New data suggests the pipeline of wind, solar and storage projects in Australia is nearing 100GW – possibly enough for the country to go 100% renewables.
New data suggests the pipeline of wind, solar and storage projects in Australia is nearing 100GW – possibly enough for the country to go 100% renewables.
Hundreds of thousands of school students around the world skipped class last week to protest for governments to take action on climate change.
— Read on radio.abc.net.au/
“These ill-informed statements show Trump’s allegiance to the fossil fuel industry,” one scientist told Newsweek.
By Kashmira Gander
Scientists responded angrily to President Donald Trump’s anti-renewable energy claim that people would have to turn off their TV sets if there wasn’t enough wind to power turbines.
Addressing an audience at an Army tank factory in Lima, Ohio, on Wednesday afternoon, the president appeared to confuse windmills with wind turbines in his speech repeatedly. Taking on the persona of a man watching TV with his partner, Trump said, “When the wind doesn’t blow, just turn off the television darling, please. There’s no wind, please turn off the television quickly.”
The president also joked “solar’s wonderful too, but it’s not strong enough, and it’s very very expensive.” He did not elaborate on what he meant by “strong.”
Trump took a second swipe at wind power when he argued that building wind turbines near homes would affect property prices.
“Disgust” was the word Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University, used when asked by Newsweek for his initial reaction to Trump’s comments.
“Trump is a clown, but a dangerous, evil clown. He would happily mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren for the short-term profit of those,” he told Newsweek.
“There’s no evidence that being in sight of a windmill decreases property values,” Mann said.
“But you know what does decrease property values?” asked the professor. “Unprecedented floods, wildfires and inundation by sea level rise and more ferocious tropical storms, all of which are exacerbated by human-caused climate change which, in turn, is caused by our reliance on fossil fuels.”
Philip Eames, a professor of renewable energy at Loughborough University in the U.K., argued that Trump’s comments on renewable energy were in line with his questionable attitudes toward global warming.
“The denial of man-made climate change, the attitude of ‘live for today and not care about tomorrow’ is a characteristic of all of Trump’s statements in relation to renewables. He only cares about money and votes today, and is not seeing the long-term risks in his policies for future generations,” he said.
Ajay Gambhir, a senior research fellow with the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, echoed Mann’s concerns. He told Newsweek, “The claims made by Trump are tired and out of date.”
Gambhir pointed to the fact that almost half of Denmark’s electricity came from wind power, “much of it offshore and out of sight.” Denmark hopes to be powered exclusively by renewable energy sources such as wind by 2035.
Addressing Trump’s claim that solar energy was expensive, Gambhir said that almost a decade ago, the U.S. Department of Energy concluded that solar power was relatively pricey. The body responded by launching measures to lower the cost of solar-generated electricity, including the SunShot initiative in 2011. This aimed to bring down the cost of solar-generated electricity to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2020.
The target was achieved in 2017, making solar power comparable to coal- and gas-fired electricity generation costs. The department said it hoped to cut costs by another 50 percent by 2030, making solar electricity cheaper than coal and gas.
Trump promised to restore coal mining jobs during the 2016 presidential election. Gambhir suggested his anti-renewable energy rhetoric came from the intention to make “those whose livelihoods and interests are tied to the coal and fossil-fuel industries feel temporarily good.
“But it’s not a useful tactic for the longer term. The economics of low-carbon technologies are improving too rapidly to ignore. The real question is how to accommodate, through support and retraining, those workers and communities that are highly reliant on coal and other fossil-fuel jobs and activities, so that when the large-scale replacement of fossil fuels happens, they have a stake in a low-carbon future.”
Meanwhile, Richard Cochrane, an associate professor in renewable energy at Exeter University in the U.K., hit back at Trump’s suggestion that relying on wind power would cause the electricity to cut out.
“With a well-thought-through distribution of renewable energy systems and grid, it is incredibly rare that we would have absolutely no wind or sun across even a small country like the U.K., let alone a larger country like the U.S.,” he told Newsweek. “Having some energy storage or a backup generator can be used to ensure we never have to turn the television off at any point, though.”
Cochrane continued: “These ill informed statements show Trump’s allegiance to the fossil- fuel industry and past statements about restarting coal. Industry has carried on regardless, despite Trump’s aspirations, and are deploying renewable energy systems across the country, as they are now more cost effective than fossil-fuel systems.”
Dahr Jamail saw and touched and tasted the climate of this world even as it radically shifted before his eyes.
