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We must bridge generational divide to prevent climate & budget crises #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange Intergenerational Debt #Neoliberalism

Progressives must bridge the generational divide to prevent climate and budget crises

BY PAUL BLEDSOE AND BEN RITZ, OPINION CONTRIBUTORS

Amid the daily drama of President Trump‘s tweets and scandals, it can be hard to focus on the most important issues for our future.

An unfortunate consequence of this purposeful turmoil is that few serious solutions are being offered for addressing two of the greatest threats facing the United States: runaway climate change and unsustainable budget policies.

The resignation of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt may end his days of plundering the environment and public treasury, but the Trump administration will continue doing both even in his absence, risking long-term national well-being for temporary political benefits.

It’s critical that progressives offer credible alternatives, especially if they hope to inspire younger voters who will bear the burden of these problems, because we cannot afford to dither on either issue much longer.

We speak from experience.

One of us is a baby boomer who has spent most of his career working on energy and climate policy; the other is a millennial focused on the federal budget.

Although our two fields may seem unrelated, both these existential challenges require our generations to work together to solve.

Our leaders have been warned about the climate crisis for more than a generation.

Thirty years ago last month, NASA scientist James Hansen first testified before Congress noting the irrefutable relationship between growing carbon dioxide emissions and rising temperatures.

Since then, global average temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions have increased relentlessly, leading to enormously expensive climate change impacts around the world.

Just last year, Hurricane Harvey and other major storms made worse by climate change devastated the US costing federal taxpayers over $130 billion so far.

The longer we wait to stem rising temperatures, the higher these costs will grow.

The Long-term Budget Outlook recently published by the Congressional Budget Office tells a similar story.

The gap between federal revenues and spending is growing at an alarming rate, requiring the government to borrow more each year to cover the difference.

If current policies remain in place, the national debt relative to the size of the economy could rocket past the record-high level reached just after World War II as soon as 2029.

From then onward, the federal government will be stuck spending over $1 trillion every year just to pay interest on the debt, making the growing budget deficit increasingly difficult to close the longer we wait.

Both our climate and our budget problems stem in large part from a moral failure by baby boomers.

Rather than investing in their children’s future via sustainable energy and fiscal policies, boomers emitted greenhouse gases and cut their own taxes with reckless abandon, while promising themselves generous retirement benefits paid-for by future workers.

Now millennials will be stuck with a debt and a climate that are far more dangerous than in previous generations.

The two problems exacerbate one another.

As climate change worsens, hundreds of billions each year will need to be spent each year on adaptation and disaster relief, making it that much harder to reduce future budget deficits.

Conversely, the federal government will find it increasingly difficult to invest in technologies to combat climate change when so much of tax revenue is pre-committed to servicing our debt and paying for past promises.

Alas, the Republican-controlled government in Washington (like the LNP government in Australia) has made both problems much worse.

Party leaders deny or ignore the overwhelming scientific consensus around climate change, with the president calling it a “hoax” while his administration is pushing to replacing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with a pro-pollution alternative that props up dying industries at the expense of our planet and economy.

The GOP exhibits the same pattern of willful ignorance on the federal budget: just recently, National Economic Council Chairman Larry Kudlow erroneously claimed that the deficit is falling even as it does the exact opposite – a problem which was made worse by the $2 trillion tax cut Republicans enacted at the end of last year without making any serious effort to pay for it.

Democrats and Labor have to do better.

Just as the far right wants to play chicken with our climate, some on the far left want to play chicken with our national debt.

Neither is a risk worth taking.

Democrats must resist the far left’s calls to pursue expensive expansions of social insurance programs before making our current obligations financially sustainable.

When it comes to climate change, most of the party understands the need for action but has yet to coalesce around practical approaches for solving the problem that would attract rather than alienate swing voters.

Democrats must realize there is little value in having the moral high ground, on either climate or the budget, without the political power to implement solutions.

The responsibility for making these changes thus lies with voters as much as their leaders, and both of our respective generations must do our part to promote responsible solutions.

Baby boomers need to accept responsibility for the unresolved problems they leave millennials and be willing to contribute to solutions.

But millennials need to take ownership of their future by showing up at the polls and making these challenges core voting issues.

Young voters already overwhelmingly support Democrats – it’s time they show up and demand Democrats support them in return by addressing the two greatest threats to our future prosperity.

Paul Bledsoe is strategic advisor for the Progressive Policy Institute, and Ben Ritz is the director of PPI’s Center for Funding America’s Future.

Press link for more: The Hill

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Conservation isn’t winning. Extinction is. #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #NoNewCoal #StopAdani

Conservation isn’t winning. Extinction is.

by Erik Vance

Erik Vance is a science writer based in Baltimore.

The northern white rhino isn’t going out with the thundering charge that it’s due. It won’t go out in a blaze of glory, fighting a pride of lions, as would befit such an inspiring creature. It’s going to die sad and old, withering away under armed guard in central Kenya while dozens of scientists — and millions of other humans around the world — look on, helpless.

It’s not that scientists have given up on the animal.

They haven’t.

But even the researchers who are pouring immense resources into technology to preserve the subspecies, which recently lost its last male, acknowledge that we are past the point of no return.

If you feel like you’ve heard this story before, you have.

It’s the same way the western black rhino and Vietnamese Javan rhino went out.

It’s the same story as the Chinese river dolphin, the Pinta Island tortoise (including the famous “Lonesome George”) and the passenger pigeon.

And if you’re tired of hearing it, that’s too bad. Because dozens of iconic species are lining up to join them. You see, the stories we have seen in recent years — where a species tilts ominously toward extinction and scientists rush in at the last second to save them — that used to be the exception.

Today, it’s the new normal.

Modern conservation is increasingly about maintaining insanely thin populations with shallow gene pools. Not only is this expensive and often futile, but also it undermines the whole point of wildlife management.

Last year, I spent six months writing about the doomed vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise and rarest marine mammal. I was struck by two things: first, how preventable the mess was.

