Coal

Climate change has been underestimated. #auspol #science

Science has underestimated Earth’s sensitivity to CO2 changes, study finds
By Jim Shelton

April 7, 2016

Global warming

A Yale University study says global climate models have significantly underestimated how much the Earth’s surface temperature will rise if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase as expected.

Yale scientists looked at a number of global climate projections and found that they misjudged the ratio of ice crystals and super-cooled water droplets in “mixed-phase” clouds — resulting in a significant under-reporting of climate sensitivity. The findings appear April 7 in the journal Science.
Equilibrium climate sensitivity is a measure used to estimate how Earth’s surface temperature ultimately responds to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Specifically, it reflects how much the Earth’s average surface temperature would rise if CO2 doubled its preindustrial level. In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated climate sensitivity to be within a range of 2 to 4.7 degrees Celsius.
The Yale team’s estimate is much higher: between 5 and 5.3 degrees Celsius. Such an increase could have dramatic implications for climate change worldwide, note the scientists.
“It goes to everything from sea level rise to more frequent and extreme droughts and floods,” said Ivy Tan, a Yale graduate student and lead author of the study.
Trude Storelvmo, a Yale assistant professor of geology and geophysics, led the research and is a co-author of the study. The other co-author is Mark Zelinka of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison.

A key part of the research has to do with the makeup of mixed-phase clouds, which consist of water vapor, liquid droplets, and ice particles, in the upper atmosphere. A larger amount of ice in those clouds leads to a lower climate sensitivity — something known as a negative climate feedback mechanism. The more ice you have in the upper atmosphere, the less warming there will be on the Earth’s surface.
“We saw that all of the models started with far too much ice,” said Storelvmo, an assistant professor of geology and geophysics. “When we ran our own simulations, which were designed to better match what we found in satellite observations, we came up with more warming.”
Storelvmo’s lab at Yale has spent several years studying climate feedback mechanisms associated with clouds. Little has been known about such mechanisms until fairly recently, she explained, which is why earlier models were not more precise.
“The overestimate of ice in mixed-phase clouds relative to the observations is something that many climate modelers are starting to realize,” Tan said.
The researchers also stressed that correcting the ice-water ratio in global models is critical, leading up to the IPCC’s next assessment report, expected in 2020.
Support for the research came from the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship Program, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Press link for more: Yale.edu

Bloomberg calls “bullshit” on clean coal #auspol 

Michael Bloomberg an outspoken environmentalist and former New York City mayor, had some harsh words for carbon capture and storage, the unproven technology that proponents say will turn fossil fuels into “clean” energy sources.
“Carbon capture is total bullshit” and “a figment of the imagination,” Bloomberg said on Monday, addressing a crowd at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance summit in New York.
Carbon capture involves taking the emissions from coal and natural gas-burning power plants and industrial facilities, then burying the carbon deep underground or repurposing it for fertilizers and chemicals. The idea is that by trapping emissions before they enter the atmosphere, we can limit their contribution to human-caused climate change.
Climate experts say it will be next to impossible to eliminate the world’s emissions without carbon capture systems. The International Energy Agency has called the technology “essential,” given that countries are likely to keep burning coal, oil, and natural gas for decades to come.
 Michael Bloomberg, billionaire, former NYC mayor, prominent environmentalist and major coal critic.

Michael Bloomberg, billionaire, former NYC mayor, prominent environmentalist and major coal critic.
Image: joe raedle/Getty Images
But to Bloomberg and other critics, that’s precisely the problem. By investing billions of dollars into carbon capture, countries can effectively delay the inevitable — the end of fossil fuels — and postpone investments in genuinely cleaner energy, such as wind and solar power.
So far, only a handful of carbon capture projects even exist around the world, and many of them have faced steep cost overruns and delays. The Kemper Project in Mississippi — billed as America’s “flagship” carbon capture project — is more than $4 billion over budget and still not operational.
Yet President Donald Trump and many coal industry leaders talk about carbon capture as if it’s already solved the nation’s energy challenges. If we have “clean coal,” why invest in alternatives?
Bloomberg has also used aggressive language to express disdain for the coal industry.
“I don’t have much sympathy for industries whose products leave behind a trail of diseased and dead bodies,” he wrote in his new book, Climate of Hope, which he co-authored with former Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope.
“But for everyone’s sake, we should aim to put them out of business,” Bloomberg said.

