Africa

A Billion Climate Migrants by 2050 #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol #Refugees 

Climate Migrants Might Reach One Billion by 2050
By Baher Kamal
ROME, Aug 21 2017 (IPS) – Imagine a world with as many as one billion people facing harsh climate change impacts resulting in devastating droughts and/or floods, extreme weather, destruction of natural resources, in particular lands, soils and water, and the consequence of severe livelihoods conditions, famine and starvation.


Although not yet based on definite scientific projections, the proven speed with which the process of climate change has been taking place, might lead to such a scenario by 2050. 

If so, 1 in 9 human beings would be on the move by then.
Currently, forecasts vary from 25 million to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis, with 200 million being the most widely cited estimate, according to a 2015 study carried out by the Institute for Environment and Human Security of the United Nations University.

“This figure equals the current estimate of international migrants worldwide.”
Other specialised sources estimate that “every second, one person is displaced by disaster.” 

On this, the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reports that in 2015 only, more than 19.2 million people fled disasters in 113 countries. 

“Disasters displace three to ten times more people than conflict and war worldwide.”
One Person Displaced Every Second

As climate change continues, adds NRC, it will likely lead to more frequent and severe natural hazards; the impact will be heavy, warns this independent humanitarian organisation providing aid and assistance to people forced to flee.
“On average, 26 million people are displaced by disasters such as floods and storms every year. 

That’s one person forced to flee every second.” See: Climate Victims – Every Second, One Person Is Displaced by Disaster
For its part, the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) also forecasts 200 million environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis. Many of them would be coastal population.

In an interview to IPS, the IOM Director General William Lacy Swing explained that political crises and natural disasters are the other major drivers of migration today.
“We have never had so many complex and protracted humanitarian emergencies now happening simultaneously from West Africa all the way to Asia, with very few spots in between which do not have some issue.”

The UN specialised body’s chief added “We have today 40 million forcibly displaced people and 20 million refugees, the greatest number of uprooted people since the Second World War.” See: Q&A: Crisis and Climate Change Driving Unprecedented Migration
Droughts, Desertification
Another warning comes from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which estimates that some 135 million people may be displaced by 2045 as a result of desertification.
Up to 12 million hectares of productive land become barren every year due to desertification and drought alone, which is a lost opportunity to produce 20 million tons of grain, adds the Bonn-based Convention secretariat.
Meantime, the increase in droughts and flash floods that are stronger, more frequent and widespread is destroying the land – the Earth’s main fresh water store, according to UNCCD.
“Droughts kill more people than any other single weather-related catastrophe and conflicts among communities over water scarcity are gathering pace. Over 1 billion people today have no access to water, and demand will increase by 30 per cent by 2030.”
On the other hand, getting sustainable energy to all represents one of the biggest development challenges of the 21st century, it continues.
“Research suggests that 1.4 billion people — over 20 per cent of the global population — lack access to electricity, and that at least 2.7 billion people — some 40 cent of the global population — rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking.”
In short, land, water and energy as resources are all pillars of our survival and of sustainable development.
“They stand or fall together. To be sustainable and in particular to reach poor rural populations, we need to enhance supply, access and security across all three pillars, at the same time, while supporting global climate ambitions.”
National Security, Migration
On this, based on the UN Environment Programme’s 2009 study “From Conflict to Peace-building. The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment,” UNCCD reminds that 40 per cent of all intrastate conflicts in the past 60 years are linked to the control and allocation of natural resources.
“The exposure of more and more poor people to water scarcity and hunger opens the door to the failure of fragile states and regional conflicts. Non-state actor groups are increasingly taking advantage of large cross-border migration flows and abandoned lands.”
Where natural assets including land are poorly managed, warns the Convention, violence might become the dominant means of resource control, forcing natural resource assets out of the hands of legitimate government.
Meanwhile, the number of international migrants worldwide has been on the rise. According to the International migration report (2015), their number has continued to grow rapidly over the past fifteen years reaching 244 million in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000.
Losing productive land is driving people to make risky life choices, says UNCCD, adding that in rural areas where people depend on scarce productive land resources, land degradation is a driver of forced migration.
Africa is particularly susceptible since more than 90 per cent of economy depends on a climate-sensitive natural resource base like rain-fed, subsistence agriculture.
“Unless we change the way we manage our land, in the next 30 years we may leave a billion or more vulnerable poor people with little choice but to fight or flee.”

Press link for more: Relief web

Climate Change sets the world on fire! #StopAdani #auspol 

Climate change sets the world on fire

Screenshot NASA FIRMS web fire mapper (NASA/FIRMS)

There have been many wildfires aound the world this summer. Canada has seen the worst season for fires since records began, with 894,941 hectares burned, the British Columbia Wildfire Service has confirmed. Large areas of the Western United States have also been affected. 
Meanwhile in Portugal, 2,000 people were recently cut off by flames and smoke encircling the town of Macao. And earlier this summer, 64 people were killed by a blaze in the country.
Like Canada, southern Europe has seen a record heatwave this year, creating hot, dry conditions that saw Italy, France, Croatia, Spain and Greece all swept by wildfires. As a result, Europe has reportedly seen three times the average number of wildfires this summer.
But it’s not just Canada and southern Europe that have been affected. In Siberia, wildfire destroyed hundreds of homes, and around 700 hectares of Armenian forest have also been destroyed by fire. Earlier this year, Chile saw wildfires that were unparalleled in the country’s history, according to the President.
Even Greenland, not known for its hot dry conditions, suffered an unprecedented blaze this summer.


