Month: June 2018

Rising seas: “Florida is about to be wiped off the map” #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Rising seas: ‘Florida is about to be wiped off the map’

Elizabeth RushTue 26 Jun 2018

Sea level rises are not some distant threat; for many Americans they are very real.

In an extract from her chilling new book, Rising, Elizabeth Rush details how the US coastline will be radically transformed in the coming years

Take the six million people who live in south Florida today and divide them into two groups: those who live less than six and a half feet above the current high tide line, and everybody else.’ Photograph: Milkweed Editions

In 1890, just over six thousand people lived in the damp lowlands of south Florida. Since then the wetlands that covered half the state have been largely drained, strip malls have replaced Seminole camps, and the population has increased a thousandfold.

Over roughly the same amount of time the number of black college degree holders in the United States also increased a thousandfold, as did the speed at which we fly, the combined carbon emissions of the Middle East, and the entire population of Thailand.

About 60 of the region’s more than 6 million residents have gathered in the Cox Science Building at the University of Miami on a sunny Saturday morning in 2016 to hear Harold Wanless, or Hal, chair of the geology department, speak about sea level rise. “Only 7% of the heat being trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the atmosphere,”

Hal begins. “Do you know where the other 93% lives?”

A teenager, wrists lined in aquamarine beaded bracelets, rubs sleep from her eyes. Returns her head to its resting position in her palm. The man seated behind me roots around in his briefcase for a breakfast bar.

No one raises a hand.

“In the ocean,” Hal continues. “That heat is expanding the ocean, which is contributing to sea level rise, and it is also, more importantly, creating the setting for something we really don’t want to have happen: rapid melt of ice.”

A woman wearing a sequined teal top opens her Five Star notebook and starts writing things down.

The guy behind her shovels spoonfuls of passionfruit–flavored Chobani yogurt into his tiny mouth. Hal’s three sons are perched in the next row back. One has a ponytail, one is in a suit, and the third crosses and uncrosses his gray street sneakers. The one with the ponytail brought a water bottle; the other two sip Starbucks. And behind the rows and rows of sparsely occupied seats, at the very back of the amphitheater, an older woman with a gold brocade bear on her top paces back and forth.

A real estate developer interrupts Hal to ask: “Is someone recording this?”

“Yes.” The cameraman coughs. “Besides,” Hal adds, “I say the same damn thing at least five times a week.” Hal, who is in his early seventies and has been studying sea level rise for over 40 years, pulls at his Burt Reynolds moustache, readjusts his taupe corduroy suit, and continues.

On the screen above his head clips from a documentary on climate change show glacial tongues of ice the size of Manhattan tumbling into the sea. “The big story in Greenland and Antarctica is that the warming ocean is working its way in, deep under the ice sheets, causing the ice to collapse faster than anyone predicted, which in turn will cause sea levels to rise faster than anyone predicted.”

‘Dig into geologic history and you discover this: when sea levels have risen in the past, they have usually not done so gradually, but rather in rapid surges.’ Photograph: Milkweed Editions

According to Marco Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, rising sea levels are uncertain, their connection to human activity tenuous. And yet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expects roughly two feet of rise by century’s end. The United Nations predicts three feet. And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates an upper limit of six and a half feet.

Take the 6 million people who live in south Florida today and divide them into two groups: those who live less than six and a half feet above the current high tide line, and everybody else. The numbers slice nearly evenly. Heads or tails: call it in the air. If you live here, all you can do is hope that when you put down roots your choice was somehow prophetic.

But Hal says it doesn’t matter whether you live six feet above sea level or sixty-five, because he, like James Hansen, believes that all of these predictions are, to put it mildly, very, very low. “The rate of sea level rise is currently doubling every seven years, and if it were to continue in this manner, Ponzi scheme style, we would have 205 feet of sea level rise by 2095,” he says. “And while I don’t think we are going to get that much water by the end of the century, I do think we have to take seriously the possibility that we could have something like 15 feet by then.”

It’s a little after nine o’clock. Hal’s sons stop sipping their lattes and the oceanographic scientist behind me puts down his handful of M&M’s. If Hal Wanless is right, every single object I have seen over the past 72 hours – the periodic table of elements hanging above his left shoulder, the buffet currently loaded with refreshments, the smoothie stand at my seaside hotel, the beach umbrellas and oxygen bars, the Johnny Rockets and seashell shop, the lecture hall with its hundreds of mostly empty teal swivel chairs – will all be underwater in the not-so-distant future.


