CSIRO

#ClimateChange link to #CoralBleaching #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

According to a new research report published today in a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the 2016 global average temperature and extreme heat wave over Asia occurred due to continued long-term climate change.

The report included research from NOAA scientists.

Additionally, climate change was found to have influenced other heat events in 2016, including the extreme heat in the Arctic, development of marine heat waves off Alaska and Australia, as well as the severity of the 2015-2016 El Nino, and the duration of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef.

The sixth edition of Explaining Extreme Events from a Climate Perspective presents 27 peer-reviewed research papers that examine episodes of extreme weather across six continents and two oceans during 2016.

It features the research of 116 scientists from 18 countries — including five reports co-led by NOAA scientists — who analyzed historical observations and changing trends along with model results to determine whether and how climate change might have influenced an extreme event or shifted the odds of it occurring.

The findings

The new research found climate change increased the risk of wildfires in the western U.S., and the extreme rainfall experienced in China, along with South Africa’s drought and resultant food shortages.

Researchers found that climate change had reduced the likelihood of the cold outbreaks experienced in China and western Australia in 2016.

No conclusive link to climate change was found by scientists examining severe drought in Brazil, record rains in Australia, or stagnant conditions creating poor air quality in Europe.

In the report, 21 of the 27 papers in this edition identified climate change as a significant driver of an event, while six did not.

Of the 131 papers now examined in this report over the last six years, approximately 65 percent have identified a role for climate change, while about 35 percent have not found an appreciable effect.

There could be several reasons no climate signal was found by some papers; it might be that there were no changes in the frequency or severity for that type of event over time or that researchers weren’t able to detect changes using the available observational record or scientific tools and models available today.

Future studies could yield new insights on the climate’s influence on extreme weather.

More about the report

The BAMS annual report is designed to improve the scientific understanding of the drivers of extreme weather, provide insight into how the various weather extremes may be changing over time, and help community and business leaders better prepare for a rapidly changing world.

Press link for more: NOAA.GOV

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2016 Global Heatwaves due to Climate Change #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #OnePlanet

Global heat waves in 2016 due purely to climate change: study

The findings mark the first time that global scientists have identified severe weather that could not have happened without climate change, said the peer-reviewed report titled “Explaining Extreme Events in 2016 from a Climate Perspective.”

Until now, the contribution of human-driven climate change has been understood to raise the odds of certain floods, droughts, storms and heat waves — but not serve as the sole cause.

“This report marks a fundamental change,” said Jeff Rosenfeld, editor-in-chief of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, which published the peer-reviewed report.

“For years scientists have known humans are changing the risk of some extremes. But finding multiple extreme events that weren’t even possible without human influence makes clear that we’re experiencing new weather, because we’ve made a new climate.”

The report included 27 peer-reviewed analyses of extreme weather across five continents and two oceans.

A total of 116 scientists from 18 countries took part, incorporating historical observations and model simulations to determine the role of climate change in nearly two dozen extreme events.

Records shattered

In 2016, the planet reached a new high for global heat, making it the warmest year in modern times.

These record average surface temperatures worldwide were “only possible due to substantial centennial-scale anthropogenic warming,” said the report.

Asia also experienced stifling heat, with India suffering a major heat wave that killed 580 people from March to May.

Thailand set a new record for energy consumption as people turned on air conditioners en masse to cool off.

Even though the tropical Pacific Ocean warming trend of El Nino was pronounced in 2015 and the first part of 2016, researchers concluded that it was not to blame.

“The 2016 extreme warmth across Asia would not have been possible without climate change,” said the report.

“Although El Nino was expected to warm Southeast Asia in 2016, the heat in the region was unusually widespread.”

In the Gulf of Alaska, the nearby Bering Sea, and off northern Australia, water temperatures were the highest in 35 years of satellite records.

This ocean warming led to “massive bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef and one of the largest harmful algal blooms ever off the Alaska shore,” according to the report.

“It was extremely unlikely that natural variability alone led to the observed anomalies.”

Another chapter found that the so-called “blob” of sub-Arctic 2016 warmth “cannot be explained without anthropogenic climate warming.”

Most, not all

Most of the extreme events studied were influenced to some extent by climate change, as in the past six years that the work has been published.

Climate change was found to have boosted the odds and intensity of El Nino, the severity of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef, and warmth in the North Pacific Ocean.

Flash droughts over southern Africa, like the one in 2015 and 2016, have tripled in the last 60 years mainly due to human-caused climate change, it said.

“Extreme rains, like the record-breaking 2016 event in Wuhan, China are 10 times more likely in the present climate than they were in 1961.”

The unusual Arctic warmth observed in November–December 2016 “most likely would not have been possible without human-caused warming,” it added.

But not all extreme weather was influenced by global warming.

About 20 percent of the events studied were not linked to human-caused climate change, including a major winter snowstorm in the Mid-Atlantic United States, and the drought that led to water shortages in northeast Brazil.

The findings were released at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans.

Press link for more: SBS.COM.AU

Climate change is the story you missed in 2017. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

By Lisa Hymas

The effect of climate change on extreme weather has been dramatically undercovered’ Photograph: Enterprise/Rex/Shutterstock

Which story did you hear more about this year – how climate change makes disasters like hurricanes worse, or how Donald Trump threw paper towels at Puerto Ricans?

If you answered the latter, you have plenty of company.

Academic Jennifer Good analyzed two weeks of hurricane coverage during the height of hurricane season on eight major TV networks, and found that about 60% of the stories included the word Trump, and only about 5% mentioned climate change.

Trump doesn’t just suck the oxygen out of the room; he sucks the carbon dioxide out of the national dialogue.

Even in a year when we’ve had string of hurricanes, heatwaves, and wildfires worthy of the Book of Revelation – just what climate scientists have told us to expect – the effect of climate change on extreme weather has been dramatically undercovered.

Some of Trump’s tweets generate more national coverage than devastating disasters.

