Agriculture

Climate Change: Politics overrides religion #Auspol #StopAdani 

When it comes to climate change, politics overrides religious views

ELIZABETH EISENSTADT-EVANS | COLUMNIST 


EDITOR’S NOTE: Last week, Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, issued a proposed rule that would repeal the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era effort to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

If you are a Christian who has ever engaged another believer on the topic of climate change, odds are you have heard of Katharine Hayhoe.
For years, the increasingly prominent Texas Tech University climate scientist has occupied a unique position, building bridges between the scientific community, which overwhelmingly affirms that human-caused climate change is a threat to the planet, and conservative American evangelicals, many of whom are skeptical of science in general and climate science in particular.
Married to a professor of linguistics (and former climate change skeptic) who also is a pastor, Hayhoe (a native of Canada) seems to find the time to be everywhere, including Facebook and Twitter. 

Her bi-weekly “Global Weirding” videos, delivered in a positive, approachable style, tackle many of the myths and questions that dog the topic of climate change (though debate in the scientific community was essentially over a long time ago).
Approximately two years ago, I interviewed Hayhoe for a column.

 In light of the hurricanes that have inflicted massive damage and loss of life in the Caribbean and the United States, I contacted her again.
How were the storms that hit the Gulf Coast, Florida and the Caribbean altered by our warming climate?
The bottom line is that a changing climate exacerbates our natural risks. 

If we want to know why we should care about climate change, all we have to do is look around and see what types of weather extremes we are already vulnerable to in the places where we live. 

If we live in Washington or Oregon, it might be wildfires.


 In the Northeast, it’s often heavy rainfall. 

 In the Gulf Coast, one of our biggest concerns is hurricanes. 

Climate change doesn’t necessarily produce a drought or a hurricane, but it amplifies the risks associated with naturally-occurring events.


Climate change exacerbates the risks associated with hurricanes in at least three different ways:
First, in a warmer world, more water evaporates, so when a storm comes along, there is more water vapor available, which increases the amount of rainfall and the intensity of the rainfall associated with a given storm.  
Reason two is sea level rise.

 As warmer water expands and land-based ice is melting, more water behind the storm surges makes storm surges stronger.
Reason three, over 90 percent of the extra energy being trapped inside the earth’s climate system by the heat-trapping gases we produce is going into the ocean. 

With a warmer ocean, more energy is available to hurricanes, because they get their energy from warm ocean water.
We don’t expect climate change to significantly alter the number of hurricanes, but we do expect that, in a warmer world, on average, there will be more rainfall and stronger storm surges associated with hurricanes, and likely more powerful hurricanes than there would be otherwise.
Why do people expect to see more hurricanes as a proof of the reality of climate change?
In years like 2017, and in 2005, which is the last time we had so many hurricanes, many people wonder or even assume that climate change is causing more hurricanes to form.

 But the reality is that when we look at the long-term numbers, we don’t see any change in the frequency of hurricanes. 

Some years are bad years, other years have relatively few storms.
Looking to one year as proof of a long-term trend is what I think of as “the ink-blot syndrome.” We humans are always looking for patterns in the world around us, but often we are doing so based on inadequate information. 

 This desire to discern patterns from the chaos of life is a natural part of the human condition. 

It makes me think of what Jesus says (in John 4:48): 

“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe” when, in fact, he’s already standing right in front of them.
Is it too late to mitigate the effects of climate change?
Yes, and no.

 A certain amount of change is inevitable. 

It’s as if we’ve been smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years. 

We can’t expect to see no effect.
There’s all the difference in the world, though, between a future where we continue to depend on fossil fuels and a future where we transition rapidly to clean energy. 

There is still a possibility of avoiding the most widespread dangerous impacts if we act now. That’s what I talk about in my Global Weirding video, “it’s too late to do anything about climate change, right?”
When I have heard your talks or read your speeches, you sound more optimistic than many other scientists. 

Why?
Fear won’t motivate us to act long-term. For long-term, sustained action, we need hope. If we give up hope, we won’t be able to fix this problem.
That’s why I spend so much time looking for (examples) of hope, of people making a difference. If we don’t have hope for a better future, then yes —it is too late.
What changes have you seen among Christians since you began to speak out?

 How is it that you are changing evangelical minds on this issue where others before you have been unsuccessful?
When it comes to our opinions about climate change, what matters most is our political affiliation.

 The most concerned group in the U.S. today is Hispanic Catholics. And the least concerned? White Catholics — with white evangelicals right behind them.
Don’t all Catholics have the same Pope, and isn’t he very concerned about climate change? 


Yes. 

And so these findings highlight how it isn’t where we go to church on Sunday — or not — that really matters when it comes to forming our opinions on climate change. For many of us, our political affiliation takes priority in writing our statement of beliefs today.
What does rejecting the science of climate change have to do with our politics?
Despite the “sciencey-sounding” objections we hear all the time — “it’s just a natural cycle,” they say, or “scientists haven’t been studying this long enough to be sure” — the real reason why most people are saying it’s not real is because they want to avoid action. We’ve been told that acting on climate requires the government telling us what type of car to drive or how to set our thermostat or even ruining the economy and threatening our personal liberties. That isn’t true at all. There are libertarian and free-market solutions to climate change, in addition to policy solutions. Which one should we choose? That’s the conversation we should be having.
Have other Christians who are scientists joined you?
Many of my fellow scientists have reached out in the past few years to tell me they support what I am doing and, in some cases, they even share my faith. But overall, from the Christian community, the reaction has been more negative than positive. The number of Christians who regularly attack me each week is depressing. But this makes me treasure those who support me even more. For example, the Christian conservation organization — A Rocha International — has invited me to give the John Stott London Lecture in London in November, on “Climate and Faith in the Public Arena.” John Stott was a famous Anglican theologian and thought leader in the evangelical world who passed away several years ago. I am incredibly honored to be giving this lecture in the church where he served for so many years.
What can a concerned Christian citizen do in his or her congregation to launch a discussion on climate change?
What we should not do is come in with a bunch of scientific facts and arguments in order to pick a fight or focus on what divides us. Instead, start a conversation on what unites us: that we’ve been given this amazing world by God, who loves us and who has made us into people who are concerned about the poor and about those who are suffering in this world — suffering that is being exacerbated by a changing climate today. We can find common ground when we share from the heart. This approach is exemplified in a sermon I gave earlier this year at an evangelical church near Philadelphia, called “How climate change affects the poor,” and by a talk I gave at Pepperdine University, a Christian college in California, called “Loving our global neighbor.”
 Elizabeth Eisenstadt-Evans is a freelance writer and nonparochial Episcopalian priest.

Press link for more: Lancaster Online

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9 Images show #ClimateChange impacts #StopAdani 

Nine Pictures That Show How Climate Change Is Impacting Earth
by Victor Tangermann on September 16, 2017 

IN BRIEF
The latest satellite data from NASA that showcases the effects of climate change paints a sobering picture. Here’s how far we have come and how much work there is to be done.

