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The unlikely pioneers fighting #climatechange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

An agronomist in North Carolina, an ironworker in California and a coral restoration worker off the Florida coast. (John West/Justin Moore/Coral Restoration Foundation/The WorldPost)

This is the weekly roundup of The WorldPost, of which Nathan Gardels is the editor in chief.

The historian Arnold Toynbee famously argued that the well-being of a civilization can be judged by its ability to respond to human and environmental challenges.

The Donald Trump administration’s full-throttle reverse course aimed at renewing fossil fuels as the chief source of energy — as the planet faces the droughts, deluges and firestorms of climate change — would seem to indicate an unwell civilization indeed.

Yet what’s missing from such a dire verdict is that the response to climate change is so distributed that we don’t apprehend the massive changes actually taking place.

In today’s world, we no longer have to go up the tree of political authority to make something happen.

People can do it on their own, through interconnectedness with others.

“Our civilization has developed extraordinary capacities, but we are unable to see the image they produce,” the celebrated designer and “Massive Change” author Bruce Mau has said. “It is as if that image has been cut up into the billion pixels of everyone’s contribution, and we can only see the pixel that we are working on but never the image as a whole.”

As only someone with the eye of a designer like Mau might put it, “The important challenge is to maintain the visibility of accomplishments — the whole image — so the momentum toward massive change grows.”

In The WorldPost this week, we make a small contribution to pulling together the pixels into a whole image by sampling the widely dispersed responses to climate change, from research into carbon capture to coral nurseries in the Florida Keys, the growth of green jobs in California’s oil belt, and conservation agriculture in North Carolina.

“Farewell to Ice” author Peter Wadhams points out the “stock-flow” conundrum of de-carbonizing the planet — the problem is not only new emissions but the already damaging levels of carbon deposited in the atmosphere from past burning of fossil fuels that will remain for hundreds of years.

“If we want to survive climate change, we must double down in research manpower and dollars to find and improve technology to remove carbon dioxide — or at least reduce its effects on the climate,” he writes.

“We now emit 41 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year.

The current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is already high enough to bring about a warming of more than 2 degrees after it has worked its way through the climate system, so if we want to save the Paris accord, we must either reduce our emissions to zero, which is not yet possible, or combine a significant emissions reduction with the physical removal of about 20 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere per year indefinitely.”

The only answer, according to Wadhams, is new carbon capture technologies that reduce the stock of carbon, some of which are employed in innovative projects in Houston, Iceland and elsewhere.

Marine ecologist John Bruno reports on innovative efforts to regenerate coral reefs — thus saving the “tropical forests” of the ocean — that are getting bleached to death by warming seas. Bruno documents several such projects, from a coral restoration nursery off the Florida coast where marine biologists are growing and replanting new coral on degraded reefs, to the experiments of molecular biologists using cutting-edge gene editing tools like CRISPR to alter the DNA of corals so they can better withstand rising temperatures.

From the oil belt of California’s San Joaquin Valley, Bridget Huber reports that climate policies are not killing jobs, but creating them.

Through the prism of on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs of the ironworkers’ and electrical workers’ unions in Fresno, she traces the return of robust job and wage growth to what had become a depressed economic zone.

This is largely thanks to state mandates to meet requirements for renewable energy production. “Solar saved our bacon,” one veteran ironworker told her.

Also contributing in a major way to high-wage employment, she reports, are the construction jobs associated with California’s massive high-speed rail project running through the region.

Brian Barth reports from farms in eastern North Carolina where pork production giant Smithfield Foods — the largest producer of pork in the world — has rolled out efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of its meat production “According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” writes Barth, “agriculture accounts for about a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, roughly the same as the combined total for electricity and heating, and well above the transportation sector, which contributes just 14 percent.

Add emissions from refrigeration, shipping and other activities required to get your dinner from farm to plate, and the food system’s share of global greenhouse gases climbs to roughly a third, making it easily the most climate-unfriendly sector of the global economy.”

Barth discusses Paul Hawken’s book “Natural Capitalism,” in which the environmentalist lays out the top 100 solutions to climate change.

Of these, “11 are related to food systems, seven to energy systems and none to transportation systems.

Electric vehicles are #26, while ‘tree intercropping’ — planting strips of apple trees throughout a corn field, for example — is #17.

The top food-related practices — reducing food waste (#3) and switching to a plant-rich diet (#4) — are largely consumer-driven solutions.”

Yet Barth’s reporting suggests that farmers and producers play a crucial part in reducing emissions as well. Barth also discusses silvopasture — a “mashup of forestry and grazing” — which is the highest-ranked agricultural solution to climate change in Hawken’s analysis.

The challenge for all these distributed cases of climate action is how to scale them up to realize the potential for massive change as the clock ticks.

The political roadblocks of vested interests which always resist change aside, what has been true throughout history is that, in the end, scale and resources follow cultural commitments.

That commitment will only grow deeper if society becomes more fully aware of the whole picture of what it is already doing.

This was produced by The WorldPost, a partnership of the Berggruen Institute and The Washington Post.

Update: https://www.facebook.com/StopAdaniBrisbane/videos/395052270934742/

Press link for more: Washington Post

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As Oceans Warm, Kelp Forest Disappear #ClimateChange #auspol

As Oceans Warm, the World’s Kelp Forests Begin to Disappear

BY ALASTAIR BLAND • NOVEMBER 20, 2017

Kelp forests — luxuriant coastal ecosystems that are home to a wide variety of marine biodiversity — are being wiped out from Tasmania to California, replaced by sea urchin barrens that are nearly devoid of life.

