Climate Refugees

Australia shirks it’s moral responsibility #ClimateChange #StopAdani 

Australia, deep in climate change’s ‘disaster alley’, shirks its moral responsibility
A government’s first responsibility is to safeguard the people and their future well-being. The ability to do this is threatened by human-induced climate change, the accelerating effects of which are driving political instability and conflict globally. 

Climate change poses an existential risk to humanity that, unless addressed as an emergency, will have catastrophic consequences.

In military terms, Australia and the adjacent Asia-Pacific region is considered to be “disaster alley”, where the most extreme effects are being experienced.

Press link to download report Breakthrough online

 Australia’s leaders either misunderstand or wilfully ignore these risks, which is a profound failure of imagination, far worse than that which triggered the global financial crisis in 2008.

 Existential risk cannot be managed with conventional, reactive, learn-from-failure techniques. 

We only play this game once, so we must get it right first time.
This should mean an honest, objective look at the real risks to which we are exposed, guarding especially against more extreme possibilities that would have consequences damaging beyond quantification, and which human civilisation as we know it would be lucky to survive.
Instead, the climate and energy policies that successive Australian governments adopted over the last 20 years, driven largely by ideology and corporate fossil-fuel interests, deliberately refused to acknowledge this existential threat, as the shouting match over the wholly inadequate reforms the Finkel review proposes demonstrates too well. 

There is overwhelming evidence that we have badly underestimated both the speed and extent of climate change’s effects. 

In such circumstances, to ignore this threat is a fundamental breach of the responsibility that the community entrusts to political, bureaucratic and corporate leaders.
A hotter planet has already taken us perilously close to, and in some cases over, tipping points that will profoundly change major climate systems: at the polar ice caps, in the oceans, and the large permafrost carbon stores. 

Global warming’s physical effects include a hotter and more extreme climate, more frequent and severe droughts, desertification, increasing insecurity of food and water supplies, stronger storms and cyclones, and coastal inundation.
Climate change was a significant factor in triggering the war in Syria, the Mediterranean migrant crisis and the “Arab spring”, albeit this aspect is rarely discussed. 

Our global carbon emission trajectory, if left unchecked, will drive increasingly severe humanitarian crises, forced migrations, political instability and conflicts.
Australia is not immune.

 We already have extended heatwaves with temperates above 40 degrees, catastrophic bushfires, and intense storms and floods. 

The regional effects do not receive much attention but are striking hard at vulnerable communities in Asia and the Pacific, forcing them into a spiral of dislocation and migration. 

The effects on China and South Asia will have profound consequences for employment and financial stability in Australia.
In the absence of emergency action to reduce Australian and global emissions far faster than currently proposed, the level of disruption and conflict will escalate to the point that outright regional chaos is likely. 

Militarised solutions will be ineffective. 

Australia is failing in its duty to its people, and as a world citizen, by playing down these implications and shirking its responsibility to act.
Bushfires that destroy property and lives are increasingly regular across Australia.


Bushfires that destroy property and lives are increasingly regular across Australia. Photo: Jason South

Nonetheless, people understand climate risks, even as their political leaders underplay or ignore them. 

About 84 per cent of 8000 people in eight countries surveyed recently for the Global Challenges Foundation consider climate change a “global catastrophic risk”. 

The result for Australia was 75 per cent. 


Many people see climate change as a bigger threat than epidemics, weapons of mass destruction and the rise of artificial intelligence.
What is to be done if our leaders are incapable of rising to the task?
The new normal? 


Residents paddle down a street in Murwillumbah in March after heavy rains led to flash flooding. Photo: Jason O’Brien

First, establish a high-level climate and conflict taskforce in Australia to urgently assess the existential risks, and develop risk-management techniques and policies appropriate to that challenge.
Second, recognise that climate change is an global emergency that threatens civilisation, and push for a global, coordinated, practical, emergency response.
We only play this game once, so we must get it right first time.
Third, launch an emergency initiative to decarbonise Australia’s economy no later than 2030 and build the capacity to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Fourth, help to build more resilient communities domestically and in the most vulnerable nations regionally; build a flexible capacity to support communities in likely hot spots of instability and conflict; and rethink refugee policies accordingly.

Young children walk through debris in Vanuata after Cyclone Pam hit in 2015. Photo: Unicef

Fifth, ensure that Australia’s military and government agencies are fully aware of and prepared for this changed environment; and improve their ability to provide aid and disaster relief.
Sixth, establish a national leadership group, outside conventional politics and drawn from across society, to implement the climate emergency program.
A pious hope in today’s circumstances?

 Our leaders clearly do not want the responsibility to secure our future. 

