Month: April 2018

Why Adani won’t die. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Why Adani won’t die

BY Richard Denniss

Richard Denniss is the chief economist at the Australia Institute.

The Carmichael coalmine is as much about symbols and interests as it is about jobs and money.

In case spending $1 billion of taxpayers’ money to subsidise the world’s largest export coalmine didn’t seem crazy enough, a coalition of Coalition MPs is now pushing for a $4 billion subsidy for a new coal-fired power station.

No doubt Barnaby Joyce will also demand a further $10 billion to build another inland railway line through National Party seats to link the Adani mine in Central Queensland to the new power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.

The era of small government is dead, killed by conservative politicians who prefer to subsidise boondoggles and white elephants than stick to their alleged principles.

Indeed, this time last year Tony Abbott was calling on his own party to scrap all new spending initiatives in order to get the deficit under control.

This year he is the highest profile member of the so-called Monash Forum that is demanding the new government-funded power station. And politicians blame Twitter for the public’s loss of faith in politicians.

While some environmentalists and bankers have been saying for years that the Adani coalmine will never be built, the project just won’t die.

There is a simple reason for this seeming resilience, and it is inextricably linked to the Monash Forum’s recent calls for a new era of coal-fired power construction: with enough public subsidies, any project can be rendered profitable.

The fact that world coal demand has fallen three years in a row won’t stop it being built.

The fact that the cost of renewables has fallen by 80 per cent in the past 10 years won’t stop it.

The outrage over the fact that the mine would take an unlimited amount of water from the Great Artesian Basin, for free, won’t stop it.

And nor will the fact that it will never employ anything like 10,000 workers.

None of these things will stop the mine for the simple reason that, contrary to most of what passes for commentary on the issue, it’s not just about jobs or money. As always in Australian politics, it revolves around symbols and interests.

Symbols matter far more to politicians than many voters and political scientists seem to realise.

Why else would allegedly “libertarian” Liberal MPs have defended the rights of same-sex couples to live in loving  relationships but fought to deny them the right to get married?

The symbol of marriage mattered more than the principle of freedom to choose.

Similarly, the symbolism of the date of Australia Day and whether or not the Queen is our head of state matters as well, as does the colour of the ties that male politicians wear at the National Press Club.

Fights about symbols are symbolic, too.

All successful politicians know that losing a fight, any fight, sends a very bad signal. Any loss, no matter how small, is a symbol of weakness.

If a backbench MP loses a fight to get into the ministry, they have a greater chance of losing their preselection next.

Abbott and Eric Abetz know that if the date of Australia Day gets changed it will be harder to fend off calls for a republic.

If they can rally their troops to defend the symbolism of January 26, it will send a signal that they remain a force to be reckoned with. And if they lose the fight about January 26 …

Of course, symbols aren’t the only thing that matter in politics.

Money matters too.

The federal government spent more than $460 billion this year.

It’s the parliament that decides who gets that money. But despite all the rhetoric from business groups about the need to cut spending and reduce the size of government, each sitting week Parliament House is full of business lobbyists asking for subsidies or tax concessions.

Politics is big business.

Which brings me back to Adani.

This is not just a totemic fight for political conservatives; it’s also a fight about money.

Lots and lots of public money.

While it’s widely known that Adani wants a billion dollars from Australian taxpayers, few people realise that Australian taxpayers spend billions of dollars each year subsidising resource companies.

And the mining industry knows that if environment and community groups can win a fight about the Adani subsidies, then it won’t stop there.

Taking money off a group is symbolic as well, which is why conservatives are willing to spend so much money chasing the small debts of welfare recipients, and are also willing to forgo the debts of politicians who were wrongly elected to parliament.

So here we are, watching an enormous political fight over a mine that no bank thinks we need and few voters could place on a map.

At collectively 40 kilometres long and 10 kilometres wide, the Adani coal pits are enormous, but the size of the political fight about the mine has far more to do with power and money than it has to do with planning laws or the need to create jobs.

The word “jobs” is the most offensive four-letter word in the political vocabulary. It is an insult to the 730,000 unemployed people in Australia forced to live on a mere $245 per week.

If Australia needs to cause climate change and pollute our water to “create jobs” because there’s a shortage of them, how can joblessness be the fault of the unemployed?

