Afforestation

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Climate Change One of Mankind’s Most Serious Threats. #Auspol 

Catastrophic Climate Change Makes List of Mankind’s Most Serious Threats
Extreme climate change is among the greatest threats facing mankind, says a new study released by the Global Challenges Foundation


Still politicians (Who receive huge donations from coal miners) push coal ignoring climate scientists.

Scott Morrison  Liberal Party in the Australian Parilament 
The GCF works to raise awareness of Global Catastrophic Risks, defined as events that would end the lives of roughly 10 percent or more of the global population, or do comparable damage.


The industrial landscape across the Dee Estuary at sunrise as steam rises from Deeside power station, Shotton Steelworks and other heavy industrial plants on April 13, 2016 in Flint, Wales. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The list includes “significant ongoing risks” such as nuclear war and worldwide disease outbreaks but also highlights several scenarios that are “unlikely today but will become significantly more likely in the coming decades,”such as the continued rise of artificial intelligence. 

It’s there, among the emerging risks, that the study places the threat of catastrophic climate change.

Politician addicted to coal donations

Barnaby Joyce National Party in the Australian Parliament 
Even if we succeed in limiting emissions, the study says, scientists expect significant climate change to occur, which could lead to a host of global challenges including environmental degradation, migration, and the possibility of resource conflict.

The study goes on to say that, in a worse case scenario, global warming could top 6 degrees Celsius, which would leave “large swathes of the planet dramatically less habitable.”
“The precise levels of climate change sufficient to trigger tipping points – thresholds for abrupt and irreversible change – remain uncertain,“ the study says, “but the risk associated with crossing multiple tipping points in the earth system or in interlinked human and natural systems increases with rising temperature.”

The main goal of the study is to raise awareness of these potential catastrophes and encourage greater global cooperation to keep them at bay.
(MORE: Climate Change Poses Urgent Health Risk, White House Says)
“Market and political distortions mean that these risks are likely to be systematically neglected by many actors,” the study says.
The study suggests there are three main ways to reduce the risks from climate change: adaptation to climate change, abatement of emissions, and geo-engineering. Research communities should increase their focus on understanding the pathways to and the likelihood of catastrophic climate change, and possible ways to respond, the study says.
MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Before and After Shots of Rising Sea Levels

This photo illustration depicts Durban, South Africa, after a 2 degrees Celsius increase in global temperature, a threshold that, if surpassed, could usher in catastrophic global impacts from climate change. (Credit: sealevel.climatecentral.org/Nickolay Lamm) 
Press link for More: Weather.com

Ensia finals

Now we need to build it. #auspol #climate 

When you look to the year ahead, what do you see? 

Ensia recently invited eight global thought leaders to share their thoughts.

 In this interview with Ensia contributor Lisa Palmer for Ensia’s 2017 print annual, Christiana Figueres, former executive sectretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, responds to three questions: 

What will be the biggest challenge to address or opportunity to grasp in your field in 2017? 

Why? And what should we be doing about it now?

A host of trends threatens to undermine the stability and security of our communities, including widening inequality, record youth unemployment, rapid urbanization, increasing pressure on resources, commodity price volatility and, exacerbating all of this, an increasingly unpredictable and extreme climate.
In 2015, the world came together and agreed we would not let these trends run rampant through our societies — that, instead, we would work toward a common set of positive goals.

 The Sustainable Development Goals, Paris climate change agreement and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction together provided us with a common vision for a more peaceful and resilient world.


Now we need to buckle down and build it, even if we encounter unexpected resistance or challenges to our agreed goals.

That means ensuring that every decision we take as a society is aligned with the goals we have set.

 Our fiscal and monetary policy, our infrastructure and planning decisions, our social welfare provision — all of this must point in one clear direction, so that no flank of our actions undermines the rest.

We will not be able to build more peaceful and resilient communities if in the pursuit of our objectives we run roughshod over each other’s priorities and concerns. 

Instead, we must come together to, for example, understand what actions we take to limit temperature rise to 1.5 °C (3.6 °F) mean for how we use our land, how they can be harnessed as opportunities to reduce youth unemployment and deliver more inclusive prosperity, how they can offer opportunities to bring energy access and economic opportunity to the remotest of places through technologies such as decentralized solar.

 Not only is opening up this wider invitation to a world of opportunity the right thing to do — it is our best insurance against alienation, anger and violence. 

Press link for more: ensia.com

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The long arm of #ClimateChange #auspol 

Snow may have fallen in Ras Al Khaimah over the weekend but the Arctic is unusually warm. 

With temperatures almost 30°C above normal in some areas, sea-ice cover has fallen to record low levels. 


Dark seas instead of white ice absorb more sunlight, driving further global warming. 

Last year was already the hottest year on record worldwide. 

And human emissions of greenhouse gases are almost certainly responsible.

Meanwhile, progress on some of the main elements of climate policy is far short of what is needed. 

These include a binding global agreement to reduce emissions; sharp reductions in emissions; and dealing with the backlog of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.
April’s acclaimed Paris climate agreement, signed by 194 states including the UAE, is non-binding. 

Signatories are not committed to any consistent plan of action, but only those they themselves propose – and there is no enforcement mechanism. 

The US seems set to withdraw, or at best not to implement its commitments.

Even if all countries fulfil their Paris plans, the world will warm by 2.5°C to 3.1°C by 2100, better than the 4°C without climate policies but above the still-dangerous 2°C limit that Paris was meant to achieve.
On emissions cuts, there is much justifiable celebration in the renewables industry over recent progress in solar and wind power. 

These are now more competitive than coal or gas power generation in many areas, although backup remains a concern. Companies such as Tesla are also confident that electric cars, so far numbering just 1 million out of more than a billion vehicles globally, are about to take off.

Electricity generation creates one quarter of global emissions, with transport – which also includes planes and ships – contributing 14 per cent.
Industry, agriculture and forestry and the energy industry’s own consumption are the other big polluting sectors; they require other approaches beyond renewable energy and more efficiency.

