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Does a Warming Planet Reallly Need More Coal? #StopAdani 

Australia Debates: Does Warming Planet Really Need More Coal?

By JACQUELINE WILLIAMS

October 14, 2017
Australia Debates:

An enormous expansion at Abbot Point, Australia’s most northern deep water coal port, is planned as part of a controversial mining project.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
ABBOT POINT, Australia — In a desolate corner of northeastern Australia, about 100 miles from the nearest town, a grassy stretch of prime grazing land sits above a vein of coal so rich and deep that it could be mined for decades.
The Australian government is considering a proposal to build one of the world’s largest coal mines in this remote locale, known as the Galilee Basin, where acacia and eucalyptus trees grow wild between scattered creeks.
An Indian conglomerate, the Adani Group, has asked for a taxpayer-financed loan of as much as $800 million to make the enormous project viable, promising to create thousands of jobs in return.
But the plan has met intense opposition in Australia and abroad, focusing attention on a question with global resonance: Given the threat of climate change and the slowing global demand for coal, does the world really need another giant mine, especially at the public’s expense?
Adani has proposed building six open-cut pits and five underground complexes capable of producing as much as 66 million tons of coal a year. New infrastructure to support the mine — a rail line to the coast and an expanded port — would also make it economically feasible to extract coal from at least eight additional sites in the Galilee Basin.
That could more than double coal output in Australia, which already produces more coal than any other nation except China, the United States and India. About 88 percent of the 487 tons of coal mined in Australia is exported.

Mick Derrick, center, a volunteer from the North Queensland Conservation Council, conducting a survey in Townsville, Queensland, about the proposed Adani coal mine.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
For many environmentalists, what happens in this mining case is a test of the world’s commitment to fighting climate change. Its failure would register as an unmistakable sign of an international shift away from the fossil fuels behind climate change. But if Australia agrees to subsidize the mine — even though several commercial banks have shunned it — the project would demonstrate the lasting allure and influence of the coal industry.
“How it can be constructed — at a time when the whole world is committed to move away from fossil fuels — is madness that most people just can’t understand,” said Geoffrey Cousins, president of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
The project, known as the Carmichael mine, has provoked strong resistance in part because of its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, a natural wonder that is already dying because of overheated seawater blamed on climate change. Adani plans to deliver most of the coal to India on shipping routes that critics say would further damage the ecosystem of the world’s greatest system of reefs.
The debate over the mine has dominated headlines in Australia for months and fueled one of the most fervent environmental campaigns in the nation’s history. Protests have grown in size and frequency, and polls show Australians who oppose the mine outnumber those who support it by more than two-to-one.
A group of Indigenous Australians is also challenging Adani’s claim to the land.
But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull supports the project, and it just needs financing to proceed. A government agency established to support private-sector infrastructure investment is reviewing Adani’s loan request, and the company has said it is also lining up money overseas.
“This is a tipping point,” said Maree Dibella, a coordinator of the North Queensland Conservation Council, referring to the mine’s role in the global campaign against coal.

The Collinsville coal mine, the oldest in Queensland. Proponents of a new mine say it would bring thousands of jobs to Queensland.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
Around the Galilee Basin, where a population of less than 20,000 is scattered across an area the size of Britain, opinion is divided.
Bruce Currie, a cattle farmer who lives near the site and has traveled to India to investigate Adani’s record, said he is worried the mine will drain too much groundwater, calling it “yet another burden our small business has to bear.”
Several hours drive north in Collinsville, one of the area’s oldest mining communities, Roderick Macdonald, 57, a retired miner, said Adani had come to the town promising to build mining camps and employ local people.
“From what I can hear and see, Mr. Adani’s going to do nothing for this town,” Mr. Macdonald said, referring to Gautam Adani, the billionaire founder and chairman of the company.
But others in the region are more hopeful. Mining accounts for as much as 7 percent of the Australian economy, and the northeastern state of Queensland, where the Galilee Basin lies, has suffered a downturn in recent years because of slowing demand for natural resources, especially from China.
“I need jobs for Queenslanders,” said the state’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, of the Adani proposal.


