Agriculture

We need a Citizens’ Charter on #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Is There A Need For A Paris Agreement Between Governments And Citizens?

Shyam Saran

We need a Citizens’ Charter on Climate Change to realise the promise of Paris

India_Paris Agreement
Now that the United States, under President Donald Trump, has walked out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the role of civil society, communities, businesses and industry, and individual citizens, in dealing with the challenge of climate change has become even more critical. 

All non-governmental constituencies must not only use the instrument of public opinion to persuade governments to do more, but also take the lead themselves and serve as role models.


Climate change is integrally linked to the lifestyle choices we make as individuals and families. 

These, in turn, reflect our deeply ingrained value systems. 

Modern societies treat nature as a dark force to be conquered and subjugated through technology to serve our material needs and aspirations. 

The products we design, produce and consume reflect our preference for disposability over durability. 

We rate novelty higher than reliability. 

Our consumer markets are based on use and discard. 

Our production processes are linear and once-through, using raw materials to produce finished goods with huge waste inherent in the system. 

Affluence is associated with excess. 

It is this value system and mindset that lie at the heart of the climate change challenge.
As citizens, we must be concerned about the threat posed by climate change to present and future generations and recognise the need to adopt ecologically sustainable lifestyles.

 The concept of affluence itself must change.

 Material comforts are desirable, but to have a green earth to walk upon, fresh air to breathe and clean water to drink should be valued as indispensable to any concept of well-being.

So what do we need to do as citizens? 

We need a Citizens’ Charter on Climate Change in which participants voluntarily pledge practical actions for their part as citizens, families, localities and civil society groups, to promote a more sustainable lifestyle. 

These could include the following representative examples:
Adopt a vegetarian diet, which can significantly reduce the quantity of resources required to sustain expanding non-vegetarian consumption in the form of beef, mutton and poultry.

 Some people have gone further and become “vegans”, rejecting even dairy products. 

There could be a range to choose from, for example, eating meat only once a week to begin with. 

The idea is to involve citizens actively in promoting ecological security through the frugal use of resources.

Our world is in danger of being choked with plastic waste. 


Our oceans are becoming a toxic pool, thanks to the plastic and other hazardous waste we are constantly dumping into them. 

In our own daily lives, could we pledge to dispense with mineral water dispensed in plastic bottles and use reusable steel drinking bottles instead? Could we dispense with plastic shopping bags and carry our own cloth or paper bags instead? Could we persuade governments to set up water ATMs to dispense clean drinking water at affordable prices so that there is no need felt to buy bottled mineral water?

There are now biodegradable party plates, bamboo plates, glasses and even edible cutlery available in the market for parties and public events. Could we pledge to use them for our family and social events and demand that the government do the same for public events?

We have the right to mobility but not necessarily to own and use private vehicles. 

In our digital world it is possible to operate car pools and share transport services. We should demand efficient and affordable public transportation from governments and accept that financing such projects may need heavy, even punitive, taxation on private transportation. 

We should pledge to use bicycles — but governments must provide safe cycle lanes.

Businesses can make significant contributions by adopting zero waste, power positive and water positive production and distribution processes. 

This would be possible through the adoption of renewables and recycling and pledging never to dump toxic effluents into our rivers and toxic gases into the air. 

As citizens we can promote such change in corporate behaviour through informed choices we make as consumers of products businesses put on the market.

These actions could be organised in small communities and localities; they can be on a national scale and in our interconnected world, even across borders. Witness how in the US, civil society groups, states such as California and several socially aware businesses, are rejecting what President Trump has done and are going ahead with even more vigorous efforts at their respective levels to realise the promise of Paris.
The notion of ecological sustainability is deeply embedded in Indian culture. Traditionally, nature is revered as a mother, a source of nurture and not a force to be harnessed for our material comfort alone. Our culture enjoins upon us to never extract from nature more than its capacity to regenerate. This is the perspective through which we must look upon the bountiful but fragile planet that is our only home in the universe.
Shyam Saran is a former foreign secretary, Government of India. He served as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Climate Change from 2007 to 2010. He is currently member, governing board of Centre for Policy Research, and a trustee of WWF India. Views expressed are personal and do not represent the views of the United Nations or any of its agencies. 

Press link for more: In.one.un.org

Clean Energy Revolution. #StopAdani Why open new coal? #Auspol 

A clean energy revolution is underway. This is why

Power-generating windmill turbines are seen near Port Saint Louis du Rhone, near Marseille, May 7, 2014. 

The French government has awarded a tender to build and run two offshore windfarms to a consortium led by French gas and power group GDF Suez, French Energy Minister Segolene Royal said on Wednesday. 

REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier (FRANCE – Tags: ENERGY SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS) – RTR3O7ZZ

In 2016, more renewable energy was added to the global grid than ever before, and at a lower cost. A global energy revolution is clearly underway.
What catalysed this transformation?
In our latest study, Faster and Cleaner 2: Kick-Starting Decarbonization, we looked at the trends driving decarbonisation in three key sectors of the global energy system – power, transportation and buildings.
By following the emission commitments and actions of countries, we examined what forces can drive rapid transition through our Climate Action Tracker analysis.
It turns out that, in these fields, it has taken only a few players to set in motion the kind of transformations that will be necessary to meet the Paris Agreement’s target of keeping the global temperature increase to well below 2˚C, ideally to 1.5˚C, over its pre-industrial level.

Renewable energy on its way
The most progressive field in the power sector is renewable energy. Here, just three countries – Denmark, Germany and Spain – were able to show the way and start an international shift.
All three introduced strong policy packages for wind and solar that provided clear signals to investors and developers to invest in these new technologies.

