Climate Refugees

This Isn’t “The New Normal #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

This Isn’t ‘the New Normal’ for Climate Change — That Will Be Worse
David Wallace-Wells

October 11, 2017 10:12 am


A Fountaingrove Village homeowner surveys her destroyed home she and her husband have owned for four years, on October 9, 2017, in Santa Rosa, California. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

It’s been a terrifying season for what we used to call natural disasters.

For the first time in recorded history, three hurricanes arose simultaneously in the Caribbean. 

Harvey and Irma ravaged a series of islands then turned north and hit the U.S. mainland. 

Days later came Maria, the third storm this season to register among the top-four most devastating hurricanes in dollar terms to ever make landfall in the U.S. (Maria seems likely to be remembered as among the worst humanitarian disasters America has ever seen, with 40 percent of Puerto Rico still without running water, power out for likely six months, and native agriculture devastated for a full year.)


 For years, we’ve conceived of climate change in terms of sea level, meaning it was often possible to believe its devastating impacts would be felt mostly by those living elsewhere, on the coasts; extreme weather seems poised to break that delusion, beginning with hurricanes. And then the unprecedented California wildfires broke out over the weekend, fueled by the Diablo Winds, killing 17 already and burning through 115,000 acres across several counties by Wednesday, casting even the sky above Disneyland in an eerie postapocalyptic orange glow and lighting up satellite images with flames visible from space.

 The smoke was visible from there, too.
It is tempting to look at this string of disasters and think, Climate change is here. 

Both hurricanes and wildfires are made worse by warming, with as much as 30 percent of the strength of hurricanes like Harvey and Maria attributable to climate change, and wildfire season both extended and exacerbated by it. 

As the journalist Malcolm Harris put it blithely on Twitter, “There didn’t used to be a major natural disaster every single day.”

What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal. 

It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship.

But the truth is actually far scarier than “welcome to the new normal.”

 The climate system we have been observing since August, the one that has pummeled the planet again and again and exposed even the world’s wealthiest country as unable (or at least unwilling) to properly respond to its destruction, is not our bleak future. 

It is, by definition, a beyond-best-case scenario for warming and all the climate disasters that will bring. 

Even if, miraculously, the planet immediately ceased emitting carbon into the atmosphere, we’d still be due for some additional warming, and therefore some climate-disaster shakeout, from just the stuff we’ve put into the air already. 

But of course we’re very far from zeroing out on carbon, and therefore very far from stalling climate change.

 A recent debate has centered around the question of whether it is even conceivably possible for the planet to pull up short of one-point-five degrees Celsius of warming, which means, at the absolute very least, we have 50 percent more warming to go (since we’re at about one degree already). But even most optimistic experts expect we’ll at least hit two degrees, and possibly two-point-five or even three. 

That means as much as 200 percent more warming ahead of us.

 And what that means for extreme weather and climate disasters is horrifying.

Watch: How Climate Change Is Creating More Powerful Hurricanes
Of course, there is also an enormous variance in weather, and we shouldn’t expect, say, that next year’s hurricane season will be necessarily as bad as this one, or worse, or that next year’s wildfire season will be as bad as this one, or worse, even as the planet continues to warm.

 We are probably dealing with a lot of bad luck in 2017 (and that’s not even counting the earthquakes, unrelated to climate, that shook Mexico last month, reducing whole neighborhoods to rubble). But, over time, the trend lines are inarguable: Climate change will give us more devastating hurricanes than we have now, and more horrible wildfires, as well as more tornadoes and droughts and heat waves and floods.
What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal.

It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship. 

Perhaps because of the exhausting false debate about whether climate change is “real,” too many of us have developed a misleading impression that its effects are binary. 

But global warming is not “yes” or “no,” it is a function that gets worse over time as long as we continue to produce greenhouse gas. 

And so the experience of life in a climate transformed by human activity is not just a matter of stepping from one stable environment into another, somewhat worse one, no matter how degraded or destructive the transformed climate is.

 The effects will grow and build as the planet continues to warm: from one degree to one-point-five to almost certainly two degrees and beyond.

 The last few months of climate disasters may look like about as much as the planet can take. 

But things are only going to get worse.

Press link for more: NYMag.com

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More disasters are on the way. #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol 

Here’s How Puerto Ricans Are Talking About Climate Change
“More climate disasters are on the way. We need to start preparing now.”

ERIC HOLTHAUSSEP. 30, 2017 6:00 AM


GENESIS LOZADA, 20 years old, looks out on her neighborhood surrounded by floodwater. Carol Guzy/ZUMA
This story was originally published by Grist and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. 
Millions of people in the Caribbean are getting a glimpse of a future that more and more people around the world will soon experience. 

This month’s hurricanes are the storms scientists have warned us about for decades.

 They have arrived — causing heartbreak and agony, wrecking homes and destroying lives.


For the millions more friends and family members watching and waiting on the U.S. mainland and elsewhere, word from their loved ones can’t come soon enough.

 One week after Hurricane Maria made landfall, Puerto Rico remains in a state of disarray, and communication is still largely cut off to most of the island.
Food and clean drinking water have been slow to arrive. 

And until recently, what had arrived was stuck in port — hampered by a combination of infrastructure failures and distracted leadership in Washington. 

It has all the makings of what could easily turn out to be a disaster nearly without parallel in modern American history.
Over the past 36 hours, I’ve communicated with more than a dozen people inside Puerto Rico, as well as those who have family there. 

The conversations have taken place via phone, email, and social media.
Here is what they told me about what life is like on the island right now for themselves or for their loved ones.

 These are the words of people on the front lines of climate change. (These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Ly Pérez, San Juan, Puerto Rico (reached via text message)
I am a biology student at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. I just got cell service since it went down from María. 

It’s the first time I saw pictures, and it’s absolutely horrifying. 

