Capitalism

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Business Resolve on Climate Action is now more important than ever. #auspol 

Last fall, business leaders from Whirlpool, Schneider Electric and Clif Bar met with Ohio state lawmakers on an important request: Don’t hurt jobs, profits and the economy by rejecting the promise of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Corporate and citizen support for clean energy in Ohio made a powerful difference. In the waning days of 2016, Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich vetoed a bill that would have continued the state’s two-year freeze on renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates. It caused some dissent, but it was hard to argue with the economic case presented by major companies in the state. Within minutes of announcing his veto, a half-dozen major Ohio companies publicly thanked the governor for withstanding “immense pressure” and standing up for clean energy and resulting new jobs.
Governor Kasich’s move in Ohio underscores the mounting challenges we face in continuing this country’s progress towards a low-carbon future, despite a new president who is embracing coal and fossil fuels over climate protection and clean energy.
It’s a politically charged environment like never before and the temptation to ‘lie low’ is obvious. But lying low right now on climate and clean energy – and the policies that are fostering low-carbon action – would be short sighted and dangerous. Too much is at stake with heat-trapping carbon pollution sending global temperatures, sea levels and economic losses ever higher. There are also enormous stakes in positioning the United States to compete in the fast-growing low-carbon global economy. China’s new plans to invest hundreds of billions of dollars on renewable energy in the next several years should be seen as a clear competitive threat to U.S. policymakers.
Just as we saw in Ohio, more than ever, we need strong business community leadership to support federal and state policies that will accelerate our transition to a low-carbon economy. A good place to start would be next month’s kickoff meeting of President Trump’s business adviser team, which includes powerhouse CEOs from General Motors, PepsiCo, Tesla and BlackRock, all of whom have called for stronger action on climate change.
Business support for tackling climate change – and seizing the wide-ranging economic benefits by doing so – is unprecedented. With wind and solar costs plummeting, nearly 90 major companies, including Google, Mars Inc. and Bank of America, have committed to using 100 percent renewable energy to power their operations, and more than 200 have set science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at levels that would prevent the most dangerous effects of climate change.
To be sure, the business community has been more vocal the past two years in calling for strong, stable low-carbon policies that will help accelerate a faster transition to a clean energy economy..

One week after the US Presidential election, 365 U.S. companies issued a public statement at the global climate talks in Morocco calling on President-elect Trump not to abandon the Paris Climate Agreement and to continue supporting low-carbon policies. That number has since mushroomed to over 700 businesses and investors, including over 50 Massachusetts companies and dozens of Fortune 500 companies with headquarters all across the country.

Press link for more: Forbes.com

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George Monbiot: The Pollution Paradox #auspol

The Pollution Paradox
Dirty industries spend more on politics, keeping us in the fossil age.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 19th January 2017
Make America Wait Again. That’s what Donald Trump’s energy policy amounts to. Stop all the clocks, put the technological revolution on hold, ensure that the transition from fossil fuels to clean power is delayed for as long as possible.

Trump is the president corporate Luddites have dreamt of; the man who will let them squeeze every last cent from their oil and coal reserves before they become worthless. They need him because science, technology and people’s demands for a safe and stable world have left them stranded. There is no fair fight that they can win, so their last hope lies with a government that will rig the competition.
To this end, Trump has appointed to his cabinet some of those responsible for a universal crime: inflicted not on particular nations or groups, but on everyone.


Recent research suggests that – if drastic action of the kind envisaged by the Paris agreement on climate change is not taken – ice loss in Antarctica alone could raise sea levels by a metre this century, and by 15 metres in subsequent centuries. Combine this with the melting in Greenland and the thermal expansion of seawater, and you discover that many of the world’s great cities are at existential risk.

The climatic disruption of crucial agricultural zones – in North and Central America, the Middle East, Africa and much of Asia – presents a security threat that could dwarf all others. The civil war in Syria, unless resolute policies are adopted, looks like a glimpse of a possible global future.
These are not, if the risks materialise, shifts to which we can adapt. These crises will be bigger than our capacity to respond to them. They could lead to the rapid and radical simplification of society, which means, to put it brutally, the end of civilisations and many of the people they support. If this happens, it will amount to the greatest crime ever committed. And members of Trump’s proposed cabinet are among the leading perpetrators.

In their careers so far, they have championed the fossil fuel industry while contesting the measures intended to prevent climate breakdown. They appear to have considered the need of a few exceedingly rich people to protect their foolish investments for a few more years, weighed it against the benign climatic conditions that have allowed humanity to flourish, and decided that the foolish investments are more important.
By appointing Rex Tillerson, chief executive of the oil company ExxonMobil, as secretary of state, Trump not only assures the fossil economy that it sits next to his heart; he also provides comfort to another supporter: Vladimir Putin. It was Tillerson who brokered the $500 billion deal between Exxon and the state-owned Russian company Rosneft to exploit oil reserves in the Arctic. As a result he was presented with the Russian Order of Friendship by Mr Putin.
The deal was stopped under the sanctions the US imposed when Russia invaded Ukraine. The probability of these sanctions in their current form surviving a Trump government is, to the nearest decimal place, a snowball’s chance in hell. If Russia did interfere in the US election, it will be handsomely rewarded when the deal goes ahead.
Trump’s nominations for energy secretary and interior secretary are both climate change deniers, who – quite coincidentally – have a long history of sponsorship by the fossil fuel industry. His proposed attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, allegedly failed to disclose in his declaration of interests that he leases land to an oil company.
The man nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, has spent much of his working life campaigning against … the Environmental Protection Agency. As the attorney general in Oklahoma, he launched 14 lawsuits against the EPA, seeking, among other aims, to strike down its Clean Power Plan, its limits on the mercury and other heavy metals released by coal plants and its protection of drinking water supplies and wildlife. Thirteen of these suits were said to include as co-parties companies that had contributed to his campaign funds or to political campaign committees affiliated to him.
Trump’s appointments reflect what I call the Pollution Paradox. The more polluting a company is, the more money it must spend on politics to ensure it is not regulated out of existence. Campaign finance therefore comes to be dominated by dirty companies, ensuring that they wield the greatest influence, crowding out their cleaner rivals. Trump’s cabinet is stuffed with people who owe their political careers to filth.
It was once possible to argue, rightly or wrongly, that the human benefits of developing fossil fuel reserves might outweigh the harm. But a combination of more refined climate science, that now presents the risks in stark terms, and the plummeting costs of clean technologies renders this argument as obsolete as a coal-fired power station.

