Bushfire

This Isn’t “The New Normal #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

This Isn’t ‘the New Normal’ for Climate Change — That Will Be Worse
David Wallace-Wells

October 11, 2017 10:12 am


A Fountaingrove Village homeowner surveys her destroyed home she and her husband have owned for four years, on October 9, 2017, in Santa Rosa, California. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

It’s been a terrifying season for what we used to call natural disasters.

For the first time in recorded history, three hurricanes arose simultaneously in the Caribbean. 

Harvey and Irma ravaged a series of islands then turned north and hit the U.S. mainland. 

Days later came Maria, the third storm this season to register among the top-four most devastating hurricanes in dollar terms to ever make landfall in the U.S. (Maria seems likely to be remembered as among the worst humanitarian disasters America has ever seen, with 40 percent of Puerto Rico still without running water, power out for likely six months, and native agriculture devastated for a full year.)


 For years, we’ve conceived of climate change in terms of sea level, meaning it was often possible to believe its devastating impacts would be felt mostly by those living elsewhere, on the coasts; extreme weather seems poised to break that delusion, beginning with hurricanes. And then the unprecedented California wildfires broke out over the weekend, fueled by the Diablo Winds, killing 17 already and burning through 115,000 acres across several counties by Wednesday, casting even the sky above Disneyland in an eerie postapocalyptic orange glow and lighting up satellite images with flames visible from space.

 The smoke was visible from there, too.
It is tempting to look at this string of disasters and think, Climate change is here. 

Both hurricanes and wildfires are made worse by warming, with as much as 30 percent of the strength of hurricanes like Harvey and Maria attributable to climate change, and wildfire season both extended and exacerbated by it. 

As the journalist Malcolm Harris put it blithely on Twitter, “There didn’t used to be a major natural disaster every single day.”

What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal. 

It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship.

But the truth is actually far scarier than “welcome to the new normal.”

 The climate system we have been observing since August, the one that has pummeled the planet again and again and exposed even the world’s wealthiest country as unable (or at least unwilling) to properly respond to its destruction, is not our bleak future. 

It is, by definition, a beyond-best-case scenario for warming and all the climate disasters that will bring. 

Even if, miraculously, the planet immediately ceased emitting carbon into the atmosphere, we’d still be due for some additional warming, and therefore some climate-disaster shakeout, from just the stuff we’ve put into the air already. 

But of course we’re very far from zeroing out on carbon, and therefore very far from stalling climate change.

 A recent debate has centered around the question of whether it is even conceivably possible for the planet to pull up short of one-point-five degrees Celsius of warming, which means, at the absolute very least, we have 50 percent more warming to go (since we’re at about one degree already). But even most optimistic experts expect we’ll at least hit two degrees, and possibly two-point-five or even three. 

That means as much as 200 percent more warming ahead of us.

 And what that means for extreme weather and climate disasters is horrifying.

Watch: How Climate Change Is Creating More Powerful Hurricanes
Of course, there is also an enormous variance in weather, and we shouldn’t expect, say, that next year’s hurricane season will be necessarily as bad as this one, or worse, or that next year’s wildfire season will be as bad as this one, or worse, even as the planet continues to warm.

 We are probably dealing with a lot of bad luck in 2017 (and that’s not even counting the earthquakes, unrelated to climate, that shook Mexico last month, reducing whole neighborhoods to rubble). But, over time, the trend lines are inarguable: Climate change will give us more devastating hurricanes than we have now, and more horrible wildfires, as well as more tornadoes and droughts and heat waves and floods.
What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal.

It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship. 

Perhaps because of the exhausting false debate about whether climate change is “real,” too many of us have developed a misleading impression that its effects are binary. 

But global warming is not “yes” or “no,” it is a function that gets worse over time as long as we continue to produce greenhouse gas. 

And so the experience of life in a climate transformed by human activity is not just a matter of stepping from one stable environment into another, somewhat worse one, no matter how degraded or destructive the transformed climate is.

 The effects will grow and build as the planet continues to warm: from one degree to one-point-five to almost certainly two degrees and beyond.

 The last few months of climate disasters may look like about as much as the planet can take. 

But things are only going to get worse.

Press link for more: NYMag.com

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We need a new language. #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

Climate optimism has been a disaster. 

We need a new language – desperately | Ellie Mae O’Hagan
Ellie Mae O’HaganThursday 21 September 2017 23.24 AEST

 A flooded home in Houston, with tattered US flag


A flooded home in Houston. ‘Major parts of the dominant global superpower have been decimated by two Katrina-dwarfing storms in less than a month.’ Photograph: David J Phillip/AP

In 1988, when the scientist James Hansen told a senate committee that it was “time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here”, those who took him seriously assumed that if they just persisted with emphasising that this terrible fact would eventually destroy us, action would be taken.

 Instead, the opposite happened: when confronted with the awful reality of climate change, most people tended to retreat into a panglossian vision of the future, or simply didn’t want to hear about it.

A lot of work has been done since to understand why climate change is so uniquely paralysing, most prominently by George Marshall, author of the book Don’t Even Think About It. 

Marshall describes climate change as “a perfect and undetectable crime everyone contributes to but for which no one has a motive”. 

Climate change is both too near and too far for us to be able to internalise: too near because we make it worse with every minute act of our daily lives; too far because until now it has been something that affects foreign people in foreign countries, or future versions of ourselves that we can only conceive of ephemerally.

It is also too massive. 

The truth is if we don’t take action on climate change now, the food shortages, mass migration and political turmoil it will cause could see the collapse of civilisation in our lifetimes. 

Which of us can live with that knowledge?
It’s not surprising, then, that some years ago climate activists switched to a message of optimism.

 They listened to studies that showed optimism was more galvanising than despair, and they began to talk about hope, empowerment, and success stories.

 They waited for some grand extreme weather event to make the final pieces fall into place. 

Maybe the submerging of New Orleans would be it; maybe some of the rich white people who were battered by Hurricane Sandy would use their privilege to demand action. 

Maybe Harvey or Irma – or now Maria – would cause us to snap out of our stupor. 

It hasn’t happened.

Instead what I think a message of optimism has done is create a giant canyon between the reality of climate change and most people’s perception of it.

 An optimistic message has led to complacency – “people are saying it’s doable so it will probably be fine” – and championing success stories has convinced people that the pathetic, threadbare action taken by governments so far is sufficient.

 I’ve lost count of the sheer number of politically engaged, conscientious people I’ve met who have simply no idea how high the stakes are.

It may be that if the time for a mass movement is not now, there won’t be one

The fact is, nobody knows how to solve the riddle of persuading the public to demand action on climate change.

 I certainly don’t have the answers.

 But I do think we need to contemplate that something is going disastrously wrong here – that perhaps it’s time to get back to the drawing board and rethink how we talk about climate change.
Two significant things have happened since that senate committee hearing in 1988: the first is the Paris agreement in 2015 to try to limit warming to 1.5C – research out this week shows this is still possible. 

The second is that major parts of the dominant global superpower have been decimated by two Katrina-dwarfing storms in less than a month. 

Circumstances have changed in the past 30 years: climate change is a material fact now, and we have a specific target to aim for, to limit the damage it will cause.
‘We have to challenge the pervasive silence on climate change.’ George Marshall, the author of Don’t Even Think About It, speaks at a Guardian event.

A new campaign could centre on the demand for governments to meet the 1.5C target, emphasising how dire the consequences will be if we don’t.

