Climate Council

March for Science or March for Reality?

March for Science or March for Reality?

By Laurance M. klauss

Shortly after the inauguration of Donald Trump as President, it was announced that a March for Science would be held Washington DC and in a host of other cities in the United States and around the world to protest the new Administration’s apparent anti-science agenda—from denial of climate change to dismantling the EPA, to budget priorities that will cut key science programs throughout the country—and to lobby for science-based policymaking as well as support for scientific research to address the challenges of the 21st century.

Meanwhile the Trump administration’s anti-science actions continue.

 Attorney General Sessions announced just this week that he was disbanding the National Commission on Forensic Science, which advises the federal government to enhance national standards in this area.
I have no idea how the Marches for Science—now over 400 in number across the globe—will play out, and how the media will interpret them.

 A series of worrisome tweets emanating from the March for Science twitter account over the past week, following similar early statements made on the groups website that were subsequently removed, claimed that scientific research promotes violence and inequity in society. 

These have been disavowed but the variety of mixed communications from leaders of the march over the past months suggests at the very least that the organization encompasses a wide diversity of agendas.
This is not surprising. After all, the scientific community has never been a one-issue community, like, say, the anti-abortion movement.

 And the current administration is pushing so many different buttons at the same time, with various attacks on fundamental rights, privacy, diversity, and freedom of expression, that these are bound to get caught up in any movement that promotes openness and free-inquiry, the hallmarks of the scientific enterprise.
Despite any such concerns, a host major science organizations, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science to Union of Concerned Scientists, have signed on as supporters of the March, and are urging their members to join their local marches and speak out for science-based public policy on April 22.

If the event becomes a ‘March By Scientists’ rather than a March for Science—namely if it is dominated by scientists labeling themselves as such, in costumes like white lab coats, rather than by members of the general public supporting evidence-based public policy—that too could be problematic. 

The March for science could then appear as a self-serving political lobbying effort by the scientific community to increase its funding base.
Let’s imagine that this is not the case, and the organizers are wildly successful in attracting hundreds of thousands or million of marchers across the globe this coming Saturday.

 It is still reasonable to wonder what the long-term impact of the marches might be. 

After all, following the worldwide March for Women, in which millions of people marched around the world in support of women’s rights, the Trump administration reacted with a deaf ear. 

Just this past week the President signed legislation allowing states and local governments to withhold federal funding for Planned Parenthood, for example.
The situation is different in this case however, and it may have nothing directly to do with science policy, or even in those areas where science should play a key role in affecting policy.
Every week, the alternative realities invoked by the Trump administration are being demonstrated, by events, to be vacuous. 

The administration claimed it would immediately end, and then fix, problems with Obamacare, and failed miserably. Donald Trump campaigned against foreign military intervention, and this week alone initiated unilateral bombings in Syria and Afghanistan. 

Donald Trump pledged to immediately revise NAFTA, forcing Canada and Mexico to the table to make a better deal. 

Nothing has happened.
He promised Mexico would pay for a wall. 

However the first $2 billion installment for a wall was included in the budget proposal he presented to Congress, compensated by cuts in funding in key areas of science, but also in support of the arts and humanities in this country.
He promised to drain the swamp, but he removed restrictions on lobbyists entering government, and as the New York Times reported just this week, he has filled his administration with them, including individuals who are already facing conflict of interest allegations because of their former activities lobbying the organizations they now run.
He lobbied against Wall Street, but former Wall Street leaders dominate his cabinet and economic advisory groups.
He said he would release his taxes after his inauguration and has not. 

And he claimed he would immediate increase growth and the economy, but as the Wall Street Journal reported just this week, projections for growth of the economy have decreased sharply in recent months, as have retail sales, and the consumer price index.

These are just a few of the immediate and obvious inconsistencies. 

Further, as administration policies on energy and the environment take effect, citizens in communities with drinking water at risk from environmental threats will find that programs to avert further deterioration have been cut, and coal mining communities will find that the natural gas glut has much more to do with the continuing demise of coal than Obama’s efforts to improve air quality in the US by restricting coal plants, which, whatever Trump may claim, are bad for the environment. 

(Indeed as the New York Times reported this week, more than 200,000 tons of coal ash residue each year are produced by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and this has been making its way into groundwater, potentially affecting drinking water supplies, even as the EPA is now delaying compliance with rules enacted to enhance the safe storage and disposal of coal ash.).
The very essence of science, indeed that which is motivating the March for Science, involves skeptical inquiry and a reliance on empirical evidence and constant testing to weed out false hypotheses and unproductive or harmful technologies as we move toward a better understanding of reality: A willingness, in short, to force beliefs and policies to conform to the evidence of reality, rather than vice versa.

Unlike its perception among much of the public and its presentation in many schools today, science is not simply a body of facts, but rather a process for deriving what the facts are. 

