Coral

Hope is essential to save the planet. #StopAdani #auspol 

We saved the whale. The same vision can save the planet | Susanna Rustin
Susanna RustinFriday 18 August 2017 16.00 AEST

 

Illustration by Mark Long

“Hope is essential – despair is just another form of denial,” Al Gore said last week, in an interview to promote the sequel to his 2006 climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth. 

As well as the very bad news of Donald Trump’s science-denying presidency, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which opens in the UK today, brings good news: the plummeting cost of renewable electricity and the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

K

In 2017, denial of the facts of climate change – and myriad linked dangers including air and ocean pollution, famine and a refugee crisis the likes of which we can hardly imagine – is in retreat, with the Trump administration the malignant exception. 

Virtually all governments know that climate change is happening, and polls show most people do too – with those living in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa particularly worried.

 The question is not whether global warming is happening, but what we are going to do about it. 

There are, and need to be, many answers to this. 

Gore believes the solutions to climate change are within reach, if people can only find the political will to enact them.

 Even if how to whip up sufficient zeal to make this happen remains a puzzle, his essential message is one of optimism.


Others are less sanguine. 

A widely shared article by David Wallace-Wells in New York magazine last month sketching out some worst-case scenarios included an interview with pioneering climate scientist Wally Broecker, now 84, who no longer believes even the most drastic reductions in carbon emissions are sufficient to avert disaster. 

Instead, he puts his hopes in carbon capture and geoengineering. 

Others oppose anything that smacks of a techno-fix, believing the very idea that human ingenuity can get us out of this mess is yet another form of denial.
The human reaction – or lack of one – to climate change is a subject of interest in itself.

 The novelist Amitav Ghosh wrote The Great Derangement, a book about why fiction writers mostly ignore the subject, and argued that the profound alteration of Earth’s climate is difficult to think about. 

Wallace-Wells, in New York magazine, refers to “an incredible failure of imagination”. 

Politics, supposed to help us make sense of the world, has sometimes been more hindrance than help: is climate change really an inconvenient truth, because it means we have to give up eating beef and taking long-distance flights, or a too-convenient truth for anti-capitalists who want to bring down the financial system?
Such left-right binarism, and the relentlessly partisan nature of US politics, is surely why Gore now prefers to frame climate change more as a “moral” issue than as a political one. 

But the clearest and simplest message from his decade of advocacy is the need for action at every level. 

Such action takes many forms, ranging from protests against the Dakota Access pipeline in the US to anti-fracking demonstrations in Lancashire. 

This year the Guardian in conjunction with Global Witness is documenting the deaths of people all over the world who are killed while attempting to defend the environment from damage or destruction.

In a similar vein, the Natural History Museum has chosen its revamped central hall to showcase a key moment for environmental activism. 

When it was first announced that Dippy the dinosaur would be replaced with a blue whale skeleton that had previously hung quietly among the mammals, there were grumbles.

 But a month after its grand reopening in the presence of royalty and Sir David Attenborough, the revamped museum is a smash hit with more than 115,000 visitors a week.
Partly this is because the installation of the skeleton brings Alfred Waterhouse’s 1870s terracotta building, with its marvellous moulded monkeys, back to life in the most magnificent way. 

Whereas visitors once mostly stuck to the ground floor until they joined the procession to the dinosaurs, the aerial position of the whale bones now draws people upstairs. From an overcrowded lobby, Hintze Hall has been raised into a wondrous public space.
But the whale, which died as a result of being stranded off the coast of Ireland in 1891, is more than a 19th-century relic. 

What the museum has done by giving this vast, dead creature such prominence is to issue a warning and a call to action. 

And it makes no bones about this: “Rescued from the brink of extinction in the 1960s, the blue whale is a symbol of hope for the future of the natural world,” says the information panel. 

“Threats such as marine pollution and climate change linger – the blue whale remains a vulnerable and endangered species.”


Like the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, which stopped growing after a 1987 treaty phased out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), whale conservation is one of the global environmental movement’s greatest success stories. 

Blue whales were critically endangered, until activists persuaded governments to legislate to save them, and the museum’s new exhibit is called Hope.
Optimism alone won’t halt climate change, or prevent further extinctions. 

But like Gore, the director of the Natural History Museum, Michael Dixon, and his colleagues understand that the most vital currency of the environmental movement is hope.

 With the knowledge we now have of climate change’s likely consequences, the alternative is nihilism.
• Susanna Rustin is a Guardian columnist

Press link for more: The Guardian

Coral Reefs Fighting Climate Change #StopAdani #Auspol 

Mike Bloomberg’s New Frontier For Fighting Climate Change: Coral Reefs
Aug 12, 2017 @ 08:00 AM
50 Reefs


Great Barrier Reef (2017), Photo Courtesy of 50 Reefs
50 Reefs, a $2 million initiative funded by Michael Bloomberg, Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen and the Tiffany Co. Foundation, launched a platform on Thursday to take non-divers to the world’s biggest coral reefs — without getting them wet. 

Instead of a pleasant journey of the oceanic world, however, the initiative reveals a world through 360° images on Facebook where corals from the Great Barrier Reefs to Cook Islands die rapidly and the species that rely heavily on them disappear.


