Month: August 2017

We can no longer tolerate climate change denial! #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

We can no longer tolerate climate change denial
August 30 2017 – 12:05AM


 The United States Weather Service, normally not an agency prone to colourful language, issued an extraordinary statement on Sunday regarding hurricane Harvey, saying, “This event is unprecedented and all impacts are unknown beyond anything experienced”. 

It is now predicted the storm could eventually drop over 150 centimetres of rain in some areas, more than any other in the region’s history.

Far from over, it is already clear that Harvey’s impact is catastrophic. 

Six people are confirmed dead and that number is expected to increase. Cost estimates range up to $US100 billion.
America’s efforts to combat climate change have been battered by President Donald Trump.

America’s efforts to combat climate change have been battered by President Donald Trump. 

Meanwhile flooding in Bangladesh, India and Nepal during the region’s worst monsoon season in a decade has killed an estimated 1200 people.

Climate scientists are reluctant to attribute any particular weather event to global warming, though in this case the signs are that human behaviour contributed to the formation and severity of the storm and its impact.
As tropical storm Harvey moved towards the Texas coast last week, few models predicted it would intensify into such a damaging weather system.

 It then hit an ocean patch in the Gulf of Mexico that remained so hot over the northern winter that it broke temperature records on one in four days according to Houston meteorologist Matt Lanza. On the day Harvey hit, the area was around 2.2 degrees hotter than normal. Fuelled by the aberrant water temperature Harvey grew rapidly into a category-four cyclone as it hit the coast. It is now trapped in place over Houston, constantly siphoning energy and moisture from an ocean that scientists agree is likely to have been warmed by climate change.
The flooding across America’s fourth-largest city was predicted last year in a joint investigation by the Texas Tribune and the non-profit investigative journalism organisation ProPublica.
“As millions have flocked to the metropolitan area in recent decades, local officials have largely rejected stricter building regulations, allowing developers to pave over acres of prairie land that once absorbed large amounts of rainwater. In the decade after Tropical Storm Allison [in 2001], about 167,000 acres were developed in Harris County, home to Houston,” ProPublica wrote last week when it revisited its earlier investigation.
America’s efforts to combat climate change and set policy to live with its impact have been battered by President Donald Trump, who formally notified the United Nations of his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement earlier this month.
Last month Mr Trump rescinded Obama-era regulations that would have made urban development and infrastructure more flood resilient in future.
Mr Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency director, Scott Pruitt, has made the dismantling of his agency’s effort to combat climate change the central goal of his tenure, and in April the EPA scrapped its climate website entirely.
Australia risks following America’s lead on climate change.

Efforts to craft national energy policy that reflect the realities of climate change and rapidly advancing renewable energy technology are blocked by a hardline faction of the coalition partyroom led by former prime minister, Tony Abbott.
In February last year CSIRO announced massive funding cuts to its climate change research division, only to partially overturn the decision in the face of sustained national and international criticism. This year the government ended all funding for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.
As with America’s, Australia’s ongoing failure to deal with climate change carries practical and moral consequence. We cannot significantly cut our greenhouse gas emissions without determined national effort and we cannot engage our diplomatic expertise and might to contribute more to an international solution until we cut our emissions.
We cannot any longer afford to tolerate the scientific myopia exemplified by Mr Trump and Mr Abbott.

Press link for more: AMP.SMH.COM

Was Hurricane Harvey The Result of Climate change? #auspol #StopAdani 

The Specter of Climate Change Hangs Over Hurricane Harvey
David Wallace-WellsAugust 28, 2017 10:00 pm
A man walks past an abandoned truck while checking the depth of an underpass during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston on Monday.

 Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Was Hurricane Harvey the result of climate change? 

The answer is complicated because weather is complicated, and probably the best science can say, really, is “in part.” But in some very important ways the question is ultimately semantic.

 As journalist Robinson Meyer, at The Atlantic, and climate scientist Michael Mann, on Facebook, have explained very clearly and very helpfully, global warming has meant more moisture in the air, which intensifies rainfall and flooding, and significant sea-level rise, which leads to bigger and more invasive storm surges — these elements, along with lesser anthropogenic factors, accounting for as much as 30 percent of the deluge, according to one scientist Meyer spoke with. 

A storm a third weaker would still be devastating for the Texas Gulf, of course, considering Harvey’s likely rainfall is already over 40 inches in some spots, with another 15 to 25 to come. 

As of last week, the position of the city of Houston was that just 12 inches within 24 hours would be cause for total evacuation. 

But the more important matter is not how much blame for Harvey we should parcel out to climate change; it is how often, in this new age of epic weather, storms like this one will hit. There are complicated variables there, too, of course. But the big-picture answer is clear: much more often than we are prepared for — psychologically, socially, politically.

On Sunday, as the first dramatic images of a flooded Houston were pouring in, President Trump called Harvey “a once-in-500-year flood.” 

The term is not all that precise, but it is at least a very simple benchmark to understand: a storm so severe there is only a 1-in-500 chance we’d encounter something of its scale on any given year, meaning we should expect that kind of devastation only once every five centuries.

 To dwell on that figure just for a moment, it would mean a storm that struck once during the entire history of the Roman empire, or once during the entire history of Europeans in America: 500 years ago there were no English settlements across the Atlantic, so we are talking about a storm that would hit just once as Europeans arrived; established colonies; fought a revolution, a civil war, and two world wars; established an empire of cotton on the backs of slaves, freed them and then brutalized them in other ways; industrialized and post-industrialized; triumphed in the cold war, ushered in the “end of history” and witnessed, just a decade later, its dramatic return. 

One storm in all that time.

When was the last time Houston was hit by a “500-year” flood? Harvey is the third such flood in the last three years. 

Another struck less than 20 years ago, in 2001, when Tropical Storm Allison killed 22, stranded 30,000 residents, and wreaked $5 billion in damage.

 The damage done by Harvey is still being tabulated, of course; present estimates run as high as $40 billion, suggesting it could become the third costliest Atlantic hurricane in American history. 

Inflation and economic growth are a factor in those assessments (as is development on flood plains), but nine of the ten costliest such hurricanes have struck since just 2001.

 To take but one additional case study close at hand, it is now estimated that New York City will suffer “500-year” floods once every 25 years.

 And sea-level rise is more dramatic elsewhere, which means that storm surges will be distributed unequally, too; in some places storms on that scale will hit even more frequently. 

The result is a terrifying, radically accelerated experience of extreme weather — centuries worth of natural disaster compressed into just a decade or two. 

By way of analogy, it may be worth considering what kind of suffering would result if centuries of disease, or famine, or conflict were visited on the planet in just a decade or two.

 Of course, climate change threatens to accelerate each of those plagues, too.

Americans used to call floods like this biblical. 

We haven’t dropped the term just because our public discourse has grown more secular over the decades, but because we understand that the threat, for all its horrific scale, has also grown much more quotidian.