A steady increase in ocean temperatures — nearly 3 degrees Fahrenheit in recent decades — was all it took to doom the once-luxuriant giant kelp forests of eastern Australia and Tasmania: Thick canopies that once covered much of the region’s coastal sea surface have wilted in intolerably warm and nutrient-poor water. Then, a warm-water sea urchin species moved in. Voracious grazers, the invaders have mowed down much of the remaining vegetation and, over vast areas, have formed what scientists call urchin barrens, bleak marine environments largely devoid of life.

Today, more than 95 percent of eastern Tasmania’s kelp forests — luxuriant marine environments that provide food and shelter for species at all levels of the food web — are gone. With the water still warming rapidly and the long-spine urchin spreading southward in the favorable conditions, researchers see little hope of saving the vanishing ecosystem.

“Our giant kelp forests are now a tiny fraction of their former glory,” says Craig Johnson, a researcher at the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies. “This ecosystem used to be a major iconic feature of eastern Tasmania, and it no longer is.”

The Tasmanian saga is just one of many examples of how climate change and other environmental shifts are driving worldwide losses of giant kelp, a brown algae whose strands can grow to 100 feet. In western Australia, increases in ocean temperatures, accentuated by an extreme spike in 2011, have killed vast beds of an important native kelp, Ecklonia radiata. In southern Norway, ocean temperatures have exceeded the threshold for sugar kelp — Saccharina latissima — which has died en masse since the late 1990s and largely been replaced by thick mats of turf algae, which stifles kelp recovery. In western Europe, the warming Atlantic Ocean poses a serious threat to coastal beds of Laminaria digitata kelp, and researchers have predicted “extirpation of the species as early as the first half of the 21st century” in parts of France, Denmark, and southern England.

Routine summertime spikes in water temperature in eastern Tasmania have pushed kelp forests over the edge.

And in northern California, a series of events that began several years ago has destroyed the once-magnificent bull kelp forests along hundreds of miles of coastline. A brief shutdown of upwelling cycles left the giant algae groves languishing in warm surface water, causing a massive die-off. Meanwhile, a disease rapidly wiped out the region’s urchin-eating sea stars, causing a devastating cascade of effects: Overpopulated urchins have grazed away much of the remaining vegetation, creating a subsurface wasteland littered with shells of starved abalone. Scientists see no recovery in sight.

A 2016 study noted a global average decrease in kelp abundance, with warming waters directly driving some losses. But the researchers said that a characteristic of kelp forest declines is their extreme regional variability. Some areas are even experiencing a growth in kelp forests, including the west coast of Vancouver Island, where an increasing population of urchin-hunting sea otters has reduced the impacts of the spiny grazers, allowing kelp to flourish. Ultimately researchers say, warming ocean waters are expected to take a toll on the world’s kelp forests. The 2016 paper, coauthored by 37 scientists, concluded that “kelp forests are increasingly threatened by a variety of human impacts, including climate change, overfishing, and direct harvest.”

Feeling the Heat: How fish are migrating from warmer waters. Read more.

In eastern Tasmania, sea surface temperatures have increased at four times the average global rate, according to Johnson, who along with colleague Scott Ling has closely studied the region’s kelp forest losses. This dramatic environmental change began in the mid-20th century and accelerated in the early 1990s. Giant kelp — Macrocystis pyrifera — does best in an annual water temperature range of roughly 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Johnson. He says routine summertime spikes into the mid-60s pushed the kelp over the edge. First in Australia, and subsequently in Tasmania, the kelp forests vanished. The Australian government now lists giant kelp forests as an endangered ecological community.

The progression of the destruction of a kelp forest in Tasmania by urchins, from top to bottom. The Australian island state has lost more than 95 percent its kelp forests in recent decades. COURTESY OF SCOTT LING

As waters warmed, something else also happened. The long-spine sea urchin, which generally cannot tolerate temperatures lower than 53 degrees Fahrenheit, traveled southward as migrant larvae and established new territory in Tasmanian waters. Lobsters — which prey on urchins — had been heavily fished here for decades, and consequently few predators existed to control the invading urchins, whose numbers boomed.

Since the 1980s, long-spine urchins — Centrostephanus rodgersii — have essentially taken over the seafloor in southeastern Australia and northeastern Tasmania, forming vast urchin barrens. An urchin barren is a remarkable phenomenon of marine ecology in which the animals’ population grows to extraordinary densities, annihilating seafloor vegetation while forming a sort of system barrier against ecological change. Once established, urchin barrens tend to persist almost indefinitely.

“For all intents and purposes, once you flip to the urchin barren state, you have virtually no chance of recovery,” Johnson says.

In some places, like the southwestern coast of Hokkaido, in Japan, and the Aleutian Islands, urchin barrens have replaced kelp forests and have remained for decades.

This bodes poorly for eastern Tasmania, where expansive areas in the north have already been converted into barrens. Urchins have not yet overrun southeastern Tasmania. “But we’re seeing the problem moving south, and we’re getting more and more urchins,” says Johnson, who expects roughly half the Tasmanian coastline will transition into urchin barrens. “That’s what we have in New South Wales.”

Warm ocean temperatures, a sea star disease outbreak, and a boom in urchin populations decimated several major kelp beds in northern California between 2008 and 2014. CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

A similar scenario is unfolding in northern California, where local divers and fishermen have watched the area’s bull kelp forests collapse into an ecological wasteland. As in Tasmania, the change has resulted from a one-two punch of altered ocean conditions combined with an urchin boom.

