Australia

Cost of fossil fuel investment is too high #auspol #qldpol @ANZ_AU @CommBank #divest #climatechange #StopAdani

by Tim Radford

Fossil fuel investment is not just bad for the global climate. It could also be dangerous for investors, and for national economies.

LONDON, 12 June, 2018 – European and Chinese scientists have identified a simple new way to become poor: fossil fuel investment.

Not only could it leave you without a penny to your name.

It could perhaps precipitate a global financial crash within one generation.

Coal, oil and natural gas are already huge investments.

The International Energy Agency foresees price rises until 2040, and investor confidence is high. But researchers from the Netherlands, the UK and Macao don’t see it that way.

They warn in the journal Nature Climate Change that, whatever the markets think, and whatever governments do, change is on the way.

Other forces are now driving global power and transportation in directions that suggest a dramatic decline in demand for fossil reserves. These will become what the money markets call “stranded assets”, and their value will slump some time before 2035.

And this bursting of what researchers call “the carbon bubble” – a reference to a three-centuries old financial disaster known to historians as the South Sea Bubble – could wipe between one and four trillion US dollars off the global economy. The financial crash of 2008  was triggered by a loss of a mere $0.25 trillion.

“Our analysis suggests that, contrary to investor expectations, the stranding of fossil fuel assets may happen even without new climate policies”

The scientists base their conclusion on a computer simulation known by the migraine-inducing acronym E3ME-FTT-GENIE, which is short for Energy-Environment-Economy Macroeconomic-Future Technology Transformations Grid Enabled Integrated Earth. They say it is the only such model that looks at the big picture: the macroeconomy, energy, the environment and global energy and transport systems according to both sector and geography.

Their argument is that the world is heading towards greater fuel efficiencies, renewable energy and low carbon technologies, whatever governments and the money markets may think.

In 2015, in Paris, 195 nations vowed to contain global warming – driven by greenhouse gases emitted from fossil fuel combustion – to “well below” 2°C above the historic levels. Economists and climate scientists have repeatedly warned that fossil fuels would be a bad bet. There has been evidence since the Paris Agreement that national and international action so far taken is not enough: the world could be heading for at least a 3°C rise this century.

The implication of the latest study is that, unless the world faces this reality, and switches to low-carbon investments, the global economy could suddenly collapse.

“Our analysis suggests that, contrary to investor expectations, the stranding of fossil fuel assets may happen even without new climate policies. This suggests a carbon bubble is forming and is likely to burst,” said Jorge Viñuales, of the University of Cambridge, and one of the authors.

“Individual nations cannot avoid the situation by ignoring the Paris Agreement or burying their heads in coal and tar sands. For too long, global climate policy has been seen as a prisoner’s dilemma game, where some nations can do nothing and get a free ride on the efforts of others. Our results show this is no longer the case.”

$4tn time-bomb

There is a catch: suppose nations become aware of the danger. A sudden push to fulfil the 2°C promise, combined with declines in fossil fuel demand but continued high output of fossil fuels, could trigger a collapse that would wipe $4 trillion off the global balance sheets.

Canada, Russia and the US would see their fossil fuel industries collapse. Fuel-importing nations such Japan, China and most EU countries might gain, especially if they had invested in low-carbon technologies to create jobs and boost gross domestic product.

“If we are to defuse this time-bomb in the global economy, we need to move promptly but cautiously. The carbon bubble must be deflated before it becomes too big, but progress must also be carefully managed,” said Hector Pollitt, of the University of Cambridge, and another of the authors.

“If countries keep investing in equipment to search for, extract, process and transport fossil fuels, even though their demand declines, they will end up losing money on these investments on top of their losses due to limited exports,” said Jean-François Mercure of Radboud University at Nijmegen in the Netherlands, and of Cambridge, who led the study. “Divestment from fossil fuels is both a prudent and necessary thing to do.” – Climate News Network

Press link for more: Climate News Network

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India Increases Its Massive 2022 Renewable Energy Target By 28% #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange

By

Kurt Lowder

June 10th, 2018

For the last several years, CleanTechnica has covered renewable energy development in India quite closely.

Several years ago, India set what seemed like a lofty target of 175 gigawatts of wind and solar energy by March 2022.

Few believed that was a practical target, but then India plowed forward and happily impressed the world.

This week that goal was increased to 227 gigawatts!

Currently, India has added a little more than 70 gigawatts of that goal.

Assessing the progress to date on a linear scale, the trend would seem to indicate the country is behind.

However, renewable energy growth is not linear.

For a few years, renewable energy prices in India were rather high due to high finance costs. Now that those finance costs have come down substantially, renewable energy investment is accelerating.

In a recent statement to the media, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) wrote, “New opportunities have emerged — altogether a new business space has been created. Indian companies have begun to explore foreign stock exchanges as a source of funds. India is progressively becoming a most favored destination for investment in renewables.”

Of course, global prices for renewable energy have continued to drop as well, allowing this goal to be increased. R K Singh, Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy, recently stated at a press conference, “India’s current renewable-based power capacity stands at 70 Gw, and we will cross the 175-Gw target well before 2022. We have new schemes like offshore wind, floating solar, which will help us over-achieve the current target.”

Should India reach this new goal, it will be only behind China and the US in terms of installed renewable energy capacity. This increased goal is perfect timing as it is expected that renewable energy growth in China may contract this year due to lower subsidies.

Energy demand in India continues to grow and renewable energy is allowing that demand to be met at the best price possible. Unfortunately, India continues to add thermal (fossil fuel) power each year, but the good news is its utilization is decreasing. With the old renewable energy target, thermal power plant utilization was expected to be 57%; with the new target, it stands to reason that will drop even further.

The Indian government is going all out to ensure renewable energy is integrated into the national grid and curtailments are minimized. According to the ministry, “We have waived the Inter State Transmission System charges and losses for inter-state sale of solar and wind power for projects to be commissioned by March 2022. This will encourage setting up of the projects in states that have greater resource potential and availability of suitable land.”

