Month: July 2017

We need to fill the #ClimateChange leadership void! #StopAdani

Pennsylvania needs to fill climate change leadership void

Leanne Krueger-BranekyJuly 29, 2017 — 3:01 AM EDT

President Trump’s reckless decision to withdraw our country from the historic Paris Climate Agreement has put the health, safety and economy of both Pennsylvania and the United States in peril. 

Climate change affects all things, from industries such as agriculture and tourism to the health and mortality of infants and children. 

It is the No. 1 most pressing challenge affecting every nation on the planet.
As a mom, business leader and legislator, I cannot just stand by while this decision puts the health and economic future of our children at risk.

 In the absence of leadership at the federal level, state and local governments must lead the effort to protect the future of our communities, the commonwealth and our country.
That is why I introduced H.R. 421, urging Pennsylvania to join the 1,200 local officials, businesses – including Apple, Facebook, Google, Target and Walmart — and educational institutions across the nation who have committed to upholding elements of the Paris Agreement by signing on to the U.S. Climate Alliance. 

Many Pennsylvanians have already joined the effort:

 The signers include nine Pennsylvania mayors and the leaders of 15 Pennsylvania colleges and universities, including the presidents of Allegheny College, Bryn Mawr College, Chatham University, Drexel University, Elizabethtown College, Gettysburg University, Lebanon Valley College, Lehigh University, Millersville University, Penn State University and Villanova University.
Formed in response to the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, members of the U.S. Climate Alliance are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the goals of the federal Clean Power Plan. 

By committing to clear benchmarks, we can start to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change – such as rising temperatures, extreme weather, increased smog and more — while creating family-sustaining jobs in Pennsylvania.
According to a report released last year, 5,400 direct and indirect jobs would be created every year if the U.S. meets its goals to reduce methane emissions by the oil and gas industry. 

Many of the jobs created in the clean energy sector pay well and provide long-term security. The median hourly wage for workers in the methane mitigation industry is $30.88, for example, compared with $19.60 for all U.S. jobs.


Joining the Climate Alliance is a step toward fulfilling our moral obligation to provide the next generation with an environment in better shape than the one we inherited.

 If we don’t commit ourselves to taking action, we hand our children a world of increased food insecurity, higher rates of respiratory diseases like asthma, and increased transmission of some infectious diseases, just some of the negative effects of climate change.
By adopting my resolution and urging Gov. Wolf to sign Pennsylvania to join the thirteen states already in the Climate Alliance, we can position our commonwealth to be a leader in sustainable energy jobs for decades to come, all while ensuring for our children a planet with breathable air, drinkable water and a livable climate.
I thank my 39 colleagues in the General Assembly who have signed on as co-sponsors for H.R. 421. 

If you also want Pennsylvania to be a leader in the fight against climate change, contact your local elected officials and urge them to step up and fill the leadership void created by Trump.
Leanne Krueger-Braneky is a Democratic state representative from Delaware County.

Press link for more: Philly.com

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Scientists may have underestimated #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