“You have to understand,” said Cherokee elder Stan Rushworth as he sat across the table from me at a downbeat Santa Fe breakfast joint last week. “All this,” he continued with a sweep of his arm that encompassed the café, the high-end boutique selling Native-themed knickknacks next door, the city, the state and indeed the entire country from sea to shining sea, “is occupied territory to us.”
At Stan’s right arm sat my friend Hannah, an artist who moved to Santa Fe from New England 10 years ago. To Stan’s left was Truthout’s climate reporter Dahr Jamail, who was in town to deliver a lecture on anthropogenic climate disruption for the Lannan Foundation.
Stan was there for Dahr. I was there to introduce Dahr at the beginning of the lecture and then get out of the way. Little did I realize how transformative the experience would be, beginning at that table over a plate of huevos rancheros and a cup of coffee.
We were there together because of Dahr’s new book, an essential yet harrowing read titled “The End of Ice.”
The lecture he would give that night detailed his long journey around the world to places where climate change is not an argument, but an indubitable, constantly evident fact.
From the retreating glaciers of Denali to the methane bombs lurking beneath the permafrost just south of the Arctic Circle to the dying coral of the Great Barrier Reef and beyond, Dahr saw and touched and tasted the climate of this world even as it radically shifted before his eyes.
I’ve been with Extinction Rebellion (XR) from the start. I was one of the 15 people in April 2018 who came together and made the collective decision to try to create the conditions that would initiate a rebellion.
A three-year UN-backed study from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform On Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has grim implications for the future of humanity.
Nature is in freefall and the planet’s support systems are so stretched that we face widespread species extinctions and mass human migration unless urgent action is taken. That’s the warning hundreds of scientists are preparing to give, and it’s stark.
The last year has seen a slew of brutal and terrifying warnings about the threat climate change poses to life. Far less talked about but just as dangerous, if not more so, is the rapid decline of the natural world. The felling of forests, the over-exploitation of seas and soils, and the pollution of air and water are together driving the living world to the brink, according to a huge three-year, U.N.-backed landmark study to be published in May.
The study from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform On Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), expected to run to over 8,000 pages, is being compiled by more than 500 experts in 50 countries. It is the greatest attempt yet to assess the state of life on Earth and will show how tens of thousands of species are at high risk of extinction, how countries are using nature at a rate that far exceeds its ability to renew itself, and how nature’s ability to contribute food and fresh water to a growing human population is being compromised in every region on earth.
Nature underpins all economies with the “free” services it provides in the form of clean water, air and the pollination of all major human food crops by bees and insects. In the Americas, this is said to total more than $24 trillion a year. The pollination of crops globally by bees and other animals alone is worth up to $577 billion.
The final report will be handed to world leaders not just to help politicians, businesses and the public become more aware of the trends shaping life on Earth, but also to show them how to better protect nature.
“High-level political attention on the environment has been focused largely on climate change because energy policy is central to economic growth. But biodiversity is just as important for the future of earth as climate change,” said Sir Robert Watson, overall chair of the study, in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.
“We are at a crossroads. The historic and current degradation and destruction of nature undermine human well-being for current and countless future generations,” added the British-born atmospheric scientist who has led programs at NASA and was a science adviser in the Clinton administration. “Land degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change are three different faces of the same central challenge: the increasingly dangerous impact of our choices on the health of our natural environment.”
Around the world, land is being deforested, cleared and destroyed with catastrophic implications for wildlife and people. Forests are being felled across Malaysia, Indonesia and West Africa to give the world the palm oil we need for snacks and cosmetics. Huge swaths of Brazilian rainforest are being cleared to make way for soy plantations and cattle farms, and to feed the timber industry, a situation likely to accelerate under new leader Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist.
Industrial farming is to blame for much of the loss of nature, said Mark Rounsevell, professor of land use change at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, who co-chaired the European section of the IPBES study. “The food system is the root of the problem. The cost of ecological degradation is not considered in the price we pay for food, yet we are still subsidizing fisheries and agriculture.”
This destruction wrought by farming threatens the foundations of our food system. A February report from the U.N. warned that the loss of soil, plants, trees and pollinators such as birds, bats and bees undermines the world’s ability to produce food.
An obsession with economic growth as well as spiraling human populations is also driving this destruction, particularly in the Americas where GDP is expected to nearly double by 2050 and the population is expected to increase 20 percent to 1.2 billion over the same period.
Nature is likely to be hit particularly hard over the next 30 years, said Jake Rice, chief scientist emeritus at the Canadian government’s department of oceans and fisheries, who co-chaired the Americas study. High consumption and destructive farming will further degrade land and marine ecosystems, he added, although the pace of destruction is diminishing because so much has already gone.