It is truly incredible to see developing countries begin to take the lead with regard to installing renewable energy. It was not long ago that they complained they could not take a global role in fighting climate change. Now that renewable energy makes sense economically, they are taking a leading role in continuing to bring down the costs of renewable energy.

Every country can expect to benefit from this drastic investment in renewables by India. Their additions will continue to drive down the cost of renewables. Consequently, we can expect to see more fossil fuel power plants across the world stranded. While it is sad to see that the current US government is taking a step backwards in regards to renewable energy, actions by countries like India can help pick up the slack. When the US political climate changes, renewable energy prices will be substantially lower and we can get on with the transition at a feverous pace.

Image by Siemens Gamesa

World Wakes up to Climate Migration #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange #refugees

By Harjeet Singh

Harjeet Singh is Global Lead on Climate Change at ActionAid International and is based in New Delhi*

Millions of people worldwide are being displaced by natural disasters triggered partially by climate change, and the international community is finally taking steps to mitigate the suffering.

Sahara Begum of Nadagari village in Jamalpur district lost her home and all her assets to the 2017 floods in Bangladesh. Thousands like her now eke out a living in Dhaka and other cities. Credit: Md Sariful Islam / ActionAid

NEW DELHI, Jun 11 2018 (IPS) – This year is set to be an important milestone in the arduous journey of climate migrants.

The global community is now beginning to fathom the challenges of people displaced by events such as floods, storms and sea level rise that are partly fuelled by climate change.

Natural disasters forced over 18 million people out of their homes in 135 countries just last year, according to a new global report released by Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). It highlights that weather-related hazards triggered the vast majority of the displacement, with floods and storms accounting for more than 80% of the incidents. China, the Philippines, Cuba and the US were the worst affected.

“Climate change is becoming a critical driver of displacement risk across the world, in combination with rapid and badly managed urbanisation, and increasing levels of inequality and persistent poverty,” Bina Desai, Head of Policy and Research at IDMC told indiaclimatedialogue.net.

The study further cites that hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria broke several records in the Atlantic and Caribbean, and a series of storms in South and East Asia and Pacific displaced large numbers of people throughout the year.

Highest disaster displacement risk

In South Asia alone, heavy monsoon floods and tropical cyclones have displaced 2.8 million, and in relation to its population size, the region has the highest disaster displacement risk globally. Bangladesh, India and Pakistan are among the 10 countries in the world with highest levels of displacement risk related to sudden-onset events.

In addition, displacement linked to slow-onset events such as sea level rise, desertification and salinisation are displacing millions more, particularly in the Sub-Saharan Africa and Pacific regions.

“No country is immune to climate change impacts anymore,” Sanjay Vashist, Director, Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA), told indiaclimatedialogue.net. “South Asia has 22% of the world’s population but it houses 60% of the poor with the least capacity to confront increasing climate impacts.”

Millions of people in the Sundarbans — a unique mangrove ecosystem shared by Bangladesh and India — are already facing the brunt of rising sea and high intensity storms more frequently. These low-lying islands away from the global attention has already seen thousands being displaced, many of them permanently to inland cities, to eke out a living. See: Sinking Sundarbans islands underline climate crisis

Migration gets centre stage

It was the UN climate change summit in the Mexican city of Cancún in 2010 that for the first time recognised the relationship between climate change and different forms of forced human mobility.

It called on governments to “commit to measures to enhance understanding, coordination and cooperation with regard to climate change induced displacement, migration and planned relocation.” Decisions at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summits advanced the agenda in subsequent years. A high-level political boost came at the Paris summit in 2015.

The Paris Agreement not only acknowledged the rights of migrants but also gave a mandate to establish a Task Force on Displacement to provide recommendations to the Conference of Parties (COP), the apex body of the UNFCCC.

A year later, 193 nations at the UN General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, recognising the need for a comprehensive approach to issues related to migration and refugees and enhanced global cooperation.

It decided to start the process in April 2017 to develop a “Global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.” Since then, several consultations have been organised to gather inputs from various regions and stakeholders.

The on-going negotiations will be concluded this July and the General Assembly will then hold an intergovernmental conference on international migration in 2018 in Morocco to adopt the global compact.

Along the same lines, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) jointly hosted a stakeholder meeting in May on behalf of the UNFCCC Task Force on Displacement.

More than 60 experts from governments, regional organisations, civil society and international organisations contributed in drafting recommendations to avert, minimise and address displacement in the context of climate change.

After the discussion in its forthcoming September meeting, the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage will present the recommendations for adoption at the Katowice Climate Change Conference (COP 24) in December 2018.

“As climate change is already contributing to forced migration and displacement now and will continue to do so in the future, the recommendations of the Task Force can help develop a more prospective approach to managing displacement risk, including more equitable financing and risk reduction,” Desai told indiaclimatedialogue.net.

Migration as adaptation

There is an on-going discussion to consider migration as an adaptation strategy and not just a desperate measure taken by people badly hit by climate impacts. The answer lies in analysing whether the recourse taken by climate victims offers them better quality of life or an unsafe situation devoid of identity and inadequate access to basic services like healthcare, shelter, sanitation and security.

“If we invest in climate action today, we reduce the risks of displacement due to climate change for future generations,” said Dina Ionesco, IOM Head of Migration, Environment and Climate Change division. “It will mean reducing losses and damages that occur when migration is a tragedy and a last resort.”

But, Ionesco added, “We also have to think migration policy and practice with innovative eyes, so as to see how safe and orderly migration can provide solutions and opportunities for people who are affected by climate change to move in a dignified manner.”

All eyes are now on the December climate summit in Poland, with a few rounds of talks in between, when both the UN processes involving almost 200 countries conclude, collectively aiming to protect the safety, dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants.

“Migration remains the only option left for people who permanently lose home and income to climate change impacts,” said Vashist. “The issue requires serious attention from our governments and the global community alike.”

Press link for more: IPS NEWS

‘Carbon Bubble’ Could Cost World Trillions #StopAdani #ClimateChange @ANZ_AU @CommBank #auspol #qldpol #Divest

Singapore-Supertrees are generating solar power, acting as air venting for conservatories, and collecting rain water, June 11, 2015 (Photo by Güldem Üstün) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

CAMBRIDGE, UK, June 7, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Globally, the consumption of fossil fuels will slow down or decline in the near future as a result of fast-moving technological change and new climate policies, creating a “dangerous carbon bubble,” finds a newly published study by an international team of scientists.

