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Why Trump is an Existential Threat #auspol #climatechange #science

One of the Most Famous Scientists in the World Just Explained Why Trump Is an Existential Threat

SochAnam/Getty Images
This story was originally published by New Republic and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Earlier this month, thousands of scientists from around the world came together for their favorite nerd fest:

 The annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest scientific organization and publisher of the renowned Science journals.

 There were panels on everything from climate change to robots, hornless cows to honeybees.

 But this year’s meeting was different than any other in its 168-year history, for one reason: Donald Trump was president. And scientists were freaking out.


“I haven’t seen anything like it in my many decades in science and science watching,” Dr. Rush Holt, the president of AAAS and executive publisher of the Science journals, told the New Republic.
Most scientists are uncomfortable talking politics because their work needs to be perceived as objective rather than partisan. But ever since America elected a president who’s made scientifically inaccurate statements on everything from vaccines to climate change, more and more scientists are stepping into the spotlight to stand up for their profession. That includes Holt, who announced Wednesday that AAAS would partner with the March for Science, an Earth Day rally with the primary goal of preserving and promoting evidence-based policymaking.
In a conversation with the New Republic, Holt—who is also a former U.S. Congressman—talked about the unprecedented level of political anxiety among American scientists, and how those scientists should navigate these murky waters.

TNR: We’ve reached this point where scientists are being thrown into the political spotlight, which I imagine is deeply uncomfortable for a lot of people in this profession. You just came from your annual conference, where thousands of scientists in attendance. What is the level of concern you observed from them about the Trump administration, and politics in general?
“The level of concern and anxiety among scientists—and I guess I’d say the science-friendly public—about the place of science in society in government, has gone beyond concern to anxiety.”
RH: The level of concern and anxiety among scientists—and I guess I’d say the science-friendly public—about the place of science in society in government, has gone beyond concern to anxiety. I haven’t seen anything like it in my many decades in science and science watching.
It used to be when that, when scientists in the hallways would talk about being worried about the state of science, what they really meant was, they were worried about the funding for their research. That’s not so much what we’re hearing now, although I do think scientists don’t realize what Congress seems to have in store for non-defense discretionary spending.
TNR: So you’re saying the concern among scientists has gone from, “will I get funding,” to something more existential.
RH: Existential might even be the right word. The concern now is whether policymakers even understand the meaning of evidence. Whether there is any truth to this descriptor of “fact-free era.” Whether policy is going to be made more and more in the absence of scientific input. There seems to be a concern about whether the public appreciation of science has eroded to a point where it has removed science from public debate and public decision making. Whether the public has come to regard evidence as optional.

TNR: You’ve only been at the head of AAAS some 2014, but compared to other years, was there a lot of political talk at this year’s annual meetings?
RH: That was the main hallways discussion, as well as discussion that broke out in panels on various scientific topics. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve also never seen as much of a spontaneous upsurge now of scientists and science-loving members of the public who want to defend science. We see that in the March for Science.
TNR: Regarding the march, though, some people have expressed concern that it’s going to politicize science even further. That it’s going to make science into a partisan issue.
RH: Well, the March for Science is not just a march. It’s a public education effort. It is a children’s science festival. It is emblematic of this public upsurge of interest in defending the idea of science. That’s really unusual. It’s also a rare opportunity for scientists to help get out the message of just how valuable, how powerful science is and how important it is—how it’s more important to lives of nonscientists than to the job of scientists.
TNR: So you don’t think that a march that will likely have politically-oriented signs will undermine science?
RH: There is a sense that science and politics are incompatible. I don’t think so at all. I think it’s important that scientists take great pains to make sure that ideology and personal bias and wishful thinking do not contaminate the collection and analysis and evidence. One must not politicize science. But the converse is not necessarily true. There’s no reason why scientists can not go into the public sphere. In fact, I would argue they should.
TNR: Does that mean you think more scientists should be running for political office?
RH: It doesn’t necessarily mean running for office. Every citizen, scientists included, has some obligation to be involved in public affairs and politics. I do think that in recent months I’ve seen a lot more public-directed attention from scientists. More and more scientists have called me up—strangers for the most part—who say, “I’m thinking about running for office. You’ve done it, how do you do it.” And I say, “just do it.”
TNR: Do you think all this concern is just because of Trump?
RH: Actually, the concerns that I heard raised at the annual meeting seemed to be rooted in trends that began years ago, quite independent of Donald Trump. It is true that when people are appointed to positions and talk without any appreciation or understanding of scientists, well, that gets scientists worried. And when public officials talk about alternative facts, people who have devoted their careers to trying to uncover facts are dismayed. But this type of rhetoric has been present in politics for some time.
TNR: Where do you think the conversation about science in policymaking needs to go from here? What needs to be done to communicate the stakes of an anti-science government?
RH: So much of this discussion in recent weeks and months has not been about specific issues, but about the place of science and science-based evidence in general. The phrase I hear most—more often than genetic engineering or nuclear power or anything like that—is “evidence-based decision-making.” I hear that phrase over and over.
There needs to be a public dawning—and it is beginning to dawn on some members of the public—that how science is practiced actually makes a difference in their lives. If evidence becomes optional, if ideological assertions or beliefs are just as good as scientifically vetted evidence, then their quality of life suffers. I think that’s dawning on people. There’s a level of concern unlike anything I’ve seen.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

Press link for more: motherjones.com

The Crazy Climate Technofix #auspol 

by Mark White
Illustrations by Bren Luke 
Earth’s climate has been edging towards a scene usually reserved for a post-apocalyptic movie.

 Some posit geoengineering as a radical fix to climate change.

 Others say the risks are too high and its proponents mad. 

Welcome to the debate where science fiction meets climate science.

If you visit a block of land near the West Australian dairy town of Harvey in a few years’ time, you will see a few pipes sticking out of the ground, a solar panel and an aerial for communications devices. 

There may be a hut and some room for parking.
These will be the only visible signs of the South West Hub project, designed to test the feasibility of pumping megatonnes of carbon dioxide into the vast Wonnerup sandstone layer, a kilometre-and-a-half deep beneath the Jarrah-Marri trees on the surface.
The gas will be liquefied in a nearby compressor building – an anonymous farm shed – and transported to the injection site via underground pipes.
Wonnerup is an example of carbon capture and storage, one of a suite of technologies known as geoengineering, or climate engineering.
Geoengineering is a mixed bag, but the idea involves large-scale interventions at the level of the whole planet, with the goal of fixing the climate.

