Bushfire

#ClimateChange link to #CoralBleaching #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

According to a new research report published today in a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the 2016 global average temperature and extreme heat wave over Asia occurred due to continued long-term climate change.

The report included research from NOAA scientists.

Additionally, climate change was found to have influenced other heat events in 2016, including the extreme heat in the Arctic, development of marine heat waves off Alaska and Australia, as well as the severity of the 2015-2016 El Nino, and the duration of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef.

The sixth edition of Explaining Extreme Events from a Climate Perspective presents 27 peer-reviewed research papers that examine episodes of extreme weather across six continents and two oceans during 2016.

It features the research of 116 scientists from 18 countries — including five reports co-led by NOAA scientists — who analyzed historical observations and changing trends along with model results to determine whether and how climate change might have influenced an extreme event or shifted the odds of it occurring.

The findings

The new research found climate change increased the risk of wildfires in the western U.S., and the extreme rainfall experienced in China, along with South Africa’s drought and resultant food shortages.

Researchers found that climate change had reduced the likelihood of the cold outbreaks experienced in China and western Australia in 2016.

No conclusive link to climate change was found by scientists examining severe drought in Brazil, record rains in Australia, or stagnant conditions creating poor air quality in Europe.

In the report, 21 of the 27 papers in this edition identified climate change as a significant driver of an event, while six did not.

Of the 131 papers now examined in this report over the last six years, approximately 65 percent have identified a role for climate change, while about 35 percent have not found an appreciable effect.

There could be several reasons no climate signal was found by some papers; it might be that there were no changes in the frequency or severity for that type of event over time or that researchers weren’t able to detect changes using the available observational record or scientific tools and models available today.

Future studies could yield new insights on the climate’s influence on extreme weather.

More about the report

The BAMS annual report is designed to improve the scientific understanding of the drivers of extreme weather, provide insight into how the various weather extremes may be changing over time, and help community and business leaders better prepare for a rapidly changing world.

Press link for more: NOAA.GOV

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2016 Global Heatwaves due to Climate Change #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #OnePlanet

Global heat waves in 2016 due purely to climate change: study

The findings mark the first time that global scientists have identified severe weather that could not have happened without climate change, said the peer-reviewed report titled “Explaining Extreme Events in 2016 from a Climate Perspective.”

Until now, the contribution of human-driven climate change has been understood to raise the odds of certain floods, droughts, storms and heat waves — but not serve as the sole cause.

“This report marks a fundamental change,” said Jeff Rosenfeld, editor-in-chief of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, which published the peer-reviewed report.

“For years scientists have known humans are changing the risk of some extremes. But finding multiple extreme events that weren’t even possible without human influence makes clear that we’re experiencing new weather, because we’ve made a new climate.”

The report included 27 peer-reviewed analyses of extreme weather across five continents and two oceans.

A total of 116 scientists from 18 countries took part, incorporating historical observations and model simulations to determine the role of climate change in nearly two dozen extreme events.

Records shattered

In 2016, the planet reached a new high for global heat, making it the warmest year in modern times.

These record average surface temperatures worldwide were “only possible due to substantial centennial-scale anthropogenic warming,” said the report.

Asia also experienced stifling heat, with India suffering a major heat wave that killed 580 people from March to May.

Thailand set a new record for energy consumption as people turned on air conditioners en masse to cool off.

Even though the tropical Pacific Ocean warming trend of El Nino was pronounced in 2015 and the first part of 2016, researchers concluded that it was not to blame.

“The 2016 extreme warmth across Asia would not have been possible without climate change,” said the report.

“Although El Nino was expected to warm Southeast Asia in 2016, the heat in the region was unusually widespread.”

In the Gulf of Alaska, the nearby Bering Sea, and off northern Australia, water temperatures were the highest in 35 years of satellite records.

This ocean warming led to “massive bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef and one of the largest harmful algal blooms ever off the Alaska shore,” according to the report.

“It was extremely unlikely that natural variability alone led to the observed anomalies.”

Another chapter found that the so-called “blob” of sub-Arctic 2016 warmth “cannot be explained without anthropogenic climate warming.”

Most, not all

Most of the extreme events studied were influenced to some extent by climate change, as in the past six years that the work has been published.

Climate change was found to have boosted the odds and intensity of El Nino, the severity of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef, and warmth in the North Pacific Ocean.

Flash droughts over southern Africa, like the one in 2015 and 2016, have tripled in the last 60 years mainly due to human-caused climate change, it said.

“Extreme rains, like the record-breaking 2016 event in Wuhan, China are 10 times more likely in the present climate than they were in 1961.”

The unusual Arctic warmth observed in November–December 2016 “most likely would not have been possible without human-caused warming,” it added.

But not all extreme weather was influenced by global warming.

About 20 percent of the events studied were not linked to human-caused climate change, including a major winter snowstorm in the Mid-Atlantic United States, and the drought that led to water shortages in northeast Brazil.

The findings were released at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans.

Press link for more: SBS.COM.AU

Planetary Prosperity Means Zero Carbon #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #OnePlanetSummit

PLANETARY PROSPERITY MEANS ZERO CARBON

DR.MATHIS WACKERNAGEL – CEO OF GLOBAL FOOTPRINT NETWORK on December 12, 2017

Mother Nature seems to be in full revolt.

A stone’s throw from the city of Oakland, where Global Footprint Network is based, the seasonal Diablo winds recently reached record intensity, fanning the worst fires that the famous wine-producing region of Napa has known, reducing to ashes vineyards and residential neighbourhoods, and pushing tens of thousands of inhabitants on the roads.

Now Santa Ana winds are wreaking similar havoc in Southern California, causing more evacuations and burning more structures.

