CLIMATE CHANGE, WEATHER, AND WILDFIRES

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“The level of very hot weather being experienced
now, in which fierce fires can break out, has
already surpassed what had been projected for
2050 …”
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Sydney Morning Herald
September 27, 2007

New species of fire monster heading our way
Wendy Frew Environment Reporter

BUSHFIRES that burn so hot they cannot be
controlled are likely to occur much more
frequently in Sydney in the years to come, razing
bushland, leaving property more susceptible to
flooding and threatening water supplies, new
research indicates.

The level of very hot weather being experienced
now, in which fierce fires can break out, has
already surpassed what had been projected for
2050, the report on bushfire weather in
south-east Australia by the Australian Bureau of
Meteorology and the CSIRO says.

“Whether it is caused by climate change or not,
the pattern of the past few years gives us a
model for the future,” said Dr Chris Lucas of the
bureau’s Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre.
“How are we going to manage this level of fire
risk? What are we going to do to manage these
fires?”

Of most concern to fire fighters are days
classified as having very high or extreme fire
danger. The report projected that in NSW those
days would increase in four scenarios examined.

For example, at present inner Sydney experiences
one day a year of extreme fire danger. If the
rate of global warming is low (a rise of 0.4
degrees above 1990 temperatures), the number of
extreme fire days increases by between 11 and 21
per cent by 2020 and from 13 to 34 per cent by
2050 (with a rise of 0.7 degrees).

If the rate of global warming is high the number
of extreme days rises by between 26 per cent and
50 per cent by 2020 and by as much as 200 per
cent by 2050 when temperatures are expected to
have risen by 2.9 degrees.

Richmond, on Sydney’s western outskirts, does not
currently experience what is defined as a
catastrophic fire weather day but with high
levels of warming they may occur every four years
by 2050. The same is true for inner Sydney.

The more extreme the hot weather, the more
damaging any fire that breaks out, Dr Lucas said.
In the case of catastrophic hot weather, fires
become uncontrollable, with only a change in the
weather likely to help bring them under control.
“Anything above the ‘extreme’ category is
uncontrollable,” Dr Lucas said. “Even fires that
break out on very high-danger days would need a
lot of work to put out.”

He said with fires burning hotter and longer,
they not only posed a threat to bushland and
property but degraded the land, eroded soil and
changed water run-off patterns.

“Some research has found that after a big fire
you are more susceptible to floods because there
is nothing to hold the water back.”

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OP-ED: THIS WEEK’S CLIMATE SUMMITS

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” … governments need to get real about
the consequences of climate change.”
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The Guardian (London)
September 26, 2007

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2176984,00.html

For all this talk, still we head steadfastly for catastrophe

This week’s summit on climate change will achieve
nothing if rich countries don’t finally show some
leadership

By Kevin Watkins

If talking could cut greenhouse gas emissions,
then this would be a good week for international
action on climate change. It opened with more
than 80 speeches from governments at a special
session on the issue at the UN, and will close
with a two-day “summit” in the White House
bringing together all the world’s major emitters.
The bad news is that we are still heading
steadfastly in the direction of an avoidable
climate catastrophe.

The special session was a bold effort by the
secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, to instill
urgency into climate negotiations. His aim: to
prepare the ground for an international treaty
with real, enforceable limits on greenhouse gas
emissions. That means a more ambitious, and
inclusive, successor to the Kyoto protocol, which
expires in 2012. Negotiations begin in earnest in
December at a summit in Bali – or they might if
governments can bring themselves to stop
dithering and start acting.

It’s hard to exaggerate the importance of Bali.
There is still a window of opportunity for
avoiding the worst effects of climate change –
but that window is closing. Most governments
broadly accept the need to restrict average
temperature increases to less than 2C above
pre-industrial levels. Business-as-usual will
take us over twice that level by the end of the
century, so every year of delay will make it more
difficult to achieve the target.

Continue reading

CARBON TRADERS ENVISION COMPARABLE WATER TRADING MARKET

This is from a business journal so the angle isn’t one Rising Tide North America support – we reject Carbon Trading outright as a major distraction from efforts to make the world a more sustainable, equitable place. See www.carbontradewatch.org for more information on Carbon Trading.

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Is water the new carbon? by Matt Jenkins
from http://www.sustainableindustries.com/technology/8854937.html

Four years ago, the Chicago Climate Exchange was created as a way for companies to buy “carbon credits” to offset their greenhouse gas emissions. The market broke new ground by providing industries with a way to reduce their total emissions – either directly or indirectly – at the lowest possible cost. Today, carbon trading and is estimated to be a nearly $790 billion marketplace with individual, corporate and government participants. Now at least one member of the Chicago Climate Exchange sees a similar future in solving a more immediate environmental challenge: water pollution and shortages.

“When I got involved in carbon offset development, it became obvious that water was potentially a bigger market than even carbon,” says John Regan. Regan founded the Environmental Credit Corp., a carbon-credit supplier on the Chicago Climate Exchange; he is also the chairman of Biofinancial Corp., a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based family of hedge funds. “Carbon reduction is a relatively slow evolution,” Regan says. “It takes 25 to 50 years before you see the impact of what you do today. If you don’t solve the water impacts in five years, you’ll have a crisis on your hands.” Continue reading

NEW JAMES BAY DAMS TO DESTROY PRISTINE QUEBEC RIVER

*New **James Bay** Dams to Destroy Pristine **Quebec** **River** *

International Opposition and Outrage over Hydro-Quebec’s Destructive $5B
Power Grab

ALBANY, NY, Sept. 12 /PRNewswire/ – American environmental groups today
announced their support for Canadian environmental groups and three Cree
Indian communities fighting Hydro-Quebec’s most recent assault on the James
Bay wilderness in Quebec, Canada.

Hydro-Quebec’s primary purpose for damming and diverting the Rupert River
-one of the last undammed major river in Northern Quebec – and creating a
massive reservoir equivalent in size to flooding two-thirds of Montreal, or
half of New York or New Orleans, is to generate new power capacity to sell to
the northeastern United States. Continue reading