Alice Springs

Australia shirks it’s moral responsibility #ClimateChange #StopAdani 

Australia, deep in climate change’s ‘disaster alley’, shirks its moral responsibility
A government’s first responsibility is to safeguard the people and their future well-being. The ability to do this is threatened by human-induced climate change, the accelerating effects of which are driving political instability and conflict globally. 

Climate change poses an existential risk to humanity that, unless addressed as an emergency, will have catastrophic consequences.

In military terms, Australia and the adjacent Asia-Pacific region is considered to be “disaster alley”, where the most extreme effects are being experienced.

Press link to download report Breakthrough online

 Australia’s leaders either misunderstand or wilfully ignore these risks, which is a profound failure of imagination, far worse than that which triggered the global financial crisis in 2008.

 Existential risk cannot be managed with conventional, reactive, learn-from-failure techniques. 

We only play this game once, so we must get it right first time.
This should mean an honest, objective look at the real risks to which we are exposed, guarding especially against more extreme possibilities that would have consequences damaging beyond quantification, and which human civilisation as we know it would be lucky to survive.
Instead, the climate and energy policies that successive Australian governments adopted over the last 20 years, driven largely by ideology and corporate fossil-fuel interests, deliberately refused to acknowledge this existential threat, as the shouting match over the wholly inadequate reforms the Finkel review proposes demonstrates too well. 

There is overwhelming evidence that we have badly underestimated both the speed and extent of climate change’s effects. 

In such circumstances, to ignore this threat is a fundamental breach of the responsibility that the community entrusts to political, bureaucratic and corporate leaders.
A hotter planet has already taken us perilously close to, and in some cases over, tipping points that will profoundly change major climate systems: at the polar ice caps, in the oceans, and the large permafrost carbon stores. 

Global warming’s physical effects include a hotter and more extreme climate, more frequent and severe droughts, desertification, increasing insecurity of food and water supplies, stronger storms and cyclones, and coastal inundation.
Climate change was a significant factor in triggering the war in Syria, the Mediterranean migrant crisis and the “Arab spring”, albeit this aspect is rarely discussed. 

Our global carbon emission trajectory, if left unchecked, will drive increasingly severe humanitarian crises, forced migrations, political instability and conflicts.
Australia is not immune.

 We already have extended heatwaves with temperates above 40 degrees, catastrophic bushfires, and intense storms and floods. 

The regional effects do not receive much attention but are striking hard at vulnerable communities in Asia and the Pacific, forcing them into a spiral of dislocation and migration. 

The effects on China and South Asia will have profound consequences for employment and financial stability in Australia.
In the absence of emergency action to reduce Australian and global emissions far faster than currently proposed, the level of disruption and conflict will escalate to the point that outright regional chaos is likely. 

Militarised solutions will be ineffective. 

Australia is failing in its duty to its people, and as a world citizen, by playing down these implications and shirking its responsibility to act.
Bushfires that destroy property and lives are increasingly regular across Australia.


Bushfires that destroy property and lives are increasingly regular across Australia. Photo: Jason South

Nonetheless, people understand climate risks, even as their political leaders underplay or ignore them. 

About 84 per cent of 8000 people in eight countries surveyed recently for the Global Challenges Foundation consider climate change a “global catastrophic risk”. 

The result for Australia was 75 per cent. 


Many people see climate change as a bigger threat than epidemics, weapons of mass destruction and the rise of artificial intelligence.
What is to be done if our leaders are incapable of rising to the task?
The new normal? 


Residents paddle down a street in Murwillumbah in March after heavy rains led to flash flooding. Photo: Jason O’Brien

First, establish a high-level climate and conflict taskforce in Australia to urgently assess the existential risks, and develop risk-management techniques and policies appropriate to that challenge.
Second, recognise that climate change is an global emergency that threatens civilisation, and push for a global, coordinated, practical, emergency response.
We only play this game once, so we must get it right first time.
Third, launch an emergency initiative to decarbonise Australia’s economy no later than 2030 and build the capacity to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Fourth, help to build more resilient communities domestically and in the most vulnerable nations regionally; build a flexible capacity to support communities in likely hot spots of instability and conflict; and rethink refugee policies accordingly.

Young children walk through debris in Vanuata after Cyclone Pam hit in 2015. Photo: Unicef

Fifth, ensure that Australia’s military and government agencies are fully aware of and prepared for this changed environment; and improve their ability to provide aid and disaster relief.
Sixth, establish a national leadership group, outside conventional politics and drawn from across society, to implement the climate emergency program.
A pious hope in today’s circumstances?

