climate change effects

Last year was Australia’s third-hottest on record, the country’s well-respected Bureau of Meteorology says.

The BOM’s annual climate statement, released on Tuesday, said 2014 was the third-warmest year since reliable climate records began in Australia in 1910, with mean temperatures (taking into account both maximum and minimum temperatures) 0.91C above the long-term average.

A rise of two degrees will not be catastrophic, but polar bears will become extinct.

A rise of two degrees will not be catastrophic, but polar bears will become extinct. We’re halfway there now.

This is already halfway to the two-degree limit in global warming that Governments are supposedly seeking to achieve this century. Whilst change up to two degrees is expected to cause some problems, especially as regards species extinction, agriculturalists, public health, and fire danger, any warming above that level is expected to bring catastrophic climate change. And we’re already damn near 50% there.

BOM Climate Information Services assistant director Neil Plummer said 2014 was a year that included six significant warm spells or heat-waves with a notable reduction in colder weather.

The warmest year on record occurred the previous year, 2013, when the mean temperature was 1.2C above the long-term average.

“Particularly warm conditions occurred in spring 2014, which was Australia’s warmest spring on record,” Mr Plummer said. “El Nino-like effects were felt in drier and warmer conditions in much of eastern Australia during 2014.”

The World Meteorological Organisation is collating data but believes the world experienced its hottest or among its hottest years in 2014, Mr Plummer said.

The Climate Council’s Professor Will Steffen says climate change is a major factor in the near-record warmth recorded in 2014. He said 2013 and 2005 were the hottest and second-hottest years on record, and most notably 29 of the past 35 years were warmer than average.

“It is worrying that these sort of records are now being broken so regularly,” he said. “The impact of climate change on these trends is very clear. Climate change is making Australia hotter and more prone to bushfires.” (See our story on South Australia, yesterday.)

Meanwhile, Australia’s Government has scrapped the carbon trading scheme which was put in place to provide a market mechanism for reducing carbon dioxide emissions – a curious decision for a party committed to free market economics.

An astonishing and exhaustive list of anti-environment moves made by the Abbott Government appeared on back in September last year. If you were ever in any doubt that our Federal Government are a bunch climate troglodytes, check it out. It is a carefully compiled and damning document.

Whether it is cutting the money allocated to solar energy conversions to homes, (from one billion dollars to $2 million), repealing the “carbon tax”, abolishing climate change bodies, appointing climate change deniers to key Government positions both here and overseas, denying the link between climate change and bushfires, refusing to commit any climate finance for poor countries, (after Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines and the Filipino delegation to a climate change conference called for urgent action), cutting research funding, slashing jobs in the Environment department, or hugely increasing assistance to fossil fuel industries, it is a sad, sad story.


Looks like the bulk of people in Africa will need to move to Canada. Hope they're ready.

Looks like the bulk of people in Africa will need to move to Canada. Hope they’re ready.


Of course, as this chart (representing a ‘best case’ scenario) on possible changes to agricultural productivity shows, the effects of climate change will fall hardest on the world’s poorest countries, where drought and starvation are already endemic. That will also be of little or not interest to the Abbott Government, which has just cut, in real terms, overseas aid, to address what is largely a mythical crisis in Government spending – the same Government, remember, that has ordered nearly 60 new fighter bombers with a maximum range of 200 miles. Massive projected changes to the main agricultural areas of Australia are very worrying. With the sole exception of south-eastern Australia, (where production will likely remain unchanged, although some cropping changes may be called for), the collapse in agricultural production is up to 25%. Given that the Liberal-National Party Coalition depends on rural seats for it’s existence, this will inevitably come back to bite them. When farmers realise that “green” policies are good for their business, look out.

Let us hope it really is #onetermtony before the country gets much hotter and our world changes beyond recognition.

  1. underwriiter505 says:

    I would love to be wrong about this – but my instinctive response is that the Bureau of Meteorology is not going to remain “well-respected” for very long if it keeps telling the truth.


  2. mlshatto says:

    The chart is indeed “best case scenario.” My first impression is that it ignores other climate change effects, such as severe drought in California and pests which are moving farther toward the poles, which work against increased agricultural yield and will certainly offset some of the positives of greater carbon dioxide fertilization.

