Month: February 2018

Fracking is a “loaded gun pointed straight at the head of every man, woman & child alive” #auspol

Emissions From Fracking 5 Times Higher Than Reported

Steve Hanley

Natural gas is not a “bridge fuel to the future.”

It is a death sentence for humanity.

Think that is too strong?

Think again.

A new study by the Environmental Defense Fund finds that methane escaping from fracking operations in Pennsylvania “causes the same near term climate pollution as 11 coal fired power plants” and is “five times higher than what oil and gas companies report” to the state.

A previous assessment by EDF last November found methane emissions escaping from oil and gas wells in New Mexico are “equivalent to the climate impact of approximately 12 coal fired power plants.”

In its executive summary of the study, the EDF says, “The analysis — based on peer-reviewed research and emissions data collected at Pennsylvania well sites — examines both the total amount of methane and volatile organic compounds emitted from oil and gas sites.

These pollutants increase global warming and are hazardous to human health.” Several interactive maps and more information about the data collection procedures and analysis used by EDF are available on its website.

Methane is the primary component of what is popularly known as “natural gas.”

It is a powerful greenhouse gas which traps 86 times as much heat as carbon dioxide over a 20 year period, according to Think Progress.

The amount of methane in the earth’s atmosphere has increased dramatically since 2006.

A recent NASA review determined that the majority of that increase is attributable to oil and gas extraction.

Fracking has been around a long time, but did not become popular until it was combined with a relatively new technique known as horizontal drilling in the 1990s.

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of natural gas wells in the United States doubled, thanks in large part to fracking and horizontal drilling, according to Live Science.

Is it a coincidence that a dramatic increase in atmospheric methane occurred contemporaneously with a sharp rise in fracking? You decide.

Fracking has become a matter of national pride for the United States.

For the first time, it is now one of the largest producers of oil and gas in the world.

OPEC never imagined back in the 1970s that America would one day out-produce its member states.

Russia, another major supplier of oil and gas, is also none too pleased about the US selling more fossil fuels than it does.

America’s new role as a major supplier could create geo-political tensions with global implications.

Fights over access to the Arctic as sea ice melts now seem inevitable.

Be careful what you wish for, America.

Giving Donald Trump another reason to beat his breast and crow about what a great country America is, or was, or might be is no reason to celebrate if it means poisoning the entire planet.

Fracking is nothing less than a loaded gun pointed straight at the head of every man, woman, and child alive.

Not only does it put as many pollutants into the air as coal fired generating plants, it impedes the progress of renewable energy sources under the guise of being a “bridge fuel to the future.”

According to a 2014 study, “increased natural gas use for electricity will not substantially reduce US greenhouse gas emissions and, by delaying deployment of renewable energy technologies, may actually exacerbate the climate change problem in the long term.”

To be clear, a world that relies on fracking has no future.

The Trump administration is moving aggressively to roll back Obama-era regulations that require a dramatic decrease in methane emissions.

As usual, the refrain from Scott Pruitt and the rest of the anti-environment cabal that swept into power on the coattails of Donald Trump is that the rules are too burdensome on industry and will cost too much money.

The obverse of that argument is that the health of American citizens and the ability of the environment to sustain human life have a lesser value than the profits of fossil fuel companies. Why anyone would vote for a jabbering baboon who promotes such ideas is a mystery that deserves further study.

Tags: edf, Environmental Defense Fund, EPA, Fracking, horizontal drilling, Methane

About the Author

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.

Press link for more: Clean Technical

History of #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

History of climate change

Climate change has become a huge threat for the world.

The history of climate change reveals that the issue is not a recent phenomenon but it dates back to seventies.

Climate change is associated with the increasing number of population globally.

Humans are the main cause behind growing risk of climate change.

The change in weather patterns is what basically ‘climate change’ is.

In 1712, Thomas Newcomen invented first widely used steam engine, which set the way for the Industrial Revolution.

In 1800, world population swelled to one billion.

French physicist Joseph Fourier described the Earth’s natural ‘greenhouse effect’ in 1824, he wrote: ‘The temperature of the Earth can be augmented by the interposition of the atmosphere, because heat in the state of light finds less resistance in penetrating the air, than in re-passing into the air when converted into non-luminous heat.’

In the year 1861, Irish physicist John Tyndall showed that water vapour and certain other gases produce the greenhouse effect.

He concluded that: ‘This aqueous vapour is a blanket more necessary to the vegetable life of England than clothing is to man’.

He was honoured for founding UK’s first prominent his climate research organisation, the Tyndall Centre, named after him.

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In 1886, Karl Benz unveiled the Motorwagen, also assumed as the first true automobile.

Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius, in 1896, concluded that industrial-age coal burning will enhance the natural greenhouse effect.

He suggested this might be beneficial for future generations.

His conclusions on the likely size of the ‘man-made greenhouse’ are in the same ballpark, a few degrees Celsius for a doubling of CO2 — as modern-day climate models.

The one third century of climate change saw the effect of steam engine to the man-made greenhouse.

In 1900, another Swede, Knut Angstrom, discovered that at the tiny concentrations found in the atmosphere, CO2 strongly absorbs parts of the infrared spectrum.

Although he does not realise the significance, Angstrom has shown that a trace gas can produce greenhouse warming.

In 1927, carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning and industry reached one billion tonnes per year. And in 1930, human population reached two billion.

The year 1938 saw the usage of records from 147 weather stations around the world. British engineer Guy Callendar showed that temperatures had risen over the previous century.

He also showed that CO2 concentrations had increased over the same period, and suggested this caused the warming.

As Ban Ki-Moon said, we have only one planet that is friendly to life.

Therefore, climate change must be curbed for the sake of future generations

It was US scientist Wallace Broecker who first coined the term ‘global warming’ and got it publicized.

One can assume that the term global warming was first used in 1975. And 1987, human population reached five billion.

In 1987, Montreal Protocol was agreed.

It restricted chemicals that damage the ozone layer.

Although not established with climate change in mind, it has had a greater impact on greenhouse gas emissions than the Kyoto Protocol. 1988 — Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) formed to accumulate and assess evidence on climate change.

UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, possessor of a chemistry degree, warned in a speech to the UN in 1989 that: ‘We are seeing a vast increase in the amount of carbon dioxide reaching the atmosphere… The result is that change in future is likely to be more fundamental and more widespread than anything we have known hitherto.’ She called for a global treaty on climate change.

Whereas in 1989, carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning and industry reached six billion tonnes per year.

In 1990, IPCC produced First Assessment Report.

Which concluded that temperatures have risen by 0.3-0.6C over the last century, which humanity’s emissions are adding to the atmosphere’s natural complement of greenhouse gases, and the addition would be expected to result in warming.

In 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, governments of different countries came close to agree the United Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Whom key objective is ‘stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’. Developed countries agree to return their emissions to 1990 levels. And in the year 1995, IPCC Second Assessment Report concluded that the balance of evidence suggests ‘a discernible human influence’ on the Earth’s climate.