Roderick Macdonald, a retired miner in Collinsville, Queensland. “From what I can hear and see,” he said, the proposed coal mine project would “do nothing for this town.”
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
Towns along the coast have been vying for potential contracts with the mine for maintenance work, construction and other services. “People are really rooting for this because of the economy,” said Stephen Smyth, a local union leader, who started working in underground mines at 17.
The Carmichael mine, he added, is “offering that thing of hope, hope for a better life, secure employment and better wages so people can live a reasonable life.”
Adani has said the project will create as many as 10,000 jobs in the region. But a consultant hired by Adani said the employment claim was overstated in court testimony given in a case where a conservation group was looking to block the mine. Critics have also noted that other mines in Australia may need to scale back production if Carmichael opens, meaning job losses elsewhere.
A host of Australian celebrities — including the rock band Midnight Oil — and international groups have urged Mr. Turnbull to kill the project, arguing that such a large mine would violate Australia’s commitment in the Paris climate accord to work to prevent temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
In April, Mr. Turnbull met with Mr. Adani and later told reporters that the mine “will create tens of thousands of jobs,” adding, “Plainly, there is a huge economic benefit from a big project of this kind, assuming it’s built and it proceeds.”
If Adani and other mines in the Galilee Basin go ahead and reach maximum production, coal from the region would release as much as 700 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, or nearly as much as Germany generates in emissions, according to a study by Greenpeace.


Coal awaiting export at the Abbot Point port.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
Australia has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, but the coal it sells to India and other countries would not be counted in its total.
It is unclear if India even needs the extra coal. After years of big increases in coal consumption, the growth rate slowed last year as the nation has improved energy efficiency and shifted to solar, wind and hydropower. India’s coal-fired power plants are running below 60 percent of capacity, a record low, experts say.
That has raised questions about the economics of the Carmichael mine. Australia’s four largest banks have publicly ruled out financing it, and analysts have argued that the mine would face stiff competition from local sources of coal in India and elsewhere.
Globally, coal consumption actually decreased by 1.7 percent in 2016, according to a BP report on energy trends, leading the company to declare that “the fortunes of coal appear to have taken a decisive break from the past.”
Critics worry Adani could default on the government’s loan or flood the market, lowering prices worldwide and allowing coal to make a comeback as an energy source.
The Adani Group’s business record has also drawn scrutiny. The conglomerate, whose interests span natural resources, logistics, energy and agriculture, has faced allegations in India of environmental degradation, money laundering and bribery, but it has denied any illegal activity.


Mike Brunker, a member of the Whitsunday Regional Council, supports the coal mine, viewing it as a potential creator of much needed jobs in the area.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
Adani leased about 460 square miles of land in the Galilee Basin nearly a decade ago. It can take two to three days to get to the site from the coast, with the last leg of the trip on unpaved roads. Surveying, soil testing and design work has begun, including on an airstrip, mining camp, access roads and the rail link, said Ron Watson, a spokesman for Adani Australia.
Coal from the mine would be transported by rail about 240 miles through grazing land to Abbot Point, the nation’s most northern deep water coal port, which is already used to ship coal to China, Japan and South Korea. Adani has signed a 99-year lease of the port and plans an expansion that would allow it to double the amount of coal going through.
From the air, the piles of coal and equipment at Abbot Point are a striking contrast with the turquoise waters of the Coral Sea. The closest coral of the Great Barrier Reef is just 12 miles away.
A 30-minute drive southeast from Abbot Point is the seaside town of Bowen, where parts of the Nicole Kidman epic “Australia” was filmed a decade ago during better times. Now, the streets are dotted with “For Sale” signs beyond the main drag.
“We had miners living in the high parts of town,” or the most expensive neighborhoods, said Mike Brunker, who represents Bowen in the Whitsunday regional council and is a supporter of the mine for the jobs it is projected to bring. “That was the boom time. They had to leave, they had to go to other mines, or they’ve just gone broke.”
Further up the coast is Townsville, home to Adani’s headquarters in Australia, where protesters sometimes congregate and residents exemplify the conflicts felt by many in the region.
“You don’t know what’s good for us,” one man snapped at an environmental activist conducting a survey recently.
Not too long after, another resident told the activist, “I oppose the mine even though I applied for a job.”

Press link for more: NYTimes.com

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Investing in the age of #ClimateChange #StopAdani 

Countries who’ve signed the Paris Climate Agreement are looking for ways to curb carbon emissions
Marija Kramer is Head of Responsible Investment Business at Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). 

She is responsible for all aspects of responsible investing (RI) offerings, including policy development, as well as research and data screening services covering more than 13,000 global companies for institutions seeking to fully integrate ESG into their investment decision-making.

 Kramer also oversees new product development and strategic alliances in all regions of the world where RI solutions are delivered to ISS clients.

Christopher P. Skroupa: Have we reached a tipping point for mainstream investors on the issue of climate change?
Marija Kramer: I would say so. Unprecedented votes this year on climate change resolutions at some of the largest energy companies, including Exxon Mobil, would suggest mainstream institutions have crossed the Rubicon on the materiality of climate change.

 So it’s not just leading climate scientists who agree that the release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere contribute to climate change.

What we’re seeing now is that investors are focused on how a changing climate brings two highly impactful risks: transition and physical.

 Transition risks are linked to the political commitment to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

 For example, a government may choose to introduce a tax on greenhouse gas emissions that could leave several companies with unburned fossil fuel assets but support the emergence of renewable energy technologies. 