So “everything becomes possible, particularly when it is unavoidable”.
Ian Dunlop was an international oil, gas and coal industry executive, chairman of the Australian Coal Association and chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

This is an extract from his report with David Spratt, Disaster alley: climate change, conflict and risk, released on Thursday.

Press link for more: Canberra Times

We have radically underestimated #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Australia warned it has radically underestimated climate change security threat
Fijian girl walks over flooded land in her village.


As the Senate launches an inquiry into the national security ramifications of climate change, a new report has warned global warming will cause increasingly regular and severe humanitarian crises across the Asia-Pacific.


Press link for full report: Breakthrough

Disaster Alley, written by the Breakthrough Centre for Climate Restoration, forecasts climate change could potentially displace tens of millions from swamped cities, drive fragile states to failure, cause intractable political instability, and spark military conflict.
Report co-author Ian Dunlop argues Australia’s political and corporate leaders, by refusing to accept the need for urgent climate action now, are “putting the Australian community in extreme danger”.
“Global warming will drive increasingly severe humanitarian crises, forced migration, political instability and conflict. 

The Asia Pacific region, including Australia, is considered to be ‘disaster alley’ where some of the worst impacts will be experienced,” the report, released this morning, says.
“Australia’s political, bureaucratic and corporate leaders are abrogating their fiduciary responsibilities to safeguard the people and their future wellbeing. 

They are ill-prepared for the real risks of climate change at home and abroad.”
On Friday, the Senate passed a motion for an inquiry into the threats and long-term risks posed by climate change to national and international security, and Australia’s readiness to mitigate and respond to climate-related crises in our region.
Dunlop, a former chairman of the Australian Coal Association and chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, told the Guardian the security impacts of climate change were not far-distant future concerns, but happening now.
The ongoing Syrian civil war – which has killed 450,000 and forced an estimated 5.5 million people to flee the country over six years of conflict – is attributed, in significant part, to an extended drought, exacerbated by climate change, that left millions without food or livelihoods.
“Once these effects start, then they unfold right the way through the system as an accelerant,” Dunlop said. 

“Natural disasters lead to social pressures, to increasing conflicts, competing claims for scarce resources. 

These fuel extremist positions, which could be religious, tribal, or political, which can lead to mass migrations.

We are going to see a lot of people start moving, in our region especially, and to think we stop that by finessing things like ‘stop the boats’, is frankly naive.”
Dunlop said the global nature of the climate change challenge should force countries to cooperate.


“Climate change has to become seen as a reason for far greater levels of global cooperation than we’ve seen before. 

If we don’t see it that way, then we’re going to be in big trouble. 

This problem is bigger than any of us, it’s bigger than any nation state, any political party.
“We’re going to be steamrolled by this stuff unless we take serious action now.”

The security implications of climate change have been identified by thinktanks, governments, and militaries across the world.


A decade ago, Alan Dupont and Graeme Pearman wrote for the Lowy Institute that the security threat posed by climate change had been largely ignored and seriously underestimated.
In 2013 the commander of US Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, said the greatest long-term threat in the Asia-Pacific was not military ambitions of another state, or the threat of nuclear weapons, but climate change.
In 2015, the US Department of Defense commissioned a report, examining the security implications of disrupted climate, and current secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, has said climate change is a clear and current threat to US troops.
Australia’s 2016 defence white paper said climate change would contribute to state fragility, which it identified as one of the six key drivers that will “shape the development of Australia’s security environment to 2035”.

“Climate change will be a major challenge for countries in Australia’s immediate region. 

Climate change will see higher temperatures, increased sea-level rise and will increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. 

These effects will exacerbate the challenges of population growth and environmental degradation, and will contribute to food shortages and undermine economic development.”
“Instability in our immediate region could have strategic consequences for Australia should it lead to increasing influence by actors from outside the region with interests inimical to ours. 

It is crucial that Australia help support the development of national resilience in the region to reduce the likelihood of instability.”
The Senate inquiry into the national security threats of climate change will report in December. 

But the issue remains politically charged.
Greens senator Scott Ludlam, in putting the motion before the Senate said the government had failed to apprehend the global security risk posed by climate change.
“As one of the highest per-capita emitters on the planet, Australia must play a constructive role as our region responds to climate change. 

The government won’t listen to the scientists, and it won’t listen to the renewable energy sector. 

Maybe it will listen to defence and security experts and the personnel on the frontline.”
But assistant minister to the prime minister, Senator James McGrath, said the inquiry was unnecessary.
He told the Senate a defence climate security adviser had been established within the office of the vice chief of the defence force group. 

As well, an environmental planning and advisory cell has been established within headquarters joint operations command, and defence is represented at the government’s disaster and climate resilience reference group.
Press link for more: The Guardian

If we burn all the coal we heat the planet by 8C #StopAdani

On our current trajectory, climate change is expected to intensify over the coming decades. 


