Antarctic Ice melts faster than thought. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Key Antarctic ice shelf larger than scientists thought

20th March 2018

More of the Totten Glacier is floating on the ocean than previously thought, increasing its potential to contribute to global sea level rise.

Glaciologist, Dr Ben Galton-Fenzi, said the Totten Glacier is one of the fastest flowing and largest glaciers in Antarctica and until now scientists thought more of it was grounded on Antarctic bedrock.

As part of the Australian Antarctic Program, Dr Galton-Fenzi’s team of researchers, including scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division, University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, and the Central Washington University, spent the summer in Antarctica studying the Totten.

Professor Paul Winberry, from Central Washington University, said seismology allowed them to determine the structure of the earth below the surface of the glacier.

“A hammer-generated seismic wave was used to ‘see’ through a couple of kilometres of ice. In some locations we thought were grounded, we detected the ocean below indicating that the glacier is in fact floating,” Professor Winberry said.

Professor Winberry said if more of the glacier is floating on a warming ocean, it may help explain recent periods of accelerated melting and flow.

“It also means the Totten might be more sensitive to climate variations in the future.”

Dr Galton-Fenzi said the Totten Glacier, which is more than twice the area of Victoria, contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by about three metres if it all melted.

“Since the 1900s the global sea-level has risen by around 20 centimetres and by the end of the century it’s projected to rise by up to one metre or more, but this is subject to high uncertainty which is why studying glaciers such as the Totten is important,” Dr Galton-Fenzi said.

“These precise measurements of Totten Glacier are vital to monitoring changes and understanding them in the context of natural variations and the research is an important step in assessing the potential impact on sea-level under various future scenarios.”

Instruments to measure the glacial flow, speed and thickness have been left on the glacier for another 12 months collecting data. The field season was supported by the Australian Research Council Antarctic Gateway Partnership.

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World scientists’ warning to humanity #auspol #sapol #StopAdani

World scientists’ warning to humanity

By Rex Weyler

Rex Weyler was a director of the original Greenpeace Foundation, the editor of the organisation’s first newsletter, and a co-founder of Greenpeace International in 1979.

Environmental activists and organisations typically try and stay positive, to give people hope that we can change.

Positive signs exist, going back to the historic whaling and toxic dumping bans of the 1980s.

The 1987 Montreal Protocol, reducing CFC gas emissions, led to a partial recovery of the ozone hole.

Birth rates have declined in some regions, and forests and freshwater have been restored in some regions.

The world’s nations have, at least, made promises to reduce carbon emissions, even if action has been slow.

A challenge we face as ecologists and environmentalists, however, is that when we step back from our victories and assess the big picture – the global pace of climate change, forest loss, biodiversity decline – we must admit: our achievements have not been enough.

Children playing near a coal plant in Central Java

25 years ago, in 1992, the Union of Concerned Scientists issued the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” signed by 1,700 scientists, including most living Nobel laureates.

They presented disturbing data regarding freshwater, marine fisheries, climate, population, forests, soil, and biodiversity.

They warned that “a great change” was necessary to avoid “vast human misery.”

This year, on the 25th anniversary of that warning, the Alliance of World Scientists published a second warning – an evaluation of our collective progress.

With the exception of stabilising ozone depletion, they report that “humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse.”

A short history of warnings

Environmental awareness is not new.

Over 2,500 years ago, Chinese Taoists articulated the disconnect between human civilisation and ecological values.

Later Taoist Bao Jingyan warned that “fashionable society goes against the true nature of things… harming creatures to supply frivolous adornments.”

Modern warnings began in the 18th century, at the dawn of the industrial age, particularly from Thomas Malthus, who warned that an exponentially growing population on a finite planet would reach ecological limits.

Modern growth advocates have ridiculed Malthus for being wrong, but his logic and maths are impeccable.

He did not foresee the discovery of petroleum, which allowed economists to ignore Malthus for two centuries, aggravating the crisis that Malthus correctly identified.

Rachel Carson ignited the modern environmental movement in 1962 with Silent Spring, warning of eminent biodiversity collapse.

A decade later, in the early days of Greenpeace, the Club of Rome published The Limits To Growth, using data to describe what we could see with our eyes: declining forests and biodiversity, and resources, clashing head-on with growing human population and consumption demands.

Conventional economists mocked the idea of limits, but The Limits to Growth projections have proven accurate.

In 2009, in Nature journal, a group of scientists lead by Johan Rockström published Planetary Boundaries, warning humanity that essential ecological systems – biodiversity, climate, nutrient cycles, and others – had moved beyond ecological limits to critical tipping points.

Melting iceberg in the Southern Ocean

Three years later, 22 international scientists published a paper called ‘Approaching a State Shift in Earth’s Biosphere’ which warned that human growth had “the potential to transform Earth…  into a state unknown in human experience.” Canadian co-author, biologist Arne Mooers lamented, “humans have not done anything really important to stave off the worst. My colleagues… are terrified.”

In 2014 Michael Gerst, Paul Raskin, and Johan Rockström published ‘Contours of a Resilient Global Future’ in Sustainability 6, searching for viable future scenarios that considered both the natural limits to growth and realistic targets for human development. They warned that the challenge is “daunting” and that “marginal changes” are insufficient.

Last year, the UN International Resource Panel (IRP), published ‘Global Material Flows and Resource Productivity’ warning nations that global resources are limited, human consumption trends are unsustainable, and that resource depletion will have unpleasant impacts on human health, quality of life, and future development.

This year, the second “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity,” alerted us again that marginal changes appear insignificant and that we are surpassing “the limits of what the biosphere can tolerate without substantial and irreversible harm.”

The data speaks

The Alliance of World Scientists researchers tracked data over the last 25 years, since the 1992 warning. They cite some hopeful signs, such as the decline in ozone-depleting CFC gases, but report that, from a global perspective, our “changes in environmental policy, human behavior, and global inequities… are far from sufficient.”

Here’s what the data shows:

Ozone: CFC (chlorofluorocarbons) emissions are down by 68% since 1992, due to the 1987 UN Montreal Protocol. The ozone layer is expected to reach 1980 levels by mid-century. This is the good news.

Freshwater: Water resources per capita have declined by 26% since 1992. Today, about one billion people suffer from a lack of fresh, clean water, “nearly all due to the accelerated pace of human population growth” exacerbated by rising temperatures.

Fisheries: The global marine catch is down by 6.4% since 1992, despite advances in industrial fishing technology. Larger ships with bigger nets and better sonar cannot catch fish that are not there.

Ocean dead zones: Oxygen-depleted zones have increased by 75 %, caused by fertilizer runoff and fossil-fuel use. Acidification due to carbon emissions kills coral reefs that act as marine breeding grounds.