 Our leaders clearly do not want the responsibility to secure our future. 

So “everything becomes possible, particularly when it is unavoidable”.
Ian Dunlop was an international oil, gas and coal industry executive, chairman of the Australian Coal Association and chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

This is an extract from his report with David Spratt, Disaster alley: climate change, conflict and risk, released on Thursday.

Press link for more: Canberra Times

Deadly Heat Waves Threaten Third of the World. #StopAdani 

Deadly Heat Waves Threaten Third of the World

Scorching heat grounded planes in parts of the U.S. on Monday, the same day researchers released a study that finds the globe is only getting hotter and, as a result, potentially deadlier.

Currently, nearly a third of the world’s population is exposed to lethal climate conditions for at least 20 days a year, according to findings published Monday in Nature Climate Change, a monthly peer-reviewed journal.

 As the planet’s temperature rises, more of the world’s population will be exposed to conditions that trigger deadly heat waves, the report said.

That risk is expected to cover 48 percent of the world’s population by 2100, even if carbon gas emissions are drastically reduced. 

If emissions continue to rise at typical rates, 74 percent of the global population is expected to experience more than 20 days of deadly heat a year by that same time, according to a research group, led by Camilo Mora.
For a city like New York, which currently sees about two days per year that surpass the heat threshold, that could mean 50 deadly days per year by 2100.



“For heat waves, our options are now between bad or terrible,” Mora, associate professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and lead author of the study, said in a statement.
The researchers analyzed more than 1,900 cases of fatalities associated with heat waves in 164 cities across 36 countries between 1980 and 2014 to define a global threshold for life-threatening conditions based on heat and humidity. Researchers found the overall risk for heat-related sickness or death has increased steadily since 1980.

The study notes well-documented heat waves, including a five-day stretch that claimed hundreds of lives in Chicago in 1995, the European heat wave in 2003 that saw tens of thousands of heat-related deaths and lethal temperatures in Moscow in 2010 that killed more than 10,000. 

Across Russia, the heat wave in 2010 claimed more than 50,000 lives. 

But the research team found that heatwaves are more common than most people think, and humidity levels combined with heat play a major role in heat-related heath risks.
In cases of high humidity, human sweat doesn’t evaporate, making it difficult for people to regulate and release heat.


The study found that higher-latitude locations will warm more than the tropics under global warming, but people living in the wet tropics face the greatest risk.

That portion of the world’s population, researchers said, is more vulnerable to increases in average temperature or humidity than other areas of the world. 

Some areas in the deep tropics – such as in Jakarta, Indonesia – have consistently warm temperatures near the deadly threshold year-round.
Regardless of location, the global climate outlook is bleak, researchers said.
“An increasing threat to human life from excess heat now seems almost inevitable,” but will only worsen with an increase of greenhouse gases, they wrote.

Press link for more: US News

Climate Change promises a frightening future. #StopAdani

Are the Effects of Global Warming Really that Bad?

The Missouri River encroaches on homes in Sioux City, Iowa, during a 2011 flood Stocktrek Images/Media Bakery

Eight degrees Fahrenheit. It may not sound like much—perhaps the difference between wearing a sweater and not wearing one on an early-spring day. But for the world in which we live, which climate experts project will be at least eight degrees warmer by 2100 should global emissions continue on their current path, this small rise will have grave consequences, ones that are already becoming apparent, for every ecosystem and living thing—including us.

According to the National Climate Assessment, human influences are the number one cause of global warming, especially the carbon pollution we cause by burning fossil fuels and the pollution-capturing we prevent by destroying forests. 

The carbon dioxide, methane, soot, and other pollutants we release into the atmosphere act like a blanket, trapping the sun’s heat and causing the planet to warm. 

Evidence shows that 2000 to 2009 was hotter than any other decade in at least the past 1,300 years. This warming is altering the earth’s climate system, including its land, atmosphere, oceans, and ice, in far-reaching ways.
More frequent and severe weather

Higher temperatures are worsening many types of disasters, including storms, heat waves, floods, and droughts.

A warmer climate creates an atmosphere that can collect, retain, and drop more water, changing weather patterns in such a way that wet areas become wetter and dry areas drier. “Extreme weather events are costing more and more,” says Aliya Haq, deputy director of NRDC’s Clean Power Plan initiative. 

“The number of billion-dollar weather disasters is expected to rise.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in 2015 there were 10 weather and climate disaster events in the United States—including severe storms, floods, drought, and wildfires—that caused at least $1 billion in losses.

 For context, each year from 1980 to 2015 averaged $5.2 billion in disasters (adjusted for inflation). 