 Industries could partly switch to clean electricity. 

But making cement, chemicals and steel unavoidably produces carbon dioxide.

 Capturing this at source and storing it underground or using it to make useful products or solid minerals is the only apparent solution. 

But many environmentalists oppose carbon capture and storage, and it receives just a fraction of the support that has gone to solar, wind and electric cars.
Even if emissions are cut sharply from now, the accumulated atmospheric legacy, and the momentum from continuing economic growth, mean temperatures will keep rising. 

So actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is essential, both to tackle this backlog and to mop up continuing emissions that are too dispersed to capture. 

Carbon dioxide can be removed by reforestation, by burning plant material in carbon capture-equipped power plants or by “artificial trees” that absorb the gas from the air.
Given this dangerous climatic picture, Gulf countries need to reduce their own emissions.

 Dubai and Abu Dhabi are making encouraging steps in removing wasteful energy subsidies and introducing solar power. Intelligent investment into research and deployment of new energy technologies can help to build a clean and diverse future economy.
GCC states can play a unique role in carbon capture given their favourable combination of geology and industry.

 The Adnoc-Masdar joint venture Al Reyadah is a pioneer. But from 21 large-scale carbon capture plants operating or in construction worldwide today, we need thousands by mid-century. 

Both of these, and actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, are essential to preserve the region’s fossil fuel endowment in the global energy mix.
The Gulf states need to prepare for nasty climate surprises – heatwaves, floods or droughts in their neighbours – whipping up the storm of turbulent regional politics. 

The Arctic may be far from the UAE, but the arm of climate change has grown long.
Robin Mills is the chief executive of Qamar Energy and author of The Myth of the Oil Crisis.

Press link for more: The National

Ensia finals

Climate Change should worry us all. #auspol #science #resist

Climate challenge should worry us all

Section of land that was covered by water. (Photo: Maarufu Mohammed/Standard)

To my shame, I realise I might just have grown up a climate change denialist.


 Sitting in the presence of 40 climate and energy specialists this week, I was left with another shocking thought. 

My denialism could have cost my children in future, the past 50 years I have enjoyed.
When connected, a series of isolated occurrences last week gives this thought greater urgency. 

My tap has no water and when it does, it is brown and undrinkable.
US President Donald Trump appointed a denialist and passed Executive Orders that seek to hide climate science research, reduce US Environmental Protection Agency funding and regulation influence. 

The United Nations Secretary General asked Kenya to lead the peace-keeping contingent in Darfur, Sudan, probably the first massive global conflict explicitly caused by climate change.

The appeal by widely respected Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Gullet Abbas was met with uncharacteristic derision. Give for starving Kenyans, again? 

What does the government do with the taxes we pay? 

There are bigger questions we could also be asking, like why are Kenyans starving in the first place?
Our planet is getting hotter, less predictive and accommodating of our lifestyles. 

Kenyan famines have gone from being 20 years apart to 12 and then 2 years.

ALSO READ: ‘I only need a sip of water before I die’
Now we seem to experience famines annually in key parts of the country.

 Rainfall is down 15 per cent, the country is 1.4 degrees centigrade warmer since the 1980s and the agriculture growing season is growing shorter, perhaps by as much as 40 per cent.
We have two frontlines to secure for the future. 

The first is urban. 

Seven of the world’s biggest cities are in Africa and Nairobi is one of them. 

Africa’s population will double in the next 34 years and it is in our cities that the majority of our citizens will be found. 

Our cities are not designed for this future yet.

 Yet here there is some good news.
Africa’s city managers, mayors and governors are currently providing global leadership for the UN New Urban Action. 

Kenya has also recently been named the world’s least toxic country by the Eco Experts. 

They looked at levels of air pollution, energy consumption and renewable energy production.
Leadership is also emerging in unexpected places.

 Take Phyllis Omido for instance. 

She was an administrator and single mother when she discovered her Mombasa-based employer Metal Refinery Ltd, a lead smelting company, was literally killing their neighbours with toxic lead.
Still unrecognised and supported by government, she continues to call for compensation and protection of the Uhuru-Owino community and others across the country.
Our rural farms and pastures are also on the frontline. 

With declining rain-fall, there are growing calls for climate change agriculture.

 We have to make choices about how much land for food or bio-fuel production, maize or cassava and whether we prioritise large commercial interests or small farmers.
The younger among us have most to lose as 24-year-old Ekai Nabenyo from Turkana County has realised.

 He says with conviction: “Even if the (global UN) Paris Agreements disappoint us, I will continue to defend my home against drought and developers”. 

Ekai presses daily for his entire community to enforce environmental standards on oil companies and engage in re-afforestation. 

77,000 trees have been planted in one of Kenya’s harshest environments through the community’s efforts to date.

ALSO READ: Economic woes linked to low investment in water, State told
We voted for the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment in the Constitution. We can’t leave it to other people or to the government. You and me are too important to look the other way. 

What can I do, I hear you ask?
Plant trees but avoid the beautiful and water-hungry jacarandas.

 To survive, we will need to increase our national forest cover from 6 per cent to 10 per cent, share a car ride with a neighbour, workplaces, embrace public transport, a bicycle or walk where possible. 

Are you separating your household plastics, paper and food leftover?
Are you water harvesting and using the water for farming?

 Parents, encourage a child to take on a career in environmental science, climate and renewable energy.

 Citizens, press our 48 governments to govern our environment in line with Article 69 of the Constitution.
The world does not owe us an earth. 

We owe the world a sustainable earth. 


And it is time we started using our backbone instead of a wishbone on this issue.

 It’s time, we all started reading and acting up more.