This has been called the first definitive statement that humans are responsible for climate change. And this second report showed that humans are the main responsible entities which get climate change occurred. In 1999, human population reached six billion.

In 2001, President George W Bush removed the US from the Kyoto process.

In 2001, the IPCC Third Assessment Report found ‘new and stronger evidence’ that humanity’s emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause of the warming seen in the second half of the 20th Century.

In 2005, The Kyoto Protocol become international law for those countries still inside it.

In the same year 2005, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair selected climate change as a priority for his terms as chair of the G8 and president of the EU. And in 2006, The Stern Review concluded that climate change could damage global GDP by up to 20 percent if left unchecked, but curbing it would cost about one percent of global GDP.

However, carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning and industry reached eight billion tonnes per year in 2006.

In the 2007, the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report concluded that it is more than 90% likely that humanity’s emissions of greenhouse gases are responsible for modern-day climate change.

In 2007, the IPCC and former US vice-president Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize ‘for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change’.

About 2007, at the UN negotiations in Bali, governments agreed the two-year ‘Bali roadmap’ aimed at hammering out a new global treaty by the end of 2009. And in 2008, half a century after beginning observations at Mauna Loa, the Keeling project showed that CO2 concentrations have risen from 315 parts per million (ppm) in 1958 to 380ppm in 2008.

In 2008, two months before taking office, incoming US president Barack Obama pledged to ‘engage vigorously’ with the rest of the world on climate change.

In the year 2009, China overtook the US as the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, although the US remained well ahead on a per-capita basis. And in 2009, computer hackers downloaded the huge tranche of emails from a server at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and released some on the internet, leading to the ‘Climate Gate’ affair. In 2009, 192 governments convened for the UN climate summit in Copenhagen with expectations of a new global agreement, but they left only with a controversial political declaration, the Copenhagen Accord. And in 2010, the developed countries began contributing to a $30bn, three-year deal on ‘Fast Start Finance’ to help them ‘green’ their economies and adapt to climate impacts. 2010 — A series of reviews into ‘Climate Gate’ and the IPCC ask for more openness, but clear scientists of malpractice. In 2010, the UN summit in Mexico did not collapse, as had been feared, but ended with agreements on a number of issues.

In 2011, a new analysis of the Earth’s temperature record by scientists concerned over the ‘Climate Gate’ allegations proved the planet’s land surface really had warmed over the last century. And in 2011, human population reached seven billion. In the same this year 2011, data showed concentrations of greenhouse gases are rising faster than in previous years.

In 2013, the Mauna Loa Observatory on Hawaii reported that the daily mean concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since measurements began in 1958. And in 2013, the first part of the IPCC’s fifth assessment report says scientists are 95 percent certain that humans are the ‘dominant cause’ of global warming since the 1950s.

As Ban Ki-Moon said, we have only one planet that is friendly to life.

So we need to make it greener not for today but for the upcoming generations.

We all have to realise that our today’s actions should not leave a negative impact on environment that will impact our coming generations.

The writer is a researcher, freelance contributor and MEAL officer in a NGO at Hyderabad, Sindh. E-mail: furqanhyders@gmail.com. Tweeter @furqanppolicy

Published in Daily Times, February 25th 2018.

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We Have a Right to a Healthy Environment. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights Recognizes a Right to a Healthy Environment in Recent Advisory Opinion

By Jose Felix Pinto-Bazurco*

Since its founding in 1979, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (the Court) has issued 24 advisory opinions.

Although it has previously recognized the existence of a relationship between environmental protection and the enjoyment of other human rights, it has done so only in relation to the territorial rights of indigenous and tribal peoples.

A new opinion of the Court, made by a request from Colombia, is the first to recognize an autonomous right to a healthy environment and nations’ extraterritorial responsibility for environmental damages under the American Convention on Human Rights (the Convention).

This new opinion allows for the possibility that a person affected by environmental damage generated in another country, including damage caused by climate change, could present a case before the Court as long as the respondent State has not complied with the obligations presented by the Court.

The Considerations of the Court

The Court’s opinion contains two interesting aspects.

First, it recognizes that the right to a healthy environment is an autonomous right, which must be protected.

Second, it recognizes that States are responsible for the environmental damage they cause, whether that damage occurs beyond its borders or within them.

The Court’s recognition that the right to a healthy environment is an autonomous right makes enforcement or protection of that right justiciable in cases before the Inter-American Human Rights System under Article 26 of the Convention.

Two of the seven judges who voted in favor of the decision declined to join this finding, noting that to find a right to a healthy environment justiciable would be inconsistent with the principle that no State can be taken to an international tribunal without their consent.

Regarding extraterritorial responsibility, the Court concluded that States must take measures to prevent significant damage to the environment, inside or outside their territory.

The Court noted specific obligations to carry out environmental impact studies, cooperate with potentially affected States, and guarantee access to information.

With regard to the obligation to prevent environmental damages, the Court specifies that this obligation is not contingent on the level of development of a State.

That is, the obligation of prevention applies equally to developed States as to developing States.

However, the Court notes that the particular factual and legal circumstances of a case determine whether a State’s activities fall within the jurisdiction of the Court.

Effects of the Advisory Opinion

The advisory function of the Court is a service available to all members of the Inter-American human rights system and is intended to facilitate fulfillment of international commitments on human rights.

The opinions of the Court are binding upon all States that have accepted the jurisdiction of the Court.

The Court specified that the content of its opinion does not apply exclusively to the States involved, a determination which enables other States or citizens of any country that has recognized the jurisdiction of the Court to file claims regarding environmental harms that impact their human rights.

In such a case, the Court would need to evaluate whether the respondent State has complied with three types of obligations:

1 Obligations to Prevent Environmental Damages: States have a number of responsibilities related to preventing environmental obligations.

They must:

1) issue regulations to prevent damages,

2) establish contingency plans to minimize the possibility of major environmental accidents,

3) mitigate significant damage that has already occurred, and

4) carry out environmental impact studies under the conditions indicated by the Court.

The Court requires that an environmental impact study is conducted by an independent entity and occurs prior to the activity being evaluated.

Each environmental impact statement must address cumulative impacts, allow the participation of interested persons, and respect the traditions and culture of indigenous peoples.

2 Obligations to Cooperate: The Court must evaluate whether the respondent State has:

1) cooperated in good faith with States and individuals potentially affected by environmental damage,

2) notified potentially affected States that a planned activity under their jurisdiction could generate a risk of significant transboundary damages and of environmental emergencies, and

3) consulted and negotiated in good faith with States potentially affected by significant transboundary harm.

3 Obligations to Provide Information, Justice, and Public Participation: Finally, the Court must evaluate whether the respondent State has provided:

1) access to information related to possible effects on the environment,

2) the opportunity for citizens to publicly participate in making decisions and policies that may affect the environment, and

3) access to justice through national courts in regard to their environmental obligations.

