Antarctica

If we burn all the coal we heat the planet by 8C #StopAdani

On our current trajectory, climate change is expected to intensify over the coming decades. 


If no policy actions are taken to restrict GHG emissions, expected warming would be on track for 8.1°F (4.5°C) by 2100. 

Strikingly, this amount of warming is actually less than would be expected if all currently known fossil fuel resources were consumed. 

Were this to occur, total future warming would be 14.5°F (8°C), fueled largely by the world’s vast coal resources.
The United States will not be insulated from a changing climate. 

If global emissions continue on their current path, average summer temperatures in 13 U.S. states and the District of Columbia would rise above 85°F (29.4°C) by the end of the 21st century, well above the 76 to 82°F (24 to 28°C) range experienced by these same states during the 1981–2010 period (Climate Prospectus n.d.). 

Climate change will lead to increased flooding, necessitating migration away from some low-lying areas; it will also lead to drought and heat-related damages (Ackerman and Stanton 2008).
There is no question that the United States has begun to make important progress on climate change. 

U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2016 were nearly 15 percent below their 2005 peak, marking the lowest level of emissions since 1992 (EIA 2017a). 

The drop was largely driven by recent reductions in the electric power sector, where inexpensive natural gas is displacing more carbon-intensive coal-fired generation and renewables like wind and solar are slowly gaining market share.


However, large challenges remain.

 Avoiding dangerous future climate change will require reductions in GHG emissions far greater than what have already been achieved.

 Though progress in reducing emissions associated with electric power provides cause for optimism, developments in other sectors are less encouraging.

 In particular, transportation recently surpassed electric power generation as the largest source of U.S. emissions and is projected to be a more important contributor in coming years. 

Transportation CO2 emissions have increased despite strengthened fuel efficiency standards that aim to reduce emissions, suggesting that a review of this policy is warranted.


Moreover, climate change is a global problem. 

Recent gains in the United States have been offset by rising emissions elsewhere in the world. 

In past decades, most global emissions originated in the developed nations of Europe and North America. 

However, new GHG emissions are increasingly generated by China, India, and other developing economies, where economic growth and improving living standards are highly dependent on access to reliable, affordable energy. 

Today, that largely means coal. 



As economic and population growth surges in these countries, GHG emissions will rise accordingly; as a result, global emissions will continue to rise despite stabilization in Europe and the United States.
Numerous technologies—from nuclear power and carbon capture and sequestration to cheaper renewables and energy storage—hold considerable promise for addressing the global climate challenge.

 Yet current economic conditions do not favor the large-scale implementation of these technologies in developed or developing countries. 

Rapidly deploying these solutions on a large scale would almost certainly require some combination of expanded research and development (R&D) investments and carbon pricing, the policy interventions recommended by economic theory.
It remains uncertain whether policy makers around the world will be successful in responding to the threat of climate change. 

The consensus view of the scientific community is that future warming should be limited to 3.6°F (2°C) (Jones, Sterman and Johnston 2016).

 Achieving that target would require much more dramatic actions than have been implemented globally, with global CO2 emissions falling to near zero by 2100.
The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution and The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago aim to support broadly shared economic growth. 

This jointly written document provides useful context for a discussion of the dangers to the economy posed by climate change and the policy tools for addressing those dangers. 

Given the immense threat that climate change represents, it is crucial that policy makers implement efficient solutions that minimize climate damages from our use of energy.

Press link for more: Brookings.edu

Existential Risk! #StopAdani 

EXISTENTIAL RISK

An existential risk is an adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential (Bostrom 2013).

 For example, a big meteor impact or large-scale nuclear war.

Existential risks are not amenable to the reactive (learn from failure) approach of conventional risk management, and we cannot necessarily rely on the institutions, moral norms, or social attitudes developed from our experience with managing other sorts of risks. 

Because the consequences are so severe – perhaps the end of human global civilisation as we know
it – “even for an honest, truth-seeking, and well-intentioned investigator it is difficult to think and act rationally in regard to… existential risks” (Bostrom and Cirkovic 2008).

Yet the evidence is clear that climate change already poses an existential risk to global stability and to human civilisation that requires an emergency response.

 Temperature rises that are now in prospect could reduce the global human population by 80% or 90%. 