 People don’t need to imagine what climate change looks like any more: they can see it in the sea water that has enveloped the islands of the Caribbean, the drowning houses in Houston, the communiques from those who couldn’t escape, and prepared themselves to lose everything.

 In Britain we’ve seen floodwater inundate entire villages; a pub that became a thoroughfare for a swollen river. 

This is what catastrophe on our doorsteps looks like, and perhaps it’s time we link these images to climate change with as much gusto as the fossil fuel industry denies it.
Could the language of emergency work?

 It has never been tried with as much meteorological evidence as we have now, and we’ve never had a target as clear and unanimous as the one agreed in Paris. 

The one thing I know is that the events of the last few months have changed the game, and this is the moment to start debating a new way to talk about climate change. 

It may be that if the time for a mass movement is not now, there won’t be one.

• Ellie Mae O’Hagan is an editor at openDemocracy, and a freelance journalist

Press link for more: The Guardian

Coal Kills People! #StopAdani #Auspol 

Enough tiptoeing around. 

Let’s make this clear: coal kills people!

Tim HolloLast modified on Monday 18 September 2017 06.12 AEST


Emissions from a coal fired power station in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia.

‘How can journalists and editors report on the politics of coal on one page and bushfires around Sydney in September on another without making the connection?’ Photograph: Ashley Cooper/Getty Images

Coal kills people. 

This isn’t even slightly scientifically controversial.

From the mines to the trains to the climate disruption; from black lung to asthma, heat stress to hunger, fires to floods: coal is killing people in Australia and around the world right now.

Yet we are once again having what passes for political debate about extending the life of coal-fired power stations and, extraordinarily, building new ones.

 The conversation is completely disconnected from the fact that two thirds of Bangladesh was reported to be underwater, record-breaking hurricanes were battering the US, and wildfires were roaring in both the northern and southern hemispheres at the same time.

Even the Greens only talk coyly about the impact of climate change on our “way of life”. 

It’s time we put it clearly: If Malcolm Turnbull, Barnaby Joyce and their colleagues succeed in extending the life of the Liddell power station, let alone building new coal, they will kill people. 

Burning more coal, knowing what we know, is a deliberate act of arson, lighting a match in dry bushland, with homes just around the bend and a hot wind blowing in their direction.
It’s hard to say that. It’s hard to read it.

 But we must come to grips with this connection urgently.
And it is connection – and disconnection – which is at the heart of the problem, and which points the way to the only hope for a solution.
How is it that our politicians can be so drastically disconnected from the consequences of their actions?
 How can citizens not be out on the streets?


 How can corporate executives be continuing business as usual (a business as usual that is moving away from coal, but still nowhere near fast enough to avoid catastrophic climate disruption)? How can journalists and editors report on the politics of coal on one page and bushfires around Sydney in September on another without making the connection?
The answer, I would suggest, is because connection is fundamentally at odds with how we have trained ourselves to see the world. Our economic, social and political system is based around disconnection. And our most vital and urgent task is to find ways to get over that, to draw each other and our ideas together, to see the world as the glorious interconnected ecosystem it is.
We are, today, at the end point of a millennia-long process of disconnection. Since we first built cities and started leaving the land, we have been disconnecting from nature; losing sight of it, quite literally; losing our vocabulary of it, to the extent that blackberry is no longer a fruit to be plucked and eaten but a device to tie us to our desks when we’re on the toilet.
Nature was just the beginning. While this slow severing has been going on for thousands of years, the last few centuries – the reformation, the enlightenment, the industrial revolution, and capitalism – performed the amputation.
In capitalism, we have created the first social organising principle based on selfishness, the first system to make greed, competition, non-cooperation its credo. In Thatcherism, we have the declaration that there is no such thing as society. In neoliberalism, we have a system which alienates us from each other, from our labour, from democracy; a system which declares we have great choice while turning everything into a supermarket aisle full of different but identical toothpastes; a system which insists that we have great freedoms while systematically removing more and more of our capacity to have any real control or influence over, or stake in – anything real in our lives.
That’s why we can have politicians actively discussing doing something which not only makes no economic sense but will actually kill people, while most of the population turns away to binge watch the next series on Netflix.
There is only one way through this – we have to reconnect. And it’s already happening. Around Australia and the world, people are seeking out reconnection in all sorts of ways. We are starting community groups, getting involved in community gardens and food coops, starting childcare and health coops, joining sharing groups instead of buying more stuff. Instead of always doing things on our own, as disconnected individuals, we are looking for innovative ways to work together, to eat together, to live together. And, excitingly, we’re banding together to create social and political forces to be reckoned with.
Bringing it right back to coal, tens of thousands of people are bypassing the politicians and corporations altogether, frustrated by their inability to think beyond coal, and setting up renewable energy cooperatives. From Canberra to Copenhagen, people are pooling their resources to jointly set up solar farms or wind farms, sharing the benefits not only among themselves but with all of us.
If all this seems terribly small, remember – going from 280 to 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is already causing havoc. With a few more parts per million, we could reach tipping points in the climate beyond which unimaginable disaster looms.
But there are tipping points in society, too. And, if we work together to rebuild connection, we can reach that tipping point first. We can turn this around, and maybe not only survive, but thrive.
Tim Hollo is executive director of the Green Institute

Press link for more: The Guardian

Sue The Bastards #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

Sue the Bastards
L. Hunter Lovins, Contributor President Natural Capitalism Solutions, Professor of Sustainable Management Bard MBA

When flood waters rose in Houston and Hurricane Harvey spread eastward to already battered regions of the Gulf coast, the urgent priority was preservation of life, evacuation of those threatened and long-term care of the displaced. 

The unfolding tragedy that is Harvey has already killed dozens, with more to come. 

Cost estimates rose from $30 billion before the storm, to $75 billion, as the severity became obvious, to over $100 billion. 

Harvey will certainly exceed Katrina, the previous record holder, costing up to one percent of U.S. GDP.


As usual, Americans reached deep to lend sympathy, understanding and practical assistance. 

As always, groups like the Red Cross stepped up, offering Text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10
But is anyone responsible for Harvey?
When the Deep Horizon well blew out, no one questioned that the parties who killed eleven people and spewed oil across the Gulf of Mexico would be held to account. 

The only question was how much. 

BP’s costs for taking a $500,000 short cut was in the neighborhood of $62 billion, although they offset many of the fines against taxes.


Damage from storms has routinely been considered an “Act of God.” 

Legal dictionaries define this as, “An event that directly and exclusively results from occurrence of natural causes that could not have been prevented by the exercise of foresight or caution; an inevitable accident.”
But is that true of Harvey?
The ultra warm waters of the Gulf and the tendency of storms now to move very slowly—the warming arctic is unable to maintain the jet stream that previously blew such storm away from the hot Gulf that fuels them—clearly contributed to the billions in damage. 

These, we now know, are results of global warming.

Several California communities recently tired of blaming God and sued the oil and coal companies claiming THEY caused the climate change that forecasts warned would devastate their communities in years to come.

 Global warming, they said, could have been prevented.

 They’re right: my first book on how to do this was in 1981.

 Since then many of us have shown that energy efficiency and renewable energy is cheaper than burning the fossil fuels that drive climate change, and that it would be better business to go green and just solve the crisis.


Marin and San Mateo Counties, and the city of Imperial Beach carried the argument further.

 Using the work of my colleague Richard Heede who showed that just 90 companies are responsible for two thirds of human caused global warming, they decided if you can name the creators of the harm, you ought to be able to sue them.

