Hundreds of Whales Stranded Off Tasmania – The New York Times

“DARWIN, Australia — They may have taken a wrong turn, chased their prey into shallow waters, or blindly followed a dying matriarch who intended to beach herself. But the pilot whales, more than 450 of them, somehow ended up stranded on a remote beach in Tasmania.

More than half of them are likely to have already died. Now, scientists are racing to save the others.”

On a Grim Anniversary, 230 Pilot Whales Are Stranded in Tasmania – The New York Times

“MELBOURNE, Australia — It was a sobering scene: a phalanx of pilot whales, each up to 13 feet long and weighing a little under a ton, lining a remote beach in the Australian island state of Tasmania.

Already, half have died. Those that were still alive rocked back and forth in the shallows of the sand flat, twitching their fins.

On Wednesday, an estimated 230 of the animals were stranded near the town of Strahan on Tasmania’s western coast, just days after at least 14 sperm whales died after beaching on King Island in the Bass Strait, roughly 170 miles to the north.

Wednesday’s beachings came two years to the day after the worst mass whale stranding in Australia’s recorded history, when hundreds of pilot whales perished along roughly the same stretch of sand in Tasmania.”

Long a Climate Straggler, Australia Advances a Major Bill to Cut Emissions – The New York Times

“CANBERRA, Australia — After years of being denounced as a laggard on climate change, Australia shifted course on Thursday, with the Lower House of Parliament passing a bill that commits the government to reducing carbon emissions by at least 43 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, and reaching net zero by 2050.

With critical support from the Australian Greens now in place, the new Labor government is expected to push the legislation through the Senate in a few weeks.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it would put the country “on the right side of history.” The 43 percent pledge brings Australia closer to Canada, South Korea and Japan, while still falling short of commitments from the United States, the European Union and Britain.”

Australia’s Environment in Crisis, Report Says – The New York Times

“MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s environment and wildlife are facing even greater threats than previously acknowledged, according to a new report that the environment minister said painted a “story of crisis and decline.”

“It shows that we are in the middle of catastrophic environmental decline where we’re seeing populations of wildlife declining dramatically,” said Brendan Wintle, an ecosystem and forest sciences professor at the University of Melbourne, who was not involved in the State of the Environment report released Tuesday. “It’s very much a precursor to an extinction crisis in Australia, unless we see transformative change.”

About 200 plant and animal species have been added to the threatened species list since 2016, the report said, or had their vulnerability status upgraded. Among those moved to the endangered list: the country’s iconic koala.”

The Consumer – Fluorocarbon refrigerants damage our environment, Australian Government, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment https://www.environment.gov.au/

“Did you know that the refrigerants contained in air-conditioners and refrigerators can be extremely harmful to the environment? Many refrigerants, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) damage the ozone layer, while others are extremely potent greenhouse gases.

In fact, one kilogram of the refrigerant R410a has the same greenhouse impact as two tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of running your car for six months.

That’s why Australia has specific laws that prohibit the importation of gases like CFCs and regulates the importation of synthetic greenhouse gases.

Refrigerants leak into the atmosphere from faulty or poorly maintained equipment, or when equipment is improperly disposed of.”

Source: The Consumer – Fluorocarbon refrigerants damage our environment, Australia

The Refrigerant Story: From R-22 to R-410A | Goodman Manufacturing

“For Centuries, scientists, inventors and outside-the-box thinkers have been trying to manipulate substances in order to alter the temperature of the indoors!

1756: Dr. William Cullen, a Scottish physician and professor, published “Of the Cold Produced by Evaporating Fluids and of Some Other Means of Producing Cold.”

1758: Benjamin Franklin and John Hadley, a professor at Cambridge University, experimented with the cooling effect of certain rapidly evaporating liquids.

1824: Michael Faraday, a self-declared philosopher, discovered that heat would be absorbed by pressurizing gas, like ammonia, into a liquid.

1840: Physician and inventor, Dr. John Gorrie, wanted to reverse the effects of yellow fever and “the evils of high temperatures.”1 As a result, he developed a machine that created ice through compression. Gorrie was granted the first U.S. Patent for mechanical refrigeration in 1851.1

1876: German engineer Carl von Linden patented the process of liquefying gas setting the stage for the modern air conditioner.2

The Evolution of Refrigerant

Modern air conditioning appears to be an evolutionary invention that was built upon a series of successful (and not so successful) concepts. It took 80 years from Dr. Gorrie’s primitive ice-maker method for a group of individuals to develop a safe, non-toxic and easily-produced substance that could be used to provide indoor cooling for the masses.

In 1928, Thomas Midgley, Albert Henne and Robert McNary created chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants. The compounds produced were “the world’s first non-flammable refrigerating fluids, greatly improving the safety of air conditioners.”3

One of the compounds developed was R-22, a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) that became a standard refrigerant utilized in residential air conditioners for decades to come.

But as they say, history has a way of repeating itself.  Decades later, scientists would discover that chlorine, a component of CFC and HCFC refrigerants, is damaging to the ozone layer.  As a result, R22, the standard residential air conditioner refrigerant, was included in the 1987 Montreal Protocol list of substances that were to be phased out of production over time for new air conditioners and heat pumps.”

Source: The Refrigerant Story: From R-22 to R-410A | Goodman Manufacturing

 

 

The Return of the Platypuses – The New York Times

Photographs by 

Text by 

“Sarah May, watching, marveled at its glossy coat and the smoothness of its movement. It was like a Slinky, she said: “It almost poured over the ground.” The platypus reached the still pond, slid in, and was gone. Dr. May had been anticipating this moment for months, but now that it had arrived, she found herself surprised at just how deeply moved she felt.

