Report from Down Under: Everything Was on Fire, Everywhere….

January 25, 2013

Video and a note from a reader Down Under, Mike Mariopolis.

What does climate change mean to you?

For three years I’ve been running a blog called Watching the Deniers, a site dedicated to examining the claims of climate sceptics and the techniques they use to sow confusion. I’ve also attempted to highlight the risk climate change poses.

In addition to writing about climate scepticism I’ve also immersed myself in the science. I kept up with the latest papers and blog posts; I read deeply and broadly works form both the popular and technical literature. I wanted to be informed; to understand the science.

Those of us who research climate change, blog on the topic or wish to educate the broader public are often consumed with questions about effective messaging and inspiring others to act. What will make an impact? What will motivate people to act: to demand change from their leaders?

All worthy questions, and worth debating.

But knowledge – even foreknowledge – often fails to match the lived experience. Which is the exact position both myself and many of my fellow Australians have found themselves in this past month.

You may have seen the news reports about the heat wave and bush-fires Australia is experiencing. As expected, those sceptical of climate change have simply dismissed these events as another “typical” Australian summer.

But its not. Its far from typical.

It is extraordinary.

The word you hear repeated again, and again in the media and from the experts is “unprecedented”. However even during this extraordinary time most of the mainstream media is failing to make the connection with climate change.

The severity, duration and extent of the heat wave is unprecedented (there’s that word again).

For the last month large parts of the continent have been burning: Australia is on fire. Everything is on fire, everywhere.

This is climate change.

This is what it feels like – this is the experience of living on a radically different Earth.

Most scientists are understandably reticent to link specific events to climate change, however I wanted to convey something of what living through these extraordinary events feels like. I could have written another blog post, but I felt that was insufficient to capture the scale of what is happening. I also wanted to make explicit the link between what the science had been predicting for decades, and what was actually happening “Down Under”. And I wanted to offer a deeply personal reflection.

Hence this video. It is literally the first film I’ve ever made, and I spent hours agonising over it. I become obsessed with “getting it right”, fretting over my novice film making efforts. But as a friend explained, a piece of art or literature is never finished: it is merely abandoned. I stopped worrying about its flaws, and released it on YouTube. I hope to do more videos, as I’ve been greatly inspired by Peter’s work.

“Everything is on fire, everywhere” is my own personal reflection about living through climate change. However the real driver for making this video was to pay tribute to the people and communities affected by these extraordinary events.

And as ambitious as it sounds, I wanted to convey something about our common humanity. All of us – sceptics, warmists, liberals, conservatives, regardless of race, nationality, gender or status – are living through extraordinary times

Perhaps it is unfashionable in these deeply polarised times to say this, but it is my hope we recognise this common humanity and pull together.

The failure to do so will – quite literally – be catastrophic.

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8 Responses to “Report from Down Under: Everything Was on Fire, Everywhere….”


  1. […] Video and a note from a reader Down Under, Mike Mariopolis. Australians are used to experiencing climate extremes. Fire, flood and drought are an integral part of living “Down Under”. A…  […]


  2. (http://www.jpands.org/vol14no4/goklany.pdf) Goklany (2009): “Proponents of drastic greenhouse gas controls claim that human greenhouse gas emissions cause global warming, which then exacerbates the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including extreme heat, droughts, floods, and storms such as hurricanes and cyclones. In fact, even though reporting of such events is more complete than in the past, morbidity and mortality attributed to them has declined globally by 93%–98% since the 1920s.”
    “Today, extreme weather events contribute only 0.06% to global and U.S. mortality. These improvements reflect a remarkable improvement in society’s adaptive capacity, likely due to greater wealth and better technology enabled in part by use of hydrocarbon fuels. Finally, mortality from extreme weather events has declined even as all-cause mortality has increased, indicating that humanity is coping better with extreme weather events than it is with far more important health and safety problems.”