Wake up to the day’s most important news.
The governments argued, “37 coal, oil, and gas companies including Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Peabody Energy, knew about the harm their products posed to the planet and continued to undermine and obfuscate the dangers of climate change.”

The suit faces challenges.

 Peabody, once the world’s largest coal company, promptly claimed its recent bankruptcy shields it from such liability. 

Interestingly, it did not deny that it might have been liable, only that its early recognition of the unviability of its business model now enabled it to duck any ongoing responsibility. Mighty neighborly….
For arcane legal reasons (preemption by the Federal government limits people’s ability to sue) previous efforts to hold companies liable have failed. 

When the Inuit village being eaten by rising sea levels sought federal damages, they were told that only the legislative and executive branches could deliver relief.
But what if Congress and the Child-in-Chief are bought and paid for advocates for the fossil industry? 


Maybe suing is the only way to bring accountability to our system. 

Yes, apportioning blame will be tricky.

 And yes, every one of us is to blame every time we fire up a car or board an airplane.

 But we’ll already be paying the costs through our tax dollars. 

Isn’t it time that those who have made billions keeping us all addicted to oil pay their share?

Framing their case to mimic the successful public nuisance suits that forced tobacco companies to settle and pay damages for the public costs imposed on taxpayers to treat smokers, and filing in state court, may enable California plaintiffs to overcome the hurdles that derail federal law suits. 

Still, they must prove that any particular defendant is responsible for their specific harm, especially when the damage they allege is only anticipated.
But Harvey’s harm is all too real, compounding daily with creeping mold, exploding chemical plants, loss of water supplies, and the threat of disease. 

Harvey has already forced the release of millions of pounds of chemicals from oil operations spread across Houston. 

One Exxon facility collapsed, releasing 13,000 pounds of nastiness including benzene, a known carcinogen.

And the challenge of dealing with global warming is only beginning. As meteorologist Eric Holthaus put it, “Harvey is what climate change looks like.”
“In all of U.S. history,” he stated, “There’s never been a storm like Hurricane Harvey…. Houston, as it was before Harvey, will never be the same again.”
He points out that Harvey is the third 500-year flood to hit the Houston area in three years. A storm like Harvey should not happen more than once in a millennium. 

The week before, 1,200 people died in floods also triggered by record rainfall across India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Futurist Alex Steffen calls our tendency to deny threats like climate change “predatory delay”—it adds inevitable risk to the system.

 Legal liability is supposed to impose a measure of responsibility on parties with the capacity do damage. 

But if no one can be held liable, what will stop the catastrophe?
Holthaus warns, “It’s up to the rest of us to identify this behavior and make it morally repugnant….The symbolism of the worst flooding disaster in U.S. history hitting the sprawled-out capital city of America’s oil industry is likely not lost on many. 

Institutionalized climate denial in our political system and climate denial by inaction by the rest of us have real consequences. 

They look like Houston.”

Press link for more: Huffington Post

A Billion Climate Migrants by 2050 #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol #Refugees 

Climate Migrants Might Reach One Billion by 2050
By Baher Kamal
ROME, Aug 21 2017 (IPS) – Imagine a world with as many as one billion people facing harsh climate change impacts resulting in devastating droughts and/or floods, extreme weather, destruction of natural resources, in particular lands, soils and water, and the consequence of severe livelihoods conditions, famine and starvation.


Although not yet based on definite scientific projections, the proven speed with which the process of climate change has been taking place, might lead to such a scenario by 2050. 

If so, 1 in 9 human beings would be on the move by then.
Currently, forecasts vary from 25 million to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis, with 200 million being the most widely cited estimate, according to a 2015 study carried out by the Institute for Environment and Human Security of the United Nations University.

“This figure equals the current estimate of international migrants worldwide.”
Other specialised sources estimate that “every second, one person is displaced by disaster.” 

On this, the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reports that in 2015 only, more than 19.2 million people fled disasters in 113 countries. 

“Disasters displace three to ten times more people than conflict and war worldwide.”
One Person Displaced Every Second

As climate change continues, adds NRC, it will likely lead to more frequent and severe natural hazards; the impact will be heavy, warns this independent humanitarian organisation providing aid and assistance to people forced to flee.
“On average, 26 million people are displaced by disasters such as floods and storms every year. 

That’s one person forced to flee every second.” See: Climate Victims – Every Second, One Person Is Displaced by Disaster
For its part, the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) also forecasts 200 million environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis. Many of them would be coastal population.

In an interview to IPS, the IOM Director General William Lacy Swing explained that political crises and natural disasters are the other major drivers of migration today.
“We have never had so many complex and protracted humanitarian emergencies now happening simultaneously from West Africa all the way to Asia, with very few spots in between which do not have some issue.”

The UN specialised body’s chief added “We have today 40 million forcibly displaced people and 20 million refugees, the greatest number of uprooted people since the Second World War.” See: Q&A: Crisis and Climate Change Driving Unprecedented Migration
Droughts, Desertification
Another warning comes from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which estimates that some 135 million people may be displaced by 2045 as a result of desertification.
Up to 12 million hectares of productive land become barren every year due to desertification and drought alone, which is a lost opportunity to produce 20 million tons of grain, adds the Bonn-based Convention secretariat.
Meantime, the increase in droughts and flash floods that are stronger, more frequent and widespread is destroying the land – the Earth’s main fresh water store, according to UNCCD.
“Droughts kill more people than any other single weather-related catastrophe and conflicts among communities over water scarcity are gathering pace. Over 1 billion people today have no access to water, and demand will increase by 30 per cent by 2030.”
On the other hand, getting sustainable energy to all represents one of the biggest development challenges of the 21st century, it continues.
“Research suggests that 1.4 billion people — over 20 per cent of the global population — lack access to electricity, and that at least 2.7 billion people — some 40 cent of the global population — rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking.”
In short, land, water and energy as resources are all pillars of our survival and of sustainable development.
“They stand or fall together. To be sustainable and in particular to reach poor rural populations, we need to enhance supply, access and security across all three pillars, at the same time, while supporting global climate ambitions.”
National Security, Migration
On this, based on the UN Environment Programme’s 2009 study “From Conflict to Peace-building. The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment,” UNCCD reminds that 40 per cent of all intrastate conflicts in the past 60 years are linked to the control and allocation of natural resources.
“The exposure of more and more poor people to water scarcity and hunger opens the door to the failure of fragile states and regional conflicts. Non-state actor groups are increasingly taking advantage of large cross-border migration flows and abandoned lands.”
Where natural assets including land are poorly managed, warns the Convention, violence might become the dominant means of resource control, forcing natural resource assets out of the hands of legitimate government.
Meanwhile, the number of international migrants worldwide has been on the rise. According to the International migration report (2015), their number has continued to grow rapidly over the past fifteen years reaching 244 million in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000.
Losing productive land is driving people to make risky life choices, says UNCCD, adding that in rural areas where people depend on scarce productive land resources, land degradation is a driver of forced migration.
Africa is particularly susceptible since more than 90 per cent of economy depends on a climate-sensitive natural resource base like rain-fed, subsistence agriculture.
“Unless we change the way we manage our land, in the next 30 years we may leave a billion or more vulnerable poor people with little choice but to fight or flee.”