If no policy actions are taken to restrict GHG emissions, expected warming would be on track for 8.1°F (4.5°C) by 2100. 

Strikingly, this amount of warming is actually less than would be expected if all currently known fossil fuel resources were consumed. 

Were this to occur, total future warming would be 14.5°F (8°C), fueled largely by the world’s vast coal resources.
The United States will not be insulated from a changing climate. 

If global emissions continue on their current path, average summer temperatures in 13 U.S. states and the District of Columbia would rise above 85°F (29.4°C) by the end of the 21st century, well above the 76 to 82°F (24 to 28°C) range experienced by these same states during the 1981–2010 period (Climate Prospectus n.d.). 

Climate change will lead to increased flooding, necessitating migration away from some low-lying areas; it will also lead to drought and heat-related damages (Ackerman and Stanton 2008).
There is no question that the United States has begun to make important progress on climate change. 

U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2016 were nearly 15 percent below their 2005 peak, marking the lowest level of emissions since 1992 (EIA 2017a). 

The drop was largely driven by recent reductions in the electric power sector, where inexpensive natural gas is displacing more carbon-intensive coal-fired generation and renewables like wind and solar are slowly gaining market share.


However, large challenges remain.

 Avoiding dangerous future climate change will require reductions in GHG emissions far greater than what have already been achieved.

 Though progress in reducing emissions associated with electric power provides cause for optimism, developments in other sectors are less encouraging.

 In particular, transportation recently surpassed electric power generation as the largest source of U.S. emissions and is projected to be a more important contributor in coming years. 

Transportation CO2 emissions have increased despite strengthened fuel efficiency standards that aim to reduce emissions, suggesting that a review of this policy is warranted.


Moreover, climate change is a global problem. 

Recent gains in the United States have been offset by rising emissions elsewhere in the world. 

In past decades, most global emissions originated in the developed nations of Europe and North America. 

However, new GHG emissions are increasingly generated by China, India, and other developing economies, where economic growth and improving living standards are highly dependent on access to reliable, affordable energy. 

Today, that largely means coal. 



As economic and population growth surges in these countries, GHG emissions will rise accordingly; as a result, global emissions will continue to rise despite stabilization in Europe and the United States.
Numerous technologies—from nuclear power and carbon capture and sequestration to cheaper renewables and energy storage—hold considerable promise for addressing the global climate challenge.

 Yet current economic conditions do not favor the large-scale implementation of these technologies in developed or developing countries. 

Rapidly deploying these solutions on a large scale would almost certainly require some combination of expanded research and development (R&D) investments and carbon pricing, the policy interventions recommended by economic theory.
It remains uncertain whether policy makers around the world will be successful in responding to the threat of climate change. 

The consensus view of the scientific community is that future warming should be limited to 3.6°F (2°C) (Jones, Sterman and Johnston 2016).

 Achieving that target would require much more dramatic actions than have been implemented globally, with global CO2 emissions falling to near zero by 2100.
The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution and The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago aim to support broadly shared economic growth. 

This jointly written document provides useful context for a discussion of the dangers to the economy posed by climate change and the policy tools for addressing those dangers. 

Given the immense threat that climate change represents, it is crucial that policy makers implement efficient solutions that minimize climate damages from our use of energy.

Press link for more: Brookings.edu

Existential Risk! #StopAdani 

EXISTENTIAL RISK

An existential risk is an adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential (Bostrom 2013).

 For example, a big meteor impact or large-scale nuclear war.

Existential risks are not amenable to the reactive (learn from failure) approach of conventional risk management, and we cannot necessarily rely on the institutions, moral norms, or social attitudes developed from our experience with managing other sorts of risks. 

Because the consequences are so severe – perhaps the end of human global civilisation as we know
it – “even for an honest, truth-seeking, and well-intentioned investigator it is difficult to think and act rationally in regard to… existential risks” (Bostrom and Cirkovic 2008).

Yet the evidence is clear that climate change already poses an existential risk to global stability and to human civilisation that requires an emergency response.

 Temperature rises that are now in prospect could reduce the global human population by 80% or 90%. 

But this conversation is taboo, and the few who speak out are admonished as being overly alarmist.

Prof. Kevin Anderson considers that “a 4°C future [relative to pre-industrial levels] is incompatible with an organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems, and has a high probability of not being stable” (Anderson 2011). 

He says: “If you have got
a population of nine billion by 2050 and you hit 4°C, 5°C or 6°C, you might have half a billion people surviving” (Fyall 2009).

Asked at a 2011 conference in Melbourne about the difference between a 2°C world and a 4°C world, Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber replied in two words: “Human civilisation”. 