For the past week, our only way of learning what was happening around us was through the radio. 

They kept mentioning the word “disaster,” and your mind would create scenarios. 

But in no way does it compare to the absolutely heartbreaking reality.
There was a lot of optimism right after the hurricane.

 I drove around the metropolitan area near home and saw the destruction and thought: We will get through this. But seeing the actual pictures now, after the cell service has been restored, it’s really difficult to stay hopeful. 

It’s as if being blind to all the destruction because of the communication blackout was what was keeping us hopeful because we didn’t fully comprehend what a horrible reality we had ahead of us.
We knew it was bad, but never this bad.

 I’ve been a week without cellphone reception, water, or electricity, and after seeing those pictures I’ve never felt so blessed in my life.


Norman Benitez, Caguas, Puerto Rico (reached via Twitter)
We just got cell service today (very limited). 

My wife and daughter worked in hotels; they now have no job. 

I’m disabled temporarily due to knee operation, and we have small children to attend to.

 We don’t see ANY of the help they’re talking about, etc. And we have to stand on daily lines UNDER THE PUNISHING SUN just to get two bags of ice. 

The lines for gas are more critical and dangerous.
Brian Aronson, San Juan (reached by phone)
Q.What’s it been like the past few days?
A.I don’t really know how to even answer that question. 

There’s a lot of shock and confusion.
My home is on the beach, it’s fine. 

But my office has five feet of sewage in it, and I have a smashed car. 

I want to get my family out of here. We heard gunshots an hour ago. We got to lock up tighter than we ever have before. A week from now, I hope my wife and 4-and-a-half-year-old child will be in Miami.
We’re going to be feeling this for a really long time, long after the lights come back on and the streets get cleared. 

There isn’t a tree that isn’t damaged. After a block of walking around, you just think “this shit is everywhere.”
How do you rebuild a whole island? 

I don’t even know what that means.
Kevin Alers, Carolina, Puerto Rico (reached via Twitter)
People sleep in gas stations for days waiting for the gas truck to arrive. Out of 1,600 cell towers only 300, approximately, work; 99.7 percent [of people] are still with no power, and still no plans on how to get the grid back online.
“Seeing the actual pictures now, after the cell service has been restored, it’s really difficult to stay hopeful.”

I am a business owner. 

I run a small digital and social media shop on the island, and I have lost contact with all my clients do to the failure of comms.

 Yesterday I bought a one-way ticket to Miami, and I don’t know when I’m coming back. I have to provide for my family. 

We don’t want a bailout — we just want to be treated equally. 

We deserve it!!

Aida Sued, San Jose, California (reached by phone)
Aida’s sister Ana is a pharmacist in Guayama, a city in southeast Puerto Rico, near where Maria made landfall. 

Ana has a satellite phone and is in daily contact with Aida.
Q.What’s happening right now for you and your family?
A. It’s been the hardest week ever. 

I was one of the few people to hear from my sister within 36 hours [of Maria’s landfall], but there’s still families waiting to hear from their loved ones.
She managed to get her pharmacy open, but I’m worried for her safety. As a backup plan, she had a satellite phone just in case for her patients, people being able to get their prescriptions. 

People are scared, they’re running out of food.
We were told, growing up, that to prepare for a hurricane, you need five days of food and water. 

After that you expect the grocery stores to open or help to arrive. 

It’s been five days. 

It’s hell right now. 

There’s just no words to describe it.

 People are starting to get desperate. 

They’re realizing this is long term. 

They don’t have cash. They don’t have anywhere to buy goods. It’s a humanitarian crisis. They need help, like yesterday.
Wanda Cintron, Frederick, Maryland (reached by phone):
As days continue passing, we continue to see images and horror stories. No way I can sleep or feel good seeing the disaster my island is going through. 

It’s a very desperate feeling not knowing how your family is.

 You are seeing the stories going around of people with no power, no gas. People in the island right now are like crazy, wondering if their family is OK.
“I want to get my family out of here. 

We heard gunshots an hour ago. 

We got to lock up tighter than we ever have before.”

One thing that’s happening is people are saying: “If you have a phone and you have a signal, just take a picture of people and say, ‘PR, we are O.K.’ 

Just post it on social media, and hopefully it will arrive to whoever knows that person.”
Nancy Negron, Philadelphia (reached by phone)
A former member of President Obama’s White House Task Force on Puerto Rico, Negron says the group has reorganized on an ad-hoc basis in the wake of Maria. 

She has yet to make contact with her family and friends on the island.
We talk daily to the governor’s office in Puerto Rico. 

We really are just trying to avoid a Caribbean version of Katrina right now.
Basic food, water, medicine, supplies are not reaching the people equitably. There are people on the island who have run out of food and water. 

I’m livid. 

The only thing that keeps me going is working, but time is just not on our side.
If we can do this as volunteers from the outside, what the heck is taking our administration so long? 

We need all hands on deck, and we don’t have them right now.

 That, to me, feels criminal.
If folks stop talking about it, we’re going to be in big trouble. 

More climate disasters are on the way. 

We need to start preparing now.
Regina Hernandez, Atlanta, Georgia (reached via Twitter)
My grandma is 89, and we’re hoping she gets out of Puerto Rico tomorrow at 3:30 p.m.

 She never regained power from Hurricane Irma. 

This needs more awareness and attention. 

The anxiety and stress sitting here with no communication keeps my family and I up at night.
Laura González, London, England (reached via Twitter)
My family is there. 

I’m in grad school in London and am the only link they have to outside world via my dad’s barely functioning WhatsApp. 

There are hundreds of nursing homes currently without power or running water or communications.
“People are starting to get desperate. They’re realizing this is long term. They don’t have cash. They don’t have anywhere to buy goods. It’s a humanitarian crisis. They need help, like yesterday.”