One of the few stories I remember from the Bible vividly depicts the natural and social world in crisis. It is the apocalyptic narrative par excellence – Noah’s flood. When I look it up again, however, I am surprised to find that it does not start with a rainstorm or an ark, but earlier, with unprecedented population growth and God’s scorn. It begins: “When human beings began to increase in number on the earth.” I read this line and think about the 6,000 inhabitants of south Florida turning into 6 million in 120 short years. “The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become.” I think about the exponential increase in M&M’s, Chobani yogurt cups and grande lattes consumed over that same span of time. The dizzying supply chains, cheap labor and indestructible plastic. “So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.’” And then the rain began.

I do not believe in a vengeful God – if God exists at all – so I do not think of the flood as punishment for human sin. What interests me most is what happens to the story when I remove it from its religious framework: Noah’s flood is one of the most fully developed accounts of environmental change in ancient history. It tries to make sense of a cataclysmic earthbound event that happened long ago, before written language, before the domestication of horses, before the first Egyptian mummies and the rise of civilization in Crete. An event for which the teller clearly held humans responsible.


Dig into geologic history and you discover this: when sea levels have risen in the past, they have usually not done so gradually, but rather in rapid surges, jumping as much as 50 feet over a short three centuries. Scientists call these events “meltwater pulses” because the near-biblical rise in the height of the ocean is directly correlated to the melting of ice and the process of deglaciation, the very events featured in the documentary footage Hal has got running on a screen above his head.

He shows us a clip of the largest glacial calving event ever recorded. It starts with a chunk of ice the size of Miami’s tallest building tumbling, head over tail, off the tip of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Then the Southeast Financial Center goes, displaying its cool blue underbelly. It is a coltish thing, smooth and oddly muscular. The ground between the two turns to arctic ice dust and the ocean roils up. Next, chunks of ice the size of the Marquis Residences crash away; then the Wells Fargo Center falls, and with it goes 900 Biscayne Bay. Suddenly everything between the Brickell neighborhood and Park West is gone.

The clip begins again and I watch in awe as a section of the Jakobshavn Glacier half the size of all Miami falls into the sea.

“Greenland is currently calving chunks of ice so massive they produce earthquakes up to six and seven on the Richter scale,” Hal says as the city of ice breaks apart. “There was not much noticeable ice melt before the nineties. But now it accelerates every year, exceeding all predictions. It will likely cause a pulse of meltwater into the oceans.”

In medicine, a pulse is something regular – a predictable throb of blood through veins, produced by a beating heart. It is so reliable, so steady, so definite that lack of a pulse is sometimes considered synonymous with death. A healthy adult will have a resting heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute, every day, until they don’t. But a meltwater pulse is the opposite. It is an anomaly. The exception to the 15,000-year rule.

From 1900 to 2000 the glacier on the screen retreated inward eight miles. From 2001 to 2010 it pulled back nine more; over a single decade the Jakobshavn glacier lost more ice than it had during the previous century. And then there is this film clip, recorded over 70 minutes, in which the glacier retreats a full mile across a calving face three miles wide. “This is why I believe we are witnessing the beginning of the largest meltwater pulse in modern human history,” Hal says.

As the ice sheets above Hal’s head fall away and the snacks on the buffet disappear, topography is transformed from a backwater physical science into the single most important factor determining the longevity of the Sunshine State. The man seated next to me leans over. “If what he says is even half true,” he whispers, “Florida is about to be wiped off the map.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

How persistent & respectful advocacy is getting this doctor heard on #climatechange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

How do you get people to listen on the future consequences of climate change? Dr Kim Loo decided to embrace everyone regardless of their views on the issue, and has been getting plenty of attention. It helps that she’s now spending peanuts on her power bill.

Dr Loo is a NSW GP, a member of Doctors for the Environment Australia and a volunteer for Citizens Climate Lobby Australia 

I became an environmental advocate three years ago because as a doctor I was concerned about the future for my children and the health consequences of climate change.

I had spent years reducing my carbon footprint at home and living sustainably, and I became acutely aware that there were few other environmentalists within my electorate.

The 2016 survey by the Climate institute showed that 77% of Australians believe that climate change is occurring. I suspected that the other 23% lived in my electorate.

I discovered that my family and friends were a microcosm of the Climate Institute survey. People I have known and loved for years did not accept the science of climate change.

It would have been easier for me to carry on with my environmental advocacy and ignore what was happening on my home ground. It would have been easier only to see family and friends with my worldview.