But this conversation is taboo, and the few who speak out are admonished as being overly alarmist.

Prof. Kevin Anderson considers that “a 4°C future [relative to pre-industrial levels] is incompatible with an organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems, and has a high probability of not being stable” (Anderson 2011). 

He says: “If you have got
a population of nine billion by 2050 and you hit 4°C, 5°C or 6°C, you might have half a billion people surviving” (Fyall 2009).

Asked at a 2011 conference in Melbourne about the difference between a 2°C world and a 4°C world, Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber replied in two words: “Human civilisation”. 

The World Bank reports: “There is no certainty that adaptation to
a 4°C world is possible” (World Bank 2012). 

Amongst other impacts, a 4°C warming would trigger the loss of both polar ice caps, eventually resulting, at equilibrium, in a 70-metre rise in sea level.


The present path of greenhouse gas emissions commits us
to a 4–5°C temperature increase relative to pre-industrial levels. 

Even at 3°C of warming we could face “outright chaos” and “nuclear war is possible”, according to the 2007 Age of Consequences report by two US think tanks (see page 10).

Yet this is the world we are now entering. 

The Paris climate agreement voluntary emission reduction commitments, if implemented, would result in the planet warming by 3°C, with a 50% chance of exceeding that amount.


This does not take into account “longer-term” carbon-cycle feedbacks – such as permafrost thaw and declining
efficency of ocean and terrestrial carbon sinks, which are now becoming relevant. 

If these are considered, the Paris emissions path has more than a 50% chance of exceeding 4°C warming. 

(Technically, accounting for these feedbacks means using a higher gure for the system’s “climate sensitivity” – which is a measure of the temperature increase resulting from a doubling of the level of greenhouse gases – to calculate the warming.

A median figure often used for climate sensitivity is ~3°C, but research from MIT shows that with a higher climate sensitivity gure of 4.5°C, which would account for feedbacks, the Paris path would lead to around 5°C of warming (Reilly et al. 2015).)

So we are looking at a greater than one-in-two chance of either annihilating intelligent life, or permanently and drastically curtailing its potential development.

 Clearly these end-of-civilisation scenarios are not being considered even by risk-conscious leaders in politics and business, which is an epic failure of imagination.

The world hopes to do a great deal better than Paris, but it may do far worse. 

A recent survey of 656 participants involved in international climate policy-making showed only half considered the Paris climate negotiations were useful, and 70% did not expect that the majority of countries would fulfill their promises (Dannenberg et al. 2017)

Human civilisation faces unacceptably high chances of
being brought undone by climate change’s existential risks yet, extraordinarily, this conversation is rarely heard. 

The Global Challenges Foundation (GCF) says that despite scientific evidence that risks associated with tipping points “increase disproportionately as temperature increases from 1°C to 2°C, and become high above 3°C”, political negotiations have consistently disregarded the high-end scenarios that could lead to abrupt or irreversible climate change. 

In its Global Catastrophic Risks 2017 report, it concludes that “the world is currently completely unprepared to envisage, and even less deal with, the consequences of catastrophic climate change”. (GCF 2017) 

PRess link for full report: Disaster Alley

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

One Canoe, One island, One Planet. #Hawaii #StopAdani 

Hawaii becomes first state to pass laws in support of Paris accord
Sentinel & Enterprise
By Katie Mettler
The Washington Post
When the traditional Hawaiian canoe Hokule’a set sail four years ago, the wayfinders on board — men and women navigating the open sea by a map of stars — vowed to seek a renewed sense of self and share with the world a treasured message:

 Malama Honua.


The Hokule’a, a voyaging canoe built to revive the centuries-old tradition of Polynesian exploration, makes its way up the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. Sailed by a crew of 12 who use only celestial navigation and observation of nature, the canoe is two-thirds of the way through a four-year trip around the world.

Bryson Hoe/C


In Hawaiian, it means to care for Island Earth, a mission especially important to Pacific Islanders, whose home and economy is under constant threat from the rising seas and coral bleaching caused by a warming planet.


This week, the wayfinders will return to a Hawaii that on Tuesday took a defiant stand, becoming the first state to legally implement portions of the landmark Paris climate agreement that President Trump chose to abandon.
“Climate change is real, regardless of what others may say,” Hawaii Gov. David Ige said at a bill signing ceremony Tuesday in Honolulu.