 It’s tricky, dangerous, and largely considered “fringe science”.
The proposals come in two main flavours. 

One is carbon dioxide removal, which strips the gas from the atmosphere and slowly restores atmospheric balance.

 A mix of techniques would be needed: hundreds of factories like Wonnerup, billions of new trees and plants, plus contentious technologies such as artificially encouraging the growth of plankton.
The second is solar radiation management, intended to cool the Earth by stopping the sun’s heat from reaching the planet’s surface. 

That can be achieved by pumping minute particles into the atmosphere, but carries the risk of killing billions of people.
Right now, we don’t have the tools or the knowledge to deploy these fixes. 

But some prominent climate scientists argue that as carbon emissions continue to rise, geoengineering will have to be employed to avoid catastrophic climate change.
 

Last December’s meeting of world leaders in Paris produced a voluntary agreement to try to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5C over pre-industrial levels, and to not exceed 2C – the widely agreed level of devastating heat increase.

 But agreement and actual efforts didn’t seem to go hand in hand.

“The roar of devastating global storms has now drowned the false cheer from Paris,” a team of 11 climate scientists wrote in a January letter to The Independent, “and brutally brought into focus the extent of our failure to address climate change. 

The unfortunate truth is that things are going to get much worse.”
University of Cambridge Professor Peter Wadhams says: “Other things being equal, I’m not a great fan of geoengineering, but I think it absolutely necessary given the situation we’re in. 

It’s a sticking plaster solution. 

But you need it, because looking at the world, nobody’s instantly changing their pattern of life.”
Since then, temperatures have been soaring month after month, we’ve learned that the Great Barrier Reef is in extremely poor health and bleaching rapidly, while new quests continue to unearth more fossil fuels.
As we’re failing to keep the planet pleasant and habitable for future generations, could we instead fix the climate with technology? 
With geoengineering?
Debate about geoengineering in Australia is “almost being avoided”, according to Professor David Karoly, a noted atmospheric scientist at the University of Melbourne.

 He is a member of the Climate Change Authority, which advises the federal government, and was involved in preparing the 2007 IPCC report on global warming.
“There’s very little discussion on it in terms of government circles, there’s very little research on it, there’s very little discussion of it in what might be called mainstream science,” Professor Karoly says.

Policymakers are including geoengineering in their plans, but many technologies are still unproven and potentially dangerous.
“You’ll generally find among climate scientists that almost all are opposed to geoengineering,” says Professor Jim Falk, of the University of Melbourne’s Sustainable Society Institute. 

“They’re already pretty concerned about what we’ve done to the climate and don’t want to start stuffing around doing other things we only half-understand on a grand scale.”
When the US National Academy of Science launched a report last year analysing geoengineering options, committee head Marcia McNutt, a geophysicist, was asked if any should be deployed. 

She replied “Gosh, I hope not”.
The report considered carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation management so risky it used the term “climate intervention” instead of geoengineering, arguing the term “engineering” implied a level of control that doesn’t exist.
But the IPCC has considered scenarios where such engineering would be necessary: its 2014 assessment report mentions bio-energy carbon capture and storage (known as BECCS), where plant fuel is burned and the resulting carbon dioxide buried.
And the Paris Agreement noted there would be need for a “balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases” in 2050-2100.
“A few years ago, these exotic Dr Strangelove options were discussed only as last-ditch contingencies,” wrote Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, of the Paris talks in Nature magazine.
“Now they are Plan A.”
 

The term “geoengineering” raises the spectre of a James Bond villain cackling in his lair and planning to make volcanoes erupt at the push of a button. And that’s quite fitting, given that one approach to solar radiation management consists of mimicking the fallout from such giant explosions.
Treating the problem like an outlandish movie script may be the only way of comprehending the scale of the challenge. To reduce atmospheric CO2 levels by 1ppm – approaching the volume needed to stabilise global temperature – requires the withdrawal of 18 gigatonnes of gas, the equivalent of 18,000 South West Hub plants running for a year.
Tim Flannery, the former Australian of the Year who helped raise the profile of climate change, is vocal in supporting some geoengineering approaches. He prefers the less-toxic term “Third Way technologies”, based on the Earth’s natural processes.
Flannery says those which work at the gigatonne scale – the only ones which will dent the problem – may take decades to be developed.
“The only way you can get to a Paris-like outcome is by slamming hard on emissions,” he says, “reducing them as fast as humanly possible as well as investing now in these technologies that’ll give you these gigatonne gains in 20 or 30 years time.”
”The question for most of these technologies is – we don’t know if they work. But we need them to work.”
Flannery says solar-radiation management approaches should be treated with great caution, as they mask the problem: they will reduce the temperature, but not affect rising CO2 levels, leaving the oceans ever more acidic. That could see a catastrophic loss of reefs and oceanic life, devastating the aquatic food chain.
Ironically, one of the reasons the atmosphere isn’t already at a 2C warming mark, says Professor Karoly, is due to the aerosols already in the atmosphere – an unintentional form of solar radiation management.
He says the current best estimate of stabilising the temperature at that level, with a 50 per cent likelihood, is for a carbon equivalent reading of 420-480ppm. The current figure is 481ppm, and rising at 3ppm per year.
Solar radiation management – deliberate and large scale – might buy time in an emergency, says Flannery. “There’s a broad highway to hell that’s easy to go down and it’s really cheap, relatively. It’s instantly effective, nations can do it unilaterally and it gives you a lower temperature.
“But there’s a narrow, crooked, winding path to heaven which is the carbon reduction stuff. It’s at a very early stage, but that actually does solve the problem.”

Once we capture carbon, it can actually be used productively. American researchers have produced carbon nanofibres from atmospheric carbon dioxide – initially only 10g per hour, but they are convinced it could scale.
There could be vast baths of molten chemicals across large swathes of the Sahara Desert, powered by solar radiation, forming layers of a valuable building material on submerged electrodes.
A research project at a California university has gone further, manufacturing a building material dubbed CO2NCRETE from captured carbon dioxide. A pilot plant at Australia’s University of Newcastle is investigating whether a similar process, combining excess CO2 from an Orica plant with minerals to form building materials, has commercial potential.
Flannery is interested in desktop studies on carbon-sucking seaweed and algae, as well as research reporting that carbon dioxide can be made to fall as snow over the Antarctic.