I decided to embrace everyone regardless of their political views.

There were several things that were clear to me

• Everyone cares about the future of their children,

• Everyone wants air and water that is not contaminated.

• No one wants to have endless days of heat.

• Everybody wants reliable cheap and secure energy.

• Very few people, including politicians were aware of the health implications of climate change.

I started my political advocacy by sending invitations for afternoon tea at my house to the 12 local council members. Only the current mayor of our council replied.  A very impressive woman with a PhD in oncology research and now a family lawyer on the conservative side of the council, I discussed all the bullet points above with her at an informal chat in my garden in front of my chicken house.

When I received my power bill of $64 dollars for my summer quarter, I rang the Councillor and asked her whether this was newsworthy, and whether she had any contacts.

The senior writer for the local News Limited newspaper lived on my street. I was interviewed a week later and appeared in various Rupert Murdoch newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph and its digital networks. This then led to my appearance on Channel 7’s Sunrise.

It was fortuitous also that all the conservatives at all levels of government know and socialise with each other. My councillor suggested that I see my state and federal members as they were interested in renewable energy, whose advice I followed up.

For political advocacy to be effective is must be persistent. Persistently polite, respectful and appreciative.

I recently attended the town hall meeting of my federal member. His staff know me, and his senior adviser even gave me a hug.

The attendees were mainly complaining about local and state issues.  I spoke about my last power bill which was $42 for the quarter. This provoked a gasp in the audience and the attention of all present. I detailed my home renewable energy system then about sustainability in the energy sector.  People were interested.

I queued up after afterwards to speak to him about car emissions and renewable energy at home.

I do not know if I have shifted the opinion of the politicians in my electorate. I have continued fostering the relationships so that they are happy to see me again, so I can keep trying.

I have been to Canberra on three occasions to lobby federal politicians

I continue to love my family and friends who are on the other side of the political divide. They are very slowly shifting.

There needs to be a cultural and societal change to reduce our impact on this earth. There needs to be effective government policies for mitigation of climate change and adaptation to make our communities more resilient with rising heat and extreme weather to come.

We need to use every strategy that we can.

Why not love and respect?

Press link for more: Women’s Agenda

Socceroos lost but #Solar is a clear winner. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Solar pushes mid-day electricity prices below zero in Queensland

By Giles Parkinson on 25 June 2018

The roll-out of large-scale solar power in Queensland – and the continuing rapid uptake of rooftop solar by homes and businesses – is starting to have an impact on electricity prices in the state, even sending them into negative territory in the middle of the day.

Last Tuesday, June 19, wholesale electricity prices in the state dipped below zero -– an extremely rare occurrence, but one that might be expected to become increasingly common in coming years.

According to Paul McArdle at Watt Clarity, the (5 minute) dispatch price fell below zero on a number of occasions, highlighting the change in the shape of the energy market with the introduction of solar. According to his data, the prices went negative on five different occasions.

During this time, around 20 per cent of Queensland’s electricity supply came from solar – some 128MW of large-scale solar, and nearly 10 times that much (1270MW) from rooftop solar.

The fall into negative prices is because demand is low – there is no air conditioning required – and the Queensland government has riding instructions on its main government-owned generators to keep running, to ensure prices stay low. They probably weren’t thinking about them being this low.

“You will see this happening more and more,” McArdle says, noting that the shape of the energy load has changed from a two-humped camel (loads in morning and evening), to what is commonly required as the duck curve.

This will become more evident, and the incidence of negative pricing events is expected to increase dramatically, in coming months and years as yet more solar – both rooftop and large-scale – is added to the grid.

Queensland has barely scratched the surface of its new developments. Solar farms at Longreach (15MW), Sun Metals (124MW) , and Clare (100MW) have joined the grid in recent weeks, although they are still not operating at anywhere near full capacity.

Hamilton solar farm.

Kidston remains the largest in terms of output, and is nearly at its full 50MW capacity, but it will soon be joined by the Hamilton and Whitsunday solar farms, both 57.5MW, and the 110MW Darling Downs solar farm.

They will then be followed by another dozen projects, including the Emerald, Collinsville, Daydream, Hayman and Ross River solar farms, among others – all bigger than Kidston.

On top of this, rooftop solar continues to increase at a rate of around 30MW a month, with households and increasingly, small and medium-sized businesses putting solar on the roof to offset high electricity prices.

There is already more than 2,100MW of rooftop solar in Queensland, and this will likely be matched by the capacity of large-scale solar over the next 12 months as new projects are finished and start production.