Portugal Waldbrände (picture alliance/dpa/AP/A. Franca)

Central Portugal has been one of the areas hardest hit by fires this summer
The big picture
“A lot of these things are happening locally, but people don’t always connect them to climate change,” said Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the US. “But there is a real climate change component to this and the risk is going up because of climate change.”
With global temperatures rising, scientists say wildfires are likely to become increasingly frequent and widespread. “What’s really happening is that there is extra heat available,” Trenberth told DW. “That heat has to go somewhere and some of it goes into raising temperatures. But the first thing that happens is that it goes into drying – it dries out plants and increases the risk of wildfires.”
The map above, compiling NASA satellite data on fires from the beginning of 2017 until mid-August makes it looks as if the whole world is on fire.  
So is 2017 a record year of wildfires?

 Kanada Cache Creek Waldbrand (picture-alliance/empics/D. Dyck)

Wildfire rages in British Colombia, on July 8. It has now been confirmed the state’s biggest in more than 50 years
Tough competition
It certainly looks like it’s been a big year for fires in southern Europe and North America. But Martin Wooster, professor of earth observation science at King’s College London, says other parts of the world have seen worse in recent years.
“For example, this year, fires across Southeast Asia are extremely unlikely to be anything like as severe as they were in 2015,” he told DW.
Two years ago, drought caused by El Nino created lethal conditions for Indonesian forests and peatlands that were already degraded by draining and logging. The smoldering peat – ancient, decayed vegetable matter condensed into a carbon-heavy fuel – kept fires burning for months on end.
“This led to huge fires, far bigger than any seen in Europe, and some of the worst air pollution ever experienced,” Wooster said.


 Satellite wildfire photo (NASA)

NASA imagery shows a large wildfire burning in Sweden in early August
Longer fire seasons – longer recovery
But there does appear to be a distinct trend for fire seasons to be longer and more harsh. “In the western United States, the general perception is that there is no wildfire season any more, but that it’s continuous all year round,” Trenberth told DW.
In many parts of the world, wildfires are part of a natural cycle. Savannahs, for example, are maintained by fire. Some trees not only survive fires, but need them to release their seeds. Human intervention can disrupt these cycles, the scientific discipline of fire ecology has found. Putting out small fires can allow flammable debris to accumulate until a colossal fire starts that cannot be controlled.
But global warming is resulting in hotter, drier conditions that mean such infernos are becoming more common, even with careful forest management. And the changed climatic conditions can mean forests take far longer to recover. Meanwhile, fires are also starting in habitats in areas like the tropics that have no natural fire ecology.


Frankreich Waldbrände (picture-alliance/MAXPPP/F. Fernandes)

A wildfire smolders near Nice in the south of France in July
Human fingerprints
Climate change isn’t the only manmade factor. Fires can also be started by careless humans dropping cigarettes or letting campfires get out of control.
And in regions like the Amazon, where the annual fire season increased by 19 percent between 1979 and 2013, fire is deliberately used to clear forest to make way for agriculture. “Farmers light fires to clear an area and what happens in drought conditions is that these fires become wild because the vegetation is so dry, it gets out of control,” Trenberth said.
And all this can have a feedback effect – more fires mean more carbon released into the atmosphere, which in turn drives climate change.

Wildfires in Croatia (Reuters/A. Bronic)

Wildfires rage through Southeast Europe

Hope for the best
While there were no reports of casualties and the fires only reached a few homes, some people could only stand by and watch as the flames razed everything in their path, especially nature. Fires between the Croatian town of Omis and Split have reportedly destroyed 4,500 hectares of forest.

Press link for more: DW.COM

Systemic Change our only hope. #StopAdani #auspol 

By Richard Heinberg.

Systemic Change Driven by Moral Awakening Is Our Only Hope
Our core ecological problem is not climate change.

It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom.

Overshoot is a systemic issue.

Over the past century-and-a-half, enormous amounts of cheap energy from fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity.

The human system expanded dramatically, overshooting Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for humans while upsetting the ecological systems we depend on for our survival.

Until we understand and address this systemic imbalance, symptomatic treatment (doing what we can to reverse pollution dilemmas like climate change, trying to save threatened species and hoping to feed a burgeoning population with genetically modified crops) will constitute an endlessly frustrating round of stopgap measures that are ultimately destined to fail.

The ecology movement in the 1970s benefitted from a strong infusion of systems thinking, which was in vogue at the time (ecology—the study of the relationships between organisms and their environments—is an inherently systemic discipline, as opposed to studies like chemistry that focus on reducing complex phenomena to their components).

As a result, many of the best environmental writers of the era framed the modern human predicament in terms that revealed the deep linkages between environmental symptoms and the way human society operates.

Limits to Growth (1972), an outgrowth of the systems research of Jay Forrester, investigated the interactions between population growth, industrial production, food production, resource depletion and pollution.

Overshoot (1982), by William Catton, named our systemic problem and described its origins and development in a style any literate person could appreciate.

Many more excellent books from the era could be cited.
However, in recent decades, as climate change has come to dominate environmental concerns, there has been a significant shift in the discussion.

Today, most environmental reporting is focused laser-like on climate change, and systemic links between it and other worsening ecological dilemmas (such as overpopulation, species extinctions, water and air pollution, and loss of topsoil and fresh water) are seldom highlighted.

It’s not that climate change isn’t a big deal. As a symptom, it’s a real doozy.

There’s never been anything quite like it, and climate scientists and climate-response advocacy groups are right to ring the loudest of alarm bells. But our failure to see climate change in context may be our undoing.

Why have environmental writers and advocacy organizations succumbed to tunnel vision?

Perhaps it’s simply that they assume systems thinking is beyond the capacity of policy makers. It’s true: If climate scientists were to approach world leaders with the message, “We have to change everything, including our entire economic system—and fast,” they might be shown the door rather rudely.