 In my recent cover story surveying worst-case scenarios for climate change, I sketched out seven areas where our future is likely to be much worse, thanks to warming, than most of the public understands: heat stress, agriculture, infectious disease, war, economic growth, air quality, and ocean health. 

I didn’t focus on sea-level rise, since most engaged Americans seem already informed about that threat — at least the threat posed by median projections to places like Miami Beach and Bangladesh. 

I also didn’t focus on extreme weather, which seems likely to become the next aspect of climate change to come clearly into view for the average American. 

That is because they will see it, unmistakably; as Al Gore puts it in An Inconvenient Sequel, “Every night on the news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.”
The superstorms have already begun to arrive more often, and even as we settle into thinking of natural disasters as a regular feature of our weather, the scope of devastation and horror they bring will not diminish, of course. 

The very partial news feed from Harvey has already showed this: a pastor fishing stranded motorists out of flooded cars, city residents fishing fish out of floodwaters inside their homes, the mayor warning people not to take refuge in their attics unless armed with an ax to break through the roof when necessary.

 Ahead of the storm, the city of Houston cut off its air-quality monitors, fearing they’d be damaged; on Monday, a cloud of “unbearable” smells began drifting out of the city’s petrochemical plants.
The storm isn’t yet over, which means there is much more adversity and suffering to come — not just in Houston but as far along the coast as New Orleans, where the city is without a full complement of drain pumps after an August 5 storm. 

We are probably weeks, at least, from seeing the full scope of Harvey’s destruction, and further still from understanding just what kind of a rebuild is possible, and what kind necessary. 

But, on that question, that phrase “500-year” flood is very helpful to give context. 

Even a devastated community, buckled in suffering, can endure a long period of recovery if it is wealthy and politically stable and if it needs to do that only once a century. 

Perhaps even once every 50 years. 

But rebuilding for a decade in the wake of storms that hit once a decade, or once every two decades, is an entirely different matter, even for countries as rich as the United States and regions as well-off as greater Houston. 

For the world’s poor, it is almost impossible. 

And just now, according to the Red Cross, exceptional monsoon flooding has hit 7.1 million people in Bangladesh, 1.5 million in Nepal, and fully 14 million India.
One suspects this is not the last 500-year storm those workers will see before retirement.

Rebuilding is not just a matter of wealth, of course.

 Politics matters, too. 

And here recent history counsels almost paralyzing despair. 

Put aside decades of Republican Party climate denial, which amounts to a “nothing to be done” abdication of responsibility to mitigate or prevent climate change on behalf of vulnerable citizens; and put aside the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the climate legacy of the last president — efforts seemingly motivated so primarily out of spite that even their putative constituency, the oil and gas industries, think the policy rollbacks may be a bit too much and a bit too fast. 

Even ignoring all that, just this month President Trump’s FEMA boss Brock Long suggested the agency would cut back on support for flood insurance and disaster relief; and President Trump himself signed an executive order to eliminate Obama-era regulations that required new infrastructure to take account of sea-level rise. 

It had taken ten years of negotiating in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to get those regulations on the books; a decade after that storm, the city still hadn’t finished rebuilding its destroyed homes.
When Katrina hit New Orleans, it was not walloping a thriving city — the 2000 population of 480,000 had declined from a peak of over 600,000 in 1960. 

After the storm, it was as low as 230,000. Houston is a different case: One of the fastest-growing cities in the country — greater Houston even includes the fastest-growing suburb in the country — it has almost ten times as many residents. 

It’s a tragic irony that many of those new arrivals who moved into the path of this storm over the last decades were brought there by the oil business, which has worked tirelessly to undermine public understanding of climate change and derail global attempts at reducing carbon emissions. 

One suspects this is not the last 500-year storm those workers will see before retirement.

 Nor the last to be seen by the hundreds of oil rigs off the coast of Houston, or the several thousand more bobbing now elsewhere off the Gulf Coast, before the toll of our emissions become so brutally clear that those rigs are finally retired, too.

Press link for more: NYMAG.COM

#HurricaneHarvey Another Wake up call! #ClimateChange #Auspol #StopAdani 

Tropical Storm Harvey raises red flags on infrastructure, climate planning

Tropical Storm Harvey, which has shattered longstanding weather records, would’ve spelled disaster for just about any city it struck.

 After all, parts of the Houston area have received half their annual rainfall in just a few days’ time. 
Yet Houston is not an ordinary city when it comes to flood infrastructure. And this flood has lessons for policymakers at all levels of government — including President Donald Trump — about how to protect Americans in an era of rising disaster risks related to population growth, aging infrastructure, and climate change.
To some extent, the scenes of a major American city underwater seems like Mother Nature’s riposte to the Trump administration, which has spent 7 months methodically reversing the climate change policies enacted of President Barack Obama. 

From the planned pullout of the Paris Climate Agreement to an executive order pulling back Obama-era protections mandating that infrastructure plans take sea level rise into account, Trump is setting more American cities up for future Harvey-level disasters. 

The Houston flood is likely to go down in history as the worst flood in any U.S. city on record. 
That’s no surprise to experts who have long warned about Houston’s vulnerability to tropical storms and hurricanes. 

The city is low-lying, rapidly growing, and its government is paying little attention to long-term disaster risk management and resilience. 
History is replete with examples of severe Houston floods, including Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, which killed 41 and caused $9 billion in damage, as well as flooding in 2016 that shut down the city for days.    
Houston is America’s poster child of sprawl — with development policies that give little regard to the need for drainage systems.

 The city is criss-crossed by a complex network of bayous that are easily overwhelmed by heavy rain, made worse by sudden inflows of water from impervious surfaces like concrete. 
“Given that you have a city of 6.5 million people with a floodplain mostly paved over and populated, there’s a risk of this always,” said Adam Sobel, a professor of Earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University. 
River gauge showing record flooding on Aug. 28, 2017.

River gauge showing record flooding on Aug. 28, 2017.
Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, said Houston is a “perfect storm” of flood risk due to population growth, crumbling infrastructure, and development based on the “obsolete assumption” that we have a stable climate.

 Houston’s infrastructure flaws and extraordinary vulnerability to hurricanes were detailed in investigative reporting published last year by Pro Publica and the Texas Tribune.
Was this climate change?

 Sort of
Sobel, Hayhoe and others say that climate change may have played an important, but backseat role in creating the Houston flood disaster, with development decisions serving to more sharply heighten Houston’s vulnerability to flash flooding.
“I think it’s clear that this storm or something close to it could’ve happened without any climate change,” Sobel said, adding that climate change may have exacerbated the storm’s hazards

As for global warming’s possible role in this event, climate scientists say there are aspects of this storm that are suspicious, and may point toward possible links to global warming. 
One is the sheer amount of rain, upwards of 40 inches already, with final rainfall totals of 50 inches not out of the question. 

If this is reached, it would set an all-time Texas record. 

