Month: October 2017

Climate Change harms health world wide. #StopAdani It’s a crime against humanity! 

Climate change harming health worldwide
Climate change has caused severe harm to human health since the year 2000 by stoking more heat waves, the spread of some mosquito-borne diseases and under-nutrition as crops fail, scientists say.

Scant action to slow global warming over the past 25 years has jeopardised “human life and livelihoods”, they write in a The Lancet medical journal.
“The human symptoms of climate change are unequivocal and potentially irreversible,” says the report, entitled Lancet Countdown and drawn up by 24 groups, including universities, the World Bank and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Many governments are now trying to cut their greenhouse gas emissions under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, though US President Donald Trump has weakened the pact by saying the United States, the world’s second biggest greenhouse gas polluter after China, will pull out.
“This (report) is a huge wake-up call,” Christiana Figueres, chair of the Lancet Countdown’s high-level advisory board and the United Nations’ climate chief at the Paris summit, told Reuters. “The impacts of climate change are here and now.”

Among its findings, the report said an additional 125 million vulnerable people had been exposed to heat waves each year from 2000 to 2016, with the elderly especially at risk.
Labour productivity among farm workers fell by 5.3 per cent since the year 2000, mainly because sweltering conditions sapped the strength of workers in nations from India to Brazil.
The report, based on 40 indicators of climate and health, said climate change seemed to be making it easier for mosquitoes to spread dengue fever, which infects up to 100 million people a year.
The number of undernourished people in 30 countries across Africa and Asia rose to 422 million in 2016 from 398 million in 1990, it said.
But despite the overall gloom, Anthony Costello, a director at WHO and co-chair of the Lancet Countdown study, said there were “significant glimmers of hope” in the situation.
The number of weather-related disasters such as hurricanes and floods rose 46 per cent since 2000, but the number of deaths remained stable, suggesting that societies were improving protection measures against environmental catastrophes.
The Lancet Countdown study did not estimate the total number of deaths from climate change. The WHO has previously estimated there could be 250,000 extra deaths a year between 2030 and 2050 because of climate change.

Press link for more: SBS.COM.AU

Our Greatest Moral Challenge #StopAdani #Qldvotes #CoralnotCoal 

Catholic, Anglican bishops unite in opposition to Adani mega-mineOctober 30 2017 – 2:25PM

By Nicole Hasham

It may have the Turnbull and Palaszczuk governments firmly in its corner, but the Adani super-mine is facing a formidable new opponent: the Christian faith.
The Catholic and Anglican bishops of Townsville have issued a joint statement to their followers criticising “projected mega-mining developments across Queensland, especially the Galilee Basin”, and accusing politicians and big business of failing to protect the common good.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s campaign speech was interrupted by anti-Adani protesters.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s campaign speech was interrupted by anti-Adani protesters. Photo: Darren England

The bishops’ message puts them head-to-head with Adani, the Indian mining behemoth behind the $16.5 billion Carmichael mine proposed for the Galilee Basin. 

It also puts them at odds with the local council and state and federal governments, which resoundingly support the project.
Adani has located its regional headquarters in Townsville, and the statement will fuel debate in the already divided community over what would be Australia’s biggest coal mine. 
Adani Group founder and chairman Gautam Adani meets with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Delhi in April.

Adani Group founder and chairman Gautam Adani meets with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Delhi in April. Photo: AAP

The Right Reverend William Ray of the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland, and the Most Reverend Timothy Harris of the Catholic Diocese of Townsville, issued the statement to their parishes on Saturday.
They cited Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on the environment in June 2015, in which he said “the Earth, our home, is beginning to look … like an immense pile of filth”.

“We, too, as bishops in north Queensland, have concerns about many global and local issues that are impacting negatively on our environment and which require greater dialogue, examination, prayer and action,” the statement said.
The bishops said human dominion over the planet should be understood as “responsible stewardship”, especially to future generations.
Adani detractors fear the effects on tourism and the environment – especially the Great Barrier Reef 

Adani detractors fear the effects on tourism and the environment – especially the Great Barrier Reef – and say the company’s promise of 10,000 new jobs is vastly inflated. Photo: ACF/VUAS

“The elephant in the room is obviously the impending loss of the Great Barrier Reef with back-to-back yearly coral bleaching across two thirds of its length,” they said.
The bishops lamented toxic run-off, increased sea freight traffic and marine pollution, adding that government spending to fix the reef’s problems was “not matching needs”.

The bishops lamented “the elephant in the room … the impending loss of the Great Barrier Reef with back-to-back yearly coral bleaching across two thirds of its length”. Photo: WWF-Aus/BioPixel

They did not name the Adani mine, but warned against “projected mega-mining developments across Queensland, especially the Galilee Basin”, adding such projects sought to exploit a “coal resource for all ages.”
“Politics and business have been slow to provide strong leadership or urgency for the common good: a leadership that incorporates environmental issues as much as the financial, social or political issues,” the statement said.

Right Reverend William Ray of the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland, who has expressed concern about “projected mega-mining developments across Queensland, especially the Galilee Basin”. Source: Supplied Photo: Supplied

“Although there are a limited number of politicians who are active on behalf of the environment, they are to be commended.”
The statement reflected the personal view of the bishops. It also expressed concern about a lack of recognition for indigenous people, land clearing, a lack of transparency by big business and a gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”.

Most Reverend Timothy Harris of the Catholic Diocese of Townsville, who has expressed concern about “projected mega-mining developments across Queensland, especially the Galilee Basin”. Photo: Supplied

Adani’s Carmichael mine has emerged as a key issue in the Queensland state election, to be held on November 25.

Adani protesters reportedly heckled Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls on the campaign trail on Sunday and Monday.
The mine would extract 2.3 billion tonnes of coal over its 60-year life. Supporters say it will bring much-needed jobs and social benefits to Townsville and the broader region. Detractors fear the effects on tourism and the environment – especially the Great Barrier Reef – and say the company’s promise of 10,000 new jobs is vastly inflated.
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan – back in the job on Friday after the High Court confirmed he was eligible to sit in Parliament – reportedly listed the Adani project and a new coal-fired generator as his first priorities.
The local coal industry has other firm backers – Nationals MP George Christensen took out several full page ads in Mackay’s Daily Mercury last week, urging that a “clean” coal-fired power plant be built in north Queensland. 
President of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, Thea Ormerod, applauded the bishops’ stand and said it “could help shift the mood of the electorate over time”.
She said in the 2016 census, 26.5 per cent of Townsville residents identified as Catholic and 15.2 per cent as Anglican.
“Australia needs such prophetic witness to the importance of protecting our common home over profit-seeking extractive industries,” Ms Ormerod said.
“Adani’s Carmichael mine should never be allowed to go ahead … as a nation, we have the resources to support those communities who are being impacted by our necessary transition away from mining.”

Press link for more: SMH.COM.AU

Support Aussie Farmers #StopAdani #qldpol #auspol 

Rescind Adani’s Unlimited Water License and support Aussie farmers!

As Queensland farmers, water is crucial for our livelihoods. As our climate gets hotter and drier, our water resources are even more precious. We call on the Queensland Premier to rescind the unlimited, free 60-year water license they are proposing to grant to the Adani coal mine.
My name is Angus Emmott and I’m proud to be a third generation grazier from Longreach in outback Queensland. I’m committed to a sustainable future for farming in Australia and ask you for your support to protect our precious groundwater. 
In Queensland, the proposed Adani-owned Carmichael coal mine has been granted unlimited access to groundwater. The mine, the biggest of nine proposed for the Galilee Basin west of Rockhampton, is expected to draw 26 million litres of water per day from its pits. Over its life this mine alone would total 355 billion litres of water and modelling already demonstrates that 2 springs will be shut down.

