Month: July 2018

20 Things You Can Do To Roll Back Neoliberal Capitalism And Live A Better Life #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #NoNewCoal


Richard Hil

Time to talk

Activists are constantly wanting, waiting and hoping to affect some sort of change. It’s why they’re activists. They don’t always agree about the change they want, or how to achieve it – and that’s OK.

There are of course many pathways to change, not all of them grand, revolutionary or universal, but each contribute to a transformational space process.

If the change we’re after is a more equitable, peaceful and sustainable world then we need relevant, meaningful conversations that are grounded in the reality of our everyday lives.

These conversations are both urgent and necessary.

It may sound clichéd, but we do indeed face many intersecting crises, not least that of anthropogenic climate change.

This is a major existential threat for which the only answer is to replace the current rapacious economic system with something else – something more attuned to ecological survival, wellbeing and social/personal fulfilment.

How we achieve this remains open to question, but it’s clear we’re witnessing the fissures and ruptures of a system on the verge of collapse.

The most pressing imperative at this juncture is time: there’s not too much of it left before the full suite of catastrophes envelopes the globe.

Equally concerning is the hiatus created by public disillusionment in liberal democracies and the opportunity this affords to various nefarious figures and movements.

What’s imperative now, perhaps more than ever, is a global social movement united around a common set of principles.

We need more than the usual critique of neoliberal capitalism – vital though this is.

The task now, surely, is to urgently consider the values, principles, policies and practices required to guide us to a different future.

That’s the challenge.

There are plenty of people out there seeking to wrap their heads around a change agenda. It’s worth touching on some of their views and ideas.

In Part 2 of this article, I will draw on some of these ideas to suggest a list of things we can all do (within our spheres of influence) to make change happen.

Thinking about activism

In The Activist’s Handbook, Aidan Rickets argues that change hinges on the values we espouse, along with our preparedness to embrace the unexpected, chaotic and mysterious. Blueprints, programmes and rigid formulas are, he says, to be avoided as they can lead us down some very long rabbit holes. The same cautionary message applies to demagogues, zealots, ideological evangelists and other self-anointed purveyors of the truth. If someone is telling you what to think, avoid them like the plague. If they want to engage you in dialogue, that’s an entirely different matter.

US-based activist and social ecologist, Dr Charlie Brennan, insists that the change we’re seeking will involve a mix of trade-offs, compromises, and elements of both reform and outright rejection of the current order.

There’s no single prescription. Author of Post capitalism, Paul Mason, sees in the current order glimpses of future possibilities based on sharing, cooperation, collaboration and other forms of mutuality.

Director of the Change Agency, James Wheelan, argues that activists play a multiplicity of roles in seeking change.

They operate either independently or in concert with others as they pursue common goals.

Change thoughtsters, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms in New power, assert that recent technological developments and social media in particular have given rise to new cultures of change, rendering us less reliant on organised politics, traditional hierarchies, and more embracing of uncertainty and diversity.

Social media holds enormous influence and promise, they say, especially in terms of diffusing existing power relations and creating new social networks and co-created spaces.

Press link for more: Ngara Institute

20 things you can do to roll back neoliberal capitalism and live a better life – Part 2
Richard Hil

In my previous post, I alluded to some broad views about activism and change. Here I have highlighted 20 ways you can contribute to the change process within your sphere of influence.

What, a list?!

What could be more off-putting?

A numbered collection of connected items suggests something prescriptive, a lofty assertion of the proper way of doing things – like the ten commandments, for example; or an indispensable antidote to a malady.

What I’ve suggested could be read as self-righteousness, or a set of abstract ideas disconnected from the full realities of people’s lives.

I mean, while it might be nice to play with the idea of yoga or meditation, or adherence to the slow movement, if you’re doing two jobs and your penalty rates have just been cut and you’re worrying how to pay your electricity bill then, hey, this might not work for you. And if you’re in debt and/or you’re simply broke, then buying certified organic food might be seen as a bourgeois indulgence.

You could respond to my suggestions with ‘It’s alright for you to talk’, and you’d have a point.

After all, I’m a superannuated retiree who’s  got the time, resources and inclination to write the stuff I do.

This is not self-flagellation but simply a recognition of differentiated experience.

We’re not all in the same boat.

We live in a deeply divided society where basic resources are not shared, where there is a spectrum of pain, hardship and suffering.

I invite you to come up with your own suggestions, one of which might be to avoid lists and people like me.

There’s nothing more irritating for someone in the midst of hardship than to be told how you might roll back neoliberal capitalism.

In short, please feel free to discard this list and lampoon its author.

History tells us that the most effective way of achieving change – not the only one of course – is to work in concert with others. But these days, given the pernicious nature of neoliberal capitalism, simply forming a group and sharing our experiences, looking after ourselves, and slowing down and sharing are tantamount to political acts of resistance.

But, as Naomi Klein insists, simply saying no to a given system or practice is not enough. Eventually we need to tell ourselves and others a story of what a better world looks like. That’s the truly exciting, and vitally necessary, part of all this.

For reasons set out above, I know some might wince at what I have suggested below, but it’s what I really think, especially when it comes to building connections and relationships. The points reflect what I have learned over recent years, and they consciously move away from simple oppositional politics to an agenda of change grounded in peoples’ everyday lives. I haven’t mentioned many specific policies because they’re part of our evolving conversations. We each have our own policy preferences. The article is pitched toward cultural change at the relational/dialogistic level, because that’s where I think change processes begin.  We should be thoughtful rather than simply reactive. I could well be wrong in all this, and I’m more than happy to listen to other views. What needs to accompany this, I believe, is a manifesto of the things we think a decent society should aspire to.

On a final note: do I practice any of the above? Yes, no, and occasionally; but: I do what I can, often clumsily, often with little benefit. Often times though I do hit the mark.

The thing is to test things out, feel what’s in your comfort zone, talk, reflect.

Along the way, you’ll connect with others trying to do the same, and that’s the whole point!

The list

1. Talk to your family, friends and acquaintances and work colleagues about what ails them. Listen, don’t preach, or pester-lecture. Offer what Paul Bloom refers to as “rational compassion” rather than empathy but link lived experiences to elements of the bigger picture. Focus on issues of inequality, disconnection, stress. Rework George Monbiot’s story about what it means to be human – i.e. we’re altruistic and social creatures not rapacious competitors. The best of us is about cooperation and collaboration and sharing/caring. And compassion is the great glue of life.

2. If during the course of these conversations someone blames the Other for their predicament, listen, don’t hector-lecture or contradict. Try and find out the origins (projections and deflections) of their views– entrenched, intergenerational thought patterns, negative experiences, insecurity, envy etc. Gently talk about someone you know from the targeted group and explain their story. Humanize the issue. Point out that we might be blaming the wrong people for our problems. Relate this through one of your own personal experiences.

3. Try and get to know your neighbours, see if you can arrange a BBQ or social gathering in the local park. Steer the conversation gently to the above, but in the first instance the priority is connection.