 “Hawaii is seeing the impacts firsthand. 

Tides are getting higher, biodiversity is shrinking, coral is bleaching, coastlines are eroding, weather is becoming more extreme.

 We must acknowledge these realities at home.”
Ige said the state has a “kuleana,” or responsibility, to the Earth.
“Like the voyaging canoe Hokule’a, we are one canoe, one island, one planet,” the governor said. 

“We cannot afford to mess this up. 

We are setting a course to change the trajectory of Hawaii and islanders for generations to come.”
With Ige’s signature, two bills became law.

 

The first, SB 559, expanded strategies and mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide, a tenet of the Paris agreement.

 The second, HB 1578, established the Carbon Farming Task Force within the state’s Office of Planning, to support the development of sustainable agriculture practices in Hawaii, a skill native islanders had once mastered before planes, freighters and Amazon linked them to the mainland.
Both bills were introduced in January, after President Trump moved into the White House and began what many climate scientists felt was a wholesale dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency and a reversal of the steps taken by the Obama administration to combat global warming.
They weren’t meant to be signed into law for several more weeks, Scott Glenn, an environmental adviser to Ige, told The Washington Post. 

But after Trump announced the United States would exit the Paris agreement, Glenn and his co-chair on the Sustainable Hawaii Initiative recommended the bill signing and ceremony be moved up because “this was of such national importance,” he said.
Senate majority leader Sen. Kalani English, a Democrat, introduced SB 559 and said in a statement Tuesday that it gave Hawaii the “legal basis to continue adaptation and mitigation strategies . . . despite the Federal government’s withdrawal from the treaty.”
Ige also committed Hawaii to the U.S. Climate Alliance, a collection of 12 states — including Massachusetts — and Puerto Rico who have vowed to uphold the Paris climate agreement on the state level.

Press link for more: Sentine Land enterprise

Catastrophic Floods Predicted #ClimateChange #StopAdani

There’s not much that can stand in the way of a flood—a disaster that can put lives at risk, contaminate drinking water and sweep away animals’ habitats. 

For many coastal cities, the risks of catastrophic floods are relatively low. 

But not for long. 

As The Guardian’s Oliver Milman reports, a group of scientists has a dire message for coastal cities: If greenhouse gas emissions don’t fall, floods that once seemed rare could become much more frequent.

A sobering new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters suggests that major floods may occur much more frequently in the future. 

Researchers assumed that greenhouse gas emissions would continue at their current pace—causing the atmosphere to warm, melting glaciers and raising sea levels. 

They combined those predictions with historical flood frequency data and data about current weather patterns.


The result was a predicted median 40-fold increase of hundred-year floods along the United States coastline by 2050. 

Since the concept of flood recurrence is confusing at best, here’s a quick refresher.

 The term “hundred-year flood” does not refer to the severity of a flood, just its frequency. It means the probability that a flood will reach a certain level once in a hundred years. 

By definition, a hundred-year flood has a one-percent chance of occurring in any given year.
So what does a 40-fold increase in a hundred-year flood mean? 

Essentially it would push the chance of a flood reaching a certain level in any given year to 40 percent. 

And the probability of flooding could be even higher in places like New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Key West. 

In places like San Diego, Los Angeles and Seattle, the researchers predict, low-level flooding would likely occur more often than it does now.


Scientists already know that sea levels are rising faster than ever before, but are still teasing out the connections between human activity and floods.

 As Smithsonian.com reported in 2015, the Atlantic coast is thought to be at particular risk of severe flooding as sea levels rise and severe weather increases. 

And just last month, another group of researchers predicted that a rise of just under eight inches will double the risk of storm surges, large waves and severe coastal flooding along every coast on Earth.
It is still possible to curb greenhouse gas emissions and try to slow future damage to Earth’s glaciers. 

But the study’s real takeaway is that it’s time to prepare for the probability of flooding in places that haven’t really been affected by catastrophic floods thus far.

 As once rare floods become more common, a new reality could settle in for coastal cities—and the time to minimize damage is before a flood hits, not after. 

There’s still a lot to learn about how climate change could affect floods, but it never hurts to be prepared.