Climate scientists may have been underestimating global warming, finds study

The sun sets over icebergs near Ilulissat in Greenland: Getty Images

Preventing global warming from becoming “dangerous” may have just got significantly harder after new research suggested climate scientists have been using the wrong baseline temperature.
The amount of global warming is often measured relative to the late 19th century even though this is about 100 years after the start of the industrial revolution, when humans started burning large amounts of fossil fuels.
Now an international team of scientists has suggested that the Earth’s true “pre-industrial” temperature could be up to 0.2 degrees Celsius cooler.
That would mean that instead of about 1C of global warming, the planet’s average temperature may have risen by up to 1.2C.
According to the Paris Agreement on climate change, the world should try to limit global warming to as close to 1.5C as possible to avoid its worst effects, such as deadly heatwaves, sea level rise that threatens coastal cities and more violent storms.
One of the researchers, Professor Michael Mann, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had been using a definition of pre-industrial “that is likely underestimating the warming that has already taken place”.
“That means we have less carbon to burn than we previously thought, if we are to avert the most dangerous changes in climate,” he said.
“When the IPCC says that we’ve warmed 1C relative to pre-industrial, that’s probably incorrect. It’s likely as much as 1.2C.”
The study, described in a paper in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that anything from 0.02C to 0.21C of warming could already have taken place before the late 19th century.
The lower end of that range would mean the current use of the late 19th century is reasonably accurate, but the upper end would be a substantial change.
Professor Mann, of Pennsylvania State University, said that either the Paris targets “have to be revised” or the world could simply decide that they only wanted to restrict warming relative to the 19th century.
His colleague, Dr Andrew Schurer, of Edinburgh University, told The Independent: “If we assume there has been warming up to the late 19th century, those targets become slightly tighter and therefore harder to reach.”
But he said that defining the targets was more a matter for policymakers, based on the available evidence and risks, than scientists.
“I don’t think the findings will necessarily mean that climate change will be made worse than it was previously … it’s a slightly abstract concept,” Dr Schurer said.
“It really needs to be defined better in order that we know where we are in terms of reaching the target.”
If there had already been 0.2C of global warming by the late 19th century, the researchers calculated this would increase the chance of exceeding the 1.5C target rose from 61 to 88 per cent – even if humans dramatically reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The chance of breaching 2C increased from 25 to 30 per cent.
“Mitigation targets based on the use of a late-19th century baseline are probably overly optimistic and potentially substantially underestimate the reductions in carbon emissions necessary to avoid 1.5C or 2C warming of the planet relative to pre-industrial,” the scientists wrote in the paper.
“While pre-industrial temperature remains poorly defined, a range of different answers can be calculated for the estimated likelihood of global temperatures reaching certain temperature values.
“We would therefore recommend that a consensus be reached as to what is meant by pre-industrial temperatures to reduce the chance of conclusions that appear contradictory being reached by different studies and to allow for a more clearly defined framework for policymakers and stakeholders.”

Press link for more: Yahoo.com

A Failure of Imagination on Climate Risk #StopAdani

A failure of imagination on climate risks
By Ian Dunlop and David Spratt

This is an extract from Disaster Alley: Climate change, conflict and risk published recently by Breakthrough.
Climate change is an existential risk that could abruptly end human civilisation because of a catastrophic “failure of imagination” by global leaders to understand and act on the science and evidence before them.


At the London School of Economics in 2008, Queen Elizabeth questioned: “Why did no one foresee the timing, extent and severity of the Global Financial Crisis?” The British Academy answered a year later: “A psychology of denial gripped the financial and corporate world… [it was] the failure of the collective imagination of many bright people… to understand the risks to the system as a whole”.
A “failure of imagination” has also been identified as one of the reasons for the breakdown in US intelligence around the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
A similar failure is occurring with climate change today.
The problem is widespread at the senior levels of government and global corporations. A 2016 report, Thinking the unthinkable, based on interviews with top leaders around the world, found that:

“A proliferation of ‘unthinkable’ events… has revealed a new fragility at the highest levels of corporate and public service leaderships. Their ability to spot, identify and handle unexpected, non-normative events is… perilously inadequate at critical moments… Remarkably, there remains a deep reluctance, or what might be called ‘executive myopia’, to see and contemplate even the possibility that ‘unthinkables’ might happen, let alone how to handle them.

 Such failures are manifested in two ways in climate policy. At the political, bureaucratic and business level in underplaying the high-end risks and in failing to recognise that the existential risk of climate change is totally different from other risk categories. And at the research level in underestimating the rate of climate change impact and costs, along with an under-emphasis on, and poor communication of, those high-end risks.

Existential risk
An existential risk is an adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential. For example, a big meteor impact, large-scale nuclear war, or sea levels 70 metres higher than today.
Existential risks are not amenable to the reactive (learn from failure) approach of conventional risk management, and we cannot necessarily rely on the institutions, moral norms, or social attitudes developed from our experience with managing other sorts of risks. Because the consequences are so severe — perhaps the end of human global civilisation as we know it — researchers say that “even for an honest, truth-seeking, and well-intentioned investigator it is difficult to think and act rationally in regard to… existential risks”.
Yet the evidence is clear that climate change already poses an existential risk to global economic and societal stability and to human civilisation that requires an emergency response. Temperature rises that are now in prospect could reduce the global human population by 80% or 90%. But this conversation is taboo, and the few who speak out are admonished as being overly alarmist.
Prof. Kevin Anderson considers that “a 4°C future [relative to pre-industrial levels] is incompatible with an organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems, and has a high probability of not being stable”. He says: “If you have got a population of nine billion by 2050 and you hit 4°C, 5°C or 6°C, you might have half a billion people surviving”. Asked at a 2011 conference in Melbourne about the difference between a 2°C world and a 4°C world, Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber replied in two words: “Human civilisation”.
The World Bank reports: “There is no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible”. Amongst other impacts, a 4°C warming would trigger the loss of both polar ice caps, eventually resulting, at equilibrium, in a 70-metre rise in sea level.
The present path of greenhouse gas emissions commits us to a 4–5°C temperature increase relative to pre-industrial levels. Even at 3°C of warming we could face “outright chaos” and “nuclear war is possible”, according to the 2007 The Age of Consequences report by two US think tanks.
Yet this is the world we are now entering. The Paris climate agreement voluntary emission reduction commitments, if implemented, would result in the planet warming by 3°C, with a 50% chance of exceeding that amount.
This does not take into account “long-term” carbon-cycle feedbacks — such as permafrost thaw and declining efficiency of ocean and terrestrial carbon sinks, which are now becoming relevant. If these are considered, the Paris emissions path has more than a 50% chance of exceeding 4°C warming. (Technically, accounting for these feedbacks means using a higher figure for the system’s “climate sensitivity” — which is a measure of the temperature increase resulting from a doubling of the level of greenhouse gases — to calculate the warming. A median figure often used for climate sensitivity is ~3°C, but research from MIT shows that with a higher climate sensitivity figure of 4.5°C, which would account for feedbacks, the Paris path would lead to around 5°C of warming.)
So we are looking at a greater than one-in-two chance of either annihilating intelligent life, or permanently and drastically curtailing its potential development.