    PETM…
    (http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2010GL046038.shtml) Carozza (2011, coauthors Gavin A. Schmidt!): “To explain the observations, the carbon must have been released over at most 500 years. The first stage results cannot be associated with any known PETM hypothesis.” “Durations of 50 and 250 years are data‐compatible …; however, only a duration of 50 years is compatible with 3°C of warming [!].”
    (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6006/957.abstract) Jaramillo (2010, – 28 coauthors): “There is no evidence for enhanced aridity in the northern Neotropics. The tropical rainforest was able to persist under elevated temperatures and high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, in contrast to SPECULATIONS that tropical ecosystems were severely compromised by heat stress.”

    Soelen (2012, http://hol.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/02/28/0959683611434226.abstract): „Throughout the record, indications for storm activity can be recognized as coarser grained layers consisting of quartz sands or shell debris. These layers are rare during the mid Holocene [warm period], but between 3.2 and 2 kyr BP [cool period], their numbers increase, suggesting an increase in tropical cyclone activity in the Gulf of Mexico.”

    (Knutson, 2012, http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/cms-filesystem-action/user_files/gav/publications/ksvgzkbthv_12_zetac.pdf)
    “The projection of more frequent intense hurricanes is statistically significant for the CMIP3 ensemble climate change, but only nominally positive, and not statistically significant, for the CMIP5 ensemble.”
    “… intensity projected for the Atlantic basin showed relatively small changes in some studies, ranging even to negative values for some individual models that were analyzed….”

    The use of human misery and death to promote the unscientific ideas – is immoral …


  3. […] Video and a note from a reader Down Under, Mike Mariopolis. Australians are used to experiencing climate extremes. Fire, flood and drought are an integral part of living “Down Under”. A…  […]


  4. I have had some experience with Mike Mariopolis and I had best just leave it at that.
    Mike’s headline says; “Report from Down Under: Everything Was on Fire, Everywhere….” and since I have visited the land down under on two different occasions I know that Queensland is part of Australia and this is happening there now:
    “Twenty rescued as floods sweep northeast Australia
    Posted: 25 January 2013 1214 hrs
    Two years ago floods in Queensland left more than 30 people dead, 29,000 homes and businesses inundated and some 2.5 million people affected.”

    http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/1250127/1/.html

    Then Mike says this:
    “You may have seen the news reports about the heat wave and bush-fires Australia is experiencing. As expected, those sceptical of climate change have simply dismissed these events as another “typical” Australian summer.
    But its not. Its far from typical.
    It is extraordinary.”

    I must ask Mike if when this was happening in Australia if it was not deemed to be “extraordinary.”
    “A Real Heat WaveCredit: Dreamstime.
    The town of Marble Bar in Western Australia is legendary for its hot weather. From Oct. 31, 1923, to April 7, 1924, the tiny town scorched with 160 consecutive days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius). That’s a world record.
    Think of the 194 people in Marble Bar next time it gets hot in your hometown. Their average high temperature is over 100 F for January, February, March, November and December (the summer months in the Southern Hemisphere).”

     
    Marble Bar heatwave, 1923-24
    The world record for the longest sequence of days above 100°Fahrenheit (or 37.8° on the Celsius scale) is held by Marble Bar in the inland Pilbara district of Western Australia. The temperature, measured under standard exposure conditions, reached or exceeded the century mark every day from 31 October 1923 to 7 April 1924, a total of 160 days.
    The highest temperature recorded during the record spell was 47.5°C on 18 January 1924. There have been higher temperatures at Marble Bar, with the highest recorded being 49.2°C, on 11 January 1905 and again on 3 January 1922.

    It seems that Australia can also set some records for cold also:
    “Perth, Australia suffers its coldest September morning on record
    22 Sep 08 – The overnight temperature fell to a chilly 1C just before 6am.
    The previous coldest September morning was 1.5C, recorded in 2005.”

    http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/stor…9-2761,00.html


    • I repeat this with the link that has some very interesting information about other extreme climate events of the past.
      “A Real Heat Wave
      The town of Marble Bar in Western Australia is legendary for its hot weather. From Oct. 31, 1923, to April 7, 1924, the tiny town scorched with 160 consecutive days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius). That’s a world record.
      Think of the 194 people in Marble Bar next time it gets hot in your hometown. Their average high temperature is over 100 F for January, February, March, November and December (the summer months in the Southern Hemisphere).”

      http://www.ouramazingplanet.com/997-weird-weather-anomalies-110302.html

  5. adelady Says:

    Oh for pity’s sake. There’s a reason why only 194 people do, and the majority of Australians don’t, live in places like Marble Bar … they’re near unliveable. They certainly don’t have a decent water supply or a surrounding ring of market gardens to feed suburban populations. With its manageable but not wonderful water supply and regular food deliveries you can live reasonably well, underground, in Coober Pedy.

