Climate Council

Turnbull The #ClimateChange Denier #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Turnbull knows better than to deny fire weather link to climate change

Peter Hannam20 March 2018 — 4:19pm

Raising the issue of the role of climate change in extreme weather events is always a delicate matter for families battling grief over lost homes and emergency service teams managing the aftermath.

But that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t have a discussion about the issues. If not now, when?

Malcolm Turnbull visit burned out homes in Tathra on Monday.

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Malcolm Turnbull echoed the comments of his deposed predecessor Tony Abbott when he visited Tathra, the NSW south coastal town hit with huge fires amid record-breaking March heat.

Abbott in 2013 declared in the wake of Blue Mountain bushfires that destroyed 200 homes that “these fires are certainly not a function of climate change, they’re a function of life in Australia”.

Unlike Abbott, though, Turnbull is not a denier of climate change, having taken personal efforts to school himself in the issue with scientists from the University of NSW well before becoming Prime Minister.

So, it’s surprising to hear Turnbull on TV on Monday, in rebuttal of Greens’ leader Richard Di Natale that climate change was behind Sunday’s fires, saying: “We have an environment which has extremes.

Bushfires are part of Australia, as indeed are droughts and floods.”

He preceded those comments, though, with a view that, if truly held, suggests the Prime Minister isn’t listening to his scientific advisors.

Fears of asbestos contamination restricted residents coming to see if their home was destroyed by fire to a bus tour of the NSW south coast town.

“[A]s you know very well, you can’t attribute any particular event, whether it’s a flood or fire or a drought … to climate change,” Turnbull said.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said on Tuesday there were legitimate questions to ask about the impact of climate change but opted to avoid inflaming the discussion just now.

“I understand there is a debate about climate in this county,” he said during a visit to Tathra. “On a day when 69 houses have gone, it is not a debate I will start.”

Actually, the science of attribution is advancing fast, and extreme heat – and with it, days of high fire risk – is among the clearer climate signals.

(Turnbull also denies climate change link to coral bleaching)

As Andrew King of Melbourne University and David Karoly – now head of the CSIRO’s climate centre – noted Australia is actually at the head of the pack when it comes to joining the dots between extreme weather and global warming.

To be clear, it’s not a case of saying Sunday’s fires near Bega (or south-west Victoria) were sparked by climate change.

Rather it’s a matter of probabilities.

“While we can’t say climate change caused an extreme event, we can estimate how much more or less likely the event has become due to human influences on the climate,” King and Karoly note.

Whether the Tathra fires are deemed large enough to examine for attribution (and the chance that Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane should all hit 30 degrees so late in the season as they did on Saturday) will be up the scientists to decide.

But fire authorities across Australia know the bushfire season is getting longer. So, too, is the frequency, intensity and duration of heatwaves.

Add our fire-prone eucalyptus forests – with many species needing fire to regenerate – and it’s no wonder Australians have particular cause to fear climate change.

“Nature hurls her worst at us … always will and always has,” Turnbull said.

The worst, though, will in some cases get more extreme, and pretending otherwise is not leadership.

Peter Hannam is Environment Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald. He covers broad environmental issues ranging from climate change to renewable energy for Fairfax Media.

Press link for more: SMH.COM.AU


#ClimateChange 140 million #Climate #Refugees #StopAdani #auspol qldpol

Climate change soon to cause mass movement, World Bank warns

140m people in three regions expected to migrate before 2050 unless environment is improved

Fiona HarveyLast modified on Tue 20 Mar 2018 05.09 AEDT

Lalmonirhat in Bangladesh was flooded last year. It is one of the areas likely to be hard-hit by climate change, leading to high levels of migration. Photograph: Zakir Chowdhury/Barcroft Images

Climate change will result in a massive movement of people inside countries and across borders, creating “hotspots” where tens of millions pour into already crowded slums, according to the World Bank.

More than 140 million people in just three regions of the developing world are likely to migrate within their native countries between now and 2050, the first report on the subject has found.

The World Bank examined three regions, which between them account for 55% of the developing world’s population. In sub-Saharan Africa, 86 million are expected to be internally displaced over the period; in south Asia, about 40 million; and in Latin America, 17 million.

Such flows of people could cause enormous disruption, threatening governance and economic and social development, but the World Bank cautioned that it was still possible to stave off the worst effects.

“Climate change-driven migration will be a reality, but it does not need to be a crisis, provided we take action now and act boldly,” said John Roome, a senior director for climate change at the World Bank group.

He laid out three key actions governments should take: first, to accelerate their reductions of greenhouse gases; second, for national governments to incorporate climate change migration into their national development planning; and third, to invest in further data and analysis for use in planning development.

Within countries, the effects of climate change will create multiple “hotspots”: made up of the areas people move away from in large numbers, and the areas they move to.

“Local planners need to make sure the resources are made available, and to make sure it takes place in a comprehensive and coordinated manner,” said Roome.

Globally, many tens of millions more are expected to be similarly affected, creating huge problems for national and local governments. Nearly 3% of the population was judged likely to move owing to climate change in the areas studied – a proportion that might be repeated elsewhere.

Migration between countries has previously taken the spotlight, with its potential for cross-border conflicts, but internal migration may cause as much disruption, putting pressure on infrastructure, jobs, food and water resources.

