Month: April 2019

Dirty War: Climate Chaos, ‘Coal-onisation’ And Cyclone Idai – New Matilda #Auspol #ClimateElection #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion

Dirty War: Climate Chaos, ‘Coal-onisation’ And Cyclone Idai – New Matilda

By Dr Richard Hil

Australia’s commitments to tackle climate change at home are already not being met, but the situation is even more dire when you look at what Australian companies are doing overseas. Richard Hil weighs in.

Are the lives of US citizens worth more than, say, those in Africa?

It depends on which populations we’re talking about. But if reports on the recent US floods in Missouri and Kansas and the cyclone in southern Africa are anything to go by, then the answer is a resounding yes. 

That, at least, is the conclusion you might draw after glancing at the 22nd March edition of the Sydney Morning Herald which devoted a two-page spread to the catastrophic flooding in the US which, at that stage, had resulted in the loss of five lives and widespread destruction, while less than two inches of space were allotted to the climate-related tragedy in Africa, the effects of which are still unfolding.

In many ways, this disproportionate coverage reflects the routinized nature of western reporting on the impacts of climate change. Indeed, there’s a long and shameful tradition of ignoring or downplaying disasters in the global south, as if the lives and property of “our own” take precedence over all others, and that what occurs in distant lands has nothing to do with us.

Long suffering Africa

According to a Global Carbon Project report presented in 2018 to the international climate conference in Katowice, Poland, carbon emissions for that year were at record levels. Some nations, of course, are far more responsible than others for this situation, with the US and increasingly, China and India, leading the pack. 

In contrast, Africa is responsible for about 4 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. As noted by the US Department of Energy, Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre: “Africa’s fossil-fuel CO2 emissions are low in both absolute and per capita terms. Total emissions for Africa have increased twelve-fold since 1950… still less than the emissions for some single nations including Mainland China, the US, India, Russia, and Japan. [P]er capita emissions were still only 6.6% of the comparable value for North America…. A small number of nations are largely responsible for the African emissions from fossil fuels and cement production…. Only four African countries have per capita CO2 emissions higher than the global average.”

Despite its relatively modest contribution to carbon pollution, Africa – the poorest continent on the planet with 383 million people in extreme poverty – suffers disproportionately from the effects of toxic emissions from wealthier nations. The impacts of this are felt most acutely by the poor and marginalised, with extreme weather events occurring more frequently and with greater ferocity. 

To compound this already alarming situation, the western media has tended to attribute much of Africa’s (and the global south’s) problems to cronyism and internal corruption, rarely if ever acknowledging the impact of colonisation and incursions by western corporations, aid agencies and other entities.

In many ways, this disproportionate coverage reflects the routinized nature of western reporting on the impacts of climate change. Indeed, there’s a long and shameful tradition of ignoring or downplaying disasters in the global south, as if the lives and property of “our own” take precedence over all others, and that what occurs in distant lands has nothing to do with us.

Long suffering Africa

According to a Global Carbon Project report presented in 2018 to the international climate conference in Katowice, Poland, carbon emissions for that year were at record levels. Some nations, of course, are far more responsible than others for this situation, with the US and increasingly, China and India, leading the pack. 

In contrast, Africa is responsible for about 4 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. As noted by the US Department of Energy, Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre: “Africa’s fossil-fuel CO2 emissions are low in both absolute and per capita terms. Total emissions for Africa have increased twelve-fold since 1950… still less than the emissions for some single nations including Mainland China, the US, India, Russia, and Japan. [P]er capita emissions were still only 6.6% of the comparable value for North America…. A small number of nations are largely responsible for the African emissions from fossil fuels and cement production…. Only four African countries have per capita CO2 emissions higher than the global average.”

Despite its relatively modest contribution to carbon pollution, Africa – the poorest continent on the planet with 383 million people in extreme poverty – suffers disproportionately from the effects of toxic emissions from wealthier nations. The impacts of this are felt most acutely by the poor and marginalised, with extreme weather events occurring more frequently and with greater ferocity. 

To compound this already alarming situation, the western media has tended to attribute much of Africa’s (and the global south’s) problems to cronyism and internal corruption, rarely if ever acknowledging the impact of colonisation and incursions by western corporations, aid agencies and other entities.

Wend-Kouni, 26 years old, from Rouko village, is a farmer. Once work is completed, she comes to search for gold. She digs and collects ore and then takes it back to the village to wash at Burkina Faso. (IMAGE: Ollivier Girard, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Flickr).

The historical antecedents that explain the current plight of so-called developing countries are often swept under the carpet, as the wretched of the earth are rendered the unpeople of global geopolitics, without a voice and often subject to the humiliations of powerful nations. 

None of this is to suggest the absence of deep-seated, systemic problems in the governance of poorer nations. Corruption and cronyism are indeed endemic in many of these countries. But the full explanatory account of the west’s role in such situations is invariably missing, with Venezuela being the latest case in which a beleaguered nation finds itself under the most severe threat from western interests and propaganda. 

Idai’s path of devastation

A category two system, tropical cyclone, Idai packed winds of 175 kph that impacted large parts of Mozambique before carving a destructive path through Malawi and Zimbabwe. Nearly three million people were affected, and the Mozambique city of Beira – a low-lying coastal metropolis – was virtually destroyed, with around half a million residents having to flee their homes. 

Current estimates of the dead and injured vary, but the figures could run into the thousands, with the threat of cholera likely to increase the death toll, making this among the most lethal of storms in the southern hemisphere. 

The effects of the cyclone were amplified by preceding rains that saturated the land, making the cyclonic deluge even more disastrous, including a storm surge (estimated at 4 metres) that caused widespread flooding and inundation. 

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as of 23 March, around 90,000 people were languishing in overcrowded shelters across the region. Additionally, thousands of schools have been inundated and over 33,000 houses destroyed, along with 50,000 hectares of crops, making food scarcity a growing threat. 

Women have been especially impacted by these events, with many having to take care of their families, thereby diverting them from life-sustaining agricultural work, and thousands of pregnant women facing increased risk of disease. 

Clearly, the situation facing the people in this part of southern Africa is grim. As of 26 March, James Elder, Regional Chief of Communication for UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa, observed, “Right now I am on the ground in Mozambique where entire villages have been submerged, buildings flattened, and schools and health care centres destroyed by Cyclone Idai. Amid it all, children’s lives have been turned upside down. Hundreds of thousands are at risk from waterborne diseases. Others are simply lost….”

(IMAGE: Evandro Sudré, Flickr)

Climate scientists agree that the warming of the planet, its air and oceans, has meant more rainfall, tropical cyclones and hurricanes, and other extreme events. Mozambique is particularly prone to the ravages of extreme weather, with droughts, flooding and inundation occurring more regularly.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Beria, as a result of crop damage, food prices have risen sharply, and supermarkets, warehouses, and storage facilities have been destroyed, thereby making access to food supplies very difficult. This situation has been exacerbated by damage to roads and bridges, making transportation of food and medical supplies almost impossible.  

