon Budget’ question was Bill McKibben. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719 His calculations have been refined and reproduced many times.

The upshot of this is we need to reduce our carbon emissions as quickly as possible. I suggest the following.

  1. Give up on onshore unconventional gas (CSG) completely. Just ban it.
  2. Abandon all projects aimed at further coal development.
  3. Turn Morwell and the Latrobe Valley from a depressed area into a growth centre by pouring funds into it. (e.g. I believe offshore wind generation employs twice as many workers as offshore oil & gas)When this has been achieved begin the process of closing down the brown coal generators and rehabilitating the open cut mines.

The time to start this process is now.

Sincerely

Peter Gardner

Copy

Lisa Neville Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water

Russell North MLA Morwell

Tim Bull MLA Gippsland East

Darren Chester, MHR Gippsland

Letters to the Editor Bairnsdale Advertiser 23.1.15

May I respond to the letters of Neil Barraclough (BA 9/1) and J. McCracken (BA 12.1)

The science of Climate Change is basic physics. I suggest those interested consult Wikipedia on the ‘Greenhouse Effect’. For more detail try a) the French mathematician Fourier whose work discovered the ‘Greenhouse Effect’ about 1827 b) James Tyndall who identified carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane as the main greenhouse gases about 1859 and c) Svante Arrhenius who calculated in 1895 that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere would increase the average temperature of the earth six degrees. The latter calculation has since been refined.

A practical illustration of how the “Greenhouse Effect” works can be made by comparing the temperatures of a clear winter night with a cloudy one. The cloud acts as a blanket keeping the heat in and the land is much warmer. So too the greenhouse gases (including water vapour) keep the earth warmer – by Fourier’s calculations about 30 degrees.

Measurements of various phenomena (including atmospheric temperatures, ocean temperatures at various depths, sea level rise, ice melting) over the last hundred years all indicate that global warming is occurring as predicted. This is supported by a vast amount of data that has been compiled by weather bureaus and scientific organisations around the world and has been complemented by satellite data over the last 30 years. I recommend the Bureau of Meteorology report ‘State of the Climate 2014’ at http://www.bom.gov.au/state-of-the-climate/

Against this overwhelming evidence McCracken and Barraclough quote a couple of climate change deniers in an attempt to bolster their very weak case. Barton is a retired geologist and not a climate scientist.  Readers can find more about Marohasy and her fallacious attacks on Bureau of Meteorology statistics at http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-sceptics-conspiracy-australia-record-heat.html

McCracken distortions on the German wind energy are laughable. In December 2014 Germany provided a record 8.9% of their energy from wind power. For further details see http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/u-k-germany-smash-wind-power-records-17562

The longer we delay decisive action on climate change (the carbon tax was in some ways a token effort) the more likely many of the freedoms we cherish will be lost to an emergency wartime style government. For that alone future generations may well condemn the climate change deniers and their followers.

Yours

Peter Gardner

Letter published Bairnsdale Advertiser 2.1.15

 Dear Sir,

May I reply as briefly as I can to Neil Barraclough’s letter (BA 19/12) and make the following points:-

  1. I was disappointed (and still am) that an organisation calling itself the East Gippsland Wildfire Taskforce (EGWT) could have a day forum of presentations when the question and influence of climate change on catastrophic fires was “only touched on briefly”.  Neil does not address this question in his letter.
  2. The article Neil criticised was written from one of my press releases issued in the middle of the state election campaign. My press release was not questioning or criticising the bona fides of the speakers at the forum but was critical of the approach of the EGWT forum in general.
  3. Best science (I am talking CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology, NASA et al) clearly indicates climate change is making bushfires more frequent, fire seasons longer and that big fires are getting worse.
  4. Neil suggested that my knowledge may have been improved by a visit to some burnt areas. I did exactly that in 2003. My experiences and impressions, as well as Neil’s own, are “anecdotal accounts” of which he seemingly disapproves.
  5. It is unusual to provide footnotes in a brief press release – especially during a political campaign – and in my 14 press releases (see below) I only occasionally did so. These releases were used on at least 20 occasions in the media and no footnote was reproduced by any journalist as far as I am aware. At least half of these releases emphasized both the threat of heatwaves and catastrophic fires.
  6. Arguments about the phasing out of logging and plantations hinge on questions about carbon sinks and how we are going to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Neil also implies that there will be no work in the bush when logging is phased out whereas I insist there should be more. The critical question is that the jobs should be there first.
  7. Neil finishes his correspondence with a colourful quote from Voltaire with the implication that I believe in “absurdities” (climate change?) which I have been pushing for my own ends – whatever they may be. Perhaps Neil can tell us? It may be perceived that many at the EGWT forum have vested interests far above any that I may have.
  8. The science of climate change is founded on basic physics – the greenhouse effect – and the acceptance of this is the major difference between Neil (and possibly a substantial part of the EGWT forum) and myself.
  9. The pity of all this is that we agree that catastrophic fires are a huge problem and that a large number of actions are necessary to protect both life and property.

Peter Gardner

 

 

 

Press Release No.12 (23.11.14)

“Goodies versus Baddies: Solar and Coal”

Gippsland East Independent candidate Peter Gardner attacked the Prime Minister’s simplistic “goodies and baddies” slogan. He said: “I can accept the PM’s slogan but (politely speaking) he has it the wrong way about. Coal is definitely the “baddie”. It is the new asbestos. Each time we turn on our air conditioners we make ourselves a little more comfortable and our children’s future worse. We must leave the coal (and coal seam gas) in the ground.”