If you zero in on the years between 2011 and 2015, you see an annual average cost of $10.8 billion.
The increasing number of droughts, intense storms, and floods we’re seeing as our warming atmosphere holds—and then dumps—more moisture poses risks to public health and safety, too. 

Prolonged dry spells mean more than just scorched lawns. Drought conditions jeopardize access to clean drinking water, fuel out-of-control wildfires, and result in dust storms, extreme heat events, and flash flooding in the States. 

Elsewhere around the world, lack of water is a leading cause of death and serious disease. At the opposite end of the spectrum, heavier rains cause streams, rivers, and lakes to overflow, which damages life and property, contaminates drinking water, creates hazardous-material spills, and promotes mold infestation and unhealthy air. A warmer, wetter world is also a boon for food-borne and waterborne illnesses and disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.
Higher death rates

Today’s scientists point to climate change as “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.” 

It’s a threat that impacts all of us—especially children, the elderly, low-income communities, and minorities—and in a variety of direct and indirect ways. 

As temperatures spike, so does the incidence of illness, emergency room visits, and death.
“There are more hot days in places where people aren’t used to it,” Haq says. “They don’t have air-conditioning or can’t afford it. 

One or two days isn’t a big deal. 

But four days straight where temperatures don’t go down, even at night, leads to severe health consequences.” 

In the United States, hundreds of heat-related deaths occur each year due to direct impacts and the indirect effects of heat-exacerbated, life-threatening illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and cardiovascular and kidney diseases. 

Indeed, extreme heat kills more Americans each year, on average, than hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and lightning combined.
Dirtier air

Rising temperatures also worsen air pollution by increasing ground level ozone, which is created when pollution from cars, factories, and other sources react to sunlight and heat. 

Ground-level ozone is the main component of smog, and the hotter things get, the more of it we have. Dirtier air is linked to higher hospital admission rates and higher death rates for asthmatics. 

It worsens the health of people suffering from cardiac or pulmonary disease. And warmer temperatures also significantly increase airborne pollen, which is bad news for those who suffer from hay fever and other allergies.
Higher wildlife extinction rates

As humans, we face a host of challenges, but we’re certainly not the only ones catching heat. 

As land and sea undergo rapid changes, the animals that inhabit them are doomed to disappear if they don’t adapt quickly enough. 

Some will make it, and some won’t. 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2014 assessment, many land, freshwater, and ocean species are shifting their geographic ranges to cooler climes or higher altitudes, in an attempt to escape warming. 

They’re changing seasonal behaviors and traditional migration patterns, too. And yet many still face “increased extinction risk due to climate change.”

 Indeed, a 2015 study showed that vertebrate species—animals with backbones, like fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles—are disappearing 114 times faster than they should be, a phenomenon that has been linked to climate change, pollution, and deforestation.
More acidic oceans

The earth’s marine ecosystems are under pressure as a result of climate change. Oceans are becoming more acidic, due in large part to their absorption of some of our excess emissions. 

As this acidification accelerates, it poses a serious threat to underwater life, particularly creatures with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons, including mollusks, crabs, and corals. 

This can have a huge impact on shellfisheries. 

Indeed, as of 2015, acidification is believed to have cost the Pacific Northwest oyster industry nearly $110 million. 

Coastal communities in 15 states that depend on the $1 billion nationwide annual harvest of oysters, clams, and other shelled mollusks face similar long-term economic risks.
Higher sea levels


The polar regions are particularly vulnerable to a warming atmosphere. 

Average temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere on earth, and the world’s ice sheets are melting fast. 

This not only has grave consequences for the region’s people, wildlife, and plants; its most serious impact may be on rising sea levels. 

By 2100, it’s estimated our oceans will be one to four feet higher, threatening coastal systems and low-lying areas, including entire island nations and the world’s largest cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Miami as well as Mumbai, Sydney, and Rio de Janeiro.
There’s no question: Climate change promises a frightening future, and it’s too late to turn back the clock. 

We’ve already taken care of that by pumping a century’s worth of pollution into the air nearly unchecked. 

“Even if we stopped all carbon dioxide emissions tomorrow, we’d still see some effects,” Haq says. 

That, of course, is the bad news. 

But there’s also good news. 

By aggressively reducing our global emissions now, “we can avoid a lot of the severe consequences that climate change would otherwise bring,” says Haq.
Press link for more: NRDC.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

Frydenberg’s carbon capture pipe dream. #StopAdani #Auspol 

By Paul Bongiorno


Frydenberg’s carbon capture pipe dream

Back in 2008 under the perennially polluted grey skies of Beijing, then prime minister Kevin Rudd took a busload of press gallery journalists to the 800 megawatt coal-fired power station in the suburb of Gaobeidian.