Press link for more: Relief web

Climate Change sets the world on fire! #StopAdani #auspol 

Climate change sets the world on fire

Screenshot NASA FIRMS web fire mapper (NASA/FIRMS)

There have been many wildfires aound the world this summer. Canada has seen the worst season for fires since records began, with 894,941 hectares burned, the British Columbia Wildfire Service has confirmed. Large areas of the Western United States have also been affected. 
Meanwhile in Portugal, 2,000 people were recently cut off by flames and smoke encircling the town of Macao. And earlier this summer, 64 people were killed by a blaze in the country.
Like Canada, southern Europe has seen a record heatwave this year, creating hot, dry conditions that saw Italy, France, Croatia, Spain and Greece all swept by wildfires. As a result, Europe has reportedly seen three times the average number of wildfires this summer.
But it’s not just Canada and southern Europe that have been affected. In Siberia, wildfire destroyed hundreds of homes, and around 700 hectares of Armenian forest have also been destroyed by fire. Earlier this year, Chile saw wildfires that were unparalleled in the country’s history, according to the President.
Even Greenland, not known for its hot dry conditions, suffered an unprecedented blaze this summer.


Portugal Waldbrände (picture alliance/dpa/AP/A. Franca)

Central Portugal has been one of the areas hardest hit by fires this summer
The big picture
“A lot of these things are happening locally, but people don’t always connect them to climate change,” said Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the US. “But there is a real climate change component to this and the risk is going up because of climate change.”
With global temperatures rising, scientists say wildfires are likely to become increasingly frequent and widespread. “What’s really happening is that there is extra heat available,” Trenberth told DW. “That heat has to go somewhere and some of it goes into raising temperatures. But the first thing that happens is that it goes into drying – it dries out plants and increases the risk of wildfires.”
The map above, compiling NASA satellite data on fires from the beginning of 2017 until mid-August makes it looks as if the whole world is on fire.  
So is 2017 a record year of wildfires?

 Kanada Cache Creek Waldbrand (picture-alliance/empics/D. Dyck)

Wildfire rages in British Colombia, on July 8. It has now been confirmed the state’s biggest in more than 50 years
Tough competition
It certainly looks like it’s been a big year for fires in southern Europe and North America. But Martin Wooster, professor of earth observation science at King’s College London, says other parts of the world have seen worse in recent years.
“For example, this year, fires across Southeast Asia are extremely unlikely to be anything like as severe as they were in 2015,” he told DW.
Two years ago, drought caused by El Nino created lethal conditions for Indonesian forests and peatlands that were already degraded by draining and logging. The smoldering peat – ancient, decayed vegetable matter condensed into a carbon-heavy fuel – kept fires burning for months on end.
“This led to huge fires, far bigger than any seen in Europe, and some of the worst air pollution ever experienced,” Wooster said.


 Satellite wildfire photo (NASA)

NASA imagery shows a large wildfire burning in Sweden in early August
Longer fire seasons – longer recovery
But there does appear to be a distinct trend for fire seasons to be longer and more harsh. “In the western United States, the general perception is that there is no wildfire season any more, but that it’s continuous all year round,” Trenberth told DW.
In many parts of the world, wildfires are part of a natural cycle. Savannahs, for example, are maintained by fire. Some trees not only survive fires, but need them to release their seeds. Human intervention can disrupt these cycles, the scientific discipline of fire ecology has found. Putting out small fires can allow flammable debris to accumulate until a colossal fire starts that cannot be controlled.
But global warming is resulting in hotter, drier conditions that mean such infernos are becoming more common, even with careful forest management. And the changed climatic conditions can mean forests take far longer to recover. Meanwhile, fires are also starting in habitats in areas like the tropics that have no natural fire ecology.


Frankreich Waldbrände (picture-alliance/MAXPPP/F. Fernandes)

A wildfire smolders near Nice in the south of France in July
Human fingerprints
Climate change isn’t the only manmade factor. Fires can also be started by careless humans dropping cigarettes or letting campfires get out of control.
And in regions like the Amazon, where the annual fire season increased by 19 percent between 1979 and 2013, fire is deliberately used to clear forest to make way for agriculture. “Farmers light fires to clear an area and what happens in drought conditions is that these fires become wild because the vegetation is so dry, it gets out of control,” Trenberth said.
And all this can have a feedback effect – more fires mean more carbon released into the atmosphere, which in turn drives climate change.

Wildfires in Croatia (Reuters/A. Bronic)

Wildfires rage through Southeast Europe

Hope for the best
While there were no reports of casualties and the fires only reached a few homes, some people could only stand by and watch as the flames razed everything in their path, especially nature. Fires between the Croatian town of Omis and Split have reportedly destroyed 4,500 hectares of forest.

Press link for more: DW.COM

We Need To Act On Climate Change #StopAdani #auspol @AnnastaciaMP Criminal Neglect! 

WE NEED TO ACT ON CLIMATE CHANGE
The letter titled “Climate change denial has disastrous impact” (Tuesday, July 4) says climate change can be “catastrophic for a sustainable economy,” noting the effects it’s already having on snowfall in the Vail and Aspen areas. 

This is only the beginning.


The world’s most highly cited peer-reviewed scientific journal, Nature, reports that climate change may cost more than $369 trillion. 

The world’s best climate scientists and economists have said that continued burning of fossil fuels will cause “global economic collapse,” followed by “societal collapse” (National Academy of Sciences/IPCC).


Are you serious @AnnastaciaMP ?

Photo courtesy Greens TNQ

What most people seem unaware of is that even if we could stop burning fossil fuels today, globally, we’d still face about 30 more years of worsening climate change.


 That’s because it takes about three decades for carbon emissions to heat up and affect our global temperatures. 

And those emissions won’t dissipate for millennia, so we won’t be able to turn down the global thermostat, no matter how hot it gets (skepticalscience.org).

That’s why it’s so important that we act now and why climate-change denial is so dangerous.

 It counsels delay. 

This costs lives. 

Climate change already kills more than 5 million people annually (DARA). 

Carbon pollution kills more than 5.5 million each year (Time). 

This is nothing compared to what’s to come.

But we can avoid the worst effects of future climate change by using carbon pricing, which can phase out fossil fuels within the next decade (Newsweek), soon enough to avert “catastrophic” climate change (IPCC). 

“Carbon fee-and-dividend” is a proven carbon-pricing mechanism that doesn’t punish consumers or taxpayers; it rewards them.
It’s a carbon tax that’s paid, not to the government, but to the taxpayer in equal monthly “carbon dividend” checks. 

The tax/fee goes up every year, and so do your “dividends.” If you switch to clean energy, then you don’t pay the carbon tax, but you still get the “dividend” money. 

So you save more every year, as clean-energy prices continue to plummet, already becoming as cheap or cheaper than fossil fuels. 

That’s projected to increase gross domestic product over $75 billion annually (citizensclimatelobby.org).
Carbon-fee-and-dividend is designed to have a global impact, using market forces to make other nations cut their emissions as much as we do, and it’s a bipartisan solution to climate change that uses the market, rather than government regulations or expenditures, so it can have conservative/GOP support in Congress, especially since it will jump-start a $50 trillion industry (Bloomberg) and create more than 5 million good-paying, permanent, local jobs, more than 70,000 in Colorado (Stanford University’s solutionsproject.org).
It’s worked as promised in British Columbia for eight years now, lowering taxes and energy bills (The Economist). Clean energy will be nearly free there within 20 years (Washington Post).
Go to the Citizens Climate Lobby website to see how we can make it happen.
Lynn Goldfarb
Denver

Press link for more: vaildaily.com

How did Australia get this stupid about Clean Energy! #auspol #qldpol

How did Australia get this stupid about clean energy?