If there is a shortage of jobs it would be cruel to punish those who don’t have them, wouldn’t it?

Conservative politicians revel in the symbolism of attacking the unemployed for their alleged lack of motivation while simultaneously attacking environmentalists for causing a shortage of mines that, allegedly, would solve the shortage of jobs. It’s a simple trick but it’s worked for decades.

Nobody believes that the Adani mine will create the “10,000 jobs” so frequently claimed by Adani and their parliamentary boosters, let alone the “tens of thousands of jobs” our current prime minister said it would create. How can I say that with such confidence? I was in the witness box at the Queensland Land Court the same day that Adani’s own economic expert ridiculed the 10,000 jobs claim. Indeed, in responding to criticism from yours truly, Dr Jerome Fahrer said, under oath,  “[i]t’s not many jobs. We can agree on that … Not many jobs … No argument. Not many jobs.” But while lying to a judge is a crime, many in the mining industry think lying to the public is funny. As soon as the court case was over, Adani and its boosters returned to the “10,000 jobs” claim. We have departed the age of reason and entered the age of truthiness.

The claim that the Adani mine will provide the revenue needed to fund schools and hospitals is even easier to debunk. Leaving aside the fact that the Queensland government gets more revenue from car registrations and parking fines than it does from coal royalties, Adani has secured a “royalty holiday” that means it wouldn’t even have to pay them for its first five years.

And then there’s the bizarre assertion that Australia has an obligation to the world not just to give others the gift of our “clean coal” but also to help people out of “energy poverty” in India. Coal from the Galilee Basin is far higher in ash and sulphur than even coal from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. Meanwhile, the Indian government has declared that it intends to cease all coal imports in the near future. And of course it’s far cheaper to install renewable energy with batteries in small remote villages, because doing so doesn’t require billions of dollars worth of transmission lines to be built to communities without power. Oh, and if the Abbott and Turnbull governments cared about poverty in other countries, why did they slash our foreign aid budget by billions of dollars?

If power is defined as the ability to speak crap and get away with it, then those pushing Adani’s barrow are powerful indeed. But while the importance of jobs and tax revenues associated with the Adani mine are often exaggerated, it is hard to exaggerate the symbolic importance that the mine now has in Australian politics.

Former leader of the Australian Greens Bob Brown has said the fight over Adani is the biggest and most important environmental battle since the fight to save Tasmania’s wild rivers from the Franklin Dam. Brown’s claim might well be true, but the political fight over Adani is far bigger than an environmental fight, because the subsidies for the mine have come to symbolise the worldview of conservative politicians.

Western democracies are in the middle of a once-in-a-generation struggle over the role of government in a modern society. Brexit and Trumponomics have both challenged simplistic assertions that right-wing governments like free trade and small government. Here in Australia, the Liberal Party is struggling to explain why it’s okay to spend $65 billion on company tax cuts when the budget is so deep in deficit. And in the middle of all that there is the Coalition’s determination to shovel public money into Adani.

It wasn’t meant to be like this. Resources Minister Matt Canavan and the rest of his Coalition colleagues went out of their way to pick a symbolic fight about coal. Throwing public money at Adani, throwing public money at coal-fired power stations and literally handing lumps of coal around the parliament are all symbolic acts designed to make clear to the public whose side the government is on and who its opponents are.

Surprisingly, and unlike most things the Turnbull government has tried, the Coalition has succeeded in making its support for coal and its hostility to renewable energy crystal clear. Unsurprisingly, it has completely misread the moods of the business community and the public. Apart from a few shock jocks and paid lobbyists, virtually everyone in the community thinks subsidising the Adani mine is a terrible idea. During the Queensland election campaign, even Pauline Hanson campaigned against giving $1 billion to an Indian  mining company. Just think about that: the Turnbull  government even managed to get the climate sceptics in One Nation to oppose subsidies for a coalmine. And while the ALP has been choosing its words carefully, Bill Shorten can undoubtedly see that the Adani mine is politically toxic. Significantly, Ged Kearney, the new member for the seat of Batman that was once held by Martin Ferguson, expressed even stronger views about Adani than her leader did.