“The great transformation has already taken place in North America but the remote parts of South and Central America remain under threat. A new wave of destruction is transforming the Amazon and Pampas regions [of Latin America],” said Rice.
All of this comes at a huge cost and has implications for the systems that prop up life on this planet, throwing into doubt the ability of humans to survive.
“The loss of trees, grasslands and wetlands is costing the equivalent of about 10 percent of the world’s annual gross product, driving species extinctions, intensifying climate change and pushing the planet toward a sixth mass species extinction,” says the report.
Future generations will likely experience far less wildlife, said Luthando Dziba, head of conservation services at South African National Parks, who co-chaired the section of the IPBES report that focuses on Africa.
Read on www.huffingtonpost.ca/
Only 16, but Greta Thunberg Is the Voice of Reason – Greed
In the global debate over what to do about climate change, one party has typically been silent: the generation that will take charge of the earth when today’s decision-makers (and decision-delayers) cede control or pass away.
As a group of student activists wrote to the Guardian on March 1, “We are the voiceless future of humanity.”
But now the next generation has a voice, and a name: pigtailed Swedish teen Greta Thunberg. By skipping school to protest climate change at the Swedish parliament, the iron-willed 16-year-old has inspired today’s young people to confront their elders’ failure to act.
Greta was a shy unknown when she walked out of school last August – following Sweden’s hottest summer on record – to begin her SkolStrejk (school strike). After three weeks of haunting the Riksdagin central Stockholm, she reduced her strike to one day a week, Fridays, and the world started taking notice. Within a few months she was lecturing in Poland at a UN climate conference, dressing down the world’s economic elite at the World Economic Forum in Davos, holding press conferences and reprimanding British Prime Minister Theresa May on Twitter.
In December, Greta was named one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential teens and in March was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her TED Talk has more than a million views, and on March 15, over 1.4 million students at over 2,000 schools in 125 countries on all continents walked out of class in solidarity with Greta’s fierce determination, making it “the biggest day of climate action ever,” according to 350.org. With 150,000 protestors, Montreal was reportedly the single largest climate protest that day.
How has Greta Thunberg broken through the clouds of apathy that have hindered such prominent activists as Al Gore, Naomi Klein and Bill Nye the Science Guy? She is driven by desperate seriousness and inspired by the teenaged shooting survivors in Parkland, Florida, who organized the March for Our Lives. Above all, she is a fearless critic who makes every word count.
In her address at Davos, Greta warned that good intentions are no longer enough: “Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that homo sapiens have ever faced.” But the solution, she said, is simple: “We have to stop the emission of greenhouse gases… Either we choose to go on as a civilization or we don’t.”
Adults, she noted, often say, “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.” But, Greta insisted, clear-eyed and level-voiced, “I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act… I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”
The daughter of an actor and an opera singer, Greta was diagnosed four years ago with Asperger’s, a mild type of autism. Common symptoms include difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication. But one person’s disorder is another person’s superpower; Greta believes her disorder has fuelled her focus.
“I overthink,” she says. “Some people can just let things go, but I can’t, especially if there’s something that worries me or makes me sad.”
Never mind the flood victims, the polar bears or the increasing number of people killed by wildfires. Greta personifies the innocent victims for whom climate change is not a political football.
“We have the right to live our dreams and hopes,” she insists. “Adults are jeopardizing our future… You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”
The author and scientist, who has returned to his roots at the Australian Museum, says the world is about to see a major shift towards climate action
Tim Flannery laments that young Australians today will never be able to experience in the same way the natural wonders he enjoyed in his youth.
He grew up in Melbourne on remnants of the sandplain flora, “one of the great floristic gems of Australia,” he says. Once smothered in flowers in springtime, it has now largely been lost through development and altered burning regimes. Flannery, 63, spent his youth swimming and scuba diving in northern Port Phillip bay, which he says is now also gravely deteriorated.
He further points to the Great Barrier Reef, which suffered unprecedented mass bleaching in 2016 and 2017 and the “serious questions” about whether it can now be saved. “Something like 70% of the reef that was there a century ago is now dead,” he says.
But without detailed records on species distributions, it’s impossible to map the losses due to climate change, explains Flannery, who recently returned to the 192-year-old Australian Museum in Sydney, where he was principal mammalogist from 1984–1999.
Rather than being “a fusty old relic” the museum is playing a vital role in this, he says. “The collections that say where things were, and when, are here – and that’s the most important asset we’ve got to understand the response of biodiversity to climate change … The people of New South Wales need to understand what a valuable asset they have.”