Another is the sheer tenacity of the storm, which has remained a named tropical storm longer than any landfalling tropical cyclone in Texas’ history, according to hurricane statistics expert Philip Klotzbach of Colorado State University.
The science linking Harvey to global warming is tenuous, however, but may be firmed up over time by peer reviewed studies. 
Scientists suspect that the storm has lasted longer over land and dumped more rain than it otherwise would have, thanks to the ability of a warmer atmosphere to contain more moisture.
Studies published in the past few years have shown that extreme precipitation events are becoming more common and more extreme in many parts of the world as the air and oceans continues to warm, and that this trend is expected to continue. 
With tropical storms and hurricanes, computer model simulations show that future storms are likely to be wetter, posing even greater inland flood challenges than we’re used to now. 
There are elements of Harvey that stand out, including the 16.07 inches of rain that fell in Houston on August 27, setting a record for the wettest day in that city’s history. The storm has dropped so much rain in southeast Texas that the National Weather Service had to add a new color to its maps. 
Scientists are likely to conduct extreme event attribution studies on the heavy rainfall from Hurricane Harvey, Sobel said, and these are likely, though not guaranteed, to show a climate change-related increase in the odds for such extreme rainfall amounts.

“If I had to guess what those studies to show they’ll indicate that rainfall was magnified somewhat by the warmer atmosphere so that whatever the cost of this event… it will be a little higher than it would’ve otherwise been,” Sobel said.
Hayhoe agrees, saying, “Will there be more rain associated with a given hurricane? That is not a hard question to answer: The answer is yes.”
The rainfall totals have reached a historic magnitude in large part because the storm has sat nearly stationary since Saturday, pulling in moisture off the Gulf of Mexico and dumping it on southeast Texas. 
Tropical Storm Harvey has been caught between two high pressure areas, a strong one to the west and another to the east. These have left it up to its own devices, as upper level steering currents collapsed. 
This lack of movement is unlikely to be related to global warming, Sobel and others said, but some research has shown a possible link between blocking high pressure areas, stuck weather patterns, and global warming.
“Every event has many causes and the predominant one is always natural. But climate change can amplify the odds,” Sobel said.
Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, said the historic rains can be thought of as the result of a combination of a climate change-related increase in water vapor plus a big contribution from natural weather patterns, which can greatly amplify the water vapor present in a given storm. 
Chart showing the level of scientific confidence in attributing types of extreme weather events to climate change.

Chart showing the level of scientific confidence in attributing types of extreme weather events to climate change.
national Academy of Sciences
“The outstanding thing about recent storms has been the prodigious rainfalls: over Louisiana one year ago, and the with [Hurricane] Matthew in October last year,” he said in an email. 
“In both cases record amounts of total column water vapor (called precipitable water) were recorded with radiosondes. 

No wonder the flooding occurred,” Trenberth said, referring to measurements from weather balloons. 
Hayhoe said reducing flood risk in cities like Houston will require sustained investments in improved infrastructure. 

Such actions would need to take into account the fact that our climate is changing, and that what was once a 500-year-flood is now closer to a 1-in-50 year event.
“If we build based only on what we’ve seen in the past, we won’t be able to cope with the naturally-occurring weather and extreme events that we get today, many of which are being exacerbated by the changing climate,” she said.
“Unfortunately, long-term planning and investment is not really a hot topic or a soundbite these days for many politicians,” she said. “It’s a very difficult thing to do.”

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Climate Change Threatens Agriculture #StopAdani #auspol 

Climate Change Threatens Agriculture in Pacific Rim Economies
J Nastranis27 August 2017

Photo: Harvesting rice in Viet Nam. Global rice consumption trends are rising. Photo: FAO/Hoang Dinh Nam

By J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) – Global warming is expected to have a significant impact on future yields of everything from rice to fish, particularly in countries situated closer to the equator, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has warned, and urged the Asia-Pacific economies to take a leading role in adaptation and mitigation.

“Many APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation] economies have already felt the full force of agricultural losses from natural disasters in recent years, with the vast majority of these being climate related,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, reported UN News.
Geographically, the negative impact of climate change on agricultural output could result in lower yields of rice, wheat, corn and soybeans in countries with tropical climates, compared with the impacts experienced by those in higher latitudes. 

Fisheries could also be affected by changes to water temperature, the FAO cautioned.

“The annual tally runs into the billions and billions of dollars in losses. So, the time to act is now. Policy makers need to prepare for changes in supply, shifting trade patterns and a need for greater investment in agriculture, fisheries, land and water management, that will benefit smallholder farmers and others that produce our food,” Kadiresan added.
Many vital agricultural regions in Asia are at risk of crossing key climate thresholds that would cause plant and animal productivity to decline, according to a meeting in Viet Nam of Agriculture Ministers of APEC member economies.
Based on the findings of the global research community, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) anticipates that these trends are expected to worsen in the future with the projected impacts of anthropogenic climate change.
Much can be done to increase the efficiency of agriculture and land-use activities in Asia, according to Kadiresan.
The agriculture sectors account for at least one-fifth of total emissions – mainly from forest to farmland conversions; livestock and paddy production; and application of synthetic fertilizers. Estimates show that 70 per cent of the technical potential to reduce agriculture emissions occurs in tropical developing countries, which characterize much of Asia.

“It is imperative that we start thinking now about the hard decisions and actions that the APEC economies, and others, will need to take. Governments will need to consider greater social protection measures. Industry and trade will need to adapt to shifting supply and demand. There is no quick fix but there is every reason to act,” stressed.
FAO has been working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Viet Nam to assess potential emission reductions the System of Rice Intensification and improved livestock management.
In Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and Mongolia, FAO, has partnered in developing programmes to measure, monitor and report emissions and adaptation actions in the agriculture and land-use sectors.
In the forestry sector, avoiding deforestation, increasing the area under forest, and adopting sustainable forest management will create invaluable carbon sinks. FAO has been supporting national programmes for reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
The meeting made clear that more upfront support is essential to increase farmers’ productivity, build capacity to adapt to climate change and reduce the emissions related to production.
A second area requiring financing is also needed to support capacity-building of appropriate institutions and policies. Climate funds could become an important catalyst for climate change adaptation and mitigation if they are used to build the enabling environment essential for climate-smart agricultural development, while ensuring that public agricultural investment is also climate-smart, and to leverage private finance.

Meanwhile, UN News reported that United Nations humanitarian agencies are working with the Government and partners in Nepal to bring in clean water, food, shelter and medical aid for some of the 41 million people affected by flooding and landslides in South Asia.
Nearly a thousand people have been killed, and tens of thousands of homes, schools and hospitals have been destroyed in Bangladesh, India and Nepal.
“There is the possibility that the situation could deteriorate further as rains continue in some flood-affected areas and flood waters move south,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on August 24 said in an updated note.
In Bangladesh, nearly 2,000 local medical teams have been deployed, even as one-third of the country is reportedly underwater. Aid workers are concerned about waterborne diseases, such as diarrhoea and malaria.