The Adani mine was supposed to be a symbol in the fight between those who want to “develop” Australia and the environmentalists who oppose “development” … whatever that means. Instead it has become a symbol of the hubris and hypocrisy of the last generation of  climate-sceptic fiscal conservatives to fill our parliament. And no matter what happens to the world demand for coal, the Adani mine isn’t going away until they do.

Press link for more: The Monthly

World Travel & Tourism Council & U.N. #ClimateChange tackle global warming #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

WTTC and UN Climate Change in new partnership to tackle global warming

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN Climate Change) have agreed a common agenda for climate action in tourism.

Agreed at the WTTC Global Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina last week, the partnership backs goals  set by the Paris Agreement to maintain temperature levels at 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, and the economic importance of tourism to the world’s economy (10% of GDP and one in 10 jobs), the Common Agenda sets out a framework for the two organisations to recognise and address the linkages between tourism and climate change.

Announcing the agreement, Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change advised “this is the first time the tourism sector has actively engaged on a global level with the UN Climate agenda.

“We recognise that tourism has a huge role to play in addressing climate change.

While climate change itself poses significant risks to some tourism destinations, in many of the most high-risk areas, tourism can provide opportunities for communities to build resilience to its impacts.

At the same time, as a fast-growing sector, tourism has a responsibility to ensure this growth is sustainable and sits within the parameters set by the Paris Agreement.

“I call on players across the sector to join us in the move towards a climate neutral world.

I am delighted that WTTC is committed to working with us in this ambition.”

WTTC President and Chief Executive Gloria Guevara added “sustainable growth is one of WTTC’s strategic priorities and climate action is a pillar within that.

This is a huge opportunity for our sector to really engage in a meaningful way with the global climate agenda.

We are already seeing how climate change is impacting our sector with extreme weather events, rising sea levels and destruction of biodiversity.

“There are many different initiatives from across the WTTC Membership and beyond to reduce the impact of tourism on climate change and through this new Common Agenda with UN Climate Change we will have a platform to communicate actions and integrate them into the broader initiatives which UN Climate Change is leading, with a particular focus on the upcoming COP24 in Poland.”

Given the importance of tourism to the world economy and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the growing imperative to address climate change in a meaningful way, WTTC and UN Climate Change will work together towards a carbon neutral world with the aim of:

1. Communicating the nature and importance of the interlinkages between tourism and climate change.

2. Raising awareness of the positive contribution tourism can make to building climate resilience.

3. Reducing the contribution of tourism to climate change and supporting quantitative targets and reductions.

WTTC has been actively engaged in climate change conversations since 2009 when the Council set out a comprehensive framework for the sector and set an aspirational target of reducing total carbon emissions by no less than 50% by 2035 with an interim target of 30% by 2020 with a follow up report issued in 2015.

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Macron’s speech to the US Congress. “There is no Planet B” #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Macron highlighted differences between the U.S. and France on the environment. “By polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions and destroying our biodiversity we are killing our planet,” he said. “Let us face it,” Maron said, “there is no planet B.”

Macron urged business leaders and local communities to work together to “make our planet great again,” drawing applause and shouts from Democrats in Congress. Macron said he was sure one day the U.S. “will come back and join the Paris agreement,” which limits carbon emissions and which President Trump exited.

“An expansive, ambitious, global speech from Mr Macron. He exploits the potential of bridging European Union and US power, until recently the British preserve,” Labour Party MP Peter Kyle tweeted.

Governments meet in Bonn To Step Up #ClimateAction #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Governments Meet in Bonn To Step Up Climate Action Critical to the implementation of Paris Agreement | UNFCCC

Bonn, 28 April 2018 – Governments are meeting for the next round of UN climate change negotiations from 30 April to 10 May to further develop the guidelines for implementing the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

This will allow the agreement to become operational. The guidelines, or operating manual, are needed to unlock practical actions to realize the full potential of the agreement.

The final decisions are to be taken at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Poland at the end of this year.

Finalizing the Paris Agreement guidelines is also necessary to assess whether the world is on track to achieve the agreement’s goals: to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2°C, while pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

“To reach success at COP24, it is essential that nations begin working towards draft negotiating texts at the May meeting. This will provide a solid foundation for work in the second half of 2018 and help them to deliver a strong result,” said Ms Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change.

At the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) held last November under the leadership of Fiji, nations agreed to accelerate and complete their work to put in place the guidelines – officially termed the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP) – at COP24 in Katowice, Poland in December.