If not deflated early, the carbon bubble could lead to a discounted global wealth loss of between US$1 trillion and $4 trillion, a loss comparable to what triggered the 2007 financial crisis, the study shows.

Relying on groundbreaking modeling techniques, researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands, the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance (C-EENRG), Cambridge Econometrics, The Open University in the UK and the University of Macau were able to show that the demise of the fossil-fuel industry will have profound economic and geopolitical consequences.

The study is published in the current issue of the journal “Nature Climate Change.”

“If countries keep investing in equipment to search for, extract, process and transport fossil fuels, even though their demand declines, they will end up losing money on these investments on top of their losses due to limited exports,” explains co-author Dr. Jean-Francois Mercure of Radboud University and C-EENRG.

“Countries should instead carefully deflate the carbon bubble through investment in a variety of industries and steady divestment,” he advises. “The way in which this is done will determine the impact of the ongoing low-carbon transition on the financial sector.”

This transition will result in clear winners, importers such as China and the European Union, and losers, exporters such as Russia, the United States and Canada, which could see their fossil-fuel industries nearly shut down.

If these countries keep up their investment and production levels despite declining demand, the global wealth loss could be huge. Even the United States could not pull out from this transition, as it would only hurt itself even more, the researchers warn.

This new study is more conservative in its warnings than a 2013 research paper from Carbon Tracker and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics. That paper calls for regulators, governments and investors to re-evaluate energy business models against carbon budgets, to prevent a $6 trillion carbon bubble in the next decade.

The Underlying Reasoning

Quite a few major economies rely heavily on fossil-fuel production and exports. The price of fossil-fuel companies’ shares is calculated under the assumption that all fossil-fuel reserves will be consumed.

But to do so would be inconsistent with the tight carbon budget set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, which limits the increase in global average temperature to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.”

According to a 2015 study in the journal “Nature,” an estimated third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and more than 80 percent of known coal reserves should remain unused in order to meet global temperature targets under the Paris Agreement.

To date the Paris accord has not deterred continuing investment in fossil fuels because of the belief that climate-friendly policies will not be adopted, at least not in the near future.

But the researchers show that ongoing technological change, by itself and even without new climate policies, is already reducing global demand growth for fossil fuels, which could peak in the near future.

Examples are clean technologies in power generation, cars and households that become more efficient and so reduce the use of fossil fuels.

For instance, countries, states and cities representing 75 percent of new passenger car sales in 2016 have established electric vehicle targets totaling 15.1 million, providing policy certainty of a transition away from oil consuming vehicles.

New climate policies would aggravate the impact of policies like this, Dr. Mercure and his colleagues believe.

Because the Trump Administration has proclaimed the United States’ intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the scientists also modeled what would happen if the United States did continue to invest in fossil-fuel assets instead of diversifying and divesting from them.

The analysis shows the GDP of the United States would be reduced even further.

Dr. Mercure clarifies this point, saying, “With a declining global fossil-fuel demand, fossil-fuel production in the USA is becoming uncompetitive, and may shut down.”

“If the USA remains in the Paris Agreement, it will promote new low-carbon technologies and reduce its consumption of fossil fuels, creating jobs and mitigating its loss of income, despite losing its fossil-fuel industry,” he said.

“If it pulls out, it will nevertheless lose its fossil-fuel industry, but by not promoting low-carbon technologies, will miss out on job creation opportunities, while increasing its fossil-fuel imports by not reducing its domestic fossil-fuel consumption. The outcome is therefore worse if the USA pulls out,” said Dr. Mercure.

The process of transition towards a low-carbon economy is now becoming “inevitable,” as policies supporting this change have been developed and gradually implemented for some time in many countries, the authors point out.

Hector Pollitt, study co-author from Cambridge Econometrics and C-EENRG, says, “This new research clearly shows the mismatch between the reductions in fossil fuel consumption required to meet carbon targets and the behavior of investors.”

“Governments have an important role to play in emphasizing commitments to meet the Paris Agreement to ensure that the significant detrimental economic and geopolitical consequences we have identified are avoided,” warned Pollitt.

The authors conclude that economic damage from a carbon bubble burst could be avoided by decarbonizing early.

Divestment is Prudent

“We should be carefully looking at where we are investing our money. For instance, much like companies, pension funds and other institutions currently invest in fossil-fuel assets. Following recommendations from central banks, commercial banks are increasingly looking at the financial risks of stranded fossil-fuel assets, even though their possible impacts have not yet been fully determined,” said Mercure.

“Until now, observers mostly paid attention to the likely effectiveness of climate policies, but not to the ongoing and effectively irreversible technological transition,” Mercure concludes. “This level of ‘creative destruction’ appears inevitable now and must be carefully managed.”

Another new study, released June 4, bolsters these findings.

Policymakers are being misinformed by the results of economic models that underestimate the future risks of climate change impacts, according to the new paper by authors in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Published in the “Review of Environmental Economics and Policy” calls for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to improve how it analyzes the results of economic modeling as it prepares its Sixth Assessment Report, due to be published in 2021 and 2022.

The IPCC is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. It has 195 member states.

The paper’s authors point to “mounting evidence that current economic models of the aggregate global impacts of climate change are inadequate in their treatment of uncertainty and grossly underestimate potential future risks.”

This study, “Recommendations for Improving the Treatment of Risk and Uncertainty in Economic Estimates of Climate Impacts in the Sixth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report,” was written by Thomas Stoerk of the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund, Gernot Wagner of the Harvard University Center for the Environment and Bob Ward of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

They warn that the assessment models used by economists “largely ignore the potential for ‘tipping points’ beyond which impacts accelerate, become unstoppable, or become irreversible.”