Given that life is already tough in these southern African nations – Mozambique and Malawi figure among the world’s poorest nations – the impact of the cyclone will only make matters worse. It may be tempting to attribute these events to Africa itself, especially to the growing number of mining projects that are increasing the continent’s (still comparatively modest) contribution to the global climate emergency. And yet, closer inspection of investment in African mining reveals a telling tale of western involvement in these projects. 

Writing in The Guardian on 21 March, shortly after the cyclone struck southern Africa, Landry Ninteretse, lead spokesperson for in Africa, observed that: “While many countries appear to be already reducing carbon emissions and moving towards an energy transition, Africa’s coalfields are open for business. Along with a few Asian countries (Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh in particular), our continent continues to be an El Dorado for the coal cheerleaders and big business determined to carry on its coal-onisation.” 

Ninteretse notes that new coal plants are planned in a number of African countries, including Mozambique. “Most of them”, she observes, “are co-financed by the African Development Bank, on whose board sit members of African, European, North and South American and Asian governments”.

Australia has huge investments in Africa too. Drawing on data from Australia-Africa Minerals and Energy Group, Eryk Bagshaw writing in the Sydney MorningHerald (September 10, 2017), notes that as of 2017, “Australia will become the biggest international miner on the African continent, doubling its investment to more than $40 billion over a decade”. 

One hundred and forty Australian companies operate mining projects across Africa, says Bagshaw, citing data from tax transparency network, Publish What You Pay Australia. Huge amounts of coal are to be extracted: up to 34 billion tonnes worth, “more than three times that of Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine in Queensland”.  

According to campaigning organisation, Action Aid, this huge overseas venture runs against the grain of Australia’s supposed commitment to the Paris agreements by adding millions of tonnes of carbon atmospheric pollution. Other concerns identified by Bagshaw, included the impact of mining on small communities, numerous mining accidents, tax avoidance and unscrupulous business practices, bordering on corruption. 

Much of this is outside the purview of the Australian public, yet the profiteering of many of Australia’s leading mining companies at the cost of the environment raises significant questions.

Paying the price

Oil extraction also attracts huge investment, according to Landry Ninteretse, with multinational companies like Total, Shell, Exxon, BP and Eni gaining a significant foothold in this lucrative market. Buoyed by the prospect of cheap labour and high returns, Africa is seen as a grand money-making venture, along with other operations around the world, many in some of the poorest nations on Earth. 

For Africa, the impacts of increasing global carbon emissions has been and remains devastating. As Ninteretse writes: “For us [in Africa], climate change is not a future risk, it’s already a reality evident in wrecked families, lands and livelihoods, and hopeless children and young people who have no choice but to seek a future by migrating. Everywhere on the continent, communities fear losing their land as each season hits one country after another with exceptional floods, unexpected storms and increasingly long droughts. Fauna and flora reserves have been running out, access to water has become a privilege, and extreme weather events have become more numerous and left families without homes or livelihoods.”

The argument that more adaptation funds can assist African nations to cope with the ravages of climate change is, says Ninteretse, “an insult to people facing untold suffering in every corner of the continent, while new coal and mining infrastructure and carbon commodification continue to be allowed.”

In addition to the cessation of fossil fuel extractivism, and a wholesale shift to renewables, Ninteretse calls for “African countries… to step up efforts against environmental degradation and greenhouse gas emissions, for instance, by decentralising energy supply systems, and by promoting tax policies that favour solar and wind energy investments.” She further asserts that African nations must do more to protect their own people from the ravages of climate change – both in terms of mitigation and adaptation, and they must hold fossil fuel companies to account for the damage inflicted on people and the environment as a result of “decades of unregulated exploitation of coal, oil and gas”. 

Ninteretse calls for international activist organisations to continue to pressure governments and corporations to make the urgent changes needed to avoid global catastrophe.  

The brutal consequence of cyclone Idai is another stark reminder that millions of lives depend on concerted global action to address the climate emergency, although it may well be too late. 

Australia, like many other rich western nations, bears considerable responsibility for this situation and its impact on the world’s poorest people. Two inches of reportage in a state-based newspaper really doesn’t do the crisis in southern Africa justice.

— Read on

Warming seas are wrecking Great Barrier Reef’s ability to regrow. #Auspol #Qldpol #ClimateElection #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion

Researchers say rising sea temperatures have wrecked the Great Barrier Reef’s ability to regrow.

Rising sea temperatures have wrecked the Great Barrier Reef’s ability to regrow, researchers said on Wednesday, highlighting for the first time a 90 percent fall in new corals since back-to-back heatwaves bleached the World Heritage site.

Following the unprecedented loss of swathes of the reef – the world’s largest living structure – in successive ocean heatwaves in 2016 and 2017, the number of new corals measured a year later was found by a team of scientists to be 89 percent lower than historical levels. 

Coral reefs make up less than one percent of Earth’s marine environment, but are home to an estimated 25 percent of ocean life, acting as nurseries for many species of fish and a habitat for birds, sharks, dolphins and porpoises.

The amount of baby corals born on the Great Barrier Reef crashed in 2018.

The study measured how many adult corals survived along the 2,300-kilometre (1,400-mile) reef, off the northeast coast of Australia, following consecutive summers of unusually warm seas that bleached and killed off numerous coral species.

It discovered a “crash” in coral replacement compared to levels measured in years before a mass bleaching event.

The population of one species – Acropora, a branching coral that supports thousands of marine species – tumbled by 93 percent.

“We never thought we would see disturbance on a scale to affect recruitment to this extent,” Andrew Baird, co-author of the study that appeared in the journal Nature, said.

The team estimated that it would take between five and 10 years for the reef’s production of baby corals to fully recover – but only if there isn’t another bleaching event. 

Diver swims on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Atmospheric temperatures have risen by around one degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) since the middle of last century, and coral is uniquely sensitive to fluctuating heat levels.

Last year an expert panel of international climate experts warned that coral structures – including the Great Barrier Reef – would most likely not survive a 2C rise.

‘Too big to fail, until now’

Bleaching occurs when warmer ambient temperatures cause coral to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.

The Great Barrier Reef has experienced four mass bleaching events in recorded history – all within the last two decades. 

“Dead corals don’t make babies,” Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at Australia’s James Cook University, said.

“Fever babies means recovery will be slower, and the shift in species means the reefs will not recover to the same configuration as before,” he told AFP.

“The question is, will that recovery be interrupted by another mass coral bleaching event due to escalating global warming?”

Bleaching damage on the Great Barrier Reef

Hughes said there may however be some hope, as evidence suggested that some coral species are more resilient to temperature fluctuations than others. 

The team found that while bleaching occurred in both 2016 and 2017, it took much greater heat exposure to cause the same level of bleaching the second time around – meaning the reef was naturally adapting to house more heat-tolerant coral varieties.

“So the reef is now moving rapidly to a new configuration, with a greater proportion of the species that are resistant to bleaching, or that are capable of bouncing back the fastest,” Hughes said.