Clearly these end-of-civilisation scenarios are not being considered even by risk-conscious leaders in politics and business, which is an epic failure of imagination.
Of course, the world hopes to do a great deal better than Paris, but it may do far worse. A recent survey of 656 participants involved in international climate policy-making showed only half considered the Paris climate negotiations were useful, and 70% did not expect that the majority of countries would fulfill their promises.
Human civilisation faces unacceptably high chances of being brought undone by climate change’s existential risks yet, extraordinarily, this conversation is rarely heard.
The Global Challenges Foundation (GCF) says that despite scientific evidence that risks associated with tipping points “increase disproportionately as temperature increases from 1°C to 2°C, and become high above 3°C”, political negotiations have consistently disregarded the high-end scenarios that could lead to abrupt or irreversible climate change. In its Global Catastrophic Risks 2017 report, it concludes that “the world is currently completely unprepared to envisage, and even less deal with, the consequences of catastrophic climate change”. 

Paris emissions path (in blue), not accounting for “long-term” carbon-cycle feedbacks (Climate Interactive)
Scholarly reticence
The scientific community has generally underestimated the likely rate of climate change impacts and costs. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports are years out of date upon publication. Sir Nicholas Stern wrote of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report: “Essentially it reported on a body of literature that had systematically and grossly underestimated the risks [and costs] of unmanaged climate change”.
Too often, mitigation and adaptation policy is based on least-drama, consensus scientific projections that downplay what Prof. Ross Garnaut called the “bad possibilities”, that is, the lower-probability outcomes with higher impacts. In his 2011 climate science update for the Australian Government, Garnaut questioned whether climate research had a conservative “systematic bias” due to “scholarly reticence”. He pointed to a pattern, across diverse intellectual fields, of research predictions being “not too far away from the mainstream” expectations and observed in the climate field that this “has been associated with understatement of the risks” 
 In 2007, The Age of Consequences reported:

“Our group found that, generally speaking, most scientific predictions in the overall arena of climate change over the last two decades, when compared with ultimate outcomes, have been consistently below what has actually transpired. There are perhaps many reasons for this tendency—an innate scientific caution, an incomplete data set, a tendency for scientists to steer away from controversy, persistent efforts by some to discredit climate “alarmists,” to name but a few”.

For many critical components of the climate system, we can identify just how fast our understanding is changing. Successive IPCC reports have been reticent on key climate system issues:

Coral reefs: Just a decade or two ago, the general view in the literature was that the survival of coral systems would be threatened by 2°C warming. In 2009, research was published suggesting that preserving more than 10% of coral reefs worldwide would require limiting warming to below 1.5°C. The coral bleaching events of the last two years at just 1-1.2°C of warming indicate that coral reefs are now sliding into global-warming-driven terminal decline. Three-quarters of the Great Barrier Reef has been lost in the last three decades, with climate change a significant cause.

Arctic sea ice: In 2007, the IPCC reported that late summer sea-ice was “projected to disappear almost completely towards the end of the 21st century”, even as it was collapsing in the northern summer of that year. In 2014, the IPCC had ice-free projections to 2100 for only the highest of four emissions scenarios. In reality, Arctic sea ice has already lost 70% of summer volume compared to just thirty years ago, and expectations are of sea-ice-free summer within a decade or two.  