Good’s analysis lines up with research done by my organization, Media Matters for America, which found that TV news outlets gave far too little coverage to the welldocumented links between climate change and hurricanes. ABC and NBC both completely failed to bring up climate change during their news coverage of Harvey, a storm that caused the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in the continental US. When Irma hit soon after, breaking the record for hurricane intensity, ABC didn’t do much better.

Coverage was even worse of Hurricane Maria, the third hurricane to make landfall in the US this year. Not only did media outlets largely fail to cover the climate connection; in many cases, they largely failed to cover the hurricane itself.

The weekend after Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, the five major Sunday political talkshows devoted less than one minute in total to the storm and the humanitarian emergency it triggered. And Maria got only about a third as many mentions in major print and online media outlets as did Harvey and Irma, researchers at the MIT Media Lab found.

The media has a responsibility to report the big story, and to help the public understand the immediacy of the threat.

When Trump visited Puerto Rico on 3 October, almost two weeks after Maria assailed the island, he got wall-to-wall coverage as journalists reported on his paper-towel toss and other egregious missteps. But after that trip, prime-time cable news coverage of Puerto Rico’s recovery plummeted, Media Matters found, even though many residents to this day suffer from electricity outages and a lack of clean water, a dire situation that deserves serious and sustained coverage.

Scientists have been telling us that climate change will make hurricanes more intense and dangerous, an unfortunate reality made all too clear by this year’s record-busting hurricane season. “These are precisely the sort of things we expect to happen as we continue to warm the planet,” climate scientist Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State, told Huffington Post.

But while nearly three-quarters of Americans know that most scientists are in agreement that climate change is happening, according to recent poll, only 42% of Americans believe climate change will pose a serious threat to them during their lifetimes. Too many still believe – wrongly – that climate disasters are just something that will happen in the future. They are happening now.

In the first nine months of 2017, the US was assailed by 15 weather and climate disasters that each did more than a billion dollars in damage – in the case of the hurricanes, much more. The combined economic hit from Harvey, Irma and Maria could end up being $200bn or more, according to Moody’s Analytics. And then in October, unprecedented wildfires in northern California did an estimated $3bn in damage.

Climate change can be hard to see and intuitively grasp. It’s a relatively slow-moving scientific phenomenon caused by pollution from all around the globe. It’s not usually dramatic to watch like a candidate debate or the fallout from a White House scandal.

But an extreme weather event is a moment when people can see and feel climate change – and if they’re unlucky, get seriously hurt by it. When those disasters happen, media outlets need to cover them as climate change stories. And when a number of them happen in quick succession, as they did this year, the media have an even greater responsibility to report the big-picture story about climate change and help the public understand the immediacy of the threat.

If we are to fend off the worst possible outcomes of climate change, we need to shift as quickly as possible to a cleaner energy system. We could expect more Americans to get on board with that solution if they more fully understood the problem – and that’s where the critical role of the media comes in. As the weather gets worse, we need our journalism to get better.

Lisa Hymas is the climate and energy program director at Media Matters

Press link for more: The Guardian

Decline of Nature poses severe threat to global prosperity #StopAdani #auspol

Top economists show that the decline of nature poses severe threats to continued national and global prosperity

New research from a team of Oxford economists, launched at the World Forum on Natural Capital in Edinburgh, has shown that Ministries of Finance and Treasuries are often blind to how dependent economies are on nature, which is declining at a dangerous rate.

As a result, businesses and politicians are failing to register the systemic risk building up as the natural world fails.

Professor Cameron Hepburn, who led the research at the University of Oxford’s Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, says that flawed economic and political institutions are to blame. “Much of the value that economies create is built upon a natural foundation – the air, water, food, energy and raw materials that the planet provides.

Without nature, no other value is possible.”

It’s called natural capital, and it’s the basis for all human prosperity. But because most economies fail to account for this dependency, “business as usual” is driving a dangerous trend of environmental decline.

“We are poisoning the well from which we drink. The dire state of nature and the implications for our future barely registers in economic decision-making”

Oliver Greenfield

Extreme weather, mass extinctions, falling agricultural yields, and toxic air and water are already damaging the global economy, with pollution alone costing 4.6 trillion USD every year. And we’re in danger of losing other indispensable natural capitals, like topsoil for food production or a stable climate, without which organised economies cannot function.

“We are poisoning the well from which we drink,” says Oliver Greenfield, convenor of the Green Economy Coalition, who commissioned the research. “The dire state of nature and the implications for our future, barely registers in economic decision-making.  To put this another way, we are building up a big systemic risk to our economies and societies, and just like the financial crisis, most economists currently don’t see it”.

The research finds three central failings are to blame. Firstly, we currently lack the tools to adequately measure and understand the value of nature, meaning it is largely invisible to policymakers. Secondly, many economic models assume that environmental value can be easily and indefinitely replaced by man-made value; for example, the loss in natural capital from logging a forest is off-set by the creation of valuable jobs and timber – ignoring the question of what happens when the last tree is cut down. Finally, we don’t have the laws and institutions required to protect our critical stocks of natural capital from unsustainable exploitation.

Thankfully, the research finds encouraging signs that our economy can be rapidly rewired to protect the planet. Governments and businesses must start measuring their stocks of natural capital in comprehensive natural wealth accounts, and ensure that those assets are protected and improved. Better data is needed on the value of the natural wealth that underpins economic activity, so that value can be accounted for by treasuries and financial centres. And critical natural assets – without which society cannot survive – must be given special status so that they cannot be squandered.

This research is an urgent wake-up call to governments and businesses around the world: our economies are flying blind, and new models and methodologies are urgently required. “The opportunity to properly value nature is not just a task for economists but for all of us,” Oliver Greenfield added. “The societies and economies that understand their dependency on nature are healthier and more connected, with a brighter future.”

