Or ironically it may have just been Melbourne University’s cold winter evening that kept them away. One way or the other they missed out on lots of sensational footage when Professor Hans Joachin Schellnhuber gave his public address for the FOUR DEGREES OR MORE? Australia in a Hot World conference. The Age had a report on his worst-case scenarios from earlier in the day. There was plenty of gloom mixed with formidable science:
Agricultural systems have broken down, crops yields decimated. Human health is tested by extremes beyond the endurance of many citizens. Shorelines and the island homes of Pacific neighbours - communities who have contributed nothing to rising greenhouse gases - are consumed by rising tides. Coral reefs erode and lifeless oxygen-starved ''holes'' grow in the ocean depths, the physics and chemistry of the water having been utterly changed.The cameras would have loved the contribution from four Citizens Electoral Council alternative thinkers whose series of loud interruptions included a very theatrical noose and accusations of a conspiracy lead by none other than Her Majesty ERII and her “green Nazis”. They underestimated the senior academic who vigorously escorted the ringleader out of the auditorium. Professor Schellnhuber is head of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research and Chair of the German Government's Advisory Council on Global Change. He is clearly used to this kind of protest and seemed disappointed that the count stopped at four. Anyway more about this challenged band of activists in another post.
Professor Schellnhuber, the director of the Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and chairman of the German Scientific Advisory Council, conjures up the future with a selection of graphs and tables composed from observations and modelling.
The end of the world is nigh? It's just a matter of degrees, says one expert (The Age 13 July 2011)
There was lots of stuff about tipping points and runaway greenhouse dynamics but I’ll also leave that to the next post.
As we choose our future, it must be an informed choice not one based on political and economic populism and propaganda.
To finish, a little bit of Frank Capra’s 1958 The Unchained Goddess that the prof shared with us:
Update from the conference:
A media release from the CSIRO +4ºC scenarios for Australia's future climate:
A CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship climate researcher, Dr Whetton said that, compared to annual average temperatures recorded in 1850, a 4ºC warming might occur by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions stay high.
"Rapid global warming of 4ºC would be unlike anything experienced before by modern human societies – presenting us with huge challenges in terms of our ability to adapt," Dr Whetton said
She said according to a review of recent climate models by CSIRO and Melbourne University, Australian climate changes at 4ºC or more of global warming include:
- Temperature increases of about 3ºC to 5ºC in coastal areas and 4ºC to 6ºC in inland areas
- Likely declines of annual rainfall in southern Australia, particularly in winter, of up to about 50% but uncertain rainfall changes in other regions
- Marked increases of potential evaporation of about 5% to 20%
- More droughts in southern Australia
- Snow cover duration falling to zero in most alpine regions.
Update 2: The video and audio of the address are available at: Live @ Melbourne