“Their most urgent concern is to accessing safe water and sanitation facilities,” OCHA said earlier, citing national authorities. It also warned of dangers to women and children, who are at increased risk for abuse, violence and sexual harassment. In India, rescue operations are ongoing in many flood-affected areas, with those stranded being rescued by helicopter.
Flood relief camps have been established for those displaced by the disaster where they are being provided with food and shelter, OCHA said. The Government recently announced additional funding for relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and flood mitigation. In addition to people suffering, Indian authorities also reported large parts of a famous wildlife reserve park destroyed, with endangered animals killed. [IDN-InDepthNews – 27 August 2017]

Press link for more: In Depth News

Limit warming to 1.2C to save the reef. #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol 

Warming limit of 1.2 degrees needed to save reef: panel
Peter Hannam4 Aug 2017, 9:42 a.m.

Australia and the rest of the world must keep global temperature increases to 1.2 degrees – more than promised at the Paris climate talks – if the Great Barrier Reef’s biodiversity is not going to deteriorate further, a panel led by former chief scientist Ian Chubb says.
The report by a panel of 15 scientists also called for the urgent revision of the reef’s Plan to 2050 to account for “inexorable global warming”.
On Friday, federal and state environment ministers including federal minister Josh Frydenberg agreed in Melbourne to bring forward a review of the plan to start immediately rather than next year as had been planned.

In a separate report prepared by the Reef Advisory Committee, the Queensland Resources Council objected to some members calling for the giant Carmichael coal mine not to proceed.
The report cited the QRC’s objection as being that it argues “there is no direct scientific link between coal mining of itself and climate change”, a paraphrasing the QRC sought to change.
In their report, the scientists highlighted the fact that the Great Barrier Reef’s unprecedented bleaching events over the past two summers had killed “close to 50 per cent” of the corals over the entire reef, and they called for climate action.

“Global emission reduction targets should be set to secure an average temperature increase of no more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, or even less,” the report said.
“To protect current reef biodiversity, global average temperature rise would need to be limited to [about] 1.2 degrees.”
At the end of 2015, almost 200 nations in Paris agreed to keep temperature increases to between 1.5 and 2 degrees to curb the impact of more frequent extreme climate events, such as more potent storms and fiercer heatwaves as the planet heats up.

However, the expert panel said the Paris pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions were inadequate – including Australia’s – putting the world on a warming course of as much as 3.7 degrees.
That is about four times the increase so far, which has already led to several major bouts of coral bleaching.
‘Australia should lead’
“Australia should set targets appropriate to its ‘fair share’ of emission reduction aimed at keeping global warming to the low end of the [Paris] range, or below,” the report said.
In addition, Australia should “play a prominent leading role in securing appropriate global targets and purposeful action to meet a 1.5-degree target, or lower,” the panel concluded.
Mr Frydenberg said the government was “deeply concerned about the impacts of coral bleaching and are committed to action to address climate change through the Paris Agreement, which commits parties to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees”.
“While we consider the expert advice in detail, we have identified a number of actions to be undertaken immediately, including: bringing forward the mid-term review of the Reef 2050 Plan; scaling up crown-of-thorns starfish control, research and management; and improving water quality entering the Reef,” he said.

The Queensland government said it was up to Canberra to lead the way.
“This is yet another report, from the Turnbull government’s own panel of experts, telling them they aren’t doing enough to address the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef,” Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles said.
“This just reinforces the need for the Turnbull government to adopt the Clean Energy Target recommended by their own Finkel review, as well as policies to reduce other emissions,” Mr Miles said.
Coral reefs are among the most prominent “early movers” in terms of ecosystems stressed by rapid warming. Many coral species expel the algae that provide them with most of the energy and their often brilliant colours once certain temperature thresholds are exceeded for a sustained time.
Corals that survive can have reduced reproduction, hindering their recovery and leaving the reef vulnerable to another heat spike.

Report dispute
The Turnbull government has said Australia is on course to meet its 2020 emissions reduction goals and that its 2030 targets are among the most ambitious.
Even if reached, however, Australia would still be one of the world’s largest emitters on a per-capita basis by the end of the next decade.
The expert group recommended the government continue to support programs that reduce other stresses on the corals, such as reducing high-nutrient run-off from Queensland farms.
The report said the government should identify key species that support the reef’s ecology and target interventions “at scale … and with urgency” to support these creatures.
The Queensland Resources Council, meanwhile, sought changes to the advisory committee report it said contained some inaccurate characterisation of its position.
Ian Macfarlane, a former federal energy minister and now chief executive of the QRC, said the mining group “supports the recent findings by the Queensland and Australian governments that climate change causes coral bleaching on the reef”.
“There is a difference between coal burning and coal mining and QRC’s position on the latter is mining itself is not a large contributor to climate change,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“In terms of the burning of coal, Australia has high efficiency, low emissions coal when compared with lower quality, higher emission coals sourced from Indonesia and India,” he said.
A report in Nature Climate Change this week found there was only a 5 per cent chance that global warming can be kept to under 2 degrees compared with pre-industrial era levels by 2100.
The story Warming limit of 1.2 degrees needed to save reef: panel first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

Press link for more: Queensland and Country Life.

When will Climate Change become a Citizens’ Issue? #StopAdani #auspol 

When Will Climate Change Become A Citizens’ Issue?

By Nivedita Khandekar

Out Look India

Possibly the first full length commercial feature film on the burning topic, ‘Kadvi Hawa’ that will capture the very real threat of climate change making it a topic for people like us too.

Delhi is witnessing a strange phenomenon.

 It is already well past mid-August and still one can see the sprinkling-yellows-amid-lush green-foliage that is Amaltaash (Indian laburnum). 

Now, Amaltaash is a typical spring flower that blooms in Delhi from April-end, May onwards. And even before July, the flowers all vanish making the tree ready for new leaves.
But this year, there are a noticeable number of Amaltaash flowers. 

While the scientists are neither yet calling the extra humidity as caused due to changing climate nor terming Amaltaash as the ‘new canary’ vis-à-vis changing climate. 

But the weather patterns give an indication towards it. 

There are ample enough signs that tell us that our climate is changing and changing for the worse; whether city-slickers notice it with caution or not.

Away from the urban centres, the slightest manifestation in atmospheric conditions make the rural folk sit up and take note.

 Minor change in weather pattern directly affects the water availability and subsequent food production, so the farming community is much alive to the changes.

 The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC ) has already warned of extreme climatic conditions for South Asia, especially the Indian sub-continent.
A scientific study ‘Climate Change and India: A 4X4 Assessment – a sectoral and regional analysis for 2030’ published in 2010 had identified and studied the impact of climate change on four key sectors of Indian economy – agriculture, water, forests and human health across four climatic regions of India, namely, the Himalayas, Western Ghats, Coastal areas and the North-eastern region.    