On this last obligation, the Court critically established that States have an obligation to guarantee access to justice for persons potentially affected by transboundary damages originating in their territory without discrimination based on nationality, residence, or the location of the environmental damage.

A New Potential Pathway for Climate Lawsuits

The advisory opinion may also open the door for future suits over climate-related harms.

In the same way that this advisory opinion provides a basis for subjects affected by environmental damage to present a case before the Court, a party negatively affected by climate change could also use it to support a case before the Court.

The opinion’s recognition of States’ responsibilities for harms beyond their borders lends further viability to such a strategy.

Another element of the opinion lending support for a climate suit is the Court’s emphasis that States must act in accordance with the precautionary principle when there are plausible indicators that an activity could cause serious and irreversible damage to the environment, even when there is scientific uncertainty.

The advisory opinion may present an additional avenue for the growing number of climate-related lawsuits worldwide—see the Sabin Center’s Climate Change Litigation Databases for examples.

The majority of claims made against governments deal with the review of environmental assessments and the granting of permits, usually for infrastructure projects.

However, a surge of recent lawsuits pertain to the intersection of climate change and the right to a healthy environment.

The consequences of climate change affect the effective enjoyment of human rights, a reality that the Court recognized with this advisory opinion.

Consequently, the Court can now potentially accept cases related to climate change, provided that the filing party has exhausted internal remedies within a State and demonstrated that the State has failed to meet the obligations indicated above.

*Jose Felix Pinto-Bazurco joined the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law in January 2018 as a David Sive Visiting Scholar. His research focuses on the legal impacts of implementing the Paris Agreement in Latin American countries. He specializes in international environmental law and has experience in public administration, the private sector, and research. He has followed the international climate change process as a delegate, a researcher, and a member of the UNFCCC Secretariat.

Press link for more: Columbia Law

Revolution needed! #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Revolution needed in climate change fight

The world will need sweeping changes over the next 20 years ranging from energy use to food production to achieve climate goals set by almost 200 nations, the new heads of a top environmental think-tank say.

Both said “revolutions” were needed to tackle climate change, such as capturing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that burn fossil fuels or by reforming agriculture, where meat production and fertilisers are big sources of greenhouse gases.

Developed nations should set an example, such as Germany where Chancellor Angela Merkel is under pressure to end the use of coal in power generation.

“When Germany is not in a position to phase out coal can we expect that Poland or Indonesia or Vietnam or Turkey … can phase out coal?”

Ottmar Edenhofer, new co-director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told Reuters.

Edenhofer, formerly the institute’s chief economist, and new co-director Johan Rockstrom, a Swedish scientist, said governments were far from achieving the core goal in the 2015 Paris Agreement of limiting a rise in global average temperatures to “well below” two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.

“We have just literally 20 years to either succeed or fail” in the goals of getting the planet on a more sustainable path, Rockstrom said in a joint telephone interview.

The University of Pennsylvania rated the Potsdam Institute as the world’s top environment policy think-tank this month.

The institute plans to exploit more data to try to grasp under-appreciated long-term harm from natural disasters linked to climate change such as floods, droughts or storms.

Poor families in developing nations often focus, for instance, on rebuilding their homes after a natural disaster but sometimes stopped sending their children to school even after reconstruction, Edenhofer said.

Rockstrom and Edenhofer were named by the institute on Friday to succeed Hans Joachim Schellnhuber in October.

Press link for more: SBS.COM.AU

To stop climate change, we need to open borders #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

To stop climate change, we need to open borders

By tearing down the walls that separate the causes and consequences of climate change we can force constructive action.

By Dr Jason Hickel

Dr Jason Hickel is an academic at the University of London and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

His most recent book is “The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions,” published by Penguin in May 2017.

@jasonhickel

Global warming claims some 400,000 lives each year worldwide – many due to extreme weather events but most due to climate change-induced hunger and disease [Kieran Doherty/Reuters]

Europe is facing its biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

What is new this time around is that many of the displaced are being driven from their homes by the destructive effects of climate change. And this is just the beginning.

As sea levels rise, swallowing island nations and swamping large parts of Bangladesh, and as droughts trigger  food shortages across much of the global South, the refugee crisis will only worsen. And we can expect that Europe’s right-wing parties will respond by doubling down on their already-potent anti-immigrant rhetoric with a push to seal off the borders.

Pundits on the left denounce this as a craven, mean-spirited stance towards those who are suffering the most from our collective climate crisis. And they’re right: opening the borders to climate refugees is a matter of basic justice.

We need to devise policies to ensure that all have the right to access safe and habitable parts of the planet we share.

But there is something more to be said here.

An open border policy may also be the key to stopping climate change itself.

Scientists tell us that on our present trajectory we have only a 5 percent chance of keeping global warming below the danger threshold of 2 degrees, as our addiction to endlessly expanding economic growth and consumption is swiftly wiping out the gains we’re making through technology and renewable energy.

As a recent op-ed in the New York Times put it, “The climate crisis? It’s capitalism, stupid.”

We need a new economic system – one that does not require this mad rush up an exponential curve – but our leaders are unwilling to take that step.

There is a yawning gap between the threat posed by climate breakdown and how little we are doing to address it.

This is a puzzle.

Why are we so willing to gamble thus with the fate of human civilization, with 95 percent certainty of catastrophe?

Is it that we’re in denial?

Are we just repressing a reality that’s too traumatic to confront?

Yes, probably. But it’s also something much simpler: a geography problem.

The great irony of global warming is that its causes and consequences are inversely distributed.

The rich nations of the global North are responsible for 70 percent of historical CO2 emissions, but they bear only about 18 percent of the total costs.

It’s the South that takes the hit: according to the Climate Vulnerability Monitor, the global South loses nearly $600bn each year due to drought, floods, landslides, storms and wildfires. As climate change worsens, their losses will reach a staggering $1 trillion per year by 2030.

And then there’s the human toll.

Global warming claims some 400,000 lives each year worldwide – many due to extreme weather events but most due to climate change-induced hunger and disease (pdf).

Only 2 percent of these deaths occur in the North.

The South suffers the rest, and the vast majority of climate mortality occurs in the countries with the lowest carbon emissions in the world.

Yes, Britain has its floods, southern Europe its droughts, and the United States its hurricanes. But as devastating as these are for ordinary people’s lives, those governments have so far absorbed the costs and kept chugging along with the status quo – more growth, more consumption, more emissions, more capitalism.

They are not acting on climate change because they have no real reason to care.

The consequences of their industrial over-consumption are harming lands far beyond their borders.

It’s a textbook case of moral hazard: they are willing to take the risk because someone else bears the cost. Of course, eventually, this will change. They will get serious when their coastal cities flood and their food imports dry up – but by then it will be too late.