As farmers we are angry about the special deal struck by the Queensland government to give Adani free water for its proposed coal mine. I am launching this petition today to call upon Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to support Aussie farmers and to rescind the water licenses that allow Adani access to unlimited water for 60 years.
All over the country, farmers are battling to stop fossil fuel mining and fracking on their land. Nearly 90% of Queensland is currently drought declared, so why are we giving an Indian billionaire access to unlimited groundwater for a new coal mine?
I’m asking all Australians, to stand with me in calling upon the Premier to rescind this approval before irrevocable damage is done to our groundwater systems and the long term sustainability of Queensland agriculture. 
Angus Emmott with Farmers for Climate Action

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Climate Change & the Human mind #StopAdani #Auspol 

Climate Change and the Human Mind: 

A Noted Psychiatrist Weighs In
Author Robert Jay Lifton has probed the psyches of barbaric Nazi doctors and Hiroshima survivors. 

Now, he is focusing on how people respond to the mounting evidence of climate change and is finding some reasons for hope.
By Diane Toomey • October 26, 2017
Psychiatrist and historian Robert Jay Lifton has delved deep into the some of the darkest issues and most traumatic events of the 20th century with his research into the mindset of Nazi doctors, terrorism, the experiences of prisoners of war, and the aftermath of nuclear attack, which he chronicled in Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima, winner of a National Book Award.
Now, at the age of 91, Lifton has turned his attention to climate change. In his new book, The Climate Swerve: Reflections on Mind, Hope, and Survival, Lifton argues that we are living through a time of increasing recognition of the reality of climate change, a psychological shift he refers to as a “swerve,” driven by evidence, economics, and ethics. 

 Robert Jay Lifton

In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Lifton talks about how far into this swerve we are, how natural disasters are critical in changing people’s minds about climate change, and the losing battle the Trump administration is fighting by continuing to deny the science behind global warming. 

“It’s becoming more and more difficult to take the stand of climate rejection,” he says, “because there is so much evidence of climate change and so much appropriate fear about its consequences.”

e360: You’ve written about fragmentary awareness shifting to formed awareness. 

What is the difference between the two, and where are we on that continuum in terms of climate change?
Lifton: Fragmentary awareness consists of a series of images that may be fleeting, and in that sense fragmentary. 

In relation to nuclear weapons, it has to do with the weapons themselves, some Hiroshima film or pictures, descriptions about deterrents, and hydrogen bombs.
Formed awareness is more structured awareness, so that there’s a narrative. 

There’s a cause and effect – hydrogen bombs actually creating the possibility of literally destroying the world and killing every last human being on it. 

And there was, in that way, an image that was clear and sequential – a narrative, a story. And there’s a parallel with climate. 

With climate images, when they’re fragmentary, we may have an image of a storm here, of sea rise here, a little bit of flooding there, the drought. 

But when that becomes a formed image involving global warming and climate change, we take in the idea of carbon emissions leading to human effects on climate change and endangering us. And in that same narrative, there can be mitigating actions to limit climate change.

e360: Are we now entrenched in the formed awareness stage or are we on the verge of that?
Lifton: It’s hard to say exactly, but we’re moving toward formed awareness. Or putting it another way, there’s much greater formed awareness than in previous time. When you just follow the reports, the discussions of causation, you find more and more statements about carbon emissions causing climate change, human responsibility for a radical increase in global warming, and the necessity of taking significant steps toward mitigating these effects.
I think one has to look at the Paris Accord in late 2015 as epitomizing this kind of formed awareness on a universal, on what I call a “species,” basis. It doesn’t mean that we’re perfectly clear on everything and that there aren’t still fragmentary tendencies, but it does mean that there is more and more formed awareness, of a kind that can lead to constructive action.
e360: You say that formed awareness doesn’t guarantee climate wisdom, but is necessary to it. What does guarantee climate wisdom?
Lifton: Sometimes people say, “Well, how can you be so optimistic?” I’m not expressing wild optimism so much as a form of hope. It’s quite possible now, because of the formed awareness, to take wise action. Without the climate swerve and the increasingly formed awareness, no such action would be possible. So that represents a shift going on that’s highly significant and that is hopeful, but it doesn’t promise the next step, those actions. 
“What I’m calling the climate swerve is something profound. It won’t go away. The climate rejecters are fighting a losing battle.”

e360: Of course, we’re discussing these issues with the backdrop of the Trump administration. Just a few days ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency canceled talks by three of its scientists who were scheduled to present on climate change at a scientific conference in Rhode Island. So there are certainly forces pushing any swerve the other way. How concerned are you about that?
Lifton: I’m very concerned about it. The Trump administration, in rejecting climate change and global warming, is doing profound damage every day. And it has to do with canceling regulations and trying to silence scientists and prevent them from expressing and bringing truths to the public.
In my book, I characterize Trump and people like [EPA Administrator Scott] Pruitt and others not so much anymore as climate deniers. 

I call them what I think is more accurate, “climate rejecters.” They, like everyone else, have to know in some part of their minds, that climate change is quite real and dangerous.

 They reject this knowledge as their primary conviction or source of action. 

They reject the knowledge because it’s incompatible with their worldview, their sense of identity, their anti-government and governance bias, and with all they would have to do and be if they were to take in these truths. 

(Malcolm Turnbull & Barnaby Joyce Australian Climate Rejectors)

It’s becoming, I’ll argue, more and more difficult to take the stand of climate rejection, because there is so much evidence of climate change and so much appropriate fear about its consequences. 

And I think we have to, on the one hand, see this as an emergency, and on the other hand recognize that what I’m calling the climate swerve is something profound. 

It won’t go away. 

The climate rejecters are fighting a losing battle.

e360: You cite the three forces of experience, economics and ethics as pushing the climate swerve. 

Do you see any one of those three most forcefully leading the swerve at the moment?
Lifton: Probably the economics of it are most consequential in relationship to taking fairly quick action against global warming and climate change. 

There is this trend in general toward recognizing that the carbon economy is not reliable and could cause us all to suffer. 

And there are groups that advise large corporations about ways that climate change could harm their business, their operations. 

And you find many corporations and much of the business community deeply concerned about the problems of climate change. 

So the economics of it become crucial.

But you need, also, the public response. 

That comes from the experience of it — the experience of droughts, floods, wildfires, extraordinary hurricanes, all that we’ve been witnessing quite recently — so that climate change is no longer a thing of the projected future. 

It’s with us now. 

And that’s a difference in our relationship to time with climate change. 

Then the ethics follow from the experience and the economics. 

People begin to wonder about the ethics of taking from harmful oil and gas reserves that if burnt would threaten human future. 

That is a kind of ethical quandary. 

It shouldn’t be, of course, and it’s being recognized for the absurdity that it is, with more and more pressure to keep those so-called stranded assets underground and protect them from what I call “stranded ethics.”

“The mind can contradict itself; it can believe one thing one day and something else another day.”

e360: You write that swerves by their very nature are not orderly, and that this one seems particularly haphazard and, in almost all of its details, unpredictable. 

How so?
Lifton: Human beings are not linear, orderly creatures. 

We’re more complicated than that. And in the various studies I’ve done, the mind can contradict itself; it can believe one thing one day and something else another day.

 And we know that behavior is an adaptation to circumstances. 

Well, belief can be an adaptation to circumstances also.
All that is by way of saying that beliefs change, and that we’re erratic, our psyches can be quite erratic in general. 

That said, there can still be noted significant trends. 

So we have a swerve that’s irregular. 

The very term suggests irregularity in its origins from Lucretius, the Roman poet millennia ago. And yet, it can be quite definite in its direction. 

It’s been affecting us in recent decades, in my view, in profound ways. 

There’s a temptation to give up on it when we see powerful figures like Trump and Pruitt do the harm they’re doing to our country and to the world. 

But I think it’s crucial that we recognize the importance and the power of what I’m calling the climate swerve, which really amounts to species awareness of the danger that we face, along with a capacity to take the necessary steps to avoid, really, the end of our civilization.

e360: You write that, “The most important outcome of the [Paris climate] meeting may well have been enhanced awareness that we are all members of a single, threatened species.” 

In the U.S., at least right now, it doesn’t feel like the zeitgeist is “we’re in this all together.” 

