CSIRO

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

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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

Australia shirks it’s moral responsibility #ClimateChange #StopAdani 

Australia, deep in climate change’s ‘disaster alley’, shirks its moral responsibility
A government’s first responsibility is to safeguard the people and their future well-being. The ability to do this is threatened by human-induced climate change, the accelerating effects of which are driving political instability and conflict globally. 

Climate change poses an existential risk to humanity that, unless addressed as an emergency, will have catastrophic consequences.

In military terms, Australia and the adjacent Asia-Pacific region is considered to be “disaster alley”, where the most extreme effects are being experienced.

Press link to download report Breakthrough online

 Australia’s leaders either misunderstand or wilfully ignore these risks, which is a profound failure of imagination, far worse than that which triggered the global financial crisis in 2008.

 Existential risk cannot be managed with conventional, reactive, learn-from-failure techniques. 

We only play this game once, so we must get it right first time.
This should mean an honest, objective look at the real risks to which we are exposed, guarding especially against more extreme possibilities that would have consequences damaging beyond quantification, and which human civilisation as we know it would be lucky to survive.
Instead, the climate and energy policies that successive Australian governments adopted over the last 20 years, driven largely by ideology and corporate fossil-fuel interests, deliberately refused to acknowledge this existential threat, as the shouting match over the wholly inadequate reforms the Finkel review proposes demonstrates too well. 

There is overwhelming evidence that we have badly underestimated both the speed and extent of climate change’s effects. 

In such circumstances, to ignore this threat is a fundamental breach of the responsibility that the community entrusts to political, bureaucratic and corporate leaders.
A hotter planet has already taken us perilously close to, and in some cases over, tipping points that will profoundly change major climate systems: at the polar ice caps, in the oceans, and the large permafrost carbon stores. 

Global warming’s physical effects include a hotter and more extreme climate, more frequent and severe droughts, desertification, increasing insecurity of food and water supplies, stronger storms and cyclones, and coastal inundation.
Climate change was a significant factor in triggering the war in Syria, the Mediterranean migrant crisis and the “Arab spring”, albeit this aspect is rarely discussed. 

Our global carbon emission trajectory, if left unchecked, will drive increasingly severe humanitarian crises, forced migrations, political instability and conflicts.
Australia is not immune.

 We already have extended heatwaves with temperates above 40 degrees, catastrophic bushfires, and intense storms and floods. 

The regional effects do not receive much attention but are striking hard at vulnerable communities in Asia and the Pacific, forcing them into a spiral of dislocation and migration. 

The effects on China and South Asia will have profound consequences for employment and financial stability in Australia.
In the absence of emergency action to reduce Australian and global emissions far faster than currently proposed, the level of disruption and conflict will escalate to the point that outright regional chaos is likely. 

Militarised solutions will be ineffective. 

Australia is failing in its duty to its people, and as a world citizen, by playing down these implications and shirking its responsibility to act.
Bushfires that destroy property and lives are increasingly regular across Australia.


Bushfires that destroy property and lives are increasingly regular across Australia. Photo: Jason South

Nonetheless, people understand climate risks, even as their political leaders underplay or ignore them. 

About 84 per cent of 8000 people in eight countries surveyed recently for the Global Challenges Foundation consider climate change a “global catastrophic risk”. 

The result for Australia was 75 per cent. 


Many people see climate change as a bigger threat than epidemics, weapons of mass destruction and the rise of artificial intelligence.
What is to be done if our leaders are incapable of rising to the task?
The new normal? 


Residents paddle down a street in Murwillumbah in March after heavy rains led to flash flooding. Photo: Jason O’Brien

First, establish a high-level climate and conflict taskforce in Australia to urgently assess the existential risks, and develop risk-management techniques and policies appropriate to that challenge.
Second, recognise that climate change is an global emergency that threatens civilisation, and push for a global, coordinated, practical, emergency response.
We only play this game once, so we must get it right first time.
Third, launch an emergency initiative to decarbonise Australia’s economy no later than 2030 and build the capacity to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Fourth, help to build more resilient communities domestically and in the most vulnerable nations regionally; build a flexible capacity to support communities in likely hot spots of instability and conflict; and rethink refugee policies accordingly.