The solution is simple, at least conceptually: open the borders.

By tearing down the walls that separate the causes and consequences of climate change we can force a more honest reckoning with reality.

Once the victims of climate change have the right to seek refuge in Europe and North America, it will obliterate the moral hazard of global warming.

As rich nations finally start to feel the heat, so to speak, you can bet they’ll act fast, doing everything in their power to ensure that people’s home regions remain livable.

Even if it means pushing for a new, more ecological, economic model.

This might seem unrealistic at a time of rising anti-immigrant sentiment. But either we do it now, finding orderly ways to integrate climate refugees and allowing ourselves to be spurred to action by the suffering we’re forced to confront, or down the road, we’re going to face a refugee crisis more severe, violent and destabilising than anything we can imagine.

We have a choice.

Press link for more: Aljazerra.com

Losing Biodiversity Could Lead to “Extinction Cascades” #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Losing Biodiversity Could Lead to “Extinction Cascades”

Domino Effect

Human expansion, destruction of natural habitats, pollution, and climate change have all led to biodiversity levels that are considered below the “safe” threshold for global ecosystems. And the consequences of biodiversity loss aren’t just about the extinction of certain charismatic species.

A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that less biodiversity in an area increases the risk of a domino effect of extinctions, where one species’ disappearance can cause other species to follow suit.

The research, conducted by ecologists at the University of Exeter, shows that losing a species in an area is dangerous in that it makes the surrounding ecological community simpler, and therefore less robust to change.

It makes sense: the fewer species that exist in an area, the fewer that are available to “fill the gap” left by other extinctions. Other species in the ecosystem will have fewer alternatives to turn to. For example, if there are fewer insects left overall across a region, the bats and amphibians that eat them will feel the loss of just one species much more severely.

“Interactions between species are important for ecosystem stability,” said Dirk Sanders, lead author and professor in Exeter’s Center for Ecology and Conservation, in a news release. “And because species are interconnected through multiple interactions, an impact on one species can affect others as well.”

The Exeter team investigated this idea by removing a species of wasp from test ecosystems. In many of these systems, the wasp’s disappearance caused indirect extinctions of other species at the same level of the food web. In simple communities, the effect was even stronger. Sanders emphasized the biodiversity loss could cause “run-away extinction cascades.”

This research sounds yet another dire warning bell at a time of biodiversity crisis. Even if you don’t care for poster-child species like polar bears, the crisis could also have ramifications for species that everyone cares about, like the crops that are the foundation of our global food supply. Studies that show how broadly single extinctions reverberate across ecosystems might buoy further efforts to protect global biodiversity.

Press link for more: Futurism.com

#STOPADANI ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT TICKING #SDG BOXES IN AUSTRALIA #auspol #qldpol

STOP ADANI: HOW A GRASSROOTS ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT IS TICKING SDG BOXES IN AUSTRALIA

ByMarta Zajac

Marta Zając is a Polish Public Relations & Advertising graduate from the University of Westminster in London, UK. She spent 2017 in Southeast Asia, volunteering as an English teacher and interning as a Marketing & Communications Intern at ReliefWeb, a humanitarian website run by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Bangkok, Thailand. She is currently a Campaigns Volunteer with the Australian Conservation Foundation, researching transitions from coal to sustainable energy sources in Australia.

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The Stop Adani movement has one goal, as per its simple and snappy name: to stop the Adani Group, an Indian energy mogul, from building Australia’s biggest coal mine.

The Carmichael project in Central Queensland, which would be one of the world’s biggest coal mines, was proposed by the Adani Group in 2010. As the Queensland Government considered it an economic asset, the project was granted initial approval in 2014, followed by official approval in 2016. Despite mainstream political support, the growing number of controversies linked to the project has resulted in emerging opposition. Simultaneously, a community grassroots movement formed, soon becoming one of the largest environmental movements in Australia’s history.

THE BACKGROUND

To understand the dispute between the Adani Group and the Australian public, it is worth delving into the Australian energy landscape.

Over 80 percent of Australia’s electricity is sourced from fossil fuels, making the sparsely-populated country one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters per capita. Australia is also the world’s biggest coal exporter, with Asia and its rapidly rising energy consumption the country’s primary customer. Profits from coal exports contribute to Australia’s economy, helping it become the second richest country in the world in terms of distributed wealth per adult. However, the economic significance of coal is often overestimated, especially by Australians in the state of Queensland where the history of mining traces back over two hundred years.

The proposed Carmichael coal mine would stretch for over 30 kilometres and include the development of a 189-kilometre railway connecting the mine to the existing Hay Point and Abbot Point coal terminals, which would both be expanded. The project would also involve the construction of a private Adani airstrip in Townsville. The Adani Group intends to keep the mine open for 60 years and produce 60 million tonnes of coal annually, most of which would be exported to India. The project is marketed as a significant employment provider for Queensland, estimating it would create 10,000 jobs over its lifetime.

IN THE PHOTO: MAP OF THE PROPOSED CARMICHAEL COAL MINE. CREDIT: GALILEE BLOCKADE

Adani’s proposition and approval should not come as a surprise, as Australia’s federal government has a strong tendency to support fossil fuels. There are links between the Australian federal political sphere and the coal lobby as manifested by Scott Morrison, the Treasurer of Australia, who brought a lump of coal into parliament in early 2017 to demonstrate its friendly and desirable nature as an energy source while decrying Australia’s supposed ‘pathological fear’ of coal.

VIDEO: Scott Morrison brings a lump of coal into the Australian Parliament. SOURCE: Australian Parliament House via Storyful News

Despite federal support for fossil fuels, renewable energy is surprisingly popular among Australians. Not only is 81 percent of the public supportive of renewables becoming the country’s main energy source, but Australians are personally taking advantage of their country’s renewable potential. In 2016, Australia became the top country in the world for residential solar installations, with up to 30 percent of households purchasing their own solar panels in states such as Queensland.

Despite the Adani Group’s financially questionable ventures into renewable energy production in Australia, it seems they may have underestimated public disapproval towards investing in fossil fuels and opening new coal mines. They may have been encouraged by the common belief among the Queensland public that the coal industry contributes a lot more to the state’s economy than it actually does. Both the Adani Group and the state government may have been misled, believing that the project would be readily accepted by the Australian public despite its environmental impact.

This oversight is now turning the tide against the proposed Carmichael mine.

Numerous issues linked to the project, from environmental concerns to corruption, have been raised by the Australian public. One of the biggest concerns held by people opposed to the Carmichael mine was its size, as the coal it would produce would release up to 120 millions of tonnes of CO2 annually when burned, which is more than emissions of individual countries such as Austria and Chile. This would significantly contribute to climate change and increasingly frequent extreme weather events across the globe.