The World Bank reports: “There is no certainty that adaptation to
a 4°C world is possible” (World Bank 2012). 

Amongst other impacts, a 4°C warming would trigger the loss of both polar ice caps, eventually resulting, at equilibrium, in a 70-metre rise in sea level.


The present path of greenhouse gas emissions commits us
to a 4–5°C temperature increase relative to pre-industrial levels. 

Even at 3°C of warming we could face “outright chaos” and “nuclear war is possible”, according to the 2007 Age of Consequences report by two US think tanks (see page 10).

Yet this is the world we are now entering. 

The Paris climate agreement voluntary emission reduction commitments, if implemented, would result in the planet warming by 3°C, with a 50% chance of exceeding that amount.


This does not take into account “longer-term” carbon-cycle feedbacks – such as permafrost thaw and declining
efficency of ocean and terrestrial carbon sinks, which are now becoming relevant. 

If these are considered, the Paris emissions path has more than a 50% chance of exceeding 4°C warming. 

(Technically, accounting for these feedbacks means using a higher gure for the system’s “climate sensitivity” – which is a measure of the temperature increase resulting from a doubling of the level of greenhouse gases – to calculate the warming.

A median figure often used for climate sensitivity is ~3°C, but research from MIT shows that with a higher climate sensitivity gure of 4.5°C, which would account for feedbacks, the Paris path would lead to around 5°C of warming (Reilly et al. 2015).)

So we are looking at a greater than one-in-two chance of either annihilating intelligent life, or permanently and drastically curtailing its potential development.

 Clearly these end-of-civilisation scenarios are not being considered even by risk-conscious leaders in politics and business, which is an epic failure of imagination.

The world hopes to do a great deal better than Paris, but it may do far worse. 

A recent survey of 656 participants involved in international climate policy-making showed only half considered the Paris climate negotiations were useful, and 70% did not expect that the majority of countries would fulfill their promises (Dannenberg et al. 2017)

Human civilisation faces unacceptably high chances of
being brought undone by climate change’s existential risks yet, extraordinarily, this conversation is rarely heard. 

The Global Challenges Foundation (GCF) says that despite scientific evidence that risks associated with tipping points “increase disproportionately as temperature increases from 1°C to 2°C, and become high above 3°C”, political negotiations have consistently disregarded the high-end scenarios that could lead to abrupt or irreversible climate change. 

In its Global Catastrophic Risks 2017 report, it concludes that “the world is currently completely unprepared to envisage, and even less deal with, the consequences of catastrophic climate change”. (GCF 2017) 

PRess link for full report: Disaster Alley

Disaster Alley: Climate Change, Conflict & Risk #StopAdani

The first responsibility of a government is to safeguard the people and their future well-being.

 The ability to do this is threatened by climate change, whose accelerating impacts will also drive political instability and conflict, posing large negative consequences to human society which may never be undone. 

This report looks at climate change and conflict issues through the lens of sensible risk-management to draw new conclusions about the challenge we now face.

• From tropical coral reefs to the polar ice sheets, global warming is already dangerous. 


The world is perilously close to, or passed, tipping points which will create major changes in global climate systems.

• The world now faces existential climate-change risks which may result in “outright chaos” and an end to human civilisation as we know it.

• These risks are either not understood or wilfully ignored across the public and private sectors, with very few exceptions.

• Global warming will drive increasingly severe humanitarian crises, forced migration, political instability and conflict. 

The Asia–Pacific region, including Australia, is considered to be “Disaster Alley” where some of the worst impacts will be experienced.

• Building more resilient communities in the most vulnerable nations by high-level financial commitments and development assistance can help protect peoples in climate hotspots and zones of potential instability and con ict.

• Australia’s political, bureaucratic and corporate leaders are abrogating their duciary responsibilities to safeguard the people and their future well-being. 

They are ill-prepared for the real risks of climate change at home and in the region.

• The Australian government must ensure Australian Defence Force and
emergency services preparedness, mission and operational resilience, and capacity for humanitarian aid and disaster relief, across the full range of projected climate change scenarios.

• It is essential to now strongly advocate a global climate emergency response, and to build a national leadership group outside conventional politics to design and implement emergency decarbonisation of the Australian economy. 

This would adopt all available safe solutions using sound, existential risk-management practices.

Forward by Sherri Goodman

In April 2017, I was invited by Breakthrough to visit Australia and talk to elected representatives, key government officials and business leaders, researchers and analysts, and at public meetings, to advance awareness of the capacity of climate change to amplify global conflict and instability, social and economic disruption, humanitarian crises and forced migration.