A more acceptable message is, “We have identified a serious pollution problem, for which there are technical solutions.”

Perhaps many of the scientists who did recognize the systemic nature of our ecological crisis concluded that if we can successfully address this one make-or-break environmental crisis, we’ll be able to buy time to deal with others waiting in the wings (overpopulation, species extinctions, resource depletion and on and on).
If climate change can be framed as an isolated problem for which there is a technological solution, the minds of economists and policy makers can continue to graze in familiar pastures.

Technology—in this case, solar, wind and nuclear power generators, as well as batteries, electric cars, heat pumps and, if all else fails, solar radiation management via atmospheric aerosols—centers our thinking on subjects like financial investment and industrial production.

Discussion participants don’t have to develop the ability to think systemically, nor do they need to understand the Earth system and how human systems fit into it.

All they need trouble themselves with is the prospect of shifting some investments, setting tasks for engineers and managing the resulting industrial-economic transformation so as to ensure that new jobs in green industries compensate for jobs lost in coal mines.
The strategy of buying time with a techno-fix presumes either that we will be able to institute systemic change at some unspecified point in the future even though we can’t do it just now (a weak argument on its face), or that climate change and all of our other symptomatic crises will in fact be amenable to technological fixes.

The latter thought-path is again a comfortable one for managers and investors.

After all, everybody loves technology.

It already does nearly everything for us. During the last century it solved a host of problems: it cured diseases, expanded food production, sped up transportation and provided us with information and entertainment in quantities and varieties no one could previously have imagined.

Why shouldn’t it be able to solve climate change and all the rest of our problems?

Of course, ignoring the systemic nature of our dilemma just means that as soon as we get one symptom corralled, another is likely to break loose.

But, crucially, is climate change, taken as an isolated problem, fully treatable with technology?

Color me doubtful.

I say this having spent many months poring over the relevant data with David Fridley of the energy analysis program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Our resulting book, Our Renewable Future, concluded that nuclear power is too expensive and risky; meanwhile, solar and wind power both suffer from intermittency, which (once these sources begin to provide a large percentage of total electrical power) will require a combination of three strategies on a grand scale: energy storage, redundant production capacity and demand adaptation.


At the same time, we in industrial nations will have to adapt most of our current energy usage (which occurs in industrial processes, building heating and transportation) to electricity.

Altogether, the energy transition promises to be an enormous undertaking, unprecedented in its requirements for investment and substitution.

When David and I stepped back to assess the enormity of the task, we could see no way to maintain current quantities of global energy production during the transition, much less to increase energy supplies so as to power ongoing economic growth.

The biggest transitional hurdle is scale: the world uses an enormous amount of energy currently; only if that quantity can be reduced significantly, especially in industrial nations, could we imagine a credible pathway toward a post-carbon future.

Downsizing the world’s energy supplies would, effectively, also downsize industrial processes of resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and waste management.

That’s a systemic intervention, of exactly the kind called for by the ecologists of the 1970s who coined the mantra, “Reduce, reuse and recycle.”

It gets to the heart of the overshoot dilemma—as does population stabilization and reduction, another necessary strategy.

But it’s also a notion to which technocrats, industrialists, and investors are virulently allergic.
The ecological argument is, at its core, a moral one—as I explain in more detail in a just-released manifesto replete with sidebars and graphics (“There’s No App for That: Technology and Morality in the Age of Climate Change, Overpopulation, and Biodiversity Loss”).

Any systems thinker who understands overshoot and prescribes powerdown as a treatment is effectively engaging in an intervention with an addictive behavior.

Society is addicted to growth, and that’s having terrible consequences for the planet and, increasingly, for us as well.

We have to change our collective and individual behavior and give up something we depend on—power over our environment.

We must restrain ourselves, like an alcoholic foreswearing booze. That requires honesty and soul-searching.
In its early years the environmental movement made that moral argument, and it worked up to a point.

Concern over rapid population growth led to family planning efforts around the world. Concern over biodiversity declines led to habitat protection. Concern over air and water pollution led to a slew of regulations.

These efforts weren’t sufficient, but they showed that framing our systemic problem in moral terms could get at least some traction.
Why didn’t the environmental movement fully succeed?

Some theorists now calling themselves “bright greens” or “eco-modernists” have abandoned the moral fight altogether.

Their justification for doing so is that people want a vision of the future that’s cheery and that doesn’t require sacrifice.

Now, they say, only a technological fix offers any hope.

The essential point of this essay (and my manifesto) is simply that, even if the moral argument fails, a techno-fix won’t work either.

A gargantuan investment in technology (whether next-generation nuclear power or solar radiation geo-engineering) is being billed as our last hope. But in reality it’s no hope at all.
The reason for the failure thus far of the environmental movement wasn’t that it appealed to humanity’s moral sentiments—that was in fact the movement’s great strength. The effort fell short because it wasn’t able to alter industrial society’s central organizing principle, which is also its fatal flaw: its dogged pursuit of growth at all cost. Now we’re at the point where we must finally either succeed in overcoming growthism or face the failure not just of the environmental movement, but of civilization itself.
The good news is that systemic change is fractal in nature: it implies, indeed it requires, action at every level of society.

We can start with our own individual choices and behavior; we can work within our communities.

We needn’t wait for a cathartic global or national sea change.

And even if our efforts cannot “save” consumerist industrial civilization, they could still succeed in planting the seeds of a regenerative human culture worthy of survival.
There’s more good news: Once we humans choose to restrain our numbers and our rates of consumption, technology can assist our efforts.

Machines can help us monitor our progress, and there are relatively simple technologies that can help deliver needed services with less energy usage and environmental damage.

Some ways of deploying technology could even help us clean up the atmosphere and restore ecosystems.
But machines can’t make the key choices that will set us on a sustainable path.