 Scott Pruitt, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, speaks with coal miners in Pennsylvania.
Scott Pruitt, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, speaks with coal miners in Pennsylvania.
Image: ustin Merriman/Getty Images
The billionaire media mogul has donated some $80 million to the Sierra Club to help the environmental group shut down coal-fired power plants as part of its Beyond Coal campaign.
More than 250 U.S. coal plants have shut down or committed to retire since the campaign began in 2011. Many of those closures came as natural gas prices plummeted, prompting utilities to ditch coal, and as federal clean air and water rules made it too costly to upgrade aging coal plants.
Of the nation’s more than 500 coal plants, only 273 now remain open, and Bloomberg’s philanthropy arm and the Sierra Club are working to shutter those, too.
The former mayor also recently announced a new coal-related donation. Bloomberg told the Associated Press that he plans to donate $3 million to organizations that help unemployed coal miners and their communities find new economic opportunities.
Bloomberg Philanthropies highlighted the struggles of miners in a new film, From the Ashes, to be featured at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York this week.
Coal miners “have paid a terrible price,” he told the AP.

Press link for more: Mashable.com

March for Science or March for Reality?

March for Science or March for Reality?

By Laurance M. klauss

Shortly after the inauguration of Donald Trump as President, it was announced that a March for Science would be held Washington DC and in a host of other cities in the United States and around the world to protest the new Administration’s apparent anti-science agenda—from denial of climate change to dismantling the EPA, to budget priorities that will cut key science programs throughout the country—and to lobby for science-based policymaking as well as support for scientific research to address the challenges of the 21st century.


Meanwhile the Trump administration’s anti-science actions continue.

 Attorney General Sessions announced just this week that he was disbanding the National Commission on Forensic Science, which advises the federal government to enhance national standards in this area.
I have no idea how the Marches for Science—now over 400 in number across the globe—will play out, and how the media will interpret them.

 A series of worrisome tweets emanating from the March for Science twitter account over the past week, following similar early statements made on the groups website that were subsequently removed, claimed that scientific research promotes violence and inequity in society. 

These have been disavowed but the variety of mixed communications from leaders of the march over the past months suggests at the very least that the organization encompasses a wide diversity of agendas.
This is not surprising. After all, the scientific community has never been a one-issue community, like, say, the anti-abortion movement.

 And the current administration is pushing so many different buttons at the same time, with various attacks on fundamental rights, privacy, diversity, and freedom of expression, that these are bound to get caught up in any movement that promotes openness and free-inquiry, the hallmarks of the scientific enterprise.
Despite any such concerns, a host major science organizations, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science to Union of Concerned Scientists, have signed on as supporters of the March, and are urging their members to join their local marches and speak out for science-based public policy on April 22.


If the event becomes a ‘March By Scientists’ rather than a March for Science—namely if it is dominated by scientists labeling themselves as such, in costumes like white lab coats, rather than by members of the general public supporting evidence-based public policy—that too could be problematic. 

The March for science could then appear as a self-serving political lobbying effort by the scientific community to increase its funding base.
Let’s imagine that this is not the case, and the organizers are wildly successful in attracting hundreds of thousands or million of marchers across the globe this coming Saturday.

 It is still reasonable to wonder what the long-term impact of the marches might be. 

After all, following the worldwide March for Women, in which millions of people marched around the world in support of women’s rights, the Trump administration reacted with a deaf ear. 

Just this past week the President signed legislation allowing states and local governments to withhold federal funding for Planned Parenthood, for example.
The situation is different in this case however, and it may have nothing directly to do with science policy, or even in those areas where science should play a key role in affecting policy.
Every week, the alternative realities invoked by the Trump administration are being demonstrated, by events, to be vacuous. 

The administration claimed it would immediately end, and then fix, problems with Obamacare, and failed miserably. Donald Trump campaigned against foreign military intervention, and this week alone initiated unilateral bombings in Syria and Afghanistan. 

Donald Trump pledged to immediately revise NAFTA, forcing Canada and Mexico to the table to make a better deal. 

Nothing has happened.
He promised Mexico would pay for a wall. 

However the first $2 billion installment for a wall was included in the budget proposal he presented to Congress, compensated by cuts in funding in key areas of science, but also in support of the arts and humanities in this country.
He promised to drain the swamp, but he removed restrictions on lobbyists entering government, and as the New York Times reported just this week, he has filled his administration with them, including individuals who are already facing conflict of interest allegations because of their former activities lobbying the organizations they now run.
He lobbied against Wall Street, but former Wall Street leaders dominate his cabinet and economic advisory groups.
He said he would release his taxes after his inauguration and has not. 