We’ve been desperately trying to find a flight out for my grandmother with Alzheimer’s, who’s in a nursing home in precarious conditions.

 I fortunately managed to get a flight for [my grandmother] this Friday to my aunt’s house in the U.S., only to find that airlines keep canceling pre-sold flights because airplanes would have to fly over empty, and no one knows when the airport will actually open to commercial airlines. 

They keep pushing the date, and official info is scarce. 

Millions of vulnerable people are stranded.
Desiree Nazario-Bucobo, New York, New York (reached by phone)
I have a 90-year-old great aunt and a cousin that survived the storm in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. 

Last night after several tries, we were finally able to make contact with them. 

They told us they feel that they are living on the forgotten island.
It’s been heartbreaking waiting this long. 

As far as I know, they’ve been going to a local hotel just to stay in air conditioning. With my great aunt’s age, she can’t stay in the heat for too long. 

They don’t have too much access to media coverage or information. 

As far as they know, the power is going to come on tomorrow. 

My aunt wants to stay in the house because she’s afraid otherwise looters or squatters might try to break in. 

They live right next to an old army base, I’m hoping that eventually they’ll be able to get supplies through there.
I was living in Long Island when Sandy hit, and for two weeks I didn’t have power either, so I have an idea of what they might be going through. But we weren’t in the Caribbean, so there was no 100-degree temperatures with humid air. I’m no climate expert, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence there’s been so many bad hurricanes all at once.

Press link for more: Mother Jones

Heatwaves in September #ClimateChange #auspol #StopAdani 

Late-September heat wave leaves climate experts stunned.
“Never been a heat wave of this duration and magnitude this late in the season,” reports NOAA
Sep 27, 2017, 4:06 pm


Places where temperatures are projected to be within one degree of a record high Wednesday. CREDIT: National Weather Service via WashPost/WeatherBell.com.

Century-old records across the Midwest and East Coast are being shattered by a monster late-September heat wave — the kind of extreme weather we can expect to get much worse thanks to President Donald Trump’s policies to undermine domestic and global climate action.

[And Australian government’s determination to go ahead with the Adani Coal Mine] 
“There has never been a heat wave of this duration and magnitude this late in the season in Chicago,” the National Weather Service reported Tuesday evening.
From Wednesday through Tuesday, for example, Chicago sweltered through “the only occurrence on record of 7+ consecutive 90°[F] days entirely within September.”

 Every day of the heatwave was 92°F or above, and every one set a new record high for that date.
“Summer in some regions of the world will become one long heatwave even if global average temperatures rise only 2°C [3.6ºF] above pre-industrial levels,” finds a study published Monday in Nature Scientific Reports. 

The Paris climate agreement, which Trump has decided to pull out of, seeks to limit global warming to “well below” 3.6ºF.
On Wednesday, another study showed the connection between deadly heat waves and climate change. 

Scientists with World Weather Attribution (WWA) released an analysis of Europe’s blistering summer heat, which included the heat wave so deadly it was nicknamed “Lucifer.” 

The researchers found, “climate change increased the chances of seeing a summer as hot as 2017 by at least a factor of 10 and a heat wave like Lucifer by at least a factor of four since 1900″ (emphasis in original).
New study: ‘Super heat waves’ of 131°F coming if global warming continues unchecked
Back in the United States, the current heat wave has set records across the Midwest and East. 

On Monday, 92ºF was the hottest Burlington, Vermont had ever been that late in the year — by a full seven degrees, the Washington Post reported. On Sunday and Monday, Buffalo, New York saw its latest-ever consecutive 90ºF days. Records for hottest day or hottest series of days this late in the year were crushed in Minneapolis; northern Maine; Ottawa, Canada; and Green Bay, Wisconsin.
“It’s perhaps obvious that global warming means more frequent and intense heat waves,” climatologist Michael Mann noted in an email to ThinkProgress. “But what is less obvious is how climate change may be impacting the behavior of the jet stream in way that causes more persistent weather extremes, giving us even more extreme and longer-duration heat waves than we would otherwise expect.”
The National Weather Service tweeted out a chart showing this very effect.


The scientific evidence and analysis is getting stronger and stronger that carbon pollution is changing the jet stream in ways that cause high pressure ridges that block or stall weather patterns.

 A similar effect stalled Superstorm Harvey over Houston, leading to a once-in-25,000-year deluge.
“Many of the worst heat waves in recent history, including the 2003 European heat wave and the 2011 Texas/Oklahoma heat wave, were associated with this effect,” Mann said.
CO2 is changing the jet stream in ways that will create more Harveys
Climate science predicted a weaker jet stream, and Harvey stalled because of a weakened jet stream.
The latest science makes it very clear that stronger heat waves are becoming far more likely, thanks to global warming — and that the warmer it gets the worse the heat waves will get.
Indeed, the new Nature Scientific Reports study finds that for each additional 1.8°F of global warming during the summer, there would likely be:
15 to 28 more heat wave days each year

Heat waves would last 3 to 18 days longer

The peak intensity of heatwaves will increase 2.2°F to 3.4°F

But while the rest of the world is working to limit additional warming as much as possible, Trump’s policies would take us to upwards of 5.4°F or more additional warming. In the worst case, we can see as many as 80 more heat wave days, heat waves could be 50 days longer, and the peak intensity could be as much as 10°F higher than it is now.

Press link for more: Think Progress

Sea Level 2M Higher by 2100 #StopAdani #ClimateChange #Auspol #Qldpol 

Fingerprinting’ the Ocean to Predict Devastating Sea Level Rise
Scientists are using satellites to identify where increasing sea levels could result in the most destructive storm surge as hurricanes grow more powerful due to climate change.
Sep. 18, 2017

The St. Johns River rises from storm surge flood waters from Hurricane Irma on September 11, 2017, in Jacksonville, Florida.Sean Rayford/Getty Images/AFP

Scientists are “fingerprinting” sea level rise around the world in an effort to identify coastal areas most at risk from devastating storm surge, as hurricanes grow increasingly destructive.
Warming ocean temperatures due to climate change can fuel more powerful storms. 