 The purpose: to see a functioning pilot program in carbon capture.
On top of the smoke stacks was a device capturing 3000 tonnes of carbon and sulphur gases a year – 2 per cent of the plant’s emissions. 

“A small beginning,” Rudd conceded. 

The $4 million Australian-funded program was developed with the co-operation of the CSIRO. 

A seasoned reporter asked one of the scientists what happened to the captured pollutants. 

The media pack was taken around the corner of the plant, where there was an exhaust outlet. “We let it go,” was the answer. 

The scientist explained that working out how to store the stuff was another project.
It still is.

So it was with some bemusement that some of the old hacks who were on that trip greeted Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg’s announcement that he would remove the legislative prohibition on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to allow it to support investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS). 

The very optimistic minister said such technology could reduce emissions by up to 90 per cent.
ONE CCS PLANT VISITED BY THE ENERGY MINISTER – PETRA NOVA IN TEXAS – COST $US1 BILLION.

 IT’S TOUTED AS THE WORLD’S MOST SUCCESSFUL OPERATION, YET IT CAPTURES ONLY ABOUT 6 PER CENT OF THE OUTPUT OF ITS ADJACENT POWER STATION.

According to its mandate, the $10 billion so-called Green Bank must lend funds to viable projects that would lead to a healthy return on investment.

 Indeed the CEFC – which the Liberals under Tony Abbott wanted to abolish – has been very successful in funding renewable energy projects that have turned a nice profit for taxpayers.
Frydenberg quite reasonably argues that excluding the Green Bank from investing in technology that would deliver clean coal as a reliable energy source is not incompatible with its original mission.

 Except the Greens insisted the Gillard government exclude anything to do with coal from the bank’s mandate. 

“Renewables are the future” was their firm conviction, then and now: taxpayers should invest in the future and leave coal to the billionaires who profit from it to pay their own way in seeking to keep it commercially feasible.
Labor’s Bill Shorten says the government’s announcement is nothing more than kite flying: “It seems like they’re trying to feed some red meat to the right wing of the Liberal Party. 

I think the government needs to explain what is a viable project they want to invest in?”

 Indeed, earlier on the day of the Frydenberg announcement the prime minister told the Coalition party room there would be no price on carbon, ruling out both an emissions trading scheme or an emissions intensity scheme, both of which he once supported and one or other of which business is urging the government to implement.

Seven years ago Malcolm Turnbull’s assessment of CCS was that it was an industrial pipedream. 

He said it was sobering that “as of today, there’s not one industrial-scale coal-fired power station using carbon capture and storage – not one”. 

Both sides of politics had reached the same conclusion about its viability.

 Labor began withdrawing funds from research and the Abbott government shut down Rudd’s $1.7 billion Carbon Capture and Storage Flagships program. 

Industry had lost interest. 

Treasurer Joe Hockey returned nearly half a billion dollars of funds allocated to it back to the budget.
This week Frydenberg pointed out that government has invested $590 million in CCS and said it is now being successfully employed in three overseas power plants. 

But a closer look shows the lessons learnt from those plants mean its use has already peaked.

 The proponents of these plants are on the record stating they won’t be investing in any more.

 Renewables entrepreneur Simon Holmes à Court told the ABC that exponential cost blowouts and disappointing results are the rule.


One plant visited by the energy minister – Petra Nova in Texas – cost $US1 billion. 

It’s touted as the world’s largest and most successful operation, yet it captures only about 6 per cent of the output of its adjacent power station. 

That’s “an incredibly low bang for buck”, concludes Holmes à Court. 

Another CCS plant targeted to cost $US2 billion will open three years late and with an incredible final bill of $US7.5 billion.
Holmes à Court agrees with Frydenberg that CCS has a role to play in cutting emissions in industrial processes such as cement or steel production. 

Carbon can be captured in these cases for about $15 to $30 a tonne.

 “So with a healthy carbon price, those projects make sense,” he says. 

And there’s the rub. 

The very government wanting to be a champion of CCS for industry is denying it any incentive to spend a cent pursuing it. It’s commercially cheaper to keep polluting. 

Industry may get away with that but finance markets are now pricing climate change into lending for major energy projects. 

Bloomberg New Energy Finance earlier this year costed CCS coal at $352 a megawatt hour, compared with wind and solar at between $61 and $140 megawatts an hour.
It’s little wonder that experts can’t see private industry investing in new coal-fired power stations without substantial government input. 

But none of this seems to deter the resources and Northern Australia minister, the Nationals’ Matt Canavan. 