Young children walk through debris in Vanuata after Cyclone Pam hit in 2015. Photo: Unicef

Fifth, ensure that Australia’s military and government agencies are fully aware of and prepared for this changed environment; and improve their ability to provide aid and disaster relief.
Sixth, establish a national leadership group, outside conventional politics and drawn from across society, to implement the climate emergency program.
A pious hope in today’s circumstances?

 Our leaders clearly do not want the responsibility to secure our future. 

So “everything becomes possible, particularly when it is unavoidable”.
Ian Dunlop was an international oil, gas and coal industry executive, chairman of the Australian Coal Association and chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

This is an extract from his report with David Spratt, Disaster alley: climate change, conflict and risk, released on Thursday.

Press link for more: Canberra Times

No New Fossil Fuel Development! #StopAdani #auspol 

The Sky’s Limit: No New Fossil Fuel Development
An open letter to world leaders:
One year ago in Paris, the world came together to finalize a new agreement to address the climate crisis.


 Together, countries committed to “[holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.

Now, the Paris Agreement has entered into force and the time has come to fulfill the commitments made within it.
Climate impacts are already here today, as seen in the melting of the Arctic, coral bleaching in the Pacific, droughts in Africa, stronger and more frequent hurricanes and typhoons in our oceans, and new challenges day by day the world over. 



The commitment to pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5˚C was an important new goal, especially for vulnerable countries and communities who are already bearing the brunt of these ever-growing impacts of the climate crisis. 

But with this necessary ambition comes responsibility and challenge.


Analysis has now shown that the carbon embedded in existing fossil fuel production, if allowed to run its course, would take us beyond the globally agreed goals of limiting warming to well below 2˚C and pursuing efforts to limit to 1.5˚C.
The global carbon budgets associated with either temperature limit will be exhausted with current fossil fuel projects, and in fact some currently-operating fossil fuel projects will need to be retired early in order to have appropriately high chances of staying below even the 2˚C limit, let alone 1.5˚C.


With this new understanding, the challenge has never been clearer.

 To live up to the goals set forth by the Paris Agreement and to safeguard our climate for this and future generations, fossil fuel production must enter a managed decline immediately, and renewable energy must be advanced to swiftly take its place in the context of a just transition.


Therefore, we, as over 400 civil society organizations from more than 60 countries, representing tens of millions around the world, call on world leaders to put an immediate halt to new fossil fuel development and pursue a just transition to renewable energy with a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry.

We can do this.

 With a managed decline to wind down fossil fuel production that ensures a smooth and just transition to a safer energy economy, we can protect workers, protect communities, bring energy access to the poor, and ramp up renewable energy as quickly as we put an end to fossil fuels.


Since rich countries have a greater historic responsibility to act, they should provide support to poorer countries to help expand non-carbon energy and drive economic development as part of their fair share of global action, with a focus on meeting the urgent priority of providing universal access to energy. 

The good news is that renewable energy can — as it must — fill in the gap and power a clean energy future.
The world can either start now in pursuing a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry and a just transition to renewable energy, or it can delay action and bring about economic upheaval and climate chaos. 

The choice is clear.
The first step in this effort is a simple one: Stop digging. 

No additional fossil fuel development, no exploration for new fossil fuels, no expansion of fossil fuel projects. 

We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Signed,

Press link for more: Keep it in the ground.org

A Future without Coral #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol 

Dahr Jamail | Coral Reefs Could All Die Off by 2050
Bleached coral off the coast of northeastern Australia is the result of warming ocean temperatures.

 Save a dramatic weather event to lower the water temperatures within the next few weeks, most of this coral will die. 


(Photo: Megan Proctor)

Bleached coral off the coast of northeastern Australia is the result of warming ocean temperatures. 

Save a dramatic weather event to lower the water temperatures within the next few weeks, most of this coral will die.
When he was six years old, Dean Miller already knew he wanted to be a marine biologist. 

