Climate Refugees


Why don’t we just ignore #ClimateChange ? #auspol 

What are the arguments for ignoring climate change?

By Alistair Woodward

The simplest is to deny such a thing exists. President Trump’s tweets on the topic, for instance, mostly run along the lines of “It’s record cold all over the country and world – where the hell is global warming, we need some fast!” But this is plainly at odds with the evidence, given what we know now about rising temperatures and accumulation of heat in the oceans.

The next-level argument accepts that the world is warming, but claims that humans are not responsible. However the recent climate record is difficult to explain any other way. For example, while the lower levels of the Earth’s atmosphere are warming, the stratosphere is cooling. This is contrary to what would be expected if warming was caused by increased solar activity, or changes in the Earth’s spin and tilt that expose the planet to more incoming radiation, which would heat the atmosphere all the way through. But it fits if the predominant cause is a thickening blanket of heat-trapping greenhouse gases close to the surface of the planet.

One might argue that climate change is underway, and yes, humans are responsible by and large, but it is not such a bad thing. Under this banner a variety of positions are taken. It may be (and is, sometimes) claimed that the benefits of climate change outweigh the disadvantages. More common is a nuanced argument along the lines of “it is not such a bad thing compared with other problems we now face” and therefore it makes sense to push climate change down the list of priorities. In effect, the problem is ignored.
The “not such a bad thing” world-view minimizes the risks of climate change to human health and well-being. One way of testing this position is to examine the impacts of past changes in the climate (which, it must be noted, are relatively minor compared with what is projected to lie ahead if present trends in greenhouse emissions continue).
Climate change has played an important part in the long course of human history. Indeed the emergence and success of our species were climate-related. Environmental conditions were the motor that drove evolution – stature, mobility, skin colouring, brain size are just some of the consequences of intermittent drying, heating, and cooling, and it is not drawing too long a bow, perhaps, to say that in some respects climate change made us human.
Bearing in mind this legacy, it is not so surprising that our physiology is very sensitive to ambient temperature and humidity. Humans operate, as tuned machines, in the “Goldilocks zone”, with just enough but not too much warmth or rainfall. Pre-requisites for health such as a nutritious diet and a secure supply of safe drinking water are affected by climate; disease vectors (mosquitoes and ticks for example) may be suppressed or promoted by climate shifts. Extreme weather leading to floods, fires, and heatwaves causes death, disease, and displacement, even in high-income countries – and the effects are amplified by poverty.

High water by Hans. CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay.

If we want to understand the sensitivity of human societies to heating, cooling, drought, and excessive rainfall, then there is ample material in the historical record. Crises stand tallest – there are many examples of dramatic peaks in mortality associated with droughts, migration, warfare, and plagues. Rapid cooling and unusual variability in the climate at the end of the so-called “Classical Optimum” (around 400 CE) promoted the arrival and spread of new infections in failing Rome. Hunger and violent disorder following crop failures in drought-ridden Central America accelerated the fall of the Mayans. When Mt Tambora erupted in 1815, it threw so much ash into the atmosphere that temperatures fell around the world by as much as three degrees Centigrade on average, leading to a decade of food crises, epidemics, and social unrest.
The spread of farming, the Bronze Age, the rise and fall of American civilizations, and the impacts of the Little Ice Age in Europe and China all present direct connections between death, disease, de-population, and climate changes in both the regional and global sense.
So the argument here is: if we look back, we see the ways in which climate bears down on human health. If we look forward, we face changes that greatly exceed, in scale and speed, what happened in the past. The Holocene, the past 11,000 years during which human culture flourished and the nation state emerged, was a relatively stable time. Rises and falls in decadal-average temperatures rarely exceeded two degrees Centigrade. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that global average temperatures may rise by four degrees Centigrade by 2100, with heating occurring much more rapidly in some parts of the world (most spectacularly and dangerously, in the Arctic).
In short, we ignore climate change at our peril. What puts humans at risk is the combination of culpability (we have the capacity now to put a serious spoke in the wheel of global systems) and vulnerability. To those who cannot or will not engage, we might say “watch out – humans may be clever enough to cause the problem, but not clever enough to escape the consequences, short of mass migration to a new and better planet”.
Featured image: Tree by katja. CC0 Public domain via Pixabay.
Alistair Woodward is a Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. He has worked extensively on environmental health issues in New Zealand and many other countries. He has investigated climate change, road safety, housing policy, the risks of cell phones and other modern concerns. Closely involved with the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 2001 (and a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007), he led the writing group on health impacts for the 5th Assessment Report. He has worked frequently for WHO as a consultant on environmental health topics; most recently on the health co-benefits of well-chosen climate mitigation measures.

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A Human Economy? #auspol 

The paper has a larger aim, setting out some initial thinking on the constituent elements of a “human economy approach” that can turn around both inequality and other public bads created by prevailing orthodoxies. Here are the headlines:
A human economy would see national governments accountable to the 99 percent, and playing a more interventionist role in their economies to make them fairer and more sustainable.