But you take great hope from the Paris Agreement, don’t you?
Lifton: I take great hope from the possibilities it raised. 

I’ve never seen it as sufficient unto itself. 

In all struggle, in all movements, there’s never a kumbaya moment. 

There’s never a moment of satori, where everything is realized. 

Rather, there’s a continuous struggle with ups and downs. 

And with the election of Trump and all that he represents, and the extremity of his dangerous behavior in relation to climate, with all that, of course there has been a reaction and a response of, call it massive depression in relation to appropriate climate action. 
“In all struggle, in all movements, there’s never a kumbaya moment. There’s never a moment of satori, where everything is realized.”

Having said that, I think we should recognize the larger picture that even Trump has trouble extricating us from Paris. 

When there was this extreme reaction, angry reaction, all through the country with governors and mayors and all through the world with European countries, and an insistence on carrying through with the Paris commitments, he backtracked. And it’s unclear now whether we’ve extricated ourselves from Paris. 

The explanations or interpretations given by his administration are, as is frequently the case, unclear: “Yes, we will go to meetings about climate. 

Yes, maybe we can negotiate climate change. Yes, we’re still withdrawing from Paris.” The whole thing is uncertain because of the pressure of the swerve and the degree to which it’s taken hold.
e360: You write in your book that, “Nuclear and climate threats have both undergone malignant forms of normalization that suppress and distort our perceptions of their danger.” With regard to climate change, do you see fixes that involve geoengineering in the same light of malignant normalization?
Lifton: Yes. I see the vast projections of geoengineering as what I call a “rescue technology.” It’s calling upon technology to take over from what we human beings have been unable to solve in our own minds, even though it’s our responsibility to do exactly that. 

I see [geoengineering] as a desperate last stand, very ill-advised, and as a form of sometimes justifying the failure to take the necessary action in relation to climate change. And in that way, it could support what I call the “malignant normality” of climate change. 

Just going about things as they are now in this ultimate absurdity, as I call it.
e360: At the end of your book, you give an articulate explanation of why you, as a 91-year-old who will not see the worst effects of climate change, care about this issue. 

Could you share a bit of that now?
Lifton: It’s sometimes assumed that when one reaches the last stages of life, one shouldn’t have to care about the human future.

 One, after all, won’t be there. 

But it can be the reverse for many of us, and I think I’m hardly alone in this. If one considers oneself, as I do, part of the human flow, part of the Great Chain of Being, part of human connectedness, which extends from generation to generation, of course it includes one’s own children and grandchildren — and I have those.

 But it’s more than that.

 It’s continuing the human chain that one has been a part of. And in my case, that I sought to in some ways contribute to, in a modest fashion, all through my life in my work.

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Coal use must be gone by 2050. #StopAdani to curb sea level rise. #auspol #qldpol 

Coal use must ‘pretty much’ be gone by 2050 to curb sea-level rise, researchers sayOctober 26 2017 – 10:00PM

 Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam is Environment Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald. 

He covers broad environmental issues ranging from climate change to renewable energy for Fairfax Media.
Coal use will have to be “pretty much” gone by mid-century if the planet is to avoid sea-level rise of more than a metre by 2100 as Antarctic ice sheets disintegrate faster than expected, new modelling by an Australian-led team has found. 
On business-as-usual projections, sea-level rise by the end of the century could exceed 1.3 metres compared with the 1986-2005 average, or 55 per cent more than predicted in the Fifth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, according to research published in the Environmental Research Letters journal. 

Warming waters are melting the Antarctic ice sheets from below. Photo: APT

“We have provided a preview of what is probably going to be said by the IPCC in the [Sixth Assessment Report],” due for release in 2021, said Alexander Nauels, lead author of the report, and a researcher at Melbourne University’s Australian-German Climate & Energy Centre.

“There are really high risks attached to these new findings from more Antarctic contributions,” he said.
Recent research indicates Antarctica is more prone than previously thought to ice sheet melting, particularly for land-based ice exposed to warming oceans from beneath.

At the high end of the range for unmitigated emissions, mean sea-level rise could approach two metres by the end of the century, inundating low-lying coastal regions worldwide.

Melting Antarctic ice is likely to be the biggest contributor to global sea-level increases that could exceed 10 metres in the centuries ahead. Photo: APT

Regional variations caused by different ocean circulation patterns, will see some areas, such as the tropics, endure faster rises than in other parts of the globe.
The melting would not halt by 2100, of course, and could lift sea levels by 10-15 metres by 2500, according to research published by US scientists last year. “These are very, very scary numbers,” Mr Nauels said, adding his work was generating similar findings.

However, by implementing the Paris climate target of limiting warming to 1.5-2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, sea-level increases could be limited to about half a metre – in addition to the roughly 20 centimetre rise in the past century. 
That goal would need cumulative carbon emissions to be limited to 850 gigatonnes, compared with about 554 gigatonnes so far – a tally that is rising about 10 gigatonnes a year.

“Coal as we know it today [without carbon capture and storage] will have to be gone pretty much [by 2050],” Mr Nauels said. “There is no future for fossil fuels, and coal in particular.”
Australia’s trajectory of emissions may become clearer by the end of this year when the Turnbull government is due to release results of its climate policy review.
Earlier this month, the government launched its National Energy Guarantee which projects emissions would only track the nation’s Paris pledge of cutting pollution 26-28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. The onus will be to cut emissions in other sectors, such as transport and agriculture, which have few policies in place to curb pollution.
The research paper also incorporated the so-called Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP) that the IPCC will use for its AR6 report to relate sea-level changes to factors such as population and economic growth, and urbanisation.
These pathway, for instance, consider using a price on carbon emissions to nudge behaviour.

“If we have a carbon price of $US100 [per tonne of CO2-equivalent at 2005 terms] in 2050, according to the SSP scenarios, we could limit sea-level rise to around 65cm by 2100,” said Carl Friedrich Schleussner from Climate Analytics, and another of the report’s authors.
“This is the first time that a study has combined latest sea-level rise modelling with the new scenarios and we can see clear linkages between specific mitigation efforts and sea-level rise impacts.”

Press link for more: Sydney Morning Herald

Deep Democracy A cure for #ClimateChange & Inequality #Auspol #StopAdani 

‘Deep Democracy’ — A Cure For Climate Change And Economic Inequality?John J. Berger

October 21, 2017, Marin Country, CA.—Why has society not been able to solve the climate crisis?
How can the crisis be an opportunity to reduce economic inequality along with greenhouse gases?
What can be done to revitalize our democracy so that grave issues like climate change can be addressed in the public interest?

Policy analyst, activist, and social critic Heather McGhee tackled those questions at the recent 28th annual Bioneers Conference in Marin County (October 19th – 22nd), which drew upwards of 3,000 participants.
The Importance of Healthy Democracy
McGhee attributed the nation’s failure to solve climate change to those who have been in power for the past 40 years and used a culture of racism to foster national divisions along racial, religious, economic, and gender lines.
That fact that a full-blown climate crisis has been allowed to develop, she said, “in full view for over a generation, is as clear a sign as any that we do not have a functioning democracy where the public interest can prevail.”

“Only in a broken democracy,” McGhee declared, “can big fossil fuel companies be allowed to put their next quarter’s profits ahead of the next generation’s existence.”
“Capitalism is writing the rules for democracy,” she stated, “and not the other way around.” According to McGhee, “Climate change is the result of social, economic, and political inequality.”
She did not address climate change as a consequence of global industrialization, urbanization, and the burgeoning energy demands—and rising material expectations—of a rapidly expanding global population.
McGhee is the President of Dēmos, a public policy group based in New York City, focused on climate change, inequality, and democracy reform. 