Forests: By area, forests have declined by 2.8% since 1992, but with a simultaneous decline in forest health, timber volume, and quality. Forest loss has been greatest where forests are converted to agricultural land. Forest decline feeds back through the ecosystem as reduced carbon sequestration, biodiversity, and freshwater.

Biodiversity: Vertebrate abundance has declined 28.9 %. Collectively, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals have declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012. This is harrowing.

CO2 emissions: Regardless of international promises, CO2 emissions have increased by 62% since 1960.

Temperature change: The global average surface temperature is increasing in parallel to CO2 emissions. The 10 warmest years in the 136-year record have occurred since 1998. Scientists warn that heating will likely cause a decline in the world’s major food crops, an increase in storm intensity, and a substantial sea level rise, inundating coastal cities.

Population: We’ve put 2 billion more humans on this planet since 1992 – that’s a 35 % increase. To feed ourselves, we’ve increased livestock by 20.5 %. Humans and livestock now comprise 98.5% of mammal biomass on Earth. The scientists stress that we need to find ways to stabilise or reverse human population growth. “Our large numbers,” they warn, “exert stresses on Earth that can overwhelm other efforts to realise a sustainable future”

Soil: The scientists report a lack of global data, but from national data we can see that soil productivity has declined around the world (by up to 50% in some regions), due to nutrient depletion, erosion, and desertification. The EU reports losing 970 million tonnes of topsoil annually to erosion. The US Department of Agriculture estimates 75 billion tons of soil lost annually worldwide, costing nations $400 billion (€340 billion) in lost crop yields.

The pending question

“We are jeopardising our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption,” the scientists warn, “and by not perceiving … population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and societal threats.”

The Alliance of World Scientists report offers some hope, in the form of steps that we can take to begin a more serious transition to sustainability:

• Expand well-managed reserves – terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and aerial – to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem services.

• Restore native plant communities, particularly forests, and native fauna species, especially apex predators, to restore ecosystem integrity.

• End poaching, exploitation, and trade of threatened species.

• Reduce food waste and promote dietary shifts towards plant-based foods.

•  Increase outdoor nature education and appreciation for children and adults.

• Divest from destructive industries and invest in genuine sustainability. That means phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels, and adopting renewable energy sources on a large scale.

• Revise economic systems to reduce wealth inequality and account for the real costs that consumption patterns impose on our environment.

• Reduce the human birth-rate with gender-equal access to education and family-planning.

These proposed solutions are not new, but the emphasis on population is important, and often overlooked. Some environmentalists avoid discussing human population, since it raises concerns about human rights. We know that massive consumption by the wealthiest 15% of us is a fundamental cause of the ecological crisis. Meanwhile, the poorest individuals consume far less than their fair share of available resources.

Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

As an ecologist, I feel compelled to ask myself: if the last 50 years of environmental action, research, warnings, meetings, legislation, regulation, and public awareness has proven insufficient, despite our victories, then what else do we need to do?

That question, and an integrated, rigorous, serious answer, needs to be a central theme of the next decade of environmentalism.

Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International.

Resources and Links:

World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice; eight authors and 15,364 scientist signatories from 184 countries; BioScience, W.J. Ripple, et. al., 13 November 2017

List of 15,364 signatories from 184 Countries: Oregon State University

Alliance of World Scientists:  Oregon State University

Recovery of Ozone depletion after Montreal Protocol: B. Ewenfeldt, “Ozonlagret mår bättre”, Arbetarbladet 12 September, 2014.

Fertility rate reduction in some regions: UN

Accuracy of Limits to Growth Study: “Is Global Collapse Imminent? An Update to Limits to Growth with Historical Data,” Graham Turner, 2014): Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute

“Contours of a Resilient Global Future,” Michael Gerst, Paul Raskin, and Johan Rockström,  Sustainability 6, 2014.

Arithmetic, Population, and Energy: Albert Bartlett video lecture on exponential growth

William Rees, The Way Forward: Survival 2100, Solutions Journal, human overshoot and genuine solutions.

Johan Rockström, et. al., “Planetary Boundaries,” Nature, September 23, 2009.

Anthony D. Barnosky, et. al., “Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere,” Nature, June 7, 2012.

Press link for more: Greenpeace

Game changer’: New vulnerability to climate change in ocean food chain. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Game changer’: New vulnerability to climate change in ocean food chain

By Peter Hannam

15 March 2018 — 5:00am

Excessive rates of carbon dioxide undermines the health of key micro-organisms in the oceans, potentially undermining the base of critical marine food chains, according to new research by US scientists.

A team of researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) applied techniques from the emerging field of synthetic biology to understand how ocean acidification from the absorption of CO2 is affecting tiny plants known as phytoplankton.

Phytoplankton like these diatoms turn out to be sensitive to ocean acidification, according to new research.

Photo: Scripps Institution/Nature

Phytoplankton are not only a key food source for global fisheries, they are also important to the removal of CO2, much like how trees absorb the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.

In a paper published on Thursday in Nature, the team demonstrated how the microscopic plants require carbonate ions to acquire iron from the water to grow.

As CO2 levels rise, the oceans have less carbonate, affecting phytoplankton’s ability to secure sufficient nutrient iron for growth. In fact, the concentration of sea surface carbonate ions are on course to drop by half by the end of this century.

“Ultimately our study reveals the possibility of a ‘feedback mechanism’ operating in parts of the ocean where iron already constrains the growth of phytoplankton,”said Jeff McQuaid, lead author of the study who made the discoveries as a PhD student at Scripps Oceanography.

“In these regions, high concentrations of atmospheric CO2 could decrease phytoplankton growth, restricting the ability of the ocean to absorb CO2 and thus leading to ever higher concentrations of CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere.”

Phytoplankton off New York. The micro-organisms help remove carbon dioxide from the ocean.

Photo: NASA

Andrew E. Allen, a biologist at Scripps and JCVI and the paper’s senior author, said that while the genetics of common animals such as rats or rabbits was well known, the same was not true of marine microbes that play important roles in the global food chain.

The researchers inserted a mutated copy of a gene into phytoplankton cells and tested how it responded to changing ocean chemistry.

“It was a complete game changer,” Professor Allen told Fairfax Media, noting interest in who acidification impacts on phytoplankton had been “a pretty intensive topic of research for the past 10-20 years” given the implication for the food web. Progress, though, had been limited until the new techniques emerged.

“With [synthetic biological] tools like this we can really study the function of a protein in detail to really enable some breakthroughs.”

Professor Allen discovered several iron-responsive genes in diatoms – a type of phytoplankton – in 2008 that had no known function.

DNA analysis of samples that were collected by Mr McQuaid during a trip in the same year to Antarctica revealed one of Professor Allen’s iron genes was not only present in every sample of seawater, but that every major phytoplankton group in the Southern Ocean seemed to have a copy.

The subsequent research centred on the more common of two methods of iron take-up by diatoms.