 Renewable energy targets and financial support schemes, such as feed-in tariffs, were central to them.
By 2015, 146 countries had implemented such support schemes.
Next, we established that the United Kingdom, Italy and China, along with the US states of Texas and California, pushed bulk manufacturing of solar technology even further and provided the kinds of economies of scale that led to this massive increase in renewable capacity globally.
Between 2006 and 2015, global wind power capacity increased by 600%, and solar energy capacity increased by 3,500%.

    

Image: Climate Action Tracker
Solar is projected to become the cheapest energy generation source by 2030 in most countries. 

In some regions, renewables are already competitive with fossil fuels.

Information released this month by the United Nations Environmental Programme and Bloomberg New Energy Finance confirms that, in 2016, the rate of renewable take-up rose yet again, with clean energy providing 55% of all new electricity generation capacity added globally. 

This is the first time there was more new renewable capacity than coal.
Investment in renewables doubled that of investment in fossil fuels. 

Yet clean power investment dropped 23% from 2015, largely because of falling prices.
To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, we need to fully decarbonise the global energy system by mid-century. 

That means the historic trends in the energy sector – 25% to 30% annual growth in renewables – must continue for the next five to ten years.
This will require additional policies and incentives, from increased flexibility in the energy system to new regulatory and market approaches.

Electric vehicles poised to take off
A similar trend is beginning to transform the transportation sector.

 In 2016, more than one million electric vehicles were sold, and new sales continue to exceed projections.
Again, our research tells us that it took only a few players to kick off this trend: Norway, the Netherlands, California and, more recently, China.
Their policies focused on targets for increasing the share of electric vehicles for sale and on the road, campaigns to promote behavioural change, infrastructure investment, and research and development.
The European Union saw sales of electric vehicles pick up in 2013. And in the US, their market segment grew between 2011 and 2013, slowed down slightly in 2014 and 2015, and bounced back again in 2016.
China’s market took off a little later, in 2014, but sales there have already surpassed both the US and the EU.
Though, to date, it lags behind the renewable power sector, the electric vehicle market is poised to see a similar boom. Current sales numbers are impressive, but we are still far from seeing a transportation transformation that would allow us to meet the Paris Agreement targets.
For the world to meet the upper limit of 2°C set in Paris, half of all light-duty vehicles on the road would need to be electric by 2050.

 To reach the 1.5°C target, nearly all vehicles on the road need to be electric drive – and no cars with internal-combustion engines should be sold after roughly 2035.

To get us going down that path, more governments around the world would need to introduce the same strict policies as those adopted by Norway and The Netherlands.
Buildings come in last
The third sector we examined is buildings. 

Though higher energy efficiency standards in appliances are really starting to curb emissions, emissions from heating and cooling buildings have been much more difficult to phase out.
There are proven technological solutions that can result in new, zero-carbon buildings. If designed correctly, these constructions are cost-effective over their lifetime and can improve quality of life.
In Europe and elsewhere, there are some good initial policies on new building standards that make new constructions more environmentally friendly, and some EU states – the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands among them – are also beginning to mandate that older buildings be retrofitted.
Still, the rate of retrofitting falls well short of what is required to substantially drop building emissions.
Innovative financial mechanisms to increase the rate of retrofitting buildings, along with good examples of building codes for new constructions, would go a long way to drive adoption of these technologies.
And, as our study showed, only a handful of governments (or regions) would need to make a move to kick-start a transformation.

 It worked for energy and transport – why not buildings, too?
The more governments work together sharing policy successes, the bigger the global transformation. With collaboration, we can meet that 1.5°C goal.

Press link for more: World Economic Forum

Let’s Change The Conversation #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

Let’s Change The Conversation From Climate Change To ‘Shared Benefits’

By Max Guinn 

Founder of Kids Eco Club

Max Guinn,16, is the founder of Kids Eco Club (www.kidsecoclub.org), an organization of over 100,000 K-12 students, which raises eco-consciousness through school environmental clubs. 

Max has collaborated with, and been recognized by, organizations such as the United Nations,The Sierra Club, the State of California, the City of San Diego – and even the Dalai Lama – as a leader in youth engagement in environmental stewardship. 

Recently, Max also co-founded Climate Change Is 4 Real (www.ccis4r.com), to virtually connect thought leaders from all academic disciplines with student groups and educators to share facts, inspiration, and scalable solutions, to promote ocean conservation, and combat human-caused climate change and mass animal extinction.
Last September, I emailed President Obama. 

His response helped me to focus on what matters. He wrote,

“Progress doesn’t come easily, and it hasn’t always followed a straight line. 

Keeping our world’s air, water, and land clean and safe takes work from all of us, and voices like yours are sparking the conversations that will help us get to where we need to be.

 I will continue pushing to protect the environment as long as I am President and beyond, and I encourage you to stay engaged as well.”
But I worry that adults will never agree on climate change.

 The issue has become too political. 

The words “climate change” have even been scrubbed from government websites!

 Our current President refers to climate change as “a hoax.” 


Most people have no interest in discussing it.

 Try talking about C02 levels or climate science and see how far you get. 

The reality is that climate change has become a matter of opinion, rather than a matter of scientific fact.

 It has made the opinion of the ordinary person with no scientific background equal to the findings of eminent scientists who have devoted their lives and education to the study of the problem.

Only 27 percent of Americans surveyed in a 2016 Pew study agreed with the statement that, “almost all” climate scientists believe climate change is real and primarily caused by humans.

 Contrast this to multiple peer-reviewed scientific studies finding that 97 percent of climate scientists believe climate change is real and that humans are the main contributor. 