The arrival of negative pricing in the middle of the day is causing more developers of large-scale solar farms to consider adding battery storage, and in some cases to combine with wind to ensure a more consistent output, and to store excess output when the price falls.

Several world-leading projects have begun, or are in planning and finance stages, including Windlab’s Kennedy energy park (wind, solar and batteries) and Genex Power’s Kidston (solar, pumped hydro and wind).

French developer Neoen, the owner and operator of the Tesla big battery in South Australia, is proposing a renewable energy hub at Kaban near Cairns (wind and batteries), and solar and storage in the Western Downs renewable energy hub.

Others are looking at adding battery storage, both to play the arbitrage market (buying low and selling high), time shifting the output to the evening peaks, or to add to grid security with services such as frequency control.

It should be noted that negative pricing events are not unique to renewables. It happens when there is too much supply and not enough demand, and generators prefer to stay online rather than switch off. It can happen in instances of network constraints as well.

States relying on coal-fired generation can experience them, because coal does not like to be switched off at night. It is one of the reasons most states put electric hot water units “off-peak”, or in the middle of the night – to give inflexible coal something to power overnight.

Now there are calls, and moves, to switch that electric hot water heating back into the middle of the day, to act as a “solar sponge.”

Note: Check out the “Large Scale Solar Lookout” for details of solar projects built, under construction, financed and in the pipeline.

Press link for more: Renew Economy

No End To Climate Wars #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #ClimateChange

No end to climate wars if energy pact offers concession to coal, Labor warns

A new subsidy would ‘destroy any chance of the government attracting broad support’

Katharine Murphy

Labor has warned the government that new subsidies for coal as part of any internal settlement on the national energy guarantee will scuttle the chances of securing peace after 10 years of warring over climate and energy policy.

The shadow climate change minister, Mark Butler, told Guardian Australia that the construction of any new coal-fired power stations “will paralyse Australia’s transition to clean energy” and “run against all the advice of industry and business, including Snowy Hydro”.

“Any subsidy for new coal in the Neg will destroy any chance of the government attracting broad support for its policy,” Butler said.

The warning comes as the energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, on Tuesday cleared the decks to take the Neg to a critical meeting of state and territory energy ministers in August, but despite the victory, he still faces a noisy internal campaign to give coal a fillip.

The Nationals are split over the policy, with some favouring the bankrolling of a new fund to prolong the life of coal plants, or a research fund. One of the dissident Liberals, Eric Abetz, declared after party-room meetings on Tuesday that the “landing” of the Neg would have to involve either the retrofitting of coal plants “or building a new one”.

In response to questions in parliament from Labor on Tuesday, the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said coal had an important role to play in the energy mix “possibly forever, who can tell?”

Frydenberg faces a series of hurdles in landing the Neg. Despite internal pushback, the energy minister has now succeeded in taking the Neg to the Council of Australian Governments’ energy council without it being subjected to another special meeting of government MPs, which was the objective of the former prime minister Tony Abbott.

The energy minister will meet his state and territory counterparts in early August. Any one of the states or territories could scuttle the Neg, because adopting it requires consensus across all the participants in the national energy market.

The Australian Capital Territory has already warned that it will be difficult to sign up because of the lack of ambition in the scheme’s emissions reduction target. After positive comments about coal in recent days from Frydenberg, the territory’s climate minister, Shane Rattenbury, also warned the commonwealth to tread carefully.

Rattenbury said coal was done. “Electricity prices are already high, and consumers will only bear further costs unless the Coalition embraces the modern age of cheap, reliable, renewable energy,” he said.

“The era of coal is over. We need to phase out this technology if we’re to have any chance of a decent future for energy and the environment in Australia.”

Victoria’s climate change minister Lily D’Ambrosio also expressed concern about the positive tilt on coal. “Along with the unnecessary complexity of the Neg, the Coalition is now threatening to slug consumers with the additional costs of un-bankable coal-fired plants just to keep their divided party room together”.

If Frydenberg can ultimately secure the support of the states, and then steer the required legislation back through the Coalition party room in defiance of internal critics, he will need Labor’s support to get the proposal through the parliament.

Many stakeholders are pressuring the major parties to strike a deal on the policy mechanism to end the uncertainty that has plagued the energy sector during the decade-long climate wars.

Apart from the stakeholder push to make any settlement bipartisan, it is unlikely the government would have a viable alternative pathway in terms of numbers to get the Neg legislation through the parliament in the absence of bipartisan support, given that there is the risk of government MPs crossing the floor.