At that time, growing up in Australia, the world of marine biology seemed both spectacular and limitless, he says.
“I wanted to study the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, the intricate and complex connections between the thousands of different life-forms that represent the most diverse ecosystem on the planet,” Miller told Truthout.
But in the last two years, this has all changed for him.

To see more stories like this, visit “Planet or Profit?”

“I now look at the reef as an ecosystem that is suffering from our actions and I feel guilty beyond belief that this is happening in my backyard, on our generation’s watch,” he explained. “I no longer dream of the kaleidoscope of life, color and movement that represents the world’s coral reefs. 

Instead, I worry and fight for the actual existence of coral reefs as we know them, as the changes I see are happening all too quickly — much quicker than the reef can adapt.”
This is because over the last two years, the Great Barrier Reef, which is so dear to Miller and countless others who revel in the beauty and mysteries of the oceans, has been dying off at an unprecedented rate due primarily to warming ocean waters.
Coral bleaching occurs when corals become stressed by warmer-than-normal water, causing them to expel symbiotic algae that live in their tissues, from which they get their energy. 

Coral turns completely white when it bleaches.


 If it remains bleached long enough, it dies.
One scientist has already gone so far as to declare the Great Barrier Reef is now in a “terminal stage.” Most of those studying the reef agree that what is happening is unprecedented. This is because, at a minimum, two-thirds of the 1,400-mile long reef bleached out last year, which led to 22 percent of it dying. Now another bleaching event has resulted in at least two-thirds of the reef bleached again.
Dean Miller, a marine scientist with Great Barrier Reef Legacy, a nonprofit environmental organization that works to promote better stewardship of the reef by providing free access for scientists. 


(Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Marine biologist David Burdick, who has been studying the coral around Guam for more than 10 years, told Truthout the frequency of bleaching events he is seeing “is all new to us.” 


(Photo: Courtesy of David Burdick)
“The bleaching this year has moved much farther south and has taken scientists by surprise in its severity and extent,” Miller said. And he fears the state of the reef could be even worse than scientists realize, since only aerial surveys have been conducted to assess the damage and no research vessel is currently active on the reef to provide finer details.
With ocean temperatures rising across the globe as anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) continues to pick up speed, the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral ecosystem on Earth, may well be an example of what is happening to all of the coral on the planet.
“This Is New for All of Us”
Marine biologist David Burdick coordinates a NOAA-funded long-term coral reef monitoring program out of the University of Guam Marine Laboratory, and has been conducting field studies of Guam’s coral reefs for more than a decade.
“In 2013, we had a moderate to severe bleaching event that came out of nowhere and lasted for three months, and we lost a quarter of the coral that was impacted from the 80 percent of the coral species that bleached,” Burdick told Truthout during a recent interview on Guam.
Then, less than seven months later, what he called “an unusual sea-surface temperature spike” caused another moderate to severe bleaching event. “Corals that were already weakened by the 2013 event — many of them died,” he explained. “The event was fairly widespread, and corals that survived the 2013 event did not survive this one.”
Fifty percent of the coral that bleached during the 2014 event died.
Marine biologist David Burdick who has been studying the coral around Guam for more than 10 years, told Truthout the frequency of bleaching events he is seeing “is all new to us.”

Dean Miller, a marine scientist with Great Barrier Reef Legacy, a nonprofit environmental organization that works to promote better stewardship of the reef by providing free access for scientists. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)
“Then, while we were still analysing all of our data from that event, we had another large bleaching event in 2016,” Burdick said. “So we had three major bleaching events, essentially having one per year, which is a pattern now, apparently.”
Prior to these events, they’d never seen anything on Guam that would be classified beyond a “moderate” coral bleaching event.
“This is all new for us,” Burdick said.
Miller is equally stunned by what he is seeing along the Great Barrier Reef, which is eerily similar to what Burdick is seeing on Guam.
“Parts of the reef that didn’t bleach last year are now under immense pressure, and this is totally different because this is back-to-back bleaching,” Miller explained. “The system was already stressed, and this is a new stress event. We are seeing much mortality on reefs in our area…. What didn’t die last year is dying this year.”
In addition to the new bleaching in this year’s event, southern portions of the reef that are typically in cooler waters are now also bleaching out.
“It’s heartbreaking to see,” Miller added. “Seventy thousand direct tourism-related jobs and a $6 billion tourism industry are all at risk, especially on top of the recent damage from Cyclone Debbie.”
According to Dean Miller, this year’s Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching event has taken scientists “by surprise by its severity and extent” and is occurring much further south than last year’s, which killed 22 percent of the reef.