Press link for more: Green Economy Coalition

Pollution Kills More People Than Anything Else! #StopAdani #COP23 #Qldvotes 

Dying from war, smoking, hunger & natural disasters turns out to be nothing compared to deaths from pollution, which kills nine million people a year.
The most comprehensive report to date on the health effects of environmental pollution shows that filthy air, contaminated water and other polluted parts of our environment kill more people worldwide each year than almost everything else combined – smoking, hunger, natural disasters, war, murder, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
It’s no wonder then that the number of contaminated water-related deaths in Puerto Rico is expected to climb into the thousands.
In addition to the human tragedy, this pollution costs us well over $4 trillion in annual losses, or 6% of global GDP.


According to the study, 9 million people every year, one in every six premature deaths, are caused by diseases from toxic exposures in the environment. 

That’s 20 times more than all wars. 

Dr. Philip Landrigan, Dean of Global Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the lead author of the report, noted, ‘There’s been a lot of study of pollution, but it’s never received the resources or level of attention as, say, AIDS or climate change’.

China knows this better than any other country. 

Over 300,000 people die each year from toxic emissions coming out of coal-fired power plants alone. 

And silica manufacturing and waste from computer chip and solar array manufacturing is a growing health problem.

In fact, poor countries in south Asia and in Africa sustain the majority of these pollution deaths. 

In many of these countries, especially India, pollution causes a fourth of all deaths, putting a huge burden on their developing economies. 

Even indoor burning of biomass in poor countries has become a global health epidemic.


But these same poor countries will never get out of poverty without increasing the very industries that cause this pollution – energy, manufacturing, mining, etc. 

Since it takes about 3,000 kWhs per person per year to have what we consider a good like – to get into the middle class – the only way to eradicate global poverty is to get these poor countries a lot more energy.
This concept is embodied in the United Nations Human Development Index, or HDI, that states the most important requirement for a good life is access to energy. 

HDI is the reason that China decided in 1992 to build about 600 coal-fired power plants, along with a lot of hydro and other energy sources. 


It lifted 500 million Chinese into the middle class. 

But it also ended up killing over 300,000 people a year and harming millions, leading to a huge unforeseen burden on their health care system.
China is trying to change their energy mix to get rid of dirty coal, but there remains about 800 million Chinese that still need over 2 trillion more kWhs per year to get them into the middle class as well.

 And 2 billion more people outside of China need another 6 trillion kWhs per year. And another 3 billion people will be born between now and 2040, requiring still another 9 trillion kWhs per year.
Since this is the only way to eradicate global poverty, any decision to not give them this energy is itself unethical.

 And to give them that much energy cleanly, along with cleaning up manufacturing and other industries to reduce pollution, will take even more energy.
This dependence of a good life on energy is not a secret. 

The 2015 COP21 climate meeting in Paris was mainly about how to give these people that much energy without giving them coal. 

Not only to save more lives, but to save the planet.

In fact, air pollution and climate change are closely linked and share common solutions. 

Fossil fuel combustion in higher-income countries and the burning of biomass in lower-income countries accounts for 85 percent of airborne particulate pollution.

 Reducing fossil fuel burning in higher-income countries and giving lower-income countries non-fossil and non-biomass energy sources is key to slowing global warming and cleaning up the environment.
And it will take all non-fossil sources, not just renewables.

 Along with millions of wind turbines and thousands of square miles of solar arrays, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency, the United Nations Sustainable Solutions Network and the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate all argue for a tripling of nuclear energy, requiring over a thousand new reactors, or many times that of small modulars, to stabilize carbon emissions.

According to all studies on the subject, coal kills over ten times more people than any other energy source per kWh produced, mainly from fine toxic particulates emitted from coal plants. And coal kills ten times more people in the developing world than in America, simply because they lack regulations like our Clean Air Act.


In fact, our Clean Air Act is the single piece of legislation that has saved the most American lives in history. 

It is why coal kills over 300,000 people in China each year, but only about 15,000 Americans per year. 

The two other significant life-saving pieces of legislation include Medicare in 1965 and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established the 40 hour work week and reigned in child labor.
However, there are a lot more pollution health effects beyond actual death, and several studies have attempted to quantify those costs – costs that include lost work days, hospital visits, disability, prescription drugs and all the costs associated with illness in addition to death (1,2,3,4).
Eliminating the health effects of coal is the low-hanging fruit of pollution. 

A study by EPA’s Ben Machol and Sarah Rizk found that the use of coal in America costs us anywhere from $350 billion to $880 billion per year.

 That’s up to 6% of our GDP, and well over 10% of our total health care costs.

In contrast, there are costs associated with coal itself – mining coal from the ground, transporting it across the country, producing electricity from it, and paying people to do all these things. 

Even though natural gas is replacing coal and our coal use is significantly down compared to ten years ago, we still consume over 700 million tons of coal a year, and we pay about $200 billion for that privilege.
What? 

We pay $200 billion to make and deliver the electricity from coal, and then we pay $300 to $800 billion trying to recover from it?

 This does not make economic sense.
So why not end coal, and use that money and lives saved to replace coal with gas, nuclear and renewables that do not impact health anywhere near as badly. 

The savings in health care alone would more than pay for it.

 It would even be cost-effective to pay the coal folks not to work, just like we’ve done for almost a hundred years for some farmers.


This thinking can be applied to a host of polluting issues, all with the idea that saving lives and health care costs would save enough money to prevent the pollution in the first place. 

Yes, it might require some type of tax but that would be offset by much lower health care costs.
And you can do quite a lot with $4 trillion every year. 