The problems began in 2013, when a mysterious syndrome wiped out many of the sea star species of the North American west coast. Sea stars — especially Pycnopodia helianthoides, the sunflower sea star — eat urchins. With the predators abruptly absent in the region, the population of purple sea urchins — Strongylocentrotus purpuratus — began growing rapidly.

By coincidence, a simultaneous onset of unusual wind and current patterns slowed the upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich bottom water, which typically makes the waters of the west coast of North America so productive. Kelp forests, already under attack by armies of urchins, disappeared.

The upwelling cycles have since resumed. “But the system just can’t recover, even with a shift back in water temperature,” says Kyle Cavanaugh, an assistant professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles who has studied global kelp ecosystems. “The urchins are just everywhere.”

Divers surveying the seafloor have seen purple urchin numbers jump by as much as 100-fold, according to Cynthia Catton, a biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife who has been surveying the environment since 2002. Urchins  — dozens per square meter in places — continue to gnaw away the remnant scraps of the vanishing kelp forests, 95 percent of which have been converted to barrens, Catton says.

Urchins — dozens per square meter in places — continue to gnaw away the remnant scraps of the vanishing kelp forests.

Other animals also depend on kelp, and the region’s red abalone are now starving in droves. The population has collapsed, and the recreational harvest could be banned in the coming year, Catton says. Juvenile fish use kelp as nursery habitat, and certain species of rockfish may see declines in the absence of protective vegetation. Predatory fish, like lingcod, may move elsewhere to hunt. Populations of the commercially valuable red urchin, Mesocentrotus franciscanus, are also being impacted as their gonads — finger-sized golden wedges listed on sushi menus as uni — shrivel away, making the urchins no longer worth harvesting.

How growing sea plants can help slow ocean acidification. Read more.

An urchin barren is considered to be an “alternative stable state” to the kelp forest ecosystem and is almost invincibly resistant to change. Johnson says that while it takes relatively high urchin densities to graze a kelp forest down to a barren, the animals must be almost eradicated entirely to allow a shift back to a kelp forest. In other words, he says, “The number of urchins needed to create a barren is much greater than the number of urchins needed to maintain it.”

Part of the reason urchin barrens are difficult to reverse is the hardiness of the urchins themselves. Foremost, they are almost immune to starvation, and once they’ve exhausted all vegetation will outlive virtually every other competing organism in the ecosystem. In the urchin barrens of Hokkaido, which formed roughly 80 years ago for reasons that remain unclear, individual urchins have lived in the collapsed environment for five decades, according to a 2014 analysis.

What’s worse, the hungrier urchins get, the more destructive they become. Research has shown that the calcite deposits that form urchins’ jaws and teeth enlarge when the animals are stressed by hunger — a rapid adaptation that allows them to utilize otherwise inedible material.

A bull kelp forest as seen from the surface of Ocean Cove in northern California in 2012 and 2016. KEVIN JOE AND CYNTHIA CATTON, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

“They’re now eating through barnacles, they’re eating the calcified coralline algae that coats the rocks, they’re eating through abalone shells,” Catton says of the purple urchins in northern California. “The magnitude of their impact increases as their food supply diminishes.”

They become aggressive, too. Whereas urchins in healthy kelp ecosystems tend to dwell in crevices for much of their lives and wait for drifting kelp to come their way, in a barren state they exit their hiding places and actively hunt for food. “They form these fronts, and they graze along the bottom and eat everything,” says Mark Carr, a marine biologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

In the kelp forests of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands chain, urchin barrens began forming in the 1980s, causing local declines in various fishes, bald eagles, and harbor seals. The transition began when the population of sea otters started to decline, possibly because of increased predation by killer whales. Green urchin numbers skyrocketed, and the animals destroyed the kelp forests along hundreds of miles of the archipelago. “The densities are getting ridiculous,” says Matthew Edwards, a San Diego State University biologist who has studied the region. “In some places we have hundreds of urchins per square meter.”

In Tasmania, Johnson and Ling are leading an effort to protect areas that haven’t yet been overwhelmed by the long-spine urchin. The best chance they see is to boost localized populations of predatory rock lobsters. Fishery officials are on board with the plan, Johnson says, and have tightly restricted lobster harvest in order to help increase their numbers. Johnson and Ling have also been directing the translocation of large lobsters into test site barrens.

“It’s like seeing a forest you once knew turn into a desert,” says one scientist.

But the measures have been only moderately successful. Ling is currently re-surveying dozens of study sites first assessed in 2001, and he says urchin density has more than doubled in some locations. On relatively small barrens surrounded by healthy reef ecosystems, the scientists have seen progress as translocated lobsters knock down urchin numbers sufficiently to allow some vegetation to grow back.

Can we save the oceans by farming them? Read more.

“But on those extensive barrens, you can pour in as many large lobsters as you like, and they will eat hundreds of thousands of urchins, but they cannot reduce the urchins enough for any kelp to reappear,” he says. “Even if you turned all those urchin barrens into marine protected areas tomorrow, you could wait 200 years and you still wouldn’t get a kelp forest back.”

In central California, kelp forests are still thriving, a fact Carr credits to one animal.

“We have sea otters down here, and they’re voracious predators of urchins,” he says.

Carr, both a research diver and a recreational abalone diver, says he has watched the decline of northern California’s kelp forests with great sorrow.

“It’s like seeing a forest you once knew turn into a desert,” he says. “Not only do you lose all the trees, but all the smaller plants around them die, until there’s nothing left.”