 (Photo: Courtesy of ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)According to Dean Miller, this year’s Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching event has taken scientists “by surprise by its severity and extent” and is occurring much further south than last year’s, which killed 22 percent of the reef. 


(Photo: Courtesy of ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
A study published this March in the journal Nature found that last year’s bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef was so severe that there was no similar analog in the thousands of years of ancient coral cores scientists use to study past climates.
Another study published in Nature projected that by the year 2050, more than 98 percent of global coral reefs will be afflicted by “bleaching-level thermal stress” every single year.
However, the prognosis could be even worse: The scientists involved in the study from this March speculated that the era of never-ending global coral bleaching may have already arrived, albeit several decades earlier than was predicted even just last year. They explained that the Great Barrier Reef needs 10 to 15 years between bleaching events in order to fully recover, and that recovery time period is “no longer realistic.”
“We Don’t Even Know What We Are Losing”
Laurie Raymundo is a coral ecologist at the University of Guam Marine Lab who has worked closely with Burdick for years. Similar to Miller, she knew when she was 11 years old that she wanted to study coral. She now teaches at the University of Guam, and is designing a course in coral reef ecology and management that will include ACD impacts. She has lived in Guam since 2004 and is a co-author of the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement.
Like the other scientists Truthout spoke with, Raymundo is deeply troubled by what she is seeing.
Coral Ecologist Laurie Raymundo with the University of Guam is a co-author of the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. (Photo: Courtesy of Laurie Raymundo)Coral Ecologist Laurie Raymundo with the University of Guam is a co-author of the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. (Photo: Courtesy of Laurie Raymundo)
If we lose coral reefs, Raymundo warned Truthout, “We will lose all our sensitive species, and we will have lower diversity.”
Equally worrying to her is the fact that there is still so much we don’t know about the importance of coral reefs.
“We don’t even know what we are losing, and we don’t understand what a loss of biodiversity fully means, for pharmaceuticals, ecologically, and in so many other ways,” she said. “We are losing things before we even actually know, fully, what we are losing.”
One crucial function we do know we’re losing: While coral reefs only cover 0.0025 percent of the oceanic floor, absorb nearly one-third of the carbon dioxide generated from burning fossil fuels.
A report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization shows that coral reefs are responsible for producing 17 percent of all globally consumed protein, with that ratio being 70 percent or greater in island and coastal countries like those of Micronesia.
At the time of this writing, Earth has lost nearly half of its coral, and oceanic warming only continues to accelerate.
“We are finding that reefs living under anthropogenic stresses for many years have already lost their more sensitive coral species, and the ones that are there now are already the tough bastards,” Raymundo said. “And when reefs have lower diversity, there is less ecological redundancy; hence, they are more likely to collapse.”
A Future Without Coral?
A 2012 study revealed that half of the Great Barrier Reef had already vanished in just the previous 27 years. Two years later, the world’s most qualified coral reef experts released a report showing that, without dramatic intervention, the Great Barrier Reef would disappear completely by 2030.
Furthermore, a study published and released by NOAA in 2011 warned that, “unless action is taken now to reduce the threats,” 90 percent of all reefs will be “threatened” by 2030, and all of Earth’s coral reefs could be completely gone by 2050. The study, “Reefs at Risk Revisited,” listed human-caused climate disruption, warmer water temperatures, ocean acidification, shipping, overfishing, coastal development and agricultural runoff as the contributing factors.
While that might sound extreme, Miller told Truthout he thought the report actually didn’t go far enough.
“I think it’s too conservative,” he explained. “Corals need many years to adjust to the warmer ocean waters, and we don’t have that kind of time anymore. The warming we are seeing now is happening far too fast to allow for evolution…. So what we’re seeing now is death. That’s what bleaching is.”
Burdick, who described Guam’s reefs as “getting clobbered,” agreed.
“Various factors will buy some areas some time, so some coral species might eek out a bit longer, for a while,” he said. “But [with] bleaching events every five to 10 years, you won’t give coral enough time to come back to where it was. It is all about the rate of change. And right now, that rate is increasing, and rapidly at that.”
Back in Australia, Miller is dismayed by the fact that his government is doing very little, if anything, to mitigate the crisis.
Truthout asked Miller what steps the Australian government is taking to save the Great Barrier Reef.