By Giles Parkinson

Just when you thought that the public debate around clean energy in Australia could not possibly get any worse, any dumber, or any further divorced from reality, it did.
Conservatives have been railing against renewables and carbon pricing for at least a decade. 

So ingrained has it become in our national psyche that it is like a State of Origin contest between energy sources and their fans. “Queenslander”, shout the league fans. “Fossil fuels” screech the incumbents.

Photo courtesy Green TNQ (Tablelands Far North Queensland) 
But it plumbed further depths this week. 

And it got really stupid and really nasty. 

Conservatives in the government and the media rebooted their attacks on wind and solar energy, and extended it to battery storage and vehicle emission standards, with the Murdoch media dubbing the latter as a “carbon tax on cars.”
Craig Kelly, the chair of Coalition’s energy policy committee, said renewable energy “would kill people”, a claim happily repeated by columnist Andrew Bolt.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan urged the Queensland government to “forget about climate change”, while the LNP in Queensland will this weekend consider a motion urging Australia to quit the Paris climate deal.
Worse, the conservatives started attacking individuals. 

The verbal assault on chief scientist Alan Finkel was launched way back in February when it was clear he would not toe the fossil fuel line. 

And even after delivering what many consider a “soft option”, the conservatives rekindled their attack.
“The Finkel report is a blueprint for destruction — of the Australian economy and destruction of the Liberal Party,” Murdoch columnist Piers Akerman wrote.
Then they added another target – the new head of the Australian Energy Market Operator, Audrey Zibelman. Broadcaster Alan Jones urged that “this woman”, who he accused of being a “global warming advocate and a promoter of wind turbines”, be “run out of town”.

On the same day, writing in Quadrant magazine, Alan Moran, the former head of regulation for the Institute of Public Affairs, described Zibelman as a “refugee from Hillary Clinton’s presidential defeat.”

 (Actually she worked for New York governor Andrew Cuomo).
“Alan Finkel’s otherworldly prognosis is bad enough. But toss in Malcolm Turnbull’s advocacy of renewables and then add an imported American chief regulator who would have been happier working for Hillary Clinton and where are you? 

The simple answer: thoroughly stuffed,” Moran wrote.
These attacks on Finkel, and now Zibelman, come in groups. 

It begs the question, are they co-ordinated? And if so, by whom?
But really, how did Australia get this stupid? And this ugly?

South Australia’s energy minister Tom Koutsantonis thinks it’s because the conservatives, or at least the Coalition, are in the pockets of the fossil fuel lobby.
“The only thing standing in the way of lower prices, improved grid security and meeting our carbon reduction commitments is a divided federal Liberal Party that is completely beholden to the coal lobby,” Koutsantonis said on Thursday.
He may have a point, because ideology alone does not explain the absurdity and ignorance of some of the remarks made this past week.
It seems there is nothing about the clean energy economy that these people like. The conservatives and the Murdoch camp has been relentless against wind farms for years now and this week they turned its target to battery storage and solar panels.
One story focused on fires from solar panels, claiming 40 such fires occurred over the last five years in Victoria.
Context: Victoria has around 3,000 house fires a year, mostly from heaters and clothes dryers and electric blankets. Fridges cause one fire a week in London, including the recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington that claimed 80 lives.
The Murdoch media’s campaign against Elon Musk’s “bulldust boutique batteries” was actually kick-started by energy minister Josh Frydenberg, who made some ridiculous remarks about how a single battery could not power the whole state, or store its entire wind output.
(But it was 20 times bigger than the 5MW battery storage “virtual power plant” he was hailing earlier in the year).
No one is suggesting that this battery storage array can provide all of the state’s power needs: It is designed to help make up any energy shortfall, which occurred last year when the biggest gas plants sat idle, or when they unexpectedly tripped, and to help ride through network faults and generator failures.
And battery storage would have prevented, or at least reduced, all three major outages that occurred in South Australia since November 2015. It would certainly be smarter and quicker than the dumb, slow responding fossil fuel generator that did the wrong thing and extended the blackout on that day last November.
Battery storage is a threat to the incumbents, and their defenders, because it and other storage will make wind and solar dispatchable, will make more expensive gas peaking plant redundant, and eventually – with the addition of pumped hydro and solar thermal – allow the coal fleet to be entirely replaced.
The attack on proposed vehicle emissions standards was extraordinary. Australia has become a dumping ground for inefficient and polluting vehicles because of its absence of any such standards.
That is causing health issues and higher prices (it means more fuel consumption), but the Murdoch media had no hesitation in calling it a “carbon tax” on cars, and epithet that even Fairfax used to lead its coverage.
“Hands off our cars, warmists,” warned Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun, echoing the extraordinary push back by conservatives against the idea of autonomous driving. “Don’t try and steal my pick-up, I’ve got a gun.”
One wonders: Do any of these people use modern technologies? Or are they still riding a horse and cart, sending telegrams and listening to the wireless, storing their beers in an ice box.
Of course, the clean energy industry doesn’t help itself – either too brow-beaten by the media or scared to offend the government. When I started writing about clean energy a decade ago, I was astonished by the circular nature of the mutual put-downs from the wind, solar, geothermal and biomass industries.
Last week, when the Murdoch media got their “scoop” on an issue well reported in RenewEconomy, the draft standards that may effectively ban lithium-ion batteries from the inside of homes, and bring a halt to the nascent household battery storage industry – a major threat to incumbent utilities.
The response from some of Australia’s leading battery storage developers? The promoters of vanadium and zinc bromine flow batteries hopped on to their soap-box and crowed about how their product was not affected.
No sense of a common purpose there. Sauve qui peux! Every man for themselves. The story of Australia’s energy industry.
Meanwhile, the fossil fuel push continues unrelenting. The Minerals Council producing yet another report claiming that “High efficiency, low emissions” coal plants could meet climate targets. To understand how preposterous that claim is, read this.
“Low emissions” is just another marketing lie. “High emissions, low efficiency” might be a more accurate description of HELE coal plants compared to the alternative smart technologies.
It is an absurd situation we find ourselves in. The public support for these new technologies is overwhelming, as it is in business (apart from those seeking to protect stranded assets), and among most politicians – even many in the Liberal Party, as NSW energy minister Don Harwin revealed late last month.
Yet here we are: Short-term policies; a patchwork of rules on energy efficiency; the worst building stock in the world; the most inefficient and polluting cars; and the world’s most expensive and dirty grid, soaring emissions, and rising temperatures.
And two years after obtaining power, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is still defending policies he once describes as “bullshit,” too afraid to call out the nonsense spread by those keeping him in power.  

Press link for more: Renew economy.com

Can we stop #ClimateChange? First we must #StopAdani #Auspol 

If we stopped emitting greenhouse gases right now, would we stop climate change?
Earth’s climate is changing rapidly. 

We know this from billions of observations, documented in thousands of journal papers and texts and summarized every few years by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


 The primary cause of that change is the release of carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and natural gas.
One of the goals of the international Paris Agreement on climate change is to limit the increase of the global surface average air temperature to 2 degrees Celsius, compared to preindustrial times. 

There is a further commitment to strive to limit the increase to 1.5℃.
Earth has already, essentially, reached the 1℃ threshold. 

Despite the avoidance of millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions through use of renewable energy, increased efficiency and conservation efforts, the rate of increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere remains high.


International plans on how to deal with climate change are painstakingly difficult to cobble together and take decades to work out. 

Most climate scientists and negotiators were dismayed by President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
But setting aside the politics, how much warming are we already locked into?