In an age of alternative facts and a distrust of science, how do we talk about climate change and the need for action without turning people off?
Stanford Professor Rob Jackson thinks we should stop arguing over climate change and start talking about the shared benefits of addressing problems, like health, green energy jobs, and safety.

 My experience tells me that he is right.
theguardian.com

Renewable Energy Jobs

Six years ago, just before I turned 10, I started a non-profit called Kids Eco Club to inspire kids to care for the planet, its wildlife and each other.

 It starts and supports environmental clubs in K-12 schools.

 Over 100,000 kids now participate annually in Kids Eco Club activities, learning the skills necessary to lead, and to understand the issues facing our world, including climate change. 

Kids Eco Club is successful because we focus on shared values rather than C02 levels.

 Take a class snorkeling, and everyone becomes interested in protecting coral reefs.

 Bring local wildlife into the classroom, and kids will fight for green energy and clean water to protect their habitat. Passion drives us.

kidsecoclub.org

Porcupine classroom visit

My generation does not have the luxury of addressing human-caused climate change as callously or as passively as the generations before us ― because we are running out of time. 

Agriculture, deforestation, and dependence on fossil fuels release greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere, trapping heat, making the Earth warmer. 

The hottest year on record? 

Last year, 2016.

 A warmer Earth creates major impacts everywhere: on ecosystems, oceans, weather.

 Sea levels are rising because the polar ice caps are melting, and the oceans are warming, which causes them to expand. Severe weather events are created from warmer oceans – warmer water, more evaporation, clouds, and rain―causing greater storm damage, more flooding, and, ironically, larger wildfires and more severe droughts since weather patterns are also changing.

graphics.latimes.com

The morning Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans

Imagine three out of every four animal species you know disappearing off the face of the Earth.

 According to the Center for Biological Diversity, we are currently experiencing the worst species die-off since dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago. 

Species are vanishing at a rate roughly 100 times higher than normal. 

While things like asteroids and volcanoes caused past extinctions, humans almost entirely cause the current crisis. 

Global warming caused by climate change, habitat loss from development and agriculture, pesticide use, poaching, unsustainable fishing practices, pollution and disease spread by the introduction of exotic species, are driving the crisis beyond the tipping point. 

Can you picture a world without butterflies, penguins, elephants, rhinos, sea turtles, honeybees, orangutans, salamanders, or sharks?

Getty Images

Mother orangutan and baby

The oceans provide 50% of the earth’s oxygen and 97% of its livable habitat. 

The health of our oceans is vital to our survival and the survival of the over one million types of plants and animals living there. Climate change and fossil fuel reliance raise ocean temperatures, causing extreme weather, coastal flooding, and ocean acidification. 

Ocean acidification is beginning to cause the die-off of calcium-rich species at the base of the ocean’s food chain, like coral, shellfish, and plankton.

 This die-off would trigger a spiral of decline in all sea life – from fish to seabirds to whales – and negatively impact hundreds of millions of people who rely on the oceans for food.

 Other human threats include overfishing, pollution, oil drilling and development. 

We need to act now to create change in our own communities by protecting ocean habitats, promoting conservation, and creating sustainable solutions to nurse our oceans back to health.

mintpressnews.com

Dead sperm whales found with plastic in their stomachs

In a world with over 7 billion people, we cannot continue to divide ourselves into categories like believers and climate change deniers, or Republicans and Democrats. (labor or Liberal) 

The best chance we have of ensuring a world with clean water and clean air is to engage all of us.

 If this takes changing the conversation from “climate change,” to “shared benefits,” then change the conversation. Together all things are possible.

Press link for more: HuffingtonPost

Climate Change Our Greatest Moral Challenge & The generation gap 

Climate Mission—and Winning Converts

Pexels/Pixabay
For decades now, the organized climate-denial machine in this country—largely composed of polluting billionaires, bought-and-paid-for government officials, spurious think tanks, and a colorful assortment of freelance cranks—has liked to think that the millions of Americans who describe themselves as evangelical Christians are totally on board. 

The relationship they’ve cultivated is founded on the presumption of shared mistrust. 

To evangelicals, climate deniers have essentially said: You don’t really think those pointy-headed scientists have all the answers about the origins of the universe or how life on earth began, do you? 

So why would you ever trust them on this?

It’s easy to see what the climate-denial machine has gotten out of the relationship (besides fossil fuel profits).

 First and foremost, evangelicals have long represented a reliable voting bloc that can generally be counted on to organize for candidates and show up on election day; having them in your column is extraordinarily helpful at the basic level of boots-on-the-ground political reinforcement. 

Secondarily, climate deniers benefit from the patina of righteousness that comes from their association with the devout. 

When the policies you endorse are demonstrably linked to increased death, devastation, and human misery, believing that the majority of America’s evangelical Christians are nominally on your side must offer some degree of conscience-easing comfort.

But that invites the question: What do evangelical Christians get out of this relationship? 

Right now, the younger ones, at least, are getting the sneaking suspicion that they’ve been had. 

It is their future that’s at stake, after all.
It’s important to note here that a great deal of philosophical and political diversity exists among evangelicals, not all of whom fit neatly under the label of “Christian conservative.”

 While they tend to agree on fundamental theological matters, they’re not afraid to have vigorous internal debates over any number of hot-button social issues. 

One of these issues is climate change. 

And it now appears that evangelicals, especially millennial evangelicals, are starting to rebuff the advances of the climate-denial machine and to absorb climate action as an aspect of their faith—which compels them, after all, to be good stewards of God’s creation.