This process has helped us uncover hidden secrets of the Universe that never would have been dreamed of and producing technologies that have not only been largely responsible for the standard of living enjoyed by the first world today, but have also increased lifespans around the world. 

With this process the very possibility of “alternative facts” disappears.
By providing such a constant and sharp explicit and observable contrast between policy and empirical reality, the Trump administration can encourage a new public skepticism about political assertions vs. reality, and a demand for evidence before endorsing policies and the politicians who espouse them—the very things that most marchers on April 22nd will be demanding. 

This skepticism is beginning to manifest itself in data. 

A Gallup poll result on April 17 indicated that only 45 percent of the public believe President Trump’s promises, a drop of 17 percent since February.
In this regard, it is worth remembering the words of the Nobel Prizewinning physicist, Richard Feynman, who said: For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. 

Or, as the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick more colorfully put it: Reality is that which continues to exist even when you stop believing in it.
The Trump Administration is discovering that obfuscation, denial, and hype may work when selling real estate, but in public arena eventually reality has a way of biting you in the butt. And the public is watching. 

The March for Science may be lucky to capitalize upon a growing awareness that there is no Wizard behind the curtain. The number of marchers, their backgrounds, or even their myriad messages may not drive the success of the March. Rather, it may be driven by the harsh examples coming out every day that reality exists independent of the desires or claims of those in power. 

In this case, the greatest asset the March for Science has going for it may be Donald Trump himself.

Press link for more: Scientific American

We’re at War to save the planet! #auspol #climatechange #science 

By Paul Mason

It hits you in the face and clings to you. 

It makes tall buildings whine as their air conditioning plants struggle to cope.

 It makes the streets deserted and the ice-cold salons of corner pubs get crowded with people who don’t like beer. 

It is the Aussie heatwave: and it is no joke.

Temperatures in the western suburbs of Sydney, far from the upmarket beachside glamour, reached 47C (117F) last week, topping the 44C I experienced there the week before.

 For reference, if it reached 47C in the middle of the Sahara desert, that would be an unusually hot day.
For Sydney, 2017 was the hottest January on record. 

This after 2016 was declared the world’s hottest year on record. 

Climate change, even in some developed societies, is becoming climate disruption – and according to a UN report, one of the biggest disruptions may only now be getting under way.

El Niño, a temperature change in the Pacific ocean that happens cyclically, may have begun interacting with the long-term process of global warming, with catastrophic results.
Let’s start by admitting the science is not conclusive. 

El Niño disrupts the normal pattern by which warm water flows westwards across the Pacific, pulling the wind in the same direction; it creates storms off South America and droughts – together with extreme temperatures – in places such as Australia. 

It is an irregular cycle, lasting between two and seven years, and therefore can only be theorised using models.
Some of these models predict that, because of climate change, El Niño will happen with increased frequency – possibly double. 

Others predict the effects will become more devastating, due to the way the sub-systems within El Niño react with each other as the air and sea warm.
What cannot be disputed is that the most recent El Niño in 2015/16 contributed to the extreme weather patterns of the past 18 months, hiking global temperatures that were already setting records.

 (Although, such is the level of rising, both 2015 and 2016 would have still been the hottest ever without El Niño.) 

Sixty million people were “severely affected” according to the UN, while 23 countries – some of which no longer aid recipients – had to call for urgent humanitarian aid. 

The catastrophe prompted the head of the World Meteorological Association to warn: 

“This naturally occurring El Niño event and human-induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways that we have never before experienced.”
The warning was enough to prompt the UN to issue a global action plan, with early warning systems, beefed-up aid networks and disaster relief preparation, and calls for developing countries to “climate proof” their economic plans.
Compare all this – the science, the modelling, the economic foresight and the attempt to design multilateral blueprint – with the actions of the jackass who runs Australia’s finance ministry.

Scott Morrison barged into the parliament chamber to wave a lump of coal at the Labor and Green opposition benches, taunting them: 

“Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared. 

It’s coal. 

It was dug up by men and women who work in the electorate of those who sit opposite.” 

Coal, argues the Australian conservative government, has given the economy “competitive energy advantage for more than 100 years”. 

Labor and the Greens had called, after the Paris climate accord, for an orderly shutdown of the coal-fired power stations that produce 60% of the country’s energy.
The Aussie culture war over coal is being fuelled by the resurgence of the white-supremacist One Nation party, led by Pauline Hanson, which is pressuring mainstream conservatives to drop commitments to the Paris accord and, instead, launch a “royal commission into the corruption of climate science”, which its members believe is a money-making scam.
All over the world, know-nothing xenophobes are claiming – without evidence – that climate science is rigged. 

Their goal is to defend coal-burning energy, promote fracking, suppress the development of renewable energies and shatter the multilateral Paris agreement of 2015.

Opposition to climate science has become not just the badge of honour for far-right politicians like Ukip’s Paul Nuttall.