India has indeed witnessed an entire range of natural disasters across these regions and across sectors too, especially over last two decades. 

These catastrophic incidents include Mumbai floods in July 2005, Ladakh in August 2010, Kedar ghati / Uttarakhand tragedy in June 2013, Kashmir Valley floods in September 2014 and December 2015 floods in Chennai. 

Unfortunately, despite such extreme weather events, ‘climate change’ has not yet crept up in the lexicon of the common people. 

Clearly, the government’s efforts to make people aware of various aspects related to the changing climate and its devastating impact among masses have failed spectacularly.

From real to reel:
This problem about lack of mass awareness on a grave issue such as climate change was exactly captured by Erik Solheim, head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) when he recently said: “Things have not worked as it should be, because we failed to set out climate change as a citizen’s issue, as a public issue.”
Solheim was in the national capital on August 10 when he attended an event related with a full length commercial Hindi feature film ‘Kadvi Hawa’ on the theme of climate change. Mass media, especially Hindi feature films, is an extremely powerful tool to propagate the message with maximum impact. Perhaps knowing the soft power that Bollywood is, Solheim agreed to unveil the first look of the film during his visit this month even when the film is set to release in November.
The film, starring acclaimed actors Sanjay Mishra, Ranvir Shorey and Tillotama Shome, is directed by Nila Madhab Panda, of ‘I am Kalam’ fame. Panda said his film is an attempt to capture the real threat of climate change through the two protagonists – an old blind farmer (Mishra) and a young bank loan recovery agency (Shorey), two ordinary people, fighting for survival in two extreme weather conditions, not of their making.

Handpump inside the sea:
There is a personal anecdote from more than a decade ago that prompted Panda to take up this topic. Panda, who hails from Odisha, was travelling along the sea coast for one of his documentaries when he was taken aback by two hand pumps inside the sea. 

Inquiries revealed that the land on which the handpumps stood was part of Satbhaya villages (seven villages), five of which were gobbled up by the rising sea.

 This July 2017 news report ( tells us that the sea had crept almost three kilometres into Satbhaya over last two decades, washed away several houses and engulfed vast tracts of land belonging to the villagers.
Rising sea levels is one of the major impacts mentioned in the IPCC’s Assessment Report (AR5) released during 2013-14. 

“Global temperatures have risen by about 0.8 degrees Celsius over the last century and sea levels have risen by about 20 cms.

 In many regions, snow and rainfall patterns have changed. 

Snow, ice, permafrost and glaciers are melting at the poles and around the rest of the world. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent,” said the salient features of AR5.    

These warnings from the AR5 have everything that can and will affect India adversely. 

We have a more than 7,500 kms long coast line, imagine the vulnerability of coastal communities, not to mention bigger cities such as Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai along the coast. 

This year, monsoon has been truant in scores of districts across the country. It has a direct bearing on the agriculture production and in turn, food security.
Climate change has a direct link with economic development. “Extreme weather events are costing India $9-10 billion annually and climate change is projected to impact agriculture productivity with increasing severity from 2020 to the end of the century,” the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture mentioned in its latest report. In fact, according to this report the recently released mid-year Economic Survey Report says: “Of these, nearly 80% remain uninsured. The 2014 Kashmir floods cost more than $15 billion while Cyclone Hudhud the same year had cost $11 billion.”
So, does the film ‘Kadvi Hawa’ offers any solution to the environmental problems? “I am not offering any solutions. All I am doing is creating awareness. What I want to convey is … each of us need to chip in. It is not the government that alone can do something about this. One of my hero, the 70-year-old blind man takes up the challenge to fight the climate change for his younger son, for the future of his next generation,” Panda emphasised.   

Just as Kadvi Hawa’s blind man and the insurance agent fight for survival in extreme weather conditions, not of their making, each one of us is equally vulnerable to an extreme event. Anyone and everyone, anywhere and everywhere. Time to think: Do I know enough about climate change? Am I doing enough to combat it?
Nivedita Khandekar is an independent journalist based in Delhi. She writes on environmental and developmental issues. She can be reached on or follow her on twitter at @nivedita_Him

Press link for more: Outlook India

100% Renewables Needed “As Fast As Humanly Possible” #StopAdani #auspol 

Bill McKibben: ‘100% Renewables Needed ‘As Fast as Humanly Possible’

By Jake Johnson
“Given the state of the planet,” wrote founder Bill McKibben in his new feature piece for In These Times, it would have been ideal for the world to have fully transitioned its energy systems away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable sources “25 years ago.”

But we can still push for the “second best” option, McKibben concluded. To do so, we must move toward wind, solar and water “as fast as humanly possible.”
The transition to 100 percent renewable energy is a goal that has gained significant appeal over the past decade—and particularly over the past several months, as President Donald Trump has moved rapidly at the behest of Big Oil to dismantle even the limited environmental protections put in place by the Obama administration. 

Trump also withdrew the U.S. from the Paris agreement, a move McKibben denounced as “stupid and reckless.”

“Environmental groups from the Climate Mobilization to Greenpeace to Food and Water Watch are backing the 100 percent target,” McKibben wrote, as are many lawmakers, U.S. states and countries throughout the world.
Given the climate stance of both the dominant party in Congress and the current occupant of the Oval Office, McKibben noted that we shouldn’t be looking toward either for leadership.
Rather, we should look to states like California and countries like China, both of which have made significant commitments to aggressively alter their energy systems in recent months.

The newest addition to the push for renewables is Maryland, which is set to announce on Thursday an “urgent” and “historic” bill that, if passed, would transition the state’s energy system to 100 percent renewables by 2035.
McKibben also pointed to individual senators like Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who in April introduced legislation that would transition the U.S. to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2050. The bill will not pass the current Congress, “but as a standard to shape the Democratic Party agenda in 2018 and 2020, it’s critically important,” McKibben argued.
“What Medicare for All is to the healthcare debate, or Fight for $15 is to the battle against inequality, 100 percent renewable is to the struggle for the planet’s future,” McKibben wrote. “It’s how progressives will think about energy going forward.”

Previously a fringe idea, the call for 100 percent renewables is “gaining traction outside the obvious green enclaves,” McKibben added. This is in large part because technology is such that a move toward 100 percent renewable energy “would make economic sense … even if fossil fuels weren’t wrecking the Earth.”
“That’s why the appeal of 100% Renewable goes beyond the left,” McKibben wrote. “If you pay a power bill, it’s the common-sense path forward.”
Writing for Vox last week, David Roberts noted that “wind and solar power are saving Americans an astounding amount of money” already.
“[W]ind and solar produce, to use the economic term of art, ‘positive externalities’—benefits to society that are not captured in their market price,” Roberts wrote. “Specifically, wind and solar power reduce pollution, which reduces sickness, missed work days, and early deaths.”
For these reasons, and for the familiar environmental ones, 100 percent renewables is no longer merely an “aspirational goal,” McKibben argued. It is “the obvious solution.”
“No more half-measures … Many scientists tell us that within a decade, at current rates, we’ll likely have put enough carbon in the atmosphere to warm the Earth past the Paris climate targets,” McKibben concluded. “Renewables—even the most rapid transition—won’t stop climate change, but getting off fossil fuel now might (there are no longer any guarantees) keep us from the level of damage that would shake civilization.”

