Climate Refugees

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

Low lying areas of Sydney at risk! #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol

‘The great unknown’: New climate change data lifts the sea-level threat

By Peter Hannam

The giant ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland are melting faster than scientists previously estimated, raising the prospect of faster sea level rise placing at risk low-lying areas of Sydney and similar exposed cities around the world.
New research, including from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has lifted the “plausible” sea level rise by 2100 to as much as two metres to 2.7 metres.
That has superseded earlier estimates, such as the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that placed the likely top range of sea level rise at about one metre if greenhouse gas emission rises continued unabated.
Those higher forecasts have now been included in new mapping by Coastal Risk Australia that combines the estimates with national high-tide data and the shape of our coastline. 
The resulting maps show airports in Sydney, Brisbane and Hobart will be largely under water by 2100 if that two-metre rise happens.
Other areas at risk in Sydney from such a rise include Circular Quay, Wentworth Park, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Woolloomooloo and Rose Bay. (See map below of indicative water-level increases.)

“Our worst case scenario [for 2100] is now looking three times worse than it did previously,” said Nathan Eaton, a senior principal with NGIS, a digital mapping consultancy that compiled the maps.
Elsewhere in NSW, at-risk regions include low-lying parts of Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Ballina and Byron Bay.
Among exposed areas of other states are the Port of Melbourne, St Kilda and Docklands in Melbourne, parts of Noosa, the Gold Coast and Port Douglas in Queensland, and the WACA ground and Cottesloe beach in Perth, WA.
“Every state has got an area that’s massively different [from previous forecasts for 2100],” Mr Eaton said. “For a lot of low-lying areas, it makes the inundation that much further inland.”
Rising seas

NOAA estimates global mean sea levels have risen about 3.4 millimetres a year since 1993, roughly double the average rate of increase during the 20th century. (See chart below).
Even the last century’s pace of increase was the fastest in at least 2800 years, NOAA said.
Global warming is driving the increase in sea levels by melting land ice – such as glaciers and ice sheets – and from the thermal expansion of the warmer oceans.

John Church, a global sea level expert at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW, said other new research indicated Antarctica’s contribution to rising seas appears to particularly sensitive to carbon emissions rates – underscoring the urgency to reduce them.

“With ‘business as usual’ emissions, the questions are when, rather than if, we will cross a two-metre sea-level rise,” Professor Church said. “This scenario would result in major catastrophes and displace many tens of millions of people around the world.” 

Serena Lee, a research fellow and coastal dynamics specialist at Griffith University, said the rate of Antarctic ice melt was “a great unknown”, limited by the relative lack of long-term data and the region’s inaccessibility.
Of particular concern was the melting of the ice sheets from below of ice sheets as they come in contact with warming seas.
The newest studies indicate a two-metre rise by 2100 “would probably be more towards the conservative mean” of outcomes, Dr Lee said.
The mapping tool – which Coastal Risk say should not be relied upon for site specific decision making – may itself underestimate the speed threats will increase for some localities.
Some areas of Australia, particularly the north, are recording much higher rates of sea level increase than the global average, Dr Lee said.
The mapping also doesn’t take into account the impacts of more extreme weather, such as the destructive storm surge triggered by last June’s huge east coast low off NSW.
Cyclone Debbie also caused severe flooding in northern NSW in some of the regions in the state that are also particularly exposed to rising seas. 
Even with those uncertainties, the updated mapping “can’t do anything but help someone’s understanding” of those changing coastal, ocean and flooding processes, Dr Lee said.

Press link for more: SMH.COM

Let’s Change The Conversation #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

Let’s Change The Conversation From Climate Change To ‘Shared Benefits’

By Max Guinn 

Founder of Kids Eco Club

Max Guinn,16, is the founder of Kids Eco Club (www.kidsecoclub.org), an organization of over 100,000 K-12 students, which raises eco-consciousness through school environmental clubs. 

Max has collaborated with, and been recognized by, organizations such as the United Nations,The Sierra Club, the State of California, the City of San Diego – and even the Dalai Lama – as a leader in youth engagement in environmental stewardship. 

Recently, Max also co-founded Climate Change Is 4 Real (www.ccis4r.com), to virtually connect thought leaders from all academic disciplines with student groups and educators to share facts, inspiration, and scalable solutions, to promote ocean conservation, and combat human-caused climate change and mass animal extinction.
Last September, I emailed President Obama. 