A human economy would see national governments cooperate to effectively fix global problems such as tax dodging, climate change and other environmental harm.

A human economy would see businesses designed in ways that increase prosperity for all, and contribute to a sustainable future.

A human economy would not tolerate the extreme concentration of wealth or poverty, and the gap between rich and poor would be far smaller.

A human economy would work equally as well for women as it does for men.

A human economy would ensure that advances in technology are actively steered to be to the benefit of everyone, rather than meaning job losses for workers or more wealth for those who own the businesses.

A human economy would ensure an environmentally sustainable future by breaking free of fossil fuels and embarking on a rapid and just transition to renewable energy.

A human economy would see progress measured by what actually matters, not just by GDP. This would include women’s unpaid care, and the impact of our economies on the planet.


6 million Climate Change refugees in Bangladesh. #auspol 

6m people displaced due to climate change impacts in Bangladesh: IOM

Around six million people have been displaced from their homes due to the effects of climate change in Bangladesh, International Organization for Migration (IOM) said today.
Increased temperature and variations in rainfall are the most prevalent elements of climate change affecting the lives and livelihoods of Bangladeshi people in recent years, according to a study of IOM.
The study, conducted in Bangladesh, Maldives and Nepal by Displacement Solutions, an international organisation dedicated to resolving cases of forced displacement across the world, was presented at a Regional Dissemination Meeting on ‘Assessing the Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Migration Nexus in South Asia’ at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka.

The costal districts of the country are very vulnerable to cyclones, storm surges, tidal floods, salinity intrusion and sea level rise, while the regions in north and north-east of Bangladesh are susceptible to drought, flashfloods and riverine floods, making people’s lives difficult, it said.
The study, carried out among 320 households in four separate upazilas of Khulna, Patuakhali, Rajshahi and Sunamganj on Bangladesh, also underscored that climate change and environmental degradation will further contribute to the movement of people living in the region.
MD Golam Rabbani, a lead consultant at Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, led the team for conducting the study in Bangladesh.
According to the research findings, 92 percent respondents felt that the impacts of internal migration have made the women more vulnerable as the male members of their families go for working outside of their own districts, he said.
According to another report by Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), around 9.6 million people in the country will migrate due to climatic factors between 2011 and 2050, excluding temporary and seasonal migrations.
Referring the IDMC report, Rabbani said that over 19 million people across the world were displaced internally in 2015 due to sudden-onset disasters, of which 7.9 million or 41 percent were from South Asian countries. 
Bangladesh and Nepal are countries of origin of many less skilled international migrants while Maldives is identified as the destination of many migrants from both Bangladesh and Nepal, he said.
However, all three countries are also destination for skilled migrants originating from within the region, Rabbani added.
Prof Ainun Nishat, an eminent expert on climate change issue and former vice chancellor of BRAC University, however, said ensuring alternative livelihoods for the affected people instead of encouraging them for the migration may be the solution of the problem.
Secretary of the Environment and Forests Ministry Istiaque Ahmad and Chief of Mission, IOM Bangladesh Sarat Dash, among others, spoke at the launching ceremony of the meeting.

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We’re blowing the carbon budget! 

As of now—by one calculation—the world has one year to stop pumping CO2 into the atmosphere if we want to stop climate change at 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, the aim of the Paris climate agreement.

A carbon countdown clock from researchers at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change does the math, estimating the time left at current emission levels. Even with a higher limit of two degrees of warming and the most optimistic projections, we still only have about 23 years to fully transition to a carbon-free economy.

“Once we have exhausted the carbon budget, every ton of CO2 that is released by cars, buildings, or industrial plants would need to be compensated during the 21st century by removing the CO2 from the atmosphere again,” says Fabian Löhe, a spokesperson for the Mercator researchers. “Generating such ‘negative emissions’ is even more challenging, and we do not know today at which scale we might be able to do that. Hence, the clock shows that time is running out: It is not enough to act sometime in the future, but it is necessary to implement more ambitious climate policies already in the very short-term.”

Moving to a clean economy obviously requires massive change. Despite the massive growth of renewable energy, most energy still comes from fossil fuels. China, which is moving aggressively to shut down coal plants and spending an unprecedented $361 billion on renewable energy over the next few years, will still get half of its power from nonrenewable sources in 2020. Most heat is fossil-powered. Most transportation runs on gas. Building the infrastructure needed to change that in a year (or a little over four years, if you look at the optimistic projections for staying under 1.5 degrees) would take a level of action that isn’t happening now.