Hurricane-force winds push water onto land, putting lives and property at risk while rising sea levels in coastal areas have magnified the impact of such storm surge.

 Now a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters verifies the accuracy of a satellite-based monitoring tool called “sea level fingerprinting.” 

The technology detects varying patterns in regional sea levels, which can be used for predicting how climate change will affect future storm surge in flood-prone coastal areas.
“Sea level fingerprints tell us about how sea level rises regionally around the globe due to melting ice sheets and changes in water storage,” said the study’s lead author, Isabella Velicogna, a professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine, and a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Sea level fingerprints will provide information on where sea level rises faster and therefore the coastline is more vulnerable to storm surge.”
The bulk of the data used for the project was collected by a pair of Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites that can detect movement of water on Earth – such as sea level rise or depletion of freshwater aquifers – by measuring the resulting gravitational changes. Velicogna and her coauthor Chia-Wei Hsu, a postdoctoral scholar at U.C. Irvine, compared 12 years of sea level fingerprint data with data taken by seafloor pressure sensors that measure the overlying mass of water and ice. While the physical measurements are considered most accurate, Velicogna and Hsu found the satellite-derived measurements were very similar.
The scientists concluded that the satellite data provides a fairly accurate picture of sea level fingerprints that could create a roadmap for better placement of seafloor pressure sensors. These sensors may be used to improve sea level fingerprint calculations in the future – and help people in vulnerable coastal zones better understand the extent of storm surge when a hurricane strikes. Velicogna said that based on sea level fingerprint data, it’s already become clear which geographic regions are most vulnerable to floods.
“The greatest rise is not near the ice sheets – where sea level will actually fall – but far from the ice sheets,” said Velicogna. “So, the largest increase in sea level is going to be at low latitudes” where the water mass of melted ice is redistributed over large areas.


Global sea levels have increased by an average of 3in (8cm) globally since 1992, with some areas experiencing a rise greater than 9in (23cm), according to NASA. If climate change continues at its current pace, increased warming may melt enough of Earth’s ice caps, ice sheets and glaciers to raise average sea levels as much as 6.6ft (2m) by 2100.
The two GRACE satellites have been collecting data about Earth’s gravity field for the past 15 years, allowing scientists for the first time to calculate the depletion of freshwater supplies in aquifers around the world and the rate at which glaciers are melting. But one of the satellites has nearly exhausted its nitrogen fuel supply and its battery is failing. While NASA and its partner, the German Aerospace Center, have stabilized the failing satellite, they announced last week that both GRACE satellites would be decommissioned after a final mission ends in November. Now the space agencies are rushing to put a new pair of satellites, GRACE-Follow-On, into orbit by early 2018 to avoid an interruption in the collection of crucial data.
In the meantime, scientists will continue monitoring the seas in an attempt to predict floods before they happen, especially before major storms. “Sea level fingerprints will provide information on where sea level rises faster and therefore the coastline is more vulnerable to storm surge,” said Velicogna.

Press Link for more: News Deeply.Com

We’re in a race against time! Demand climate action #StopAdani #auspol 

We’re in a race against time!
A most important video. Every thing is at stake & your actions will determine the future of humanity!

We need a new language. #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

Climate optimism has been a disaster. 

We need a new language – desperately | Ellie Mae O’Hagan
Ellie Mae O’HaganThursday 21 September 2017 23.24 AEST

 A flooded home in Houston, with tattered US flag


A flooded home in Houston. ‘Major parts of the dominant global superpower have been decimated by two Katrina-dwarfing storms in less than a month.’ Photograph: David J Phillip/AP

In 1988, when the scientist James Hansen told a senate committee that it was “time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here”, those who took him seriously assumed that if they just persisted with emphasising that this terrible fact would eventually destroy us, action would be taken.

 Instead, the opposite happened: when confronted with the awful reality of climate change, most people tended to retreat into a panglossian vision of the future, or simply didn’t want to hear about it.

A lot of work has been done since to understand why climate change is so uniquely paralysing, most prominently by George Marshall, author of the book Don’t Even Think About It. 

Marshall describes climate change as “a perfect and undetectable crime everyone contributes to but for which no one has a motive”. 

Climate change is both too near and too far for us to be able to internalise: too near because we make it worse with every minute act of our daily lives; too far because until now it has been something that affects foreign people in foreign countries, or future versions of ourselves that we can only conceive of ephemerally.

It is also too massive. 

The truth is if we don’t take action on climate change now, the food shortages, mass migration and political turmoil it will cause could see the collapse of civilisation in our lifetimes. 

Which of us can live with that knowledge?
It’s not surprising, then, that some years ago climate activists switched to a message of optimism.

 They listened to studies that showed optimism was more galvanising than despair, and they began to talk about hope, empowerment, and success stories.

 They waited for some grand extreme weather event to make the final pieces fall into place. 

Maybe the submerging of New Orleans would be it; maybe some of the rich white people who were battered by Hurricane Sandy would use their privilege to demand action. 

Maybe Harvey or Irma – or now Maria – would cause us to snap out of our stupor. 

It hasn’t happened.

Instead what I think a message of optimism has done is create a giant canyon between the reality of climate change and most people’s perception of it.

 An optimistic message has led to complacency – “people are saying it’s doable so it will probably be fine” – and championing success stories has convinced people that the pathetic, threadbare action taken by governments so far is sufficient.

 I’ve lost count of the sheer number of politically engaged, conscientious people I’ve met who have simply no idea how high the stakes are.

