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Climate change has been underestimated. #auspol #science

Science has underestimated Earth’s sensitivity to CO2 changes, study finds
By Jim Shelton

April 7, 2016

Global warming

A Yale University study says global climate models have significantly underestimated how much the Earth’s surface temperature will rise if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase as expected.

Yale scientists looked at a number of global climate projections and found that they misjudged the ratio of ice crystals and super-cooled water droplets in “mixed-phase” clouds — resulting in a significant under-reporting of climate sensitivity. The findings appear April 7 in the journal Science.
Equilibrium climate sensitivity is a measure used to estimate how Earth’s surface temperature ultimately responds to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Specifically, it reflects how much the Earth’s average surface temperature would rise if CO2 doubled its preindustrial level. In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated climate sensitivity to be within a range of 2 to 4.7 degrees Celsius.
The Yale team’s estimate is much higher: between 5 and 5.3 degrees Celsius. Such an increase could have dramatic implications for climate change worldwide, note the scientists.
“It goes to everything from sea level rise to more frequent and extreme droughts and floods,” said Ivy Tan, a Yale graduate student and lead author of the study.
Trude Storelvmo, a Yale assistant professor of geology and geophysics, led the research and is a co-author of the study. The other co-author is Mark Zelinka of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison.

A key part of the research has to do with the makeup of mixed-phase clouds, which consist of water vapor, liquid droplets, and ice particles, in the upper atmosphere. A larger amount of ice in those clouds leads to a lower climate sensitivity — something known as a negative climate feedback mechanism. The more ice you have in the upper atmosphere, the less warming there will be on the Earth’s surface.
“We saw that all of the models started with far too much ice,” said Storelvmo, an assistant professor of geology and geophysics. “When we ran our own simulations, which were designed to better match what we found in satellite observations, we came up with more warming.”
Storelvmo’s lab at Yale has spent several years studying climate feedback mechanisms associated with clouds. Little has been known about such mechanisms until fairly recently, she explained, which is why earlier models were not more precise.
“The overestimate of ice in mixed-phase clouds relative to the observations is something that many climate modelers are starting to realize,” Tan said.
The researchers also stressed that correcting the ice-water ratio in global models is critical, leading up to the IPCC’s next assessment report, expected in 2020.
Support for the research came from the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship Program, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Press link for more: Yale.edu

Bloomberg calls “bullshit” on clean coal #auspol 

Michael Bloomberg an outspoken environmentalist and former New York City mayor, had some harsh words for carbon capture and storage, the unproven technology that proponents say will turn fossil fuels into “clean” energy sources.
“Carbon capture is total bullshit” and “a figment of the imagination,” Bloomberg said on Monday, addressing a crowd at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance summit in New York.
Carbon capture involves taking the emissions from coal and natural gas-burning power plants and industrial facilities, then burying the carbon deep underground or repurposing it for fertilizers and chemicals. The idea is that by trapping emissions before they enter the atmosphere, we can limit their contribution to human-caused climate change.
Climate experts say it will be next to impossible to eliminate the world’s emissions without carbon capture systems. The International Energy Agency has called the technology “essential,” given that countries are likely to keep burning coal, oil, and natural gas for decades to come.
 Michael Bloomberg, billionaire, former NYC mayor, prominent environmentalist and major coal critic.

Michael Bloomberg, billionaire, former NYC mayor, prominent environmentalist and major coal critic.
Image: joe raedle/Getty Images
But to Bloomberg and other critics, that’s precisely the problem. By investing billions of dollars into carbon capture, countries can effectively delay the inevitable — the end of fossil fuels — and postpone investments in genuinely cleaner energy, such as wind and solar power.
So far, only a handful of carbon capture projects even exist around the world, and many of them have faced steep cost overruns and delays. The Kemper Project in Mississippi — billed as America’s “flagship” carbon capture project — is more than $4 billion over budget and still not operational.
Yet President Donald Trump and many coal industry leaders talk about carbon capture as if it’s already solved the nation’s energy challenges. If we have “clean coal,” why invest in alternatives?
Bloomberg has also used aggressive language to express disdain for the coal industry.
“I don’t have much sympathy for industries whose products leave behind a trail of diseased and dead bodies,” he wrote in his new book, Climate of Hope, which he co-authored with former Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope.
“But for everyone’s sake, we should aim to put them out of business,” Bloomberg said.