“Many experts see a growing dissonance between the increasing ambitions of climate policy and the lack of success in achieving sustained emission reductions today,” says Löhe. “So far, there is no track record for reducing emissions globally. Instead, greenhouse gas emissions have been rising at a faster pace during the last decade than previously—despite growing awareness and political action across the globe.”
Researchers have found that the commitments that countries made in the Paris agreement don’t go far enough to keep warming under 1.5 degrees—or even under 2 degrees.
“While countries were able to agree upon adequate long-term climate policy targets, they have not been able to match these long-term ambitions with appropriate short-term actions,” says Löhe. “In fact, short-term emission reduction commitments by countries so far—the so-called nationally determined contributions (NDCs)—will only slow the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions rather than starting an era of substantial and sustained emission reductions.”
That half-degree makes a difference; the flooding and droughts and other extreme weather that are already becoming more common will get worse at 1.5 degrees, and likely far worse at 2 degrees. It’s possible that Arctic sea ice might survive with “only” 1.5 degrees of warming. Some parts of the Persian Gulf that would be uninhabitable after 2 degrees of warming might still be tolerable at 1.5 degrees.
The International Governmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN group that produces comprehensive reports on climate change, won’t publish its report on 1.5 degrees of warming—and how to avoid it—until 2018, likely after the carbon budget has been blown. Even to stay under 2 degrees of warming, the world needs to act much more quickly.
“It is crucial that countries jointly raise the short-term ambition of climate policy by ratcheting up their respective [commitments made in Paris] through concrete policies and credible implementation plans for additional emission reductions,” Löhe says. “To successfully manage the transition toward a carbon neutral world economy, it is crucial to steer investments in the right direction. This will at some point require a price on carbon, either through a tax or a functioning emissions trading system.”

Press link for more: Fast


Interfaith effort spreads the word about climate change #auspol 

Interfaith effort spreads the word about climate change
Interfaith groups throughout Philadelphia came together to challenge climate change deniers as part of the National Day Against Denial recently, and Black organizations want to keep up the momentum.

Christians, Jews, Muslims and other faith communities braved the cold to gather for a march through Center City on Monday. The two-prone effort had others engaged in phone-bank calls to policymakers and lawmakers.
Members of Philadelphia PA Interfaith Power & Light joined with groups outside the faith community to champion the cause of keeping the issue in the political forefront as President-elect Donald Trump has nominated people who question or refute climate change science.
The Rev. Cheryl Pyrch of the Philadelphia PAIPL was among those answering the call to action.
“This is part of the national response to the climate deniers to let them know we are organized,” Pyrch said.
“I could not make it to the event,” he added. “I do know that Rev. Alison Cornish [executive director of PAIPL] was planning this for a while. The is also involved under the direction of Mitch James. They are involved in different climate environmental justice issues and are active right now.”
Philadelphia PAIPL plans to hold a brainstorming retreat to strategize on how it will help faith communities in the area address climate issues. The event is scheduled for Tuesday at the Summit Presbyterian Church in the Mount Airy section. Pyrch is the pastor at the church.
Mary Wade, founder of One Light, Building Respect in Community, said the issue of climate change came up at one of her recent events. But the associate minister at Wayland Temple Baptist Church in North Philadelphia said race, violence and environmental issues should remain among the focuses for faith-based groups and churches.
“Underlining every issue confronting our community is a disregard for the integrity of life,” Wade said. “Whether in the workplace, by those in authority or everyday people walking the streets of the community, the problem is the same — a lack of appreciation for our Creator and the sacredness of life. There is a lack of awe and deep respect for the God, who created us all and this planet.

“Our national culture is that of extreme irreverence and lack of honor,” she said. “There is little respect and appreciation for the Creator and creation. This undermines and destroys the fiber of society and hope for our future on this planet.
“That’s why we must continue to call upon people of all faiths and goodwill to show dignity, respect and care,” Wade added.
Gloria Jones of Germantown was among those who attended a tree planting along Germantown Avenue. Though the trees planted by PAIPL and others are small, it still brings her great pleasure, she said.
“I believe in a God who loves us so much that he gave us a beautiful place to live,” Jones said. “I think it is wonderful that many are trying to make sure that we save this planet. I know that I try to do my part.
“When I talk about climate change, I find that most African-American Christians do believe it is real, but what I find is that most think other things are more important. I tell them if you cannot breathe or lose the earth, all those other things will not matter,” she said.
“So, I applaud any group that is speaking out about this,” Jone said.

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Short-lived greenhouse gases cause centuries of sea-level rise. #auspol 

Short-lived greenhouse gases cause centuries of sea-level rise

Researchers report that warming from short-lived compounds; greenhouse gases such as methane and chlorofluorocarbons, that linger in the atmosphere for just a year to a few decades; can cause sea levels to rise for hundreds of years after the pollutants have been cleared from the atmosphere.

Even if there comes a day when the world completely stops emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, coastal regions and island nations will continue to experience rising sea levels for centuries afterward, according to a new study by researchers at MIT and Simon Fraser University.
In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers report that warming from short-lived compounds — greenhouse gases such as methane, chlorofluorocarbons, or hydrofluorocarbons, that linger in the atmosphere for just a year to a few decades — can cause sea levels to rise for hundreds of years after the pollutants have been cleared from the atmosphere.

“If you think of countries like Tuvalu, which are barely above sea level, the question that is looming is how much we can emit before they are doomed. Are they already slated to go under, even if we stopped emitting everything tomorrow?” says co-author Susan Solomon, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at MIT. “It’s all the more reason why it’s important to understand how long climate changes will last, and how much more sea-level rise is already locked in.”