That’s equivalent to building, fueling and operating ninety 1,200-MW hydroelectric dams plus sixty 1,000-MW nuclear plants (or several hundred small modular reactors) plus 200,000 MW wind turbines plus three hundred solar arrays about the size of Ivanpah (600-MW) plus two hundred 500-MW natural gas plants, in total producing over 3 trillion kWhs per year split almost evenly among each energy source.
In only 15 years, we could replace all coal in the world, bring the global energy production up to well over 40 trillion kWhs per year – enough to eradicate global poverty – and still have enough money to reduce other global pollution to a fraction of what it is now. All with existing technologies.
Further technological breakthroughs and gains in efficiency will save even more money, save even more species, and raise the quality of life even higher for everyone in the world. Of course, the rate of building these plants required to accomplish this goal surpasses most build rates we’ve ever achieved, but it is doable with serious coordination among the nations of the world.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to convince people that money saved is the same as money earned.

 And no one likes the idea of a tax, even if it saves lives, property and the planet.
But we can do this faster than anyone thinks is possible, certainly before the last climate tipping points of 2040 – without destroying the planet and without bankrupting anyone.
We just need to do it.

Press link for more: Forbes.Com

How to resolve the planet’s ‘biggest health threat’ #Qldvotes #StopAdani 

How to resolve the planet’s ‘biggest health threat’By Carl Meyer in News, Energy, Politics | November 3rd 2017


Courtney Howard, president-elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, at the release of the Canada brief of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, at the CHEO hospital on Nov. 2 in Ottawa. Photo by Alex Tétreault

When a group of researchers studying connections between public health and climate change in Canada tried to look into the impact of fracking on Indigenous communities, they made a startling discovery.
“There was not a single study published, ever, on the health impacts of fracking in Canada,” said Courtney Howard, president-elect at the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, at a presentation in Ottawa on Thursday.
A comprehensive literature review had been carried out by the library services of the College of Family Physicians Canada, she said — to no avail. “That was about a year ago, and I’m not aware of anything that has been published since.”
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a process used by the fossil fuel industry to inject a high-pressure mix of water and toxic chemicals into rock in order to release gas trapped underground.
The National Energy Board predicts an explosion of fracking activity by 2040, adding to Canada’s many current sites. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found scientific evidence that fracking harms drinking water in “some circumstances,” Reuters reported last December.


Howard was speaking as a co-author of the Canada brief of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change. The Lancet Countdown is a global, interdisciplinary partnership of 24 academic institutions and intergovernmental organizations, organized by the influential Lancet medical journal.
The yearly report, the first of its kind, is intended to track the connections between public health and climate change. It emanated from the Lancet’s scientific conclusion that climate change is the “biggest global health threat of the 21st century.”
It also warns that Canada’s push to phase out coal-powered electricity shouldn’t come with a phase-in of natural gas to replace coal plants. It notes that methane, the primary component in natural gas, is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.
It also notes that an increased proportion of natural gas is being produced via fracking, “for which evidence is accumulating of negative impacts.”
“One public health hazard should not be exchanged for another,” the report states.


Trevor Hancock, professor and senior scholar at the University of Victoria, on Nov. 2, 2017 in Ottawa. Hancock said there are “massive inequalities in health” when it comes to climate change. Photo by Alex Tétreault

Climate change will affect health ‘for centuries’
Health is connected to climate change in many ways, the researchers said: permafrost melt is damaging infrastructure; there are increased heat- and water-related diseases and deaths; food security and clean water is increasingly threatened; there are increased health impacts from severe storms and floods; and more.
“Human symptoms of climate change are unequivocal, potentially irreversible and affecting the health of populations around the world today,” said the Canadian Public Health Association in a press release.
The association launched the Canada brief of the report at a Nov. 2 presentation at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, based in Ottawa.
“We’re doing this here at CHEO, at a children’s hospital, because what we’re doing today to the planet is going to affect the health of people for centuries,” said Trevor Hancock, professor and senior scholar at the University of Victoria and a co-author of the Canada brief.
“There are massive inequalities in health” when it comes to climate change, he said, as the transition will disproportionately impact Indigenous communities and low-income countries. “We need to be thinking about the health impacts on vulnerable people.”
The Lancet group expects to publish updates, including recommendations for regions, between now and 2030.

Health Canada has said there is “growing evidence” that climate change is “affecting the health and well-being of citizens in countries throughout the world, including Canada.” A major issue being examined is “longer and more intense heat events that can be dangerous for the health of Canadians.”
The department says it has identified seven categories of climate-related impacts on health: heat waves or cold snaps; floods or droughts; air pollution; contamination of food or water; bacteria and viruses; skin damage from ultraviolet rays; and socio-economic impacts like increased demand for health care services.
“As an illustration, severe weather events can result in loss of income and productivity, relocation of people, increased stress for families, and higher costs for health care and social services,” the department states.
Asked to comment on the report and its recommendations, departmental spokeswoman Tammy Jarbeau said Canada recognizes that climate change is impacting the health and well-being of vulnerable populations such as Indigenous peoples, children, seniors, and those with chronic illnesses.
“Health Canada welcomes the perspectives provided by the Canadian Public Health Association and Lancet Countdown and looks forward to reviewing the report in detail,” said Jarbeau.
“The department is open to all input on the health impacts of climate change, especially those input that helps to advance the dialogue and produce results.”


A slide from a presentation by Kris Murray, a lecturer at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, shows the adaptation of various carbon pricing mechanisms, or emissions trading schemes, from around the globe. Kris Murray presentation

The ‘adverse impacts’ on Indigenous wellbeing
The report states that the rapid development of the oilsands and fracking has “generated a research lag regarding potential direct health impacts on local populations.”
“This is particularly relevant with regards to Indigenous communities, some of whom now express concerns that landscapes are fragmented to the extent that their traditional way of life is no longer possible, with adverse impacts on their culture and wellbeing.”
“One of our recommendations is to increase funding for research into the local health impacts of resource extraction, with a focus on the impact on indigenous populations,” said Howard.
“Related to that, we need to start integrating health impact assessments into our environment assessment process.”