The Talanoa Dialogue

Another important objective of the May session is holding the ‘Talanoa Dialogue’. This dialogue will facilitate the engagement of countries and a range of stakeholders in a vital international conversation around ambition now and in the future.

The Fiji-led Talanoa Dialogue is facilitated by the UN Climate Change secretariat and will benefit from the presence of high-level officials from Fiji, including the Prime Minister, who is the President of COP23.

The consultative dialogue will check progress, reaffirm the goals of the Paris Agreement and aim to find solutions to how countries can increase their ambition now and in the next round of their national climate action plans, officially termed ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ (NDCs).

As per tradition in the Pacific region, the goal of a ‘talanoa’ is to share stories and to find solutions for the common good. Similarly, in the context of the international climate change process, the Talanoa Dialogue will invite participants to share stories to find solutions for the global common good.

“2017 witnessed many extreme weather events and disasters that caused suffering for millions of people around the world. The consequences of climate change impacts are already being felt, particularly by the most vulnerable communities,” said UN Climate Chief Ms. Espinosa.

“The Talanoa Dialogue is a key opportunity for all stakeholders to come together and share stories on how we can significantly step up climate action to prevent even greater human suffering in the future. I encourage widespread participation in the Dialogue,” she stated.

This first phase of the Fiji-led Dialogue will write history when countries and non-Party stakeholders including cities, businesses, investors and regions engage in interactive story-telling around current and future ambition for the first time on 6 May.

The output from these story-telling conversations will feed into the Talanoa Dialogue’s political phase at COP24. The political phase will bring together Ministers and high-level government officials for conversations with a view to generating political momentum.

Ambition before 2020

Throughout 2018, countries will also focus on how they can scale up their climate ambition and implementation in the pre-2020 period. All countries share the view that climate action prior to 2020 is essential. COP24 will hold an event to take stock of the pre-2020 efforts.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of Fiji, President of COP23, and Ms Espinosa urged countries that are yet to do so to ratify the amendment containing the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The Doha amendment sets out emission reduction commitments for the period 2012-2020 for many developed countries. The amendment has been ratified by 111 countries and will enter into force after it is ratified by just over 30 more.

Concerned about the need to accelerate action, Ms Espinosa said, “I strongly urge developed countries to make progress towards mobilizing the USD 100 billion that they have pledged to provide per year by 2020. Many developing countries desperately need this support in order to make their contribution to climate action.”

Press link for more: UNFCCC.INT

Renewable Energy is now Cheaper than Fossil Fuels. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange

Production Cost Of Renewable Energy Now ‘Lower’ Than Fossil Fuels

Gaurav Sharma

For the first time in history, the production cost of renewables is lower than that of fossil fuels, an industry asset manager has claimed.

In a recent note to its clients, Hamburg, Germany-based Kaiserwetter Energy Asset Management, wrote that its “internal analysis” – based on data from Bloomberg, The Frankfurt School, Renewable Cost Database of the International Agency for Renewable Energy (IRENA) and UN Environment – puts fossil fuels generated energy costs in the range of $49 and $174 per MWh (Megawatt hours) in G20 energy markets in 2017.

Over a comparable period, renewable energy production came in between $35 and $54 per MWh. Breaking the data down further, Kaiserwetter said the international average cost for hydroelectric projects were more than $50 per MWh, wind power was $51 per MWh, and photovoltaic solar energy was $54 per MWh on average.

A wind turbine in Reichenbach, Germany. (Photo: Florian Gaertner/Photothek / Getty Images)

Furthermore, it also claimed that renewable energy presents the best alternative to the high cost of nuclear power as well, as governments attempt the decarbonization challenge.

Flagging the U.K. as an example, Kaiserwetter said it is one of only 14 countries worldwide which continue to construct nuclear power plants, such as the Hinkley Point Reactors, which cost around £19 billion ($26 billion) in construction and around £92 ($129) per MWh  in electricity generation.

To arrive at its conclusion, the asset manager grouped the costs of 15,000 utility projects and calculated the risks that investors will assume across 54 countries between 2020, 2025 and 2030.

Total electricity generated from renewables in 2017 increased by 18.8% in 2016, from 83.2 TWh to a record 98.9 TWh. Normalized renewable generation rose from 87.1 TWh in 2016 to 97.8 TWh in 2017.