Featured image: Heavy seas engulf the Block Island Wind Farm, the first U.S. offshore wind farm, located off the coast of Rhode Island in the Atlantic Ocean. It came online in December 2016. (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / National Renewable Energy Laboratory) Public domain

Press link for more: Maximpactblog

Big Oil CEOs needed a #climatechange reality check. The #Pope delivered #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #TofuTyrant #GreenActivist @CourierMail

Big Oil CEOs needed a climate change reality check. The Pope delivered |

By Bill McKibben

At a gathering of fossil fuel executives at the Vatican, Pope Francis spoke much-needed common sense about climate change

‘Good common sense speaks even more loudly when it comes from unexpected corners.’ Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

You kind of expect popes to talk about spiritual stuff, kind of the way you expect chefs to discuss spices or tree surgeons to make small talk about overhanging limbs.

Which is why it was so interesting this week to hear Pope Francis break down the climate debate in very practical and very canny terms, displaying far more mathematical insight than your average world leader and far more strategic canniness than your average journalist. In fact, with a few deft sentences, he laid bare the hypocrisy that dominates much of the climate debate.

The occasion was the gathering of fossil fuel executives at the Vatican, one of a series of meetings to mark the third anniversary of Laudato Si, his majestic encyclical on global warming. The meetings were closed, but by all accounts big oil put forward its usual anodyne arguments: any energy transition must be slow, moving too fast to renewable energy would hurt the poor by raising prices, and so forth.

In response, Francis graciously thanked the oil executives for attending, and for “developing more careful approaches to the assessment of climate risk”. But then he got down to business. “Is it enough?” he asked. “Will we turn the corner in time? No one can answer that with certainty, but with each month that passes, the challenge of energy transition becomes more pressing.” Two and a half years after the Paris climate talks, he pointed out, “carbon dioxide emissions and atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases remain very high. This is disturbing and a cause for real concern.” Indeed.

It’s odd to have the pope schooling energy executives on the math of carbon

What’s really “worrying”, though, “is the continued search for new fossil fuel reserves, whereas the Paris agreement clearly urged keeping most fossil fuels underground”. And in that small sentence he calls the bluff on most of what passes for climate action among nations and among fossil fuel companies. Yes, Donald Trump notwithstanding, most countries have begun to take some steps to reduce demand for energy over time. Yes, oil companies have begun to grudgingly issue “climate risk reports” and divert minuscule percentages of their research budgets to renewables.

(I guess that according to Brisbane’s Courier Mail & Australian resources chiefs the Pope is just another “Green Activist” supporting “Tofu Tyrant “)

But no one has been willing to face the fact that we have to leave more than 80% of known fossil fuel reserves underground if we have any chance of meeting the Paris targets. No company has been willing to commit to leaving the coal and oil and gas in the earth, and almost no nation has been willing to make them do so. Instead, the big fossil fuel countries continue to aid and abet the big fossil fuel companies in the push for more mining and drilling. In Australia, the Turnbull government backs a massive new coalmine; in Canada, the Trudeau government literally buys a pipeline to keep the tar sands expanding; in the US, the federal government might as well be a wholly owned subsidiary of the fossil fuel companies.

In fact, as Francis points out, it’s not just that these companies and countries are committed to digging up the reserves they currently have. Even more insanely, they’re out there exploring for more. Companies like Exxon devote billions and billions of dollars to finding new oil fields, even though we have far more oil than we could ever safely burn.

All of this is morally wrong, as Francis points out. “Decisive progress cannot be made without an increased awareness that all of us are part of one human family, united by bonds of fraternity and solidarity. Only by thinking and acting with constant concern for this underlying unity that overrides all differences, only by cultivating a sense of universal intergenerational solidarity, can we set out really and resolutely on the road ahead,” he says.

Which is great – it’s the job of religious leaders to remind us to think beyond our own self-interest.

But Francis also understands that our current approach makes no mathematical sense. We can’t have a nice, slow, easy transition because we can’t put barely any more carbon in the atmosphere. We must solve the problem of energy access for the poor by using renewables, not fossil fuel, because “our desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments and increased levels of poverty”. Above all, we’ve got to pay as much attention to actual reality as we do to political reality: “Civilization requires energy, but energy use must not destroy civilization!”

Bill McKibben on his recent trip to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

It’s odd to have the pope schooling energy executives on the math of carbon. But actually, no odder than NFL quarterbacks schooling politicians on racial injustice, or high school kids schooling a nation on the danger of guns. Amid the unprecedented wave of nonsense coming from DC, it’s good to remember that there are still people of all kinds able to pierce through the static and the shouting. Good common sense speaks even more loudly when it comes from unexpected corners.

Bill McKibben is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College and the founder of the climate campaign 350.org

Press link for more: The Guardian

Let’s have a debate about sea level rise. #auspol #qldpol #climatechange #StopAdani

Let’s have a worthy debate about sea level rise

BY MICHAEL E. MANN AND ANDREA DUTTON, OPINION CONTRIBUTORS — 06/13/18 08:30 AM EDT

While there is a worthy debate to be had about what we do to address the threat to our coastlines posed by global sea level rise, there is no longer a worthy debate about whether that threat exists, or what is causing it.

Global sea level rise is the direct result of human-driven global warming as planet-warming greenhouse gases build up in our atmosphere. And, yes — as much as all of us wish it were otherwise — our ongoing dependence on fossil fuels is a big part of the problem.

The basics are easy to understand.

As the oceans warm, seawater expands. As glaciers and ice sheets warm, they melt. To deny these facts is not just to deny climate change.

It is to deny basic physics.

This is precisely what Fred Singer did in his June 8 commentary in The Hill entitled “There’s no need to panic about the rising sea level.” (Tell that, by the way, to those in Miami Beach or Hampton Roads Virginia, in New York City, North Carolina’s Outer Banks, or yes, Washington, D.C., itself.)

Singer is arguably the granddaddy of modern-day climate change denialism.

His latest commentary echoes the same misinformation as his recent Wall Street Journal commentary, “The Sea Is Rising, but Not Because of Climate Change.” It presents a virtual laundry list of discredited climate change denier talking points. No, sea levels aren’t rising at a steady rate — they are in fact accelerating.