Press link for more: Standard Media Kenya

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Most talked about climate papers in 2016 #science #climatechange #auspol 

Every year, thousands of scientific journal papers are published by researchers across the world, but only a tiny proportion make it into the pages of the newspapers.
Using Altmetric, we’ve compiled a list of the 25 most talked-about climate papers of 2016. You can see the Top 10 in our infographic above (zoomable version here).
Altmetric scores academic papers based on how many times they’re mentioned in online news articles and on social media platforms. You can read more about how the Altmetric scoring system works in last year’s article.
Top of the table

The highest scoring article of the year, with an Altmetric tally of 2,716, is the Nature paper “Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise”, by Prof Robert DeConto of the University of Massachusetts and Dr David Pollard of Penn State University.
Published in March, the study found that Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a metre of sea level rise by 2100 and more than 15 metres by 2500, if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated.

The paper had more coverage in the news than another other climate paper published in 2016. It was featured in 386 news stories and was covered by – among 271 outlets in total – the BBC, Guardian, MailOnline, Independent, Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post and the New Yorker.
The study made a particular splash in the US after further analysis, published in August by estate agent firm Zillow, highlighted that 1.8m of sea level rise by 2100 could put two million American homes underwater.

The paper – not the news stories – was also tweeted from 369 accounts and posted on 16 Facebook walls. Overall, the paper’s score puts it in the top 5% of all journal articles in the Altmetric database.
Runner-up

In second place is “Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change”, by lead author Dr Marco Springmann from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food at the University of Oxford.
This paper was published in March in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), which also landed a paper in second place in last year’s list.
The research found that a worldwide switch to diets that rely less on meat and more on fruit and vegetables could reduce global mortality by up to 10% and food-related greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70% by 2050.

The paper’s overall Altmetric score of 1,981 includes 203 new stories from 156 news outlets, as well as 660 tweets from 627 users. This paper scored highest for Facebook, with 115 wall posts from 109 people.
Part of the popularity of the paper stems from being referenced in a press release for the “Kickstart Your Health Rochester” programme in which doctors in New York encouraged local residents to adopt a vegan diet for three weeks in May to improve their health.
Third place

Coming in third is another PNAS paper, “Temperature-driven global sea-level variability in the Common Era,” by lead author Dr Robert Kopp of Rutgers University.
The study compiled the first-ever estimate of global sea level change over the last 3,000 years. Their headline finding – that the speed of rising seas in the 20th century was faster than during any of the previous 27 centuries – generated headlines around the world, from the Boston Globe and Bangkok Post to Le Monde and the Hindu.
With a total score of 1,800, this paper appeared in 228 news stories from 186 outlets, was tweeted by 200 users, and posted on 21 Facebook walls.
Just missing out on the medals

In fourth place, published at the very beginning of 2016, is “The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene” in Science.
This study presented evidence that the impact of humans on the Earth is so severe and so enduring that the geological time period since the mid-20th century should be declared the “Anthropocene”.
This paper was one of the most tweeted about in our Top 25, with 904 tweets from 853 users, reaching a potential of more than three million followers.
The Anthropocene was also the subject of a feature article in Carbon Brief in October, which explored the history of the idea and the debate among geologists on whether they will formally inscribe a new epoch into their books.

In fifth is a paper that sounds like it could be the plot of a James Bond film. “The abandoned ice sheet base at Camp Century, Greenland, in a warming climate”, published in Geophysical Research Letters, assessed the possible fate of a US military base built in 1959 beneath the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
This nuclear-powered “city under the ice” doubled as a top secret site to study the feasibility of deploying missiles from the Arctic. The base was abandoned in 1967, under the assumption that all its chemical, biological, and radioactive wastes would forever be preserved in ice. However, the study shows that ice sheet melt as a result of climate change could uncover these wastes by the end of the century.
Completing the Top 10

Elsewhere in the Top 10, coming sixth is “Climate change decouples drought from early wine grape harvests in France” in Nature Climate Change.
This research found that increasingly hot summers are pushing wine grapes in French vineyards to mature earlier in the year. While this could bring some good years for French wine in the near future, it doesn’t bode well for the longer term, the researchers told Carbon Brief when we covered the paper in March.
The study was the second-most covered in the news of our Top 25, presumably because the fate of wine is a subject close to the hearts of many.

The topic of the paper in ninth place is quite a hot potato in climate science. “Greening of the Earth and its drivers”, published in Nature Climate Change, showed that up to half of the Earth’s vegetation-covered land is now “greener” than it was 30 years ago – mostly caused by rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
But any benefits of “CO2 fertilisation” may be temporary and are outweighed by the negative consequences of climate change, one of the authors told Carbon Brief.
And while the general principles of CO2 fertilisation are known, there is still much to learn about how these processes will act in future as the world continues to warm, said Prof Richard Betts, head of climate impacts research at the Met Office Hadley Centre, in a guest post for Carbon Brief.
Completing the Top 10 is “Consequences of twenty-first-century policy for multi-millennial climate and sea-level change” in Nature Climate Change. The paper aimed to tackle the “misleading impression in the public arena” that human-caused climate change is merely a 21st century problem.
Projecting changes in temperature and sea levels for the next 10,000 years, the researchers find that greenhouse gas emissions could eventually lead to 7.5C of warming and global sea level rise of 25-52m. With such stark results, it’s no surprise that the paper caught people’s attention.
Final score

If you want a closer look at the final scores, we’ve compiled all the data for the Top 25 climate papers of 2016 here. And there’s just space for a few honourable mentions…
Just missing out on the Top 10 in 11th place is “Observed Arctic sea-ice loss directly follows anthropogenic CO2 emission” in Science. This novel study calculated that for every tonne of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, summer sea ice cover in the Arctic shrinks by three square metres.