His response helped me to focus on what matters. He wrote,

“Progress doesn’t come easily, and it hasn’t always followed a straight line. 

Keeping our world’s air, water, and land clean and safe takes work from all of us, and voices like yours are sparking the conversations that will help us get to where we need to be.

 I will continue pushing to protect the environment as long as I am President and beyond, and I encourage you to stay engaged as well.”
But I worry that adults will never agree on climate change.

 The issue has become too political. 

The words “climate change” have even been scrubbed from government websites!

 Our current President refers to climate change as “a hoax.” 


Most people have no interest in discussing it.

 Try talking about C02 levels or climate science and see how far you get. 

The reality is that climate change has become a matter of opinion, rather than a matter of scientific fact.

 It has made the opinion of the ordinary person with no scientific background equal to the findings of eminent scientists who have devoted their lives and education to the study of the problem.

Only 27 percent of Americans surveyed in a 2016 Pew study agreed with the statement that, “almost all” climate scientists believe climate change is real and primarily caused by humans.

 Contrast this to multiple peer-reviewed scientific studies finding that 97 percent of climate scientists believe climate change is real and that humans are the main contributor. 

In an age of alternative facts and a distrust of science, how do we talk about climate change and the need for action without turning people off?
Stanford Professor Rob Jackson thinks we should stop arguing over climate change and start talking about the shared benefits of addressing problems, like health, green energy jobs, and safety.

 My experience tells me that he is right.
theguardian.com

Renewable Energy Jobs

Six years ago, just before I turned 10, I started a non-profit called Kids Eco Club to inspire kids to care for the planet, its wildlife and each other.

 It starts and supports environmental clubs in K-12 schools.

 Over 100,000 kids now participate annually in Kids Eco Club activities, learning the skills necessary to lead, and to understand the issues facing our world, including climate change. 

Kids Eco Club is successful because we focus on shared values rather than C02 levels.

 Take a class snorkeling, and everyone becomes interested in protecting coral reefs.

 Bring local wildlife into the classroom, and kids will fight for green energy and clean water to protect their habitat. Passion drives us.

kidsecoclub.org

Porcupine classroom visit

My generation does not have the luxury of addressing human-caused climate change as callously or as passively as the generations before us ― because we are running out of time. 

Agriculture, deforestation, and dependence on fossil fuels release greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere, trapping heat, making the Earth warmer. 

The hottest year on record? 

Last year, 2016.

 A warmer Earth creates major impacts everywhere: on ecosystems, oceans, weather.

 Sea levels are rising because the polar ice caps are melting, and the oceans are warming, which causes them to expand. Severe weather events are created from warmer oceans – warmer water, more evaporation, clouds, and rain―causing greater storm damage, more flooding, and, ironically, larger wildfires and more severe droughts since weather patterns are also changing.

graphics.latimes.com

The morning Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans

Imagine three out of every four animal species you know disappearing off the face of the Earth.

 According to the Center for Biological Diversity, we are currently experiencing the worst species die-off since dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago. 

Species are vanishing at a rate roughly 100 times higher than normal. 

While things like asteroids and volcanoes caused past extinctions, humans almost entirely cause the current crisis. 

Global warming caused by climate change, habitat loss from development and agriculture, pesticide use, poaching, unsustainable fishing practices, pollution and disease spread by the introduction of exotic species, are driving the crisis beyond the tipping point. 

Can you picture a world without butterflies, penguins, elephants, rhinos, sea turtles, honeybees, orangutans, salamanders, or sharks?

Getty Images

Mother orangutan and baby

The oceans provide 50% of the earth’s oxygen and 97% of its livable habitat. 

The health of our oceans is vital to our survival and the survival of the over one million types of plants and animals living there. Climate change and fossil fuel reliance raise ocean temperatures, causing extreme weather, coastal flooding, and ocean acidification. 

Ocean acidification is beginning to cause the die-off of calcium-rich species at the base of the ocean’s food chain, like coral, shellfish, and plankton.

 This die-off would trigger a spiral of decline in all sea life – from fish to seabirds to whales – and negatively impact hundreds of millions of people who rely on the oceans for food.