Solomon’s co-authors are lead author Kirsten Zickfeld of Simon Fraser University and Daniel Gilford, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.
Short stay, long rise
Recent studies by many groups, including Solomon’s own, have shown that even if human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide were to stop entirely, their associated atmospheric warming and sea-level rise would continue for more than 1,000 years. These effects — essentially irreversible on human timescales — are due in part to carbon dioxide’s residence time: The greenhouse gas can stay in the atmosphere for centuries after it’s been emitted from smokestacks and tailpipes.
In contrast to carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases such as methane and chlorofluorocarbons have much shorter lifetimes. However, previous studies have not specified what their long-term effects may be on sea-level rise. To answer this question, Solomon and her colleagues explored a number of climate scenarios using an Earth Systems Model of Intermediate Complexity, or EMIC, a computationally efficient climate model that simulates ocean and atmospheric circulation to project climate changes over decades, centuries and millenia.
With the model, the team calculated both the average global temperature and sea-level rise, in response to anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons.
The researchers’ estimates for carbon dioxide agreed with others’ predictions and showed that, even if the world were to stop emitting carbon dioxide starting in 2050, up to 50 percent of the gas would remain in the atmosphere more than 750 years afterward. Even after carbon dioxide emissions cease, sea-level rise should continue to increase, measuring twice the level of 2050 estimates for 100 years, and four times that value for another 500 years.
The reason, Solomon says, is due to “ocean inertia”: As the world warms due to greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide included — waters heat up and expand, causing sea levels to rise. Removing the extra ocean heat caused by even short-lived gases, and consequently lowering sea levels, is an extremely slow process.
“As the heat goes into the ocean, it goes deeper and deeper, giving you continued thermal expansion,” Solomon explains. “Then it has to get transferred back to the atmosphere and emitted back into space to cool off, and that’s a very slow process of hundreds of years.”
Stemming tides
In one particular climate modeling scenario, the team evaluated sea level’s response to various methane emissions scenarios, in which the world would continue to emit the gas at current rates, until emissions end entirely in three different years: 2050, 2100 and 2150.
In all three scenarios, methane gas quickly cleared from the atmosphere, and its associated atmospheric warming decreased at a similar rate. However, methane continued to contribute to sea-level rise for centuries afterward. What’s more, they found that the longer the world waits to reduce methane emissions, the longer seas will stay elevated. 
“Amazingly, a gas with a 10-year lifetime can actually cause enduring sea-level changes,” Solomon says. “So you don’t just get to stop emitting and have everything go back to a preindustrial state. You are going to live with this for a very long time.”
The researchers found one silver lining in their analyses: Curious as to whether past regulations on pollutants have had a significant effect on sea-level rise, the team focused on perhaps the most successful global remediation effort to date — the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty ratified by 197 countries in 1989, that effectively curbed emissions of ozone-depleting compounds worldwide.   
Encouragingly, the researchers found that the Montreal Protocol, while designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out pollutants such as chlorofluorocarbons — has also helped stem rising seas. If the Montreal Protocol had not been ratified, and countries had continued to emit chlorofluorocarbons to the atmosphere, the researchers found that by 2050, the world would have experienced up to an additional 6 inches of sea-level rise.
“Half a foot is pretty significant,” Solomon says. “It’s yet another tremendous reason why the Montreal Protocol has been a pretty good thing for the planet.”
In their paper’s conclusion, the researchers point out that efforts to curb global warming should not be expected to reverse high seas quickly, and that longer-term impacts from sea-level rise should be seriously considered: “The primary policy conclusion of this study is that the long-lasting nature of sea-level rise heightens the importance of earlier mitigation actions.”
This research was supported, in part, by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and NASA.

Press link for more: Climate.NASA.Gov


Climate Wars #Auspol 

Climate change is fuelling wars across the world, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says
Tackling climate change will help prevent global conflict, the incoming UN Secretary General has warned. 

The new head of the UN, Antonio Guterres, told the Security Council in New York that the organisation had to play a more active role in preventing conflict because “the cost of inaction is simply too high”.
The former Portuguese Prime Minister and successor to Ban Ki-moon believes the UN is spending “far more time and resources responding to crises rather than preventing them” and that people and nations were “paying too high a price” as a result. 
Mr Guterres said climate change was exacerbating internal conflicts and called for the UN to respond with a more multi-faceted approach.
“Most of today’s conflicts… are fuelled by competition for power and resources, inequality, marginalisation and exclusion, poor governance, weak institutions, sectarian divides,” he said.