“From what I can tell, virtually nothing,” he answered. “They are not focussed on this at all, but rather are pushing for the Adani Coal Mine to go ahead.

 We here in Australia can hardly believe it, to be honest. 

In fact, the government has had almost no comment on the bleaching at all.” 
The coal mine he referred to is looking like it is going to move forward, which will, according to Miller, bring an additional 500 ships carrying coal across the Great Barrier Reef every single year.
Truthout interviewed Miller’s colleague, John Rumney, the managing director of Great Barrier Reef Legacy in February, when this year’s bleaching event began.


“This coral is in big trouble,” Rumney said at the time. Like Miller, Burdick and Raymundo, Rumney warned of the extreme loss of biodiversity that comes with the disappearance of reefs.
“When all that coral goes, all that diversity of fish that depends on it goes,” Rumney told Truthout. 

“The entire food chain is in big trouble.”
Miller concurred, saying, “We might see ecosystem collapse as we know it.”
The need for independent research on the Great Barrier Reef during this second mass-bleaching event is needed more than ever, according to Miller. 

His and Rumney’s organization is striving to get more scientists out to the reef as quickly as possible.
“The world’s greatest natural icon and largest living structure needs our help more than ever, and unless we act as a concerned global population, nothing will be done,” he concluded. “It is not too late. The reef is worth saving — and our actions now will determine the fate of coral reefs in as little as 5 to 10 years. 

We must act.”

Press link for more: Truth Out

The Quest To Save The World’s Coral #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol 

Coral reefs are the “rainforests of the sea”, prized for their beauty and resources the world over. They are also one of the Earth’s most vulnerable ecosystems threatened by climate change. And no place better symbolises their importance and their plight than Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef covers 345,000 square kilometres, roughly the size of Germany, and stretches 2300km in length, nearly equal to the entire coastline of Chile.
If we continue on our current pathway where we’re pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, we’re acidifying the oceans, we won’t have coral reefs within 20, 30, 40 years from now.

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director, Global Change Institute
While coral reefs cover less than two percent of the ocean floor, nearly 25 percent of all marine life depends on them for survival.
Because it’s a living structure, it can also die. According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), nearly all coral reefs worldwide will be threatened with death by 2050.
“There are multiple stressors that face coral reefs like the Great Barrier Reef. There’s sediments and nutrients flowing down rivers and smothering corals and other organisms. There has been too much fishing in some cases where we’ve knocked down key species. But the real ‘show-stoppers’ now are the global changes that we’re inflicting on coral reefs,” explains Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of The Global Change Institute.

According to WRI, the absorption of an increased level of atmospheric carbon dioxide into the oceans has caused them to become more acidic. This change in water chemistry inhibits the ability of corals, whose skeletons are composed of calcium carbonate, to grow. Higher water temperatures also affect the ecology of the reefs and turn the coral white, a process known as “coral bleaching.”
Scientific models show both ocean acidification and ocean temperatures spiking to unprecedented levels over the next 100 years.
A group of scientists just outside of Townsville are fighting to save the coral reefs – not just from bleaching events now, but also from the effects of climate change yet to come.
Researchers at Australia’s National Sea Simulator aquarium brought the ocean to their lab to replicate and manipulate ocean conditions in a controlled environment.
“So what this experiment is, is we’re looking at current day conditions, and we’re looking at conditions that are projected by the IPCC, which is the intergovernmental panel on climate change, conditions which are predicted for the year 2050 and then conditions which are predicted for the year 2100,” says Nicole Webster.