While coral reefs support 25% of all marine life worldwide, they are estimated to have a value of at least $1 trillion, generating $300 to 400 billion each year through food, tourism, fisheries, and medicines, according to the Word Wildlife Fund.

 50 Reefs says that 90% of coral reefs have been dying of overfishing, pollution and climate change, and will keep on dying in the next 30 years even with the Paris Climate Agreement in place. 

The initiative is now taking its fight to Washington, D.C. to push for immediate action, despite the fact that President Trump declared in June that the U.S. is pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
“I realized most of the issues underwater are big communication challenges,” says Richard Vevers, whose nonprofit Ocean Agency is now spearheading the 50 Reefs initiative together with the University of Queensland.

 “The fact that people can’t see what’s going on underwater is a major issue,” he adds. 

Having documented the biggest global coral bleaching (dying off) event in history in the past three years, Vevers came up with an ambitious but what he calls a “manageable” project that would allow him and his team to identify reefs that are least vulnerable to climate change and then get them to reseed.

 “Corals are brilliant at essentially recovery once the environment they’re in is stabilized,” he says, “We are buying time so they can bounce back as naturally as possible.”
Upon hearing the concept of 50 Reefs, Bloomberg’s foundation reached out to Vevers in late 2016, and he showed the organization footage from his award-winning Netflix documentary, Chasing Coral, which debuted on the streaming service on July 14.

 In a time lapse video, coral reefs faded from florescent pink to white, and then to dark brown. “Their flesh is becoming clear, and you’re seeing their skeleton,” Vevers describes. Bloomberg, who is the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, is one of the largest ocean donors and donated $53 million in 2014 to address overfishing, a catalyzer of coral bleaching.
Climate change hits the oceans harder than anywhere else and coral reefs are the “frontline of climate change,” according to Vevers. “Ninety three percent of the heat goes into the ocean,” the activist says: The Great Barrier Reef lost nearly half its corals in 2016 and 2017. Yet, he sees this environmental catastrophe as an opportunity for humanity to bounce back as well. “We’ve always portrayed climate change and climate action as something negative,” he says, “That’s the wrong way of communicating it. It’s about the business opportunities and it’s about improving lives.”

Press link for more: Forbes.com

The planet’s worse case climate scenario. #StopAdani #Auspol 

The planet’s worst-case climate scenario: ‘If not hell then a place with a similar temperature’
Aug 12, 2017, 2:53 AM

If we don’t cut greenhouse gas emissions, we’ll see more deadly heat waves, acidic oceans, and rising seas.


At this point, the planet will warm no matter what — but we can still prevent it from getting too bad.

Environmentalist and author Bill McKibben told Business Insider that without intervention, the world would be: “If not hell, then a place with a similar temperature.”

The world is almost certainly going to warm past what’s frequently considered a critical tipping point.
A recent study pointed out that we have just a 5% chance of keeping the planet from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius, the upper limit the Paris Agreement was designed to avoid. Beyond that threshold, many researchers say the effects of climate change — like rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and intense storms — will become significantly more concerning.

But how bad could it really get? What would the planet look like if we don’t cut emissions and instead keep burning fossil fuels at the rate we are now?
Business Insider recently asked author and environmentalist Bill McKibben that question, and his description of what Earth would look like was sobering.
“If not hell, then a place with a similar temperature,” he said. “We have in the Earth’s geological record some sense of what happens when you run carbon levels up to the levels we’re running them now — it gets a lot hotter.”
Extreme as that might sound, there’s significant evidence that we’re feeling the effects of climate change already. Unchecked, the planet will get far hotter by 2100 — a time that many children alive today will see.


“Huge swaths of the world will be living in places that by the end of the century will have heat waves so deep that people won’t be able to deal with them, you have sea level rising dramatically, to the point that most of the world’s cities are drowning, the ocean turning into a hot, sour, breathless soup as it acidifies and warms,” McKibben said.
The evidence for how bad it could get
None of that is exaggeration. A recent study in the journal Nature Climate Change found that 30% of the world is already exposed to heat intense enough to kill people for 20 or more days each year. That temperature is defined using a heat index that takes into account temperature and humidity; above 104 degrees Farenheit (40 degrees C ), organs swell and cells start to break down.
Heat waves are the deadliest weather events most years , more so than hurricanes or tornadoes. In 2010, more than 10,000 people did in a Moscow heat wave. In 2003, some estimates say a European summer heat wave killed up to 70,000.
Even if we drastically cut emissions by 2100, the world will continue to warm due to the greenhouse gases that have already been emitted. That would cause the percentage of the world exposed to deadly heat for 20 or more days to rise to 48%. Under a scenario with zero emissions reductions from today, researchers estimate that 74% of the world will be exposed to deadly heat by the end of the century.
Our oceans are at risk, too. A draft of an upcoming US government report on climate change projects that even if emissions are cut to hit zero by 2080, we’ll still see between one and four feet of sea level rise by 2100. Without the cuts, it suggests that an eight-foot rise can’t be ruled out. That report also suggests that oceans are becoming more acidic faster than they have at any point in the last 66 million years. Increased acidity can devastate marine life and coral reefs, which cover less than 2% of the ocean floor but are relied upon by about 25% of marine species — including many fish that are key food sources for humans.
The key takeaway here is not that the world is doomed, however. It’s that if we don’t dramatically cut emissions soon, we’ll put the planet on course to be a much less pleasant place.
In some ways, progress towards emissions reductions is already underway. Market trends are increasing use of renewable energy sources, political movements are pushing leaders to enact new types of policies, and legal challenges to government inaction on climate are popping up around the world. The question is whether we’ll act fast enough to stave off the most dire consequences of greenhouse gas emissions.
“In order to catch up with the physics of climate change, we have to go at an exponential rate,” McKibben said. “It’s not as if this was a static problem. If we don’t get to it very soon, we’ll never get to it.”