Record-breaking hurricanes have affected millions of people across North and Central America, devastating floods have taken away millions of homes, and wildfires on the west coast have wreaked havoc on the lives of millions more. The natural disasters of 2017 have raised a lot of questions about human involvement and the dire consequences of climate change caused by human activity on our planet. Even though its effects have made themselves apparent, there are many who don’t believe climate change is real, or at least that humans have nothing to do with it.
Earlier this year, NASA released a series of images titled Images of Change to show just how drastic an effect human activity has had on Earth in the last fifty or so years. They tell a story of melting glaciers, receding ice shelves, floods, and other natural disasters. They all provide evidence that climate change is very real and happening right now. It is time to take the hard, photographic evidence seriously. and learn from our past mistakes.
Tuvalu and the Rising Sea Levels


Image Credit: Ashley Cooper/Contributor/Getty Images

This image was taken in 2007, showing a town submerged in water on the Funafuti Atoll. Its population of more than 6,000 people has been battling with the direct consequences of rising sea levels. Residents of the capital Tuvalu have seen very frequent flooding in populated areas due to the fact that it is at most 4.57 meters (15 feet) above sea level. Dubbed one of “the most vulnerable Pacific Ocean islands,” its residents have to make the ultimate choice: leave the islands or deal with the consequences.
The Larsen C Ice Shelf


Image Credit: NASA/John Sonntag

This 112.65km (70 mile) long, 91.44 meter (300 feet) wide crack in the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf was photographed in November 2016. As a direct result of the split, a piece of an ice shelf the size of Delaware collapsed. The more than 1 trillion ton ice slab broke away from the Larsen C shelf around the 10th of July, 2017, decreasing it by more than 12%.
Rising Bedrock in Greenland


Image Credit: ESA/Sentinel-2/Copernicus Sentinel

Environmental scientists have concluded in recent studies that the Greenland Ice Sheet is rising as ice melts; as the ice that sits on top of the outer crust of the Earth melts, the crust underneath rises up. Measuring this change is giving scientists valuable insight into the changing sizes of ice sheets and how this eventually leads to rising sea levels.
Hurricane Harvey


Image Credit: @Space_Station/Twitter

This image was taken from the International Space Station on August 25, 2017. The disastrous consequences of Hurricane Harvey wreaking havoc on central Texas saw a huge amount of media coverage. However, when it came to drawing links between the storm and climate change, the reporting was far more subdued. Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist from the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, said in an interview with The Atlantic: “the human contribution can be up to 30 percent or so of the total rainfall coming out of the storm.” But the trend of tying storms of this scale to human activity is still emerging.
Flooding of the Ganges River


Image Credit: NASA

These satellite images are part of an ongoing series of images called Images of Change released by NASA in 2017. In addition to images related to climate change, the series also looks at how urbanization and natural hazards are changing our planet. The two images above show the drastic effect the 2015 flood had on the Ganges River in eastern and central India. Over six million people were affected by it, and at least 300 people lost their lives.
Arctic Sea Ice Decline


Image Credit: NASA

The last three decades have not been kind to the thick, older layers of sea ice in the Arctic. A study published by the American Geophysical Union in 2007 already noted a sharp decline of the Arctic Sea ice between 1953 and 2006. The last couple of winters have shown record lows in the amount of wintertime Arctic Sea ice.
“This older, thicker ice is like the bulwark of sea ice: a warm summer will melt all the young, thin ice away but it can’t completely get rid of the older ice. But this older ice is becoming weaker because there’s less of it and the remaining old ice is more broken up and thinner, so that bulwark is not as good as it used to be,” says Walt Meiter, a sea researcher from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Increase of Sun’s Energy Absorbed in the Arctic


Image Credit: NASA

Since 2000, NASA has been using its satellites to measure the solar radiation absorbed in the Arctic. Since records began in 2000, the rate has increased by 5% — notably, the only region on our planet to see a change. Due to this increase, the ice melts sooner in the spring, and more older, thicker sea ice is lost permanently.
Glacier Melt in Alaska

Image Credits: U.S. Geological Survey/NASA

 The Northwestern Glacier in Alaska retreated an estimated 10 kilometers (6 miles) out of view. The small icebergs that can be seen in the foreground have retreated almost entirely throughout the decades.
Air Pollution in London


Image Credit: Barry Lewis/Getty Images

Commuters can be seen crossing the London Bridge on March 15, 2012 — a day with record-breaking levels of air pollution due to dirty air from the north, traffic fumes, and a lack of moving air. According to the World Health Organization, “92% of the world population was living in places where the WHO air quality guidelines levels were not met,” and three million premature deaths were caused by ambient air pollution worldwide in 2012.

This Isn’t “The New Normal #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

This Isn’t ‘the New Normal’ for Climate Change — That Will Be Worse
David Wallace-Wells

October 11, 2017 10:12 am


A Fountaingrove Village homeowner surveys her destroyed home she and her husband have owned for four years, on October 9, 2017, in Santa Rosa, California. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

It’s been a terrifying season for what we used to call natural disasters.

For the first time in recorded history, three hurricanes arose simultaneously in the Caribbean. 

Harvey and Irma ravaged a series of islands then turned north and hit the U.S. mainland. 

Days later came Maria, the third storm this season to register among the top-four most devastating hurricanes in dollar terms to ever make landfall in the U.S. (Maria seems likely to be remembered as among the worst humanitarian disasters America has ever seen, with 40 percent of Puerto Rico still without running water, power out for likely six months, and native agriculture devastated for a full year.)


 For years, we’ve conceived of climate change in terms of sea level, meaning it was often possible to believe its devastating impacts would be felt mostly by those living elsewhere, on the coasts; extreme weather seems poised to break that delusion, beginning with hurricanes. And then the unprecedented California wildfires broke out over the weekend, fueled by the Diablo Winds, killing 17 already and burning through 115,000 acres across several counties by Wednesday, casting even the sky above Disneyland in an eerie postapocalyptic orange glow and lighting up satellite images with flames visible from space.

 The smoke was visible from there, too.
It is tempting to look at this string of disasters and think, Climate change is here. 

Both hurricanes and wildfires are made worse by warming, with as much as 30 percent of the strength of hurricanes like Harvey and Maria attributable to climate change, and wildfire season both extended and exacerbated by it. 

As the journalist Malcolm Harris put it blithely on Twitter, “There didn’t used to be a major natural disaster every single day.”

What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal. 

It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship.

But the truth is actually far scarier than “welcome to the new normal.”

 The climate system we have been observing since August, the one that has pummeled the planet again and again and exposed even the world’s wealthiest country as unable (or at least unwilling) to properly respond to its destruction, is not our bleak future. 

It is, by definition, a beyond-best-case scenario for warming and all the climate disasters that will bring. 

Even if, miraculously, the planet immediately ceased emitting carbon into the atmosphere, we’d still be due for some additional warming, and therefore some climate-disaster shakeout, from just the stuff we’ve put into the air already. 

But of course we’re very far from zeroing out on carbon, and therefore very far from stalling climate change.

 A recent debate has centered around the question of whether it is even conceivably possible for the planet to pull up short of one-point-five degrees Celsius of warming, which means, at the absolute very least, we have 50 percent more warming to go (since we’re at about one degree already). But even most optimistic experts expect we’ll at least hit two degrees, and possibly two-point-five or even three. 

That means as much as 200 percent more warming ahead of us.

 And what that means for extreme weather and climate disasters is horrifying.

Watch: How Climate Change Is Creating More Powerful Hurricanes
Of course, there is also an enormous variance in weather, and we shouldn’t expect, say, that next year’s hurricane season will be necessarily as bad as this one, or worse, or that next year’s wildfire season will be as bad as this one, or worse, even as the planet continues to warm.

 We are probably dealing with a lot of bad luck in 2017 (and that’s not even counting the earthquakes, unrelated to climate, that shook Mexico last month, reducing whole neighborhoods to rubble). But, over time, the trend lines are inarguable: Climate change will give us more devastating hurricanes than we have now, and more horrible wildfires, as well as more tornadoes and droughts and heat waves and floods.
What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal.

It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship. 

Perhaps because of the exhausting false debate about whether climate change is “real,” too many of us have developed a misleading impression that its effects are binary. 

But global warming is not “yes” or “no,” it is a function that gets worse over time as long as we continue to produce greenhouse gas. 

And so the experience of life in a climate transformed by human activity is not just a matter of stepping from one stable environment into another, somewhat worse one, no matter how degraded or destructive the transformed climate is.

 The effects will grow and build as the planet continues to warm: from one degree to one-point-five to almost certainly two degrees and beyond.

 The last few months of climate disasters may look like about as much as the planet can take. 

But things are only going to get worse.