And the latest photovoltaic energy auctions in Dubai, Mexico, Chile, Abu Dhabi or Saudi Arabia, and onshore wind energy in Brazil, Canada, India or Morocco in 2017 suggested that the standard cost of energy can be reduced to $30 per MWh from 2018, Kaiserwetter said.

“However, onshore wind energy has already achieved similar costs in projects across Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Mexico and Morocco, already reaching $30 MWh.”

Press link for more: Forbes.Com

Reef at risk! #StopAdani #ClimateChange

April 29, 2018

Reef at risk until Turnbull stops Adani

Cairns, Queensland. Mr Bill McKibben, US writer and founder of, who is today on a boat at the Opal Reef with Stop Adani Cairns and 350 Australia, has criticised Malcolm Turnbull’s funding package for the Great Barrier Reef.

Julie Bishop and Josh Frydenburg are in Cairns to announce a half billion dollar funding package for the Reef. Most funds are going to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and are slated for improving water quality, controlling Crown of Thorns outbreaks and research.

Mr Bill McKibben, US writer and founder of, said: “Science is well aware of what is killing coral on the Great Barrier Reef. It’s the excess heat that comes from burning fossil fuels. If the Turnbull government was serious about saving the Reef they would be willing to take on the industry responsible for the damage.

John Rumney, John Pratt & Bill McKibben in Port Douglas last night.

Granddads fighting to save the Great Barrier Reef

“To simultaneously promote Adani’s coal mine, which would be one of the world’s largest, pretending to care about the world’s largest Reef is an acrobatic feat only cynical politicians would attempt.”

Spokesperson for Stop Adani Cairns, Ms Zelda Grimshaw, with Mr McKibben on the Reef today, said: “To protect our beautiful Reef we need to stop paying enormous subsidies to the big polluters – the coal, oil and gas industries.

“No amount of research will save the Reef from acidification and warming water. We need to address the problem at its source by phasing out existing coal, super-charging renewable energy projects and stopping the Adani mine.

“If Mr Turnbull wants a healthy future for our Reef, that means taking a stand and saying no to Adani”.

Visit the #StopAdani campaign website:

See photos of the #StopAdani campaign on Flickr.

Watch the #StopAdani campaign’s videos on Vimeo.

Bishop & Frydenberg in Cairns #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #SavetheReef from #ClimateChangei

Julie Bishop and Josh Frydenburg are in Cairns today to announce a half billion funding package for the reef.

Most of the funds are going to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and are slated for improving water quality, controlling Crown of Thorns outbreaks and research.

Bill McKibben, 350 founder, has criticised the funding package, saying “Science is well aware of what is killing coral on the great barrier reef.

It’s the excess heat that comes from burning fossil fuels.

If the Turnbull government were serious about saving the reef then they would be willing to take on the industry responsible for the damage.

To simultaneously promote the world’s largest coal mine while pretending to care about the world’s largest reef is an acrobatic feat only cynical politicians would attempt.”

McKibben is out at Opal Reef today with Stop Adani Cairns and 350 Australia.

Spokesperson for Stop Adani Cairns, with Mr McKibben on the reef today, said “In order to protect our beautiful reef we need to stop paying enormous subsidies to the big polluters – coal oil and gas industries.

No amount of research will save the reef from acidification and warming water.

We need to address the problem at its source by phasing out existing coal, super charging renewable energy projects and stopping the Adani mine.”

We may be on the verge of a human-made Climate Disaster #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

We May Be on the Verge of a Human-Made Climate Disaster

By Thom Hartmann

Photo Credit: kwest / Shutterstock

New research shows that we may well be on the edge of a civilization-destroying climate change event. And we must do something about it.

Most Americans are at least vaguely familiar with the Irish Potato Famine of 1845, but few could tell you much at all about the much larger planet-wide famine of 1816. But Europeans can tell you all about the “Year Without a Summer,” because their news sometimes references it in the context of global climate change. It’s one of the deepest fears of many Europeans.

The reason a famine from 200 years ago spooks modern Europeans is because climate change could bring it back, only this time it would be long-lasting rather than just hanging on for one year. As such, it could throw Europe and parts of North America into prolonged famine, disease, depopulation, civil strife, and war… just as climate change has the Mideast in the past decades.