Only 12 Vaquita left

Mexico has been focused on the vaquita since the early 1990s, and yet its policies have only served to inflame locals and encourage poachers, who catch the animal in their nets while chasing a valuable fish for traditional Chinese medicine.

Second, everything changes when a population gets too low.

In the past, managing for a species such as a spotted owl or a bald eagle wasn’t really about that species but about the ecosystem in which it lives — such as preserving old-growth forests or getting rid of toxic chemicals.

But if a species gets down to just a couple dozen individuals, a whole new problem emerges: genetics. Scientists need to be careful with breeding to stave off health problems. When Florida panthers dropped to about 20, scientists were forced to breed them with Texas cougars.

This saved the subspecies but also changed it forever.

Red wolves dropped to even lower numbers, but a targeted captive breeding program brought them back to a couple hundred (pretty inbred) animals. Will that be a problem? Are there so-called lethal alleles — fatal genes that sometimes pop up in very small populations — that will cause them to suddenly die? Should we go in and edit their genes to fix what inbreeding has done, as experts are trying with the pink pigeon? Or maybe, as has been argued with tigers, we should just change the classification of the animals so that there are fewer subspecies and thus fewer barriers to carting them across a continent to refresh the gene pool.Because all it takes is one bad season or one disease (or one mistake while transporting them, as we saw with black rhinos this week) to cripple the species.

Seeing a trend?

These are profoundly disturbing choices.

In the old days we used to worry about how many acres were needed to maintain a species and whether a corridor might keep animals connected.

Today we have to figure out if there is a gene that will kill off the entire population before we can get them all into zoos and breed them in test tubes.

And we’re still not sure how living in captivity for generations on end might change an animal. In 1987, when biologists put every California condor in captivity to save the species, it was front-page news for years. Today, there are about 200 species of birds alone in similar endangered straits.

This is not to blame the environmental community or take away from the accomplishments of biologists and activists across the globe. (We have them to thank for rebounding bald eagles, Siberian tigers, giant pandas and all the southern rhinos.) But they are just no match for all the things pushing animals toward extinction.

When I was a kid, my first exposure to science writing was a magazine called Zoobooks that would profile different animals.

I remember being baffled as to why so many were endangered. But I also remember being comforted by the magazines themselves. It meant people would do something. Orangutans will be just fine; Zoobooks was on the case.

But as someone who has been covering this topic for years now, I can tell you, it probably won’t be fine.

Conservation is not winning. And even when it does, like with the red wolves near Kitty Hawk, N.C. , it still loses.

This was an animal that successfully returned from just 14 individuals. But in a story eerily similar to the vaquita, local and national politics forced local managers to all but give up on the animal.

My Zoobooks used to tell me that when an animal goes extinct, it’s one more step toward our own extinction. But I know this isn’t true. Humans don’t need pink pigeons or rhinos to survive.

This isn’t about saving humans, or even animals. It’s about saving our humanity.

Press link for more: Washington Post

Artists and #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #NoNewCoal #StopAdani

The peo-ple cried mer-cy in the storm,” by Allison Janae Hamilton, 2018. (Courtesy of the artist/Storm King Art Center)

Jul 6, 2018 · by Charlie Herman

Climate change is both terrifyingly real and, at the same time, notably abstract.

We know it’s altering the world around us, but it can be hard to comprehend the subtle changes in weather patterns and how they are affecting the planet and society.

Uganda: Is art the answer to communicating about climate change …

… An art piece exhibited at the 2nd Fort Portal Annual Street Art Exhibition on Climate Change …

The Storm King Art Center is trying to address that challenge through a new exhibition, “Indicators: Artists on Climate Change.” The show features work by 16 artists and one art collective who use different approaches, from the scientific to the personal, from the confrontational to the conceptual, to examine changing climate. Some of the works are on view inside Storm King’s main building while many others were made specifically for the sculpture park and are installed throughout the site’s 500 acres.

The artists include Maya Lin, Meg Webster, Justin Brice Guariglia, Mary Mattingly and Mark Dion (here’s the full list.)

One site-specific work is “Birds Watching” by Jenny Kendler. It consists of close ups of birds’ eyes of different shapes and sizes made from of the same material used to create reflective street signs. Some eyes are yellow, others red, green or white, and in each one, a dark pupil ranging in size from pinpricks to wildly dilated sit in the center. Kendler based her work on bird species considered to be threatened due to climate change, according to recent research by the Audubon Society. As you stand there before the eyes, you are bird watching, but they are also watching you, and in their unblinking stare ask, “What are you doing about our future?”

Another more conceptual work on view is by David Brooks which probes the concepts of time in a changing climate. In his “Permanent Field Observations,” Brooks explored Storm King and found 30 objects such as pieces of wood, bone, and roots, and then made bronze replicas of them. He then placed his copy next to the original item where he found it. As the authentic item changes and decays over time – perhaps even disappears – the bronze cast remains as a physical memory to another time.

One reason why “seeing” the consequences of climate change can be difficult is due to our own inability to grasp time that stretches into decades and centuries and even longer from now. The day-to-day is what we see most easily (and nowadays, more often, it’s tweet-to-tweet), that it’s hard to act for a future we may not even be alive to experience. Brooks’ works leads you to search in the woods to find his bronze casts and the originals and, in the process, consider the flow of time.

The sculptures also address how climate change is influencing society. Allison Janae Hamilton focuses on the interaction of nature and society. “I was really interested in how communities grapple with the aftereffects of natural disasters and how they become social disasters where they really illuminate some already existing disparities socially.”

How far would you go to share an important message with the world? Artist Sean Yoro is willing to go to some extreme lengths, and recently proved this when he painted a 30-foot x 45-foot mural…

Her work consists of three pillars of white tambourines, two tall ones and one one smaller one, on an island in a pond at Storm King. Called “The peo-ple cried mer-cy in the storm,” the towers resemble sentries – perhaps a man, woman and child – standing quietly amid the trees and the lush green grass. The title comes from the song “Florida Storm,” written about two hurricanes in Florida in the 1920s, one of which killed thousands of black migrant workers. The work is mournful and solemn, and also infused with spirituality, saying to us that even in the face of disaster, we are still standing.