Since its inception in 1999, the Micah Network, a global community of relief workers and development specialists, has worked to make the easing of the poor’s burdens a larger part of the Christian mission.

 In 2005, the network launched the Micah Challenge, designed specifically to effect public policy that would help alleviate the poverty and suffering of more than 800 million people around the world who survive on less than $2 a day. 

For the young, energetic evangelicals who make up the Micah Challenge’s leadership, personal acts of charity for the poor, while laudable, aren’t enough. Poverty and suffering, they say, are structural problems that require structural solutions.



Visit the Micah Network’s website and one of the first things you’ll notice is how straightforwardly the organization prioritizes climate justice within its goals of “mobiliz[ing] Christians to end extreme poverty through changing attitudes, behavior, and policies that perpetuate injustice and deny God’s will for all creation to flourish.” 

Its adherents are naturally concerned about the disproportionate impact that climate change has on the world’s poorest people―making life much more difficult, and often impossible, for those living in areas highly susceptible to natural disaster, for example, or where food supplies are dependent on fishing or subsistence farming.
On one level, the group wins hearts and minds with the aid of high-profile Christian figures who understand the urgent need to rally public support for the cause. 

In 2015, the Micah Challenge sent a contingent of well-known Christian recording artists to the United Nations–sponsored COP 21 summit to witness the signing of the Paris climate agreement—as well as to “witness,” in the more religious sense of that word, for climate justice.

 And just last week, in the days leading up to the Peoples Climate March in Washington, D.C., a small but influential group of Micah-associated authors, musicians, and scientists traveled to the nation’s capital. 

There they met with Republican lawmakers and others to express their displeasure at the Trump administration’s many attempts to defund or otherwise dismantle federal efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
In truth, support for climate action among evangelical faith leaders isn’t a new thing.

 The Evangelical Climate Initiative, which currently represents more than 300 of these leaders, has been sounding the trumpet on climate change for more than a decade. 

But the message hasn’t always caught on among parishioners, many of whom may feel uncomfortable endorsing a position they perceive as “liberal” or “progressive.” 

What feels different about this moment in time is that groups like the Micah Challenge, aided by expert climate communicators like the scientist Katharine Hayhoe, finally seem to have broken through to the next generation.


Katherine Hayhoe

 This generation has grown up not just reading and studying about the effects of climate change but actually living through them. 

Millennials don’t pay too much attention to the ravings of misguided senators or to dubious reports put out by pro-pollution think tanks. 

But they do listen to the words of their favorite bloggers, authors, and singer/songwriters.
Every week seems to bring more bad tidings for federal climate action and the planet. 
But here’s some good news: Our battle over whether and how to address climate change is looking less and less like a culture war these days, and more and more like a generation gap. 


And as is the case in any generational struggle, the old guard doesn’t have a prayer.

Press link for more: NRDC.ORG

Why hasn’t the world become more sustainable? #StopAdani #Auspol 

In 1992, more than 170 countries came together at the Rio Earth Summit and agreed to pursue sustainable development, protect biological diversity, prevent dangerous interference with climate systems, and conserve forests.

 But, 25 years later, the natural systems on which humanity relies continue to be degraded.

So why hasn’t the world become much more environmentally sustainable despite decades of international agreements, national policies, state laws and local plans? 

This is the question that a team of researchers and I have tried to answer in a recent article.
We reviewed 94 studies of how sustainability policies had failed across every continent.

 These included case studies from both developed and developing countries, and ranged in scope from international to local initiatives.


Consider the following key environmental indicators. Since 1970:
Humanity’s ecological footprint has exceeded the Earth’s capacity and has risen to the point where 1.6 planets would be needed to provide resources sustainably.
The biodiversity index has fallen by more than 50% as the populations of other species continue to decline.
Greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change have almost doubled while the impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent.
The world has lost more than 48% of tropical and sub-tropical forests.
The rate at which these indicators deteriorated was largely unchanged over the two decades either side of the Rio summit. Furthermore, humanity is fast approaching several environmental tipping points. If crossed, these could lead to irreversible changes.
If we allow average global temperatures to rise 2℃ above pre-industrial levels, for example, feedback mechanisms will kick in that lead to runaway climate change. 

We’re already halfway to this limit and could pass it in the next few decades.

What’s going wrong?
So what’s going wrong with sustainability initiatives? 

We found that three types of failure kept recurring: economic, political and communication.
The economic failures stem from the basic problem that environmentally damaging activities are financially rewarded.

 A forest is usually worth more money after it’s cut down – which is a particular problem for countries transitioning to a market-based economy.
Political failures happen when governments can’t or won’t implement effective policies. 

This is often because large extractive industries, like mining, are dominant players in an economy and see themselves as having the most to lose. 

This occurs in developed and developing countries, but the latter can face extra difficulties enforcing policies once they’re put in place.


Communication failures centre on poor consultation or community involvement in the policy process. Opposition then flourishes, sometimes based on a misunderstanding of the severity of the issue. It can also be fed by mistrust when communities see their concerns being overlooked.
Again, this happens around the world. A good example would be community resistance to changing water allocation systems in rural areas of Australia. 

In this situation, farmers were so opposed to the government buying back some of their water permits that copies of the policy were burned in the street.
These types of failure are mutually reinforcing. 

Poor communication of the benefits of sustainable development creates the belief that it always costs jobs and money. 

Businesses and communities then pressure politicians to avoid or water down environmentally friendly legislation.
Ultimately, this represents a failure to convince people that sustainable development can supply “win-win” scenarios. As a result, decision-makers are stuck in the jobs-versus-environment mindset.
What can we do?
The point of our paper was to discover why policies that promote sustainability have failed in order to improve future efforts. 