With an eye on the Queensland election probably later this year, he sees votes in talking up a new coal-fired power station for Townsville and in giving a leg-up to the giant Adani Carmichael coalmine in the nearby Galilee Basin. 

While Labor parts company on the power station, it has one foot on both sides of the barbed-wire fence when it comes to the Adani mine.

The politics here is excruciating. 

One Labor strategist says there are different fault lines on the Adani project. 

One running from Cairns down the coast is hostility fuelled by fears for the Great Barrier Reef and the 50,000 jobs dependent on it. 


The other fault line runs from Townsville to Gladstone and inland. 

Here support for the project is strong – its hyped promise of thousands of jobs is beguiling in a region of high unemployment. 

Then from Gladstone south all the way to Tasmania support is weak to hostile.
But no matter what voters think of the project, they are overwhelmingly against any taxpayer funds bankrolling the Indian billionaire Gautam Adani. 

Research by the advocacy group GetUp! 

in marginal seats in Queensland and elsewhere has found resolute opposition to any government loan. 

Paul Oosting from GetUp! says opposition ranges from 70 to 86 per cent depending on the seat. 

He has mobilised dozens of his 350,000 members to make 50,000 scripted phone calls into marginal seats in Queensland and around the nation.


It sort of worked with the Palaszczuk Labor government.

 Much to the delight of Adani, the premier organised a royalties pause. 

The miner will be given 60 years to pay the tax, although he will attract an interest charge for any delay. 

That puts all the risk on taxpayers if the project fails to perform as promised or Adani’s labyrinthine company structure for the mine collapses. 

With some companies registered in the Cayman Islands the existence of a lucrative escape hatch for Adani cannot be ruled out.
Ominously, Indian newspapers are reporting Adani is under pressure to sell its Australian assets. 

The Reserve Bank of India is worried about a looming debt crisis and is pressuring banks to demand repayment of loans worth billions of dollars. 

The influential Hindu newspaper noted that the Standard Chartered Bank recalled loans of $2.5 billion from Adani and that “global lenders have backed out from funding the $US10 billion coalmine development project.

 State Bank of India also declined to offer a loan despite signing an MoU [memorandum of understanding] to fund the group with $1 billion”. 

What all of this means for Adani’s bid to get a concessional billion-dollar loan from the federal government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility is not yet known. 

It should make it highly unlikely, but given the zealotry of Canavan and his leader Barnaby Joyce for the project such concerns are a mere bagatelle.

Federal Labor’s stand is in line with the GetUp! research, maintaining that no taxpayer dollars should be thrown at the Carmichael mine. 

In that Shorten has the support of Adani’s commercial rivals such as BHP, the Hunter Valley miners and the huge coal port of Newcastle. 

They all say the project should stand or fall on its merits and that it’s not the role of government to use public money to undercut them.
Again we have seen Turnbull’s need for pragmatic appeasement of the conservatives in his ranks undermine his brand on the environment and climate change. 

It probably goes a long way to explain why again in this week’s opinion polls he is still deep in negative territory for approval of his performance and Labor’s lead looks entrenched.
The resignation of Dr Peter Hendy from the inner sanctum of the prime minister’s offices is being read by some in the Liberal Party as a sign the government’s days are numbered. 

The economist, long-time Liberal apparatchik and former MP is planning to hang up his shingle as a consultant.

 “He wants to cash in on his contacts while they are still in power,” was one explanation. Another was: “Peter’s been around a long time and knows when a vote is cemented in.”
On that view Hendy is not waiting to see if the handful of pro-Adani seats in Queensland will be enough to save the federal government. 

Its chances are up in smoke and out the chimney – like the Beijing carbon capture pilot project.

Press link for more: The Saturday Paper

Deep Trouble #auspol #Qldpol #StopAdani

Deep trouble How to improve the health of the ocean

The ocean sustains humanity. Humanity treats it with contempt
EARTH is poorly named.

 The ocean covers almost three-quarters of the planet.

 It is divided into five basins: the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Indian, the Arctic and the Southern oceans. 

Were all the planet’s water placed over the United States, it would form a column of liquid 132km tall.

 The ocean provides 3bn people with almost a fifth of their protein (making fish a bigger source of the stuff than beef). Fishing and aquaculture assure the livelihoods of one in ten of the world’s people. 

Climate and weather systems depend on the temperature patterns of the ocean and its interactions with the atmosphere. If anything ought to be too big to fail, it is the ocean.

Humans have long assumed that the ocean’s size allowed them to put anything they wanted into it and to take anything they wanted out. 