“They are exacerbated by climate change, population growth and the globalisation of crime and terrorism. With so many factors at work, it takes very little to trigger a crisis that can engulf a country or a region, with global consequences,” he said. 
The link between climate change and conflict is a long-established one. 
A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) last year shows 9 per cent of armed conflicts over 1980-2010 coincided with climate-related disasters such as heat waves or droughts. 
In countries with deep ethnic divides, this figure rises to 23 per cent. 
Although there is no evidence climate-related disasters act as direct triggers of armed conflicts, the reports says their disruptive nature “play out in ethnically fractionalised societies in a particularly tragic way”.
In 2014, a group of American scientists from Columbia University published a study, which argues Syria’s experience of the most severe drought on records between 2007 and 2010, contributed to the 2011 uprising.
The authors explain widespread crop failure and a mass migration of farming families to urban centres paired with poor governance and unsustainable agricultural policies had a “catalyst effect” and contributed to the political unrest. 
Retired US Marine Corps brigadier general Stephen Cheney told Climate Home: “There’s a fair percentage of conflicts today that have a linkage to climate change that was not previously there.
“These include the Arab Spring and Syrian civil war – two insurrections that define world politics and security today.”
Mr Guterres told the Security Council efforts for peace and security had to be coupled with work to achieve sustainable development and human rights and the challenge was now to turn words into action. 

“Let us make this year, 2017, a year for peace. I think it would be naïve to say that 2017 will be a year of peace, but at least it is our obligation to do everything we can to make it a year for peace,” he said. 
Kyung-wha Kang of South Korea was recently appointed to the newly created position of special adviser on policy and she will be in charge of coordinating the UN’s conflict prevention programmes.

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We’re all in this together. #auspol #science 

The Wretched State of the Human Family and Our Shared Ecological HabitatBY DR. GLEN BARRY · PUBLISHED JANUARY 8, 2017 · UPDATED JANUARY 8, 2017
Humanity’s one shared biosphere that makes Earth habitable is collapsing and dying as industrial growth overruns natural ecosystems and climate; as we have utterly failed to embrace our dependence upon each other and nature for our well-being and very survival. It is time to come together as one human family to resist injustice, inequity, violence, and non-sustainability as we create a rich and verdant life for all amidst resurgent natural ecosystems on a living Earth that can last essentially forever.

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. – George Orwell
We are one human family. Best we end the dysfunction and start acting like it or we destroy ourselves and our one shared habitat. – Dr. Glen Barry
Deep ecology essay by Dr. Glen Barry, EcoInternet
We Are All In This Together, One Human Family

In Beijing, New Delhi, and London one can barely breathe. Those sick with addiction are murdered in the Philippines by the state. The socialist paradise of Venezuela is becoming a failed state of wanton hunger, prostitution, and murder. Advanced western democracies turn towards fascism as long anticipated inequitable over-population and abrupt climate change lead to mass flows of refugees.

Western consumption is violence against the natural world and each other. Over a billion people live in abject poverty on $1.50 a day, as a few hundred oligarchs enjoy half of Earth’s wealth. In much of the world shocking and grotesque opulence exists within a sea of absolute human and natural misery. Wildlife continues to be slaughtered as vermin, as do unwanted human beings. Resurgent indigenous protectors are brutalized by settlers as they have been for 500 years.

The current pampered ruling elite in the United States stole an election from a good man working to channel the aspirations of everyday people, while committed to addressing societal issues that threaten us all. Instead we have an US President elect who is an anti-science lunatic that grabs women’s crotches and has sold out the nation to autocratic Russia. This creepy bankrupt reality show host will soon possess the button that can destroy the Earth many times over. Or his turning over of climate and environmental policy to the oil oligarchy may take care of that.

After centuries of war driven by ecological imperialism, and two world wars which brought horrors at unimaginable scale, much of the world supported institutions to make peace, and the desirability of demobilizing and ridding the world of nuclear arms. Then America reacted incautiously to the banditry of a small bunch of Islamic fanatics, using this horrific international crime as a pretext to settle other scores through wanton imperialist invasions. Now radical and medieval christianity and islam are at each other’s throats, which increasingly becomes a conflict between the haves and have nots, as we are plunged into a state of Perma-war from which we may never emerge.
The ecosystems that enable our very being are being cleared for toilet paper to wipe our asses and lawn furniture to luxuriate upon as being ends. Those that are relatively well-off are in profound denial that their inequitable over-consumptive lifestyles can continue as ecosystems and climate collapse. Decadent over-consuming celebrities prattle on about climate change as they flit about in highly-polluting private jets.
Society has atomized, not only between the well-off and dispossessed, but also between those enmeshed within supportive communities and those that are marginalized, unsupported, and ignored. Families have grown dysfunctional, ostracizing and vilifying rather than loving and nurturing, particularly those family members that are different. All life including other human beings (particularly women) and wildlife have become objectified for what they can do for me now, otherwise they are considered disposable.
Not so long ago things were looking good for human advancement. An end to slavery, racial equality, women’s and worker’s rights, environmental sustainability, and a lasting peace dividend were all in our grasp. Decades of human advancement are now threatened by pervasive anti-intellectualism, self-absorption, and simple human greed.

Previous generations believed in social progress, while current self-entitled generations believe in iPhone apps. Things could be so much better if we wanted; or at least had the intelligence, strength, and morality to try.
Until we educate every single one of us, and commit to truthful action to meet the basic needs of every human being, all species, and our shared habitat; humanity is little more than bacteria on a pile of sugar. Those that live extravagantly will soon burn through the living Earth’s resources and then being ends.
We simply must do better or our one shared environment will be destroyed as we die gasping for breath and starving, at each others’ throats as society and the biosphere collapse.
We are one human family. Best we end the dysfunction and start acting like it or we destroy ourselves and our one shared habitat.