The glossy platypus, along with two others, arrived at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, a 45-minute drive from the Australian capital of Canberra, on April 30. They had been away for four months, sheltering at a zoo in Sydney. The cold, wet and windy day of their release could not have been more different from the day in late December when they had left the reserve.

Back then, Tidbinbilla was parched from extreme heat and drought and menaced by an approaching bush fire. Dr. May, the wildlife team leader for the reserve, and her crew were working long hours in thick smoke, trying to protect their lungs with face masks, their eyes red and burning. It was a grim and apocalyptic-feeling time, she said: “Fires had taken over everybody’s psyche.” But the team worried most about their animal charges, the rare, endangered and iconic wildlife that make the reserve their home.”

The End of Australia as We Know It – By Damien Cave – The New York Times

By 

Photographs by 

“SYDNEY, Australia — In a country where there has always been more space than people, where the land and wildlife are cherished like a Picasso, nature is closing in. Fueled by climate change and the world’s refusal to address it, the fires that have burned across Australia are not just destroying lives, or turning forests as large as nations into ashen moonscapes.

They are also forcing Australians to imagine an entirely new way of life. When summer is feared. When air filters hum in homes that are bunkers, with kids kept indoors. When birdsong and the rustle of marsupials in the bush give way to an eerie, smoky silence.

“I am standing here a traveler from a new reality, a burning Australia,” Lynette Wallworth, an Australian filmmaker, told a crowd of international executives and politicians in Davos, Switzerland, last month. “What was feared and what was warned is no longer in our future, a topic for debate — it is here.”

“We have seen,” she added, “the unfolding wings of climate change.”

Like the fires, it’s a metaphor that lingers. What many of us have witnessed this fire season does feel alive, like a monstrous gathering force threatening to devour what we hold most dear on a continent that will grow only hotter, drier and more flammable as global temperatures rise.”

David Lindsay:  Horrid, excellent story, and good comments, such as:

Hugh Garner
Melbourne
Times Pick

The gravity of this article is well founded. For me, as an Australian, it is more than heart-breaking. I feel like the burnt countryside, scarred by the inferno. It has changed me forever. An enduring image for me is the picture of the Australian Prime Minister, Morrison, standing in the Parliament with a fatuous grin, holding a large lump of coal, in his apology for a mind, making a point against the environmentalists. This man and his supporters, denying reality, must be thrown out. There is no forgiving. Morrison, the Prime Minister, and his lackeys, are nothing but “fossil fools”.

3 Replies251 Recommended

Reducing Fire, and Cutting Carbon Emissions, the Aboriginal Way – By Thomas Fuller – The New York Times

By 

Photographs and Video by 

“COOINDA, Australia — At a time when vast tracts of Australia are burning, Violet Lawson is never far from a match.

In the woodlands surrounding her home in the far north of the country, she lights hundreds of small fires a year — literally fighting fire with fire. These traditional Aboriginal practices, which reduce the undergrowth that can fuel bigger blazes, are attracting new attention as Australia endures disaster and confronts a fiery future.

Over the past decade, fire-prevention programs, mainly on Aboriginal lands in northern Australia, have cut destructive wildfires in half. While the efforts draw on ancient ways, they also have a thoroughly modern benefit: Organizations that practice defensive burning have earned $80 million under the country’s cap-and-trade system as they have reduced greenhouse-gas emissions from wildfires in the north by 40 percent.

These programs, which are generating important scientific data, are being held up as a model that could be adapted to save lives and homes in other regions of Australia, as well as fire-prone parts of the world as different as California and Botswana.”

Opinion | Australia Shows Us the Road to Hell – By Paul Krugman- The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

“In a rational world, the burning of Australia would be a historical turning point. After all, it’s exactly the kind of catastrophe climate scientists long warned us to expect if we didn’t take action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, a 2008 report commissioned by the Australian government predicted that global warming would cause the nation’s fire seasons to begin earlier, end later, and be more intense — starting around 2020.

Furthermore, though it may seem callous to say it, this disaster is unusually photogenic. You don’t need to pore over charts and statistical tables; this is a horror story told by walls of fire and terrified refugees huddled on beaches.

So this should be the moment when governments finally began urgent efforts to stave off climate catastrophe.

But the world isn’t rational. In fact, Australia’s anti-environmentalist government seems utterly unmoved as the nightmares of environmentalists become reality. And the anti-environmentalist media, the Murdoch empire in particular, has gone all-out on disinformation, trying to place the blame on arsonists and “greenies” who won’t let fire services get rid of enough trees.

These political reactions are more terrifying than the fires themselves.”

“. . . . .  The answer, pretty clearly, is that scientific persuasion is running into sharply diminishing returns. Very few of the people still denying the reality of climate change or at least opposing doing anything about it will be moved by further accumulation of evidence, or even by a proliferation of new disasters. Any action that does take place will have to do so in the face of intractable right-wing opposition.

This means, in turn, that climate action will have to offer immediate benefits to large numbers of voters, because policies that seem to require widespread sacrifice — such as policies that rely mainly on carbon taxes — would be viable only with the kind of political consensus we clearly aren’t going to get.

What might an effective political strategy look like? I’ve been rereading a 2014 speech by the eminent political scientist Robert Keohane, who suggested that one way to get past the political impasse on climate might be via “an emphasis on huge infrastructural projects that created jobs” — in other words, a Green New Deal. Such a strategy could give birth to a “large climate-industrial complex,” which would actually be a good thing in terms of political sustainability.”