Month: February 2015

Humans are hard-wired to ignore the effects of dangerous climate change.

We don’t even think about it, says George Marshall, activist researcher and author. We are wired by our early evolution, to ignore climate change even though it threatens all of us. Even though science tells us unequivocally, that we are progressing relentlessly to an unstable and uninhabitable planet; unless we change. Even as we become more aware of climate change, surveys indicate that we are becoming less concerned. It’s as though climate change has become a metaphor, to be referred to; but is considered less important than other issues, like for example health.

George Marshall contends that it is seen as in the future and as not an immediately identifiable threat.

But it is happening before our eyes. But we don’t seem to see it.


Press link for more: Lyn Bender | independentaustralia.net.au

Revenge of the Rainforest.

Deforestation, the nearly complete disappearance of the Atlantic Forest and continuing deforestation of the Amazon, that’s the problem. Forests have an innate ability to import moisture and to cool down and to favor rain, which is what makes “regional climates” so unique.

According to one of Brazil’s leading earth scientist and climatologist, Dr. Antonio Nobre, Earth System Science Centre and Chief Science Advisor, National Institute for Research in the Amazon, Brazil: “There is a hot dry air mass sitting down here [São Paulo] like an elephant and nothing can move it… If deforestation in the Amazon continues, São Paulo will probably dry up,” Wyre Davies, Rio de Janeiro correspondent, Brazil Drought: São Paulo Sleepwalking Into Water Crisis, BBC News, Nov. 7, 2014.

According to Dr. Nobre: “’Vegetation-climate equilibrium is teetering on the brink of the abyss.’ If it tips, the Amazon will start to become a much drier savanna, with calamitous consequences,” Jonathan Watts in Rio Janeiro, Amazon Rainforest Losing Ability to Regulate Climate, Scientist Warns, The Guardian, Oct. 31, 2014.


Press link for more: Robert Hunziker | counterpunch.org

A significant majority of Americans say combating climate change is a moral duty.

    The poll of 2,827 Americans was conducted in February to measure the impact of moral language, including interventions by Pope Francis, on the climate change debate. In recent months, the pope has warned about the moral consequences of failing to act on rising global temperatures, which are expected to disproportionately affect the lives of the world’s poor.

    The result of the poll suggests that appeals based on ethics could be key to shifting the debate over climate change in the United States, where those demanding action to reduce carbon emissions and those who resist it are often at loggerheads.

    Two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) said that world leaders are morally obligated to take action to reduce CO2 emissions. And 72 percent said they were “personally morally obligated” to do what they can in their daily lives to reduce emissions.

Press link for more : Bruce Wallace | businessinsider.com

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BP says CO2 emissions unsustainable, warns on global warming.

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Two degrees of warming closer than you may think.

It’s taken a hundred years of human-caused greenhouse emissions to push the global temperature up almost one degree Celsius (1C°), so another degree is still some time away. Right?  And there seems to have been a “pause” in warming over the last two decades, so getting to 2C° is going to take a good while, and we may have more time that we thought. Yes?

Wrong on both counts.  

The world could be 2C° warmer in as little as two decades, according to the leading US climate scientist and “hockey stick” author, Dr Michael E. Mann. Writing in Scientific American in March 2014 (with the maths explained here), Mann says that new calculations “indicate that if the world continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, global warming will rise to 2C° by 2036” and to avoid that threshold “nations will have to keep carbon dioxide levels below 405 parts per million”, a level we have just about reached already.  Mann says the notion of a warming “pause” is false

Press link for more: David Spratt | climatecodered.org

Great Barrier Reef Australia lobbying to stop Great Barrier Reef making ‘in danger’ list.

Australia has embarked on a “whole of government” diplomatic and ministerial lobbying campaign to correct “misinformation” and prevent the Great Barrier Reef from being placed on the Unesco world heritage committee’s “in danger” list, a Senate committee has been told.

The environment minister Greg Hunt visited German environment minister and world heritage committee chair Maria Boehmer in January and Senate estimates heard on Thursday that ambassadors in all of the 21 countries on the committee had been enlisted in the lobbying effort, as well as consuls general and other staff.