And he claimed he would immediate increase growth and the economy, but as the Wall Street Journal reported just this week, projections for growth of the economy have decreased sharply in recent months, as have retail sales, and the consumer price index.


These are just a few of the immediate and obvious inconsistencies. 

Further, as administration policies on energy and the environment take effect, citizens in communities with drinking water at risk from environmental threats will find that programs to avert further deterioration have been cut, and coal mining communities will find that the natural gas glut has much more to do with the continuing demise of coal than Obama’s efforts to improve air quality in the US by restricting coal plants, which, whatever Trump may claim, are bad for the environment. 

(Indeed as the New York Times reported this week, more than 200,000 tons of coal ash residue each year are produced by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and this has been making its way into groundwater, potentially affecting drinking water supplies, even as the EPA is now delaying compliance with rules enacted to enhance the safe storage and disposal of coal ash.).
The very essence of science, indeed that which is motivating the March for Science, involves skeptical inquiry and a reliance on empirical evidence and constant testing to weed out false hypotheses and unproductive or harmful technologies as we move toward a better understanding of reality: A willingness, in short, to force beliefs and policies to conform to the evidence of reality, rather than vice versa.


Unlike its perception among much of the public and its presentation in many schools today, science is not simply a body of facts, but rather a process for deriving what the facts are. 

This process has helped us uncover hidden secrets of the Universe that never would have been dreamed of and producing technologies that have not only been largely responsible for the standard of living enjoyed by the first world today, but have also increased lifespans around the world. 

With this process the very possibility of “alternative facts” disappears.
By providing such a constant and sharp explicit and observable contrast between policy and empirical reality, the Trump administration can encourage a new public skepticism about political assertions vs. reality, and a demand for evidence before endorsing policies and the politicians who espouse them—the very things that most marchers on April 22nd will be demanding. 

This skepticism is beginning to manifest itself in data. 

A Gallup poll result on April 17 indicated that only 45 percent of the public believe President Trump’s promises, a drop of 17 percent since February.
In this regard, it is worth remembering the words of the Nobel Prizewinning physicist, Richard Feynman, who said: For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. 

Or, as the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick more colorfully put it: Reality is that which continues to exist even when you stop believing in it.
The Trump Administration is discovering that obfuscation, denial, and hype may work when selling real estate, but in public arena eventually reality has a way of biting you in the butt. And the public is watching. 

The March for Science may be lucky to capitalize upon a growing awareness that there is no Wizard behind the curtain. The number of marchers, their backgrounds, or even their myriad messages may not drive the success of the March. Rather, it may be driven by the harsh examples coming out every day that reality exists independent of the desires or claims of those in power. 

In this case, the greatest asset the March for Science has going for it may be Donald Trump himself.

Press link for more: Scientific American

The Science that reveals #ClimateChange is Sound. #auspol 

Valley Voice: The science that reveals climate change is sound

By Dwight Fine 

In his April 10 Valley Voice, “Another opinion on climate science,” Larry Wilhelmsen expresses skepticism over climate change and bases that skepticism, in part, on a petition signed by “31,000 people with various science-related degrees,” and on two publications by atmospheric scientists. 

This illustrates the denialist techniques of “fake experts” and “magnified minority.”
The “petition signed by 31,000 scientists” has long since been discredited. 

The petition was sent out by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, a small group calling itself a research organization. 

Anyone with a bachelors degree or higher in a science-related field was invited to sign. 

Examination of the signatures showed that only about 0.1% of the signers had ever had any involvement with climate science research.

I do not feel that my own Ph.D. in chemistry qualifies me to speak with authority on climatology; instead, I look for the consensus of scientists who have actually done research in the field and have published their results in peer-reviewed journals.

Studies of publications of climatologists have been carried out at Queensland University, the University of Chicago and Princeton University. These studies examined some 12,000 publications.

 The average for the studies showed that 97 percent of climate scientists supported the hypothesis that global warming is real and mainly induced by human activity.

Furthermore, some 30 major scientific societies such as the American Chemical, Physical and Geological Societies have now endorsed this hypothesis, as have the national science academies of 80 countries. Are we to believe that all of these scientists, societies and academies are engaged in a gigantic conspiracy to perpetrate a hoax?
Wilhelmsen states that climate has changed forever and that advocates of human-induced climate change have stopped calling it global warming because warming was stopping. Stopping? 2016 was the warmest year on record, according to data reported by NASA and NOAA, and 15 of the 16 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. Yes, the climate has always changed, but it has never changed at such an abrupt rate as we are observing now. The term ”climate change” came into use so as to be more inclusive of events other than increased surface temperatures.
Such events include:

1) increased severity of blizzards, tornadoes, flooding and wildfires;

2) sea level rise;

3) warming of oceans and increasing acidification of ocean waters due to increased concentrations of carbonic acid; this has led to extensive destruction of coral reefs;

4) declining Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets;

5) declining Arctic sea ice – we now have cruise ships sailing the once impenetrable Northwest Passage;

6) retreating of glaciers in the Himalayas, Andes, Alps, Rockies and Alaska.