On the other side of the continent, the Caribbean islands most affected by the hurricanes of the last weeks – Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy and Puerto Rico in front – face a tremendous reconstruction project, needing to rebuild access to safe water and electricity.

The time is not for discouragement or defeatism.

More than ever, it is evident that every human community must do its utmost to keep pace with the planet that is hosting us.

The time for transformation is now.

Humanity is not idle.

The root causes are recognized.

On December 12, we celebrate the two-year anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, when world leaders came together to commit to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and strive for 1.5 degrees.

Although President Donald Trump has withdrawn from the agreement, leaders around the world are standing firm.

In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and UN Secretary António Guterres will gather at the One Planet Summit on December 12 to call for concrete action.

Similarly, I am among 31 Blue Planet Laureates who not only want to mark this important anniversary but also remind the world that the climate agreement is achievable and desirable.

We have summarized our position as follows:

Planetary Prosperity Means Zero Carbon

The resource hunger of the human enterprise has become too large for our planet.

The Paris Climate Agreement recognizes this. It aims to limit global warming to less than 2°C above the preindustrial level.

This means ceasing fossil-fuel use before 2050, increasing ecosystem and biodiversity conservation, and improving human well-being.

We, Blue Planet Laureates, wholeheartedly and emphatically support this transformation.

It is technologically possible, economically beneficial, and our best chance for a prosperous future.

Our planet is finite. But human possibilities are not. The transformation will succeed if we apply people’s greatest strengths: foresight, innovation, and care for each other.

Examples across the globe show positive results.

Cities like Zurich, Curitiba, Malmö, Masdar, and Reykjavik have shown leadership. Regions have taken charge, including California, where Gov. Jerry Brown will convene the Global Action Climate Summit next year.

China has made creating an Ecological Civilization in harmony with nature a priority in its latest 5-year plan.

France and the UK have announced the end of fossil fuel cars by 2040, and Tesla surpassed General Motors earlier this year to become the most valuable US auto maker – without ever building a gasoline-powered car.

Other companies such as Schneider Electric thrive on driving down their clients’ carbon emissions and costs. Achieving Paris is possible.

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of this transformation is sparking the imagination of people around the world and making them realize that a zero-carbon world is much more likely to secure long-term prosperity than continuing our destructive path.

We also need to start to recognize that this transformation primarily builds on foresight and innovation, not sacrifice and suffering.

Even with the UN projecting world population growth of 13 percent by 2030 and 28 percent by 2050, flourishing lives on this one planet are possible through walkable cities that are renewably powered and sustainably fed.

Encouraging smaller families and empowering women around the world will also produce immediate positive health and educational outcomes for those families.

Such steps will also substantially reduce the carbon footprint and ease the resource budget for each country in the long run. Indeed, ‘family planning’ and ‘educating girls’ rank sixth and seventh in Project Drawdown’s ranking of solutions to reverse global warming.

We stand for one-planet prosperity. ‘One planet’ means that we recognize the physical context of our economies. ‘Prosperity’ means that we choose flourishing lives over misery. Will you join us?

Press link for more: Impakter.com

Billion-dollar climate disaster devastate & drain the nation. #ClimateChange #auspol #StopAdani

Billion-dollar climate disasters devastate and drain the nation

by Hanna KruegerDec 9 2017, 3:31 pm ET

A cluster of particularly destructive natural disasters in 2017 has pockmarked the nation with devastation. Numbers for Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria have yet to be finalized, and 2017 is already on track to reach the record for the most billion-dollar climate disasters in the nation’s history, according to an October report from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

To date, 2011 has netted the most billion-dollar natural disasters — a record-breaking 16. Now, a new wave of wildfires in Southern California, which by Friday had devoured about 132,000 acres, may also help push 2017 into the top spot.

From January to September of 2017 alone, the nation experienced two floods, a freeze, seven severe storms, three tropical cyclones, a drought and wildfire — all 15 of which cost the nation over a billion dollars in insured and uninsured damages each, according to NCEI. In just the first weeks of 2017, 79 confirmed tornadoes touched down in three days across the southern United States, totaling $1.1 billion in losses.

Residents in front of their homes after torrential rains pounded Southeast Texas following Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey, on Sept. 2, 2017 in Orange, Texas. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Not a month has gone by since without a major weather disaster wreaking havoc on some region of the nation.

The wildfires that burned through Sonoma Valley just two months ago resulted in $9.4 billion worth of insured damages, the California Department of Insurance announced Wednesday. In just a few days, the current blaze has already scorched a greater area.

The frequency of billion-dollar climate disasters has been rising steadily over the past few decades. From 1980 to 2016, the annual average was a mere 5.5 disasters. In the last five years, that average has nearly doubled.

Insurance companies and government agencies will foot the bill for a fraction of these losses. In 2016, insurers paid around $54 billion globally for natural disaster claims, per Aon Benfield’s annual climate and catastrophe report. This was close to double what they shelled out the previous year, yet it only accounted for 26 percent of total economic losses.

Related: 1st death in California wildfires reported, firefighters make progress

The remainder — mostly affecting the uninsured and business owners — largely remains lost. The uninsured cannot file a claim for property damage or livestock lost. Businesses forfeit whatever revenue they lose when forced to temporarily shut down.

People walk down a flooded street as they evacuate their homes after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on Aug. 28, in Houston. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

The NCEI, a branch within the government-run National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), cites a rise in population, poorly-built infrastructure in vulnerable areas and climate change as the drivers behind this uptick in overall costs. However, climate experts point to climate change as the primary perpetrator.

“I don’t think there is any question. It is clear that climate change is causing more destructive extreme weather events,” said Michael Mann, a climatologist, geophysicist and current director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, in an email to NBC.