The 140 million figure extrapolates from current trends, but could be reduced if changes are made. If economic development is made more inclusive, for instance through better education and infrastructure, internal migration across the three regions could drop to between 65 million and 105 million, according to the report. If strong action is taken on greenhouse gas emissions, as few as 30 million to 70 million may migrate.

Climate change is likely to most affect the poorest and most vulnerable, making agriculture difficult or even impossible across large swaths of the globe, threatening water resources and increasing the likelihood of floods, droughts and heatwaves in some areas. Sea level rises and violent storm surges are also likely to hit low-lying coastal areas, such as in Bangladesh.

Kristalina Georgieva, the chief executive of the World Bank, in her introduction to the report published on Monday, said: “There is growing recognition among researchers that more people will move within national borders to escape the effects of slow-onset climate change, such as droughts, crop failure and rising seas.

“The number of climate migrants could be reduced by tens of millions as a result of global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and with far-sighted development planning. There is an opportunity now to plan and act for emerging climate change threats.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

India is most vulnerable to #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

India most vulnerable country to climate change: HSBC report

LONDON (REUTERS) – India is the most vulnerable country to climate change, followed by Pakistan, the Philippines and Bangladesh, a ranking by HSBC showed on Monday (March 19).

The bank assessed 67 developed, emerging and frontier markets on vulnerability to the physical impacts of climate change, sensitivity to extreme weather events, exposure to energy transition risks and ability to respond to climate change.

The 67 nations represent almost a third of the world’s nation states, 80 per cent of the global population and 94 per cent of global gross domestic product.

HSBC averaged the scores in each area for the countries in order to reach the overall ranking. Some countries were highly vulnerable in some areas but less so in others.

Of the four nations assessed by HSBC to be most vulnerable, India has said climate change could cut agricultural incomes, particularly unirrigated areas that would be hit hardest by rising temperatures and declines in rainfall.

Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines are susceptible to extreme weather events, such as storms and flooding.

Pakistan was ranked by HSBC among nations least well-equipped to respond to climate risks.

South and southeast Asian countries accounted for half of the 10 most vulnerable countries. Oman, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Mexico, Kenya and South Africa are also in this group.

The five countries least vulnerable to climate change risk are Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia and New Zealand.

In its last ranking in 2016, HSBC only assessed G20 countries for vulnerability to climate risk.

Press link for more: Straits Times

The temperature is rising … and so is the death toll #bushfire #auspol #nswpol #springst #StopAdani

I’ve investigated the impact of climate change driven extreme weather on public health for 20 years.

The research shows the links between the two couldn’t be clearer – extreme weather events such as severe heatwaves, bushfires and supercharged storms are placing Australian lives at risk.

The threats to our lives from extreme weather isn’t limited to heatwaves, but extends to more severe storms and floods and more intense and ‘out of season’ bushfires. Photo: AFP

As we continue to burn fossil fuels such as coal and gas, more carbon pollution is released into our climate system, causing more intense, more severe and more frequent extreme weather events, which in turn, will continue to place increasing pressure on health systems, emergency services and our communities.

Globally, we’ve just experienced the hottest five year period ever recorded, stretching from 2013 to 2017, and this month parts of Queensland were hit with a severe heatwave, breaking February averages by more than  10 degrees.

The reality is that Australia will become warmer and drier as a direct result of intensifying climate change as heatwaves continue to become hotter, longer, and more frequent.

Severe heatwaves are silent killers, causing more deaths since the 1890s than all of Australia’s bushfires, cyclones, earthquakes, floods and severe storms combined.

Over the past decade, severe heatwaves around Australia have resulted in deaths and an increased number of hospital admissions for heart attack, stroke, respiratory illness, diabetes and kidney disease.

Older people, young children, and those with chronic health conditions are at high risk, but so are outdoor workers and our emergency responders.

In January 2009, Melbourne suffered three consecutive days of above 43 degrees, while elsewhere in Victoria it came within a whisker of 49.

There were 980 heat-related deaths during this time, which was around 60% more than would normally occur at that time of year.

Morgues were over capacity and bodies had to be stored in refrigerated trucks.

A few years earlier in 2004, Brisbane experienced a prolonged heatwave with temperatures reaching up to 42 degrees in February, which increased overall deaths by 23%.

The threats to our lives and livelihoods from extreme weather isn’t limited to heatwaves, but extends to more frequent and more severe storms and floods, more intense and ‘out of season’ bushfires, and widespread and prolonged drought.

Of course, we’re used to extreme weather in Australia, so much so that it is embedded in our cultural identity.

From ancient Indigenous understandings of complex seasons and use of fire to manage landscapes, to Dorothea McKeller’s 1908 poem My Country, to Gang Gajang’s 1985 anthem Sounds of Then (This is Australia), we sure like to talk about the weather.

But climate change is making these events more and more deadly, and we can’t afford to be complacent.

So what do we do to protect ourselves and our loved ones from extreme heat and other events?

We can check in with our friends, family and neighbours on extreme heat days and we can strive to make our health services more resilient and responsive, but this doesn’t deal with the cause.

Without rapid effective action to reduce carbon emissions we’re locking ourselves into a future of worsening, out of control extremes.

Ultimately, to protect Australians from worsening extreme weather events and to do our fair share in the global effort to tackle climate change, we have to cut our greenhouse gas pollution levels quickly and deeply.