Changing temperatures and chemistry, overfishing and pollution have stressed its ecosystems for decades. 

The ocean stores more than nine-tenths of the heat trapped on Earth by greenhouse-gas emissions. 

Coral reefs are suffering as a result; scientists expect almost all corals to be gone by 2050.


By the middle of the century the ocean could contain more plastic than fish by weight.

 Ground down into tiny pieces, it is eaten by fish and then by people, with uncertain effects on human health. 

Appetite for fish grows nevertheless: almost 90% of stocks are fished either at or beyond their sustainable limits (see Briefing). 

The ocean nurtures humanity. 

Humanity treats it with contempt.

Depths plumbed
Such self-destructive behaviour demands explanation. 

Three reasons for it stand out. 

One is geography. 

The bulk of the ocean is beyond the horizon and below the waterline. 

The damage being done to its health is visible in a few liminal places—the Great Barrier Reef, say, or the oyster farms of Washington state. 

But for the most part, the sea is out of sight and out of mind.

 It is telling that there is only a single fleeting reference to the ocean in the Paris agreement on climate change.

A second problem is governance. 

The ocean is subject to a patchwork of laws and agreements. 

Enforcement is hard and incentives are often misaligned. 

Waters outside national jurisdictions—the high seas—are a global commons. 

Without defined property rights or a community invested in their upkeep, the interests of individual actors in exploiting such areas win out over the collective interest in husbanding them. 

Fish are particularly tricky because they move.

 Why observe quotas if you think your neighbour can haul in catches with impunity?
Third, the ocean is a victim of other, bigger processes. 

The emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is changing the marine environment along with the rest of the planet. 

The ocean has warmed by 0.7°C since the 19th century, damaging corals and encouraging organisms to migrate towards the poles in search of cooler waters. 

Greater concentrations of carbon dioxide in the water are making it more acidic. 

That tends to harm creatures such as crabs and oysters, whose calcium carbonate shells suffer as marine chemistry alters.

Some of these problems are easier to deal with than others.

 “Ocean blindness” can be cured by access to information. 

And indeed, improvements in computing power, satellite imaging and drones are bringing the ocean into better view than ever before. 

Work is under way to map the sea floor in detail using sonar technology. 

On the surface, aquatic drones can get to remote, stormy places at a far smaller cost than manned vessels. 

From above, ocean-colour radiometry is improving understanding of how phytoplankton, simple organisms that support marine food chains, move and thrive. 

Tiny satellites, weighing 1-10kg, are enhancing scrutiny of fishing vessels.
Transparency can also mitigate the second difficulty, of ocean governance. 

More scientific data ought to improve the oversight of nascent industries.

 As sea-floor soundings proliferate, the supervision of deep-sea mining, which is overseen by the International Seabed Authority in areas beyond national jurisdiction, should get better.

 More data and analysis also make it easier to police existing agreements. 

Satellite monitoring can provide clues to illegal fishing activity: craft that switch off their tracking devices when they approach a marine protected area excite suspicion, for example. 

Such data make it easier to enforce codes like the Port State Measures Agreement, which requires foreign vessels to submit to inspections at any port of call and requires port states to share information on any suspected wrongdoing they find.
Clearer information may also help align incentives and allow private capital to reward good behaviour.


 Insurance firms, for instance, have an incentive to ask for more data on fishing vessels; if ships switch off their tracking systems, the chances of collisions rise, and so do premiums. Greater traceability gives consumers who are concerned about fish a way to press seafood firms into behaving responsibly.
Sunk costs
Thanks to technology, the ocean’s expanse and remoteness are becoming less formidable—and less of an excuse for inaction. A UN meeting on the ocean next month in New York is a sign that policymakers are paying more attention to the state of the marine realm. But superior information does not solve the fundamental problem of allocating and enforcing property rights and responsibilities for the high seas. And the effectiveness of incentives to take care of the ocean varies. Commercial pay-offs from giving fish stocks time to recover, for example, are large and well-documented; but the rewards that accrue from removing plastic from the high seas are unclear.
Above all, better measurement of global warming’s effect on the ocean does not make a solution any easier. The Paris agreement is the single best hope for protecting the ocean and its resources. But America is not strongly committed to the deal; it may even pull out. And the limits agreed on in Paris will not prevent sea levels from rising and corals from bleaching. Indeed, unless they are drastically strengthened, both problems risk getting much worse. Mankind is increasingly able to see the damage it is doing to the ocean. Whether it can stop it is another question.

Press link for more: The Economist

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

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

March for Science or March for Reality?

March for Science or March for Reality?

