Sunday, February 17, 2008

Man-made global warming predicted in 1896

Global warming awareness has now seeped into mainstream culture, but have you ever wondered who the first person to predict anthropogenic global warming was?

It was a lot longer back than you would imagine.

Svante August Arrhenius (February 19, 1859 – October 2, 1927) was a Swedish chemist and one of the founders of the science of physical chemistry. The Arrhenius equation and the lunar crater Arrhenius are named after him.

In 1908 Arrhenius predicted that significant global warming would take ~3000 years to develop. This is now recognised as a substantial underestimate due in part to his failure to foresee the rapid increases in fossil fuel use during the twentieth century.
The PDF link contains "On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground" by Svante Arrhenius. This paper, published in 1896, is the first to quantify the impact of carbon dioxide on the Earth's greenhouse effect and to suggest that its variations have been an important influence on previous long-term changes in climate. His crude estimate that a doubling of carbon dioxide would result in a ~5 °C warming is larger but not greatly different from the 1.5-4.5 °C now estimated for such a doubling (IPCC 2001).
Image of Svante Arrhenius
Image of Svante Arrhenius
Combining these calculations with existing work suggesting that the burning of fossil fuels could significantly alter the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Högbom 1894), Arrhenius later became the first person to predict the possibility of man-made global warming.

blog it

America's $1 trillion carbon market twelve years away

The new US president will most likely see in the emergence of a colossal carbon trading market, worth $1 trillion a year by 2020, according to a report released on Thursday.

Another report, also out this week, estimates the US could be trading $600 billion in pollution credits annually by 2015.

Either way, "it will be the largest environmental market of its kind," says Tiffany McCormick Potter, senior analyst for Point Carbon, which produced the 2015 estimate. According to Point Carbon, the European carbon trading scheme totalled $42 billion in 2007.

The 2020 estimate comes from New Energy Finance, another financial analysis firm which focuses on environmental markets. Both firms have this week published independent reports on the future of carbon trading in the US.

blog it

North Atlantic current could be slowing naturally

Global warming may not have caused sluggish Atlantic

Judging the effect of climate change on ocean currents could take longer than we thought.

The circulation of warm water in the North Atlantic is suspected to be slowing, and the worry is that global warming is to blame.

To investigate this, Carl Wunsch of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used observations taken from buoys to build a model of Atlantic circulation. It suggested that currents could speed up or slow down naturally by a greater amount than the suspected slowdown linked to global warming, and such changes could persist over months or even years (Nature Geoscience, DOI: 10.1038/ngeo126). It will take decades of observations to account for these effects, Wunsch warns.

 blog it

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The clearfelled truth about Melbourne's drought

Andrew Bolt is fond of blaming Victoria's ongoing Level 3 water restrictions on the fact that they haven't built enough dams. All the greenies fault, that sort of stuff.

But The Wilderness Society have found a real culprit, and Andrew is not going to like it; the Loggers of the Water Catchment in the Central Highlands:

Logging threatens water supply and quality

Within the spectacular giant mountain ash forests of the Central Highlands lie Melbourne’s water catchments, which provide drinking water to over 3 million Victorians. Five of these catchments, which supply 40 per cent of Melbourne’s drinking water are open to clearfell logging.Logging coup in Armstrong Crk

Several independent studies, including a technical report published in December 2000, have found that clearing and regeneration of these forests has a dramatic effect on water yield.

Research has shown logged areas to suffer a 50 per cent reduced water yield (shown in graph). Young regrowth trees need more water to grow, thus releasing less water into river catchments. It takes 150 years for water yields to regain their pre-logged status.

It is breathtaking that in this time of severe drought our most precious resource is jeopardised by logging and that the Government continues to see fit to threaten the little water we have left.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Hottest Australian January on record

clipped from

In Australia, temperatures were above average in January through much of the country. For the nation as a whole, it was the hottest January on record. According to reports, the January 2008 average temperature for the nation rose 1.3°C (2.3°F), while large areas in Western and Central Australia experienced temperatures 3-4°C (5-7°F) above average. The town of Pooncarie recorded its highest temperature of 44.5°C (112°F) (The Sidney [sic] Morning Herald).

blog it

Have green baggage, will travel

Click the link for a salient analysis of the impact of a green-tax on budget travellers.
clipped from
Have green baggage, will travel
Higher fares to offset the damage planes do to the environment are
unlikely to put us off budget travel, writes Julian Lee.

In a previous life, I was a terrible sinner. When my wife and I lived in London, it didn't take much to persuade us to pack our bags, jump onto one of the many budget airline websites and book a flight to just about anywhere we wanted to go.

We didn't need an excuse. The newspapers were full of offers shouting out fares of £10 return to places I had never heard of. Carcassonne, Lodz and Posen were just waiting to be discovered. It didn't seem to matter that I had never expressed a desire to visit any of these places before. Now, with the help of the boom in cheap flights, we could be anywhere by late Friday night, enjoy a whirlwind tour of the delights it had to offer and be back at work on Monday morning, albeit bleary eyed and a little bit late.

clipped from
Edited extract from How Good Are You? - Clean Living in a Dirty World by Julian Lee
 blog it

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Japanese whalers are taking the minke

In justifying the hunting the minke whale by Japanese call it as "the cockroach of the sea". So why eat cockroaches and call it research? Ironic how the minke whale was named after an 18th-century poacher, hey? Amazing that Norway had whale conservation laws in the 1700s:

clipped from

The minke is the smallest of the baleen (filter-feeding) whales and is found throughout the world's oceans, from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

The minke is the whale most likely to be seen from the shore in the U.K. and Ireland, especially in Scotland, the Northern Isles and Western Ireland. It is rare in the Southern North Sea and Channel region.

The story of this whale's name illustrates its blighted history. Minke was an 18th-century Norwegian whaler, infamous for regularly breaking the rules concerning the sizes (and therefore species) of whales that he was permitted at that time to hunt. Soon all the small whales became
known as "Minke's whales". Eventually, it was formally adopted as the name for this small species.

blog it

Rudd: Mother of All Summits to futureproof Australia

He loves his summits, dun 'e? Global warming has to be at the top, one would have thought. Watch this space.
clipped from

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says a summit involving 1,000 Australians will be held to tackle 10 major problems that are facing Australia.

The summit will be held at Parliament House in late April and is called Australia 2020.

"The summit will bring together some of the best and brightest brains from across the country to tackle the long-term challenges confronting Australia's future," Mr Rudd said.

 blog it