“In the Southern Ocean, where the temperature decreases the solubility of carbonate, we should already be in the zone where the models project which start to limit iron uptake,” Professor Allen said. “Certainly by 2100…the uptake of iron by this [primary] mechanism could be reduced by 45 per cent.”

While the micro organisms had a secondary way to extract the iron they needed to grow, that method was “a lot more energetically expensive and less efficient”, Professor Allen said.

“If you take away one kind of iron substrate, there could be ripples through the microbial food web.”

Professor Allen credited the now-Dr McQuaid for pulling together a wide-range of scientific fields – tapping experts in molecular evolution, iron and carbonate chemistry, synthetic biology and diatom biology – to “weave a coherent, integrated story”.

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Schwarzenegger to Sue Big Oil for ‘First Degree Murder’ #auspol #StopAdani

Schwarzenegger to Sue Big Oil for ‘First Degree Murder’

At SXSW, the former California governor lets loose on climate change, Donald Trump and gives his first in-depth remarks on #MeToo.


AUSTIN, Texas — Arnold Schwarzenegger’s next mission: taking oil companies to court “for knowingly killing people all over the world.”

The former California governor and global environmental activist announced the move Sunday at a live recording of POLITICO’s Off Message podcast here at the SXSW festival, revealing that he’s in talks with several private law firms and preparing a public push around the effort.

“This is no different from the smoking issue.

The tobacco industry knew for years and years and years and decades, that smoking would kill people, would harm people and create cancer, and were hiding that fact from the people and denied it.

Then eventually they were taken to court and had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars because of that,” Schwarzenegger said. “The oil companies knew from 1959 on, they did their own study that there would be global warming happening because of fossil fuels, and on top of it that it would be risky for people’s lives, that it would kill.”

Schwarzenegger said he’s still working on a timeline for filing, but the news comes as he prepares to help host a major environmental conference in May in Vienna.

“We’re going to go after them, and we’re going to be in there like an Alabama tick. Because to me it’s absolutely irresponsible to know that your product is killing people and not have a warning label on it, like tobacco,” he said. “Every gas station on it, every car should have a warning label on it, every product that has fossil fuels should have a warning label on it.”

He argues that at the very least, this would raise awareness about fossil fuels and encourage people to look to alternative fuels and clean cars.

He added, “I don’t think there’s any difference: If you walk into a room and you know you’re going to kill someone, it’s first degree murder; I think it’s the same thing with the oil companies.”

Schwarzenegger was at SXSW for an extensive discussion of lessons he learned in his seven years as governor, and how he’d apply them to the current political situation in Washington and beyond. On the list: Maximize the bully pulpit; use the carrot but have the stick ready; and no one gets a perfect “10,“ because there’s always room for improvement. Those, he said, were part of his art of the deal, and explained how he’d been able to institute major laws from worker’s compensation reform to environmental standards to a state election overhaul to implement independent redistricting and a “jungle primary” system, in which the top two advance.

Schwarzenegger also addressed, for the first time since the national reawakening around the #MeToo moment, the charges of groping and inappropriate behavior that surfaced from multiple women against him at the end of his first campaign for governor in 2003. He acknowledged that the change in the moment made a huge difference.

“Twins” star Arnold Schwarzenegger says he’s teaming up with a law firm to take on oil giants. (CARLOS ALVAREZ/VISIONSOFAMERICA/JOE SOHM/GETTY IMAGES)

“It is about time. I think it’s fantastic. I think that women have been used and abused and treated horribly for too long, and now all of the elements came together to create this movement, and now finally puts the spotlight on this issue, and I hope people learn from that,” he said. “You’ve got to take those things seriously. You’ve got to look at it and say, ‘I made mistakes. And I have to apologize.’”

He stressed the importance of sexual harassment training, like the one he made his staff do once he was elected— including himself.

“We make mistakes, and we don’t take it seriously. And then when you really think about it, you say, ‘Maybe I went too far,’” Schwarzenegger said. “You’ve got to be very sensitive about it, and you’ve got to think about the way that women feel—and if they feel uncomfortable, then you did not do the right thing.”

The past few months, he said “made me think totally differently,” adding, “I said to myself, ‘Finally.’”

Schwarzenegger took a number of shots at Donald Trump, dismissing the president’s latest attack on him, delivered at a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday night, for having “failed when he did the show,” a reference to the former governor’s rocky one-season stint as the host of “The Apprentice” on NBC last year.

“I never know really why the Russians make him say certain things,” Schwarzenegger said. “It’s beyond me. Why do you think he says those things? He’s supposed to be very busy.”

Later in the interview, he returned to the attack on Trump, teasing that the script of the new “Terminator” movie, which Schwarzenegger is set to start filming in June and is expected to be released next year, had to be rewritten to include Trump. “The T-800 model that I play, he’s traveling back in time to 2019 to get Trump out of prison,” Schwarzenegger joked.

He wouldn’t reveal any actual details about the script other than that he is still the T-800 model. This isn’t his only upcoming foray into old film franchises: He’s due to shoot “King Conan” and “Triplets,” an update on the 1988 film “Twins,” with Eddie Murphy as the third brother. (“There’s something funny there with the mixing of the sperm,” he said.)

Schwarzenegger said he’d like to see Ohio Gov. John Kasich run for president but urged him to run in the Republican primary rather than as an independent.

“He’s a great Republican,” Schwarzenegger said.

But he said don’t expect him to be a major campaign presence in 2020. He’ll be focusing on pushing gerrymandering reform, and has gotten involved again with California Republicans, with whom he’ll be meeting in the coming days back home.

“The Republicans that are the new thinking Republicans in California want to get things done,” Schwarzenegger said, adding that he wants elected officials to remember, “ultimately, you are a public servant, not a party servant.”

He urged the GOP to pay attention to what happened in California, where Democrats have become completely dominant. Republicans there, he said, “are stuck with an ideology that doesn’t really fit anymore with what people want.”

He cited the environmental work of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush as examples.

“Today, those are all things that are absolutely a no-no in the Republican Party. I didn’t change; it’s the Republican Party that’s changed,” he said. “Now we have to work very hard to get the party back to where it was.”

Back at the end of his presidency, Bill Clinton wrote Schwarzenegger a long letter that ended with Clinton urging Schwarzenegger to become a Democrat. Schwarzenegger said he wasn’t interested then, and isn’t interested now, for all his problems with Trump and the current GOP.

“That’s a fun letter, and I like supporting him on some issues,” Schwarzenegger said. “But the bottom line is that I’m a Republican, and I’m a true Republican, and I will always be a Republican. It’s a fantastic party, but they’ve veered off into the right into some strange lanes.”

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We Need Courage, Not Hope, to Face Climate Change #auspol #StopAdani

We Need Courage, Not Hope, to Face Climate Change


As a climate scientist, I am often asked to talk about hope.