To thrive, indeed to survive, we simply must accept and embrace that we are more alike than different, we all feel pain and have desires, and we are utterly dependent upon each other for our well-being. We must do so despite our race, education level, income, and which ultimately unknowable faith we embrace; as we find ourselves hurtling together through space on one shared biosphere which is being murdered.
Lines on the map are vacuous nonsense meant to limit our unity. Nothing threatens the oligarchy’s elites more than the thought of us coming together to demand peace, justice, equity, and ecology.
Together much could be achieved as we learn to value knowledge, experience, shared well-being, and natural ecosystems as the meaning of life or we fall into nothingness. The many visionary sages that speak of and lead us in this great transition must be supported, loved, and heeded, not ignored and vilified.
Where are the necessary lovers of ecological and other truths to lead us to salvation? Who will rise up with them as one and together destroy the ruling oligarchy class sucking the life from humanity and her habitat? From which quarters and unlikely alliances will The Resistance emerge to usher in the great transition to just, equitable, and global ecological sustainability?
There is more to life than throw-away consumption based upon liquidating ecosystems to soothe and comfort your nerve-endings as the expense of other life and your habitat. Stop being a turd polluting and ultimately killing miraculous Gaia and transform yourself and community into a state of personal well-being, societal harmony, and bioregional sustainability.

Believe in something greater than yourself. Commit to action for the land, air, and water. Reach across boundaries to share and love. Nurture and restore natural ecosystems. Work for greater equity where all basic needs are met as those that are smart and work harder have reasonably more. Heal your dysfunctional families and communities. Care for the sick and indigent. Join together in mass protest, when necessary swarming the sources of ecocide and fascism.

Make Love Not War

Make Love Not War

Make love not war.
Risk everything to be part of the great ecological transition to come. Ditch your car. Eat less or no meat. Do not consume old-growth forests, rather protect and restore native ecosystems as holy cathedrals that sustain life. Reduce your personal emissions as you come together with others to do so societally. Grow your food, and exchange the surplus with others.
Be kind and giving. Be not envious but rather rejoice in the success of others as it lifts all and provides valuable inspiration to your own journey. Empathize with the broken and aged, and young and stupid. But for the grace of Gaia there go any one of us.
Let’s stop being afraid of taking the actions individually and collectively required to get better and recover from human neuroses. Let us unite as citizens of the world, coming together as one human family on an Earth that lives forever

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Climate Change is already hurting the Philippines #auspol 