The number of species, however, would likely be greatly reduced, earlier research has shown.

Co-author Morgan Pratchett however warned that there was a limit to the amount of warming the reef could take. 

“It’s highly unlikely that we could escape a fifth or sixth (bleaching) event in the coming decade,” she said. 

“We used to think that the Great Barrier Reef was too big to fail – until now.

— Read on

Australia’s 2018 environmental scorecard: a dreadful year that demands action #Auspol #ClimateElection #ClimateStrike 🛑#StopAdani #ExtinctionRebellion

Australia’s 2018 environmental scorecard: a dreadful year that demands action!


Albert Van Dijk, Australian National University

Bushfires ravaged parts of central Queensland amid heatwaves in November 2018. QFES Media/AAP

Environmental news is rarely good. But even by those low standards, 2018 was especially bad. That is the main conclusion from Australia’s Environment in 2018, the latest in an annual series of environmental condition reports, released today.

Every year, we analyse vast amounts of measurements from satellites and on-ground stations using algorithms and prediction models on a supercomputer. These volumes of data are turned into regional summary accounts that can be explored on our Australian Environment Explorer website. We interpret these data, along with other information from national and international reports, to assess how our environment is tracking.

A bad year

Whereas 2017 was already quite bad, 2018 saw many indicators dip even further into the red. 

Temperatures went up again, rainfall declined further, and the destruction of vegetation and ecosystems by drought, fire and land clearing continued. Soil moisture, rivers and wetlands all declined, and vegetation growth was poor. 

In short, our environment took a beating in 2018, and that was even before the oppressive heatwaves, bushfires and Darling River fish killsof January 2019.

Indicators of Australia’s environment in 2018 compared with the previous year. Similar to national economic indicators, they provide a summary but also hide regional variations, complex interactions and long-term context. source:

The combined pressures from habitat destruction, climate change, and invasive pests and diseases are taking their toll on our unique plants and animals. Another 54 species were added to the official list of threatened species, which now stands at 1,775. That is 47% more than 18 years ago and puts Australia among the world’s worst performers in biodiversity protection. On the upside, the number of predator-proof islands or fenced-off reserves in Australia reached 188 in 2018, covering close to 2,500 square kilometres. They offer good prospects of saving at least 13 mammal species from extinction.

Globally, the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere accelerated again after slowing down in 2017. Global air and ocean temperatures remained high, sea levels increased further, and even the ozone hole grew again, after shrinking during the previous two years.

Sea surface temperatures around Australia did not increase in 2018, but they nevertheless were well above long-term averages. Surveys of the Great Barrier Reef showed further declining health across the entire reef. An exceptional heatwave in late 2018 in Far North Queensland raised fears for yet another bout of coral bleaching, but this was averted when sudden massive downpours cooled surface waters. 

The hot conditions did cause much damage to wildlife and vegetation, however, with spectacled flying foxes dropping dead from trees and fire ravaging what was once a tropical rainforest.

While previous environmental scorecards showed a mixed bag of regional impacts, 2018 was a poor year in all states and territories. Particularly badly hit was New South Wales, where after a second year of very poor rainfall, ecosystems and communities reached crisis point. Least affected was southern Western Australia, which enjoyed relatively cool and wet conditions.

It was a poor year for nature and farmers alike, with growing conditions in grazing, irrigated agriculture and dryland cropping each declining by 17-20% at a national scale. The only upside was improved cropping conditions in WA, which mitigated the 34% decline elsewhere.

A bad start to 2019

Although it is too early for a full picture, the first months of 2019 continued as badly as 2018 ended. The 2018-19 summer broke heat records across the country by large margins, bushfires raged through Tasmania’s forests, and a sudden turn in the hot weather killed scores of fish in the Darling River. The monsoon in northern Australia did not come until late January, the latest in decades, but then dumped a huge amount of rain on northern Queensland, flooding vast swathes of land.

It would be comforting to believe that our environment merely waxes and wanes with rainfall, and is resilient to yearly variations. To some extent, this is true. The current year may still turn wet and improve conditions, although a developing El Niño makes this less likely. 

However, while we are good at acknowledging rapid changes, we are terrible at recognising slow, long-term ones. Underlying the yearly variations in weather is an unmistakable pattern of environmental decline that threatens our future.

New South Wales was hit hard by drought in 2018. AAP Image/Perry Duffin

What can we do about it?

Global warming is already with us, and strong action is required to avoid an even more dire future of rolling heatwaves and year-round bushfires. But while global climate change requires global action, there is a lot we can and have to do ourselves. 

Australia is one of the world’s most wasteful societies, and there are many opportunities to clean up our act. Achieving progress is not hard, and despite shrill protests from vested interests and the ideologically blind, taking action will not take away our prosperity. Home solar systems and more efficient transport can in fact save money. Our country has huge opportunities for renewable energy, which can potentially create thousands of jobs. Together, we can indeed reduce emissions “in a canter” – all it takes is some clear national leadership. 

The ongoing destruction of natural vegetation is as damaging as it is unnecessary, and stopping it will bring a raft of benefits. Our rivers and wetlands are more than just a source of cheap irrigation for big businesses. With more effort, we can save many species from extinction. Our farmers play a vital role in caring for our country, and we need to support them better in doing so. 

Our environment is our life support. It provides us our place to live, our food, health, livelihoods, culture and identity. To protect it is to protect ourselves.

— Read on

Barrier Reef baby coral numbers crash | Cosmos #Auspol #Qldpol #StopAdani Join #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion Declare #ClimateEmergency #ClimateElection #CoralNotCoal

New research offers little hope for recovery of the biggest reef on the planet. Andrew Masterson reports

They bring a devastation and call it peace. Bleached coral produces no babies.


The ability of the world’s largest coral system – Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – to recover from recent back-to-back bleaching events has been thrown into doubt, with figures showing the production of coral larvae has plummeted.

A paper published in the journal Nature reveals that “the rate of recruitment by corals on the northern and central Great Barrier Reef has been substantially diminished owing to adult mortality from global warming and other stressors, and hence the system’s ecological resilience — its capacity to fully reassemble to the same species composition of mature adults before further bleaching events occur – is compromised”.

The paper’s authors, led by Terry Hughes from James Cook University in the Australian state of Queensland, warn that the rapid and widespread death of mature corals has severely impacted the capacity of the reef system to rebuild.

“As a consequence of mass mortality of adult brood stock in 2016 and 2017 owing to heat stress, the amount of larval recruitment declined in 2018 by 89% compared to historical levels,” they write.

The catastrophic two-year bleaching impacted heavily on a reef system that was already under long-term stress. Even before the 2016 event, Hughes and colleagues note, “the rates of coral recruitment and growth have failed to compensate for chronic and acute mortality over the past three to four decades”.

The mass coral deaths caused by the bleachings necessarily caused numbers of coral larvae to crash. The drop, say the researchers, affects any estimation of the system’s ability to replenish itself.

It had previously been suggested that coral larvae from the less affected southern section of the reef could be used to aid recovery in the worst-hit areas.