Systemic change driven by moral awakening: it’s not just our last hope; it’s the only real hope we’ve ever had.

Press link for more: Eco watch

Hope is essential to save the planet. #StopAdani #auspol 

We saved the whale. The same vision can save the planet | Susanna Rustin
Susanna RustinFriday 18 August 2017 16.00 AEST

 

Illustration by Mark Long

“Hope is essential – despair is just another form of denial,” Al Gore said last week, in an interview to promote the sequel to his 2006 climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth. 

As well as the very bad news of Donald Trump’s science-denying presidency, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which opens in the UK today, brings good news: the plummeting cost of renewable electricity and the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

K

In 2017, denial of the facts of climate change – and myriad linked dangers including air and ocean pollution, famine and a refugee crisis the likes of which we can hardly imagine – is in retreat, with the Trump administration the malignant exception. 

Virtually all governments know that climate change is happening, and polls show most people do too – with those living in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa particularly worried.

 The question is not whether global warming is happening, but what we are going to do about it. 

There are, and need to be, many answers to this. 

Gore believes the solutions to climate change are within reach, if people can only find the political will to enact them.

 Even if how to whip up sufficient zeal to make this happen remains a puzzle, his essential message is one of optimism.


Others are less sanguine. 

A widely shared article by David Wallace-Wells in New York magazine last month sketching out some worst-case scenarios included an interview with pioneering climate scientist Wally Broecker, now 84, who no longer believes even the most drastic reductions in carbon emissions are sufficient to avert disaster. 

Instead, he puts his hopes in carbon capture and geoengineering. 

Others oppose anything that smacks of a techno-fix, believing the very idea that human ingenuity can get us out of this mess is yet another form of denial.
The human reaction – or lack of one – to climate change is a subject of interest in itself.

 The novelist Amitav Ghosh wrote The Great Derangement, a book about why fiction writers mostly ignore the subject, and argued that the profound alteration of Earth’s climate is difficult to think about. 

Wallace-Wells, in New York magazine, refers to “an incredible failure of imagination”. 

Politics, supposed to help us make sense of the world, has sometimes been more hindrance than help: is climate change really an inconvenient truth, because it means we have to give up eating beef and taking long-distance flights, or a too-convenient truth for anti-capitalists who want to bring down the financial system?
Such left-right binarism, and the relentlessly partisan nature of US politics, is surely why Gore now prefers to frame climate change more as a “moral” issue than as a political one. 

But the clearest and simplest message from his decade of advocacy is the need for action at every level. 

Such action takes many forms, ranging from protests against the Dakota Access pipeline in the US to anti-fracking demonstrations in Lancashire. 

This year the Guardian in conjunction with Global Witness is documenting the deaths of people all over the world who are killed while attempting to defend the environment from damage or destruction.

In a similar vein, the Natural History Museum has chosen its revamped central hall to showcase a key moment for environmental activism. 

When it was first announced that Dippy the dinosaur would be replaced with a blue whale skeleton that had previously hung quietly among the mammals, there were grumbles.

 But a month after its grand reopening in the presence of royalty and Sir David Attenborough, the revamped museum is a smash hit with more than 115,000 visitors a week.
Partly this is because the installation of the skeleton brings Alfred Waterhouse’s 1870s terracotta building, with its marvellous moulded monkeys, back to life in the most magnificent way. 

Whereas visitors once mostly stuck to the ground floor until they joined the procession to the dinosaurs, the aerial position of the whale bones now draws people upstairs. From an overcrowded lobby, Hintze Hall has been raised into a wondrous public space.
But the whale, which died as a result of being stranded off the coast of Ireland in 1891, is more than a 19th-century relic. 

What the museum has done by giving this vast, dead creature such prominence is to issue a warning and a call to action. 

And it makes no bones about this: “Rescued from the brink of extinction in the 1960s, the blue whale is a symbol of hope for the future of the natural world,” says the information panel. 

“Threats such as marine pollution and climate change linger – the blue whale remains a vulnerable and endangered species.”


Like the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, which stopped growing after a 1987 treaty phased out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), whale conservation is one of the global environmental movement’s greatest success stories. 

Blue whales were critically endangered, until activists persuaded governments to legislate to save them, and the museum’s new exhibit is called Hope.
Optimism alone won’t halt climate change, or prevent further extinctions. 

But like Gore, the director of the Natural History Museum, Michael Dixon, and his colleagues understand that the most vital currency of the environmental movement is hope.

 With the knowledge we now have of climate change’s likely consequences, the alternative is nihilism.
• Susanna Rustin is a Guardian columnist

Press link for more: The Guardian

Eat salmon to ward off air pollution. #StopAdani #auspol 

Eat salmon to ward off air pollution
Time to hit the omega-3 … Beijing citizens wearing respiratory masks during a smog alert, December 2016.

A healthy diet can reverse the effects of fine-particulate matter, say experts


Image: REUTERS/Jason Lee

More than 90% of people worldwide have to breathe polluted air.

 Fossil fuels are the primary cause. 


The people most likely to suffer are those who live in crowded places where the shift to cleaner forms of transportation and energy has not happened or is happening too slowly. 

This is particularly evident in some areas of Asia, where smog hangs over cities and seeps into the countryside, and even into people’s homes.
Air pollution contains fine particulate matter that can enter the body and get into the lungs, causing respiratory and cardiovascular issues such as asthma attacks and irregular heartbeat, increased oxidative stress and inflammation, and chronic disease like diabetes and cancer.

 In fact, air pollution is responsible for more 7 million premature deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization: the single largest environmental health risk.


   

The only viable long-term solutions are accelerating the transition to a low fossil carbon economy and reversing climate change.