4. If at work, always have a tea/lunch break, talk with your colleagues about common problems. Ease in some aspects of common interest and the need to organise rather than fight/struggle individually. Talk about what the union does, and why unions are important, indeed essential to a truly democratic society.

5. Work less, more slowly, have breaks, get off the grid, join a local energy democracy initiative, eat good food not that crappy fatty carcinogenic stuff (buy from a community garden if you can’t afford the shops), minimise waste, consume less, invest more time in other people, go to your local farmers market and, if you have the time and inclination, volunteer at the community garden. This will elevate your spirits, make you healthier, and you’ll live longer. Try and recreate what Canadian psychotherapist, Susan Pinker, refers to as a “village effect”. Reconnect with friends and family, preferably face-to-face. Be kind, not nice. Remember, our indent ties are formed largely by being in others faces not staring in a mirror.

6. With your friends and acquaintances, talk up the scourge of wage stagnation, minimum wage and the idea of the decade: Universal Basic Income. The latter will rattle some, but many will be intrigued by the possibilities this idea affords in a deeply unequal society. But watch out for conservative renditions of the UBI: they’re a backdoor to slashing welfare.

7. Arrange a discussion group in your local café or pub, or even organise a Politics in the Pub. Invite your family, friends etc. Make sure it’s a good night out – food, drink, music, comedy etc. Invite interesting, progressive speakers, advertise your work, invite other groups. Build networks.

8. If you’re at school or college or uni, always question the basic assumptions of the stuff that’s being dished up. The best approach is to unlearn, this invites critical inquiry at every turn. Don’t buy into the job ready agenda and if you considering a career think how your job can bereft others. Remember, you’ll get far more job satisfaction from helping others than receiving a wad of money. Please try and avoid business and commerce courses. Too many great minds have already been usurped. There are too many of these courses, and many of them are less than good. Another idea: start an informal, free university, or college. People love talking about ideas that mean something to them. That’s why Alain de Botton’s School of Life and Schumacher College in Totnes, UK have done so well. Unlike many ‘mainstream’ institutions, these places connect more readily with the exigencies of everyday life.

9. Reframe the language you use. US academic activist, George Layoff, makes clear that this practice can prove invaluable in terms of altering the direction of debates and conversations. It may, for example, be worth referring to current policy making in Australia in terms of policy-making-as-violence/cruelty. Think here about our refugee policies, our nation’s involvement in what Henry Reynolds refers to as “unnecessary wars”, or growing economic inequality, the hardships experienced by Indigenous people etc. Government policies have demonstrable harmful effects, they are neither kind or benign. Some are downright nasty, vindictive, inhumane and cruel. On the other hand, think about how we can measure ‘progress’ (that word!) in this country. Economic growth, productivity, GDP etc are frequently used as markers of so-called development. Once you introduce a different set of measures, as have been employed in various wellbeing indexes, the picture is radically transformed. The trashing of our environment, diminished quality of everyday life, economic hardship, lack of access, inclusion and participation tell a different story to any gormless ‘growth’ agenda (which was discredited long ago).

10. Share food at home, enjoy rituals, learn an instrument, dance, play the ukulelelike, learn to paint or basket weave. Ohyes, watch less telly, especially the commercial stations, get a pet, start a veggie garden, and build a very large statue of Buddha. Mediation, yoga, It Chi and other forms of mindfulness practice are a must if you’re going to counter the destructive lifestyle associated with turbo capitalism.

11. Spend heaps of time in nature, go for long walks, sit in parks, listen to birds and feel the wind on your face. Some of the very best things in life really are free. Minimise your time in cyberspace. It’s not always a great place to be and creates the illusion of connection. Face-to-face communication and getting out there is best for your spiritual health.

12. If you’re not Indigenous to this land, Indigenise your outlook. Learn about the ravages of colonial rule (and its continued manifestations) and the wisdom-wonders of Indigenous culture in your local area and more broadly. Integrate what Mary Graham refers to as the “custodial ethic” into your life: the deep respect and practical reverence for the land.

13. Disinvest your funds from corporations, and make sure you know where your money is going. Above all, avoid putting your money into the fossil fuel industry. This industry is helping to kill the planet, which includes you, me and everything around us. It’s important to get literate about how money works (it’s complicated). The mystique manufactured by the financial elites is calculated to be just that. The less we know the more power is accorded to the powerful. Start thinking about what it takes to open a public bank.

14. Join an activist organisation – one that expresses your passions. Contribute in any way you can. There are always big and small ways we can have an impact, including supporting the activists within the organisation who may be doing too much.

15. Join a progressive political party. Don’t buy the line that all politicians are the same and that governments are a waste of time, because they still do have an enormous influence on how society is organised. Even minimal change is better than no change and, you just might stop things getting worse. Being excessively cynical, although tempting, does have its problems.

16. Unlike most other Western countries, Australia hasn’t got a bill of rights, which is silly and dangerous. Be part of a growing movement by getting together with like-minded folk to create your own localised Charter of rights aimed at getting this adopted by your local Council. Once that is done, work with other groups in other councils to do the same. Precedents have been set for such.

17. Generally, whatever you do, the more you can help expose the innards of political and corporate maleficence, the better. Encourage young people in your life to take an interest. Talk with them about how each vote can make all the difference. Remember that one of the reasons Trump got in into office was because of those who chose to vote and those who didn’t, all ninety million of them!

18. Join protests, sign petitions, write to your local MP, agitate and disrupt and discomfort when the need arises. Protest remains important, despite what the cynics say. It’s not the be all and end al, but it helps bring people together, and raises public awareness. Governments hate protests and that’s why they’re intent on banning them.

19. In this ‘post truth’ era of vapid news reportage, make sure you only access outlets like The Australian to glean the inner workings of the neoliberal state of which that paper is a part. Otherwise, read other independent sources, but be cautious, there are lots of crazies in cyberspace and silly and unhelpful conspiracy theoristsabound. Intellectual self-defence, as Noam Chomsky asserts, requires us to exercise all our critical faculties at this time. So, access independent journalists who have some street cred, who aren’t aligned with any suspect organisation or political party. It’s getting harder to penetrate the haze, so be cautious. Stand up for journalists who are going out on a limb to tell us the truth. Support them against attacks.

20. Perhaps more than ever, we need a sense of humour. Although it’s not possible or desirable to laugh things off, it’s a useful mechanism for coping. Additionally, ridicule, as Saul Alinsky, Srdja Popovic and Russell Brandt have observed, it has its uses, although should be deployed judiciously as part of a broader range of tactics and theatrics.

Press link for more: Ngara Institute

Droughts, Heat Waves and Floods: How to Tell When #ClimateChange Is to Blame #auspol #qldpol #abc730 #TheDrum #QandA #StopAdani #NoNewCoal @SciNate

Weather forecasters will soon provide instant assessments of global warming’s influence on extreme events

Quirin Schiermeier, Nature magazineJuly 30, 2018

The dried up bed of Yarrow Reservoir near Bolton, England, on July 23, 2018, during a weeks-long heatwave across the U.K. Credit: Christopher Furlong Getty Images

The Northern Hemisphere is sweating through another unusually hot summer. Japan has declared its record temperatures a natural disaster. Europe is baking under prolonged heat, with destructive wildfires in Greece and, unusually, the Arctic. And drought-fuelled wildfires are spreading in the western United States.