A table from the Lancet Countdown report forecasting the health impacts of a phase-out of coal-powered electricity by 2030, assuming generators are shut down after 40 years or by 2030, and that at least two thirds of generation is replaced by non-emitting sources. Lancet Countdown screenshot

Canada warned not to replace coal with gas
The report makes it clear that Canada needs to keep its coal power phase-out commitment in order to help save thousands of premature deaths, emergency room visits, hospitalizations and asthma episodes.
It calls on Canada to stick with its coal-powered electricity phase-out by 2030 “or sooner” and for the country to replace that with “at minimum two thirds of the power replaced by non-emitting sources.”
That requires coal-powered electricity sources, which currently create 44 per cent of global emissions, to be replaced with cleaner sources.
But that shouldn’t be natural gas, the researchers warn. Methane has 84 times the potency of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, the report notes, “leading to near-term [climate] warming risks.”
Canada has a plan to cut methane emissions 40 to 45 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025, but those regulations were pushed back from earlier plans.
“It is important to minimize the amount of natural gas used to replace coal-power,” states the report.


Kris Murray, a lecturer at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, on Nov. 2, 2017 in Ottawa. Murray said global labour capacity has dropped by over 5 per cent in populations exposed to temperature change in the last decade and a half. Photo by Alex Tétreault

Climate slowing productivity, spreading disease
Canada says it will cut its carbon pollution 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 as part of its Paris Agreement commitments.
But the United Nations recently panned Ottawa for having insufficient policies to meet that target, as the country will miss the 2030 mark by over 40 million tonnes of emissions even if it achieves all its stated goals.
The report puts the global picture in stark terms. It concludes that meeting the Paris commitment globally will require emissions to peak within the next few years and move to negative emissions after 2050.
“This can be thought of as needing to halve [carbon dioxide] emissions every decade,” it states.
Kris Murray, a lecturer at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London and a co-author of the international Lancet Countdown report, said his research work on the project showed that climate change has slowed productivity and spread disease.
Global labour capacity has dropped by 5.3 per cent in populations exposed to temperature change between 2000 and 2016, he said.
Meanwhile, the disease transmitting ability of two versions of dengue, the virus that causes dengue fever, a mosquito-borne tropical disease, rose by 9.4 per cent and 11.1 per cent thanks to climate warming trends since the 1950s.


A graph from the Lancet Countdown report showing the ratio of private transportation to public transit and active transit like walking and cycling, in various cities around the globe. Lancet Countdown screenshot

Group calls for national transport strategy
The Canada portion of the report calls for developing a “national active transport strategy” for the country, and to boost support for telecommuting and telehealth options.
The report found that Vancouver, for example, was one of the best cities in Canada for the ratio of private transportation to public transit and active transit like walking and cycling — yet one of the worst cities internationally.
“Moving from private motorized transport to public transport, walking and cycling in urban areas helps to decrease emissions from vehicles, as well as having substantial health benefits,” the report states.
“Commuting on foot or by bike has been shown to decrease cardiovascular mortality, and cycling has been shown to decrease all-cause mortality and mortality from cancer.”

The researchers of the Lancet Countdown report at the CHEO presentation for the Canada brief of the report, on Nov. 2, 2017 in Ottawa. Photo by Alex Tétreault

‘Try a lentil’
The report also calls for health-sector support for Health Canada’s draft healthy eating guidelines, in order to coax Canadians away from meat protein, and toward plant-based protein sources.
Eating meat is associated with high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, water use and land use, the researchers said, and plant-rich diets have been shown to decrease colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease risk, among other benefits.
“We’re not saying you need to go cold turkey,” joked Howard, which got some giggles from the room. “But try a lentil.”
Editor’s note: this story was updated at 4:01 p.m. ET to correctly attribute a quote about lentils. It was updated again at 5:16 p.m. to add a comment from Health Canada.
Press link for more: National Observer

CO2 Emissions Rising Faster Than Ever! #StopAdani #Qldvotes #Auspol 

A record surge in atmospheric CO2. Emissions rise faster than ever!
Yesterday (30/10), both the BBC and the Guardian posted an article proving the state of the world is atrocious.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), concentrations of atmospheric CO2 surged to a record high in 2016. 

What is more, the pace with which this process is taking place is accelerating. 

The year 2016 saw average concentrations of CO2 hit 403.3 ppm, up from 400 ppm in 2015.

 This is the largest increase the WMO watch programme has ever witnessed. 

Before 2016, the largest increase – 2.7 ppm – occurred in 1997-1998 when an El Niño was active (every El Niño impacts the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by causing droughts that limit the uptake of CO2 by plants and trees). 

Now the figure is 3.3ppm. It is also 50% higher than the average of the last 10 years, which is extreme.

 The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was three to five million years ago, in the mid-Pliocene Epoch.

While emissions from human sources have slowed down somewhat in the last couple of years, the cumulative total of atmospheric CO2 continues to spike. 

Since 1990 alone, there has been a 40% increase in total radiative forcing. 

The rise in CO2 and CO2e (equivalent) is due the Earth’s response to human warming. 

This means that, at one unknown point, climate change will be out of our hands: total emissions will continue to increase even if we decrease CO2 emissions from human sources (not that we significantly succeed in this or that there is a plan for achieving it). 

The problem is not only that human activity creates climate change, but that climate change destroys sinks, such as forests, that it warms oceans and seas and destroys the permafrost.

 This explains the spike of methane levels over the last 10 years.

Incredibly, there is still doubt.

 As professor Nisbet from Royal Halloway says:
“The rapid increase in methane since 2007, especially in 2014, 2015, and 2016 (…) was not expected in the Paris agreement. 

Methane growth is strongest in the tropics and sub-tropics. 

The carbon isotopes in the methane show that growth is not being driven by fossil fuels. 

We do not understand why methane is rising. 

It may be a climate change feedback. It is very worrying” 
And Erik Solhein, the head of UN Environment added that “The numbers don’t lie. 

We are still emitting far too much and this needs to be reversed” 

The numbers do not lie, but one has to use the right ones. 

The global CO2 measure tells far from the whole story.