 But what can people do in the meantime to protect their health?
According to recent studies, your nutritional intake might come to the rescue. 

Researchers have found that good nutrition can fend off air-related illness and may even reverse the negative effects of fine particulate matter. If you’re one of the billions of people waiting for a breath of fresh air, that means you may want to up your vitamin intake.
Professor Jinzhuo Zhao, from Fudan University School of Public Health, China, who studies the impact of a particulate matter called PM 2.5 and explores nutritional solutions, says: “The findings of a number of human studies are encouraging and a good basis for further work to determine optimal combinations of nutrients to prevent or reduce the impact of particulate matter on different aspects of health.”
Some of the top nutrients thought to make a difference are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega-3, as well as vitamins C and E. Oily fish like salmon is a great source of omega-3, which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Vitamins C and E, which are found in many fruits and vegetables, nuts and vegetable oil, are powerful antioxidants that help the body fight free radicals and restore its regular inflammatory response. For people who don’t get enough vitamins through food (and many of us don’t), supplements are a good source of health-boosting nutrients.
Of course, vitamins and omega-3 are only part of a solution. 

This does not reduce the responsibility of polluters, nor of law-makers and authorities who must legislate and enforce policies that stop pollution. 

It means that governments, scientists and the private sector should work together and continue research in this area because improving nutrition is easy and inexpensive, and it may be one way to help the billions of people who are waiting with bated breath, sometimes quite literally, for air pollution to stop.

Press link for more: World Economic Forum

5 Crucial skills to fight #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

Five Crucial Skills We’ll Need to Actually Fight Climate Change

A toolkit for saving the world.
This article has been sponsored by Griffith University for their new Bachelor of Social Science – find out more here.
Kevin Rudd described global warming as “the greatest moral challenge of our generation”, but this is too simple. It’s the greatest economic, political, social, cultural, environmental, and scientific challenge of our time.


A silver bullet won’t be found in a scientist’s laboratory, the halls of Parliament, nor a community activist’s meeting.
Nope, it’ll take a coordinated effort from researchers, corporations, politicians, innovators and communities to tackle climate change.
This is precisely why social scientists are poised to play such a crucial role. People with the breadth of understanding and skills to navigate and coordinate all of these moving parts will be absolutely crucial.
So with that in mind, here are five of the instruments in a social scientist’s toolkit that we’ll need to fight this real and present danger.
1. Research and innovation

Without technological transformation in some of the world’s biggest industries, we won’t stand a chance. 
Existing alternative energy sources such as solar and wind need to become more efficient, and fledgeling technologies like ocean, hybrid and bio energies need to develop to support ever-increasing energy demands.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has famously framed climate change as an issue of economic competitiveness and innovation.
The countries and businesses that are more successful at producing new energy technologies and practices will thrive.
The rest will fall behind.
2. Data Analysis

It sounds dry, but data analysis strikes at the very heart of the climate change debate. The interpretation of global temperature data is the major flashpoint for the conversation, and so understanding and communicating this information will only become more important over time.
On top of this, big data is proving to be crucial in the response to global warming.
Microsoft’s mind-boggling Madingley project is a real-time virtual biosphere – ie. a simulation of all life on earth.
It creates a simulation of the global carbon cycle and predicts how it will impact everything from pollution to animal migration to deforestation.
3. Political leadership

Leaders with a deep understanding of socio-political structures and forces will be needed to enact change on a legislative and global level. 
The recent failure of the Paris Accord shows just how important negotiation and diplomacy will be in order to get countries from around the world to work together.
This not only involves political guile, but also communication skills, cultural knowledge and courage to make difficult but necessary decisions.
4. Corporate leadership

With this in mind, leadership in the corporate sector naturally has a massive role to play. Far swifter and more meaningful change can come from within a business than when it’s mandated by government regulations.
Business models will need to be forward-thinking, not relying on traditional methods of production, and change company cultures in the process.
A recent example of this sort of industry leadership is Volvo who announced they will cease production of purely internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2019.
5. Communication skills

Andrew J. Hoffman from the University of Michigan perfectly articulated the state of the “toxic” climate change debate:
“On the one side, this is all a hoax, humans have no impact on the climate and nothing unusual is happening.
“On the other side, this is an imminent crisis, human activity explains all climate changes, and it will devastate life on Earth as we know it. Amidst this acrimonious din, scientists are trying to explain the complexity of the issue.”
As a society we’ll need to reach some sort of meaningful consensus on the issue. From the boardroom to Twitter, we’ll need opinion leaders who can navigate the clashing world views that dictate how we view the science.
It won’t be easy, but it is necessary.
Clearly, climate change and many other global concerns are multi-faceted issues that necessitate a range of approaches and perspectives.
It’s for this very reason that Griffith University researcher Ben Fenton-Smith believes “there is no question that social scientists are going to be in huge demand in the next 20–30 years.”
“As our use of data, technology and information increases, we are going to need social scientists to make sense of it.”
Complex problems have complex solutions.
Griffith University is introducing a brand new Bachelor of Social Sciences to develop the next generation of Aussie leaders keen to tackle the biggest issues facing the world today. Head over here to find out about this exciting new degree.

Press link for more: Science Alert

The planet’s worse case climate scenario. #StopAdani #Auspol 

The planet’s worst-case climate scenario: ‘If not hell then a place with a similar temperature’
Aug 12, 2017, 2:53 AM

If we don’t cut greenhouse gas emissions, we’ll see more deadly heat waves, acidic oceans, and rising seas.


At this point, the planet will warm no matter what — but we can still prevent it from getting too bad.

Environmentalist and author Bill McKibben told Business Insider that without intervention, the world would be: “If not hell, then a place with a similar temperature.”