 It has become the central tenet of their appeal to unreason.
People facing increased fuel bills, new taxes on methane-producing cattle farms, dimmer light bulbs and the arrival of wind and wave technologies in traditional landscapes will naturally ask: is this really needed? 

Their inner idiot wishes it were not. 

For most of us, the inner rationalist is strong enough to counteract that wish.

What distinguishes the core of the rightwing populist electorate is its gullibility to idiocy-promoting rhetoric against climate science. 

They want to be harangued by a leader who tells them their racism is rational, in the same way they want leaders who tell them the science behind climate change is bunk.

Well, in Australia, people are quickly finding out where such rhetoric gets you: more devastating bushfires; a longer fire season; more extreme hot days; longer droughts. And an energy grid so overloaded with demands from air conditioning systems that it is struggling to cope.
And, iIf the pessimists among climate scientists are right, and the general rise in temperature has begun to destabilise and accentuate the El Niño effects, this is just the start.
The world is reeling from the election victory of Donald Trump, who has called climate science a hoax.

 Dutch voters look set to reward Geert Wilders, whose one-page election programme promises “no more money for development, windmills, art, innovation or broadcasting”, with first place in the election. 

In France, 27% of voters are currently backing the Front National, a party determined to take the country out of the Paris accord, which it sees as “a communist project”.
The struggle against the nationalist right must, in all countries, combine careful listening to the social and cultural grievances of those on its periphery with relentless stigmatisation of the idiocy, selfishness and racism of the leaders and political activists at its core.
It’s time to overcome queasiness and restraint. 

We, the liberal and progressive people of the world, are at war with the far right to save the earth. 
The extreme temperatures and climate-related disasters of the past 24 months mean this is not some abstract struggle about science or values: it’s about the immediate fate of 60 million people still recovering from a disaster.

Press link for more: The

Climate Council: Key Findings #auspol #Science

Key Findings

 1. Climate change is infuencing all extreme
weather events in Australia.

› All extreme weather events are now occurring in an atmosphere that is warmer and wetter than it was in the 1950s.

› Heatwaves are becoming hotter, lasting longer and occurring more often.

› Marine heatwaves that cause severe coral bleaching and mortality are becoming more intense and occurring more often.

› Extreme fire weather and the length of the fire season is increasing, leading to an increase in bush fire risk. 

› Sea level has already risen and continues to rise, driving more devastating coastal ooding during storm surges.

 2. Some of the most severe climate impacts the world has experienced have occurred in 2016.

 › Arctic sea ice reached its lowest annual extent on record while record sea surface temperatures drove the worst coral bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef’s history. G

› Tropical Cyclone Winston was the most intense cyclone to hit Fiji on record, while Hurricane Otto was the southernmost hurricane to hit Central America on record. 

› Canada experienced its costliest wild fire in history in Fort McMurray, forcing the evacuation of almost 90,000 people.

 › The US state of Louisiana experienced 1-in-500 year rains that brought severe flooding leading to 30,000 rescues and 13 deaths.  

3 .Across Australia, extreme weather events are projected to worsen as the climate warms further.

› Extreme heat is projected to increase across the entire continent, with significant increases in the length, intensity and frequency of heatwaves in many regions.

› The time spent in drought is projected to increase across Australia, especially in southern Australia.

 Extreme drought is expected to increase in both frequency and duration.

› Southern and eastern Australia are projected to experience harsher fire weather.

› The intensity of extreme rainfall events is projected to increase across most of Australia.

› The increase in coastal flooding from high sea level events will become more frequent and more severe as sea levels continue to rise.

4. The impacts of extreme weather events will likely become much worse unless global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced rapidly and deeply. 

› Burning of coal, oil and gas is causing temperatures to rise at unprecedented rates and is making extreme weather events more intense, damaging and costly.

› Major emitters including China and the European Union are leading action on climate change, but Australia is lagging well behind and is on track to even miss its very weak target of a 26-28% reduction in emissions by 2030.

› Australia is expected to do its fair share to meet the global emissions reduction challenge by cutting its emissions rapidly and deeply.

› Phasing out ageing, polluting coal plants and replacing them with clean, efficient renewable energy sources such as wind and solar is imperative for stabilising the climate and reducing the risk of even worse extreme weather events.

Press link for full report: Climate Council

Sea Levels ‘Could Rise Higher Than A Three-Storey Buiding’ #climatechange #auspol 

Sea levels ‘could rise higher than a three-storey building due to climate change’

The last time ocean temperatures were this warm, sea levels were up to nine metres higher than they are today, according to the findings of a new study, which were described as “extremely worrying” by one expert. 
The researchers took samples of sediment from 83 different sites around the world, and these “natural thermometers” enabled them to work out what the sea surface temperature had been more than 125,000 years ago. 

This revealed that over the course of some 4,000 years the oceans had got about 0.5C warmer, reaching about the same temperatures as are found now – after a similar increase achieved largely as a result of human-induced climate change in little over a century. 

