The tipping point?



Any day now, the earth will pass a new milestone.  Far away from where most of you live, but not so far from me, in a remote location of Tasmania, Australia, there is a place called Grim Point.  For decades now, scientists at Grim Point have been collecting air quality data, which includes concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air.

Well the latest record related to our atmosphere that we are breaking, is that for the first time in recorded history the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air has reached 400 parts per million (PPM).  Why is this so significant?  Mostly, because it is so remote, it is said that Grim Point has the world’s cleanest air. Hence this new milestone is being seen as a point of no return for humanity.

For non-scientists, parts per million is a measure of the concentration (mass) of a chemical in water or in this case, the air. So for example the 400 ppm means for every 1 million gas molecules in our atmosphere, about 400 are carbon dioxide molecules.

It’s important to note that as well as the carbon emissions continuing to go up, every day there are stories about the earth heating up.  This month another record has been broken – the warmest April on record. That’s seven months straight of record warm global temperatures.  2015 was the warmest year in recorded history also.  Some people might think – yippee, endless summers and hey, I like summers like the next person, but when I hear that the the coral in the Great Barrier reef is bleaching and that Greenland ice sheet has started to melt early this year ( I start to think hold on, all of this is very troubling and is pointing to an uncertain future if we don’t start seriously looking at carbon emissions.

What is a safe level? Before the burning of coal, the concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air was measured at 275 ppm.  The organisation however states that 350 ppm is a safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  This would equate to 1 degree global temperature increase.


These new milestones were discussed on the radio the other day and lo and behold, there was a climate change sceptic on the radio and while I agree that we need to have a balanced view, I couldn’t get over the arguments put forward about whether there is any proof that carbon dioxide emissions are changing the earth’s climate.  Despite the many many scientists that acknowledge that carbon emission are altering the earth’s atmosphere resulting from the burning of fossil fuels, there are some that refuse to believe the facts.  It also annoys me that we still have to going to the lowest base as far as discussions are concerned.  Rather than getting on with it, we have to keep arguing the facts and justifying any action at all!

I recently watched a documentary called Ice and the Sky / La Glace et le ciel (2015). This documentary follows Claude Lorius and his many expeditions to the south pole to study glaciers.  During his studies he put forward a theory that the glaciers were able to tell us about the earth’s climate because they had layers similar to tree rings.  He was also able to see that the air bubbles caught in the ice sheets were the fossil remains of the earth’s atmosphere, so he began studying them.

Claude Lorius

The story is a great one – through his studies and ever bigger machines he was able to dig deeper and deeper into glaciers and what he was able to see was the correlation between carbon dioxide emissions and the length of warm and cold periods.  He was able to go back 800,000 years and his conclusion was the proof that carbon dioxide emissions were related to global temperatures.  I don’t want to give away more than that, but really recommend the documentary.  If you want to know more about the science behind how this important discovery was made, then please watch it.

You could even sneak it in as viewing to any climate change sceptics that you know.

Apart from getting into the nitty gritty of the science of climate change, we can all do our bit to help get carbon emissions down to 350 ppm. The mantra of ‘Think global, act local’ really can make a difference.  If we do our part, collectively we can make a difference.

Do what you can around your home:

  • Turn off lights and appliances when not in use;
  • If you can, install solar panels and make your own energy!
  • Buy accredited Green Power (sourced from renewable sources);
  • Start walking, cycling or catching public transport instead of driving;
  • Reduce, reuse or recycle your waste;
  • Get composting or worm farming!
  • Grow your own food;
  • Support your local community and buy local;
  • Discover the wonders of your local op shop (second hand store);
  • Plants trees;
  • Check out your local Council for any local action groups.


Spread the word:

  • Keep up to date with what organisations like ( Greenpeace ( World Wildlife Fund ( or Australian Youth Climate Coalition ( and spread the word. Talk to colleagues, your family or neighbours.
  • Contact your local Council to see what they’re doing to address climate change. Are they making considerations of climate change risks in how they plan developments and how they design and construct stormwater systems for example?
  • For those in Australia, contact your state or local MP to see what their policies are in relation to climate change. There’s an election on right now and scant discussion about this very important topic.






Great news to share

Some weeks back, I wrote a piece about my grumbles with the Australian government trying to de-list a part of Tasmania’s World Heritage Forests from being listed as World Heritage.
Overnight the World Heritage Committee decided that upon consideration of this, that they reject the request.
So it’s not every day that we get to celebrate something, but this is certainly something to smile about. Finally some sense in this world!

Save Tasmania’s Forests

I have been very busy of late preparing for the arrival of baby No.3. My children are excited, but also somewhat apprehensive. My daughter has decided that she doesn’t like going to pre-school and every morning is filled with tears. All of this is exactly as it was when my son was expressing his fears prior to her arrival. Now of course they are best friends and he cries if I suggest that we do something special, just him and I, as he says that he will miss his sister too much to do something alone with me!
Well one of the things I did have in mind before my stomach getting quite so gigantic was to go out for a bushwalk to enjoy nature. I used to live in North Turramurra and loved going to Bobbin Head National Park. In fact, I could follow a track from across the road of my old house that led me into the national park. Oh how I long for a decent bushwalk!
This all led me to think back at my grumbles and one of them being the current government’s campaign to allow logging of World Heritage listed forests in Tasmania. In fact, they have formally asked the United Nations World Heritage Committee (UNESCO) to de-list some of the land added to the areas with this status. When I first heard this, I honestly thought it had to be a joke. I mean most countries are excited about having some of their assets recognized formally around the world as World Heritage. Australia however wants to put short term economic considerations ahead of environmental or simple common sense. I’m hoping that the World Heritage Committee which is due to hand down its decision in June sees some common sense and refuses this request!

Tasmania Forest 3

As an environmentalist of course I am flabbergasted. I mean haven’t we been there and done that? Shouldn’t deals that were made under the Forestry Agreements be allowed to run their course without re-igniting emotion and an ‘us vs them’ battle? Even more concerning is the fact that environmental groups are being locked out of the decision making process.
This topic seems to be moving fast in a not altogether good direction following the recent state election in Tasmania. At a time when people are worried about job losses and the closing of various industries, it’s easy to re-ignite the old debate of ‘the environment’ against ‘jobs’, however it is equally important to protect areas of wilderness for the sake of biodiversity, prevention of ecological impacts like degradation of water sources, erosion and climate change to name a few and if for nothing else, but for future generations to enjoy.

What can you do?
There are things that we can all do about the protection of Tasmania’s firests:
• First – exercise your rights as a consumer by demanding timber sourced from sustainable sources. This is likely to have the greatest impact on saving this amazing wilderness. In fact there are some in the forestry industry who are not happy about this change that the government is trying to introduce, as it may affect the ability of Tasmanian sourced timber from obtaining international certification of its timber.
• Support NGOs like the Australian Conservation Foundation ( who are working to raise awareness of this issue.
• Sign petitions – they do work!
• Write to the Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Tony Abbott to demand protection of Tasmania’s Forests and a reversal of this backward decision:
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Greg Hunt MP
Member for Flinders
Minister for the Environment
Postal Address:
PO Box 274
Hastings Vic 3915
Electorate Office:
Shop 4/184 Salmon Street
Hastings Vic 3915
Phone: 03-5979 3188
Fax: 03-5979 3034
Tasmania Forest