Press link for more: Smithsonianmag.com

Dire forecast if Trump pulls U.S. out of #climatechange pact. #Auspol 

Scientists issue dire forecast if America pulls out of climate change pact
News
By Associated Press
May 29, 2017 | 10:19am

A plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. AP
WASHINGTON — Earth is likely to reach more dangerous levels of warming even sooner if the US retreats from its pledge to cut carbon dioxide pollution, scientists said. 

That’s because America contributes so much to rising temperatures.

President Donald Trump, who once proclaimed global warming a Chinese hoax, said in a tweet Saturday that he would make his “final decision” this coming week on whether the United States stays in or leaves the 2015 Paris climate change accord, in which nearly every nation agreed to curb its greenhouse gas emissions.
Leaders of seven wealthy democracies, at a summit in Sicily, urged Trump to commit his administration to the agreement, but said in their closing statement that the US, for now, “is not in a position to join the consensus.”
“I hope they decide in the right way,” said Italy’s prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni. 

More downbeat was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said the leaders’ talks were “very difficult, if not to say, very unsatisfactory.”
In an attempt to understand what could happen to the planet if the US pulls out of Paris, the Associated Press consulted with more than two dozen climate scientists and analyzed a special computer model scenario designed to calculate potential effects.

Scientists said it would worsen an already bad problem and make it far more difficult to prevent crossing a dangerous global temperature threshold.
Calculations suggest it could result in emissions of up to 3 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide in the air a year. 

When it adds up year after year, scientists said that is enough to melt ice sheets faster, raise seas higher and trigger more extreme weather.

“If we lag, the noose tightens,” said Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Climatic Change.
One expert group ran a worst-case computer simulation of what would happen if the US does not curb emissions but other nations do meet their targets. 

It found that America would add as much as half a degree of warming to the globe by the end of century.
Scientists are split on how reasonable and likely that scenario is.
Many said because of cheap natural gas that displaces coal and growing adoption of renewable energy sources, it is unlikely that the US would stop reducing its carbon pollution even if it abandoned the accord, so the effect would likely be smaller.
Others say it could be worse because other countries might follow a US exit, leading to more emissions from both the US and the rest.
Another computer simulation team put the effect of the US pulling out somewhere between 0.18 and 0.36 degrees Fahrenheit.
While scientists may disagree on the computer simulations, they overwhelmingly agreed that the warming the planet is undergoing now would be faster and more intense.
The world without US efforts would have a far more difficult time avoiding a dangerous threshold: keeping the planet from warming more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels.
The world has already warmed by just over half that amount — with about one-fifth of the past heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions coming from the United States, usually from the burning of coal, oil and gas.
So the efforts are really about preventing another 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit from now.

“Developed nations — particularly the US and Europe — are responsible for the lion’s share of past emissions, with China now playing a major role,” said Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis.

 “This means Americans have caused a large fraction of the warming.”
Even with the US doing what it promised under the Paris agreement, the world is likely to pass that 2 degree mark, many scientists said.
But the fractions of additional degrees that the US would contribute could mean passing the threshold faster, which could in turn mean “ecosystems being out of whack with the climate, trouble farming current crops and increasing shortages of food and water,” said the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Kevin Trenberth.
Climate Interactive, a team of scientists and computer modelers who track global emissions and pledges, simulated global emissions if every country but the US reaches their individualized goals to curb carbon pollution. Then they calculated what that would mean in global temperature, sea level rise and ocean acidification using scientifically accepted computer models.
By 2030, it would mean an extra 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide in the air a year, according to the Climate Interactive models, and by the end of the century, half a degree of warming.
“The US matters a great deal,” said Climate Interactive co-director Andrew Jones. 

“That amount could make the difference between meeting the Paris limit of two degrees and missing it.”
Climate Action Tracker, a competing computer simulation team, put the effect of the US pulling out somewhere between 0.18 and 0.36 Fahrenheit by 2100. It uses a scenario where US emissions flatten through the century, while Climate Interactive has them rising.
One of the few scientists who plays down the harm of the US possibly leaving the agreement is John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the scientist credited with coming up with the 2 degree goal.
“Ten years ago (a US exit) would have shocked the planet,” Schellnhuber said. 