 Scott Pruitt, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, speaks with coal miners in Pennsylvania.
Scott Pruitt, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, speaks with coal miners in Pennsylvania.
Image: ustin Merriman/Getty Images
The billionaire media mogul has donated some $80 million to the Sierra Club to help the environmental group shut down coal-fired power plants as part of its Beyond Coal campaign.
More than 250 U.S. coal plants have shut down or committed to retire since the campaign began in 2011. Many of those closures came as natural gas prices plummeted, prompting utilities to ditch coal, and as federal clean air and water rules made it too costly to upgrade aging coal plants.
Of the nation’s more than 500 coal plants, only 273 now remain open, and Bloomberg’s philanthropy arm and the Sierra Club are working to shutter those, too.
The former mayor also recently announced a new coal-related donation. Bloomberg told the Associated Press that he plans to donate $3 million to organizations that help unemployed coal miners and their communities find new economic opportunities.
Bloomberg Philanthropies highlighted the struggles of miners in a new film, From the Ashes, to be featured at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York this week.
Coal miners “have paid a terrible price,” he told the AP.

Press link for more: Mashable.com

Scientists up their projections for sea level rise. #auspol 

Scientists keep upping their projections for how much the oceans will rise this century

 A 30-mile-long meltwater river runs through Petermann glacier, Greenland, on August 27, 2016. (Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post)

A report by a leading research body monitoring the Arctic has found that previous projections of global sea level rise for the end of the century could be too low, thanks in part to the pace of ice loss of Arctic glaciers and the vast ice sheet of Greenland.
It’s just the latest in a string of cases in which scientists have published numbers that suggest a grimmer picture than the one presented in 2013 by an influential United Nations body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The new Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic report presents minimum estimates for global sea level rise by the end of the century, but not a maximum. This reflects the fact that scientists keep uncovering new insights that force them to increase their sea level estimates further, said William Colgan, a glaciologist with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, who contributed to the sea level rise section.
“Because of emerging processes, especially related to the Greenland ice sheet and the Antarctic ice sheet, it now looks like the uncertainties are all biased positive,” Colgan said.
The assessment found that under a relatively moderate global warming scenario — one that slightly exceeds the temperature targets contained in the Paris climate agreement — seas could be expected to rise “at least” 52 centimeters, or 1.7 feet, by the year 2100. Under a more extreme, “business as usual” warming scenario, meanwhile, the minimum rise would be 74 centimeters, or 2.4 feet.
The new findings were published Tuesday as part of a broader overview report by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, a working group of the intergovernmental Arctic Council, which unites eight Arctic nations, including the United States, and six organizations representing the indigenous peoples of the Arctic.
It is the work of 90 scientists and 28 peer reviewers and is expected to be presented in Fairbanks, Alaska, next month at the next summit of Arctic political leaders.
The report bluntly contrasts its sea level findings with a previous 2013 report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which had put the “likely” low end sea level rise number for these two scenarios at 32 centimeters (about 1 foot) and 45 centimeters (1.5 feet) for the period between 2081 and 2100. That global body — whose high end sea level rise number for the year 2100 was just shy of one meter, or 3.2 feet — has often seen its assertions on sea level rise faulted by scientists for being too conservative.
“These estimates are almost double the minimum estimates made by the IPCC in 2013,” said the new Arctic Council report, which is dubbed a “Summary for Policymakers” because the technical report underpinning it has not yet been released.
The new Arctic report is hardly the first of late to call the IPCC’s figures into question.
An influential study of Antarctica published last year in the journal Nature suggested that the frozen continent alone could nearly double the IPCC’s sea level projections for the end of the century.
(The IPCC did concede that sea levels could be higher than its “likely” forecast in the event of a “collapse of marine-based sectors of the Antarctic ice sheet” — but it added that “there is medium confidence that this additional contribution would not exceed several tenths of a meter of sea level rise during the 21st century.”)
And since then, several other scientific documents — presumably aware of this Antarctic research — have cited the possibility of particularly extreme sea level rise by 2100, even if they cannot necessarily quantify the likelihood of it occurring.
At the close of the Obama administration, a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggested that, at least as an “extreme” case, seas could possibly rise by as much as 8 feet by century’s end.
And yet another report, prepared for the state of California and released this month by a team of climate researchers, has now also presented the possibility of extreme sea level scenarios by 2100 — albeit ones that have either a low or an unknown probability of occurring.
That document looked specifically at California coastlines, and found that for San Francisco, for instance, the “likely” range for sea level rise in the year 2100 under a high global warming scenario would be 1.6 to 3.4 feet. But it also said there was a 1-in-20 chance of 4.4 feet, a 1-in-200 chance of 6.9 feet, and even a chance, whose probability could not be estimated, of 10 feet.
“We’re learning an increasing amount about the instability of marine based ice, and the amount of marine based ice that there is in Antarctica,” said Bob Kopp, a sea level researcher at Rutgers University and one of the authors of the California report. “And as we take more of these processes into account, the extent of the things that we don’t know that much about and aren’t yet able to quantify well has become clearer.”
The report for the Arctic Council, by contrast, focuses on a growing Arctic contribution to sea level rise, rather than an Antarctic one. Antarctica has far greater potential to raise seas over all, but the Arctic report emphasizes that for now, Greenland is actually raising seas the most and that it too has a great deal of potential sea level rise to contribute.
“These estimates of higher sea level contributions from the Arctic will only add to the new, higher estimates of potential sea level contributions from Antarctica — which is not good news,” said Rob DeConto, a geoscientist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who published the aforementioned Antarctica study and also worked on the California study. He was not involved in the new Arctic report.
Here’s a figure that the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland’s Colgan provided, showing the new sea level projections for a modest and more severe warming scenario, as well as the different and changing components of sea level rise over time:

 The sources and amounts of sea level rise from 1850 to the present, and then projected to the year 2100. RCP4.5 represents a modest global warming scenario that’s not too much warmer than the goals contained in the Paris climate agreement, whereas RCP8.5 represents a more severe “business as usual” scenario (William Colgan)

The Arctic report states that Greenland, in particular, lost 375 billion tons of ice per year from 2011 through 2014, enough to single-handedly raise the global sea level by about a millimeter per year. That annual loss, the document states, is “equivalent to a block of ice measuring 7.5 kilometers or 4.6 miles on all sides.”
Meanwhile, the melting glaciers of the Alaskan, Canadian and Russian Arctic are all steadily raising seas as well and could also see their contributions grow. The report therefore estimates that 19 to 25 centimeters (0.6 to 0.8 feet) of sea level rise in this century will come from the Arctic alone, and that must be combined with all the sea level rise contributed by Antarctica, other glacier systems and the steady expansion of seawater itself as it gets warmer.
Because of the difference between the worst case and more moderate sea level rise scenarios, the report concludes that the Paris climate agreement could substantially reduce the global sea level rise seen by 2100, even though seas will still rise considerably under any scenario.
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“You have to have a deliberate and sustained implementation of Paris for 30 years before you see a significant difference in the rate of global sea level rise,” Colgan said.
The Trump administration has been divided over whether to stick with the president’s campaign pledge and withdraw the United States from that agreement. Because of the upcoming G-7 meeting in May, where Trump is likely to be pressed on climate change, many observers expect a decision relatively soon.
It is unclear how the United States may react to the new Arctic report at the upcoming Arctic council meeting — the U.S. is currently chairing the council — or whether this will also put any additional pressure on the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, scientists studying the planet’s ice and its seas continue their work.
“If you look at the history of sea level rise projections over the last 20 years, they’re going up through time,” said Colgan. “Not just because of sea level actually rising, but also because of our understanding of the processes improving through time.”

Press link for more: Washington Post

Why I March #ClimateChange #auspol 

Why I March: Climate Change And Migration Have Everything To Do With Each Other

By Thanu Yakupitiyage 

It’s pretty ironic that among Donald Trump’s first policies on his agenda were a crackdown on immigrant communities, followed by the dismantling of climate and environmental protections.

 By rolling back the little progress the U.S. has made on climate change ― as well as slashing the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency and lifting a moratorium on federal coal leases ― Trump’s administration is sending a global message: the U.S. (a country that considers itself a leader) will not meet any commitment to bring down greenhouse gas emissions or invest in clean energy jobs. 

Meanwhile, the world is warming at an alarming rate, with each year hotter than the last. And while the planet warms and more climate-related disasters take place ― droughts get longer, rain patterns shift, land becomes infertile, food and water become scarce, and sea levels rise ― more and more people are migrating due to climate change impacts. These are often the world’s poorest people, from regions that have done the least to contribute to the severity of the climate crisis.

By disregarding the necessity for bold action on climate change, the Trump administration and climate deniers everywhere (the United States, China, India, and Russia have the highest emission rates) are ensuring that communities across the globe continue to be displaced and have no choice but to migrate for their own survival.
While Trump and many in his administration throw brown and black immigrants under the bus using hateful and racist isolationist tactics, calling for “Muslim Bans” and empowering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to deport millions with little to no due process, his administration’s short-sighted and deliberate decisions to invest in the fossil fuel industry means that he is effectively aiding the process of creating more migrants.

It is estimated that by 2050, there will be 200 million people displaced by climate change-related impacts. According to the International Displacement Monitoring Centre, since 2008, an average of 26.4 million people per year have been displaced from their homes by disasters brought on by natural hazards. Climate change causes migration, and people migrate to flee the impacts of climate change on their homelands.
Make no mistake: people should have the right to migrate no matter what. 

However, the majority of migration happens because people need access to a better life.