For Friederike Otto, a climate modeller at the University of Oxford, UK, the past week has been a frenzy, as journalists clamoured for her views on climate change’s role in the summer heat. “It’s been mad,” she says. The usual scientific response is that severe heatwaves will become more frequent because of global warming. But Otto and her colleagues wanted to answer a more particular question: how had climate change influenced this specific heatwave? After three days’ work with computer models, they announced on 27 July that their preliminary analysis for northern Europe suggests that climate change made the heatwave more than twice as likely to occur in many places.

Soon, journalists might be able to get this kind of quick-fire analysis routinely from weather agencies, rather than on an ad hoc basis from academics. With Otto’s help, Germany’s national weather agency is preparing to be the first in the world to offer rapid assessments of global warming’s connection to particular meteorological events. By 2019 or 2020, the agency hopes to post its findings on social media almost instantly, with full public reports following one or two weeks after an event. “We want to quantify the influence of climate change on any atmospheric conditions that might bring extreme weather to Germany or central Europe,” says Paul Becker, vice-president of the weather agency, which is based in Offenbach. “The science is ripe to start doing it”.

The European Union is interested too. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) in Reading, UK, is preparing to pilot a similar programme by 2020 that will seek to attribute extreme events, such as heatwaves or floods, to human-induced climate change. If that works well, a regular EU attribution service could be in place a year or two later, says Richard Dee, head of the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service at the ECMWF. “It’s ambitious, but doable,” says Otto, who is also helping to set up the EU effort.

That weather agencies are contemplating such regular services shows how far ‘attribution science’ has come since the first cutting-edge research projects—more than a decade ago—tried to attribute individual weather events to climate change. Now, after more than 170 studies in peer-reviewed journals, attribution science is poised to burst out of the lab and move into the everyday world. It still has difficulty with some kinds of extreme weather phenomena, but as meteorological services begin to offer attribution information routinely, the bigger challenge is to work out how to make the studies helpful to the people who might use them. “It’s one thing to make scientifically robust attribution statements,” says Peter Walton, a social scientist at the University of Oxford. “How to go about using that information is another thing.”

Attribution 101

The idea behind attribution science is simple enough. Disasters such as record-breaking heatwaves and extreme rainfall are likely to become more common because the build-up of greenhouse gases is altering the atmosphere. Warmer air contains more water vapour and stores more energy; the increasing temperatures can also change large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns. But extreme weather can also arise from natural cycles, such as the El Niño phenomenon that periodically warms sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

Researchers say that teasing out the role of human-induced global warming—as opposed to natural fluctuations—in individual weather extremes will help city planners, engineers and home-owners to understand which kinds of floods, droughts and other weather calamities are increasing in risk. And surveys suggest that people are more likely to support policies focused on adapting to climate-change impacts when they have just experienced extreme weather, so quickly verifying a connection between a regional event and climate change, or ruling it out, could be particularly effective.

The Theewaterskloof dam and reservoir in South Africa, which supplies water to Cape Town, in March 2018 after a 3-year drought. Credit: Melanie Stetson Freeman Getty Images

Otto, the deputy director of the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, is a veteran of attribution science, having conducted more than two dozen analyses. On 4 June, for instance, she and her colleagues completed a study focused on the southern edge of Africa, which had been suffering from a three-year drought. By early this year, the situation had become so dire in South Africa’s Western Cape Province that officials in Cape Town had warned they would soon hit ‘Day Zero’, when the region would run out of water to serve basic needs—a first for a major city.

As reports of Day Zero made international headlines, Otto and Mark New, a climate scientist at the University of Cape Town, decided that the event was a good candidate for an attribution study. Working in their spare time because they had no dedicated funding for the project, researchers from the Netherlands, South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom started by defining the regional extent of the multi-year drought. They also created an index of its severity, which combined measurements of rainfall and heat. Then, the teams turned to the workhorses of attribution studies: complex computer models that mimic Earth’s climate. On each of five independent models, they ran thousands of simulations. Some of these took into account observed levels of human-generated greenhouse gases; others ran with natural concentrations of the gases, as if the Industrial Revolution had never happened. The researchers compared how many times a drought of similar severity and extent turned up in the thousands of test runs. Most of the teams used their own dedicated computers, but the Oxford branch of the study conducted its simulations on the weather@home model ensemble, a distributed computing framework that uses the idle time of thousands of volunteers’ personal computers.

By the time the team met in June, rains had returned to South Africa and had pushed Day Zero away. But the scientists were still chasing the causes of the mega-drought, which could help to determine whether the region might face a repeat anytime soon. Coordinating a four-way Skype call from her office in Oxford, Otto looked relieved when colleagues agreed that the analysis had yielded a result. “Global warming has tripled the odds of three consecutive dry years in the region,” she says.

Texas National Guard soldiers arrive in Houston to aid residents in heavily flooded areas from the storms of Hurricane Harvey, Aug. 27, 2017. Credit: 1st Lt. Zachary West, Texas Army National Guard and U.S. Department of Defense

The findings came just in time for Roop Singh, a climate-risk adviser at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre in The Hague, the Netherlands, to present the results at a conference on climate-change adaptation in Cape Town two weeks later. Researchers there didn’t find the results particularly shocking, Singh says—but they did trigger lively discussions about whether the increase in drought risk could help to justify increased investment in diversifying water sources in Cape Town. Otto’s study was published on 13 July, before peer review, at the website of World Weather Attribution, a partnership of six research institutes (including the University of Oxford) that joined together in 2014 to analyse and communicate the possible effect of climate change on extreme weather events.

Although Cape Town avoided Day Zero this year, policymakers in the region say Otto’s results send a sobering warning to water authorities that might be inclined to downplay the risk of global warming. “This is an incredibly strong message which we cannot afford to ignore,” says Helen Davies, director of green economy in the Western Cape Government’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism. “We may need to work on a radically new approach to water management,” she says.

The work by Otto’s team joins a rapidly growing corpus of studies on climate attribution. From 2004 to mid-2018, scientists published more than 170 reports covering 190 extreme weather events around the world, according to an analysis by Nature, which builds on previous work by the publication CarbonBrief. So far, the findings suggest that around two-thirds of extreme weather events studied were made more likely, or more severe, by human-induced climate change (see ‘Attribution science’). Heat extremes made up more than 43% of these kinds of events, followed by droughts (18%) and extreme rain or flooding (17%). In 2017, for the first time, studies even stated that three extreme events would not have occurred without climate change: heatwaves in Asia in 2016, global record heat in the same year, and marine warming in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea from 2014–16. But in 29% of cases in Nature’s analysis, the available evidence either showed no clear human influence or was too inconclusive for scientists to make any judgement.