“Today if the US really chooses to leave the Paris agreement, the world will move on with building a clean and secure future.”
Not so, said Texas Tech climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe: “There will be ripple effects from the United States’ choices across the world.”

Press link for more: nypost.com

Most Australians agree #ClimateChange is a “Catastrophic Risk” #StopAdani

Three-quarters of Australians say climate warming “a catastrophic risk”, even as government turns a blind eye
 by David Spratt
Published at RenewEconomy on 29 May 2017 

Three in four Australians understand that climate warming poses a “catastrophic risk,” even as the Australian government turns a blind eye. 

That was the clear result from a new survey for the Global Challenges Forum (GCF), and the publication of its 2017 Global Catastrophic Risk report.
84% of 8000 people surveyed in eight countries for the GCF consider climate change a “global catastrophic risk”. The figure for the Australian sample was 75%.


Question were asked about a number of risks, including nuclear war, pandemics, biological weapons, climate change and environmental collapse.

 The climate question asked how much participants agreed or disagreed that “climate change, resulting in environmental damage, such as rising sea levels or melting of icecaps” could be considered as “a global catastrophic risk”? A global catastrophic risk was described as “a future event that has the potential to affect 10% of the global population”.


For Australia, the results were: 39% “strongly agree” and 36% “tend to agree” (for total agree of 75%); with “tend to disagree” at 15%, “strongly disagree” at 6% and 4% “don’t know”.
The 2017 Global Catastrophic Risk report summarises the the evidence for catastrophic climate change risk as:

Discussions of climate change usually focus on limiting temperature rises to 1-3˚C above pre-industrial levels.

 A rise of 3ºC would have major impacts, with most of Bangladesh and Florida under water, major coastal cities – Shanghai, Lagos, Mumbai – swamped, and potentially large flows of climate refugees. 

While the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change sought to keep global temperature rises below a threshold of 1.5–2ºC, national pledges have fallen short and set the world on a 3.6°C temperature rise track. 

There is also now scientific consensus that, when warming rises above a certain level, self-reinforcing feedback loops are likely to set in, triggered by the pushing of the Earth’s systems – ocean circulation, permafrost, ice sheets, rainforests and atmospheric circulation – across certain tipping points. 

The latest science shows that tipping points with potential to cause catastrophic climate change could be triggered at 2ºC global warming. 

These include the risk of losing all coral reef systems on Earth and irreversible melting of inland glaciers, Arctic sea ice and potentially the Greenland ice sheet. 


As well as the immediate risk to human societies, the fear is that crossing these tipping points would have major impacts on the pace of global warming itself. 

Although climate change action has now become part of mainstream economic and social strategies, too little emphasis is put on the risk of catastrophic climate change. 

The same survey found 81% of the 1000 Australian participants in the poll agreed with the proposition: “Do you think we should try to prevent climate catastrophes, which might not occur for several decades or centuries, even if it requires making considerable changes that impact on our current living standards?” The figure across the 8000 people polled in eight countries (Australia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, UK, Germany and USA) was 88%.
This shows a stronger level of support than several other polls for action that may impact on future living standards and have a personal material cost. 

This strong expression may, in part, be due to the framing of climate as a potentially catastrophic risk.
The GCF report found that many people now see climate change as a bigger threat than other issues such as epidemics, population growth, use of weapons of mass destruction and the rise of artificial intelligence threats. GCF vice-president Mats Andersson says “there’s certainly a huge gap between what people expect from politicians and what politicians are doing”. 
The report says that for the first time in human history:

We have reached a level of scientific knowledge that allows us to develop an enlightened relationship to risks of catastrophic magnitude. Not only can we foresee many of the challenges ahead, but we are in a position to identify what needs to be done in order to mitigate or even eliminate some of those risks. Our enlightened status, however, also requires that we consider our own role in creating those risks, and collectively commit to reducing them.

However, “the institutions we rely on to ensure peace, security, development and environmental integrity are woefully inadequate for the scale of the challenges at hand”.
The dissonance between what Australian’s understand and what government is doing is remarkable.

 Australia is failing in its responsibility to safeguard its people and protect their way of life. 

It is also failing as a world citizen, by downplaying the profound global impacts of climate change and shirking its responsibility to act.