The rate of ice sheet melting in Greenland and Antarctica is also accelerating, in part due to warming oceans that erode the ice from beneath, destabilizing it.

These observations fly in the face of those who try to argue that sea level will continue to rise at the same rate, which is why legitimate scientific conclusions are reached not in op-ed pieces such as Singer’s, but through careful peer-reviewed research.

That research shows that sea levels are rising and human-caused climate change is the cause.

Don’t just take our word for it; help yourself to the mountain of scientific literature demonstrating these inescapable conclusions.

Singer indeed knows that he doesn’t have the facts on his side, so he engages in distortion and diversion. For example, he takes a swipe at one of us as an “alarmist,” attacking the “Hockey Stick” curve published more than two decades ago demonstrating that recent warming is unprecedented in at least a thousand years. That work has been overwhelmingly reaffirmed and extended by subsequent work by numerous independent scientific teams. But professional climate change deniers continue to attack the curve because it is an iconic reminder of the profound impact that we are now having on this planet.

Perhaps because of the images of flooding that now permeate news broadcasts around the world as the seas rise and invade our coastlines, we are seeing a renewed attack on climate science: this time to discredit the link between human-caused climate change and sea level rise. Yet, even wealthy stretches of coastal real estate are feeling the pain of increased coastal flooding, the incidence of which has doubled over the past 30 years.

It is time to pivot and confront this head on. Even Singer’s opinion pieces do not deny the fact that sea level is rising. This is an issue that we can all get behind. Ensuring a secure coastal economy will benefit Americans of every stripe. If in doubt, just take in the symbolism painted inside of the dome of the U.S. Capitol building next time you walk through and note Minerva (science), Neptune (marine), and Mercury (commerce).

It is high time for all of us to roll up our sleeves and address the gradual yet persistent attack that is bearing down on our coastlines, an attack that unquestionably threatens the safety and security of the United States. Without strong policy to quickly slow and eventually eliminate fossil fuel emissions, the seas will rise faster and faster, resulting in trillions of dollars of economic damages and displacement of hundreds of millions of refugees from every coastal city in the world. That may sound daunting — and the implications of scientific research sometimes are — but scientific knowledge also can be incredibly empowering. Allow us to empower you to have the courage to pivot and confront.

Michael E. Mann is distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, and author of four books, including “The Hockey Stick and The Climate Wars” and most recently, “The Madhouse Effect” with Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles.

Andrea Dutton is an assistant professor of geological sciences at the University of Florida and a leading expert on rising seas. She was featured in a recent PBS NOVA documentary on climate change. Rolling Stone named her one of 25 People Shaping the Future in Tech, Science, Medicine, Activism and More.

Press link for more: The Hill

Time to Declare Climate Emergency #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange from #Berkeley #California to #Cairns #Australia

BREAK THE SILENCE:

Share the truth about the climate crisis

Our society’s silence about the climate crisis has been created by fossil fuel companies and the politicians who serve them, as well as the media, which has treated the climate crisis’ existence as controversial.

Polls also show that most Americans barely ever discuss the climate crisis — a widespread silence that is leading us toward environmental and social collapse.

But truth is powerful too, and the more we talk about the truth of the climate crisis, the stronger our movement becomes.

Documentary movie screenings, community meetings, petition signature gathering and conversations with your neighbors are an easy and accessible way for people to learn the facts of the climate emergency. And don’t forget to get to know local organizations that may already be working on these issues.

Raising awareness and building relationships in your community will build a solid foundation for a campaign to get your city to declare a climate emergency!

STRATEGIES YOU CAN TRY:

Start spreading the word about the climate emergency

• Organize a screening for a documentary about the climate crisis. Movies are an accessible and enjoyable way to learn about serious issues. You can try Saving Civilization: Plan B 3.0; 11th Hour;  How to Let Go of the World and Love all the Things Climate Can’t Change; or Chasing Ice.

• Organize a community meeting(s) to share the truth about the climate crisis in your home, at a place of worship, or at your organization.

• Knock on doors in your neighborhood, educate your neighbors, and collect petition signatures asking your mayor or other elected representatives to take action.

Build a group of people who are passionate about addressing the climate crisis

• Connect with others by using one of the above strategies or by reaching out to friends, co-workers, and other people you know from your community.

• You may decide to become a chapter of The Climate Mobilization, to do this work as members of another organization, or to organize as a loose group of volunteers.

Strengthen the broader climate movement by showing up in support of climate and environmental justice work that is already happening in your community

• The movement is stronger when we support each other! Build relationships with other people and organizations by showing that you support their work — whether by attending their rallies or events, volunteering or responding to another specific need. You’re not in it alone!

• Creating a just mobilization will mean that the needs of communities who are hit worst by climate catastrophe and environmental injustice come first. Think about how you can bring this idea to life — whether by aligning your work to support other local campaigns, or bringing people out to support other groups’ events.

• Reflect on how you are approaching other organizations. Learn about their history and coalitions they are part of. Think about what you can give, how you can find true alignment through active hope, empathy and understanding, and about how your messaging can either support other groups in positive ways, or cause harm by erasing important issues.

Launch a Campaign for a Climate Emergency Declaration, Climate Emergency Mobilization Department, and Plan

Leading cities and counties across the U.S. are beginning to shift into climate emergency mode.

Thanks to the hard work of local climate mobilizers, Hoboken, NJ, and Montgomery County, MD, have declared a climate emergency and committed the city to ending greenhouse gas emissions at emergency speed.

Organizers in Maryland and Los Angeles are also pushing for climate emergency mobilization departments — demanding that their locales give resources to a city department in charge of eliminating the city’s carbon emissions and catalyzing a larger climate emergency mobilization effort beyond the city.

Or, perhaps your area is ready to take even bolder action.

Be creative, and don’t be afraid to think big!

You can try pushing for your locality — and perhaps its new climate emergency mobilization department — to adopt and implement a mobilization plan that completely eliminates fossil fuels, installs solar panels on rooftops across the city, builds green affordable housing, offers free zero emissions public transit, and plants gardens in open spaces to sequester carbon.