But first, to understand the Year Without a Summer and how it informs us about this new danger, step into the Wayback Machine.

In 1815, Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies erupted, throwing an enormous amount of ash into the upper atmosphere. As this layer of ash circled the globe, it cooled the planet—for the next year—by somewhere between .7° and 1.3° Fahrenheit.

That was enough to throw Europe into the worst famine of the entire 19th or 20th centuries.

As Wikipedia (and hundreds of other sources) notes:

“Cool temperatures and heavy rains resulted in failed harvests in Britain and Ireland. Families in Wales traveled long distances begging for food. Famine was prevalent in north and southwest Ireland, following the failure of wheat, oat, and potato harvests. In Germany, the crisis was severe; food prices rose sharply. With the cause of the problems unknown, people demonstrated in front of grain markets and bakeries, and later riots, arson, and looting took place in many European cities. It was the worst famine of 19th-century Europe.”

And this was just one single year of less than 1° Celsius of cooling.

Imagine if the cold never ended, but persisted decade after decade, and the cold was far greater than just a one-degree drop. Europe would experience widespread famine and massive political disruption.

Climate change disrupting entire civilizations is not merely hypothetical. Scientists (including political scientists) now know that over the past 30 years global warming pushed the desert south in Syria and other parts of the Middle East, displacing over a million farming families as their farms turned to dust and sand, setting up today’s Syrian Civil War (and conflicts from Egypt to Libya to Tunisia).

With just a few years of prolonged crop-unfriendly weather, Europe would be in even worse shape than Syria is today. Chaos, death, famine, and disease would rule the continent, while demand for food would trigger crises across the world.

But how can global warming provoke cooling in the eastern part of North America and across Europe?

The scenario was the plot basis (albeit wildly exaggerated) of the 2004 sci-fi film The Day After Tomorrow.

A deep ocean current sometimes called the Great Conveyor Belt (scientifically called the AMOC or Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation) brings warm South Pacific water down under the southern tip of Africa, and then up the east coast of South and North America (we call it the Gulf Stream) to western Europe. (Here’s a video from NASA.)

This river of water—larger in volume than all the land-based rivers in the world—delivers millions of tons of warm water a minute to an endpoint just south of Greenland and west of the UK, where, as much of the heat from that water is lifted into the atmosphere to blow east and warm Europe, the now-cool and saltiest-sea-water-in-the-world (it loses moisture along with heat) sinks deep down toward the ocean floor to begin its multi-year-long journey back toward the South Pacific.

Because this system is driven by both temperature and the sudden increase in salinity as it loses heat in the North Atlantic, its driving system is called thermohaline (temperature-salt).

The reason London and Amsterdam, at latitudes similar to Calgary and Edmonton, have weather like that of Europe is an Atlantic Ocean current driven by heat and salt.

US Global Change Research Program / Flickr

And because the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and all of Northern Europe and Scandinavia are at roughly the same latitudes as the area from central Canada to Alaska, the only thing that keeps them warm enough to sustain rich crop yields (unlike Alaska) is the heat distributed to them from the Great Conveyor Belt/AMOC.

And the main thing that keeps the AMOC moving is the incredible salinity that forms in the North Atlantic as the current gives up both heat and water vapor, (leaving behind the salt) into the soon-to-warm-Europe air with the warmth. Because the strongly saline water is so much denser/heavier than normal seawater, it sinks vigorously toward the deeper parts of the ocean, pulling the rest of the current behind it and helping maintain the AMOC’s flow.j

Should something begin to inject fresh water into that region, thus diluting the salinity of the AMOC there, it would reduce the density of that water column and thus could shut down the Conveyor Belt. And that would shut off Europe’s main heat source.

This is a scenario that most climate scientists—until this year—considered a remote possibility, even in the next century.

But it’s beginning to happen right now, both in Antarctica and off the coast of Greenland and Western Europe, because of massive glacier melts.

One part of the thermohaline circulation of the AMOC runs around Antarctica. And, because of global warming, Antarctica is shedding hundreds of billions of tons of ice-melt fresh water into the ocean every year—which is diluting and cooling saltwater and reducing local thermohaline circulation.