The signals from Labor have been more positive than negative, but Butler has been warning consistently that the ALP won’t sign up if it can’t scale up the target for emissions reduction in the scheme in the event it wins government at the next election.

As the internal Coalition tensions have mounted as the policy enters its decisive phase, Labor has also declined to give Frydenberg political cover to land the scheme.

Press link for more: The Guardian

Can Anyone Fill the U.S. Leadership Vacuum on #ClimateChange? #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

American withdrawal from the Paris agreement is a test for the future of the globe, but also for the international order.

David A. Graham is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers U.S. politics and global news.

President Trump announces plans to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

One year ago, President Trump announced that he planned to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement.

The decision derived from Trump’s insistence that climate change is a “hoax” and his determination to overturn as much of his predecessor’s legacy as possible. It also matches with Trump’s insistence that the U.S. doesn’t need the rest of the world.

In a material sense, that’s a bad bet: Whether or not the U.S. participates in climate pacts like Paris, the climate is going to change, and no wall can keep rising temperatures, and their effects, out.

But the U.S.-global relationship flows the other way, too: There are times when the world needs the U.S., and the effort to slow climate change is shaping up as one of those.

Even discounting the effect of U.S. emissions on the goal of limiting change to 2 degrees Celsius, it’s simply very hard for international agreements to function without the U.S. behaving as the enforcer.

That makes Paris an interesting test case for whether global agreements can work with America withdrawing from the stage, and if so, whether anyone else can step up.

“The absence of the U.S. at a political level is visible.

I was at the Conference of Parties in Bonn in November and the absence of the U.S. is absolutely felt,” Todd Stern, the Obama administration’s lead negotiator on Paris, said Sunday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic. “There’s a lot of countries trying to pull back and backslide and it wouldn’t be happening the same way if the U.S. was there.”

The biggest risk of U.S. withdrawal hasn’t come to fruition, Stern said: Other countries didn’t pull out of the agreement after the U.S. did—in fact, Syria joined in November, making the U.S. the only country in the world that is opposed.

Stern worries that current levels of effort still aren’t enough to make the 2 degree mark. “If the U.S. is not in there, the likelihood that you’re going to get other countries doing their best is just reduced,” he said. But despite the foot-dragging from some countries, the most important players are all working to reduce carbon emissions, even as the U.S. loosens restrictions domestically.

“China is definitely pushing forward. India, definitely pushing forward.

They’re doing that domestically,” said Christiana Figueres, former longtime executive secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The motives behind that aren’t always altruistic: China’s leadership views clean technology as a huge economic growth opportunity.

China is an emerging superpower, and pundits have long speculated that it could replace the U.S. as the dominant force in international agreements.

So far, however, that isn’t happening, Stern and Figueres said.

They’re making strides domestically, but can’t seem to translate that into leadership among other countries. “It’s hard for other countries to align their political message with what is going on on the ground,” she said.

There’s an irony to this.

For years, the rest of the world has often bridled at U.S. arrogance in foreign policy. Now, other countries are asking for the U.S. to assert its leadership at just the moment when the U.S. government is not only retrenching, as the Obama administration did, but withdrawing altogether. It turns out that while American power has sometimes bullied other countries into doing what they don’t want, it’s also a useful tool for forcing them to do the things they want to do but can’t on their own.

Climate change will be a test for Trump’s isolationist vision and whether the world can find ways to work without the U.S acting as muscle.

It’s unfortunate that the experiment’s stakes include the future of human life.

Press link for more: The Atlantic

Adapting to #ClimateChange Will Take More Than Just Seawalls & Levees #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Our government’s unconscionable policies are a scary precedent

Kate MarvelJune 20, 2018

Credit: Thirty Two Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

I started to care about climate change on a warm October night in 2015. I’d been studying the Earth and its climate for years, and my work sometimes gave me a vague sense of unease. But it felt abstract, easy to put aside, never my most pressing concern.

The minute my son was born, though, the future was no longer theoretical.

Climate projections generated by computer models aren’t abstract anymore—they’re glimpses into my baby’s adult world.

I know it will be warmer and stranger and, perhaps, more dangerous to live there.

We can take action to mitigate these changes, but we owe it to our children to prepare them for a warmer world.

We need to start adapting now.

I’m afraid we’re failing.

Today, in the present, there are other children less fortunate but no less precious than my son. These are the sons and daughters of refugees and migrants, parents fleeing violence and poverty in search of a better life.