Nature, July 30 2018, doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-05849-9

Sometimes studies seem to come to opposite conclusions about a particular event. One study about a 2010 heatwave in Russia found that its severity was still within the bounds of natural variability; another analysis determined that climate change had made the event more likely to occur. The media found the results confusing, but climate scientists say the discrepancy is not surprising because the two studies looked at different issues: severity and frequency. According to Otto, “The example goes to show that framing and communicating attribution questions is a real challenge.” But researchers have become more sophisticated since then about how they set up and present their studies, she adds.

Rapid reports

The South Africa study could have been done faster, had the researchers been able to spend all their time on it. This year’s work during the European heatwave was not the first rapid study: in 2015, for instance, during another sweltering heatwave in Europe, an international team of researchers (including Otto) found within weeks how climate change had made comparable heatwaves four times more likely in some European cities, and at least twice as likely over much of the continent. Meteorological agencies plan to work even faster when they put these experimental methods into regular operation. Over the past few months, Otto has talked extensively with the staff of the German weather service, briefing them on how to conduct attribution studies using the best approaches. On 21 June, she signed an agreement with the agency that provides free use of the University of Oxford’s weather@home model. Meanwhile, the Copernicus Climate Change Service has asked Otto and two of her colleagues to write a paper describing workflows and methods for conducting rapid attribution studies, to be published by September.

Otto says a rapid attribution service is needed because questions about the role of climate change are regularly asked in the immediate aftermath of extreme weather events. “If we scientists don’t say anything, other people will answer that question not based on scientific evidence, but on whatever their agenda is. So if we want science to be part of the discussion that is happening, we need to say something fast,” she says.

Some scientists might feel uncomfortable if weather forecasters announce results before work has gone through peer review. But in these cases, the methods have already been extensively reviewed, says Gabriele Hegerl, a climate scientist at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Hegerl is also a co-author of a 2016 report by the US National Academies, which concluded that the science of attribution has advanced rapidly and would benefit from being linked to operational weather prediction. “It can be really useful to have results quickly available for event types we understand reasonably well, such as heatwaves,” she says. “You don’t need to peer review the weather forecast,” adds Otto.

But not all of the science involved in attribution studies is settled, Hegerl says. Computer algorithms still struggle to model severe local storms that result from the rapid convection of air, such as small hailstorms and tornadoes, so scientists can’t say whether climate change has made these events more likely. Reliable attribution is also difficult or even impossible where long-term climate records are still lacking, such as in some African countries. And there might still be natural climate variability that is not fully visible in the relatively short record of direct climate observations. To trace very-long-term climate fluctuations—such as those caused by changes in atmospheric-pressure patterns or sea surface temperatures that cycle once every few decades—researchers must rely on low-resolution proxy data, such as from tree rings. That this variability doesn’t always show up in direct observations does create some uncertainty in studies, particularly for research on drought attribution, says Erich Fischer, a climate scientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

At a meeting in Oxford in 2012, some critics questioned whether climate scientists could be confident about the conclusions of attribution studies, given the lack of observational data and weaknesses in the climate models of the time. But since then, doubts have largely been quelled. Researchers now run the studies using several independent climate models, which reduces uncertainty because they can look for results that concur. And scientists are more careful about how they make probabilistic claims. “Extreme-event attribution has made a lot of progress since it began with scant resources,” says Fischer. “It may still not work for small hailstorms or tornadoes. But attribution claims are now fairly robust for any large-scale weather patterns that can be represented by state-of-the-art climate models.”

Unclear impact

In South Africa, Davies says Otto’s latest study should help to press the case for new approaches to regional water management. “Meteorologists assured us after the second year of drought that there was no way we were going to have a third dry year in a row. But we can’t use the past any more for what might happen in the future. We need to learn to adapt to a changing climate, and we absolutely need attribution to do it right.” One of the lessons of the recent drought and the attribution analysis is that the Western Cape should not rely solely on rainfall to replenish its water supply, she says. Instead, it should diversify by tapping groundwater and expanding its desalination and waste-water treatment facilities.

But, in general, it’s hard to know what effect attribution studies are having, social scientists say. That’s because it is difficult to tease out the impacts of these findings from other studies that forecast increased risks of extreme weather associated with climate change—or from the shock of the weather events themselves. Still, if attribution studies start appearing regularly in weather reports, rather than just in scientific journals, then their impacts could become much more conspicuous, says Jörn Birkmann, an expert in spatial and regional planning at the University of Stuttgart in Germany. “City and infrastructure planners who plan and approve new housing areas, hospitals or train stations need to consider risks of extreme weather events more precisely if these events are clearly attributed to climate change,” he says.

Evidence from attribution reports could also feed into litigation on climate change, suggest Birkmann and James Thornton, the London-based chief executive of ClientEarth, an international group of environmental lawyers. Court cases that allege failure to prepare for the effects of climate change haven’t yet cited attribution studies, Thornton says. But he thinks judges will increasingly rely on them to help decide whether defendants—who might be oil companies, architects or government agencies—can be held liable. “Courts tend to give credibility to government data,” he says. “If attribution moves from science to public service, judges will be much more comfortable using the results.”

At the German weather agency, Becker says he is convinced that attribution studies will become a valuable service for many parts of society. “It’s part of our mission to illuminate the links between climate and weather,” he says. “There is demand for that information, there is science to provide it, and we are happy to spread it.”

Drought in Australia The Big Dry

This article is reproduced with permission and was first published on July 30, 2018.

Press link for more: Scientific American

Record-breaking summer marches on to the beat of climate change #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #abc730 #drought #heatwave #StopAdani #NoNewCoal

(CNN) — The summer of temperature extremes just keeps going, with record heat waves this month on all four continents that occupy the non-tropical Northern Hemisphere where it is now summer.

On Monday, Japan recorded a temperature never before reached on the island nation since reliable records began in the 1800s.

Kumagaya, a city only 40 miles from Tokyo, hit 41.1 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit) in the midst of a multiweek heat wave that has killed at least 44 people.

The extreme temperatures are also affecting other countries in East Asia: South and North Korea have set heat records with temperatures climbing near 40 C (104 F).

It is these types of heat waves that scientists have been warning would be a consequence of warming the planet through greenhouse gas emissions.

“The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle,” said Michael Mann, a climate scientist and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University.

“We are seeing them play out in real time in the form of unprecedented heat waves, floods, droughts and wildfires. And we’ve seen them all this summer,” he said.

Temperatures soar in Europe and Arctic

Much of Europe has been baking under a massive high-pressure ridge that is allowing tropical heat to climb all the way to the Arctic and blocking cooling rainfalls from ending the stretch of hot weather.

Temperatures above 32 C extended to the northern reaches of Scandinavia, setting records in Sweden, Finland and Norway for stations above the Arctic Circle.

The result has been a string of unprecedented wildfires in Sweden that have prompted the country to request assistance from other nations such as Italy, with more resources to fight wildfires.

The United Kingdom is off to its driest start to a summer, according to the Met Office, and it has been one of the hottest on record, coming in just 0.1 C behind the average temperature during the hottest summer on record in the UK, which averaged 21 C in 1976.