 Other human threats include overfishing, pollution, oil drilling and development. 

We need to act now to create change in our own communities by protecting ocean habitats, promoting conservation, and creating sustainable solutions to nurse our oceans back to health.

mintpressnews.com

Dead sperm whales found with plastic in their stomachs

In a world with over 7 billion people, we cannot continue to divide ourselves into categories like believers and climate change deniers, or Republicans and Democrats. (labor or Liberal) 

The best chance we have of ensuring a world with clean water and clean air is to engage all of us.

 If this takes changing the conversation from “climate change,” to “shared benefits,” then change the conversation. Together all things are possible.

Press link for more: HuffingtonPost

U.S. Should stand by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change & Australia should #StopAdani 

Op-ed: U.S. should stand by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

By Jean Hill

As President Trump meets with Pope Francis on May 24, the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City urges the president and his administration to heed the words of the Holy Father,

 “The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies.”
While the priorities expressed in Pope Francis’ statement apply to multiple policy concerns, the Diocese of Salt Lake City encourages the administration, and our congressional delegation, to pay particular attention to the dignity of the human person and the common good as they consider whether or not the United States will remain part of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, an international effort by most countries of the world to reduce the greenhouse gases driving climate change.


We can see the impacts of climate change close to home, but we often miss the devastating effects our emissions have on people living in some of the poorest countries.

 Personally, I will never forget the dire straits created by rapidly changing climate patterns on the people in the African nation of Malawi. 

As part of a delegation from Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian relief organization of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I met with farmers who were trying, without cash reserves or modern equipment, to salvage a growing season after extreme flooding left behind multiple feet of silt atop fertile land.
Those same floods also stranded hundreds of families whose homes were washed away, and who don’t have the option of moving somewhere else. 

None of the people I met were using the fossil fuels that contribute to climate change, but all were dealing with the fallout of such uses.

The people of Malawi are not alone. 

Rising sea levels threaten fresh water supplies and erode agricultural land in low lying regions like Bangladesh.

 Coffee farmers in Central America are losing entire seasons because diseases attacking their crops are thriving in the warmer temperatures, forcing many farmers to migrate to survive. 

All of this has the potential to drive more global instability to which the United States will be forced to respond.


The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City strongly urges our congressional delegation and the administration to keep the United States in the Paris Agreement. 

This international effort is necessary to serve the most vulnerable members of society who contribute to climate change the least.

 It is imperative to protect the people of Malawi, Bangladesh, Central America and elsewhere who are finding ingenious ways to adapt to an ever changing climate, but lack the resources required to not only prevent catastrophic climate impacts, but also ensure long-term survival.


As the world’s richest nation and one of the major sources of greenhouse gases, the United States has a moral obligation and a national interest to address the causes of climate change and help the world’s poor adapt to it.
We are encouraged by Rep. Mia Love’s decision to join the House Climate Solutions Caucus, a bi-partisan body that acknowledges climate change and is working together to better understand its impacts and chart a path to addressing the problem. 

We also believe that the Paris Agreement is a manifestation of the stewardship needed to bring the countries of the world together to reduce greenhouse gases that are harming the environment and the people in it.
In his encyclical “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis makes clear that our care for one another and our care for the Earth are intimately bound together, and that good stewardship protects both the environment and society, now and for future generations. 

Through the Paris Agreement we are already part of a global community working together on this issue.


For the sake of the poorest amongst us, the United States should remain in the Paris Agreement and honor the pledge we made to do our part to reduce greenhouse gases enough to avert future disaster.
Jean Hill is government liaison for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.

Press link for more: Salt Lake Tribune

Coal is blocking Labor’s ears! #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldol #ClimateChange 

Leader of a Sinking Island Admonishes Trump on Climate Change

The Prime Minister of Tuvalu, an island nation in the Pacific, is calling out President Donald Trump for his myopic views on coal and climate change.
Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga told Motherboard no country is seriously interested in fossil fuel expansion anymore. 

No one in the US financial community wants to invest in fossil fuels, gas and oil projects are shutting down in the middle East.
“The US is going to be left behind. 

The guy in the White House doesn’t understand that,” Sopoaga said at the UN energy forum in Vienna this week.

There are more than a thousand energy experts and political leaders embracing renewable energy at this moment. 