Moreover, the project would not only involve building a new mine but also dredging the coastline in the UNESCO-listed Great Barrier Reef area in northern Queensland. This would be potentially deadly to big parts of the Reef and the marine life systems it supports, as well as many of the 60,000 tourism jobs in Queensland. This issue is also connected to the dispute over Adani’s employment creation promise, as during one of the numerous court cases against the Adani Group, a lawyer hired by the energy mogul admitted that the mine would only create 1,464 full-time jobs, not the previously stated 10,000.

The list of problems does not end there. The project has been accused of ignoring the indigenous rights of the Traditional Owners of the land where the mine was proposed to be built – the Wangan and Jagalingou people. The mine also potentially threatens thousands of farmers, as it has been granted unlimited access to groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin, which lies underneath 22 percent of the Australian continent. Building the Carmichael mine would also involve clearing over 20,000 ha of land, an area of size equivalent to 28,000 football pitches, threatening endangered animal and plant species such as koalas and some migratory birds.

The wide-ranging issues attached to the Carmichael mine project are where the Stop Adani movement has found its strength. Highlighting controversies that would potentially affect a multitude of communities across Australia has allowed the movement to bring people from all walks of life together to fight for a greater goal – stopping the Carmichael mine from being built, and taking major steps toward securing a sustainable future for Australia.

IN THE PHOTO: AYCC MEMBERS DURING A STOP ADANI STREET ACTION IN ONE OF THE AREAS TARGETED DURING THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN. CREDIT: TAHLIA CLARKE/AYCC. SOURCE: AYCC

STOP ADANI – THE LINK BETWEEN SDGS AND COMMUNITY ACTION

Incidentally, addressing issues attached to the proposed Carmichael mine corresponds with achieving many of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including:

• SDG 13 Climate Action – preventing additional potential carbon emissions from the Carmichael mine, further contributing to rising temperatures and climate change,

• SDG 15 Life On Land – protecting land and endangered species while preventing land clearing,

• SDG 14 Life Below Water – preventing dredging and protecting the Great Barrier Reef, already strained from increasingly common bleaching events,

• SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation – protecting the Great Artesian Basin and the access to safe and clean groundwater it provides across 22 percent of Australian land,

• SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions and SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities – protecting indigenous rights of the Australian Traditional Owners to manage their land,

• SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy – moving away from fossil fuels and increasing opportunities for growth in renewable energy sector instead,

• SDG 3 Good Health and Well-being – preventing negative health impacts from coal mining, such as respiratory problems and heart disease caused by inhaled coal dust.

Australia is among the 193 countries who adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in late 2015. The Agenda’s aim is achieving seventeen global goals, the SDGs, which the UN considers a responsibility of adoptee’s national governments. The UN website says that the SDGs “implementation and success will rely on countries’ own sustainable development policies, plans and programmes, and will be led by countries.”

The UN also encourages collaboration and stresses the need for partnerships between different stakeholders within countries in order to achieve SDGs, stating:

“All stakeholders: governments, civil society, the private sector, and others, are expected to contribute to the realisation of the new agenda. (…) Multi-stakeholder partnerships have been recognised as an important component of strategies that seek to mobilize all stakeholders around the new agenda.”

Stop Adani is a great example of how grassroots community movements can lead the way to achieving SDGs in countries where governments are reluctant or sluggish to act. Over the past few years, the movement evolved from a localised Queensland issue into a campaign supported by over 100 Stop Adani groups across Australia. Community leadership has been at the core of Stop Adani from its beginning and has been a crucial factor in securing nationwide support. The movement is on its way to influencing national policies on sustainability-related issues such as fossil fuel reliance and renewable energy growth thanks to its focus on political campaigning.

Though the assumption that governments are essential to achieving SDGs might be wrong, it is true that there is a need for partnerships and mutual effort across stakeholder groups in order to accelerate the move towards a sustainable future. This was also true for Stop Adani, as to become an effective movement, it needed help in merging numerous local volunteer efforts into a national body with a centralised strategy.

This became possible with the creation of the Stop Adani Alliance in early 2017. The group connects third sector organisations campaigning against the proposed Carmichael mine and amplifies the many Adani-opposed voices. Subsequently, the Alliance became the driving force behind establishing the Carmichael mine project as the top issue during Queensland’s snap state election in November 2017, which was a pivotal moment for the movement.

Establishing an issue which would impede achieving numerous SDGs as a top public concern during political elections is a significant step towards accomplishing the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Agenda in Australia. The effort could potentially be replicated by stakeholders in other countries where national governments are not fully committed to achieving the SDGs. Therefore, it is worth analysing Stop Adani’s strategy during the 2017 Queensland elections and identifying the tactics effective in building national support for achieving SDGs in Australia through political action.

IN THE PHOTO: SHANNON HURLEY, LEFT, WITH AMCS VOLUNTEERS CALLING ON QUEENSLAND PREMIER TO REJECT THE ADANI GROUP’S PROPOSAL. CREDIT: ZACHARY STAINES/AMCS. SOURCE: AMCS

GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT INFLUENCING AUSTRALIAN POLITICS

On the 29th of October, the Queensland Premier and leader of the Australian Labour Party, Annastacia Palaszczuk, called for snap Queensland elections to be held a month later, on the 25th November. The move came as a bid to strengthen her party’s rule and secure a majority of seats in the Queensland parliament.

In the run-up to the elections, Queensland Labour and Palaszczuk were vocal supporters of the proposed Carmichael mine, signing agreements with the Adani Group and facilitating state approvals, while ignoring public opposition to the project and citing its economic benefits.

The growing opposition to the proposed Carmichael mine was fuelled when, despite assuring the public that the project will finance itself, the Adani Group applied for a public loan provided by the federal government via the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF). The NAIF fund was created in 2016 to support major projects in northern Australia, and has been criticised since for its lack of transparency as decisions made by its board are largely secretive, potentially encouraging corruption.

If approved, Adani would have received a $900 million federal loan with low-interest rates, which was a significant portion of the $16.5 billion investment it needed to go ahead. This essentially meant the Carmichael mine would be in part financed by the public, undermining its status as a significant asset for the Australian economy.

The controversial use of public money towards a project run by a foreign company became the focus of the Stop Adani campaign during the elections, as polls suggested that nearly 70 percent of the public didn’t want taxpayer money supporting the project. Moreover, as it was revealed that the Queensland Premier had the power to veto the NAIF loan, members of the Stop Adani Alliance focused on ensuring that stopping the funds became the top election issue.

During the first week of the election campaign, after mounting pressure from numerous organisations and volunteers from the Stop Adani Alliance, Premier Palaszczuk announced that she would veto the federal NAIF loan to Adani if elected, which was hailed as one of the greatest successes of the Stop Adani campaign. I spoke to some Brisbane based community organisers from the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) and GetUp, which were among the Stop Adani Alliance member groups involved in the Queensland election campaign, in order to learn more about how they successfully established the Carmichael mine as a top political issue.