“We must transform the Latrobe Valley from a coal and electricity generating area to a more sustainable economy. There will be far more jobs rehabilitating the mines and the electricity generators than there ever were running then. The valley must switch to the new industries, solar, wind, heat pumps, and possibly the geothermal energy under the coal seams. You will note that I say “must” because we will have no choice in the matter. The sooner we get down to business the easier and better it will be.”

The “goodies” are the renewable energy sources. They are sustainable, clean, more reliable, and cheaper. For the most part the energy source is free. The renewable energy industry will employ far more than the “baddies” ever did. This work will be decentralised. Many of the jobs will be in East Gippsland and much of that will be youth employed as apprentices and other workers. Bring on the “goodies”. Bring on the ‘solar revolution’. One must ask how a Rhodes scholar could get it so wrong!

Gardner urges voters to select candidates that support the “solar revolution” at every election and at every level of government. He urges those who are committed to a political party to consider casting their primary vote for a solar candidate before giving their preference to the party they favour. “That way we will send a message to Spring Street that solar and renewables are what the people want.”

 

Press Release No.11 (17.11.14)

Climate Change and Revitalising East Gippsland or Jobs in the Bush

Independent Candidate in Gippsland East Peter Gardner stated that the countryside can benefit in the fight against climate change. He said: “The countryside is the frontline in the fight against the severe and damaging effects of climate change. These include more frequent and prolonged droughts, heatwaves, floods, storms including increasing thunderstorms and related bushfires of which we will have an increasing number of the catastrophic variety.

“The first half of 1998 was a classic example of a short severe drought followed by a couple of intense rainfall events where many places received more than half their annual rainfall in less than a week. Most of these extreme weather events of the last 25 years have been influenced by climate change or in simple terms made worse by it. Country people have the most to gain by combating climate change and the most to lose if nothing is done.

He continued: “East Gippsland and the bush generally should benefit from the massive redirection of our resources away from the city. This is required to combat climate change. Emphasis should be on putting people on the ground, giving people jobs – not bricks and mortar or spending large amounts on technical solutions.

“The policies can be financed by a redirection of funds away from big developments in the city with the notable exception of public transport. Under a succession of governments over the last thirty years the bush has been left to decline. History is littered with examples of civilisations that have collapsed because they neglected or destroyed their agriculture systems.

“My policies are designed to combat and, or adapt to, climate change and many relate to employment. To implement them will provide a boost to the local economies and jobs – especially for young people. These policies include boosting all emergency services, bringing on the renewable energy revolution with local community based energy projects of many kinds, strengthening CFA and the DSE in fire fighting and fire prevention  in country towns and on communications routes, bolstering Landcare in private and community revegetation projects, decentralisation of government departments, and last but not least a general public transport upgrade including increased services, especially of the feeder buses, increased maintenance and the replacement of the Stratford bridge.

In general Gardner supports the Federal coalition’s Green Army but insists it should be engaged in serious projects concerned with either mitigating or adapting to climate change.

“We are all in the same boat with regards climate change. Anything more than the projected 2 degrees average increase in the earth’s temperature will be catastrophic. Now is the time to do some ‘heavy lifting’, to return to a bipartisan approach that puts people above party, and starts to treat the problem with the seriousness it deserves. Now is the time to phase out coal – the new asbestos. Coal has helped develop our society but now we know it kills, and like asbestos we must cease exploiting it as quickly as possible. To do nothing is to endanger life on the planet as we know it. That is why I ask you all to vote one for the vote climate, vote solar platform.”

Press Release No.10 (10.11.14)

Climate Change and the Bushfire Mitigation Public Meeting in Bairnsdale

Independent Candidate in Gippsland East Peter Gardner said he was disappointed that the issue of climate change was dealt with so fleetingly at the Bushfire Mitigation Public Meeting at Bairnsdale on Wednesday.

Gardner noted that climate change was mentioned only in passing and that science of global warming was treated with a certain disdain. Gardner stated: “My concern above everything else is climate change and this includes the dramatic effect climate change is having on our weather and bushfires.

“The problem of climate change and its effect on bushfires is so immense it is obvious we must work on best science. Everything else is wasted effort and funds.

“Best science indicates that with climate change we will have increasingly longer fire seasons, more severe fire danger days, more heatwaves and more catastrophic bushfires. These are going to happen whatever we do.

“Anecdotal evidence indicates that fuel reduction burns have little effect on catastrophic fires. Large areas burnt in 2003 burnt again in 2006/7. Recent studies of the Black Saturday fires indicate that logging actually increases the severity of these fires.

“We must work to reduce the severity of the problem and adapt to those changes we cannot prevent. We must commence proper controlled studies on the best actions to take. In the meantime we should adopt and act wholeheartedly on current knowledge.

“On the adaption side we must retreat from the forests and work hard on the protection of towns, farms and communications routes. We must greatly expand our fire protection and emergency services in the bush. This includes having permanent CFA officers, each with an apprentice, at each fire station.

“With mitigation we must phase out logging of native forests as these forests are a natural store of carbon (the only form of carbon capture and storage that works) as soon as we can provide full employment in the bush. As well current logging practices appear to exacerbate severe fires. In the shorter term any logging within 10km of settlements should be stopped and strategic regrowth areas should be manually thinned as an added means of protection of communities. Timber should come increasingly from plantations and these should be managed appropriately including fire protection, thinning, pruning and removal of undergrowth.

“The science is in on climate change. It is happening. It is getting worse. It is man made. “Nero fiddled whilst Rome burned” goes the saying. Every delay by our politicians to act on this matter brings us closer to the climate emergency.”