She is credited with helping shape key provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Dēmos, which means “the people,” aims to create a society where everyone has “an equal say and an equal chance,” according to the group’s 2000-2016 Impact Report.
With a staff of 50 and an annual $8 million budget, Dēmos works to protect the freedom to vote and to quell the influence of money in politics. Other action areas include increasing upward mobility and combating racism and racial inequality.
Hefty Climate Change Costs
The group along with another nonprofit, NextGen America, recently issued a report on the enormous expected lifetime costs to young people today and to future generations, arising from the damaging effects of worsening climate change.
The Price Tag of Being Young: Climate Change and Millennials’ Economic Future, includes these findings:
A baby born in 2015 who later goes on to graduate from college and earn a median income will lose approximately $467,000 in income over its lifetime due to the effects of climate change. If one assumes that the lost income had been invested at 3.5 percent, the lost wealth would total approximately $764,000.

The Dēmos/NextGen America climate report also points to a recent ICF International study which indicated that transitioning to a clean energy economy by 2050 would create up to two million new jobs, boost our economy by $290 billion, and increase household disposable income by $650, saving families $41 billion on energy bills.
McGhee began her Bioneers speech with a moment of silence for the loss of life, homes, and habitats caused by the recent climate-related hurricane disasters that have ravaged the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, and large areas of South Asia and the devastating fires that have ravaged parts of Northern California. 

Only days earlier, the conference site itself been a shelter for evacuees from the fires in California’s Sonoma County and elsewhere.
Noting that climate change disproportionately impacts communities of color and poor communities, McGhee said that, “we see an opportunity out of the crisis of climate change, to use the economic transformation we know is necessary, not just to reduce emissions, but to reduce inequality; not just to increase energy efficiency, but to increase wealth in families and communities of color. . . .”
Up-Ending the Power Structure
McGhee’s group has begun working toward these twin goals by joining forces with a broad coalition of 120 like-minded groups in New York Renews, a climate-equity campaign that aims to zero out human-caused carbon pollution by 2050 and slash it in half by 2030.
It is most important, said McGhee, to direct “40 percent of the revenue from carbon pricing and other measures to the lowest-wealth and most-polluted communities in the state.”
The New York Renews campaign, she asserted, is “upending the normal power structure in the state by bringing together a broad-based coalition of civil and human rights, environmental justice, small business, labor, and democracy reform organizations.”
The approach is not unique to New York, McGhee said. Similar broad-based coalitions for “equitable carbon pricing” are developing in states like Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon, and California.
While this was clearly a source of hope for many in the audience, McGhee also blamed the nation’s legacy of slavery and racism for preventing the nation from recognizing itself as one people with common interests. That, in turn, she said, has stood in the way of collective action “to save our collective home, health, and well-being.”
John J. Berger, PhD. ( is an energy and environmental policy specialist who has produced ten books on climate, energy, and natural resource topics. He is the author of Climate Peril: The Intelligent Reader’s Guide to the Climate Crisis, and Climate Myths: The Campaign Against Climate Science, and is at work on a new book about climate solutions.
Follow John J. Berger on Twitter:

Press link for more: Huffington Post

The Last Thing Australia and Our Planet needs #StopAdani New York Times Editorial #auspol 

Environmental activists protesting in Brisbane, Australia, in May. Dan Peled/AAP, via Associated Press
While global demand for coal is falling as the nations of the world have committed themselves to slashing carbon emissions, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia wants to help a powerful Indian conglomerate build an enormous system of coal mines in a remote stretch of Queensland.

Burning the estimated 66 million tons of coal a year that the Adani Group aims to produce from six open-pit and five underground complexes known as the Carmichael mine can only make it harder for the world to meet its aspirations under the Paris climate agreement.

 The project has prompted huge protests across Australia.

“You can’t have both the Paris climate agreement and Adani’s Carmichael coal mine,” the climate change activist Bill McKibben said. “Full stop.”
Mr. Turnbull has promoted the mine with the same argument President Trump has made to remove what he sees as impediments to coal mining in Appalachia, framing mining as a job creator in a region that sorely needs jobs. The prime minister has also supported Adani’s request for a taxpayer-financed loan of $800 million.
But even one of Adani’s consultants has disputed the company’s claim that the project will generate 10,000 jobs. In fact, the project could cost mining jobs elsewhere in Australia.
The nearby Great Barrier Reef supports some 64,000 full-time employees, but shipping all that coal to India risks further harm to this environmentally sensitive area, already endangered by global warming.

The Adani Group chairman, Gautam Adani, plans to use 60 percent of the Carmichael coal, which is of a higher quality than Indian coal, for his financially stressed Mundra coal-fired power plant in Gujarat, India.
It would be a regressive move for India, which is making great strides with solar and other forms of renewable energy. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has committed India to getting 40 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Existing coal-burning plants in India are running below 60 percent capacity, and while increased demand for energy may push them to full capacity, by then, “the price of renewables will be lower than the price of coal,” observes Ajay Mathur, director general of the Energy Resources Institute in New Delhi.
India’s energy minister, Piyush Goyal, was clear: “We don’t wish to import coal from anywhere in the world,” he said. “We have sufficient coal capacity in our country.”
Australia is helping Mr. Adani get what he wants, but it’s the opposite of what Australia, India or the rest of the world needs.

Press link for more: NYTimes

Time to address rising cost of climate change: US report #StopAdani 

The recent wildfires in California have caused more than $A80 billion damage. 

Jae C. Hong
AN INDEPENDENT US government agency says natural disasters have cost the country $US350 billion ($A453 billion) in the past decade and that it is time for Donald Trump’s administration to address climate change before it starts costing the country more.

The non-partisan auditing agency Government Accountability Office said the US had spent that amount just in responding to extreme weather events.
This includes relief money after hurricanes and wildfires, both of which the country has seen in the past few months.

Washington state Democrat Senator Maria Cantwell summed up the report to the New York Times as: “Basically telling us that this is costing us a lot of money … we need to understand that as stewards of the taxpayer that climate is a fiscal issue, and the fact that it’s having this big a fiscal impact on our federal budget needs to be dealt with.”
Much of the report states that climate change will impact various parts of the country with drought, low crop yields, road damage, increased wildfires, increased energy demands and coastal infrastructure damage – all deemed by GAO as “examples of potential economic effects of climate change”.

The agency noted some of the effects and damage costs are difficult to predict for events directly related to climate change but “one estimate projects that rising temperatures could cause losses in labour productivity of as much as $US150 billion by 2099, while changes in some crop yields could cost as much as $US53 billion”, the New York Times reports.
The GAO report recommends the Trump administration takes executive action on environmental regulations that will help curb emissions and protect the environment in order to minimise costs for the taxpayer.
Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins told the newspaper: “We simply cannot afford the billions of dollars in additional funding that’s going to be needed if we do not take into account the consequences of climate change.”
The report relied mostly on two national-scale studies but culled information from 28 other studies, 26 expert interviews, compared managing climate risks with leading practices for risk management, and performed economic analysis.
Director of Natural Resources and Environment at GAO J. Alfredo Gomez told The Independent that “in typical protocol” the agency sent a draft report to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its administrator, Scott Pruitt.
The GAO requested a response within 30 days, however the EPA only provided technical comments there were a “clarification” on how GAO characterised one of the reference studies used, according to Mr Gomez.
He said the EPA did not provide an explanation as to why it did not otherwise respond to the report.
This is not the first or only ongoing study into the financial costs of not addressing climate change, as Mr Gomez noted.
A list is put together every two years called the High Risk List of “specific areas where government-wide action is needed to limit fiscal exposure to climate change,” he explained.
The GAO recommends the Trump administration focus on areas like defence-related installations – like military bases in coastal areas – that are particularly vulnerable to climate change, federal flood insurance programmes, as well as disaster aid.
However, the administration’s track record has been one of dismantling existing environmental legislation rather than passing and implementing.
In June, Mr Trump announced he was withdrawing the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change, the deal agreed to by nearly 200 countries to curb global carbon emissions and help poorer countries adapt to a changing planet.
Mr Trump said he felt the accord, signed and put into enforcement by the Obama administration, as putting American workers – particularly in the coal industry – at an “economic disadvantage”.
Recently, Mr Pruitt said the EPA will be repealing and possibly replacing a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s environmental legacy and answer to meeting the goals outlined in the Paris accord: the Clean Power Plan.
According to the Washington DC-based Union of Concerned Scientists, power plants account for almost 40 per cent of the country’s emissions – “more than every car, truck, and plane in the US combined.”
If it had been left in place, the CPP would have reduced power plants’ carbon emissions by 2030 to a level 32 per cent lower than they were in 2005.
To counter, more than a thousand CEOs and sub-national government leaders have pledged to continue to fight climate change through business operations and regulations.
However, the overall reduction in carbon emissions of all these actors is still being calculated and may not equal the amount of reductions should the federal government be involved.
The GAO report was released just as the Senate is getting ready to vote on a nearly $40bn disaster relief package for Americans affected by the recent hurricanes and wildfires. It will also include provisions for flood insurance.
– Mythili Sampathkumar, The Independent

Press link for more: Sunshine Coast Daily

#NPC address by Peter Garrett #StopAdani 

National Press Club Address 

24 October 2017 by The Hon Peter Garrett AM

‘Trashing our crown jewel: The fate of the Great Barrier Reef in the coal age’.