Press link for more: NYMag.com

Farmers must rally for #ClimateAction #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

Our farmers must rally for climate change action.
1 Oct 2017

With no clear action on climate or energy policies, Australian farmers are scratching their heads and wondering how they can drive change.  
The Federal Government is failing to help. 

They are talking about extending the life of old, polluting coal-fired power stations; more subsidies and taxpayer assistance to the fossil fuel industry; and pressuring states to frack more gas – an industry that directly competes for prime agricultural land. 

They can’t be thinking of our interests.

 Farmers are the ones already impacted by climate change – look no further than heatwaves and severe rain shortages in parts of the country. 

We are also dealing with soaring energy costs. 

It’s time we used our voice to speed up the change we need. 

NSW farmer Jim McDonald is a case in point. 

Infuriated by rural MPs who were spouting anti-renewable energy guff, he started an open letter. 

More than 2000 farmers around the country have signed on. 

As individuals we can get drowned out, but collectively our voice carries weight. 

If our views are to be heard, however, we must start talking to elected representatives before it’s too late.


Farmers are looking to renewables and storage to cut their energy costs. If you think that should be encouraged, then speak out.
Farmers directly benefit from large-scale renewable projects. Wind turbines alone generate approximately $20 million worth of passive income for us. 
Agriculture is one of the most climate-exposed industries in the country. If you think farmers should be supported to cope with what’s happening now, and steps taken to avoid worse impacts into the future – then speak out!
The future of farming won’t be assured without a fight. 

Add your voice.

Verity Morgan-Schmidt is CEO of Farmers for Climate Action 

Press link for more: The Advocate

6th Mass Extinction also Threatens Global Food Supplies #StopAdani 

The Sixth Mass Extinction of Wildlife Also Threatens Global Food SuppliesBy Damian Carrington, The Guardian
The sixth mass extinction of global wildlife already under way is seriously threatening the world’s food supplies, according to experts.

Farmers evaluating traits of wheat varieties in Ethiopia.

Credit: Biodiversity International

“Huge proportions of the plant and animal species that form the foundation of our food supply are just as endangered [as wildlife] and are getting almost no attention,” said Ann Tutwiler, director general of Bioversity International, a research group that published a new report.
“If there is one thing we cannot allow to become extinct, it is the species that provide the food that sustains each and every one of the seven billion people on our planet,” she said in an article for the Guardian.

 “This ‘agrobiodiversity’ is a precious resource that we are losing, and yet it can also help solve or mitigate many challenges the world is facing. 

It has a critical yet overlooked role in helping us improve global nutrition, reduce our impact on the environment and adapt to climate change.”
Three-quarters of the world’s food today comes from just 12 crops and five animal species and this leaves supplies very vulnerable to disease and pests that can sweep through large areas of monocultures, as happened in the Irish potato famine when a million people starved to death. 

Reliance on only a few strains also means the world’s fast changing climate will cut yields just as the demand from a growing global population is rising.
There are tens of thousands of wild or rarely cultivated species that could provide a richly varied range of nutritious foods, resistant to disease and tolerant of the changing environment. But the destruction of wild areas, pollution and overhunting has started a mass extinction of species on Earth. The focus to date has been on wild animals — half of which have been lost in the last 40 years — but the new report reveals that the same pressures are endangering humanity’s food supply, with at least 1,000 cultivated species already endangered.
Tutwiler said saving the world’s agrobiodiversity is also vital in tackling the number one cause of human death and disability in the world — poor diet, which includes both too much and too little food. “We are not winning the battle against obesity and undernutrition,” she said. “Poor diets are in large part because we have very unified diets based on a narrow set of commodities and we are not consuming enough diversity.”
The new report sets out how both governments and companies can protect, enhance and use the huge variety of little-known food crops. It highlights examples including the gac, a fiery red fruit from Vietnam, and the orange-fleshed Asupina banana. Both have extremely high levels of beta-carotene that the body converts to vitamin A and could help the many millions of people suffering deficiency of that vitamin.


Training cows to walk in groups to extract wheat in Koka villge, Ethiopia.

Credit: CIFOR

Quinoa has become popular in some rich nations but only a few of the thousands of varieties native to South America are cultivated. The report shows how support has enabled farmers in Peru to grow a tough, nutritious variety that will protect them from future diseases or extreme weather.
Mainstream crops can also benefit from diversity and earlier in 2017 in Ethiopia researchers found two varieties of durum wheat that produce excellent yields even in dry areas. Fish diversity is also very valuable, with a local Bangladeshi species now shown to be extremely nutritious.
“Food biodiversity is full of superfoods but perhaps even more important is the fact these foods are also readily available and adapted to local farming conditions,” said Tutwiler.
Bioversity International is working with both companies and governments to ramp up investment in agrobiodiversity. The supermarket Sainsbury’s is one, and its head of agriculture, Beth Hart, said: “The world is changing — global warming, extreme weather and volatile prices are making it harder for farmers and growers to produce the foods our customers love. Which is why we are committed to working with our suppliers, farmers and growers around the world to optimise the health benefits, address the impact and biodiversity of these products and secure a sustainable supply.”
Pierfrancesco Sacco, Italy’s permanent representative to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, said: “The latest OECD report rates Italy third lowest in the world for levels of obesity after Japan and Korea. Is it a coincidence that all three countries have long traditions of healthy diets based on local food biodiversity, short food supply chains and celebration of local varieties and dishes?”
He said finding and cultivating a wider range of food is the key: “Unlike conserving pandas or rhinos, the more you use agrobiodiversity and the more you eat it, the better you conserve it.”

Press link for more: Climate Central

Heatwaves in September #ClimateChange #auspol #StopAdani 

Late-September heat wave leaves climate experts stunned.
“Never been a heat wave of this duration and magnitude this late in the season,” reports NOAA
Sep 27, 2017, 4:06 pm


Places where temperatures are projected to be within one degree of a record high Wednesday. CREDIT: National Weather Service via WashPost/WeatherBell.com.

Century-old records across the Midwest and East Coast are being shattered by a monster late-September heat wave — the kind of extreme weather we can expect to get much worse thanks to President Donald Trump’s policies to undermine domestic and global climate action.

[And Australian government’s determination to go ahead with the Adani Coal Mine] 
“There has never been a heat wave of this duration and magnitude this late in the season in Chicago,” the National Weather Service reported Tuesday evening.
From Wednesday through Tuesday, for example, Chicago sweltered through “the only occurrence on record of 7+ consecutive 90°[F] days entirely within September.”

 Every day of the heatwave was 92°F or above, and every one set a new record high for that date.
“Summer in some regions of the world will become one long heatwave even if global average temperatures rise only 2°C [3.6ºF] above pre-industrial levels,” finds a study published Monday in Nature Scientific Reports. 

The Paris climate agreement, which Trump has decided to pull out of, seeks to limit global warming to “well below” 3.6ºF.
On Wednesday, another study showed the connection between deadly heat waves and climate change. 

Scientists with World Weather Attribution (WWA) released an analysis of Europe’s blistering summer heat, which included the heat wave so deadly it was nicknamed “Lucifer.” 

The researchers found, “climate change increased the chances of seeing a summer as hot as 2017 by at least a factor of 10 and a heat wave like Lucifer by at least a factor of four since 1900″ (emphasis in original).
New study: ‘Super heat waves’ of 131°F coming if global warming continues unchecked
Back in the United States, the current heat wave has set records across the Midwest and East. 

On Monday, 92ºF was the hottest Burlington, Vermont had ever been that late in the year — by a full seven degrees, the Washington Post reported. On Sunday and Monday, Buffalo, New York saw its latest-ever consecutive 90ºF days. Records for hottest day or hottest series of days this late in the year were crushed in Minneapolis; northern Maine; Ottawa, Canada; and Green Bay, Wisconsin.
“It’s perhaps obvious that global warming means more frequent and intense heat waves,” climatologist Michael Mann noted in an email to ThinkProgress. “But what is less obvious is how climate change may be impacting the behavior of the jet stream in way that causes more persistent weather extremes, giving us even more extreme and longer-duration heat waves than we would otherwise expect.”
The National Weather Service tweeted out a chart showing this very effect.