Particularly in the current political climate, audiences want to be told that everything will be all right in the end. And, unfortunately, I have a deep-seated need to be liked and a natural tendency to optimism that leads me to accept more speaking invitations than is good for me.

Climate change is bleak, the organizers always say.

Tell us a happy story.

Give us hope. The problem is, I don’t have any.

I used to believe there was hope in science. The fact that we know anything at all is a miracle. For some reason, the whole world is hung on a skeleton made of physics. I found comfort in this structure, in the knowledge that buried under layers of greenery and dirt lies something universal.

It is something to know how to cut away the flesh of existence and see the clean white bones underneath.

All of us obey the same laws, whether we know them or not.

Look closely, however, and the structure of physics dissolves into uncertainty.

We live in a statistical world, in a limit where we experience only one of many possible outcomes.

Our clumsy senses perceive only gross aggregates, blind to the roiling chaos underneath.

We are limited in our ability to see the underlying stimuli that, en masse, create an event.

Temperature, for example, is a state created by the random motions of millions of tiny molecules.

We feel heat or cold, not the motion of any individual molecule.

When something is heated up, its tiny constituent parts move faster, increasing its internal energy. They do not move at the same speed; some are quick, others slow. But there are billions of them, and in the aggregate their speed dictates their temperature.

The internal energy of molecule motion is turned outward in the form of electromagnetic radiation.

Light comes in different flavors.

The stuff we see occupies only a tiny portion of a vast electromagnetic spectrum.

What we see occupies a tiny portion of a vast electromagnetic spectrum.

Light is a wave, of sorts, and the distance between its peaks and troughs determines the energy it carries.

Cold, low-energy objects emit stretched waves with long, lazy intervals between peaks.

Hot objects radiate at shorter wavelengths.

To have a temperature is to shed light into your surroundings.

You have one.

The light you give off is invisible to the naked eye.

You are shining all the same, incandescent with the power of a hundred-watt bulb.

The planet on which you live is illuminated by the visible light of the sun and radiates infrared light to the blackness of space.

There is nothing that does not have a temperature.

Cold space itself is illuminated by the afterglow of the Big Bang.

Even black holes radiate, lit by the strangeness of quantum mechanics.

There is nowhere from which light cannot escape.

The same laws that flood the world with light dictate the behavior of a carbon dioxide molecule in the atmosphere.

CO2 is transparent to the Sun’s rays.

But the planet’s infrared outflow hits a molecule in just such as way as to set it in motion.

Carbon dioxide dances when hit by a quantum of such light, arresting the light on its path to space.

When the dance stops, the quantum is released back to the atmosphere from which it came.

No one feels the consequences of this individual catch-and-release, but the net result of many little dances is an increase in the temperature of the planet.

More CO2 molecules mean a warmer atmosphere and a warmer planet.

Warm seas fuel hurricanes, warm air bloats with water vapor, the rising sea encroaches on the land.

The consequences of tiny random acts echo throughout the world.

I understand the physical world because, at some level, I understand the behavior of every small thing.

I know how to assemble a coarse aggregate from the sum of multiple tiny motions.

Individual molecules, water droplets, parcels of air, quanta of light: their random movements merge to yield a predictable and understandable whole.

But physics is unable to explain the whole of the world in which I live.

The planet teems with other people: seven billion fellow damaged creatures.

We come together and break apart, seldom adding up to an coherent, predictable whole.

I have lived a fortunate, charmed, loved life.

This means I have infinite, gullible faith in the goodness of the individual.

But I have none whatsoever in the collective.

How else can it be that the sum total of so many tiny acts of kindness is a world incapable of stopping something so eminently stoppable?

California burns. Islands and coastlines are smashed by hurricanes.

At night the stars are washed out by city lights and the world is illuminated by the flickering ugliness of reality television.

We burn coal and oil and gas, heedless of the consequences.

Our laws are changeable and shifting; the laws of physics are fixed.

Change is already underway; individual worries and sacrifices have not slowed it.

Hope is a creature of privilege: we know that things will be lost, but it is comforting to believe that others will bear the brunt of it.

We are the lucky ones who suffer little tragedies unmoored from the brutality of history.

Our loved ones are taken from us one by one through accident or illness, not wholesale by war or natural disaster.

But the scale of climate change engulfs even the most fortunate.

There is now no weather we haven’t touched, no wilderness immune from our encroaching pressure.

The world we once knew is never coming back.

I have no hope that these changes can be reversed.

We are inevitably sending our children to live on an unfamiliar planet. But the opposite of hope is not despair. It is grief. Even while resolving to limit the damage, we can mourn. And here, the sheer scale of the problem provides a perverse comfort: we are in this together.

The swiftness of the change, its scale and inevitability, binds us into one, broken hearts trapped together under a warming atmosphere.

We need courage, not hope.

Grief, after all, is the cost of being alive.

We are all fated to live lives shot through with sadness, and are not worth less for it.

Courage is the resolve to do well without the assurance of a happy ending.

Little molecules, random in their movement, add together to a coherent whole. Little lives do not. But here we are, together on a planet radiating ever more into space where there is no darkness, only light we cannot see.

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3 ‘last chance’ destinations drawing travelers worried about #climatechange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

3 ‘last chance’ destinations drawing travelers worried about climate change


Helen Zhao | @ZhaoMeow

1:42 PM ET Fri, 23 Feb 2018

Some bucket-list trips may be more about anticipating the destination’s demise than yours.

Certain countries susceptible to climate change have seen a spike in travel interest over the past year, according to a new report from travel insurance comparison web site Squaremouth.

People may be advancing their plans to see these places in all their current glory, they note.

The report is based on data Squaremouth collects when people input their destination and trip costs into the site to compare policies.

For example, interest in the Maldives — an island chain southwest of India that is fighting rising sea levels — jumped 68 percent from 2016 to 2017.

In comparison, Squaremouth’s 20 most-traveled destinations saw an average increase of 15 percent in the same time period.

Unfortunately, travel insurance doesn’t cover climate change, said Carolyn Leckie, director of marketing for Squaremouth.

But other factors, such as the cost of the trip or the remoteness of the destination, could make it worth assessing travel insurance needs for these possible “last chance” trips.

Travel interest boost: 68 percent
The Maldives has seen the biggest spike in travel, as the island nation uses mass tourism to raise the funds necessary to adapt to climate change. That includes relocating thousands of people and building the necessary infrastructure to accommodate them.
The paradise atolls, famous for their turquoise waters and idyllic beaches, may be under water by 2100, according to the United Nations. That’s a fate the Maldives is trying to avoid.
Last year, tourists flocking to the Maldives insured an average of $3,593 in nonrefundable costs, an 11 percent increase from the year before, according to Squaremouth. Those costs could include airfare, hotel, and recreational activities.
Round-trip plane tickets from New York City to the Maldives cost around $1,000 on the low end, while hotels can range from under $50 to around $2,000 per night, depending on the level of amenities.