Working at the highest level in the United States on these issues for more than two decades, I have come to understand that these impacts have already placed the internal cohesion of many nations under great stress, including in the United States, as a result of a dramatic rise in migration, changes in weather patterns and water availability. 

The flooding of coastal communities around the world, from low-lying Pacific Islands to the United States, Europe, South Asia and China, has the potential to challenge the very survival of regional communities and even some nation states.

My tour to Australia was also an opportunity to discuss what needs to be done.

 Internationally, we must establish methods to better forecast potentially disruptive climate changes – such as severe drought – well in advance. 

Only then can we develop the capacity for reducing risks through building global and community resilience and strength before we encounter full-on crises. 

We also need to rethink refugee governance to better support the climate refugees who will comprise an increasing proportion of the refugee mix. 

Current governance structures are simply inadequate.

Strengthening the resilience of vulnerable nations to the climate impacts already locked into the system is critical; however this will only reduce long-term risk if improvements in resilience are accompanied by strong actionable agreements to stabilise the climate.

Climate change is a threat multiplier to humanity that demands
a whole-of-society response. 

If Australia recognises this reality
it would be placed, inter alia, at the leading edge of innovation and competitiveness in the advanced energy economies that are rapidly evolving in China and elsewhere in Asia.

Responding effectively to climate change requires greatly increased co-operation globally, regionally and among Australian institutions, to build more resilient communities. 

Australia is at an inflection point in its approach to climate, energy and security. 

It is time to act with clarity and urgency.

Sherri Goodman is former US Deputy Undersecretary of Defence for Environmental Security, Founder and Executive Director of the CNA Military Advisory Board, and a Senior Fellow at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

AUTHORS 

IAN DUNLOP

Ian Dunlop is a senior member of the Advisory Board for Breakthrough. Ian was an international oil, gas and coal industry executive, chairman of the Australian Coal Association and chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. From 1998-2000 he chaired the Australian Greenhouse Of ce Experts Group on Emissions Trading. He is a member of the Club of Rome.

DAVID SPRATT
 

David Spratt is Research Director for Breakthrough and co-author of Climate Code Red: The case for emergency action (Scribe 2008). His recent reports include Recount: It’s time to “Do the math” again; Climate Reality Check and Antarctic Tipping Points for a Multi-metre Sea-level Rise.
The authors thank Nic Maclellan for his advice on the Paci c scenario and climate nancing in this report.

Press link for full report: Breakthrough

Deadly Heat Waves Threaten Third of the World. #StopAdani 

Deadly Heat Waves Threaten Third of the World

Scorching heat grounded planes in parts of the U.S. on Monday, the same day researchers released a study that finds the globe is only getting hotter and, as a result, potentially deadlier.

Currently, nearly a third of the world’s population is exposed to lethal climate conditions for at least 20 days a year, according to findings published Monday in Nature Climate Change, a monthly peer-reviewed journal.

 As the planet’s temperature rises, more of the world’s population will be exposed to conditions that trigger deadly heat waves, the report said.

That risk is expected to cover 48 percent of the world’s population by 2100, even if carbon gas emissions are drastically reduced. 

If emissions continue to rise at typical rates, 74 percent of the global population is expected to experience more than 20 days of deadly heat a year by that same time, according to a research group, led by Camilo Mora.
For a city like New York, which currently sees about two days per year that surpass the heat threshold, that could mean 50 deadly days per year by 2100.



“For heat waves, our options are now between bad or terrible,” Mora, associate professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and lead author of the study, said in a statement.
The researchers analyzed more than 1,900 cases of fatalities associated with heat waves in 164 cities across 36 countries between 1980 and 2014 to define a global threshold for life-threatening conditions based on heat and humidity. Researchers found the overall risk for heat-related sickness or death has increased steadily since 1980.

The study notes well-documented heat waves, including a five-day stretch that claimed hundreds of lives in Chicago in 1995, the European heat wave in 2003 that saw tens of thousands of heat-related deaths and lethal temperatures in Moscow in 2010 that killed more than 10,000. 

Across Russia, the heat wave in 2010 claimed more than 50,000 lives. 

But the research team found that heatwaves are more common than most people think, and humidity levels combined with heat play a major role in heat-related heath risks.
In cases of high humidity, human sweat doesn’t evaporate, making it difficult for people to regulate and release heat.


The study found that higher-latitude locations will warm more than the tropics under global warming, but people living in the wet tropics face the greatest risk.

That portion of the world’s population, researchers said, is more vulnerable to increases in average temperature or humidity than other areas of the world. 

Some areas in the deep tropics – such as in Jakarta, Indonesia – have consistently warm temperatures near the deadly threshold year-round.
Regardless of location, the global climate outlook is bleak, researchers said.
“An increasing threat to human life from excess heat now seems almost inevitable,” but will only worsen with an increase of greenhouse gases, they wrote.