The challenge is immense and there’s a great deal at stake.

 Based on my previous research into the way economic, social and environmental goals can co-exist, I would go beyond our most recent paper to make the following proposals.
First, governments need to provide financial incentives to switch to eco-efficient production. 

Politicians need to have the courage to go well beyond current standards.

 Well-targeted interventions can create both carrot and stick, rewarding eco-friendly behaviour and imposing a cost on unsustainable activities.
Second, governments need to provide a viable transition pathway for industries that are doing the most damage.

 New environmental tax breaks and grants, for example, could allow businesses to remain profitable while changing their business model.


Finally, leaders from all sectors need to be convinced of both the seriousness of the declining state of the environment and that sustainable development is possible. 

Promoting positive case studies of successful green businesses would be a start.
There will of course be resistance to these changes. 

The policy battles will be hard fought, particularly in the current international political climate.

 We live in a world where the US president is rolling back climate policies while the Australian prime minister attacks renewable energy.

Press link for more: WEFORUM

Coal will Kill More People Than World War II #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol 

Coal will kill more people than World War II.

 Why do our ministers joke about it?

While the numbers are not yet in on Australia’s latest heatwave summer – one of the worst in our history – between 1100 and 1500 people will have died from heat stress.

 That’s been the average of recent years.
When Treasurer Scott Morrison jovially informed the House of Representatives “Mr Speaker, this is coal. Don’t be afraid! 

Don’t be scared! It won’t hurt you,” he was, according to all reputable scientific and medical studies worldwide, misleading the Parliament.

‘Clean coal’ makes a comeback
New technology means coal will play a role in electricity generation long into the future, says Malcolm Turnbull. Courtesy ABC News 24.
By mid-century, the effects of worldwide burning of coal and oil in heating the climate to new extremes will claim more than 50,000 Australian lives per decade, a toll nearly double that of World War II.


And that doesn’t include the 12.6 million human lives lost globally every year (a quarter of all deaths), according to the World Health Organisation, from “air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change, and ultraviolet radiation”, all of which are a consequence of human use of fossil fuels. 

The main sources of those toxins are, indisputably, the coal and petrochemical industries.

To pretend, as do Morrison and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, that this is all a great joke shows a cynical and contemptible disregard for the sufferings and painful deaths of thousands of Australians from exposure to the effects of fossil fuels.

 Understanding of the toxicity of burnt fossil hydrocarbons has been around since the 19th-century industrial revolution. The climatic effect of fossil fuels has been accepted universally by world climate and weather authorities since the mid-1970s – almost half a century ago.

Yet certain Australian politicians and leaders still pretend they are ignorant of facts that are known to everyone else.

 And they jeer at Australians with the common sense not to want to die from them.

As eastern Australia sweltered through the recent 40 to 47-degree heatwave and elderly people who couldn’t afford to switch on their air conditioners for fear of the power bills suffered and died, floods and bushfires related to the same climatic disturbance claimed further victims.
The Australian Climate Institute warned politicians a decade ago that the death toll from heat stress alone was then about 1100 in the five cities of Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

 Nationally, the number is now probably 1500 to 2000 a year – but no national records are kept, perhaps for obvious reasons.
Scott Morrison with his pet coal in Parliament.


Scott Morrison with his pet coal in Parliament. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The institute said at the time: “With no action to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, Australia is projected to warm by between 0.4 to 2.0 degrees by 2030 and 1.0 to 6.0 degrees by 2070. 

This warming trend is expected to drive large increases in the frequency, intensity and duration of extreme temperature events. 

For example, by 2030, the yearly average number of days above 35 degrees could increase from 17 to 19-29 in Adelaide and from 9 to 10-16 in Melbourne.”


According to more recent projections – such as, for example, those of Professor Peng Bi of Adelaide University – annual heat-related deaths in the capital cities are predicted to climb to an average of 2400 a year in the 2020s and 5300 a year in the 2050s. And that’s just in the capital cities.
Added to deaths from fire, flood, cyclone and pollution-related conditions such as cancer and lung diseases, fossil fuels will be far and away the predominant factor in the early deaths of Australians by mid-century. Not a single family will be unaffected by their influence.
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the Abbott/Turnbull governments’ policy – promoting the use and export of coal, trying to discourage its replacement by clean renewables and foot-dragging on climate remediation measures – has dreadful consequences in the short, medium and long term for individuals and families.
We want to know the road toll – but not the fuel toll.
Directly and indirectly, these policies will contribute to the loss of far more Australians than did the combined policies of the Hitler/Hirohito governments in the 1940s (27,000). They will cost many thousands more Australian lives than terrorism. Yet ministers treat them as a jest.
While it’s true Australia’s emissions, from fossil-fuel burning, mining and exports, are a small percentage of world emissions, they nevertheless contribute meaningfully to a situation that, unchecked, could see the planet heat by 5 to 6 degrees by 2100. If the frozen methane deposits in the Arctic and ocean are released, then warming may exceed 10 degrees, beyond which large animals, including humans, will struggle to exist.
With such temperatures and climatic extremes, it will become impossible to maintain world food production from agriculture. 

Hundreds of millions of refugees will flood the planet. According to the US Pentagon, there is a high risk of international conflict, even nuclear war, in such conditions.

These are the rational, evidence-based truths that politicians like Morrison and Joyce gleefully ignore in their enthusiasm for coal.

 Indeed, Joyce is advocating a course likely to ruin his party’s main long-term constituency: farmers.
Australians rightly regard deaths from motor accidents, suicide, domestic violence, preventable disease, war, drugs and other causes as tragic, unjustifiable, unacceptable and unnecessary.

