Climate Refugees

Slamming the brakes on large-scale infrastructure projects #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Slamming the brakes on large-scale infrastructure projects

Catherine Harte | 20th June 2018

At least half of the large-scale infrastructure projects being proposed today are a bad idea, argues a leading scientist who has spent nearly forty years studying building around the world.

“And when I say ‘bad’, I don’t just mean bad for the environment,” says Distinguished Professor Bill Laurance from James Cook University in Australia. “I mean bad for economies, bad for societies, and bad for project investors.”

Professor Laurance has summarised decades of research on the costs and benefits of big infrastructure projects – such as major highways, railroads, hydropower dams and industrial mines – in an article in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution.

Just plain foolish

“It’s vital to understand the realities because we’re living in the most explosive era of infrastructure expansion in human history,” said Laurance.

“Most new infrastructure projects are occurring in developing nations, which direly need smart development and investment. But many proposed projects are just plain foolish.

“For starters, widespread corruption completely distorts things. Projects that should never proceed get approved because government decision-makers are being paid off by project proponents.

“And the economic benefits of big projects are often grossly unfair—a few power brokers and their cronies are becoming fabulously wealthy, while most people see little benefit or even fall behind. That’s not smart development.”

He added: “In environmental terms, we’re seeing new projects tear into the most vulnerable ecosystems on the planet.

Hidden risks

“For example, in parts of the Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America, our research team is seeing Chinese-backed roads, dams, and mines happening in places that no rational investor should be touching.

“Investors assume they understand the risks and rewards of big projects. But far too often there are shoals of hidden risks, and projects that sound highly promising can turn into shipwrecks.

He concluded: “Just look around. You see big projects failing all the time. Nations are incurring big debts, investors are losing money, the environmental damage is appalling, and most of all, the average person isn’t getting ahead.

“The vital thing is to slow down the big projects. Delay them so there’s time for vital information to be disclosed and the public to debate the merits of each project.

“When the public understands what’s happening—what’s really happening—you’ll see a lot of bad projects disappear.”

This Author

Catherine Harte is a contributing editor to The Ecologist. This story is based on a news release from James Cook University, Australia.

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Health Care Without Harm praises American Medical Association divestment decision. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #divest #ClimateChange #AirPollution

Health Care Without Harm praises American Medical Association divestment decision

News posted by on June 14, 2018

Health Care Without Harm congratulates the American Medical Association (AMA) on their recent commitment to divest their financial holdings from toxic fossil fuels.

AMA’s House of Delegates’ adoption of a resolution “to end all financial investments or relationships (divestment) with companies that generate the majority of their income from the exploration for, production of, transportation of, or sale of fossil fuels” is a critical step toward ensuring health care providers first do no harm.

“It is meaningful that the American Medical Association…is saying to the dirty fuels industry now just what it said to tobacco a generation ago: You are killing our patients and we will not allow it anymore,” noted Todd Sack, MD, co-author of the divestment resolution.

From extraction to combustion, fossil fuels pose a direct threat to the health of our communities.

The air pollution from fossil fuels alone causes 200,000 premature deaths each year in the United States, and the closing of coal-fired power plants has been shown to generate immediate health improvements.

Carbon pollution from fossil fuels is also the leading cause of climate change, contributing to more intense and more frequent storms, growing vector-borne diseases and heat-related illnesses, as well as increased food and water scarcity.

Health professionals have a moral obligation not to benefit financially from an industry that endangers human health.

By choosing not to invest in companies that profit from pollution, members of the American Medical Association are fulfilling their responsibility to protect the health of their patients and communities.

AMA’s decision to divest also sends a strong message to all health professionals and medical societies that, just as the health sector divested from tobacco as a matter of professional ethics, the time has come to end all investments in harmful fossil fuels.

Peter Orris, MD, Health Care Without Harm senior advisor, stated, “With the AMA joining the British Medical Association, Canadian Medical Association, and the World Medical Association in this action, we can now securely bring this unified message to health organizations, policymakers, and civic society in general throughout the world.”

Letter to the editor template for health professionals on AMA divestment

This template was created by Health Care Without Harm for health professionals to submit to their local newspaper’s Letters to the Editor section. You are encouraged to edit the text below to make it more relevant to readers in your community.

