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Byron Shire
January 26, 2022

Sinking real estate

Latest News

Byron Shire 2022 Citizen of the Year

Jacqui Boyett, founder of the not-for-profit Global Ripple charity and op shop, is the Byron Shire 2022 Citizen of the Year.

Other News

Lennox Head forge ahead across four grades in local cricket

Local cricket is approaching the midway point of the 2021–22 season and sees Lennox Head playing strongly across all four senior grades.

Astrological gravitas

The Mullum Aeronautics and Space Administration (MASA) will soon launch the Spiders Webb telescope, which will break through to...

Far North Coast Comedy

Lots of comedy to laugh out loud at

Israel and Palestine

As an apologist for Israel, Michael Burd (Letters, 12 January) conveniently ignores the harsh truth of Israel’s brutal oppression,...

Tweed Shire celebrates Australia Day online

Tweed Shire Council says that in the interests of public health Council has rearranged its Australia Day celebrations on Wednesday, January 26.

COVID update for January 24

Dr Kerry Chant spoke to the media this morning with a COVID update saying that in terms of our hospitals, we've currently got 2,816 People in hospital including 196 People in ICU, of whom 69 are ventilated.

For most of geological time, the Earth has been 5–15 degrees hotter than today. That’s why the dinosaurs did so well, reptiles love the heat!

There were practically no polar ice caps and the ocean ranged between 25–50 metres higher than today’s sea level. Cape Byron, made from billion-year-old siltstone called greywacke, was an offshore island around 20 million years ago.

Australia was inhabited by giant megafauna and the Wollumbin volcano was active and spilling lava into the sea. Main Arm was an estuary inhabited by huge crocodiles and the Koonyum Range was ocean cliffs pounded by a nameless sea. At the time, Byron was down where Tasmania is today, and has been inching its way north, seven centimetres a year, ever since.

Today’s entire Byron Shire floodplain, from south of Suffolk Park to North Ocean Shores, including Byron, Brunz and Mullum, were all at the bottom of the sea.

Politicians talk about two degrees temperature rise, but already they are conceding 2.7 degrees. I have read reliable authors suggesting 4–5 degrees a more likely outcome at current projections.

Because Australia largely lies in 30 degree (desert) latitudes, it is likely to have an ambient temperature rise closer to an unbearable nine degrees. Tasmania looks very attractive. But anything above four degrees means the sea level once again engulfs the entire Byron floodplain with a twenty-five metre sea level rise. This isn’t catastrophising the situation, it’s just plain physics.

So with all our land clearing and fossil fuel burning, we are recreating a planet far better suited to reptiles than we mammals. But have no fear. In around 60,000 years our planet will begin entering another ice age.

Over the past 2.5 million years, the Earth has been in a more temperate cycle of ice ages, characterised by a very regular rise and fall in temperature. In the last ice age, which ended only 12,000 years ago, the ambient Earth temperature was only five degrees cooler than today. This rise and fall in temperature has been named the Milankovitch Cycle, caused by the Earth’s orbital positions and inclinations. It was in the past 10,000 years of a relatively mild interglacial time, that we humans thrived.

So in 60,000 years time we will need every lump of coal and litre of oil we can get our hands on, to start stoking the fires and ward off the coming freeze. So fossil fuels do have their place – just not now when the planet desperately needs cooling. We need to see coal and oil and gas as long-term life-saving resources that need to be highly valued. The trouble is, a week is a long time in politics, and 60,000 years is, sadly, way longer than many people believe we homo sapiens will survive. Let’s prove them wrong.

Michael Balson, Upper Wilsons Creek


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