Mann noted that any vulnerabilities exposed by population increases and construction in vulnerable areas is offset by “better engineering, sturdier buildings, more resilient infrastructure and implicit adaption.”

“What’s most worrying is that the increase we’ve seen so far is likely just the tip of the iceberg,” warned Mann. “We will likely see far more damaging extreme weather events if we do not reduce carbon emissions decisively in the years ahead.”

Press link for more: NBCNews.com

Climate change is the story you missed in 2017. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

By Lisa Hymas

The effect of climate change on extreme weather has been dramatically undercovered’ Photograph: Enterprise/Rex/Shutterstock

Which story did you hear more about this year – how climate change makes disasters like hurricanes worse, or how Donald Trump threw paper towels at Puerto Ricans?

If you answered the latter, you have plenty of company.

Academic Jennifer Good analyzed two weeks of hurricane coverage during the height of hurricane season on eight major TV networks, and found that about 60% of the stories included the word Trump, and only about 5% mentioned climate change.

Trump doesn’t just suck the oxygen out of the room; he sucks the carbon dioxide out of the national dialogue.

Even in a year when we’ve had string of hurricanes, heatwaves, and wildfires worthy of the Book of Revelation – just what climate scientists have told us to expect – the effect of climate change on extreme weather has been dramatically undercovered.

Some of Trump’s tweets generate more national coverage than devastating disasters.

Good’s analysis lines up with research done by my organization, Media Matters for America, which found that TV news outlets gave far too little coverage to the welldocumented links between climate change and hurricanes. ABC and NBC both completely failed to bring up climate change during their news coverage of Harvey, a storm that caused the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in the continental US. When Irma hit soon after, breaking the record for hurricane intensity, ABC didn’t do much better.

Coverage was even worse of Hurricane Maria, the third hurricane to make landfall in the US this year. Not only did media outlets largely fail to cover the climate connection; in many cases, they largely failed to cover the hurricane itself.

The weekend after Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, the five major Sunday political talkshows devoted less than one minute in total to the storm and the humanitarian emergency it triggered. And Maria got only about a third as many mentions in major print and online media outlets as did Harvey and Irma, researchers at the MIT Media Lab found.

The media has a responsibility to report the big story, and to help the public understand the immediacy of the threat.

When Trump visited Puerto Rico on 3 October, almost two weeks after Maria assailed the island, he got wall-to-wall coverage as journalists reported on his paper-towel toss and other egregious missteps. But after that trip, prime-time cable news coverage of Puerto Rico’s recovery plummeted, Media Matters found, even though many residents to this day suffer from electricity outages and a lack of clean water, a dire situation that deserves serious and sustained coverage.

Scientists have been telling us that climate change will make hurricanes more intense and dangerous, an unfortunate reality made all too clear by this year’s record-busting hurricane season. “These are precisely the sort of things we expect to happen as we continue to warm the planet,” climate scientist Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State, told Huffington Post.

But while nearly three-quarters of Americans know that most scientists are in agreement that climate change is happening, according to recent poll, only 42% of Americans believe climate change will pose a serious threat to them during their lifetimes. Too many still believe – wrongly – that climate disasters are just something that will happen in the future. They are happening now.

In the first nine months of 2017, the US was assailed by 15 weather and climate disasters that each did more than a billion dollars in damage – in the case of the hurricanes, much more. The combined economic hit from Harvey, Irma and Maria could end up being $200bn or more, according to Moody’s Analytics. And then in October, unprecedented wildfires in northern California did an estimated $3bn in damage.

Climate change can be hard to see and intuitively grasp. It’s a relatively slow-moving scientific phenomenon caused by pollution from all around the globe. It’s not usually dramatic to watch like a candidate debate or the fallout from a White House scandal.

But an extreme weather event is a moment when people can see and feel climate change – and if they’re unlucky, get seriously hurt by it. When those disasters happen, media outlets need to cover them as climate change stories. And when a number of them happen in quick succession, as they did this year, the media have an even greater responsibility to report the big-picture story about climate change and help the public understand the immediacy of the threat.

If we are to fend off the worst possible outcomes of climate change, we need to shift as quickly as possible to a cleaner energy system. We could expect more Americans to get on board with that solution if they more fully understood the problem – and that’s where the critical role of the media comes in. As the weather gets worse, we need our journalism to get better.

Lisa Hymas is the climate and energy program director at Media Matters

Press link for more: The Guardian

How to resolve the planet’s ‘biggest health threat’ #Qldvotes #StopAdani 

How to resolve the planet’s ‘biggest health threat’By Carl Meyer in News, Energy, Politics | November 3rd 2017


Courtney Howard, president-elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, at the release of the Canada brief of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, at the CHEO hospital on Nov. 2 in Ottawa. Photo by Alex Tétreault

When a group of researchers studying connections between public health and climate change in Canada tried to look into the impact of fracking on Indigenous communities, they made a startling discovery.
“There was not a single study published, ever, on the health impacts of fracking in Canada,” said Courtney Howard, president-elect at the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, at a presentation in Ottawa on Thursday.
A comprehensive literature review had been carried out by the library services of the College of Family Physicians Canada, she said — to no avail. “That was about a year ago, and I’m not aware of anything that has been published since.”
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a process used by the fossil fuel industry to inject a high-pressure mix of water and toxic chemicals into rock in order to release gas trapped underground.
The National Energy Board predicts an explosion of fracking activity by 2040, adding to Canada’s many current sites. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found scientific evidence that fracking harms drinking water in “some circumstances,” Reuters reported last December.