One of the people I spoke to was Shannon Hurley, a Reef Campaigner with the Australian Marine Conservation Society, an environmental NGO working to protect Australian marine life. She told me how her organisation utilised their ongoing campaign to protect the Great Barrier Reef to mobilise supporters during the election period and put pressure on the Queensland Premier.

Hurley said, “AMCS’s main role in the election campaign was to mobilise people to really step up and take action and make their voices heard, whether that was attending a rally or contacting a local politician and letting them know how they felt about the Stop Adani campaign and the Great Barrier Reef. It was about putting pressure on our elected representatives to do better to protect the Reef, and not allow $1 billion of taxpayers’ money to go to Adani because we knew that if the project would go ahead, it was really going to have disastrous impact on our Reef.”

Apart from community mobilisation and the ensuing political pressure, Hurley also highlighted the importance of the Stop Adani Alliance movement’s ability to create media buzz from the start of the election campaign.

“I think what we were able to do well was having a constant media presence and that helped us set the tone for the election. I think that’s what helped to lead to the Premier vetoing the loan. Our focus was about creating lots of colour and movement – we would go out to do rallies and hold signs and banners at popular street corners, making sure that all major parties that were a contestant in the election get the message and commit to better policies for our Reef.”

The importance of constant media presence was also highlighted by other organisational members of the Alliance. Nick Carter works as a Community Organiser with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, an organisation comprised of young Australians working towards tackling climate change. He explained the reasons behind the Stop Adani movement’s focus on the newsworthy direct action during the election campaign, which was one of AYCC’s main tactics.

IN THE PHOTO: NICK CARTER AND STOP ADANI PROTESTERS ATTRACTING MEDIA ATTENTION DURING ONE OF THEIR RALLIES IN BRISBANE. CREDIT: ALEXANDER WATSON/AYCC. SOURCE: AYCC

“The overall goal was to get a policy commitment from political parties to stop taxpayer money going to Adani. Our strategy as a movement was to highlight how much community opposition there was to tax money going to Adani and how people would rather see their money going anywhere else and to make our campaign the centre of attention for the election period,” Carter said.

“We really wanted to do actions that were flashy and showy and public so that every time [people] would hear the word ‘Adani’ they would associate it with the word ‘Stop’. We had success with some traffic actions in one of our target electorates where we would stand with Stop Adani signs on the sidewalk and have thousands of motorists driving by who would see people out there on the streets. And unlike a lot of other political campaigns, we were simply saying that we need to stop this mine.”

After Premier Palaszczuk promised to veto the NAIF loan if elected, the Stop Adani Alliance shifted its focus to swaying votes in marginal seats in favour of political parties opposing the loan. The tactics transitioned from targeting politicians to engaging communities in key political areas.

Ray Yoshida is a member of the Stop Adani Brisbane group and a Community Organiser with GetUp, an NGO focusing on working towards a better informed and progressive democracy in Australia. He told me about GetUp’s tactics as a Stop Adani Alliance member during the second half of the election campaign, which mainly included mobilising volunteers and engaging with communities in key political areas.

IN THE PHOTO: RAY YOSHIDA DURING A BRISBANE STOP ADANI SUMMIT IN SEPTEMBER 2017. PICTURE: STOP ADANI BRISBANE.CREDIT: RAY YOSHIDA, VIA FACEBOOK

GetUp got involved in the election in earnest after the Premier announced at the end of the first week that her government if elected, will veto the NAIF loan. From then on, we had a mix of field and digital tactics aiming to inform voters on where the major parties stand on Adani loan. One of them was phone calls. GetUp members and Stop Adani volunteers all across the country made 130,000 calls to key marginal electorates to have conversations with the voters on the $1 billion loan. We saw a swing in the electorates we were calling so we definitely made an impact, with a few of those seats switching,” Yoshida said.

The Stop Adani movement, comprised of mobilised volunteers taking diverse political action throughout the election campaign, helped establish the Carmichael mine as a top political issue and elect a Labour government which promised to act, even if only by vetoing the public funding for the project. This is a step on the path toward achieving a sustainable future for Australia but plenty remains to be done, even if the Carmichael mine does not go ahead.

Talking about what will happen to the Stop Adani movement if Adani is stopped, my interviewees were positive that the movement will only continue to grow. Yoshida told me that next year the Stop Adani Alliance will be working to shift the movement from focusing on one coal project to coal mining in general, which is crucial in tackling climate change and ensuring a sustainable future.

“Across next year we’ll be shifting into talking more about no new coal and how there needs to be a moratorium on either coal mining and new coal-fired power stations in Australia. Stop Adani is a huge network of groups and individuals across the country taking action, who not only want to stop this mine but also value a climate safe future and they understand that we need no new coal mines to have that future. I think people in this network will really enthusiastically jump on the no new coal campaign,” Yoshida said.

CONCLUSION

Achieving all seventeen SDGs and securing a sustainable and safe future for everyone is a big challenge as it entails extensive social, political and economic changes across the globe. When considering goals such as SDG 13 Climate Action, achieving the 2030 Sustainable Agenda means transformations will need to take place not only in rapidly developing countries, such as China and India but also in developed countries heavily relying on coal for energy production, such as Australia. Transitioning to sustainable energy sources might prove even more difficult in the latter case, as governments in coal-dependent developed countries often hold close ties with the fossil fuel industry, which can impede their climate action.

As shown by the case of the Adani Carmichael mine, other stakeholders, such as the civil society and third sector, can take the lead and start making steps toward achieving SDGs in their countries. To be effective, however, these stakeholders need to act together. Establishing collaborations and partnerships between the civil society and third sector is crucial in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Agenda. The grassroots movement behind the Stop Adani campaign might not have been as successful in influencing the Australian political landscape were it not supported by the numerous NGOs who joined the Stop Adani Alliance. And vice versa: the Stop Adani Alliance might not have been as successful in mobilising major public support were it not backed by the numerous local Stop Adani volunteer groups.

Though the path to a sustainable future in Australia does not end at stopping one new coal mine, the Stop Adani movement is a step toward publicising the need for action and merging multiple efforts to secure action on the issues encapsulated by the SDGs, including land clearing, public health, marine life and indigenous rights. By utilising tactics such as strategic collaboration, community engagement and media pressure, Stop Adani has been able to influence Australian state elections and help establish achieving a sustainable future as a major political issue. This is a significant achievement and should be replicated by stakeholders in other countries looking for ways to encourage their governments to work toward achieving the 2030 Sustainable Agenda.

There are many ways in which these kinds of partnerships can be established. Local communities and grassroots movements can seek support from the third sector in amplifying their voices. The third sector can actively seek opportunities to engage with communities in local areas on issues they both care about. Different NGOs with shared interests can seek new ways to work with each other in order to increase their social and political weight. The ensuing collaborations will strengthen the voices behind the issues raised, and with the right tactics, give them the power to engage with their national governments and work toward achieving SDGs in their countries.