However, results show no evidence that southern larvae are drifting north, and, Hughes and colleagues note, even if they were to be physically relocated in large enough numbers “genotypes from cooler, high latitudes in the southern Great Barrier Reef are likely to be maladapted to the warmer average and peak sea surface temperatures on northern reefs”.

Under current conditions, thus, they conclude, “it will take at least a decade for the fastest growing species to recover and much longer for longer lived and slow-growing species”.

Even that bleak prognosis, however, is liable to prove optimistic. The recovery process is predicated on the absence of further bleaching events. Business-as-usual greenhouse gas emission scenarios suggest bleaching is likely to occur at least twice per decade from 2035, and annually beyond 2044.

— Read on

Let nature heal climate and biodiversity crises, say campaigners | #ClimateChange | The Guardian #Auspol #ClimateElection #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion It’s Time To Declare #ClimateEmergency

Restoration of forests and coasts can tackle ‘existential crises’ but is being overlooked.

By Damian Carrington

The restoration of natural forests and coasts can simultaneously tackle climate change and the annihilation of wildlife but is being worryingly overlooked, an international group of campaigners have said.

Animal populations have fallen by 60% since 1970, suggesting a sixth mass extinction of life on Earth is under way, and it is very likely that carbon dioxide will have to be removed from the atmosphere to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. Trees and plants suck carbon dioxide from the air as they grow and also provide vital habitat for animals.

“The world faces two existential crises, developing with terrifying speed: climate breakdown and ecological breakdown,” the group writes in a letter to the Guardian. “Neither is being addressed with the urgency needed to prevent our life-support systems from spiralling into collapse.

“We are championing a thrilling but neglected approach to averting climate chaos while defending the living world: natural climate solutions. Defending the living world and defending the climate are, in many cases, one and the same.”

The signatories include the school strikes activist Greta Thunberg, the climate scientist Prof Michael Mann, the writers Margaret Atwood, Naomi Klein and Philip Pullman and the campaigners Bill McKibben and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives, and the musician Brian Eno are also among the signatories of the letter, which was instigated by the Guardian writer George Monbiot.

The group emphasises that natural climate solutions are not an alternative to the rapid decarbonisation of energy, transport and farming. Both are needed, the campaigners say.

The United Nations announced a Decade of Ecosystem Restoration at the start of March. “The degradation of our ecosystems has had a devastating impact on both people and the environment,” said Joyce Msuya, the head of the UN Environment Programme. “Nature is our best bet to tackle climate change and secure the future.”

Recent research indicates that about a third of the greenhouse gas reductions needed by 2030 can be provided by the restoration of natural habitats, but such solutions have attracted just 2.5% of the funding for tackling emissions.

The greatest impact is likely to come from the restoration of forests, particularly areas in the tropics that were razed for cattle ranching, palm oil plantations and timber. But natural climate solutions must not compete with the need to feed the world’s growing population, the letter says, and must be implemented with the consent of local communities.

Effective ways of restoring habitat often overlap with the conservation of wildlife, the group says. Boosting the populations of forest elephants and rhinos in Africa and Asia would help spread the seeds of trees that have a high carbon content, for example, while more wolves would lead to fewer plants being eaten by moose.

The fastest accumulation of carbon occurs in vegetated coastal habitats such as mangroves, saltmarshes and seagrass beds, research shows, which also protect communities from storms. Here, carbon can be sequestered 40 times faster than in tropical forests. Peatlands must also be protected and restored, the group says, as they store one-third of all soil carbon despite covering just 3% of the world’s land.

Other suggested ways of removing carbon dioxide from the air include burning wood to generate electricity and burying the emissions, but to work at scale this would require vast amounts of land.

A website, Natural Climate Solutions, is launched on Wednesday calling on governments to back such measures and “to create a better world for wildlife and a better world for people”.

“Our aim is simple: to catalyse global enthusiasm for drawing down carbon by restoring ecosystems,” said Monbiot, who has written a report for the website. “It is the single most undervalued and underfunded tool for climate mitigation.”

— Read on

Protesters Bare Almost All to U.K. Parliament, Which Can’t Look Away – The New York Times #Auspol #Qldpol #ClimateElection #StopAdani Join #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateEmergency

Lawmakers struggled to focus on a Brexit debate as climate protesters stripped in the public gallery.

Protesters stripped in the House of Commons on Monday in a bid to draw lawmakers’ attention to climate change.

LONDON — British lawmakers endure a lot of distractions when they speak in the unruly Parliament, where their colleagues jeer, wave papers and stop them to pose questions. But one lawmaker faced a very different, harder-to-ignore sort of interruption on Monday.

Protesters stripped nearly naked in the public gallery, proclaiming that climate change, not the stalemate over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, was the real emergency facing the country.

“I encourage everybody to look in this direction rather than another direction,” said Peter Kyle, the Labour lawmaker who was trying in vain to hold the room’s attention as he presented a motion for a second referendum on Britain’s departure, the process known as Brexit.

To his disappointment, most of the people in the elegant, wood-paneled chamber gazed upward, at the spectacle in the visitors’ gallery. There, a dozen men and women, all with messages scrawled on their bodies, stood in a row, turning their backsides to the protective glass barrier separating the public from the House of Commons, in full sight of sitting lawmakers.

Some lawmakers took out phones and snapped pictures. Others sighed or gasped in dismay.

One lawmaker, Nick Boles, said: “Mr. Speaker, it has long been a thoroughly British trait to be able to ignore pointless nakedness, and I trust that the House will now be able to return to the issue that we are discussing.”

On Twitter, Extinction Rebellion, the protest group that organized the demonstration, posted images from the gallery, and several members of Parliament posted photographs of the scene taken from their vantage points.

Many on Twitter and in the news media highlighted the reaction of Ed Miliband, a former Labour leader, whose eyes appeared to pop at the sight of the protest.

In the chamber, Mr. Kyle soldiered on, apparently struggling to keep his composure. With classic British understatement, the closest he got to acknowledging what was happening above was a reference to “the peripheral vision that was tempting my eyes elsewhere.”

“I congratulate him on speaking in the way that he is, notwithstanding some other stuff that may be going on,” Anna Soubry, a proponent of a second referendum, said when she took the floor. She added with a smile that it was important that everyone support Mr. Kyle’s motion, “and doesn’t get distracted by anything else.”

In a nation where “bottom” is a semi-naughty word and a staple of juvenile humor, Mr. Kyle said, “the bottom line is,” drawing laughter and cheers.

For most of its history, the chamber had no physical barrier between lawmakers and observers. In 1978, a visitor threw horse manure over the railing.

Parliament installed the bulletproof glass in 2004, citing the threat of terrorism, but the change divided the house, with some members seeing it as an unnecessary barrier between Parliament and the public. Soon after, protesters still managed to hurl purple flour at Prime Minister Tony Blair from a side gallery.