Antarctica: In 2001, the IPCC projected no significant ice mass loss by 2100 and, in the 2014 report, said the contribution to sea level rise would “not exceed several tenths of a meter” by 2100. In reality, the Amundsen Sea of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet sector has been destabilised and ice retreat is unstoppable for the current climate state. It is likely that no further acceleration in climate change is necessary to trigger the collapse of the rest of the ice sheet, with some scientists suggesting a 3–5 metre sea-level rise within two centuries from West Antarctic melting.

Sea levels: In the 2007 IPCC report, sea levels were projected to rise up to 0.59 metre by 2100. The figure was widely derided by researchers, including the head of NASA’s climate research as being far too conservative. By 2014, the IPCC’s figure was in the range 0.55 to 0.82 metre, but they included the caveat that “levels above the likely range cannot be reliably evaluated.” In reality, most scientists project a metre or more. The US Department of Defence uses scenarios of 1 and 2 metres for risk assessments, and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides an “extreme” scenario of 2.5 metres sea level rise by 2100.

To be useful in a risk context, climate change assessments need:

a much more thorough exploration of the [high-end] tails of the distributions of physical variables such as sea level rise, temperature, and precipitation, where our scientific knowledge base is less complete, and where sophisticated climate models are less helpful. We need greater attention on the strength of uncertain processes and feedbacks in the physical climate system […] (e.g., carbon cycle feedbacks, ice sheet dynamics), as well as on institutional and behavioral feedbacks associated with energy production and consumption, to determine scientifically plausible bounds on total warming and the overall behavior of the climate system. Accomplishing this will require synthesizing multiple lines of scientific evidence […] , including simple and complex models, physical arguments, and paleoclimate data, as well as new modeling experiments to better explore the possibility of extreme scenarios.

A prudent risk-management approach for safeguarding people and protecting their ways of life means a tough and objective look at the real risks to which we are exposed, including climate and conflict risks, and especially those “fat tail” events whose consequences are damaging beyond quantification, and which human civilization, as we know it, would be lucky to survive. We must understand the potential of, and plan for, the worst that can happen and be relieved if it doesn’t. If we focus on “middle of the road” outcomes, and ignore the “high-end” possibilities, we will probably end up with catastrophic outcomes that could have been avoided.
It is not a question of whether we may suffer a failure of imagination. We already have.
Yet people understand climate risks, even as political leaders wilfully underplay or ignore them. 84% of 8000 people in eight countries recently surveyed for the Global Challenges Foundation consider climate change a “global catastrophic risk”. The figure for Australia was 75%. The GCF report found that many people now see climate change as a bigger threat than other concerns such as epidemics, population growth, weapons of mass destruction and the rise of artificial intelligence threats. GCF vice-president Mats Andersson says “there’s certainly a huge gap between what people expect from politicians and what politicians are doing”.

The same survey found 81% of the 1000 Australians polled agreed with the proposition: “Do you think we should try to prevent climate catastrophes, which might not occur for several decades or centuries, even if it requires making considerable changes that impact on our current living standards?”.

Press link for more: Climate Code Red

Cynical & Dishonest Denial of #ClimateChange has to end! #StopAdani #auspol 

The cynical and dishonest denial of climate change has to end: it’s time for leadership | Gerry Hueston
“Each day that goes by without policy settings that invite investment in large-scale renewables only makes the inevitable transition harder.” 

Australia has enough renewable energy to power the country 500 times over. With South Australia a step closer to unveiling the largest lithium ion battery storage facility in the world, it is clear just how fast we can make the transition to large-scale renewables when the right policy settings are in place and investors have certainty. 

More than a decade ago, as the head of BP Australasia I pushed for action on climate change.
At the time many Australian business leaders, global companies, governments and the world’s major scientific institutions accepted the science of climate change. As a sector, we wanted certainty. Ten years later and business is still calling for certainty. That is, long-term policies that allow businesses to commit to do the heavy lifting in response to an identified, significant and growing business risk – climate change.
A carrot-and-stick approach will be required to nurture the transition to a clean energy future and move potential investments from discretionary to mandatory categories. Often there is no competitive advantage in being a first mover.
Businesses will not drive investment without the right policies. Our preference a decade ago was for a price on carbon established by an emissions trading scheme as a core part of policy settings.
The last decade’s climate policy debate has been characterised by U-turns, a lack of bipartisanship, short-term populism, denial and misinformation, not to mention the scoring of political points rather than developing a long-term framework for what is a global and intergenerational issue.
The transition to a low carbon future will now be more expensive and more disruptive than it ever needed to be. An absence of climate and energy policy has left Australia lagging dangerously behind, missing out on significant investment and facing major disruptions in local electricity markets.
Governments have also, for the most part, elected to overlook the social disruptions that our inevitable energy transition will cause.
The recent closure of the Hazelwood coal plant in Victoria was foreseen many years ago. Regrettably, a refusal to acknowledge the need for future planning until it was too late left the La Trobe Valley community to live with the consequences.
Likewise in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, a huge amount of political energy is being wasted talking up the benefits of the nation’s biggest planned coal mine, which will be bad for local communities and puts the Great Barrier Reef at risk.