 Atmospheric levels of gasses like methane, nitrous oxide, and a host of less common industrial chemicals are also all on the rise in the Earth’s atmosphere due to human emissions. 

According to research by the Advanced Global Atmosphere Gases Center at MIT, the total heat forcing equal to CO2 (this is the CO2 equivalent measure which adds all the other gases) was about 478 ppm during the spring of 2013 – almost two years before the Paris Agreement was signed (December 2015) (see here and here). 

The Paris Agreement does not contain the word “methane” 
Needless to say, in 2013, the situation – ca. 480 ppm CO2e – was already nothing short of fearsome. 

The last time the world saw such a measure of comparable atmospheric greenhouse gas heat forcing was during the Miocene around 15-20 million years ago. 

At that time, global temperatures were 3-4 C warmer. 

Today, CO2e stands at ca. 492 ppm. 

It is impossible that the IPCC was unaware of it. 

For one, Natalia Sakhova and her colleagues have been publishing papers on methane venting into the atmosphere from sediments of the East Siberian Ice Arctic Shelf since the 1990s.

That tropical forests could transform from a sink to a source due to rising temperatures has also been documented in the literature since the 1990s.

 According to an OECD study of 2011, GHG could reach 685 ppm of CO2e by 2050.

 In 2013, Michael Mann wrote that we will likely lock in a 2 C short term warming this century and a probable 4 C warming long-term. 


According to Mann in 2013, if the current, high-velocity pace of emission continues, we will likely hit 2C warming by 2036, setting off extraordinary, severe and irreversible global changes over a very short period. 

Since then, nothing has happened to change this gloomy picture.
It is absolutely necessary to understand the problem of the Earth’s response to human induced climate change. 

Natural carbon sinks on land and ocean buffer us from the full impact of carbon emissions.

 But we cannot assume this will continue indefinitely. 

The warmer the world becomes, the more difficult it will become to prevent further warming: even less emissions can lead to proportionally larger impacts. 

Natural carbon sinks become less effective and even become sources.


This is happening right now. 

The Earth’s tropical forests are now so degraded that they are emitting more carbon than all of the traffic in the United States.

 A healthy forest sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, whereas forests that are degraded by drought, wildfires and deforestation release previously sequestered carbon.

 In short, land ecosystems, mainly forests, have been mitigating part of the fossil fuel problem – they sucked CO2 out of the atmosphere, about 25% of our fossil fuel emissions. 

Not any longer. 

Another study showed that warming soils are now releasing much more carbon into the atmosphere than previously thought.

 This means another disastrous feedback loop exists that will trigger giant carbon releases in a cycle that will be (practically) impossible to stop.

It is true that emissions from energy decreased in the last three years. 

Emissions from land use, agriculture, aviation and shipping have not stalled.

 Increased use of biomass is still often calculated as zero-emission, which is nonsensical. 

CO2e is now already above what was considered the limit for a 2 degrees C rise – this limit was 450 ppm CO2e. 

We are now over 490 ppm CO2e and the concentrations are rising.

 It is not possible otherwise, also because the earth itself contributes to the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly because of increasing emissions of CO2 and methane from wetlands, permafrost areas and sea beds. 

The IPCC, in its wisdom, does (or did) not count these contributions and so they do (or did) not exist. 

The world will pay a heavy prize for this ostrich policy.

The permafrost thaw caused by fossil fuel emissions already releases relatively large amounts of CO2, NH4 and NO2. 

Any reasonable discussion of our global situation therefore has to stop limiting the discussion to fossil fuel CO2 emissions and start evaluating the true global situation with regard to the planetary carbon cycle and the global warming of all the greenhouse gases.
The estimate is that about 50% of total global fossil fuel emissions over the past 100 years have been absorbed by land and oceans. 

If the sinks are exhausted or overwhelmed by permafrost or shallow marine sediment outgassing, it is possible that, in the worst case, a 50% reduction in the use of fossil fuels (again: not that there is a viable strategy to achieve this) would have no effect on the growth rate of atmospheric CO2.

It can be realistically expected that, IF every country meets its self-determined emissions goals, global temperature will increase by 3.7 degrees C at 2100 – and that is being optimistic!

 According to Friedrich et al. (see my article on this here and here for Friedrich et al.) a rise of 4.8 and 7.4 degrees can be in the making by 2100.
For CO2 emissions to fall, the use of fossil fuels has to decrease and brought to zero. 


This can only happen if they become so expensive that any other source is cheaper.

 It also means major changes in manufacturing, agriculture, transport and energy efficiency. 

It means changing and re-scaling the macroeconomic architecture.

We all know this, but it does not square with any reasonable projections of oil, natural gas and coal production.

 For example, the American EIA estimated future consumption of liquids and natural gas give annual rates of increase of 1.1 and 1.9 percent through 2040. 

Coal production also increases, albeit more slowly at 0.6 percent per year.

The idea that in such a world emissions will drop is magical thinking. 

The idea that climate change can be addressed in a technological way, leaving existing power relations intact is magical thinking – not only a myth, but a pertinent lie.

What is actually the “effort” that the “landmark” Paris Agreement expects countries to make?

 In 2015, the US budget was $3.800 billion.

 In 2016, the Department of Energy (DoE) budget request for all of energy efficiency, renewable energy and nuclear energy was $4 billion. 

This is a mere 0.1%. 

Where does most of this money end up?

 It goes to big multinationals in order to strengthen “competitiveness,” “create jobs” and “markets and growth” and to “reduce business risks,” as 360 big corporations wrote to Trump in an open letter, asking him to not quit the Paris Agreement.
Trump quit Paris and it is inherently stupid and regressive. 

But the Paris Agreement is also regressive.

At the end of 2017, CO2 and other GHGs are rising, they are rising faster than ever, temperatures are rising, new feedbacks and potential horrors are being discovered almost every day. 