The scientific evidence and analysis is getting stronger and stronger that carbon pollution is changing the jet stream in ways that cause high pressure ridges that block or stall weather patterns.

 A similar effect stalled Superstorm Harvey over Houston, leading to a once-in-25,000-year deluge.
“Many of the worst heat waves in recent history, including the 2003 European heat wave and the 2011 Texas/Oklahoma heat wave, were associated with this effect,” Mann said.
CO2 is changing the jet stream in ways that will create more Harveys
Climate science predicted a weaker jet stream, and Harvey stalled because of a weakened jet stream.
The latest science makes it very clear that stronger heat waves are becoming far more likely, thanks to global warming — and that the warmer it gets the worse the heat waves will get.
Indeed, the new Nature Scientific Reports study finds that for each additional 1.8°F of global warming during the summer, there would likely be:
15 to 28 more heat wave days each year

Heat waves would last 3 to 18 days longer

The peak intensity of heatwaves will increase 2.2°F to 3.4°F

But while the rest of the world is working to limit additional warming as much as possible, Trump’s policies would take us to upwards of 5.4°F or more additional warming. In the worst case, we can see as many as 80 more heat wave days, heat waves could be 50 days longer, and the peak intensity could be as much as 10°F higher than it is now.

Press link for more: Think Progress

Summer Could Be One Long Heatwave 2C #ClimateChange #Auspol #StopAdani 

Summer Could Be One Long Heatwave If Planet Hits Increase of 2 Degrees C


How heatwaves will change around the world for every 1°C increase in global average temperatures
Heatwaves will become a daily occurrence over summer in some regions even if global warming is kept to 2°C.
Summer in some regions of the world will become one long heatwave even if global average temperatures rise only 2°C above pre-industrial levels and certain regions may become close to unliveable if temperatures increase by 5°C.
Even with just a 1.5°C increase in global temperatures there are significant changes to the length, intensity, and frequency of heatwaves in every part of the world.
That’s the finding of new research by Dr. Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science published Sept. 27 in Scientific Reports that divides the globe into 26 regions and looks at how heatwaves will change with every 1°C rise in global temperatures.

When all the regions are combined, for every 1°C of warming during summer the researchers found there would likely be:
An extra 14.8-28.2 heatwave days.

Heatwaves would be 3.4-17.5 days longer.

The peak intensity of heatwaves will increase 1.2°C-1.9°C. 

But it’s when the researchers drilled down to the region-by-region level that the most startling changes appeared.
“We were particularly surprised by the alarmingly fast increase in heatwave days in the tropics where some regions transition to an almost constant heatwave state with just a 2°C rise,” said Perkins-Kirkpatrick.
“We also found that even with just a 1.5°C increase in global temperatures, almost all regions started to experience heatwave events every four years that once only occurred every 30 years.

 If global temperatures were to rise by 5°C such events would occur every year.”


By dividing the globe into 26 distinct regions, the research also highlighted the wide variation in heatwave responses across the world. 

There was a much sharper increase in peak temperatures of heatwaves over the Mediterranean and Central Asia.
Meanwhile, tropical regions saw many more additional heatwave days and longer continuous heatwaves than other parts of the world.
The only decline to appear across the research was the number of discrete heatwave events in two regions, Central America and Eastern Africa. 
But this was not good news because these regions also saw the greatest increase in heatwave days.
Effectively what had once been two heatwaves had now merged into one long heatwave.
“This study is yet another wake-up call to policymakers that we need to act on limiting the rise in global average temperatures due to human-caused climate change,” Kirkpatrick said. 

“Without prompt action, there could be disastrous consequences for many regions around the world.”

Press link for more: Lab Manager

Harvey, Irma & now Maria A world underwater! #climateChange #StopAdani 

Understanding Irma, Harvey and a world underwater!
Explaining the hurricanes, monsoons and floods of our warming world
By: Daniel Macmillen Voskoboynik

Photo Credit: Punit Paranjpe, Reuters

At the time of writing, Irma, the most powerful known hurricane in the history of Atlantic, is devastating the Northeastern Caribbean. 

St Maarten and Barbuda have suffered unspeakable destruction. 

Monsoonal storms and floods have killed over a thousand people in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, forcing millions from their communities. 

Over the last weeks, we have also seen torrential rains ravage countless homes across our shared planet, from Yemen, to Mexico, to Nigeria.
Much has been written about these deluges.

 What follows is not an attempt to add to the litany of words, but to bring ideas together for the time-starved reader.

To begin, it’s important to clear the air.

 The idea of a natural disaster is misguided.

 All climate-driven human catastrophes are caused by the interaction of two things: climate conditions and societal conditions.


Whenever you see a news story relating to an environmental disaster, it’s important to look out for both types of conditions. 

Here are some short explainers that can hopefully be of use to you, and help you to understand the expressions of our warming world.

Climate Conditions


A flooded neighbourhood in Makurdi, Benue in Nigeria. Photo Credit: Environews Nigeria.

In every one of these incidents, we see intense environmental conditions: powerful winds, torrential rains, storm surges. 

Many of these conditions are part of the natural rhythyms and seasons of the planet, but increasingly, climate change is making its mark.

Where can the authorship of climate change be found?

 Storms are complex.

 The atmospheric science around hurricanes, monsoons and climate change is still developing, often challenging our intuitions. 

But this much is clear.

 What temperature rise and resulting climate change do is disrupt patterns of weather.

 Heat waves become longer, hotter and more regular.

 Rains become more torrential, more concentrated, more dispersed. 

Windspeeds rise. 

Waters warm. 

Droughts become longer, more intense and extensive. 

Floods become more frequent, forceful, and destructive. 

Extreme heat becomes more common and forceful.

 As climate scientist Katharine Haydoe explains, climate change takes familiar weather patterns and “[puts] them on steroids.”


In relation to water, such patterns interact in important ways.

 Rising temperatures accelerate the process of evaporation, removing more water from land, lakes and rivers. 

That means our air carries higher levels of moisture: when it rains, it rains harder. 

This is defined by the Clausius-Clapeyron relation: for every 1C rise in temperature, the air can hold 7% more water.

The accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere traps heat, raising the temperatures of both the atmosphere and the ocean. 

Warmer ocean water fuels monsoons and hurricanes; Irma is currently travelling over water 1C warmer than normal.

 In the Himalayas, rising temperatures increase glacial melt, raising the level of rivers fed by glaciers; this in turn, increases the probability of flooding.

Climate change does not directly cause. It inflames, it exacerbates, it increases risks, it loads the dice. Such words may feel evasive, but they are more accurate. Rather than the pain itself, climate change is like a wind that blows on all the embers that are already there. It’s the detonator, not the explosive.

Models predict that extreme rain events will be more frequent, will extend to unprecedented areas, and will experience. Such events will defy our own expectations; Hurricane Harve, classed as a “500-year” storm, is the third such storm to hit Houston in three years.

Many have noted that the climate extremes we are seeing may become the “new normal”, but even this is misleading. Under current trends and scenarios, the “new normal” may be a world where the barrier of expectation is always pushed further back, a horizon of pain in constant retreat.

Human Conditions
The severity of a storm is only part of the equation of climate violence.

 The societies, the structures, the buildings, the healthcare systems, and the ecologies that storms meet will determine their impacts.

So be attentive to infrastructure.

 Be attentive to response systems, to the resources and deployment of emergency services. 

Be attentive to how evacuations unfold.

Be attentive to natural infrastructure. 

We know that wetlands, forests, mangroves and other ecosystems play vital roles in flood control. What is the state of such ecosystems in areas hit by storms? What actions have societies taken to clear or care for such ecosystems?

Be attentive to poverty. To history. To corruption. To how a city has been planned. To state neglect and state priorities. To where budget cuts have been made. To a region’s history of disaster. To how environmental risks have been denied and ignored. To wider histories of dispossession and vulnerability.