It may be that if the time for a mass movement is not now, there won’t be one

The fact is, nobody knows how to solve the riddle of persuading the public to demand action on climate change.

 I certainly don’t have the answers.

 But I do think we need to contemplate that something is going disastrously wrong here – that perhaps it’s time to get back to the drawing board and rethink how we talk about climate change.
Two significant things have happened since that senate committee hearing in 1988: the first is the Paris agreement in 2015 to try to limit warming to 1.5C – research out this week shows this is still possible. 

The second is that major parts of the dominant global superpower have been decimated by two Katrina-dwarfing storms in less than a month. 

Circumstances have changed in the past 30 years: climate change is a material fact now, and we have a specific target to aim for, to limit the damage it will cause.
‘We have to challenge the pervasive silence on climate change.’ George Marshall, the author of Don’t Even Think About It, speaks at a Guardian event.

A new campaign could centre on the demand for governments to meet the 1.5C target, emphasising how dire the consequences will be if we don’t.

 People don’t need to imagine what climate change looks like any more: they can see it in the sea water that has enveloped the islands of the Caribbean, the drowning houses in Houston, the communiques from those who couldn’t escape, and prepared themselves to lose everything.

 In Britain we’ve seen floodwater inundate entire villages; a pub that became a thoroughfare for a swollen river. 

This is what catastrophe on our doorsteps looks like, and perhaps it’s time we link these images to climate change with as much gusto as the fossil fuel industry denies it.
Could the language of emergency work?

 It has never been tried with as much meteorological evidence as we have now, and we’ve never had a target as clear and unanimous as the one agreed in Paris. 

The one thing I know is that the events of the last few months have changed the game, and this is the moment to start debating a new way to talk about climate change. 

It may be that if the time for a mass movement is not now, there won’t be one.

• Ellie Mae O’Hagan is an editor at openDemocracy, and a freelance journalist

Press link for more: The Guardian

Harvey, Irma & now Maria A world underwater! #climateChange #StopAdani 

Understanding Irma, Harvey and a world underwater!
Explaining the hurricanes, monsoons and floods of our warming world
By: Daniel Macmillen Voskoboynik

Photo Credit: Punit Paranjpe, Reuters

At the time of writing, Irma, the most powerful known hurricane in the history of Atlantic, is devastating the Northeastern Caribbean. 

St Maarten and Barbuda have suffered unspeakable destruction. 

Monsoonal storms and floods have killed over a thousand people in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, forcing millions from their communities. 

Over the last weeks, we have also seen torrential rains ravage countless homes across our shared planet, from Yemen, to Mexico, to Nigeria.
Much has been written about these deluges.

 What follows is not an attempt to add to the litany of words, but to bring ideas together for the time-starved reader.

To begin, it’s important to clear the air.

 The idea of a natural disaster is misguided.

 All climate-driven human catastrophes are caused by the interaction of two things: climate conditions and societal conditions.


Whenever you see a news story relating to an environmental disaster, it’s important to look out for both types of conditions. 

Here are some short explainers that can hopefully be of use to you, and help you to understand the expressions of our warming world.

Climate Conditions


A flooded neighbourhood in Makurdi, Benue in Nigeria. Photo Credit: Environews Nigeria.

In every one of these incidents, we see intense environmental conditions: powerful winds, torrential rains, storm surges. 

Many of these conditions are part of the natural rhythyms and seasons of the planet, but increasingly, climate change is making its mark.

Where can the authorship of climate change be found?

 Storms are complex.

 The atmospheric science around hurricanes, monsoons and climate change is still developing, often challenging our intuitions. 

But this much is clear.

 What temperature rise and resulting climate change do is disrupt patterns of weather.

 Heat waves become longer, hotter and more regular.

 Rains become more torrential, more concentrated, more dispersed. 

Windspeeds rise. 

Waters warm. 

Droughts become longer, more intense and extensive. 

Floods become more frequent, forceful, and destructive. 

Extreme heat becomes more common and forceful.

 As climate scientist Katharine Haydoe explains, climate change takes familiar weather patterns and “[puts] them on steroids.”


In relation to water, such patterns interact in important ways.

 Rising temperatures accelerate the process of evaporation, removing more water from land, lakes and rivers. 

That means our air carries higher levels of moisture: when it rains, it rains harder. 

This is defined by the Clausius-Clapeyron relation: for every 1C rise in temperature, the air can hold 7% more water.

The accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere traps heat, raising the temperatures of both the atmosphere and the ocean. 

Warmer ocean water fuels monsoons and hurricanes; Irma is currently travelling over water 1C warmer than normal.

 In the Himalayas, rising temperatures increase glacial melt, raising the level of rivers fed by glaciers; this in turn, increases the probability of flooding.

Climate change does not directly cause. It inflames, it exacerbates, it increases risks, it loads the dice. Such words may feel evasive, but they are more accurate. Rather than the pain itself, climate change is like a wind that blows on all the embers that are already there. It’s the detonator, not the explosive.

Models predict that extreme rain events will be more frequent, will extend to unprecedented areas, and will experience. Such events will defy our own expectations; Hurricane Harve, classed as a “500-year” storm, is the third such storm to hit Houston in three years.

Many have noted that the climate extremes we are seeing may become the “new normal”, but even this is misleading. Under current trends and scenarios, the “new normal” may be a world where the barrier of expectation is always pushed further back, a horizon of pain in constant retreat.

Human Conditions
The severity of a storm is only part of the equation of climate violence.

 The societies, the structures, the buildings, the healthcare systems, and the ecologies that storms meet will determine their impacts.

So be attentive to infrastructure.

 Be attentive to response systems, to the resources and deployment of emergency services. 

Be attentive to how evacuations unfold.

Be attentive to natural infrastructure. 