As the US burrows into the past, China is investing massively in renewable energy, electric cars and new battery technologies. The Chinese government claims that this new industrial revolution will generate 13 million jobs. This, by contrast to Trump’s promise to create millions of jobs through reanimating coal, at least has a chance of materialising. It’s not just that returning to an old technology when better ones are available is difficult; it’s also that coal mining has been automated to the extent that it now supports few jobs. Trump’s attempt to revive the fossil era will serve no one but the coal barons.
Understandably, commentators have been seeking glimpses of light in Trump’s position. But there are none. He couldn’t have made it clearer, through his public statements, the Republican platform and his appointments, that he intends to the greatest extent possible to shut down funding for both climate science and clean energy, rip up the Paris agreement, sustain fossil fuel subsidies and annul the laws that protect people and the rest of the living world from the impacts of dirty energy.
His candidacy was represented as an insurgency, challenging established power. But his position on climate change reveals what should have been obvious from the beginning: he and his team represent the incumbents, fighting off insurgent technologies and political challenges to moribund business models. They will hold back the tide of change for as long as they can. And then the barrier will burst. 

Press link for more: Monbiot.com
www. monbiot.com

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3 Ways Trump’s Climate Approach Is A Economic Disaster #auspol 

3 Ways Donald Trump’s Climate Approach Is A US Economic Disaster
January 21st, 2017 by Zachary Shahan 
To be fair, we don’t yet know what Donald Trump’s precise climate approach will be, but it seems all but guaranteed that he will slow and obstruct climate action and will do a “great deal” to increase pollution and CO2 emissions from the out-of-date oil, coal, and gas industries.
This is idiotic not just because it puts all of human society at great risk, but also because it’s one of the worst economic moves a politician can make. I’ll run down three reasons why in the bulk of this article, but let’s first highlight some positive climate policy news from other economic and energy giants — India isn’t going to pull back its climate efforts no matter what Trump does (CleanTechnica exclusive) and China is already announcing that it’s willing to take the lead on climate action (a position it will milk as part of an overall global power grab in the coming years). To be frank, no other country with sane leadership is going to hurt both itself and the world by going slow on cleantech growth. Here’s why:
Cleantech Jobs > Fossil Jobs
At the opening of the World Future Energy Summit earlier this week, former president of Mexico Felipe Calderón had some powerful energy statistics from the US to share — there are approximately 70,000 coal mining jobs in the US today, whereas there are over 200,000 solar energy jobs there

In a separate interview with Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Amin dropped some similar stats on us — 85,000 people work in the coal industry in the United States, whereas approximately 400,000 people are employed in renewables in the US. For a little further context, that equals ~5% of the global renewable energy workforce.

Even today — with coal accounting for ~30% of US electricity and solar accounting for ~1% of US electricity — solar jobs outnumber coal jobs. Solar power and wind power have both become cheaper than coal power (by far) and almost no new coal power capacity has been added in the past few years (renewables have dominated new capacity and natural gas has accounted for almost all of the rest).
Hastening the energy transition would create thousands and thousands of new jobs, whereas delaying it would make the US economy more stagnant and weaker. Hastening the energy transition would result in many more solar and wind energy power plants and distributed systems on homes and farms across the country, whereas delaying it just means burning more coal and natural gas in old power plants, polluting the lives of more Americans, and allowing coal and oil billionaires to stuff more cash into their over-inflated bank accounts.


The basic economics of renewables isn’t going to change, but weakening or crushing the Clean Power Plan would allow old, dirty coal power plants to remain open (and cause premature death to countless American citizens), which would mean a slower increase in renewable energy jobs. Put very frankly: the number of renewable energy jobs that approach would keep off the market is a larger number than the number of coal jobs that would be saved for a few more years.


Coal mining is largely automated at this point and the old coal plants the Clean Power Plan would shut down are, of course, already fully built, but the renewable energy projects that would be created to more quickly replace these old coal plants would create renewable energy design, manufacturing, sales, and installation jobs for Americans in need of work.

Any efforts to let oil & gas companies pollute more and any efforts that allow more natural gas power plants to get built will of course harm human health — they will harm the health, quality of life, and lifespan of real American citizens. However, again, there is also likely to be a jobs hit. Part of the beauty of wind and solar power is that these are highly distributed power-generation technologies that require a great deal of local work for installation. Additionally, some of the largest manufacturers are American (GE for wind turbines, SunPower and First Solar for solar panels, etc.). Much of the cost of natural gas is simply for the fuel and is funnelled to billionaires and multimillionaires at the top of this industry — buddies of Donald Trump, perhaps. Renewable energy is the real job creator, not natural gas.


Efforts to hurt electric vehicle growth will hurt US manufacturing as well — Tesla is based in California and Nevada, the Nissan LEAF is built in Tennessee, the Chevy Bolt is produced in Michigan, and other electric cars are or will be manufactured in the US.