Inadequate action by governments has been brought into focus by ever-more alarming reports about the rate of warming, such as the recent long-term forecast from the UK Met Office that we might temporarily exceed 1.5C of average warming over preindustrial levels in the next five years.
Preventing warming from exceeding 1.5C in the long term was one of the targets agreed by the world’s nations in the UN’s 2015 Paris agreement.
“Sadly, I’ve been aware of [the urgency of] this for a long time,” says Flannery, who believes that breaching that threshold is inevitable in the next few decades, and that we are probably already committed to 2C of warming, “which is towards the catastrophic end of things”.
Instead of getting “dismayed and depressed”, he suggests we focus on damage that’s still within our power to avoid. “We have to reduce emissions as hard and fast as possible … [and] develop technologies that will get gigatons of carbon dioxide out of the air by 2050.”
On March 15, some 1.6 million students in over 120 countries protested adult inaction on climate change—and they aren’t done yet.
Inside the U.K. houses of parliament, the grown-ups were at work.
Outside, thousands of others — many of whom were not old enough to vote — were doing their best to make sure business was anything but usual.
With their chants echoing down the streets, they were among an estimated 1.6 million students in over 120 countries who left school on March 15 in protest of adult inaction on climate change. “It shocks me how great a length we have to go to be heard,” said 16-year-old Miranda Ashby, who’d traveled more than two hours to London with roughly 50 of her classmates.
“We are protesting now because if not now, when?”
The school climate strikes started with teen activist Greta Thunberg standing vigil outside Sweden’s parliament one Friday last August. “When I first started this strike, I didn’t really expect anything,” Thunberg told TIME on March 14, shortly after Norwegian lawmakers nominated her for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Thunberg’s idea has grown into a global movement; the March 15 action was its biggest yet. Extensive coverage of the strikes by media outlets and individuals on social media have helped elevate the cause in the minds of people across the world. Meanwhile, the lack of a centralized organizational hub makes it easy for teenagers to arrange actions in their own towns and cities; rallies took place in more than 2,200 towns and cities worldwide on March 15. “We’re tired of waiting for politicians to care,” says Nosrat Fareha, an organizer for the Sydney strikes, where 30,000 young people turned out — more than three times Fareha’s expected estimate.
In Uganda, where drought and desertification are already devastating, the walk-out took place despite officials blocking strikers from an intended rally location in Kampala. “I realized that my country has to change too,” 14-year-old organizer Leah Namugerwa says. And in the U.S., 17-year-old Feliquan Charlemagne, National Creative Director of the U.S. movement, believes the energy of March for Our Lives, the 2018 student-led initiative for gun control, must be harnessed for this cause too. Born in the Caribbean island of St Thomas, Charlemagne and his family have personally suffered the powerful effects of climate change, after Hurricane Irma devastated the island in September 2017. “This is not something we can play around with,” he says. “This is literally our future.”
It’s also their present. The warning of the landmark October 2018 report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that the planet is only 12 years away from catastrophe unless “far-reaching and unprecedented changes” are taken, weighs heavily on the minds of young organizers, who are quick to point out that they are the ones who have to live in that world. The deadline means there’s a lot of work to be done, and they don’t have time to wait to grow up first.
Their most pressing hope is for immediate policy measures to meet the terms of the Paris Agreement, limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5° celsius this century, as well as specific local action.
In Australia, campaigners want to halt the proposed construction of a controversial coal mine.
For activists across the U.S., preservation of public lands and political implementation of the Green New Deal are top priorities. And in the U.K., organizers want a fair portrayal of the climate crisis in school curricula and government information. And they’ve had some success already: youth organizers have met with members of the European Parliament and their strikes have been welcomed by leaders including Angela Merkel and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. “It really has changed the discourse,” says Sini Harkki, program manager at Greenpeace Nordic.
But at least for now, that’s all they can change; the youth that draws them to the cause is also an obstacle.
Most of the movement’s participants are not just battling the obvious challenges of political inertia, powerful fossil fuel lobbies and disbelieving critics—they are also too young to play a bigger role in business or politics. And so they are determined to continue the Friday strikes.
The U.K. Student Climate Network is demanding a meeting with political leaders, U.S. activists are planning a mass strike for May 3 and a pan-European organizer meeting is also in the pipeline. And Thunberg, no longer on her own, is committed to striking every Friday until Sweden reduces its carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. “I know I have something to say,” Thunberg says, referring to her frank speeches in front of international leaders. “I have a message I want to get out and I want people to listen.” Students worldwide have heard her loud and clear.
It’s up to the world’s politicians to act.
Graphs and an animated time series showing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from the last three glacial cycles to present day.