Sunday, 23 September 2012

The difficulty of factoring in climate change

The second part of overshoot, environmental degradation, greatest impact will come from climate change. That is not to say that standard environmental degradation; destruction of farmland, atmospheric pollution, etc, will not be a major problem but compared to climate change these are simple, predictable and linear events, climate change is unpredictable, complex and non-linear. Heres an example of a climates systematic complexity, XKCD cassini. Notice that he said that the level of complexity exhibited by that single valley of Chad is found everywhere.

The practical side of this is simple; I can’t use the regional/local effects of climate change as an assumption, with any accuracy, because the effects are completely unknown, and unknowable, to me at this scale. In the various models I’ve seen, the only consistency I’ve seen is that the south of australia gets wetter while the north gets drier, only one model showed the changing rain patterns (more sporadic and evaporates faster). Some things can be guessed, such as more extreme weather events, more variability and such, but specifics can’t be guessed easily on anything below a continental scale.

This means I haven’t used climate change as an explicit assumption, only a an implicit. So, I assume at the end of the peak oil transition that our climate will share similarities with its current state, being only more extreme and with shifted bioregions. I highly doubt this is what we will face, but it’s the best guess I have. Without more accurate and exact climate models the best way to deal with possible major unforseen changes is through willingness and preparation to adapt.  


  1. Hey Leo,

    Yeah, it is wetter up here in the Macedon Ranges in the past 2 completed calender years than at any point since records began in 1870. This year looks as though it will be just very historically wet!

    You are too right about predictions because, chaos is the only certainty when it comes to climate change and predictions. There are a few articles recently noting that Alice Springs has only just had it's driest run of days since records began. Yet the NW of Australia (think Broome, WA etc.) has been getting progressively wetter.

    I don't reckon anyone really knows. The Bureau of Meteorology was written recently that the Indian Ocean surface temperatures are warming which will lead to increased precipitation up in the North and North West too this wet season. Most of Melbourne's really hot weather comes from central Australia driven by the winds which come from the NW.

    You must be a mind reader too because I'm writing an article and video at the moment about water harvesting for the Permaculture website!

    Glad to hear that you have some bantam chooks. All of ours are bantams too. They're great chooks because although the eggs are slightly smaller, the yokes are about the same size, and you get the same number of eggs per year (depends on breed though), but they eat far less food than the full sized chooks. EROEI for sure!

    The Pekings are a great looking chook too. I saw a Peking rooster at CERES in Brunswick the other day.

    Thanks for the comments about the blackberries too! Having them there stops the local council from spraying them with chemicals too. I used to pick many kilos of them for jam making but lost the entire wild harvest to the machinations of the local council last season!

    By the way, admitting that no one knows, is probably an excellent step in the right direction. Adaption always tends to be easier than correction!



  2. we keep the Pkeings because they're the healthiest breed we've tried, not the best layers but apparently good mothers and sitters.

    Never heard of CERES before, i'll have to look at it after VCE. If i stay in Melbourne for Uni i might go for some courses. (so far i'm most likely going to ANU in canberra)

  3. Yeah, some chooks can be a bit inbred and less robust than other breeds. Araucana chickens are well worth a try too as they have a lot of original traits and are quite switched on.

    ANU has a very good reputation. An undergraduate degree is a very good and worthwhile thing, you'll always take the experience with you. I went to RMIT part time at night, it was a long slog but worth it.

  4. @ cherokee organics

    It was more that when we bought them, a disease had just arrived and only the pekings haven't died to it. Pretty sure our first chickens brought it. We can only keep 6 chickens by law here and so far 3 is enough.

    If i don't get into ANU or Monash RMIT my backup option, has two good courses, looks like a pretty good place for engineering.
    What did you study there?