 Yet there is a curious national silence, a wilful blindness, about the far larger toll of preventable death from coal and oil. We want to know the road toll – but not the fuel toll. 

This national ignorance encouraged by dishonest claims that they “won’t hurt you”.
Yes, they will. Coal and oil will hurt you worse than almost anything else in your life. 

They will reap your family, and maybe you, too.
When there are clean, safe, healthy substitute readily available – renewables, biofuels, green chemistry – sensible Australians will turn their back on the untruths and the propaganda, and vote only for politicians whose policies do not knowingly encompass our early death.
Julian Cribb is a Canberra science writer and author. 

His latest book is Surviving the 21st Century (2017).

Press link for more: SMH.COM

Obama: “Climate Change is the most pressing issue of the age ” 

Barack Obama warns climate change could create refugee crisis ‘unprecedented in human history’
Climate change could produce a refugee crisis that is “unprecedented in human history”, Barack Obama has warned as he stressed global warming was the most pressing issue of the age.
Speaking at an international food conference in Milan, the former US President said rising temperatures were already making it more difficult to grow crops and rising food prices were “leading to political instability”.
He said the United States was currently experiencing “floods on sunny days”, increased wildfires and, in Alaska, increased coastal erosion as the ice melts and no country was “immune” to the problem.
If world leaders put aside “parochial interests” and took action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by enough to restrict the rise to one or two degrees Celsius, then humanity would probably be able to cope.
Failing to do this, Mr Obama warned, increased the risk of “catastrophic” effects in the future, “not only real threats to food security, but also increases in conflict as a consequence of scarcity and greater refugee and migration patterns”.
“If you think about monsoon patterns in the Indian subcontinent, maybe half a billion people rely on traditional rain patterns in those areas,” he told the Seeds & Chips conference.
“If those rain patterns change, then you could see hundreds of millions of people who suddenly find themselves unable to feed themselves, because they’re already at subsistence levels.

“And the amount of migration, the number of refugees that could be resulting from something like that, would be unprecedented in human history.”

He noted that some of the worst effects of climate change would be “borne by people in poor nations that are least equipped to handle it”.
The current refugee crisis, which has seen hundreds of thousands of people from war-torn Syria and other places affected by conflict and poverty, travel to Europe would be “just the beginning of the kinds of problems we would see”, Mr Obama said.
“Some of the refugee flows into Europe originate not only from conflict, but also from places where there are food shortages that will get far worse as climate change continues.”
He dismissed sceptics’ claims that climate change is still a matter for debate.

“The only real controversy is ‘how much warmer will it get?’ There’s really no controversy that the planet is getting warmer and the human activity is contributing to the warming,” he said.

“And what is also the conclusion of almost every scientist is if the planet warms at the far end of the potential estimates that it would be catastrophic and at the low end it would still be disruptive.”
Current climate models produce a range of possible outcomes as a result of the doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, from about 1.5C to 5C of warming. So far CO2 has risen from about 280 parts per million – a level that had remained fairly constant from the end of the last Ice Age to the 1800s – to more than 400ppm today.


And Mr Obama stressed how important he considered the issue to be.
“During the course of my presidency, I made climate change a top priority because I believe, for all the challenges we face, this is the top one that will define the contours of this century more dramatically perhaps than any other,” he said.
“No nation, whether it’s large or small, rich or poor, will be immune from the impacts of climate change.”
The election of the climate-science denying Donald Trump as president was simply “part of what happens in democracy”, Mr Obama said.
Earlier, without referencing Mr Trump, he said: “You get the politicians you deserve.”
But the “good news” was that the private sector had already grasped that the future would “is in clean energy”.
“I do not believe that any part of the world has to be condemned to perpetual poverty and hunger. And I do not believe that this planet is condemned to ever-rising temperatures,” he said.
“I believe these are problems that were caused by man and they can be solved by man.
“I’m fond of quoting the words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, who believed that there’s such a thing as being too late.
“When it comes to climate change, the hour is almost upon us. If we act boldly and swiftly, if we set aside our parochial interests … we can leave behind a world that’s worthy of our children … a world not marked by human suffering, but human progress.”

Press link for more: MSN.Com

Climate change impact on the Great Barrier Reef #auspol #qldpol @CommBank

The impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef
The corals of the reef have been bleached white for a second year in a row

The Economist explains

May 5th 2017by R.M. | SYDNEY

THE Great Barrier Reef stretches some 2,300 km down Australia’s north-east coast, covering an area the size of Italy. It is home to about 600 types of coral and 1,625 species of fish. UNESCO calls it a “site of remarkable variety and beauty”. 

That may not last. For the second consecutive year, expanses of coral have lost the vivid colours that draw thousands of annual sightseers. Instead, they have bleached a deathly white. Worse, this year the bleaching has extended further south than in 2016. Bleachings were also reported in 1998 and 2002. But for it to happen two years running is unprecedented. Why are the corals turning white? 


In the 36 years since the reef was declared a World Heritage Area, mounting stresses from human activity have left it struggling. 

One factor is the nutrients and pesticides flowing into the ocean from coastal farms and cities in the north-eastern state of Queensland, which have polluted its waters. 

But experts agree that the biggest culprit is warmer ocean temperatures linked to climate change.


 Corals are marine animals that get their colour and most of their food from the algae that live within them. The higher temperatures stress algae, causing the rich hues to disappear. Some marine scientists liken this to the impact of a prolonged heatwave or drought on a forest. The Climate Council, an Australian research body, says the reef’s surface sea temperatures in early 2016 were the hottest since records began in 1900.