At one point last year, we highlighted that the fastest-growing job in the US was the job of a wind turbine technician. It seems that Trump won’t promote this job or industry since he has a long history of anti-wind behavior, but for his own sake (and the country’s) it would be quite helpful if he didn’t obstruct continued wind energy growth. When the US wind market grows, US wind turbine manufacturing grows. The best way to hurt US wind turbine manufacturing is to hurt the US wind energy market.
Cleantech = Energy Independence

I think Donald Trump is actually keen to make the US energy independent, but he also seems to be clueless about how limited US fossil fuel supplies are, and he seems to be prejudiced against the country’s largest energy resources — sunshine, wind, and water.
If you really want to bring the country to energy independence, you have to focus on renewables. Fossil fuels will only last a short period of time. Furthermore, fossil fuel markets are global fuel markets and we aren’t going to stop importing fossil fuels even if US production increases a great deal. The only way to achieve real energy independence is to switch to electric transport and renewable energy.
Renewable energy and electric transport is the future anyway, but the sooner the country gains true energy independence from renewables and EVs, the sooner we won’t be subject to instability and price swings related to oil and gas dependence.
The basic goal of true energy independence, of course, is to stop exporting cash overseas for fuel we are overdependent on and to stop spending a great deal of money and sacrificing human lives to “protect” oil and gas resources in the Middle East and elsewhere. Electric transport and renewable energy enable that. Crippling these young markets doesn’t.
Cleantech Industries Will Eventually Center Around A Few Corporate Leaders
Mature industries are typically dominated by a handful of core corporations. There are various factors that lead to this, but the point is that only a handful of survivors will dominate clean energy and EV manufacturing once these are very mature global markets. By helping US companies lead the way at this time, the US government is more likely to create long-term value for its citizens.
Currently, major US players in solar manufacturing include SunPower, First Solar, and Enphase Energy. In wind, General Electric (GE) is a leading wind turbine manufacturer (sometimes #1 globally, particularly when the US wind market is hot). In electric vehicles, US-based Tesla and Proterra are early leaders.
None of these companies are guaranteed a place at the table when these markets are much bigger. They have a good running start right now, but they will have a much better shot at strong growth and long-term dominance if the US government further stimulates and encourages the US solar, wind, and EV markets — as well as cleantech manufacturing between the Atlantic and Pacific. Demand-side stimulus and supply-side support are both important right now to help the US economy in the long term.
Any moves to diminish climate action in the US and thus weaken our solar, wind, and EV markets are likely to handicap our early cleantech manufacturing leaders. We’ve already seen German cleantech companies dramatically hurt or gone bankrupt after Germany pulled back on its cleantech leadership, and the same has happened to a lesser extent in the UK and Japan. US and Chinese companies have grown their global market share as a result, but these industries are still young and changing fast.
The US can open the door for other cleantech manufacturers to dominate the global market (like China’s BYD, several Chinese solar & wind equipment manufacturers, Japan’s Panasonic, and South Korea’s LG Chem and Samsung SDI), or Trump and his cabinet can work to further stimulate US cleantech leadership and overall economic growth. The latter would help the US in the coming few years, but even much more so in the coming decades. If Trump doesn’t think it’s important to stimulate and support these high-potential cleantech industries, he’s going to miss out on probably the most promising manufacturing potential of the 21st century. If Trump moves backwards on climate and cleantech leadership, US companies will be hurt and foreign companies will take more of their global market share.
Cleantech = Cha-Ching
Donald Trump doesn’t need luck in order to grow the US economy and US jobs. He just needs to follow Obama’s lead — support the extremely fast-growing cleantech transition, support climate action, help to close down super old and dirty fossil power plants (which will largely be replaced with solar and wind power plants), provide policy stability for the investment and corporate community, and don’t screw around by trying to protect dying industries that are going to lose in competitiveness and collapse in the coming decades anyway (that’s like trying to stick Band-Aids on a broken leg and hemorrhaging organ).
China is eager to come in and eat America’s lunch. It’s eager to take tens or hundreds of thousands of solar, wind, and EV manufacturing jobs from the US in the coming years. Donald Trump can go on Twitter to try to change the story, but that’s not likely to be very effective. Entertaining? Sure. A “good” way to bully people and brag? Maybe. Useful for growing American companies in the hottest global markets? Not so much.
Do we have any strong signs that Trump plans to maintain US leadership in these fast-growing global industries? No. Indications that Trump’s administrators will slow fossil power plant retirements in the US, permit greater pollution in the US, kill programs supporting EV and clean energy manufacturing in the US, kill federal support for EV and clean energy adoption, and focus international relations around oil & gas extraction rather than climate action all indicate that Trump is headed in the wrong direction and the US economy will suffer as a result — during Trump’s presidency, but even much more so in the decades that follow.

Press link for more: Cleantechnica.com

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Trump could set back climate action 20 years. #auspol 

Two scientists’ concerns over years of climate inaction
Precisely how the incoming Trump administration will deal with climate change remains uncertain. But Donald Trump’s statements during the campaign and since his election – and also his Cabinet nominations and his immediately purging the whitehouse.gov website of climate science information – signal, at a minimum, that he will not make addressing climate change a priority. 

And that the administration likely will move to shelve federal government mitigation efforts.
Throughout his campaign and during the transition leading up to his January 20th inauguration, Trump frequently had been dismissive of the science and bullish on coal and fossil fuels generally. Proponents for aggressive action and many in the climate science research community have expressed increasing concerns.

In recent months, two climate modelers – Ben Sanderson, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colorado, and Reto Knutti of ETH Zurich, Switzerland – examined how Trump administration inaction and actions might influence future planetary warming. They concluded that a four- or eight-year delay in mitigation could lead to substantially exceeding global temperature limits for dangerous levels of emissions and concentrations, perhaps indefinitely.
Background on the scientists’ analysis
Sanderson and Knutti wrote in a December Nature Climate Change commentary that the U.S. accounts for about 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, likely leading some to conclude that U.S. inaction “would only have a small effect.” 

They said that would be “a naïve assessment.”
They argue, to the contrary, that continued or increasing emissions during that period of U.S. inaction would put the world so far off course that it could not recover before dangerous limits have been bypassed.
“Delay is the worst enemy for any climate target,” they wrote. That’s because the additional emissions accrued during a four- or eight-year period of U.S. mitigation inaction would leave the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere beyond or close to the maximum amount considered by the nearly 200 signatories of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to be sufficiently protective.
In their December commentary, the two scientists cautioned against “overinterpreting” their analysis, given uncertainties in how the “economic and ideological shift in U.S. governance will affect greenhouse gas emissions.” Rather, they said their findings help in anticipating the “bounding scenarios that could plausibly happen.”
Though the new administration has not yet articulated a detailed climate policy – and mid-January Senate confirmation hearings on Trump cabinet nominations did little to elaborate – the researchers said there is ample reason to be concerned about the “very different path … for future U.S. climate policy.”