Taken as a whole, it is an exhibition that fits with the vision of art and nature that come together at Storm King, where it is much about sculptures as it is environmental stewardship and preserving the land as a work of art in and of itself.

For even more photos, check out Sai Mokhtari’s pictures over at Gothamist.

And click here for directions on how to get to Storm King by bus, car or train.

Press link for more: WNYC.ORG

“This is a fight for justice” Adrian Burragubba #StopAdani #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol

Watch Adrian Burragubba traditional owner of the land where Adani wants to build the world’s largest coal mine.

Join the movement to demand justice for his people.

Adrian wants a solar future for his people.

Help protect the inland water ways of Queensland.

Help protect the Great Barrier Reef from climate change.

States of Emergency Imagining a politics for an age of accelerated #climatechange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

States of Emergency

Imagining a politics for an age of accelerated climate change.

By Alyssa Battistoni June 21, 2018

Illustration by Tim Robinson.

Climate change has been a political issue in America for almost my entire life—James Hansen first testified to the reality of global warming before the Senate in 1988—but the prospects for the planet keep getting worse.

At first, climate change was discussed as a distant problem, something to fix for future generations. Then it was discussed as geographically remote, something that was happening in some other part of the world.

Now it’s recognized as something that’s happening today to people living in the United States—and yet what are we doing about it?

Usually, it seems, very little.

Kim Stanley Robinson has dubbed this period of doing-nothing-much the Dithering; Amitav Ghosh suggests calling it the Great Derangement.

Something has gone terribly wrong: A problem that is widely recognized as threatening millions of lives, perhaps even the future of human life on Earth, has not been addressed seriously and doesn’t seem likely to be.

For a while, democracy was deemed to be the culprit: Democratic politics, some argued, simply isn’t suited to addressing problems that lie in the future or extend beyond national boundaries.

Climate change is just too complicated for most people to understand; better to leave it to the experts.

It’s too hard a subject to broach during a political campaign; no one really wants to think about something so depressing, and what politician in his or her right mind would call for lowering living standards in order to decrease carbon emissions?

Now that capitalism is again on the table as a political issue, it also gets its share of blame.

The political problem, it’s now said, isn’t democracy alone, but rather that democracy is held hostage by oil money and the politicians purchased by it.

Even some capitalists are starting to acknowledge that the system could use some tweaks. (Others, like Elon Musk, are planning to decamp to Mars: the Great Derangement indeed.)

Swapping corporations for democracy as the root of the problem is a welcome development.

Yet serious political thinking about climate change remains in short supply.

Most people are now worried about it, but few are putting climate change at the heart of their political thought and practice.

In this context, Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright’s new work of political theory, Climate Leviathan, is a welcome addition to the small but growing body of climate writing on the left.

It’s a book explicitly aimed at understanding the political dimensions of climate change instead of relegating them to a paragraph or two in the concluding section.

It also takes a different tack than most works on climate politics.

The authors are not interested in why we aren’t acting to curb carbon emissions; instead, they’re interested in the kinds of political scenarios that are likely to emerge in response to the approaching ecological crises.

Climate change will be so central to human life and global politics in the coming years, Mann and Wainwright argue, that the response to it will shape the entire future world order, not merely the statements that issue out of the United Nations at the end of every year.

If the left is to play a part in shaping this new world, they continue, it needs to think seriously about the “political tools, strategies, and tactics” at its disposal.

Climate change, though a novel and previously unimaginable problem, does not actually require a radical departure from traditional left struggles for freedom, equality, and justice; it simply poses new versions of familiar dilemmas.

Our political thought doesn’t need to address climate change directly to offer insights into the role that the left can play in responding to it, but we will need to develop old ideas in new directions if we are to navigate a world that is now changing radically.

Toward this end, Climate Leviathan engages a wide range of political thought, from Gramsci to Hegel, Kant to Naomi Klein.

But as the title suggests, at the heart of the book is Thomas Hobbes, whose Leviathan remains the fundamental work on the sovereign power that underpins modern states. Hobbes looked at a nation torn asunder by the English Civil War and reckoned that it was better to relinquish one’s freedom to the authority of an all-powerful sovereign than to live through such nastiness and brutality.

Such a sovereign power did not yet exist in Hobbes’s time, but in describing it, Hobbes sought to understand a political form that he thought might soon come into being.

Mann and Wainwright argue that we are in another such moment, a time when political forms are in flux and one can begin to see the shape of the growing leviathan.

They therefore follow Hobbes into a speculative mode, describing the forms of power they think are likely to emerge in the future while recognizing that none have done so yet.

Their other key resource in thinking about this leviathan is the German political theorist and Nazi sympathizer Carl Schmitt, who draws on Hobbes in constructing his own theory of sovereignty.

Everyday decision-making is governed by law, Schmitt argues, but sovereignty is to be found in the moments when emergency demands extralegal action.

For Schmitt, it was crucial that the sovereign be able to take action against a community’s enemies as it deemed necessary.

Sovereignty here consists of the political power that allows a state to override the law in defense of its friends.

As with Hobbes, people accept this extreme form of rule in exchange for protection.

The left rediscovered Schmitt during the Bush years, when, as the Italian theorist Giorgio Agamben noted, a “state of exception” had, under the guise of the amorphous “war on terror,” become the norm. But this view of the state has rarely been extended to thinking about the kind of emergency politics that will arise as a result of climate change. Drawing on Hobbes and Schmitt, the authors begin to do this work: Climate Leviathan imagines how ecological disruption will create the conditions for a new sovereign authority to “seize command, declare an emergency, and bring order to Earth, all in the name of saving life”—and this time on a planetary instead of national scale.

Yet this sovereignty is still nascent, and other political forms might yet challenge it.

At the core of Climate Leviathan are four types of political formation that the authors believe are likely to emerge in response to climate change. “Climate Leviathan” would be a system of global capitalism governed by a planetary sovereign—not necessarily the individual ruler Hobbes imagined, but nevertheless a hegemonic power capable of taking drastic action; “Climate Mao,” an anti-capitalist system governed by sovereign power at the level of the nation-state or the planet; “Climate Behemoth,” a capitalist system within the autarchic confines of the nation-state; and “Climate X,” which rejects both capitalism and sovereignty for something yet to be determined.