Press link for more: US News

Catastrophic Floods Predicted #ClimateChange #StopAdani

There’s not much that can stand in the way of a flood—a disaster that can put lives at risk, contaminate drinking water and sweep away animals’ habitats. 

For many coastal cities, the risks of catastrophic floods are relatively low. 

But not for long. 

As The Guardian’s Oliver Milman reports, a group of scientists has a dire message for coastal cities: If greenhouse gas emissions don’t fall, floods that once seemed rare could become much more frequent.

A sobering new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters suggests that major floods may occur much more frequently in the future. 

Researchers assumed that greenhouse gas emissions would continue at their current pace—causing the atmosphere to warm, melting glaciers and raising sea levels. 

They combined those predictions with historical flood frequency data and data about current weather patterns.


The result was a predicted median 40-fold increase of hundred-year floods along the United States coastline by 2050. 

Since the concept of flood recurrence is confusing at best, here’s a quick refresher.

 The term “hundred-year flood” does not refer to the severity of a flood, just its frequency. It means the probability that a flood will reach a certain level once in a hundred years. 

By definition, a hundred-year flood has a one-percent chance of occurring in any given year.
So what does a 40-fold increase in a hundred-year flood mean? 

Essentially it would push the chance of a flood reaching a certain level in any given year to 40 percent. 

And the probability of flooding could be even higher in places like New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Key West. 

In places like San Diego, Los Angeles and Seattle, the researchers predict, low-level flooding would likely occur more often than it does now.


Scientists already know that sea levels are rising faster than ever before, but are still teasing out the connections between human activity and floods.

 As Smithsonian.com reported in 2015, the Atlantic coast is thought to be at particular risk of severe flooding as sea levels rise and severe weather increases. 

And just last month, another group of researchers predicted that a rise of just under eight inches will double the risk of storm surges, large waves and severe coastal flooding along every coast on Earth.
It is still possible to curb greenhouse gas emissions and try to slow future damage to Earth’s glaciers. 

But the study’s real takeaway is that it’s time to prepare for the probability of flooding in places that haven’t really been affected by catastrophic floods thus far.

 As once rare floods become more common, a new reality could settle in for coastal cities—and the time to minimize damage is before a flood hits, not after. 

There’s still a lot to learn about how climate change could affect floods, but it never hurts to be prepared.

Press link for more: Smithsonianmag.com

Most Australians agree #ClimateChange is a “Catastrophic Risk” #StopAdani

Three-quarters of Australians say climate warming “a catastrophic risk”, even as government turns a blind eye
 by David Spratt
Published at RenewEconomy on 29 May 2017 

Three in four Australians understand that climate warming poses a “catastrophic risk,” even as the Australian government turns a blind eye. 

That was the clear result from a new survey for the Global Challenges Forum (GCF), and the publication of its 2017 Global Catastrophic Risk report.
84% of 8000 people surveyed in eight countries for the GCF consider climate change a “global catastrophic risk”. The figure for the Australian sample was 75%.


Question were asked about a number of risks, including nuclear war, pandemics, biological weapons, climate change and environmental collapse.

 The climate question asked how much participants agreed or disagreed that “climate change, resulting in environmental damage, such as rising sea levels or melting of icecaps” could be considered as “a global catastrophic risk”? A global catastrophic risk was described as “a future event that has the potential to affect 10% of the global population”.


For Australia, the results were: 39% “strongly agree” and 36% “tend to agree” (for total agree of 75%); with “tend to disagree” at 15%, “strongly disagree” at 6% and 4% “don’t know”.
The 2017 Global Catastrophic Risk report summarises the the evidence for catastrophic climate change risk as:

Discussions of climate change usually focus on limiting temperature rises to 1-3˚C above pre-industrial levels.

 A rise of 3ºC would have major impacts, with most of Bangladesh and Florida under water, major coastal cities – Shanghai, Lagos, Mumbai – swamped, and potentially large flows of climate refugees. 

While the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change sought to keep global temperature rises below a threshold of 1.5–2ºC, national pledges have fallen short and set the world on a 3.6°C temperature rise track. 

There is also now scientific consensus that, when warming rises above a certain level, self-reinforcing feedback loops are likely to set in, triggered by the pushing of the Earth’s systems – ocean circulation, permafrost, ice sheets, rainforests and atmospheric circulation – across certain tipping points. 

The latest science shows that tipping points with potential to cause catastrophic climate change could be triggered at 2ºC global warming. 

These include the risk of losing all coral reef systems on Earth and irreversible melting of inland glaciers, Arctic sea ice and potentially the Greenland ice sheet. 