Picture this: the temperature plummeting well below freezing until a blizzard of dry ice cascades onto the barren plains below, each cuboctahedral flake representing a miniscule improvement in carbon levels, to be stored safely – somehow – from warming into a gas and re-entering the air.
“We’re at very, very early days,” Flannery warns. “Various approaches have different favourable aspects to them, but I don’t think any of them are anything like a silver bullet.”
Flannery’s championing of unorthodox technologies – even as avenues for research – isn’t shared by many high-profile climate change campaigners. David Karoly calls Flannery’s interest “surprising”. He deems ideas such as dry ice snowfall in Antarctica as “rather technofix solutions”.
“How do you get sufficient CO2 out of the atmosphere and store it?” asks Professor Karoly. “It’s probably the most inhospitable environment in the world and he’s talking about – if you work out what this equates to, it’s a mountain higher than Everest, the size of a soccer field every year.”
The Paris target of a 1.5C rise is “virtually impossible” without new technologies, he says, which “have not been proved either commercially viable or without major harm”.
“My concern is, the cure might be substantially worse than the disease.”
Clive Hamilton, professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University, who wrote about geoengineering in his 2013 book Earthmasters, is more blunt.
“The schemes [Flannery] proposes are real pie-in-the-sky stuff, way out there,” he says. “He seems to have been sucked in by a kind of strange techno-promise that’ll get us out of this.”

Australian geoengineering research lags far behind the world leaders in the US, UK and Germany. It’s limited to a handful of scientists in Sydney and Hobart, and our major achievement is helping to halt commercial oceanic geoengineering.
The federal government, via its Direct Action policy, focuses on carbon sequestration without the crazy technofix label. Instead it backs land-use practices such as planting new forests, and prioritises soil enhancement, mangrove protection and rainforest recovery.
“There was an enormous groundswell of support for these activities in Paris,” a spokesperson for the Department of the Environment says. “Other actions [in the geoengineering field] would have an enormously high safety bar to cross and are a long way from proof.”
Meanwhile, CSIRO looks set to embark on an expansion of its geoengineering research program, both at land and sea. In a recent memo to staff announcing 350 job cuts at the organisation, CSIRO head Larry Marshall nominated “climate interventions (geo-engineering)” as one area in which it would seek a “step change” in knowledge.
“CSIRO is currently working through the detail of our future climate adaptation and mitigation research, and will include research relevant aspects of onshore and offshore geo-engineering. The scale and scope of this research is still to be determined,” a CSIRO spokesperson told SBS.

 
Jim Falk categorises geoengineering proposals along various lines, including how big a project needs to be for credible deployment, how big an impact it would have, whether it is reversible, what governance is required, how much it would cost, and the risks involved.
“Then you can say different proposals have different footprints,” Falk says, “and depending on the footprint you can suggest what sort of barriers you would want for their regulations before you would allow an experiment to take place.”
Unlike attempts to reduce global carbon emissions – where everyone must do their part for action to be effective – what scares scientists about solar radiation management is the relative ease of one person launching a planet-wide experiment.
Spraying sulphate particles into the atmosphere from aircraft or balloons is known to reduce temperatures. It mimics what happens when volcanic ash blankets the atmosphere.
There would be spectacular sunsets as solar rays interact with the particles, with brilliant red eddies splashing the evening sky, similar to those in Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream.
And it has been costed at just $US10 billion a year.
One test in August 2008 was conducted on land 500km southeast of Moscow by Yuri Izrael, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s science advisor. He and his team rigged aerosol sprays on a helicopter and car chassis, measuring how solar radiation was retarded at heights up to 200 metres.
“China might decide to pump a load of sulphur into the atmosphere and not tell anyone about it,” says Rosemary Rayfuse, a Law professor at UNSW and a global authority on regulating geoengineering. “Or Australia could do it. Anybody could. That’s the other problem – it’s so easy to do.”
Billionaires Bill Gates and Richard Branson could step forward, says Anita Talberg, a PhD student in the governance of climate engineering at the University of Melbourne. Both support geoengineering and have funded research.
“They could just decide suddenly, ‘I could do enough benefit for the poor and vulnerable in the world, I could just do it and save them from the climate crisis.’”
Such a move could be catastrophic, most immediately due to the risk of drought in the tropics, devastating the food security of billions of people. Those colourful sunsets are projected to see lower rainfall.
The sky will bleach white during the day, while ozone depletes in the tropics – where most of the world’s population live. As the temperature falls, levels of UV radiation will rise, leading to an upsurge in skin cancers.

Professor Andy Pitman, of the Climate Change Research Centre in Sydney, is a member of the World Climate Research Program.
The only role he sees for sulphate injection is alongside steep cuts in carbon emissions. “If people are talking about it as a substitute for that, the technical term you’d use is ‘cloud cuckoo land’.”
But he hopes it’s never necessary.
“God, I hope not. We have a well-studied problem called global warming – we’re not sure of every detail – that would breach every ethics experiment on the planet if you proposed it as an experiment.
“All those problems relate to solar radiation management and I’d suggest any country that tried it at any significant level would find itself in every court in the world.”
There are smaller-scale approaches, he says, without the “ethical problems”. One is painting roofs white to reflect sun, a backyard approach anyone can try, and which would help cool interiors during hot summer days.
Another is genetically modified crops with a higher reflectivity, with variations as simple as leaves that are hairier or have a waxier coating.
Harvard University’s Professor David Keith is leading more research into solar radiation management, arguing in a 2015 paper that the technique could be used in a “temporary, moderate and responsive scenario”.
“Even if we make deep emissions cuts, it might be that the benefits of solar geoengineering outweigh the risks,” he tells SBS. “Or maybe not. To know, we have to decide to learn more.”
 