We know that wetlands, forests, mangroves and other ecosystems play vital roles in flood control. What is the state of such ecosystems in areas hit by storms? What actions have societies taken to clear or care for such ecosystems?

Be attentive to poverty. To history. To corruption. To how a city has been planned. To state neglect and state priorities. To where budget cuts have been made. To a region’s history of disaster. To how environmental risks have been denied and ignored. To wider histories of dispossession and vulnerability.

Be attentive to inequalities. To the imposed neglect of communities. Who lives in flood plains or flood ways? Which populations have been overlooked? How does climate violence affect different groups in different ways?

Be attentive to reconstruction. To flood insurance. To conflicts of interest between recovery and profitable construction.

To help illustrate the importance of human context and social conditions, here are just some examples from the last weeks.

San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, is one of the major cities affected by the path of Irma, and faces major power outage from the impact of the storm. Some areas could be left without power for up to half a year. But what explains the fragility of the country’s energy grid? The region’s decade-long recession, a longstanding process of austerity, the country’s debt burden, a historical process of colonial impoverishment, all contribute.


In Houston, buffeted by Harvey, despite numerous warnings, few measures were implemented to prepare or adapt a city for such events. 

Safety was sacrificed on the altar of urban expansion. 

Water-absorbing wetlands were paved over, replaced with concrete. 

Over thirty percent of coastal prairies, basins that can catch water, were cleared through development in the last two twenty-five years. 

Thousands of homes were built in areas highly vulnerable to flooding.

In central Nigeria, mainly in the state of Benue, over 100,000 people have been displaced by torrential rains and flooding.

 Ill preparation, clogged waterways, poor drainage system, absent long-term planning, and inadequate dam management in Nigeria and up-river Cameroon, all contributed to the toll.

In Bihar, West Bengal and Assad, hundreds of flooded villages have been deserted and abandoned. Inequality, poverty, unpreparedness, and absent infrastructure all play protagonist roles in aggravating such monsoonal impacts.

The city of Mumbai has been badly affected by days of incessant rainfall, ten times the usual levels. Dozens have been killed, hospitals flooded, and buildings collapsed. Such torrential rain and devastating recalls late July in 2005, when similar severe rains devastated the city, claiming hundreds of lives, washing thousands of homes away. Stagnating floodwaters spread disease and led to outbreaks of diarrhoea, leptospirosis and dengue.

But as we understand Mumbai’s floods, where does part of the blame lie? 

Majorly, in relentless poverty and reckless urbanisation. 

Major development schemes narrowed riverways, destroyed mangroves, and depleted water bodies. A report by a commission of concerned citizens in wake of the 2005 floods wrote, “the future of Mumbai is being strangulated by the politician-builder nexus, which has vitiated even the redevelopment of slums”. Profiteering does not protect.

Even the breadth of a disaster response is determined by disparity: compare the budget of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency ($15.5 billion), with India’s equivalent authority ($100 million).

Across all these countries and cases, the law of impact inequality holds: the poorest, the marginalized, the oppressed, the ignored, the subjugated, and the forgotten, will all be disproportionately affected by disaster, concentrated in those areas with higher environmental risk.

This tragic law meets a bitter reality: not every human life, not every neighbourhood, not every city, not every country, is worth the same. 

This is perhaps best represented in the coverage of established media outlets, whose eye is rarely equitable. In the last weeks, the known death toll of floods and mudslides affecting Congo, Niger, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone was twenty-five times higher than that of Harvey; but such incidents were mere footnotes in our published imagination.

Understanding Pain and Recovery

Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that unless we are fully present, we often struggle to understand the sadness wrought by climate violence. 

Our newspapers focus on numbers: lives lost, houses destroyed, people displaced, economic damage. These become the memorialised markers of suffering, but they fail to capture the sheer volume of possible pain.

What happens when you returned to your flooded home or village? What registers the work of “recovery”: searching for loved ones, burying bodies, clearing, cleaning, calculating costs, scrubbing mold, coping, handling mental strain and anguish? What speaks of the emptied bank accounts, the swept crops, the price of disaster food, rent owed to landlords for unliveable homes, demolished possessions?

The media is a caravansary that moves on. Within weeks, storm seasons will end. Waters will recede. Politicians will assure. We will return to the public spectacle of scandals and statements. The importance of tackling, preventing and bracing for climate violence will fade into the background of urgency. Cameras will turn away from the daily mundanity of “recovery”, impossible for so many. The dimming of media coverage will need to be replaced by the power of our memory and imagination.

Such silences and disparities in coverage reminds us that as we run further into an era of accelerating climate violence, we do not yet have an apparatus of attention that may allow for a humane, proportionate response to our global ecological crisis.

Even more than that, these storms are just a fraction of the panorama of climate violence. 

Climate change isn’t just about discrete episodes of extreme weather: floods, hurricanes, rains, mudslides, droughts and heat waves. 

It’s also the slow violence of gradually shifting environmental patterns: the patient depletion of water bodies, the ongoing loss of soil fertility, the long-term movement of rains, the growing unpredictability of weather.

We are currently not prepared for an era of encroaching environmental violence; the urgency of our reality is not synchronised with the urgency of our actions.

 But we continue to hold the power both to significantly reduce the worst possibilities of climate change, and prepare for its inevitabilities by building fairer and more flourishing societies. 

Let us hope that the horrific storms of the last weeks can serve as a wake-up call.

Press link for more: World at 1C

UN Secretary General “We see the consequences daily!” #ClimateChange #StopAdani  

Secretary-General’s remarks at High-Level Stakeholder Dialogue on Climate Change [as delivered]
You are the backbone of the global movement that led to the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015. 
In Paris, we rose to a global challenge.
Now we have an even bigger challenge: raising ambition and staying on course.
Emissions are going down, but not enough.  
The temperature is still rising.