Reducing our carbon pollution means a healthier Australia, now and in the future, with fewer deaths, fewer ambulance call-outs, fewer trips to the hospital, and reduced costs to the health system.

The only thing standing in the way of Australia tackling climate change is political will.

Professor Hilary Bambrick is a member of the Climate Council and heads the School of Public Health and Social Work at QUT.

Press link for more: Canberra Times

Battle against climate change can still be won #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Image Credit: Niño Jose Heredia/©Gulf News

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) closed its 30th anniversary meeting on Friday with darkening storm clouds gathering around international efforts to tackle global warming.

Not only did last week see United States President Donald Trump install climate sceptic Mike Pompeo as US Secretary of State, but the IPCC moved closer to producing what is likely to be the single biggest agenda-setting, climate science report of the year with bad tidings.

The pending report, due for release this September, comes in the context of Trump’s continuing scepticism about global warming and his decision to sack Rex Tillerson who favoured Washington staying in the Paris treaty.

His replacement by Pompeo underlines how the US president continues to fill the upper ranks of his administration with officials who are fellow climate change sceptics.

In this context, an early draft of the IPCC report for release this Autumn asserts “there is a very high risk that, under current emissions trajectories and current national pledges, global warming will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels”.

This 1.5 degree Celsius mark, which was the target set by Paris, was made to avoid the worst impacts of so called ‘runaway’ climate change.

This is not the first time this claim has been made — for instance a group of senior climatologists warned in September 2016 that the planet could as soon as 2050 see global average temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Yet, the IPCC enjoys special credibility in this debate, hence the importance of its findings.

In these circumstances, pessimism may grow in coming months about the future of global efforts to combat climate change.

Yet, while the scale of the challenge remains huge, the Paris deal does allow for countries to ratchet up their emissions cuts in future.

This underlines that while the deal — reached in 2015 by more than 190 countries as the successor treaty to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol — is a welcome shot in the arm for attempts to tackle global warming, even more ambition is very likely to be needed in the future.

Indeed, rather than viewing the agreement as the end of the process, it is only the beginning of a longer journey that governments and legislators must now make in 2018 and beyond, with or without Trump.

The roadmap for moving forward after the IPCC meeting is already clear.

Firstly, implementation of the Paris deal will be most effective through national laws where politically feasible.

The country ‘commitments’ put forward in 2015 will be most credible — and durable beyond the next set of national elections — if they are backed up by national legislation where this is possible.

In the US, part of the reason Trump can potentially unravel Paris ratification so relatively straightforwardly is that it was, politically, impossible to get the treaty approved in the US Congress.

Former US president Barack Obama therefore embedded the agreement through executive order which was also being challenged in the US courts before Trump set his own counterpart executive actions reversing his predecessor’s order.

Legislation is more difficult to roll back. And this is especially when supported — as in many countries — by well informed, cross-party lawmakers from across the political spectrum who can put in place a credible set of policies and measures to ensure effective implementation, and hold governments to account so Paris delivers.

While the pledges made in Paris may not be enough yet, the treaty has crucially put in place the domestic legal frameworks which are crucial building blocks to measure, report, verify and manage greenhouse gas emissions.

Specifically, countries are required under the agreement to openly and clearly report on emissions and their progress in reaching the goals in their national climate plans submitted to the UN.

States must also update these every five years to highlight measures being pursued to implement the goals.

“Improving resilience to the impacts of global warming also makes economic sense. And domestic laws also give clear signals about direction of policy.”

In the future, the ambition must be that these frameworks are replicated in even more countries, and progressively ratcheted up. And there are clear signs of this happening already in numerous states, from Asia-Pacific to the Americas, as countries seek to toughen their response to global warming.

What this movement towards a more robust stance on climate change shows is the scale of the transformation in attitudes already taking place amongst many governments and wider societies across the globe. As has been shown yet again last week at the IPCC, many countries now view tackling global warming as in the national self-interest and see, for instance, that expanding domestic sources of renewable energy not only reduces emissions, but also increases energy security by reducing reliance on imported fossil fuels.

Reducing energy demand through greater efficiency reduces costs and increases competitiveness. Improving resilience to the impacts of global warming also makes economic sense. And domestic laws also give clear signals about direction of policy, reducing uncertainty, particularly for the private sector.

Going forward, all of this underlines why legislators must be at the centre of international negotiations and policy processes not just on climate change, but also other sustainability issues, including the 2030 development goals. With or without Trump, lawmakers can now help co-create, and implement, what could be a foundation for global sustainable development for billions across the world, starting with implementation of Paris from 2018 onwards.

Andrew Hammond is an Associate at LSE IDEAS at the London School of Economics.

Press link for more: Gulf News

50 years since climate change was first seen. Now time is running out #auspol #qldpol #sapol #StopAdani

It’s 50 years since climate change was first seen.

Now time is running out |

Richard WilesFri 16 Mar 2018 01.47 AEDT

Making up for years of delay and denial will not be easy, nor will it be cheap. Climate polluters must be held accountable

Scientists attribute 15-40% of the epic rain of Hurricane Harvey to climate change.’ Photograph: Marcus Yam/LA Times via Getty Images

Fifty years ago, the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) delivered a report titled Sources, Abundance, and Fate of Gaseous Atmospheric Polluters to the American Petroleum Institute (API), a trade association for the fossil fuel industry.