Press link for more: Impakter.com

How Six Americans Changed Their Minds About Global Warming

How Six Americans Changed Their Minds About Global Warming

By LIVIA ALBECK-RIPKA

Illustrations by LOUISA BERTMAN. FEB. 21, 2018

The Rev. Richard Cizik used to believe climate change was a myth.

The science had to be rigged, he thought; those who believed in it were just tree-huggers.

But in 2002, a friend convinced Mr. Cizik to go to a conference about climate change, and there, he said, “the scales came off my eyes.”

Nearly 70 percent of Americans now say that climate change is caused mainly by human activity, the highest percentage since Gallup began tracking it two decades ago.

The number of Americans who say they worry “a great deal” about climate change has risen by about 20 percentage points.

But people don’t change their minds easily about controversial issues.

So what is behind this trend?

Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, said Americans’ opinions about global warming have fluctuated over the years, shifting along with partisan fissures, extreme weather events and messages from political and religious figures. But the overall upward trend in opinion, he said, was strongly tied to the fact that more people are beginning to relate to climate change as a personal issue.

There are certainly many Americans who remain undecided or doubtful.

Toby Wilder, a salesman from Seattle, said he found it hard to imagine that human-caused climate change was anything but a hoax propagated by elites who fly private jets. “If they are wasting more fuel in a month than I do in my lifetime, then how can I believe it?” he asked.

Greg Sandmeyer, a social studies teacher at Timberline High School in Boise, Idaho, is also unconvinced. “It’s one thing to say it’s happening, but it’s another to make laws that will affect me,” he said.

But the broader shift in public opinion, however gradual, has moved toward acceptance of human-caused global warming. In order to learn more about the attitudes that are fueling this change, we spoke with dozens of people. Here are six of their stories.

“I am a registered Republican, but I don’t let politics dictate what good science is to me.”

The Meteorologist

Jennifer Rukavina, 38, Paducah, Ky.

When Jennifer Rukavina became a television meteorologist, she noticed her colleagues were divided into two camps: believers and nonbelievers.

Ms. Rukavina didn’t know at first which camp she fell into, but she certainly wasn’t “convinced” about climate change.

As a group, meteorologists are no more or less likely than the general public to say that humans are the primary cause of climate change.

In the early 2000s, when Ms. Rukavina began her career, Al Gore, the former vice president and climate change activist, had just released his film “An Inconvenient Truth.”

The split among her colleagues, Ms. Rukavina said, was largely focused around the political “theater” surrounding the film, which experts often describe as a flash point in the deepening partisan divide on climate change.

“I decided that I needed to educate myself, because the meteorologist is often viewed as the station scientist,” Ms. Rukavina said.

In 2008, she attended her first Glen Gerberg Weather and Climate Summit — a meeting of weathercasters and climate scientists — in Colorado. After hearing from the scientists themselves, Ms. Rukavina said, she changed her mind.

“I am a registered Republican, but I don’t let politics dictate what good science is to me,” she said.

Every year since, Ms. Rukavina has briefed her WPSD viewers live from the conference. “It really doesn’t matter to me what my viewers think of climate change,” she said. “What matters to me most is being able to prepare them for the changes that lie ahead.”

“You can hold your nose and do a lot of things, and that’s what I had to do.”

The Retired Coal Miner

Stanley Sturgill, 72, Harlan County, Ky.

When Stanley Sturgill first learned about global warming in the early 1990s, he was working as a federal coal mine inspector in Lynch, Ky. Mr. Sturgill, who worked 41 years in the coal mines before retiring in 2009, said he was “disheartened and sickened” when he understood the full extent to which human beings were damaging the environment. But he kept quiet on the issue, for fear of losing his job.

“That’s why I got into trying to stop it just as quick as I retired,” he said. “You can hold your nose and do a lot of things, and that’s what I had to do.”

Late last year, Mr. Sturgill, who now describes himself as a climate change activist, testified at a public hearing held by the Environmental Protection Agency in Charleston, W.Va. He also spoke at the 2014 People’s Climate March in New York.

Mr. Sturgill now has black lung and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from his years spent in the mines, he said. “I knew we were polluting the Earth, but it took time to have a full understanding that what goes around comes around,” he said.

“They’re coming in, putting in multimillion-dollar investments. We’re like a candy shop.”

The Community Organizer

Valencia Gunder, 33, Miami

Growing up in Liberty City, Valencia Gunder never thought about climate change. The neighborhood, one of the poorest in Miami, had other “social ills” to deal with, she said.

“You wouldn’t hear anybody talking about climate change,” Ms. Gunder said. “Not at all.”

But in recent years, Liberty City — roughly two miles from the coast and on higher ground than other parts of Miami — has become more attractive to developers, who talk about the neighborhood as “future beachfront property,” Ms. Gunder said. “They’re coming in, putting in multimillion-dollar investments. We’re like a candy shop.”

It wasn’t until a community meeting in 2016, however, that Ms. Gunder first heard the term “climate gentrification.” Something clicked, she said. “Climate change and sea level rise is causing individuals to have to abandon their shorefront homes in more affluent communities and go inland, and the communities inland are lower-income communities,” she said. “That was like, ‘Oh my goodness, wait a minute.’”

After that meeting, Ms. Gunder trained to speak on behalf of a local climate activism group, the CLEO Institute, and has since run more than a dozen workshops educating some of Miami’s lowest-income communities about the ways climate change could affect them personally. Ms. Gunder often finds herself speaking to a room full of people who may have never heard about climate change. “Their minds are always blown,” she said.

“I liken it to a religious conversion, and not just because I saw something I’d never seen before — I felt a deep sense of repentance.”

The Evangelical Leader

Richard Cizik, 66, Fredericksburg, Va.

In 2002, the Rev. Richard Cizik would have described himself as “a faithful member of the religious right,” he said. So when the Rev. Jim Ball, a founder of the Evangelical Environmental Network, invited him to a climate change conference that year, Mr. Cizik was hesitant.

“I heard the evidence over four days, did a fist to the forehead and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, if this is true, everything has changed,’” said Mr. Cizik, who was then vice president for government affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals. “I liken it to a religious conversion, and not just because I saw something I’d never seen before — I felt a deep sense of repentance.”

But a few years later, when Mr. Cizik began encouraging his fellow evangelicals to learn more about climate change, he was ostracized. Dozens of community leaders signed a petition for his firing. “Ostensibly it was over my supporting civil unions, but the real reality was that the right didn’t like my position on climate change,” Mr. Cizik said. “The entire religious right just attacked me. It was pretty aggressive.”

Mr. Cizik and his wife sold a car, started recycling and modified parts of their home to be more environmentally friendly, he said. They began to do what they thought God was calling them to do: change their minds. “If you’ve never changed your mind about something, pinch yourself, you may be dead,” Mr. Cizik said. “If we don’t change our mind about this subject, we will die.”