Previous research has established that sea levels at the time were between six and nine metres higher. 

This gives an indication of what sea levels might be like once the vast oceans expand and ice sheets melt over the course of the next centuries and millennia. 
If sea levels were to increase by nine metres, parts of London and New York, almost all the Netherlands, huge chunks of China, including Shanghai, and much of Bangladesh would be just some of the places that would be lost to the sea. But the bad news does not end there. 

For the computer models used by scientists to predict what the climate will be like in the future had failed to pick up on the rise in temperatures 125,000 years ago. 

This suggests the models could be missing a key warming effect that might be about to kick in, sending temperatures higher than currently expected. 
Another recent study suggested the sensitivity of the climate to greenhouse gases could be much greater than previously thought, potentially putting the world on course for more than 7C of warming by 2100 – a prospect described as “game over” for life as we know it. 
Dr Jeremy Hoffman, of Oregon State University, lead author of a paper in the prestigious journal Science about the new research, told The Independent that sea levels some 125,000 years ago might give a rough indication of what could be expected over the next few centuries as the warmer temperatures slowly take effect. 

But he stressed the reasons for the global warming then and now were very different – the former was natural, the latter caused by humans – so the world’s last major warm period could not be viewed as a simple way to predict the future. 
“There are a lot of things that have happened over the last century that far outpace the natural world,” Dr Hoffman said. 

“It’s not just the warming, it’s the release of carbon from reservoirs [of fossil fuels] in the planet that have been around for millions of years. 
“We’re talking about something that took millions of years to form and we’re removing it in decades,” he said. “The Earth would need to have an eruption like Mount St Helen’s happen every 2.5 hours … to keep pace with the emissions we are producing.” 

Dr Hoffman said perhaps the most significant implication of their research was that current computer models of climate change were failing to pick up on the warming 125,000 years ago. 

“If we are missing some process that would give rise to additional warming [at that time] … that would only work to be under-estimating the future climate as well,” Dr Hoffman said. 
Commenting on the research, Andrew Watson, a Royal Society research professor at Exeter University, said: “Sea level responds directly to global temperatures, but slowly, so that the full extent of sea level rise will only be apparent over thousands of years.

 The study suggests that in the long term, sea level will rise six metres at least in response to the warming we are causing. 

The good news is that with luck it will continue to rise slowly, so that we have time to adapt, but the bad news is that eventually all our present coastal city locations will be inundated.” 
Professor Richard Allan, a climatologist at Reading University, said: “The result that present global sea surface temperatures are indistinguishable from those at the last interglacial 125,000 years ago is extremely worrying since sea levels were six to nine metres higher then compared to present.” 

He said that heating up the “depths of our vast oceans” to the point where sea levels reached that point would take thousands of years “so sustained and substantive cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from energy-intensive activities remain vital and beneficial to societies”. 

And Professor Michael Mann, a renowned climate scientist from Pennsylvania State University, described the studies findings as “sobering”. He continued: “It indicates that we may very well already be committed to several more metres of sea level rise when the climate system catches up with the carbon dioxide we’ve already pumped into the atmosphere.”

Dr Mann added: “That is actually consistent with some model simulations. 

The important thing to recognise is that the climate system hasn’t yet come into equilibrium with the increase in carbon dioxide, so it is misleading to compare the historical sea level rise we’ve seen so far with the sea level rise 125,000 years ago, because the latter indicates the full response [to the warming effect].” 

Press link for more: Economic Times Indi

Coal worker wants PM to invest in Solar #auspol 

Former coal worker wants Prime Minister to invest in Solar Power

ACTION: Former Northern Power Station and Repower Port Augusta Chairperson Gary Rowbottom, outside the former Northern Power Station. PHOTO: Matt Peterson.
Repower Port Augusta have called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to deliver greater support for a 24-hour solar thermal plant with storage in Port Augusta that would create new jobs and on-demand clean power.

Former Northern Power Station and Repower Port Augusta Chairperson Gary Rowbottom had a clear message for Mr Turnbull – ‘Coal is over in South Australia’.

“… And talking about bringing it back will do nothing to replace the jobs we lost in Port Augusta,” he said.

“We need our Prime Minister to deliver his promise to make solar thermal a priority to our community.”
Repower Port Augusta said the Prime Minister should write to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Clean Energy Finance Corporation, asking them to put together funding for a large scale solar thermal plant with storage in Port Augusta.
It follows the federal government announcing $20 million in support for flexible capacity and large-scale energy storage demonstration projects. Mr Rowbottom said this is a good thing, but a ‘small step’ for SA, calling on funding dedicated to a solar thermal plant in Port Augusta.
In a February 1 National Press Club speech, Mr Turnbull supported the idea of ‘clean-coal’ fired power stations, and floated the idea of funding it through renewable energy funding.

“We will need more synchronous baseload power and, as the world’s largest coal exporter, we have a vested interest in showing that we can provide both lower emissions and reliable baseload power with state-of-the-art clean-coal-fired technology,” Mr Turnbull said.

