Wednesday, December 23, 2009

King Tides and Kind Tidings.

photo by Michael Gormley.

Dear friends,

This January there will be two full moons (the second is a ‘blue moon’ according to Wikipedia). Sydney’s tide charts show exceptionally high tides on 5 days associated with these full moons and other seasonal factors 4 weeks apart.

Fri January 1st (10am), Sat 2nd (11am), Sun 3rd (12 noon), Sat 30th (10am) and Sun 31st (11am) January. These are for Fort Denison but times and tides will vary elsewhere – check your local charts (I did a Google search for ‘Sydney tides’).

I believe this is an ideal opportunity to take children to the seaside, harbour or bay to observe salt water well above its normal level. It may be instructive for many adults too. In certain places the salt water is likely to reach grassed areas. It will cover some bathing enclosures and even some jetties and wharves. If there is a storm or squall on one of these days during the ~2 hours at or near high water there could also be flooding. Even storm water drains will be challenged with brine well beyond the normal distance from the sea.

As global warming progresses related events can only become more frequent and more severe. The short ‘economic’ and ‘political’ cycles in most countries discourage serious consideration of the changes we really need to make. These probably go well beyond anything being discussed in Denmark recently. Most scientists now believe that the earth is indeed warming and that it is our actions which are to blame. A few respected scientists apparently believe that we are already past the point of no return. Let’s hope they are wrong.

If you think climate change is a beat up and that there is a valid alternative ‘science’ then just watch Professor Plimer in a recent ABC TV debate. It is humiliating as he ducks and weaves, unable or unwilling to justify his statements on the subject.

Hence the need for robust debate and immediate remedial action, none of which will be easy. But the alternative spectre of rising sea levels is worse than any cataclysm the world has seen in the historical period.

Cheers to all … and try to forget all this for a few happy days ending 2009.

Andrew Byrne .. (Grumpy old man syndrome!).

[the first full moon is actually about 7pm Greenwich Mean Time on 31st December which by my reckoning is already 1st Jan in Australia]