Recognizing all the uncertainties, Sanderson and Knutti assumed that if the U.S. were to drop its commitments to cut back carbon emissions and also stop funding cutbacks by less-developed countries, other big emitters – the European Union, China, and India – might do likewise.
(Many experts conclude that even if China moves to fill a leadership void created by Trump administration decisions, the global agreements represented by the 2015 Paris agreement might well break down, with no clear timetable for a subsequent renewed global accord.)

4- to 8-years of inaction = 15 to 20-year setback
In their analysis, Sanderson and Knutti elaborated on the consequences if U.S. momentum to address climate change stalls, and if global cooperation to deal with climate change doesn’t resume in earnest until 2025.
“Even if emissions were to decrease again after eight years, it could take an additional 15-25 years for emissions to get back to current levels, assuming mitigation rates typical for strong mitigation scenarios,” they wrote.
Sanderson and Knutti conclude that “only immediate, global concerted and effective action can achieve the temperature targets discussed in Paris.” They calculated the chances that, with further delays, the planet might avoid warming by more than 1.5 degrees C or 2 degrees C above pre-industrial temperatures, the goal and stretch goal agreed to in the Paris agreement.
It’s important to understand that the planet already has warmed by about 1 degrees C since the industrial revolution. Climate researchers are in general agreement that even 1 degrees C more would commit the planet to dramatically increased sea-level rise. In addition, they’re concerned that the entire planet would suffer punishing changes from changing storm patterns and intensity, heat waves and droughts. Many climate scientists fear that temperatures more than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial temperatures would be catastrophic in countless ways.

The Sanderson and Knutti commentary, published in Nature Climate Change, was not peer-reviewed. But their commentary was based on a methodology Sanderson and two coauthors presented last summer in a peer-reviewed study published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
Science Writer Dan Grossman’s Q&A

with NOAA Scientist Ben Sanderson
This Q&A relates to the description above of the Nature Climate Change commentary in which the interviewee and a colleague conclude that a U.S. four- or eight-year halt on reducing greenhouse gases would have serious adverse impacts lasting far beyond the delay itself.
Yale Climate Connections freelance science journalist Daniel Grossman spoke with NOAA scientist Ben Sanderson by telephone about their commentary, in which they argued that a U.S. climate stand-down of four or eight years would set back climate efforts by 15 to 25 years.
A lightly edited transcription of their interview follows:
Dan Grossman: I realize that it makes sense that a problem is solved sooner rather than later. But it’s not obvious that a four- or eight-year delay during a Trump administration would have longer-lasting impacts. Why isn’t that right?
Ben Sanderson: There are two main reasons. First, the climate system has inertia. And second the quantity that matters is the cumulative emissions of carbon, not the amount emitted in any given year.
The critical number to keep in mind is the total amount of carbon that humans can safely emit to stay within either 1.5 or 2 degrees C of the pre-industrial temperature. It’s called the carbon budget.

That total is calculated from the beginning of the industrial revolution until the time we stop burning fossil fuels. We’ve already emitted over 600 billion tons of carbon, out of a total budget of about 1,000 billion tons to remain below 2 degrees C, or about 700 billion tons to remain below 1.5 degrees C. We are using up the budget very quickly right now.
At present rates of global emissions, we have somewhere between four and 10 years before we have committed the Earth to blow past the 1.5-degree goal. For 2 degrees, we have somewhere between 15 and 25 years.

Grossman: You mean that if the incoming administration drops the ball for eight years, we commit the planet to bypassing 1.5 degrees?
Sanderson: Yes. With an eight-year delay in action, it would be virtually impossible to avoid going above 1.5 over pre-industrial. We’re very, very close to these thresholds, so the timeline for achieving them is incredibly short.
Grossman: But barring the reduced effort you posit in your peer-reviewed paper, is it still possible to avoid dangerous warming impacts?
Sanderson: So the background to this and the reason that the delay would render these targets unattainable is that anything short of an unprecedented World War II-level global-scale effort, starting now, would probably fail to prevent 1.5 degrees of warming. It would require global cooperation to completely transform the energy and transport infrastructure of the planet on a timescale of a few decades. To avoid a plus-1.5-degrees world, net emissions from the entire planet needs to be zero by 2040 or just after, just over 20 years from now. After that we’d have to be actively removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

But after an eight-year delay, we get into the realm of it being completely politically infeasible to stay within 1.5 or even 2 degrees C of the pre-industrial temperature.
Grossman: Why couldn’t we just pick up where we stopped after the delay? What makes a short period of delay, four or eight years, so dire?
Sanderson: The basic point is that for four or eight years we’d be putting an additional allotment of carbon into the atmosphere. And even if after the delay ended and we started reducing emissions at the same rate as we might otherwise do, we’d have to first remove that additional carbon in the atmosphere that was emitted during those lost years.
That extra CO2, translates into an increased temperature commitment for the future. Even if, post 2024, we reverted to the emissions reductions anticipated before the delay, it would be nearly impossible to return to a trajectory that would keep us safely below the Paris temperature thresholds. We’d have to pull huge amounts of CO2 directly from the air later in the century.
Some such negative emissions are already assumed. But even more would be needed. Prior scenarios that keep us below 1.5 degrees C already assume that we will max-out our technological capacity for negative emissions in the latter part of the century. In effect, the delay translates to a long-term commitment to a temperature rise beyond what we could have otherwise achieved.
Grossman: And that’s assuming that emissions stay at current rates and don’t actually rise?
Sanderson: Yes. And we can’t be certain that will happen. We also considered the effect of a short-term increase in emissions, due to policies encouraging production and consumption of fossil fuels like coal. That would commit us to an even higher temperature, both because of the extra CO2 that would be released during that period and because the investment in high-carbon infrastructure would lock in increased emissions for decades afterwards.
The scenarios for avoiding the 1.5- or 2-degree temperature limits already push the boundaries of feasibility. Any delay will cause us to miss the targets. In our paper, we calculate that if emissions increase for the next eight years (rather than falling as might otherwise occur), there’s only a 33 percent chance of avoiding warming of 2 degrees C or more.
Grossman: In your paper, you also discussed the effects of reduced research on solar power, wind energy, and other technologies for lowering carbon emissions. What would be the outcome of that?
Sanderson: We considered the possibility that eight years of reduced research in low-carbon infrastructure would hinder our ability to cut emissions post-2024, setting us back even further. If we add this effect, it makes the chance of achieving the two-degree target effectively nil, only about 10 percent. Adding in this factor increases the possibility of warming to a 3 degrees C world.