Press link for more: E360.Yale

#ClimateChange America’s most pressing threat. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

America’s Most Pressing Threat? Climate Change

The Trump administration is ignoring a huge threat to national security and global stability.

By James Stavridis

11 January 2018, 11:00 pm AEST

A truly global foe. Photographer: Ricardo R. Guzman/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

When the newest U.S. National Security Strategy was released last month, many intelligence, military and foreign-policy professionals considered it a pleasant surprise.

It hits most of the mainstream concerns facing the U.S.: the significant challenges we face from China, Russia, North Korea and Iran; the necessity of better homeland security against terrorist attacks; the importance of working with allies, partners and friends; and the need to determine sensible levels of defense spending.

I called it “shockingly normal” in a Bloomberg View column.

But it misses the mark in one particularly worrisome area: the threats related to climate change and global warming, which were all but ignored.

Early reports indicate that a similar report expected to soon be released by the Pentagon, the National Defense Strategy, will make the same error of omission.

Unfortunately, this is not surprising, given President Donald’s Trump’s campaign rhetoric expressing extreme skepticism about climate change, the appointment of an Environmental Protection Agency administrator who doesn’t believe man-made global warming is real, and the Trump administration’s foolish decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

By following this path, the U.S. is not only surrendering a position of global leadership on this crucial issue, but it’s laying itself open to real security risks in the decades ahead.

What makes climate change so pernicious is that while the effects will only become catastrophic far down the road, the only opportunity to fix the problem rests in the present.

In other words, waiting “to be sure climate change is real” condemns us to a highly insecure future if we make the wrong bet.

We are in danger of missing not only the vast forest of looming climate change, but the ability to see some of the specific trees that will cause us the most problems.

Some of the most obvious and pressing concerns include:

Water scarcity, droughts and resource struggles leading to wars and terrorism. Many studies have confirmed the broad effect of drought and water scarcity in driving violence across a wide variety of countries and regions. Syria, Sudan, Mali and the broad Arab world continue to be battered by rising temperatures and droughts. Resulting famines and economic hardship provide a breeding ground for recruiting disaffected, unemployed youth. You can drop a plumb line from global warming to terrorism and strife in many parts of the world.

Rising sea levels that swamp our ports and coastlines. A brilliant new novel, “The American War” by Omar El Akkad, is set in a 21st-century U.S. where rising sea levels have swamped much of Florida and led to a second Civil War. While this is evocative fiction, the grain of truth is that the seas are rising as the polar caps melt, and over time lower-lying areas of the country — including some of our most vital military bases — are at risk of flooding and eventually disappearing.

Arctic melting, rising geopolitical tension and competition.

The recent viral video of the starving polar bear whose hunting grounds were literally melting away was heart-rending, but the true geopolitical significance of what is happening in the Arctic is far more significant. As the ice inexorably melts, it will open not only shipping routes, but also vast areas of the ocean floor to hydrocarbon extraction. This will generate geopolitical competition between Russia and the five NATO countries that sit on the so-called Arctic Porch, creating high tension in the “High North.”

Economic impact that undermines our ability to spend on defense.

As climate change and global warming hurt the economy by requiring restoration of communities devastated by flooding and the loss of ports and arable land, budgets will be stretched thinner and thinner. Defense spending will be undermined, reducing our overall ability to ensure we are prepared for global military action when required.

Extreme weather. Many experts believe the past hurricane season — with devastating hits from Harvey (Texas), Irma (Florida) and Maria (Puerto Rico) — are just a small taste of what is to come. In each of those crises, the U.S. military was forced to divert enormous resources — hugely expensive ships, soldiers, aircraft and the like — away from other vital tasks in order to respond. Over time, more such responses will continue to reduce overall defense readiness.

We must address these challenges — now — in three key ways.

First, we need to acknowledge the problem.

The vast weight of scientific data supports the view that climate change and global warming are real, with immediate effects that will only grow with time. While debate is always valid for any issue of such great policy importance, we must hedge against the extremely high probability that we have a serious challenge and address it with concrete steps — reducing carbon emissions, investing in renewables, and searching for technologies to reverse damage that has already occurred.

Second, the U.S. must re-take a leadership role.

We are still the largest economy in the world, have by far the greatest military capability and — despite some missteps by the Trump administration — have the greatest number of allies, partners and friends of any nation on earth.

Washington needs to invest some of that international capital in helping create a sensible, balanced and fair global regime.

Far better that we stay inside the tent of climate negotiations than try to drive events from outside it.

And third, the U.S. needs to break out of its traditional stove-piped structure and try to address climate change coherently across all agencies and departments.

If the White House is going to leave the issue out of the National Security Strategy for domestic political reasons, the Departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security must drive it back into their long-term plans.

The federal government is the largest carbon emitter in the country, and simply by undertaking responsible in-house policies to reduce carbon and pursue renewables, it can move the needle significantly.

Both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations understood the reality of climate change and that it poses a major national security threat.

If the Trump White House insists on ignoring the inevitable, the professionals at the relevant departments and agencies have to take it upon themselves to develop real strategies, and put real resources, into keeping the U.S. and its global interests secure far into an uncertain future.

Press link for more: Bloomberg.com

Blue Skies in Beijing #StopAdani #auspol #Divest

Blue skies are more common in Beijing these days.

A Greenpeace analysis of government data found that pollution levels had dropped 53 percent in the last three months of 2017 from a year earlier.

Bryan Denton for The New York Times

BEIJING — Winters in Beijing have long been choked by thick, dusty, toxic smog. But this winter, the sky has taken on a once seemingly unthinkable hue: blue.