The report, unearthed by researchers at the Center for International Environmental Law, is one of the earliest attempts by the industry to grapple with the impacts of rising CO2 levels, which Stanford’s researchers warned if left unabated “could bring about climatic changes” like temperature increases, melting of ice caps and sea level rise.

The year was 1968, and the term “global warming” would not appear in a peer-reviewed academic journal until 1975. Famed Nasa scientist James Hansen would not testify before Congress that “global warming has begun” for another 20 years. And the US would not enter into – only to later pull out of – the Paris climate accord for nearly half a century.

The anniversary of SRI’s report to the API on climate change represents not just a damning piece of evidence of what the fossil fuel industry knew and when, but a signal of all that we have lost over the decades of policy inaction and interference. It should also serve as a potent motivator in the fight for climate accountability and justice.

At the time, CO2 levels in the atmosphere stood about 323ppm. The planet was warming but was still well within the historical norm. Sea levels had risen by about 4in compared with 1880 levels. The report, however, cautioned that “man is now engaged in a vast geophysical experiment with his environment, the Earth” and that “significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000”.

Those predictions proved to be correct: by the turn of the century, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had risen to 369ppm, causing a temperature increase of nearly half a degree over pre-industrial averages. Today, virtually all climate scientists agree there is little or no chance the world can stay within the goal of 1.5C, the limit of what scientists believe to be safe.

With each decade of delay and denial the impacts and costs of climate change have continued to mount

Over the next 20 years, the scientific community and policymakers around the world began to reach a consensus on the threat posed by rising CO2 levels. Scientists at least one major oil company, Exxon, did their own climate modeling, which agreed with the scientific consensus. During this period a budding movement to cut emissions began.

To counter and slow down that effort to address climate change, the fossil fuel industry began its long and powerful strategy of climate denial and obstructionism. Even though they knew the science, they also realized that attempts to control emissions could seriously damage their bottom lines.

In 1998, as the first global attempt to rein in climate pollution, the Kyoto protocol, was headed to the Senate for ratification, API circulated what has come to be known as the Victory Memo, a detailed road map to undermining science and promoting denial of climate change. According to API’s top strategists: “Victory will be achieved when: those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appear to be out of touch with reality.”

California’s deadly wildfires which were set up by five years of drought.’ Photograph: Kurod/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

The memo’s end goal was clear: create doubt about science where none existed, deceive the media and Congress about the risks of climate change, and block the momentum that was building to address rising emissions through the Kyoto protocol, a precursor to the Paris accord. ExxonMobil alone would go on to spend upwards of $30m on ads, front groups, and pseudoscience intended to carry out the plan. That’s in addition to the cash that flooded the coffers of climate deniers in Congress who are rewarded amply for willful ignorance.

API’s strategic deception campaign was a success, which is why we now stand at the brink of the highest global temperature considered safe. Just what it will mean to cross that line remains an ongoing question for atmospheric scientists, but we’ve already started to get a glimpse and it doesn’t look good.

The damage is all around us, from hurricanes on steroids – scientists attribute 15-40% (8in-24in) of the epic rain of Hurricane Harvey to climate change – to California’s deadly wildfires which were set up by five years of drought, followed by record snowfall, then record heat that turned huge areas of the state into tinderboxes. In 2017 there were 16 separate billion-dollar disasters in the US, resulting in a total of $306bn of damages, nearly $100bn more than the second highest year 2005 (Katrina). While technically climate change did not “cause” these disasters, most of the carnage was aggravated in some way by climate change and the fossil fuel emissions that cause it in the first place.

Other impacts are more long-term and irreparable. Anyone born after 1985 has never experienced a month with average temperatures that fall below the historical norm and, without action, probably never will. Mass coral bleaching events due to warming waters and ocean acidification have rendered large swaths of some of the ocean’s most diverse ecosystems lifeless. The vanishing Arctic ice cap appears already to be affecting global weather patterns, and the loss of ice in Antarctica may have reached a tipping point that many now view as irreversible, a development that will require tough and costly decisions for coastal cities.

It never had to be this way. But with each decade of delay and denial the impacts and costs of climate change have continued to mount. Now taxpayers are left holding the bill for a literal rising tide of impacts that pose the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. Meeting that challenge must begin with accountability on the part of climate polluters, and justice for citizens who did nothing to cause the problem other than drive to work and heat their homes when they had no other alternatives.

We can’t turn back the clock, but we can turn off the fossil fuel firehose that’s been pumping CO2 into our atmosphere and demand that those who left it running help foot the bill for the cleanup. Already we’ve seen cities like New York, San Francisco, and other coastal cities file lawsuits against climate polluters, seeking to recover costs associated with planning for and adapting to a warming world. With massive costs facing hundreds more cities and no remedy in sight, more litigation will follow.

Making up for 50 years of delay and denial will not be easy, nor will it be cheap. But taxpayers should not have to shoulder the burden alone. The API and its climate polluters knowingly and deliberately caused this mess. They must help pay to clean it up.

Richard Wiles is the executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity

Press link for more: The Guardian

Welcome to the Third Industrial Revolution #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Welcome to the Third Industrial Revolution

Arianna Huffington

In his 2009 book “The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis,“ Jeremy Rifkin posed one of the defining questions of our time: in a hyper-connected world, what is the goal of all that unprecedented technological connectivity? “Seven billion individual connections,” he wrote, “absent any overall unifying purpose, seem a colossal waste of human energy.”