The world is almost certainly going to warm past what’s frequently considered a critical tipping point.
A recent study pointed out that we have just a 5% chance of keeping the planet from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius, the upper limit the Paris Agreement was designed to avoid. Beyond that threshold, many researchers say the effects of climate change — like rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and intense storms — will become significantly more concerning.

But how bad could it really get? What would the planet look like if we don’t cut emissions and instead keep burning fossil fuels at the rate we are now?
Business Insider recently asked author and environmentalist Bill McKibben that question, and his description of what Earth would look like was sobering.
“If not hell, then a place with a similar temperature,” he said. “We have in the Earth’s geological record some sense of what happens when you run carbon levels up to the levels we’re running them now — it gets a lot hotter.”
Extreme as that might sound, there’s significant evidence that we’re feeling the effects of climate change already. Unchecked, the planet will get far hotter by 2100 — a time that many children alive today will see.


“Huge swaths of the world will be living in places that by the end of the century will have heat waves so deep that people won’t be able to deal with them, you have sea level rising dramatically, to the point that most of the world’s cities are drowning, the ocean turning into a hot, sour, breathless soup as it acidifies and warms,” McKibben said.
The evidence for how bad it could get
None of that is exaggeration. A recent study in the journal Nature Climate Change found that 30% of the world is already exposed to heat intense enough to kill people for 20 or more days each year. That temperature is defined using a heat index that takes into account temperature and humidity; above 104 degrees Farenheit (40 degrees C ), organs swell and cells start to break down.
Heat waves are the deadliest weather events most years , more so than hurricanes or tornadoes. In 2010, more than 10,000 people did in a Moscow heat wave. In 2003, some estimates say a European summer heat wave killed up to 70,000.
Even if we drastically cut emissions by 2100, the world will continue to warm due to the greenhouse gases that have already been emitted. That would cause the percentage of the world exposed to deadly heat for 20 or more days to rise to 48%. Under a scenario with zero emissions reductions from today, researchers estimate that 74% of the world will be exposed to deadly heat by the end of the century.
Our oceans are at risk, too. A draft of an upcoming US government report on climate change projects that even if emissions are cut to hit zero by 2080, we’ll still see between one and four feet of sea level rise by 2100. Without the cuts, it suggests that an eight-foot rise can’t be ruled out. That report also suggests that oceans are becoming more acidic faster than they have at any point in the last 66 million years. Increased acidity can devastate marine life and coral reefs, which cover less than 2% of the ocean floor but are relied upon by about 25% of marine species — including many fish that are key food sources for humans.
The key takeaway here is not that the world is doomed, however. It’s that if we don’t dramatically cut emissions soon, we’ll put the planet on course to be a much less pleasant place.
In some ways, progress towards emissions reductions is already underway. Market trends are increasing use of renewable energy sources, political movements are pushing leaders to enact new types of policies, and legal challenges to government inaction on climate are popping up around the world. The question is whether we’ll act fast enough to stave off the most dire consequences of greenhouse gas emissions.
“In order to catch up with the physics of climate change, we have to go at an exponential rate,” McKibben said. “It’s not as if this was a static problem. If we don’t get to it very soon, we’ll never get to it.”

Press link for more: Business Insider

Climate change denial looks a lot like psychosis #auspol #StopAdani 

New studies and new catastrophes give climate change deniers a lot to deny.

In this July 22, 2017, photo, Canadian Coast Guard Capt. Victor Gronmyr looks out over the ice covering the Victoria Strait as the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica traverses the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

 Nordica has set a new record for the earliest transit of the fabled Northwest Passage. 

The once-forbidding route through the Arctic, linking the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, has been opening up sooner and for a longer period each summer due to climate change.

David Goldman AP

August 10, 2017 7:01 PM
Denial begins to look like psychosis.
Just in the past week, a cascade of new findings and climate anomalies have added to the scientific consensus that we’re cooked. Miami in particular.
We’re seeing wildfires in Greenland, for heaven’s sake. 

Famously soggy Seattle has just gone through a record 54 consecutive days (and counting) without rain.
On Thursday, Arctic explorer Pen Hadow left Nome, Alaska, in a 50-foot sailboat intent on something unfathomable before the onset of global warming.

 He and his crew intend to sail through the melting ice pack to the very North Pole. “If we can produce a visual image of a sail boat at 90 degrees north I think that could become an iconic image of the challenge that the twenty-first century faces,” Hadow wrote in his blog.
That image would nicely illustrate the National Climate Assessment draft report publicized this week by the New York Times.

 “Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” noted the assessment, based on input by scientists from 13 different federal agencies.


Scientists involved in the report were worried that Donald Trump, our climate-denier-in-chief (a Chinese hoax, he called global warming) would suppress the final report, which concluded that it was “extremely likely” that human activity accounted for more than half of the rising global temperatures since 1951.
“Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans.”
Draft report of the National Climate Assessment
The assessment makes for particularly gloomy reading in South Florida, where rising waters already plague our ritziest zip codes. “It is very likely that the accelerated rate of Arctic warming will have a significant consequence for the United States due to accelerating land and sea ice melting that is driving changes in the ocean including sea level rise threatening our coastal communities.”
Yeah, that’s us.
That ought to convince even the most obstinate politicians that unless something is done about greenhouse emissions, we’re in deep, deep (as in encroaching sea waters) trouble.
But there was more.
A young student on her bicycle carefully crosses the water logged street on Lincoln Road Court as water levels have risen on the begimming of the annual King’s Tide where certain areas of Miami Beach become flooded, on Oct. 13, 2016.

