Friday, January 25, 2013

Asian Monsoon May be Predictable - Early

A lot has been done to advance the predictions about the NW monsoon across Australia.  BUT - this year it seems to be definitely off - but forcasters did indicate that there were no strong signals, so that makes for tricky predicting.

Of more importance has been the machinations of the Asian monsoon which has enormous influences on the agriculture and urban life in the region.  For example, the recent flooding in Jakarta, and seasonal typhoons in the area.

The correlations are not fantastic - with 65% indicated, but refinements are certainly possible.

The news article is worth reproducing  - and for the interested read the full report.  AND -watch out out for more.

Asian Monsoon Predictions Take Great Leap Forward

There are few other weather phenomenon which effect a country's agriculture, economy, and people greater than the Monsoon. The monsoon is defined as a seasonal reversing of wind accompanied by a significant change in precipitation. For many parts of the world, and particularly south Asia, the monsoon provides much needed rainfall. However, the amount of rainfall and number of tropical storms brought about by each year's monsoon has been extremely difficult to predict. Scientists from the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa have made a breakthrough for predicting the summer monsoon rainfall over East Asia as early as the spring of that year.

The East Asian monsoon affects parts of Indo-China, Philippines, China, Korea, and Japan. The researchers found that this monsoon and its related storm activity are controlled by fluctuations in the western Pacific Subtropical High (WPSH), a major circulation system centered over the Philippine Sea.

If the WPSH is strong during the summer, the rainfall tends to be above average in East Asia and there tend to be fewer tropical storms that make landfall.

Using computer modeling, they found out that summer fluctuations in the WPSH are over 65% predictable by the spring. Things that make the WPSH stronger than usual include dipolar sea surface temperature anomalies in the ocean. This happens when unusually warm Indian Ocean hits the unusually cool western North Pacific water. If this occurs, there will be greater summer monsoon rainfall over East Asia and the Ganges Valley in India.

"Our findings create a promising way for predicting monsoon rainfall and tropical storm days during the East Asian summer," concludes lead author Bin Wang, meteorology professor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and faculty at the International Pacific Research Center. "As a first step, we use global general circulation models to predict the fluctuations in the WPSH, and then in a second step, we use this forecast to predict rainfall and storm days in regional analyses. We have done hindcasts from 1979 to 2009 using this approach and have found substantially improved skills over the use of dynamical climate models in predicting the East Asian Summer Monsoon rainfall and tropical storm activity."

This study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

[ reproduced from ENN, 25 Jan 2013]

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Overpopulation Needs to Taken Seriously

Causes need champions.  Whether it be Band Aid and Bob Geldof for the famine work that commenced around the Ethiopian famine in 1984, or even more recent examples of Bono and other celebrities as motivators of supporters and even drivers of the cause, across a wide spectrum of activities.

Overpopulation of our planet has always been a tricky issue in how to deal with it.  Is it real, will it affect the economic development and untimately the political ascendancy of countries or individuals, or will " I " be disadvantaged - a serious idea according to some.

Recently a US celebrity [ Alexandra Paul ] gave a talk to a TEDx meeting at Topango in California.  So who is she you might ásk as I did [ but I am not a TV or film media watcher]?  Check yourself here -
Alexandra explains correctly that modern man first showed up on earth 200,000 years ago. By 1830 there were 1 billion people on the planet. Therefore, it took 200,000 years for humans to put the first billion humans on earth. The second billion we added in just 100 years. Now, we add 1 billion people every 12 years. And in 2011, the human population reached 7 billion people.

To give you an example of how fast the population grows, Bangladesh had a hurricane a few years ago that catastrophically killed 139,000 people. As a point for comparison, the population growth in Bangladesh is 139,000 new births every 2 ½ weeks!

In her talk, Alexandra says “forcing people to have fewer children doesn’t work. The fastest, most efficient way to stabilize the human population is to send girls to school and Empower women. And give everyone access to, and education on, birth control".

The talk concludes with her encouraging everyone not be afraid to talk about the overpopulation issue: "It is not about taking rights away, it is about giving opportunities to women, children and future generations".

A video of the talk - click here for video link.