Dear Editor,

As a [physician or nurse], I was pleased to hear the news that the American Medical Association has chosen to divest from toxic fossil fuels. In doing so, the AMA is part of a growing movement that already includes the World Medical Association, British Medical Association, and Canadian Medical Association, all of which have divested their assets from fossil fuel companies. In the 1990s, leading health organizations divested their tobacco holdings to bring attention to the harm caused by smoking. Now, such organizations are committing to divest from an another industry that profits by making us sick.

From extraction to combustion, fossil fuels pose a direct threat to the health of our communities. Air pollution from fossil fuels alone causes 200,000 premature deaths each year, but the closing of coal-fired power plants has been shown to generate immediate health improvements. Carbon pollution from fossil fuels is also the leading cause of climate change, which contributes to increased insect-borne and heat-related illnesses; food and water scarcity; and injuries, deaths and mental health impacts from extreme weather events. As health care providers, we have a moral obligation not to support an industry that causes so much harm.

It is time for all health organizations to honor our responsibility to our healing mission by divesting from fossil fuels. Our policymakers must also follow the advice of medical experts and make the decision to invest in clean energy for our health and for the health of our children and future generations.

Thank you,

[your name and professional title]

Tips for getting published and making an impact:

• Be sure to read carefully the requirements for your local newspaper’s letter-to-the-editor submissions and follow the instructions, including word count limits.

• Instead of the general health effects of pollution and climate change, edit this template to include the specific impacts you see in your daily practice as a health professional in your region.

• Rather than closing with a general call to action, edit this template to include a specific recommendation. For example, name local policymakers or proposed city or state policies to increase renewable energy.

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The Truth About Coal #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

This is the Truth About Coal

Gavin Dillingham19 Jun 2018

There has been a recent push to revive US coal-fired power plants in the name of electric power resilience and reliability.

Why is this a bad idea?

It is a bad idea for several reasons.

Following is a list of the top 4 reasons why coal is a bad idea

Electricity from Coal Plants is More Expensive

Coal requires all of us to pay more on our energy bills.

It’s expensive compared to most other forms of power from renewable energy to natural gas.

According to Lazard’s most recent report on the unsubsidized levelized cost of energy, the lowest cost coal plant is $60/MWh this is in comparison to wind at $30/MWh, gas combined cycle at $42/MWh and utility scale solar at $43/MWh.

When there is an apples to apples comparison between coal and renewable energy.

This means that we are looking at plants that produce the same amount kWh per year, coal is much higher than solar and significantly higher than solar. The facts demonstrate that coal is more expensive than most other viable options.

Keep in mind that this is unsubsidized costs, none of the “unfair” investment tax credits or production tax credits are included in this price.

Further, this does not include the social and environmental costs that come from coal.

That is covered later.

Coal Plants are a Public Health Nuisance

Speaking of social and environmental costs, coal power plants emit mercury and a variety of other greenhouse gas emissions that should be properly accounted for.

The key concern here is the amount of mercury emitted by coal plants. which can result in significant health risks.

According to a recent EPA analysis, over 42% of mercury emissions in the United States come from coal fired power plants. Overall 50% of mercury emissions comes from fossil fuel plants. This does not include all of the other dioxins and heavy metals that come from primarily coal plants. Below you can see the dispersion of mercury/toxic emitting power plants.

EPA – Toxic Rule Facilities

The problem with mercury is that it significantly increases a community’s health risk. High levels of mercury emitted from power plants can harm brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune systems of people of all ages. Further, mercury from power plants has been found to have a significant negative impact on a baby’s development, with particular impacts to a baby’s nervous system.

Coal Plants are not that Resilient

Coal power plants are not as resilient as some would like us to believe. Coal plants and the supply chain that gets coal to the power plants are highly susceptible to cyber, physical and climate risks. A recent study by the National Academies of Science titled Coal: Research and Development to Support National Energy Policy found that ““The rail net­works that transport the nation’s coal—like air traffic control and electric trans­mission networks—have an inherent fragility and instability common to complex networks. Because con­cerns about sabotage and terrorism were largely ignored until recently, existing networks were created with potential choke points [like some rail bridges over major rivers]…that cause vulnerabili­ty…[and] the potential for small-scale issues to become large-scale disruptions.”