The SA government has put out tenders for the procurement of 75 per cent of the government electricity load to incentivise the entry of new power generation into the local market in order to increase competition.
Mr Rowbottom said this is the ‘perfect opportunity’ for Mr Turnbull to make solar thermal in Port Augusta happen.
Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey defended the federal government’s $20 million announcement, arguing it will ‘add to the attraction of investing in storage capacity’. “With South Australia’s vulnerable and unreliable power issues, investment in storage is vital to eliminate the issues we have seen, particularly the events of last September,” he said.

Press link for more:

Fact check Turnbull’s Clean Coal speech #auspol #thedrum @abcnews #climatechange 

​Fact Check: Turnbull’s Speech on Australia’s Energy Future


Yesterday Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addressed the National Press Club, describing energy as a “defining debate of this parliament”.
The speech set out Turnbull’s vision for Australia’s energy future – covering renewable energy, “clean” coal, gas, power prices and electricity security. Here’s a snippet:

CLEAN COAL??? Yep, it seems to be back on the agenda. And that’s not the only spanner in the works – below we breakdown Turnbull’s statements on energy, pointing out the right and the wrong.
What Turnbull got wrong
Clean Coal Forever
Turnbull: “Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal… Old, high emissions coal-fired power stations are closing down as they age, reducing baseload capacity… as Australia is a big exporter we need to show we are using state-of-the-art clean coal-fired technology… Coal will have a role to play for many decades into the future.”
When Turnbull talks “clean” coal, it is unclear whether he means coal plants that are more efficient than Australia’s ageing clunkers, or whether he means coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Whichever the case, let’s be clear: clean coal is NOT A THING.
Both of these “clean” coal technologies are expensive (much more so than renewable alternatives) and still emit greenhouse gases. Large-scale wind and solar plants are already cheaper than new “more efficient” coal plants, and waaaay cheaper than coal plants with CCS.
Pump Up The Gas
Turnbull: “Increasing gas supply in Australia is vital for our energy future and vital for industries and jobs, but State bans on onshore gas development will result in more expensive and less reliable energy.”
Investing in more gas will not result in cheaper energy and reduced emissions. Gas is actually becoming more and more expensive due to Australia’s LNG export industry sending most of our gas offshore. And in states like SA, gas power companies are using their market power to maximise profits, driving power price spikes at opportune times.
Lastly: gas, like coal, is a fossil fuel – producing significant greenhouse gas emissions when produced, transported and burnt. Gas is not the solution.
Cheap Energy
Turnbull: “The battlelines have been drawn – it’s clear that the Coalition stands for cheaper energy. We are approaching this issue clear-eyed, pragmatic and objective.”
This statement directly contradicts Turnbull’s plans for new gas and coal power plants in Australia – which will not deliver cheaper electricity to Australians.
Wind and solar plants are already cheaper than new coal, gas and nuclear plants. So if the Coalition really stands for cheaper energy, they’d be backing renewables all the way.
Renewables = Power Price Hikes
Turnbull states: “Our energy is among the most expensive in the OECD… South Australia, now with the most expensive and least secure energy has had its wake-up call – one storm blacked out the entire state. But Labor snores on… continue their mindless rush into renewables.”
It’s true that Australia has some of the most expensive power in the OECD. But the main cause of household power price hikes has been network investments, retail charges and – in some places – the increasing price of gas.
Renewable energy is unfairly scapegoated. It’s already reduced the wholesale cost of power, and is helping homeowners and business owners control their energy bills with rooftop solar.

Just so we’re clear: Building expensive new coal or gas plants will do nothing to alleviate power prices.
States’ “mindless rush into renewables”
Turnbull: “States are setting huge renewable targets far beyond that of the national RET, with no consideration given to the baseload power and storage needed for viability… But Labor snores on, heedless of what awaits the rest of the country if Labor governments and would-be governments continue their mindless rush into renewables.”
Renewable energy targets set by state and territory governments have played a crucial role in keeping the renewable energy industry alive in Australia, as federal government support has wavered in the past three years.

If we waste more time arguing the merits of a renewable energy future, then investors, innovation and jobs in clean energy will simply go elsewhere. Our States’ targets are much closer to the level of action needed on climate change, as modelling for the Climate Change Authority has shown.