Press link for more: Business Insider

Climate change denial looks a lot like psychosis #auspol #StopAdani 

New studies and new catastrophes give climate change deniers a lot to deny.

In this July 22, 2017, photo, Canadian Coast Guard Capt. Victor Gronmyr looks out over the ice covering the Victoria Strait as the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica traverses the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

 Nordica has set a new record for the earliest transit of the fabled Northwest Passage. 

The once-forbidding route through the Arctic, linking the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, has been opening up sooner and for a longer period each summer due to climate change.

David Goldman AP

August 10, 2017 7:01 PM
Denial begins to look like psychosis.
Just in the past week, a cascade of new findings and climate anomalies have added to the scientific consensus that we’re cooked. Miami in particular.
We’re seeing wildfires in Greenland, for heaven’s sake. 

Famously soggy Seattle has just gone through a record 54 consecutive days (and counting) without rain.
On Thursday, Arctic explorer Pen Hadow left Nome, Alaska, in a 50-foot sailboat intent on something unfathomable before the onset of global warming.

 He and his crew intend to sail through the melting ice pack to the very North Pole. “If we can produce a visual image of a sail boat at 90 degrees north I think that could become an iconic image of the challenge that the twenty-first century faces,” Hadow wrote in his blog.
That image would nicely illustrate the National Climate Assessment draft report publicized this week by the New York Times.

 “Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” noted the assessment, based on input by scientists from 13 different federal agencies.


Scientists involved in the report were worried that Donald Trump, our climate-denier-in-chief (a Chinese hoax, he called global warming) would suppress the final report, which concluded that it was “extremely likely” that human activity accounted for more than half of the rising global temperatures since 1951.
“Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans.”
Draft report of the National Climate Assessment
The assessment makes for particularly gloomy reading in South Florida, where rising waters already plague our ritziest zip codes. “It is very likely that the accelerated rate of Arctic warming will have a significant consequence for the United States due to accelerating land and sea ice melting that is driving changes in the ocean including sea level rise threatening our coastal communities.”
Yeah, that’s us.
That ought to convince even the most obstinate politicians that unless something is done about greenhouse emissions, we’re in deep, deep (as in encroaching sea waters) trouble.
But there was more.
A young student on her bicycle carefully crosses the water logged street on Lincoln Road Court as water levels have risen on the begimming of the annual King’s Tide where certain areas of Miami Beach become flooded, on Oct. 13, 2016.

C.M. GUERRERO. cmguerrero@elnuevoherald.com

On Wednesday, researchers from the University of Florida published findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that sea levels along the southeast Atlantic coast, south of Cape Hatteras down to South Florida, are rising six times faster than the global averages. So if sea level rise is bad elsewhere, it’s going to be hell in Miami.
That was published the very same day that Swiss Re, a Switzerland-based reinsurance company, released an analysis that climate change and rising seas, in league with population growth and coastal development, has rendered Miami vulnerable to unimaginable losses if a Hurricane Andrew-sized storm strikes the city. “Losses in this case are estimated to be $100-$300 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster ever seen in the U.S.,” Swiss Re reported. Only $60-180 billion of Miami’s property losses would be covered by the private insurance market, “leaving a huge shortfall in funding to rebuild.”
Swiss Re added that “risk mitigation and climate adaptation are keys to strengthening community resilience.”
That ought to be obvious. Except we have a president in Washington and a governor and a speaker of the House in Tallahassee who pretend global warming is some kind of liberal invention. Two years ago, employees of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection claimed they had been barred from using the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in emails, reports or official communications. That doesn’t sound like an administration ready to confront Florida’s coming climate crisis.
Meanwhile, a dozen of Florida’s U.S. representatives and one of its U.S. senators (Marco Rubio) are essentially climate change deniers.
They’ve somehow held onto their “it ain’t happening” beliefs even during what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has described as the second-warmest year in the contiguous United States (so far) in 123 years of record keeping. In case you didn’t notice, July was the hottest month ever in Miami, according to Climate Central.
While 2016 was the second warmest year on record (after 2012) in the U.S., it was the hottest ever for the planet. NOAA reports that 16 of the 17 warmest years on record, worldwide, have occurred since 2001.