The belief in a technical solution – that because we have to find something, we will – has psychological roots in an effect known as ‘optimism bias’, says Melbourne psychologist Dr Susie Burke, who has expertise on issues relating to the environment, climate change and natural disasters.
“It’s intrinsic to humans to be optimistically biased,” she says, “and it’s great because it gets us out of bed in the morning and gives us a healthy motivation. But with respect to climate change, it means we end up minimising our personal risk and even risks that pertain to us – and believing the worst problems will happen to other people, somewhere else or into the future.”
She adds, “With the general population who are struggling to make significant changes to their lifestyle, deep down there is a belief that someone, somewhere will come up with something to solve the problem.”
Even talking about geoengineering carries the risk of “moral hazard”, that a solution to rocketing carbon emissions means they can continue unabated. That scenario troubles many.
“There’s a moral hazard in not discussing these things as well,” says Tim Flannery, “because we know we’re going to need them.”
The worst-case scenario – international agreements fail to stop emissions from rising – would force the use of extreme measures. Clive Hamilton thinks sulphate injection is the most likely use of geoengineering, though not yet.
“If we have a series of years where there are catastrophic droughts, heatwaves and hurricanes which cause massive impacts in several countries – also tipping points, so permafrost is now irreversibly melting – what kind of political and geostrategic environment are we going to be facing?” he asks.
“I think in that kind of scenario – which is not just possible but fairly likely – certain scientists promising they can rapidly reduce the earth’s temperature within a year or two are going to start looking increasingly attractive to some nations.”
Andy Pitman says that could lead to war: “You can imagine a situation – and it’s not too far-fetched – where country X starts a major campaign around sulphur injections into the atmosphere, country Y’s rainfall dramatically declines and is going into serious long-term famine, and that instigated a military response.”
And if carbon emissions continued to rise, the sulphate injection would have to be continuous. Otherwise, the particles would drop out of the atmosphere, leading to a sudden, highly disruptive jump in temperature.
If a war, say, or a pandemic was responsible for the break in sulphate injection, the compounding effects could be existential. 

Talking of human extinction in such a scenario is not too far-fetched.

 
The possibilities are less apocalyptic for some form of carbon capture and storage. 

Clive Hamilton identifies land being used by the likes of BECCS – bio-energy carbon capture and storage – to capture carbon as one of the main changes in geoengineering in the last few years.
Plants and trees would be grown for fuel, and the resulting carbon emissions from power generation would be stored away. There’s an example of this in Illinois at an ethanol production plant.
But there are questions over BECCS, not least that “no such economic process [is] available at this point and there may never be”, says Jim Falk.
The sheer amount of land needed is staggering, too. 

In a February 2016 paper in Nature,environmental scientist Philip Williamson estimated that one-third of the world’s arable land (430-580 million hectares of crops) would need planting for BECCS use to limit the temperature rise to 2C by 2100.

This would accelerate deforestation and, given “not unrealistic” assumptions, see carbon emissions actually increase.
Oliver Munnion, of the UK-based BioFuelwatch website, argues that BECCS is more dangerous than solar radiation management.

 “It’s the most outrageous,” he says. “It’s also the favoured approach amongst policy-makers, scientists and industry.
“The idea that we’d harm proven carbon sinks – forests and soils – to create an unproven and untested carbon sink underground is the antithesis of what climate policy should be geared towards.”
The problem facing geoengineering advocates is that most dangerous schemes are possible, but need to be used as a last resort, while the most promising schemes aren’t possible at scale. 

Even if they were, the numbers quickly turn ugly.
In the Nature article, Philip Williamson estimated that growing seaweed as a carbon pool would use nine per cent of the world’s oceans, with unknown environmental impacts.
Utilising the simple solar-radiation management tool of laying a reflective rock on the ground to reduce carbon levels by 12 per cent would need 1-5 kg/sqm of rock to be applied to 15-45 per cent of the earth’s surface, at a total cost of US$60-600 trillion.

That means an area of land at least the size of the old Soviet Union would have to be set aside and the global economy bankrupted.
The further you look, the more improbable geoengineering concepts become. A presentation to the 2016 American Meteorological Conference on Atmospheric Science called for lasers in the sky to microwave and neutralise methane clouds (another greenhouse gas).
UNSW Law professor Rosemary Rayfuse recalls one UK project looking at increasing the reflectivity of the oceans by making white foam, which had to persist for at least three months: “They were proposing to cover the oceans in meringue, which I thought was rather funny!”
David Karoly calls the idea of hanging mirrors in space to reflect sunlight “just stupid”, calculating the need for one million square kilometres of alfoil. Flannery agrees: “Anything that masks the problem, and lets people think they’ve solved it, is a danger.”
Cutting carbon emissions drastically, and now, would start to solve the problem. But that isn’t happening. Campaigners such as Tim Flannery are crossing their fingers that carbon-scrubbing technology we need to take us on “the narrow winding path to heaven” is developed in time.
If neither happens, we’ll be heading down the “broad highway to hell” of having to rely on solar radiation management, where the devil we don’t know is better than a climate gone rogue.
The effects of pumping simulated volcanic fallout into the atmosphere could dwarf the biggest eruptions in history. Start preparing for vivid red sunsets – and an uncertain future

Press link for more: SBS.COM.AU

We’re at War to save the planet! #auspol #climatechange #science 

By Paul Mason

It hits you in the face and clings to you. 

It makes tall buildings whine as their air conditioning plants struggle to cope.

 It makes the streets deserted and the ice-cold salons of corner pubs get crowded with people who don’t like beer. 

It is the Aussie heatwave: and it is no joke.

Temperatures in the western suburbs of Sydney, far from the upmarket beachside glamour, reached 47C (117F) last week, topping the 44C I experienced there the week before.

 For reference, if it reached 47C in the middle of the Sahara desert, that would be an unusually hot day.
For Sydney, 2017 was the hottest January on record. 

This after 2016 was declared the world’s hottest year on record. 

Climate change, even in some developed societies, is becoming climate disruption – and according to a UN report, one of the biggest disruptions may only now be getting under way.

El Niño, a temperature change in the Pacific ocean that happens cyclically, may have begun interacting with the long-term process of global warming, with catastrophic results.
Let’s start by admitting the science is not conclusive. 

El Niño disrupts the normal pattern by which warm water flows westwards across the Pacific, pulling the wind in the same direction; it creates storms off South America and droughts – together with extreme temperatures – in places such as Australia. 

It is an irregular cycle, lasting between two and seven years, and therefore can only be theorised using models.
Some of these models predict that, because of climate change, El Niño will happen with increased frequency – possibly double. 

Others predict the effects will become more devastating, due to the way the sub-systems within El Niño react with each other as the air and sea warm.
What cannot be disputed is that the most recent El Niño in 2015/16 contributed to the extreme weather patterns of the past 18 months, hiking global temperatures that were already setting records.