We see the consequences daily.
We count the costs in lives, livelihoods and damaged economies.
Since 2008 – you know better than me – some 20 million people a year have been forcibly displaced by floods, storms, fires and extreme temperature.


Many more are on the move due to droughts and sea level rise and climate change is not a distant problem for future generations. 
It is here, it is now, and we need to deal with it.
Governments alone cannot handle the enormity of this challenge, even when they want, which is not always the case.
That is why the Paris Pledge for Action attracted more than 1,300 signatures.  
We are seeing action around the globe and many examples show it.
The shipping industry is working to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint through the Global Industry Alliance.  
In Kenya, innovative solar ‘pay as you go’ mobile companies are providing affordable energy in rural and remote areas. 
Similar public-private partnerships are supporting energy-efficient lighting in key urban areas in Egypt.  
National Centres of excellence on sustainable energy are being established in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – the world capital of oil.
Michael Bloomberg, with the Global Covenant of Mayors, and he is here with us, is leading efforts to build resilient cities. 
I will ask him as my Special Envoy to accelerate and deepen the role of sub-national actors in implementing the Paris Agreement in preparation for the 2019 Climate Summit.
California is convening a Summit of all non-state actors in 2018.  
An increasing number of private companies and businesses are taking the lead in adopting a carbon price. 
In the transport sector, car manufacturers, Tesla, Volkswagen, Volvo and many others are going electric.  
In the tech industry, we see companies like Google and Apple moving towards a target of 100 per cent renewable energy. 
Institutional investors have committed to climate action. 
Financial rule-makers, such as central banks and regulators, are responding to the risks and opportunities of climate change.
But, we still have far to go to make climate action a natural part of the global financial system. 
High-carbon investments are still massive.

The commitments made under the Paris Agreement, in the Nationally Determined Contributions, are clearly insufficient. 
There is at least a 14 Gigaton carbon gap. 
That is why we are here today.
We can change this situation. 
I am ready to work with all you to help remove barriers to your efforts. 
Finding out how and where I can help is my central objective in this meeting. 
I see three areas of focus.
First, growing and deepening your role. 
Let us think about how all stakeholders’ contribution can be recognized and measured against the goals set out in the Paris Agreement.
Second, removing barriers to the mobilization of finances and creating bankable projects. 
Tens of billions of dollars are needed to implement country actions. 
Neither governments nor the public financing mechanism can bear the cost. 
Your contribution is vital.
Third, intensifying efforts in high impact areas, such as technology, energy transmission, carbon pricing, and risk mitigation. 
In 2019, I intend that the Climate Summit will forge even closer alliances between governments and business for implementing the Paris Agreement. 
I hope, together, we can emphatically bend the emission curve by 2020.
Let us expand the limits of the possible. 
You can tell us how.
I look forward to learn with you.
Thank you very much.

Press link for more: UN.ORG

Coal Kills People! #StopAdani #Auspol 

Enough tiptoeing around. 

Let’s make this clear: coal kills people!

Tim HolloLast modified on Monday 18 September 2017 06.12 AEST


Emissions from a coal fired power station in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia.

‘How can journalists and editors report on the politics of coal on one page and bushfires around Sydney in September on another without making the connection?’ Photograph: Ashley Cooper/Getty Images

Coal kills people. 

This isn’t even slightly scientifically controversial.

From the mines to the trains to the climate disruption; from black lung to asthma, heat stress to hunger, fires to floods: coal is killing people in Australia and around the world right now.

Yet we are once again having what passes for political debate about extending the life of coal-fired power stations and, extraordinarily, building new ones.

 The conversation is completely disconnected from the fact that two thirds of Bangladesh was reported to be underwater, record-breaking hurricanes were battering the US, and wildfires were roaring in both the northern and southern hemispheres at the same time.

Even the Greens only talk coyly about the impact of climate change on our “way of life”. 

It’s time we put it clearly: If Malcolm Turnbull, Barnaby Joyce and their colleagues succeed in extending the life of the Liddell power station, let alone building new coal, they will kill people. 

Burning more coal, knowing what we know, is a deliberate act of arson, lighting a match in dry bushland, with homes just around the bend and a hot wind blowing in their direction.
It’s hard to say that. It’s hard to read it.

 But we must come to grips with this connection urgently.
And it is connection – and disconnection – which is at the heart of the problem, and which points the way to the only hope for a solution.
How is it that our politicians can be so drastically disconnected from the consequences of their actions?
 How can citizens not be out on the streets?