Now, an analysis of government data by Greenpeace has confirmed what many people could see but that nonetheless seemed too good to be true.

Pollution in Beijing and in 27 other cities in northeastern China has fallen precipitously, dropping 33 percent on average compared with the last three months of 2016.

In Beijing, pollution fell 53 percent.

Greenpeace estimated that lower pollution levels resulted in 160,000 fewer premature deaths across China in 2017.

The drop indicated that the government’s antipollution campaign — first announced in 2013 but accelerated last year for regions around the capital — has begun to show results.

Even so, pollution levels fell less precipitously or rose elsewhere, suggesting that a concerted effort last fall to shift heating to natural gas from coal may have simply shifted the harmful effects to regions far from the capital.

In the northern province of Heilongjiang, on the border with Russia, pollution levels rose 10 percent.

In a statement with its analysis, Greenpeace argued that the results demonstrated the need for more government action, noting that nationwide the drop in pollutants was only 4 percent.

“China’s national air pollution action plan has brought massive reductions in pollution levels and associated health risks, but policies favoring coal and heavy industry are holding back progress,” Huang Wei, one of the organization’s campaigners, said in the statement.

But in Beijing, where pollution levels are tracked as closely as property prices are in Hong Kong, London or New York, the respite from eye-watering, throat-scratching smog has nonetheless been welcomed.

Only a year ago the pollution was so bad on some days that schools were closed and flights were canceled.

Air quality is measured by the concentration of PM2.5, or particulate matter of a size deemed especially harmful; such pollutants contribute to a variety of health conditions. Anything under 50 is considered good.

For a couple of days at the end of December, levels nearly reached 300, which is considered hazardous, but those were, for this winter so far at least, the exceptions. (On Thursday evening, as this article was being written, the level was 29, according to the China Environmental Monitoring Station index.)

But beyond the health risks, pollution also poses a political risk for the government of President Xi Jinping as he moves to promote the country’s rise on the world stage.

The government does not seem to be resting on its laurels in the fight against pollution. The Ministry of Environmental Protection warned in a statement on Wednesday that clearer skies were caused in part by favorable weather conditions, and that conditions could worsen in late January and early February.

“Local governments need to strengthen pollution controls to further cut emissions and make sure they reach their goals on air quality improvement,” the ministry was quoted as saying in China Daily.

Press link for more: NYTimes.com

#PoweringPastCoal #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

The We Mean Business coalition urges forward-looking companies to sign the declaration of the Powering Past Coal Alliance and back the powerful signal sent by more than 25 countries, states and regions that coal’s time has passed.

At COP23, the UK and Canada, alongside Costa Rica, Fiji, France, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, New Zealand, Oregon, Quebec and many others, announced the Powering Past Coal Alliance.

They stand united in taking action to accelerate clean growth and climate protection through the rapid phase-out of traditional coal power.

They now need the private sector to step up and match their level of ambition.

Companies embracing the transition to clean energy have an opportunity to show their support, giving governments their vital backing as they look to fulfil their commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Business and governments must work hand in hand to manage the transition away from coal, it must be a just transition, carefully managed to ensure it leaves no-one behind.

Coal plants still produce almost 40 percent of global electricity, making carbon pollution from coal a leading contributor to climate change and a major cause of negative health effects.

As a result, phasing out traditional coal power is one of the most important steps companies, governments, states and regions can take to tackle climate change and meet our commitment to keep the global temperature increase well below 2°C, while pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

Read the full declaration here and contact Jennifer Gerholdt Corporate Engagement Director at We Mean Business (jennifer@wemeanbusinesscoalition.org), to find out more and sign the declaration before the One Planet Summit on December 12, 2017.

We need a just transition

Yesterday we witnessed much needed climate leadership at the UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany. More than 25 countries, states and regions, led by the United Kingdom and Canada and including Fiji, Mexico, the Marshall Islands, France, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Quebec, Oregon and Alberta, announced their participation in the Powering Past Coal Alliance and their declaration to accelerating growth through a rapid transition from coal power to clean power.

The Powering Past Coal Alliance declared that a transition away from coal is necessary if the world is to deliver the Paris Agreement. It is also critical for climate justice and the protection of human rights.

Today we celebrate this commitment to delivering concrete action on cutting emissions. We wish to emphasise, however, that the transition away from coal to net-zero emissions can only happen with commitment from governments and businesses to work hand-in-hand with workers to ensure a just transition, which secures decent, low-emissions jobs, upholds rights, protects vulnerable workers and communities and leaves no one behind.

As B Team Leaders, we urge that the Powering Past Coal Alliance ensure that their work and statements about it include this “just transition,” as enshrined in the preamble of the Paris Agreement and by the International Labour Organisation. The fact that the declaration does not include just transition is in our view a major omission. Minister McKenna of Canada and Minister Shaw of New Zealand both reflected on the need for just transition during their remarks yesterday.

As the Powering Past Coal Alliance moves forward, we hope that it can revisit its declaration and commitments by participants, so that they reflect just transition as well as moving away from coal. Governments who support the alliance should commit to setting targets to move away from existing traditional coal power through a just transition of the workforce, that protects human rights and takes steps to revitalize affected communities. Businesses and other partners should commit to powering their operations without coal and to collaborating with unions to achieve to a just transition for workers and communities that spurs new, decent and low-emissions jobs.