 If there is no way for them to live in their homelands ravaged by climate change and other socio-economic impacts, they are left with no choice but to move.
In the United States, people in the Gulf are already being internally displaced due to rising sea levels.

We see this all over the world.

 In the United States, people in the Gulf are already being internally displaced due to rising sea levels. 

Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana, home to the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe, has lost 98% of its land and most of its population to coastal erosion and rising sea levels since 1955. 

The population of the island is now down to less than 85 residents from the previous hundreds. In January 2016, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funded The Isle de Jean Charles Resettlement Project, the first allocation of federal dollars to move 400 tribe members struggling with the impacts of climate change to inland locations. (This year, the Trump Administration is proposing to slash the HUD budget by 6 billion).
In Mexico, farmers have been dealing with severe drought for decades, leading to a loss of agricultural productivity.

 The outcome?

 More rural Mexicans are migrating to the United States for better futures.

 One study found climate change-driven changes to agricultural livelihoods have impacted the rate of emigration to the United States, estimating that by 2080, climate change-induced migration from Mexico could be up to $6.7 million. Another study argues that undocumented migration to the U.S from rural Mexico very much has to do with climate change and the declining livelihoods of farmers facing droughts and lack of rainfall.
And while many factors have led to the conflict in Syria, some argue that severe drought that started in 2006, worsened by a warming climate, drove Syrian farmers to abandon their crops and flock to cities, helping trigger the civil war. It is widely acknowledged, including by the Pentagon, that climate change acts as a threat multiplier, intensifying conflict and war. The United Nations estimates that there are over five million Syrian refugees now. Within his first 100 days in office, Donald Trump made two attempts to ban refugee resettlement to the U.S from Syria as part of his “Muslim Ban.”
The climate crisis has been decades in the making, but it’s worsening each day that politicians and their fossil fuel ilk sow doubt about its existence. Meanwhile, many Western nations are seeing a rise in xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment at the same time as the displacement of people hits a record high. The road ahead requires that we collectively do what’s right – we must stand up for the rights of migrants everywhere who deserve dignity and respect as they seek better lives for themselves and their families, as we build bold and just solutions to the climate crisis.
That’s why these major actions in the upcoming days are so important. On April 29th, I’ll join tens of thousands in the Peoples Climate March in Washington D.C. There are over 314 sister marches across the United States and around the world. On the 100th day under the Trump administration, we will surround the White House and put forward our vision to build bold solutions for climate, jobs, and justice. Together with a broad spectrum of communities including indigenous peoples, workers, immigrants, and communities of all backgrounds, we understand that mitigating the climate crisis is a matter of social, economic, racial, gender, and immigrant justice.
Then on May 1st, workers and immigrants everywhere will participate in the annual International Workers Day. In light of the assaults on immigrant communities in the United States, this May Day is of particular importance. (Here are just some of the events taking place.) We will harness the energy of the climate march back into our communities to build local solutions and to stand in solidarity with immigrants. We will resoundingly say, “No Ban, No Wall, No Raids,” and push back against a white supremacist and anti-immigrant agenda that aims to divide people, disrespecting the very workers that help uplift America.
There is hope. We’ve seen people fearlessly stand up for justice and it’s imperative that we keep up the momentum. Communities around the world are advocating for more clean energy solutions such as solar paneling and wind power, as well expanding green jobs. We saw the power of inspirational indigenous-led movements like #NoDAPL that called on thousands to push back against destructive pipeline projects. And thousands rose to the occasion to protect and defend immigrants impacted by Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban, as well as to continue to push back against unjust deportations through creating sanctuary spaces.
The clock is ticking for our planet and our communities. Only by seeing these issues as inherently connected can we rise up to demand a fair and just world.

Press link for more: Huffingtonpost.com

A mussel’s view on #ClimateChange #marchforscience #auspol 

To understand climate change, look at it from a mussel’s perspective

By Brian Helmuth

Brian Helmuth’s “robomussels” have been deployed around the world to measure the real temperatures experienced by mussels inside their shells.


Brian Helmuth, Northeastern University marine biologist.