As Chris Mooney notes in the 4/3/18 Washington Post (“One Of The Most Worrisome Predictions About Climate Change May Be Coming True”):

“The new research, based on ocean measurements off the coast of East Antarctica, shows that melting Antarctic glaciers are indeed freshening the ocean around them. And this, in turn, is blocking a process in which cold and salty ocean water sinks below the sea surface in winter, forming ‘the densest water on the Earth’…”

Meanwhile, the northern part of the Great Conveyor Belt—which warms Europe—is also faltering in the North Atlantic, largely as a result of hundreds of billions of tons of cold, fresh water from Greenland glacier-melt, caused by global warming, pouring into it every few minutes.

New research from University College London and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (“Anomalously Weak Labrador Sea Convection and Atlantic Overturning”) found that the hiccups in the Great Conveyor Belt began around the time of the Industrial Revolution, when we—for the first time in millions of years of human evolution—started spewing billions of tons of fossil-fuel-derived carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The Great Conveyor Belt has been deteriorating ever since, and the speed of its disintegration is now alarming observers worldwide.

Scientists are concerned that we may even be close to a tipping point, where this river of warm, salty water could change or collapse rapidly and with little warning—a change that probably would take tens of thousands of years to undo or reset.

As Dr. Michael Mann, one of the world’s most respected climate scientists and the founder of the “hockey stick” that Al Gore popularized, told me on my radio/TV program April 24th:

“This is a potential tipping point in the climate system, which is to say it could happen very abruptly once it starts to happen. The danger is that we’ve already seen a substantial slowdown in this ocean circulation pattern, [and that] suggests the possibility that we could be right up against that tipping point where it essentially just shuts down.”

Mann added that until the recent research came in, pretty much everybody thought we had 100 years or so before we needed to begin to even seriously consider this potentially catastrophic scenario:

“If you talked with climate modelers even 5 or 6 years ago, they would have told you that this scenario isn’t likely to play out for at least another century or so. … So something that we didn’t expect to happen for the better part of a century is happening already.”

And lest Americans think this will only be a European problem, shutting down the AMOC/Gulf Stream, which warms the American northeast, would also have a catastrophic impact on that region of the United States and Canada.

As NASA’s scientists note on one of the few climate-change web pages the Trumpies haven’t yet removed:

“Without the vast heat that these ocean currents deliver—comparable to the power generation of a million nuclear power plants—Europe’s average temperature would likely drop 5 to 10°C (9 to 18°F), and parts of eastern North America would be chilled somewhat less. Such a dip in temperature would be similar to global average temperatures toward the end of the last ice age roughly 20,000 years ago.”

Compare that to the damage a mere 1° C drop in the 1816 Year Without a Summer caused to both Europe and the eastern part of North America in 1816. Civilization—and billions of people—probably would simply no longer survive as we know it.

Like a long-term smoker who notices that he’s beginning to cough up blood, it’s long past the time we should have done something substantial and worldwide to wean off our addiction to fossil fuels. And as Republican politicians nationwide, supported in part by the Koch brothers’ mind-boggling fossil-fuel fortune, continue to deny even the basic science of climate change, things are deteriorating daily.

Given the stakes—the survival of much of the western world, and “civilization” as we know it—we all must step up and become political activists.

Note to Republicans and GOP donors: It’s no longer just your children and grandchildren whose lives you’re ruining in a distant future when you think you’ll be dead. If this happens as soon as it looks like it may, it will be you and your friends, too.

Thom Hartmann is a talk-show hostIndependent Media Institute writing fellow, and author of over 25 books in print. Two of Hartmann’s major books on climate change – The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight and The Last Hours of Humanity – have been published in 17 languages on 5 continents. He also co-wrote and co-narrates the “Last Hours” documentary with Leonardo DiCaprio and Leila Connors.

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#ClimateChange Australia’s position is unconscionable #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Climate change: Australia’s position is unconscionable for a wealthy country

By David Shearman

Video: French President tells US students they have to make a fair society (ABC News)

“There is no planet B” says President Macron in an electrifying speech to Congress, yet for most of us climate change is of much less concern than the cost of living, taxes, schools and health services.

As a slow creeping threat, “unlikely to affect me much anyway”, climate change is easy to dismiss and therefore is never high on the election stakes where it is easy for our leaders to say they are doing everything they should — which they are not.