Saving the coral reef

Researchers are seeking to determine not just whether corals can be conditioned to withstand future ocean conditions, but whether those manipulated corals can pass those survival traits on to future generations – a process known as assisted evolution.
For Ove Hoeugh-Guldberg and other scientists, the threat to coral reefs goes beyond science. More than two million people visit the Great Barrier Reef every year, a $6bn a year industry supported by over 16,000 employees.
“When you take what coral reefs represent to people, this is amazing numbers right, there’s an estimated 500 million people on the planet who come to coral reefs almost on a daily basis to get food and income. Now, that’s about one in every 12 people dependent on coral reefs worldwide,” says Hoeugh-Guldberg.

Press link for more: Aljazeera.com

Fuzzy Thinking Won’t Save The Planet #Science #auspol 

The Oxford Dictionary nominated post-truth as the Word of the Year in 2016. 

 Rather than objective facts, politicians promote alternative facts, emotion and personal beliefs as the basis for public debate. 

This spells disaster to a scientist like Brian Schmidt who says we can’t solve the world’s pressing problems without a renewed respect for evidence and expertise.


Professor Brian Schmidt, Nobel Laureate, cosmologist and ANU Vice-Chancellor.
Professor Schmidt delivered the annual Manning Clark lecture : Evidence and expertise in a post-truth world.
Recorded on 3 March 2017 .

Listen Here: ABC Big Ideas

I have been writing this blog for nearly four years, I have always tried to promote science and highlight the limits to growth that our planet can support. 

I have often included news on the challenges we face such as global poverty and climate change in a economic system that demands continuous growth. 

Today I listened to this lecture delivered by Professor Brian Schmidt, he mentions an annual growth of over 100 million people per year, on an already over loaded planet. 

In one hour he covers the journey I have been on, including the importance of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


If human civilisation is to continue Professor Schmidt says we have five years left to get our act together.

I urge all who read my blog to listen to this speech and act as if your life depended on it. 

Because the Professor thinks it does 
John Pratt 

 

How to reason with a climate denier. #auspol 

How to Reason with the Climate Change Denier in Your Life

By Mary Catherine O’Connor

Everyone working to address climate change, from activists to scientists, knows that success depends in large part on their ability to convert climate change skeptics (or even straight-up deniers) into proponents for action. Most of us have someone in our lives—a family member, co-worker, or friend—whose views on climate change conflict with the latest science, and you’ve likely had some exasperating, polarizing, unconstructive conversations with them.
Philip Kitcher, an MIT professor of philosophy, and Evelyn Fox Keller, an MIT professor emerita of history and philosophy of science, have co-written a book that imagines six of those very conversations. The Seasons Alter: How to Save the Planet in Six Acts (W.W. Norton; $25) reads like six screenplays set in different locations and with two different people in each act. The dialogue—well, it probably won’t pass your sniff test. The authors describe the conversations in the book as “constructive, careful, and amicable,” but they mostly sound stiff.
Even if they don’t ring true to life, many of the book’s exchanges contain useful clues on how to unpack specific issues and work around conversational impasses. Here, culled from The Seasons Alter and other experts, are four guiding principles that could fix the way we talk about climate change.


Don’t Ignore Uncertainty
The book contains a long conversation between an activist from an environmental organization and a person with a terminal illness who is deciding where to donate his money. His conundrum is whether to support environmental initiatives, based on the predictions that climate change will harm large populations, or give to groups addressing things such as malnutrition. “Sometimes I think the real catastrophes [from climate change] aren’t that likely, and the likely effects aren’t that bad,” he says.

There’s no doubt that greenhouse gasses are causing the earth to warm, the seas to rise, and weather patterns to change. But these events aren’t happening according to a strict schedule, and scientists can’t give us a precise timeline with deadlines for action. Climate change is likely to undergird an uptick in pandemics, for example, but there’s no blueprint for preventing those. Some impacts are episodic (heat waves, increasingly severe storms) while others are constant (sea level creeps up), but all are costly. Still, proponents of inaction often use those uncertainties as talking points.
The activist does her best to present fact-based evidence that the climate movement deserves the man’s support, but she has to allow that while there is consensus on the basic mechanisms of climate change, there have been some contradictory studies. That’s how science works. It’s why peer reviews are important and why researchers keep inquiring, testing theses, and adding to the canon. Scientists who study cancer and its causes also don’t always agree, but that’s not a reason to call off cancer research funding.