These four possible futures, Mann and Wainwright admit, are thus far inchoate. But as we blow past our carbon targets and the impacts of climate change become increasingly destructive, one of these is likely to emerge as the dominant mode of politics.

The most likely victor, the authors think, is Climate Leviathan: It is, after all, already in the ascendancy, epitomized by international pacts like the Paris Agreement and global institutions like the UN Conference of the Parties (COP).

These institutions are not currently sovereign in the Hobbesian sense; to the contrary, they are explicitly international, working to coordinate action between sovereign nation-states. But Mann and Wainwright think they nevertheless point the way toward a form of sovereignty that has been anticipated for centuries: one encompassing the world.

Thinkers from Kant to Einstein have typically imagined a world state in response to the threat of war; Climate Leviathan would be just such a world state in an age of ecological disaster.

Rising temperatures will produce new emergencies, from tsunamis and hurricanes to famines and refugee crises, and with them new opportunities for powerful states to expand their reach by declaring a state of exception.

A major climate disaster could prompt northern capitalist states to take action—up to and including geoengineering—via the United Nations or a European Union–like supranational authority.

By calling for agreements at the annual COPs, many climate activists have legitimized Climate Leviathan rather than challenging it. But what these institutions cannot do, Mann and Wainwright argue, is solve the climate crisis: They were created to manage capitalism, and will continue to do so even in the face of catastrophic warming.

Yet while global capitalist institutions have been the primary site of climate politics for the past two decades, Climate Leviathan has a rival: Climate Behemoth represents a “reactionary populism” that turns away from the global elitism of planetary forums on climate change and toward a nationalist capitalism—a dynamic perfectly encapsulated by Donald Trump’s claim that he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

Visible in Trump’s America, Narendra Modi’s India, and the surge of right-wing Euroskeptic parties across Europe, the backers of Climate Behemoth are a mix of fossil-fuel capitalists, petit-bourgeois reactionaries, and disillusioned working-class people who want to stick it to the cosmopolitan elites and the political establishment.

Its contradictory but potent mix of ethno-nationalism, religion, masculinity, and scientific denial make it a powerful but ultimately unstable form; it is likely, Mann and Wainwright argue, to burn out—but in the meantime, it could do plenty of damage.

The revolutionary possibilities represented by Climate Mao and Climate X, meanwhile, are less immediately proximate, visible at present only in fragments. Climate Mao describes a revolutionary transformation led by a noncapitalist state acting quickly to address climate breakdown.

In Mann and Wainwright’s account, it follows its namesake but also Robespierre and Lenin in suggesting “the necessity of a just terror in the interests of the future of the collective”: It pits the power of the planetary sovereign against that of capital. Climate Mao, that is, portends a renewal of “authoritarian state socialisms” that act to reduce carbon emissions and address climate emergencies, eventually on the level of the planet.

China’s unilateral restrictions on corporations and citizens alike show a glimpse of this future, though one not operating at full strength.

Indeed, Mann and Wainwright take pains to argue that China isn’t currently on a path toward Climate Mao. The Communist Party can close steel mills in a matter of months to minimize emissions, but China is no longer plausibly described as communist; to the contrary, it has committed to working with the Western capitalist powers to build the international system that characterizes Climate Leviathan (think, for example, of Barack Obama’s much-lauded negotiations with Xi Jinping).

Nevertheless, Mann and Wainwright insist that in the near future, Climate Mao is only likely to emerge in Asia: Latin America may have a more robust legacy of radical ecological politics, but only Asia has the necessary combination of powerful states and major economies paired with vast numbers of peasants, proletarians, and surplus populations whose expectations are likely to be frustrated by the disruptive effects of climate change.

Only in Asia, in other words, is it possible to imagine popular movements seizing state and economic power in a way that would meaningfully affect the world’s use of resources.

Some of these futures may be worse than others, but none, to the authors, seems likely to be particularly just.

That’s where Climate X comes in: It names a democratic movement against both capitalism and sovereignty, the “X” intentionally suggesting a journey into the unknown.

Though X’s meaning is teased throughout the book, it is not until the very last chapter that Mann and Wainwright finally delve into its details.

It’s disappointing, though not entirely surprising, to find that this is also where the book’s otherwise lucid, often sparkling analysis falters.

Coming up with a politics adequate to an existentially threatening and essentially unprecedented problem is a deeply daunting prospect, as the authors acknowledge time and time again, and they’re understandably reluctant to describe in too much detail what it might look like.

In the hopes of “illuminating possible paths through apparently impossible problems,” they offer a set of loose rather than programmatic ideas: three principles, two “openings,” and two trajectories.

The principles, drawn from the left’s traditions as well as contemporary climate-justice movements, are equality, democracy, and solidarity.

Equality affirms that we all share the earth; democracy assures the “inclusion and dignity of all”; and solidarity recognizes the common cause of preserving life on this shared planet while affirming many ways of living on it, a “world of many worlds.”

The openings offer tentative possibilities for left praxis instead of prescriptive certainty: The first is found in the “categorical refusal” that animated Marx’s reluctance to detail the communist future in favor of ongoing revolutionary thought and practice, and the second is found in the stance of bearing “witness to crisis,” which is surely already in our midst.

The two trajectories that ground Climate X are the longer histories in which these principles and possibilities are rooted. One is the left’s anti-capitalist tradition stemming from Marxist political economy; the other is composed of the alternatives to sovereignty found in indigenous and anti-colonial movements, forms of knowledge, and ways of life.

This second trajectory, the authors believe, also offers some resources for “living differently, radically differently”—not simply by making the 21st century superficially greener, but by helping to change our relationship to the land and the planet altogether.

As these nebulous offerings suggest, Mann and Wainwright don’t pretend to have Climate X fully figured out.

Examples of actually existing movements that more or less fit the mold of Climate X, they grant, remain far from overthrowing either capitalism or sovereignty.