 How can corporate executives be continuing business as usual (a business as usual that is moving away from coal, but still nowhere near fast enough to avoid catastrophic climate disruption)? How can journalists and editors report on the politics of coal on one page and bushfires around Sydney in September on another without making the connection?
The answer, I would suggest, is because connection is fundamentally at odds with how we have trained ourselves to see the world. Our economic, social and political system is based around disconnection. And our most vital and urgent task is to find ways to get over that, to draw each other and our ideas together, to see the world as the glorious interconnected ecosystem it is.
We are, today, at the end point of a millennia-long process of disconnection. Since we first built cities and started leaving the land, we have been disconnecting from nature; losing sight of it, quite literally; losing our vocabulary of it, to the extent that blackberry is no longer a fruit to be plucked and eaten but a device to tie us to our desks when we’re on the toilet.
Nature was just the beginning. While this slow severing has been going on for thousands of years, the last few centuries – the reformation, the enlightenment, the industrial revolution, and capitalism – performed the amputation.
In capitalism, we have created the first social organising principle based on selfishness, the first system to make greed, competition, non-cooperation its credo. In Thatcherism, we have the declaration that there is no such thing as society. In neoliberalism, we have a system which alienates us from each other, from our labour, from democracy; a system which declares we have great choice while turning everything into a supermarket aisle full of different but identical toothpastes; a system which insists that we have great freedoms while systematically removing more and more of our capacity to have any real control or influence over, or stake in – anything real in our lives.
That’s why we can have politicians actively discussing doing something which not only makes no economic sense but will actually kill people, while most of the population turns away to binge watch the next series on Netflix.
There is only one way through this – we have to reconnect. And it’s already happening. Around Australia and the world, people are seeking out reconnection in all sorts of ways. We are starting community groups, getting involved in community gardens and food coops, starting childcare and health coops, joining sharing groups instead of buying more stuff. Instead of always doing things on our own, as disconnected individuals, we are looking for innovative ways to work together, to eat together, to live together. And, excitingly, we’re banding together to create social and political forces to be reckoned with.
Bringing it right back to coal, tens of thousands of people are bypassing the politicians and corporations altogether, frustrated by their inability to think beyond coal, and setting up renewable energy cooperatives. From Canberra to Copenhagen, people are pooling their resources to jointly set up solar farms or wind farms, sharing the benefits not only among themselves but with all of us.
If all this seems terribly small, remember – going from 280 to 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is already causing havoc. With a few more parts per million, we could reach tipping points in the climate beyond which unimaginable disaster looms.
But there are tipping points in society, too. And, if we work together to rebuild connection, we can reach that tipping point first. We can turn this around, and maybe not only survive, but thrive.
Tim Hollo is executive director of the Green Institute

Press link for more: The Guardian

#Irma & #Harvey should kill all doubt #climatechange is real. 

Irma and Harvey should kill any doubt that climate change is real

By By Michael E. Mann, Susan J. Hassol and Thomas C. Peterson

As we begin to clean up from Hurricane Harvey, the wettest hurricane on record, dumping up to 50 inches of rain on Houston in three days, and await landfall of Irma, the most powerful hurricane on record in the open Atlantic Ocean, people are asking: What is the role of human-induced climate change in these events, and how else have our own actions increased our risks?

Fundamental physical principles and observed weather trends mean we already know some of the answers — and we have for a long time.
Hurricanes get their energy from warm ocean waters, and the oceans are warming because of the human-caused buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, primarily from the burning of coal, oil and gas.

 The strongest hurricanes have gotten stronger because of global warming.

 Over the past two years, we have witnessed the most intense hurricanes on record for the globe, both hemispheres, the Pacific and now, with Irma, the Atlantic.

We also know that warmer air holds more moisture, and the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere has increased because of human-induced global warming.

 We’ve measured this increase, and it has been unequivocally attributed to human-caused warming. 

That extra moisture causes heavier rainfall, which has also been observed and attributed to our influence on climate. 

We know that rainfall rates in hurricanes are expected to increase in a warmer world, and now we’re living that reality.

And global warming also means higher sea levels, both because ocean water expands as it warms and because ice in the mountains and at the poles melts and makes its way into oceans.

 Sea level rise is accelerating, and storm surge from hurricanes rides on top of higher seas to infiltrate further into our coastal cities.
Heavier rain and higher sea levels can combine to compound flooding in major hurricanes, as the deluges cause flooding that must drain to the sea but can’t do so as quickly because of storm surges. 

Sadly, we saw this effect in play in the catastrophic flooding from Harvey.


We don’t have all of the answers yet. 

There are scientific linkages we’re still trying to work out. 

Harvey, like Hurricane Irene before it in 2011, resulted in record flooding, because of a combination of factors. 

Very warm ocean temperatures meant more moisture in the atmosphere to produce heavy rainfall, yes. 

But both storms were also very slow-moving, nearly stationary at times, which means that rain fell over the same areas for an extended period.
Cutting-edge climate science suggests that such stalled weather patterns could result from a slowed jet stream, itself a consequence — through principles of atmospheric science — of the accelerated warming of the Arctic. 

This is a reminder of how climate changes in far-off regions such as the North Pole can have very real effects on extreme weather faced here in the Lower 48.
These linkages are preliminary, and scientists are still actively studying them. But they are a reminder that surprises may be in store — and not welcome ones — when it comes to the unfolding effects of climate change.

Which leads us, inevitably, to a discussion of policy — and, indeed, politics. Previous administrations focused on adapting to climate change, with an eye to what the planet would look like in the future. 

But events such as Harvey, and probably Irma, show that we have not even adapted to our current climate (which has already changed because of our influence).
The effects of climate change are no longer subtle. 

We are seeing them play out before us here and now. 

And they will only worsen if we fail to act.
The Trump administration, however, seems determined to lead us backward. 

In recent months, we have witnessed a dismantling of the policies put in place by the Obama administration to

 (a) incentivize the necessary move from climate-change-producing fossil fuels toward clean energy, 

(b) increase resilience to climate change effects through sensible regulations on coastal development, and

 (c) continue to fund basic climate research that can inform our assessments of risk and adaptive strategies.

 Ironically, just 10 days before Harvey struck, President Trump rescinded flood protection standards put in place by the Obama administration that would take sea level rise and other climate change effects into account in coastal development plans.

And as Trump kills policies that would reduce the risks of climate disasters, our nation continues to support policies that actually increase our risks.

 For example, without the taxpayer-subsidized National Flood Insurance Program, banks would be less likely to provide mortgages for rebuilding houses in locations that have been flooded before, sometimes repeatedly. 

And the flood insurance program is itself underwater: badly in debt and set to expire at the end of this month unless Congress finds a way to keep it afloat, just as billions of dollars in claims from Harvey come pouring in.
Harvey and Irma are sad reminders that policy matters. At a time when damage from climate change is escalating, we need sensible policy in Washington to protect the citizens of this country, both by reducing future climate change and preparing for its consequences. We should demand better of our leaders.

Press link for more: Washington Post