Grossman: Considering all these possibilities, what’s the bottom line?
Sanderson: The consequences of eight years of pro-fossil fuel policies in the U.S., which in turn trigger a global short-term abandonment of climate policy ambition, could be huge. It would put us it into a completely different scenario for the long-term future. The differences in costs and impacts between two-degree and three-degree worlds in the long term are enormous.
What we do even over the next decade is really important for determining what the world of our children and grandchildren will look like. It could transform the landscape of the world in the second part of this century. This is real and will have consequences for people that we know. The idea that you can kick the ball down the road for another decade is just demonstrably not true. The time is running out to avoid dangerous climate change.
Grossman: You wrote, “It’s not easy to be dispassionate watching an uncertain future unfold.” Should we expect scientists to be dispassionate about these things?
Sanderson: As climate scientists, we spend all of our time thinking about the impact of different emissions scenarios. They’re abstract, but the impacts translate into real problems which will affect people’s lives in real ways. Things like health, mortality, and disease outbreak.
It’s hard not to have an emotional response when the conclusions are so clear that the consequences of unbridled and untamed emissions would be disastrous for humanity and for every ecosystem on the planet. It’s hard not to come to the opinion that it would be better to act to avoid damage beyond what we’re already committed to.
Grossman: The new administration might be antagonistic to government employees or scientists opposed to pro-fossil-fuel policies. Are you worried about your job?
Sanderson: I’m concerned, of course. But my plan, and the plan of everyone I know, is just to carry on doing our jobs. Whatever course humanity takes, climate change will happen to some degree, and understanding how those changes are going to affect our society can give us a head start on mitigating some of the risks.
And so, we’ll carry on doing good science to provide the best information. If the political climate stops us from doing that, it would in my view be disastrous. Some of the best climate science in the world is done within the United States, and if American climate scientists were silenced, there would be dire consequences in terms of mankind’s ability to predict the effects and to respond to climate change.

Press link for more: Yale Climate Connections

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Too Hot To Grow AnyThing. Ignoring #ClimateChange will not make America Great. #auspol 

Shifting climate patterns in North America could hit U.S. crop production hard, possibly even halving the production of corn by the end of the century, a new study finds.
Scientists believe that the spike in average temperatures that is widely predicted by climate models for North America could hurt its agriculture sector. As the number of days that are hotter than 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) increases, they now predict, estimated future harvests of wheat, soybeans and corn could drop by 22 to 49 percent, depending on the variety of the crop.
“Projections tell us that in the U.S., these crops will suffer from hotter days. Since these days will get more frequent with climate change, there will be harvest losses,” said Bernhard Schauberger, lead author of the study, released by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Schauberger and a team of scientists came to this conclusion by studying a series of computer simulations.


According to their estimates, corn and soybean plants can lose 5 percent of their harvest for every single day that is recorded above 30 C. Such crop losses could have huge repercussions for domestic food security and — given that the United States is one of the largest crop exporters in the world — affect prices in the international market.
There are multiple ways that higher temperatures could affect crop growth, and most of them come down to water stress, said Joshua Elliott, a research scientist with the University of Chicago and a co-author of the study.
Evaporation rates shoot up on hotter days, reducing the amount of moisture in the soil that’s available to the plants. Moreover, plants tend to open their stomata — small pores on their leaves — to transpire water when temperatures increase, creating an additional source of stress. Certain studies have also suggested that high temperatures during a plant’s flowering period could actually lead to a “sterilization” effect.
“Moreover, at very high temperatures, there can be direct damage to leaves and other organs of the plant — typically called wilting,” Elliott added.
Crops tend to respond to temperature changes in different ways. Some, like rice and cotton, can tolerate higher degrees of heat, but others, like corn and wheat, aren’t as flexible.
Since a loss of water is the key problem that climate change could create for crops, the answer could lie in irrigation, something Elliott called a “key resiliency factor.” However, depending entirely on irrigation to curb crop losses could also be dangerous and unsustainable, he added.

“There are lots of irrigated parts of the world, like northern India, which are already starting to run out of resources. Some estimates say there will be widespread irrigation deficits in the next 20 years — and then you have a double-whammy effect, where temperatures are increasing and you don’t have the water you need to irrigate your crops,” he explained.
The problem is exacerbated in areas like Kansas and West Texas that are entirely reliant on groundwater resources.
Moreover, irrigation can help protect crops until a certain temperature threshold — around 36 or 40 C, according to Schauberger — but not beyond.
The scarcity of water could be influenced by other consequences of climate change, like changes in precipitation patterns, as well as socio-economic factors like a higher demand for food, growth of the hydropower sector and population increase, said Erwan Monier, a principal research scientist with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.
“If there’s no more water available for irrigation, the question becomes what would farmers do — they would either have to rely on rain-fed crops or move to a location where there’s enough water for irrigation. If they shift to rain-fed crop management, there’s going to be a significant decline in yield,” he said.
Some scientists are experimenting with ways to genetically modify crops that are more resilient to higher temperatures. However, this approach hasn’t demonstrated significant results so far and, according to Elliot, contains restrictions in terms of how much the plants can be altered. He sees the most likely adaptation strategy as being a northward shift of traditional crop belts.
“It may very well be that in the next 50 to 100 years, the new Corn Belt is centered around North Dakota, Manitoba and Saskatchewan,” he said. “Parts of Iowa could be growing cotton and the Deep South — where cotton is currently grown — will probably be too hot to grow anything.”
Press link for more: Scientific American

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It’s Time To Stand Up For Climate And Civilisation! #science #democracy #auspol 

DURING HIS CAMPAIGN for president, Donald Trump promised to end action on climate change and kill the climate treaty adopted in 2015 in Paris. 