As to the “pleasures” we owe to fossil fuels the Wilhelmsen referenced, such pleasures are becoming limited. Reserves of coal and oil are finite and non-renewable, and these fuels become increasingly difficult, expensive and hazardous to extract as reserves are depleted. Landscapes are littered with abandoned strip mines and oilfields, often laden with toxic chemicals. Renewable energy would seem to offer far greater potential in the way of jobs and development.
For readers confused by denialist rhetoric in regard to climate change, I recommend the websites climate.nasa.gov and skeptical science.com.
Dwight Fine is a retired research chemist living in Palm Springs. Email him at dwigf@msn.com.

Press link for more: Elpaso Times

How is Climate Change Affecting Us Now? #auspol 

QUORA QUESTION: HOW IS CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECTING US NOW?
Quora Questions are part of a partnership between Newsweek and Quora, through which we’ll be posting relevant and interesting answers from Quora contributors throughout the week. 
Answer from Michael Barnard, low-carbon innovation analyst:
Climate change is already being felt in innumerable ways today. 

Climate change is one of the underlying contributors to some of the most major stories of the past decade and is being felt broadly and mostly negatively.


 Coral Reef Bleaching Event Climate Change Coral reefs are about to enter a record third year of bleaching due to warmer seas, a federal agency announced.

 In this photo, Peter Gash, owner and manager of the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, snorkels during an inspection of the reef’s condition in an area called the ‘Coral Gardens’ located at Lady Elliot Island and north-east from the town of Bundaberg in Queensland, Australia, June 11, 2015. David Gray/Reuters

Regional conflicts: Climate change has increased drought in the middle east, and has contributed to the rise of ISIS and the destabilization of the middle east playing out now. This in turn has led to the millions of Syrian and other refugees in temporary refugee camps in countries outside of the worst impacted areas and the hundreds of thousands of refugees attempting to get to Europe and often drowning. Researchers Link Syrian Conflict to a Drought Made Worse by Climate Change.

Miami is sinking: Many parts of Miami are already experiencing sea water welling up from under foot at king tides and some are experiencing regular flooding at merely high tides. This is with the relatively small amount of sea level rise already experienced. This is an indicator of what is to come. Miami Is Sinking Into the Sea—But Not Without a Fight.

Farmers are under stress: Farmers are already adapting to changes in climate, but not without impacts. There is already an increase in frequency and severity of drought and heavy rains, extremes which make getting crops difficult. Already crops are shifting north in the northern hemisphere. Climate Impacts in the Midwest: Becoming More Resilient.

Pine Beetle devastating forests: The Pine Beetle has shifted its range further north with increasingly warm climates in North America, moving into Canada and devastating extremely large areas of pine forest. This has caused significant economic and environmental fallout. The Bug That’s Eating the Woods

Wildfires are increasing: Wildfires are becoming more frequent, more severe and covering more ground due to climate change. This is killing people, burning communities out, reducing air quality substantially over major areas of continents and costing quite a lot to deal with. Is Global Warming Fueling Increased Wildfire Risks?

Insurance premiums are up: Insurance companies have been paying out a lot more in claims due to climate change, and in return have been changing their premium structures and rates. They have seen a statistically clear indication of climate change in terms of extreme weather events which cause significant economic damage. Extreme weather forces insurers to adapt and lobby for change.

Hundreds of thousands are already dying annually: A UN organization tasked with monitoring the impacts of climate change calculates that climate change is already causing 400,000 premature deaths a year. CLIMATE VULNERABILITY MONITOR.


Permafrost is melting: Northern communities and physical infrastructure is built on permanently frozen ground, which if melted is a quagmire. Melting of this permafrost is already occurring, destroying buildings and infrastructure such as roads. Permafrost warming in parts of Alaska ‘is accelerating’ – BBC News.

Jellyfish blooms are causing damage: Jellyfish are enjoying the warmer oceans, and increasing substantially in range and numbers. They are clogging thermal power plant intakes causing the plants to shut down and destroying fish farms. Massive Swarms of Jellyfish Are Wreaking Havoc on Fish Farms and Power Plants.