Be attentive to inequalities. To the imposed neglect of communities. Who lives in flood plains or flood ways? Which populations have been overlooked? How does climate violence affect different groups in different ways?

Be attentive to reconstruction. To flood insurance. To conflicts of interest between recovery and profitable construction.

To help illustrate the importance of human context and social conditions, here are just some examples from the last weeks.

San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, is one of the major cities affected by the path of Irma, and faces major power outage from the impact of the storm. Some areas could be left without power for up to half a year. But what explains the fragility of the country’s energy grid? The region’s decade-long recession, a longstanding process of austerity, the country’s debt burden, a historical process of colonial impoverishment, all contribute.


In Houston, buffeted by Harvey, despite numerous warnings, few measures were implemented to prepare or adapt a city for such events. 

Safety was sacrificed on the altar of urban expansion. 

Water-absorbing wetlands were paved over, replaced with concrete. 

Over thirty percent of coastal prairies, basins that can catch water, were cleared through development in the last two twenty-five years. 

Thousands of homes were built in areas highly vulnerable to flooding.

In central Nigeria, mainly in the state of Benue, over 100,000 people have been displaced by torrential rains and flooding.

 Ill preparation, clogged waterways, poor drainage system, absent long-term planning, and inadequate dam management in Nigeria and up-river Cameroon, all contributed to the toll.

In Bihar, West Bengal and Assad, hundreds of flooded villages have been deserted and abandoned. Inequality, poverty, unpreparedness, and absent infrastructure all play protagonist roles in aggravating such monsoonal impacts.

The city of Mumbai has been badly affected by days of incessant rainfall, ten times the usual levels. Dozens have been killed, hospitals flooded, and buildings collapsed. Such torrential rain and devastating recalls late July in 2005, when similar severe rains devastated the city, claiming hundreds of lives, washing thousands of homes away. Stagnating floodwaters spread disease and led to outbreaks of diarrhoea, leptospirosis and dengue.

But as we understand Mumbai’s floods, where does part of the blame lie? 

Majorly, in relentless poverty and reckless urbanisation. 

Major development schemes narrowed riverways, destroyed mangroves, and depleted water bodies. A report by a commission of concerned citizens in wake of the 2005 floods wrote, “the future of Mumbai is being strangulated by the politician-builder nexus, which has vitiated even the redevelopment of slums”. Profiteering does not protect.

Even the breadth of a disaster response is determined by disparity: compare the budget of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency ($15.5 billion), with India’s equivalent authority ($100 million).

Across all these countries and cases, the law of impact inequality holds: the poorest, the marginalized, the oppressed, the ignored, the subjugated, and the forgotten, will all be disproportionately affected by disaster, concentrated in those areas with higher environmental risk.

This tragic law meets a bitter reality: not every human life, not every neighbourhood, not every city, not every country, is worth the same. 

This is perhaps best represented in the coverage of established media outlets, whose eye is rarely equitable. In the last weeks, the known death toll of floods and mudslides affecting Congo, Niger, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone was twenty-five times higher than that of Harvey; but such incidents were mere footnotes in our published imagination.

Understanding Pain and Recovery

Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that unless we are fully present, we often struggle to understand the sadness wrought by climate violence. 

Our newspapers focus on numbers: lives lost, houses destroyed, people displaced, economic damage. These become the memorialised markers of suffering, but they fail to capture the sheer volume of possible pain.

What happens when you returned to your flooded home or village? What registers the work of “recovery”: searching for loved ones, burying bodies, clearing, cleaning, calculating costs, scrubbing mold, coping, handling mental strain and anguish? What speaks of the emptied bank accounts, the swept crops, the price of disaster food, rent owed to landlords for unliveable homes, demolished possessions?

The media is a caravansary that moves on. Within weeks, storm seasons will end. Waters will recede. Politicians will assure. We will return to the public spectacle of scandals and statements. The importance of tackling, preventing and bracing for climate violence will fade into the background of urgency. Cameras will turn away from the daily mundanity of “recovery”, impossible for so many. The dimming of media coverage will need to be replaced by the power of our memory and imagination.

Such silences and disparities in coverage reminds us that as we run further into an era of accelerating climate violence, we do not yet have an apparatus of attention that may allow for a humane, proportionate response to our global ecological crisis.

Even more than that, these storms are just a fraction of the panorama of climate violence. 

Climate change isn’t just about discrete episodes of extreme weather: floods, hurricanes, rains, mudslides, droughts and heat waves. 

It’s also the slow violence of gradually shifting environmental patterns: the patient depletion of water bodies, the ongoing loss of soil fertility, the long-term movement of rains, the growing unpredictability of weather.

We are currently not prepared for an era of encroaching environmental violence; the urgency of our reality is not synchronised with the urgency of our actions.

 But we continue to hold the power both to significantly reduce the worst possibilities of climate change, and prepare for its inevitabilities by building fairer and more flourishing societies. 

Let us hope that the horrific storms of the last weeks can serve as a wake-up call.

Press link for more: World at 1C

Systematic failure #ClimateChange #StopAdani 

Climate change, Migration, Capitalism. Solutions for systemic failure. 

Part 1: Systemic failures
Introduction
David Wallace-Wells’ recent article The Unhabitable Earth in New York Magazine has been read by hundreds of thousands. 

“It is, I promise, worse than you think,” the first sentence reads.

 There is no doubt that many readers have been shocked by the avalanche of sober information that the author presents in order to make the point that it is, indeed, worse, much worse, than most of us think.

 In fact, without exaggeration, it is even worse than Wallace-Wells portrays the situation because – but this is inevitable when trying to achieve the impossible by capturing the main dangers of climate change in one article – some essential papers have been left unaddressed, for example the Friedrich and the Hansen papers.
There are also some mistakes.

 For example, Wallace-Wells writes that:
“The most exciting research on the economics of warming has (…) come from Hsiang and his colleagues (…) who offer some very bleak analysis of their own: 

Every degree Celsius of warming costs, on average, 1.2 percent of GDP (…) 

This is the sterling work in the field, and their median projection is for a 23 percent loss in per capita earning globally by the end of this century (resulting from changes in agriculture, crime, storms, energy, mortality, and labor.)

 Tracing the shape of the probability curve is even scarier:

 There is a 12 percent chance that climate change will reduce global output by more than 50 percent by 2100, they say, and a 51 percent chance that it lowers per capita GDP by 20 percent or more by then, unless emissions decline” 
This is not what Hsiang, Burke and Miguel are saying (see here and here for a FAQ-list about the Nature article in question). Hsiang et al. point out that climate change will make the world economy smaller than it would be without climate change – not that it will make the world economy of the future smaller than it is now.
How large will the economy be in 2100?

 According to the OECD, the total output of the global economy will grow at three percent for the next 50 years . As Dolan explains, projecting that rate to the end of the century would make global real GDP about fourteen times higher in 2099 than in 2010.

 Hsiang et al. use several estimates of growth rates, including one that assumes that per capita GDP in each country will grow from 2010 to 2099 at the same rate it grew from 1980 to 2010.

 Their results imply an average annual growth rate of 2.35 percent, which would make per capita global GDP about eight times higher in 2099 than in 2010.

 As Ed Dolan explains, based on these estimates, if climate change cuts real GDP by 23 percent relative to what it otherwise would be, total output of the global economy would still be eleven times larger than it is today, using the OECD estimate for growth.

 And, as Dolan writes, with the method used by Hsiang et al., per capita GDP in 2099, with climate change, would be more than six times higher in 2099 than in 2010.
Burke has posted online complete country-by-country growth estimates. 

The chart shows the ratio of estimated 2099 GDP per capita to 2010 GDP per capita for 165 countries without climate change (blue dots) and with climate change (red dots). 

The points are arranged along the horizontal axis according to 2010 GDP per capita, so for each country, the blue dot lies directly above or below that same country’s red dot.