These policy and technology-related changes could directly affect the value of an investor’s portfolio.
Physical risks are linked to extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts or hurricanes that arise as a result of global temperature rises, with proponents of this argument pointing to recent storms that hit Texas, Florida and the Caribbean islands as evidence of this. 

The financial losses that can be felt by these hurricanes, alongside the more obvious humanitarian and environmental devastation triggered by the events, are materially significant for global investors far more so today than ever before.

Skroupa: How does the landmark Paris Climate Accord affect investors?
Kramer: With the adoption of the Paris Climate Accord at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) in December 2015, there is a global consensus to combat climate change. 

It is the world’s first legally binding commitment to limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with a stretch target of 1.5°C.
Part of the agreement includes ensuring that financial flows are consistent with the 2-degree target. 

Meeting this target requires a global effort to shift capital from carbon-intensive to low-carbon industries, but also heavily invest in energy-efficiency in the former. 

Significant investments in renewable energy, smart-grids and energy-efficient storage systems will be needed as well as a fade out of fossil fuel subsides.

Some countries are considering using carbon pricing, taxes and cap and trade systems as financial mechanisms to curb emissions.

 The net effect of this is that many investors are beginning to measure the carbon exposure of their portfolios and, where needed, rebalancing portfolios to offset the presence of high carbon-emitters with companies that have lower greenhouse gas emissions or are on a path to reduce them in the future.
Skroupa: How can investors manage climate-related risks and opportunities?
Kramer: Performing a carbon footprint analysis is the first step for investors who want to understand their portfolios’ impact on the climate and vice versa. 

A carbon footprint analysis shows a portfolio’s carbon emissions based on the ownership it has of the underlying investments.
For example, if an investor owns 1% of a company, the investor also owns 1% of the company’s carbon emissions and the portfolio footprint is the total of these ‘owned’ emissions. 

The analysis shows where the largest exposures are located (specific companies and sector-wide), which can in turn trigger an internal conversation around the strengths and limitations of the current investment strategy.
The next step would be to add more information to the analysis to determine if the investments are on a 2-degree pathway. 

Innovative tools, such as Climetrics, a climate impact rating for funds, also provide investors with much needed insight on the climate change impact of funds’ portfolio holdings, as well as asset managers’ own applications of climate impact as an investment and governance factor.
Skroupa: As an ESG data, analytics, research, and advisory provider, how is ISS supporting investors in the age of climate change?
Kramer: ISS-Ethix supports investors globally with developing and integrating responsible investing policies and practices into their strategy, and execute upon these policies through engagement and voting.

 Our climate solutions enable investors to understand what climate change means for their investments by providing timely data and actionable intelligence on climate change risk and its impact on investments.
ISS-Ethix can also provide reports that enable investors to understand their carbon footprint and wider climate impact, complying with disclosure frameworks such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, the California Department of Insurance’s Coal Disclosure, Article 173 of the French Energy Transition Law, the Montreal Pledge and specific guidelines for investors in other jurisdictions.
The transition to a low-carbon economy requires a massive transformation, including transition efforts to be made by global capital markets. Faced with this new reality, investors have to start asking themselves the following questions: Will my current investments make sense in a 2-degree world, and how can I spot the largest risks and opportunities in the transition to a low-carbon economy?

Press link for more: Forbes

9 Images show #ClimateChange impacts #StopAdani 

Nine Pictures That Show How Climate Change Is Impacting Earth
by Victor Tangermann on September 16, 2017 

IN BRIEF
The latest satellite data from NASA that showcases the effects of climate change paints a sobering picture. Here’s how far we have come and how much work there is to be done.

Record-breaking hurricanes have affected millions of people across North and Central America, devastating floods have taken away millions of homes, and wildfires on the west coast have wreaked havoc on the lives of millions more. The natural disasters of 2017 have raised a lot of questions about human involvement and the dire consequences of climate change caused by human activity on our planet. Even though its effects have made themselves apparent, there are many who don’t believe climate change is real, or at least that humans have nothing to do with it.
Earlier this year, NASA released a series of images titled Images of Change to show just how drastic an effect human activity has had on Earth in the last fifty or so years. They tell a story of melting glaciers, receding ice shelves, floods, and other natural disasters. They all provide evidence that climate change is very real and happening right now. It is time to take the hard, photographic evidence seriously. and learn from our past mistakes.
Tuvalu and the Rising Sea Levels


Image Credit: Ashley Cooper/Contributor/Getty Images

This image was taken in 2007, showing a town submerged in water on the Funafuti Atoll. Its population of more than 6,000 people has been battling with the direct consequences of rising sea levels. Residents of the capital Tuvalu have seen very frequent flooding in populated areas due to the fact that it is at most 4.57 meters (15 feet) above sea level. Dubbed one of “the most vulnerable Pacific Ocean islands,” its residents have to make the ultimate choice: leave the islands or deal with the consequences.
The Larsen C Ice Shelf