 If we stop emitting greenhouse gases right now, why would the temperature continue to rise?
Basics of carbon and climate
The carbon dioxide that accumulates in the atmosphere insulates the surface of the Earth.

 It’s like a warming blanket that holds in heat. 

This energy increases the average temperature of the Earth’s surface, heats the oceans and melts polar ice. 

As consequences, sea level rises and weather changes.

Global average temperature has increased. 

Anomalies are relative to the mean temperature of 1961-1990. 


Based on IPCC Assessment Report 5, Working Group 1. Finnish Meteorological Institute, the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, and Climateguide.fi, CC BY-ND

Since 1880, after carbon dioxide emissions took off with the Industrial Revolution, the average global temperature has increased. 

With the help of internal variations associated with the El Niño weather pattern, we’ve already experienced months more than 1.5℃ above the average.


 Sustained temperatures beyond the 1℃ threshold are imminent.

 Each of the last three decades has been warmer than the preceding decade, as well as warmer than the entire previous century.
The North and South poles are warming much faster than the average global temperature.

 Ice sheets in both the Arctic and Antarctic are melting. 

Ice in the Arctic Ocean is melting and the permafrost is thawing.

 In 2017, there’s been a stunning decrease in Antarctic sea ice, reminiscent of the 2007 decrease in the Arctic.
Ecosystems on both land and in the sea are changing. 

The observed changes are coherent and consistent with our theoretical understanding of the Earth’s energy balance and simulations from models that are used to understand past variability and to help us think about the future.


A massive iceberg – estimated to be 21 miles by 12 miles in size – breaks off from Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier. NASA, CC BY

Slam on the climate brakes
What would happen to the climate if we were to stop emitting carbon dioxide today, right now? 

Would we return to the climate of our elders?
The simple answer is no. 

Once we release the carbon dioxide stored in the fossil fuels we burn, it accumulates in and moves among the atmosphere, the oceans, the land and the plants and animals of the biosphere. 

The released carbon dioxide will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years. 

Only after many millennia will it return to rocks, for example, through the formation of calcium carbonate – limestone – as marine organisms’ shells settle to the bottom of the ocean.

 But on time spans relevant to humans, once released the carbon dioxide is in our environment essentially forever.

 It does not go away, unless we, ourselves, remove it.
In order to stop the accumulation of heat, we would have to eliminate not just carbon dioxide emissions, but all greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide.

 We’d also need to reverse deforestation and other land uses that affect the Earth’s energy balance (the difference between incoming energy from the sun and what’s returned to space). 

We would have to radically change our agriculture. 

If we did this, it would eliminate additional planetary warming, and limit the rise of air temperature. 

Such a cessation of warming is not possible.
So if we stop emitting carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels today, it’s not the end of the story for global warming. 

There’s a delay in air-temperature increase as the atmosphere catches up with all the heat that the Earth has accumulated.

 After maybe 40 more years, scientists hypothesize the climate will stabilize at a temperature higher than what was normal for previous generations.
This decades-long lag between cause and effect is due to the long time it takes to heat the ocean’s huge mass. 

The energy that is held in the Earth by increased carbon dioxide does more than heat the air. 

It melts ice; it heats the ocean. 


Compared to air, it’s harder to raise the temperature of water; it takes time – decades.

 However, once the ocean temperature is elevated, it will release heat back to the air, and be measured as surface heating.
Scientists run thought experiments to help think through the complex processes of emissions reductions and limits to warming. 

One experiment held forcing, or the effect of greenhouse gases on the Earth’s energy balance, to year 2000 levels, which implies a very low rate of continued emissions. 

It found as the oceans’ heating catches up with the atmosphere, the Earth’s temperature would rise about another 0.6℃. Scientists refer to this as committed warming. 

Ice, also responding to increasing heat in the ocean, will continue to melt. 

There’s already convincing evidence that significant glaciers in the West Antarctic ice sheets are lost. 

Ice, water and air – the extra heat held on the Earth by carbon dioxide affects them all. That which has melted will stay melted – and more will melt.
Ecosystems are altered by natural and human-made occurrences. 

As they recover, it will be in a different climate from that in which they evolved. 

The climate in which they recover will not be stable; it will be continuing to warm. There will be no new normal, only more change.

Runaway glaciers in Antarctica.

Best of the worst-case scenarios
In any event, it’s not possible to stop emitting carbon dioxide right now.


 Despite significant advances in renewable energy sources, total demand for energy accelerates and carbon dioxide emissions increase. 

As a professor of climate and space sciences, I teach my students they need to plan for a world 4℃ warmer.

 A 2011 report from the International Energy Agency states that if we don’t get off our current path, then we’re looking at an Earth 6℃ warmer.

 Even now after the Paris Agreement, the trajectory is essentially the same. 

It’s hard to say we’re on a new path until we see a peak and then a downturn in carbon emissions.

 With the approximately 1℃ of warming we’ve already seen, the observed changes are already disturbing.
There are many reasons we need to eliminate our carbon dioxide emissions. 

The climate is changing rapidly; if that pace is slowed, the affairs of nature and human beings can adapt more readily. 

The total amount of change, including sea-level rise, can be limited. 

The further we get away from the climate that we’ve known, the more unreliable the guidance from our models and the less likely we will be able to prepare.

It’s possible that even as emissions decrease, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will continue to increase. 

The warmer the planet gets, the less carbon dioxide the ocean can absorb. 

Rising temperatures in the polar regions make it more likely that carbon dioxide and methane, another greenhouse gas that warms the planet, will be released from storage in the frozen land and ocean reservoirs, adding to the problem.
If we stop our emissions today, we won’t go back to the past. 

The Earth will warm. 

And since the response to warming is more warming through feedbacks associated with melting ice and increased atmospheric water vapor, our job becomes one of limiting the warming. 

If greenhouse gas emissions are eliminated quickly enough, within a small number of decades, it will keep the warming manageable and the Paris Agreement goals could be met. 

It will slow the change – and allow us to adapt. 

Rather than trying to recover the past, we need to be thinking about best possible futures.
This article was updated on July 7, 2017 to clarify the potential effects from stopping carbon dioxide emissions as well as other factors that affect global warming.

Press link for more: The Conversation

Climate Change: The Science 

By Justin Gillis
The issue can be overwhelming. 

The science is complicated. 

Predictions about the fate of the planet carry endless caveats and asterisk.

We get it.
So we’ve put together a list of quick answers to often-asked questions about climate change. 

This should give you a running start on understanding the problem.

1. How much is the planet warming up?

2 degrees is actually a significant amount.

As of early 2017, the Earth had warmed by roughly 2 degrees Fahrenheit, or more than 1 degree Celsius, since 1880, when records began at a global scale.

 That figure includes the surface of the ocean. 

The warming is greater over land, and greater still in the Arctic and parts of Antarctica.

The number may sound low. 

We experience much larger temperature swings in our day-to-day lives from weather systems and from the changing of seasons. 

But when you average across the entire planet and over months or years, the temperature differences get far smaller – the variation at the surface of the Earth from one year to the next is measured in fractions of a degree. 

So a rise of 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century is actually high.
The substantial warming that has already occurred explains why much of the world’s land ice is starting to melt and the oceans are rising at an accelerating pace.

 The heat accumulating in the Earth because of human emissions is roughly equal to the heat that would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs exploding across the planet every day.


Scientists believe most and probably all of the warming since 1950 was caused by the human release of greenhouse gases.

 If emissions continue unchecked, they say the global warming could ultimately exceed 8 degrees Fahrenheit, which would transform the planet and undermine its capacity to support a large human population.
2. How much trouble are we in?

