Archive | Article RSS feed for this section

In the Conversation an Article about Climate Change

18 Feb

This is an article in The Conversation:

Climate change doubled the likelihood of the New South Wales heatwave

February 16, 2017 6.10am AEDT Updated February 17, 2017 1.29pm AE

The heatwave that engulfed southeastern Australia at the end of last week has seen heat records continue to tumble like Jenga blocks.

On Saturday February 11, as New South Wales suffered through the heatwave’s peak, temperatures soared to 47℃ in Richmond, 50km northwest of Sydney, while 87 fires raged across the state amid catastrophic fire conditions.

On that day, most of NSW experienced temperatures at least 12℃ above normal for this time of year. In White Cliffs, the overnight minimum was 34.2℃, a new record for the state’s highest observed minimum temperature.

On Friday, the average maximum temperature right across NSW hit 42.4℃, beating the previous February record of 42.0℃. The new record stood for all of 24 hours before it was smashed again on Saturday, as the whole state averaged 44.0℃ at its peak. At this time, NSW was the hottest place on Earth.

A degree or two here or there might not sound like much, but to put it in cricketing parlance, those temperature records are the equivalent of a modern test batsman retiring with an average of over 100 – the feat of outdoing Don Bradman’s fabled 99.94 would undoubtedly be front-page news.

And still the records continue to fall. Mungindi, on the border with Queensland, broke the NSW record of 50 days in a row above 35℃, set just four years ago at Bourke Airport, with the new record now at 52 days.

Meanwhile, two days after that sweltering Saturday we woke to find the fires ignited during the heatwave still cutting a swathe of destruction, with the small town of Uarbry, east of Dunedoo, all but burned to the ground.

Maximum temperature anomalies across NSW on February 11, the peak of the heatwave. Bureau of Meteorology, Author provided

This is all the more noteworthy when we consider that the El Niño of 2015-16 is long gone and the conditions that ordinarily influence our weather are firmly in neutral. This means we should expect average, not sweltering, temperatures.

Since Christmas, much of eastern Australia has been in a flux of extreme temperatures. This increased frequency of heatwaves shows a strong trend in observations, which is set to continue as the human influence on the climate deepens.

It is all part of a rapid warming trend that over the past decade has seen new heat records in Australia outnumber new cold records by 12 to 1.

Let’s be clear, this is not natural. Climate scientists have long been saying that we would feel the impacts of human-caused climate change in heat records first, before noticing the upward swing in average temperatures (although that is happening too). This heatwave is simply the latest example.

What’s more, in just a few decades’ time, summer conditions like these will be felt across the whole country regularly.

Attributing the heat

The useful thing scientifically about heatwaves is that we can estimate the role that climate change plays in these individual events. This is a relatively new field known as “event attribution”, which has grown and improved significantly over the past decade.

Using the Weather@Home climate model, we looked at the role of human-induced climate change in this latest heatwave, as we have for other events before.

We compared the likelihood of such a heatwave in model simulations that factor in human greenhouse gas emissions, compared with simulations in which there is no such human influence. Since 2017 has only just begun, we used model runs representing 2014, which was similarly an El Niño-neutral year, while also experiencing similar levels of human influence on the climate.

Based on this analysis, we found that heatwaves at least as hot as this one are now twice as likely to occur. In the current climate, a heatwave of this severity and extent occurs, on average, once every 120 years, so is still quite rare. However, without human-induced climate change, this heatwave would only occur once every 240 years.

In other words, the waiting time for the recent east Australian heatwave has halved. As climate change worsens in the coming decades, the waiting time will reduce even further.

Our results show very clearly the influence of climate change on this heatwave event. They tell us that what we saw last weekend is a taste of what our future will bring, unless humans can rapidly and deeply cut our greenhouse emissions.

Our increasingly fragile electricity networks will struggle to cope, as the threat of rolling blackouts across NSW showed. It is worth noting that the large number of rooftop solar panels in NSW may have helped to avert such a crisis this time around.