Big business is often accused of making expedient short-term decisions with little regard to the long-term viability and survival of the business. Rather than long-term planning to address the very real issues being faced by the people in Queensland, we are seeing at best ill-informed and at worst cynical and dishonest denial of the reality.
The effects of climate change are happening now. This looks like sea-level rise and coastal flooding. It looks like record-breaking temperatures and worsening extreme weather events. There is widespread business and public support for action as well as widespread acknowledgment that inaction will leave us increasingly exposed to social and economic disruption.
Strong leadership is vital. Whether we get carrots and sticks or both, industry needs a political consensus that policy arising from the Finkel Review process will stand the test of time and changes of government.
Procrastination is not a good option. It’s time to take responsibility for our past decade of avoidant politicking. Each day that goes by without policy settings that invite investment in large-scale renewables only makes the inevitable transition harder.

Press link for more: The Guardian

International cooperation vital to fight #ClimateChange #StopAdani #PowerShift2017 

International cooperation vital to fighting climate change: Vietnamese PM
The Vietnamese leader was the keynote speaker of the discussion on sustainable development, climate change, and energy.
He stressed Vietnam is one of several countries most vulnerable to climate change and the negative impacts of unsustainable exploitation of water resources of the Mekong River.
He reaffirmed the country’s commitment to attaining the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, including the key priorities of reducing poverty, addressing inequality, improving education, promoting renewable energy and coping with climate change.
“Vietnam has continues to integrate climate change readiness into its development planning, and is fully committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent by 2030, and even upwards of 25 percent if the country receives necessary support from the international community,” he said.
As the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2017, Vietnam has pushed the agenda for sustainable development, climate change response and efficient energy use. It is cooperating with APEC member economies to promote inclusive development, he noted.
The PM applauded G20 for its unanimous commitment to responsible and efficient management and use of water resources. He also asked G20 members and the international community at large to provide more financial and technological support to developing countries in order to promptly achieve the SDGs.

Vietnam is participating in the G20 Summit as the host of APEC 2017. This is the third time it has taken part in a G20 Summit. In 2010, it was present at the summits in Canada and the Republic of Korea as the chair of ASEAN.
The 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg has drawn the participation of leaders from G20 member countries and guest countries including Vietnam, Singapore, Spain, Norway, Guinea (the chair of the African Union), and Senegal (the chair of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development). It is also being attended by leaders of leading international organisations such as the UN, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Themed “Shaping an interconnected world”, the summit is focusing on an array of important issues affecting the global economy such as growth, trade, investment, international finance, sustainable development, climate change, energy, support to Africa, migration, health care, employment, digitalisation, and women.

Press link for more: ClimateChange

Asia’s future on a hotter planet. #StopAdani #Powershift2017 

Asia’s future on a hotter planet
Published on 14 July 2017

Of the top 20 cities with the largest projected increase in annual flood losses between 2005 and 2050, 13 are in Asia.
BANGKOK – A new report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) outlines the dramatic changes Asia-Pacific nations would face if measures to curb climate change and adapt to its effects are too slow and unambitious to keep global warming within agreed limits.
If the world carries on emitting greenhouse gases as now, and international cooperation to limit climate change fails, average temperatures will rise by over 4 degrees Celsius (4C) compared with preindustrial times by the end of the century, the report warned.
Here are some of the potential impacts it projects:

All coral reef systems in Asia-Pacific would collapse due to mass coral bleaching with a 4C rise. This could lead to losses of almost $58 billion in reef-related fisheries in Southeast Asia between 2000 and 2050.

Even if global warming is limited to 2C as pledged in the Paris climate pact, almost all coral reefs are expected to experience severe bleaching.

Sea level may rise by 1.4 metres (4.6 ft) if temperatures increase by 4C.