Howard was speaking as a co-author of the Canada brief of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change. The Lancet Countdown is a global, interdisciplinary partnership of 24 academic institutions and intergovernmental organizations, organized by the influential Lancet medical journal.
The yearly report, the first of its kind, is intended to track the connections between public health and climate change. It emanated from the Lancet’s scientific conclusion that climate change is the “biggest global health threat of the 21st century.”
It also warns that Canada’s push to phase out coal-powered electricity shouldn’t come with a phase-in of natural gas to replace coal plants. It notes that methane, the primary component in natural gas, is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.
It also notes that an increased proportion of natural gas is being produced via fracking, “for which evidence is accumulating of negative impacts.”
“One public health hazard should not be exchanged for another,” the report states.


Trevor Hancock, professor and senior scholar at the University of Victoria, on Nov. 2, 2017 in Ottawa. Hancock said there are “massive inequalities in health” when it comes to climate change. Photo by Alex Tétreault

Climate change will affect health ‘for centuries’
Health is connected to climate change in many ways, the researchers said: permafrost melt is damaging infrastructure; there are increased heat- and water-related diseases and deaths; food security and clean water is increasingly threatened; there are increased health impacts from severe storms and floods; and more.
“Human symptoms of climate change are unequivocal, potentially irreversible and affecting the health of populations around the world today,” said the Canadian Public Health Association in a press release.
The association launched the Canada brief of the report at a Nov. 2 presentation at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, based in Ottawa.
“We’re doing this here at CHEO, at a children’s hospital, because what we’re doing today to the planet is going to affect the health of people for centuries,” said Trevor Hancock, professor and senior scholar at the University of Victoria and a co-author of the Canada brief.
“There are massive inequalities in health” when it comes to climate change, he said, as the transition will disproportionately impact Indigenous communities and low-income countries. “We need to be thinking about the health impacts on vulnerable people.”
The Lancet group expects to publish updates, including recommendations for regions, between now and 2030.

Health Canada has said there is “growing evidence” that climate change is “affecting the health and well-being of citizens in countries throughout the world, including Canada.” A major issue being examined is “longer and more intense heat events that can be dangerous for the health of Canadians.”
The department says it has identified seven categories of climate-related impacts on health: heat waves or cold snaps; floods or droughts; air pollution; contamination of food or water; bacteria and viruses; skin damage from ultraviolet rays; and socio-economic impacts like increased demand for health care services.
“As an illustration, severe weather events can result in loss of income and productivity, relocation of people, increased stress for families, and higher costs for health care and social services,” the department states.
Asked to comment on the report and its recommendations, departmental spokeswoman Tammy Jarbeau said Canada recognizes that climate change is impacting the health and well-being of vulnerable populations such as Indigenous peoples, children, seniors, and those with chronic illnesses.
“Health Canada welcomes the perspectives provided by the Canadian Public Health Association and Lancet Countdown and looks forward to reviewing the report in detail,” said Jarbeau.
“The department is open to all input on the health impacts of climate change, especially those input that helps to advance the dialogue and produce results.”


A slide from a presentation by Kris Murray, a lecturer at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, shows the adaptation of various carbon pricing mechanisms, or emissions trading schemes, from around the globe. Kris Murray presentation

The ‘adverse impacts’ on Indigenous wellbeing
The report states that the rapid development of the oilsands and fracking has “generated a research lag regarding potential direct health impacts on local populations.”
“This is particularly relevant with regards to Indigenous communities, some of whom now express concerns that landscapes are fragmented to the extent that their traditional way of life is no longer possible, with adverse impacts on their culture and wellbeing.”
“One of our recommendations is to increase funding for research into the local health impacts of resource extraction, with a focus on the impact on indigenous populations,” said Howard.
“Related to that, we need to start integrating health impact assessments into our environment assessment process.”

A table from the Lancet Countdown report forecasting the health impacts of a phase-out of coal-powered electricity by 2030, assuming generators are shut down after 40 years or by 2030, and that at least two thirds of generation is replaced by non-emitting sources. Lancet Countdown screenshot

Canada warned not to replace coal with gas
The report makes it clear that Canada needs to keep its coal power phase-out commitment in order to help save thousands of premature deaths, emergency room visits, hospitalizations and asthma episodes.
It calls on Canada to stick with its coal-powered electricity phase-out by 2030 “or sooner” and for the country to replace that with “at minimum two thirds of the power replaced by non-emitting sources.”
That requires coal-powered electricity sources, which currently create 44 per cent of global emissions, to be replaced with cleaner sources.
But that shouldn’t be natural gas, the researchers warn. Methane has 84 times the potency of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, the report notes, “leading to near-term [climate] warming risks.”
Canada has a plan to cut methane emissions 40 to 45 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025, but those regulations were pushed back from earlier plans.
“It is important to minimize the amount of natural gas used to replace coal-power,” states the report.


Kris Murray, a lecturer at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, on Nov. 2, 2017 in Ottawa. Murray said global labour capacity has dropped by over 5 per cent in populations exposed to temperature change in the last decade and a half. Photo by Alex Tétreault

Climate slowing productivity, spreading disease
Canada says it will cut its carbon pollution 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 as part of its Paris Agreement commitments.
But the United Nations recently panned Ottawa for having insufficient policies to meet that target, as the country will miss the 2030 mark by over 40 million tonnes of emissions even if it achieves all its stated goals.
The report puts the global picture in stark terms. It concludes that meeting the Paris commitment globally will require emissions to peak within the next few years and move to negative emissions after 2050.
“This can be thought of as needing to halve [carbon dioxide] emissions every decade,” it states.
Kris Murray, a lecturer at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London and a co-author of the international Lancet Countdown report, said his research work on the project showed that climate change has slowed productivity and spread disease.
Global labour capacity has dropped by 5.3 per cent in populations exposed to temperature change between 2000 and 2016, he said.
Meanwhile, the disease transmitting ability of two versions of dengue, the virus that causes dengue fever, a mosquito-borne tropical disease, rose by 9.4 per cent and 11.1 per cent thanks to climate warming trends since the 1950s.