Yet our pols pretend otherwise. (They ignore a report on the effects of climate change in Architectural Digest that said rising seas have made South Florida “the worst metropolitan area in the country in regards to storm surge risk, with an estimated 780,000 homes potentially affected.”)
They just keep denying. Even during a week when a Russian tanker, without an ice breaker escort, was able to traverse the Arctic with a load of liquid natural case. In a week when the Asian Development Bank warned that, “unabated climate change” would lead to “disastrous climate impacts for the people of Asia and the Pacific.” Which echoed a study published this week in the journal Science Advances warning that “Climate change, without mitigation, presents a serious and unique risk in South Asia, a region inhabited by about one-fifth of the global human population, due to an unprecedented combination of severe natural hazard and acute vulnerability.” The journal warned that “the most intense hazard from extreme future heat waves is concentrated around densely populated agricultural regions of the Ganges and Indus river basins.”
It was a week when geologists warned that “all glaciers in Iceland are retreating at an unprecedented pace.” A week when a study published in the Lancet Planetary Health declared, “Climate change is one of the biggest global threats to human health of the 21st century.”
So much dire news in single week. Not that our steadfastly oblivious leaders in Washington and Tallahassee were deterred by melting glaciers or droughts or wildfires or record temperatures or rising seas or disappearing polar ice or threats to human health. Deniers just keep on denying.

Press link for more: App.com

Bleak world if the Great Barrier Reef dies. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

Scientist Dr Charlie Veron’s warning to Gold Coasters of a bleak world if the Great Barrier Reef dies

Dr Charlie Veron with a piece of coral named Blastomussa. Picture: Zak Simmonds
A RENOWNED scientist has painted a bleak picture of the impact on the Gold Coast if the Great Barrier Reef dies, warning of a worldwide environmental disaster that will hurt even more if rising carbon dioxide levels keep cooking the planet.
Dr Charlie Veron has urged young Gold Coasters to build multiple skills for a chaotic world, saying important fields like medicine and agriculture will be vital as carbon dioxide levels increase because of the burning of fossil fuels, particularly coal.
Even if nations stopped production of carbon dioxide, the oceans would keep heating for another 20 years, leading to a vicious pendulum ride between cyclonic storms and floods, and severe drought and bushfires.

Dead and dying staghorn coral, central Great Barrier Reef in May 2016. Credit: Johanna Leonhardt

“Half of all coral colonies on the Great Barrier Reef died over the past two years due to coral bleaching,’’ Dr Veron said.
“It’s going to be a horrible world. Young people now are going to curse the present generation for what we’ve done. We’ll have left them a planet in dire straits.’’
Known as the Godfather of Coral, Dr Veron has been hailed by the likes of high-profile British naturalist David Attenborough for his career that led to him being appointed chief scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science and to recognition as a wideranging specialist in corals and reefs.

Dr Charlie Veron was the first full-time researcher on the Great Barrier Reef and has described more than a quarter of the world’s coral species.

With several books to his name including his memoir, A Life Underwater, Dr Veron was a prominent speaker at the Byron Writers Festival at the weekend.
“The Australian public is asleep. They seem to be unaware of what’s going on,’’ he told the Gold Coast Bulletin outside the festival.
Rising levels of the otherwise rare gas carbon dioxide were increasing ocean temperatures, which were causing bleaching and killing coral reefs, putting the entire marine environment in peril.
“Australia is now the biggest coal exporter in the world,’’ he said.
“Australians are fuelling this as fast as they can through the mining of coal, which is the worst driver of this.’’
Dr Veron, who has been an outspoken critic of the proposed Adani coal mine in Central Queensland, feared the Great Barrier Reef could be gone within 15 years.

Dr Charlie Veron 

“If the Great Barrier Reef dies then you can be sure most coral reefs in the world would have died and the oceans will be in a state of ecological collapse. Nowhere is going to be exempt,’’ he said.
“We will see fishing industries collapse, for starters.
“Between a quarter and a third of all marine species have part of their life cycle in a coral reef. Taking away the reefs precipitates ecological collapse of the oceans. It’s happened twice in the past due to volcanoes releasing carbon dioxide and lava flows, but that was nothing like the amount of carbon dioxide being released now.’’
One of those mass extinctions, at the end of the Mesozoic era 65 million years ago, brought an end to the dinosaurs. The other was at the end of the Palaeozoic era about 200 million years ago, which wiped out corals.
“A lot of marine species here (in Gold Coast and Byron Bay waters) have come from the Great Barrier Reef,’’ Dr Veron said.
“The corals here have all come from the barrier reef as have all the tropical marine species. They come down the East Australia Current and colonise here. This applies to migratory fish species too.
“It’s all gloom and doom, I’m afraid.
“The science has been right.
“The sceptics now have no credibility. The deniers of climate change might as well deny Jumbo jets can fly. It’s no longer an issue of science or judgment. It’s happening.’’
Carbon dioxide was important in keeping the earth warm and keeping green plants going.
But concentrations had now reached 406 parts per million.
“But when you go over the limit it becomes a very dangerous gas,’’ he said. “It’s now reached that point.
“It’s doing this slowly. It’s like putting a jug of water on the stove. It takes a long time to equilibrate with the heat under it.
“The oceans are taking at least 20 years to equilibrate with current conditions. We have oceans that have warmed in response to carbon dioxide levels of the 1990s. (Even if carbon dioxide production stopped now) the oceans have got 20 years of warming ahead.’’