Turnbull: “Bill Shorten’s energy plan, whether it is a 50 per cent RET by 2030 or double our Paris emissions reduction target by 2030, is a sure recipe to deliver much more expensive and much less reliable power… Labor’s approach is driven simply by ideology, heedless of cost or the thousands of jobs that it will destroy.”
Renewable energy doesn’t destroy jobs. Renewable energy creates jobs – from plant development, construction and operation, to producing and installing solar panels.
Detailed modelling from Ernst and Young showed that 50% renewable electricity by 2030 would create more than 28,000 jobs nationwide – nearly 50% more than a business as usual scenario.
There are now more jobs in renewable energy than in coal in Australia. And worldwide, there are now more than 8 million people employed in renewable energy. So if jobs are the main game, renewable energy is a winner.
What Turnbull got right
Ok, so that’s it for the bad stuff. Fortunately, there were a few glimmers of hope in the speech as well:
Power Policy Trifecta
Turnbull states: “Australia should be able to achieve the policy trifecta of energy that is affordable, reliable and secure, and that meets our substantial global emissions reduction commitments as agreed in the Paris climate change treaty.”
These three principles of clean (low pollution), affordable and reliable power are appropriate. They are the driving principles of the Finkel Review currently underway by Australia’s Chief Scientist.
Energy Storage
Turnbull states: “Energy storage, long neglected in Australia, will also be a priority this year… Large-scale storage will support variable renewables like wind and solar… and it will enhance grid stability.”
It’s great to see energy storage highlighted as a priority. It’s crucial that Australia makes the right investments now to support low emissions electricity, because the energy infrastructure we build will lock-in Australia’s future emissions for decades.
A range of technologies, including large-scale energy storage, are available to make our existing grids stronger. Examples include:
Greater interconnection: e.g. the proposed interconnection between SA and NSW

Energy storage: e.g. pumped hydro and batteries, which can store energy for use later ensuring consistent supply to meet demand

Energy efficiency and demand management: e.g. to maximise the use of rooftop solar

Different renewable energy technologies: e.g. Port Augusta’s proposed solar thermal plant
And one more thing…
Taxpayer funds spent on clean coal were wasted
Turnbull: “We’ve invested $590 million since 2009 in clean coal technology research and demonstration and yet we do not have one modern high-efficiency low-emissions coal-fired power station, let alone one with carbon capture and storage”.
Surely, if anything, this is a stunning admission of wasted government spending? That we would invest almost $600 million in clean coal technology, and have nothing to show for it?!
And yet Turnbull continues to plug the virtues of “clean” coal, while renewable power such as wind and solar is already cheaper than new coal, and getting cheaper by the minute.

Press link for more: Climate Council

Nature is being murdered. #auspol

By Dr. Glen Barry

Miraculous nature is being murdered. Everywhere we look inequitable over-consumption is devastating the natural ecosystems that sustain a living Earth. Together we yield to ecological truth – personally embracing a global ecology ethic, and demanding others do so as well – or we all needlessly die at each others’ throats as the global ecological system collapses and being ends.

Gaia’s ecosystem organs – old-growth forests, natural waterways, bountiful oceans, vibrant soils – will be restored and maintained at all costs as global ecological reserves to power the biosphere and maintain a living and livable Earth. — Dr. Glen Barry
The Signs
Everywhere you look humans are destroying nature. We are eating the ecosystems that sustain us, crapping in our own habitat, calling it development as we destroy our one shared biosphere.
Look outside your window. Chances are that the “nature” you see – some degraded secondary forests, power lines and roadways, with disturbed soil and degraded waterways – was a million year old natural ecosystem only a few generations ago. Never have naturally evolved ancient ecosystems been so swiftly destroyed to produce throw away consumer junk.

We are witnessing the age of ecocidal, conspicuous, and inequitable over-consumption. 90% of old growth forests have been mowed and large ocean fish harvested. Half of both natural soil and vegetation have been destroyed. Oceans are dying from bottom trawling, acidification, and over-harvest.
Abrupt and runaway climate change is well underway as humanity continues to treat our atmosphere as a waste dump. We piss and worse into our natural waterways as billions lack clean drinking water. Plants and animals as well as people are fleeing collapsing ecosystems.
And most people are too fucking dumb to realize what is occurring, little more than microbes being pickled in their own waste as their and all being ends.

The Outlook
China is going to ecologically collapse first, as industrial filth on behalf of all nations has proliferated, and it will be soon. Collapse of this ecocidal tyranny may well by itself pull down the biosphere. Similarly India and Europe are most at risk – where millennia of ecological simplification, along with tremendous over-population, will ensure mass migration and conflict until these population bases are brought into balance once again with natural ecosystems.

The United States may persist longer as the ecocide has not occurred for as long. But here nationalistic militarism along with an unparalleled sense of entitlement, and a lack of understanding of community and the natural world, is perhaps most dangerous. If every American is not allowed to realize their exceptional birthright to wantonly overconsume, they damn well will destroy everybody and everything in fits of infantile rage.
Prepare to see the vegetation, what remains, wither and die. Get used to there being no water in the tap much less locally available. Be ready for major energy shocks where your car sits lifeless in the driveway, a chunk of immobile metal, as your house remains unheated and uncooled. Consider what food can be raised locally, and at what price, as that is all that will be available.