As I wrote before, ‘this historical milestone that will safeguard the future of humanity’ (Cameron) contains no reference to “coal,” “oil,” “fracking,” “shale oil,” “fossil fuel” or “carbon dioxide.” 

The words “zero,” “ban,” “prohibit” or “stop” do not occur in it.

 The word “adaptation” occurs 85 times, although the responsibility to adapt is nowhere mentioned. 

Liability and compensation are explicitly excluded. 

There is no action plan.

 The proposed emission cuts by the nations are voluntary.

 There is no enforceable compliance mechanism.
Meanwhile, warming atmospheric temperatures coupled with warmer ocean waters have combined to cause Antarctic sea ice to shrink by two millions kilometres in just the last three years.


At the other pole, recently released data showed that the Arctic ice cap melted down to hundreds of thousands of square miles below its average this past summer. 

The ice minimum for this year was 610.000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average, in addition to its being the eighth-lowest year in the 38-year satellite record (to compare: Germany’s surface is 137.983.6 square miles) 
Some time ago, I would have ended this article by writing that ‘if the world’s nations are serious about addressing climate change, the rise in CO2 concentrations needs to cease. 

The sinks need to balance the sources. 

If the sinks degrade and become a source, the game is up.’ But I do not believe that the world’s nations are serious about addressing global climate change.

 There is nothing concrete that points in that direction. 

And so the problem becomes unsolvable.

Press link for more: Flassbeck Economics

U.S. Federal Report Blames Humans For #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Qldvotes 

Federal report blames humans for global warming and its effects
An extensive report published by the federal government Friday asserts that humans are the primary driver of climate change, causing higher temperatures, sea level rise, agriculture problems and more.

The report, the first volume of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, is years in the making, and involved contributions from more than a dozen federal agencies.
It is meant to be an authoritative assessment of the current state of climate change science.

Many of the report’s conclusions directly contradict the Trump administration’s positions on climate change.

For example, Trump officials like Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry say they can’t be sure whether human-caused greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are the primary cause of climate change.
But the Climate Assessment plainly states that is the case.
“This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” it says. “For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

“Globally averaged, annually averaged surface air temperature has increased by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1 degree Centigrade, over the last 115 years,” David Fahey, an atmospheric scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and one of the leading authors of the report, told reporters. “This period is now the warmest in the history of modern civilization.”


The report cites “thousands of studies conducted by researchers around the world” that show evidence of a warming globe, including “changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and increasing atmospheric water vapor.”
It includes dire warnings about the impact of climate change on human activities.
Heavy rainfall, which causes flooding, is expected to increase over the rest of the century, and heat waves will become more frequent.
Severe weather events like forest fires and drought will grow more prevalent, and sea levels will rise “by at least several inches in the next 15 years and by 1–to-4 feet by 2100.”
This underlines warnings from scientists around the globe who say the only way to get climate change under control will be to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide.


Emission growth has slowed in recent years, but the report concludes it’s not enough to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, the limit at which scientists expect the worst effects of climate change to be irreversible.
The study is the fourth time this century that federal scientists have put together a report on the impacts of climate change around the globe and in the United States.
The report is mandated by Congress, with three federal agencies — NOAA, NASA and the Department of Energy — coordinating its publication. It uses research from thousands of scientists around the world.
This year’s assessment comes amid concerns that the White House would work to undermine the study’s conclusions. Scientists shared a draft version of the study with The New York Times in August, seeking extra publicity for its findings in the hope of rebuffing any attempt to water it down.
The topline conclusions of the final study, though, appear to be in line with those of the draft, and the accepted scientific consensus on the role humans play in warming the globe.
Fahey told reporters that there was no political interference in the assessment released Friday, though he conceded that some on the team had feared it would happen.
“Of course there are perhaps fears. We’re all citizens and scientists at the same time. But I think whatever fears we had weren’t realized,” Fahey said.
“The word ‘interference’ might have been a threat, but it never materialized. This report says what the scientists wanted it to say.”
In a statement, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said that “the climate has changed and is always changing” and pointed to a line in the report that concluded the future of climate change depends primarily on “remaining uncertainty in the sensitivity of Earth’s climate to [greenhouse gas] emissions.”
The report said, with “very high confidence,” that the magnitude of climate change will also depend on the “amount of greenhouse gases emitted globally” over the next few decades.
“The administration supports rigorous scientific analysis and debate and encourages public comment on the draft documents being released today,” Shah said.
“To address climate change as well as other risks, the U.S. will continue to promote access to the affordable and reliable energy needed to grow economically, and to support technology, innovation and the development of modern and efficient infrastructure that will reduce emissions and enable us to address future risks, including climate related risks.”

Press link for more: The Hill

Earth too hot for humans! 

A must read in the New York Magazine today.
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans.html

Can we stop #ClimateChange? First we must #StopAdani #Auspol 

If we stopped emitting greenhouse gases right now, would we stop climate change?
Earth’s climate is changing rapidly. 

We know this from billions of observations, documented in thousands of journal papers and texts and summarized every few years by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


 The primary cause of that change is the release of carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and natural gas.
One of the goals of the international Paris Agreement on climate change is to limit the increase of the global surface average air temperature to 2 degrees Celsius, compared to preindustrial times. 

There is a further commitment to strive to limit the increase to 1.5℃.
Earth has already, essentially, reached the 1℃ threshold. 

Despite the avoidance of millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions through use of renewable energy, increased efficiency and conservation efforts, the rate of increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere remains high.


International plans on how to deal with climate change are painstakingly difficult to cobble together and take decades to work out. 

Most climate scientists and negotiators were dismayed by President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
But setting aside the politics, how much warming are we already locked into?

 If we stop emitting greenhouse gases right now, why would the temperature continue to rise?
Basics of carbon and climate
The carbon dioxide that accumulates in the atmosphere insulates the surface of the Earth.

 It’s like a warming blanket that holds in heat. 

This energy increases the average temperature of the Earth’s surface, heats the oceans and melts polar ice. 