I want to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of this area, including the Ngunnawal people.

This is my fourth address to the National Press Club, and I thank the club and its sponsors, for this invitation.

Now, returning to my first love, music, I’m in town to perform with my colleagues in Midnight Oil on the Australian leg of The Great Circle Tour.

On previous visits I’ve addressed you as ACF President, as a member of parliament, and, later, as a government minister.

Amongst other things I’ve called for environmental tax reform and for the rejuvenation and democratization of the arts. 

These are still important issues. 

At some point, hopefully, they will be realised.

Still I believe this is the most critical address I have given here.

After many years of working both outside and inside the ‘system’, I’m convinced more than ever that we face an existential threat, greater than any other, as humans literally upend the world’s climate and natural ecosystems.

To do nothing in the face of this threat, of which we are well aware, is to acquiesce to a world diminishing in front of us. 

We will deservedly reap the scorn and anger of our children if we fail to act now.

There is a fundamental divide in our response. But it is not between insiders and outsiders. It is between those willing to act and those clinging desperately to an empty, corrupted ideology, unwilling to open their eyes, or their hearts, to what is happening around them.

Regardless of our day jobs and our status in the political firmament it still boils down to one basic proposition. 

Are we part of the problem or part of the solution?

Our world is astonishing in its diversity and beauty. 

But one thing is crystal clear; the oceans, continents, and atmosphere are finite.

Living within a closed biophysical system, the human endeavour to secure shelter and food, to build communities, to create culture, is impressive.

This endeavour has a redoubtable history, replete with triumph and tragedy, a songbook of sorrows and soaring moments, and it too is an unfinished journey.

Yet human’s infinite capacities; for organisation, communication, innovation, desire, acquisition and so much more, have brought us to a precipice.

Our way of life now imperils life itself. 

Just last year a group of scientists, led by Dr Thomas Crowther, argued in the journal ‘Nature’ that our planet is at a tipping point. 

Two years ago the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction went to a book that posits we are on the cusp of a Sixth Extinction that could eliminate our species from this planet. 

The threat is literally existential. To borrow a good line – “the time has come”.

My band mates and I have travelled to 16 countries this year and symptoms of this malaise were apparent everywhere we went. 

From Brazil, where the city of Sao Paulo narrowly avoided catastrophic water shortages following the harshest drought in recent history, to the United States, experiencing more extreme hurricanes and intense bush fires, to Canada, where the rate of warming is around twice the global average and eroding of permafrost and melting sea ice is expected to significantly threaten coastal communities.

However the most undeniable evidence of the precipice on which we stand doesn’t require a visa or a passport. It exists off our own shores – the majestic Great Barrier Reef. 

The future of the Reef is the issue of its time, a symbol of the ultimate choice confronting all of us. The Great Barrier Reef is literally a canary down a coal mine.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. 

It shares that extraordinary status with the likes of Mt Everest, the Grand Canyon and Victoria Falls.

The Reef is the world’s largest living organism, visible from space.

 Its superlative natural beauty and biodiversity has drawn millions of people from around the world to come to Australia to experience this marvel with their own eyes.

The Great Barrier Reef’s natural heritage values are outstanding: The Reef contains more than 1,600 species of fish, more than 130 species of sharks and rays, and 30 species of whales and dolphins.

It includes some 3,000 coral reefs, 900 continental islands, and more than 600 species of hard and soft corals. 

Seagrass meadows and mangrove forests grace its shores, providing habitat for dugongs, turtles and fish.

 A profusion of life, from the world’s largest fish – the whale shark – to thousands of small creatures, such as sea anemones, starfish and colourful sponges, add up to an extraordinary diversity.

It truly is a natural and cultural wonder.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the Reef is an integral part of their identity and culture. 

Today, they have a continuing connection to the Reef, and many Traditional Owners are actively engaged in its management.

The Reef is of huge economic significance too. 

A report by Deloitte Economics for the Great Barrier Reef Foundation found the economic, social and iconic brand value of the Reef to be $56 billion

In 2015-16 the Reef generated $6.4 billion. Nearly 90% – or $5.7 billion – was contributed by tourism, an industry that has continued to grow. In the past decade alone, visitor days and nights have increased by 17% in the Reef region.

But it’s the employment numbers that fill out the big picture.

The Reef enables more than 64,000 jobs in Australia in a wide range of employment opportunities. 

Tourism supports nearly 59,000 full time equivalent jobs. 

Jobs that can’t be done by machines increasingly infiltrating the mining sector. Jobs, which if the Reef is managed well, can be done year in and year out, without damaging the natural asset on which they depend.

A potted history of the challenges to the Reef goes like this.

In 1967 a cane farmer in North Queensland applied to mine coral limestone for use as fertiliser. Four, (that’s right four), intrepid individuals stepped up to object. They won the day, but a bigger threat was quietly forming.

By 1969, the Queensland government under Jo Bjelke-Petersen had approved petroleum exploration licences over most of the Great Barrier Reef.

Years of gruelling campaigning by fledgling environment groups, including the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian Marine and Conservation Society followed. Eventually the Whitlam government laid the groundwork, and the Fraser government in turn passed the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act of 1975, banning oil drilling and mining in the entire Great Barrier Reef Region. It was a world first and an extraordinary achievement.

In 1975 the Reef was inscribed on the World Heritage list for places of global environmental and cultural significance.

 At the time, it seemed the Reef would be safe forever.

Despite the establishment then of The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and the gradual creation of conservation zones, by 2004 commercial and recreational fishing were still allowed in more than 95% of the Marine Park, depleting its rich biodiversity.

In 2004 the world’s largest network of green (no-fishing) zones came into effect following strenuous public campaigning by local and national groups, this time with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) playing a prominent role.

2009 -10 saw the mining boom in full swing and a concerted push by industry for expansion of coal ports, along with dredging and dumping of dredge spoil in the World Heritage area.

The ‘Fight for the Reef’ campaign, again led by conservation organisations, reached out to the Australian people, and the World Heritage Committee, responsible for global oversight of the health of the Reef.

Eventually both the federal and Queensland governments banned dumping of capital dredge spoil from new works, and in late 2015 the Queensland government passed new legislation to restrict port development to four existing ports.

Yet after all this effort, the Great Barrier Reef now faces an even greater threat. 

To quote Sir David Attenborough:

“The Reef is in grave danger.
We need to pause and reflect on this for a moment.
The twin perils brought by climate change – an
increase in the temperature of the ocean and in its acidity – threaten its very

It is a hard thing to accept that the existence of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened. 

 We don’t want to believe it. 

We assume the Reef will last forever. 

As Australians, it’s
important to us, a part of our DNA. 

The vibrant colours and dazzling array of
seascapes and sea life epitomise who we are as a nation. 

We should be proud and
honoured to be its custodian on behalf of the world.