For future generations, big trouble.

The risks are much greater over the long run than over the next few decades, but the emissions that create those risks are happening now.

 This means the current generation of people is dooming future generations to a more difficult future. 

How difficult?
Over the coming 25 or 30 years, scientists say, the climate is likely to resemble that of today, although gradually getting warmer, with more of the extreme heat waves that can kill vulnerable people. 

Rainfall will be heavier in many parts of the world, but the periods between rains will most likely grow hotter and drier. 

The number of hurricanes and typhoons may actually fall, but the ones that do occur will draw energy from a hotter ocean surface, and therefore may be more intense. 

Coastal flooding will grow more frequent and damaging, as is already happening.

Longer term, if emissions continue to rise unchecked, the risks are profound. 

Scientists fear climate effects so severe that they might destabilize governments, produce waves of refugees, precipitate the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals in the Earth’s history, and melt the polar ice caps, causing the seas to rise high enough to flood most of the world’s coastal cities.
All of this could take hundreds or even thousands of years to play out, but experts cannot rule out abrupt changes, such as a collapse of agriculture, that would throw civilization into chaos much sooner. Bolder efforts to limit emissions would reduce these risks, or at least slow the effects, but it is already too late to eliminate the risks entirely.
3. Is there anything I can do about climate change?

Fly less, drive less, waste less.

You can reduce your own carbon footprint in lots of simple ways, and most of them will save you money. 

You can plug leaks in your home insulation to save power, install a smart thermostat, switch to more efficient light bulbs, turn off the lights in any room where you are not using them, drive fewer miles by consolidating trips or taking public transit, waste less food and eat less meat.
Perhaps the biggest single thing individuals can do on their own is to take fewer airplane trips; just one or two fewer plane rides per year can save as much in emissions as all the other actions combined.

 If you want to be at the cutting edge, you can look at buying an electric or hybrid car, putting solar panels on your roof, or both.

If you want to offset your emissions, you can buy certificates, with the money going to projects that protect forests, capture greenhouse gases and so forth. 

Some airlines sell these to offset emissions from their flights. You can also buy offset certificates in a private marketplace, from companies such as TerraPass; some people even give these as holiday gifts. 

In states that allow you to choose your own electricity supplier, you can often elect to buy green electricity; you pay slightly more, and the money goes into a fund that helps finance projects like wind farms.
Leading companies are also starting to demand clean energy for their operations. You can pay attention to company policies, patronize the leaders, and let the others know you expect them to do better.
In the end, though, experts do not believe the needed transformation in the energy system can happen without strong state and national policies.

 So speaking up and exercising your rights as a citizen matters as much as anything else you can do.


4. What’s the optimistic case?

Several things have to break our way.

In the best case that scientists can imagine, several things happen: Earth turns out to be less sensitive to greenhouse gases than currently believed; plants and animals manage to adapt to the changes that have already become inevitable; human society develops much greater political will to bring emissions under control; and major technological breakthroughs occur that help society to limit emissions and to adjust to climate change.
Some technological breakthroughs are already making cleaner energy more attractive. 

In the United States, for instance, coal has been losing out to natural gas as a power source, as new drilling technology has made gas more abundant and cheaper; for a given amount of power, gas cuts emissions in half. In addition, the cost of wind and solar power has declined so much that they are now the cheapest power source in a few places, even without subsidies.

Unfortunately, scientists and energy experts say the odds of all these things breaking our way are not very high. 

The Earth could just as easily turn out to be more sensitive to greenhouse gases as less.

 Global warming seems to be causing chaos in parts of the natural world already, and that seems likely to get worse, not better. 

So in the view of the experts, simply banking on rosy assumptions without any real plan would be dangerous. They believe the only way to limit the risks is to limit emissions.

5. Will reducing meat in my diet really help the climate?

Yes, beef especially.

Agriculture of all types produces greenhouse gases that warm the planet, but meat production is especially harmful — and beef is the most environmentally damaging form of meat. Some methods of cattle production demand a lot of land, contributing to destruction of forests; the trees are typically burned, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Other methods require huge amounts of water and fertilizer to grow food for the cows.
The cows themselves produce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that causes short-term warming. Meat consumption is rising worldwide as the population grows, and as economic development makes people richer and better able to afford meat.
This trend is worrisome. Studies have found that if the whole world were to start eating beef at the rate Americans eat it, produced by the methods typically used in the United States, that alone might erase any chance of staying below an internationally agreed-upon limit on global warming. Pork production creates somewhat lower emissions than beef production, and chicken lower still. So reducing your meat consumption, or switching from beef and pork to chicken in your diet, are moves in the right direction. Of course, as with any kind of behavioral change meant to benefit the climate, this will only make a difference if lots of other people do it, too, reducing the overall demand for meat products.
6. What’s the worst case?

There are many.

That is actually hard to say, which is one reason scientists are urging that emissions be cut; they want to limit the possibility of the worst case coming to pass. 
Perhaps the greatest fear is a collapse of food production, accompanied by escalating prices and mass starvation. It is unclear how likely this would be, since farmers are able to adjust their crops and farming techniques, to a degree, to adapt to climatic changes. But we have already seen heat waves contribute to broad crop failures. A decade ago, a big run-up in grain prices precipitated food riots around the world and led to the collapse of at least one government, in Haiti.
Another possibility would be a disintegration of the polar ice sheets, leading to fast-rising seas that would force people to abandon many of the world’s great cities and would lead to the loss of trillions of dollars worth of property and other assets. In places like Florida and Virginia, towns are already starting to have trouble with coastal flooding.  
Scientists also worry about other wild-card events. Will the Asian monsoons become less reliable, for instance? Billions of people depend on the monsoons to provide water for crops, so any disruptions could be catastrophic. Another possibility is a large-scale breakdown of the circulation patterns in the ocean, which could potentially lead to sudden, radical climate shifts across entire continents.
7. ​Will a technology breakthrough help us?

Even Bill Gates says don’t count on it, unless we commit the cash.

As more companies, governments and researchers devote themselves to the problem, the chances of big technological advances are improving. But even many experts who are optimistic about technological solutions warn that current efforts are not enough. For instance, spending on basic energy research is only a quarter to a third of the level that several in-depth reports have recommended. And public spending on agricultural research has stagnated even though climate change poses growing risks to the food supply. People like Bill Gates have argued that crossing our fingers and hoping for technological miracles is not a strategy — we have to spend the money that would make these things more likely to happen. 
8. How much will the seas rise?

The real question is not how high, but how fast.

The ocean is rising at a rate of about a foot per century. That causes severe effects on coastlines, forcing governments and property owners to spend tens of billions of dollars fighting erosion. But if that rate continued, it would probably be manageable, experts say.
The risk is that the rate will accelerate markedly. If emissions continue unchecked, then the temperature at the Earth’s surface could soon resemble a past epoch called the Pliocene, when a great deal of ice melted and the ocean rose by something like 80 feet compared to today. A recent study found that burning all the fossil fuels in the ground would fully melt the polar ice sheets, raising the sea level by more than 160 feet over an unknown period. Many coastal experts believe that even if emissions stopped tomorrow, 15 or 20 feet of sea-level rise is already inevitable.
The crucial issue is probably not how much the oceans are going to rise, but how fast. And on that point, scientists are pretty much flying blind. Their best information comes from studying the Earth’s history, and it suggests that the rate can on occasion hit a foot per decade, which can probably be thought of as the worst case. Even if the rise is much slower, many of the world’s great cities will flood eventually. Studies suggest that big cuts in emissions could slow the rise, buying crucial time for society to adapt to an altered coastline.
9. Are the predictions reliable?