Travel interest boost: 25 percent

Tourists may be flocking down under to view the famously colorful Great Barrier Reef before it bleaches further due to warming sea temperatures. Last year marked the first year mass bleaching is known to have happened to the 1,400-mile-long habitat two years in a row.

Travelers spent significantly more money when visiting Australia last year, Squaremouth found.

In 2017, they insured an average of $3,412 in nonrefundable costs, a 28 percent increase from the year before.

The cheapest round-trip flights to Sydney, Australia from New York City go for about $1,200, while hotels can range from just under $100 to several hundred per night.


Travel interest boost: 17 percent

Increased tourism has helped fund scientific expeditions to Antarctica, where researchers study the effects of climate change. Warming temperatures have been chipping away at the Antarctic ice and contributing to sea level rise.

In July, a 1 trillion ton iceberg the size of Delaware broke off the Larsen C ice shelf in western Antarctica. In March 2017, sea ice around the North and South Poles reached record lows for that time of year.

Traveling to Antarctica is expensive. Cruises — a popular way to see the continent — can run $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the cruise line and duration of the trip.

Last year, tourists to Antarctica insured an average of $9,279 in nonrefundable costs, a 3 percent decline from the year before, according to Squaremouth.

Press link for more: CNBC.COM

Scientists alarmed by ‘crazy’ temperature rises in the Arctic. #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol

Arctic warming: scientists alarmed by ‘crazy’ temperature rises

Record warmth in the Arctic this month could yet prove to be a freak occurrence, but experts warn the warming event is unprecedented

Jonathan WattsLast modified on Wed 28 Feb 2018 10.12 AEDT

An alarming heatwave in the sunless winter Arctic is causing blizzards in Europe and forcing scientists to reconsider even their most pessimistic forecasts of climate change.

Although it could yet prove to be a freak event, the primary concern is that global warming is eroding the polar vortex, the powerful winds that once insulated the frozen north.

The north pole gets no sunlight until March, but an influx of warm air has pushed temperatures in Siberia up by as much as 35C above historical averages this month. Greenland has already experienced 61 hours above freezing in 2018 – more than three times as many hours as in any previous year.

Seasoned observers have described what is happening as “crazy,” “weird,” and “simply shocking”.

“This is an anomaly among anomalies.

It is far enough outside the historical range that it is worrying – it is a suggestion that there are further surprises in store as we continue to poke the angry beast that is our climate,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. “The Arctic has always been regarded as a bellwether because of the vicious circle that amplify human-caused warming in that particular region. And it is sending out a clear warning.”

Although most of the media headlines in recent days have focused on Europe’s unusually cold weather in a jolly tone, the concern is that this is not so much a reassuring return to winters as normal, but rather a displacement of what ought to be happening farther north.

At the world’s most northerly land weather station – Cape Morris Jesup at the northern tip of Greenland – recent temperatures have been, at times, warmer than London and Zurich, which are thousands of miles to the south.

Although the recent peak of 6.1C on Sunday was not quite a record, but on the previous two occasions (2011 and 2017) the highs lasted just a few hours before returning closer to the historical average.

Last week there were 10 days above freezing for at least part of the day at this weather station, just 440 miles from the north pole.

“Spikes in temperature are part of the normal weather patterns – what has been unusual about this event is that it has persisted for so long and that it has been so warm,” said Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute. “Going back to the late 1950s at least we have never seen such high temperatures in the high Arctic.”

Melting ice on the Chilkat river near Haines, Alaska, in winter. Photograph: Michele Cornelius/Alamy

The cause and significance of this sharp uptick are now under scrutiny.

Temperatures often fluctuate in the Arctic due to the strength or weakness of the polar vortex, the circle of winds – including the jetstream – that help to deflect warmer air masses and keep the region cool.

As this natural force field fluctuates, there have been many previous temperature spikes, which make historical charts of Arctic winter weather resemble an electrocardiogram.

But the heat peaks are becoming more frequent and lasting longer – never more so than this year. “In 50 years of Arctic reconstructions, the current warming event is both the most intense and one of the longest-lived warming events ever observed during winter,” said Robert Rohde, lead scientist of Berkeley Earth, a non-profit organisation dedicated to climate science.

The question now is whether this signals a weakening or collapse of the polar vortex, the circle of strong winds that keep the Arctic cold by deflecting other air masses.

The vortex depends on the temperature difference between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, but that gap is shrinking because the pole is warming faster than anywhere on Earth. While average temperatures have increased by about 1C, the warming at the pole – closer to 3C – is melting the ice mass.

According to Nasa, Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 13.2% per decade, leaving more open water and higher temperatures.

Some scientists speak of a hypothesis known as “warm Arctic, cold continents” as the polar vortex becomes less stable – sucking in more warm air and expelling more cold fronts, such as those currently being experienced in the UK and northern Europe.

Rohde notes that this theory remains controversial and is not evident in all climate models, but this year’s temperature patterns have been consistent with that forecast.

Longer term, Rohde expects more variation. “As we rapidly warm the Arctic, we can expect that future years will bring us even more examples of unprecedented weather.”

Jesper Theilgaard, a meteorologist with 40 years’ experience and founder of website Climate Dissemination, said the recent trends are outside previous warming events. “No doubt these warming events bring trouble to the people and the nature. Shifting rain and snow – melt and frost make the surface icy and therefore difficult for animals to find anything to eat. Living conditions in such shifting weather types are very difficult.”

Others caution that it is premature to see this as a major shift away from forecasts. “The current excursions of 20C or more above average experienced in the Arctic are almost certainly mostly due to natural variability,” said Zeke Hausfather of Berkeley Earth. “While they have been boosted by the underlying warming trend, we don’t have any strong evidence that the factors driving short-term Arctic variability will increase in a warming world. If anything, climate models suggest the opposite is true, that high-latitude winters will be slightly less variable as the world warms.”

Although it is too soon to know whether overall projections for Arctic warming should be changed, the recent temperatures add to uncertainty and raises the possibility of knock-on effects accelerating climate change.

“This is too short-term an excursion to say whether or not it changes the overall projections for Arctic warming,” says Mann. “But it suggests that we may be underestimating the tendency for short-term extreme warming events in the Arctic. And those initial warming events can trigger even greater warming because of the ‘feedback loops’ associated with the melting of ice and the potential release of methane (a very strong greenhouse gas).”

Press link for more: The Guardian

The Water Will Come, rising seas, sinking cities. #auspol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

FEBRUARY 21, 2018

IN HIS URGENT NEW BOOK, Jeff Goodell takes readers on a tour of places likely to be swallowed up by the sea — among them Florida; New York City; Venice; Norfolk, Virginia; Rotterdam; Lagos; and the Marshall Islands.

The book tells the engrossing story of their likely demise, and how our inability to deal with climate change renders this tragedy increasingly inevitable.