Image Credit: NASA/John Sonntag

This 112.65km (70 mile) long, 91.44 meter (300 feet) wide crack in the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf was photographed in November 2016. As a direct result of the split, a piece of an ice shelf the size of Delaware collapsed. The more than 1 trillion ton ice slab broke away from the Larsen C shelf around the 10th of July, 2017, decreasing it by more than 12%.
Rising Bedrock in Greenland


Image Credit: ESA/Sentinel-2/Copernicus Sentinel

Environmental scientists have concluded in recent studies that the Greenland Ice Sheet is rising as ice melts; as the ice that sits on top of the outer crust of the Earth melts, the crust underneath rises up. Measuring this change is giving scientists valuable insight into the changing sizes of ice sheets and how this eventually leads to rising sea levels.
Hurricane Harvey


Image Credit: @Space_Station/Twitter

This image was taken from the International Space Station on August 25, 2017. The disastrous consequences of Hurricane Harvey wreaking havoc on central Texas saw a huge amount of media coverage. However, when it came to drawing links between the storm and climate change, the reporting was far more subdued. Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist from the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, said in an interview with The Atlantic: “the human contribution can be up to 30 percent or so of the total rainfall coming out of the storm.” But the trend of tying storms of this scale to human activity is still emerging.
Flooding of the Ganges River


Image Credit: NASA

These satellite images are part of an ongoing series of images called Images of Change released by NASA in 2017. In addition to images related to climate change, the series also looks at how urbanization and natural hazards are changing our planet. The two images above show the drastic effect the 2015 flood had on the Ganges River in eastern and central India. Over six million people were affected by it, and at least 300 people lost their lives.
Arctic Sea Ice Decline


Image Credit: NASA

The last three decades have not been kind to the thick, older layers of sea ice in the Arctic. A study published by the American Geophysical Union in 2007 already noted a sharp decline of the Arctic Sea ice between 1953 and 2006. The last couple of winters have shown record lows in the amount of wintertime Arctic Sea ice.
“This older, thicker ice is like the bulwark of sea ice: a warm summer will melt all the young, thin ice away but it can’t completely get rid of the older ice. But this older ice is becoming weaker because there’s less of it and the remaining old ice is more broken up and thinner, so that bulwark is not as good as it used to be,” says Walt Meiter, a sea researcher from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Increase of Sun’s Energy Absorbed in the Arctic


Image Credit: NASA

Since 2000, NASA has been using its satellites to measure the solar radiation absorbed in the Arctic. Since records began in 2000, the rate has increased by 5% — notably, the only region on our planet to see a change. Due to this increase, the ice melts sooner in the spring, and more older, thicker sea ice is lost permanently.
Glacier Melt in Alaska

Image Credits: U.S. Geological Survey/NASA

 The Northwestern Glacier in Alaska retreated an estimated 10 kilometers (6 miles) out of view. The small icebergs that can be seen in the foreground have retreated almost entirely throughout the decades.
Air Pollution in London


Image Credit: Barry Lewis/Getty Images

Commuters can be seen crossing the London Bridge on March 15, 2012 — a day with record-breaking levels of air pollution due to dirty air from the north, traffic fumes, and a lack of moving air. According to the World Health Organization, “92% of the world population was living in places where the WHO air quality guidelines levels were not met,” and three million premature deaths were caused by ambient air pollution worldwide in 2012.

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

Scientists have become angry! #ClimateChange #Coral #StopAdani 

The amazing biological fixes that could help save the Great Barrier Reef

October 3 2017

In just the past two years, up to half the coral on the Great Barrier Reef has died.

 The world has reacted differentially to this disaster. 

Publics have been shocked. 

Conservationists have cried.

 The tourism industry has fractured. 

Some opportunistic politicians have denied. 

And scientists, what have we done?

 We’ve become angry.
Scientists have known this was going to happen for years. I have been teaching climate change and coral bleaching as part of core curriculum since I first began as a young academic in 2001. We have been watching the world in disbelief; watching the world careen down a collision course with its own climate.
Somehow, we thought that common sense would prevail – that politicians and businesses and people would change course before it was too late. And then, suddenly, it was too late for half of the corals on the world’s largest contiguous reef system – our national natural treasure.
The only good news is that when scientists get angry, we get active. In response to two consecutive years of mass coral mortality, some scientists have ramped up the pressure on decision makers, demanding they rapidly adopt evidence-based policies on energy.
Bleaching corals off Port Douglas.


Bleaching corals off Port Douglas. Photo: Dean Miller

Some have ramped up efforts to reduce other reef stressors, such as poor water quality, to increase resilience. 