C.M. GUERRERO. cmguerrero@elnuevoherald.com

On Wednesday, researchers from the University of Florida published findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that sea levels along the southeast Atlantic coast, south of Cape Hatteras down to South Florida, are rising six times faster than the global averages. So if sea level rise is bad elsewhere, it’s going to be hell in Miami.
That was published the very same day that Swiss Re, a Switzerland-based reinsurance company, released an analysis that climate change and rising seas, in league with population growth and coastal development, has rendered Miami vulnerable to unimaginable losses if a Hurricane Andrew-sized storm strikes the city. “Losses in this case are estimated to be $100-$300 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster ever seen in the U.S.,” Swiss Re reported. Only $60-180 billion of Miami’s property losses would be covered by the private insurance market, “leaving a huge shortfall in funding to rebuild.”
Swiss Re added that “risk mitigation and climate adaptation are keys to strengthening community resilience.”
That ought to be obvious. Except we have a president in Washington and a governor and a speaker of the House in Tallahassee who pretend global warming is some kind of liberal invention. Two years ago, employees of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection claimed they had been barred from using the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in emails, reports or official communications. That doesn’t sound like an administration ready to confront Florida’s coming climate crisis.
Meanwhile, a dozen of Florida’s U.S. representatives and one of its U.S. senators (Marco Rubio) are essentially climate change deniers.
They’ve somehow held onto their “it ain’t happening” beliefs even during what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has described as the second-warmest year in the contiguous United States (so far) in 123 years of record keeping. In case you didn’t notice, July was the hottest month ever in Miami, according to Climate Central.
While 2016 was the second warmest year on record (after 2012) in the U.S., it was the hottest ever for the planet. NOAA reports that 16 of the 17 warmest years on record, worldwide, have occurred since 2001.


Yet our pols pretend otherwise. (They ignore a report on the effects of climate change in Architectural Digest that said rising seas have made South Florida “the worst metropolitan area in the country in regards to storm surge risk, with an estimated 780,000 homes potentially affected.”)
They just keep denying. Even during a week when a Russian tanker, without an ice breaker escort, was able to traverse the Arctic with a load of liquid natural case. In a week when the Asian Development Bank warned that, “unabated climate change” would lead to “disastrous climate impacts for the people of Asia and the Pacific.” Which echoed a study published this week in the journal Science Advances warning that “Climate change, without mitigation, presents a serious and unique risk in South Asia, a region inhabited by about one-fifth of the global human population, due to an unprecedented combination of severe natural hazard and acute vulnerability.” The journal warned that “the most intense hazard from extreme future heat waves is concentrated around densely populated agricultural regions of the Ganges and Indus river basins.”
It was a week when geologists warned that “all glaciers in Iceland are retreating at an unprecedented pace.” A week when a study published in the Lancet Planetary Health declared, “Climate change is one of the biggest global threats to human health of the 21st century.”
So much dire news in single week. Not that our steadfastly oblivious leaders in Washington and Tallahassee were deterred by melting glaciers or droughts or wildfires or record temperatures or rising seas or disappearing polar ice or threats to human health. Deniers just keep on denying.

Press link for more: App.com

Wake up call: We need to act now on #ClimateChange #auspol 

Wake-Up Call: Asia-Pacific Needs to Act Now on Climate Change
Hans Joachim SchellnhuberAugust 11, 2017

An interview with Founding Director of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

From L) Nobel prize winners French climatologist Jean Jouzel, German physicist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, French physicist Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and French physicist Serge Haroche pose outside the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris. 
Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images
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“The Asian countries hold Earth’s future in their hands. 

If they choose to protect themselves against dangerous climate change, they will help to save the entire planet.” 

That’s how Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a leading climate change researcher and founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, sees it.


He made the comments recently during the launch of a new report from the Asian Development Bank and its research institute. 

The report, A Region at Risk: The Human Dimensions of Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific, presents the latest research on the dire consequences of climate change in Asia and the Pacific under a business-as-usual scenario.


Schellnhuber spoke with ADB about the climate-related challenges facing Asia and the Pacific.
Asian Development Bank: What are the main impacts of climate change foreseen under the business-as-usual scenario?
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber: First of all, one needs to get a sense of what it really means. 

We talk about 4 to 6 degrees of warming—planetary warming, so the global average—by 2100 if we do business-as-usual. 


Think of the global mean temperature as your body temperature. 

If you have 2 degrees warming in your body you have fever. 

Six degrees warming means you are dead. 

That’s the metaphor to use for the planet. 

That means with 4 to 6 degrees warming our world would completely change. The world as we know it would disappear.
Maybe it’s most clearly understood in terms of sea level rise. 

One degree warming means at least 3 to 4 meters’ sea level rise; 2 degrees warming would mean 7 or 8 meters’ rise. 

This would simply mean that many of the low-lying island states would disappear. 

Their home would be destroyed. We need to do everything to avoid that.

ADB: How will climate change impact individuals?
Schellnhuber: Just a week ago in Asia you had temperatures of 54 degrees centigrade in Pakistan and in Iran. 

We can calculate that with 5 to 6 degrees global warming you would create uninhabitable zones on this planet. 

There would be regions, in particular in Asia, where you could not survive in the open without air conditioning physiologically. 

Temperatures would hit 60 degrees and it simply would mean that you would have no-go areas.

 Now think of slums, where people do not have air conditioning now. 

There will be places where you cannot work and you cannot survive.