Just one example: All of India’s lighting will be replaced by LEDs by 2019, saving millions of dollars and reducing CO2 emissions by 18 million tonnes a year, according to Piyush Goyal India’s Minister of Energy. 

This is far ahead of the US and nearly every other country.
Meanwhile, the White House is in the middle of figuring out if it will pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement. 

That agreement was not only about reducing CO2 emissions, but every nation to signed it committed to phasing out the use of fossil fuels.
Climate change is an urgent concern for Tuvalu, the world’s second smallest country, since it is a mere 10 feet above the Pacific ocean at its highest point. 

Rising sea levels, driven by man-made climate change, now regularly swamp these tiny islands.

 Thousands have been forced to move to New Zealand.

 Without drastic reductions in fossil fuel use, the entire nation will drown.

The island of Tuvalu is home to 10,000 people. Image: Wikimedia Commons
If that happens, it would be to the shame of the entire world, he said. “Our islands are already sinking. 

Focusing on more fossil fuels will kill the world. 

What jobs are there on a dead planet?” Sopoaga told me.

It was a 20 year fight for Tuvalu and other small island states to reach the Paris Agreement. 

There was a very strong political consensus and there is no going back, he said. 

Meeting these commitments will bring a wide range of benefits, including lower energy costs, less air pollution, green jobs and more, he said.
Another thing the guy in the White House likely doesn’t know is that it will take the US five years to withdraw from the the agreement, according to its terms. And even then, other countries will have to agree to it.
“I’m glad we negotiated so hard to get that.”

Press link for more: Motherboard.Vice.Com

Poorest nations say Paris Climate Agreement is their “lifeline” #StopAdani #Auspol 

A drought in Guatemala that has drained this lake is being linked to climate change in the region


The world’s poorest nations say the Paris climate agreement is their “lifeline” and must be strengthened.
The Climate Vulnerable Forum, (CVF) representing 48 countries, said the deal was crucial to their survival.


In a swipe at President Trump’s oft-used phrase, they said that “no country would be great again” without swift action.
Thousands of delegates are meeting here in Bonn to develop the rule book for the Paris deal.
Around one billion people live in countries that are part of the CVF.
The group firmly supports the idea, enshrined in the Paris agreement, that countries would do all in their power to keep temperatures from increasing more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.


“Keeping to 1.5 degrees is quite simply a matter of survival,” said Debasu Bayleyegn Eyasu from Ethiopia, which holds the presidency of the CVF.


“For all of us, the Paris agreement is our lifeline.”
Other speakers highlighted the fact that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the current US position on climate change.
President Trump is expected to decide on future US participation in the Paris accord after the G7 summit in Italy next week.
Picking up on Mr Trump’s “make America great again,” election battle-cry, Emmanuel Guzman from the Philippines said: “Without increased climate action, no country will be great again.”
“The measure of greatness is how you are able to increase and enhance your climate action.”
Mr Guzman said he was calling on all world leaders to increase their ambition and not just Mr Trump.
“I would not like to point a finger at someone, but it is a call for action by all big or small.
“If we don’t achieve the goals of the Paris agreement there are irreversible damages and consequences.”


 VietnamGetty Images

Rising sea levels are causing problems for farmers in many climate vulnerable nations including Vietnam

“It’s a grim scenario – that’s really unacceptable to us.”
The group highlighted some of the important differences between keeping temperature rises under 2 degrees or under 1.5.


The Greenland ice sheet would enter irreversible long-term decline, with significant impacts on sea levels at 1.6 degrees one delegate said.
Warming beyond 1.5 would also “appreciably increase the prevalence of extreme storms that have already been capable of large-scale loss of life and cutting a year’s GDP in half for some of our members.”
At the last major conference of negotiators in Marrakech last November, members of the CVF committed themselves to moving towards 100% renewable energy as soon as possible.
“Costa Rica produces 100% renewable energy most of the year,” said William Calvo, the country’s adjunct chief negotiator.
“But we won’t stop there: we are tackling now the transport sector and hope to even export renewable power more widely in the region.”
The idea that other countries are capable of picking up the slack if the Americans pull out of Paris gained support this week with the release of an analysis showing that India and China are likely to overshoot existing targets to cut carbon

.
President Trump’s actions to revitalise the coal industry in the US and to de-regulate oil and gas are unlikely to rapidly increase emissions before 2030 says the study from the Climate Action Tracker.
Between 2013 and 2016 Chin’s coal use declined each year and a continued slow decline is expected. 