The Zapatistas, who launched an offensive against the Mexican state in 1994 and have since retreated to the countryside, offer a view of Climate X’s promise but also its limits: Though entire communities have withdrawn from the reach of the state to live according to their own principles, they remain surrounded and contained by its power.

It’s certainly unclear how they might effectively counter climate change from this position. These and other contradictions, Mann and Wainwright admit, may lead readers to sympathize with Climate Leviathan or Climate Mao, which at least get things done. But despite these challenges, they maintain, we must insist on noncapitalist nonsovereignty.

As Adorno says, “It could come.”

This conclusion is starkly at odds with the book’s opening cry for strategic thinking on the left: Shrewd analysis gives way to repeated avowals that things must, and therefore can, be otherwise—never mind how, exactly.

“The priority,” Mann and Wainwright argue, “must be to organize for a rapid reduction of carbon emissions by collective boycott and strike.” And yet, almost immediately, they pull back from this position—too utopian—and then lurch forward again: After all, we need to be utopian. “We must create something new,” they explain. “More of the same is not an option.” Surely they are right on this count. But absent further discussion, calls for massive and immediate boycotts and strikes as a means of putting an end to a global economy built on fossil-fuel use register as wishful thinking at best.

At times, this seems not merely utopian but unjustifiably so: If things are as bad as Mann and Wainwright claim—and they are—principled refusal and gestures toward living otherwise are no longer sufficient, if they ever were.

If the response to the “marked unimaginativeness” of most climate politics is a flight into imaginative fancy, we truly are doomed.

Similarly, the call to heed indigenous approaches to sovereignty is left mostly unexplored. Indigenous politics have been particularly effective in struggles against fossil-fuel infrastructure not only because of underlying philosophies regarding sovereignty or nature, but because indigenous groups have acted strategically: Native claims to land are useful in blocking pipelines, and First Nations groups in Canada, in particular, have embarked on an aggressive legal campaign to reclaim unceded lands.

Likewise, in Latin America, internationally recognized indigenous rights have proved a potent legal tool in the fight against new oil or mining projects in the region. These complicated political efforts demand more substantial analysis; they aren’t merely metonyms for nonsovereignty.

At the same time, their lessons are not easily transferred to other political struggles. How far can these projects for self-determination take the climate movement, with which they are sometimes but not always aligned? What insights do they hold for actors without similar legal claims, cultural identities, or political histories?

Meanwhile, deeming sovereignty inherently and irredeemably unjust has the effect of categorically ruling out too wide an array of political possibilities.

It suggests that movements must act in opposition to both the state and capital simultaneously, and must do so prefiguratively—that is, by modeling the relations they hope to bring about. But if a Zapatista-like movement is unable to effectively fight a powerfully repressive state and globally mobile capital, why should we take it as a model for undoing them? (Indeed, the Zapatistas themselves have engaged in a range of tactics over time, including, these days, electoral politics: The Zapatista Army of National Liberation recently endorsed a candidate, María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, who is running in the 2018 Mexican presidential election and seeking to represent indigenous communities.)

As the authors observe, the problems that climate change poses are part of a much longer history of struggles for freedom and justice—the only difference is that now we have an ecological deadline.

Surely this means buying time must be an essential part of left strategy, even if it means working to mitigate the worst effects of climate change within systems that we eventually aim to dismantle or transform.

The difficulty of solving for Climate X ultimately reflects the limits of the book’s typology, wherein planetary sovereignty and global capitalism are presented as all-or-nothing choices.

Exploring ideal types can be clarifying, but what would be more useful in our present moment is an effort to dig into the possibilities of working within, through, and beyond the Climate Leviathans and Climate Behemoths that already exist—perhaps the latter most of all.

Indeed, in the face of a rising tide of reactionary Behemoths, which shows little sign of receding, planetary sovereignty seems like something of a red herring: Global capitalism surely isn’t done for, but there is little to suggest that the planetary sovereign is waiting in the wings.

Must movements really be opposed to all forms of sovereignty, on all scales, in order to oppose a capitalism-reproducing world state or achieve any measure of justice?

Is there truly no left-populist Climate X that could act as a counter to Behemoth at the level of the nation, no way to channel planetary solidarity through international—not necessarily global—institutions?

The difference between, say, Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to nationalize and decarbonize the British energy industry and Justin Trudeau’s sign-off on private pipeline projects in Canada may not be enough to save the planet, but it would seem to deserve at least the status of an opening. Instead, the ways that actually existing states have acted in relation to their subjects as well as in relation to capital are collapsed by the authors into an argument about sovereignty—for or against.

Mann and Wainwright are by no means alone in hedging about what is to be done.

Two other recent books on the eco-left—Jason Moore and Raj Patel’s A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things, and Andreas Malm’s The Progress of This Storm—end in more or less the same place. All recognize that the “global fascism” that Mann and Wainwright name Behemoth is far more potent today than any eco-left formation, but try to muster hope by looking to some movements for climate justice, all the while insinuating that a much greater upheaval is necessary.

Like Mann and Wainwright, Moore and Patel decline to draw a “road map for class struggle that simultaneously reinvents humans’ relations with and within the web of life”; instead, they suggest their own five principles—recognition, reparation, redistribution, re-imagination, and re-creation—and their own movement of movements. Their expansive view of capitalism, which takes seriously the place of unwaged work, colonial appropriation, and coerced extraction, makes it possible to understand a much broader coalition of struggles as anti-capitalist and capable of helping to head off climate change: the indigenous movement Idle No More; the peasant movement led by La Via Campesina; the work of disability-rights activists and Argentine socialist feminists. They also suggest that a more salutary political formation can be found in the “alternative nationalisms” of indigenous and aboriginal nations that exist “in opposition to capitalism’s ecology.” Yet while Moore and Patel detail the long history of popular resistance to capitalism, the effect is more discomfiting than heartening when one remembers that literally centuries of struggle have yet to achieve their aim. What, exactly, would make the next couple of crucial decades any different?