To truly understand why that’s such a big deal—perhaps the biggest deal ever—you need to think about a few things.
Yes, you need to think about the oft-repeated but nonetheless true and alarming statistics: 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded till 2015 snatched the crown—till 2016 obliterated the record. Last summer featured some of the hottest days ever reliably recorded on this planet: 128 degrees Fahrenheit in cities like Basra, Iraq—right at the edge of human endurance. Global sea ice has been at a record low in recent months.

Think about the slow, difficult, centuries-long march of science that got us to the point where we could understand our peril. 

Think of Joseph Fourier in the 1820s, realizing that gases could trap heat in the atmosphere; John Tyndall in the middle of that century, figuring out that carbon dioxide is one of those gases; and the valiant Svante Arrhenius in the 1890s, calculating by hand how the global temperature rises in lockstep with carbon dioxide levels.

 Think of Hans Suess and Roger Revelle in the 1950s, fumbling toward an understanding that the oceans would not absorb excess CO2—the first modern realization that CO2 must be accumulating in the atmosphere and hence, as Revelle put it, “human beings are now carrying out a large-scale geophysical experiment of a kind that could not have happened in the past nor be reproduced in the future.” 

Think of Charles Keeling in 1958, installing the first real CO2 monitor on the side of Mauna Loa and for the first time watching the CO2 level steadily rise. 

Think of the scientists who built on that work, using satellites and ocean buoy sensors to erect a scaffolding of observations; think of the theorists who used that data and the new power of supercomputers to build models that by the 1980s had made it clear we faced great danger. 

Think of the men and women who educated those scientists and who built the institutions in which they were educated and who organized the learned societies that supported them. 

And think of the forums—like the UN and its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—that brought them together from across the planet to combine their knowledge.

The Paris accord would limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius—unless the incoming administration dismantles it.JONATHAN RAA/PACIFIC PRESS/LIGHTROCKET/GETTY IMAGES

All this, taken together, is one part of what we call civilization.
Now think of the men and women of the diplomatic corps, who over generations have learned to build bridges across nations, to sometimes reconcile disputes short of war. 

The Paris accord was a triumph for them, not because it solved the problem (it didn’t, not even close) but because it existed at all. Somehow 195 nations—rich and poor, those with oil beneath their sand and those that have to import it—managed to agree that we should limit the rise in temperature to 2 degrees Celsius this century and set up an intricate architecture to at least begin the process. That too is an aspect of what we call civilization.
None of this should be taken for granted. The building blocks of our common home—science and diplomacy and also civility—are hard-won, and history would indicate that they can fade fast. In fact, we now seem likely to start tossing them away based on nothing but the politically useful whim that climate change is a hoax. When Trump announced on the campaign trail that he would “cancel” the Paris agreement, it represented an assault on civilization as surely as announcing that he would jail his political opponent represented an assault on democracy. He’s backed down from the latter plan and, under pressure, said he now has an “open mind” about Paris—though his chief of staff clarified that his “default position” is that climate change is bunk. 

In any event, he has packed his transition team and cabinet with a small band of climate deniers who have blocked action for years. Already they’ve announced their intention to end NASA’s climate research, which has been a bulwark of the scientific edifice. 

If they have their way, there will be no more satellites carefully measuring the mass of ice sheets so we can track their melt, no more creative and fascinating “missions to planet Earth” that the space agency has run so successfully. We seem intent on blinding ourselves, on ripping out the smoke detectors even as the house begins to burn.
Trump’s team can’t, by themselves, change everything.

 Engineers and entrepreneurs have done their jobs magnificently over the past decade, as the price of a solar panel has fallen 80 percent. 

Because of that work, the potential for rapid change is finally at hand. 

Denmark generated nearly half its power from wind in 2015, and not because it cornered the world’s supply of breeze. Given the new economics of renewable energy, progress will continue.

 But the climate question has never been about progress per se; we know that eventually we’ll move to the sun and wind. The issue has always been about pace, and now Trump will add serious friction, quite likely shifting the trajectory of our path enough that we will never catch up with the physics of climate change. 

Other assaults on civilization and reason eventually wore themselves out—fascism, communism, imperialism.

 But there’s no way to wait out climate change, because this test has a timer on it. 

Melt enough ice caps and you live on a very different planet. 

Either we solve this soon or we don’t solve it. 

And if we don’t, then the cascading crises that follow (massive storms, waterlogged cities, floods of migrants) will batter our societies in new ways that we are ill prepared to handle, as the xenophobia of this election season showed.

Which is why we need to rise to the occasion. Not only in our day jobs but in our roles as citizens—of city, state, country, planet.

 Engineers should, by all means, keep developing the next generation of batteries; but that work is merely necessary now, not sufficient. 

We must not watch idly as Trump takes a hammer to the mechanisms of our civilization, mechanisms that can’t be rebuilt in the time we have. 

We need to resist in all the nonviolent ways that we’ve learned over the past century and in new ones that the moment suggests. 

There will be marches and divestment campaigns, pressure to be put on city halls and statehouses. We will not lack for opportunity. If many join in, then civilization will not just endure but will emerge stronger for the testing, able to face our problems with renewed vigor. At best, it’s going to be a very close call.


Bill McKibben is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and founder of global grassroots climate campaign 350.org.”