The incident on Monday will not help the reputations of Britain’s Parliament and democracy, which have been battered by the fighting over Brexit — not only between the major parties but within them — and lawmakers’ inability to agree on any way forward, despite a looming deadline.

The police struggled to clear the gallery, where at least one protester had been glued to the glass. They arrested 12 people on accusations of outraging public decency.

On the house floor, the debate — and the double-entendre — continued.

That was not enough for Extinction Rebellion, which organized the protest.

“It seems like that some of the MPs in the UK are more interested in making lewd innuendos than acting on global heating and ecological collapse,” the group wrote on Twitter.

— Read on

What 16 Young People Think About the #GreenNewDeal | The Nation #Auspol #ClimateElection #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion 🛑 #StopAdani Demand #ClimateAction Stop Stealing our children’s future!

“This legislation is not only about saving the planet. It is about reimagining the way that we live.”

More than 70 percent of Americans understand climate change is happening—and at a rapid pace. These new figures mark a 7 percent increase from 2015, with respondents saying that extreme weather events are related to climate change. For everyone, wildfires that eliminate entire communities, disastrous hurricane seasons that are only predicted to worsen, and rising sea levels are terrifying to see. 

For young people, these disasters are foreboding visions of their future. As a result, they’re the ones leading the fight for government action; they’re the global leaders staging strikes and sit-ins to hold failing leadership to account.

In the United States, much of this push has oriented itself around the Green New Deal, a House resolution introduced by New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts’s Ed Markey. The resolution aims to mitigate the steadily worsening effects of climate change through a shared, and ambitious, vision of a sustainable and equitable future for everyone. 

The policy proposals that will undergird the Green New Deal are still to come; for now, the GND represents a moral and political imagining that politicians have consistently failed to offer. It’s a vision to champion; a charge to lead; and a new, youth-led expectation for the people elected into power.

The Green New Deal can only exist with the force and imaginations of the young people whose world it will shape. So Student Nation asked young people across the country: As the generation poised to inherit a world directly threatened by the impacts of climate change, how could the Green New Deal affect your future, or the future of disaffected communities coast to coast? 

The Green New Deal resolution introduced in Congress on February 7 had a less-than-flattering term for places like where I’m from in Central Pennsylvania— “depopulated rural communities.”
 Deep in Trump country, my hometown newspaper has already printed smears of the ambitious climate-justice platform. (“AOC’s Green New Deal is no cars, no planes, no cows.”) But some of the goals outlined in the resolution—job security in a time of wage stagnation, investment in clean air and water, and support for family farming—should resonate in small towns across the country.

This is because the Green New Deal, like the New Deal before it, has the potential to combat disinvestment in Middle America. In the 1930s, when for-profit utilities left nine out of every 10 rural homes without electricity, the Rural Electrification Act launched nationwide loans for cooperative power companies. The Green New Deal platform would replicate this intervention, redressing the economic devastation of rural deindustrialization in the pursuit of a just transition from fossil fuels.

But these policies can’t come from the “grasstops,” as the coalition of local advocacy organizations that make up the Climate Justice Alliance recently put it. The Green New Deal’s architects must commit to the lofty ideals laid out in the resolution —a “democratic and participatory process” to “plan, implement, and administer the Green New Deal mobilization at the local level.” This means rural communities, like my own, need a seat at the table in the coming year, as the Green New Deal moves from resolution to reality. —Lucas Smolcic Larson is a senior at Brown University studying anthropology and Portuguese and Brazilian studies.

As a millennial college student entering the workforce in a time of economic uncertainty and environmental crisis, I am constantly inundated with the word “burnout.”
 With a growing mental-health crisis across college campuses, the looming burden of astronomical student debt, and the daunting prospect of inheriting a planet on the brink of catastrophe, it is no surprise that we are frequently called the “burnout generation.” Among a seemingly endless succession of burgeoning crises, the Green New Deal offers a glimmer of hope.

In the broadest sense, the Green New Deal creates a concrete vision for the future—something the Democrats have continually failed to do over the past few election cycles, and something for which everyone around me seems to be desperately grasping. Furthermore, the resolution does not simply provide a utopian conception of a nation free of unemployment or pollution, but lays out a framework for a “just transition” to a new, green economy built on socialist ideals.

The proposal’s immense scale and urgent tone legitimize our generation’s prevailing sense of foreboding, cogently articulating the dire threat that humanity currently faces. The drastic structural overhaul presented in the resolution, however, goes beyond vowing to prevent further damage. It provides Americans—and particularly young Americans—with something positive to unite around: Climate change and environmental destruction are presented as an imminent catastrophe, yes, but also as a rallying point with the potential to spark the creation of a more equitable society. —Emma Fiona Jones is a senior at Vassar College studying art history and women’s studies.

Scientists say we have 25 years—roughly one generation—to reverse the course of climate change before it has catastrophic effects.
 One of our most innate human instincts is to stop danger in its tracks when it is preventable. As a child, when you begin to fall, you learn to put your hands out to try and catch yourself to avoid further damage. If something comes at you, you duck, fight back, or move out of the way. Self-preservation is the most universal traits among all species. So why is it, when we see with clear evidence that climate change is coming at us with devastating and irreversible effects on us and our world, would we look the other way and not do everything in our power to protect ourselves? We must act immediately and aggressively to protect our planet. This is why we need a Green New Deal now.

I am the daughter of a solar engineer. My father taught me at a young age about the transformative power of renewable energy sources, and that with sustainability and innovation, there is little we can’t solve. As a young person, part of the future generations who will inherit the world that will be shaped by the choices and consequences we make today, we cannot wait to take bold action to address the climate crisis. We must trust our most essential human instincts and protect ourselves, our oceans, our wildlife, and our climate while we still have the chance. —Jazmin Kay is a senior at George Washington University studying political science.

Without any of President Trump’s sarcasm, the Green New Deal is indeed brilliant.
 It’s America’s final drastic action to save the planet and lift the weight of our carbon footprint in climate change.

The Green New Deal offers us a chance to give America a new look by improving the health of citizens through economic and environmental decisions. The $1 trillion plan can be, and has been, criticized for its cost, but it could very well save the most priceless thing on the market: our lives.

As a Maryland native, I know of many East Coast cities muffled by pollution and marred by inadequate housing and debt—and crucially, these are two additional components of the New Green Deal. It also provides the opportunity to dismantle environmental racism in places like Uniontown, Alabama, where toxins from landfill are known hazards to its townspeople.

With healthier foods, organic options and other “green” efforts to cleanse the earth on our side, we’ll restore the landscapes and places as we once knew them. Trees will grow to help purify our air. Animals will return to their natural habitats. Green jobs will help sprout economic prosperity. We can strip away America as we’ve known it—the America that, for many Americans, spoon-feeds them their own suffering. —Amber D. Dodd is a senior at Mississippi State University.

Sunrise Movement activists during a demonstration on Capitol Hill, November 13, 2018.

Obviously, I am not the only person impacted by the possibility of climate change destroying the world as we know it.
 But, selfishly, I tend to view it through thoughts like: “I will never be able to write a Broadway show, or run for Congress, if the planet becomes unlivable.”