Rescuers ferry stranded residents from their houses due to floods caused by Tropical Storm Ondoy along Ortigas in Cainta Rizal in September 2009. Nearly 60 people were killed, Manila was blacked out and airline flights were suspended as a powerful storm battered the main Philippines island of Luzon on a weekend, disaster officials said. INQUIRER PHOTO/EDWIN BACASMAS
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is the final research paper of the graduate class on humanitarian reporting under Prof. Reynaldo Guioguio of the UP Diliman College of Mass Communication.)
MANILA — Unlike in some parts of the world where the reality of climate change is still being debated upon and sometimes even questioned, in the Philippines, its effects have been felt more profoundly in different parts of the country.
In recent years, deaths and destruction of Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana), Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi), Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) and Supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan), have left trails of lives and livelihood lost, homes shattered and communities forever changed.
In Yolanda alone, non-government organization Germanwatch placed the damage to property and the country’s economy to be at least P650 billion ($13 billion), that is aside from the deaths of more than 6,000 people.
Metro Manila was not spared from the destruction caused by typhoons and habagat. The government estimated the lost cost by Typhoon Ondoy, which struck the capital in 2009, to about P11 billion.
With unusual changes in weather patterns and disturbances, experts agree that the threat in the Metro caused by climate change is real.
Environmental issues
The Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) has identified the following phenomena as major environmental issues and challenges, which will arise as a result of climate change: tropical cyclones, flooding, coastal erosion and land subsidence. These weather phenomena can be expected to result further in temperature changes and sea level rise.
With the increase in sea level, coastal cities of Metro Manila such as the Camanava area (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela), are faced with the possibility of having several, if not huge portions of their communities submerged.
Meanwhile, as early as 2007, experts from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have warned policymakers in the country of the possible catastrophic impact of climate change, particularly sea-level rise in Metro Manila. They have also recommended measures which can mitigate the impact of climate change in the capital’s low-lying areas.
For Giovannie Antonious Reyes, the reality of land subsidence is something close to home. He has been involved in the local government’s efforts in mitigating the impact of climate change in his community.
“Aware kami kasi palaging binabaha ang Malabon kapag may bagyo o pag-ulan kasi nga nasa below sea level kami (We are aware of the problem because Malabon always gets hit by floods during typhoons or just heavy rains as it is below sea level),” said Reyes. While not familiar with the actual measure of land being lost to the sea, he added that they have long known how their community has lost some of its soil to the sea. “Yearly bumababa ang land sa Malabon (Yearly, the level of land in Malabon goes down),” he added.
Reyes is the command center head of the Malabon City Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation (DRRM) Council. He is involved in the local government’s efforts in stemming the impact of climate change in their community. “City level ang effort, kasama ang City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), at iba pang agencies. Lahat naman ng agencies sa Malabon, nagtutulung-tulungan (The effort is city level, done with the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, Department of Public Works and Highways, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and other agencies. All agencies in Malabon cooperate in addressing the problems),” he said.
These joint efforts involving the CENRO, DPWH, PNP, BFP and other agencies, he said, have resulted in the cleaning of water passageways (esteros), river channels, canals, and other areas which if obstructed, could cause or contribute to heavy flooding. These initiatives, he added, have become parts of the city government’s efforts to minimize the effects of land subsidence.
Impact of climate change
Being at the forefront of his community’s disaster-preparedness and climate change mitigating arm, Reyes said he knew of the JICA study. “Identified na ang risks kaya identified na rin ang evacuation centers, in case malala ang dulot ng malakas na pag-ulan. Alam na rin namin ang level ng tubig o pagbaha sa bawat barangay (The risks are identified and evacuation centers have been identified and made ready in case rains cause serious flooding. The level of floodwater in every village is projected),” he said.
Aside from the Camanava, the JICA study identified the Pasig-Marikina River System as another area in Metro Manila which may be affected drastically by the effects of climate change.
Communities in the cities of Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Quezon, San Juan, Antipolo, Cainta, Rodriguez, San Mateo and Pasay, experience flooding due to excess runoffs, which overflow from banks of both the Pasig and Marikina rivers.
JICA funded a flood control project in the area, which is now known as the Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project. The project’s construction and design was based on anticipated changes in the area’s flood patterns in the 30 years following its initial year of use.
The Mangahan Floodway, which straddles a portion of the Marikina River, also aids in the control of excess flood water in the area. With the facility, excess water is diverted to Laguna de Bay instead of allowing to flow into other cities of Metro Manila such as Taguig, Pateros, Taytay, Makati and Pasig.
These findings, which also take into consideration the existing public flood-control infrastructure of the time, communicated a sense of urgency then to policymakers and leaders in the Philippine government.
In 2012, PEMSEA released a study similar to that conducted by JICA, which highlighted the need for government to address the risks posed by climate change to Metro Manila.
Cognizant of the need to expand the coverage of disaster risk reduction and management preparation to management of communities, their study covered not only sea-level rise but also risk scenarios and sea use planning.
Global warming
Echoing the JICA study, the PEMSEA paper said Metro Manila’s coastal areas along Manila Bay risk inundation due to sea level rise. This increase in the water level is due to global warming rate of subsidence and storm surges, which result from intense tropical storms and typhoons.
Despite its warning, the partnership program, composed of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and implemented in the Philippines via the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), has admitted that while they are certain of sea level rise, they are unsure as to its timing.
Similar to the proposal forwarded by JICA, PEMSEA also recommends the adoption of climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies for coastal communities, particularly in their use of the areas, which are identified to be at risk. Information on these areas, they also recommended, should be constantly updated to prevent avoidable damage and loss of life.
The study identifies land use as an important factor in ensuring the safety of communities from the effects of climate change. To ensure widespread and official adoption by agencies of a climate-sensitive land use plan, PEMSEA suggests that policies be passed by government, ensuring proper implementation and regulation of identified areas in Metro Manila.
Climate Change Commission
Recognizing the dangers posed by climate change, not only to Metro Manila but to the country as a whole, the Philippine government passed Republic Act 9729 of the Climate Change Act of 2009, mandating the creation of the Climate Change Commission under the Office of the President.
The Commission, headed by the President, with three commissioners appointed to six-year fixed terms, is mandated to formulate a strategic framework on climate change, which will be the basis for climate change planning, research and development, monitoring of impacts of climate change in the country and information and knowledge management.
The commission is also charged with recommending legislation pieces to Congress, policies for offices in the executive branch of government and formulating programs and securing appropriations for climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.
A year after its creation, the commission was able to formulate the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change (NFSCC) in 2010 while the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) would later be signed in 2011.
Under the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change (NFSCC), the Philippine government plans to pursue a roadmap, which will be based on the attainment of the country’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), with recognition of the governance and institutional factors that affect the country’s ability to adapt to the impact of climate change.
The framework recognizes adaptation which requires resources and the cooperation of various stakeholders from different segments of society. This strategy also recognizes the reality that climate change adaptation goes farther than the impacts of climate change, acknowledging economic targets and sustainability.
The NFSCC was formulated by the commission with consideration of the impact of climate change in the Philippines: increasing temperature, sea level rise, changing rainfall patterns and extreme weather events. These phenomena are expected to affect the country’s food sources, water supply, public health, social infrastructure, energy sources and the society at large.
Under the NCCAP, the commission outlined the climate change adaptation and mitigation priorities for 2011 to 2028. These priorities cover food security, water sufficiency, ecosystems and environmental stability, human security, climate-smart industries and services, sustainable energy and knowledge and capacity development.
These strategic priorities under the action plan and intended to “build the capacities of women and men in their communities, increase the resilience of vulnerable sectors and natural ecosystems to climate change, and optimize mitigation opportunities towards gender-responsive and rights-based sustainable development.
The commission also acknowledged the complementing relationship between climate change and disaster risk management, with the ultimate goal of reducing the risks of dangers posed by extreme weather events, as well as the effects of rising temperatures, changing rain patterns and sea level rise.
Paris Agreement