A graph from the Lancet Countdown report showing the ratio of private transportation to public transit and active transit like walking and cycling, in various cities around the globe. Lancet Countdown screenshot

Group calls for national transport strategy
The Canada portion of the report calls for developing a “national active transport strategy” for the country, and to boost support for telecommuting and telehealth options.
The report found that Vancouver, for example, was one of the best cities in Canada for the ratio of private transportation to public transit and active transit like walking and cycling — yet one of the worst cities internationally.
“Moving from private motorized transport to public transport, walking and cycling in urban areas helps to decrease emissions from vehicles, as well as having substantial health benefits,” the report states.
“Commuting on foot or by bike has been shown to decrease cardiovascular mortality, and cycling has been shown to decrease all-cause mortality and mortality from cancer.”

The researchers of the Lancet Countdown report at the CHEO presentation for the Canada brief of the report, on Nov. 2, 2017 in Ottawa. Photo by Alex Tétreault

‘Try a lentil’
The report also calls for health-sector support for Health Canada’s draft healthy eating guidelines, in order to coax Canadians away from meat protein, and toward plant-based protein sources.
Eating meat is associated with high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, water use and land use, the researchers said, and plant-rich diets have been shown to decrease colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease risk, among other benefits.
“We’re not saying you need to go cold turkey,” joked Howard, which got some giggles from the room. “But try a lentil.”
Editor’s note: this story was updated at 4:01 p.m. ET to correctly attribute a quote about lentils. It was updated again at 5:16 p.m. to add a comment from Health Canada.
Press link for more: National Observer

CO2 Emissions Rising Faster Than Ever! #StopAdani #Qldvotes #Auspol 

A record surge in atmospheric CO2. Emissions rise faster than ever!
Yesterday (30/10), both the BBC and the Guardian posted an article proving the state of the world is atrocious.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), concentrations of atmospheric CO2 surged to a record high in 2016. 

What is more, the pace with which this process is taking place is accelerating. 

The year 2016 saw average concentrations of CO2 hit 403.3 ppm, up from 400 ppm in 2015.

 This is the largest increase the WMO watch programme has ever witnessed. 

Before 2016, the largest increase – 2.7 ppm – occurred in 1997-1998 when an El Niño was active (every El Niño impacts the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by causing droughts that limit the uptake of CO2 by plants and trees). 

Now the figure is 3.3ppm. It is also 50% higher than the average of the last 10 years, which is extreme.

 The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was three to five million years ago, in the mid-Pliocene Epoch.

While emissions from human sources have slowed down somewhat in the last couple of years, the cumulative total of atmospheric CO2 continues to spike. 

Since 1990 alone, there has been a 40% increase in total radiative forcing. 

The rise in CO2 and CO2e (equivalent) is due the Earth’s response to human warming. 

This means that, at one unknown point, climate change will be out of our hands: total emissions will continue to increase even if we decrease CO2 emissions from human sources (not that we significantly succeed in this or that there is a plan for achieving it). 

The problem is not only that human activity creates climate change, but that climate change destroys sinks, such as forests, that it warms oceans and seas and destroys the permafrost.

 This explains the spike of methane levels over the last 10 years.

Incredibly, there is still doubt.

 As professor Nisbet from Royal Halloway says:
“The rapid increase in methane since 2007, especially in 2014, 2015, and 2016 (…) was not expected in the Paris agreement. 

Methane growth is strongest in the tropics and sub-tropics. 

The carbon isotopes in the methane show that growth is not being driven by fossil fuels. 

We do not understand why methane is rising. 

It may be a climate change feedback. It is very worrying” 
And Erik Solhein, the head of UN Environment added that “The numbers don’t lie. 

We are still emitting far too much and this needs to be reversed” 

The numbers do not lie, but one has to use the right ones. 

The global CO2 measure tells far from the whole story.

 Atmospheric levels of gasses like methane, nitrous oxide, and a host of less common industrial chemicals are also all on the rise in the Earth’s atmosphere due to human emissions. 

According to research by the Advanced Global Atmosphere Gases Center at MIT, the total heat forcing equal to CO2 (this is the CO2 equivalent measure which adds all the other gases) was about 478 ppm during the spring of 2013 – almost two years before the Paris Agreement was signed (December 2015) (see here and here). 

The Paris Agreement does not contain the word “methane” 
Needless to say, in 2013, the situation – ca. 480 ppm CO2e – was already nothing short of fearsome. 

The last time the world saw such a measure of comparable atmospheric greenhouse gas heat forcing was during the Miocene around 15-20 million years ago. 

At that time, global temperatures were 3-4 C warmer. 

Today, CO2e stands at ca. 492 ppm. 

It is impossible that the IPCC was unaware of it. 

For one, Natalia Sakhova and her colleagues have been publishing papers on methane venting into the atmosphere from sediments of the East Siberian Ice Arctic Shelf since the 1990s.

That tropical forests could transform from a sink to a source due to rising temperatures has also been documented in the literature since the 1990s.

 According to an OECD study of 2011, GHG could reach 685 ppm of CO2e by 2050.

 In 2013, Michael Mann wrote that we will likely lock in a 2 C short term warming this century and a probable 4 C warming long-term. 


According to Mann in 2013, if the current, high-velocity pace of emission continues, we will likely hit 2C warming by 2036, setting off extraordinary, severe and irreversible global changes over a very short period. 

Since then, nothing has happened to change this gloomy picture.
It is absolutely necessary to understand the problem of the Earth’s response to human induced climate change. 

Natural carbon sinks on land and ocean buffer us from the full impact of carbon emissions.