And some have ramped up their creative efforts to provide fixes, be they technological, sociological or biological.
It is the biological solutions that are fascinating me right now. 

Can we save a reef?

As a professor of marine ecology and the newest member of the board of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, I believe this question is paramount. 

We know the increasing temperature of ocean waters are threatening reefs around the world. We know that when ocean temperatures are too warm, for too long, coral animals eject their symbionts. That is, they throw the microscopic algae that live within them out into the sea.
That means they lose their colour, they bleach. But more importantly, they lose their major source of food. If the waters do not quickly cool, the ghostly white corals starve to death.
Coral bleaching has returned to the Great Barrier Reef in 2017.


Coral bleaching has returned to the Great Barrier Reef in 2017. Photo: James Cook University

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, of the University of Queensland, was one of the first to study this process of bleaching and to warn us of the impending global ecosystem collapse.
Almost 30 years later, and a paradigm shift in conservation biology is almost complete. From “lock it up and let it live”, the pace of climate change has forced us to consider a more interventionist approach. We’re not quite at “whatever it takes”, but our science and the approach to conservation is changing as fast as the world around us. Chair of the marine park authority Dr Russell Reichelt​ says: “Everything is on the table. Leave no stone unturned”. 
Mature stag-horn coral bleached at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef.

Mature stag-horn coral bleached at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. Photo: David Bellwood

So, scientists are busy in laboratories and reef sites all over the globe in a race to create, select, discover, and cultivate heat-tolerant corals that will withstand the next 50 years of warming oceans – before humanity must, inevitably, achieve net negative carbon emissions, or move to another more habitable planet.
Professor Ruth Gates, director of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, is selecting the toughest corals and “pre-conditioning” others, preparing them for the heat bath.
Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef of the Whitsundays in the Coral sea.


Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef of the Whitsundays in the Coral sea. Photo: Alamy

Professor Madeleine van Oppen​, of the University of Melbourne and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, is creating hybrids and culturing multiple generations of their microscopic algae under heat-stress conditions. 

Her heat-tolerant symbionts can be taken up by bleached corals – but they’ve not yet prevented bleaching.
Other researchers are refining the cryopreservation process (snap-freezing) to produce algal seed banks. If they can get this working, one option might be to fly aeroplanes across the more than 2000 kilometres of the Great Barrier Reef spraying heat-tolerant symbionts across the bleached reefs – aerial first-aid for corals.
A reef flat exposed at low tide on the Great Barrier Reef.


A reef flat exposed at low tide on the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Penguin Random House Australia

Not all scientists believe such biological fixes will be useful, compared with the rapid evolution already taking place on reefs around the world.
Professor Terry Hughes, director of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and one of our foremost researchers of reef diversity, is focused more on reducing carbon emissions and building reef resilience through consideration of social, as well as environmental factors. It may well be that we can’t beat rapid natural selection – already under way in vast numbers of surviving corals – in response to this very unnatural disaster.
Divers on the outer Great Barrier Reef off Port Douglas.


Divers on the outer Great Barrier Reef off Port Douglas. Photo: Jason South

It is true that reefs have moved and changed with climate in the past, but such changes occurred over tens of thousands of years, not hundreds. It remains to be seen how many of the coral species and strains can survive, reproduce and disperse with sufficient potential for heritable selection to heat stress.
Finally, not all scientists are convinced of the safety of “assisting evolution” – releasing selectively bred or genetically modified corals or algae on the reef. Memories of previous biological interventions gone wrong still scar our consciousness.
To keep ahead of the science, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is developing a policy for permitting such interventions – one that enables experimental trials on the reef under strict conditions.
Suffice to say, angry scientists are not standing still. We are exploring every possibility. For the burden of knowing the reef – and understanding what lies ahead – is eased by every effort we make to sustain our living treasures.


Professor Emma Johnston is dean of science at UNSW Sydney and host of Can We Save the Reef? airing on Catalyst, Tuesday, October 3 on ABC & ABC iview.

Press link for more: SMH.COM

The Great Barrier Reef needs your help #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol #ClimateChange 

The Great Barrier Reef May Not Be Dead Yet, But It’s Not Far Off
Share this article and help save the reef.

Shock and dismay struck the Internet when Outside Magazine released an obituary stating that scientists had declared the Great Barrier Reef dead.

 Thankfully, these reports were not accurate. 

Although the 25 million-year old organism is in grave danger, it is not dead yet. 

Scientists and environmentalists are taking to social media to set the record straight.

Environmental reporter Tony Davis tweeted, “Reports of the Great Barrier Reef’s death are greatly exaggerated, say scientists, booing Outside Magazine.”

 And the Cornell Cooperative Extension at Rockland County, an environmental nonprofit organization, tweeted “Great Barrier Reef is Dying NOT Dead!