These children have been ripped, on the orders of our government, from their parents’ arms.

They have been put in cages.

There is no apparent benefit to this outrage other than to indulge the spite and hatred of an incurious reality star and his small-minded cabal of sycophants.

This is unconscionable policy.

It is evil.

It is only an inkling of what may come later.

The future will bring upheaval and uncertainty.

Sometimes disaster will be imprinted with the undeniable fingerprint of climate change. Glaciers melt, oceans warm, and rising seas will swallow small islands and coastal cities.

Their residents will never be able to return.

These people will have a clear and compelling claim to asylum; they will flee total destruction clearly attributable to a warming climate.

The wealthy countries that have emitted the vast majority of greenhouse gases will bear moral, if not necessarily legal, responsibility for their plight.

But there will be other categories of refugee in the coming world: farmers struggling to grow profitable crops in drying soil, manual laborers whose working hours are curtailed by heat and humidity, despised minority groups conveniently blamed for new adversities.

If climate change is, as our military considers it, a “threat multiplier,” there is no shortage of existing threats to multiply.

The Earth does not warm independently of the people who live on it.

What stories will we tell ourselves to excuse our neglect of people fleeing the instability and violence that feeds on and interacts with great environmental upheaval?

How will we treat dissidents from formerly democratic societies that have, under the pressures of resource scarcity and social change, listened too well to demagogues with easy answers?

There will be, in the simple words of a hateful man, “bad people” amongst these climate migrants.

Evil is not a trait exclusive to the rich world.

There will be confusion and trouble, too, communication breakdowns between traumatized migrants and the wealthy, lucky, sheltered ones who decide their fates. But most refugees will be good people, decent people, loving parents protecting frightened children.

People like you.

Perhaps, even you.

I have no way of understanding the hatred necessary to support, propose, or enact the moral obscenity of family destruction.

This is not because I am a good person.

I know how it feels to hate.

I hate the people who have done this with an intensity that sickens and scares me. But I wish them to be safe from violence and united with their families.

I have no desire to let my anger curdle into something dark and monstrous that tears screaming children from desperate parents’ arms. Not now, and not in a future where rising temperatures blur the boundaries between refugee, migrant, and opportunist.

Climate change happens in the world we build for it.

The planet will endure, and the species will almost surely survive. But our ability to adapt to what’s coming is in question.

Climate adaptation requires seawalls and drought-tolerant crops; it also needs institutions, laws, and the basic ability to recognize humanity in others.

We’ll need new infrastructure and technology, to be sure, but I doubt we can innovate our way to decency.

That’s why we should start now.

We still have the power to create and reinforce the institutions that we’ll need in the future, and to practice the kindness and compassion we may someday need from others. We can call our representatives, donate to RAICES and the ACLU and protest in the streets.

We can build levees against rising seas and air-conditioned buildings to keep out warmer air.

We can—and should—reduce our greenhouse emissions.

But more than that, we need to create the kind of civilization worth protecting.

Our children deserve no less.

Press link for more: Scientific American

If God created Heaven & Earth was it so Man could turn it into a cess pit? #Plastic #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

If there is a judgement day how do we explain this?

Canada (& Australia’s) leaders still just trying to fake it ’til they make it on climate #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

By Ross Belot. Published on Jun 23, 2018 5:06pm

Catherine McKenna (Like Josh Frydenberg) has said multiple times we are going to “absolutely” meet that Harper target.

Simple math says it’s impossible without major restructuring of our economy,  especially our energy sector and particularly the West where 60 per cent of our emissions originate.

A haul truck carrying a full load drives away from a mining shovel at the Shell Albian Sands oilsands mine near Fort McMurray, Alta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Last week there was a ministerial meeting in Belgium where environment ministers from Europe and China met to continue to push for the COP21 Paris commitments.  Oh and Canada was there too, though it isn’t at all clear why given what we said.

Ah Catherine McKenna, our Environment and Climate Change Minister.

Here’s what she sounded like coming into the job in a 2015 interview with the CBC “”People are looking at what Canada is going to commit to…You can’t just come up with targets out of thin air…The Conservative target is a floor not a ceiling, but you have to do the hard work to figure out — how do we change our economy and move to a low carbon economy?

At COP21 in Paris, McKenna was instrumental in establishing the aspirational goal 1.5ºC in the final agreement.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius appointed McKenna as a facilitator in the Paris negotiation and she lead the push according to the Globe and Mail.