Press link for more: Gold Coast Bulletin

Church groups call on Federal Govt to do more to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions #StopAdani

Why Sunshine Coast church groups fear climate change
Bill Hoffman | 8th Aug 2017 7:45 AM

CHURCH groups have called on the Federal Government to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

CHURCH groups have called on the Federal Government to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. DAVID CROSLING

CONCERN for the welfare of future generations and protection of the environment were the principal concerns that drove more than 1000 people of faith on the Sunshine Coast to sign a petition calling on the Federal Government to do more to address the looming impact of climate change.


The petition signed by 1053 people has been presented to Fisher MP Andrew Wallace calling for stronger action on greenhouse gas emissions and for Australia to increase its assistance to vulnerable nations already struggling to respond to the impacts of climate change.
It drew together the Caloundra Catholic Community Social Justice Network, the Caloundra Uniting Church Social Justice Group and the Anglican Church.
Bob Cullen of the Caloundra Catholic Community Social Justice Network said he had been inspired to launch the petition by the 2015 “On Care for Our Common Home” letter from Pope Francis.
“The Pope said that climate change represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity today,” Mr Cullen said.
Mr Cullen joined Mrs Wendy Lowry of the Caloundra Uniting Church Dr Ray Barraclough of the Anglican Church to present the petition to Mr Wallace.


CHURCH group leaders (from left) Dr Ray Barraclough (Anglican), Bob Cullen (Catholic), Andrew Wallace MP and Mrs Wendy Lowry (Uniting Church) at the hand over of the petition signed by more than 1000 people.
“When I met two people from islands to the north of Australia and heard their poignant descriptions of losing their homelands because of sea level rise caused by climate change, I realised the need for action,” Mr Cullen said.


“Rising sea levels have seen communities lose sources of clean drinking water to flooding and salinity. In the worst cases, communities have been forced to abandon their homes and to watch their family graves being washed away.”
Dr Ray Barraclough, who has taught students from Kiribati and Tuvalu, has seen families forced to leave their ancestral homes.
Mrs Wendy Lowry expressed her deep concern about the legacy being left for future generations.
“I have 12 grandchildren and am concerned about the pollution that we are leaving for their generation,” she said.
Mr Cullen said the meeting with the Fisher MP ended with the prayer Mr Wallace had concluded his Maiden Speech to the House of Representatives: ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference’.
The Fisher petition was part of a Community Climate Petitions campaign raised simultaneously in almost 100 federal electorates across Australia.
It was driven by a diversity of faiths including Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and Brahma Kumaris.
It was supported by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, Caritas Australia, Catholic Earthcare, Common Grace, Edmund Rice Centre, Pacific Calling Partnership, TEAR Australia and the Uniting Church in Australia.

Press link for more: Sunshine Coast Daily

Drastic Impact of #ClimateChange on U.S. #StopAdani #Auspol 

Government Report Finds Drastic Impact of Climate Change on U.S.
By LISA FRIEDMANAUG. 7, 2017

A draft report by government scientists concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. Branden Camp/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years, according to a sweeping federal climate change report awaiting approval by the Trump administration.


The draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies, which has not yet been made public, concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. 

It directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet who say that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain, and that the ability to predict the effects is limited.


“Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” a draft of the report states. 

A copy of it was obtained by The New York Times.
The authors note that thousands of studies, conducted by tens of thousands of scientists, have documented climate changes on land and in the air. 

“Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change,” they wrote.


The report was completed this year and is a special science section of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years.

 The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the draft report and the authors are awaiting permission from the Trump administration to release it.
One government scientist who worked on the report, and who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity, said he and others were concerned that it would be suppressed.
A draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies, which has not yet been made public but was obtained by The New York Times, concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now.

The White House and Environmental Protection Agency did not immediately respond to calls and emails requesting comment on Monday night.
The report concludes that even if humans immediately stopped emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the world would still feel at least an additional 0.50 degrees Fahrenheit (0.30 degrees Celsius) of warming over this century compared with today. 

The projected actual rise, scientists say, will be as much as 2 degrees Celsius.
A small difference in global temperatures can make a big difference in the climate: The difference between a rise in global temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius and one of 2 degrees Celsius, for example, could mean longer heat waves, more intense rainstorms and the faster disintegration of coral reefs.

Among the more significant of the study’s findings is that it is possible to attribute some extreme weather to climate change. 

The field known as “attribution science” has advanced rapidly in response to increasing risks from climate change.
The E.P.A. is one of 13 agencies that must approve the report by Aug. 18.

 The agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, has said he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.
“It’s a fraught situation,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geoscience and international affairs at Princeton University who was not involved in the study. 

“This is the first case in which an analysis of climate change of this scope has come up in the Trump administration, and scientists will be watching very carefully to see how they handle it.”


Scientists say they fear the Trump administration could change or suppress the report. 

But those who challenge scientific data on human-caused climate change say they are equally worried that the draft report, as well as the larger National Climate Assessment, will be publicly released.
“The National Climate Assessment seems to be on autopilot because there’s no political that has taken control of it,” said Myron Ebell, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He was referring to a lack of political direction from the Trump administration.
The report says significant advances have been made linking human influence to individual extreme weather events since the last National Climate Assessment was produced in 2014. Still, it notes, crucial uncertainties remain.
It cites the European heat wave of 2003 and the record heat in Australia in 2013 as specific episodes where “relatively strong evidence” showed that a man-made factor contributed to the extreme weather.