For more ideas on policies you can pass as part of a mobilization plan, you can look at our local Draft Climate Mobilization Implementation Plans. Your plan may also include the city’s role as a climate advocate, pushing other localities and higher levels of government to launch their own mobilizations.

As part of this organizing toolkit, we’ve included a resolution for declaring a climate emergency and committing to achieve zero emissions (and beyond) at emergency speed, as well as optional policy language triggering a report into the creation of a climate emergency mobilization department.

Getting your local government to treat climate change like the emergency it is will make you part of the movement we are building across the U.S.!

STRATEGIES YOU CAN TRY:

Launch a coalition to launch a climate mobilization in your area

• Find other organizations and individuals in your area with similar goals, and see if they would be interested in joining forces. (Stuck? Use some of the ideas above in Phase I!)

Create a way to communicate, whether it’s an email list, a text group or regular meetings.

• After getting more people on board, your coalition can reach out to policy makers; launch a campaign urging them to declare a climate emergency and commit to addressing it at speed and scale; and hold them accountable for local implementation. Similar coalitions have already formed in Los Angeles and Montgomery County, MD.

Organize a launch party or kickoff meeting for the campaign

• Invite anyone you think may be interested: community organization members, clergy, labor leaders, environmental and environmental justice organizers, and business leaders, as well as parents, young people, and others who have a stake in the issue.

• Ask those who attend to meet with their city council members, mayor or mayor’s staff about creating a climate emergency declaration, department, and plan.

Meet with a city or county council member, mayor, or mayor’s staff to propose the idea of an emergency climate declaration and climate emergency mobilization department

• Try to identify leaders who seem like they would be receptive. There may be city or county council members who are already looking to take action, but are unsure how to do so or that they have enough public support.

• Consider sharing model resolution language and an example resolution from Los Angeles, HobokenMontgomery County or the Bay Area, a fact sheet on the need for climate emergency resolutions, Talking Points, and/or petition signatures.

Meet with candidates for local, state and federal offices. Educate voters about their stance on the climate crisis

• Create a candidate questionnaire to make sure your meeting stays on track, and that you ask the same questions of each candidate.

• Educating voters about a politician’s stance is the first step toward getting them to hold their representatives .

responsible — whether by voting for someone else, protesting at their events or putting pressure on their donors.

Press link for more: The Climate Mobilisation

Berkeley City Council voted at its Tuesday meeting to hold a climate emergency town hall meeting and work toward achieving a fossil fuel-free Berkeley by 2030.

The two items were introduced separately, but voted on together — one declared a climate emergency and called for a town hall to engage the community in discussion, while the other delineated goals for working toward a future in which Berkeley does not rely on fossil fuels.

“It is an act of unspeakable injustice and cruelty to knowingly subject our fellow humans now and into the future to societal disintegration, food and clean water shortages, economic collapse, and early death on an increasingly uninhabitable planet,” read the text of item 49, a Declaration of Climate Emergency.

Press link for more: Daily Cal

Carbon Bubble is about to burst! #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange @ANZ_AU @CommBank #StopAdani #Divest

The Carbon Bubble: Here Come the New Dirty Thirties

The ugly end days of fossil fuel will mean big trouble for Canadians. (and Australians)

Mitchell Anderson recently discussed a new report on the coming implosion of the world oil industry, with a loss to the global economy of between $1 trillion and $4 trillion.

It’s a disturbing study, and as he observes, Canada is likely to suffer more than any other petroleum-exporting country — even including the OPEC nations. Just how we’ll suffer deserves closer attention.

The report in Nature Climate Change, whose lead author is Jean-Francois Mercure of Radboud University in the Netherlands, uses several models to track oil production to 2035 and 2050.

Some models assume we will work hard to keep global warming to a two-degree rise or less by moving to renewable energy and cutting back on fossil fuels; others assume we won’t, and will keep burning oil and gas despite rising temperatures.

All the models end up with a “sellout” by 2035 or earlier, in which oil-producing nations put on history’s greatest bargain sale, dropping oil prices as low as possible just to get it out of the ground before demand falls to zero.

After all, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau observed not long ago, “No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and leave them there.” Least of all when all those barrels would soon be “stranded” in the ground and $1 trillion to $4 trillion vanishes from the global economy.

Once the sellout was truly under way, what would happen?

If the 2008 Great Recession is any guide, governments would first borrow heavily to keep things going, and then switch to austerity.

Employment in general, and social service employment in particular, would suffer.

Recovery and development of new energy sources would be difficult: solar-power engineers might not want to move to depressed communities with substandard schools and health care.

The energy-exporting U.S. would also take an economic beating, Mercure estimates, with production losses across all sectors of about 4.6 to 5.7 per cent by 2035. Extraction-sector production would fall by around 50 per cent.

So we couldn’t trade our way to recovery by selling oil and gas (or much else) to the Americans.

Mercure predicts China, as a net energy importer, would benefit from falling oil and gas prices.

Meanwhile, its ever-increasing renewable energy investments would help the Chinese economy come out about even (and a little better than India’s). The European Union will also enjoy the combined benefits of cheaper Russian fossil fuels and early adoption of renewable energy. The Europeans should even come out with a small increase in public services.

The hardest hit of all

Russia’s reliance on oil and gas exports (especially to the EU) will hurt its overall economy as prices fall, especially extraction sectors and utilities, but it will emerge with a 2.3-per-cent drop in production and 1.3-per-cent drop in employment, while Canada’s production drops 16.1 per cent and our employment drops nine per cent. Mercure’s estimates suggest that we will indeed take the hardest hit of all.

The sellout would probably look like a far bigger version of the 2014 Saudi attempt to grow market share by overproducing its already cheap oil and driving down world prices. That sent Alberta into its latest bust and made Premier Rachel Notley grimly determined to get her bitumen to tidewater.

In a full-scale sellout, though, bitumen won’t be worth selling. Routine stock-market corrections usually stop as bargain hunters flood into the market. But when a bubble bursts, the bargain hunters wait and wait, forcing prices ever lower.