Press link for more: Eco watch

Coal in decline: Adani in question & Australia out of step. #StopAdani #auspol 

Coal in decline: Adani in question and Australia out of step
Special report: India and China are shifting away from coal imports and coal-fired power while a mega-mine is planned for Queensland. 

Where does this leave coal in Australia?
By Adam Morton 

Last modified on Friday 25 August 2017 19.18 AEST

The Paris-based International Energy Agency was born in a crisis.

 In the wake of the 1973 oil shock, as Arab petroleum producers withheld supply from countries that supported Israel in the Yom Kippur war, the then US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, called on the OECD to set up a new body to ensure its members would always have the reliable and affordable energy they needed.
Over time, as the agency has expanded its focus to map broader energy trends, it has sometimes faced accusations of conservatism – that it has underestimated the uptake of renewable energy, and has been overly bullish about the future of fossil fuels. But last month it released a report that pointed to a rupture more far reaching than the 70s oil embargo.
It suggested investment in new coal power across the globe has peaked and is on the verge of a steep decline.

 In a coinciding media briefing, the IEA chief economist, Laszlo Varro, declared the “century of coal” that started in 2000 – evident in the extraordinary wave of investment by emerging Asian nations – may already be over.

“It is becoming clear that Chinese coal demand has peaked,” he went on. 

“The outlook for imports [to] India and other countries is uncertain.”
What does this mean for Australia, producer of about 30% of the world’s coal trade, as it plans a vast expansion in production in outback Queensland?
The future of coalmining is really two separate questions, with their own answers. 

Neither is clear-cut, but thermal coal – burned in power stations to provide electricity – is on a different trajectory to higher-quality metallurgical coal, mainly used in producing steel.

About 55% of the coal Australia exports is thermal, but the 45% metallurgical coal is more lucrative, reaping nearly two-thirds of the revenue. 

The bulk of the thermal coal is exported from the Hunter Valley of New South Wales; most of the metallurgical product comes from Queensland. 

Combined, coal exports were worth $55bn last financial year.

 Only iron ore brings in more.
Until last year, coal prices had been on a steep downward trajectory since 2011. 

The surge in demand last decade prompted investment in mines across the globe but demand had slowed by the time they became operational, resulting in oversupply. 

By 2014, global coal use had stopped growing. 

In 2015, it started to decline.
Several factors were at play, many of them long-term trends. 

China stopped growing as rapidly, took steps to limit choking air pollution, and began to shift its economy from relying on industrial exports to a greater emphasis on services and consumption.

 Climate change policies began to cut into coal’s market share in developed countries. 

In the US, the rapid development of cheap shale gas projects made coal uneconomic before the introduction of Barack Obama’s emissions policies.
By early 2016, the IEA was reporting that 80% of Chinese coalmining operations were losing money and the companies responsible for about half of US coal production were bankrupt.
It triggered a reaction. 

The Communist party forced the closure of some mines, restricted operation at others, to cut Chinese production by more than 10%.

 The global thermal coal price quickly doubled. 

The price of metallurgical coal surged further, tripling in April this year after Cyclone Debbie ravaged large parts of Queensland, reducing supply from some mines. 

Australia’s export revenue from coal exports soared 57% in a year. 

Both events illustrated the potential for volatility in coal markets owing to the weather or government fiat. 

But the bounce was brief.
Market analysts at Citi Research last month warned investors that the outlook for coal stocks was pessimistic: major banks were financing fewer projects; Donald Trump’s much-vaunted pro-coal and anti-climate change stance was having little impact in the US.

Chinese workers ride in a boat through a large floating solar farm project, billed as the largest in the world, under construction on a lake in collapsed and flooded coalmine in Huainan, Anhui province. Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images’

In a report for the Australian Conservation Foundation, consultants ACIL Allen agreed. 

“At present, there is considerable pessimism regarding the long-term outlook for prices of thermal coal in international markets,” it said. “This is reflected in forecasts by credible Australian and international agencies.”
Citi forecasts modest growth in Australian thermal coal exports in the near term, including the potential expansion of a couple of mines. But with prices expected to fall to US$60 a tonne by the end of the decade, down from a US$110 peak late last year, it sees no incentive for investment in new major projects – especially given public opposition and investor apathy towards coal.
It makes for an unlikely environment in which to develop a mega-mine backed by public money. But that is what Australia is considering.
The Indian billionaire Gautam Adani’s $21bn proposal to build a giant mine in the Galilee basin, about 340km south-west of Townsville, dates back to 2010. It has outlasted three Australian prime ministers and survived the signing of a global deal to combat climate change. 

Unsuccessful court battles have been waged and lost by opponents, promised imminent start dates have come and gone, and government support has steadily increased.

Adani protesters in Cairns presented a Community Declaration to NAIF HQ in Cairns.
Though known as the Carmichael mine, if fully developed it will actually be 11 mines: six of them open-cut and five underground, spread over a length of 50km. Eventually, the company says, it could yield up to 60m tonnes a year to be shipped to burn in Indian coal plants. 

The rail and port infrastructure necessary would open up the possibility of reviving some of the dormant coalmining plans in the basin, with a total potential additional output of about 150m tonnes of coal a year.
 Greenpeace activists unveil a giant banner on Newcastle coal stockpiles, calling on the Commonwealth Bank to stop investing in coal

Greenpeace activists unveil a giant banner on Newcastle coal stockpiles, calling on the Commonwealth Bank to stop investing in coal. Photograph: Dean Sewell

To put that into context, Australia now exports about 200m tonnes.

 It is, by any measure, a massive expansion that could push the world measurably closer to breaching the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
The details of the Adani proposal have moved over time. 

It was initially proposed to run for 150 years but that has been scaled back to 60. 

The company promised it would create 10,000 jobs; an ACIL Allen Consulting economist contracted by the company later conceded in court a more likely figure was 1,464. And the project is promised to initially start on a smaller scale, producing 25m tonnes a year.
It has environmental approval, has been granted access to groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin, and won a four-year deferment before it has to start paying royalties to the state. 

In June Adani announced it had made a final investment decision and was ready to go ahead. In truth, this was spin – it was still yet to secure finance for the project (Australian banks have not been willing) – but it was ramping up pressure on the Australian government to approve a $900m low-cost loan through its Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to help to fund a railway that Adani would own and operate for itself and other potential Galilee basin miners.
Adani’s biggest champion has been the recently resigned resources minister Matt Canavan, who argued the mine should go ahead on economic, humanitarian and, most audaciously, environmental grounds.