 But we cannot assume this will continue indefinitely. 

The warmer the world becomes, the more difficult it will become to prevent further warming: even less emissions can lead to proportionally larger impacts. 

Natural carbon sinks become less effective and even become sources.


This is happening right now. 

The Earth’s tropical forests are now so degraded that they are emitting more carbon than all of the traffic in the United States.

 A healthy forest sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, whereas forests that are degraded by drought, wildfires and deforestation release previously sequestered carbon.

 In short, land ecosystems, mainly forests, have been mitigating part of the fossil fuel problem – they sucked CO2 out of the atmosphere, about 25% of our fossil fuel emissions. 

Not any longer. 

Another study showed that warming soils are now releasing much more carbon into the atmosphere than previously thought.

 This means another disastrous feedback loop exists that will trigger giant carbon releases in a cycle that will be (practically) impossible to stop.

It is true that emissions from energy decreased in the last three years. 

Emissions from land use, agriculture, aviation and shipping have not stalled.

 Increased use of biomass is still often calculated as zero-emission, which is nonsensical. 

CO2e is now already above what was considered the limit for a 2 degrees C rise – this limit was 450 ppm CO2e. 

We are now over 490 ppm CO2e and the concentrations are rising.

 It is not possible otherwise, also because the earth itself contributes to the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly because of increasing emissions of CO2 and methane from wetlands, permafrost areas and sea beds. 

The IPCC, in its wisdom, does (or did) not count these contributions and so they do (or did) not exist. 

The world will pay a heavy prize for this ostrich policy.

The permafrost thaw caused by fossil fuel emissions already releases relatively large amounts of CO2, NH4 and NO2. 

Any reasonable discussion of our global situation therefore has to stop limiting the discussion to fossil fuel CO2 emissions and start evaluating the true global situation with regard to the planetary carbon cycle and the global warming of all the greenhouse gases.
The estimate is that about 50% of total global fossil fuel emissions over the past 100 years have been absorbed by land and oceans. 

If the sinks are exhausted or overwhelmed by permafrost or shallow marine sediment outgassing, it is possible that, in the worst case, a 50% reduction in the use of fossil fuels (again: not that there is a viable strategy to achieve this) would have no effect on the growth rate of atmospheric CO2.

It can be realistically expected that, IF every country meets its self-determined emissions goals, global temperature will increase by 3.7 degrees C at 2100 – and that is being optimistic!

 According to Friedrich et al. (see my article on this here and here for Friedrich et al.) a rise of 4.8 and 7.4 degrees can be in the making by 2100.
For CO2 emissions to fall, the use of fossil fuels has to decrease and brought to zero. 


This can only happen if they become so expensive that any other source is cheaper.

 It also means major changes in manufacturing, agriculture, transport and energy efficiency. 

It means changing and re-scaling the macroeconomic architecture.

We all know this, but it does not square with any reasonable projections of oil, natural gas and coal production.

 For example, the American EIA estimated future consumption of liquids and natural gas give annual rates of increase of 1.1 and 1.9 percent through 2040. 

Coal production also increases, albeit more slowly at 0.6 percent per year.

The idea that in such a world emissions will drop is magical thinking. 

The idea that climate change can be addressed in a technological way, leaving existing power relations intact is magical thinking – not only a myth, but a pertinent lie.

What is actually the “effort” that the “landmark” Paris Agreement expects countries to make?

 In 2015, the US budget was $3.800 billion.

 In 2016, the Department of Energy (DoE) budget request for all of energy efficiency, renewable energy and nuclear energy was $4 billion. 

This is a mere 0.1%. 

Where does most of this money end up?

 It goes to big multinationals in order to strengthen “competitiveness,” “create jobs” and “markets and growth” and to “reduce business risks,” as 360 big corporations wrote to Trump in an open letter, asking him to not quit the Paris Agreement.
Trump quit Paris and it is inherently stupid and regressive. 

But the Paris Agreement is also regressive.

At the end of 2017, CO2 and other GHGs are rising, they are rising faster than ever, temperatures are rising, new feedbacks and potential horrors are being discovered almost every day. 

As I wrote before, ‘this historical milestone that will safeguard the future of humanity’ (Cameron) contains no reference to “coal,” “oil,” “fracking,” “shale oil,” “fossil fuel” or “carbon dioxide.” 

The words “zero,” “ban,” “prohibit” or “stop” do not occur in it.

 The word “adaptation” occurs 85 times, although the responsibility to adapt is nowhere mentioned. 

Liability and compensation are explicitly excluded. 

There is no action plan.

 The proposed emission cuts by the nations are voluntary.

 There is no enforceable compliance mechanism.
Meanwhile, warming atmospheric temperatures coupled with warmer ocean waters have combined to cause Antarctic sea ice to shrink by two millions kilometres in just the last three years.


At the other pole, recently released data showed that the Arctic ice cap melted down to hundreds of thousands of square miles below its average this past summer. 

The ice minimum for this year was 610.000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average, in addition to its being the eighth-lowest year in the 38-year satellite record (to compare: Germany’s surface is 137.983.6 square miles) 
Some time ago, I would have ended this article by writing that ‘if the world’s nations are serious about addressing climate change, the rise in CO2 concentrations needs to cease. 

The sinks need to balance the sources. 

If the sinks degrade and become a source, the game is up.’ But I do not believe that the world’s nations are serious about addressing global climate change.

 There is nothing concrete that points in that direction. 

And so the problem becomes unsolvable.

Press link for more: Flassbeck Economics

U.S. Federal Report Blames Humans For #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Qldvotes 

Federal report blames humans for global warming and its effects
An extensive report published by the federal government Friday asserts that humans are the primary driver of climate change, causing higher temperatures, sea level rise, agriculture problems and more.