India says that planned coal-fired power plants may not be needed if recently announced green policies are effective.



“You have to have the U.S. on board ultimately to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement,” Bill Hare from Climate Analytics told news agencies.
“But if there’s a hiatus for four years it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the game.”

Press link for more: BBC.COM

The Adani mine will kill Millions! #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol 

This is not rhetoric: approving the Adani coal mine will kill people.
Rarely have politicians demonstrated better their ignorance of the risks and opportunities confronting Australia than with Barnaby Joyce, Matt Canavan and other ministers’ recent utterances on Adani and Galilee Basin coal, along with their petulant foot-stamping over Westpac’s decision to restrict funding to new coal projects.

 Likewise, Bill Shorten sees no problem in supporting Adani.
The media are no better; discussion instantly defaults to important but secondary issues, such as Adani’s concessional government loan, the project’s importance to the economy, creating jobs for north Queenslanders and so on.
The Adani mine by itself will push global temperatures above the threshold increase of 2 degrees.


The Adani mine by itself will push global temperatures above the threshold increase of 2 degrees. Photo: Robert Rough

Nowhere in the debate is the critical issue even raised: the existential risk of climate change, which such development now implies. 

Existential means a risk posing large negative consequences to humanity that can never be undone.

 One where an adverse outcome would either annihilate life, or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.

This is the risk to which we are now exposed unless we rapidly reduce global carbon emissions.
In Paris in December 2015, the world, Australia included, agreed to hold global average temperature to “well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees”, albeit the emission reduction commitments Australia tabled were laughable in comparison with our peers and with the size of the challenge.

Dangerous climate change, which the Paris agreement and its forerunners seek to avoid, is happening at the 1.2-degree increase already experienced as extreme weather events, and their economic costs, escalate.

 A 1.6-degree increase is already locked in as the full effect of our historic emissions unfolds.
Our current path commits us to a 4 to 5-degree temperature increase.


 This would create a totally disorganised world with a substantial reduction in population, possibly to less than one billion people from 7.5 billion today.
The voluntary emission reduction commitments made in Paris, if implemented, would still result in a 3-degree increase, accelerating social chaos in many parts of the world with rising levels of deprivation, displacement and conflict.
Adani Group founder Gautam Adani with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.


Adani Group founder Gautam Adani with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. 

It is already impossible to stay below the 1.5-degree Paris aspiration.

 To have a realistic chance of staying below even 2 degrees means that no new fossil-fuel projects can be built globally – coal, oil or gas – and that existing operations, particularly coal, must be rapidly replaced with low-carbon alternatives. 

Further, carbon-capture technologies that do not currently exist must be rapidly deployed at scale.
Climate change has moved out of the twilight period of much talk and limited action. 

It is now turning nasty.

 Some regions, often the poorest, have already seen major disasters, as has Australia.


 How long will it take, and how much economic damage must we suffer, particularly in Queensland, before our leaders accept that events like Cyclone Debbie and the collapse of much of the Great Barrier Reef are being intensified by man-made climate change? 

Of that there is no doubt, nor has there been for decades. 


The uncertainties, regularly thrown up as reasons for inaction, relate not to the basic science but to the speed and extent of climate impact, both of which have been badly underestimated.
The most dangerous aspect is that the impact of fossil-fuel investments made today 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. 

Australia, along with the Asian regions to our north, is now considered to be “disaster alley”; we are already experiencing the most extreme impacts globally.


In these circumstances, opening up a major new coal province is nothing less than a crime against humanity. 

The Adani mine by itself will push temperatures above 2 degrees; the rest of the Galilee Basin development would ensure global temperatures went way above 3 degrees. 

None of the supporting political arguments, such as poverty alleviation, the inevitability of continued coal use, the superior quality of our coal, or the benefits of opening up northern Australia, have the slightest shred of credibility. 

Such irresponsibility is only possible if you do not accept that man-made climate change is happening, which is the real position of both goverment and opposition.

Nowhere in the debate is the critical issue even raised: the existential risk of climate change.
Likewise with business.