 Climate change is on average detrimental to GDP, except for 38 of the 165 countries.

 The biggest “winners” are Mongolia, Finland, Iceland, and Russia. 

The biggest losers are countries that were hot to begin with and grew slowly in the base period, with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates faring worst of all.
Dolan

Figure 1: Projected 2099 GDP per capita with and without climate change according to Burke (Source: Ed Dolan, Niskanen Center). 
Not that I believe this. Look at what Ed Dolan writes:
“(I)t is hardly surprising that these models (…) see the likely future as one with both continued global warming and continued economic growth. (…) (T)here is a fundamental causal relationship between the two. The standard models are built on the premise that economic activity is the principle source of the carbon emissions that drive climate change (…). Given the structure of the models, then, if the economy were to begin shrinking rather than growing, then other things equal, climate change itself would slow”. 
But this is a cardinal misunderstanding: there will be no other things equal, not only because of the delay phenomenon (if we stop emitting carbon dioxide today, temperature will still rise for a long time), but also, and more importantly, because, man-made climate change (Anthropogenic Climate Disruption, ACD) compromised (and continues to compromise) the capacity of the Earth system to capture CO2, while at the same time man-made warming causes the Earth system to increasingly emit CO2 and methane.


 This means that the “standard models” are wrong, because the premise they are built upon is wrong: “economic activity” is no longer the only important source of carbon emissions.

 The estimate is that about 50% of total global fossil fuel emissions over the past 100 years have been absorbed by the land and oceans. 

If the sinks are exhausted or overwhelmed or shallow marine sediment outgassing and permafrost melting occurs, it is possible that, in the worst case scenario, a 50% reduction in the use of fossil fuels (not that there is a realistic strategy to achieve this) would have no effect on the growth rate of atmospheric CO2.

This is how serious the situation is.
To make it worse than you think it is, given the above: it is not that we are making progress. 

As a world, we do not. 

Fossil fuels accounted for 81% of the world’s energy consumption in 1987.

 Incredibly, thirty years and twenty one international climate change conferences later the figure is the same: 81% And forget ‘clean coal.’ Clean coal is as feasible as it is unaffordable.

Certainly, some countries have made substantial progress. But as a world, the “business-as-usual” scenario is the progress. And this will not change, at least not for as long as, as Flassbeck writes, the current oil price remains lower than in 1974 – a fact that is not well-known and of which the consequences are unfathomable.
Systemic failures

The United Nations recently released a report warning us that we will likely see upward of 50 million climate refugees within the next decade.

 They were wrong.

 Today, the estimate of displaced persons because of ACD is in excess of 65 million. 

There is no doubt that this is only the beginning of a much bigger, almost unfathomable, change. 

In 2014, the IPCC suggested that up to 700 million people currently living in low-lying coastal zones – 438 million in Asia and 246 million in the least developed countries – will be directly at risk to threats of climate change in the 21th Century. 

According to a new study by Geisler et al. the figure could be 1.4 billion by 2060 and 2 billion by the end of the century. 

What are global policy-makers doing?
Logically enough, the low lying islands, coastal regions, large river deltas and underdeveloped regions are most in danger of catastrophic change.

 According to a report from the World Bank (2014; updated 2015), 30 percent of arable land risks disappearing in Africa and 26% in Asia by 2030.


According to this report, massive floods will occur in some areas, as well as massive reductions in fish catch, there will be prolonged and severe droughts in Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia, agricultural yields and nutritional quality will drop (in combination with growing populations), there will be sea-level rise, the destruction of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, the increasing acidification of oceans, increasing under-nourishment, increases in childhood stunting.

 Malaria and other easily preventable or curable diseases will prove lethal for many.

 As Wallace-Wells reminds us, for every degree increase in temperature, the malaria parasite reproduces ten times faster.
In sub-Saharan Africa more than 60 million people who are already going hungry are likely to see their situation worsen due to increasing drought, other ACD impacts and threat multipliers such as uprooted communities, ethnic and/or religious strife, semi-failed and failed states, rising fundamentalism, conflicts within and wars between states.
Problems by no means only occur in developing countries.

 In Europe, desertification is creeping up north year by year. 

Cities such as Madrid and Barcelona are suffering water shortages during summer.

 The drought destroys the livelihoods of rural communities, both to the south and to the north of the Pyrenees. Desertification is taking place in the south of Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. 

By the end of the century, two out of three people living in Europe will be affected by heat waves, coastal floods and other weather-related disasters, largely due to global warming and climate change, according to a study published in the Lancet Planetary Health.

 Overall, weather-related disasters are expected to cause 152,000 deaths a year in Europe between 2071 and 2100, jumping from 3.000 weather disaster-related deaths a year between 1981 and 2010.

A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that four hundred cities in the U.S. are going to be swamped by rising sea levels, no matter what mitigation measures are taken to decrease carbon dioxide emissions.

No one knows how to react to the migration crises that will result from ACD.

 There are no plans, although it is glaringly obvious that within one generation tens of millions of people will flee their regions.

 That will only be the start. 

These people will be displaced persons in their own country or end up in refugee camps. 

International law does not recognize the existence of ecological refugees. 

It protects indigenous people, but once the ecosystem collapses, there is no protection.
This is bitterly, indeed, insanely unfair, especially since poor countries, which bear the biggest burden, contributed historically the least to climate change. 


The number of those impoverished, malnourished, and deprived of fundamental needs such as security, health care, and education totals in the hundreds of millions.

 Under current international law, climate-induced, cross-border migration triggers little, if any, protection or assistance mechanisms. 

The truism that ungoverned spaces attract terrorist networks does not need to be repeated.
The ‘best’ (sic) European policy-makers seem to be capable of is continuing to adhere to the Geneva Convention, while at the same time trying to differentiate between motives: political asylum seekers in; economic immigrants out.

 As if this makes sense, as if it is possible. 

This is now called the problem of ‘mixed migration’ . 

However, it is clear that we will not do this well: the future will see more restrictions, the further hollowing-out of the right to asylum, while voices – by far not only from the extreme Right – go up and speak louder by the day to ‘close off’ all ‘entry-points,’ such as the Mediterranean and the Balkan route (see here).
The human tragedy will get worse, much worse. 

According to Geisler et al. from the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell, in the year 2100, two billion people – about one-fifth of the world’s population – could become climate change refugees. 

Those who once lived on coastlines will face displacement and resettlement bottlenecks as they seek habitable places inland. 

The Earth’s population is expected to top 9 billion people by 2050 and climb to 11 billion people by 2100.
Geisler et al. write that:
“The colliding forces of human fertility, submerging coastal zones, residential retreat, and impediments to inland resettlement is a huge problem.

 We offer preliminary estimates of the lands unlikely to support new waves of climate refugees due to the residues of war, exhausted natural resources, declining net primary productivity, desertification, urban sprawl, land concentration, ‘paving the planet’ with roads and greenhouse gas storage zones offsetting permafrost melt”.
Feeding that population will require more arable land as swelling oceans consume fertile coastal zones and river deltas. 

Clearly, those who talk about “closing off” the Mediterranean and other “entry points” or paying off despots of countries at the border of the European continent to keep immigrants out are dreaming. 

It will not work and it should not, because it is inhumane.
That population growth, in itself, is not the problem, can be made clear by a few simple figures.

 Currently, the world population is some 7 billion.

 Of those 7 billion, some 30% is either mal-nourished, under-nourished or lives under conditions of famine, notwithstanding the fact that, today, the world produces enough food to feed in excess of 12 billion people. 

It is therefore not ‘physical limits’ that are the problem, it is the political economy of the global system, or, more prosaic, the fact that agriculture is in the hands of the Nestles, the Monsanto’s and the Cargills of this world which means that everyone can eat who can pay of it, as Amartya Sen Sen explained a long time ago. 