The report, the first volume of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, is years in the making, and involved contributions from more than a dozen federal agencies.
It is meant to be an authoritative assessment of the current state of climate change science.

Many of the report’s conclusions directly contradict the Trump administration’s positions on climate change.

For example, Trump officials like Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry say they can’t be sure whether human-caused greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are the primary cause of climate change.
But the Climate Assessment plainly states that is the case.
“This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” it says. “For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

“Globally averaged, annually averaged surface air temperature has increased by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1 degree Centigrade, over the last 115 years,” David Fahey, an atmospheric scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and one of the leading authors of the report, told reporters. “This period is now the warmest in the history of modern civilization.”


The report cites “thousands of studies conducted by researchers around the world” that show evidence of a warming globe, including “changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and increasing atmospheric water vapor.”
It includes dire warnings about the impact of climate change on human activities.
Heavy rainfall, which causes flooding, is expected to increase over the rest of the century, and heat waves will become more frequent.
Severe weather events like forest fires and drought will grow more prevalent, and sea levels will rise “by at least several inches in the next 15 years and by 1–to-4 feet by 2100.”
This underlines warnings from scientists around the globe who say the only way to get climate change under control will be to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide.


Emission growth has slowed in recent years, but the report concludes it’s not enough to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, the limit at which scientists expect the worst effects of climate change to be irreversible.
The study is the fourth time this century that federal scientists have put together a report on the impacts of climate change around the globe and in the United States.
The report is mandated by Congress, with three federal agencies — NOAA, NASA and the Department of Energy — coordinating its publication. It uses research from thousands of scientists around the world.
This year’s assessment comes amid concerns that the White House would work to undermine the study’s conclusions. Scientists shared a draft version of the study with The New York Times in August, seeking extra publicity for its findings in the hope of rebuffing any attempt to water it down.
The topline conclusions of the final study, though, appear to be in line with those of the draft, and the accepted scientific consensus on the role humans play in warming the globe.
Fahey told reporters that there was no political interference in the assessment released Friday, though he conceded that some on the team had feared it would happen.
“Of course there are perhaps fears. We’re all citizens and scientists at the same time. But I think whatever fears we had weren’t realized,” Fahey said.
“The word ‘interference’ might have been a threat, but it never materialized. This report says what the scientists wanted it to say.”
In a statement, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said that “the climate has changed and is always changing” and pointed to a line in the report that concluded the future of climate change depends primarily on “remaining uncertainty in the sensitivity of Earth’s climate to [greenhouse gas] emissions.”
The report said, with “very high confidence,” that the magnitude of climate change will also depend on the “amount of greenhouse gases emitted globally” over the next few decades.
“The administration supports rigorous scientific analysis and debate and encourages public comment on the draft documents being released today,” Shah said.
“To address climate change as well as other risks, the U.S. will continue to promote access to the affordable and reliable energy needed to grow economically, and to support technology, innovation and the development of modern and efficient infrastructure that will reduce emissions and enable us to address future risks, including climate related risks.”

Press link for more: The Hill

Climate Change Profound impact on public health #StopAdani #Qldvotes

Espinosa is the executive secretary of UN Climate Change and Horton is editor-in-chief of The Lancet
The evidence is growing harder and harder to ignore—climate change is already having a profound and detrimental impact on public health. 

Around the world, warmer temperatures are creating and complicating a whole host of health challenges, many of which have been all too obvious this year.


As over 20,000 delegates from around the world prepare to meet in Bonn, Germany, for the annual UN climate conference, the unnaturally warm surface waters of the Atlantic Ocean have helped produce a historically high run of 10 named hurricanes this season, which have taken lives and destroyed communities from Texas to the Caribbean to Ireland.

Many parts of Europe sweltered this summer under a heat wave that was so bad that it was dubbed “Lucifer.” 

The American Southwest was meanwhile suffering through its own historic heat. 

And then came the wildfires, sparked on drought-scorched lands in Western Europe, the Pacific Northwest, and California.


A report published this week by The Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, provides an annual “check up” of how climate change is impacting public health, and how countries’ actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are reducing health risks.

 The research, conducted by a group of leading doctors, academics, and policy professionals found that climate change is already damaging the health of millions worldwide.
How? 

The deaths caused by unnatural disasters like warming-fueled hurricanes and wildfires are obvious, and the threat of extreme heat waves — which can kill outright or cause heat-related illnesses — to public health is clear. 

But there are many other climate impacts that are every bit as sinister, and potentially lethal. 

Changing weather patterns are already altering the transmission patterns of infectious diseases, resulting in unexpected outbreaks of malaria, dengue fever, cholera, tick-born encephalitis, and West Nile virus. 

Allergy season is getting longer and allergen levels higher.

 Lyme disease is spreading, with the number of cases in the United States tripling over the past two decades as deer ticks can carry the disease farther north and as warmer temperatures allow them to Floods, which are increasing in regularity and severity, create even more breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects. 

Uneven, unpredictable precipitation patterns and higher temperatures are also reducing crop yields, causing more widespread malnourishment and nutrition deficiencies.


Tragically, these burdens are being — and will be — borne mostly by children, the elderly and low-income vulnerable populations that have done little to cause climate change and have benefited the least from the burning of fossil fuels. 

But make no mistake, the impacts will be felt by all.
Perhaps most troubling, what we’re experiencing today is just the beginning.

Over the past few decades, the global health community has made great gains in tackling the spread and sources of infectious disease, and in combatting malnutrition and hunger. 

But this progress could be undermined in a warming world that exacerbates such health threats.
It’s a dire diagnosis, but the good news is that we know the cure. 

We simply must stop burning fossil fuels and releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, transitioning to clean, renewable energy resources.