Some consider that we are moving towards an unsstainable population on the planet Earth.  Others are less sure but whatever - discussing the issue and advocating sensible options is vital.  There is no doubt that history would indicate that the solution advocated by Alexandra Paul does have cred, and is increasingly the norm even in those regions of so called less development.  But part of that is also management of many simple diseases.  My own experience of working in less affluent regions is that most families have had some form of child mortality that was caused by easily fixed problems including gastro, measles, whooping cough and similar diseases that are preventable or can be fixed, as well as malaria and dengue [ at least manageable in simple ways to reduce problems].  

Where schooling for girls and education for women in general occurs then family size is regulated, and so population is moderated.

Is it a no brainer to work more towards the goal of female education?


Monday, January 21, 2013

Waste Not, Want Not

This adage is best interpreted as - wise use of one's resources will keep one from poverty. For example, to throw out good food—waste not, want not. This proverbial saying was first recorded in 1772 but had an earlier, even more alliterative version, willful waste makes woeful want (1576).
The adage of waste not, want not was generally popularised around food resources.  For that area, it is very true, and maybe some of the current discussions around food waste [around 50% of food is wasted] might do well to remember this very simple concept.  Food wastage is so often related to excess food being present and overeating, at least in western society, and simply remembering this old maxim might allow some better thinking to emerge, with resources, particularly financial ones being better directed.  Think before buying or using more food…….will it be wasted?  Plus some simple options that need to be thought about, such as using leftovers.  Their reuse is unlikely to hurt you and most likely will save money.

But the same maxim also has relevance in business.  Lean business principles have moved beyond the factory floor to become an organizing set of principles and practices applicable to all business operations and activities, including entrepreneurial start-ups. Every idea in your company can benefit from a lean approach, be it a product, process, service, or strategy.  Cut waste, in effect.  Sustainable principles in business in effect also rely on cutting waste.  And that cuts costs.
The Australian focused Do Something web site [ ] has recently been highlighting reducing use of paper, particularly for small business – driving  a more sustainable approach to business but also offering ideas how paper use can be reduced and business efficiency improved with electronic filing seen as a big potential improvement, due to electronic searching capabilities. Waste not, want not principles in action.  And improving not just the bottom line but that elusive triple bottom line.

How can you and your business implement waste not, want not principles?     

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

California Carbon Allowances and Market Trading

Carbon allowances are now available for sale in California. Companies that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent a year (CO2e) in the power, oil, and industrial sectors will now have to turn in permits for every ton they emit this year and the years to come. Things are moving fast in California right now, so here’s a primer on what’s happening and what to expect for the coming months.

Are people really buying carbon permits?

Yes. Currently, California Carbon Allowances (CCAs) are trading for about US$15 a ton on the secondary market. Point Carbon reported a big spike in volume traded since January 1st, as a lot of new companies have entered the markets and are cutting their teeth on West Coast-style carbon trading.

The Governor’s California budget, released on January 10, shows that the state expects to raise $200 million for budget year 2012- 2013, and $400 million the following year. Auctions let private companies buy allowances directly from the state. As explained in an earlier post, the permits auctioned have a minimum (reserve) price of US$10.71 per ton, but in reality those permits could sell for a higher price if a lot of compliance entities decide to buy allowances rather than reduce their emissions.

What happens next?

Companies are due to surrender their carbon allowances only in 2014, which gives them time to become more familiar with the program and gives time to the market to settle on its "fair price." The program has two lawsuits pending against specific provisions, but none that would threaten the very existence of the market at this point.
This is relevant for the naysayers in Australia too, with the projected carbon price now reduced to A$15 per metric tonne in Australia.

It does seem that the developed world is slowly but inexorably moving to a carbon price.

Have you reconciled that you will have to moderate your carbon consumption too?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Marine Transport Goes Gas

The Christmas break is over and once again, back to the grindstone that is the terrible four letter word - work.  Hope all readers are refreshed and enjoyed Christmas festivities.  Seems that Christmas reaches into many non Christian areas of the world now as well.


Marine transport has traditionally used bunker oil.  But that might be about to change as world gas supplies both increase in size and reduce in price.  Darwin is among areas where gas is produced, and production is expected to increase here over the next few years.  But non traditional sources, especially in the USA, are increasing quite rapidly.

This is expected to have major ramifications for using gas in powering marine transport systems.  Both for new vessels and retro fitting of gas tanks to existing vessels.  Using gas could radically reduce costs of fuel for large ocean vessels, an issue that has long been a problem for these vessels.

Read a detailed report here -;postID=4523160370317925528

Interested to read some thoughts on this issue.