The heat wave is ongoing, with a “level three heat-health watch” issued for much of south and east England through this week as temperatures will climb in to the 30s Celsius through Friday.

Temperatures compared to normal, with red/orange showing temperatures well above average for much of the Northern Hemisphere.

In Northern Africa’s Sahara Desert, certainly no stranger to sweltering temperatures, a record high was recorded July 5 in Ouargla, Algeria. The mark of 51.3 C (124 F) is the highest temperature ever reliably recorded on the African continent, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

Numerous heat waves in North America

This month, a brutal heat wave also struck Canada, which saw temperatures peak in Montreal on July 2 with a record of 36.6 C (98 F). There were at least 70 heat-related deaths across the province of Quebec; CNN’s news partner CBC reported that the number of deaths overwhelmed Montreal’s morgue.

In the United States, July heat waves have stretched from the highly populated Northeast to the desert Southwest.

Climate change study ties warming temperatures to rising suicide risk

An exceptional stretch of heat in Dallas-Fort Worth has brought four consecutive days with record highs, hitting 108 or 109 F each day (42 to 43 C).

July has seen 41 heat records set across the United States — but zero record minimums.

This lopsided tally has become the norm, as climate change has tipped the scales so far in the direction of warmer temperatures.

This is climate change

“Cold and hot, wet and dry — we experience natural weather conditions all the time,” said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University.

“But today, climate change is loading the dice against us, making certain types of extremes, such as heat waves and heavy rain events, much more frequent and more intense than they used to be,” Hayhoe said.

Remember the series of brutal nor’easter snowstorms that hit New England during a particularly cold stretch in late winter and early spring? The frequent bouts of snow and ice had many people wondering, “what happened to global warming?”

Well, here it is. And this is what it looks like. Although it will still get cold during the winter and there will be colder-than-normal spells from time to time, the heat will return, and summers are getting hotter.

2018 is the hottest La Niña year on record (the cooling of the ocean waters in the Pacific during La Niña tends to cool the planet), according to the World Meteorological Association, and with La Niña fading away and El Niño (which warms the Pacific Ocean) likely to take its place, things are only going to get hotter.

View on CNN

Meanwhile in Australia we are enduring historic drought.

The Big Dry

The Big Dry

Time for journalists to join the dots and listen to the scientists.

This is the world after just 1C of global warming we’re on track for at least 4C.

Climate Crisis – Heatwaves, Firestorms, Drought, Failing Crops |#auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal @abc730 Join the dots!

*The planet is exhibiting telltale symptoms of our addiction to burning climate-wrecking fossil fuels: hellacious wildfires, unrelenting heat, sweltering Arctic temperatures and withering crops in northern Europe. We are in a climate crisis!

14 million people in the megalopolis of London braced themselves for record-breaking heat, dubbed “Furnace Friday.” Combustion-induced smog levels soared exacerbated by extreme heat. Intense demand for power had emergency services on red alert. Hospitals contended with many heatwave casualties. 90,000 lightning strikes, flash flooding and wildfires ravaged sun-baked Britain in an unforgettable week of Mother’s Nature’s unbridled overheated wrath.

Apocalyptic fiery images of burnt cars from Greece’s firestorm of July 23, 2018. Photo credit: The Guardian

Earlier in the week, a gruesome firestorm report came from Mati, Greece, of 26 adults and children clutching one another as they were charred to death only 32 yards from the sea. Tinder dry Greece was likely set alight by an arsonist, as a brutal heatwave collided with walls of flames that incinerated 81 people.

The death toll from Japan’s extreme flooding on July 12, 2018, rose to 200. Photo Credit: CNN

In Japan, record-breaking heat of 106 Fahrenheit (F) near metropolitan Tokyo’s 38 million people, hospitalized 22,647 denizens including many elderly from heat stroke. Japan’s blistering heat occurred just after the killer floods that unleashed landslides onto hill-perched homes. It was the worst flooding in decades across three of Japan’s four main islands.

In California, 130 million dead trees from a decade of drought, bark beetle epidemics and fierce heatwaves have erupted into firestorms. 3,400 fire fighters are battling thick smoke filled with poison oak from the Ferguson Fire along the western front of Yosemite National Park, which has been evacuated of all tourists. The putrid Ferguson Fire air and its fine particulate matter is now worse than the second most polluted city on the globe, Beijing.

In California, the Ferguson Fire air is now worse than the world’s 2nd most polluted city, Beijing.

The Ferguson Fire has torched more than 46,000 acres of Sierra forests including parts of Yosemite National Park. Photo Credit: Axios

Further north, the enormous 45-square-mile Carr Fire has tripled in size since Monday. It scorched Shasta and Keswick before leaping across the Sacramento River and arriving at Redding. It’s threatening the largest city in the region of 92,000 people, which is partially evacuated.

The resort town of Idyllwild, nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains of southern California is completely evacuated. On Wednesday night, an arsonist dropped a match and five homes vaporized. The Cranston Fire is currently raging.

Temperatures in Britain are higher than the rest of Western Europe. Photo Credit: Met Office

So what’s going on? Why is England currently hotter than western continental Europe?

There’s a monster high pressure system parked over the western Atlantic Ocean. It’s causing the jet stream, the atmospheric wind current that moves weather west to east across the world, to buckle and reverberate.

Consequently, it’s moving massive blocks of hot, dry air over the U.K., Japan, China, western United States, northern Europe, Brazil, North Africa and Latin America. These regions are enduring long periods of extreme heat, torrential rainfalls, firestorms and crop failure.

“We are seeing some extreme jet stream behavior, where the jet stream is contorting into these extreme loops both sharply towards the poles with ridges of high pressure and dips to the equator with troughs of low pressure,” remarked Dr Jeff Masters, Weather Underground.

The planet is exhibiting telltale symptoms of our addiction to burning climate-wrecking fossil fuels

The record temperatures in the northern hemisphere are stunning: Waco, TX, 114 F, Baltic Sea, northern Europe, 14.4 F above normal, Scandinavian Arctic Circle 86 F with wildfires, Bardufoss, Norway, 92 F. Earlier in July, Algeria’s Sahara Desert registered 124 F – a continental all-time record high.

These heatwaves are being stoked by burning more subsidized fossil fuels. The oceans drive Earth’s climate. They are broiling with more than 300 zettajoules of man-made fossil fuel heat, half of which have accumulated since 1997. Increased intensity and frequency of global  marine heatwaves have decimated vast areas of corals across the planet.

Since 2016, half of all corals along the Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the largest collection of reefs in the world, have expired. Photo Credit: Daily Express


Allow me to remind you that when animals and plants lose their habitat, i.e. corals, they die.


It’s imperative to reduce fossil fuel emissions now. We have the technology with supercritical steam from solar thermal concentrated farms and lithium-ion battery stations to power all towns and cities globally.

It will take $25 trillion, or, five years of fossil fuel subsidies, to accomplish this life-sustaining mission. It’s a no-brainer. End fossil fuel subsidies immediately.