Number 14 on the list is “Evidence for climate change in the satellite cloud record”, published in Nature, which used satellite data to gather evidence on how cloud patterns have changed in recent decades. The findings are another “brick in the wall” that “supports our confidence in the mainstream view of climate science,” a scientist not involved in the study told Carbon Brief.
Last month, scientists from the University of East Anglia and the Global Carbon Project released their annual stocktake of global CO2 emissions. Their paper, “Global Carbon Budget 2016”, published in Earth System Science Data, comes in 16th for 2016.
Their figures revealed that the amount of CO2 we put into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, gas flaring and cement production has held steady for three years in a row. But it’s too early to say whether this constitutes a peak in global emissions, one of the scientists told Carbon Brief.
Elsewhere in the Top 25 are “Millions projected to be at risk from sea-level rise in the continental United States” in Nature Climate Change (21st), and “Climate change: The 2015 Paris Agreement thresholds and Mediterranean basin ecosystems” in Science (25th). You can read more about both in our coverage here and here, respectively, when the papers were originally published.
Overall, the Top 25 is made up of six papers each from journals Science and Nature Climate Change, followed by three in Nature, two each in Environmental Research Letters and PNAS, and one in each of Earth System Science Data, Geophysical Research Letters, Nature Geoscience, Progress in Human Geography, Science Advances, and The Lancet.
Top infographic by Rosamund Pearce for Carbon Brief.
Press link for more: Carbon Brief

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We’re all in this together. #auspol #science 

The Wretched State of the Human Family and Our Shared Ecological HabitatBY DR. GLEN BARRY · PUBLISHED JANUARY 8, 2017 · UPDATED JANUARY 8, 2017
Humanity’s one shared biosphere that makes Earth habitable is collapsing and dying as industrial growth overruns natural ecosystems and climate; as we have utterly failed to embrace our dependence upon each other and nature for our well-being and very survival. It is time to come together as one human family to resist injustice, inequity, violence, and non-sustainability as we create a rich and verdant life for all amidst resurgent natural ecosystems on a living Earth that can last essentially forever.

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. – George Orwell
We are one human family. Best we end the dysfunction and start acting like it or we destroy ourselves and our one shared habitat. – Dr. Glen Barry
Deep ecology essay by Dr. Glen Barry, EcoInternet
We Are All In This Together, One Human Family

In Beijing, New Delhi, and London one can barely breathe. Those sick with addiction are murdered in the Philippines by the state. The socialist paradise of Venezuela is becoming a failed state of wanton hunger, prostitution, and murder. Advanced western democracies turn towards fascism as long anticipated inequitable over-population and abrupt climate change lead to mass flows of refugees.


Western consumption is violence against the natural world and each other. Over a billion people live in abject poverty on $1.50 a day, as a few hundred oligarchs enjoy half of Earth’s wealth. In much of the world shocking and grotesque opulence exists within a sea of absolute human and natural misery. Wildlife continues to be slaughtered as vermin, as do unwanted human beings. Resurgent indigenous protectors are brutalized by settlers as they have been for 500 years.

The current pampered ruling elite in the United States stole an election from a good man working to channel the aspirations of everyday people, while committed to addressing societal issues that threaten us all. Instead we have an US President elect who is an anti-science lunatic that grabs women’s crotches and has sold out the nation to autocratic Russia. This creepy bankrupt reality show host will soon possess the button that can destroy the Earth many times over. Or his turning over of climate and environmental policy to the oil oligarchy may take care of that.

After centuries of war driven by ecological imperialism, and two world wars which brought horrors at unimaginable scale, much of the world supported institutions to make peace, and the desirability of demobilizing and ridding the world of nuclear arms. Then America reacted incautiously to the banditry of a small bunch of Islamic fanatics, using this horrific international crime as a pretext to settle other scores through wanton imperialist invasions. Now radical and medieval christianity and islam are at each other’s throats, which increasingly becomes a conflict between the haves and have nots, as we are plunged into a state of Perma-war from which we may never emerge.
The ecosystems that enable our very being are being cleared for toilet paper to wipe our asses and lawn furniture to luxuriate upon as being ends. Those that are relatively well-off are in profound denial that their inequitable over-consumptive lifestyles can continue as ecosystems and climate collapse. Decadent over-consuming celebrities prattle on about climate change as they flit about in highly-polluting private jets.
Society has atomized, not only between the well-off and dispossessed, but also between those enmeshed within supportive communities and those that are marginalized, unsupported, and ignored. Families have grown dysfunctional, ostracizing and vilifying rather than loving and nurturing, particularly those family members that are different. All life including other human beings (particularly women) and wildlife have become objectified for what they can do for me now, otherwise they are considered disposable.
Not so long ago things were looking good for human advancement. An end to slavery, racial equality, women’s and worker’s rights, environmental sustainability, and a lasting peace dividend were all in our grasp. Decades of human advancement are now threatened by pervasive anti-intellectualism, self-absorption, and simple human greed.

Previous generations believed in social progress, while current self-entitled generations believe in iPhone apps. Things could be so much better if we wanted; or at least had the intelligence, strength, and morality to try.
Until we educate every single one of us, and commit to truthful action to meet the basic needs of every human being, all species, and our shared habitat; humanity is little more than bacteria on a pile of sugar. Those that live extravagantly will soon burn through the living Earth’s resources and then being ends.
We simply must do better or our one shared environment will be destroyed as we die gasping for breath and starving, at each others’ throats as society and the biosphere collapse.
We are one human family. Best we end the dysfunction and start acting like it or we destroy ourselves and our one shared habitat.

To thrive, indeed to survive, we simply must accept and embrace that we are more alike than different, we all feel pain and have desires, and we are utterly dependent upon each other for our well-being. We must do so despite our race, education level, income, and which ultimately unknowable faith we embrace; as we find ourselves hurtling together through space on one shared biosphere which is being murdered.
Lines on the map are vacuous nonsense meant to limit our unity. Nothing threatens the oligarchy’s elites more than the thought of us coming together to demand peace, justice, equity, and ecology.
Together much could be achieved as we learn to value knowledge, experience, shared well-being, and natural ecosystems as the meaning of life or we fall into nothingness. The many visionary sages that speak of and lead us in this great transition must be supported, loved, and heeded, not ignored and vilified.
Where are the necessary lovers of ecological and other truths to lead us to salvation? Who will rise up with them as one and together destroy the ruling oligarchy class sucking the life from humanity and her habitat? From which quarters and unlikely alliances will The Resistance emerge to usher in the great transition to just, equitable, and global ecological sustainability?
There is more to life than throw-away consumption based upon liquidating ecosystems to soothe and comfort your nerve-endings as the expense of other life and your habitat. Stop being a turd polluting and ultimately killing miraculous Gaia and transform yourself and community into a state of personal well-being, societal harmony, and bioregional sustainability.