They’re not perfect, but they’re grounded in solid science.

The idea that Earth is sensitive to greenhouse gases is confirmed by many lines of scientific evidence. For instance, the basic physics suggesting that an increase of carbon dioxide traps more heat was discovered in the 19th century, and has been verified in thousands of laboratory experiments.
Climate science does contain uncertainties, of course. The biggest is the degree to which global warming sets off feedback loops, such as a melting of sea ice that will darken the surface and cause more heat to be absorbed, melting more ice, and so forth. It is not clear exactly how much the feedbacks will intensify the warming; some of them could even partly offset it. This uncertainty means that computer forecasts can give only a range of future climate possibilities, not absolute predictions.
But even if those computer forecasts did not exist, a huge amount of evidence suggests that scientists have the basic story right. The most important evidence comes from the study of past climate conditions, a field known as paleoclimate research. The amount of carbon dioxide in the air has fluctuated naturally in the past, and every time it rises, the Earth warms up, ice melts and the ocean rises. A hundred miles inland from today’s East Coast of the United States, seashells can be dug from ancient beaches that are three million years old, a blink of an eye in geologic time.
These past conditions are not a perfect guide to the future, because humans are pumping carbon dioxide into the air far faster than nature has ever done. But they show it would be foolish to assume that modern society is somehow immune to large-scale, threatening changes. 
10. Why do people question the science of climate change?

Hint: ideology.

Most of the attacks on climate science are coming from libertarians and other political conservatives who do not like the policies that have been proposed to fight global warming. Instead of negotiating over those policies and trying to make them more subject to free-market principles, they have taken the approach of blocking them by trying to undermine the science.
This ideological position has been propped up by money from fossil-fuel interests, which have paid to create organizations, fund conferences and the like. The scientific arguments made by these groups usually involve cherry-picking data, such as focusing on short-term blips in the temperature record or in sea ice, while ignoring the long-term trends.
The most extreme version of climate denialism is to claim that scientists are engaged in a worldwide hoax to fool the public so that the government can gain greater control over people’s lives. As the arguments have become more strained, many oil and coal companies have begun to distance themselves publicly from climate denialism, but some are still helping to finance the campaigns of politicians who espouse such views.
11. Is crazy weather tied to climate change?

In some cases, yes.

Scientists have published strong evidence that the warming climate is making heat waves more frequent and intense. It is also causing heavier rainstorms, and coastal flooding is getting worse as the oceans rise because of human emissions. Global warming has intensified droughts in regions like the Middle East, and it may have strengthened a recent drought in California.
In many other cases, though, the linkage to global warming for particular trends is uncertain or disputed. That is partly from a lack of good historical weather data, but it is also scientifically unclear how certain types of events may be influenced by the changing climate.
Another factor: While the climate is changing, people’s perceptions may be changing faster. The Internet has made us all more aware of weather disasters in distant places. On social media, people have a tendency to attribute virtually any disaster to climate change, but in many cases there is little or no scientific support for doing so.
12. Will anyone benefit from global warming?

In certain ways, yes.

Countries with huge, frozen hinterlands, including Canada and Russia, could see some economic benefits as global warming makes agriculture, mining and the like more possible in those places. It is perhaps no accident that the Russians have always been reluctant to make ambitious climate commitments, and President Vladimir V. Putin has publicly questioned the science of climate change.
However, both of those countries could suffer enormous damage to their natural resources; escalating fires in Russia are already killing millions of acres of forests per year. Moreover, some experts believe countries that view themselves as likely winners from global warming will come to see the matter differently once they are swamped by millions of refugees from less fortunate lands.
13. Is there any reason for hope?

If you share this with 50 friends, maybe.

Scientists have been warning since the 1980s that strong policies were needed to limit emissions. Those warnings were ignored, and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were allowed to build up to potentially dangerous levels. So the hour is late.
But after 20 years of largely fruitless diplomacy, the governments of the world are finally starting to take the problem seriously. A deal reached in Paris in late 2015 commits nearly every country to some kind of action. President Trump decided in 2017 to pull the United States out of that deal, saying it would unfairly burden American businesses. But other countries are promising to go forward with it anyway, and some states and cities have defied Mr. Trump by adopting more ambitious climate goals.
Religious leaders like Pope Francis are speaking out. Low-emission technologies, such as electric cars, are improving. Leading corporations are making bold promises to switch to renewable power and stop forest destruction.
What is still largely missing in all this are the voices of ordinary citizens. Because politicians have a hard time thinking beyond the next election, they tend to tackle hard problems only when the public rises up and demands it.
14. How does agriculture affect climate change?

It’s a big contributor, but there are signs of progress.

The environmental pressures from global agriculture are enormous. Global demand for beef and for animal feed, for instance, has led farmers to cut down large swaths of the Amazon forest.
Brazil adopted tough oversight and managed to cut deforestation in the Amazon by 80 percent in a decade. But the gains there are fragile, and severe problems continue in other parts of the world, such as aggressive forest clearing in Indonesia.
Scores of companies and organizations, including major manufacturers of consumer products, signed a declaration in New York in 2014 pledging to cut deforestation in half by 2020, and to cut it out completely by 2030. The companies that signed the pact are now struggling to figure out how to deliver on that promise.
Many forest experts consider meeting the pledge to be difficult, but possible. They say consumers must keep up the pressure on companies that use ingredients like palm oil in products ranging from soap to lipstick to ice cream. People can also help the cause by altering their diets to eat less meat, and particularly less beef.
15. Will the seas rise evenly across the planet?

Think lumpy.

Many people imagine the ocean to be like a bathtub, where the water level is consistent all the way around. In fact, the sea is rather lumpy — strong winds and other factors can cause water to pile up in some spots, and to be lower in others.
Also, the huge ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica exert a gravitational pull on the sea, drawing water toward them. As they melt, sea levels in their vicinity will fall as the water gets redistributed to distant areas.
How the rising ocean affects particular parts of the world will therefore depend on which ice sheet melts fastest, how winds and currents shift, and other related factors. On top of all that, some coastal areas are sinking as the sea rises, so they get a double whammy.
16. What are ‘carbon emissions?’

Here’s a quick explainer.

The greenhouse gases being released by human activity are often called “carbon emissions,” just for shorthand. That is because the two most important of the gases, carbon dioxide and methane, contain carbon. Many other gases also trap heat near the Earth’s surface, and many human activities cause the release of such gases to the atmosphere. Not all of these actually contain carbon, but they have all come to be referred to by the same shorthand.
By far the biggest factor causing global warming is the burning of fossil fuels for electricity and transportation. That process takes carbon that has been underground for millions of years and moves it into the atmosphere, as carbon dioxide, where it will influence the climate for many centuries into the future. Methane is even more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, but it breaks down more quickly in the air. Methane comes from swamps, from the decay of food in landfills, from cattle and dairy farming, and from leaks in natural gas wells and pipelines.
While fossil-fuel emissions are the major issue, another major creator of emissions is the destruction of forests, particularly in the tropics. Billions of tons of carbon are stored in trees, and when forests are cleared, much of the vegetation is burned, sending that carbon into the air as carbon dioxide.
When you hear about carbon taxes, carbon trading and so on, these are just shorthand descriptions of methods designed to limit greenhouse emissions or to make them more expensive so that people will be encouraged to conserve fuel.

Press link for more: NY Times