Australia’s per capita greenhouse emissions are in the highest rank in the world, and its commitment to reduce emissions are rated as inadequate by Climate Action Tracker, which says that “Australia’s current policies will fall well short of meeting” its Paris Agreement target, that the Emissions Reduction Fund “does not set Australia on a path that would meet its targets” and “without accelerating climate action and additional policies, Australia will miss its 2030 target by a large margin”.
Australia’s biggest corporations are no better. 

The S&P/ASX All Australian 50 has the “highest embedded carbon” of any group in the S&P Global 1200, according to the S&P Dow Jones Carbon Scorecard report, which assesses global companies’ carbon footprint, fossil fuel reserve emissions, coal revenue exposure, energy transition and green-brown revenue strain. At the 2017 Santos annual general meeting, chairman Peter Coates asserted that it is “sensible” and “consistent with good value” to assume for planning purposes a 4°C-warmer world.
Former senior fossil fuel industry executive Ian Dunlop has recently noted that the most dangerous aspect of fossil-fuel investments made today is that their impacts do not manifest themselves for decades to come. If we wait for catastrophe to happen — as we are doing — it will be too late to act. 

Time is the most important commodity; to avoid catastrophic outcomes requires emergency action to force the pace of change. In these circumstances, opening up a major new coal province is nothing less than a crime against humanity.

Press link for more: 

Climate Code Red

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

Sea level rise threatens thousands of Melbourne homes. #StopAdani #auspol 

By Adam Carey

How a possible two-metre sea level rise would flood thousands of Melbourne homes
Tens of thousands of homes and businesses in Melbourne face a bigger risk of tidal flooding by century’s end, and major roads, tram routes and industrial areas could disappear under water due to future sea level rises, new modelling shows.
The updated modelling of possible sea level rises caused by climate change predicts Victoria’s coastline could be hit by sea level rises of two metres or more by 2100, due to the rapid melting of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.
Streets in Elwood after a flash flood in December.


Streets in Elwood after a flash flood in December. Photo: Wayne Taylor

A two-metre rise would flood several low-lying suburbs in Melbourne including South Melbourne, Albert Park, Port Melbourne, Southbank, Docklands, Altona, Williamstown, Elwood, St Kilda, Seaford, Carrum, Bonbeach and Aspendale.
Large areas in Geelong and the seaside towns of Barwon Heads, Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale would also be heavily inundated at high tide by century’s end, it is predicted.
Sections of major roads including CityLink, Flinders Street, Wurundjeri Way, Footscray Road, Clarendon Street and Queens Parade would go under water at high tide, as would several tram routes in Melbourne’s bayside suburbs.

The Mornington Peninsula Freeway near Frankston would face the same fate.
Industrial areas such as the Port of Melbourne, Fishermans Bend and Coode Island would also be inundated.
The modelling is based on new research by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), which this year released updated projections for sea level rises made in the landmark 2013 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
That report said a 74-centimetre sea level rise by 2100 was a worst-case scenario.
Since then, ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland have been found to be melting more rapidly than thought and projections have been revised so that the 74cm “worst-case scenario” is considered probable, while a rise of two metres to 2.7 metres is now a “plausible worst-case global mean sea level rise scenario”, according to NOAA.

The effect this would have on Australia’s coastline has been mapped by NGIS, using local tidal data and Google mapping technology to overlay a possible two-metre sea level rise on the nation’s cities, towns and beaches.
Nathan Eaton is from NGIS and was co-creator of the Coastal Risk Australia website that shows the projected impacts of sea level rises in Australia.
Mr Eaton said that just as the rate at which the sea level has risen has accelerated in the past few decades, much of the potential rise of two metres would occur in the latter half of this century.
“Anyone can look at these maps and visualise exactly how sea-level rise, driven by climate change, will permanently alter our coastline and neighbourhoods,” Mr Eaton said. “We already knew this was going to be bad news for low-lying areas, but the latest science is telling us to brace for even worse.”
Central Melbourne is no stranger to flash flooding – this is Elizabeth Street in February, 1972. 