Climate Change May Hurt Rail System

The Department of Energy further elaborates on the fragility of coal transport by finding  “Hardly a month goes by that delivery of Powder River Basin (PRB) coal somewhere in the supply chain is not interrupted by a derailment, freezing, flooding, or other natural occurrence.” Climate change is likely to increase heat that buckles rails, floods and storms that undermine tracks, and extreme weather that spikes electric demand. Meanwhile, utilities, having cut coal inventories threefold during 1980–2000 to save cost, keep trying to squeeze out more cost, exacerbating risk.” A recent example of coal not being that fuel secure was the Texas WA Parish plant. During Hurricane Harvey, the plant had to switch from coal to natural gas due to saturated coal piles. Those proponents for coal should also recall the Polar Vortex that resulted in frozen coal piles. You can’t burn frozen coal.

One other thing, coal or any other water-cooled power generation system can’t operate or at least not very efficiently when the water is too warm or there is not enough water to cool the plant. I covered this in a recent blog post on the power sector having a significant water problem.

Climate Change Induced Lack of Water Reduces Power Resilience

Coal Plants are Significant Greenhouse Gas Emitters

Can’t forget this one. Coal power plants emit significant greenhouse gas emissions. In the US, coal accounts for 67% of greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector. Of the total greenhouse gas emissions, 28% comes from electric power generation. Granted, overall GHG emissions have come down due to fuel switching since 1990, but not by much. This largely due to much of the switching is to natural gas, another greenhouse gas contributor, although not as large of one. Also, there have some increases in demand across parts of the country which has limited overall reduction.

Coal Power Plant’s Climate Change Problem

The current administration has not made the connection between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. By not making this connection, that cannot see that sustaining or increasing emissions will result in a significant increase in storm intensity that will negatively impact the overall power system, i.e. hurt system resilience. Storm intensity, demonstrated by Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria, the Polar Vortex, to name a few, is anticipated to significantly increase under current greenhouse gas projection scenarios. If the concern of the administration is resilience of our power system due to extreme storms, there probably should be some effort to reduce the likelihood of this intensity by reducing the cause.

To Conclude

There are four really good reasons why coal fired power plants may not be the best option for a resilient and reliable grid. This was just a high-level overview. Each of these topics could be their own posts. For the long-term resilience of our electric power system, it is key that we not look to short-term fixes to the detriment of long-term health, economic and environmental well-being.

Press link for more: 750 Astrodomes

James Hansen: “I’m sorry we’re leaving such a f.cking mess” #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Listening to James Hansen on Climate Change, Thirty Years Ago and Now

Elizabeth Kolbert

On June 23, 1988—a blisteringly hot day in Washington, D.C.—James Hansen told a Senate committee that “the greenhouse effect has been detected and is changing our climate now.” At the time, Hansen was the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and though his testimony was certainly not the first official warning about the “greenhouse effect”—a report to President Lyndon Johnson, in 1965, predicted “measurable and perhaps marked changes in climate” in the decades to follow—it was the first to receive national news coverage.

The Times ran the story at the top of the front page, with a graph showing a long-term rise in average global temperatures.

This week marks the thirtieth anniversary of Hansen’s testimony, and it would be hard to think of a more lugubrious milestone.

In the intervening three decades, nearly half of the Arctic ice cap has melted away, the oceans have acidified, much of the American West has burned, lower Manhattan, South Florida, Houston, and New Orleans have flooded, and average temperatures have continued to climb.

Just last week, a team of scientists reported in Nature that the rate of melt off Antarctica has tripled in the past decade; as the Washington Post put it, “If that continues, we are in serious trouble.” (Were the Antarctic ice to melt away entirely, global sea levels would rise by two hundred feet; if just the more vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet melted, sea levels would rise by about ten feet.) Also last week, scientists reported that most of Africa’s oldest baobab trees have died, probably because of climate change, and last month researchers showed that rising CO2 levels were reducing the nutrient content of rice, which is probably the single most important food source for people.

Yet Washington continues to ignore the problem, or, worse still, to actively impede efforts to address it.

How can this be?

A possible answer, which seems to be the one that Hansen himself, at least in part, subscribes to, is that scientists are to blame.

Hansen is now seventy-seven and retired from NASA.

He recently told the Associated Press that he regrets not being “able to make this story clear enough for the public.”

Many climate scientists seem similarly to believe that they are not good at conveying information to lay audiences, and, as a result, dozens of Web sites and several whole organizations have been created to help them communicate better.