In the United States, the authors write, the heat wave that broiled Texas in 2011 was more complicated. 

That year was Texas’ driest on record, and one study cited in the report said local weather variability and La Niña were the primary causes, with a “relatively small” warming contribution. Another study had concluded that climate change made extreme events 20 times more likely in Texas.
Based on those and other conflicting studies, the federal draft concludes that there was a medium likelihood that climate change played a role in the Texas heat wave. But it avoids assessing other individual weather events for their link to climate change. Generally, the report described linking recent major droughts in the United States to human activity as “complicated,” saying that while many droughts have been long and severe, they have not been unprecedented in the earth’s hydrologic natural variation.
Worldwide, the draft report finds it “extremely likely” that more than half of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 can be linked to human influence.
In the United States, the report concludes with “very high” confidence that the number and severity of cool nights has decreased since the 1960s, while the frequency and severity of warm days has increased. Extreme cold waves, it says, are less common since the 1980s, while extreme heat waves are more common.
The study examines every corner of the United States and finds that all of it was touched by climate change. The average annual temperature in the United States will continue to rise, the authors write, making recent record-setting years “relatively common” in the near future. It projects increases of 5.0 to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 to 4.8 degrees Celsius) by the late century, depending on the level of future emissions.
It says the average annual rainfall across the country has increased by about 4 percent since the beginning of the 20th century. Parts of the West, Southwest and Southeast are drying up, while the Southern Plains and Midwest are getting wetter.
With a medium degree of confidence, the authors linked the contribution of human-caused warming to rising temperatures over the Western and Northern United States. It found no direct link in the Southeast.
Additionally, the government scientists wrote that surface, air and ground temperatures in Alaska and the Arctic are warming at a frighteningly fast rate — twice as fast as the global average.
“It is very likely that the accelerated rate of Arctic warming will have a significant consequence for the United States due to accelerating land and sea ice melting that is driving changes in the ocean including sea level rise threatening our coastal communities,” the report says.
Human activity, the report goes on to say, is a primary culprit.
The study does not make policy recommendations, but it notes that stabilizing the global mean temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius — what scientists have referred to as the guard rail beyond which changes become catastrophic — will require significant reductions in global levels of carbon dioxide.
Nearly 200 nations agreed as part of the Paris accords to limit or cut fossil fuel emissions. If countries make good on those promises, the federal report says, that will be a key step toward keeping global warming at manageable levels.
Mr. Trump this year announced the United States will withdraw from the Paris agreement, saying the deal is bad for America.

Press link for more: nytimes.com

“Our planet is being destroyed!” #StopAdani #Auspol 

Every second we waste denying climate change exists is time we steal from the next generation who will suffer the terrible consequences
Friday 4 August 2017
Our planet is being destroyed. 

But it is not only the forests and the oceans, the wildlife and the Arctic sea ice that is being wiped out – soon it will be the people, too.

The Lancet has today published a report that lays bare the devastating impact climate change will have on populations across Europe. 

Between 1981 and 2010, extreme weather events killed about 3,000 people a year.
According to the research, this will increase 50 times to an estimated 152,000 people who will die in weather-related disasters every year between 2071 and 2100.


There are people alive today who will witness these deaths. 

I could be one of them – in 2071, I would be approaching my 86th birthday. 

Climate change is not a far-off problem of the future. 

It is happening right now – and if we do not take action, our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren, will be put at risk.
Every second we waste denying climate change exists and ignoring its deadly impact is time we steal from the next generation, who will suffer the terrible consequences.

It is the poor who will suffer first – particularly those who live in the most hostile climates and lack the resources to protect themselves. In fact, they are already suffering.
The suicides of nearly 60,000 Indian farmers over the last three decades have been linked to climate change – despite them contributing very little to the emissions that cause global warming.
Perhaps most devastating of all is the fact that those with wealth and power, who have such a disproportionate effect on the planet, will pay little attention until it is their livelihood and their peers under threat from extreme weather.
Donald Trump’s favourite golf course will need to be underwater before he starts to pay attention to the environmental havoc he has played such a pertinent role in. But by then, it will be too late.
As our European neighbours enter their fifth day of a blistering heatwave, as Portugal mourns more than 60 people killed in its worst forest fires in recorded history and as Cornwall cleans up after a mid-summer flood, we must heed the warning signs.
Since 2002, Britain has lost green space equivalent to the size of Liverpool. That’s a rich heritage of woodlands, gardens, parks that have gone to waste. At the same time, our Government has recklessly promoted intensive and polluting fossil fuel extraction in the face of the enormous threat that we face from climate change.
The Lancet paper makes for grim reading, but it should also serve as a much needed wake-up call for governments across Europe. We cannot continue to tinker around the edges and hope for a miracle cure to climate change.
We have to pull up our boots and get on with it – and do so with vigour. The UK has the chance to be a world leader by kickstarting a renewables revolution to create clean and stable energy for all. The alternative does not bear thinking about.
Amelia Womack is deputy leader of the Green Party

Press link for more: Independent.co.uk

Why we are naively optimistic about #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

Why We Are Naively Optimistic About Climate Change
Marcelo GleiserAugust 2, 20178:36 AM ET

Sunset at Paranal Observatory in northern Chile.