Tornadoes are increasing and shifting range: Tornadoes are clustering, increasing in destructive power and being seen further north and in different times of the year. This is one of the predictions of climate change models and appears to be playing out. Communities with no tornado warnings or experience in dealing with them are being hit. New U.S. tornado trend is worrisome.

Press link for more: Newsweek

Climate Change is Rapidly Accelerating! #auspol #Qldpol 

Climate change is rapidly accelerating. 

By  Paul Dawson

Data shows 16 of the world’s 17 hottest years have occurred since 2000. 


Carbon dioxide concentrations have accelerated to the highest levels in human history. 

There is no natural explanation for this. 

Scientists and models may have been too conservative in the past. 

The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, heat waves, droughts, flooding and wildfires are all accelerating. So are health effects from climate change, such as heat stress, air pollution and infectious diseases. Oceans are warming about 13 percent faster than previously thought and the destruction of coral reefs is happening at a rate that scientists didn’t expect for another 30 years.


The Arctic is warming at two to four times the rate as the rest of the planet.

 Sea ice is melting from above and below and is very shallow. Greenland ice sheets are also quickly melting and are increasing global sea levels. As the Arctic warms and loses its ice, it absorbs more solar radiation and warming accelerates. This produces more water vapor, a greenhouse gas. In addition, the Arctic permafrost melts and some of the abundant greenhouse gases (GHG) of methane and carbon dioxide from organic materials in the frozen soil are released into the atmosphere. In time, humanity’s release of GHG may be small in comparison to the natural release mechanisms of the GHG from the ocean, wetlands, soils, and permafrost of the Arctic. But this tipping point has not been reached yet.
 

Many Americans seem to lack a sense of urgency in dealing with climate change. 

A few years ago, mankind used chlorofluorocarbons as refrigerants and in aerosol dispensers and these chemicals reacted with ozone to create a hole in the ozone layer of the atmosphere. The ozone layer absorbs harmful solar ultraviolet radiation. Thankfully, the countries respected scientific findings and agreed to stop using the damaging chemicals. Now, ozone is filling in the opening and the ozone crisis has ended.
Fortunately, renewable energy can now compete economically with fossil fuel energy, especially if energy subsidies were removed. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that global energy subsidies, including the social and environmental costs associated with heavily subsidized fossil fuels, are costing the world’s governments upward of $5 trillion annually. This figure includes over $700 billion in subsidies to U.S. fossil fuel companies. This is equivalent to every American giving fossil fuel corporations $2,180 annually in the form of taxes. This is absurd and shocking. The IMF said that ending subsidies for fossil fuels would cut global carbon emissions by 20 percent.
Let’s end energy subsidies. 

Let’s reverse carbon and methane emissions.

 Let’s support the Paris Agreement and make climate change a high priority for us and for our elected officials. 

Please join the People’s Climate March on Saturday, April 29.
Paul Dawson is an emeritus professor of engineering at Boise State University, specializing in the thermal sciences, atmospheric science and renewable energy.
CLIMATE MARCH

The People’s Climate March in Idaho, hosted by Idaho Sierra Club, will be at noon Saturday, April 29, at the Idaho Capitol in Boise. Call (208) 384-1023 for details.

Press link for more: Idaho Statesman

We Must Act Immediately To save The Reef #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

We must act immediately to save the Great Barrier Reef 

| Jules Howard
And so it begins: the end of days.

 The Great Barrier Reef is bleaching for the second year in a row and now, according to the results of helicopter surveys released on Monday, it is the middle part (all 300 miles-plus of it) that is suffering the awful reef stress that comes courtesy of a warming ocean.

Coral bleaching is incredibly serious. In especially warm summers, the complex balance between the symbiotic algae and the coral becomes disrupted. To save themselves, the coral expels the algae in the hope of better times ahead. In this state, the coral becomes whitened. That’s what bleaching is.

Without the algae to synthesise most of its energy, the coral operates on a kind of “standby” mode. It is vulnerable in this state. Only one third of the entire Great Barrier Reef remains unbleached. The bell, it seems, is tolling for one of the most biologically active parts of planet Earth.
I watched this Great Barrier Reef story unfold, and what started out as quite a conservative bit of science reporting quickly morphed into something else. By midday, many news outlets started running with the line that the Great Barrier Reef was now in a “terminal stage” – a phrase used by one (understandably frustrated) expert in the Guardian’s coverage of the story and recycled into all sorts of other online reports, which then did loops on Twitter.