As someone who has interviewed a lot of climate scientists—including, on several occasions, Hansen—I can attest that, as a group, they are not particularly good at expressing themselves. (I once wrote a Profile of Hansen, and watched him lose even audiences predisposed to adore him.) But thirty years into the so-called climate debate—fifty-three years, if you go back to the report to L.B.J.—I also think it’s time to put this particular story line to rest.

Back in 1988, just about the only information available on climate change was written in the dry-as-standard-deviations style of academic science.

The following year, Bill McKibben published the first book on the subject aimed at a popular audience, “The End of Nature.” Since then, more generally accessible books have been written on the climate than even the most avid reader could possibly keep up with; these include kids’ books, comic books, and even a coloring book. Meanwhile, countless newspaper and magazine articles, television specials, and documentaries have appeared on the topic. Above all, climate change has become obvious. You don’t need to read or watch or hear about it; in many parts of the world, all you have to do is look around. The southwestern United States, for instance, is currently experiencing such a severe drought that water restrictions are in place and many national forests are closed. “Thirty years ago, we may have seen this coming as a train in the distance,” Deke Arndt, the chief of climate monitoring at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration center in Asheville, North Carolina, recently told the A.P. “The train is in our living room now.”

Instead of using this anniversary to lament the failures of climate scientists, I’d like to propose that we use it to celebrate—well, “celebrate” probably isn’t quite the right word, but maybe recognize—their successes.

Three decades ago, led by Hansen, they made a series of predictions; for the most part these have proved to be spectacularly accurate.

That we, the general public, have failed to act on these predictions says a lot more about us than it does about them.

I happened to interview Hansen last year, for a video project.

I asked him if he had a message for young people. “The simple thing is, I’m sorry we’re leaving such a fucking mess,” he said.

Could the message be any clearer than that?

Press link for more: New Yorker

Conflict, climate change choke efforts to cure poverty, inequality: U.N. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #SDGs

Conflict, climate change choke efforts to cure poverty, inequality: U.N.

Ellen Wulfhorst

UNITED NATIONS (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Climate change and conflict are forcing growing numbers of people to go hungry, flee their homes and lose critical access to water, the United Nations said on Wednesday in a look at progress in its global development goals.

The number of hungry people has risen for the first time in a decade, and violence and conflict are causing food problems in 18 nations, the U.N. said in its assessment.

Member nations of the U.N. adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 in a concerted effort to conquer poverty, inequality and other international woes by a 2030 deadline.

Progress has been hampered by climate change-related extreme weather and by violence and war, said Francesca Perucci, assistant director of the Statistics Division at the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA).

“Countries face mounting challenges – a fast-changing climate, increased numbers of conflicts and inequality and persistent pockets of poverty and hunger,” she said at a U.N. news conference.

“For the first time in a decade, the number of people who are undernourished has increased from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016, mainly due to conflict, drought and disasters linked to climate change,” she said.

Economic losses in 2017 came to more than $300 billion, among the highest in recent years due to three major hurricanes that hit the United States and countries in the Caribbean, the U.N. assessment said.

“With climate change … we notice there’s a lot of significant economic losses and (that) probably will increase in coming years,” said Yongyi Min, chief of the SDG monitoring section at UN DESA, at the news conference.

More than 2 billion people are affected by water stress, when demand for water outweighs availability or supplies are of poor quality, she said.

“This number will increase with population growth and the effects of climate change,” Min said.

Increased violence and conflict caused the number of people driven from their homes to rise to a record high of 68.5 million last year, she said.

“With just 12 years left to the 2030 deadline, we must inject a sense of urgency,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a foreword to the assessment report.

Previous assessments by the U.N. of the goals have shown few and uneven advances, with conflict and violence to blame.

Outside assessments have also cited nationalism, protectionism and a need for more funding.

The cost of implementing the SDGs has been estimated at $3 trillion a year.

Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit

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Huge majority supports renewables over coal #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange #Democracy

Huge majority supports renewables over coal even at greater cost

Nick O’Malley20 June 2018 — 12:01am

Australians overwhelmingly believe that the government should focus on renewable energy over coal-fired power plants, even if such a measures were to cost more, the 2018 Lowy Institute’s annual poll on Australian attitudes has found.