Prices will fall because the price of renewable energy will be brutally competitive. Even if Tesla goes the way of the Bricklin, Tesla-style battery technology will only improve, as will solar, geothermal, biomass and wind power. The Saudis are about to build the world’s largest solar power installation. It’s going to cost $200 billion, paid for out of current oil revenues. The Saudis will have to sell a lot more oil at lower prices while they can to complete their transition to renewable.

The Mercure report includes some supplementary material that estimates the consequences of stranded fossil fuel assets for various regions and countries, and Canada does not fare well. By 2035, Mercure predicts, the U.S. extraction sector (including oil and gas) will produce 50 per cent less than it does today, while losing 16 per cent of its workers. Our own extraction sector’s production of oil and gas will fall by 81 per cent, and the sector will lose 74 per cent of its workers.

Consequences for Alberta

Let’s see how that applies to Alberta. Its extraction-sector workforce in 2017 was 140,300, with some in mining and quarrying as well as in oil and gas. The loss of perhaps 100,000 of those extractive workers will mean far less revenue from income taxes and royalties to pay for health and education.

So Mercure has grim forecasts for those occupations as well based on the plunging government revenues. Alberta in 2017 had 274,100 people working in health care and social assistance. A 20.3-per-cent cut in staff would take approximately 54,820 of them off the payroll. Education services accounted for 153,100 jobs; in the course of a sellout, 30,620 teachers and support staff would be out of work. Other sectors wouldn’t be hit quite as hard: Alberta would lose 24,000 construction workers (10.6 per cent) and 12,297 in business services (15.2 per cent).

These numbers are based on Mercure’s prediction of average national losses; Alberta might suffer more or less in a given sector than Canada as a whole. And it wouldn’t suffer alone. On average, we in B.C. would also likely lose a fifth of our teachers and a tenth of our construction workers. If a sellout occurred this year, and Canada-wide employment fell by 9.4 per cent from its March 2018 total of 18.6 million, that would mean 1,748,870 Canadians out of work.

Fighting all the way

And all across Canada, workers wouldn’t leave their jobs without fighting all the way — from the legislature to the workplace to the street. Political turmoil would erupt on a scale unmatched since the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. Whoever is prime minister in the 21st century’s Dirty Thirties will have a really unenviable job; expect rapid turnover in governments.

Bear in mind that our domestic woes will be like those of many other rich countries, only worse. Migrants and refugees will still find Canada a better option than staying home.

Wars, revolutions and climate-driven disasters will make demands on us we won’t feel able to respond to.

Poverty at home will trigger new problems in public health, just as it has in Venezuela.

Mercure’s forecast is unlikely to be the first; governments and fossil fuel corporations alike have probably commissioned reports with similar conclusions. With such politically ugly implications, it’s understandable that such reports have not been publicized, let alone acted upon.

But a wise government would break the news to its people, commission still more studies, and commit to acting on them: cutting losses in fossil fuels, subsidizing renewable energy companies, and promoting research in the field that might give Canada a chance to catch up with other transitioning countries.

And if we ignore Mercure’s warning, we will learn our lesson anyway, with a tuition fee of up to $4 trillion.

Read more: Energy, Environment

Press link for more: The Tyee

Ocean waves following sea ice loss trigger Antarctic ice shelf collapse #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani Stop #ClimateChange

Ocean waves following sea ice loss trigger Antarctic ice shelf collapse.

Ice calving off an ice shelf in the Antarctic. Credit: Ian Phillips, Australian Antarctic Division

Storm-driven ocean swells have triggered the catastrophic disintegration of Antarctic ice shelves in recent decades, according to new research published in Nature today.

Lead author Dr. Rob Massom, of the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, said that reduced sea ice coverage since the late 1980s led to increased exposure of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula to ocean swells, causing them to flex and break.

“Sea ice acts as a protective buffer to ice shelves, by dampening destructive ocean swells before they reach the ice shelf edge,” Dr. Massom said.

“But where there is loss of sea ice, storm-generated ocean swells can easily reach the exposed ice shelf, causing the first few kilometres of its outer margin to flex.”

“Over time, this flexing enlarges pre-existing fractures until long thin ‘sliver’ icebergs break away or ‘calve’ from the shelf front.”

“This is like the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’, triggering the runaway collapse of large areas of ice shelves weakened by pre-existing fracturing and decades of surface flooding.”

Study co-author Dr. Luke Bennetts, from the University of Adelaide’s School of Mathematical Sciences, said the finding highlights the need for sea ice and ocean waves to be included in ice sheet modelling.

This will allow scientists to more accurately forecast the fate of the remaining ice shelves and better predict the contribution of Antarctica’s ice sheet to sea level rise, as climate changes.

“The contribution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet is currently the greatest source of uncertainty in projections of global mean sea level rise,” Dr. Bennetts said.

“Ice shelves fringe about three quarters of the Antarctic coast and they play a crucially important role in moderating sea level rise by buttressing and slowing the movement of glacial ice from the interior of the continent to the ocean.”

“While ice shelf disintegration doesn’t directly raise sea level because they are already floating, the resulting acceleration of the tributary glaciers behind the ice shelf, into the Southern Ocean, does.”

Study co-author, Dr. Phil Reid, from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, said the research identifies a previously under-appreciated link between sea ice loss and ice shelf stability.

“Our study underlines the importance of understanding the mechanisms driving these sea ice trends, particularly in regions where sea ice acts as a protective buffer against ocean processes,” he said.

The discovery comes after the international research team, from Australia, the United States and New Zealand, combined satellite images and surface and ocean wave data with modelling, to analyse five major ice shelf disintegrations, between 1995 and 2009.

These included the abrupt and rapid losses of 1600 square kilometres of ice from the Larsen A Ice Shelf in 1995, 3320 square kilometres from the Larsen B Ice Shelf in 2002, and 1450 square kilometres from the Wilkins Ice Shelf in 2009.

Each disintegration event occurred during periods when sea ice was significantly reduced or absent, and when ocean waves were large.