Nineteen of the 25 cities most exposed to a 1-metre sea-level rise globally are located in Asia-Pacific, seven of them in the Philippines alone.

Indonesia would be the Asian country worst-affected by coastal flooding, with about 6 million people expected to be hit each year until 2100.

With a 4C temperature rise, annual precipitation is expected to increase by up to 50 percent over most land areas in the region, while some nations like Pakistan and Afghanistan may experience a 20-50 percent decline in rainfall.

Of the top 20 cities with the largest projected increase in annual flood losses between 2005 and 2050, 13 are in Asia – located in China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan.

Rice yields in some Southeast Asian countries could decline by up to 50 percent by 2100 if no climate change adaptation efforts are made.

Heat-related deaths among people aged over 65 could rise annually by 52,000 cases by 2050.

The six places particularly prone to future migration linked to climate change are Bangladesh, Philippines, China, the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, the Indus Delta in Pakistan and small island states in the Pacific.

Sources: ADB, PIK, World Health Organization as written by Thomson Reuters Foundation News | 14 July 2017

Press link for more: ClimateChange

Messing with the Earth’s climate is risky business. #StopAdani #auspol 

Can we cure Climate Change? 

Scientists Debate If We Should

By Elana Glowatz
Scientists are debating if there is a way to stop Earth’s climate from changing or even help the planet cool down — and, if they can do such work, whether or not they should.
Offsetting the effect of greenhouse gas emissions is a complicated science called geoengineering. 

In ideas that have been proposed, experts would either have to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or tinker with the system so that more of the sun’s radiation reflects back into space or more heat can escape the Earth. 

But any effort to cool off the planet could have unintended consequences, assuming it is first performed accurately and effectively. 

Three separate articles just published in the journal Science focus on those concepts and concerns.

Read: When Will It Rain in the Middle East? 

Climate Study Says in 10,000 Years
Scientists from the Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative warn in their article that the world will have to work together to choose a solution, rather than allowing a single person, country or small group of countries to make a choice and run with it.

 That could “further destabilize a world already going through rapid change” if something goes wrong.
But even in the case of the world’s leaders deciding upon a solution together, messing with the Earth’s climate is a risky business.
“In so doing, we may expose the world to other serious risks, known and unknown,” the authors say.
When it comes to removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, such work “would need to be implemented at very large scales to have the desired effect,” according to the scientists. That takes up a lot of land, which could put a squeeze on the agricultural industry, thus affecting food prices and availability. Such a method could also affect biodiversity.
Solar radiation management, the process through which scientists would change the amount of radiation reflecting back into space as opposed to reaching Earth, is no less perilous. The scientists foresee effects on the cycle through which water evaporates from the surface and returns as precipitation, changing rain patterns and doing nothing to slow down the acidification of the ocean.
earth-sun-iss


The sun shines down on Earth, as seen from the International Space Station. Photo: NASA/JSC
“The world’s most vulnerable people would likely be most affected,” they wrote.
Even if methods to decrease warming were successful, the writers also point out, Earth’s population would still need to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — the geoengineering simply would be buying us time to figure things out.
Some of those methods of buying time include changing the planet’s cloud coverage. 

In one perspective in Science, researchers investigate the pros, cons and nuances of thinning cirrus clouds to allow more heat to escape Earth. 

Those clouds specifically are not responsible for reflecting much of the sun’s radiation back into space, and serve more to trap heat coming off the surface below. 

Thinning out those clouds, therefore, could have a cooling effect. 

But it may negatively impact tropical climates.
“For the time being, cirrus cloud thinning should be viewed as a thought experiment that is helping to understand cirrus cloud–formation mechanisms,” the article says.
Read: Did Ocean Volcanoes Keep Carbon Dioxide High In Last Ice Age?
Another journal piece focuses on the details and implications of mimicking intense volcanic eruptions as a method to cool off Earth. Injecting aerosol particles of sulfur into the atmosphere would increase a protective layer that prevents heat from the sun from reaching the surface, instead reflecting it back into space.
“The effect is analogous to the observed lowering of temperatures after large volcanic eruptions,” the article says. 

And the process “could be seen as a last-resort option to reduce the severity of climate change effects such as heat waves, floods, droughts, and sea level rise.”
At the same time, however, it would reduce evaporation from the Earth’s surface, which would also reduce the amount of rainfall and could affect water availability.
No matter what option the world chooses — or doesn’t choose — the writers all call on leaders to start the discussion.
“The world is heading to an increasingly risky future and is unprepared to address the institutional and governance challenges posed by these technologies,” the scientists from the Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative say. “Geoengineering has planet-wide consequences and must therefore be discussed by national governments within intergovernmental institutions, including the United Nations.”