 Imagine, though, in 30 years-time the Reef as we know it, no longer exists.

lost it on our watch, when we weren’t watching closely enough. And its loss is by our
This isn’t a future any Australian wants. 

But it’s the path we’re on now, unless
Australia and the world acts decisively on the global warming emergency we face. 

 Two summers ago, a massive pool of abnormally warm water sat for weeks over the
northern third of the Marine Park, off Cape York Peninsula. 

The usual ocean currents
failed to materialize and there was no cool relief. In the end, two-thirds of the corals
in that region suffered severe heat stress and died. 

 This ecological tragedy occurred in what had been the healthiest section of the Reef,
the part unaffected by agricultural pollution.

 Scientists who had invested their life’s work in conserving the Reef were stunned at
the scale and severity of the event. 

Reports of the dying Reef appeared in the New
York Times, the Washington Post and the BBC.

 An Essential poll taken in
November that year found that more than two-thirds of Australians believed the state
of the Reef was a national emergency. 

 Prime Minister Turnbull’s response was notable for its silence. 

Eventually during the
federal election campaign, the PM and his then Environment Minister Greg Hunt,
announced a $1 billion Reef Fund. 

One tenth of the Clean Energy Finance
Corporation’s $10 billion would now support clean energy and technologies to
reduce farm pollution in the Reef catchment. 

 Whilst it made for a good soundbite, the policy may be worse than doing nothing.

 It turns out it’s much harder for the CEFC to spend a billion dollars on worthwhile
projects that achieve both those goals.

 It was small beer, which subsequently went flat.

Early this year (2017), the Reef experienced another severe bleaching event. 

This time, the central third suffered the worst damage. Many reefs affected were prized tourism sites between Port Douglas and Townsville.

The tourism industry was shocked at the unprecedented back-to-back bleaching. With 64,000 jobs dependent on a healthy Reef, there was serious soul searching over what the future might hold.

Over two summers, 49% of the Reef’s shallow water corals had died. 

The worst affected area stretched along 1,500 kms. 

If ever there was an urgent need for a rapid national response to climate change and the adoption of an ambitious post-2020 renewable energy target, this was it. 

Once again the Turnbull government failed to respond.

Not so the World Heritage Committee. 

This year the Committee expressed its “utmost concern” about the serious impacts from coral bleaching on World Heritage properties. 

The Committee urged all State Parties to undertake “(T)he most ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement” including “… actions to address Climate Change under the Paris Agreement that are fully consistent with their obligations within the World Heritage Convention to protect the OUV [Outstanding Universal Value] of all World Heritage properties”.

Yet now, in the midst of the greatest crisis the Reef has faced, the Turnbull government has rejected ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement. As a result, it is failing to meet its obligations under the World Heritage Convention to protect the Outstanding Universal Value of the Great Barrier Reef, and all World Heritage properties.

To make matters worse, it is unashamedly backing the development of the Carmichael mine, the world’s largest export coal mine in the Galilee Basin of Central Queensland, which will further desecrate the Reef.

At full scale, this mega mine – about 30 kms long comprising six open cut pits and five underground mines – being developed by the Adani Corporation of India, would dig, transport and burn 60 million tonnes of coal every year for 60 years. It would require 1 million cubic metres of seafloor to be dredged in the World Heritage Area for a port expansion and send hundreds more coal ships ploughing through the Marine Park.

The mining and burning of Carmichael coal would emit 4.6 billion tonnes of carbon pollution into the atmosphere over its lifetime. 

This is an astonishing figure.

At a time when the world is moving rapidly to renewable energy, the Adani mine will accelerate climate change impacts around the world. 

How could it be otherwise? 

Worse droughts, floods, bushfires, heatwaves and intense cyclones, and of course, destruction of coral reefs.
The mine would obliterate the ancestral lands, water and rent the culture of Aboriginal people in the region. 

The Wangan and Jagalingou people have repeatedly said no to the mine on their land. 

Despite this, Adani has actively worked to divide the Wangan and Jagalingou to claim they’ve consented to the mine.

The proposed mine would use vast amounts of precious water, liquid gold for local farmers, and essential to maintaining healthy landscapes across the basin.

Adani is licensed to take an unlimited amount of groundwater, estimating they may take up to 9.5 billion litres in one year.

 They can also take another 11.5 billion litres of surface water every year from nearby rivers in flood, depriving downstream users and the environment of those flows.

It’s so preposterous it’s hard to believe. Semi-arid Australia is, in effect, exporting water to India. And to add insult to injury, Adani is getting the water for free.

Adani’s Carmichael mine would be a mammoth producer of pollution, a giant vacuum cleaner sucking up the natural resources – the land and water – of the region.

It is little wonder that a majority of Australians are becoming increasingly alarmed by it’s looming shadow.

 Stopping Adani is emerging as the battle of our times, just as the Franklin Dam and Jabiluka were to an earlier generation awakening to the need to protect the natural environment and the rights of Aboriginal people.

The #Stop Adani campaign, the fourth major fight to save the Great Barrier Reef, is a defining moment that must be won if we are to have any hope of preserving a safe climate and the Reef.

We may be inured to statistics that tell a stark story, but the medical journal Lancet recently published research showing 9 million premature deaths already occurring over 2015-16 due to air, water and land pollution, 15 times the losses of life in war and other forms of violence.

The burning of Adani’s low grade Carmichael coal will only lead to more deaths, making a mockery of Josh Frydenberg’s so called moral case for coal.

Added to this, if Adani’s mine and rail link ever get off the ground, the entire Galilee Basin coal reserve could be opened up for development. 

The Galilee is the largest untapped coal basin in the world, containing 29 billion tonnes of low-grade coal.

That would be a nightmare scenario for the world’s coral reefs and oceans, which absorb 93% of global carbon pollution. 

A quarter of all marine life uses coral reefs for at least part of their life-cycle, so losing coral reefs would have a devastating knock- on effect for an already depleted ocean food web.

Such a gargantuan expansion of coal mining would completely undermine a world trying desperately to reduce greenhouse emissions with actions large and small.

Yet the federal and Queensland governments still remain in thrall to Adani, despite significant reservations concerning the corporation’s business practices, and both the economics and the operation of the proposed mine and existing port.

ABC’s Four Corners program recently raised serious questions about Adani’s corporate structure, its business practices and poor environmental record. On the program former Indian Environment Minister Mr Jairam Ramesh warned Australia:

  “The Adani Group’s track record on environmental management, within the country,
leaves a lot to be desired”.

Local police harassed the ABC journalist making the documentary, one can only assume at the behest of Adani. Adani’s complex company structures and tax arrangements are the subject of considerable scrutiny, and they lie when presenting information to the public. 

One recent example is Adani’s targeted Facebook ad in Melbourne: video-ad-on-facebook-to-fend-off-carmichael-criticism

There is nothing about this project that doesn’t stink to high heaven, and yet amazingly, the government’s own Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility is considering giving a $1 billion concessional loan, i.e. taxpayer money, to Adani for a rail line from the mine to Abbot Point on the Reef coast.

Federal Labor has rightly been critical of the opaque nature of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund and has opposed the loan on the grounds that the project should be able to stand on its own two feet. 

The majority of Australians agree, including the majority of Queenslanders.

 Unfortunately, Premier Palaszczuk has lined up with the Prime Minister, both having flitted over to India to shake hands with the Adani chairman, and would gladly see the tax payer funded loan given to Adani, despite Adani already breaching Queensland’s pollution laws. 

From the Queensland government’s perspective, it’s about being seen to support jobs in North Queensland.

 The government’s first priority should be protecting the future of the existing 64,000 jobs dependent on a healthy Reef, most of them in regional Queensland.

 Putting them at risk for 1,206 full-time jobs in Queensland – and 1,464 across Australia – that the project will apparently create, doesn’t make sense. 

These figures come from one of Adani’s own experts speaking in the Queensland Land Court. 

Outside Court, Adani, and both governments, regularly claim a magical 10,000 jobs. 