Believe in something greater than yourself. Commit to action for the land, air, and water. Reach across boundaries to share and love. Nurture and restore natural ecosystems. Work for greater equity where all basic needs are met as those that are smart and work harder have reasonably more. Heal your dysfunctional families and communities. Care for the sick and indigent. Join together in mass protest, when necessary swarming the sources of ecocide and fascism.


Make Love Not War

Make Love Not War

Make love not war.
Risk everything to be part of the great ecological transition to come. Ditch your car. Eat less or no meat. Do not consume old-growth forests, rather protect and restore native ecosystems as holy cathedrals that sustain life. Reduce your personal emissions as you come together with others to do so societally. Grow your food, and exchange the surplus with others.
Be kind and giving. Be not envious but rather rejoice in the success of others as it lifts all and provides valuable inspiration to your own journey. Empathize with the broken and aged, and young and stupid. But for the grace of Gaia there go any one of us.
Let’s stop being afraid of taking the actions individually and collectively required to get better and recover from human neuroses. Let us unite as citizens of the world, coming together as one human family on an Earth that lives forever

Press link for more: EcoInternet.org

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We must not give up the fight on climate change! #auspol 

Canada (And Australia) must not give up the fight on climate change
Thomas Homer-Dixon is a professor in the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the faculty of environment at the University of Waterloo.
Those of us concerned about climate change generally inhabit an old-fashioned reality-based world. Scientific research and evidence drive our concern. Although we wish the climate problem would vanish – because, among other things, we want our kids and grandkids to have a safe future – that motivation doesn’t override what science tells us. And science tells us that climate change is a grave threat to humanity.


Now we also have to face the reality that Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States is calamitous for the fight against climate change. Because Mr. Trump and his key cabinet nominees are deeply committed to promoting carbon-based energy industries, they’re not inclined to believe that climate change is a pressing danger or even, in the case of some of nominees, real. The president-elect himself is ignorant of basic science and has an almost postmodernist contempt for facts or anything resembling the truth. He operates within and through a discourse of authority and force, not a discourse of reason.


For Mr. Trump, evidence either doesn’t matter or it can be created at will, which means he’s largely unreachable through evidence-based argument. His magical reality is unfalsifiable. Ice could completely disappear from the Arctic, forests in the U.S. West could erupt in fire, and a Category 5 hurricane could smash his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to toothpicks, and it wouldn’t make any difference to his views on climate change. (While campaigning in California, Mr. Trump denied the state is suffering from a severe drought.)

Immediately after his inauguration, Mr. Trump and his cabinet will launch a full-scale assault on the national and international apparatus of climate policy and on the institutions of climate science within the U.S. Climate scientists will likely be muzzled, threatened, and purged, research programs curtailed and shut down, and climate data locked up or destroyed.
Meanwhile, surging populist movements are weakening the capacity and resolve of the European Union, the world’s other main actor in the climate-change fight. Yes, there are some positive developments: California and some other U.S. states are pressing ahead with carbon reductions, cities around the world are adopting meaningful climate plans, and China is rolling out renewable energy at a breakneck pace (although its coal consumption has recently bounced upward). Overall, though, the scene is vastly bleaker than when the Paris Accord was announced – just a year ago.

So what’s Canada to do? It might seem that it’s time for everyone, including Canada, to bolt for the exits. The Trudeau government’s remarkable achievement of a national climate policy, with broad agreement of the provinces, now appears thoroughly anomalous. Sure enough, folks who want Canada to curtail its efforts are repeating their favourite argument: Canada’s overall contribution to warming is so small that our emission cuts can’t make any real difference. So we shouldn’t do much, they say, and we certainly shouldn’t impose carbon prices, until the U.S. and China make big cuts.
The argument is logically flawed because if Canada’s emissions are trivial, and therefore its cuts won’t make a real difference, then the same must be true – even more so – for individual provinces, states, cities, industries, and households. So why, in the end, should anyone anywhere in the world make any cuts at all?
The argument is morally bankrupt, too. It excuses our bad actions by pointing to others who are doing worse things. We’d never say to our child: “It’s okay to shoplift that chocolate bar, Johnny, because other people are stealing a lot more.”
Yet some people are comfortable with the same moral reasoning when it comes to our carbon emissions, even though these emissions are relentlessly stealing our children’s future well-being.
In the end, it’s a simple moral principle – the Golden Rule – that tells us not to give up the fight against climate change. The Rule says we should treat people as we’d want to be treated if our situations were reversed. If we were our children – or if we were members of generations born later this century – we’d want today’s adults to be doing everything reasonable to stop climate change dead in its tracks.
In a world losing its grip on reality, it’s worth keeping such true principles in mind.

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Agriculture’s role in Climate Change #auspol

2017: Agriculture Begins to Tackle Its Role in Climate Change.

Farming in California has been deeply affected by drought.

By allowing countries to decide how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the landmark Paris climate agreement opened the door to new solutions. And over the past year, many countries, particularly in the developing world, decided that an especially effective way to reach those targets is through their farms.