Climate change affects food security on both the national aggregate and the individual level. For food security to exist, Sen’s ‘three As’ – availability, accessibility and affordability – need to be present.

Food security depends on domestic production, imports and food aid. Climate change affects all of them.
How will this work?

 As Wallace-Wells explains, the basic rule for staple cereal crops grown at optimal temperature is that for every one degree Celsius of warming, yields decline by 10 percent.

 Some estimates run as high as 15 or even 17 percent.


 This means that, if average global temperature will be four degrees warmer at the end of the century – this is by no means an extravagant or unrealistic expectation any longer, the contrary is true – we may have as many as 40 percent more people to feed and 40 percent less cereal output. 

Proteins, Wallace-Wells writes, are still way worse, as it takes 16 calories of grain to produce one single calorie of hamburger meat, butchered from a cow that spent her life polluting the environment by farting and belching methane and producing nitrates.
Many – plant physiologists among them – point out that this sort of math is too simple, too childish even, that it is only valid for regions already at peak growing temperature, and even then. 

Theoretically, climate change will make growing corn in Greenland or in Northern Russia easier. 

I do not want to criticise Wallace-Wells and I hope his article reaches a lot more people, but his reference (to Rosamond Naylor and David Battisti) does not prove what he is saying. 

However, as far as I can tell, what Wallace-Wells is saying is true: the tropics are already too hot to efficiently grow grain, and those places where grain is produced today are at optimal growing temperature, which means that even small warming will push them down the slope of declining productivity. 

To this has to be added that it is impossible to move croplands up north some hundreds of miles because the soil is unsuitable to grow these crops there. It seems that it takes centuries to produce optimally fertile dirt – the couple of centimetres of top soil we depend upon for our life.
What, then, will happen?

 By 2080, without dramatic reductions in emissions – and, again, there is not one single credible sign that such reductions will become a reality – southern Europe will be in permanent extreme drought. 

The drought will be worse than the American dust bowl, the human misery of which has been immortalised in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Countries like Iraq, Iran, Syria and Pakistan will see their agricultural production plummeting. 

This, in fact, will be true for all the MENA (Middle East and North African) countries.

 The demographic evolution in each in these countries is the mirror image of most of their European counterparts: rapid population growth.


 Drought will wreck – this is, make impossible – agriculture in some of the most densely populated parts of Australia, in sub-Saharan Africa, in South America, where, in some countries such as Peru and Bolivia, conditions are already critical, and China.

 In a future not too far away, none of these places, which today still produce much of the world’s food, will be reliable sources of anything. 

Add to this that climate change will decrease the growth potential of most countries on earth and that food prices will spike. 

These changes will likely lead, or at least contribute, to a reconfiguration of global political and economic hegemony, with all risks that this will entail.
There is, and this has been going on for years now, not one month in which I do not learn about a problem which is new to me and which turns out to be incredible serious. 

Often enough, it then transpires that this problem is not being addressed, that it does not find its way into the IPCC reporting or to computer modelling.
It is, for example, of course not only drought. 

According to a new study from MIT, climate change in Pakistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka could be so severe that temperatures and humidity may exceed the upper levels of human survivability.


We are talking about extreme conditions of a crescent-shaped region where 1.5 billion people live. 

The researchers used data on climate that identifies variations in terrain and vegetation down to 10 square miles (ca. 25 square km) and fed it into global circulation models to produce detailed computer simulations.

 The resulting predictions showed extremes in so-called wet-bulb temperatures in South Asia. 

Wet-bulb temperatures (WTs) hotter than 35 degrees Celsius make it impossible for the body to dissipate heat naturally.
Although WT temperatures today typically do not exceed ca. 31°C, they nearly reached the threshold (35°C) in the summer of 2015, when an extreme heat wave hit Iran and parts of the Persian/Arabian Gulf.

 Not very much of the land in and around the area of the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula is devoted to agriculture, fewer people live in this region than in South Asia and they tend to be wealthier. 

But WT temperatures could pass the threshold in parts of north-eastern India and most of Bangladesh during seasonal heat waves.

 Eltahir’s models predicted that the second-hottest wet-bulb temperatures would occur in South Asia.

 These scorching conditions would occur over land, where one-fifth of the world’s population lives and where many more people are vulnerable because they are poor and work outside.

As we need protein, it makes sense to look at fish.

 Here too, there is a plethora of problems.

 To name just one, according to an article in Global Change Biology, warmer waters as a result of climate change could shrink the size of fish by 20 to 30 percent.

William Cheung from the University of British Columbia explains the mechanism: fish, being cold blooded animals, are not able to regulate their body temperatures. When the waters they live in become warmer their metabolism accelerates and they require more oxygen to sustain their body functions. 

The problem is that the surface area of the gills, where oxygen is gathered, does not grow at the same rate as the rest of the body, so the fish stops growing prematurely and, with it, our food supply diminishes.
A new study in Science projects that climate change will increase the amount of nitrogen ending up in US rivers and other waterways by 19 percent on average over the remainder of the century — and much more in hard-hit areas such as the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin (up 24 percent) and the Northeast (up 28 percent). And that is not counting likely increases in nitrogen inputs from more intensive agriculture, or from increased human population (see here).
Eva Sinha (from Stanford) et al. took historical records of nitrogen runoff as a result of rainstorms over the past few decades, recorded by the US Geological Survey. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that there will be no change in the amount of nitrogen being added to the environment, they calculated how much additional nitrogen would be leached out of farm fields and washed down rivers solely because of extreme weather events and increased rainfall predicted in most climate change scenarios. As Sinha et al. write:
“Anticipated changes in future precipitation patterns alone will lead to large and robust increases in watershed-scale nitrogen fluxes by the end of the century for the business-as-usual scenario” (see here).
More on this can be read here. Nitrogen creates dead zones, for example in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Pacific and inland waterways, lakes and other freshwater bodies where toxic blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) bloom (this is also a problem in Sweden, where more rain decreases the amount of drinking water). This problem is being exacerbated by warmer temperatures and increased rainfall associated with climate change. Efforts to protect the water supply may not work in the future because climate change introduces many new uncertainties about hydrology, stratification, and nutrient dynamics (see here). One such bloom in the western end of Lake Erie forced the city of Toledo in Ohio, to cut off the water supply temporarily to 500.000 residents in 2014. The same happened in China’s Lake Taihu in 2007, leaving 2.3 million people without water (see here). In the United States, a 2015 study found evidence of blue-green algae blooms in 62 percent of the 3,100 U.S. counties surveyed and concluded that these blooms were “significantly related to the risk of non-alcoholic liver disease death” (see here).
In fact, the nitrogen problem is enormous. Atmospheric nitrogen – from intensive farming and livestock operations, power plants, road traffic, and other sources – now gets deposited everywhere, making soils more fertile. That has the paradoxical effect of reducing plant diversity by displacing native species adapted to nutrient-poor soils (this also happens in Sweden where the invasive Lupinus is displacing native plants).
According to Sinha, climate change means that it will be necessary to cut agricultural nitrogen use in the Mississippi River Valley not by 32 percent, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now proposes, but by almost double that amount (see here), which will – perhaps – be accomplished by genetically engineered cereals and laboratory cultured meat. But the challenge will be far greater in the developing world, particularly Asia. India is especially vulnerable because it has one of the fastest-growing populations. As climate change multiplies the rate of nitrogen runoff, they may increasingly find their water undrinkable (see here).
And so on and so forth.
“The uncomfortable truth,” Istvan Meszaros argued many years ago, “is that if there is no future for a radical mass movement in our time, there can be no future for humanity itself.” What is more, those who want to stand up need to do it now. It is not only a question of cooperation. We can all very well cooperate to make our ultimate demise a reality. We need to stand up for humanity as a whole. All the rest is betrayal. In this normative position, lies the kernel of a “solution” that I will explain in Part 2.
Let’s take a break for now and read the news about Irma, the second “once in 500 years” storm in a week. It seems that two more are on their way.