When asked if the government should focus on renewables “even if this means we may need to invest more” or traditional energy “even if this means the environment may suffer to some extent” 84 per cent of respondents opted for renewables.

Last year the figure was 81 per cent.

The poll also found that the number of Australians who believe that global warming is a “serious and pressing belief” has climbed to 59 per cent, up five percentage points since last year up and 23 points since 2012.

Concern about global warming is now as high as it was back in 2006, the previous peak.

This jump in concern about climate change represents the most significant change in opinion ever found by the poll in its 14 years.

It also found Australians consider climate change to be the third most significant national security threat after international terrorism and the North Korean nuclear program.

The government has called for the Liddell power station in the Hunter Valley to remain open.

Photo: Janie Barrett

The Lowy Institute’s director of research, Alex Oliver, said she believed that Australians’ concern about climate change began to fall when key pieces of legislation were introduced by the Rudd government to combat it, but when they saw those policies being dismantled, concern for the issue began to grow again.

Ms Oliver said she had presumed that the government’s fierce support for coal power, particularly its call to keep the Liddell power station open, would see support for coal increase this year.

Instead the government finds itself out of step with popular support for renewable energy.

According to the research even among those who were most sceptical of climate change – the 10 per cent who say they are sure it is not a problem – 40 per cent still support a focus on renewables. Of the rest of the community, nine out of 10 support a focus on renewables over coal, as do 72 per cent of Liberal-National supporters.

The poll showed that the issue of climate change continues to divide the Australian community along generational lines.

A full 70 per cent of Australians between the ages of 18 and 44 see global warming as a serious and pressing issue, but only 49 per cent of people over that age do.

For this year’s Lowy Institute poll 1200 respondents were conducted via telephone and online surveys.

Nick O’Malley is a senior writer and a former US correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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Connecting the dots between natural disasters and #climatechange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Connecting the dots between natural disasters and climate change in the US

The last year has brought record-breaking natural disasters of all shapes and sizes to the U.S., from massive hurricanes in the Gulf to wildfires and flash-flooding in the Pacific. Though isolated in time and space, it would be an oversight to consider these events entirely unrelated.

For years, climate scientists have been predicting more extreme weather as carbon emissions increase and global temperatures rise. And what we’re seeing is exactly that, producing wreckage well beyond your every-few-years event. Let’s have a look at the last 12 months.

In August, Houston all but disappeared under Hurricane Harvey’s torrential downpour. Over 30,000 people were displaced, 200,000 homes and business damaged, and nearly 100 lives lost. Harvey dropped over a foot more rain than any prior storm on record in the lower 48 states. Over $125 billion dollars in damage was incurred, costing more than any prior natural disaster in U.S. history, except for Hurricane Katrina.

Weeks later, the country braced again. While most remember Hurricane Irma as “that Category 5 hurricane that calmed before hitting Florida,” — it did not weaken before first depopulating the Caribbean island of Barbuda, where at least 95 percent of property was destroyed or damaged, according to the LA Times. Irma’s 185 mph winds lasted for 37 hours, setting a new world record. stated after the storm that “Hurricanes of this intensity often undergo fluctuations in intensity, but Irma did not.”

Then came Hurricane Maria, which left much of the island of Puerto Rico in ruins. While initial reports showed a death toll of 64, a recent Harvard study put the number at closer to 5,000 — as many households went weeks and even months without electricity and water. Maria’s $90 billion tab made the storm the third costliest in U.S. history, just behind Harvey.

As hurricane season wound down, an unprecedented summer of wildfires across the Pacific coast only intensified. In October came the most destructive wildfire in California history, claiming over 5,600 structures and 22 lives. Not two months later, the Thomas Fire became the largest fire on record in the state, scorching over 280,000 acres.

In just the last three months of 2017 the state experienced five of its 20 most destructive wildfires. But California hasn’t been the only record-breaker. Four of the 10 largest wildfires on record in Oregon have occurred in just the last five years.

As fires died out West, a new guise of climate disaster emerged with winter as snowstorm after snowstorm battered the Northeast. In one case, a “bomb cyclone” packed enough energy to topple power lines that led to blackouts from Virginia to Maine.

Only months prior, the region experienced record cold. In Boston, the maximum daily temperature in December reached a new low of 12 degrees.