Nearly 80 percent of the countries said they would use agricultural practices to curb climate change, and more than 90 percent said they would use those practices in addition to changes in forestry and land use linked to farming.
“2016 has been a very good year for agriculture and climate,” said Martin Frick, director of climate, energy and tenure at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. “It’s become possible to finally discuss the elephant in the room.”
When climate negotiators gathered in Marrakech in November to begin mapping out the process for reaching the Paris goals, groups hosted at least 80 agriculture-focused sessions.
“Agriculture has really lagged,” said Craig Hanson, director of the food, forests and water program at the World Resources Institute. “Considering it contributes 13 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and 24 percent of net emissions with land-use change, it’s surprising it’s taken so long…But it’s finally happening,” he said.
In the U.S., the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter, agriculture’s role in climate change has been discussed mostly by advocacy groups. And while the Department of Agriculture has launched programs to increase farmland’s capacity to capture carbon, those are voluntary. The U.S.’s plans for meeting the Paris goals rely mainly on energy and transportation.
When the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change launched its first global climate summit in 1992, agriculture hardly even entered the conversation. It wasn’t until about a decade ago that research began to show its contribution to global warming, with special attention paid to the ravages of deforestation for agriculture, especially palm oil.


“The numbers are pretty staggering. Maybe even a third of greenhouse gas emissions come from the land—more than transportation—but that wasn’t clear until 10 years ago,” said Seth Shames, who leads policy research for EcoAgriculture Partners, a group focused on hunger, rural poverty and biodiversity. “Those issues started getting discussed in the climate change community. The forest people were able to get organized…and there was less political resistance in the climate world.”
In response, the UNFCCC launched a program that pays developing countries to preserve their carbon-absorbing forests, including standards for measuring, reporting and verifying the emissions cuts.
Similar standards haven’t been developed yet for agriculture.
“Right now, we don’t have mechanisms in place to really capitalize on the benefits that agriculture mitigation strategies can provide,” said Ernie Shea, president of Solutions From The Land, a collaboration of agricultural industry and conservation groups. “Forestry’s much further ahead on measuring impacts. We’re not there yet with agriculture.”
The conversation around agriculture’s role in climate change stems from a sea change in negotiations themselves. In 2009, the climate summit in Copenhagen fell apart, largely, some believe, because countries bristled at the top-down approach that dictated what countries must do.
After Copenhagen, negotiators began working instead on a pledge-based approach.
“The Paris agreement doesn’t impose anything on member states, and turns it around and says: What can you bring to the table?” Frick explained. “This fundamental change in logic has had a tremendous impact for agriculture. Agriculture, for every single country, is one of the most sensitive areas—it’s an emotional topic.”
Ultimately, agriculture emerged as ripe for action. It is existentially linked to a country’s very survival and increasingly under threat from weather extremes, drought and floods. Agriculture, in other words, has to adapt to climate change, but also has a huge, unrealized potential to mitigate climate change. That can happen through farm practices like soil carbon sequestration through cover cropping, or by making existing farmland more productive and efficient.

“Drought impacts, flooding, higher nighttime temperatures affecting pollination, new weeds, invasive species. There’s an awareness in the agriculture community that we’re at risk and we’re not as resilient as we need to be,” Shea said.
That risk is driving the discussion. Farm industry leaders and academics formed the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance in 2015 to prompt changes in agricultural practices that have climate benefits. Shea says the alliance’s approach, much like the approach at the international level, is to promote the idea that certain production techniques are not only better for the environment, but also for farm productivity. The alliance’s members include the American Farm Bureau Federation, which continues to deny the scientific consensus on climate change.
“People are turned off by the climate change conversation,” Shea said. “Once you get into a conversation about improving productivity, you can get into a conversation about co-benefits.”
Greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture sector in developed countries average about 12 percent, compared to 35 percent in developing countries, which makes agriculture a relatively less important solution in industrialized countries. Still, advocates are pushing agricultural interests and regulators in the U.S. to do their part, pointing to research that says reaching the goals of the Paris agreement will be impossible without agriculture’s contribution.
Educating farmers about the benefits—and using them to meet Paris targets—could provide the best way forward.
“There’s a lot of fatigue with the negativity on climate change,” said Thomas Driscoll, policy director at the National Farmers Union, the U.S.’s second largest farm group. “Agriculture and climate change is exciting because there’s a lot that can be done. Doing the right thing for the climate can save farmers money.”
But challenges lie ahead. In both developing and advanced countries, many farmers can’t afford to take climate-targeted steps—such as letting land lie fallow to regenerate—unless governments provide meaningful financial incentives.
In the plans that many countries submitted to reach their climate pledges, actual details around agriculture are scarce. And only one country—Rwanda—included plans to address food waste, which contributes 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Homing in on those details and the precise strategies for cutting emissions is the work of the coming global talks.
“The next five years is going to be period where we, as a community—researchers, agronomists, NGOs—are going to start thinking about what we can do, the bundle of things we can do in agriculture,” Hanson said. “We’re on the agenda. Now we have to roll up our sleeves.”

Press link for more: Inside Climate News.org

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Key Messages for 2017 #auspol 

KEY MESSAGES

1. Open Your Eyes

The numbers are overwhelming. The planet’s under unprecedented pressure. Too many forests cut down. Too many fish pulled from the sea. Too many species gone extinct. The Earth’s being battered by humanity—and it’s coming from every direction. Greenhouse gases. Ocean acidification. Chemical pollution. It has all reached a point where our future is at risk. For the first time in human history, we may have pushed the planet too far.
2. The Crisis is Global and Urgent

It’s happened so fast. In just two generations, humanity has overwhelmed Earth’s capacity to continue supporting our world in a stable way. We’ve gone from being a small world on a big planet to a big world on a small planet. The home we’ve known for 10,000 years—the one that’s supported us and encouraged our success—is changing, and our future depends on our ability to respond.
3. Everything is Hyper-connected

In a shrinking world, seemingly unrelated events can be links in the same chain of cause and effect. Nature, politics, and the economy are now interconnected. How a worker commutes in Stockholm affects the farmer in Ecuador. The web of life is fully connected, encompassing all of the planet’s ecosystems, and every link of the chain matters.


