Month: September 2016

When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job. #Auspol #ClimateChange

Among many climate scientists, gloom has set in. Things are worse than we think, but they can’t really talk about it.

For more than thirty years, climate scientists have been living a surreal existence. A vast and ever-growing body of research shows that warming is tracking the rise of greenhouse gases exactly as their models predicted. 

The physical evidence becomes more dramatic every year: forests retreating, animals moving north, glaciers melting, wildfire seasons getting longer, higher rates of droughts, floods, and storms—five times as many in the 2000s as in the 1970s. 

In the blunt words of the 2014 National Climate Assessment, conducted by three hundred of America’s most distinguished experts at the request of the U. S. government, human-induced climate change is real—U. S. temperatures have gone up between 1.3 and 1.9 degrees, mostly since 1970—and the change is already affecting “agriculture, water, human health, energy, transportation, forests, and ecosystems.” But that’s not the worst of it. Arctic air temperatures are increasing at twice the rate of the rest of the world—a study by the U. S. Navy says that the Arctic could lose its summer sea ice by next year, eighty-four years ahead of the models—and evidence little more than a year old suggests the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is doomed, which will add between twenty and twenty-five feet to ocean levels.

 The one hundred million people in Bangladesh will need another place to live and coastal cities globally will be forced to relocate, a task complicated by economic crisis and famine—with continental interiors drying out, the chief scientist at the U. S. State Department in 2009 predicted a billion people will suffer famine within twenty or thirty years. 

And yet, despite some encouraging developments in renewable energy and some breakthroughs in international leadership, carbon emissions continue to rise at a steady rate, and for their pains the scientists themselves—the cruelest blow of all—have been the targets of an unrelenting and well-organized attack that includes death threats, summonses from a hostile Congress, attempts to get them fired, legal harassment, and intrusive discovery demands so severe they had to start their own legal-defense fund, all amplified by a relentless propaganda campaign nakedly financed by the fossil-fuel companies.

 Shortly before a pivotal climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009, thousands of their e-mail streams were hacked in a sophisticated espionage operation that has never been solved—although the official police investigation revealed nothing, an analysis by forensics experts traced its path through servers in Turkey and two of the world’s largest oil producers, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

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Speed of Arctic change shocks scientists. #climatechange #Auspol 

The Arctic climate is changing so quickly that science can barely keep track of what is happening and predict the global consequences, the UN says.
LONDON, 29 September, 2016 – In an unusually stark warning a leading international scientific body says the Arctic climate is changing so fast that researchers are struggling to keep up. The changes happening there, it says, are affecting the weather worldwide.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says: “Dramatic and unprecedented warming in the Arctic is driving sea level rise, affecting weather patterns around the world and may trigger even more changes in the climate system.
“The rate of change is challenging the current scientific capacity to monitor and predict what is becoming a journey into uncharted territory.” 
The WMO is the United Nations’ main agency responsible for weather, climate and water.    
Its president, David Grimes, said: “The Arctic is a principal, global driver of the climate system and is undergoing an unprecedented rate of change with consequences far beyond its boundaries.

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The World Just Hit This Disturbing Climate Change Metric #auspol 

Cities like Miami (pictured) will now have access to real-time climate change data thanks to a new website powered by the White House.Photograph by Joe Raedle—Getty Images

It’s a quiet turning point against the backdrop of U.S. politics.

Earth has seemingly passed a worrisome threshold for the changing climate this week, according to scientists.
The last week in September is often the time of the year when the planet’s carbon emissions are at their lowest as summer turns to fall and plants and leaves start to decay, releasing carbon. However, this year the amount of carbon emissions in the atmosphere this week has remained above 400 parts per million, reports Climate Central.
That means that even with the fluctuating of the seasons, which pushes the levels of carbon emissions up and down, the planet is likely now officially at 400 parts per million for the foreseeable future. While that could change decades into the future—if society worked hard to reverse the carbon emissions in the atmosphere or if there was a large catastrophic climate event—but the metric for now is likely here to stay.

With four hundred parts of carbon emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere, the climate is changing including rising global temperatures, rising sea levels, ocean acidification and increased intensity of storms. Global temperatures have already risen by almost 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to about a century ago, and world leaders are trying to enact commitments and policies to keep rising temperatures under two degrees Celsius.
This disturbing data point is the backdrop to the current U.S. political environment. This week, climate change was only brought up briefly during the first Presidential debate. Republican candidate Donald Trump denied calling climate change a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese (but he actually did do that) and also bizarrely referred to solar company Solyndra, which went bankrupt five years ago and lost a loan from the U.S. government.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments on Tuesday for President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which seeks to push power plant companies to lower greenhouse gas emissions. If the policy stands, mostly it would accelerate shutting down old coal plants and adding in new natural gas plants, as well as solar and wind farms.
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But if the Clean Power Plan is shot down, the U.S. will lose its chief way to meet its commitments to lower carbon emissions and meet the pledges to the international Paris climate agreement. For the first time in history, the U.S. and China ratified the Paris agreement this weekend.
Perhaps billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has the best strategy. On Tuesday, he showed off how his space company SpaceX plans to get human beings off of Earth and onto Mars in an effort to enable humans to be an “interplanetary species.”

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