Now, I’m delighted that The WorldPost is featuring a new series by Rifkin exploring how the possibilities of an even more connected world can lead to solutions to one of our greatest crises: climate change.

With 2015 widely predicted to supersede 2014 as the hottest year on record, the topic’s relevance and timeliness are obvious. According to analysis by Climate Central, “13 of the hottest 15 years on record have all occurred since 2000 and … the odds of that happening randomly without the boost of global warming is 1 in 27 million.”

‘Thirteen of the hottest 15 years on record have all occurred since 2000 and … the odds of that happening randomly without the boost of global warming is 1 in 27 million.’

At the same time, we’re in a moment of real promise, which is why the series, the “Third Industrial Revolution,” will focus not only on the climate crisis but also on the wealth of innovation, creativity and potential solutions out there, which media too often overlook.

Rifkin, one of our premier scholars and thinkers whose work confronts a range of global challenges, sees the rise of “a new biosphere consciousness, as the human race begins to perceive the Earth as its indivisible community. We are each beginning to take on our responsibilities as stewards of the planetary ecosystems that sustain all of life,” he writes. And this new consciousness is coalescing at a moment when we are seeing a tipping point on climate change — both in terms of awareness and action.

For instance, we have seen an unprecedented commitment to common action by the leaders of the two largest economies in the world — the U.S. and China — to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In September, cities, states and provinces from around the world came together in Los Angeles to make the same commitment and to find practical ways to work together at both the global and local levels.

In June, Pope Francis drew worldwide attention to climate change with the release of his encyclical “Laudato Si,” which elevated the issue to a spiritual challenge and moral imperative. As HuffPost’s Jaweed Kaleem wrote at the time of the encyclical’s publication:

In the lengthy treatise, more broadly addressed to ‘every person’ who lives on Earth, the pope lays out a moral case for supporting sustainable economic and population growth as part of the church’s mission and humanity’s responsibility to protect God’s creation for future generations. While saying that there were natural causes to climate change over the earth’s history, the letter also says in strong words that human activity and production of greenhouse gases are to blame.

Then there is the U.N. summit on climate change, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in Paris, with the goal of reaching a binding international agreement to reduce emissions. As President Obama told Rolling Stone in September, looking ahead to the Paris talks, “we’re now in a position for the first time to have all countries recognize their responsibilities to tackle the problem, and to have a meaningful set of targets as well as the financing required to help poor countries adapt.” If the summit leads to meaningful commitments, Obama said, that will pave the way for future progress: “Hope builds on itself. Success breeds success.”

For all the promise and possibility of official gatherings, much of the change we need will come from outside the halls of power. This is where technological advances and innovations, including the Internet of Things, are especially important. Rifkin sees tremendous potential in this aspect of increased connectivity: “For the first time in history,” he writes, “the entire human race can collaborate directly with one another, democratizing economic life.” Advances in digital connectivity, renewable energy sources and smart transportation are allowing us to responsibly shift the way we see the world and our place in it.

Rifkin labels all this the “Third Industrial Revolution” because, “to grasp the enormity of the economic change taking place, we need to understand the technological forces that have given rise to new economic systems throughout history.”

In the coming weeks, our series will outline the path ahead for the realization of this Third Industrial Revolution. And a range of other voices will join the conversation, including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on how the Internet of Things can boost China’s manufacturing base and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on the need for a new, forward-looking narrative for European unity that captures the imagination of young people.

So please join the conversation on climate change, technology and the growing global movement toward solutions. And, as always, use the comments section to let us know what you think. Read the first essay here.

Press link for more: Huffington Post

Hotter, Drier, Hungrier: How Global Warming Punishes the World’s Poorest #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Hotter, Drier, Hungrier: How Global Warming Punishes the World’s Poorest


On the outskirts of Kakuma in northwestern Kenya. Always arid, the area has become hotter and drier with the onset of climate change.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

KAKUMA, Kenya — These barren plains of sand and stone have always known lean times: times when the rivers run dry and the cows wither day by day, until their bones are scattered under the acacia trees. But the lean times have always been followed by normal times, when it rains enough to rebuild herds, repay debts, give milk to the children and eat meat a few times each week.

Times are changing, though. Northern Kenya — like its arid neighbors in the Horn of Africa, where Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson paid a visit last week, including a stop in Nairobi — has become measurably drier and hotter, and scientists are finding the fingerprints of global warming. According to recent research, the region dried faster in the 20th century than at any time over the last 2,000 years. Four severe droughts have walloped the area in the last two decades, a rapid succession that has pushed millions of the world’s poorest to the edge of survival.

Amid this new normal, a people long hounded by poverty and strife has found itself on the frontline of a new crisis: climate change. More than 650,000 children under age 5 across vast stretches of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are severely malnourished. The risk of famine stalks people in all three countries; at least 12 million people rely on food aid, according to the United Nations.

A woman washed near a water distribution point in Kakuma. Four droughts have hit the region in the last 20 years.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

A grandmother named Mariao Tede is among them. Early one recent morning, on the banks of a dry stream, with the air tasting of soot and sand, Ms. Tede stood over a pile of dark embers, making charcoal. A reed of a woman who doesn’t keep track of her age, she said she once had 200 goats, enough to sell their offspring at the market and buy cornmeal for her family. Raising livestock is traditionally the main source of income in the region, because not much food will grow here.