By Laurance M. klauss

Shortly after the inauguration of Donald Trump as President, it was announced that a March for Science would be held Washington DC and in a host of other cities in the United States and around the world to protest the new Administration’s apparent anti-science agenda—from denial of climate change to dismantling the EPA, to budget priorities that will cut key science programs throughout the country—and to lobby for science-based policymaking as well as support for scientific research to address the challenges of the 21st century.


Meanwhile the Trump administration’s anti-science actions continue.

 Attorney General Sessions announced just this week that he was disbanding the National Commission on Forensic Science, which advises the federal government to enhance national standards in this area.
I have no idea how the Marches for Science—now over 400 in number across the globe—will play out, and how the media will interpret them.

 A series of worrisome tweets emanating from the March for Science twitter account over the past week, following similar early statements made on the groups website that were subsequently removed, claimed that scientific research promotes violence and inequity in society. 

These have been disavowed but the variety of mixed communications from leaders of the march over the past months suggests at the very least that the organization encompasses a wide diversity of agendas.
This is not surprising. After all, the scientific community has never been a one-issue community, like, say, the anti-abortion movement.

 And the current administration is pushing so many different buttons at the same time, with various attacks on fundamental rights, privacy, diversity, and freedom of expression, that these are bound to get caught up in any movement that promotes openness and free-inquiry, the hallmarks of the scientific enterprise.
Despite any such concerns, a host major science organizations, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science to Union of Concerned Scientists, have signed on as supporters of the March, and are urging their members to join their local marches and speak out for science-based public policy on April 22.


If the event becomes a ‘March By Scientists’ rather than a March for Science—namely if it is dominated by scientists labeling themselves as such, in costumes like white lab coats, rather than by members of the general public supporting evidence-based public policy—that too could be problematic. 

The March for science could then appear as a self-serving political lobbying effort by the scientific community to increase its funding base.
Let’s imagine that this is not the case, and the organizers are wildly successful in attracting hundreds of thousands or million of marchers across the globe this coming Saturday.

 It is still reasonable to wonder what the long-term impact of the marches might be. 

After all, following the worldwide March for Women, in which millions of people marched around the world in support of women’s rights, the Trump administration reacted with a deaf ear. 

Just this past week the President signed legislation allowing states and local governments to withhold federal funding for Planned Parenthood, for example.
The situation is different in this case however, and it may have nothing directly to do with science policy, or even in those areas where science should play a key role in affecting policy.
Every week, the alternative realities invoked by the Trump administration are being demonstrated, by events, to be vacuous. 

The administration claimed it would immediately end, and then fix, problems with Obamacare, and failed miserably. Donald Trump campaigned against foreign military intervention, and this week alone initiated unilateral bombings in Syria and Afghanistan. 

Donald Trump pledged to immediately revise NAFTA, forcing Canada and Mexico to the table to make a better deal. 

Nothing has happened.
He promised Mexico would pay for a wall. 

However the first $2 billion installment for a wall was included in the budget proposal he presented to Congress, compensated by cuts in funding in key areas of science, but also in support of the arts and humanities in this country.
He promised to drain the swamp, but he removed restrictions on lobbyists entering government, and as the New York Times reported just this week, he has filled his administration with them, including individuals who are already facing conflict of interest allegations because of their former activities lobbying the organizations they now run.
He lobbied against Wall Street, but former Wall Street leaders dominate his cabinet and economic advisory groups.
He said he would release his taxes after his inauguration and has not. 

And he claimed he would immediate increase growth and the economy, but as the Wall Street Journal reported just this week, projections for growth of the economy have decreased sharply in recent months, as have retail sales, and the consumer price index.


These are just a few of the immediate and obvious inconsistencies. 

Further, as administration policies on energy and the environment take effect, citizens in communities with drinking water at risk from environmental threats will find that programs to avert further deterioration have been cut, and coal mining communities will find that the natural gas glut has much more to do with the continuing demise of coal than Obama’s efforts to improve air quality in the US by restricting coal plants, which, whatever Trump may claim, are bad for the environment. 

(Indeed as the New York Times reported this week, more than 200,000 tons of coal ash residue each year are produced by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and this has been making its way into groundwater, potentially affecting drinking water supplies, even as the EPA is now delaying compliance with rules enacted to enhance the safe storage and disposal of coal ash.).
The very essence of science, indeed that which is motivating the March for Science, involves skeptical inquiry and a reliance on empirical evidence and constant testing to weed out false hypotheses and unproductive or harmful technologies as we move toward a better understanding of reality: A willingness, in short, to force beliefs and policies to conform to the evidence of reality, rather than vice versa.