The phrase “climate change” triggers images of a huge, global phenomenon. Rising seas. Drought. Ocean acidification.
But it’s actually experienced on a much smaller scale, by individual plants, animals and people.
And most of the world’s organisms experience it much differently than humans do.
“As humans, we have this really biased view of the world. Well over 95 percent of the organisms on Earth, they’re completely dependent on the ambient environment for their temperature,” says Northeastern University marine biologist Brian Helmuth.
Many of those organisms are stuck in one place for most of their lives and depend on ocean currents for food and oxygen.
Helmuth has built his career on trying to better understand how mussels experience temperature and other environmental changes, and he argues it’s essential to look beyond our own human perspective when thinking about climate change. If we don’t, he says, we’ll miss big parts of how our changing world will impact our food sources and surroundings.
“Unless we have a pretty good handle on how those nonhuman organisms are experiencing climate change, we’re not going to have any sense of how further climate change is likely to affect us,” Helmuth says.
Consider the mussel

Think about a mussel that’s stuck to a rock in a tidal area for most of its life. It can’t move to find shade when it’s hot out. It can’t control its own body temperature.
When the tide is low and the sun is out, its dark shell absorbs heat just like asphalt on a summer afternoon.
“You are sitting there in the blazing sun, you’re not going to be able to move,” Helmuth says. “You can’t escape the heat, you can’t escape the sun, you can’t go into a crevice like something like a crab.”
Mussels can literally start to cook on the rocks if they get too hot.
They also have to wait for water currents to bring them plankton to eat and oxygen to breathe.
“The closest thing I can think of to describe what that’s like, is, if you reached down into your chest cavity, you rip out your lungs, and you hold them above your head,” Helmuth says, “and you hope to God that the wind blows because if it doesn’t you’re going to suffocate.”
Stationary creatures evolve to withstand a wide range of climatic conditions, but in some cases, global warming is bringing them closer and closer to their limits.
And it’s not only temperature that’s changing: Water currents in the Atlantic Ocean are changing, too. The ocean is getting more acidic, so it’s harder for mollusks to form the shells that protect them from predators.
All these stressors add up to a harder life for mussels in some parts of the world, including the United States’ East Coast. Wild blue mussel populations have sharply declined in places like the Gulf of Maine in recent decades.
Why do we care?
Seafood is a major protein source, especially for the global poor. Farmed mussels are a $3 billion worldwide industry. Mussels, clams and oysters caught in the US alone were worth more than $400 million in 2015.
If we want the mussel industry and others to thrive, Helmuth argues we need to look at climate change from the right perspective.
Here’s an example: In the 1990s, Helmuth invented a gadget called a “robomussel,” which uses sensors to measure the temperature inside synthetic mussel shells designed to closely replicate the real thing.
Up until then, Helmuth says, scientists generally used to gauge mussel temperature by measuring surrounding air temperature. That is, after all, how we humans experience heat.
Helmuth worked with collaborators to plant these robomussels in mussel beds all around the world. And he made an important finding: Temperatures can grow much hotter inside mussel shells than outside of them, especially if the mussels are out of the water at low tide during the hottest part of the day.
“We can see animal temperatures of 100 degrees or more, even though the air temperature may be as low as 70 [or] 75,” Helmuth says.  
That means some cooler regions that may previously have been seen as hospitable to mussels in a warmer future might, in fact, grow too hot for them.  
“For example, we see places in central Oregon where they’ll really bake, even though it’s pretty far north because all the low tides are happening in the middle of the day,” Helmuth says.
In other places, like in Santa Barbara, California, summertime low tides tend to come in the middle of the night, so mussels there aren’t too stressed.
“If we’re only looking at the edges of species distributions, if we’re only looking at the southern distribution in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re probably missing a lot of the action, a lot of the damage,” Helmuth says.
Helmuth and his colleagues have used robomussel readings and other data to predict where mussels will thrive, and where they’ll likely die, in the future.
His methods are being used by scientists developing marine conservation plans on the US West Coast, and by collaborators working with the aquaculture industry in Italy.
Helmuth hopes that by shifting our perspective, we’ll be able to keep mussels in our waters, and on our menus, well into the future.

Press link for more: MSN.com

Arctic Ice Melt Could Cost Trillions by 2100 #auspol 

Arctic Ice Melt Could Cost The World Trillions Of Dollars By 2100

By Chris Di’Angelo
WASHINGTON — Climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is causing the Arctic to warm “faster than any other region on Earth,” according to a new international assessment. 

The thaw there is expected to have “major consequences for ecosystems and society,” potentially costing tens of trillions of dollars by the end of this century.
“The Arctic is showing clear evidence of evolving into a new state before mid-century,” with warmer, wetter and more variable conditions, according to the report from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program.
By the late 2030s, the report suggests the Arctic could be completely free of summer sea ice, likely resulting in more extreme weather in southern latitudes. 

Without immediate action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the melting of land-based Arctic ice could raise global sea levels an estimated 10 inches by 2100, threatening coastal communities around the globe. 
“The changes are cumulative, and so what we do in the next five years is really important to slowing down the changes that will happen in the next 30 or 40 years,” James Overland, an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and an author of the report, said during a media briefing Tuesday.