 (Although, such is the level of rising, both 2015 and 2016 would have still been the hottest ever without El Niño.) 

Sixty million people were “severely affected” according to the UN, while 23 countries – some of which no longer aid recipients – had to call for urgent humanitarian aid. 


The catastrophe prompted the head of the World Meteorological Association to warn: 

“This naturally occurring El Niño event and human-induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways that we have never before experienced.”
The warning was enough to prompt the UN to issue a global action plan, with early warning systems, beefed-up aid networks and disaster relief preparation, and calls for developing countries to “climate proof” their economic plans.
Compare all this – the science, the modelling, the economic foresight and the attempt to design multilateral blueprint – with the actions of the jackass who runs Australia’s finance ministry.

Scott Morrison barged into the parliament chamber to wave a lump of coal at the Labor and Green opposition benches, taunting them: 

“Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared. 

It’s coal. 

It was dug up by men and women who work in the electorate of those who sit opposite.” 

Coal, argues the Australian conservative government, has given the economy “competitive energy advantage for more than 100 years”. 

Labor and the Greens had called, after the Paris climate accord, for an orderly shutdown of the coal-fired power stations that produce 60% of the country’s energy.
The Aussie culture war over coal is being fuelled by the resurgence of the white-supremacist One Nation party, led by Pauline Hanson, which is pressuring mainstream conservatives to drop commitments to the Paris accord and, instead, launch a “royal commission into the corruption of climate science”, which its members believe is a money-making scam.
All over the world, know-nothing xenophobes are claiming – without evidence – that climate science is rigged. 

Their goal is to defend coal-burning energy, promote fracking, suppress the development of renewable energies and shatter the multilateral Paris agreement of 2015.


Opposition to climate science has become not just the badge of honour for far-right politicians like Ukip’s Paul Nuttall.

 It has become the central tenet of their appeal to unreason.
People facing increased fuel bills, new taxes on methane-producing cattle farms, dimmer light bulbs and the arrival of wind and wave technologies in traditional landscapes will naturally ask: is this really needed? 

Their inner idiot wishes it were not. 

For most of us, the inner rationalist is strong enough to counteract that wish.

What distinguishes the core of the rightwing populist electorate is its gullibility to idiocy-promoting rhetoric against climate science. 

They want to be harangued by a leader who tells them their racism is rational, in the same way they want leaders who tell them the science behind climate change is bunk.


Well, in Australia, people are quickly finding out where such rhetoric gets you: more devastating bushfires; a longer fire season; more extreme hot days; longer droughts. And an energy grid so overloaded with demands from air conditioning systems that it is struggling to cope.
And, iIf the pessimists among climate scientists are right, and the general rise in temperature has begun to destabilise and accentuate the El Niño effects, this is just the start.
The world is reeling from the election victory of Donald Trump, who has called climate science a hoax.

 Dutch voters look set to reward Geert Wilders, whose one-page election programme promises “no more money for development, windmills, art, innovation or broadcasting”, with first place in the election. 

In France, 27% of voters are currently backing the Front National, a party determined to take the country out of the Paris accord, which it sees as “a communist project”.
The struggle against the nationalist right must, in all countries, combine careful listening to the social and cultural grievances of those on its periphery with relentless stigmatisation of the idiocy, selfishness and racism of the leaders and political activists at its core.
It’s time to overcome queasiness and restraint. 

We, the liberal and progressive people of the world, are at war with the far right to save the earth. 
The extreme temperatures and climate-related disasters of the past 24 months mean this is not some abstract struggle about science or values: it’s about the immediate fate of 60 million people still recovering from a disaster.

Press link for more: The Guardian.com

Clean Coal: Factsheet

Clean Coal: Factsheet



COAL IS ALWAYS POLLUTING

Building new fossil fuel power plants is expensive, polluting and damaging for community health.

FACT CHECK ON PRIME MINISTER

Our energy system needs overhauling.

Australia’s energy system is ageing, inefficient  and polluting. 

It is not coping with escalating extreme weather, like heatwaves and storms. 


It is not adequately adapted to 21st century, smart technology.

In addressing this major issue Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says our new energy system must achieve three objectives:

1. Be clean (low emissions) 

2. Affordable

3. Reliable

THE PROBLEM

Coal power doesn’t meet any of these criteria. 

Yet the Federal Government is misleading the public by promoting “clean coal” as the way forward.

HERE’S WHY

1. There is no such thing as “clean” coal.

When dug up and burned, coal pollutes
the environment and damages our health. 

Burning coal for electricity emits toxic and carcinogenic substances into our air, water and land, severely impacting on the health of miners, workers and communities.

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering estimated coal’s health impacts cost taxpayers $2.6 billion every year.

More efficent  coal plants labelled “ultra supercritical” (what the Federal Government calls “clean coal”) emit significant greenhouse gases. 

A new high-efficiency  coal plant run on black coal would produce about 80% of the emissions of an equivalent old plant, while renewables (eg. wind and solar) emit zero emissions. 

So-called “clean coal” does not help Australia meet its obligations to reduce its emissions 26-28% by 2030 below 2005 levels.

Press link for more: Climate Council

Experts should speak out on #climatechange #auspol 

Experts are right to speak out on climate change threat
Tomorrow marks the eighth anniversary of the worst bushfires in Australian history – the Black Saturday fires in Victoria. This firestorm killed 173 people, injured 5000, affected 109 communities and damaged or destroyed 3500 buildings. 



For the doctors, nurses and psychologists called to respond, and who continue to deal with its aftermath, now is a time not only to reflect on lessons of the past, but to prepare for the future. 

We know climate change is making extreme weather events – bushfires, droughts and heatwaves, storms and floods – more frequent and severe.

 All of these disasters harm the health of our patients and communities. 

Bushfires are devastating, and their impacts and consequences long lasting.

 As well as causing death, the immediate health risks include radiant heat injuries, dehydration, heat exhaustion, smoke inhalation and trauma. 


In the aftermath, communities face serious public health issues such as sanitation and water safety, smoke pollution, food insecurity, infection control and access to basic accommodation, healthcare and community services. 

Sadly, in the longer term, people affected by bushfire disasters are also at higher risk of many ongoing physical and mental health problems. 