Already my colleagues know that extreme heatwaves prevent plants from flowering and bees from pollinating. No flowers, no honey, no bees, no food.

In 2013-14, intense, long-lasting heatwaves, drought, bush fires and floods across Australia resulted in the worst honey crop ever recorded. Photo Credit: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

We have a narrow window to race towards a zero-combustion global economy. This goal is doable and obligatory in order for the human race to survive the next decade(s) and its ferocious heatwaves, droughts, firestorms and crop failures.

It’s time for fearless political leaders to rise up and protect the people and the planet or we will all perish hideously.

Press link for more: Slanted Online

It’s time to join the dots!

Climate Change is here and it’s already catastrophic.

The Big Dry ABC 730

The Big Dry

We are only at 1C global warming, we are on the fast track to 4C.

Climate change is supercharging a hot and dangerous Northern Summer #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #TheDrum #QandA Australian media ignores #Science

Photo: David Goldman, STF

FILE – In this July 21, 2017 file photo, researchers look out from the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica as the sun sets over sea ice floating on the Victoria Strait along the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. After 24 days at sea and a journey spanning more than 10,000 kilometers (6,214 miles), the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica has set a new record for the earliest transit of the fabled Northwest Passage. The once-forbidding route through the Arctic, linking the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, has been opening up sooner and for a longer period each summer due to climate change. Sea ice that foiled famous explorers and blocked the passage to all but the hardiest ships has slowly been melting away in one of the most visible effects of man-made global warming.(AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

In the town of Sodankyla, Finland, the thermometer on July 17 registered a record-breaking 90 degrees, a remarkable figure given that Sodankyla is 59 miles north of the Arctic Circle, in a region known for winter snowmobiling and an abundance of reindeer.

This is a hot, strange and dangerous summer across the planet.

Greece is in mourning after scorching heat and high winds fueled wildfires that have killed more than 80 people. Japan recorded its highest temperature in history, 106 degrees, in a heat wave that killed 65 people in a week and hospitalized 22,000, shortly after catastrophic flooding killed 200.

STUDIES: Heat makes you dumb, in charts

Montreal hit 98 degrees on July 2, its warmest temperature ever measured. Canadian health officials estimate as many as 70 people died in that heat wave.

In the United States, 35 weather stations in the past month have set new marks for warm overnight temperatures. Southern California has had record heat and widespread power outages. In Yosemite Valley, which is imperiled by wildfires, park rangers have told everyone to flee.

The brutal weather has been supercharged by human-induced climate change, scientists say. Climate models for three decades have predicted exactly what the world is seeing this summer.

And they predict that it will get hotter – and that what is a record today could someday be the norm.

“The old records belong to a world that no longer exists,” said Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Photo: The Washington Post

Map of extreme weather locations in the Northern Hemisphere

It’s not just heat. A warming world is prone to multiple types of extreme weather – heavier downpours, stronger hurricanes, longer droughts.

“You see roads melting, airplanes not being able to take off, there’s not enough water,” said Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. “Climate change hits us at our Achilles’ heel. In the Southwest, it’s water availability. On the Gulf Coast, it’s hurricanes. In the East, it’s flooding. It’s exacerbating the risks we already face today.”

The proximate cause of the Northern Hemisphere bake-off is the unusual behavior of the jet stream, a wavy track of west-to-east-prevailing wind at high altitude. The jet stream controls broad weather patterns, such as high-pressure and low-pressure systems. The extent of climate change’s influence on the jet stream is an intense subject of research.

This summer, the jet stream has undulated in extreme waves that have tended to block weather systems from migrating. The result has been stagnant high-pressure and low-pressure systems with dire results, such as heat waves in some places and flooding elsewhere.

HEAT WAVES: 5 ways to keep cities cooler during the heat

“When those waves are very big – as they have been for the past few weeks – they tend to get stuck in place,” said Jennifer Francis, a professor of atmospheric science at Rutgers University. Last year, scientists published evidence that the conditions leading up to “stuck jet streams” are becoming more common, with warming in the Arctic seen as a likely culprit.

Gone are the days when scientists drew abright line dividing weather and climate. Now researchers can examine a weather event and estimate how much climate change had to do with causing or exacerbating it.

Last year, when Hurricane Harvey broke the record for how much rain could fall from a single storm, researchers knew climate change had been a factor.

Months later, scientists presented findings that Harvey dumped at least 15 percent more rain in Houston than it would have without global warming. Theory, meet reality: When the atmosphere is warmer, it can hold more moisture. Climate change does not cause hurricanes to spin up or thunderstorms to develop, but it can be an intensifier.

In Dallas, where the temperature hit 100 on 10 out of 11 days this month, three homeless people have died of heat-related causes in the past week, said Brenda Snitzer, executive director of the Stewpot, a downtown shelter.

Photo: Tim Meko And Angela Fritz/The Wa

Map of the jet stream

In Phoenix, Arizona, where this week’s temperature hit 116 degrees, Dustin Nye, 36, who spent the day installing air-conditioning units, said he has suffered heat stroke in the past and still gets woozy. “It takes a special breed to do this all day long in this heat,” he said. “You’ve really got to work up your endurance and just buckle down and deal with it.”

In Los Angeles, Marty Adams, chief operating officer of the Department of Water and Power, said, “It seems like every year, we’ve had some type of temperature anomaly that we normally would not have.” Residents of California beach cities such as Long Beach and Santa Monica, who normally rely on the ocean breeze to cool their homes, have added air-conditioning units, which strains the grid and has contributed to power outages, he said.

Said Hayhoe: “The biggest myth that the largest number of people have bought into is that ‘climate change doesn’t matter to me personally.’ ”

The heat waves have hit hard where people don’t expect them – the Netherlands, Sweden, Britain, Ireland and Canada.

“Our office doesn’t have air conditioning. I do have a fan,” said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, a climate researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. He spoke by phone from the city of Gouda, where the temperature hit 96 degrees Thursday.

“This kind of event was a 1-in-100-year event in 1900,” he said. “It’s become 20 times more likely.”

It’s Britain’s driest summer since modern records began in 1961. Reservoirs are declining rapidly, and water restrictions are in effect. The United Kingdom’s national weather service urged people to avoid the sun this week, with temperatures expected to hit 98 Fahrenheit.

In Ireland, the sun-parched fields revealed a previously hidden footprint of a 5,000-year-old monument near Newgrange.

Human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels, has added greenhouse gases to the atmosphere,trapping heat and making extreme weather events even more extreme. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 410 parts per million in May, the highest the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii had measuredsince Charles David Keeling started keeping records in 1958. NASA estimates Earth has warmed almost one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 1800s. Of that, half a degree (around one degree F) has accrued since 1990 alone.

If nothing is done to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, scientists say, the global temperature increase could reach nine degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, with higher spikes on land and at high latitudes. The Paris agreement, signed by every country in the world, is designed to limit that temperature spike through commitments to cut greenhouse-gas emissions over time. President Donald Trump, who in the past has called global warming a hoax, has vowed to pull the United States out of the accord as soon as that becomes possible, in 2020.