Expect bands of marauders to pillage your belongings and have their way with your wives and daughters. The re-emergence of slavery and warring autocratic city-states is a virtual certainty as centuries of social progress are jettisoned. We are already witnessing the rise of authoritarian demagoguery as environmental conditions worsen.
Entire bioregions are going to be laid to waste and have to be evacuated as they become uninhabitable. Mass migration at unprecedented scales is imminent. Given uncertainly in lag times, and what wells of ecological resiliency remain in the Earth System, it is difficult to know how long it will be until the biosphere goes into positive feedback and collapses and dies. It is also virtually impossible to know when it is too late and will occur regardless.
That is why we must seek an ecological ethic and way of life until our dying breath. Despite its shortcomings, ecocidal inclinations in particular, the human species is an amazing creature. Our ability to think abstractly, examining and learning from our natural surroundings, are unsurpassed. Our opposable thumbs are cool too. Now if we could learn to not use them to destroy nature we will be set to live essentially forever as a species.
The Options
We have everything we need to construct a just, equitable, and verdant future for all. Plentiful renewable energy sources exist. We know how to recreate natural ecosystems and permaculture gardens from the plant diversity that remains. Educating girls, providing free birth control, and economic incentives for small families can stabilize and then reduce the population.
Throughout human history we see time and time again people coming together to do what must be done to beat back evil, reset the social order, and advance. Together we will have to shutdown the fossil fuel industry, demand global demilitarization and demobilization, and insist upon a reduction in the size and influence of corporations and governments alike.

From justice, equity, and ecology will flow peace and well-being to all Earth’s peoples and species.
So much of our prospects depend upon living more simply and naturally. That is why posing, preening “climate activists” like Leonardo DiCaprio are so dangerous. They tell us climate change is real from the back of a polluting private jet, spewing emissions from luxurious lifestyles that the majority seek but can never attain. We are going to have to learn to live more simply materially, as we explore the rich abundance in knowledge, sport, arts, leisure, and making love.
A global ecology ethic based upon ecological truths must arise spontaneously utilizing all the tools at our disposal including the Internet. We must come to realize we are one human family spinning through space upon a naturally evolved living organism upon which we are utterly dependent. Gaia’s ecosystem organs – old-growth forests, natural waterways, bountiful oceans, vibrant soils – will be restored and maintained at all costs as global ecological reserves to power the biosphere and maintain a living and livable Earth.
Such a global ecology ethic goes well beyond the obvious and demands a complete reorganization of the dominant paradigm. We perish unless we come to accept the truthful worldview that we are one human family, nation states are a lie, there is no god, and ecology is the meaning of life. Together we embrace and act upon ecology and other such self-evident truths or we face vicious, merciless death at each others’ hands as we collapse the biosphere. And then being ends.

Press link for  more:

World War II mobilisation for climate action #auspol 

Drawing upon episodes of World War II mobilisations Dr. Delina lays out contingency climate action strategies based upon the relative optimism provided by rapid deployment of demonstrated and proven sustainable energy technologies.

In this assessment of accelerated sustainable energy transitions, Dr. Delina describes in a thought experiment how we could quickly mobilise the required technologies, finance, and labour resources, as well as how these processes can be coordinated by governments. 

Although wartime narratives can provide some lenses for getting us back to a safer climate, Dr. Delina acknowledges that this analogy is far from perfect.

Dr. Laurence Delina discusses his recent book, ‘Strategies for Rapid Climate Mitigation: wartime mobilisation as a model for action?’.

Press link for audio presentation: Breakthrough online

Trump is the wake-up call on #climatechange we needed #Auspol 

By Julian Cribb

Contrary to appearances, Donald Trump might just be the best thing that ever happened to climate action.
The presence of a climate denier in the White House and his obtuse, coal-funded minions in key government posts is liable to ignite such fury among sensible people across America and around the world as to accelerate the demise of coal, oil and gas (“the fossils”) and the adoption of climate-saving policies at every level from home to city to industry, to nation, to the world itself.

Trump might be just the bitter medicine we needed to jerk us out of our complacency about what a 4 or 5-degree world will really be like: approaching uninhabitable.
Depending on the rate at which Arctic methane is released, the world has somewhere between 15-20 years to do away with fossil fuels completely. After that, a hot world of +4 or +5 degrees, with all the food, water, conflict and migration crises for billions that entails, becomes almost unavoidable. 

The US election result has gifted the sedate pace of climate action from Paris COP22 with a fresh urgency as, around the world, people wake up to the brutal fact that if they wait for government action then Hell will not freeze over but engulf the planet in a conflagration that will consume their children and grandchildren.
Waiting for governments to agree on the necessity of saving civilisation is, in a phrase, a mug’s game. 

Their hearts aren’t in it, and there are far too many juicy bribes and sinecures for individual politicians not to mention political parties paid off by the coal lobby to posture and then sit on their hands. 

In Australia, for example, a recent count (by Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham) tagged more than 40 retired MPs, their staffers and former public servants as working for the dark side – that’s the side that doesn’t care if your grandkids burn. There are scores of closet Trumps among us.