4. Expect the Unexpected

As the Earth changes, we can expect surprises. The forces driving planetary change are complex and likely to throw us a few curves. In the past, we could assume that the big systems we relied on—from political to ecological—were stable and predictable. In the future, the only constant will be change. Surprise is the new normal.
5. Respecting Planetary Boundaries

As many scientists have warned, nothing is more important than to keep from triggering disastrous tipping points in Earth’s fundamental processes. Fortunately, we now have enough data to define boundaries which, if transgressed, could lead to big problems, even catastrophes. If we respect those boundaries, we can follow a safe path to unlimited opportunities into the future.


6. The Global Mind Shift

Ever since the industrial revolution, we’ve had this crazy idea that are actions are without consequences. That we can take nature or leave it. But as any farmer can tell you, that isn’t the case. It’s not a question of choosing jobs or the environment, because they depend on each other. That’s why we say we need a “mind shift” to reconnect people with nature, societies with the biosphere, the human world with the Earth.
7. Preserving the Remaining Beauty on Earth

We take it for granted, the world that we love—and we’re destroying it so quickly. The light of dawn on the prairie. The silvery flash of fish in a stream. The cry of a hawk over a forest. Everybody has their own idea of the beautiful, and we’ll surely miss it when its gone. It’s time to fight for the remaining natural systems that support the beauty on Earth—not just for their own sake but also to safeguard our own prosperity.


8. We Can Turn Things Around

We have the tools to do what’s required—the intelligence, creativity, and technological know-how. We can bend the curves of all the negative trends. We can feed nine billion people without destroying our forests. We can deliver power to our economies without burning coal. But not the way we’re doing things now. Business as usual is no longer an option.
9. Unleashing Innovation

Humanity has an incredible ability to overcome even the most daunting of challenges. Once people understand the risks of continuing along the current path, they’ll search for creative—and profitable—alternatives. That’s how innovation works. The planetary boundaries will help. By defining thresholds and a maximum allowable use of resources, ecosystems, and the climate, we can trigger a new wave of sustainable technological inventions, with an abundance of ideas and solutions for human prosperity and planetary stability.
10. First Things First

Let’s be realistic. Inspiring a “mind shift” to sustainability could take a generation, and we should have started long ago. If we wait 30 more years, it will be too late. So we advocate a two track approach: 1) tackle the most urgent problems right now, such as climate change, nitrogen and phosphorus overload, and loss of biodiversity, but also 2) do everything we can to reconnect with nature over the long term. The Earth deserves nothing less. Our world depends on nothing less.

Press link for more: bwsp.org

Strategies for urban economies #auspol 

The effects of human activity on the environment over the past few centuries have given rise to some of today’s most pressing challenges. This article is the second in a five-part series outlining economic, ecological, political, and cultural stratgies for creating a more sustainable and equitable world.

By Glenn Robert Erikson
Given today’s concerns regarding global warming, mass extinctions, and income inequality, we must address the underlying economic facets of these challenges to our urban fabric. Following the foundations put forward in the lead article, “Strategizing Urban Policies for the Anthropocene,” this analysis will help form strategies for sustainable cities that provide enhanced qualities of life for all citizens.
Economic sustainability. Large global firms cannot be relied on to create and maintain long-term, high-paying, and life-fulfilling jobs. Instead, they too frequently buy out and absorb smaller firms, then export and/or cut jobs in their pursuit of low labor costs, minimized taxes, and increased short-term profits. On the other hand, regional institutional organizations and industrial firms that are tied to local natural resources tend to utilize long-term economic planning, which helps to stabilize communities, while local entrepreneurial firms employing native competitive advantages create a large share of job and income growth for most urban areas. Individual urban economies must subsequently work closely with regional firms and nurture, promote, and incentivize local entrepreneurs.
Present levels of income inequality and poverty are unsustainable. Present rates of growth on capital and high-income earnings together with low tax rates on high incomes and inheritances have resulted in immense wealth gains among the world’s top 1 percent. The worldwide wealth of the richest 1 percent now equals that of the remaining 99 percent. In addition to this stark level of inequality, there is also tremendous poverty, and hundreds of millions of people live in slum conditions.

Both inequality and poverty appear to be as great now as at any time in the past. Income inequality historically courses between peaks and troughs with wars, revolutions, and periods of high taxation creating the troughs. While we lack exact statistics, it appears that revolutions have historically occurred when income inequality reaches levels approximating those of today. To solve these issues, our urban areas should pursue the following policies: first, encourage entrepreneurs who create both jobs and new wealth; second, equalize educational opportunities between the poor and the wealthy; third, distribute low-income housing equally throughout the city to increase education and job opportunities for lower-income families; fourth, curtail public projects that benefit only the wealthy; fifth, encourage a society of authenticity, culture and work/life balance; and sixth, appropriately adjust tax policies that favor the wealthy.
World hunger is a function of poverty, not food production. The world is currently producing enough food to feed today’s population. However, the world’s poor do not have sufficient financial resources to overcome the causes of their lack of food. The most important factors are the use of a substantial amount of these food resources for the production of meat, food waste in its production, transportation and storage, over-consumption or obesity, and international food and agricultural aid policies. While all of these factors can be addressed at the urban level through an appropriate combination of education, regulation, and taxation, cities can also work with organizations to better produce food in their urban environments—be they on rooftops, empty lots, or brownfields.