Many of her goats died in the 2011 drought, then many more in the 2017 drought. How many were left? She held up five fingers. Not enough to sell. Not enough to eat. And now, in the dry season, not even enough to get milk. “Only when it rains I get a cup or two, for the kids,” she said.

The most recent drought has prompted some herders to plunder the livestock of rival communities or sneak into nature reserves to graze their hungry droves. Water has become so scarce in this vast county — known as Turkana, in northwestern Kenya — that fetching it, which is women’s work, means walking an average of almost seven miles every day.

Ms. Tede now gathers wood to make charcoal, a process that is stripping the land of its few trees, so that when the rains come, if the rains come, the water will not seep into the earth. On the roadside stood what were once sacks of food aid, now stuffed with charcoal, waiting for customers.

Charcoal for sale along the main road in Turkana County. Production is stripping the land of its few trees.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

Further along that same road, in a village blessed with a water pump, a herder named Mohammed Loshani offered up his ledger of loss. From 150 goats a little over a year ago, he had 30 left. During the 2017 drought, 10 died one month, a dozen the next.

“If we get rain I can build back my herd,” he said. “If not, even the few I have will die.” He knew no one who had rebuilt their herds to pre-2011 drought levels.

“If these droughts continue,” Mr. Loshoni said, “there’s nothing for us to do. We’ll have to think of other jobs.”

Women near Kakuma. Food is hard to grow in the region, so raising livestock is the main source of income.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

Poor Rains and You’re ‘Done’

When Gideon Galu, a Kenyan meteorologist with the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, or FewsNet, looks at 30 years of weather data, he doesn’t see doom for his country’s herders and farmers. He sees a need to radically, urgently adapt to the new normal: grow fodder for the lean times, build reservoirs to store water, switch to crops that do well in Kenya’s soil, and not just maize, the staple.

Rainfall is already erratic. Now, he says, it’s getting significantly drier and hotter. The forecast for the next rains aren’t good. “These people live on the edge,” he said. “Any tilt to the poor rains, and they’re done.”

His colleague at FewsNet, Chris Funk, a climatologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has linked recent drought to the long-term warming of the western Pacific Ocean as well as higher land temperatures in East Africa, both products of human-induced climate change. Global warming, he concluded, seems to produce more severe weather disruptions known as El Niños and La Niñas, leading to “protracted drought and food insecurity.”

Jessica Tierney, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Arizona, took the longer view. By analyzing marine sediments, she and her colleagues came to the conclusion that the region is drying faster now than at any time in two millenniums and that the trend may be linked to human activity. That rapid drying in the Horn of Africa, she wrote, is “synchronous with recent global and regional warming.”

A woman collected water from a pit dug in a dry riverbed near Kakuma.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

It falls to James Oduor, the head of Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority, to figure out what to do about the new reality. “In the future,” he said flatly, “we expect that to be normal — a drought every 5 years.”

Mr. Oduor keeps a postcard-size, color-coded map of his country to explain the scale of the challenge: dark orange for arid zones, light orange for semiarid zones, and white for the rest.

More than three-fourths of the land, he points out, is dark or light orange, which means they are water-stressed in the best of times and during droughts, dangerously so. “The bigger part of my country is affected by climate change and drought,” he said. “They’re frequent. They last long. They affect a big area.”

Water is so scarce in Turkana County that fetching it means walking almost seven miles every day, on average.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

Ethiopia is even worse off. FewsNet, which is funded by the United States government, has warned of continuing “food security emergency” in the country’s southeast, where rains have failed for the last three years in a row and political conflict has displaced an estimated 200,000 people.

In Somalia, after decades of war and displacement, 2.7 million people face what the United Nations calls “severe food insecurity.” During the 2017 drought, international aid efforts averted a famine. In the previous drought, in 2011, nearly 260,000 Somalis died of hunger, half of them children, the United Nations reported.

Women waited in the the shade in Turkana Country as an aid group evaluated children for malnutrition.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

‘Five Are Dead, Then 10’

I traveled across Turkana and neighboring Isiolo County in northern Kenya last month. Off the main highway, sandy paths led through sandy plains. A cluster of round twig-and-thatch huts emerged. Dust whipped through the air.

Pastoralists have walked these lands for centuries. The older ones among them remember the droughts of the past. Animals died. People died. But then the rains came, and after four or five years of normal rains, people living here could replenish their herds. Now, the droughts are so frequent that rebuilding herds is pretty much impossible.

“You wake up one morning and five are dead, then 10,” said David Letmaya, at a clinic in Isiolo County where his family had come to collect sacks of soy and cornmeal.

Drawing water in Turkana County.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

These days, shepherds like Mr. Letmaya range further and further, sometimes clashing with rivals from Turkana over pasture and water, other times risking a confrontation with an elephant or a lion from the national park next door.

Almost every night, park rangers can hear gunshots. Herders raid each others’ livestock to replenish their own.

At the Isiolo health center, everyone kept precise count of their losses. One woman said she lost all three of her cows last year and was left now with only three goats. A second said her husband was killed a few years ago in a fight with Turkana herders over pasture, and then, last year, the last of her cows died. A third said she lost 20 of her 30 goats in the last drought.