 At the recent Santos annual general meeting, chairman Peter Coates asserted that a 4-degree world was “sensible” to assume for planning purposes, thereby totally abrogating in one word his responsibility as a director to understand and act on the risks of climate change. 

Westpac’s new climate policy is a step forward, but fails to accept that no new coal projects should be financed, high-quality coal or not. 

The noose is tightening around the necks of company directors. 

Personal liability for ignoring climate risk is now real.

Yet politicians assume they can act with impunity. 

As rumours of Donald Trump withdrawing from the Paris agreement intensify, right on cue Zed Seselja and Craig Kelly insist we should do likewise, without having the slightest idea of the implications.

The first priority of government, we are told, is to ensure the security of the citizens. 

Having got elected, this seems to be the last item on the politician’s agenda, as climate change is treated as just another issue to be compromised and pork-barrelled, rather than an existential threat.

We deserve better leaders.


 If the incumbency is not prepared to act, the community need to take matters into their own hands.


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. 

He is a member of the Club of Rome.

Press link for more: SMH.COM

Why hasn’t the world become more sustainable? #StopAdani #Auspol 

In 1992, more than 170 countries came together at the Rio Earth Summit and agreed to pursue sustainable development, protect biological diversity, prevent dangerous interference with climate systems, and conserve forests.

 But, 25 years later, the natural systems on which humanity relies continue to be degraded.

So why hasn’t the world become much more environmentally sustainable despite decades of international agreements, national policies, state laws and local plans? 

This is the question that a team of researchers and I have tried to answer in a recent article.
We reviewed 94 studies of how sustainability policies had failed across every continent.

 These included case studies from both developed and developing countries, and ranged in scope from international to local initiatives.


Consider the following key environmental indicators. Since 1970:
Humanity’s ecological footprint has exceeded the Earth’s capacity and has risen to the point where 1.6 planets would be needed to provide resources sustainably.
The biodiversity index has fallen by more than 50% as the populations of other species continue to decline.
Greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change have almost doubled while the impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent.
The world has lost more than 48% of tropical and sub-tropical forests.
The rate at which these indicators deteriorated was largely unchanged over the two decades either side of the Rio summit. Furthermore, humanity is fast approaching several environmental tipping points. If crossed, these could lead to irreversible changes.
If we allow average global temperatures to rise 2℃ above pre-industrial levels, for example, feedback mechanisms will kick in that lead to runaway climate change. 

We’re already halfway to this limit and could pass it in the next few decades.

What’s going wrong?
So what’s going wrong with sustainability initiatives? 

We found that three types of failure kept recurring: economic, political and communication.
The economic failures stem from the basic problem that environmentally damaging activities are financially rewarded.

 A forest is usually worth more money after it’s cut down – which is a particular problem for countries transitioning to a market-based economy.
Political failures happen when governments can’t or won’t implement effective policies. 

This is often because large extractive industries, like mining, are dominant players in an economy and see themselves as having the most to lose. 

This occurs in developed and developing countries, but the latter can face extra difficulties enforcing policies once they’re put in place.


Communication failures centre on poor consultation or community involvement in the policy process. Opposition then flourishes, sometimes based on a misunderstanding of the severity of the issue. It can also be fed by mistrust when communities see their concerns being overlooked.
Again, this happens around the world. A good example would be community resistance to changing water allocation systems in rural areas of Australia. 

In this situation, farmers were so opposed to the government buying back some of their water permits that copies of the policy were burned in the street.
These types of failure are mutually reinforcing. 

Poor communication of the benefits of sustainable development creates the belief that it always costs jobs and money. 

Businesses and communities then pressure politicians to avoid or water down environmentally friendly legislation.
Ultimately, this represents a failure to convince people that sustainable development can supply “win-win” scenarios. As a result, decision-makers are stuck in the jobs-versus-environment mindset.
What can we do?
The point of our paper was to discover why policies that promote sustainability have failed in order to improve future efforts. 

The challenge is immense and there’s a great deal at stake.

 Based on my previous research into the way economic, social and environmental goals can co-exist, I would go beyond our most recent paper to make the following proposals.
First, governments need to provide financial incentives to switch to eco-efficient production. 

Politicians need to have the courage to go well beyond current standards.