The future scares me so much. It’s why I back the Green New Deal completely.

There was a poster in my elementary school that said, “Reach for the moon, and even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” I think that quote applies here. If we can’t meet 100 percent of the power demand in the US through clean energy, but in aiming for that we hit 90 percent, that’s still making a positive change. We should be tackling environmental issues with ambition. A half-hearted “maybe someday we can possibly do this” approach isn’t going to get anything done. We used to think the idea of going to space was insane, but we worked at it with an ambitious “Yes, we can” attitude—and we got to the moon.

It’s disappointing to see so many people in Congress acting like the GND’s ambition is a negative thing. —Mollie Davis is a freshman at Hollins University studying communications.

I’m a man of few wants.
 After graduating college, I want a job with good pay in a nice city, preferably somewhere near the coast, like many young people. I want to ditch my car, because driving is way worse than taking the bus. And I want to enjoy my good-paying job, my nice city, and its reliable public transportation for the rest of my natural life.

This dream—which, by most measures, is pretty moderate—is only possible if we support a Green New Deal that transitions the United States to 100 percent renewable energy and improves buses and trains as truly feasible alternatives to cars and planes. Beyond that, wages are lagging behind labor productivity, even in a nominally “strong economy,” so a union-focused job guarantee would provide economic security for young people across America.

Without a GND, we’re damning our coastal cities to the calamitous effects of climate change, like hurricanes and flooding. We’re sanctioning the automobile-centric status quo. But most importantly, we’re putting an expiration date on the lives of our younger generations, especially some of the most vulnerable.

Opponents of the GND—mostly Republicans and fossil-fuel executives—have erroneously cited an enormous price tag, telling voters that we “can’t afford” radical climate reforms. In actuality, we can’t afford the alternative. —Jake Gold is a junior at the University of Virginia studying economics.

I think often about my future
. I wonder where I’ll work and live. I wonder if I’ll get married and have kids. I even wonder about what I’ll do once, or if, I retire someday.

But lately, I also find myself wondering what’s going to happen to our planet. And I wonder if I’ll get to hit all of these milestones in my life.

I consider myself a green person. I recycle. I turn off the lights when I leave the room. I use a reusable tote when I go grocery shopping.

While these actions do make a small difference, I know it’s not nearly enough. Around 97 percent of scientists agree that humans are the sole cause behind climate change. Climate change is an issue that politicians are consistently putting on the back burner. But now we know that we have 12 years to figure it out.

To me, the Green New Deal is our last hope. Implementing it would show that climate change is a serious issue that needs to be resolved immediately. As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, the Green New Deal would finally treat climate change “like the serious, existential threat it is.” —Emily Sabens is a senior at Ball State University studying journalism and graphic design.

While the IPCC’s release of its October 2018 report alarmed individuals of all generations across the globe, I believe it had a particular impact on students and youth in the United States.
 Here, developments in climate policy have continued to lag, despite repeated warnings from the scientific community.

I think that many students have been frustrated by some policy-makers’ refusal to acknowledge climate change as an immediate threat, dismissing the issue as trivially distant and comprehensive climate action as unnecessary. Many of the concerns I’ve heard from my peers have emphasized the damage climate change is currently inflicting on low-income areas, as well as communities of color.

So, it isn’t surprising that the students I’ve spoken to overwhelmingly support the Green New Deal, which addresses climate change as a scientific, social-justice, and economic issue. The primary critique of the GND students have expressed is the logistics of funding GND initiatives. Some of my peers have stated they support the GND in principle but need to know exactly how policy-makers will obtain GND funding (and how it will impact low- and middle-income individuals), before they back it as policy. Others have minimized funding, stressing that money cannot buy a new planet.

Overall, however, it seems like students, at least those I’ve encountered, are enthusiastic about the GND and optimistic about its implications for Earth’s future. —Lauren Padilla is a senior at Johns Hopkins University majoring in writing seminars.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey hold a news conference for their proposed Green New Deal at the Capitol in February 2019.

We are, on this planet, hurtling toward a breaking point.
 The world’s foremost climate scientists say that we have 12 years to stave off a global climate catastrophe that will commence in full by 2040. If we do not stop emitting carbon, we will soon be faced with human and environmental ruin on a scale that has no precedent.

Those are the stakes. But the stakes are, as usual, just that much higher for low-income communities.

The American government has stated unequivocally that, as the effects of climate change worsen, vulnerable people—who are disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards and who often lack access to health care, energy, information, and the resources required to move—will suffer most.

Climate issues and equity issues are inextricably linked, and the Green New Deal is designed to address both head-on. Its aim is to decarbonize the economy, but, in the process, with its jobs, health insurance, and housing guarantees, it is also to protect marginalized communities and ensure that they play a central role in building this country a sustainable future.

This legislation is not only about saving the planet. It is about reimagining the way that we live. Considering the magnitude of the crisis awaiting us, and considering the populations that crisis will devastate first and foremost, it is the necessary approach. —Abe Asher is a junior at Macalester College studying political science and religious studies.

Twelve years.
 That is how long climate-change activists say we have to limit the climate-change catastrophe. Twelve years from now, I will not even be 40 years old. My generation is the generation that will undoubtedly inherit this crisis if we do not act now.

But there is hope.

As a young, black woman who lives on the intersection of multiple identities, it is important for policies to be intersectional and take into account that many people also live on the intersection of multiple identities and are impacted by issues like climate change in distinct ways.

The Green New Deal does just that. It does not just offer solutions like the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions and pollution, but it goes deeper and calls for “high-quality healthcare for all, affordable safe and adequate housing, economic security, and access to clean water, clean air, healthy, and affordable food, and nature.”

The Green New Deal recognizes that these are also environmental-justice issues and that it is a tragedy that people in Flint, Michigan, and other places still do not have clean water and poor people across the country—many who do not even have access to health care—have developed illnesses because they live on polluted land.

The Green New Deal is necessary and must be enacted. —Rebekah Barber is a 2016 graduate of North Carolina Central University, currently a researcher at the Institute for Southern Studies.

Developing concrete solutions to climate change and economic disparity is an immense undertaking.
 The US has the ability to break ground and hold our society accountable for humans’ environmental impact. In general, we need more social programs and legislation that amplifies the science behind climate change. And if the Green New Deal is put in place, communities that suffer from the deteriorating environment stand to benefit from a stimulated economy through alternatives to fossil fuels. Reduced smog levels and particulate matter in the air will improve public health, as both hit disaffected and disenfranchised communities the hardest. The Green New Deal is a very hopeful aspiration, and it sets a deadline that should have established long ago.

Seeing where we are, turning completely to clean and renewable energy by 2035 also seems like wishful thinking. Still, with almost 100 percent of the scientific community agreeing on the existence of this looming problem, the Green New Deal is the gateway to declaring climate change as a severe national emergency. As a generation, we should not disparage hope. —Kirk Stevenson is a senior at San Francisco State University studying journalism and political science.