It was a blazing afternoon, with no respite in sight. One by one, hauling boxes of soy and cornmeal bearing a World Food Program stamp, the women walked back home across the dry plains and the dry riverbeds, resting sometimes under an acacia heavy with nests that weaver birds had made from the dry brush.

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Schwarzenegger to Sue Big Oil for ‘First Degree Murder’ #auspol #StopAdani

Schwarzenegger to Sue Big Oil for ‘First Degree Murder’

At SXSW, the former California governor lets loose on climate change, Donald Trump and gives his first in-depth remarks on #MeToo.


AUSTIN, Texas — Arnold Schwarzenegger’s next mission: taking oil companies to court “for knowingly killing people all over the world.”

The former California governor and global environmental activist announced the move Sunday at a live recording of POLITICO’s Off Message podcast here at the SXSW festival, revealing that he’s in talks with several private law firms and preparing a public push around the effort.

“This is no different from the smoking issue.

The tobacco industry knew for years and years and years and decades, that smoking would kill people, would harm people and create cancer, and were hiding that fact from the people and denied it.

Then eventually they were taken to court and had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars because of that,” Schwarzenegger said. “The oil companies knew from 1959 on, they did their own study that there would be global warming happening because of fossil fuels, and on top of it that it would be risky for people’s lives, that it would kill.”

Schwarzenegger said he’s still working on a timeline for filing, but the news comes as he prepares to help host a major environmental conference in May in Vienna.

“We’re going to go after them, and we’re going to be in there like an Alabama tick. Because to me it’s absolutely irresponsible to know that your product is killing people and not have a warning label on it, like tobacco,” he said. “Every gas station on it, every car should have a warning label on it, every product that has fossil fuels should have a warning label on it.”

He argues that at the very least, this would raise awareness about fossil fuels and encourage people to look to alternative fuels and clean cars.

He added, “I don’t think there’s any difference: If you walk into a room and you know you’re going to kill someone, it’s first degree murder; I think it’s the same thing with the oil companies.”

Schwarzenegger was at SXSW for an extensive discussion of lessons he learned in his seven years as governor, and how he’d apply them to the current political situation in Washington and beyond. On the list: Maximize the bully pulpit; use the carrot but have the stick ready; and no one gets a perfect “10,“ because there’s always room for improvement. Those, he said, were part of his art of the deal, and explained how he’d been able to institute major laws from worker’s compensation reform to environmental standards to a state election overhaul to implement independent redistricting and a “jungle primary” system, in which the top two advance.

Schwarzenegger also addressed, for the first time since the national reawakening around the #MeToo moment, the charges of groping and inappropriate behavior that surfaced from multiple women against him at the end of his first campaign for governor in 2003. He acknowledged that the change in the moment made a huge difference.

“Twins” star Arnold Schwarzenegger says he’s teaming up with a law firm to take on oil giants. (CARLOS ALVAREZ/VISIONSOFAMERICA/JOE SOHM/GETTY IMAGES)

“It is about time. I think it’s fantastic. I think that women have been used and abused and treated horribly for too long, and now all of the elements came together to create this movement, and now finally puts the spotlight on this issue, and I hope people learn from that,” he said. “You’ve got to take those things seriously. You’ve got to look at it and say, ‘I made mistakes. And I have to apologize.’”

He stressed the importance of sexual harassment training, like the one he made his staff do once he was elected— including himself.

“We make mistakes, and we don’t take it seriously. And then when you really think about it, you say, ‘Maybe I went too far,’” Schwarzenegger said. “You’ve got to be very sensitive about it, and you’ve got to think about the way that women feel—and if they feel uncomfortable, then you did not do the right thing.”

The past few months, he said “made me think totally differently,” adding, “I said to myself, ‘Finally.’”

Schwarzenegger took a number of shots at Donald Trump, dismissing the president’s latest attack on him, delivered at a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday night, for having “failed when he did the show,” a reference to the former governor’s rocky one-season stint as the host of “The Apprentice” on NBC last year.

“I never know really why the Russians make him say certain things,” Schwarzenegger said. “It’s beyond me. Why do you think he says those things? He’s supposed to be very busy.”

Later in the interview, he returned to the attack on Trump, teasing that the script of the new “Terminator” movie, which Schwarzenegger is set to start filming in June and is expected to be released next year, had to be rewritten to include Trump. “The T-800 model that I play, he’s traveling back in time to 2019 to get Trump out of prison,” Schwarzenegger joked.

He wouldn’t reveal any actual details about the script other than that he is still the T-800 model. This isn’t his only upcoming foray into old film franchises: He’s due to shoot “King Conan” and “Triplets,” an update on the 1988 film “Twins,” with Eddie Murphy as the third brother. (“There’s something funny there with the mixing of the sperm,” he said.)

Schwarzenegger said he’d like to see Ohio Gov. John Kasich run for president but urged him to run in the Republican primary rather than as an independent.

“He’s a great Republican,” Schwarzenegger said.

But he said don’t expect him to be a major campaign presence in 2020. He’ll be focusing on pushing gerrymandering reform, and has gotten involved again with California Republicans, with whom he’ll be meeting in the coming days back home.

“The Republicans that are the new thinking Republicans in California want to get things done,” Schwarzenegger said, adding that he wants elected officials to remember, “ultimately, you are a public servant, not a party servant.”

He urged the GOP to pay attention to what happened in California, where Democrats have become completely dominant. Republicans there, he said, “are stuck with an ideology that doesn’t really fit anymore with what people want.”