Our hospital emergency departments also feel the added stress of heat waves. When an estimated 374 people died from the heatwave that preceded the Black Saturday bushfires the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine resorted to storing bodies in hospitals, universities and funeral parlours. The Victorian heatwave of January 2014 saw 167 more deaths than expected, along with significant increases in emergency department presentations and ambulance callouts.

Infrastructure breaks down during heatwaves, as we saw in 2009 when railway lines buckled under the extreme conditions, stranding thousands of commuters. It can also strain Australia’s beloved sporting events, as the 2014 Australian Open showed.

These impacts have led state governments and other bodies to investigate heatwave management strategies, while our colleagues at the Bureau of Meteorology have developed a heatwave forecast service for Australia.

These are likely to be just the beginning of strategies needed to combat heatwaves, with conditions currently regarded as extreme set to be the “new normal” by the 2030s. With the ramifications of extreme weather clear to everyone who experienced this heatwave, there is no better time to talk about how we can ready ourselves.

We urgently need to discuss the health and economic impacts of heatwaves, and how we are going to cope with more of them in the future.

We would like to acknowledge Robert Smalley, Andrew Watkins and Karl Braganza of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology for providing observations included in this article. This article was amended on February 16, 2017, to include updated weather observations.

The End Is My Beginning

14 Feb

Terzani recounts his life in

The End Is My Beginning

by Vittoria Scarpa


A man on his deathbed recounts his life and experiences to his son in what should be a film teeming with flashbacks, seeing as how the man is Tiziano Terzani and the theatre of his adventures are Vietnam and its devastating war, Mao’s China, Ghandi’s India and the Himalayas.

Instead, The End Is My Beginning [+], an adaptation of the bestseller by the great Italian writer and journalist, directed by Jo Baier, is a long dialogue between father and son, noteworthy performances from the leads (Bruno Ganz and Elio Germano), a theatrical film shot in one setting: Terzani’s real house in Tuscany, where he spent his last days among the pristine countryside and mountains, talking to his son Folco about life, disease and death.

Adapted for the big screen by Folco Terzani and the film’s German producer, Ulrich Limmer, the memories of the unforgettable Asian correspondent for Der Spiegel and Corriere della Sera, who passed away in 2004, are presented directly and simply: “We wondered whether or not to use flashbacks,” said Limmer, “but then decided to show something increasingly more rare: one man speaking, and another listening”.

The choice was a decidedly courageous one, and it paid off thanks to the intensity of the cast, the quality of the dialogue, and viewers’ awareness that they are watching an authentic and in some way illuminating adventure. “More than a film, it’s a unique experience,” said Germano, who to portray Folco spent two months at the Terzani’s house “in contact with the stars, mountains and wind, and collecting chestnuts”.

The challenge pays off also thanks to the total lack of melodrama. Everything is measured, restrained, like Germano’s emotions. Though his gazes and silences, the actor expresses the undeniable conflict of a son towards a larger-than-life father, as well as his curiosity and the desire to understand his parent.

Produced by Collina Film Production and B.A. Production in collaboration with Beta Film and RAI Cinema, The End Is My Beginning is released in Italy on April I by Fandango on 60 screens, after having garnered 230,000 admissions in Germany.

(Translated from Italian)

See also


Uta’s February 2017 Diary

13 Feb

This is early morning Monday, the 13th of February. I just had a look at what the Sydney Morning Herald published last night about the weather and I put this in another post this morning:

Just now all this feels quite unbelievable to me.  I do not say that it is not true, it’s just that where I am it feels right now more like a cool winter’s morning: The outside temperature is a cool 15 C.  What a change from two days ago!

“The coast and parts of the ranges were the only areas in NSW to escape high-30s or 40s on Saturday.” This is what it says in Peter Hannam’s article in the SMH.

Further it says:”NSW and other parts of south-eastern Australia were the hottest in the world on Saturday, according to the Climate Reanalyzer website.”

Here is what was said about fire conditions a couple of days ago:

“Soaring temperatures across much of the state have led to warnings of catastrophic fire conditions. In Walgett, the temperature has hit 46 degrees.