While the thought of extensive green measures like those mentioned in the Green New Deal sound great, I believe that we need to take small steps before we do it all at once.
 That being said, the implementation of the Green New Deal would be beneficial to everyone. Something needs to be done about the impending dangers of climate change, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey clearly helped put together a well thought-out plan.

Initially, if this whole plan goes through as-is, there will be pushback, especially since this deal comes from left-wing Democrats. Disaffected communities will definitely have something to say, and this could wind up affecting who comes into office in the upcoming elections. Although, if the deal winds up doing exactly what it has proposed, such as bringing more jobs into the United States in conjunction with stopping the transfer of jobs overseas, and providing quality health care and a living wage, this could be a plan that appeals to all parties and affiliations.

This deal, without a doubt, would help shape my future. Ideally, it would be in beneficial ways such as cleaner air, cleaner water, renewable energy, and fewer dying polar bears. But this deal could also change the way I travel, the amount of taxes I pay and more. Of course, these changes could be considered minor if this deal helps save our earth. The proposal wants to achieve net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by creating millions of green jobs and investing in a new, clean-energy infrastructure.

This will be a tough journey, but it is something that people need to support, because without this proposal upcoming generations might not have a future. —Mallory Wilson is a sophomore at Hofstra University studying journalism, political science, and Spanish.

The Green New Deal has received criticism for being extreme and expensive.
 Opponents argue that it poses an attack on industries critical to the United States economy and our society as a whole. But critics of the resolution fail to understand the context in which the Green New Deal is being proposed.

Let’s talk science.

The planet is currently warming at a rate of 0.2° C per decade and is on track to reach an increased temperature of 3.2° C by the end of the 21st century. A 2017 study classified warming into three categories: greater than 1.5° C as being dangerous, greater than 3° C as being catastrophic, and greater than 5° C as being unknown, suggesting beyond catastrophic effects and posing “existential threats to the majority of the population.”

The Green New Deal is extreme and expensive. If implemented, it will likely affect nearly every industry in the nation and will certainly have an immediate impact on the US economy. But extreme circumstances necessitate extreme responses—and the state of our planet far exceeds this qualification.

Right now, we can combat climate change. Soon, even the Green New Deal may not be enough. Soon, there will be no turning back.

We do not have the luxury of rolling our eyes at this resolution, and doing so will yield catastrophic consequences for the entire planet—consequences that my generation and the next will be forced to bear for years to come. —Kara Miecznikowski is a junior at the University of Notre Dame studying biological sciences and journalism.

Global climate change is a pervasive yet intangible demon that gradually erodes the place we call home.

Sea levels are rising at abnormal rates, exacerbating flood risks for low-lying and coastal communities. More-severe and -destructive hurricanes are running rampant through portions of the North Atlantic. Our natural weather pattern is riddled with far too many intense heat waves, accompanied by prolonged droughts and the melting of the arctic.

Nearly every natural resource the human race is dependent upon, including water, agriculture, and ecosystems at large, are in jeopardy. Compromising these systems will yield a host of implications, particularly for public health.

The gravity of this issue is perhaps obvious to younger generations poised to inherit an endangered earth if environmental-policy inaction persists.

But the problem with our current political system is that it doesn’t typically deal with intangibles. It doesn’t tend to address problems that we perceive as universal, or out of our control, and it seems to have significant trouble in grappling with cross-generational epidemics.

A fractionalized Democratic Party inflamed by generational divides in regard to addressing climate change certainly can’t catalyze collective action.

The Green New Deal, a non-binding resolution that, even if passed, will not result in policy enactment, was created with the sole purpose of uniting the party in a common vision.

It is merely a thought process, and to support the deal would be to acknowledge the urgency of climate change.

More pragmatic and passable legislation will only be made possible if the party as a whole unites in this vision. —Alyssa Hurlbut is a senior at Marist College studying journalism and political science.

I have spent the majority of my senior year of high school participating in the college process with a Mason jar full of coffee in my backpack at all times.
 As I applied to 14 schools, I pushed myself further than I had ever gone before, and I’m still exhausted. While my time at high school seems far from over, the world’s 12-year deadline to reduce carbon emissions feels right around the corner. My fall was spent preparing for my future, but why fight for something that could cease to exist in my lifetime?

At times, taking action against climate injustice seems hopeless. I’ve often thought about whether my reusable Mason jars are helping reduce waste at all, and if I’m only using them to make myself feel better. But Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, only 12 years older than myself, has proposed the “Green New Deal,” an attempt to enact concrete climate reform as opposed to minor amendments made by Congress in the past. She proposes investing in renewable-energy infrastructure and jobs that help both the earth and communities in need. Through renewable technology, the government could further develop rural areas across the country by providing ecological capital. Her efforts have been both commended and scrutinized by media, and people are scrambling to make their opinions known on social media, the preferred medium of youth activists. Many in Congress agree that her resolution is ambitious and requires work from all sides of the political spectrum, but its presence alone represents a serious call to action. Her persistence in Congress makes me feel as though we need to rise to the occasion.

To protest the lack of action taken by the US and countries around the world, my school and I are participated the March 15 Climate Strike, meant encourage other politicians to support the resolution. And just as there is power in policy, there is power within the people; they are not mutually exclusive.

The Green New Deal marks a new era: one that prioritizes the safety of our planet and provides opportunities to communities in need. It’s the environmental justice we deserve and are willing to fight for.

I don’t want my adulthood to be up for debate. That’s why I will continue to march, strike, and help the environment like the future depends on it—because it does. —Sophia Steinberg is a senior at Beacon School, a public college/prep high school in New York City.

The Green New Deal has the capacity to change the downward spiral of our environment, while engaging the disaffected with jobs and opportunity.
 At this point, we’re killing the environment a little more each day. Being that many of those in office, specifically the current administration, will never live to see the negative impacts of their inaction, they don’t see the need for drastic change.

Radical change is what we need. The Green New Deal offers some of the most bold environmental ideas ever proposed. If implemented, in the next 10 years it could mitigate the harms we have wreaked on the environment while growing our economy.

Just enacting a few of the proposed steps could make a huge difference. Renewable, zero-emission energy sources, for example, are commonsense solutions to my generation. Yet, we don’t fully tap these because politicians protect the power companies that can’t see—or won’t look past—their current profits.

The truth of the matter is, if we don’t get serious about change, my generation won’t see our children walk across the stage at high-school graduation. Serious change won’t be easy, and the upfront monetary cost is massive. But nothing worthwhile ever is easy, and the cost of not changing our ways is the very future of mankind.

So to this I say, take your pick: money or lives. —Zoe Zbar is a junior at the University of South Florida studying marketing.

— Read on

Farmers uninspired by Band-aid Budget – Farmers For #ClimateAction 🛑 #StopAdani #Auspol #ClimateElection #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion It’s to Declare #ClimateEmergency #GreenNewDeal

Farmers uninspired by Band-aid Budget – Farmers For Climate Action

Farmers uninspired by Band-aid Budget

3 April 2019. Farmers across the country have been left uninspired by the Federal Federal Government’s proposed 2019-20 Budget. Despite disaster relief and recovery funding, it falls well short of much-needed support for long-term strategies to address climate change.