He cited the environmental work of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush as examples.

“Today, those are all things that are absolutely a no-no in the Republican Party. I didn’t change; it’s the Republican Party that’s changed,” he said. “Now we have to work very hard to get the party back to where it was.”

Back at the end of his presidency, Bill Clinton wrote Schwarzenegger a long letter that ended with Clinton urging Schwarzenegger to become a Democrat. Schwarzenegger said he wasn’t interested then, and isn’t interested now, for all his problems with Trump and the current GOP.

“That’s a fun letter, and I like supporting him on some issues,” Schwarzenegger said. “But the bottom line is that I’m a Republican, and I’m a true Republican, and I will always be a Republican. It’s a fantastic party, but they’ve veered off into the right into some strange lanes.”

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Climate change is a disaster foretold, just like the First World War #auspol #StopAdani

Climate change is a disaster foretold, just like the first world war

Jeff Sparrow

“The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

The mournful remark supposedly made by foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey at dusk on 3 August 1914 referred to Britain’s imminent entry into the first world war. But the sentiment captures something of our own moment, in the midst of an intensifying campaign against nature.

According to the World Wildlife Fund’s 2016 Living Planet Report, over the last four decades the international animal population was reduced by nearly 60%. More than a billion fewer birds inhabit North America today compared to 40 years ago. In Britain, certain iconic species (grey partridges, tree sparrows, etc) have fallen by 90%. In Germany, flying insects have declined by 76% over the past 27 years. Almost half of Borneo’s orangutans died or were removed between 1999 and 2015. Elephant numbers have dropped by 62% in a decade, with on average one adult killed by poachers every 15 minutes.

We inherited a planet of beauty and wonders – and we’re saying goodbye to all that.

The cultural historian Paul Fussell once identified the catastrophe of the first world war with the distinctive sensibility of modernity, noting how 20th century history had “domesticate[d] the fantastic and normalize[d] the unspeakable.”

Consider, then, the work of climate change.

In February, for instance, scientists recorded temperatures 35 degrees above the historical average in Siberia, a phenomenon that apparently corresponded with the unprecedented cold snap across Europe.

As concentrated CO2 intensifies extreme events, a new and diabolical weather will, we’re told, become the norm for a generation already accustomising itself to such everyday atrocities as about eight million tons of plastics are washed into the ocean each year.

It may seem impossible to imagine, that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we’re now in the process of doing.”

This passage from the New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert concluded a piece on global warming, which was published way back in 2005. Over the 13 years since, the warnings from scientists have grown both more specific and desperate – and yet the march to destruction has only redoubled its pace.

The extraordinary – almost absurd – contrast between what we should be doing and what’s actually taking place fosters low-level climate denialism. Coral experts might publicise, again and again and again, the dire state of the Great Barrier Reef but the ongoing political inaction inevitably blunts their message.

It can’t be so bad, we think: if a natural wonder were truly under threat, our politicians wouldn’t simply stand aside and watch.

The first world war killed 20 million people and maimed 21 million others. It shattered the economy of Europe, displaced entire populations, and set in train events that culminated, scarcely two decades later, with another, even more apocalyptic slaughter

And it, too, was a disaster foretold, a widely-anticipated cataclysm that proceeded more-on-less schedule despite regular warnings about what was to come.

As early as 1898, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia initiated a conference to discuss international arbitration and limit the arms race taking place in Europe. At its opening session at The Hague, he noted that the competition between nations, in which each country was building up its forces to defend against its neighbours, had “transform[ed] the armed peace into a crushing burden that weighs on all nations and, if prolonged, will lead to the very cataclysm that it seeks to avert.”

Over the next years, the rivalries intensified, leading to further militarisation and a complex series of (often secret) treaties, as, between 1908 and 1913, the military spending of the major powers increased by 50%.

In 1912, the international socialist movement had staged an emergency meeting in Basel in Switzerland in which representatives from almost every nation spoke out for peace.

“The great European peoples are constantly on the point of being driven against one another,” the congress resolved, “although these attempts are against humanity and reason cannot be justified by even the slightest pretext of being in the interest of the people.”

Yet in early 1914, Winston Churchill noted that “the world is arming as it has never armed before”. The eventual declaration of war in August that year was still a shock – but only in the sense that those attending a patient expiring from a long illness might be startled by the death rattle.

The appeals to humanity and reason did not move states jostling for trade and commercial advantages. For the people of Europe, the arms race was disastrous; for specific governments, it made perfect sense, for those who did not compete risked falling behind.

The same might be said today.

From a global perspective, the necessity to abandon fossil fuels cannot be denied. But for individual economies, change risks undermining comparative advantages.

If we don’t sell coal, says Malcolm Turnbull, our competitors will – which was, of course precisely the logic of the British fleet expansion in 1908.

The devastation of the first world war eventually engendered a wave of revolt from a populace appalled at the carnage their politicians had wrought.

Climate change has not yet spurred an equivalent of the mutinies in France or the revolution in Petrograd or the uprising in Berlin.

Yet Labor’s appalling equivocation over the Adani mine – a piece of environmental vandalism for which there can be no justification – illustrates the urgency with which we need a new and different type of politics.

The stakes could not be higher. Lamps are going out all over the natural world … and no one will ever see them lit again.

• Jeff Sparrow is a Guardian Australia columnist

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