“We have asked our ambassadors in countries that are on the world heritage committee, this is a whole of government effort, we will use our diplomatic resources to best effect,” said the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Varghese in response to questions from the Greens senator for Queensland and environment spokeswoman, Larissa Waters.

“There is currently a campaign to list the Great Barrier Reef as in danger; we are doing all that we can to ensure the campaign does not succeed,” he said.

This followed Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, HSBC, Credit Agricole and Deutsche Bank ruling out investments earlier last year.

“Instead of lobbying its way out of embarrassment, the Abbott government should actually do what the World Heritage Committee has asked to save the Reef from an ‘in danger’ listing,” Waters said.

“I’ve had a bill before the federal Parliament to adopt Unesco’s clear recommendations since they first expressed concern about the Great Barrier Reef’s future. To keep the Reef on the World Heritage list, the Government should simply pass my bill to adopt Unesco’s recommendations on restricting ports, dredging and dumping in the Great Barrier Reef.”


Press link for more:


Lenore Taylor | the guardian.com

Food waste is costing the global economy billions each year.

Food waste is costing the global economy billions each year, and governments should act quickly to reduce it if they want to save money and scale back their carbon emissions, according to a new report.

The report, published this week by the U.K.-based Waste & Resources Action Program (WRAP), found that if countries made a point of reducing their food waste, the globe could save a total of $120 to $300 billion each year by 2030. Globally, the report states, a third of all food is wasted, an amount that totals $400 billion each year. And that value will only go up, the report warns — if estimates that the world’s middle class will double by 2030 pan out, the yearly value of food waste could increase to $600 billion.

That’s bad news for the environment. In its report, WRAP looked at the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food waste in the U.K., and found that each metric ton of food that’s wasted in the U.K. is associated with 4.0 to 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Previous reports have also found food waste to be a significant factor in global greenhouse gas emissions: in 2013, a report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization found that, if global food waste was a country, it would be the third largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the world.


Katie Valentine | think progress.org

Cooler Pacific has slowed global warming but pause unlikely to last, scientists say.

A natural cooling of the Pacific Ocean has contributed to slow global warming in the past decade but the pause is unlikely to last much longer, US scientists said on Thursday.

The slowdown in the rate of rising temperatures, from faster gains in the 1980s and 1990s, has puzzled scientists because heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions from factories, power plants and cars have hit record highs.

Understanding the slowdown is vital to project future warming and to agree curbs on emissions, linked by scientists to heatwaves, floods and rising seas. Almost 200 nations are due to agree a UN deal to slow climate change in Paris in December.

Examining temperatures of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans back to 1850, which have natural swings in winds and currents that can last decades, the scientists said a cooler phase in the Pacific in recent years helped explain the warming hiatus.

Combined trends from the two oceans were seen to “produce a slowdown or ‘false pause’ in warming in the past decade”, the three scientists wrote in the journal Science.

“It appears to be the Pacific that is the main driver” of the two oceans in masking warming, Michael Mann, a co-author and professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University, told Reuters. “The Atlantic is a minor player right now.”

The study said the warming pause was unlikely to last. “Given the pattern of past historical variation, this trend will likely reverse” and add to man-made warming “in the coming decades”, it said.

Even though the pace of rising temperatures has slowed, last year was the warmest since records began in the 19th century, according to the UN World Meteorological Organization.

Press link for more: smh.com

Lester Brown: ‘Vast dust bowls threaten tens of millions with hunger’

Vast tracts of Africa and of China are turning into dust bowls on a scale that dwarfs the one that devastated the US in the 1930s, one of the world’s pre-eminent environmental thinkers has warned.

Over 50 years, the writer Lester Brown has gained a reputation for anticipating global trends. Now as Brown, 80, enters retirement, he fears the world may be on the verge of a greater hunger than he has ever seen in his professional lifetime.

Press link for more: Suzanne Goldenberg | the guardian.com