 Specifically: bring jobs and growth to struggling north Queensland; help improve the lives of the 240 million Indians living without electricity; and be better for the planet given that India is building coal plants anyway, and Australian coal is a cleaner product than what is dug up in other parts of the world.
All three points have been contested. 

There has been significant pushback against the idea that, in a world where the demand for coal is flat at best, existing Australian mines would not lose out if the Galilee basin were developed. The coal consultancy Wood Mackenzie was commissioned to look at the issue by the $2bn Infrastructure Fund, which owns a stake in the coal-reliant Port of Newcastle, and found existing mines in southern Queensland and NSW would be hit. “Put simply, either the $1bn loan to Adani will have a significant impact on coal production and jobs in the Hunter Valley, Bowen basin and Surat basin, or the business case for the Adani rail line is deeply flawed and the promised jobs for north Queensland unlikely to materialise,” it reported.
Testing the humanitarian and environment arguments requires a closer look at the changes under way in the Indian electricity market. India is the world’s second largest importer of thermal coal. It doesn’t want to be. Its coal minister, Piyush Goyal, has repeatedly said he wants to cut imports completely. It won’t happen in the short term – some of the country’s plants were built to run using higher-quality coal, which is not available domestically – but a shift is under way. Reuters reported that demand for imported thermal coal in India fell 13% in the first seven months of this year.
 Galilee Blockade protesters gather outside Bill Shorten’s office in Moonee Ponds, Melbourne

Galilee Blockade protesters gather outside Bill Shorten’s office in Moonee Ponds, Melbourne. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

Meanwhile, the country is seeing extraordinary reductions in the cost of large-scale solar power – 40% in a year – to the point where it is cheaper than domestic coal for the first time. 

There are questions over whether this is sustainable, but India has set an ambitious solar target of 100 gigawatts within five years. 

A draft national electricity plan released in December found no new coal-fired plants would be needed for a decade, and proposed coal plants with a capacity of 13.7GW – more than half Australia’s total coal fleet – were cancelled in May alone.
What does this mean for the Carmichael mine? Goyal says India does not need it, but will use the coal. Tim Buckley, of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, says a two-week trip he took to India to meet energy executives and government officials suggested a different story. 

“There was almost zero discussion on Carmichael,” he says. “The project is not on the radar, not expected to happen, immaterial for India’s energy plans given the progressive move away from imported thermal coal and just unbankable for Indian banks given excessive Adani group debt.”
India is not the only country rethinking the scale of its coal commitment. 

China has not cut imports – it is more focused on closing inefficient domestic mines – but its coal consumption peaked three years ago. 

It has an incredibly large fleet of generators likely to operate for decades to come, but they are running at less than 50% capacity. 

It cancelled 103GW of proposed coal-fired plants (more than twice the capacity of Australia’s east coast grid) this year.
Government officials note what is happening – the chief scientist Alan Finkel’s independent review of Australia’s electricity security noted that China is diversifying its energy mix, India limiting imports and South Korea cutting coal power to reduce pollution – but this shift receives little clean air in the Australian political debate, where the Minerals Council is an influential player and the major parties are supportive of a long-term source of jobs and revenue.
Misinformation is rife.

 Peter Freyberg, the head of coal at the mining giant Glencore, claimed that the IEA had projected that fossil fuels would provide almost 70% of energy in 2030, even if the world got its act together to limit global warming to an increase of less than 2C. He was making a point about coal’s longevity but, in reality, the IEA paints a different picture.

Yes, it estimates 64% of energy would come from fossil fuels in 2030 under this scenario – if you count electricity generation, industrial processes, transport, heating and cooking, and if you assume carbon capture and storage suddenly becomes viable. Even then, the biggest chunk would be expected to come from natural gas, which is considered a cleaner transitional fuel. The IEA found burning coal to generate electricity would decline sharply, with wind and solar providing more than half the world’s needs within 13 years. Traditional coal-fired power would be gone by mid-century.
Metallurgical coal is not expected to decline as quickly – in simple terms, there is not the readymade alternative to coal in steel manufacturing that there is in electricity generation. The IEA has forecast only a 15% drop in global trade of metallurgical coal by 2040 should the world deliver on the headline Paris agreement goals. Australia has about a fifth of the global market, and higher quality coal than many competitors, suggesting its market share should more or less hold up.
As the government points out, Australia also offers higher quality thermal coal than its competitors. But Tony Wood, energy program director at the Grattan Institute, says the numbers are compelling even once this is factored in.
“Malcolm Turnbull says coal will be part of the energy mix for the next several decades, and this is true, but it is a declining part of that mix,” Wood says.
“We may have a bigger share, but it is still a bigger share of a declining market. 

Unless someone does something with carbon capture and storage – or the world turns away from acting on climate change, which doesn’t seem likely – this is not an industry with a long-term future.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

ExxonMobil misled us for 40 years on #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

ExxonMobil misled public for 40 years on climate change, study finds
Oil giant knew of human causes but chose not to inform public, Harvard researchers conclude
Kevin O’Sullivanabout 15 hours ago

The giant US oil company ExxonMobil’s repeatedly misled the public about climate change over a 40-year period, researchers at Harvard University have concluded.

A review of 187 public and internal Exxon documents found 83 per cent of peer-reviewed papers authored by Exxon scientists and 80 per cent of the company’s internal communications acknowledged climate change is “real and human-caused”. In contrast, only 12 per cent of Exxon’s advertorials directed at the public did so, with 81 per cent instead expressing doubt.
“On the question of whether ExxonMobil misled non-scientific audiences about climate science, our analysis supports the conclusion that it did,” Dr Geoffrey Supran and Dr Naomi Oreskes state in the study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters on Wednesday.
The year-long study is an expansive, quantitative, independent corroboration of the findings of investigative journalists, whom ExxonMobil had accused of using “deliberately cherry-picked statements”. This latest peer-reviewed work goes further, showing ExxonMobil knew about the basic realities of climate change decades ago, and simultaneously communicated positions that were at odds with this knowledge to the general public.
It was prompted by ExxonMobil’s challenge to the public: “Read all of these documents and make up your own mind.”
“This paper takes up that challenge,” the Harvard authors add.
Exxon has disagreed with their conclusion and said its statements on public policy and climate science “have always reflected the global understanding of the issue”, according to an opinion piece in the New York Times.
Exxon has not added to that response. US secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who served as the company’s CEO 2006 to 2016, has not commented.