Press link for more: Wired.com

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An open letter to Trump from another multi billionaire on #climatechange 


To the Honorable President-elect of the United States:
I am neither a politician nor a scientist. I am a businessman who had the great fortune of leading a $15 billion, 55,000-person international company for nearly seven years.
I made some good decisions and some not so good decisions, but, given that profits grew five-fold in six years, I think it is fair to say that I was successful in that role. It is in that vein — businessman to businessman — that I draft this letter.
First, congratulations on your election. Now, with your first day in office imminent, there is undoubtedly intense pressure to create immediate change. However, decisions affecting the long-term resilience of our economy and our planet justify great deliberation, not haste.
As President of the United States, your greatest responsibility will be to protect our country. This includes not just military challenges, but all threats. As a fellow business person who also understands the need to manage risk, I ask you to take the threat of climate change seriously. I urge you to consider the economic and scientific facts before pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
A hasty decision on this issue, will likely isolate our nation, cede technology, innovation and jobs to China, and limit market access for our exporters.
Before making such decisions, please take time to discuss it with a wide range of experts. The United States has many of the greatest research and academic institutions in the history of the world — Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford to name just a few. Ask some of these great institutions to send their leading experts in the area of climate change and economics to meet with you for one hour.
Discuss with them the science of climate change, why they believe it is man-induced, and its likely consequences to the United States. Ask them whether the climate is changing at the rate predicted by their models and how much time we have for the global community to get it right.
Then, ask them to address the economic consequences of ignoring climate change as well as the economic opportunity for America if we were to take the lead in advancing clean energy.
A decision to stay the course on climate and institute policies harnessing American ingenuity to create truly efficient clean energy technology — akin to the effort behind the Manhattan Project — will help drive both jobs and our economy for decades to come.

Clean energy industries currently provide over 2.5 million Americans with well-paying jobs, and China is poised to create over 13 million such jobs. America also stands to become a net exporter of clean energy technology, and over 630 leading businesses have publicly urged their support for a low carbon economy.
Right now America has the opportunity to be a global leader for clean energy, or to surrender that leadership position to Europe and China which currently outspend us on that technology. Because of both the urgency and long-term economic and other broad-ranging consequences of climate change, your decision on this issue is likely to determine your legacy.
Moreover, respectfully, you owe it to your electorate, not to mention your grandchildren, to meet with the leading scientists and economists in the country before making such a consequential decision.
Gary A. Garfield retired as chairman, president and CEO of Bridgestone Americas, Inc.

Press link for more: Tennessean.com

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A Human Economy? #auspol 

The paper has a larger aim, setting out some initial thinking on the constituent elements of a “human economy approach” that can turn around both inequality and other public bads created by prevailing orthodoxies. Here are the headlines:
A human economy would see national governments accountable to the 99 percent, and playing a more interventionist role in their economies to make them fairer and more sustainable.

A human economy would see national governments cooperate to effectively fix global problems such as tax dodging, climate change and other environmental harm.


A human economy would see businesses designed in ways that increase prosperity for all, and contribute to a sustainable future.

A human economy would not tolerate the extreme concentration of wealth or poverty, and the gap between rich and poor would be far smaller.

A human economy would work equally as well for women as it does for men.


A human economy would ensure that advances in technology are actively steered to be to the benefit of everyone, rather than meaning job losses for workers or more wealth for those who own the businesses.

A human economy would ensure an environmentally sustainable future by breaking free of fossil fuels and embarking on a rapid and just transition to renewable energy.

A human economy would see progress measured by what actually matters, not just by GDP. This would include women’s unpaid care, and the impact of our economies on the planet.

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The Climate Threat posed by Right-Wing Populism’s rising tide. #Auspol 


Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom, speaks to members of the media before the start of the the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 19, 2016. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The day after American voters chose Donald Trump as their next president, Dutch politician Geert Wilders, leader of his country’s Party for Freedom, gave his take on the election to Russian broadcaster RT.

“I think that the people of America, as in Europe, feel insulted by all the politicians that ignore the real problems,” he said. “The lesson for Europeans is: Look at America. What America can do, we can do as well.” Wilders asserted that 2017 will see a series of electoral wins for right-wing nationalist parties, each an echo of Trump’s victory in the US.
There’s another reason the world should be considered about the form this growing disillusionment and outrage has taken: Right-wing populism threatens climate action.

The idea is not far-fetched. Both the June 2016 Brexit referendum and Trump’s unexpected win in November show all too clearly that it’s hard to predict where the anger bubbling beneath the surface of the western world will find an outlet — polls were unhelpful in both the Brexit vote and the US election. But when that anger does erupt, it tends to buoy nationalists who channel it toward established institutions and the elite.
The advance of these right-wing movements has caused quite a bit of concern within Europe. First, the nationalists’ hardline immigration policies threaten the pluralism Western nations prize. These victories also seem to foretell a global geopolitical realignment that would elevate Russia and Vladimir Putin as the West becomes more reactionary and isolationist.
But there’s another reason the world should be concerned about the form this growing disillusionment and outrage has taken: Right-wing populism threatens climate action.

The Paris Climate Agreement — the culmination of a more-than-20-year-long effort by the United Nations — is already in peril, thanks to America’s right-wing populists. It is a devastating irony that less than a week after the Paris Climate Agreement went into effect, America elected a climate change denialist who promptly announced he would pull America out of the deal.