Press link for more: Yahoo.com

Climate silence is no longer an option #StopAdani #auspol

Why are we ignoring the climate risk alarm bells?

Stark warnings from investment giant Schroders on the risks of climate change should have caused a media storm this week – instead they barely made a ripple
Imagine for a second that one of the world’s most influential investment firms issued a stark warning that Brexit was accelerating the UK’s economy towards a ‘cliff edge’ that few industries were prepared for and which would result in long term GDP losses of up to 50 per cent.


There would be outcry. The intervention would dominate TV news broadcasts, lead the front pages as papers sought to either trumpet the report’s findings or disparage its authors, and prompt urgent questions in the Commons for an increasingly embattled government.
Related articles

This is, of course, a hypothetical scenario. No one is suggesting GDP will halve as a result of Brexit and the UK’s top investors are keeping their powder dry – for now. A point will come soon when we will get to see how the media and political class react to credible and evidence-based warnings from financiers about Brexit’s impact that border on the apocalyptic. These warnings will go far beyond the already deeply worrying hazard lights we are currently experiencing on a near-daily basis. Let’s reconvene next summer and see where we are at.
Now imagine what would happen if one the world’s most influential investment firms issued a stark warning that climate change was accelerating the global economy towards a ‘cliff edge’ that few industries were prepared for and which would result in a long term global GDP losses of up to 50 per cent.
Except you don’t have to imagine. It happened yesterday. You would be forgiven for not noticing.

Schroders, with just the $520bn of assets under management, yesterday published a briefing paper and launched a new Climate Progress Dashboard, which should have led bulletins around the world. In sober, measured language it explained how “climate change is not a future possibility, it is well underway” and detailed how based on current trends within three decades a trajectory for more than 2C of warming this century will likely be locked in. “The challenge is becoming more acute every year,” it warned.
It went on to explain how this basic scientific reality had immense implications for the global economy. The current trajectory for 4C of warming this century would knock 10 per cent off long run GDP; the less likely but plausible scenario of 6C of warming would obliterate 50 per cent of long term GDP; and even the best case scenario offered by a 2C pathway would impair GDP by two per cent.

And if that is not bad enough, every scenario, including the one to which we must all aspire where climate risks are managed and dangerous climate change is averted, will have huge implications for investors and businesses as they are forced to adapt to either a climate ravaged ecosystem or a decarbonised economy. The report reckons the impact on cash earnings for global companies ranges from under four per cent to around 20 per cent, regardless of what happens.
As Schroders’ Andrew Howard notes in the introduction to the report: “Climate change will be a defining driver of the global economy, society and financial markets over coming years, decades and beyond. Whether the global economy is rebuilt on less carbon intensive foundations or the temperature continues to escalate, investors will be unable to avoid its impacts.”
It is important to stress precisely what is being said here and by whom. One of the world’s top asset managers – a company with no environmental axe to grind and a vested interest in stability and long term returns – is projecting plausible worst case scenarios that effectively amount to the collapse of the global economy within our lifetimes. Its best case scenarios are far more attractive, but require a fundamental reshaping of the global economy which will also present immense risks and opportunities for investors and businesses.
Moreover, the Climate Progress Dashboard launched alongside the report shows how we are currently closer to the worst case than the best case scenario. The new investor toolkit looks at a host of policy, investment and technology trends across 12 key themes and finds that not one area is delivering action in line with a 2C temperature pathway.
The weaknesses in current coal demand, impressive new political targets, and the rapid roll out of renewables capacity are the main sources for optimism, equating to a trajectory of between 2.2C and 3.1C. But the trajectory implied by oil and gas investment and production currently equates to 5.3C to 7.8C, and Schroders’ overall assessment reckons we are on track for 4.1C of warming this century – that is firmly in Mad Max territory.
The language of the report is dry, but its conclusions should be explosive. And yet, it was reported briefly in the FT and the Independent (as well as on BusinessGreen) and seemingly failed to trouble editors elsewhere. The BBC, ITV and Sky were silent on one of the doyens of The City warning of the obliteration of economic growth. Urgent Parliamentary Questions came there none.
There is a bit of a debate raging in environmental circles currently over whether you can ever shock people into action through doom-laden warnings of climate impacts or if all climate-related communications should be seen through the prism of #climateoptimism. As with all such mind-numbingly binary debates the answer lies in the grey ground in the middle. You need both a realistic and grown up assessment of potentially catastrophic risks and a recognition that these risks can still be averted in a way that benefits everyone and builds a healthier, happier, and more prosperous economy. If you are talking to the political and business audience that will ultimately determine the temperature trajectory that will shape this century then it is more important than ever to get the doom-hope dialectic right.
The Schroders report does this well. It notes that the gap between political rhetoric on climate action and tangible policy measures is closing fast, just as the attractiveness of clean technologies becomes more compelling. The 2C trajectory is within reach. But as the report makes clear, this scenario is still a big departure from business-as-usual that will require investors and businesses to transform their understanding of the economy. “Emissions cuts on the scale needed have implications for every corner of economies and markets, not just those most obviously exposed,” the report notes.
Should the communication of climate change focus on the risks or the opportunities? The answer is, of course, both. But given the continued media and political underplaying of the biggest challenge we all face and the willingness to ignore warnings that should enjoy full spectrum dominance of the public realm, I’d settle for any sort of serious engagement with climate risks that meant we could stop imagining how we should respond and actually started to respond in a manner commensurate to the challenge.
Climate silence is no longer an option. If Schroders is telling you there is a problem it is time to start listening.