    The most informative book I read last year was “Merchants of Doubt” by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. While it focuses primarily on climate change denial in the U.S., I suspect that the same extreme free-market ideology that the authors identify as one of the primary drivers of the denial machine is also a major force in Australia, Canada, and the U.K. I’m now about a third of the way through “This Changes Everything” by Canadian author Naomi Klein. Her analysis strikes me as being right on, and she makes over-arching connections that bring the big picture into clear focus.

    Meanwhile the citizen journalists who contribute to Naomi Wolf’s Facebook page (what is it about investigative authors named Naomi???) are putting pieces of information together which point to links among (a) discovery of huge gas and oil reserves in coastal areas off of Gaza, (b) leveling of large areas of civilian infrastructure in the most recent military action against Gaza, and (c) relocation of significant numbers of Israeli troops to the southern part of the country. See here:

    and here:

    and here:

    It appears more and more clear to me that extremely wealthy international forces are determined to keep our planet’s population dependent on fossil fuels until they have extracted every drop and accumulated every possible dollar of profit with no regard for the future well-being of anyone beyond their own tiny cabal. They may eventually get the point of the myth of King Midas. Let’s hope that happens before the entire planet is trashed.


    • I think it is clear that much geo-political decision-making is based on the need to secure energy resources. The ex Australian Foreign Minister admitted quite candidly that the invasion of Iraq WAS about oil, for example. Even after being on the team of Ministers at the time who flatly denied it.

      But to be really predictive, I expect renewables to gradually take their place, and world reliance on coal and oil to fall. Even power-hungry greedy industrialists can recognise obsolescence when they see it. They just respond to it for different reasons. What IS coming is a worldwide conflict over …….. water.


      • mlshatto says:

        Yes, your final sentence is, sadly, all too true. As of perhaps 10 years ago, about 3% of earth’s water supply was suitable for human consumption. As glaciers rapidly melt into the oceans, the fresh water they store becomes saline. And the rate at which liquid fresh water supplies are being contaminated is horrifying.

        I also agree that world reliance on fossil fuels has to shift to renewables. I just hope that the shift happens fast enough to make a real difference. Now that the Republicans control both houses of our Congress, they are intent on reversing as much progress toward renewables as they can as fast as they can. At least President Obama seems to have discovered a willingness to use his veto power.


  3. Woody says:

    Good data, Yolly.
    While I would now not dare to confuse local weather with average global temperature, I’ve seen the maps that show the vast majority of this planet rising in average temperature, and only certain relatively small areas recently feeling cooler average temperatures.
    It took quite some time, I admit, before I was convinced not only of the rise in AVERAGE GLOBAL temperature, but that we, humanity and our machines, were mostly responsible. After I have been convinced of this truth, I enjoy and respect every effort from anyone with a voice to convince the public of it as well.
    Lucky I lived and worked in the hot goldfields for a few years, because it wont be long before my current, more comfortable coastal home is on average even hotter.

    All the best,


  4. Pat A says:

    I too think the map (admittedly optimistic) is VERY optimistic – global warming = climate chaos – and the wonderful Gulf Stream current that keeps the UK and Northern Europe warm and agriculturally fertile (much more so than Hudson’s Bay area at the moment – on approximately the same latitude) may easily get turned off – it has happened before, and can happen in a few years (God help us all).

    I recently bought a book which promises to be very interesting on this subject – “Don’t Even Think About It” by George Marshall, which investigates why people deny the evidence in front of their faces – apparently (and terrifyingly) people whose homes have been destroyed by disasters caused by climate change will STILL deny it is real. I have managed to read very little of this book as yet but I think that part of the problem is that people who know (not believe) climate change is real, do so as an act of logic – and those who deny it BELIEVE what they have been told is true.

    Therefore to challenge their beliefs with logic fails – and it is seen not as a challenge with facts and figures, but as an attack on their beliefs (and thus also the people who persuaded them to believe the nonsense they believe), so rejected with hatred and not even thought about for one second – which seems to match the way that people have been behaving.

    George Marshall does have remedies for this situation at the end of the book (I looked there first) and they are many – and all should be tried by all of us, or the consequences to us and to any future generations will be beyond appalling.


  5. BillD says:

    The chart for agricultural yields seems to have just plugged in temperature without considering factors such as water and soil. The Canadian Shield will have better temperatures with little soil covering a rocky based. As mentioned above worsening droughts and depleted ground water will kill farming in the US West. In the US Midwest, we can expect more spring floods and midsummer heat waves and droughts. The chart is far too optimistic for much of the world, although Australia appears especially vulnerable.


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