We, like our fellow B Team Leaders, know that businesses will only grasp the opportunities of the net-zero economy if workers are partners in the process to develop concrete plans to protect themselves and their communities. This cooperation will ensure workers get the skills and opportunities they need for good and green new jobs that respect global labour standards.

We are pleased to see fellow B Team Leader Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, which has an industry-leading coal phase out commitment, working with the alliance to explore how the global business community can engage. We, along with partners such as We Mean Business, encourage continued support for a just transition to power past coal and encourage business to join this alliance.

Update: https://www.facebook.com/StopAdaniBrisbane/videos/395052270934742/

Press link for more : Bteam.org

wemeanbusiness

Depleting Nature’s stocks. #StopAdani Australia uses 5.4 times what earth can provide. #auspol

Humanity uses 70% more of the global commons than the Earth can regenerate

Mathis Wackernagel, CEO and co-founder of Global Footprint Network

Persistent ecological overuse inevitably depletes nature’s stocks. Photograph: NASA/REX/Shutterstock

Households and governments who want to succeed track both expenditure and income. Businesses similarly keep a keen eye on their balance sheets.

So what does the physical balance sheet of our biggest household – the Earth – look like?

The income side would tell us how much our planet provides in matter and energy.

The expenditure side would tell us how much material and energy people use – or what we call humanity’s ecological footprint.

Ecological footprint accounting was developed to address the question: how much of the biosphere’s regenerative capacity – or biocapacity – does human activity demand?

Global Footprint Network measures this human demand for ecosystem services by adding up the space occupied by food, fibre and timber provision, space occupied by infrastructure, and the absorption of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Indeed, carbon dioxide emissions take up approximately 60% of humanity’s ecological footprint.

Australians use 5.4 times

This audit can be done at any scale.

Analysing the accounts for the entire world enables us to compare the material demands of humanity against the size of the global commons.

Global Footprint Network’s most recent data show that humanity overshoots the regenerative capacity of our global commons, and now demands about 70% more than what the biosphere can regenerate.

In other words, we are using 1.7 Earths.

Keeping humanity’s ecological footprint within the planet’s biocapacity is the minimum threshold for sustainability.

That threshold can be exceeded for some time, just as households can spend more money than they earn by dipping into savings, thereby depleting their assets.

But persistent ecological overuse inevitably depletes nature’s stocks, through the collapse of fisheries, soil loss, freshwater overuse, over harvesting of forests – or leads to climate change from the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The Stockholm Resilience Centre has identified nine planetary boundaries, required to maintain the integrity of healthy, productive ecosystems. The UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) bring together a vision for safeguarding the health of the global commons while ensuring flourishing lives and wellbeing for everyone. The Stockholm Resilience Centre calls this vision the safe operating space.

Oxford University economist Kate Raworth adds the social dimensions and calls it doughnut economics – with the outer circle of the doughnut representing the ecological boundaries within which we need to operate, and the inner one the social necessities required for thriving lives for all.

The core idea of socially and ecologically safe operating space was quantified for the first time in 2002 by Aurélien Boutaud.

He combined the Ecological Footprint and United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP)’s Human Development Index (HDI) to track sustainable development outcomes country by country, city by city. His approach has evolved into the HDI footprint diagram. His framework has been used widely, by those including UNDP, UN Environment, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and WWF’s Living Planet Report. It even serves as the foundation of the Philips sustainability programme.

Figure 1: Mapping sustainable development outcome: HDI and the Footprint of nations, in 2013

One axis of the diagram is sustainability – or to what extent development can be supported within the Earth’s means. It is measured by the ratio between what people take compared to what the global commons can renew. The second axis, development, is measured by HDI, which captures income, access to basic education, and longevity.

Global sustainable development occurs where these two dimensions intersect. Available biocapacity is now 1.7 hectares per person. Some of this, however, is needed to support wildlife – and we also need to leave room for a growing human population. So the average ecological footprint per person worldwide needs to be significantly smaller if we are to live within nature’s means.

The figure above shows the latest results for most countries of the world (2013), comparing their footprints per person against the world’s per capita biocapacity, to show how far their development models could be replicated worldwide.

Most countries do not meet both minimum requirements. Since every country has different amounts of biocapacity within its natural boundaries, this analysis can be adapted to each country.

Using a scale from zero to one, UNDP considers an HDI of more than 0.7 to be “high human development”, with 0.8 “very high”.

For global sustainable development to occur, the world average would need to be in the marked panel at the bottom right (the global sustainable development quadrant). This is defined by an average footprint of less than 1.7 global hectares per person and an HDI score of more than 0.7. Yet the quadrant is ominously empty.

The HDI score of the UK is 0.9, but its ecological footprint per person is five global hectares, high above the sustainable development quadrant.

India has an HDI score of 0.6, and an ecological footprint per person of 1.1 global hectares, suggesting the need to increase the quality of life of citizens and the footprint.

Global sustainable development is necessary for a thriving future.

The SDGs give us strategies on how to get there.

Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) global commons initiative makes obvious the dependence on Earth’s physical health. It reminds us that our fabulous planet enables the wellbeing of all, if we manage it carefully.

Measuring whether we are achieving these desired outcomes enables us to take charge of the future we want.

We can explore countries’ resource balances, and compare them with what would be in their economic self interest. And we can allocate our budgets and choose our development strategies more effectively so that they serve the goals we have wisely chosen through the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement.

Therefore, Global Footprint Network firmly endorses the GEF’s initiative, which stimulates the collaborative effort needed to create a world where all thrive within the means of the planet’s regenerative capacity.