As well as the immediate risk to human societies, the fear is that crossing these tipping points would have major impacts on the pace of global warming itself. 

Although climate change action has now become part of mainstream economic and social strategies, too little emphasis is put on the risk of catastrophic climate change. 

The same survey found 81% of the 1000 Australian participants in the poll agreed with the proposition: “Do you think we should try to prevent climate catastrophes, which might not occur for several decades or centuries, even if it requires making considerable changes that impact on our current living standards?” The figure across the 8000 people polled in eight countries (Australia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, UK, Germany and USA) was 88%.
This shows a stronger level of support than several other polls for action that may impact on future living standards and have a personal material cost. 

This strong expression may, in part, be due to the framing of climate as a potentially catastrophic risk.
The GCF report found that many people now see climate change as a bigger threat than other issues such as epidemics, population growth, use of weapons of mass destruction and the rise of artificial intelligence threats. GCF vice-president Mats Andersson says “there’s certainly a huge gap between what people expect from politicians and what politicians are doing”. 
The report says that for the first time in human history:

We have reached a level of scientific knowledge that allows us to develop an enlightened relationship to risks of catastrophic magnitude. Not only can we foresee many of the challenges ahead, but we are in a position to identify what needs to be done in order to mitigate or even eliminate some of those risks. Our enlightened status, however, also requires that we consider our own role in creating those risks, and collectively commit to reducing them.

However, “the institutions we rely on to ensure peace, security, development and environmental integrity are woefully inadequate for the scale of the challenges at hand”.
The dissonance between what Australian’s understand and what government is doing is remarkable.

 Australia is failing in its responsibility to safeguard its people and protect their way of life. 

It is also failing as a world citizen, by downplaying the profound global impacts of climate change and shirking its responsibility to act.


Australia’s per capita greenhouse emissions are in the highest rank in the world, and its commitment to reduce emissions are rated as inadequate by Climate Action Tracker, which says that “Australia’s current policies will fall well short of meeting” its Paris Agreement target, that the Emissions Reduction Fund “does not set Australia on a path that would meet its targets” and “without accelerating climate action and additional policies, Australia will miss its 2030 target by a large margin”.
Australia’s biggest corporations are no better. 

The S&P/ASX All Australian 50 has the “highest embedded carbon” of any group in the S&P Global 1200, according to the S&P Dow Jones Carbon Scorecard report, which assesses global companies’ carbon footprint, fossil fuel reserve emissions, coal revenue exposure, energy transition and green-brown revenue strain. At the 2017 Santos annual general meeting, chairman Peter Coates asserted that it is “sensible” and “consistent with good value” to assume for planning purposes a 4°C-warmer world.
Former senior fossil fuel industry executive Ian Dunlop has recently noted that the most dangerous aspect of fossil-fuel investments made today is that their impacts do not manifest themselves for decades to come. If we wait for catastrophe to happen — as we are doing — it will be too late to act. 

Time is the most important commodity; to avoid catastrophic outcomes requires emergency action to force the pace of change. In these circumstances, opening up a major new coal province is nothing less than a crime against humanity.

Press link for more: 

Climate Code Red

No New Fossil Fuel Development! #StopAdani #auspol 

The Sky’s Limit: No New Fossil Fuel Development
An open letter to world leaders:
One year ago in Paris, the world came together to finalize a new agreement to address the climate crisis.


 Together, countries committed to “[holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.

Now, the Paris Agreement has entered into force and the time has come to fulfill the commitments made within it.
Climate impacts are already here today, as seen in the melting of the Arctic, coral bleaching in the Pacific, droughts in Africa, stronger and more frequent hurricanes and typhoons in our oceans, and new challenges day by day the world over. 



The commitment to pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5˚C was an important new goal, especially for vulnerable countries and communities who are already bearing the brunt of these ever-growing impacts of the climate crisis. 

But with this necessary ambition comes responsibility and challenge.


Analysis has now shown that the carbon embedded in existing fossil fuel production, if allowed to run its course, would take us beyond the globally agreed goals of limiting warming to well below 2˚C and pursuing efforts to limit to 1.5˚C.
The global carbon budgets associated with either temperature limit will be exhausted with current fossil fuel projects, and in fact some currently-operating fossil fuel projects will need to be retired early in order to have appropriately high chances of staying below even the 2˚C limit, let alone 1.5˚C.


With this new understanding, the challenge has never been clearer.

 To live up to the goals set forth by the Paris Agreement and to safeguard our climate for this and future generations, fossil fuel production must enter a managed decline immediately, and renewable energy must be advanced to swiftly take its place in the context of a just transition.