Farmers for Climate Action CEO Verity Morgan-Schmidt said: “The Budget completely fails to provide economic support for long-term strategies to address climate change. Without it, the much-welcomed disaster relief and recovery funding is like applying a Band-aid to a broken leg.

“This Budget shows that the Coalition just doesn’t take climate change seriously, as evidenced by the cutting of spending from the Climate Solutions Package from $200 million per year to $133 million.

“Australia has seen a decline in environmental funding of over 39% since 2013-2014, as the realities of climate change are increasingly being felt. Scientific funding has also been cut over the past six years. The agricultural supply chain extends beyond the farm gate; we’re dependent on a healthy environment, and on a well-resourced research sector to help us address climate change.”

Positive outcomes of the Budget included flood recovery support for North Queensland, $4.2 million to improve and maintain the National Drought Map and, of course, the extension of the Farm Household Allowance and the provision of funding for emergency response via the $3.9 billion emergency response fund.

Ms Morgan-Schmidt also acknowledged the $50.4 million allocated to support feasibility studies into microgrids in rural, regional and remote communities, additional resourcing for the Bureau of Meteorology, the previously announced $30 million for a biodiversity stewardship pilot program, and the $4 million for a biodiversity certification scheme. 

Crookwell farmer and Deputy Chair of Farmers for Climate Action Charlie Prell said: “Farmers across Australia have been calling out for policy certainty and for the delivery of tangible outcomes via a National Strategy on Climate Change and Agriculture. Despite agreement to progress this via the state and Federal Agriculture Ministers’ Forum (AGMIN), the Budget provides no tangible funding commitments to turn this into reality.

“The Budget is a start but it misses the mark for farmers who are battling extreme weather events. The failure to rule out funding for new and refurbished coal and gas plants essentially means that, rather than supporting action to address climate change, the Federal Government is prepared to put money into the drivers of climate change.

“As farmers, we’re already being hit hard by climate change. It’s time to pull out all the stops and rise to the challenge of addressing this critical issue. This Budget is one small step on a very long road.”

Farmers for Climate Action is a movement of farmers, agricultural leaders and rural Australians working to ensure that farmers, who are on the frontlines of climate change, are a key part of its solution.

— Read on

Cities & states are modeling what a #GreenNewDeal could look like – ThinkProgress #Auspol #ClimateElection 🛑 #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion System change not #ClimateChange

Cities and states are modeling what a Green New Deal could look like – ThinkProgress

by E.A. Crunden

Smaller-scale efforts show local governments are prepared to act on climate change.

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have spent the past two months engaged in a war of words over the Green New Deal resolution. Many argue its ambitious goals aren’t feasible within the short timeframe it lays out.

Others say there’s simply no alternative.

While they’ve been sparring, however, cities and states across the country have been moving forward with their own ambitious plans, showing how elements of the radical proposal could take shape at a local level.

“I think at the state and local level, we’ve got the capacity to do it,” Alan Webber, mayor of Santa Fe, New Mexico, told ThinkProgress.

Webber’s city has been moving swiftly on climate action over the past few years. Part of that is necessity: New Mexico already suffers from water shortages, something the 2018 National Climate Assessment (NCA) warns will only grow worse in the Southwestas climate change intensifies droughts. With no time to waste, Santa Fe is jumping in head first.

We are on land that belongs to the Pueblo,” Webber said, noting that indigenous communities in the area have paved the way for the “sustainable life” Santa Fe is now pursuing.

Last November, Santa Fe adopted a sustainability plan putting the city on the road to carbon neutrality by 2040.

That’s 10 years later than the Green New Deal proposes, but it’s still a rapid timeline. And it’s one that includes a host of factors — moving to renewable energy, upgrading buildings and street lighting, water conservation, and local food production, in addition to more run-of-the-mill actions like recycling.

“It’s a comprehensive approach to having a sustainability roadmap,” said Webber.

What is unfolding in Santa Fe is an accelerated version of the conversation taking place on the national level. Once a topic pushed to the side by Republicans and Democrats alike, climate change has been catapulted to the top of the political agenda in recent months.

After two years of deadly wildfires and hurricanes across the country, polling shows that most Americans accept the science behind climate change and that many feel it is already impacting their lives directly.

And they are demanding action.

Congressional newcomers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), joined by activist groups like the youth-led Sunrise Movement, have led the charge.

In February, Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the Green New Deal resolution, a blueprint for overhauling the entire U.S. economy and transitioning to emissions-neutral energy sources within a decade.

— Read on

Cholera cases mount to over 1,000 in cyclone-hit Mozambique #Auspol #ClimateEmergency not a good time to cut Australian aid! #Auspol #ClimateElection #ExtinctionRebellion 🛑#StopAdani #ClimateStrike

Cholera cases mount to over 1,000 in cyclone-hit Mozambique

Cholera has infected at least 1,052 people in Mozambique’s cyclone-hit region, the health ministry said Monday in a new report, marking a massive increase from 139 cases reported four days ago.

The mounting cases represent on average more than 200 cases of new infections each day.

Although hundreds have been taken ill with  since last week, only one death has been reported so far, tallies compiled by the ministry showed.

A mass vaccination campaign is due to be rolled out on Wednesday as authorities and aid workers are scrambling to avert an epidemic more than two weeks after a devastating cyclone slammed Mozambique.

Some 900,000 doses of oral cholera vaccines were due to arrive in the cyclone-battered Beira city on Tuesday, from the global stockpile for emergency, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“Vaccination against cholera begins on Wednesday in Beira,” a senior Mozambican health official Ussein Isse said.

The central city of Beira is the worst affected, accounting for 959 out of the total 1,052 cases.

The city of more than half-a-million people recorded 247 cases in 24 hours between Sunday and Monday morning.

Cholera is transmitted through contaminated drinking water or food and causes acute diarrhoea.

The numbers of cholera cases is expected to rise due to the increasing numbers of people reporting to health centres with symptoms, said the WHO in a statement.

“The next few weeks are crucial and speed is of the essence if we are to save lives and limit suffering,” WHO chief for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said in the statement.

Cyclone Idai killed more than 700 people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe and hundreds of thousands have been left homeless—many of whom have been forced to use dirty water supplies. At least 518 of those deaths have occured in Mozambique.

Experts have warned that the destruction of drinking  and lack of sanitation in overcrowded shelters in Mozambique create breeding grounds for  such as cholera.

To control the outbreak, vast quantities of drinking water and  purification units have been delivered to affected areas.

A publicity blitz to raise awareness of the cholera situation is also under way.

More than 146,000 people have been displaced from their homes by the cyclone and subsequent floods are are sheltering in 155 sites across four provinces of Sofala, Manica, Zambezia and Tete, according to the UN.

— Read on