 “The emphasis on action and immediacy is one of the key findings [of the report].”
It’s yet another terrifying reminder of what’s in store if humans continue with business as usual. 

Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images
A polar bear looks for food at the edge of the pack ice north of Svalbard, Norway.

The new report adds to the findings of the 2011 “Snow, Water, Ice, Permafrost in the Arctic” study, also coordinated by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program.

 Dozens of scientists contributed to the latest assessment, which mainly covers the five years from 2011 to 2015.
The cumulative cost of the changes unfolding in the Arctic could range from $7 trillion to $90 trillion by 2100, researchers found. 
The 200-plus page report calls on governments around the world to take immediate action to cut carbon emissions and to follow through on commitments made as part of the historic Paris climate pact. 

Such steps could stabilize Arctic temperatures in the later half of the century and prevent nearly 8 inches of additional sea level rise, according to the report. 
“The main message that’s coming through in this report, the main message we’d like to convey, is that over the timescale of the next 50 to 100 years, human actions can make a difference in the trajectory of the Arctic climate system,” contributing author John Walsh, a chief scientist at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska, said in a video accompanying the report.

 “The way the cryosphere — ice and snow — will respond to climate change will depend a lot on the emissions scenarios, which basically are determined by human actions.” 


The assessment comes as President Donald Trump moves to roll back Obama-era policies aimed at reducing the United States’ carbon footprint and fighting climate change. 

Trump previously vowed to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, in which nearly 200 countries committed to cut carbon emissions (there is some indication that cooler heads may prevail).

 He has also dismissed climate change as “bullshit” and a “hoax.” And he has given encouragement to those who support oil and gas development in Arctic waters. 
Margaret Williams, managing director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Arctic Program, said the new report underscores the urgency of reining in emissions and allowing only sustainable development in the Arctic.
“An intact Arctic is critical to our future, but the planet’s air conditioner is in jeopardy,” Williams, who was not involved in the study, said in a statement. “The staggering pace of Arctic warming reinforces the need for scientists to continually engage policymakers and the public about these changes. Smart Arctic policy will come from sound science and shared responsibility.” 
Earlier this month, the International Union for Conservation of Nature called on world leaders to safeguard the Arctic from such threats as oil development and shipping. It highlighted seven marine areas worthy of protection.
This weekend, on Trump’s 100th day in office, thousands of Americans are expected to descend on Washington, D.C., to participate in the People’s Climate March, a demonstration against the president’s environmental policies.

Press link for more: Huffingtonpost.com

Climate Change “The biggest opportunity in the world” #auspol 

Climate change offers huge investment opportunity: experts

By Sophie Hares

TEPIC, Mexico (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Climate change should be grasped as an opportunity to attract vast capital flows into low-carbon investments, create jobs and spur economic growth, rather than viewed as a money-absorbing burden, top officials and experts said.

Yet while trillions of dollars are potentially available for climate investments and countries like India are blazing a trail in bringing cheap solar power to millions, making sure the world’s poorest benefit will prove a major challenge, a World Bank meeting heard late last week.

“It’s the biggest opportunity in the history of the world – it’s the biggest investment opportunity, but we have to have a clear vision, we have to have policy leadership… to bring the world community together to get the financing that is needed to move the momentum more quickly,” former U.S. Vice President Al Gore told the discussion.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said financing climate action could offer a more lucrative home for $8.5 trillion in negative interest rate bonds, $24.5 trillion in very low-yielding government-type bonds and a further $8 trillion in cash, though a clear strategy still needed to be hammered out.
“Quite apart from what you think about climate change, there are opportunities for investments that will give you higher yield than any of those investments in which over $40 trillion is sitting right now,” Kim said.
Swedish Minister for Finance Magdalena Andersson said her country – which introduced a carbon tax 25 years ago – had combined significant emissions cuts with economic growth.
“We really need to mainstream climate policies in all investments and all political decisions,” she said. “But we know that the most cost-effective way of getting investments in the right direction… is to put a price on carbon.”
In the United States, 70 percent of new electricity generation capacity last year came from solar and wind, noted Gore, outlining an opportunity to create a global industry based on clean energy sources, retrofitting buildings and adopting sustainable agriculture and forestry.
“What the world needs is the vision that the solution to our global economic malaise is precisely the solution to the climate crisis,” said Gore, who thought the United States was more than 50 percent likely to remain in the Paris climate change agreement.
SOCIAL JUSTICE
The key is how to unlock financing for economic growth that also brings climate benefits, according to former U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.
Friday’s launch of a $2 billion green bond fund backed by the International Finance Corporation and asset management firm Amundi could help drive climate investments in developing countries, she added.
“Thinking that climate action is expensive and a burden, and is a responsibility, is so five minutes ago,” she said. “The exponential growth of technologies and the drop in prices (have) made this the best opportunity – and this is (the) story of growth of this century.”
Following China’s lead, countries like India are utilising solar power to “leapfrog” expensive electrification programmes and roll out cheap, clean supplies to those without access to power, the experts said.
Ensuring the world’s poorest countries can tap investment to develop climate-resilient infrastructure and agriculture remains crucial, said the World Bank’s Kim.
“The poor say we have the boot of climate change on our necks every day,” he said.
The world is already dealing with crises linked to climate change pressures, from famine in Africa to Louisiana declaring a state of emergency due to coastal erosion, noted the panel.
“We cannot forget the social justice element of climate action,” said Kim. “We’ve got to maintain our focus and make sure it doesn’t all go towards fancy new technology, but (is) going towards, for example, making sure that every time it rains, people don’t lose their homes.”
(Reporting by Sophie Hares; editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women’s rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit news.trust.org/climate)