Malm’s The Progress of This Storm, meanwhile, issues a welcome call to get serious about political agency but ends on an unapologetically apocalyptic note that borders on adventurism. “The warming condition spells the death of affirmative politics,” he declares. “Negativity is our only chance now.” Perhaps this is why he concludes, like Mann and Wainwright, with Walter Benjamin—in Malm’s case, with Benjamin’s idea of a “destructive character” that reduces existence “to rubble—not for the sake of the rubble, but for that of the way of leading through it.” We must destroy fossil-fuel capital, he suggests, before nature destroys us.

When Marx scorned the project of writing “recipes for the cook-shops of the future,” he called instead for a “critical analysis of actual facts.” The actual facts are not auspicious—yet we have no choice but to face them.

The threat posed by climate change demands that we imagine a very different world, one that does not exist now and never has; and one, moreover, that is not oriented toward our current ideas of progress and the future.

As each of these authors observes, the threat posed by climate change requires political action of a different order and magnitude than anything currently on offer: Business as usual will not suffice.

It is worrying that thinkers so astute about the dynamics of capitalism and nature appear stymied by how we can escape them. But they are undoubtedly correct that climate change will shape politics for the foreseeable future, which shrinks by the day.

So while Mann and Wainwright and other supporters of a possible Climate X need not draw blueprints, some hard questions demand answering. How is the massive global fossil-fuel industry to be dismantled without state coercion?

How would an anti-sovereignty and anti-capitalist movement prevent the enormously wealthy from decamping to some reasonably stable patch of the world?

How are massive boycotts and strikes to be not just imagined but organized?

What’s to prevent private coercion from replacing the public kind?

Certainly, many on the left are too blithe about the state, presumably on the grounds that you seize it first and ask questions later.

Those who tend to think that state power is necessary to undertake the kinds of projects needed to address climate change should say more, too: How do we think the “good state” of welfare and public schools can be detached from the “bad state” of war and prisons?

How do we imagine actually winning enough state power to usefully wield it? And how can we then transform it rather than finding ourselves transformed by it?

These are real questions, not rhetorical ones, and they have urgent implications. Climate Leviathan helps us understand what they mean and why they matter, and offers rich conceptual resources with which to think them through.

These questions will ultimately have to be answered in practice more than in theory, but they deserve our attention—and soon.

Press link for more: The Nation

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

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

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

Oliver MilmanLast modified on Mon 18 Jun 2018 15.19 AEST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press link for more: The Guardian

Government’s $500m Great Barrier Reef package may have limited impact. #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange

Government’s $500m Great Barrier Reef package may have limited impact amid climate change

Joanna Khan

Coral bleaching is caused by higher than normal water temperatures.

(Supplied: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority)

At the end of April a $500 million package to help the Great Barrier Reef was announced by the Federal Government.

It didn’t take long for questions to be raised about the decision to give $444 million in funding to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, a small charity with a revenue of only $8 million in 2016.

The funding will be split between improving water quality, supporting reef restoration science, increasing crown-of-thorns starfish control, community engagement and reef monitoring.

But there is no acknowledgement of what scientists argue is the biggest threat facing the reef: climate change.

Without climate action, can this package actually do anything to help the reef?

The answer is no, according to many involved in reef research, management and conservation, including University of Queensland coral biologist Sophie Dove.

“Unless we mitigate the CO2, a lot of the other solutions such as cleaning the water and removing crown of thorns are somewhat immaterial,” Dr Dove said.

“All of those things can assist in helping any coral reefs that remain to survive and prosper in the future — but without climate mitigation, I think that’s an issue.”

Local reef actions must be met halfway

While the funding is a step forward for addressing local pressures on the reef like water quality, it must go hand in hand with national and global emissions reductions, according to Russell Reichelt from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

“We’re very clear that it is absolutely critical to achieve action globally on climate change, but we’re focused on what we can do as the Marine Park Authority in the local region,” he said.

The funding was not designed to work on its own, said Dr Reichelt, who chairs the GBRMPA.

“The real solution in the long run is to address rising greenhouse gas concentrations in our atmosphere,” he said.

“But we’re still left with things that will happen inevitably now, because of the amount of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere. So there was never a greater imperative that we look for ways to relieve local pressures.”

However, some scientists have expressed concern that the funding is targeting some local measures that have not yet been proven effective.

Research fellow Jon Brodie from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies wrote in The Conversation that “one concern with the package is that it seems to give greatest weight to the strategies that are already being tried — and which have so far fallen a long way short of success”.

Reef already changed by warming

Across the entire Great Barrier Reef 30 per cent of corals died after the 2016 bleaching event. In the northern third of the reef, where up to 50 per cent of shallow water corals were lost, some corals actually “cooked” because the underwater heatwave was so severe.

The government is avoiding dealing with the root cause of this, which is climate change, said Great Barrier Reef campaigner Imogen Zeethoven from the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

“I wake up at night thinking, what will it take for this Government to respond effectively, if losing 50 per cent of the shallow water corals on the reef isn’t enough?” she said.

“They can invest $500 million over six years, but if they do nothing about climate change then it will all be wasted in the end.”

Coral ecosystems have already been radically transformed by climate change.

The loss of corals due to the 2016 bleaching has forced some northern reefs to transition to new compositions of corals with less diversity — dominated by slow-growing species with more simple physical structures.

And scientists have already documented changes in reef fish diversity as a result of the coral loss.

New funding is still critical

Echoing these sentiments, CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science Paul Hardisty said the $500 million was a good start, but emissions also needed to be addressed.

“On the business-as-usual trajectory … in a few decades there won’t be any reefs, or at least reefs as we know them today,” Dr Hardisty said.

“If you don’t get greenhouse gas emissions under control then no amount of money is any use.”

But Dr Hardisty said that didn’t mean we should stop funding other local reef protection measures.

“We’re past the point where we can say that getting emissions under control will be enough,” he said.

“To have healthy reefs that provide trillions of dollars in ecosystem services to humans every year, then you’ve got to do both, there isn’t another option.”

By relieving other pressures on the reef such as poor water quality and crown-of-thorns starfish, the reefs of the future will have a better shot at surviving — no matter that form they take.

So where is the simultaneous climate action?