Creating jobs that will accelerate global warming and further damage the Reef given what we now know is simply reckless. 

There is one ray of light here, and a clear sign of what the future could hold. The Queensland government has a 50% renewable energy target by 2030. 

The policy is generating an investment boom in regional Queensland in solar and wind energy, with numerous projects expected to create up to 6,700 jobs. 

Good jobs that won’t damage the Reef.
It is now widely accepted in the financial markets that coal is in terminal decline and will not recover.
The range of technologies emerging – solar rooftops, home batteries, electric cars – will give us cleaner cities, better health and save us money. Seen through the prism of investing in renewable energy it’s an exciting time.  

Yet, a cautionary pause is necessary, because by itself the market can’t save us.

The reason is simple, physics. The impacts of climate change come decades after the emissions that cause it. So, if we spend 20 or 30 years letting the market deal with the fossil fuel industry, we, and our children will spend 50 – 100 years suffering the consequences.

The beautiful Barrier Reef will be gone, there would be huge and irreversible losses of biodiversity, food crises would be inevitable and refugees would be on the move in the hundreds of millions. We would most likely see economic impacts worse than the Great Depression

So we cannot and will not allow this to happen.

The future is here and it’s positive: Solar, not coal. Clean jobs not dirty ones. It’s utilising the ever-present power of the sun in a sunburnt land instead of digging up the very stuff that is stoking the flames of a warming planet.

Now that we have reached one minute to midnight, we have to ask. How much more dredging and coastal development? How much more carbon pollution and agricultural runoff? How many more bleaching events and severe cyclones can the Reef sustain before the resilience of the whole system collapses?

As the custodian of the world’s largest living organism, Australia has a global responsibility, and a legal and moral duty, to ensure we are doing everything we can to ensure the survival of the Great Barrier Reef.

In his documentary on the Reef, Sir David Attenborough asked us: “Do we really care so little about the Earth on which we live that we don’t wish to protect one of its greatest wonders from the consequences of our behaviour?”7

Right now, we face a choice: Shall we move beyond the age of coal and secure the future of the Reef? Or do nothing for a few more years and lose our most precious natural asset?

There is no time to lose in making that decision. We have to act as good stewards now.

What does good stewardship mean?

It means we have to drastically reduce our carbon emissions, and do our fair share of global carbon reduction.

Our current target of 26-28% is grossly inadequate and will lead to 3°C to 4°C of warming should other governments commit to a similar levels of ambition. 

This is a temperature rise that would destroy all the world’s coral reefs.

Good stewardship means no more new coal mines because the carbon budget is spent. The UK has just announced it will move to end burning coal by 2025.

It means we have to phase out coal-fired power stations by the early 2030’s and switch to 100% renewable energy. 

It means an orderly phased transition in coal mining areas. It means ending fossil fuel subsidies that support dirty energy. And it means supporting a national renewable energy target to turbo charge the renewable energy boom.

Globally, it means we must be world leaders – not laggards – engaging in effective and ambitious climate diplomacy to encourage other carbon polluting nations to step up to safeguard our future.
It means giving the Reef a fighting chance to get through this period of higher sea surface temperatures by tackling local threats.

Tree clearing, now back at astronomical levels of 400,000 hectares a year courtesy of the former Newman government’s decision to relax land clearing laws in Queensland, must end.

 Regulations on the amount of sediment, nutrients and pesticides that can flow into the Reef must be passed.

Investment in the Reef must dramatically increase to the order of $10 billion over a decade, to solve legacy pollution from past practices and change current ones, and here effective compliance is critical.
Good stewardship means a strong Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority that drives effective policy, makes the right decisions on uses, and ensures compliance, again with adequate funding.
Above all good stewardship is what the Australian public expects of our political leaders. But it is nowhere to be seen under the Turnbull government.
In 2007 the Federal Labor government began that task, with a $200 million additional investment in Reef Rescue; increasing research and development, assisting farmers reduce nutrient loads, and developing the first annual report card on Reef health. 

This was done with the expectation of a price on carbon coming into force. I wish we had the opportunity to do more.
Crucially today’s deficit of leadership in relation to the environment isn’t confined to lack of action on climate change. 

This government is also overseeing the decimation of the expanded national marine reserve system that Labor introduced, on the back of no fishing zones established by the Howard government.
The jewel in the crown of this new estate was the Coral Sea, the cradle of the Great Barrier Reef. 

This vast sea of nearly one million square kilometres was one of the last places on Earth where massive tuna, sharks and marlin could roam with relatively low risk of being caught.
I confess to a personal stake in this issue having declared the interim Coral Sea protection zone when environment minister. Subsequently my colleague Tony Burke advanced a vast reserve over the Coral Sea, protecting half from all extraction. At the time it would have been the second largest marine national park on the planet.

Agreement to establish many other smaller marine national parks around the continent followed.
As soon as it was elected, the Abbott government pulled the network and established a review. After years of blather and red tape, the Turnbull government finally released the new maps a few months ago and they are a disgrace.
The Abbott government’s changes were bad, but the Turnbull government’s are far worse. The proposed changes would be the largest removal of areas from protection ever by any government.
Malcolm Turnbull is trashing the Liberals’ marine park legacy and caving in yet again to a minority in his party that better approximate the punk band Suicidal Tendencies. Our seriously stressed ocean environments deserve better, much better.
Professor Terry Hughes, the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies, has urged us not to “
Soon it will be too late for coral reefs, but it isn’t now. We need to ensure this extraordinary exemplar of the Earth’s beauty and biodiversity is saved forever – on our watch.
We need to seize this moment in time because it won’t come again.
If this means putting ourselves on the front line to stop the mine going ahead so be it. If it means exercising our democratic freedoms, engaging in peaceful civil disobedience, even going to gaol, that is a step I, and I expect many others are willing to take.
Let it be clear. We are placing the protection of farming communities, precious inland water resources, tens of thousands of jobs, the Great Barrier Reef itself, the rights and interests of Aboriginal people, and the health and well being of the international community, ahead of the interests of a very large corporation.
Many young Australians, and numerous local, regional and national conservation and climate action groups are already working hard to stop Adani and save the Reef. This is true 21st century patriotism, acting on the local scale for the local and global good. They need support from you in the media, political parties, the corporate sector, from communities and individuals across the nation.
The Labor party must decide which side of this debate it is on, and provide a clear alternative to the mad, anti-science climate culture wars that permeate the conservative parties at the present time.

Should the NAIF decide to waste a billion dollars preferencing Adani, Labor should give notice that it will tear up the decision. We need stronger laws introduced to protect the environment, including placing a greenhouse trigger in the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation (EPBC) act.

I know Australia’s artists and musicians, writers and actors, filmmakers and digital designers will rally. Midnight Oil will play and support those who express their opposition to this mine, as we’ve done in the past. 

We won’t be alone.

Whether we are outsiders or insiders, the existential threat facing our planet and the

Great Barrier Reef affects us all. We breathe the same air. We are fed from the same land.

The only question is will we decide to live sustainably and protect our future or will we continue to live unsustainably until the future no longer exists for any of us.

If the past is any guide it will take action from both non-government and government actors to make sure that the right choice is made.

It is simply untenable in 2017 to sit and watch one of the greatest natural wonders in the world be destroyed before our eyes, simply because we lacked the imagination and the will to move beyond coal.

For those of you on the inside “It’s time”. For the rest of us “The time has come”.

Press link for more: Peter Garrett.Com

Adani and the Galilee Basin by Susan Reid #StopAdani 

‘Adani and the Galilee Basin’ by Susan ReidSusan Reid

No amount of modelling or scientific assessment can foresee the full extent of the damage that will eventuate if the Adani Group’s Carmichael Coal Mine goes ahead.

 It would be the largest coal mine ever built in Australia and amongst the biggest in the world, extended over a thirty-kilometre-long area and comprising six open cut pits and five underground mines. 

An estimated 2.3 billion tonnes of coal would be removed over the sixty years of its operation. 