What’s more, many of the steps we take to combat climate change can create immediate benefit public health in other ways. 

Fine particulate matter and other local air pollution in cities — from tailpipes and coal plants, for instance — kills some 2.6 million people annually worldwide, according to the Lancet Countdown. 

Solving the greenhouse gas problem also cleans up the smoggy air that’s polluting lungs.
These longer term and immediate health factors are why the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change called a comprehensive response to climate change “the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.”


Policymakers recognize climate change as being a massive public health challenge — and not just an environmental one — and act accordingly. 

The Lancet Countdown’s annual reports can help quantify the full costs to the public, and should be utilized to drive more ambitious efforts to transition to a low carbon future.
There are encouraging signs that this is starting to happen. 

The two-week climate conference, opening on November 6, has health among its key priority issues.
For the 25 years that the global community has been working to find a way to collectively combat climate change, not nearly enough has been known about the true risks to public health. 

We can no longer use that ignorance as an excuse for inaction. 

We’re seeing the impacts now, and they are measurable. 

Without aggressive action, the public health problems we’re seeing today risk intensifying to a widespread health emergency.


With ambitious action, however, we can both rein in long term warming and — by cleaning the air of fossil fuel-borne pollution—we can start improving health and saving lives right away.

Press link for more: Time.com

1.5C Climate Change Threshold #StopAdani 

In Defense of the 1.5°C Climate Change Threshold
Loren Legarda Oct 23, 2017


 Steam and exhaust pipes Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

MANILA – The Earth today is more than 1°C hotter than it was in pre-industrial times, and the terrible symptoms of its fever are already showing. 

This year alone, back-to-back hurricanes have devastated Caribbean islands, monsoon flooding has displaced tens of millions in South Asia, and fires have raged on nearly every continent. 

Pulling the planet back from the brink could not be more urgent.

Those of us who live on the front lines of climate change – on archipelagos, small islands, coastal lowlands, and rapidly desertifying plains – can’t afford to wait and see what another degree of warming will bring. 

Already, far too many lives and livelihoods are being lost. 

People are being uprooted, and vital resources are becoming increasingly scarce, while those suffering the most severe consequences of climate change are also among those who have done the least to cause it.


That is why the Philippines used its chairmanship of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) – an alliance of the 48 countries that stand to bear the brunt of climate change – to fight to ensure that the 2015 Paris climate agreement aimed explicitly to cap global warming at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. 

For us, 1.5°C isn’t merely a symbolic or “aspirational” number to be plugged into international agreements; it is an existential limit. 

If global temperatures rise above that level, the places we call home – and many other homes on this planet – will become uninhabitable or even disappear completely.


When we first introduced the 1.5°C target back in 2009, we met substantial resistance. 

Climate-change deniers – those who refuse to believe the science of human-induced global warming – continue to dismiss any such effort to stem the rise in the planet’s temperature as futile and unnecessary. 

But even well-meaning climate advocates and policymakers often opposed the 1.5°C target, arguing that, according to the science, humans had already emitted enough greenhouse gases to make meeting that goal virtually impossible.
Yet, on this front, the science is not as clear-cut as it might have seemed.

 According to a recent paper published in Nature, the world’s remaining “carbon budget” – the amount of carbon-dioxide equivalents we can emit before breaching the 1.5°C threshold – is somewhat larger than was previously thought.
This finding is no reason for complacency, as some commentators (not scientists) seem to think. 

It does not mean that previous climate models were excessively alarmist, or that we can take a more relaxed approach to reining in global warming.

 Instead, the paper should inspire – and, indeed, calls for – more immediate, deliberate, and aggressive action to ensure that greenhouse-gas emissions peak within a few years and net-zero emissions are achieved by mid-century.
 

What would such action look like?

 Global emissions would need to be reduced by 4-6% every year, until they reached zero. 

Meanwhile, forest and agricultural lands would have to be restored, so that they could capture and sequester greater amounts of carbon dioxide. 

Fully decarbonizing our energy and transportation systems in four decades will require a herculean effort, but it is not impossible.

Beyond their environmental consequences, such efforts would generate major economic gains, boosting the middle class in developed countries and pulling hundreds of millions out of poverty in the developing world, including by fueling job creation. 

The energy transition will lead to massive efficiency savings, while improving the resilience of infrastructure, supply chains, and urban services in developing countries, particularly those in vulnerable regions.
According to a report published last year by the United Nations Development Programme, maintaining the 1.5°C threshold and creating a low-carbon economy would add as much as $12 trillion to global GDP, compared to a scenario in which the world sticks to current policies and emissions-reduction pledges.
The paper asserting that the 1.5°C target is achievable was written by well-respected climate experts and published in a top-ranking journal after extensive peer review. 

But it is just one paper; there is still a lot more to learn about our capacity to limit global warming. 

That is why top scientists are already discussing and debating its findings; their responses will also be published in top journals. 

That is how scientific research works, and it is why we can trust climate science – and its urgent warnings.
Next year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will publish its own meta-analysis of all of the science related to the 1.5°C target, in what promises to be the most comprehensive summary of such research.

 But we cannot afford to wait for that analysis before taking action.
The members of the CVF have already committed to doing our part, pledging at last year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech to complete the transition to 100% renewable energy as soon as possible.

 Our emissions are already among the world’s smallest, but our climate targets are the world’s most ambitious.


But whether the world manages to curb climate change ultimately will depend on the willingness of the largest current and historical emitters of greenhouse gases to fulfill their moral and ethical responsibility to take strong action.

 Keeping global temperatures below 1.5°C may not yet be a geophysical impossibility. 

But, to meet the target, we must ensure that it is not treated as a political and economic impossibility, either.

Press link for more: Project-Syndicate