Spending on climate issues was cut in the 2018 budget from $3 billion to $1.6 billion in 2019, and it will be reduced further to $1.25 billion by 2022.

On top of that, the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) has an emissions reduction target of 26 to 28 per cent by 2030, which reef campaigner Imogen Zeethoven said was insufficient.

“A 26 per cent reduction, as proposed by the NEG, matched by all the countries in the world would result in all coral reefs in the world dying,” Ms Zeethoven said.

“They need to dramatically upscale their emissions reduction target to match the funding investment that they’re putting into the reef.”

Dr Reichelt said that advocating for both global and local solutions for the reef was like walking a tightrope.

He said it was a balance between “making sure people understand the underlying cause and the need for global action, as well as not giving up on the reef locally”.

“If the reef does survive until the end of the century we’ll have a better, more diverse coral reef if we take all these local actions now,” he said.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

#ClimateChange The doubters and believers aren’t even talking about the same thing. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Inspiring Terms Are Simple. ‘Climate Change’ Isn’t.

The doubters and believers aren’t even talking about the same thing.

More stories by Faye Flam

Some global warming is caused by Jupiter. But most of the blame belongs on the third rock from the sun.

Source: Universal Images Group, via Getty Images

As scientific terms go, “climate change” is failing.

Good terms are specific, descriptive and help people to understand complex concepts. Climate change is ambiguous, referring perhaps to the most pressing human-generated environmental problem of the century, or to other kinds of changes that happen through natural forces and have been going on since long before humans arose.

Last week I chatted with Columbia University paleontologist Dennis Kent about some new work he and his colleagues published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about the surprisingly big influence of Venus and Jupiter on the climate of Earth. The gravitational tug of the second and fifth planets from the sun act to stretch Earth’s annual orbit like a rubber band, pulling it into a more oblong ellipse and then back to something very close to a perfect circle over a cycle of 405,000 years. And that leads to big changes in our climate – or the climate of whatever creatures lived here.

The ambiguity of “climate change” plays into the problems that a Wall Street Journal op-ed identified last week in a piece headlined “Climate Activists Are Lousy Salesmen.” This is science, not advertising, and the terms that scientists come up with aren’t decided by public-relations experts using focus groups. Most of the burden of explaining climate changes, past and present, has fallen not to “activists” but to scientists, whether or not they have an interest in or aptitude for persuasion.

According to historians, the same people who were fascinated by dramatic natural climate changes were the ones to discover that burning up lots of fossil fuel was likely to cause a short-term spike in the global temperature. The start of that spike is already measurable. Research on human-generated and natural climate changes are related, and many of the same people still study both kinds in order to get a better handle on where things are headed in the coming decades, centuries and millennia.

Back in the 19th century, scientists started to investigate signs in the geologic record that dramatic ice ages had been occurring every 40,000 years or so, during which glaciers crept over much of the Northern Hemisphere. Eventually, they realized that these are driven by what Kent calls an ice age pacemaker – the interplay between the tilt of the planet’s axis and our planet’s distance from the sun. Those factors change the way sunlight is distributed, concentrating more or less over the Northern Hemisphere, where there’s more land and the potential to build up glaciers. Glaciers reflect sunlight, absorbing less of its heat energy than dark surfaces would, which makes the cold periods colder worldwide. Similarly, warmth releases carbon dioxide, which acts as a greenhouse gas traps solar heat and amplifies warm periods.

Adding to all this complexity is the subject of the new paper – a 405,000-year-long cycle caused by our fellow planets. Kent said that basic Newtonian physics shows that Venus and Jupiter actually change Earths’ orbit significantly. At its most oblong, the long axis of the orbit is five percent longer than the shorter one. During that more oblong part of the cycle, the Earth strays farther than normal from the sun and also flirts closer to the sun than usual. So other natural changes reach greater extremes – the ice ages colder and the periods in between warmer.

What Kent and his colleagues did was expand the record of those cycles by digging out cores of Earth hundreds of feet long from Arizona and Northern New Jersey. They used the natural clocks provided by radioactive materials and signs of reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field to figure out when and how the climate changed. The cycles, he said, go back more than 200 million years, to the time when dinosaurs first appeared.

We are currently in the rounder, more even phase of our orbital cycle, Kent said, meaning the ice ages should be relatively mild. We’re also in between ice ages and could go into a new one in a few thousand years, though some think that human-generated global warming will be enough to offset it.

And herein lies the confusion. People hear “climate change” and think, what’s the big deal?

The climate has been changing for millions of years.

Or they note that scientists used to think we were headed into another ice age. But the time scales matter.

Fossil fuel burning and other human-generated changes are likely to warm the overall planet’s temperature by more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit over the coming decades.

The next ice age isn’t expected for a few millennia. That’s a long time to wait for a potential cooldown.

One could distinguish the current, more rapid climate change by calling it “anthropogenic climate change,” but that term makes people trip over their own tongues, so it’s understandable that people shorten it. There’s also the term “global warming,” which is a little more descriptive, but scientists say it fails to capture changes in rainfall patterns, wind and currents that go along with the general trend of warming.

The Wall Street Journal piece was right about a sales problem. It’s too bad there isn’t a catchy term or acronym — such as WMD or GMO — to describe the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from fossil fuel burning, deforestation, domestic cattle and other human activities.

The complexity of climate science may always be at odds with the simplicity that’s key to inspiring action.

Remember the hole in the ozone layer? It was more of a thin spot, but in the 1980s, that dramatic term may have helped spur a global movement to reduce certain pollutants staved off disaster.

It’s too late to prevent anthropogenic climate change, or unnatural climate change, or global warming — call it what you will. But it isn’t too late to slow the warming, and perhaps even reverse it. If only someone could sell the idea.

(Clarifies relative position of Earth to the sun during elliptical orbit, in sixth paragraph of article published May 11.)

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:

Faye Flam at fflam1@bloomberg.net

Press link for more: Bloomberg

What’s the biggest threat to humanity? #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Biggest Threat to Humanity? Climate Change, U.N. Chief Says

March 29, 2018

António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said, “I am beginning to wonder how many more alarm bells must go off.”Giuseppe Lami/European Pressphoto Agency, via Shutterstock.