Under prolonged stress corals can expel algae, causing them to starve and die. 


About a fifth of the reef’s corals died from the 2016 bleaching. 

In the northern region, where bleaching was most intense, the coral mortality figure was alarming: about two-thirds. Depending on different coral species’ capacity to resist stress, and the distribution of heat patterns through waters, reefs can revive over several years. The difference this time, say experts, is that back-to-back bleaching from two successive seasons of extreme heat have given the reef no time to recover, and have lowered its corals’ stress tolerance. It is too early to measure coral deaths from the 2017 bleaching, but the Climate Council predicts “high mortality rates”.
Two years ago UNESCO was concerned enough about the reef’s health to consider adding it to the short list of world heritage sites in danger. 

The Australian and Queensland state governments responded with a plan aimed at improving the local marine environment. 


Yet both governments simultaneously support a plan by Adani, an Indian energy company, to open one of Australia’s biggest coal mines in the Queensland outback, and to ship coal to India from Abbot Point, on the Queensland coast, through the reef’s waters.


 Critics charge that burning this fossil fuel will only boost the global warming that seems to be killing parts of the reef. 

Russell Reichelt, head of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, says there are signs that such happenings will become more frequent due to rising ocean temperatures: “If they do, it will change the whole character of the coral community.”

 The reef looks set to become Australia’s next environmental battleground.

Press link for more: The Economist

Half Of All Species Are On The Move. Nature reacts to #climatechange #auspol

Half of All Species Are on the Move—And We’re Feeling It
A recent federal study found that spring is arriving as many as 20 days early in the southwestern United States—and even as far north as the New York Botanical Garden, where this tree blooms.


The shrubs probably responded first. In the 19th century, alder and flowering willows in the Alaskan Arctic stood no taller than a small child—just a little over three feet. 

But as temperatures warmed with fossil fuel emissions, and growing seasons lengthened, the shrubs multiplied and prospered. Today many stand over six feet.
Bigger shrubs drew moose, which rarely crossed the Brooks Range before the 20th century. Now these spindly-legged beasts lumber along Arctic river corridors, wherever the vegetation is tall enough to poke through the deep snow. They were followed by snowshoe hares, which also browse on shrubs.
Today moose and hares have become part of the subsistence diet for indigenous hunters in northern Alaska, as melting sea ice makes traditional foods like seals harder to chase.
That’s just one of thousands of ways in which human-caused climate change is altering life  for plants and animals, and in the process having direct and sometimes profound impacts on humans. 

As the planet warms, species are shifting where, when, and how they thrive. 

They are moving up slopes and toward the poles. 

That is already altering what people can eat; sparking new disease risks; upending key industries; and changing how entire cultures use the land and sea.
“We’re talking about a redistribution of the entire planet’s species,” says Gretta Pecl, lead author of a new study in Science that examined the implications of wildlife on the move.
As the Atlantic warms, mackerel have spread north, creating a new fishery off Iceland.


Germs and Pests on the March

The changes already are quite dramatic. 

Malaria, for example, now appears higher up mountain slopes in Colombia and Ethiopia, as rising thermostats make way for mosquitoes at higher elevations. 

Leishmaniasis, a sometimes-fatal, once primarily tropical affliction, has moved into northern Texas as the sandflies that host the disease-causing parasite head north.
Agriculture is feeling the effects too, as crop pests expand their range. 

Diamondback moths, which ravage the cabbages, kale, and cauliflower grown by poor urban farmers, are spreading in South Africa. 

In Latin America, coffee plant funguses and pests are appearing in new areas, threatening a key industry. The same is happening to French olives, wine grapes, and lavender. 

And in the United States, scientists suspect climate change has promoted the increasingly rapid spread of Johnson grass, a highly invasive weed that reduces yields for legumes, corn, sorghum, and soybean.
Some people are benefiting: Atlantic mackerel have moved so far north that the Icelandic fleet, which once caught the fish only by accident, now shares a major industry with Europe. 

The point is that the effects of climate change on wildlife, for good or (mostly) for ill, are already significant.
“The biological data is incredibly striking, but we haven’t really gotten the story out,” Pecl says. “We’re undergoing the greatest change to our environmental systems that the world has seen in millions of years. 

And it’s affecting people.”


A caribou in Alaska’s Denali National Park.

 In Greenland, climate change has increased caribou mortality, because the abundance of forage plants now peaks before the animals arrive on their summer breeding grounds.
Half of All Life Is Moving

Scientists have long assumed that species would shift their range as climate conditions shift. 

They just didn’t expect it would happen so fast.
A tally of more than 4,000 species from around the world shows that roughly half are on the move. 

The ones on land are moving an average of more than 10 miles per decade, while marine species are moving four times faster. 

Some individual species are moving far more quickly. 

Atlantic cod and Europe’s purple emperor butterfly, according to Camille Parmesan, a scientist at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom, moved more than 125 miles in a single decade.
Warming is also shifting the timing of biological cycles. 

Globally, frogs and other amphibians are breeding an average of eight days earlier with each passing decade, while birds and butterflies are reproducing four days earlier.

 By revisiting records kept by Walden author Henry David Thoreau, scientists showed that plants of all kinds in Concord, Massachusetts, now flower about 18 days earlier than they did in the 1850s.
“Everywhere throughout the world, things are happening earlier in the spring—in China, Japan, Korea, across Europe—those are the strongest signals of all,” says Richard Primack, a biology professor at Boston University.

 “The time that trees and shrubs leaf out in spring determines the entire timing of the growing season. It can completely change the whole ecology of the forest.”
Where the change will end up isn’t easy to predict; as the species within an ecosystem shift in space and time, they’re not all shifting at the same pace, and they’re not all responding to the same signals. 