So it is really about, “Can you survive under climate change?” And the answer is, “No”— at least in certain regions in Asia.
ADB: The report also anticipates significant climate-related migration.
Schellnhuber: What we are really worried about is migration and conflict. In the end, all these knock-on effects will heavily impact on national security and international migration. It might mean that hundreds of millions of people will be displaced because of global warming; and you have to accommodate them.
We in Europe just had this experience. In Germany in particular, we have taken up a million refugees. Believe me, this is very hard to digest. Now, we are talking about a million being absorbed by one of the richest countries in the world. Think of hundreds of millions of people being absorbed by poor people, by poorer countries.
If people are displaced in Bangladesh they will generally go to West Bengal in India, for example. If Tuvalu gets inundated, people will hop to the next island. They will not buy a business class ticket and go to Los Angeles.
Digesting, absorbing major migration waves is a challenge I think most of the current nations will not be able to meet. So let’s avoid it.
ADB: What are the implications for business and the regional economy?
Schellnhuber: We often make this joke that the first law of capitalism is, “Don’t kill your customers!” If you kill your customers, you cannot do business. But in a more sober way you can look at the various sectors, agriculture, fisheries, and so on.
For fisheries, climate change comes with ocean acidification. Half of the CO2that we put into the air by burning fossil fuels is absorbed by the oceans. If this isn’t stopped, under a business-as-usual scenario oceans will get so acidic that the coral reefs will dissolve virtually.
Now one-third of marine productivity—including the top predators, fish—is created in the corals. So, the marine business will just be destroyed. The same is true for tourism: If you have no corals you will have no people going to the coral reefs. The Great Barrier Reef, for example, is at stake as well as the Coral Triangle.
We did a study, and this is in the report, of how global supply chains will be disrupted or even interrupted by extreme events. When there were the big floods in Thailand, for example, a sort of wave was created all over the planet. First the computer industry in Japan was hit, and ultimately in the U.S. and so on. You have knock-on effects, cascades of impacts. To put it in one sentence: Climate change is really bad for business.
ADB: How should governments, business, and citizens respond?
Schellnhuber: First, you have to recognize the problem.

 Our report is a wake-up call. 

If you read it you get scared.

 But you need to be scared because the future would be very bleak if we just do business-as-usual. 

Once you know there is a big problem, then you have to assess how the various nations and regions will be affected.

Even 2 degrees warming will deliver a completely new world. 

You have to find out what are you going to do in Vietnam, what are you going to do in South India, in Kazakhstan, in Uzbekistan. 

What needs to happen in Tuvalu and Vanuatu?
First, try to provide the evidence and based on that you can do good projects. But you have to do it within a strategic framework. I would urge ADB to first come up with a differentiated assessment of the situation and then go in and implement best practice and act on the best proposals.
ADB: Do you see any silver lining?
Schellnhuber: People feel there is a trade-off between development and climate protection, but that’s not true. As our report makes clear, if you do not stabilize the climate you will actually destroy the good prospects for development. And if you take climate action in a clever way you will create new opportunities for doing business.
I will give you just one example: The modern society was based on the use of fossil fuels. The industrial revolution started 200 years ago in England and Scotland. 

This was based on using, in a clever way, coal and later gas and oil. But now this model has come to an end.


This may just push us into adopting a new model for growth. Solar energy is abundant in Asia, for example. It is free. The sun is shining without any charge. I think the climate issue is giving us the right push to go into a new industrial model and that will be built on renewables, recycling, a circular economy, and the better use of resources.
In a way, it’s an eye-opener. Because we almost destroyed our civilization through the externality of climate change, we wake up and say, “Oh, there is an even better model of doing sustainable business.”
I think we will have another industrial revolution, even a bigger one. And it will be the most important modernization project in the 21st century. The opportunity is there. Let’s do new business, better business involving more people, and as a nice side effect we will save the planet.
This interview first appeared on the Asian Development Bank’s website.

Press link for more: Brink News

Climate Science Special Report. #Auspol #StopAdani

Executive Summary

Introduction

New observations and new research have increased our understanding of past, current, and
future climate change since the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA3) was
published in May 2014.

 This Climate Science Special Report (CSSR) is designed to capture
that new information and build on the existing body of science in order to summarize the
current state of knowledge and provide the scientific foundation for the Fourth National
Climate Assessment (NCA4).

Since NCA3, stronger evidence has emerged for continuing, rapid, human-caused warming of
the global atmosphere and ocean. 


This report concludes that “it is extremely likely that human
influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.

 For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation
supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

The last few years have also seen record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes, the three
warmest years on record for the globe, and continued decline in arctic sea ice.

 These trends
are expected to continue in the future over climate (multidecadal) timescales. 


Significant
advances have also been made in our understanding of extreme weather events and how they
relate to increasing global temperatures and associated climate changes.

 Since 1980, the cost
of extreme events for the United States has exceeded $1.1 trillion, therefore better
understanding of the frequency and severity of these events in the context of a changing
climate is warranted.

Periodically taking stock of the current state of knowledge about climate change and putting
new weather extremes, changes in sea ice, increases in ocean temperatures, and ocean
acidification into context ensures that rigorous, scientifically-based information is available to
inform dialogue and decisions at every level. 


Most of this special report is intended for those
who have a technical background in climate science and to provide input to the authors of
NCA4.

 In this Executive Summary, green boxes present highlights of the main report. 

These
are followed by related points and selected figures providing more scientific details. 

The
summary material on each topic presents the most salient points of chapter findings and
therefore represents only a subset of the report’s content. 

For more details, the reader is
referred to the individual chapters. 

This report discusses climate trends and findings at several
scales: global, nationwide for the United States, and for ten specific U.S. regions (shown in
Figure 1 in the Guide to the Report)

A statement of scientific confidence also follows each
point in the Executive Summary. 

The confidence scale is described in the Guide to the Report.
 

At the end of the Executive Summary and in Chapter 1: Our Globally Changing Climate, there is also a summary box highlighting the most notable advances and topics since NCA3 and since the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

For full report press here: Climate Science Special Report