“Oh Christ,” I thought, “James Delingpole is going to love this.” Skip forward a few hours and the columnist did his thing on Breitbart – don’t go looking for it, but let’s just say I was proved right. For a bleached reef is not a dead reef as you no doubt know – and the climate-change deniers have enjoyed the chance to throw around more allegations of “scaremongering” and their accusations that “Greenies don’t do science” – which is, of course, ridiculous.
Such backlash from climate-change deniers like Delingpole is inevitable. But in this case, I think the conservation hand really was overplayed. Is the Great Barrier Reef really in terminal decline? Is it really done and dusted? I don’t think so. Because coral bleaching, though incredibly serious and concerning, quite simply is not death. (Indeed the scientists involved in the study themselves said: “Bleached corals are not necessarily dead corals …”). Coral reefs can recover. There is reason for hope, therefore. Hope, but not complacency.

 Two-thirds of Great Barrier Reef hit by back-to-back mass coral bleaching

Looking at other reefs around the world offers us some perspective. Of 21 reefs monitored by scientists in the Seychelles, for instance, 12 have since recovered after a coral bleaching episode in 1998. (The other nine? Now seaweed-covered ruins). In Palau, many reefs recovered within a decade after being hit by the same 1998 temperature spike. Likewise, in an isolated reef system in Western Australia, that same bleaching episode also affected 90% of the corals. For six years the reef remained bleached, but by 2010 it had recovered.
This isn’t to say that all reefs can recover. But given time and enough protection from other threats, there is hope.
Though bleaching events have never been known to occur back-to-back (for example in 2016 and 2017) as they have in parts of the Great Barrier Reef this year, the reef has recovered from bleaching events before in 1998 and 2002 – and no doubt before that. It can recover, given time and the security a commitment to global carbon emission targets would bring. It can, and must, survive this latest episode of bleaching. After all, the Great Barrier Reef is worth £3.5bn to the Australian economy each year, and keeps 69,000 people in work. As well as being a bubbling, spiralling three-dimensional maze of biological interactions, it’s also an economic nest-egg for Australia. What sort of government would want to squander that?
So it’s not terminal, yet. Instead, the bleaching is an indicator that yet another wild place is taking a battering. That yet another flag is waving. That the climate is changing. That the incredible symbiosis of algae and coral is breaking down. We must act immediately.

Press link for more: The Guardian

We Can’t Ignore Existential Threats #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange 