Among the recent campaigns of the commission is the country’s ratification of the Paris Agreement, an international commitment promoted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is intended to address the threats posed by climate change on the global population.
Slated to be adopted by members of the United Nations by 2020, the Paris Agreement has become a flashpoint for local political camps in the Philippines when President Rodrigo Duterte made statements opposing the covenant.
In July 2016, Duterte said the agreement would limit the industrialization of developing countries such as the Philippines, keeping the nation’s population struggling with restricted economic activities and employment opportunities.
By November, however, Duterte changed his mind after a meeting with his Cabinet. He retained his doubts though on the agreement because of the lack of sanctions on countries which might renege on their commitment.
Adopted by 196 countries in Paris after the UN Climate Change Conference Paris 2015 or COP21, the agreement lapsed into international law last Nov. 4. Being an international covenant, the Philippine Constitution requires its ratification by Congress and the signature of the President before it will be considered as binding with the Filipino nation.
It remains to be seen if the President will honor his statement of signing the agreement in the coming months. Congress has also yet to make a commitment to ratify the covenant. And while these policymakers and national leaders have yet to bind us to a commitment to limit the causes of climate change, the effects of climate change now slowly eat away at the coastlines of Metro Manila, slowly taking away the soil of communities in Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Novaliches by ebb and flow; causing heavier than usual rains in San Mateo, Cainta and Montalban; and causing floods in Marikina and Quezon City. The endangered communities in Metro Manila can only prepare themselves for what climate change might bring in the coming months and years. SFM

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Short lived Greenhouse Gases can drive sea level rise for centuries. #auspol 

Climate Change: Even Short-Lived Greenhouse Gases Can Drive Sea-Level Rise For Centuries

Over the past 100 years, the global average sea level has risen by roughly 7 inches. This rise has been fuelled by two key factors — the added water from melting land ice, and the expansion in volume of seawater as it absorbs heat from the atmosphere.
If we examine the trend over the past 20 years alone, world’s oceans have warmed at a rate of 0.12 degrees Celsius per decade — a continuation of the trend that began in the last half of the 20th century, when humans began pumping massive quantities of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
In such a scenario, there is a question climate activists have often asked — what, if anything, can be done to prevent sea levels from rising to an extent that poses an existential threat to low-lying island nations such as Fiji, the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands?
The answer, going by the findings of a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is not much.
This is because oceans, once they have absorbed a certain amount of heat, take hundreds of years to cool down — a phenomenon the authors of the study called “ocean inertia.”
“As the heat goes into the ocean, it goes deeper and deeper, giving you continued thermal expansion,” study co-author Susan Solomon, a professor of climate science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a statement. “Then it has to get transferred back to the atmosphere and emitted back into space to cool off, and that’s a very slow process of hundreds of years.”

In order to reach their conclusions, the researchers used a climate model to simulate three scenarios —global greenhouse gas emissions ending in 2050, 2100, and 2150. Even in the most optimistic scenario, wherein anthropogenic emissions of all heat-trapping gases ceased altogether in 2050, up to 50 percent of carbon dioxide would remain in the atmosphere for over 750 years. And, even after carbon dioxide emissions cease, sea levels will continue to rise, measuring twice the level of 2050 estimates for 100 years, and four times that value for another 500 years.
Even methane — a gas that has an atmospheric lifespan of just 10 years — would continue to contribute to sea level rise for centuries after it has cleared up from the atmosphere.

Effectively, this means that even if humans were to stop emitting all greenhouse gases right now, thermal expansion and the ensuing rise of ocean levels would continue for centuries to come — quite possibly inundating several island nations and low-lying coastal areas in cities across the world.
“If you think of countries like Tuvalu, which are barely above sea level, the question that is looming is how much we can emit before they are doomed. Are they already slated to go under, even if we stopped emitting everything tomorrow?” Solomon said. “It’s all the more reason why it’s important to understand how long climate changes will last, and how much more sea-level rise is already locked in.”

There is, however, one silver lining. As part of their study, the researchers also examined what impact the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which eliminated the use of the ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, had had on stemming the rise of ocean levels. They found that if the deal had never been ratified, and if countries had continued to emit CFCs, the world would have experienced up to an additional 6 inches of sea-level rise by 2050.
“Half a foot is pretty significant,” Solomon said. “It’s yet another tremendous reason why the Montreal Protocol has been a pretty good thing for the planet.”

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