Many other places, too, will be swallowed up if humans don’t stop spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And, alas, even if they do stop, there’s no telling when the sea will stop rising.

While keenly observing and poignantly describing rapidly changing coastal ecologies, Goodell also reports with empathy and acumen on his conversations with a mix of scientists, engineers, community workers, real estate agents, activists, and politicians.

At an event hosted by the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce in 2016, the theme of the evening was the “Economic Impact of Sea Level Rise.” Goodell describes chatting with a real estate broker who became apoplectic over the suggestion that flood risks related to sea-level rise should be revealed before a sale. “That would be idiotic,” she said, gulping down her gin and tonic.

“It would just kill the market.”

Some politicians, such as former President Obama and former Secretary of State John Kerry, convey to Goodell their concern about climate change, whereas, predictably, plenty of others, such as Senator John Barrasso, make clear their commitment to ignorance.

Representing the big coal state Wyoming, Barrasso introduced legislation in 2011 not only to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon pollution but also to stop the agency from even studying what is going on with the climate.

Too many politicians, some concerned with other matters and some in hock to the fossil fuel industry, are in denial. And a sizable number of them assure the general public — who, after all, want to be comforted — that climate change is either not a major concern or else a Chinese hoax, a liberal conspiracy, and a job destroyer.

They claim that coal has a future, and that drilling for oil in the Arctic, in National Parks, and off the East Coast, will “make America great again,” and that therefore no change is required to how we live, consume, and produce.

Just as chain-smoking, junk food, and sugary drinks are not a health hazard but a birthright!

In contrast to this willfully engineered popular ignorance, the consensus in the scientific community is overwhelming. Goodell recounts how scientists carefully describe to him the conclusions they draw from data trends and observable phenomena.

Already in 2005, many of them were part of the national science academies of Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States calling in a joint statement for a global response to climate change.

By late 2017, over 15,000 scientists from 184 countries around the world issued the attention-grabbing “Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice” (disclosure: I am one of its endorsers).

Taking climate change as a given, Goodell cautions in the prologue that “if you’re still questioning the link between human activity and climate change, you’re reading the wrong book.”

His purpose is not to recapitulate the science behind climate change but to show what will happen if humanity fails to stop burning fossil fuels.

Still, it is useful to review the scientific consensus, which is broadly as follows: for hundreds of thousands of years, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), the major heat-trapping (greenhouse) gas, have been between 180 and 280 parts per million (ppm). This remained so during the roughly 8,000 years of human civilization. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, humans have burned through enough fossil fuel — coal, oil, and natural gas — to add some 1,500 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, with deforestation contributing another 700 billion tons of CO2. Each year, we are adding another 40 billion tons of CO2, an amount that is still increasing.

With the data showing that global temperatures and CO2 levels are tightly linked, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide by the 1960s had risen to about 300 ppm and the Earth was getting warmer. The year 2016 was the first in which atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide were consistently above 400 ppm, and the Earth had warmed about one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in the 136 years since temperature measurements have been taken. As carbon dioxide absorbs and emits infrared radiation and thus leads to higher global surface temperature, a vicious feedback loop results: higher atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide lead to ever higher temperatures.

Unlike, say, steam, which evaporates, CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere and lingers for centuries, even thousands of years. Thus, present-day atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are the result of both cumulative emissions since the Industrial Revolution and current emissions.

In recent years, the rate of emissions has not slowed but skyrocketed — and the temperatures have been rising in tandem. To wit: The aggregate emissions of the two centuries from 1751 to 1950 were less than those of the past seven years.

From 1945 to 2016, they increased ninefold. At nearly 40 gigatons, the year 2016 set a record for CO2 emissions. It was also the hottest year ever documented, following on the record-breaking year 2015, which, in turn, came after the so-far-hottest year 2014.

As it happens, 13 of the 14 hottest years ever recorded were in the 21st century (the one prior to the 21st century was 1998, the eighth warmest). The year 2017 was the 21st consecutive year that the annual average temperature in the United States exceeded the average.

For the third consecutive year, every state across the contiguous United States and Alaska experienced above-average annual temperatures. “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it,” writes Goodell, quoting Neil deGrasse Tyson from the email signature block of Florida International University geologist Henry Briceño.

Warming is a major driver for the extreme events of the past few months, such as floods in Bangladesh, droughts in Africa, hurricanes in the Caribbean as well as in the Southern United States, and wildfires in Canada and California. The damage attributable to natural disasters in 2017 in the United States alone exceeds $300 billion (up from $75 billion for Hurricane Sandy in 2012, according to the National Center for Environmental Information), which makes prevention look like a bargain. Unless a trend reversal happens, the risk of unremitting CO2 emissions is potentially catastrophic temperature increases, which, in turn, lead to extreme weather events — hurricanes, droughts, heat or cold waves, sea-level rise owing to the collapse of large ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, disrupted global food supplies and tropical rainforests, further ocean acidification, the spread of deserts, and mass migration of climate refugees.

The reasons are legion for why doing something to counter climate change is so incredibly hard.

Perhaps too hard.

Dale Jamieson, a philosophy professor at NYU, considers climate change the largest collective-action problem humanity has ever faced. He refers not to the underlying science but to the politics — the temptation to grab a free ride, even though we know that the costs for us and everybody else will only increase as time passes.

Waiting for others to go first with reductions means that there will be no winners, and we will all be worse off.

Goodell attended the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015, when world leaders committed themselves to holding the increase in global average temperature below two degrees Celsius or 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

The Paris Agreement is a major achievement in defining problems and outlining the tasks ahead.

Yet mapping the journey is not the same as actually moving forward.

As matters stand, the emissions-pledge pathway negotiated in Paris has a probability of more than 90 percent to exceed two degrees Celsius, and only a “likely” chance of remaining below three degrees Celsius in this century.

So, even if current commitments were kept, a one-third probability of climate change in excess of three degrees Celsius would remain.

Achieving the Paris goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius — a 50 percent increase over current temperature — is all but impossible.

Climate change is caused by production and consumption patterns originating in the Industrial Revolution.

Its consequences extend far into the future and affect the entire globe.

While no one will escape, it is a cosmic injustice that the hardest hit will be those who have barely if at all contributed to the problem and are our planet’s most vulnerable citizens: the poor, the citizens of developing countries, those not yet born — as well as other species. In Goodell’s words:

Climate change was set in motion because of the two-hundred-year-long fossil fuel party the West has been throwing for itself. […] To put in perspective how little the Marshallese have done to cause the problem, consider this: the entire amount of CO2 emitted by the Marshallese in the last 50 years is less than the city of Portland, Oregon, emits in a single year.

For the citizens of the Marshall Islands, the Maldives, and many other small island states, climate change is not about costs, economic advantage, or power maximation.

It is about survival.

The Water Will Come concretely and compellingly tracks the reasons why our current production and consumption patterns are unsustainable.