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
It’s a disorienting year in many democracies, and we are trying to define this moment. Last week, writer Francis Fukuyama talked about democracy in crisis.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: People need to pay attention. They need to participate. The problem, I think, really is in the polarization that there’s so much anger and distrust between the two sides of this divide.
MARTIN: Today, Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and United Nations Human Rights Commissioner – she sees a moment of self-interest. Less than three years ago, a global climate agreement showed global cooperation. Now, she says, much has changed.
MARY ROBINSON: It’s quite a strange moment because we had a very strong multilateral set of frameworks that were adopted. And then somehow we seem to be now going into identity nationalism in a narrow sense, hate speech, wanting to do down the other or fear of the other.
MARTIN: People seem to be running away from global cooperation, she says. I asked Mary Robinson if she sympathizes with the average workers around the globe who feel global institutions and agreements have left them behind.
ROBINSON: I do because I think we do have a very, very unequal world, and it’s getting worse. And that is breaking down the trust for a lot of young people who are very cynical about the political framework because they see the countries that preach democracy and human rights being countries largely responsible in their view for the problems in their region, you know, for wars like especially the war in Iraq and what happened in Libya and what’s happening now in Syria and the lack of sort of honest discourse about responsibility.
I think the frameworks that we saw adopted in 2015 are the answer, are the way forward. How do we get back on track to that?
MARTIN: How do you make that happen when everything in this moment is pointing the other direction, when people feel left out of this, when they don’t see any benefit from these international agreements?
ROBINSON: Well, I do think we have to listen and take onboard the fact that there are very many people who feel left out, who feel their incomes are shrinking who are part of a Rust Belt in the United States, who are part of worrying about migrants taking their jobs, etc. We have to be sensitive to all of those issues.
But I think we have to then continue with not just our values but the fact that the world faces a genuine existential threat of climate change, and it’s a battle for the minds and hearts of the moment. And it’s a battle that can’t be lost by the side that knows that it is clean energy and a fairer world of solidarity that will bring us forward.
MARTIN: It’s no secret that there is a level of skepticism here in the United States about the ability of international organizations to make real change. And, as you know, critics often cite the fact that countries with horrible human rights records have been allowed to sit on the U.N. Human Rights Commission – Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, at one point Libya was the chair of the commission.
ROBINSON: I’m aware of that skepticism, but actually I saw in reality that it can help to have countries with quite bad records in organizations. It’s good to have them involved because then their own civil society can come to Geneva and hold them to account, and they do.
I mean, they come from all over the world, and it’s their one chance to have their country in the dock and to accuse it, and if they’re members of the Human Rights Council to accuse it all the more seriously.
MARTIN: If I could ask you about a real world case in this moment. The U.S. strikes in Syria against the Assad regime came in response to this chemical weapons attack that left so many civilians in Italy province dead. Do you support that strike? Do you think it was a good idea?
ROBINSON: I think it’s hard to answer that in one liner. You have to look at the terrible tragedy of what has happened in Syria. It’s not right that chemical weapons have been used more than once, as we know, but I also don’t like hasty gestures. And I think that this was something done, perhaps, in haste to prove a point, rather than of necessity after due consideration that this had to be done.
At the same time, I’m just worried about how this will play out in the future because the message has gone that a country can act unilaterally and bomb. Are other countries listening? And what message are they getting?
MARTIN: I wonder if I could ask an even broader question about how you think of intervention for humanitarian purposes. I mean, Western democracies have tended to intervene when there’s a connection to their own self-interest. But there are plenty of other situations where that link is not necessarily apparent. You take the Rohingya in Myanmar, the slaughter happening now in South Sudan or Nigeria. Do you think all these crisis demand intervention? And if not, how do you decide which lives are worth saving and which are not?
ROBINSON: I think we have a real problem of double standards. To me there should always be a very open, generous, solidarity response to genuine humanitarian problems, and they shouldn’t be linked to is this in my interest as a country? You know, the word intervention is a strange word in a way. We should just be there for our fellow human beings in a helpful and supportive a way.
Again, I am – I’m very worried, as I mentioned earlier, about the fact that climate change is undermining development in countries that are already very disrupted by climate. We don’t feel it so much in resilient countries, rich countries but that won’t be able to continue if it gets a good deal worse as it may.
MARTIN: But you also understand what it means to be the leader of a nation of people and to have to look out for the interests of in your case the Irish and to look, have a hard look at what your financial capability is, how much you can devote to foreign aid to helping those very people who are suffering those climate-related disasters and figuring out how to provide jobs for people who are unemployed in Ireland.
ROBINSON: Yes. That’s very true. I did have my priorities. I did have a consciousness. My country couldn’t do the impossible and shouldn’t be asked to. But, actually, again, if I may, you know, given my focus on human rights and tackling injustice, including the injustice of climate change and its impacts. But I have never had to be the head of state of a country that knows that the country itself will go out of existence if we go above 1.5 degrees Celsius. I never had to do that.
We need to do things that are very serious, and we have no time to waste. I’m very conscious of this because I’m a happy Irish grandmother. So I’ve asked myself as a grandmother what are we doing to make sure that there will be a secure world where people can live in peace and harmony? We should all be asking that question.
MARTIN: Mary Robinson served as president of Ireland and as high commissioner for human rights at the United Nations. She now leads the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice. Thank you so much for your time.
ROBINSON: OK. Thank you very much.

Press link for more: NPR.ORG

Climate Change Isn’t a Political Issue. #Auspol #Qldpol The #Science Is Proven.

By Colleen KennedyUpdated April 11, 2017 4:06 p.m. CT

Published April 12, 2017 1:46 p.m. CT

President Donald J. Trump recently signed an executive order that halts efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restrict and limit carbon dioxide emissions, curbing the U.S. government’s attempts to combat climate change.
The Trump Administration’s reasoning behind this order is to encourage American business. Trump believes climate change policies put the U.S. economy at great risk and harm.
What Trump is failing to see is the significant risk he’s putting the entire world in.
Carbon dioxide is the primary gas emitted through human activity, and the three main ways humans emit carbon dioxide are electricity, transportation and industry.
All three are large components of American business such as agriculture, manufacturing, even tourism industries.
In the short term, Trump’s executive order may stimulate business production. But the long-term effects could be much more severe.
If we don’t curb the release of carbon dioxide, the U.S. economy could fail.
Agriculture is a $300 billion industry, according to the EPA. Drastic changes in the frequency and severity of droughts and floods as a result of climate change pose major threats to crop yields.
If we aren’t able to produce and harvest a sufficient amount of crops, we risk losing a major cornerstone of the U.S. economy.
These changes in temperature will also affect the amount of energy that’s produced, delivered and consumed in the United States.
Without reliable access to energy, how does Trump assume American businesses will be able to operate?
Despite those obstacles, we shouldn’t be singly honed in on the economic aspect of climate change.
Climate change isn’t a political issue. The science is proven. Climate change is real.
Instead of debating whether climate change is real or not, or making the debate political, Republicans and Democrats should create policies that help protect the planet.
For too long climate change has been viewed as a liberal ideology and deception. In reality, climate change is a universal threat. It’s not just a Republican issue or just a Democratic