 ‘The message should be that it isn’t too late… not we should all give up.'”
It may be a relief to know that the GBR isn’t dead, but this scare should be taken as a wake up call, especially considering we are a big reason for the reef’s deteriorating health. 

Coral on the reef are dying due to a phenomenon called coral bleaching. 

Changes in condition, like warmer water temperatures, cause coral to become stressed, which causes the algae living in their tissues to leave. 

When this happens the coral turn white, hence the term coral bleaching, and the coral is left vulnerable and more susceptible to disease. 

According to a report by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, 93% of the reef is affected by bleaching.


How is this our fault? 

Two words: global warming.

 As our oceans temperatures continue to rise, more and more bleaching events are occurring and causing sections of the reef to die. 

According to a survey by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, 22% of the reef’s coral are dead. 

If we want to save one of the seven natural wonder of the world, we need to act now.

Press link for more: Propeller.LA

6th Mass Extinction also Threatens Global Food Supplies #StopAdani 

The Sixth Mass Extinction of Wildlife Also Threatens Global Food SuppliesBy Damian Carrington, The Guardian
The sixth mass extinction of global wildlife already under way is seriously threatening the world’s food supplies, according to experts.

Farmers evaluating traits of wheat varieties in Ethiopia.

Credit: Biodiversity International

“Huge proportions of the plant and animal species that form the foundation of our food supply are just as endangered [as wildlife] and are getting almost no attention,” said Ann Tutwiler, director general of Bioversity International, a research group that published a new report.
“If there is one thing we cannot allow to become extinct, it is the species that provide the food that sustains each and every one of the seven billion people on our planet,” she said in an article for the Guardian.

 “This ‘agrobiodiversity’ is a precious resource that we are losing, and yet it can also help solve or mitigate many challenges the world is facing. 

It has a critical yet overlooked role in helping us improve global nutrition, reduce our impact on the environment and adapt to climate change.”
Three-quarters of the world’s food today comes from just 12 crops and five animal species and this leaves supplies very vulnerable to disease and pests that can sweep through large areas of monocultures, as happened in the Irish potato famine when a million people starved to death. 

Reliance on only a few strains also means the world’s fast changing climate will cut yields just as the demand from a growing global population is rising.
There are tens of thousands of wild or rarely cultivated species that could provide a richly varied range of nutritious foods, resistant to disease and tolerant of the changing environment. But the destruction of wild areas, pollution and overhunting has started a mass extinction of species on Earth. The focus to date has been on wild animals — half of which have been lost in the last 40 years — but the new report reveals that the same pressures are endangering humanity’s food supply, with at least 1,000 cultivated species already endangered.
Tutwiler said saving the world’s agrobiodiversity is also vital in tackling the number one cause of human death and disability in the world — poor diet, which includes both too much and too little food. “We are not winning the battle against obesity and undernutrition,” she said. “Poor diets are in large part because we have very unified diets based on a narrow set of commodities and we are not consuming enough diversity.”
The new report sets out how both governments and companies can protect, enhance and use the huge variety of little-known food crops. It highlights examples including the gac, a fiery red fruit from Vietnam, and the orange-fleshed Asupina banana. Both have extremely high levels of beta-carotene that the body converts to vitamin A and could help the many millions of people suffering deficiency of that vitamin.


Training cows to walk in groups to extract wheat in Koka villge, Ethiopia.

Credit: CIFOR

Quinoa has become popular in some rich nations but only a few of the thousands of varieties native to South America are cultivated. The report shows how support has enabled farmers in Peru to grow a tough, nutritious variety that will protect them from future diseases or extreme weather.
Mainstream crops can also benefit from diversity and earlier in 2017 in Ethiopia researchers found two varieties of durum wheat that produce excellent yields even in dry areas. Fish diversity is also very valuable, with a local Bangladeshi species now shown to be extremely nutritious.
“Food biodiversity is full of superfoods but perhaps even more important is the fact these foods are also readily available and adapted to local farming conditions,” said Tutwiler.
Bioversity International is working with both companies and governments to ramp up investment in agrobiodiversity. The supermarket Sainsbury’s is one, and its head of agriculture, Beth Hart, said: “The world is changing — global warming, extreme weather and volatile prices are making it harder for farmers and growers to produce the foods our customers love. Which is why we are committed to working with our suppliers, farmers and growers around the world to optimise the health benefits, address the impact and biodiversity of these products and secure a sustainable supply.”
Pierfrancesco Sacco, Italy’s permanent representative to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, said: “The latest OECD report rates Italy third lowest in the world for levels of obesity after Japan and Korea. Is it a coincidence that all three countries have long traditions of healthy diets based on local food biodiversity, short food supply chains and celebration of local varieties and dishes?”
He said finding and cultivating a wider range of food is the key: “Unlike conserving pandas or rhinos, the more you use agrobiodiversity and the more you eat it, the better you conserve it.”