Press link for more: Reuters.com

Climate Change will force millions to migrate. #auspol 

The effects of climate change will force millions to migrate.

 Here’s what this means for human security.


 A rescuer of the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station carries a migrant baby rescued from a wooden boat in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sabratha in Libya this month. (Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters)

Climate change is more than melting icecaps and swamped islands. 

The environmental effects of climate change — droughts, floods and severe weather, for instance — have increasingly put more people on the move.

In 2015, the U.N. Refugee Agency counted 65.3 million people around the world as “forcibly displaced,” including about 40 million within their home countries. 

Wars, ethnic conflicts, economic stresses, famines and disasters are among the reasons people leave their homes.


Less understood, perhaps, is how climate-induced environmental changes — such as increased flooding, salinization, droughts or desertification — amplify these drivers of migration. 

What are the policy options to help people stay in place or minimize the security concerns related to migration?

 These questions are becoming more and more important to figure out.
Climate change and conflict
To look at these issues in depth, the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University convened a working group on human migration and climate change. 

ISD’s April 2017 report, “New Challenges to Human Security: Environmental Change and Human Mobility,” brings together analysis and discussion from experts on climate change, resource management, migration, foreign policy and national security, and included government and nongovernmental organization policymakers and foreign policy practitioners.

The report provided a number of guiding principles for policymakers. Here are five key findings:
1) Environmental migration poses significant human security challenges. 

Local and regional tensions over water problems are likely to rise sharply in the coming decades, according to a 2012 U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC) report on water security. 

The U.S. government designated climate change a national security issue a decade ago.
Over the next 20 years, a 2016 NIC report warns that increasing numbers of countries may be overwhelmed or destabilized by climate-related stresses such as famines, weather-related disasters or resource shortages. 

In 2015, for instance, a tropical cyclone hit Yemen — the first in the country’s recorded history — dropping several years’ worth of rain in a single day. 

The flooding heightened political tensions in a country “already suffering a humanitarian crisis from war and water shortage,” according to the NIC.
These are not isolated incidents. 

We see conflicts over water and land resources growing in Mexico, Syria, Nigeria, Mauritania, Somalia, Mali, Vietnam and many other countries — along with parts of the U.S. Southwest.
[How climate change makes the world more violent]
2) Extreme weather events are likely to displace more people. 

The 2014 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) cautions that most communities are unprepared for cyclones, storm surges and other climate-related extremes, which can cause “disruption of food production and water supply damages to infrastructure and settlements.” 

Whether these events cause short- or long-term displacement of people, the likelihood is that more people will be on the move in the decades ahead.
3) Many displaced people head to nearby cities, and that’s a problem. 

The ongoing urban population explosion means coastal cities will continue to grow. 

But many of these cities probably already feel the brunt of many of the same environmental problems driving people from their homes — water and other shortages, increased salinization or rising sea levels, for instance.
Figuring out the “pull” mechanisms to direct people where their needs can be met is a policy priority, as is job creation.

 An added challenge is the rising trend of “urbanization without growth” — when new jobs or economic growth fail to keep up with the influx of new residents, leaving environmental migrants few work options.
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Commentary on political science and political issues.

4) We don’t adequately define “environmental migrants.”

 Those who relocate within their own nations rely on the protections and assistance of their government. 

But how do we identify and protect those who cross national borders in search of safety from environmental harm? 

These definitions are important for a host of legal, economic and security reasons. Not all environmental migrants are “refugees” — a term that confers specific legal rights and protections.
5) “Planned relocations” will become more frequent.

 From the coastlines of Alaska and Louisiana to growing numbers of Pacific island nations, communities are already preparing to relocate as rising sea levels wash away their homes and leave the land too salty to support crops or livestock. 