Central Melbourne is no stranger to flash flooding – this is Elizabeth Street in February, 1972. Photo: Neville Bowler
Alan Stokes, executive director of the Australian Coastal Councils Association, said the revised modelling was a wake-up call for governments.
“If the sea rises to that level it would be a national disaster,” Mr Stokes said.
He called on the federal government to reverse funding cuts it has made to research to support climate change adaptation.
An online tool for councils called Coast Adapt faces a heavy funding cut from July 1.
“Coastal councils are at the forefront of dealing with these projected impacts but they are really tackling this problem with one arm tied behind their backs because they just don’t have the resources to respond effectively,” Mr Stokes said.  

The global mean sea level has risen by 21 to 24 centimetres since 1880, with about eight centimetres of that rise happening since 1993.
“Scientists expect that [sea levels] will continue to rise throughout the 21st century and beyond, because of global warming that has already occurred and warming that is yet to occur due to the still uncertain level of future emissions,” the NOAA report says.

Press link for more: The Age.com

Low lying areas of Sydney at risk! #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol

‘The great unknown’: New climate change data lifts the sea-level threat

By Peter Hannam

The giant ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland are melting faster than scientists previously estimated, raising the prospect of faster sea level rise placing at risk low-lying areas of Sydney and similar exposed cities around the world.
New research, including from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has lifted the “plausible” sea level rise by 2100 to as much as two metres to 2.7 metres.
That has superseded earlier estimates, such as the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that placed the likely top range of sea level rise at about one metre if greenhouse gas emission rises continued unabated.
Those higher forecasts have now been included in new mapping by Coastal Risk Australia that combines the estimates with national high-tide data and the shape of our coastline. 
The resulting maps show airports in Sydney, Brisbane and Hobart will be largely under water by 2100 if that two-metre rise happens.
Other areas at risk in Sydney from such a rise include Circular Quay, Wentworth Park, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Woolloomooloo and Rose Bay. (See map below of indicative water-level increases.)

“Our worst case scenario [for 2100] is now looking three times worse than it did previously,” said Nathan Eaton, a senior principal with NGIS, a digital mapping consultancy that compiled the maps.
Elsewhere in NSW, at-risk regions include low-lying parts of Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Ballina and Byron Bay.
Among exposed areas of other states are the Port of Melbourne, St Kilda and Docklands in Melbourne, parts of Noosa, the Gold Coast and Port Douglas in Queensland, and the WACA ground and Cottesloe beach in Perth, WA.
“Every state has got an area that’s massively different [from previous forecasts for 2100],” Mr Eaton said. “For a lot of low-lying areas, it makes the inundation that much further inland.”
Rising seas

NOAA estimates global mean sea levels have risen about 3.4 millimetres a year since 1993, roughly double the average rate of increase during the 20th century. (See chart below).
Even the last century’s pace of increase was the fastest in at least 2800 years, NOAA said.
Global warming is driving the increase in sea levels by melting land ice – such as glaciers and ice sheets – and from the thermal expansion of the warmer oceans.

John Church, a global sea level expert at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW, said other new research indicated Antarctica’s contribution to rising seas appears to particularly sensitive to carbon emissions rates – underscoring the urgency to reduce them.

“With ‘business as usual’ emissions, the questions are when, rather than if, we will cross a two-metre sea-level rise,” Professor Church said. “This scenario would result in major catastrophes and displace many tens of millions of people around the world.” 

Serena Lee, a research fellow and coastal dynamics specialist at Griffith University, said the rate of Antarctic ice melt was “a great unknown”, limited by the relative lack of long-term data and the region’s inaccessibility.
Of particular concern was the melting of the ice sheets from below of ice sheets as they come in contact with warming seas.
The newest studies indicate a two-metre rise by 2100 “would probably be more towards the conservative mean” of outcomes, Dr Lee said.
The mapping tool – which Coastal Risk say should not be relied upon for site specific decision making – may itself underestimate the speed threats will increase for some localities.
Some areas of Australia, particularly the north, are recording much higher rates of sea level increase than the global average, Dr Lee said.
The mapping also doesn’t take into account the impacts of more extreme weather, such as the destructive storm surge triggered by last June’s huge east coast low off NSW.
Cyclone Debbie also caused severe flooding in northern NSW in some of the regions in the state that are also particularly exposed to rising seas. 
Even with those uncertainties, the updated mapping “can’t do anything but help someone’s understanding” of those changing coastal, ocean and flooding processes, Dr Lee said.

Press link for more: SMH.COM