So as a doctor, why am I distressed by the announcement that gas resources in NT are to be developed and fracked?

After all, the NT government indicates it can be managed safely, will occur in sparsely populated regions, will bring jobs and profits for shareholders and restitution for languishing state and federal budgets?

The Adani coal mine has signalled to the world more than any spoken word that the Australian Government does not understand or care about climate change.

Development of Northern Territories huge gas reserves will produce even more emissions than Adani, with a measurable increase in world and domestic emissions.

Australia has no treaty obligation to reduce the export of gas.

Gas mining on hold in many countries

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported recently that the Earth’s greenhouse emissions from fossil fuels had increased by 1.4 per cent in 2017 after three years of flat emissions. The goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change are in jeopardy.

In Australia in 2017, emissions increased by 0.8 per cent, the third yearly consecutive increase.

The IEA report indicates that natural gas demand in the world, which includes unconventional gas, is increasing rapidly and now supplies 22 per cent of total energy. If other gas developments proceed in WA, Australia is likely to be the world’s greatest exporter of gas as well as of coal.

Recognising the threats from climate change, many countries have decided on “no new coal mines” or delayed or stopped also have delayed or stopped unconventional gas mining on either local health or emission concerns.

Photo: To the World Health Organisation, climate change is the greatest health threat of this century. (Reuters: Liu Chang )

Health and the rising level of greenhouse emissions

To the World Health Organisation, climate change is the greatest health threat of this century, a view recognised by the statements of the Australian Medical Association.

It is responsible for thousands of deaths worldwide from storm, flood, fire, drought and hunger and a range of other causes including infections.

Deaths are projected to rise to 250,000 by 2030.

The forgotten islands

The Takuu group of atolls is home to a rich and historic culture, but the resilient people and their idyllic islands face an increasingly dire threat from climate change.

In Australia the existing and expected health impacts are well documented and already affect our health services.

Many doctors find Australia’s position unconscionable for a wealthy country.

We are trading more wealth for lives lost, mainly those living in less developed, poorer countries, those least able to care for themselves.

The desperate pleas for emission reduction by our neighbours in the Pacific Island States under threat or existing inundation are ignored.

Australia absolves itself by indicating it will fulfil its fair share of emission reduction under the Paris Agreement, but even that is in doubt and ignores the fact that wealthy technological nations are positioned to offer leadership and have the capacity to carry greater responsibility to do more against climate change.

These attitudes stem from a failure to recognise our collective responsibility to act, for we all share the same atmosphere and finite resource of freshwater, biodiversity and productive land which are currently threatened by increasing climate change.

As we burn carbon we also burn whatever hope our children and grandchildren will have of having a safe climate in the future. Our legacy to them will rather be an increasingly dangerous and unstable climate.

Photo: Fracking is likely to resume in the Beetaloo Basin, an area rich in shale gas and bordered by Mataranka to the north and Elliott to the south. (ABC News: Jane Bardon)

NT contribution to Australia’s emissions

The gases that leak from gas exploration, mining and sealing of wells are called fugitive emissions; add leaks during transport, loading, distribution and then the burning of gas and you have the full life cycle emissions.

What is fracking?

• Fracking is used to extract gases, such as coal seam, tight and shale gas by pumping high-pressure water and chemicals into rock, fracturing it to release trapped gasses

• There are concerns the chemicals could contaminate groundwater supplies and threaten agricultural industries

Recent science indicates that with leakage rates as little as 3 per cent, emissions from gas are no better than coal fired power stations.

Fugitive measurements in Australian gas fields are poorly regulated and are currently unknown.

In the US, emissions from unconventional gas mining range from 2 per cent to 17 per cent.

The NT government report acknowledges the problem and hopes piously “that the NT and Australian governments seek to ensure that there is no net increase in the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions emitted in Australia from any onshore shale gas produced in the NT”.

This hope remains unfulfilled in any Australian gas field.

The development of NT gas will inevitably cause an increase in Australia’s domestic emissions, as it did in Queensland.

France banned fracking in 2011. President Macron brings “Planet B” to Australia soon.

Dr David Shearman is the honorary secretary of Doctors for the Environment Australia and Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Adelaide University.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

Big Oil knew. #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Big Oil Knew.