 Well-targeted interventions can create both carrot and stick, rewarding eco-friendly behaviour and imposing a cost on unsustainable activities.
Second, governments need to provide a viable transition pathway for industries that are doing the most damage.

 New environmental tax breaks and grants, for example, could allow businesses to remain profitable while changing their business model.


Finally, leaders from all sectors need to be convinced of both the seriousness of the declining state of the environment and that sustainable development is possible. 

Promoting positive case studies of successful green businesses would be a start.
There will of course be resistance to these changes. 

The policy battles will be hard fought, particularly in the current international political climate.

 We live in a world where the US president is rolling back climate policies while the Australian prime minister attacks renewable energy.

Press link for more: WEFORUM

Climate Change is Creating Climate Refugees #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol 

Climate change is creating climate refugees
15th May 2017 · 0 Comments
By Bill Fletcher, Jr. 

NNPA Columnist
Have you ever heard of the Marshall Islands?

 They are 1156 islands that constitute a republic in the South Pacific. 


Major battles during World War II were contested on those islands and, following the war, nuclear tests were conducted on there, too, from which there was significant radioactive fallout.

 The capital city is only three feet above sea level.

I have never been to the Marshall Islands, but during the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C., on April 29, I met and interviewed a woman from that republic. 

She is a student in the United States. 

She and I spoke on the air (WPFW-FM, part of the Pacifica Network) about what the climate crisis means for her people.


Climate change has a direct impact on the future of the Marshall Islands. 

At three feet above sea level, the Marshall Islands do not have much room to maneuver.

 With extreme environmental changes, particularly with damaging storms, the islands have faced severe floods. 

She described roads cut off as a result of high water and the inability of the people to leave their homes.
My co-anchor—the great sports writer Dave Zirin—and I asked, almost at the same time, what did she think would happen as sea levels rose? 

What would the people do?
In some respects, our question may have seemed odd or simplistic. 

The people of the Marshall Islands would do what they needed to do to survive.

 And one route to survival will inevitably be migration unless there is some sort of creative infrastructure work that can preserve life in the Marshall Islands.


And it is this matter of climate migration that is rarely discussed in mainstream circles. 

Certainly, the environmental movement is addressing it, but in the 2016 U.S. elections, for instance, in all of the xenophobic discussions concerning immigration, there was no discussion about the fact that island nations across the planet will be disappearing and that their populations will need to migrate somewhere.
The woman from the Marshall Islands that Dave and I interviewed wants to return to her home. She is trying to be optimistic about the future of that island republic, but she was clearly frightened by the possibility that those islands and their history will disappear beneath the ocean waves forever.
The debate concerning the environment and the debates around immigration must be joined together. There is a global necessity to address the future of islands that may become submerged. 

Many of these islands were once—or continue to be—possessions/colonies of Europe, Japan and/or the United States. In that sense, there is a historic obligation that is owed to these islanders by the so-called “Global North.” The Global North left many of these territories “underdeveloped”—to borrow a phrase from the late Walter Rodney—and now the bill has come due. 

That means that, in addition to assisting in preventive measures, and in addition to addressing climate change, immigration policies must be changed, so that space is created for these climate refugees.◊

Press link for more: Louisiana Weeky

Coal will Kill More People Than World War II #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol 

Coal will kill more people than World War II.

 Why do our ministers joke about it?

While the numbers are not yet in on Australia’s latest heatwave summer – one of the worst in our history – between 1100 and 1500 people will have died from heat stress.

 That’s been the average of recent years.
When Treasurer Scott Morrison jovially informed the House of Representatives “Mr Speaker, this is coal. Don’t be afraid! 

Don’t be scared! It won’t hurt you,” he was, according to all reputable scientific and medical studies worldwide, misleading the Parliament.

‘Clean coal’ makes a comeback
New technology means coal will play a role in electricity generation long into the future, says Malcolm Turnbull. Courtesy ABC News 24.
By mid-century, the effects of worldwide burning of coal and oil in heating the climate to new extremes will claim more than 50,000 Australian lives per decade, a toll nearly double that of World War II.


And that doesn’t include the 12.6 million human lives lost globally every year (a quarter of all deaths), according to the World Health Organisation, from “air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change, and ultraviolet radiation”, all of which are a consequence of human use of fossil fuels. 