Therefore, we, as over 400 civil society organizations from more than 60 countries, representing tens of millions around the world, call on world leaders to put an immediate halt to new fossil fuel development and pursue a just transition to renewable energy with a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry.

We can do this.

 With a managed decline to wind down fossil fuel production that ensures a smooth and just transition to a safer energy economy, we can protect workers, protect communities, bring energy access to the poor, and ramp up renewable energy as quickly as we put an end to fossil fuels.


Since rich countries have a greater historic responsibility to act, they should provide support to poorer countries to help expand non-carbon energy and drive economic development as part of their fair share of global action, with a focus on meeting the urgent priority of providing universal access to energy. 

The good news is that renewable energy can — as it must — fill in the gap and power a clean energy future.
The world can either start now in pursuing a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry and a just transition to renewable energy, or it can delay action and bring about economic upheaval and climate chaos. 

The choice is clear.
The first step in this effort is a simple one: Stop digging. 

No additional fossil fuel development, no exploration for new fossil fuels, no expansion of fossil fuel projects. 

We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Signed,

Press link for more: Keep it in the ground.org

Sea level rise threatens thousands of Melbourne homes. #StopAdani #auspol 

By Adam Carey

How a possible two-metre sea level rise would flood thousands of Melbourne homes
Tens of thousands of homes and businesses in Melbourne face a bigger risk of tidal flooding by century’s end, and major roads, tram routes and industrial areas could disappear under water due to future sea level rises, new modelling shows.
The updated modelling of possible sea level rises caused by climate change predicts Victoria’s coastline could be hit by sea level rises of two metres or more by 2100, due to the rapid melting of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.
Streets in Elwood after a flash flood in December.


Streets in Elwood after a flash flood in December. Photo: Wayne Taylor

A two-metre rise would flood several low-lying suburbs in Melbourne including South Melbourne, Albert Park, Port Melbourne, Southbank, Docklands, Altona, Williamstown, Elwood, St Kilda, Seaford, Carrum, Bonbeach and Aspendale.
Large areas in Geelong and the seaside towns of Barwon Heads, Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale would also be heavily inundated at high tide by century’s end, it is predicted.
Sections of major roads including CityLink, Flinders Street, Wurundjeri Way, Footscray Road, Clarendon Street and Queens Parade would go under water at high tide, as would several tram routes in Melbourne’s bayside suburbs.

The Mornington Peninsula Freeway near Frankston would face the same fate.
Industrial areas such as the Port of Melbourne, Fishermans Bend and Coode Island would also be inundated.
The modelling is based on new research by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), which this year released updated projections for sea level rises made in the landmark 2013 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
That report said a 74-centimetre sea level rise by 2100 was a worst-case scenario.
Since then, ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland have been found to be melting more rapidly than thought and projections have been revised so that the 74cm “worst-case scenario” is considered probable, while a rise of two metres to 2.7 metres is now a “plausible worst-case global mean sea level rise scenario”, according to NOAA.

The effect this would have on Australia’s coastline has been mapped by NGIS, using local tidal data and Google mapping technology to overlay a possible two-metre sea level rise on the nation’s cities, towns and beaches.
Nathan Eaton is from NGIS and was co-creator of the Coastal Risk Australia website that shows the projected impacts of sea level rises in Australia.
Mr Eaton said that just as the rate at which the sea level has risen has accelerated in the past few decades, much of the potential rise of two metres would occur in the latter half of this century.
“Anyone can look at these maps and visualise exactly how sea-level rise, driven by climate change, will permanently alter our coastline and neighbourhoods,” Mr Eaton said. “We already knew this was going to be bad news for low-lying areas, but the latest science is telling us to brace for even worse.”
Central Melbourne is no stranger to flash flooding – this is Elizabeth Street in February, 1972. 


Central Melbourne is no stranger to flash flooding – this is Elizabeth Street in February, 1972. Photo: Neville Bowler
Alan Stokes, executive director of the Australian Coastal Councils Association, said the revised modelling was a wake-up call for governments.
“If the sea rises to that level it would be a national disaster,” Mr Stokes said.
He called on the federal government to reverse funding cuts it has made to research to support climate change adaptation.
An online tool for councils called Coast Adapt faces a heavy funding cut from July 1.
“Coastal councils are at the forefront of dealing with these projected impacts but they are really tackling this problem with one arm tied behind their backs because they just don’t have the resources to respond effectively,” Mr Stokes said.  

The global mean sea level has risen by 21 to 24 centimetres since 1880, with about eight centimetres of that rise happening since 1993.
“Scientists expect that [sea levels] will continue to rise throughout the 21st century and beyond, because of global warming that has already occurred and warming that is yet to occur due to the still uncertain level of future emissions,” the NOAA report says.

Press link for more: The Age.com