Press link for more: Flassbeck Economics

Climate Change is an existential risk. 

Human-induced climate change is an existential risk to human civilisation: an adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.

Special precautions that go well beyond conventional risk management practice are required if the “fat tails” — the increased likelihood of very large impacts — are to be adequately dealt with.

 The potential consequences of these lower-probability, but higher-impact, events would be devastating for human societies.

The bulk of climate research has tended to underplay these risks, and exhibited a preference for conservative projections and scholarly reticence, albeit increasing numbers of scientists have spoken out in recent years on the dangers of such an approach.


Climate policymaking and the public narrative are significantly informed by the important work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

 However, IPCC reports also tend toward reticence and caution, erring on the side of “least drama”, and downplaying more extreme and more damaging outcomes. 

 Whilst this has been understandable historically, given the pressure exerted upon the IPCC by political and vested interests, it is now becoming dangerously misleading, given the acceleration of climate impacts globally.

 What were lower-probability, higher-impact, events are now becoming more likely.

This is a particular concern with potential climatic “tipping points” — passing critical thresholds which result in step changes in the system — such as the polar ice sheets (and hence sea levels), and permafrost and other carbon stores, where the impacts of global warming are non-linear and difficult to model at present.


 Under-reporting on these issues contributes to the “failure of imagination” that is occurring today in our understanding of, and response to, climate change.

If climate policymaking is to be soundly based, a reframing of scientific research within an existential risk-management framework is now urgently required.

 This must be taken up not just in the work of the IPCC, but also in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations if we are to address the real climate challenge.

Current processes will not deliver either the speed or the extent of change required.

Three decades ago, when serious debate on human-induced climate change began at the global level, a great deal of statesmanship was on display. 

 There was a preparedness to recognise that this was an issue transcending nation states, ideologies and political parties which had to be addressed proactively in the long-term interests of humanity as a whole, even if the existential nature of the risk it posed was far less clear cut than it is today.


As global institutions were established to take up this challenge, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and the extent of change this would demand of the fossil-fuel-dominated world order became clearer, the forces of resistance began to mobilise.

 Today, as a consequence, and despite the diplomatic triumph of the 2015 Paris Agreement , the debate around climate change policy has never been more dysfunctional, indeed Orwellian.
In his book 1984, George Orwell describes a double-speak totalitarian state where most of the population accepts “the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. 

 By lack of understanding they remained sane.”
Orwell could have been writing about climate change and policymaking. 

 International agreements talk of limiting global warming to 1.5–2°C, but in reality they set the world on a path of 3–5°C.


 Goals are reaffirmed, only to be abandoned. 

 Coal is “clean”. 


 Just 1°C of warming is already dangerous, but this cannot be said. 

 The planetary future is hostage to myopic national self-interest. 

 Action is delayed on the assumption that as yet unproven technologies will save the day, decades hence. 

 The risks are existential, but it is “alarmist” to say so.

 A one-in-two chance of missing a goal is normalised as reasonable.

Climate policymaking for years has been cognitively dissonant, “a flagrant violation of reality”.

 So it is unsurprising that there is a lack of a understanding amongst the public and elites of the full measure of the climate challenge. 

 Yet most Australians sense where we are heading: three-quarters of Australians see climate change as catastrophic risk and half see our way of life ending within the next 100 years.

Politics and policymaking have norms: rules and practices, assumptions and boundaries, that constrain and shape them. 

 In recent years, the previous norms of statesmanship and long-term thinking have disappeared, replaced by an obsession with short-term political and commercial advantage Climate policymaking is no exception.

Since 1992, short-term economic interest has trumped environmental and future human needs.  

The world today emits 48% more carbon dioxide (CO2 ) from the consumption of energy than it did 25 years ago, and the global economy has more than doubled in size.

 The UNFCCC strives ” to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner”, but every year humanity’s ecological footprint becomes larger and less sustainable.

 Humanity now requires the biophysical capacity of 1.7 planets annually to survive as it rapidly chews up the natural capital.

A fast, emergency-scale transition to a post-fossil fuel world is absolutely necessary to address climate change. But this is excluded from consideration by policymakers because it is considered to be too disruptive. 

 The orthodoxy is that there is
time for an orderly economic transition within the current short-termist political paradigm. 

 Discussion of what would be safe –– less warming that we presently experience –– is non-existent. 

 And so we have a policy failure of epic proportions.

Policymakers, in their magical thinking, imagine a mitigation path of gradual change, to be constructed over many decades in a growing, prosperous world.

 The world not imagined is the one that now exists: of looming financial instability; of a global crisis of political legitimacy; of a sustainability crisis that extends far beyond climate change to include all the fundamentals of human existence and most significant planetary boundaries (soils, potable water, oceans, the atmosphere, biodiversity, and so on); and of severe global energy sector dislocation.

In anticipation of the upheaval that climate change would impose upon the global order, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was established by the UN in 1988, charged with regularly assessing the global consensus on climate science as a basis for policymaking.

 The IPCC Assessment Reports ( AR ), produced every 5–6 years, play a large part in the public framing of the climate narrative: new reports are a global media event.

 AR5 was produced in 2013-14, with AR6 due in 2022. 

 The IPCC has done critical, indispensable work of the highest standard in pulling together a periodic consensus of what must be the most exhaustive scientific investigation in world history. 

 It does not carry out its own research, but reviews and collates peer-reviewed material from across the spectrum of this incredibly complex area, identifying key issues and trends for policymaker consideration.

However, the IPCC process suffers from all the dangers of consensus-building in such a wide-ranging and complex arena.

 For example, IPCC reports, of necessity, do not always contain the latest available information.

 Consensus-building can lead to “least drama”, lowest-common-denominator outcomes which overlook critical issues. 

 This is particularly the case with the “fat-tails” of probability distributions, that is, the high-impact but relatively low-probability events where scientific knowledge is more limited. 

 Vested interest pressure is acute in all directions; climate denialists accuse the IPCC of alarmism, whereas climate action proponents consider the IPCC to be far too conservative. 

 To cap it all, the IPCC conclusions are subject to intense political oversight before being released, which historically has had the effect of substantially watering-down sound scientific findings.

These limitations are understandable, and arguably were not of overriding importance in the early period of the IPCC.

 However, as time has progressed, it is now clear that the risks posed by climate change are far greater than previously anticipated. 

 We have moved out of the twilight period of much talk but relatively limited climate impacts. Climate change is now turning nasty, as we have witnessed in 2017 in the USA, South Asia, the Middle East and Europe, with record-breaking heatwaves and wildfires, more intense flooding and more damaging hurricanes.


The distinction between climate science and risk is now the critical issue, for the two are not the same.

 Scientific reticence — a reluctance to spell out the full risk implications of climate science in the absence of perfect information — has become a major problem. 

 Whilst this is understandable, particularly when scientists are continually criticised by denialists and political apparatchiks for speaking out, it is extremely dangerous given the “fat tail” risks of climate change.

 Waiting for perfect information, as we are continually urged to do by political and economic elites, means it will be too late to act.

Irreversible, adverse climate change on the global scale now occurring is an existential risk to human civilisation.

 Many of the world’s top climate scientists quoted in this report well understand these implications — James Hansen, Michael E. Mann, John Schellnhuber, Kevin Anderson, Eric Rignot, Naomi Oreskes, Kevin Trenberth, Michael Oppenheimer, Stefan Rahmstorf and others — and are forthright about their findings, where we are heading, and the limitations of IPCC reports.

This report seeks to alert the wider community and leaders to these limitations and urges change to the IPCC approach, and to the wider UNFCCC negotiations. It is clear that existing processes will not deliver the transformation to a low-carbon world in the limited time now available.
We urgently require a reframing of scientific research within an existential risk-management framework. This requires special precautions that go well beyond conventional risk management. 

 Like an iceberg, there is great danger “In what lies beneath”.

Press link for more: What lies beneath Report