The main sources of those toxins are, indisputably, the coal and petrochemical industries.

To pretend, as do Morrison and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, that this is all a great joke shows a cynical and contemptible disregard for the sufferings and painful deaths of thousands of Australians from exposure to the effects of fossil fuels.

 Understanding of the toxicity of burnt fossil hydrocarbons has been around since the 19th-century industrial revolution. The climatic effect of fossil fuels has been accepted universally by world climate and weather authorities since the mid-1970s – almost half a century ago.

Yet certain Australian politicians and leaders still pretend they are ignorant of facts that are known to everyone else.

 And they jeer at Australians with the common sense not to want to die from them.

As eastern Australia sweltered through the recent 40 to 47-degree heatwave and elderly people who couldn’t afford to switch on their air conditioners for fear of the power bills suffered and died, floods and bushfires related to the same climatic disturbance claimed further victims.
The Australian Climate Institute warned politicians a decade ago that the death toll from heat stress alone was then about 1100 in the five cities of Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

 Nationally, the number is now probably 1500 to 2000 a year – but no national records are kept, perhaps for obvious reasons.
Scott Morrison with his pet coal in Parliament.


Scott Morrison with his pet coal in Parliament. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The institute said at the time: “With no action to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, Australia is projected to warm by between 0.4 to 2.0 degrees by 2030 and 1.0 to 6.0 degrees by 2070. 

This warming trend is expected to drive large increases in the frequency, intensity and duration of extreme temperature events. 

For example, by 2030, the yearly average number of days above 35 degrees could increase from 17 to 19-29 in Adelaide and from 9 to 10-16 in Melbourne.”


According to more recent projections – such as, for example, those of Professor Peng Bi of Adelaide University – annual heat-related deaths in the capital cities are predicted to climb to an average of 2400 a year in the 2020s and 5300 a year in the 2050s. And that’s just in the capital cities.
Added to deaths from fire, flood, cyclone and pollution-related conditions such as cancer and lung diseases, fossil fuels will be far and away the predominant factor in the early deaths of Australians by mid-century. Not a single family will be unaffected by their influence.
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the Abbott/Turnbull governments’ policy – promoting the use and export of coal, trying to discourage its replacement by clean renewables and foot-dragging on climate remediation measures – has dreadful consequences in the short, medium and long term for individuals and families.
We want to know the road toll – but not the fuel toll.
Directly and indirectly, these policies will contribute to the loss of far more Australians than did the combined policies of the Hitler/Hirohito governments in the 1940s (27,000). They will cost many thousands more Australian lives than terrorism. Yet ministers treat them as a jest.
While it’s true Australia’s emissions, from fossil-fuel burning, mining and exports, are a small percentage of world emissions, they nevertheless contribute meaningfully to a situation that, unchecked, could see the planet heat by 5 to 6 degrees by 2100. If the frozen methane deposits in the Arctic and ocean are released, then warming may exceed 10 degrees, beyond which large animals, including humans, will struggle to exist.
With such temperatures and climatic extremes, it will become impossible to maintain world food production from agriculture. 

Hundreds of millions of refugees will flood the planet. According to the US Pentagon, there is a high risk of international conflict, even nuclear war, in such conditions.

These are the rational, evidence-based truths that politicians like Morrison and Joyce gleefully ignore in their enthusiasm for coal.

 Indeed, Joyce is advocating a course likely to ruin his party’s main long-term constituency: farmers.
Australians rightly regard deaths from motor accidents, suicide, domestic violence, preventable disease, war, drugs and other causes as tragic, unjustifiable, unacceptable and unnecessary.

 Yet there is a curious national silence, a wilful blindness, about the far larger toll of preventable death from coal and oil. We want to know the road toll – but not the fuel toll. 

This national ignorance encouraged by dishonest claims that they “won’t hurt you”.
Yes, they will. Coal and oil will hurt you worse than almost anything else in your life. 

They will reap your family, and maybe you, too.
When there are clean, safe, healthy substitute readily available – renewables, biofuels, green chemistry – sensible Australians will turn their back on the untruths and the propaganda, and vote only for politicians whose policies do not knowingly encompass our early death.
Julian Cribb is a Canberra science writer and author. 

His latest book is Surviving the 21st Century (2017).

Press link for more: SMH.COM