They also face the social and economic costs of rebuilding homes, communities and infrastructure.
Health professionals have a responsibility – to our patients and communities – to speak up on issues that threaten human health. 

It’s why leading medical organisations are describing climate change as a “public health emergency”, mirroring the experiences of doctors and nurses on the frontline.

 So, just as we advocated for tobacco control, health professionals are now mobilising to demand urgent action to mitigate climate change in order to reduce the risk of the tragedy and devastation of another Black Saturday. 
Dr Kate Charlesworth is a Public Health Physician in NSW and works with the Climate and Health Alliance. 

Press link for more: Examiner.com.au

Western Australia leads the world in wave energy #auspol 

Wave energy possesses unique characteristics that offer an advantage over other renewables such as wind and solar energy:
Less variable and with the variability being more gradual and with notice; and

More predictable. Australia’s preeminent research organization, the CSIRO, estimates wave energy is at least three times more predictable than wind energy;

The proximity of favourable wave energy sites to ultimate end users, thereby minimising transmission issues. Notably, approximately 60% of the world’s population lives within 60 kilometres of a coast.


Carnegie’s Mauritian Wave and Microgrid Design Project is focused on the potential for high penetration renewable energy microgrids that incorporate wave energy.
The Project on Mauritius and the neighbouring island of Rodrigues will deliver three outcomes by the end 2016:
1. A renewable energy roadmap for Mauritius, including: technical, commercial and financial feasibility of high penetration renewable energy.
2. An assessment of the Mauritian wave energy resource and the identification of a preferred site for a commercial CETO wave energy project.
3. The design of a microgrid powered desalination plant on the Mauritian island of Rodrigues.
The Project is supported by $800,000 in funding from the Australian and Mauritian Governments.
Australian based Energy Made Clean (EMC), proven specialists in the delivery, construction and operation of microgrids, will assist Carnegie in the delivery of the Mauritian Wave and Microgrid Design Project. This follows the announcement by Carnegie of its Investment and Alliance Agreement with EMC in March 2016.

The CETO 6 Project, located offshore of Garden Island, Western Australia is supported by the Australian Federal Government through a $11m Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) grant as well as a debt facility from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
This next generation CETO unit has a targeted 1MW capacity, representing some four times the output of the previous generation CETO 5 unit (demonstrated as part of the Perth Wave Energy Project).
The concept design is the culmination of work that commenced in 2012 and incorporates lessons learnt from the Perth Wave Energy Project, wave tank testing in Scotland, as well as internal design and modelling studies undertaken with Carnegie’s supply chain.
The CETO 6 design is the CETO product platform that will be used in commercial CETO projects.


Hayle Marine Renewable Business Park and Wave Hub sub-station looking north-west over St Ives towards the Wave Hub offshore site (Source: Cornwall Council).
CETO 6 offers a higher rated capacity and increased efficiency than previous CETO generations which, when deployed in large commercial arrays, will deliver a levelised cost of energy (LCOE) competitive with offshore wind. Longer term development will continue to push costs lower below this benchmark. It is this technology that will be utilised, developed and adapted for deployment in Cornwall.

The Project will be delivered by Carnegie’s local subsidiary, CWE UK, based at the Hayle Marine Renewable Business Park, with commercial and technical support from its Australian parent company and developer of the CETO wave energy technology, Carnegie Wave Energy. Delivery of the Project will leverage Cornwall’s, and the UK’s, exceptional wave energy resource, marine energy revenue support, maritime industrial heritage, the world class Wave Hub infrastructure, and active and innovative marine engineering and research sectors. Carnegie also expects to utilise the marine energy feed in tariff available in the UK which equates to an estimated £305/MWh for the second stage of the Project.
Deployment and operation of the CETO device will be within a defined berth, awarded to Carnegie in 2014, at Wave Hub. Wave Hub is a facility for testing of wave energy device arrays. It provides a fully grid-connected and consented wave energy site, located approximately 10 nautical miles (16km) off the north coast of Cornwall. The Wave Hub Offshore Deployment Area, which covers 8 km² of seabed, is divided into four separate berths available to lease to wave energy device developers, with a 30MVA grid connection agreement.


Wave Hub unit being deployed 16km offshore from Hayle, Cornwall. The Wave Hub test facility is the world’s largest and most technologically advanced site for the development of offshore renewable energy technology.
The Project will also include engagement with and coordination of a suitable supply chain for the construction and operational phases. The successful demonstration of this Project will present a significant opportunity to commercialise wave energy in the UK through bridging the gap between technology readiness and commercialisation.

Press link for more: Carnegie Wave

The U.S. will become a pariah when Trump pulls out of the Paris Climate Agreement #auspol #COP22

By Dr Joe Romm

The vast majority of U.S. voters and policymakers have no clue how cataclysmic it will be for this country when Trump keeps his promise to exit the landmark Paris Climate Agreement. (But then why would they, when much of the media also has no clue about the existential nature of the climate fight after a quarter century of ignoring the warnings of scientists?)

It is not “if” he keeps his promise, it is “when,” since the Trump team is already looking to quit Paris as fast as possible, perhaps within a year, according to “a source on his transition team,” Reuters reported Sunday. Another reason to take Trump seriously: He appointed fellow climate science deniers to top positions in his transition team and administration — while the media normalizes his radical words and deeds.

Since the United States was a leader in making Paris happen, when the country pulls out (and then works to kill climate action at home and abroad), it will suddenly become a global pariah. Think of the sanctions against Putin’s Russia — or, think about a massive, global boycott, like the one against apartheid South Africa, times 10.

Consider how a United States exit will look.

The world will rightly blame the United States for destroying humanity’s last, best hope to avoid catastrophic warming. We will be blamed for the multiple ever-worsening catastrophic climate impacts that befall the planet in the coming years (and decades and beyond). And why not? We’re the richest country and the biggest cumulative carbon polluter, and the pledge we made for Paris was just about the weakest we could offer. And now we aren’t even going to do that.

From the world’s perspective, U.S. voters just elected a man who actively campaigned on a plan to kill the Paris agreement, undo all U.S. climate action, boost coal and fossil fuel use, and zero out funding for all international climate-related aid, domestic climate science, and clean energy R&D. Oh, and he thinks global warming is a hoax, and he has named a well-known climate science denier to run the EPA transition (if not the EPA itself) — and another to be his top White House aide and chief strategist.