S. Guisard/ESO

There is comfort in distance, especially when the distance is in time.
Things that will happen far in the future seem not to bother us much, given that we will, most likely, be out of the picture.

This is certainly true when I put on my astrophysicist hat and talk about how the sun will turn into a red giant star in about five billion years, engulfing Mercury and Venus in the process, swelling up to almost Earth’s orbit. 

Clearly, such cosmic cataclysm will mark the definitive end of our planet as we know it. A roasted chunk of stuff will remain, but nothing like we see today.
But who cares, right? 

It’s so far away in the future, that even if I say that changes in the sun will turn Earth inhospitable for life much earlier, perhaps under a billion years from now, people will still shrug. 

A billion years? 

I can’t comprehend that kind of time.
Fair enough. 

But if we could bring the cataclysmic clock a bit closer to us, what would be the timeframe that would make people start to care, hopefully fear, the horrendous oncoming destruction of our way of life? 

One million years?

 Too far out. 

One thousand years? 

Still, not really relevant. 

One hundred years? 

Okay, here it starts to get uncomfortable. 

Seventy years?

 Now we are within the lifetime of most people under 10 years old.

So, if the world as we know it would cease to be in 70 years, people should start to take notice now. 

I have an 11-year-old and a 5-year-old.

 Barring unforeseen catastrophe, they will be around in 70 years.

 I would want their world to be better than mine, not worse. 

That should be the legacy of our generation.

 Unfortunately, we are failing, and those who deny it won’t have to see the consequences of their choices. 

How comfortable.

Seventy takes us near the end of this century, when predictions from climate models describe terrifying scenarios.

 We tend to focus on the rising of the oceans, and the forced displacement of tens of millions to the interior. 

Miami, New York, Rio, Bangladesh — How is that going to work, exactly? 

Where will the people go? 

How are they going to eat, find shelter?

 Are we, or the government, doing enough to prepare, even for a just-in-case scenario?

Last month, a trillion-ton iceberg the size of Delaware broke off from the Western coast of Antarctica, part of the Larsen C shelf.

 (Make sure you watch the video too.) 

The geographical change is so dramatic that maps of the continent will have to be redrawn. 

Although it’s hard to attribute a particular weather-related event to climate change — scientific modeling of global warming describes the relative statistical possibilities of different scenarios, not sure-shot predictions — the cumulative effect of this event and others that preceded it in Larsen shelves A and B add up to a radical change in Antarctica’s landscape.

As David Wallace-Wells pointed out last month in an important article for New York Magazine, even if we enjoy watching movies and TV series about dystopian futures, such as Mad Max, The Hunger Games, and Black Mirror, we tend to dismiss such scenarios as a realistic possibility in our lifetimes. 

Unless, that is, things begin to crumble. 

As Wallace-Wells remarked: “It is unlikely that all of these warming scenarios will be fully realized, largely because the devastation along the way will shake our complacency.” We will react under pressure, even if, by then, it will be too late to reverse or even slow down, in any relevant way, the warming trend.
According to the latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), over the next decades the sea level will rise gradually anywhere from 0.2 meter (0.67 ft.) to 1 meter (3.3 ft.) by 2100. 


In their assessment, scientists working for the IPCC use words like “highly likely” and “high confidence,” and only rarely “virtually certain,” which are not dramatic enough for the general public or politicians. 

Models show that temperatures will fluctuate more widely, with heat waves increasing over time. 

The planet is already warming up, as recent decades have been the warmest on average over the past 150 years. 

Heat waves impact food production, increase disease, and affect those in need more directly. A European heat wave in 2003 killed 2,000 people a day, with more than total 35,000 dead. 

As Wallace-Wells summarizes from interviews with many professional scientists who have spent their careers studying the weather and climate change: “No plausible program of emissions reductions alone can prevent climate disaster.” This is a runaway train.
The list of horrors is long. Widespread famine leads to massive migration, making what’s happening in Europe today pale in comparison. As the temperature rises, the Arctic permafrost (land that is permanently frozen, or should be) has started to melt, potentially releasing enormous amounts of trapped carbon in the form of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with an impact that can reach 34 times that of carbon dioxide by century’s end. If the melting accelerates to two decades, the impact is 86 times as powerful. While the temperature rises, diseases spread, some of them from trapped ice in high latitudes, ancient bugs we have no antibodies to fight. Even if many of these bugs may die during the thawing process, many will survive, carried by air currents and infected people to overpopulated latitudes.
Meanwhile, the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes the oceans to acidify at an alarming rate, compromising corals and fisheries. Coral reefs supply about one-quarter of marine life and feed more than half a billion people today. The dead zones spur the growth of oxygen-eating bacteria, making it impossible for fish to survive. Decomposing organic matter generates hydrogen sulfide, a highly poisonous gas that shuts down the nerves regulating breathing, killing in seconds even at low concentrations. Hydrogen sulfide played a key role in the most severe of all mass extinctions in Earth’s past, when 97 percent of all life died 252 million years ago.
Interestingly, as Wallace-Wells remarks, many climatologists remain optimistic, believing that we will find technological mechanisms to sequester the excess amounts of carbon that are slowly chocking the planet. This trust in science as savior is understandable: If we engineered this mess, we should be able to fix it. But it is also very dangerous. To trust human ingenuity alone is a risky wager, one we can’t afford to lose. The mindset needs to change, and scientists can only do so much to promote this change. People are not getting scared, and scaring tactics often backfire.
Perhaps it will be those who are now 10-years-old that will fix this, knowing that their elders messed it up for them. Shame on us.