The 2017 National Climate Assessment, released in November, concluded what it has for nearly three decades: Human-made climate change is real, and the impacts have already started.

Average temperature is rising rapidly across the United States. Heat waves are becoming more extreme and will continue to do so.

Overall precipitation has decreased in the South and West and increased in the North and East. That trend will continue. The heaviest precipitation events will become more frequent and more extreme. Snowpack will continue to decline. Large wildfires will become even more frequent.

Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said even modest heat from global warming can build up over time.

“The accumulated energy over one month is equivalent to a small microwave oven at full power for six minutes over every square foot of the planet,” Trenberth said. “No wonder things catch on fire.”

– – –

The Washington Post’s Justin Glawe in Dallas, Jeremy Duda in Phoenix, William Dauber in Los Angeles and Jennifer Hassan in London contributed to this report.

Press link for more: Houston Chronicle

Ocean acidification is having major impact on marine life #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #ClimateChange

In new research, scientists say cuts in global CO2 emissions are essential to limit further damage to coral reefs and kelp forests.

Carbon dioxide emissions are killing off coral reefs and kelp forests as heat waves and ocean acidification damage marine ecosystems, scientists have warned.

Writing in Scientific Reports, researchers say that three centuries of industrial development have already had a marked effect on our seas.

But if CO2 levels continue to rise as predicted, the coming decades and lowering seawater pH levels will have an even greater and potentially catastrophic impact.

Their predictions follow a comprehensive study of the effects of recently discovered volcanic CO2 seeps off Shikine Island, Japan, which is on the border of temperate and tropical climates.

Ocean currents in the area mean there are naturally low levels of surface water CO2, similar to those that would have been present before the global Industrial Revolution. However, the volcanic seeps indicate how rising CO2 levels will affect future ecology, both in the northwest Pacific Ocean and across the world.

Lead author Dr Sylvain Agostini, Associate Professor at the University of Tsukuba Shimoda Marine Research Centre, said: “These CO2 seeps provide a vital window into the future. There was mass mortality of corals in the south of Japan last year, but many people cling to the hope that corals will be able to spread north. Therefore it is extremely worrying to find that tropical corals are so vulnerable to ocean acidification, as this will stop them from being able to spread further north and escape the damage caused by water that is too hot for them.”

The research was led by scientists at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, the University of Plymouth in the UK and the University of Palermo in Italy.

It involved teams of SCUBA divers who carried out investigations along underwater CO2 gradients created by volcanic seeps, recording how the fauna and flora respond to seawater acidification.

They found that while a few plant species benefitted from the changing conditions, they tended to be smaller weeds and algae that blanket the seabed, choking corals and lowering overall marine diversity.

These species, and some smaller marine animals, are thriving because they are more tolerant to the stress posed by rising levels of CO2.

Jason Hall-Spencer, Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Plymouth, said: “Our research site is like a time machine. In areas with pre-Industrial levels of CO2 the coast has an impressive amount of calcified organisms such as corals and oysters. But in areas with present-day average levels of surface seawater CO2 we found far fewer corals and other calcified life, and so there was less biodiversity. It shows the extensive damage caused by humans due to CO2 emissions over the past 300 years and unless we can get a grip on reducing CO2 emissions we will undoubtedly see major degradation of coastal systems worldwide.”

Professor Kazuo Inaba, former director of the Shimoda Marine Research Centre, added: “Local fishermen are keen to know how ocean acidification will affect their livelihoods. Currents flowing past Japan bring waters that have naturally low levels of CO2 and fish benefit from the array of calcified habitats around our islands. If we are able to meet the Paris Agreement targets to limit emissions we should be able to limit further damage to kelp forests, coral reefs and all marine ecosystems.”

Press link for more: Science Daily

Some drought-hit farmers ‘running out of bullets’ to put down stock #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #NoNewCoal

Some drought-hit farmers ‘running out of bullets’ to put down stock

6:46pm Jul 27, 2018

Farmers in NSW say they’re running short of bullets to put down drought-hit stock, and the dry weather is forecast to run into spring.

In the Hunter region, north of Sydney, some cattle and sheep graziers have resorted to shooting animals judged too weak to be transported to market.

Mobile butcher Drew Shearman told how the drought had affected a friend who has farmed for more than 40 years.

“Usually when I call my friend at the farm I ask him ‘is there anything I can pick up for him on the way?’ Most times he asks for a length of steel or a special tool, a tube, or liquid steel,” Shearman said.

PM shifts focus to droughts

“But this time the request was just bullets. He told me he had five .22 bullets left. The rest had been used to euthanase injured or sick sheep.”

Mr Shearman said the landscape in large parts of NSW’s north west has become strikingly barren.

“It is quite dramatic how the landscape has changed in the area in the last 12 months.”

And there is little cheer for farmers in the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM) three-month outlook released today. It indicates there will be little let up in the warmer-than-average July temperatures across eastern and southern states.

Drew Shearman says the landscape in large parts of northern NSW has changed dramatically during the drought. (Photos: Supplied).

For most of mainland Australia, August to October is likely to be drier than average. The odds are highest in the south east, where there is a greater-than-average chance of a drier spring for northern Victorian and southern NSW.

A spokesman for the BOM said large chucks of the NSW had soil moisture levels at just 1 percent of normal conditions.

This presents a double blow for farmers battling the drought. Even when rainfall arrives, it is likely to be soaked up in the land rather than filling dams and rivers.

National Farmers Federation chief executive Tony Mahar told farmers are facing “tough decisions” whether to continue feeding stock or to sell.

He said without rain soon many arable growers could face a second year without a harvested crop.

Farmers hit by the drought are facing tough choices between selling stock or continue feeding. (Photo: Supplied).

“This period of deficient rainfall is shaping up to be the driest in a decade.

“If rain is not received very soon, winter croppers – wheat, barley, pulse and canola growers, face having a failed crop, despite having spent thousands of dollars on seeding.

“For some farmers, this will be the second year without a crop.”

Press link for more 9news

When do we stop talking about drought and accepting climate change?

We must listen to the scientists

Stop electing politicians who deny climate change.

It’s time to accept responsibility for our actions.

When will journalists start to join the dots?

Pro-extinction Policies Do Not Sit Well #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #ClimateChange

Pro-extinction Policies Do Not Sit Well With Americans, Whatever Their Stripe

Four out of five of us express support for the Endangered Species Act. Its attackers should take note.

Bald eagles, the United States’ national symbol.


For years, a small but dogged faction of American lawmakers—almost all of them in the thrall of corporations, land developers, and property-rights zealots—have desperately wanted to gut the Endangered Species Act. The only thing standing in their way: the expressed will of their constituents.

Here’s their conundrum: Some laws passed by Congress are unpopular with relatively large swaths of the American people.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA)—signed by President Richard Nixon in 1973 and crafted by lawmakers at his behest—is not one of them. Polls have shown that Americans of all ideological stripes support the law, whose stated purpose is “to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.”