Powerful economic and political interests are preventing us from taking meaningful remedial action.

Goodell is not given to drama, and more in sorrow than anger does he pile on evidence that prevention and mitigation are much cheaper in the long run than damage repair, quite apart from the intangible but surely consequential benefit of preserving nature in all its glory.

For the past several decades and more, economists have analyzed the “tragedy of the commons,” or what they term “externalities.” We can think of the atmosphere as “the commons.”

Using it as a sewer has no cost, and those who will suffer from our use and misuse of it receive no compensation.

Since market prices do not reflect the social and environmental cost of economic activity, our way of life is based on recklessly “externalizing” the costs of our lifestyle to poorer continents and future generations.

This is not a theoretical argument but an existential one.

People have become a force of nature, indeed a destroyer of nature.

Paul J. Crutzen, the Nobel Prize–winning atmospheric chemist, popularized the term “Anthropocene” to describe the new era when human actions drastically affect the Earth, threatening the regenerative, life-preserving balance of nature.

The environmental movement originally was concerned with an exploding population, a polluted nature, and the reckless exploitation of nonrenewable resources that, inevitably, would lead to a Malthusian nightmare of famine.

However, it has become increasingly clear that the danger stems less from the depletion of raw materials than from the consequences of using them.

There is a glut, not a shortage, of fossil fuels (which are cheap, since they are not priced to include the damage they cause to “the commons”), and the formidable challenge is to figure out how to leave them in the ground.

This will be hard, if it is at all possible.

All Western economies have become dependent — or rather, addicted — to fossil fuels

. The countries of the Global South, with full moral justification, aspire to the same comforts and levels of consumption as their northern neighbors.

Fossil fuel producers, whether they are companies or states, relish the income they derive from fossil fuels.

Manufacturers of cars, planes, consumer durables, electronics, and so on prefer their markets to expand.

Consumers in the North enjoy — and those in the South desire — the luxury of mobility and the convenience of enjoying a multitude of apparatuses in spacious, smoothly climatized quarters.

This unholy alliance of producers, consumers, and parochially focused governments is sleepwalking the Earth over the climate cliff.

Timely remedial action is essential, but politics is local and mired in the present.

How then can existing political institutions, mechanisms, and tools adequately deal with climate change?

Goodell interviewed President Obama, who, he thought, might balk at the phrase “climate catastrophe.” He did not. When asked if the science wasn’t scaring the hell out of him, he flatly answered, “Yeah.” Still, Obama cautioned that “no matter how urgent the science is on climate change, you have to take the politics slowly.”

It is an open question, given the current state of politics in the United States and in much of the world, if the warnings of scientists and rational arguments will catalyze action, even if only slowly. Or does the combination of self-interest, ideology, and hostility to science constitute an insurmountable roadblock to action?

Since nature is neither responsive to declarations of intent nor prone to negotiation, surely the normal tools of politics and economics do not apply. Accommodating the powerful and playing for time or splitting the difference are not going to protect the ecosphere. Discounting future benefits and assigning monetary values to biological diversity and climate stability is a hapless attempt to be rational. Too many unknown factors, including the frightful irreversibility of a number of tipping points, mean that we don’t have time to take the politics slowly. Indeed, we don’t have time for politics as currently practiced. In late January 2018, the hands of the iconic Doomsday Clock were pushed 30 seconds closer to midnight, the closest it has been since 1953 to the symbolic point of annihilation. In a statement published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, aptly titled “It is Now 2 Minutes to Midnight,” scientists involved in setting the clock warned:

[A]voiding catastrophic temperature increases in the long run requires urgent attention now … The nations of the world will have to significantly decrease their greenhouse gas emissions to keep climate risks manageable, and so far, the global response has fallen far short of meeting this challenge.

But climate change, sadly, has become an ideological battleground — even though our survival depends on its depoliticization. There will be no winners if action is delayed. It is hard to imagine today that, in 2007, Republican Senator John McCain testified to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that:

The science tells us that urgent and significant action is needed. […] If the scientists are right and temperatures continue to rise, we could face environmental, economic, and national security consequences far beyond our ability to imagine. If they are wrong and the Earth finds a way to compensate for the unprecedented levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, what will we have accomplished? Cleaner air; greater energy efficiency, a more diverse and secure energy mix, and U.S. leadership in the technologies of the future. There is no doubt; failure to act is the far greater risk.

Such courage and leadership are even more imperative today. Instead, we harbor the vain hope for a deus ex machina, some miracle cure that will, seconds before midnight, rescue us. Regardless of the facts or odds, we assume that problems won’t turn out as badly as they could have, and that solutions will somehow emerge. As the Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari, who Goodell quotes, puts it, “Governments, corporations, and citizens allow themselves to act in a very irresponsible way because they assume that when push comes to shove, the scientists will invent something that will save the day.”

A cacophonic public discourse and an overcrowded political agenda militate against taking action on what, in the public mind, is a clear-but-not-quite-present danger. Change occurring over years and decades, Goodell reminds us, is the kind of threat that we humans are genetically ill-equipped to deal with. “We have evolved to defend ourselves from a guy with a knife or an animal with big teeth, but we are not wired to make decisions about barely perceptible threats that gradually accelerate over time.”

Jeff Goodell’s excellent book gives new meaning to “après moi le déluge.” However, this time, the water will rise not after, but during, our lifetime.


Franz Baumann is a visiting professor at NYU whose work focuses on the international governance of climate change. Prior to entering academia, Baumann worked for the United Nations for over 30 years. He is currently working on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Press link for more: LA Review of Books

There’s no Time left! #auspol #StopAdani #ClimateChange an existential threat

By Robert Hunziker

Imagine a scenario with no temperature difference between the equator and the North Pole. That was 12 million years ago when there was no ice at either pole.

In that context, according to professor James G. Anderson of Harvard University, carbon in the atmosphere today is the same as 12 million years ago.

The evidence is found in the paleoclimate record.

It’s irrefutable.

Meaning, today’s big meltdown has only just started.

And, we’ve got 5 years to fix it or endure Gonzo World.

That’s one big pill to swallow!

That scenario comes by way of interpretation of a speech delivered by James G. Anderson at the University of Chicago in January 2018 when he received the Benton Medal for Distinguished Public Service, in part, for his groundbreaking research that led to the Montreal Protocol in 1987 to mitigate damage to the Ozone Layer.

At the time, Anderson was the force behind the most important event in the history of atmospheric chemistry, discovering and diagnosing Antarctica’s ozone hole, which led to the Montreal Protocol. Without that action, ramifications would have been absolutely catastrophic for the planet.

Stratospheric ozone is one of the most delicate aspects of planet habitability, providing protection from UV radiation for all life forms.

If perchance the stratospheric ozone layer could be lowered to the ground, stacking the otherwise dispersed molecules together, it would be 1/8th of an inch in thickness or the thickness of two pennies.