Some are adapting to temperature changes, others are more influenced by sunlight or changes in precipitation. In California, some mountain plants, such as hemlock, are actually moving downhill, toward warmer temperatures, as climate shifts bring more precipitation to once dry valleys. 

In one Colorado region, wildflower blooms now last a month longer, because flowers no longer bloom all at once.
And all over the world, new hybrid species are appearing—toads, sharks, butterflies, bears, trout, are among the examples that have been documented so far. The hybrid result from interbreeding of species that have been newly thrown together by climate change.
Other species are threatened by the unraveling of ecological relationships. Take for example the red knot, a shorebird that migrates from the tropics to the Arctic each spring to breed and feed on insects. Because Arctic snows are now melting and insects are hatching weeks before the birds arrive, there’s too little food for the red knot chicks—and at least in the case of the population that migrates back to West Africa, the young birds’ beaks are too small to pluck mollusks from sandy beaches.
Similarly, in West Greenland, the mortality of young caribou is rising because the plants that mothers eat in calving season are no longer abundant enough. In Japan, the herb Cordyalis ambigua is now flowering before bumblebees emerge to pollinate it, and as a result it’s producing fewer seeds. Meanwhile, bumblebees globally are being pushed out of the southern part of their range by rising temperatures, and for whatever reason are not expanding their range much in the north.
“Anybody who spends time outside as a bird watcher or fisherman or hunter knows that timing and migrations are changing,” says David Inouye, emeritus professor with the University of Maryland, College Park, who has worked in the Rocky Mountains for decades. “I think what might be more novel is the fact that whole communities are being affected.”
Increasingly, these species shifts are starting to impact people, especially in the far north, in ways no one predicted.
No Songs About the Sable

Tero Mustonen, who works with the Finnish group Snowchange Cooperative, has heard a curious complaint from indigenous leaders in Siberia: “There are no songs about the sable, there are no old stories about the sable,” they tell him. Sables are woodland creatures that didn’t used to inhabit the Arctic tundra. In and of itself, their recent arrival may not pose a great challenge—but it symbolizes, Mustonen explains, the extent to which Arctic landscapes are no longer fully recognizable to the indigenous peoples who have lived there for centuries. In Sweden there’s a lake that has forever been known as The Lake of Pine Trees; it’s now surrounded by birch.
Some of the shifts, of course, pose greater challenges. Thawing permafrost is causing lakes that nomadic Siberians used to fish in, and to water their reindeer in, to vanish into the ground. In Sweden, lakes and streams previously used for drinking water are now contaminated with the parasite that causes giardia, the human intestinal illness. Beavers following willow trees north probably spread the parasite, says Maria Furberg, a research scientist who is tracking disease outbreaks in the far north.
The incidence of insect-borne tularemia, also known as rabbit fever, has grown 10-fold in northern Sweden in 30 years, Furberg reports. Just last month scientists announced a 23-fold increase in tick-borne encephalitis in the Komi Republic, west of Russia’s Ural Mountains. Climate change, they said, has allowed ticks to expand their range.
All these changes are sparking unease among Siberians and Scandinavians in particular, Mustonen says. “Nature doesn’t trust us anymore,” some elders have told him.

Press link for more: National Geographic

Climate change has been underestimated. #auspol #science

Science has underestimated Earth’s sensitivity to CO2 changes, study finds
By Jim Shelton

April 7, 2016

Global warming

A Yale University study says global climate models have significantly underestimated how much the Earth’s surface temperature will rise if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase as expected.

Yale scientists looked at a number of global climate projections and found that they misjudged the ratio of ice crystals and super-cooled water droplets in “mixed-phase” clouds — resulting in a significant under-reporting of climate sensitivity. The findings appear April 7 in the journal Science.
Equilibrium climate sensitivity is a measure used to estimate how Earth’s surface temperature ultimately responds to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Specifically, it reflects how much the Earth’s average surface temperature would rise if CO2 doubled its preindustrial level. In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated climate sensitivity to be within a range of 2 to 4.7 degrees Celsius.
The Yale team’s estimate is much higher: between 5 and 5.3 degrees Celsius. Such an increase could have dramatic implications for climate change worldwide, note the scientists.
“It goes to everything from sea level rise to more frequent and extreme droughts and floods,” said Ivy Tan, a Yale graduate student and lead author of the study.
Trude Storelvmo, a Yale assistant professor of geology and geophysics, led the research and is a co-author of the study. The other co-author is Mark Zelinka of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison.

A key part of the research has to do with the makeup of mixed-phase clouds, which consist of water vapor, liquid droplets, and ice particles, in the upper atmosphere. A larger amount of ice in those clouds leads to a lower climate sensitivity — something known as a negative climate feedback mechanism. The more ice you have in the upper atmosphere, the less warming there will be on the Earth’s surface.
“We saw that all of the models started with far too much ice,” said Storelvmo, an assistant professor of geology and geophysics. “When we ran our own simulations, which were designed to better match what we found in satellite observations, we came up with more warming.”
Storelvmo’s lab at Yale has spent several years studying climate feedback mechanisms associated with clouds. Little has been known about such mechanisms until fairly recently, she explained, which is why earlier models were not more precise.
“The overestimate of ice in mixed-phase clouds relative to the observations is something that many climate modelers are starting to realize,” Tan said.
The researchers also stressed that correcting the ice-water ratio in global models is critical, leading up to the IPCC’s next assessment report, expected in 2020.
Support for the research came from the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship Program, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Press link for more: Yale.edu