Unlike its perception among much of the public and its presentation in many schools today, science is not simply a body of facts, but rather a process for deriving what the facts are. 

This process has helped us uncover hidden secrets of the Universe that never would have been dreamed of and producing technologies that have not only been largely responsible for the standard of living enjoyed by the first world today, but have also increased lifespans around the world. 

With this process the very possibility of “alternative facts” disappears.
By providing such a constant and sharp explicit and observable contrast between policy and empirical reality, the Trump administration can encourage a new public skepticism about political assertions vs. reality, and a demand for evidence before endorsing policies and the politicians who espouse them—the very things that most marchers on April 22nd will be demanding. 

This skepticism is beginning to manifest itself in data. 

A Gallup poll result on April 17 indicated that only 45 percent of the public believe President Trump’s promises, a drop of 17 percent since February.
In this regard, it is worth remembering the words of the Nobel Prizewinning physicist, Richard Feynman, who said: For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. 

Or, as the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick more colorfully put it: Reality is that which continues to exist even when you stop believing in it.
The Trump Administration is discovering that obfuscation, denial, and hype may work when selling real estate, but in public arena eventually reality has a way of biting you in the butt. And the public is watching. 

The March for Science may be lucky to capitalize upon a growing awareness that there is no Wizard behind the curtain. The number of marchers, their backgrounds, or even their myriad messages may not drive the success of the March. Rather, it may be driven by the harsh examples coming out every day that reality exists independent of the desires or claims of those in power. 

In this case, the greatest asset the March for Science has going for it may be Donald Trump himself.

Press link for more: Scientific American

Scientists March For Truth. #auspol 

Scientists to take to the streets in global march for truth.

By Mark Lynas
March for Science on 22 April will see scientists and supporters at more than 500 locations stand up for evidence-based thinking.


Scientists and science supporters will take to the streets in a global March for Science on 22 April . 

What began as a small Facebook group in the US capital, Washington DC has spiralled into a global phenomenon that will now see marches and other events in more than 500 locations around the world, from Seattle to Seoul.
It is great news that so many people are prepared to stand up and defend the need for evidence-based thinking and the scientific method. 

But it is also a sad comment on our times that a March for Science is needed at all. 


Post-truth populism has infected democracies around the world, scientific objectivity is under threat from multiple sources and there seems a real danger of falling into a modern dystopian dark age.
It is clear that the old days of scientists staying in the lab, publishing papers in scholarly journals, and otherwise letting the facts speak for themselves are over. 

As the Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes reminds us: “The facts don’t speak for themselves because we live in a world where so many people are trying to silence facts.” 

In her book, Merchants of Doubt, Oreskes wrote about these efforts from the tobacco industry onwards; science denialist attempts that are paralleled in today’s climate sceptic, anti-vaccine and anti-GMO movements.


These campaigners against truth take great pains to deny the existence of scientific consensus on their different issues. 

The fact that 97% of the peer-reviewed literature on climate change supports the consensus that most of global warming is human-induced is dismissed as mere elitism. 

But as Dr Sarah Evanega, director of the Alliance for Science at Cornell, writes: “The values we defend are those of the Enlightenment, not the establishment.” 

Expertise is real, and we reject it at our peril.

Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the March for Science, and what may prove to be its most enduring legacy, is its truly global nature. 

Science is not western; it is everywhere and for everyone. 

I have worked with Alliance for Science colleagues to help get marches off the ground in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Uganda, Venezuela, Chile and other places.

 In between long Skype calls about logistics, fundraising, and media outreach I watched the lights flash on as the number of marches on the global map kept on increasing. 

It was like watching the world light up with knowledge.
Bangladesh March for Science’s lead organiser Arif Hossain says: “I am marching to let the world know that we are united for science in Bangladesh. 

We have 160 million people to feed in the changed climate, and together we will make a better day with science and innovation.”
Although the issues of most concern vary in different locations, appreciation of the need for science is global. As Nkechi Isaac, an organiser of the March for Science in Abuja, Nigeria, says: “Science is revolutionary.

 It holds the key to constant development and improvement for addressing climate change, food shortage and challenges in medicine. Science holds the solution to our food security.”
Nigerians can testify to the tragic effects of anti-science activism. Efforts to eradicate polio in the country were held up for years because of conspiracy theories spread by those suspicious of modern medicine and vaccines. People die when science is denied.
So here’s what we will be marching for.

 It’s time to enter the post-post-truth era. 

And there is no time to lose.

• Mark Lynas is a science and environment writer and a visiting fellow at the Alliance for Science at Cornell University.

Press link for more: The Guardian