Press link for more: The Guardian

#StopAdani We can’t afford the damage bills! #ClimateChange record $306 Billion in U.S. 2017

Natural disasters caused record $306 billion in damage to U.S. in 2017

Doyle RiceUpdated 4:46 p.m. ET Jan. 8, 2018

AUSTIN — A trio of monster hurricanes and a ferocious wildfire season led to the costliest year for natural disasters on record in the U.S. in 2017, with nearly a third of a trillion dollars in damage, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday.

The U.S. endured 16 separate weather and climate disasters with losses that each exceeded $1 billion last year, with total costs of about $306 billion, a new record for the country. It broke the previous record set in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina and other disasters caused $215 billion in damage to the U.S.

Last year’s disasters killed 362 people in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, NOAA said. However, NOAA climatologist Adam Smith said the death toll could increase based on information that continues to come in from Puerto Rico.

It was also the most expensive hurricane season on record at $265 billion and the costliest wildfire season on record at $18 billion, Smith said.

The news comes only weeks after the House passed an $81 billion disaster aid package. The Senate did not take up the bill and is working on its own version.

Hurricane Harvey racked up total damage costs of $125 billion, second only to Hurricane Katrina in the 38-year period of record keeping for billion-dollar disasters. Rainfall from Harvey caused massive flooding that displaced more than 30,000 people and damaged or destroyed more than 200,000 homes and businesses, NOAA said.

Hurricanes Maria and Irma totaled $90 billion and $50 billion in damage, respectively. Maria now ranks as the third-costliest weather and climate disaster on record for the nation and Irma ranks as the fifth-costliest.

The total of last year’s disaster costs is nearly the same as Denmark’s gross domestic product, which the World Bank tallied at $306.9 billion in 2016.

Climate change is “playing an increasing role in the increasing frequency of some types of extreme weather that lead to billion-dollar disasters, most notably the rise in vulnerability to drought, lengthening wildfire seasons and the potential for extremely heavy rainfall and inland flooding,” Smith said.

Another expert, University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd, said that “while we have to be careful about knee-jerk cause-effect discussions, the National Academy of Science and recent peer-reviewed literature continue to show that some of today’s extremes have climate change fingerprints on them.”

The announcement came at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Austin.

As for temperatures in 2017, the U.S. sweltered through its 3rd-warmest year on record, trailing only 2012 and 2016, NOAA said.

For the third consecutive year, every state across the contiguous U.S. and Alaska was warmer than average.

Five states — Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina and South Carolina — experienced their warmest year on record. Thirty-two additional states, including Alaska, had annual temperatures that ranked among the 10 warmest on record.

“While the weather can change on a dime, our climate is steadily warming,” said Shaun Martin of the World Wildlife Fund. “Each year provides another piece of evidence in what science has already confirmed — the consequences of rising temperatures are putting people and wildlife at risk.”

“In the U.S., we’re seeing more severe droughts, wildfires, crop losses and more frequent coastal storms with deadly impacts,” Martin added.

Global temperature data for 2017 will be released on Jan. 18 by NOAA and NASA.

Press link for more: USA TODAY

Sydney Hottest Day in 78 years. #StopAdani #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #nswpol

Temperatures In Australia Hit 117 Degrees As Sydney Sees Hottest Day In 78 Years

The extreme weather melted one area’s roads. Elsewhere in the world, record low temperatures were seen.

Nina Golgowski

A brutal heat wave in Australia skyrocketed temperatures in Sydney on Sunday to 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47.3 Celsius), making it the hottest weather New South Wales’ capital has seen in 78 years, weather officials said.

The bizarre forecast follows record low temperatures in other parts of the world.

The worst of the weekend’s heat was recorded in the Sydney suburb of Penrith where the triple-degree temperature was just slightly lower than a 118-degree (47.8 C) reading recorded in the town of Richmond in 1939, according to the New South Wales’ Bureau of Meteorology.

James D. Morgan via Getty Images

Crowds cool off in water at Yarra Bay in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday amid a heat wave.

Temperatures became so hot across southern Australia that police in the neighboring state of Victoria warned drivers on Twitter that a 6-mile freeway was “melting.”

Fire warnings and bans were also issued across Sydney in response to the high heat threat that has caused multiple wildfires. There was also an air quality warning issued by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage for higher than normal ozone levels, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Adding to some of the misery felt, a power outage left thousands of people in Sydney without electricity on Sunday evening as temperatures stayed between 91 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit, the local news site reported.

A spokeswoman for local electricity provider Ausgrid, speaking to Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service, partially blamed the outage on a surge in power use.

The bizarre weather isn’t just in Australia, however.

Across the Pacific, Alaska has experienced unusually warm temperatures in recent days, roughly 10 to 20 degrees above average, prompting concerns about ice levels, NPR reported.

Last week, temperatures in Anchorage were warmer than in northern Florida, which saw snow.

The U.S.′ northeast has also endured unseasonably cold temperatures, with the mercury dipping below zero in many places. At New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, the area saw an all-time low on Saturday of 8 degrees F, meteorologist Bob Oravec of the Weather Prediction Center, told Reuters.

Temperatures are expected to rise to above normal temperatures for much of the United States in the middle of January, the National Weather Service said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, World Meteorological Organization spokesperson Clare Nullis pointed out on Friday that Europe is also experiencing unusual temperatures.

“The French national average on Wednesday was 11.5 degrees Celsius [52.7 degrees Fahrenheit], so that’s about 6 degrees Celsius above the normal, so as I said, lots of extreme weather,” she said during a United Nations session, according to Newsweek.