UNITED NATIONS — Nuclear weapons? Famine? Civil war? Nope.

The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, on Thursday called climate change “the most systemic threat to humankind” and urged world leaders to curb their countries’ greenhouse gas emissions.

He didn’t say much, though, about the one world leader who had pulled out of the landmark United Nations climate change agreement: President Trump.

Instead, Mr. Guterres suggested that Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord nearly a year ago didn’t matter much.

The American people, he said, were doing plenty.

“Independently of the position of the administration, the U.S. might be able to meet the commitments made in Paris as a country,” the secretary general said. “And, as you know, all around the world, the role of governments is less and less relevant.”

That may be overly optimistic. Sixteen American states and Puerto Rico have pledged to stick to the commitment that the United States made in the Paris agreement to reduce emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025.

Those states are on track to keep their promise.

But they represent less than a half of the country’s population, and the United States as a country will most likely fall short of its Paris pledge as Mr. Trump dismantles environmental regulations, according to a 2017 study by the Rhodium Group, a private economic research company. And a group led by Michael R. Bloomberg, the United Nations special envoy on climate change, and Gov. Jerry Brown of California, came to the same conclusion in a report that relied on the same data.

The Paris accord is written in such a way that the United States, in fact, remains in the pact even though it announced its intent to pull out.

The actual withdrawal does not happen until 2020.

Mr. Guterres is planning a summit meeting next year to goad world leaders to raise their emissions reductions targets. But few countries are even close to meeting the targets they set under the Paris agreement, which was drafted in November and December in 2015, according to independent analyses.

His warnings came a week after the World Meteorological Organization, a United Nations agency, reported that a barrage of extreme weather events had made 2017 the costliest year on record for such disasters, with an estimated $320 billion in losses.

Speaking at the United Nations headquarters on Thursday, Mr. Guterres said floods in South Asia had affected 41 million people and that drought had driven 900,000 people from their homes in Africa.

“I am beginning to wonder how many more alarm bells must go off before the world rises to the challenge,” he said. “We know it can be hard to address problems perceived to be years or decades away. But climate impacts are already upon us.”

Asked about the looming danger of floods and landslides facing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Mr. Guterres said he had urged Bangladesh’s government to relocate them to higher ground. Bangladesh’s government has said it is preparing to relocate the most vulnerable refugees to an island in the Bay of Bengal, itself vulnerable to the rising sea.

Mr. Guterres would not comment on those specific efforts except to say that “we believe higher ground is the best place.”

Somini Sengupta covers international climate issues. She has reported from Congo, Liberia and other war-torn areas of West Africa, was the bureau chief in Dakar and New Delhi, and served as The Times’s United Nations correspondent. @SominiSenguptaFacebook

Press link for more: NY TIMES

Climate Change Is Becoming a Top Threat to Biodiversity #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Climate Change Is Becoming a Top Threat to Biodiversity

Warming rivals habitat loss and land degradation as a threat to global wildlife

Chelsea Harvey, E&E NewsMarch 28, 2018

Credit: Ricardo Funari Getty Images

Climate change will be the fastest-growing cause of species loss in the Americas by midcentury, according to a new set of reports from the leading global organization on ecosystems and biodiversity.

Climate change, alongside factors like land degradation and habitat loss, is emerging as a top threat to wildlife around the globe, the reports suggest.

In Africa, it could cause some animals to decline by as much as 50 percent by the end of the century, and up to 90 percent of coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean may bleach or degrade by the year 2050.

The reports, released last week by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), included a sweeping set of biodiversity assessments for four major regions around the world, with contributions from more than 500 experts.

A separate report on global land degradation, which was launched yesterday, included more than 100 authors.

Both were approved by IPBES’s 129 member states at an ongoing plenary session in Medellín, Colombia.

Numerous other threats still challenge the world’s biodiversity, from pollution and overexploitation to land-use change and habitat loss, and in many places these are still greater immediate dangers to the world’s wildlife than climate change. But the new series of reports emphasize that action on global warming is also action in favor of wild plants and animals. And in turn, protecting the world’s remaining natural places is also a step toward safeguarding the climate.

“Land degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change are three different faces of the same central challenge: the increasingly dangerous impact of our choices on the health of our natural environment,” IPBES Chairman Robert Watson said in a statement. “We cannot afford to tackle any one of these three threats in isolation—they each deserve the highest policy priority and must be addressed together.”

According to yesterday’s report, the degradation of land—either by human activities or by natural disasters—may be adversely affecting more than 3 billion people around the globe. And the resulting losses in biodiversity and ecosystem services may be costing 10 percent of the world’s annual global gross product.

Land degradation is also a significant contributor to climate change, the report warns. Deforestation, the destruction of wetlands and other forms of land conversion can release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, which may worsen global warming.

Climate change can continue the cycle by thawing out frozen ecosystems, creating harsher conditions for vegetation to survive, and increasing the severity of storms and other natural disasters, which can also damage natural landscapes.

The upside of linked stressors is that addressing one can help the other.

Working to protect natural landscapes can play a significant role in the fight against climate change, the report suggests.

Restoring natural lands or preventing them from being destroyed in the first place could deliver more than a third of the action needed by 2030 to keep keep global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, the authors note.

And that’s a big step in preserving the world’s biodiversity, as well, according to the four reports released last week. While each report focused on a different region of the world—Africa, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and the Americas—each one highlighted the growing threat of climate change, among a variety of other human-caused threats to global wildlife.

Africa is particularly vulnerable, the reports suggest, with some bird and mammal species facing declines of up to 50 percent if serious action isn’t taken. Africa’s lakes could also see declines in productivity of up to 30 percent by the end of the century.

Other global regions are facing major risks, as well.

In the Americas, about 31 percent of all indigenous species are believed to have been lost since European settlers first arrived. Under a “business-as-usual” trajectory, and accounting for other threats, such as habitat loss, the report suggests that this number could climb as high as 40 percent by 2050.

Press link for more: Scientific America