Present levels of resource extraction are unsustainable. The earth’s resources are being extracted, consumed, and disposed at immense scales. Phosphorus, oil and natural gas, copper, zinc, aluminum, and iron are all non-renewal resources with known available reserves that will likely be economically depleted during the 21st century. Even if new sources or economic alternatives are found, sustainability demands that we conserve. Use of all such materials should be husbanded, and they should be recycled to the extent possible.
Trading economies. Trading has always been a major attribute to a society’s sustainability, as resources, skills, and industries present in the local economy are traded for goods available from other societies. Each region’s trading economy should be developed and supported so it is of long-term value to other regions, and of a nature and supply that is sustainable into the future
Regionalism. Authentic regional distinctions and their associated cultural identities provide residents with an important element of self-concept and contribute to a sense of belonging to a distinct and identifiable community. They also assist tourism and trade and attract individuals and firms with needed skills, jobs, and capital by offering a variety of cultural amenities. Unfortunately, other mediums work to dilute these distinctions and identities, including global media, retail franchising, and many examples of post-modern architecture. This dilution of regional identity works against the interests of a region’s tourism, trade and residents’ quality of life. An authentic regionalism should be encouraged and promoted.
Global finance and small business. Both the financial meltdown of 2007-08 and the Dodd-Frank response to it in the U.S. created a global financial system more attuned to large corporations than to smaller, entrepreneurial firms, which decreased both the formation and growth rates of small businesses. This in turn has had an impact on economic growth, especially in the U.S. Cities should not only encourage local and regional banks to make more small business loans available, but also encourage crowd-funding through incentives and other forms of financial support.
The Collaborative Commons. Historically, public ownership of and access to important Collaborative Commons, including but not limited to utilities, roads, waterways, schools, parks, entertainment, and cultural venues, has been considered a given. However, in today’s context, the Collaborative Commons also includes the internet, higher education, and basic health care. Where available, many of these Commons are now under threat of corporate ownership and thus profit-maximizing fees, or of being crowded out for funding due to mega-projects that are unresponsive to most citizens’ needs, such as Brazil’s 2016 Olympic village, which displaced thousands in its creation. Instead, societies should husband and improve these common amenities and resources and at low economic cost for all citizens, especially those who wish to opt out of developing and maintaining high per-capita incomes.
In effect, use of the Collaborative Commons can provide citizens with meaningful alternative pathways to the sacrifices of long hours and unsatisfying jobs too often necessary to acquire high-income jobs and attain wealth and access to education. And as the internet can provide the means for those in the developing world to vastly increase their quality of life as well as income levels, aid to these countries’ urban areas should be directed toward providing dependable, free and fast service.
Quality of life vs. economic enhancement. Historically, quality of life is associated with a sufficiency in food and necessary material goods together with engagement in a worthwhile activity, whether intellectual, religious, or familial. Enlightenment philosophies promoted a belief that scientific progress would increase societies’ overall quality of life through industrial and economic gains. However, two world wars, nuclear weapons, industrial pollution, and global warming tell us that the link is less direct. There is a need to refocus on the ethics of our current economy and what it is that truly enhances quality of life among a society’s participant. Planning and design should follow this focus.
One aspect of this refocusing and rebalancing is that large numbers of individuals would likely prefer to adjust their work/life balance to less work and less income, especially if there are significant Collaborative Commons available for their lifestyle. The coming era of automation and artificial intelligence may well cause this shift to be necessary. It will require urban governments to find ways to provide sufficient amenities free or at low cost, such as internet access, transportation, parks, health care, art and entertainment venues, exercise and sports options, plus other opportunities for socialization and engagement.
Home ownership and pricing. Government-sponsored housing finance was successful when the U.S. and the developed world were growing at a fast pace. However, the financial meltdown of 2008 destroyed many families’ equity, and housing markets have been spotty in their recovery. Home ownership is appropriate for many families when population growth is strong, but the benefits may evaporate when population growth and housing demand stagnate. Policies and programs that encourage or favor urban home ownership should be directly tied to the region’s and/or nation’s immigration and population growth policies.
Revitalization vs. gentrification. From the beginning of urban renewal, planners have worked to re-envision and rebuild slums. The result too often has been displacement of the urban poor, whether through gentrification or the bulldozers of “economic development.” The revitalization of Harlem in the 1990s and early 2000s demonstrated that well-designed revitalization efforts, which included programs for small business and job creation, along with low-income housing targeted at local residents, can improve neighborhoods both physically and economically, while keeping the vast majority of residents in place.
Economic realignment. Significant societal realignments have occurred over the past 600 years as new economic regimes have replaced previous ones: from feudalism to colonialism to the present regime of global corporate capitalism. We now appear to be entering the latest realignment: an economy defined by robot assembly, artificial intelligence, zero marginal costs of production, and a sharing economy. We need to encourage the positive aspects of these changes and prepare our urban areas for realignment, which will include a significant increase in the turnover of wealth, thus reducing, at least temporarily, income inequality. This entrepreneurial spirit and the interconnectivity it will bring should be encouraged, but with checks and balances regarding privacy, freedom of access, and the potential for heightened income inequality.
Creative destruction. Economic realignment is just one aspect of the force of creative destruction. This is an engine for societal progress and income redistribution as entrenched economic interests falter while new, smaller, more creative and nimble entrepreneurial firms flourish and create jobs. Over 50 percent of the Fortune 500 companies have been delisted since 2000, and the new digital economy accounts for most of the new companies listed. Unfortunately, politicians and bureaucracies tend to assist and promote entrenched economic interests instead of newer entrepreneurs. The cities that sustainably embrace such creative destruction will be the cities of the future.
Time value of money vs. sustainability. The fundamental dogma of the time value of money is that today’s funds are worth more than tomorrow’s. This creates several problems. The first is that this value concept is clearly not consistent with long-term inter-generational sustainability. Second, most non-renewable resources will have a higher relative value to future generations than they have today for a profit-seeking corporation. Third, for-profit corporations seeking to maximize shareholder wealth are intrinsically set up to reject sustainable projects that only provide fair profits in the long run. As a society, we need to reconsider the appropriateness of corporate ownership of valuable non-renewable resources and find fair ways to convert these resources to public and/or non-profit ownership.
Integrating these economic strategies will enhance the sustainability and resiliency of our cities, lessen income inequality, and reduce poverty, and together with the following strategies for an urban ecology, political regimes, and cultural life, will lead to a higher quality of life for all urban citizens.
While free market forces will force corrective responses to many of our challenges, the tipping points for these corrections may come too late for many of society’s least economically resourceful members, with potentially dire consequences for all of society.
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Glenn Robert Erikson is a member of the World Policy Institute Advisory Council.

Press link for more: worldpolicy.org