Marcelo Gleiser is a theoretical physicist and writer — and a professor of natural philosophy, physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College. He is the director of the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement at Dartmouth, co-founder of 13.7 and an active promoter of science to the general public. His latest book is The Simple Beauty of the Unexpected: A Natural Philosopher’s Quest for Trout and the Meaning of Everything. You can keep up with Marcelo on Facebook and Twitter: @mgleiser

Press link for more: NPR.ORG

Choices to be made. #StopAdani #ClimateChange #auspol 

Choices to be made
02 August 2017

Local and regional authorities are making climate-conscious choices, whilst climate change impacts will soon mean individuals need to make choices to survive.
Subject terms:
Business and industry Climate-change impacts

Climate-change mitigation

The breaking off of a large piece (over 5,800 km2) of the Larson-C Ice Shelf has dominated the news headlines of late — a widening crack spread closer to the edge of the shelf, finally reaching the edge and freeing the iceberg on 12 July 2017. 

The dramatic and trackable event played out over weeks. 


It came in the aftermath of President Trump’s announcement of the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and in the lead up to a G20 climate discussion meeting.
The G20 meeting, held in Hamburg, Germany, concluded with a statement in which 19 of the 20 nations affirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement, citing that the agreement was ‘irreversible’. 

The US stands apart from this group, and considering the situation more broadly with Nicaragua and Syria, the only other nations not committing to the Paris Agreement.
Whether there will be a softening of the US stance is yet to be seen but it is heartening to see commitments from states and cities within the US stepping up to mitigate emissions while the federal government steps back. 

As Mark Watts, executive director of C40, writes in a Commentary (page 537) “Mayors of the world’s cities understand that there is no alternative to urgent, bold and transformative action against climate change.

 By the end of 2020, every C40 city will have a plan in place to ensure they can deliver on their obligations to the Paris Agreement.”

 In a related Feature (page 543), Erica Gies investigates the role of businesses, as a number of large corporations are making commitments in line with the Paris Agreement, supporting the work of cities and states.

Joerg Boethling / Alamy Stock Photo

To track progress and ensure countries and other committed parties are meeting their ambitions we need reliable data on emissions, which requires research funding and observing platforms.

 Mitigation commitments will hopefully also translate into funding to support these efforts.

 Another point to be considered is quantifying the baseline temperature from which warming will be measured, as discussed by Andrew Schurer and colleagues (page 563).

 The Paris Agreement aims to limit warming to 1.5 °C, but the pre-industrial temperature has not been defined and this Letter discusses the implications of different choices for likelihood and timing of exceedance of temperature targets, as well as allowable carbon emissions.
Action is needed: states and cities will have to, and are already starting to, deal with the consequences of a changing climate.

 California and China are discussing climate cooperation, with California all too aware of the challenges it will face having already experienced a number of years of extreme drought. 

The intensification of the hydrological cycle is discussed by Simon Wang and colleagues in a recent Commentary using recent events in California as an example (Nat. Clim. Change 7, 456–458; 2017). 

This change from extreme drought in 2012–2016 to extreme flooding over the 2016–2017 Californian winter is an example of anomalous circulation patterns that can persist and then flip, with such extremes being emphasized under climate change.
The situation in California is one example but, as has been reported in the literature, extremes of natural climate cycles are likely to increase, with El Niño having potentially far-reaching consequences due to its influence across the globe. 

Whilst the predictions are no longer suggesting there will be an El Niño event later this year, the warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the west Indian Ocean and the cooler-than-average temperatures in the east suggest a shift to a positive Indian Ocean dipole event. 

Positive Indian Ocean dipole is associated with extreme droughts in the eastern Indian Ocean nations and maritime continent, whilst if there is, as predicted, a positive Indian Ocean dipole this year, the drought-ravaged regions of Sudan and tropical eastern Africa could be hit by extreme rainfall, potentially leading to flooding and landslides (Cai et al. Nature 510, 254–258; 2014).

 This is a situation mirroring hydrological extremes seen in California, but in developing nations with less capacity to cope with such events.
Another example is flooding and inundation from sea-level rise and storm surge. A recent study looks at the lower 48 states of the USA and which coastal communities are suffering chronic flooding and inundation (Aton, A. Scientific American http://go.nature.com/2u11YVi; 12 July 2017). 

The results show that over 90 communities already face chronic inundation, with the number projected to rapidly increase, dependent on emissions in the coming years.

 These communities will require fortification and adaptation to remain, or they will be forced to relocate.
The choice to abandon is not an easy one to make and an Article in this issue, and featured on the cover (page 581), investigates the choices being made by residents on four low-lying islands of the Philippines. 

These residents have chosen to remain and adapt despite a relocation plan being developed by the authorities. 

This is a choice that will hopefully be available to, but not needed by, others as the impacts of climate change continue to spread.

Press link for more: Nature.com