The merits of a cost-benefit analysis will only go so far in arguing for action to address climate action, and in the end, the authors explain, we need to make some qualitative judgments. Acknowledge gaps in knowledge—and remember that it doesn’t defeat your purpose.
Try to Make a Connection
Managers and people who click on articles about productivity love talking about emotional intelligence. But Renee Lertzman says we need more of it in the climate debate as well. Lertzman, who calls herself a “psychosocial strategist focusing on climate and environment,” coaches NGOs, universities, and corporations on how to communicate issues related to climate change. Her bailiwick is the intersection of psychology and climate change, and Lertzman says we need to be emotionally literate in order to understand the relationship others have with climate change. A Midwest farmer, for instance, might be “concerned with staying afloat and keeping their way of life viable—there is an emotional charge there, and their response to climate change is different than an urbanite in, say, the Bay Area,” she says.
So, know your audience, suggests Lertzman. Climate change means different things to different people, and we all bring our own biases to the conversation. You might know people who believe in climate change and advocate for political action but also disavow vaccines. Clearly, not all of these opinions are rooted in science. You can counter these beliefs with data, but it is unlikely to evaporate beliefs that may be based in anxiety and distrust.

Lertzman advises “starting from a place of authentic compassion, to really attune ourselves to how scary and overwhelming these issues can be for people.” She knows that compassion tends to get a bad rap because it’s equated with letting people off the hook, but she says the opposite is true: “Anyone working in mental or public health will tell you that without compassion, we will stumble into a fight by engaging in each other’s resistance and our own interests in protecting ourselves from whatever feels threatening.”
This approach isn’t some psychobabble, either, says Lertzman. Neurology shows that compassion soothes the nervous system, while confrontation excites it. “If our limbic system—the survival part of our minds—is activated, it’s game over. If I’m feeling uneasy or anxious, I’m not even going to hear what you have to say.”


Advance the War on Atmospheric Carbon, Not on People
President Trump and others who share his dubious views on climate change have painted the climate activist movement as oppositional to American values. They cast the war on coal as a war on coal miners. While Trump is trying to roll back the Clean Power Plan, coal’s loss of competitiveness against natural gas and renewables is what really dooms the coal industry.
In one dialogue, the climate activist lays out a good argument that puts this kind of outcome in historical perspective. Workers, she says, have “found themselves displaced because of foreign competition or technological change or shifts in tastes and attitudes.” Indeed, there’s broad support among Democrats and Republicans for renewable energy as the costs of wind and solar quickly fall while their capacity to meet more of the world’s energy demands rises.

But the bigger issue is this: On both sides of the argument, things get political and emotional fast when it comes to the human impact of climate change. And oftentimes our views on climate change are shaped by those of our parents. That’s a common backstory in many of the more than 500 responses that Reddit users posted over the past month to this question: “Former climate change deniers, what changed your mind?” “I grew up actively and obnoxiously denying climate change because my dad told me it wasn’t real,” said one responder.
Others said they were raised Republican and had always seen climate change as a “liberal” issue that they could not or should not endorse. A video shown during a church service focused on the virtues of caring for the earth made one right-leaning respondent a believer.
Many former deniers said that reading about the science behind climate change and how it’s already affecting us was the catalyst for their conversion. In some cases, Reddit responders pointed to how changes in their personal lives made them believers. “I grew up ice fishing in central Illinois, and I haven’t been able to ice fish in three years. The shit ain’t right. We had tornadoes in February. I was deer hunting in a fucking T-shirt in December,” wrote one, who called himself a liberal redneck.
Know How to Navigate an Impasse
Carla Wise, a conservation biologist turned climate change activist, says the most important thing to do is to just keep having conversations about climate change, because the more we talk about it, the less it becomes a taboo issue that makes everyone uncomfortable. That’s not to say these conversations will always be easy or pleasant.
When things get dicey, Lertzman says, “I use a martial arts move, where you don’t engage directly with the opposition, you don’t argue. I might say, ‘I hear you’re saying XYZ, and I won’t challenge that, but can you help me understand? Let’s just say, hypothetically, that climate change is happening and will have this effect, what would that mean for you? Could you imagine a scenario where you are involved?’”