It bears repeating that on October 26, Trump promised, “I will also cancel all wasteful climate change spending from Obama-Clinton, including all global warming payments to the United Nations. These steps will save $100 billion over 8 years.”

Not only is Trump appointing hard-core climate science deniers to high level positions, but even everyday Republicans — like Trump’s newly appointed Chief of Staff Reince Priebus — are critical of climate action. Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders have actively lobbied other countries against the Paris climate deal and lobbied states to disregard the EPA’s Clean Power Plan standards for electricity generation.

So there’s every reason to believe Trump will keep his climate campaign promises, making the United States a pariah nation, and potentially triggering carbon taxes and environmental tariffs.

On Sunday, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy (2007–2012) said Europe should “adopt a carbon tax at the borders of Europe, a tax of 1 to 3 percent for all products that come from the United States.” The center-right Sarkozy, who is running to get his old job back, explained, “We cannot find ourselves in a situation where our businesses have [environmental] obligations but where we continue to import products from countries that meet none of those obligations.”

If that happened, it’s not too hard to imagine the response of the president-elect — who has already threatened to put tariffs on a great many foreign countries. The United States will lose all of its so-called “soft power” as the world’s “indispensable nation” goes rogue.

That means any effort Trump makes to keep his commitment to be tough on other countries on trade will find zero support around the world. Indeed, a more plausible response would be for the world to treat us like Russia, Iran or apartheid South Africa. That would particularly be the case if, as appears entirely likely, Trump cozies up to Putin and Russia, as he did in the campaign.

Why am I laying out the worst-case scenario? Because right now, this should be considered the business-as-usual scenario — and the overwhelming majority of the so-called intelligentsia (aka the climate ignorati) simply don’t get it.

Take this Saturday article, in which “Politico asked 17 experts to game out a Trump presidency,” specifically, “What’s the worst-case scenario? The best?“

Only two of them mentioned any of the actual impacts from failing to stop catastrophic climate change (though a third did mention the climate in passing).

One of those was 350.0rg founder Bill McKibben, who noted the worst case is that Trump “succeeds in derailing the very fragile global turn towards clean energy just at the moment when it was starting to accelerate — and the result of that is measured in degrees of global temperature and meters of sea level rise stretching out over millennia.”

Apparently, outside of actual climate experts, it is hard to find “experts” who realize the future of humanity is on a knife’s edge. The one exception was economist Daniel Altman, who warns Trump “could easily cause as many deaths and inflict as much hardship [as the Iraq War] … by reversing the world’s progress to combat climate change.”

Historically, the best way to avoid the worst-case scenario is if a great many people actively work to avoid it. If humanity had taken seriously the worst case scenario on climate— which is now coming true — we would have started taking action long enough ago to avert the catastrophe we now face. And if team Clinton had taken seriously the worst case scenario for the election — which also came true — they definitely would have adopted a different strategy, which might have avoided it.

Right now, the worst-case scenario is a two-term Trump presidency where he does exactly what he has said he will. In that scenario, Trump sets us back on a path towards 7°F warming or more — in which case war like those in Iraq and Syria become the norm.

Press link for more: Think Progress

Australia can go green and have economic growth – #Auspol #EarthtoParis #COP21

Negative emissions, as well as economic growth and improved biodiversity: Australia could have it all.
According to a huge modelling study, Australia can continue to grow its economy by relying heavily on agriculture and mining, while also slashing emissions and improving the natural environment. But smart government policies will be key.
In the first of what will be a regular series of Australian National Outlook reports, researchers at CSIRO, Australia’s government scientific research agency, combined nine different economic and environmental models to examine 20 possible paths to 2050.

They found that strong international action on climate change would benefit the Australian economy, even ignoring the accompanying benefits of reduced climate impacts. Australia’s economic future looked brightest in scenarios where stronger climate action was taken, and the financial benefits could even kick in before 2050.
Although such decisive action would weaken demand for its coal, the country would enjoy increased demand for its gas, uranium and agricultural produce – all things Australia can export in spades.
Trees are key

Even in scenarios where Australia achieved negative emissions as early as 2040, GDP still grows strongly in the models.
Planting forests turns out to be crucial for Australia to reduce its emissions, accounting for up to 40 per cent of reductions. This could be encouraged simply by introducing a market mechanism, such as carbon pricing, that would pay farmers about $50 for each tonne of CO2 sequestered by planting new trees. Because much of that can be done using native plants, such a measure would also improve biodiversity.
“Overall it is a very positive message that we can have growth and a sustainable environment at the same time,” says Alex Wonhas from CSIRO, who led the report. “But it’s not necessarily given. There will be choices,” he says. Investment will have to be made in water resources and agricultural efficiency, and incentives would have to be created for emissions reductions and energy efficiency.
Best case scenario

“Australia has seen rapid expansion in mining and agriculture, with tremendous pressure on its ecological systems and sky-high greenhouse gas emissions,” says Frank Jotzo at the Australian National University in Canberra. If Australia sees rapid economic growth in coming decades while also easing this environmental pressure, the same could be true for many other countries, he says.
The most positive scenarios for Australia’s growth and climate are ones where carbon capture and storage (CSS) becomes commercially viable. Australia is one of the world’s biggest producers of coal and CCS would allow coal use to increase, while decreasing emissions. Should coal be phased out, CCS could be used in combination with biofuels, to create negative emissions, reducing the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.
“This is a landmark study,” says Jotzo. “Their findings should give Australia’s politicians resolve to face up to the big questions of environmental sustainability,” he says.
Journal Reference: Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature16065

Press link for more: newscientist.com

The most pessimistic climate change scientist has had a sudden change of heart. #Auspol

The world has a better chance of saving itself from catastrophic global warming now than at any time over the past two decades, according to the scientist behind some of the most alarming predictions ever made for the planet’s future.
Johan Rockström shocked environmentalists in 2009 when he identified nine categories of Nature that were essential for life as we know it, and warned that we had already crossed into dangerous territory on three of them – including climate change.
Rockström, an environmental science professor at Stockholm University and executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, has since transferred a fourth category, deforestation, to his list of “planetary boundaries” in the danger zone, which threaten irreversible, devastating consequences to the planet.
But he has had a dramatic change of heart over global warming, and is more optimistic that the worst of the threat can be contained than he has been since 1992.