These are highly complex and expensive moves and require much planning. 

The island nation of Kiribati, for instance, is negotiating with Australia and New Zealand to take some of its population, and Kiribati has already purchased part of an island in neighboring Fiji.
None of these challenges has an easy fix, but many governments, international organizations and communities are looking at ways to boost the resiliency of communities at risk from climate change, as well as facing the reality that climate change will displace millions more in the coming decades.

 In 2015, for instance, more than 100 governments pledged to support the Nansen Initiative, a Swiss-Norwegian plan to bring about greater global collaboration to protect people displaced by climate change and disasters. With the numbers of displaced people rising, there’s a lot to discuss — and a lot of lives at stake.
Kelly M. McFarland is director of programs and research at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and an adjunct professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
Vanessa Lide is associate editor with the Monkey Cage, based at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. She edits diplomacy cases for the institute’s online case studies library.

Press link for more: Washington Post

Earth Day: Climate Change, Conflict & Extreme Poverty #auspol 

Earth Day: Climate Change, Conflict and Extreme Poverty
By Kathleen Colson, Founder and CEO of the BOMA Project
Earth Day has become a worldwide call to action to address the many critical consequences of climate change and global warming: deforestation, species extinction, ocean acidification, rising seas, extreme weather. 

The impacts of climate change are also acutely felt in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) of Africa – over 40% of the continent. 

While residents of these regions are accustomed to extended dry seasons, the cycles of drought are now more severe. The United Nations announced in March that in East Africa, 20 million people are on the brink of starvation, a consequence of drought and severe civil conflicts, which uproot communities and disrupt the distribution of food aid by humanitarian organizations.

There is a direct causal relationship between climate change and conflict in these areas. 

As communities struggle over dwindling resources like grazing land and water, violence is too often the result.

 Meanwhile, humanitarian aid networks struggle to deliver essential supplies and services, and vulnerable populations become overwhelmed by the two-fold tragedies of famine and violence.

As a non-profit organization operating in Northern Kenya, where the government recently declared a national disaster in 23 counties due to drought, we see every day the impact that climate change has on the most vulnerable members of extreme-poverty populations—women and children.

 The result is costly humanitarian aid programs that create a cycle of dependence, treating residents as passive beneficiaries instead of participants in the building of the resilience of their communities. 

Humanitarian response is important and saves lives, but it must be coupled with proven, holistic, resilience-building programs to help people make a meaningful transition from dependence to self-reliance, even in the face of severe and frequent shocks such as climate change and conflict. 

Globally, the poverty graduation approach has been proven to break the cycle of extreme poverty and lift families into self-sufficiency.

 In the face of growing skepticism about foreign aid, and significantly reduced funds for humanitarian responses, the global community has a responsibility to invest in programs that help families withstand the impacts of climate change and build resilience in their communities. 

If we don’t, we will see repeated cycles of expensive humanitarian responses that do little to solve the long-term problem.

Press link for more: Huffington Post

March for Science! Today is the day to stand up for #Science 

Today is our chance to show support for science.

All over the planet people will be marching for universal values of science.

Find out where and when in your locality and join the scientists. 

Universal Literacy

A well-informed community is essential to a free and successful society. 

We support education to promote broad public knowledge and discussion of scientific work. 

As professionals, parents, and community-engaged volunteers, we enthusiastically contribute our time and expertise to helping children and students of all ages engage with the physical universe and biological world.

Open Communication

Publicly-funded scientists have a responsibility to communicate their research and public outreach and accessibility of scientific knowledge should be encouraged. 

Communication of scientific findings and their implications must not be suppressed.

Informed Policy

Public policy should be guided by peer-reviewed evidence and scientific consensus. 

Public policy must enable scientists to communicate their publicly-funded research results, and must support literacy in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Stable Investment

A long-term, strategic approach to investment in scientific research and development is essential for driving true innovation. 

Government commitment to stable science funding policy will deliver solutions to complex challenges, promoting prosperity for all.


Our acknowledgment

Science belongs to everyone. It should be pursued for the benefit of all people and for the health of the environment we depend upon.
At March for Science Australia we acknowledge the traditional custodians of the Australian continent, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and pay our respects to ancestors and Elders both past and present.
We recognise that science and scientific pursuits have been used in the past to disenfranchise many minority groups. We are committed to the promotion of science, now and in the future, as an endeavour which all persons have the right to pursue and enjoy the fruits of, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, religion or lack thereof, political affiliation, or socioeconomic status.
Diversity has strengthened and enriched scientific inquiry, and the inclusion of all peoples and the promotion of equal opportunity and training within science should be a goal pursued by scientists and non-scientists alike.

Press link for more: March for Science Australia