It was reported “Green Party Leader Elizabeth May – who attended the meeting as a Canadian delegate – characterized Ms. McKenna’s intervention as ‘fantastic’.”

Ironically, “fantastic” may have been the right word to use, but instead of “extraordinarily good” as May meant it could instead have been “remote from reality”.

A while later Canada’s commitment remained the Harper target, and remained a ceiling not a floor.  And as for the aspirational target of 1.5ºC, not a word of Canada aspiring towards that.

Since then Catherine McKenna has said multiple times we are going to “absolutely” meet that Harper target.

Simple math says it’s impossible without major restructuring of our economy,  especially our energy sector and particularly the West where 60 per cent of our emissions originate.

The UN and others have said that our outlooks fall far short of even the modest Harper target.

So Minister McKenna, what happened to the “hard work to figure out” that you told us about in those early days not even three years ago?

Turns out it is much easier to pretend than to do that hard work.

Here we have our Minster of the Environment and Climate Change in Belgium saying a fantastical thing.  “Canada is clearly punching above its weight on the climate file.”  What?

As the European Union proposed moving their target from 40 per cent below 1990 levels to 45 per cent below 1990 levels Canada stated we were going to keep our Harper target of 30-per-cent reduction from 2005 levels.

By what definition is that punching above our weight?

We have no plan to actually get to the 30-per-cent reduction.

We might get half that.  And that puts us pretty well exactly back at 1990 levels.  Europe will be down 45 per cent and we will be down zero if we are lucky.

The same person that pushed for that aspirational target to be included in the final agreement in Paris now says “”We negotiated an ambitious climate plan and we’re committed to implementing that plan.

That’s quite frankly our focus right now.” If she had meant by “we” the Europe Union she’s correct.  But if she meant Canada she’s way off base as measured by her own words in 2015.  And McKenna meant Canada, that was her explanation for Canada not changing our target like Europe had.

Canada has zero credibility on climate change action.

The Pan-Canadian Framework On Clean Growth and Climate Change was a public relations exercise with no clear roadmap to even our modest goal.   The Trudeau government has put all their political capital into establishing national carbon pricing.  But they did it in a patchwork fashion without full consensus and it has not been designed to be effective.  Just having it seems to be enough for the Trudeau government to declare that exercise a success.

And that is really a problem.

On the climate file they seem to believe symbolism and rhetoric are more important than results.  But they continue to ignore the fact that their pipeline support also is symbolic of a lack of commitment to climate change action.

They attempt to get around that with the rhetoric about the old economy being necessary to fund the new economy.

They haven’t articulated what the new economy even looks like.

Empty and absurdist rhetoric.

The Trudeau government has delivered on some key promises:  increase in refugee settlement, middle class tax cuts and cannabis legalization.   But on others such as electoral reform, First Nations rights and climate change action the results have not matched the symbolism and rhetoric.

Somebody stood up a while ago and said this : “I have no time for folks who are like, you know, ‘We shouldn’t take action. I don’t have time for politicians that play cynical games about climate action’.”  Hard not to agree with that sentiment when you look at what our  Environment Minister has been cynically saying in Belgium and yes that last quote is also from McKenna.

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Should I stay or should I go? #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #SeaLevelRise #StopAdani Civilisation collapse

Predictively Speaking: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Today’s post is written by David Trossman, Research Associate, University of Texas-Austin’s Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences

Subtle environmental changes in the distant and not-so-distant past have contributed to civilization collapse, war, and uprooted lives.

What, then, will be the human consequences of future changes on our planet?

Looking to the past can provide lessons.

Looking to the future through predictions can help us anticipate what risks may materialize in different regions

. With the help of observational instruments like satellites, Earth system models, archaeological analyses, and economic models, Earth scientists are doing the crucial work that will determine our ability to prepare for and hopefully reduce the impacts of environmental changes on humans.

Modern roads and ancient tracks in Oman, as seen from space by the Landsat satellite.

Archaeologists and Earth scientists have teamed up to figure out what contributed to the collapse of ancient civilizations.

Droughts factored into the declines of the Harappans in the Indus Valley of modern-day Pakistan in 2200 BCE, the Mayans in modern-day Central America in 900 CE, the Khmers of Angkor in modern-day Cambodia in the 1400s CE, and others.  Scientists know this because of chemical isotopes, which are proxies for environmental conditions, and laser-based (Lidar) observations from aircrafts, which have allowed us to examine the remnants of ancient peoples that were previously invisible.