Press link for more: Huffington Post

1.5C a missed Target #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Leaked Draft of Landmark Climate Change Report Pours Cold Water on 1.5°C Goal

Missed Targets

Bar a concerted global effort to reduce emissions and remove carbon from the atmosphere, the world is highly likely to exceed the most ambitious climate goal set by the Paris Agreement by the 2040s, according to a leaked draft of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report obtained by Reuters.

The IPCC is expected to release the final version of their highly anticipated Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C in October.

The preliminary version obtained by Reuters was submitted to a small group of experts and government officials for review and was not meant for public release.

Every few years, the IPCC publishes an Assessment Report containing the available research about the current state of climate change.

This year’s special report is the first focused on what is possibly the Paris Agreement’s most controversial climate goal: limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

Though some countries are in strong support of taking action to ensure the world meets this climate goal, research has shown that we are highly unlikely to do so.

The draft of the special report obtained by Reuters seems to confirm this low probability of success: “There is very high risk that […] global warming will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels [should emissions continue at the current pace].”

The draft also states that meeting the climate goal would require an “unprecedented” leap from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy and extensive reforms everywhere from industry to agriculture.

Additionally, while curbing global temperatures would help reduce some of the worst impacts of climate change, including sea level rise and droughts, it would not be enough to protect the planet’s most fragile ecosystems, including polar ice caps and coral reefs.

Political Motives?

While the findings currently included in the report confirm what the public may consider the worst-case scenario, scientists who have read the report are not surprised by its contents.

“The report is unexceptional,” Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean Physics at the University of Cambridge, told Futurism. “It was already clear to every climate scientist that a 1.5 degrees Celsius warming limit would be breached by 2050 (in fact, probably much earlier) in the absence of drastic carbon capture measures.”

Gabriel Marty, a climate change analyst and former U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) delegate for France, told Futurism that it’s too soon to speculate on the content of the final report.

However, once it is released, he said readers should note the treatment of the uncertainties and risks of the so-called “bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)” technologies designed to suck carbon emissions out of the atmosphere.

The risks associated [with heavily relying on these technologies] must be clearly outlined,” said Marty. “They do not exist yet, the scale that would be needed would be enormous, and the adverse impacts on land and water resources would likely be huge.”

According to sources familiar with the IPCC’s proceedings, the panel has been criticized in the past for being too coy about the limitations of BECCS and for understating their risks in order to present the 2 degrees Celsius target as “still viable.”

Wadhams also mentioned the possibility that the IPCC’s hesitation to release the special report itself could be politically motivated.

“The IPCC has long since become a political rather than a scientific organization, so their secretiveness and sensitivity about a perfectly ordinary report has some political motive,” he told Futurism.

““A lot could still change between now and the final version.”

Roz Pidcock, head of communications for the IPCC Working Group 1, told Futurism that that’s not the case. She said the fact that the special report is currently confidential has nothing to do with a lack of transparency on the part of the panel — they simply aren’t finished with it yet.

“All of the expert and government review comments that come in over the next few weeks are taken on board […] Just to give an idea of what that involves, the first draft of this report received 12,895 comments from nearly 500 expert reviewers around the world,” said Pidcock. “A lot could still change between now and the final version.”

We will need to wait until October for the IPCC’s final take on the viability of the extremely ambitious 1.5 degrees Celsius limit, but whatever the contents of the report, we can’t let it discourage us from taking the strongest action possible to prevent further damage to our planet.

Press link for more: Futurism.com

Renewables cheaper than coal. #StopAdani #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol

Climate change is a reality.

We can no longer bury our heads in the sand about how we have changed our environment for the worse through our use of, and reliance on, non-renewable energy resources.

But the good news is that 2018 will finally mark a shift in our use of global energy.

Next year will see onshore wind and solar energy become the lowest-cost form of energy generation across the world.

This lower cost means that those with an interest in sustaining our planet are increasingly aligned with those who are driven by profit.

As Michael Drexler, agenda adviser to the World Economic Forum, stated in a debate in April 2017: “Solar and wind have just become very competitive and costs continue to fall.

It is not only a commercially viable option, but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.”

The costs of solar and wind are falling each year – and today they are lower than coal.

According to engineering consultancy Arup, onshore wind is on track to be lower cost even than natural gas in the UK by 2018, especially if it is to be included in the existing Contract for Difference (Cfd) mechanism.

In the US, a report by Lazard, the asset-management firm, has shown that onshore wind and utility-scale solar have significantly lower costs today than any other form of energy if the energy playing field is levelled by taking away subsidies.

From the US to China and Nigeria to Mexico, investors and governments are rapidly catching up to the new rules of energy.

In 2018 we will see smarter regulatory environments, new projects coming online, even greater efficiencies in technologies and energy-storage costs and a further dawning realisation of companies exposed to long-term fossil fuels that their positions are increasingly untenable.

And the benefits will trickle down.

Citizens across Africa who are spending up to 16 per cent of their household income on fuels such as kerosene or disposable batteries now have multiple options to harness solar energy for their daily needs.

“The cheapest electricity in most of Africa now comes from a solar panel on your roof,” says Xavier Helgesen, CEO of Off Grid Electric. “The combination of growing demand for reliable electricity and plummeting costs for solar and batteries has started to spark a distributed-energy revolution in Africa.”

In 2018, the world will experience a global energy sea change based on solar and onshore wind being the cheapest forms of energy.

No more excuses and no more platitudes from our governments: now the markets and citizens will be the drivers of the energy revolution.

Press link for more: Wired