The Galilee Basin wouldn’t know what had hit it.

Hinterlands are the servants of contemporary coal mining. 

They are a physical variation of the corporate veil, disguising the way in which mining profits are actually gouged. 

Behind the veil, the maw of corporate coal eats at the very meaning of worth. 

This is fossil fuel capitalism, bleakly accounting through a one-way ledger. 

The true meaning of its losses should shake us to our core. 

Food bowls, lively natural places, aquifers, and traditional lands are victims of mining hinterlands. 

Big coal corporations excavate craters, strip topsoil from areas the size of small townships, blast open the earth’s crust, and destroy ecological communities and waterways in their paths. 

It is a scorched earth deployment flattening our worlds. 

All the more insensible given our renewable future. 

Imagine what a $1 billion investment in renewable technologies and storage could achieve.

Investments in best-practice environmental care are unmatched by the amounts spent on best-practice extraction machinery and technologies. 

Rehabilitation bonds are rarely sufficient to cover environmental damages. 

When they walk away, mining corporations leave legacies of poltergeist mines, dystopic cavities, and ecological wounds across Australia. 

Gestures made to rehabilitate some of the mines insert a different, thinner type of nature; a stand-in for what was extinguished.
Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has described the Galilee Basin as ‘a dry, dusty part of Queensland’, just a ‘dust bowl’. 

Disparaging nature as a wasteland not worth worrying about is a common trope used by politicians and the mining corporations they serve: the mine won’t make much of a difference because the nature here is not much chop. 

It is difficult to visit the remote Galilee Basin to witness the complex, cultural, and relational ecologies at stake, which might lead some people to accept Frydenberg’s misrepresentation.

Waterlilies GreenpeaceWaterlillies at the natural springs on Doongmabulla Cattle Station in 2014 (photograph by Tom Jefferson / Greenpeace)
I was lucky enough to visit the Galilee Basin recently and can report that, while it is sometimes dusty, it is not a ‘dust bowl’. 

The place murmurs with a stubborn, enduring beauty: an ancient land of lagoons and Cabbage Palms, rich ochre pits, spooky bustards, wallabies, and emus. 

Some of the open scrub patches and tracks are cattle-worn; bull dust soon powders vehicle bonnets, windscreens, and boots; tyres slide around some bends. 

River gums have colossal roots, and their dry calloused arms snake from the top of the banks. Smudges of blue-green and dusty leaves dangle from long wiry branches. 

Over several hours driving from the nearest town of Clermont, passing bottle trees and roadkill, through stock gates and over river crossings, we arrive in a woodland area with lagoons hidden in the shade of dense thickets. 

Amongst the sparse tea trees and eucalypts stands a tall Waxy Cabbage Palm, its ruffled head of bluish-green fan-leaves poke the sky. 

It is quite special to see them here, because their seeds disperse in times of abundant water flows, and many of the smaller stream banks are as dry as old bones. 

Here, though, a hidden spring provides a good soak into which the Cabbage Palms can take hold. 

Not far from the palms, a spring gurgles out between rocks nestled deep in mud, then pours into a small stream fringed by delicate bright green grasses and moss.

 At a nearby bog, thick scales of dried mud give way under foot, hinting at a deep soak beneath. 

Springs and lagoons are life generative and critical in arid, drought-prone regions. Life cycles, breeding seasons, mobility, spawning, and colonising abilities are all affected by the flow of fresh water.
The Galilee Basin is a place imbricated with cultural and ecological relations, etched into the history and memories of Wangan and Jagalingou people. 

Family members are ineluctably linked to the living ecologies, waters, and geologies of their ancestral lands.

 Wangan people are the bottle tree people, and Jagalingou people are the eel people; their totems are manifested through the lively relations of this place. 

For the Wangan these totems are possums, bees, and sand goannas; and for the Jagalingou: carpet snakes, scrub turkeys, and echidnas. 

The Waxy Cabbage Palm and melaleuca are tree totems and they only come to life in water. 

Water connects people to people, people to place, trees to earth, and rivers to sea to rains. Long-finned Eels bring memory of the ocean with them as they swim up rivers, into streams and creeks to arrive in remote, central Queensland; then return again to the sea. 

These are beautiful, generative stories and cultural connections unique to Australia, unique to this particular part of the world.

Carmichael’s water usage would irreversibly impact, or completely dry up, the natural Mellaluka Springs and the complex of over sixty fresh water springs that make up the Doongmabulla Springs, one of the most sacred places for Wangan and Jagalingou people.
Their water comes from the Great Artesian Basin, which sits beneath the Galilee Basin’s coal deposits. This ancient, deep reservoir holds water in sandstone layers and its covering of marine sedimentary rock traps and pressurises water in the aquifer. As the water makes its way through the pores and tiny hollows in the sandstone, it squeezes between grains and pushes up through splits in the rocks to flow into springs and streams.
Unfathomably, the Queensland government granted Adani unlimited water licences. Even if they use more than their application for 12,000 megalitres of water per year, they will not have to apply for a new licence. As well as draining springs and lagoons, and severely impacting water pressure, Adani’s water usage would be yet another radical intervention by a corporation on Queensland’s share of the Great Artesian Basin aquifers. This includes the more than 40,000 coal seam gas wells expected to puncture the state over the next forty years.

Coal seams Betts Creek Beds QLD ABR OnlineCoal seams of the Betts Creek Beds of Porcupine Gorge in the Galilee Basin, Queensland(Wikimedia Commons)
Other serious environmental concerns about the Carmichael mine include the staggering material volume of carbon, both in terms of disinterred coal and the associated CO2 emissions.

 Adani have approval to mine up to sixty million tonnes per year of thermal coal, most of it destined for India. 

If burned, this would potentially release up to 120 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Adani proposes to transport the coal to the Abbot Point export terminal, south of Townsville, via a purpose built North Galilee Basin Rail. 

Trains four kilometres long would each haul 240 wagons carrying 25,000 tonnes of coal. 

Adani’s coal trains provide a good way to visualise the weight of CO2 that would be emitted annually, if this coal were burned.

 Imagine the weight of a 9,600 kilometre train hauling 576,000 loaded wagons skyward into our already thickening blanket of atmospheric pollution. 

It would be equivalent to Australia’s planned greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction efforts between 2020 and 2030. 

Additionally, if the Galilee Basin ‘coal province’ were opened up to the nine mines already in line, the combined production capacity would be over 300 million tonnes per year.
Politicians such as Matt Canavan (when still federal resource minister) argue that India needs the coal; that GHG emissions would happen anyway, and if Australia doesn’t supply the coal someone else will. 

However, exporting emissions makes little sense – our atmosphere disregards national borders. Beyond carbon emissions, those fighting Adani’s mine have a range of serious concerns: Wangan and Jagalingou ancestral lands would be destroyed, as would ecological habitats, waterways, and aquifers, and the already vulnerable Great Barrier Reef. 

There is also concern about Adani’s record of environmental negligence and global compliance breaches. Politicians and miners disparage the diverse cohort of opponents, including educators, scientists, conservationists, farmers, students, tourism operators, lawyers, doctors and economists, as ‘élitist wankers’ (George Christensen), ‘online inner-city activists’ and ‘professional protesters’ (Matt Canavan), ‘green activists’ (Josh Frydenberg); and ‘professional activists’ (Adani).

Coral not coal protest at India Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Visit to Australia 25563929593 ABR Online’Coral Not Coal’ protest during Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s visit to Australia (photograph by John Englart via Wikimedia Commons)
It is time to call out the state sanctioned environmental violences that are contemporary coal mining. 

With one permissive mining licence and cavernous pit after another, we void our world of ecological diversity and complexity. 

When coal mining corporations flatten lively worlds, it seems odd to highlight the risks of losing individual endangered species such as the Southern Black-Throated Finch, the Ornamental Snake or the Yakka Skink, or the many migratory birds. 

Which of them, which places, and how much more are we willing to lose?

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