Lertzman says the goal of this kind of conversation is to help each other get in touch with what is true and uncover the resistance the other person is expressing, which she typically finds to be a defense mechanism.
Don’t expect to master this overnight, she says. “It’s a skill, but it’s about guiding the conversation to arrive at what is true. We’re all wired for that—to crave the truth.”

Press link for more: Outside online.com

March for Science or March for Reality?

March for Science or March for Reality?

By Laurance M. klauss

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

This skepticism is beginning to manifest itself in data. 

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

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

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

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

Press link for more: Scientific American

Scientists March For Truth. #auspol 

Scientists to take to the streets in global march for truth.

By Mark Lynas
March for Science on 22 April will see scientists and supporters at more than 500 locations stand up for evidence-based thinking.


Scientists and science supporters will take to the streets in a global March for Science on 22 April . 

What began as a small Facebook group in the US capital, Washington DC has spiralled into a global phenomenon that will now see marches and other events in more than 500 locations around the world, from Seattle to Seoul.
It is great news that so many people are prepared to stand up and defend the need for evidence-based thinking and the scientific method. 

But it is also a sad comment on our times that a March for Science is needed at all. 


Post-truth populism has infected democracies around the world, scientific objectivity is under threat from multiple sources and there seems a real danger of falling into a modern dystopian dark age.
It is clear that the old days of scientists staying in the lab, publishing papers in scholarly journals, and otherwise letting the facts speak for themselves are over. 

As the Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes reminds us: “The facts don’t speak for themselves because we live in a world where so many people are trying to silence facts.” 

In her book, Merchants of Doubt, Oreskes wrote about these efforts from the tobacco industry onwards; science denialist attempts that are paralleled in today’s climate sceptic, anti-vaccine and anti-GMO movements.


These campaigners against truth take great pains to deny the existence of scientific consensus on their different issues. 

The fact that 97% of the peer-reviewed literature on climate change supports the consensus that most of global warming is human-induced is dismissed as mere elitism. 

But as Dr Sarah Evanega, director of the Alliance for Science at Cornell, writes: “The values we defend are those of the Enlightenment, not the establishment.” 

Expertise is real, and we reject it at our peril.

Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the March for Science, and what may prove to be its most enduring legacy, is its truly global nature. 

Science is not western; it is everywhere and for everyone. 

I have worked with Alliance for Science colleagues to help get marches off the ground in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Uganda, Venezuela, Chile and other places.

 In between long Skype calls about logistics, fundraising, and media outreach I watched the lights flash on as the number of marches on the global map kept on increasing. 

It was like watching the world light up with knowledge.
Bangladesh March for Science’s lead organiser Arif Hossain says: “I am marching to let the world know that we are united for science in Bangladesh. 

We have 160 million people to feed in the changed climate, and together we will make a better day with science and innovation.”
Although the issues of most concern vary in different locations, appreciation of the need for science is global. As Nkechi Isaac, an organiser of the March for Science in Abuja, Nigeria, says: “Science is revolutionary.

 It holds the key to constant development and improvement for addressing climate change, food shortage and challenges in medicine. Science holds the solution to our food security.”
Nigerians can testify to the tragic effects of anti-science activism. Efforts to eradicate polio in the country were held up for years because of conspiracy theories spread by those suspicious of modern medicine and vaccines. People die when science is denied.
So here’s what we will be marching for.

 It’s time to enter the post-post-truth era. 

And there is no time to lose.

• Mark Lynas is a science and environment writer and a visiting fellow at the Alliance for Science at Cornell University.

Press link for more: The Guardian