However, even if America does leave the pact, other major emitters — China, India, Russia, Brazil and the European Union — are expected to stay the course. At the moment, Europe’s pledge to quickly cut climate change-causing emissions to 40 percent of 1990 levels is one of the most ambitious in the agreement. But if the predictions of leaders like Wilders and others on Europe’s far-right prove prescient, the presumption of Europe’s continued enthusiastic involvement in the deal could become far less safe.
Europe’s right-wing parties don’t share a common ideology or set of policy platforms, and they often have qualms about working with one another. Some of Europe’s right-wing populist leaders mirror Trump’s outright rejection of climate action — but not all. France’s Marine Le Pen of the National Front, for instance, questions climate science but champions “eco-nationalism.”
Europe’s right-wing populists are, however, largely united in their skepticism of cooperative bodies like the EU and the UN. These organizations are essential to progress on climate change. Taken as a unit, the European Union is the third-largest emitter of climate change-causing pollution, behind China and the United States, and the European Commission, which governs the EU, has played an essential role in pushing European nations to cut back pollution and green their economies. Yet this sort of international economic cooperation raises suspicions among Europe’s right, which, like Trump, denounces “globalism.” Le Pen’s National Front party, for instance, has described the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, a legal arrangement that undergirds the Paris Deal, as “a communist project.” UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage describes the fight for climate action as “one of the biggest and stupidest collective misunderstandings in history.”
“If climate change is labeled as an elitist, global project, which is what UKIP and Le Pen want to do, then it’s dead,” Nick Mabey, an environmental consultant and a former climate adviser to the UK government, told Bloomberg during a recent UN meeting in Marrakech to chart the path forward for the Paris deal.
Although the rise of right-wing populism has little to do with climate change, the world’s inability to deal with it may become our current populist moment’s most lasting impact. Establishment institutions including the UN and the EU are far from perfect, and the Paris deal alone will not be enough to ensure a stable climate future. But by attacking these institutions, populists’ victories will throw another speed bump onto the meandering and already quite bumpy road toward warding off climate catastrophe.
“NATO, the UN, the European Union and others were institutions that could be a bulwark of the international rule of law, as opposed to what we had before that, which was whoever had the biggest gunships, or the modern day equivalent, got what they wanted,” said Anthony Hobley, CEO of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, a London-based nonprofit group that tracks the risk climate change poses to financial markets.

“If you take an issue like climate change, you’ve got a feedback loop. Without those institutions it makes it harder to fight climate change. A more destabilized climate will erode economic security and will increase migration. These issues add more pressure that may cause more populist politicians to be elected. That erodes international rule of law further and makes it harder to fight climate change, and so on.”
The first of these potential wins may come in March, when the Netherlands is holding its general election and Wilders’ party is expected to gain ground. Then, in the fall, Germany will hold elections. Many predict that anti-immigrant sentiment bolstered by terrorist attacks like the December assault on a Berlin Christmas market will allow the right-wing Alternative for Germany party to challenge Angela Merkel’s leadership. With Merkel at the helm, Germany has charted one of the steadiest courses toward addressing climate change. With the election looming, the country could veer off course.
If and when the US government rejoins international efforts to tackle climate change, the same forces that caused it to ditch those efforts may have fundamentally reshaped the efforts themselves, derailing the global climate action that just months ago seemed poised to finally get off the ground.

Press link for more: billmoyers.com

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Australia joining US in openly trashing global climate efforts. #auspol 

Australia joining US in openly trashing global climate efforts.
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Here we are – Donald Trump is about to become the 45th president of the United States and we have to prepare for the onslaught.

It beggars belief that in 2016 an outright climate change denier could rise to the highest office in the US, dragging with him a Republican controlled Congress hungry to revive the old glory days of coal, gas and oil, not to mention a Secretary of State that until last month ran the biggest oil company on earth.

McKibben (black cap) was among activists arrested outside the White House in 2013 protesting against the proposed expansion of the Keystone oil pipeline. Two years later, the expansion was canned. Photo: Getty Images

Yet while Australians may groan and worry at the destruction that Trump will bring, take a look at your own Trump-like administration.
Washington DC may be awash with fossil fuel operatives, but Australia is no stranger to fossil fuel barons holding political sway either – indeed, you elected one to Parliament a few years ago in the form of Clive Palmer. 

And as Trump thrusts the US firmly into a position as international climate pariah, we are sadly joining Australia as two rogue developed nations openly trashing global climate efforts.


Bill McKibben warns Australia risks missing out on the new jobs and investment opportunities offered by renewable energy industries. Photo: Nic Walker

Similarly, while Trump and his team talks big about slashing environmental regulations and opening up new federal lands to drilling, the Turnbull Government is pushing ahead to develop the first new minerals basin in 40 years through the Adani coal mine project in Queensland.
Driven by Resource Minister – and coal zealot – Senator Matt Canavan, the Adani proposal runs roughshod over the wishes of the local Traditional Owners and the glaringly obvious science that shows to stay within the safe limit of 2 degrees of warming there can be no new fossil fuel projects.
If all the coal in this mega mine is dug up and burned it will produce as much pollution as all the European Union countries put together and would put not only the Great Barrier Reef in harm’s way but clearly the global climate.
The call for no new coal, oil and gas is not an ideological position. It is basic physics. It is the Trump and Turnbull governments that are pursuing their dangerous ideological agendas in the face of facts, science and the Paris climate agreement.


Let’s be clear – there is no mandate for these governments to destroy the global climate. Trump was not exactly swept into office – he lost the popular vote by more than 3 million people and aided by mass electoral interference by a foreign country.
I have met Malcolm Turnbull and I actually believe he wants (or once wanted) to see action on climate change. He believes, I think, in the role of science and innovation to create a cleaner future and a strong economy, but is being held hostage by fringe elements in his party and sadly seems unable to provide strong leadership. He has shrunk into his role and allowed rabid climate deniers to prevent Australia from benefiting from the rapidly growing low-carbon economy.

The fossil fuel era now has an expiry date. Investors know it, businesses know it and global markets know it.
Large scale renewable energy projects are now cheaper than new coal power plants and every year the costs get cheaper. This year China has pledged to spend $US360 billion ($482 billion) over the next four year on renewable projects. This is as much as the whole world spent over the past four years.
Can you imagine what this will mean for clean technology in China? Not only will it create 13 million new jobs, but an investment of this size will drive even greater innovation. By vacating this space not only are Australia and the US blocking faster action on climate change, they are opting to miss out on the new jobs and investment opportunities offered by these industries.
We all have a role to play in ensuring our governments remain culpable for their failures and seize the opportunities of tomorrow. When our governments and laws fail to act in our best interests we have a responsibility to step up and take action.
That is why I will continue to protest the Donald Trump Presidency and all it stands for. I expect my friends in Australia to do the same. The next few years are going to test us. But with the cresting power of clean energy at our backs, we have a chance.
​Bill McKibben is the founder of 350.org, an author and former New Yorker staff writer.

Press link for more: smh.com.au