‘Natural variability’
The researchers point to the example of Exxon scientist Brian Flannery, who in 1985 helped the US department of energy write a report acknowledging a scientific consensus on future warming trends caused by CO2 emitted from fossil fuels. Despite that conclusion, company advertorials – many of which were published in the New York Times – in 1997 and 2000 downplayed the human effect on climate change and instead promoted “natural variability” in the atmosphere, according to the research.
“ExxonMobil’s scientists and executives were, for the most part, aware and accepting of the evolving climate science from the 1970s onwards, but they painted a different picture in advertorials,” it claims.
The researchers used an established social science method called content analysis to characterise ExxonMobil’s public and private publications about climate change spanning 1977 to 2014. These included ExxonMobil’s peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed scientific work, internal company memos, and paid-for, editorial-style ads.
The research looks at ExxonMobil’s positions on climate change – “real, human-caused, serious, and solvable” – and at the company’s acknowledgment of the risks of fossil fuel assets becoming “stranded” by climate policy. In each case, it concludes, “available documents show a systematic discrepancy between what ExxonMobil’s scientists and executives discussed about climate change privately and in academic circles, and what it presented to the general public”.
In short, the paper finds, “ExxonMobil contributed quietly to the science and loudly to raising doubts about it.” The company’s academic publications had an average readership of tens to hundreds, whereas advertorial readerships were likely in the millions.
‘Dirty tricks’
A transition to a low-carbon economy will not occur “unless we expose, challenge, and overcome the obstructionism and ‘dirty tricks’ of the fossil fuel industry, said Irish climate expert Prof Noel Healy of Salem State University in the US. “This study does exactly that – it quantifiably and systematically exposes how Exxon misled the public on climate science . . . Just like ‘Big Tobacco’ lied about the risks of addiction and cancer, Exxon engaged in decades-long campaign of doubt and deception.”
The attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts and the Securities and Exchange Commission are already investigating Exxon for potentially misleading investors and the public about climate change risks. Some of its employees and shareholders have already filed lawsuits against the company on these grounds.
The Harvard paper is explicit on its limitations. “We acknowledge that textual analysis is inherently subjective: words have meaning in context.” Yet, the authors argue, “While one might disagree about the interpretation of specific words, the overall trends between document categories are clear.”

Press link for more: Irish Times

Adani will Hasten Climate Catastrophe “See you at the barricades” #StopAdani 

The Adani coalmine will hasten a climate catastrophe. 

As faith leaders, we must act | Jonathan Keren-Black and Tejopala Rawls
Wednesday 23 August 2017 15.10 AEST

Australian Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg

‘Josh Frydenberg paints the Adani issue as more complex than we may appreciate.’ Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Earlier in August, six faith leaders met Australia’s environment and energy minister, Josh Frydenberg. Our group included Bishop Philip Huggins, the president of the National Council of Churches, a Uniting Church reverend, a rabbi, a Catholic nun and an ordained Buddhist. This is not the start of a joke, but a polite and serious exchange.
It might seem that religion has little to do with the environment or energy. Yet each of us at the meeting wanted to raise a matter that, when we consider the deepest values of our respective traditions, is of grave moral concern: the proposed Adani coalmine. We were there to ask the minister to revoke its environmental licence.

The delegation reminded the minister that a number of faith leaders from across Australia wrote him an open letter about it on 5 May, to which he had not yet replied.
Around the world a great many people of faith are deeply concerned about the climate crisis. 

Despite the reactionary nature of some in the United States, faith leaders are almost completely united and supportive of the science.

 The pope has issued his famous encyclical, Laudato Si, faith leaders were part of the successful movement in the US to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, and the Dalai Lama has spoken of the need for strong action. The co-founder of, Bill McKibben, is a mild-mannered Methodist Sunday school teacher.
Of course, the faith traditions do not have a monopoly on morality. 

There are very proud secular and indigenous traditions in this struggle that we honour and respect. 

Yet we do have much to offer when it comes to ethics and morals. And on this issue, there is a significant groundswell.
In Buddhism, the first precept is non-harm, or loving kindness, towards all beings. The tradition also points out the profound interconnectedness of all things, including all forms of life.

In Judaism, the first portion of the Torah, B’reshit, makes it clear that our human responsibility is to look after God’s world. We may use it, we may eat from it, but it is clear that we must maintain it in a healthy state to pass on to generations to come. In short, thousands of years before the term was coined, Torah has the strongest of mandates for sustainability.
Whichever way you look at it, this is the great moral issue of our time
Muslim leaders in the UK say: Allah in His Mercy has placed an amanat (trust) upon all of humanity to safeguard and nurture creation. He has appointed humanity as guardians of His creation, as “a khalifa (steward)” [Qur’an 2:30].
In the US, the evangelical Christian and climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe states: “The poor, the disenfranchised, those already living on the edge, and those who contributed least to this problem are also those at greatest risk to be harmed by it. That’s not a scientific issue; that’s a moral issue.”
Pope Francis writes in his encyclical: “Politics and business have been slow to react in a way commensurate with the urgency of the challenges facing our world … Those who will have to suffer the consequence of what we are trying to hide will not forget this failure of conscience and responsibility.”
Whichever way you look at it, this is the great moral issue of our time. Nothing less than the stability of civilisation and the viability of life on Earth is at stake.
Frydenberg told our delegation that, if Australian coal were not burnt in India, dirtier coal would be burnt instead, resulting in greater carbon emissions. We pointed out that one argument against the abolition of slavery in Great Britain was that they would just have lost market share to the Dutch and the French, who would apparently have treated the slaves worse. The minister rejected the comparison.

Frydenberg paints the Adani issue as more complex than we may appreciate. We need the employment. We point out how a fraction of the promised subsidies could employ more people, in clean, renewable energy jobs, while further coral bleaching and 500 extra ships per year through the reef would jeopardise thousands of tourism jobs. We emphasise the crucial truth that the world can only produce around 700bn tonnes more CO2 if we are to avoid climate catastrophe, and that global emissions are currently around 50bn tonnes a year, so time is extremely limited. Adani alone will add 4.6bn tonnes. We do appreciate the complexities; even so, this mine ultimately involves a simple moral choice.
Aside from the dangers of rising temperatures and seas, more intense storms, floods and droughts, World Health Organisation figures show that over 100,000 people each year will also die prematurely from lung diseases from burning the coal from this reef-wrecking mega-mine. The minister seems unmoved.
Rabbi Keren-Black asked the minister what he thought were the views of climate scientists employed by the Australian government about building this mine. Momentarily, Frydenberg seemed lost for words.

As the meeting came to a close, our Buddhist member, Tejopala, told the minister that he would stand in front of machinery if digging started and that other members of his order had said the same thing. Reverend Sangster concurred.
Faith communities have real influence. The minister probably only granted us a meeting because we are religious leaders. Perhaps the two most powerful things people of faith can do are to encourage moving our accounts from banks and superannuation funds that invest in fossil fuels, and to practice non-violent direct action – peacefully obstructing the worst coal, oil and gas projects by physically standing in their way.
As we stepped outside the meeting, Reverend Sangster turned to the group and said: “Well, then. See you at the barricades.” Indeed.
Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black is an environmental adviser within the Progressive Jewish Movement. Tejopala Rawls is a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order. If you would like to get involved in a faith-based response to the Adani coalmine or climate action generally please contact

Press link for more: The