    Australia can set records for cold. Righto. Americans and Europeans will laugh at you for bragging about a “cold” record that doesn’t even get to freezing point. Adelaide is much like Perth, we also don’t have temps below freezing even in our coldest winters. Has anyone ever *seen* snow in the city centres of Perth-Adelaide-Sydney? All three cities are at much the same latitude, equivalent to Los Angeles.

    As for that 194 people. We had more than that -die- in Adelaide’s heatwave five years ago, we had to rent commercial refrigeration trucks because the morgues couldn’t handle the overload.

    You may not like Mike, but you need to keep Australia’s extreme weather under close watch. One of the reasons we’re in so much danger from climate change is that our climate is *already* so extreme. Droughts, fires and flooding rains are all very well when they’re only occasional, not so wonderful when they’re happening every year or two.


    • No kidding about why not many people live at Marble Bar; but, that is not the point. It is that this record has not been broken in 90 years and if the planet is burning up, which it is not, as the Met Office showed there had been no statistically significant increase in the world’s temperature since 1997; but, be like Mike and make up your own records. If the earth had a fever the records for high temperatures would be falling yearly, and they are not as this new record for world high temperature shows and there are not many people live here either.
      New world high temperature record holder: Death Valley, California
      Extreme Weather
      September 13, 2012
      The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced today that the record holder for the hottest temperature ever recorded on the planet had been changed. A record dating back to 1922 in El Azizia, Libya was deemed invalid and thus the honor now falls on a temperature recorded in Death Valley, California in 1913. (please note that this record was set one hundred years ago)

      http://www.examiner.com/article/new-world-high-temperature-record-holder-death-valley-california

      I guess you haven’t noticed that most of the Northern Hemisphere is in the grips of a very cold winter, which you and Mike will try to blame on AGW. Just what kind of a climate would you want if you had your choice? Do you think that it would be the same as what your neighbor might want? We are fortunate that natural viabilities rule the climate and not a few people that want to believe that CO2 does and they have NO alternatives for anything else to supply the life style that YOU all demand.

      Cold kills also:
      India Bone-Chilling Cold Weather Surprises Northern Parts Without Heating Systems
      Added by guardian on January 3, 2013.
      As many as 114 people have died due to cold temperatures in India
      Meteorologist M Duraiswamy said that January 2 was the coldest day in the last 44 years.

      NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The coldest weather in northern India for at least 44 years has killed more than 100 homeless people, an aid group said on Thursday.

      At least 53 people have died of cold in Poland since the beginning of the winter period, with temperatures reaching -30 degrees Celsius on Monday in several Eastern European countries like Lithuania and Czech Republic.

      http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/video/poland-cold-snap-leaves-27-dead-in-january/1426116395001

      Since you do not know what snow looks like go to this link:
      Snowpocalypse Russia: ‘Snow tsunami’ swallows streets, cars, buildings (PHOTOS)
      Published: 18 January, 2013, 22:27
      Edited: 19 January, 2013, 13:46

      http://rt.com/news/winter-snow-russia-weather-275/

  6. adelady Says:

    “the Met Office showed there had been no statistically significant increase in the world’s temperature since 1997…” You really want to play this one again?

    Let’s look at some numbers.
    – 36 years since we had an -annual- average global temperature below the 20th century average.
    – 334 months since we had a *monthly* average global temperature below the 20th century average.
    – 4 consecutive decades where each decade has been warmer than all those preceding it.

    Some facts without their numbers.
    – La Nina years are now hotter than el Nino years used to be.
    – Arctic sea ice is collapsing before our eyes.

    And you want to play semantic tricks about 90% or 95% statistical significance?


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