According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the Northeast has experienced a more than 70 percemt rise in the amount of precipitation falling during “very heavy” weather events over the 1958 to 2010 period. Of the 10 heaviest snowstorms in Boston, half occurred since 2000 — with two taking place in the same two weeks of 2015, making it the all-time snowiest season for the city.

Strangely, the Northeast has also seen anomalous mid-winter warming. For two years in a row, February soared above 70 degrees in some areas. Temperatures in February are usually in the teens, and sometimes lower.  This past winter, 19 areas across the Northeast experienced their warmest February on record, including Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Around the same time, temperatures in the North Pole were above freezing despite the region still being enshrouded in total winter darkness — setting a new February heat record according to the Danish Meteorological Institute.

As for our island neighbors, Hawaii just made headlines in April by incurring more rainfall in a single day than any prior storm on record in the country. According to the Washington Post, flash flooding and mudslides destroyed roads, bridges, and homes, cutting off locals and leaving thousands of tourists stranded.

Despite temperature and weather anomalies in all directions, the trends we’ve been observing are not a total surprise. In the case of hurricanes, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned of increased storm severity due to climate change. According to its latest report, “intense tropical cyclone activity has increased in the North Atlantic since 1970” and “extreme precipitation events will become more intense and frequent in many regions” as global temperatures continue to rise. In another piece, I explain why hurricanes will intensify under a warmer climate.

Similarly, increased wildfires are arriving on schedule and may be here to stay. A recent study by the Forest Service suggests that wildfires can be expected to increase throughout the region as warming trends continue. In a 2006 study of wildfires in the western U.S., recent decades were reported to have seen a four-fold increase in major wildfires. The area burned by these fires has risen six-fold.

What about the confused weather in the Northeast? Scientists attribute this to the instability of the so-called polar vortex — caused by warming of the planet. Under normal conditions, frigid temperatures remain relatively isolated to the polar regions. As temperatures rise, however, these circular polar winds weaken and begin to meander, allowing frigid Arctic air to descend to the south, and warmer equatorial air to penetrate further north.

Despite temperature ups and downs, a comparison of daily record high temperatures with record low temperatures averaged across the U.S. demonstrates a trend toward increased heat, consistent with the notion of global warming. A recent study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research showed the current ratio of record high to record low temperatures at about 2-to-1; with models suggesting this ratio could increase to 20-to-1 by mid-century.

The frequency and severity of major natural disasters has risen sharply over the years. The National Centers for Environmental Information maintains a record of U.S. natural disasters that cost $1 billion or more in damage. In 2016, $46 billion was spent on such disasters, due to 15 major events. This was three times the average since 1980. In 2017, the number rose to 16, with costs exceeding $300 billion. This shattered the prior U.S. annual record cost of $219 billion that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and other storms in 2005. In total, 230 natural disasters occurring since 1980 have cost the U.S. over $1.5 trillion. These numbers are critical to take into account when we consider the cost of reducing carbon emissions.

While it’s important to pick ourselves up after tragedy, we must connect the dots of extreme weather and take notice of an underlying pattern that is consistent with predictions by climate scientists. Only by recognizing the link between carbon emissions, climate change, and extreme weather can we begin to appropriately address the climate crisis and prevent future tragedy in the long run. Furthermore, the business-as-usual approach to carbon emissions is not free. It comes at a cost — a cost that is growing with every passing year.

The science is there, and solutions are on the table. Citizens, policymakers, and industry must take notice and help move the U.S. in a direction that curbs carbon pollution and secures a safer and less costly future for our nation.

Shahir Masri, Sc.D., is an assistant specialist in air pollution exposure assessment and epidemiology at the University of California at Irvine, and also teaches at the Schmid College of Science and Technology at Chapman University. Masri is launching “On the Road for Climate Action,” a public outreach project to communicate the crucial message of climate science and solutions in over 35 different states.

Press link for more: The Hill

India faces worst long term water crisis in its history. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #ClimateChange

Droughts are becoming more frequent, creating problems for India’s rain-dependent farmers

By Malini Menon

NEW DELHI, June 15 (Reuters) – India faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply and millions of lives and livelihoods could be at risk, said a think tank chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

By 2030, water demand is projected to be double the supply, implying severe scarcity for hundreds of millions of people. The shortage will eventually shave around 6 percent off gross domestic product, the report said.

About 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress, the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog said on Thursday, citing data by independent agencies.