The nine threats
In the danger zone
Biodiversity loss: the fewer species in an ecosystem, the less healthy it is

Deforestation

Climate change

Eutrophication: Nitrate/phosphate build-up in water (from fertiliser) 

Other risks to life
Ocean acidification

Freshwater consumption

Chemical pollution, such as plastic 

Aerosol pollution

Stratospheric ozone depletion

His optimism is founded on the breakneck speed of innovation in wind and solar power in the past two to three years, which means that renewable energy is being deployed on a massive scale and, crucially, at a cost roughly comparable to fossil fuels. Only last week new figures showed that the cost of electricity produced by onshore windfarms in the UK has fallen so much that for the first time it is now cheaper than fossil-fuel energy. 

Rapid improvements in energy efficiency are also key, along with a drive to reduce waste and increase the volume of recycled materials used in manufacturing, he says.
These developments have effectively removed the last major impediment to dramatically reducing greenhouse gases, raising the prospect that even though the planetary boundary has been crossed on global warming, the world may be able to cross back again.
“We have a paradox unique to our era. On a scientific basis there is more reason to be nervous than ever before. But at the same time there has never before been so much reason for hope,” Professor Rockström told The Independent on Sunday. “The last time I was as optimistic was in 1992, with the Rio conference …. Then we lost 20 years. Now we’re back on a much more hopeful path,” he said.

Each year, 192 officials from around the world attend such a summit, often with disappointing results. This year’s event in Paris in December is billed as the most important ever, because world leaders have pledged to agree emissions cuts and other actions that will put the world on a pathway that will eventually limit global warming to 2C. In advance, countries have said how much they are prepared to cut emissions by 2030. While these cuts in themselves fall short of what is needed, the professor is hopeful a more comprehensive deal, involving further cuts beyond 2030, can be struck in Paris – meaning the summit will achieve its goal.
He says the situation regarding climate change is similar to that facing the stratospheric ozone layer, which protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, towards the end of last century. This was being so badly depleted by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in fridges and aerosols that the world had crossed “planetary boundaries”, threatening to dramatically increase cases of skin cancer. Then a cheaper alternative to CFCs was invented, the 1987 Montreal Protocol banned CFC use and the ozone layer recovered.
But Professor Rockström warns:“The negatives remain. The world’s coral reefs are so worryingly close to collapse, while the Arctic and Antarctic are deteriorating so rapidly they could hit tipping points that are irreversible … it’s now or never towards tipping the world to a very costly, very devastating future, versus tipping ourselves towards a sustainable future. 
“I take a sober, optimistic view.”

Press link for more: Tom Bawden | Tom Bawden | independent.co.uk

Old King Coal Is A Desperate Old Soul. #CanningVotes #Auspol #ClimateChange

The coal industry’s latest PR escapade paints coal as an amazing, versatile commodity with almost limitless possibilities, providing seemingly endless energy and employment.
In case you missed it: the #coalismazing video simulates a fly-through of magnified valleys and landscapes from the surface of a lump of coal along with accompanying purring female voice-over, recasting this old, dirty, sooty rock as something futuristic, alluring and a panacea for pretty much every global ill.
I expect most will be familiar with the ‘shell game’, the one where a pea is hidden under one of three shells. Sleight of hand allows the conjurer to draw your attention whilst distracting you from the obvious.
This coal version might also be a mildly amusing ploy were the consequences not so disastrously unhealthy.
The deception occurs by linking energy generation generally, with its clear societal benefits, to the out-dated combustion of coal whilst ignoring the significant downsides or costs from pollution as well as the arrival of new and alternative technologies that are effectively pollution free.
It is a clever psychological trick to disguise the very real limits of coal due to its burgeoning costs into a story where the implied narrative is “there are no limits”.
But burning coal to generate energy results in far larger emissions of both toxic pollutants and greenhouse gasses than any other form of energy generation.
Coal combustion is a public health disaster, contributing to the more than three million world deaths from outdoor air pollution each year. And these are not limited to developing nations. Studies in the US estimate the hidden costs, or ‘externalities’, from coal amounted to up to US $500 billion per annum, mostly related to air pollution.
In Australia, coal related air pollution costs around $2.6 billion annually and in the US the industry has been shown to be of little overall value to society.
Widespread release of airborne pollutants is akin to mandatory smoking for much of the world’s population, indiscriminately affecting the most vulnerable in society: children, the elderly and those with existing heart and lung conditions.
The silent and mostly invisible coal product includes microscopic particles of hydrocarbons and toxic residues, carried on the wind, inhaled and then deposited deep into your lungs. The inflammatory and toxic response in lung tissue results in asthma and chronic bronchitis and now recognised as being a cause of lung cancer just as effectively as tobacco smoking.
Large-scale clinical US studies in the 1990’s not only confirmed the confirmed that long-term exposure resulted in lung disease, but there was an even bigger toll in heart disease.
Air pollution doesn’t stop at the lungs; it gets into the blood stream causing inflammation within blood vessels and cardiac arrhythmia.
Even before the medical science was understood, there was plenty of damning evidence directly linking coal burning to ill health. The banning of coal sales in Dublin in 1990 saw a dramatic reduction in particulate air pollution and over 350 fewer deaths related to heart and ling disease each year thereafter.
It is not an isolated example. Reduction in cardiovascular and respiratory illness and deaths are in fact consistently observed following improvements in air quality when regulation to reduce coal burning is introduced. And the benefits are apparent even where ambient air pollution is already at low levels
Coal is also the source of many other harmful environmental pollutants including heavy metals such as mercury, where it is now the dominant source of new contamination.
If that weren’t enough, coal dominated stationary power generation is the single biggest source of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate change has been described in the world’s leading medical journals as the greatest threat to our health this century. Increasing global heatwaves, extreme weather events result in direct injury, loss and mental health impacts, but the more insidious and far greater health impacts result from changing biological and physical systems leading to food and water insecurity and changing patterns of infectious diseases.
Our climate scientists are telling us that to keep global temperature increase to a ‘safe’ 2oC limit, we must leave over 80 percent of coal reserves in the ground, where they have been safely sequestered and stored for millions of years.
So the coal industry has a point; coal really is amazing, it can make millions of people sick even from thousands of miles away, it can change the whole climate of a planet. Why, as Dr Tim Senior tweeted, it can even make whole countries disappear.

Press link for more: Dr George Crisp : huffingtonpost.com