issue.
It’s as if Trump, by signing this executive order, is showing he cares more about making sure former President Barack Obama has no presidential legacy than ensuring what’s best for the health of the environment and humanity.
It’s time we move away from this emphasis on monetary reliance and realize the reliance we have on the earth and the reliance it has on us to treat it right.
We can no longer avoid facts for the sake of our political reputation or economic gains. Both Democrats and Republicans benefit by universally protecting our home.
As Trump said in his victory speech in November, “I want to tell the world, while we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with other countries and all people.”
Is the safety and protection of our home not in the best interest of all Americans and fair to other countries and all people?
Climate change is an environmental and human rights issue. The United States can’t risk being selfish in the case of climate change because climate change affects the whole planet. It’s time we take responsibility and be progressive.
The mentality of denial halts advancements in creating a sustainable earth for us and future generations. We can’t get stuck in the current convenience of ignoring our nation’s direct contributions to climate change.
Our nation’s destructive actions toward the environment aren’t worth any political or economic gain. We need to change the politics, not the climate.

Press link for more: Loyola Phoenix

Deadly Threat to Coral #climatechange #auspol

Climate change remains the biggest threat to coral reefs around the world, with rising sea surface temperatures driving widespread bleaching events, according to the Climate Council’s latest report.
The report ‘Climate Change: A Deadly Threat to Coral Reefs’, shows worsening bleaching events are also placing tourism and global economies at risk, with the loss of coral reefs potentially costing an astounding $1 trillion.

KEY FINDINGS
1. The Great Barrier Reef is experiencing severe bleaching in 2017, following the worst bleaching event on record in 2016.

Last year the Great Barrier Reef experienced its worst bleaching event ever. The pristine reefs in the north (Port Douglas to Papua New Guinea) were the most badly affected, with mortality of two-thirds of coral in this region.

While the El Niño has waned, bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef has continued, fueled by climate change.

Severe bleaching has already been observed in offshore reefs from north of Ingham to near Cairns. In 2017 more bleaching is being observed in the central section of the GBR, which was spared last year.

Reefs bleached in both 2016 and 2017 have had no opportunity to recover and so high mortality rates can be expected.


2. Climate change is threatening our reefs and putting their future health at extreme risk.
Rising sea surface temperatures, driven by climate change, are increasing the frequency and severity of mass coral bleaching events and reducing the opportunities for corals to recover.

The longest global coral bleaching event on record, ongoing since 2014, has led to widespread bleaching and mortality of reefs as pools of unusually warm water move around the globe. 

It was virtually impossible for the extreme ocean temperatures that led to coral bleaching along the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 to have occurred without climate change.

3. Coral reefs are a huge economic asset, providing jobs and incomes to local communities.

Loss of coral reefs potentially puts an astounding $1 trillion at risk globally.

The World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef is a national economic asset worth $7 billion annually, supporting the livelihoods of 69,000 Australians employed in sectors such as tourism.

If severe bleaching continues, regions adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef risk losing more than 1 million visitors annually – equivalent to at least $1 billion in tourism spending and 10,000 jobs.

Over the next two to three decades, bleaching events are likely to become even more frequent and severe in Australia, with catastrophic impacts on reef health and the economy.


4. We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions now to protect our reefs.

While carbon emissions flat-lined last year in China and declined in the United States and elsewhere, Australia’s net emissions continue to rise, increasing by 0.8% in 2016.

Over the next two to three decades, bleaching events are likely to become even more frequent and severe in Australia, with catastrophic impacts on reef health and the economy.

In the long term, protecting our coral reefs requires the rapid phasing out of fossil fuels globally, and the uptake of cheap, clean and efficient renewable energy and energy storage technologies. Australia must play its part.

The commissioning of new coal mines such as that planned for the Galilee Basin, and the pursuit of polluting and expensive “clean coal” projects and new gas plants, is completely at odds with protecting the Great Barrier Reef and other reefs globally.

Press link for full report: Climate Council