“Critical groundwater resources that account for 40 percent of India’s water supply are being depleted at unsustainable rates,” the report said, calling for an immediate push towards sustainable management of water resources.

“India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and millions of lives and livelihoods are under threat,” it said.

The think tank said it has developed a Composite Water Management Index with nine areas of assessment to help state governments manage water resources.

Droughts are becoming more frequent, creating problems for India’s rain-dependent farmers. At the same time, disputes between states are on the rise.

Interstate disagreements are on the rise, with seven major disputes currently raging, pointing to the fact that limited frameworks and institutions are in place for national water governance.

The report said there are seven major ongoing disputes over water resources, which highlights the limited framework and institutions for water governance.

Nearly 163 million of India’s population of 1.3 billion lack access to clean water close to home, the most of any country, according to a 2018 report by Britain-based charity WaterAid.

For the full report, click here.

Press link for more: News Trust

James Hansen wishes he wasn’t so right about global warming #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal

James Hansen wishes he wasn’t so right about global warming


James Hansen

NEW YORK (AP) — James Hansen wishes he was wrong. He wasn’t.

NASA’s top climate scientist in 1988, Hansen warned the world on a record hot June day 30 years ago that global warming was here and worsening.

In a scientific study that came out a couple months later, he even forecast how warm it would get, depending on emissions of heat-trapping gases.

The hotter world that Hansen envisioned in 1988 has pretty much come true so far, more or less. Three decades later, most climate scientists interviewed rave about the accuracy of Hansen’s predictions given the technology of the time.

Hansen won’t say, “I told you so.”

“I don’t want to be right in that sense,” Hansen told The Associated Press, in an interview is his New York penthouse apartment. That’s because being right means the world is warming at an unprecedented pace and ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland are melting.

Hansen said what he really wishes happened is “that the warning be heeded and actions be taken.”

They weren’t. Hansen, now 77, regrets not being “able to make this story clear enough for the public.”

Global warming was not what Hansen set out to study when he joined NASA in 1972. The Iowa native studied Venus — a planet with a runaway greenhouse-effect run — when he got interested in Earth’s ozone hole. As he created computer simulations, he realized that “this planet was more interesting than Venus.” And more important.

In his 1988 study, Hansen and colleagues used three different scenarios for emissions of heat-trapping gases — high, low and medium. Hansen and other scientists concentrated on the middle scenario.

Hansen projected that by 2017, the globe’s five-year average temperature would be about 1.85 degrees (1.03 degree Celsius) higher than the 1950 to 1980 NASA-calculated average. NASA’s five-year average global temperature ending in 2017 was 1.48 degrees above the 30-year average. (He did not take into account that the sun would be cooling a tad, which would reduce warming nearly two-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit, said the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Jeff Severinghaus.)

Hansen also predicted a certain number of days of extreme weather — temperature above 95 degrees, freezing days, and nights when the temperatures that don’t drop below 75 — per year for four U.S. cities in the decade of the 2010s.

Hansen’s forecast generally underestimated this decade’s warming in Washington, overestimated it in Omaha, was about right in New York and mixed in Memphis.

Clara Deser, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said Hansen’s global temperature forecast was “incredible” and his extremes for the cities were “astounding” in their accuracy. Berkeley Earth’s Zeke Hausfather gives Hansen’s predictions a 7 or 8 for accuracy, out of 10; he said Hansen calculated that the climate would respond a bit more to carbon dioxide than scientists now think.

University of Alabama Huntsville’s John Christy, a favorite of those who downplay climate change, disagreed. Using mathematical formulas to examine Hansen’s projections, he concluded: “Hansen’s predictions were wrong as demonstrated by hypothesis testing.”

Hansen had testified before Congress on climate change at a fall 1987 hearing that didn’t get much attention — likely because it was a cool day, he figured.

So the next hearing was scheduled for the next summer, and the weather added heat to Hansen’s words. At 2 p.m., the temperature hit a record high 98 degrees and felt like 102.

It was then and there that Hansen went out on a limb and proclaimed that global warming was already here. Until then most scientists merely warned of future warming.

He left NASA in 2013, devoting more time to what he calls his “anti-government job” of advocacy.

Hansen, still at Columbia University, has been arrested five times for environmental protests. Each time, he hoped to go to trial “to draw attention to the issues” but the cases were dropped. He writes about saving the planet for his grandchildren, including one who is suing the federal government over global warming inaction. His advocacy has been criticized by scientific colleagues, but he makes no apologies.