In only a matter of days, the collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in 2002 removed an area of ice shelf that had been in place for the previous 11,500 years. Removal of the ice shelf buttressing effect also caused a 3- to 8-fold increase in the discharge of glacial ice, behind the shelf, into the ocean, in the year following disintegration.

Explore further: Giant iceberg set to calve from Larsen C ice shelf

More information: Robert A. Massom et al, Antarctic ice shelf disintegration triggered by sea ice loss and ocean swell, Nature (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0212-1

Journal reference: Nature

Provided by: University of Adelaide

Press link for more: PHYS.ORG

After Decades of Losing Ice, Antarctica Is Now Hemorrhaging It! #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Global warming has already cost the continent 2.7 trillion tons of mass.

Robinson Meyer is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers climate change and technology

A small boat floats in Neko Harbour, Antarctica Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters

Climate change has not been kind to Antarctica. According to a comprehensive new study, global warming has already bled the frigid continent, which is larger than Europe, of about 2.7 trillion tons of ice. This enormous amount of ice has already raised global sea levels by as much as a centimeter.

This outflow seems to be increasing: Almost half of all losses have occurred in just the last five years. And the continent is hemorrhaging that mass in a way that will lead to especially high sea levels on the East Coast of the United States.

“The continent is causing sea levels to rise faster today than at any time in the past 25 years,” said Andrew Shepherd, a leader of the new study and a professor of Earth observation at the University of Leeds, in a statement.

“If you take the big picture, when we compared before and after 2012, there was a three-times increase in the amount of melting,” said Beata Csatho, an author of the paper and a professor of geophysics at the University at Buffalo.

The results, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, present what is generally considered to be highest-quality census of the world’s glaciers and ice sheets. Written by 84 scientists across 44 different institutions, including NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the paper combines several different modes of measurement to produce one consensus result.

“This is the gold standard in terms of demonstrating that ice sheets are changing,” said Robin Bell, a professor of geophysics at Columbia University who was not involved in the paper. “You have three measurements, three approaches, from three different instruments, and they all show pretty much the same thing.”

When something is the size of a continent, how can you tell if it’s shrinking? Scientists have a few different tools at their disposal. First, Antarctica is so massive that it exerts its own gravity field, which can be sensed from orbit by satellites like NASA’s GRACE. Second, researchers can shoot radar or lasers at the surface of Antarctica to detect its surface altitude, which they can then combine with knowledge of ice physics and topography to compute its balance.

Finally, they use the “input-output method.” You may have heard of the 16th-century medical pioneer Santorio Santorio, who discovered human metabolism by weighing his food, his urine, his feces, and himself every day for 30 years. The input-output method applies the same idea to a continent: By measuring the velocity of moving glaciers (often with GPS), researchers can calculate how much snow is being added to a glacier and how much is disappearing into the sea.

The new study combines two dozen previous estimates of Antarctica’s changing mass, arrived at through all three techniques. “These are completely independent data sets,” said Csatho, the University at Buffalo professor. Her team worked on the altimetry data. She told me that she was pleased by how the different methods arrived at roughly the same conclusions. “We didn’t know until a few weeks ago where our results would sit relative to each other. It was a very nice surprise to see our results sitting right where they should be,” she said

The study contains two particular pieces of ominous news—especially for Americans. First, it finds that two glaciers in western Antarctica, named Thwaites and Pine Island, are losing mass at a particularly fast clip. Recent research has suggested that these glaciers may be subject to a feedback loop called “marine ice-cliff instability,” in which huge walls of ocean-facing ice buckle under their own weight and tumble into the sea. It’s not yet clear whether marine ice-cliff instability will happen at these two glaciers, but if it does kick in, then Thwaites and Pine Island would begin rapidly disintegrating, catastrophically raising global sea levels. Under that scenario, the two glaciers could increase global sea level by more than four and a half feet by 2100, inundating the homes of more than 150 million Americans.

Rob DeConto, a professor of climatology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, published research that first warned of that scenario a few years ago. He said it was too early to know whether marine ice-cliff instability had taken hold. “It’s pretty amazing that there’s been such a big uptick in the pace of mass loss down there, but we still can’t say that it’s because this cliff mechanism is kicking in now,” he told me.

But the good news ended there. “This should get people’s attention, especially here in North America,” he said. “This little hook where the ice is going into the ocean, it’s at the worst possible place in terms of its impacts on North America.”

Why? It has to do with one of the stranger mechanisms in ice physics. Glaciers, it turns out, don’t just alleviate sea-level rise by freezing water and keeping it out of the ocean. Their gravity fields are strong enough that they actually attract ocean water from elsewhere on the planet. The farther you go from a certain patch of glacier, the greater the gravitational effects—and West Antartica is very far from the United States. So Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers essentially swaddle themselves with water that would otherwise slosh against the beaches of the East Coast.

But if West Antarctica’s ice melts, and it loses mass, then its gravitational field will also lose its protective power. And North America will suffer the consequences. For example, for every bit of West Antarctic ice that tumbles into the sea, sea levels in Boston will bear an additional sort of gravity tax of 25 percent.

“For every centimeter [of sea-level rise] from West Antarctica, Boston feels one and a quarter centimeters. And that extends down the East Coast,” said DeConto.

And all of that is only the first bit of ominous news.

Data derived from the IMBIBE team’s paper. (Nature / Shepherd, et al.)

The second is more straightforward. For years, researchers have generally believed that the eastern two-thirds of Antarctica—dubbed “East Antarctica”—have been growing in mass. As the climate changed, snowfall had seemed to increase there, and the region seemed to be absorbing more sea level rise than it was contributing.

This no longer seems to be the case. “East Antarctica has begun to contribute to sea-level rise,” said DeConto. “It’s actually become a source now. That’s where most of the ice is—it’s vastly bigger than West Antarctica.”

This offers further evidence of the team’s largest contention that Antarctica’s 3-trillion-ton problem is rapidly getting worse. DeConto referred to a chart that showed the continent’s mass loss over time.

“If you look at the figure—it’s not a straight line going down, it’s like a downward-bending banana,” he told me. “That’s acceleration. You don’t have to be a statistician to see the pace of mass loss is increasing.”

Press link for more: The Atlantic