As consequences, sea level rises and weather changes.

Global average temperature has increased. 

Anomalies are relative to the mean temperature of 1961-1990. 


Based on IPCC Assessment Report 5, Working Group 1. Finnish Meteorological Institute, the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, and Climateguide.fi, CC BY-ND

Since 1880, after carbon dioxide emissions took off with the Industrial Revolution, the average global temperature has increased. 

With the help of internal variations associated with the El Niño weather pattern, we’ve already experienced months more than 1.5℃ above the average.


 Sustained temperatures beyond the 1℃ threshold are imminent.

 Each of the last three decades has been warmer than the preceding decade, as well as warmer than the entire previous century.
The North and South poles are warming much faster than the average global temperature.

 Ice sheets in both the Arctic and Antarctic are melting. 

Ice in the Arctic Ocean is melting and the permafrost is thawing.

 In 2017, there’s been a stunning decrease in Antarctic sea ice, reminiscent of the 2007 decrease in the Arctic.
Ecosystems on both land and in the sea are changing. 

The observed changes are coherent and consistent with our theoretical understanding of the Earth’s energy balance and simulations from models that are used to understand past variability and to help us think about the future.


A massive iceberg – estimated to be 21 miles by 12 miles in size – breaks off from Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier. NASA, CC BY

Slam on the climate brakes
What would happen to the climate if we were to stop emitting carbon dioxide today, right now? 

Would we return to the climate of our elders?
The simple answer is no. 

Once we release the carbon dioxide stored in the fossil fuels we burn, it accumulates in and moves among the atmosphere, the oceans, the land and the plants and animals of the biosphere. 

The released carbon dioxide will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years. 

Only after many millennia will it return to rocks, for example, through the formation of calcium carbonate – limestone – as marine organisms’ shells settle to the bottom of the ocean.

 But on time spans relevant to humans, once released the carbon dioxide is in our environment essentially forever.

 It does not go away, unless we, ourselves, remove it.
In order to stop the accumulation of heat, we would have to eliminate not just carbon dioxide emissions, but all greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide.

 We’d also need to reverse deforestation and other land uses that affect the Earth’s energy balance (the difference between incoming energy from the sun and what’s returned to space). 

We would have to radically change our agriculture. 

If we did this, it would eliminate additional planetary warming, and limit the rise of air temperature. 

Such a cessation of warming is not possible.
So if we stop emitting carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels today, it’s not the end of the story for global warming. 

There’s a delay in air-temperature increase as the atmosphere catches up with all the heat that the Earth has accumulated.

 After maybe 40 more years, scientists hypothesize the climate will stabilize at a temperature higher than what was normal for previous generations.
This decades-long lag between cause and effect is due to the long time it takes to heat the ocean’s huge mass. 

The energy that is held in the Earth by increased carbon dioxide does more than heat the air. 

It melts ice; it heats the ocean. 


Compared to air, it’s harder to raise the temperature of water; it takes time – decades.

 However, once the ocean temperature is elevated, it will release heat back to the air, and be measured as surface heating.
Scientists run thought experiments to help think through the complex processes of emissions reductions and limits to warming. 

One experiment held forcing, or the effect of greenhouse gases on the Earth’s energy balance, to year 2000 levels, which implies a very low rate of continued emissions. 

It found as the oceans’ heating catches up with the atmosphere, the Earth’s temperature would rise about another 0.6℃. Scientists refer to this as committed warming. 

Ice, also responding to increasing heat in the ocean, will continue to melt. 

There’s already convincing evidence that significant glaciers in the West Antarctic ice sheets are lost. 

Ice, water and air – the extra heat held on the Earth by carbon dioxide affects them all. That which has melted will stay melted – and more will melt.
Ecosystems are altered by natural and human-made occurrences. 

As they recover, it will be in a different climate from that in which they evolved. 

The climate in which they recover will not be stable; it will be continuing to warm. There will be no new normal, only more change.

Runaway glaciers in Antarctica.

Best of the worst-case scenarios
In any event, it’s not possible to stop emitting carbon dioxide right now.


 Despite significant advances in renewable energy sources, total demand for energy accelerates and carbon dioxide emissions increase. 

As a professor of climate and space sciences, I teach my students they need to plan for a world 4℃ warmer.

 A 2011 report from the International Energy Agency states that if we don’t get off our current path, then we’re looking at an Earth 6℃ warmer.

 Even now after the Paris Agreement, the trajectory is essentially the same. 

It’s hard to say we’re on a new path until we see a peak and then a downturn in carbon emissions.

 With the approximately 1℃ of warming we’ve already seen, the observed changes are already disturbing.
There are many reasons we need to eliminate our carbon dioxide emissions. 

The climate is changing rapidly; if that pace is slowed, the affairs of nature and human beings can adapt more readily. 

The total amount of change, including sea-level rise, can be limited. 

The further we get away from the climate that we’ve known, the more unreliable the guidance from our models and the less likely we will be able to prepare.

It’s possible that even as emissions decrease, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will continue to increase. 

The warmer the planet gets, the less carbon dioxide the ocean can absorb. 

Rising temperatures in the polar regions make it more likely that carbon dioxide and methane, another greenhouse gas that warms the planet, will be released from storage in the frozen land and ocean reservoirs, adding to the problem.
If we stop our emissions today, we won’t go back to the past. 

The Earth will warm. 

And since the response to warming is more warming through feedbacks associated with melting ice and increased atmospheric water vapor, our job becomes one of limiting the warming. 

If greenhouse gas emissions are eliminated quickly enough, within a small number of decades, it will keep the warming manageable and the Paris Agreement goals could be met. 

It will slow the change – and allow us to adapt. 

Rather than trying to recover the past, we need to be thinking about best possible futures.
This article was updated on July 7, 2017 to clarify the potential effects from stopping carbon dioxide emissions as well as other factors that affect global warming.

Press link for more: The Conversation