“If scientists are not allowed to talk about the policy implications of the science, who is going to do that? People with financial interests?” Hansen asked.


Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears . His work can be found here .


Press link for more: APNews

Sea level rise threatens over 300,000 US coastal homes – #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani Demand a clean energy future

Flooding from sea level rise threatens over 300,000 US coastal homes – study

Climate change study predicts ‘staggering impact’ of swelling oceans on coastal communities within next 30 years

Oliver MilmanLast modified on Mon 18 Jun 2018 15.19 AEST

Sea level rise driven by climate change is set to pose an existential crisis to many US coastal communities, with new research finding that as many as 311,000 homes face being flooded every two weeks within the next 30 years.

Oceanfront homes in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Houses on the US coastline could risk being flooded every two weeks. Photograph: Alamy

The swelling oceans are forecast repeatedly to soak coastal residences collectively worth $120bn by 2045 if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t severely curtailed, experts warn. This will potentially inflict a huge financial and emotional toll on the half million Americans who live in the properties at risk of having their basements, backyards, garages or living rooms inundated every other week.

“The impact could well be staggering,” said Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “This level of flooding would be a tipping point where people in these communities would think it’s unsustainable.

“Even homes along the Gulf coast that are elevated would be affected, as they’d have to drive through salt water to get to work or face their kids’ school being cut off. You can imagine people walking away from mortgages, away from their homes.”

Sea level rise: Miami and Atlantic City fight to stay above water

The UCS used federal data from a high sea level rise scenario projected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and combined it with property data from the online real estate company Zillow to quantify the level of risk across the lower 48 states.

Under this scenario, where planet-warming emissions are barely constrained and the seas rise by around 6.5ft globally by the end of the century, 311,000 homes along the US coastline would face flooding on average 26 times a year within the next 30 years – a typical lifespan for a new mortgage.

The losses would multiply by the end of the century, with the research warning that as many as 2.4m homes, worth around a trillion dollars, could be put at risk. Low-lying states would be particularly prone, with a million homes in Florida, 250,000 homes in New Jersey and 143,000 homes in New York at risk of chronic flooding by 2100.

Unfortunately, many coastal communities will face declining property values as risk perceptions catch up with reality

This persistent flooding is likely to rattle the housing market by lowering property prices and making mortgages untenable in certain areas. Flood insurance premiums could rise sharply, with people faced with the choice of increasing clean-up costs or retreating to higher ground inland.

“Unfortunately, in the years ahead many coastal communities will face declining property values as risk perceptions catch up with reality,” said Rachel Cleetus, an economist and climate policy director at UCS. “In contrast with previous housing market crashes, values of properties chronically inundated due to sea level rise are unlikely to recover and will only continue to go further underwater, literally and figuratively.”

The report does not factor in future technological advances that could ameliorate the impact of rising seas, although the US would be starting from a relatively low base compared to some countries given that it does not have a national sea level rise plan. And the current Trump administration has moved to erase the looming issue from consideration for federally-funded infrastructure.

Miami mayor: ‘People on the waterfront won’t be able to stay unless they are very wealthy.’ Photograph: Hoberman Collection/UIG via Getty Images

The oceans are rising by around 3mm a year due to the thermal expansion of seawater that’s warming because of the burning of fossil fuels by humans. The melting of massive glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica is also pushing up the seas – Nasa announced last week that the amount of ice lost annually from Antarctica has tripled since 2012 to an enormous 241bn tons a year.

This slowly unfolding scenario is set to pose wrenching choices for many in the US. Previous research has suggested that around 13 million Americans may have to move due to sea level rise by the end of the century, with landlocked states such as Arizona and Wyoming set for a population surge.

“My flood insurance bill just went up by $100 this year, it went up $100 the year before,” said Philip Stoddard, the mayor of South Miami. “People on the waterfront won’t be able to stay unless they are very wealthy. This isn’t a risk, it’s inevitable.

“Miami is a beautiful and interesting place to live – I’m looking at a lizard on my windowsill right now. But people will face a cost to live here that will creep up and up. At some point they will have to make a rational economic decision and they may relocate. Some people will make the trade-off to live here. Some won’t.”

Press link for more: The Guardian