Press link for more: Climate Central

UN Climate Chief: “Urgent requirement to cut emissions”#StopAdani #Auspol 


Mission 2020’s Christiana Figueres says a clean energy policy with bipartisan support could have prevented many difficulties. Katherine Griffiths
The former climate chief at the United Nations, Christiana Figueres, has urged the federal government to stop obsessing about the fate of individual power plants and seize the opportunity to recast its power system in line with the urgent requirement to cut carbon emissions.

Figueres, who oversaw the negotiations on the landmark Paris accord in December 2015, said Australia has wasted 10 years in “constant back-and-forth” on climate policy while individual states and cities are pushing ahead on clean energy.
“It’s 10 years that are resulting in a very difficult chaotic situation that everyone is facing with very high levels of anxiety that could have been prevented,” Figueres said while in Sydney as part of her Mission 2020 initiative aimed at “bending the curve” on the world’s trajectory on greenhouse emissions by the end of the decade.
The former Costa Rican diplomat said a clear energy policy with bipartisan support that tackled security of supply, affordability and emissions could have prevented Australia’s current difficulties.
All three of those goals are possible, with no need to choose one over the other, Figueres said.

“This is a systemic issue: it’s not about closing or opening one plant here, or one plant there.”
“It’s a systemic challenge and it’s a systemic opportunity to really understand that the power sector of the future is very different to the power sector of the past.”
Broad support
Figueres’ comments come at a crucial time in the policy debate in Canberra, where the federal government has been unable to reach a consensus within the Coalition on the centrepiece of recommendations from the Finkel Review, the introduction of a clean energy target.
But she said she is still optimistic that the Finkel work will provide a direction for energy policy that will garner broad support and so have the potential to unleash needed investment in new, lower-emissions energy supply.
“There has been no direction and the result of that is that this policy uncertainty has not attracted the level of investment that Australia deserves and needs,” Figueres said.
“If we had had that investment over the past 10 years we wouldn’t be in a crisis mode now.”
Still she believes things can rapidly turn around.
“Let’s not cry over spilt milk. Let’s see if we can get more policy clarity, more predictability so that you can attract investment which can come very quickly if there is confidence in the system.”
Quizzed on worries about soaring costs for baseload power users, Ms Figueres insists that the problem is meeting demand spikes rather than continuous demand from round-the-clock electricity consumers.
Gradual transition
And in that regard, renewables are better placed to meet peak demand, when worked up in a package with gas, demand-response measures, smart metering, energy efficiency and storage.
Critical to remember is that the transition is a gradual one: “No-one is talking about a jump to zero fossil fuels – that is absolutely irresponsible,” she said.
“What is being considered here and should be accelerated is a smooth transition.”
At the same time making a proper start on the changes is urgent to avoid locking in further increase in emissions that contribute to climate change.
“The carbon intensity of the investments we make over the next three years is basically going to fundamentally decide the carbon intensity of the energy matrix over the next 20 or 30 years,” Mr Figueres said.
“So if we are talking about being net zero by 2050, guess what, we have to make those investments now.”

Press link for more: AFR.COM

Heatwaves in September #ClimateChange #auspol #StopAdani 

Late-September heat wave leaves climate experts stunned.
“Never been a heat wave of this duration and magnitude this late in the season,” reports NOAA
Sep 27, 2017, 4:06 pm


Places where temperatures are projected to be within one degree of a record high Wednesday. CREDIT: National Weather Service via WashPost/WeatherBell.com.

Century-old records across the Midwest and East Coast are being shattered by a monster late-September heat wave — the kind of extreme weather we can expect to get much worse thanks to President Donald Trump’s policies to undermine domestic and global climate action.

[And Australian government’s determination to go ahead with the Adani Coal Mine] 
“There has never been a heat wave of this duration and magnitude this late in the season in Chicago,” the National Weather Service reported Tuesday evening.
From Wednesday through Tuesday, for example, Chicago sweltered through “the only occurrence on record of 7+ consecutive 90°[F] days entirely within September.”

 Every day of the heatwave was 92°F or above, and every one set a new record high for that date.
“Summer in some regions of the world will become one long heatwave even if global average temperatures rise only 2°C [3.6ºF] above pre-industrial levels,” finds a study published Monday in Nature Scientific Reports. 

The Paris climate agreement, which Trump has decided to pull out of, seeks to limit global warming to “well below” 3.6ºF.
On Wednesday, another study showed the connection between deadly heat waves and climate change. 

Scientists with World Weather Attribution (WWA) released an analysis of Europe’s blistering summer heat, which included the heat wave so deadly it was nicknamed “Lucifer.” 