But now, President Trump’s Interior Department is providing all those anti-ESA lawmakers executive-branch cover for their politically unpalatable cause.

Late last week, the department proposed drastic changes to the 45-year-old law, which conservationists, biologists, and wildlife managers almost unanimously credit with saving from extinction many of our country’s most iconic species, including the grizzly bear, the gray wolf, and our national symbol, the bald eagle.

These changes might financially benefit the aforementioned special interests, but the consequences for imperiled wildlife would be disastrous—and in many cases, final.

The department’s proposals would significantly disrupt the federal government’s current protection of “threatened” species, the designation that falls just below “endangered.” Currently, both categories are handled similarly. After all, a threatened species today can easily become an endangered one tomorrow. But under the new rules, Interior officials would determine the level of protections that threatened plants and animals receive on a case-by-case basis—meaning that habitat for already struggling species could nevertheless be opened up to land developers, oil and gas drillers, and others whose activities would push the species that much closer to the brink.

Thousands of pumpjacks operate in the Kern River Oil Field in California.

Wil Ivy/Alamy

Lest you question the plausibility of this scenario, take note of the Trump administration’s other big moves against the ESA. The act stipulates that economic factors shouldn’t influence the decision to save a species from extinction.

The new rules would do away with this stipulation. And to add grave insult to grave injury, the department is proposing that its officials no longer be required to consult with scientists and wildlife experts before letting drillers, loggers, or whomever invade (and quite possibly destroy) critical wildlife habitat.

Taken together, these changes amount to a callous new policy, glibly (if accurately) paraphrased by Slate’s science editor Susan Matthews: “Threatened species no longer get protection, and when they are weak enough to be endangered, we can basically decide not to save them if it’s too expensive.”

The dark satire of a sentence like that one is likely lost on those lawmakers who’ve been waiting for this moment to officially turn a blind eye to the plights of the rufa red knot, the Atlantic sturgeon, and the humble Yosemite toad; to their ears, it must sound like a long-dreamed-of promise, finally and gloriously fulfilled. But even if they aren’t listening to the objections raised by science writers, environmental advocates, and wildlife experts, they are listening, presumably, to voters. And from their constituents—even those who agree with them on most other issues—they’re likely to hear something that sounds a lot like resistance.

On the same day that the Trump administration announced its attacks on the ESA, a new study was published in the journal Conservation Letters showing just how much the public hates this whole idea. The research reflects broad support for protecting endangered species across lines of party, ideology, profession, region, and culture. Among its conclusions is the finding that roughly four out of five Americans support the ESA, with only one in ten saying that they oppose it. Interestingly, 74 percent of self-described conservatives and 77 percent of self-described moderates were in the “supportive” group. (Fully 90 percent of self-described liberals said they supported the act.)

A manatee in Crystal River, Florida

Andrew Pearson/Alamy

Furthermore, the way Americans feel about the ESA has remained at or near these high levels for the past 20 years. The data show that support for the law has not wavered even as efforts to weaken it have ramped up—a sign that the arguments for gutting it aren’t gaining traction.

Nor will they. That’s because most Americans understand why the Endangered Species Act is there in the first place, especially during an era when climate change is threatening so many species all over the planet. We can argue among ourselves about what does or doesn’t make America great. But we all seem to agree that to lose any species forever makes us lesser, in a real, poignant, and shameful way.

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Press link for more: NRDC

Steve Irwin ship arrival an ‘historic’ event #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #ClimateChange

FLOAT ON: M/Y Steve Irwin will arrive in Noosa’s Laguna Bay on Tuesday morning at 9.30am.

EXTRA-curricular activities surrounding next Tuesday’s visit of the M/Y Steve Irwin to Laguna Bay are coming together.

The 59m ship’s visit is a stop on its way north to campaign against the Carmichael Adani mine and coal loading at Abbot Point.

She will sail into Laguna Bay, escorted in by a flotilla with the Noosa Coast Guard, private boats, surf riders and kayaks, mooring in the bay outside the shark nets at 9.30am.

The crew will travel across to Main Beach to join festivities and meet locals from 11.30am.

A Q&A public forum – Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine and Why It Must Be Stopped – will be held at Pepper’s Noosa Resort in the The Rainforest Room from 6.30pm, with tickets at $5 available at Eventbrite.

“This is a unique opportunity to be a part of history, and may be the only time you will see the iconic M/Y Steve Irwin in Noosa Main Beach,” Stop Adani Sunshine Coast spokesman Jonathan Sligh said.

Press link for more: Noosa News

How can we talk about #politics #drought #heatwaves #Flood without mentioning climate change? #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #Insiders #QandA #TheDrum #Media #Neoliberalism

How can we talk about heatwaves without mentioning climate change?

Akshat Rathi

The world is suffering from extreme weather.

Heatwaves have killed 50 in Canada and 80 in Japan, caused drought in Germany and Scandinavia, set record temperatures in Algeria, Morocco, and Oman, and left the UK looking brown from space. The heat has spurred wildfires that have claimed at least 80 lives in Greece, melted electrical wires in California, and forced Sweden to call for international help.

This is not normal.

Weather is a localized phenomenon to which long-term climate trends contribute.

The more greenhouse gases we put into the atmosphere, the warmer the climate gets and the more likely these extreme weather events become. Put another way, climate change adds fuel to the fire.

The world’s five hottest years on record are (in ranked order): 2016, 2015, 2017, 2014, and 2010. “The sort of temperatures that are occurring now would’ve been a one-in-a-thousand occurrence in the 1950s,” Joanna Haigh, of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, told the BBC. “Now, they are about a one-in-10 occurrence.”

The trouble is, the average person is unlikely to make the connection between climate change and weather events.

Take the US, for example. Among the 127 segments run on the country’s TV networks about heatwaves this summer, only one mentioned the connection between climate change and extreme heat, according to a study published by Media Matters.

Legacy radio and print did a slightly better job, but even they struggled to ascertain how to mention climate change in the context of breaking-news events, such as the wildfires in Greece.

That said, on Friday, research was published from a group of scientists that looked at seven weather stations in northern Europe and concluded climate change made these heatwaves twice as likely. It was only the 12th story on the BBC News global homepage—underneath “LeBron James ‘regrets’ giving son his name.”

Not so long ago the image of a polar bear on a melting iceberg was the symbol of climate change. Though it evoked sympathy, it also reinforced the idea that the impacts of climate change are physically distant. Over the last few years, however, extreme weather events have brought the impact much closer to home and increased public understanding of the risks, according to a 2017 study. Recent polls back up the claim, with more and more people accepting the link between human-caused climate change and the recent spate of weather-driven devastations.

But fear doesn’t motivate everyone.

For some, the message is better delivered through finding common ground.

In the end, whatever the means, it’s important we connect the dots on climate change.

We aren’t going to find the solution to humanity’s greatest challenge without acknowledging the problem and its sheer scale.

This was published in the weekend edition of the Quartz Daily Brief, our news summary that’s tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe and Africa, the UK, or the Americas. Sign up for it here.

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