“It’s hard to live here, and watch so many natural changes take place, and not blame human activity.”

The Charter Fleet Owner

Lynne Foster, 70, Hatteras Island, N.C.

For 25 years, Lynne Foster and her husband, Ernie, have run the Albatross Fleet, a charter fishing operation on Hatteras Island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, trolling the Gulf Stream for mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna and wahoo.

“We live in a very dynamic natural environment and things are constantly changing,” Ms. Foster said. But when the roads in Hatteras began to flood more often, the coast began to erode and uprooted trees floated down Pamlico Sound, Ms. Foster knew something was different, she said.

Watching the southern end of Hatteras Island all but “float away,” she said, changed her mind about climate change. “It’s hard to live here, and watch so many natural changes take place, and not blame human activity.”

In recent years, rising seas have ravaged the Outer Banks, but Ms. Foster said many people in her community still don’t discuss why. “There are some who do not believe it on principle, even though they can see it with their own eyes,” she said, “but they don’t put a name to it.”

“I realized that if this was happening somewhere in the Pacific, well, it could happen here.”

The Mayor

Tomás Regalado, 70, Miami

When Tomás Regalado, a Republican, was elected mayor of Miami in November 2009, climate change was not on his agenda. At the time Mr. Regalado thought that sea level rise was “a very distant future possibility,” and that talking about it was a waste of time, he said.

But Mr. Regalado’s son Jose had his own agenda. Early one morning during his father’s second term as mayor, he made him a cup of coffee and sat him down, with a map, to talk about climate change. “I realized that if this was happening somewhere in the Pacific, well, it could happen here,” Mr. Regalado said.

When Hurricane Irma hit Miami, Mr. Regalado witnessed the vulnerability of his city firsthand. “I think I really understood when I saw people trying to get to their cars, and their cars were flooded,” he said. “They were stranded.”

Late last year, as Mr. Regalado was leaving office, Miami voters supported his idea for a $400 million bond, half of which is dedicated to protecting the city from sea level rise and climate change. “I think it’s a clear message to Washington that the majority of people in Miami at least understand and see this as a nonpartisan issue,” Mr. Regalado said.

Press link for more: New York Times

Adani may sell stake in Carmichael Coal. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Adani may sell stake in Australia’s Carmichael coal mine amid funding delay

Adani Enterprises concedes it would fail to meet a March deadline to arrange A$3 billion ($2.3 billion) in financing for the Carmichael coal mine project

Perry Williams

The financing delay is the latest hurdle for Adani, adding pressure to its ambition to deliver the first coal production from the mine by 2020. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Sydney: The battle to build one of the world’s biggest coal mines has suffered a fresh setback after Adani Enterprises Ltd conceded it would fail to meet a March deadline to arrange A$3 billion ($2.3 billion) in financing for the project.

The December decision by the Queensland government to veto Adani’s A$900 million funding bid for a rail line meant financing would require more time to be secured, an Adani Australia spokeswoman said by phone Thursday.

The Indian conglomerate said it will also consider selling a minority stake in its Carmichael project without providing further details.

The financing delay is the latest hurdle for Adani, adding pressure to its ambition to deliver the first coal production from the mine by 2020.

In addition to the state government opposing a federal loan for the project, major lenders have pre-emptively excluded themselves from financing the Carmichael development because they oppose polluting fossil-fuel projects.

There have also been changes to the development of the mine and connecting rail line.

Adani decided in December to build Australia’s largest coal project by itself after cancelling a A$2 billion deal with contractor Downer EDI Ltd.

A back-up rail option being developed by an Australian operator was also canned earlier in February.

That may limit Adani’s options for hauling coal from the Galilee Basin mine to the Gautam Adani-controlled Abbot Point terminal, which faces its own refinancing deadline later this year. Bloomberg

Press link for more: Live Mint

Our acid oceans will dissolve coral reef sands within decades. #StopAdani #auspol #Qldpol

Our acid oceans will dissolve coral reef sands within decades!

Carbonate sands on coral reefs will start dissolving within about 30 years, on average, as oceans become more acidic, new research published today in Science shows.

Carbonate sands, which accumulate over thousands of years from the breakdown of coral and other reef organisms, are the building material for the frameworks of coral reefs and shallow reef environments like lagoons, reef flats and coral sand cays.

But these sands are sensitive to the chemical make-up of sea water. As oceans absorb carbon dioxide, they acidify – and at a certain point, carbonate sands simply start to dissolve.

The world’s oceans have absorbed around one-third of human-emitted carbon dioxide.

Carbonate sand is vulnerable

For a coral reef to grow or be maintained, the rate of carbonate production (plus any external sediment supply) must be greater than the loss through physical, chemical and biological erosion, transport and dissolution.

It is well known that ocean acidification reduces the amount of carbonate material produced by corals. Our work shows that reefs face a double-whammy: the amount of carbonate material produced will decrease, and the newly produced and stored carbonate sands will also dissolve.

Researchers used benthic chambers (pictured) to test how different levels of seawater acidity affect reef sediments. Steve Dalton/Southern Cross University

We measured the impact of acidity on carbonate sands by placing underwater chambers over coral reefs sands at Heron Island, Hawaii, Bermuda and Tetiaroa in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Some of the chambers were then acidified to represent future ocean conditions.

The rate at which the sands dissolve was strongly related to the acidity of the overlying seawater, and was ten times more sensitive than coral growth to ocean acidification. In other words, ocean acidification will impact the dissolution of coral reef sands more than the growth of corals.

This probably reflects the corals’ ability to modify their environment and partially adjust to ocean acidification, whereas the dissolution of sands is a geochemical process that cannot adapt.

Sands on all four reefs showed the same response to future ocean acidification, but the impact of ocean acidification on each reef is different due to different starting conditions. Carbonate sands in Hawaii are already dissolving due to ocean acidification, because this coral reef site is already disturbed by pollution from nutrients and organic matter from the land. The input of nutrients stimulates algal growth on the reef.

In contrast, carbonate sands in Tetiaroa are not dissolving under current ocean acidification because this site is almost pristine.

What will this mean for coral reefs?

Our modelling at 22 locations shows that net sand dissolution will vary for each reef. However, by the end of the century all but two reefs across the three ocean basins would on average experience net dissolution of the sands.

A transition to net sand dissolution will result in loss of material for building shallow reef habitats such as reef flats and lagoons and associated coral cays. What we don’t know is whether an entire reef will slowly erode or simply collapse, once the sediments become net dissolving, as the corals will still grow and create reef framework. Although they will most likely just slowly erode.

It may be possible to reduce the impact of ocean acidification on the dissolution of reef sands, by managing the impact of organic matter like algae at local and regional scales. This may provide some hope for some already disturbed reefs, but much more research on this topic is required.

Ultimately, the only way we can stop the oceans acidifying and the dissolving of coral reefs is concerted action to lower CO₂ emissions.

Press link for more: The Conversation