The details of how these civilizations collapsed and where the people of those civilizations went have been difficult to parse due to the relatively scant record-keeping long ago, but it is widely accepted that water scarcity played a pivotal role.

More recent examples of environmental changes can help us understand how people may have reacted to past environmental stressors.

Drought-induced migration is a well-studied phenomenon that occurred during the Dust Bowl of the Great Plains of the USA in the 1930s, the drought of northern Ethiopia and the Sahel in the 1970s and 1980s, and the drought of Syria in the 2000s and 2010s.

In some instances, pathways were from rural areas to urban areas after it was no longer possible to sustain oneself with existing agricultural practices, but other exoduses were out of home countries.

The mingling of new communities compounded with the economic instability that results from drought vulnerability can heighten socio-political dissatisfaction.  Some have argued that the drought in Syria played a role in the eventual uprising and subsequent civil war there. Unfortunately, the Earth knows only geophysical boundaries, not geopolitical ones.

Migrations are not always mass movements of people, though.

Sometimes they come in the form of a steady drip that requires an analysis to recognize.

Census and meteorological data from the past several decades have revealed that the more extreme the drought that a given Mexican state experienced, the greater the percent of people that migrated from that Mexican state to the USA.

This can be better understood through the concomitant crop yields.

Similarly, European Union asylum applications have spiked from countries experiencing extreme temperature fluctuations.

These studies suggest that temperature extremes have made people seek shelter in other countries, while precipitation extremes have made people get up and move.

Image from the Florida Keys following Hurricane Irma.

Sea level change and associated intrusion of salt water into drinking water are also migration-inducing environmental forces.

Predictions for how people will migrate suggest that Florida will have the sharpest decline in population because it is the flattest, lowest-lying state.

For those who don’t have the ability to move, it’s likely that the most frequently inundated areas will become low-income areas, emerging as a chief civil justice and humanitarian issue.

It’s projected that Texas will gain the most people.

However, observations have shown that Texas has depleted more water resources since 2002 than almost any other state.  And what about the people on islands that will be inundated beyond habitability?

Taking a cue from Hollywoodfloating islands are being built, but many islands that can withstand rogue waves and extreme weather are needed to house the millions of people that will be displaced.

Earth scientists are needed for challenges like these.

Projections of changes in environmental conditions are not only important because they could help with predicting how many migrating people to expect, but also because they could potentially help some would-be-migrants prepare for alternative futures at home.

With the trove of big data that Earth scientists and others are helping to generate, understand through models, and make predictions from, will people be able to stave off the societal instability that has led to migrations in the past?

Or will we trust in belief over data?

The time for taking action is now so that the world is prepared when large populations of people are faced with the heart-wrenching decision: should I stay, or should I go?

Press link for more: The Bridge

Conflict and climate change challenge sustainable development effort: UN report #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Conflict and climate change challenge sustainable development effort: UN report

A pastoralist in northern Somalia, a region hit hard by drought. He lost almost half of his sheep flock that originally numbered 70.

The study provides a snapshot of progress towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by world leaders nearly three years ago.

“With just 12 years left to the 2030 deadline, we must inject a sense of urgency,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a forward to the report.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 reveals that conflict and climate change were major contributing factors to increased hunger and forced displacement, among other challenges.

For the first time in more than a decade, the number who are not getting enough to eat is trending upwards, and there are now approximately 38 million more hungry people in the world: rising from 777 million in 2015, to 815 million a year later.

Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018: World Hunger infographic.

Meanwhile, conflict is now one of the main drivers of food insecurity in nearly 20 countries.

The report also points out some good news, such as the significant decline in the number of people living on less than two dollars a day.

That number fell from 26.9 per cent in 2000, to 9.2 per cent in 2017.

The mortality rate for children under-five also has dropped, by almost 50 per cent in the world’s least developed countries.

However, dark spots remain, such as the 2.3 billion people who still lack basic sanitation, while more than 890 million worldwide continue to practice open defecation: that is, using the bathroom outdoors.

And whereas there were 210 million cases of malaria in 2013, the number jumped to 216 million just three years later.

Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018: Youth Unemployment infographic.

Francesca Perucci, Assistant Director of the UN’s Statistics Division, with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), also pointed to the importance of timely data collection and analysis to monitor progress.

“The report highlights the need for political leadership, adequate resources and commitment to further expand on tools available for data collection, production and dissemination, to ensure that all countries have rigorous evidence and comprehensive data to guide programmes and efforts towards 2030,” she said

Press link for more: News.UN.ORG