Concern for climate change is rising

a thermometer showing 35C with sky background

AUSTRALIANS ARE MORE concerned about climate change than they were last year, according to the latest Lowy Poll. Concern is up five per cent.

It is a predictable public response given the past history of this measure: as action on climate change goes up, concern goes down.

Almost every year for eight years, the Lowy Institute, largely funded by shopping centre tycoon Frank Lowy, has asked a sample of Australians what they think on a number of issues. Climate change is always one.

Agreement that climate change should be addressed has not dipped below 80 per cent since the poll began, but the urgency with which it is addressed has fallen.

Back in 2006, 68 per cent of us agreed with the statement “Global warming is a serious and pressing problem. We should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs.”

In 2014, that’s down to 45 per cent. But it’s an increase from its all-time low of 36 per cent in 2012…

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Treadlie 14



The latest Treadlie arrived in my mailbox. Excitement! Despite having many other magazines and books in my pile, this one goes straight to the top.

In it, is an article I wrote on custom bicycle maker Ewen Gellie.

I drove out to see him on what must have been one of the hottest days of summer. He’s all the way out in the bush blocks beyond Eltham, down a long, winding dirt road and then up a long, winding driveway.

But his little patch of nature is divine. Steep hills and spindly grey gums. His house – a work in progress still – is being kitted out to be sustainable: solar panels, rainwater tanks etc.

I ‘interviewed’ him in his workshop, though. I put ‘interview’ in inverted commas because it was more of a pleasant chat, really. Sipping iced water he kept obligingly refilling, we chatted about riding, steel, touring and the kind of people who buy custom-made bicycles.

I have to confess, I love writing for Treadlie. Not only are they really nice folk, but I get to hang around bike workshops and chat to master tradesmen (and women). It’s endlessly good fun.


Cultures to change with climate change


IN THE USA today, many Americans will be celebrating the first day of spring. Down under, of course, we have autumn while they’re having spring, but our first day of autumn was back on March 1st. Why do we have different dates for our seasons?

Americans tend to count the start of spring from the equinox, the day of the year when daylight hours and dark hours are equal.

Meteorologists are a bit more arbitrary in their definition, and Australia has followed their tradition. Autumn starts of the 1st of March in order that longer term weather trends can be meaningfully compared.

In all reality, the delineation of the year into four seasons is just as arbitrary as starting them on the first of a certain month…

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Sunny with a chance of climate change



THE WEATHER IN OUR nation’s capital today is predicted to be 28°C. Mostly sunny, with light winds.

I have no crystal ball, but I reckon it’s pretty likely that the Bureau of Meteorology is going to be about right. I suppose we’ll find out later today.

The Bureau’s website is one of the most accessed sites in Australia. Everyone wants to know whether or not to bring a brolly. The fact that it is accessed so often is testament to the fact that the BoM is usually pretty reliable. Sure, we all like to whinge about the weather — particularly when showers show up unexpectedly — but by and large, you’ve got to admit, they do a pretty good job.

At home, I check the weather before I get up on my phone using the WiFi internet connection I have in the lounge. It’s only very recently that WiFi was invented — 1996 — but Aussies are keen on technology and it’s really caught on.

WiFi was invented by that other great Australian institution, the CSIRO. It wasn’t the first local area network, but it worked the best of the technologies jostling for position back in the day.

Every two years, these two venerable scientific institutions team up to release a State of the Climate report.

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Explainer: why is World Heritage important?

Two of Australia’s World Heritage listed places have made the headlines in the last week. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority gave the go-ahead for silt from a government-approved dredging operation to be dumped within the World Heritage listed park boundaries. And the federal government announced that it was seeking to have a recent extension of Tasmania’s World Heritage listed forests partially overturned.

What is World Heritage listing and why is it important?

Back in 1972, various international bodies united to draw up the World Heritage Convention. It was designed to provide a way for international co-operation to occur to protect cultural or natural places of ‘outstanding universal value’ so that future generations may enjoy them as we do now. It is administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Australia was an early adopter of the Convention, ratifying it in 1974 and signing up the nation’s first ‘property’, Kakadu, in 1981. Australia even has its own Act of parliament to protect World Heritage properties, which was established in the battle for the Franklin Dam back in 1983….


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How you pay for your neighbour’s air-conditioning


Are you one of the lucky ones with air conditioning? As we swelter through this heatwave, those that can are switching on the AC and keeping cool. Those that can’t are lying semi-naked in front of fans with a wet cloth on their heads.

In the past 20 years, Australians have embraced air conditioning. In 1994, a quarter of households had it. These days more than half do.

While it’s bliss to sprawl in front of the cold air, there is a serious downside to chilling out. The Productivity Commission last year said that air conditioners are largely responsible for putting the electricity network under strain and that strain costs us dearly…

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Australia dashes G20 climate hopes

DON’T BE FOOLED by their fancy words, there is no indication the current government takes climate change seriously.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s most recent statement on climate change was at a press conference on November 12: “we accept that climate change happens, that mankind, humanity, make a contribution to it and it’s important that we take strong and effective action against it.”

But let’s have a look at the government’s “strong and effective action”…

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Carbon tax repeal is a free kick



ENVIRONMENT MINISTER Greg Hunt has made good on an election promise: he has released the draft legislation for the abolition of the carbon tax. It’s the first legislation the Liberals have put on the table since their election, and you could detect just a little bit of chuffed in Greg Hunt as he announced its release.

This legislation gives one of the parties a free kick, but the question is which one.

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What are the odds on climate science?

TOMORROW, IN MELBOURNE’S hallowed ground, the MCG, the rockin’ and rollin’ Dockers will take on the mighty fighting Hawthorn. Who will win? Good question, and there’s a lot of money riding on it.

But let’s pretend for a minute, that you had a super computer that can run a predictive mathematical model, like the one at the headquarters of the Bureau of Meteorology across the CBD on Collins Street. Never mind what the bookies calculate, this machine can do 53,912 gigaflops when it’s really trying.

What data would you punch into the machine? You’d take assessments of how the teams had fared against each other previously, and how they had fared in the kind of weather we expect tomorrow. But the BoM’s computer can take 23 million pieces of input data. So you could punch in a lot more than just that. You could plug in data about each individual player, their injury history, their playing style, their speed and their accuracy.

Let’s pretend that you found 23 million pieces of information about the teams and conditions to plug into the computer and you programmed it to run a simulation of the game.

It says the Dockers win. How confident would you be about the result? You’re right, Hawks fans, let’s run that thing again…

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No surprises in climate agencies’ dismantling

DURING THE LEAD-UP to the September 7 election, Tony Abbott promised a “no surprises government” and to dismantle the carbon tax. Having been sworn in as Prime Minister yesterday morning, he has wasted no time in implementing those promises.

The yelps of alarm can be heard across the country as today Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced he could commence the closure of both the Climate Commission and the Climate Change Authority.

Leader of the Greens, Christine Milne called it “cowardly”. Contender for leader of the Labor party, Anthony Albanese immediately branded it, “a shameful act”.

But what exactly did we expect?

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