As NSW faces the “worst possible fire conditions” in its history with ‘extreme’ and catastrophic’ warnings in place across large slabs of the state, RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the situation was as “bad as it gets” and warned it was set to get worse on Sunday when winds are expected to sweep through scorched parts of mid to northern NSW.

“To put it simply [the conditions] are off the old scale,” he said. “It is without precedent in NSW”.

As of 11am, the RFS reported 76 bush and grass fires across NSW with 26 not yet contained. Deputy Commission Rob Rogers told ABC news:  “It’s going to be a really tough day.”

I am sure a lot of fires in rural NSW are still burning now. It is a huge task for fire crews to keep them away from homes as much as possible.

Here is a comment I made yesterday:  “We were quite lucky today. we had an overcast sky, all day and a bit of wind and the temperature went no higher than 28 Celsius which I find very pleasant. The rest of NSW still has sweltering conditions and severe fire alert. Today, I was able to do a lot of reading in the Novel “Purity” by Jonathan Franzen.”


Heatwave Records in Australia

11 Feb

I just found the following in The Guardian:

“Sydney airport recorded its hottest February day ever at 42.9C, breaking a 37-year record. Wood said the month was on track to be the hottest on record in both Sydney and Brisbane, following on from their hottest January on record.”


Here is an article by the ABC about Australia’s heatwave:

We live in Dapto, 100 km south of Sydney. Today, Saturday, we expect 41c.  Right now it is still early morning and the outside temperature is only about 23C. We plan on driving to Warrawong later on, spending some time in the shopping centre and in the afternoon we want to visit the GALA Cinema to see a French movie: Rosalie Blum.

Yesterday afternoon my lady friends came over to my place. It was our Friday games afternoon. Erika is away in Geelong, Victoria, visiting some friends. But Barbara, Irene and Marion did come despite the heat and I not having any air-conditioning. I had our ceiling fans in the living room going the whole time. Blinds and curtains were in front of all the windows.  We started playing at 2 pm. I think our inside temperature was then only about 28C. But three hours later, when the ladies left, the inside temperature had climbed to 32C.




Ruby’s Mount Kembla Restaurant

8 Dec

I found something about the RUBY RESTAURANT here:

“Ruby’s Mount Kembla is run and owned by Scott Woods.

Having completed his first three years of his apprenticeship at Ruby’s, then fourth year at Aria under Matt Moran. Scott then went on to work under Tom Aikins at Tom Aikins London and Melissa Craig at the Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, Canada.”

History (according to Google):

“Nestled in the historic mining village of Kembla Heights, Ruby’s Mount Kembla first traded as the village store and Post Office to a thriving community of coal miners and their families in the late 1800’s.

Named after Ruby Moore – a famous local resident and Post Mistress during the 1920’s and 1930’s, the store has undergone much careful restoration and is now home to one of the most well loved restaurants in the Illawarra.”


Lateline Program about Asylum Seekers, Mother Theresa, Interview with Paul Collins

6 Sep

I just watched the above program.

Here is a reference to an article in THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, written by Michael Koziol:

SEPTEMBER 6 2016 – 1:23AM

Don’t use refugees as ‘human shield against people smuggling’, warns Paris Aristotle


My thoughts on this:

I think it is really time the public thought about the consequences of our politicians policies regarding our off shore detention centres.

A sustainable urbanised World?

5 Sep

The Conversation says:

“Habitat III: the biggest conference you’ve probably never heard of”


I ask myself why on earth have we not heard of this big conference?

The last paragraph in The Conversations’ write-up is as follows:

“Fulfilling our UN member state role in Habitat III is an opportunity not to be missed. Through Quito, we can reinvigorate our national urban policy, build our regional profile and leverage and export our urban expertise. But, more importantly, by taking our seat at the table we will be playing our part in the transition of humanity into a sustainable, urbanised world.”


What is Habitat III?

“Habitat III” is shorthand for a major global summit, formally known as the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, to be held in Quito, Ecuador, on 17-20 October 2016.