Press link for more: Business Green

“Fossil fuels are dead” #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

‘Fossil fuels are dead’ says rail baron who hauls 800,000 carloads of coal a year
CEO of CSX won’t buy any new locomotives for coal, undercutting Trump’s claims coal can be revived.

A CSX freight train that derailed in 2012. CREDIT: AP/Patrick Semansky

There’s no future in transporting coal, says Hunter Harrison, CEO of CSX freight railroad.
Harrison told analysts on Wednesday that CSX, one of the country’s largest transporters of coal, won’t buy any new locomotives to haul the fuel. 

“Coal is not a long-term issue,” he said. 

The company currently hauls some 800,000 carloads of coal a year.
“Fossil fuels are dead,” Harrison continued.

 “That’s a long-term view. 

It’s not going to happen overnight. 

It’s not going to be in two or three years.

 But it’s going away, in my view.”
Harrison joins a chorus of experts who understand that economic reality makes President Donald Trump’s pledges to significantly expand the use of coal just empty words.


“These [coal plants] will not reopen whatever anything President Trump does,” as Bloomberg New Energy Finance explained earlier this year, “nor do we see much appetite among investors for ploughing money into U.S. coal extraction — stranded asset risk will trump rhetoric.”
Even a recent draft report for Trump’s Energy Secretary Rick Perry concluded that a large fraction of U.S. coal plants were no longer economic.

Press link for more: Think Progress

Federal Govt. Stalls Councils take over #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol 

Australian local councils lead the way in tackling climate change as federal policy stalls

Local councils across Australia are taking climate action into their own hands as climate policy paralysis plagues the federal government.
Thirty-five have pledged to switch to renewable energy, build sustainable transport, and develop greener, efficient and more climate-resilient communities.

The pledges by the councils, which serve three million Australians, were made as part of the Climate Council’s launch of the Cities Power Partnership, which encourages towns and cities via local governments to reduce emissions and increase resilience.
The launch came as the Climate Council released a report showing the unique threats and opportunities climate change poses for Australian towns and cities, and highlighting earlier findings that 70% of the emissions reductions required to keep global warming at 2C can be achieved by making changes at the local level.

“Cities and towns are leading the way in Australia with many putting the federal government to shame,” said the Climate Council chief executive, Amanda McKenzie. “This follows the US example where 250 mayors have committed to the Paris agreement in spite of the Trump withdrawal.”
Councils from every state and territory except South Australia signed the pledge, and included Canberra, Alice Springs, Newcastle, North Sydney, Kur-ring-gai and Penrith.

The participating councils will select five actions from a list of 32 that will help them achieve the aims of the partnership, and will report on their progress every six months. The possibilities include rolling out energy-efficient street lighting, setting minimum energy-efficiency benchmarks for planning applications, ensuring new developments maximise public transport use, and setting renewable energy or emissions-reduction targets.
The report also highlights the number of councils already implementing many of the 32 options for action.
The chief councillor of the Climate Council, Tim Flannery, urged “councils across the rest of Australia to take the pledge and get on with the job of combatting climate change”.
Writing in the Conversation, the Climate Council councillor and scientist Lesley Hughes said: “Ultimately, the [Cities Power Partnership] is designed to help local communities sidestep the political roadblocks at national level, and just get on with the job of implementing climate policies.”

Press link for more: cThe Guardian