That separates humanity from burning up as the stratospheric ozone absorbs 98% of UV radiation.

In his acceptance speech, James G. Anderson, Harvard professor of atmospheric chemistry, now warns that it is foolhardy to assume we can recover from the global warming leviathan simply by cutting back emissions.

Accordingly, the only way humanity can dig itself out of the climate change/global-warming hole is by way of a WWII type effort with total transformation of industry off carbon and removal of carbon from the atmosphere within five years.

The situation is so dire that it requires a worldwide Marshall Plan effort, plus kneeling in prayer.

Additionally, Anderson says the chance of permanent ice remaining in the Arctic after 2022 is zero.

Already, 80% is gone.

The problem: Without an ice shield to protect frozen methane hydrates in place for millennia, the Arctic turns into a methane nightmare.

This is comparable to poking the global warming monster with a stick, as runaway global warming (“RGW”) emerges from the depths. Interestingly enough, the Arctic Methane Emergency Group/UK, composed of distinguished scientists, seems to be in agreement with this assessment.

Assuming professor Anderson is as accurate now as he was about the Ozone dilemma, then what can be done?

After all, the world’s biggest economy, which has over-reaching influence on the biosphere, is under the influence of anti-science leadership.

In fact, the Trump group is driving scientists out.

France is hiring left and right under its “Make Our Planet Great Again” initiative.

Thirteen of the initial eighteen French science grantees are from the U.S.

The world cannot count on leadership from America.

In fact, quite the opposite as America gears up for massive fossil fuel production like never before just as the biosphere starts crumbling.

Leadership by arrogance is a deadly deathly exercise.

Donald Trump claims the Paris ‘15 accord will hurt U.S. business because it requires reduction of emissions.

That’s costly.

He’s got it backwards.

U.S. business and neoliberal tenets destroy the climate whilst creating an inverted pyramid of wealth that undermines the entire socio-politico-economic fabric.

It’s the one-two punch, (1) ignoring and abusing the biosphere because “care for the planet” requires extra costs that eat into corporate profits whilst (2) undercutting upward mobility as American wages are exported and destroyed when U.S. manufacturing offshores to low wage countries like China and Mexico and Thailand.

What could be worse for American workers than competition with the lowest common denominator in the world while living in a dicey biosphere?

In part, it’s why the American middle class is almost broke, actually appended to credit cards in debt up to eyeballs.

As such, between squeezing the daylights out of middle class pocketbooks and abusing the biosphere, U.S. leadership stinks so badly that it demands outright change, similar to France in the late 18th century when thousands of arrogant aristocrats were beheaded in the streets, and the American Revolution (1775-83) when colonists got fed up with the madness of their leader, King George III. Except, King George was the first British monarch to study science. Still, the king suffered from “acute mania.”

Good News: There is a silver lining to the Trump presidency: Inept, arrogant, stupid leadership often times serves as a catalyst, often times revolutionary, for major changes in the socio-politico-economic fabric of society. This is seen throughout history. The reasoning is simple enough. Inept leadership brings to surface all of the warts for all to see. The deficiencies and inequities are not only exposed but also hit citizenry over the head like a leaden hammer. Suddenly, people awaken from their deep coma and kick the bums out. In the case of King Louis XVI of France, he was beheaded before a crowd of tens of thousands in the streets of Paris. In the case of King George III, his ineptness led to the American Revolution. Both leaders served as catalyst to radical change. Today, the warts are (1) neoliberal globalism with its tail of inequities, leaving 90% of society choking on dust. “The one percent” says it all, and (2) fossil fuel use/abuse, as the planet chokes on a dust cloud so thick that it’s losing its breath (new research shows that global warming destroys oxygen). There’s one powerful catalyst, amongst many!

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More articles by:ROBERT HUNZIKER

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at

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Climate Change will accelerate extreme weather events #auspol #StopAdani

Climate change will accelerate extreme weather events in the coming years

Living on Earth

February 18, 2018 · 10:15 AM EST

This Jan. 4 Geocolor image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) GOES-16 satellite captured the record “bomb cyclone” nor’easter that battered the East Coast of the United States in January 2018.  Credit: NOAA

Humanity is now facing an ever-increasing threat of unpredictable and extreme weather, climate scientists warn.

While global warming is creating more powerful storms and record-breaking, drought-driven wildfires, it would be a mistake to view these events as the “new normal,” they say.

The planet has not reached a new climate stability, so the years ahead could be quite a lot worse.

“‘New normal’ implies that we reach some new sort of equilibrium and that’s where things stay, whereas what we’re looking at is an ever-shifting baseline,” says Penn State professor and atmospheric scientist Michael Mann.

“If we continue to emit these warming greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, then the heat waves will become more frequent and more intense, [along with] droughts, wildfires and floods,” he continues. “We are seeing a taste of what’s in store and there’s no question in my mind that, in the unprecedented extreme weather that we’ve seen over the past year, we can see the fingerprint of human influence on our climate.”

Scientists have long predicted the type of events that occurred in 2017. A warming Earth and warming oceans would supply more energy to intensify hurricanes and killer storms; more moisture in the atmosphere would increase the amount of heavy rainfall leading to Harvey- and Irma-like floods; and, while it seems paradoxical, as the rainfall events become more intense, they would be fewer and farther between, creating more widespread drought.

“The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle,” Mann says. “We are seeing them play out now in the form of these unprecedented events.”

So, even while EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt personally oversees the scrubbing of the term “climate change” from federal government websites, states, cities, towns and municipalities are planning for climate change’s costs and consequences. And taxpayers are paying the tab: $306 billion in 2017 alone — and that number is expected to increase.

“If you talk to the leading economists who study climate change mitigation, they will tell you that the cost of inaction is already far greater than the cost of action — which is to say, doing something about the problem, imposing a price on carbon emissions, is a much cheaper option than the option of not doing anything and experiencing more of these devastating $300 billion or greater annual tolls from climate change,” Mann says.

The Trump administration’s actions, through the EPA and the Departments of the Interior and Energy, increase the risk of incurring even higher costs, in lives and money, from the effects of extreme weather, Mann believes.

“Right now, here in the United States, we don’t have the support at the executive level that we’d like to see for climate action,” Mann says. “The risks are clear. They’re not subtle anymore. We’re seeing them play out. [The] extreme weather and climate-related damage this last year … had the fingerprint of human impact on climate. It doesn’t stop there. If we continue not to act, then the damages accrue.”

“Pretty soon, we commit to the melting of much of the Greenland ice sheet and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet,” he continues, “and sea level rise, that thus far had been limited to less than a foot, starts to become measured in feet and then pretty soon in meters and yards.”

“So, there isn’t a new normal,” he concludes. “Things get continually worse if we go down this highway. What we need to do is to take the earliest exit ramp that we can in the form of decreasing our emissions and transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy.”

This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Living on Earth with Steve Curwood.

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