The researchers found, “climate change increased the chances of seeing a summer as hot as 2017 by at least a factor of 10 and a heat wave like Lucifer by at least a factor of four since 1900″ (emphasis in original).
New study: ‘Super heat waves’ of 131°F coming if global warming continues unchecked
Back in the United States, the current heat wave has set records across the Midwest and East. 

On Monday, 92ºF was the hottest Burlington, Vermont had ever been that late in the year — by a full seven degrees, the Washington Post reported. On Sunday and Monday, Buffalo, New York saw its latest-ever consecutive 90ºF days. Records for hottest day or hottest series of days this late in the year were crushed in Minneapolis; northern Maine; Ottawa, Canada; and Green Bay, Wisconsin.
“It’s perhaps obvious that global warming means more frequent and intense heat waves,” climatologist Michael Mann noted in an email to ThinkProgress. “But what is less obvious is how climate change may be impacting the behavior of the jet stream in way that causes more persistent weather extremes, giving us even more extreme and longer-duration heat waves than we would otherwise expect.”
The National Weather Service tweeted out a chart showing this very effect.


The scientific evidence and analysis is getting stronger and stronger that carbon pollution is changing the jet stream in ways that cause high pressure ridges that block or stall weather patterns.

 A similar effect stalled Superstorm Harvey over Houston, leading to a once-in-25,000-year deluge.
“Many of the worst heat waves in recent history, including the 2003 European heat wave and the 2011 Texas/Oklahoma heat wave, were associated with this effect,” Mann said.
CO2 is changing the jet stream in ways that will create more Harveys
Climate science predicted a weaker jet stream, and Harvey stalled because of a weakened jet stream.
The latest science makes it very clear that stronger heat waves are becoming far more likely, thanks to global warming — and that the warmer it gets the worse the heat waves will get.
Indeed, the new Nature Scientific Reports study finds that for each additional 1.8°F of global warming during the summer, there would likely be:
15 to 28 more heat wave days each year

Heat waves would last 3 to 18 days longer

The peak intensity of heatwaves will increase 2.2°F to 3.4°F

But while the rest of the world is working to limit additional warming as much as possible, Trump’s policies would take us to upwards of 5.4°F or more additional warming. In the worst case, we can see as many as 80 more heat wave days, heat waves could be 50 days longer, and the peak intensity could be as much as 10°F higher than it is now.

Press link for more: Think Progress

Summer Could Be One Long Heatwave 2C #ClimateChange #Auspol #StopAdani 

Summer Could Be One Long Heatwave If Planet Hits Increase of 2 Degrees C


How heatwaves will change around the world for every 1°C increase in global average temperatures
Heatwaves will become a daily occurrence over summer in some regions even if global warming is kept to 2°C.
Summer in some regions of the world will become one long heatwave even if global average temperatures rise only 2°C above pre-industrial levels and certain regions may become close to unliveable if temperatures increase by 5°C.
Even with just a 1.5°C increase in global temperatures there are significant changes to the length, intensity, and frequency of heatwaves in every part of the world.
That’s the finding of new research by Dr. Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science published Sept. 27 in Scientific Reports that divides the globe into 26 regions and looks at how heatwaves will change with every 1°C rise in global temperatures.

When all the regions are combined, for every 1°C of warming during summer the researchers found there would likely be:
An extra 14.8-28.2 heatwave days.

Heatwaves would be 3.4-17.5 days longer.

The peak intensity of heatwaves will increase 1.2°C-1.9°C. 

But it’s when the researchers drilled down to the region-by-region level that the most startling changes appeared.
“We were particularly surprised by the alarmingly fast increase in heatwave days in the tropics where some regions transition to an almost constant heatwave state with just a 2°C rise,” said Perkins-Kirkpatrick.
“We also found that even with just a 1.5°C increase in global temperatures, almost all regions started to experience heatwave events every four years that once only occurred every 30 years.

 If global temperatures were to rise by 5°C such events would occur every year.”


By dividing the globe into 26 distinct regions, the research also highlighted the wide variation in heatwave responses across the world. 

There was a much sharper increase in peak temperatures of heatwaves over the Mediterranean and Central Asia.
Meanwhile, tropical regions saw many more additional heatwave days and longer continuous heatwaves than other parts of the world.
The only decline to appear across the research was the number of discrete heatwave events in two regions, Central America and Eastern Africa. 
But this was not good news because these regions also saw the greatest increase in heatwave days.
Effectively what had once been two heatwaves had now merged into one long heatwave.
“This study is yet another wake-up call to policymakers that we need to act on limiting the rise in global average temperatures due to human-caused climate change,” Kirkpatrick said. 

“Without prompt action, there could be disastrous consequences for many regions around the world.”

Press link for more: Lab Manager