If Trump and his ilk are to be stopped from their headlong, selfish pursuit of planetary devastation, it will be by the people of the planet – not the institutions or politicians. Here’s how.

Go green
Not even Trump can defy world market reality. The one thing that can destroy the price and profitability of coal, oil and gas is low-cost renewable energy. As they well know – hence all the campaigns against wind turbines and solar farms. 

Put solar on your home, support your city or local government in taking your community off-grid. 

Invest in tidal, wave, geothermal and the new energies to balance the power supply. 

Resources companies have the option to go green themselves – they just don’t want to. They will end up with stranded assets and bankrupt, like many US coal majors already are.

Divest now
Don’t put your life savings into anything that might destroy your grandkids. It’s not a formula for human survival. Ethical and green investment services are mushrooming. Concerned citizens can compel their bank, super fund, university, local government etc to invest ethically by demanding accountability, including divestment in fossil fuels – and by shifting their accounts. In the Trump years, there will be massive global divestment by hundreds of millions in the source of the greatest hazard facing humanity.
Sue the bastards
Though they may look like pinpricks for now, there is a rolling wave of lawsuits around the world against their governments for failing in their duty of care, and against the oil and coal majors for risking human lives and destroying the environment. Every lawsuit adds to the sovereign risk of investing in fossil fuels – and scares other, less ethical, investors. Shrewd investment analysts are already advising their clients to bail out of fossils, and there’s not a darn thing Trump and his acolytes can do to stop it.
Many people still underestimate the power, in a social media age, of peaceful citizens’ protests to change minds, values and perceptions within communities and countries. The way the world, especially its indigenous communities, has rallied behind the Sioux nation to oppose the Keystone tar sands pipeline is a case in point. As are the citizens’ protests over the Liverpool Plains and Adani. Local protests over just causes reverberate worldwide. There is a global movement building that responds instantly.
Trust the youth
Following the US election, the electoral map of how 18-24 year olds voted gained currency. Young Americans, at any rate, are not willing to be pawned to the interests of the fossils. Globally, many of the lawsuits against government or the fossils are led by youngsters, even teenagers – and for similar reasons. This is a demographic that can only grow and, aided by social media, can do so at lightspeed and universally.
Change your habits
The food industry contributes roughly 30 per cent of global climate change drivers, and wastes about 40 per cent of all food. So stop wasting food, and buy it from farmers who care, not from supermarkets who don’t. Don’t buy your kids plastic toys – you are only funding the very petrochemical industry that threatens their future. Likewise look for organic food, clothing and household products, which are produced without petrochemicals (pesticides, dyes, preservatives etc). Again, there’s nothing the Trumpists can do to stop you eating and shopping more safely and sustainably – and contributing your dollar signals to a burgeoning global marketplace.
Electric cars are only a climate solution if the electricity they run on is renewable not fossil – but some stunning technologies are just around the corner, including using vehicles themselves as generators of green energy into the local grid. The worldwide spread of high voltage DC (HVDC) cables over thousands of kilometres is the genesis of an international grid for moving energy efficiently around the planet: one day your home may help run a factory in China. Sunlight in the Sahara will help power Europe, etc.
In the face of universal threats like climate change, people often feel powerless to influence the future. This is no longer the case, as these six examples show. You can have quite a big impact simply by choosing where you shop, bank, mortgage your home and save your money. Aligned with hundreds of millions of others, equally concerned, equally empowered, you can change the world.
If humanity itself forms a consensus to prevent and mitigate climate change it will be a political act like none other in history. No nation, corporate, religious order, political party or belief system can stop it, because they will have no power over it. It will unleash the next great phase of global economic growth and development, the new industries, jobs and opportunities that transition us into a sustainable, prosperous world.
So, thanks Donald, for supplying the wake-up call.
Julian Cribb is author of Surviving the 21st Century

Press link for more: Canberra Times

Sea levels rising at unprecedented rate could displace millions of people by end of the century #auspol

High water levels could hit the Eastern US especially hard
Sea levels are rising at unprecedented rates, scientists say. 

New research shows that by 2040, more than 90 percent of the world’s coastal areas could be experiencing sea level rises of more than 8 inches. 

But certain areas, like the Eastern US, will be hit even harder with water levels climbing more than a foot. 

By 2100, New York City, for example, could see coastal waters between 3.5 and 7.3 feet higher than they are now. 

The consequences, in terms of displacing millions of people, could be catastrophic.

Some climate models currently predict that by 2040, global temperatures could be 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than pre-industrialization temperatures. 

By the end of the 21st century, we could see global temperatures climb more than 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit). 

The Paris climate accord wants to keep the planet’s temperature increases “well below” 2 degrees Celsius.

 But last week the United Nations warned that even under the international agreement, we’re probably going to see temperatures rise by about 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit) by 2030.

Press link for more: Rachel Becker