Dolphins

Climate Change: The Science 

By Justin Gillis
The issue can be overwhelming. 

The science is complicated. 

Predictions about the fate of the planet carry endless caveats and asterisk.

We get it.
So we’ve put together a list of quick answers to often-asked questions about climate change. 

This should give you a running start on understanding the problem.

1. How much is the planet warming up?

2 degrees is actually a significant amount.

As of early 2017, the Earth had warmed by roughly 2 degrees Fahrenheit, or more than 1 degree Celsius, since 1880, when records began at a global scale.

 That figure includes the surface of the ocean. 

The warming is greater over land, and greater still in the Arctic and parts of Antarctica.

The number may sound low. 

We experience much larger temperature swings in our day-to-day lives from weather systems and from the changing of seasons. 

But when you average across the entire planet and over months or years, the temperature differences get far smaller – the variation at the surface of the Earth from one year to the next is measured in fractions of a degree. 

So a rise of 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century is actually high.
The substantial warming that has already occurred explains why much of the world’s land ice is starting to melt and the oceans are rising at an accelerating pace.

 The heat accumulating in the Earth because of human emissions is roughly equal to the heat that would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs exploding across the planet every day.


Scientists believe most and probably all of the warming since 1950 was caused by the human release of greenhouse gases.

 If emissions continue unchecked, they say the global warming could ultimately exceed 8 degrees Fahrenheit, which would transform the planet and undermine its capacity to support a large human population.
2. How much trouble are we in?

For future generations, big trouble.

The risks are much greater over the long run than over the next few decades, but the emissions that create those risks are happening now.

 This means the current generation of people is dooming future generations to a more difficult future. 

How difficult?
Over the coming 25 or 30 years, scientists say, the climate is likely to resemble that of today, although gradually getting warmer, with more of the extreme heat waves that can kill vulnerable people. 

Rainfall will be heavier in many parts of the world, but the periods between rains will most likely grow hotter and drier. 

The number of hurricanes and typhoons may actually fall, but the ones that do occur will draw energy from a hotter ocean surface, and therefore may be more intense. 

Coastal flooding will grow more frequent and damaging, as is already happening.

Longer term, if emissions continue to rise unchecked, the risks are profound. 

Scientists fear climate effects so severe that they might destabilize governments, produce waves of refugees, precipitate the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals in the Earth’s history, and melt the polar ice caps, causing the seas to rise high enough to flood most of the world’s coastal cities.
All of this could take hundreds or even thousands of years to play out, but experts cannot rule out abrupt changes, such as a collapse of agriculture, that would throw civilization into chaos much sooner. Bolder efforts to limit emissions would reduce these risks, or at least slow the effects, but it is already too late to eliminate the risks entirely.
3. Is there anything I can do about climate change?

Fly less, drive less, waste less.

You can reduce your own carbon footprint in lots of simple ways, and most of them will save you money. 

You can plug leaks in your home insulation to save power, install a smart thermostat, switch to more efficient light bulbs, turn off the lights in any room where you are not using them, drive fewer miles by consolidating trips or taking public transit, waste less food and eat less meat.
Perhaps the biggest single thing individuals can do on their own is to take fewer airplane trips; just one or two fewer plane rides per year can save as much in emissions as all the other actions combined.

 If you want to be at the cutting edge, you can look at buying an electric or hybrid car, putting solar panels on your roof, or both.

If you want to offset your emissions, you can buy certificates, with the money going to projects that protect forests, capture greenhouse gases and so forth. 

Some airlines sell these to offset emissions from their flights. You can also buy offset certificates in a private marketplace, from companies such as TerraPass; some people even give these as holiday gifts. 

In states that allow you to choose your own electricity supplier, you can often elect to buy green electricity; you pay slightly more, and the money goes into a fund that helps finance projects like wind farms.
Leading companies are also starting to demand clean energy for their operations. You can pay attention to company policies, patronize the leaders, and let the others know you expect them to do better.
In the end, though, experts do not believe the needed transformation in the energy system can happen without strong state and national policies.

 So speaking up and exercising your rights as a citizen matters as much as anything else you can do.


4. What’s the optimistic case?

Several things have to break our way.

In the best case that scientists can imagine, several things happen: Earth turns out to be less sensitive to greenhouse gases than currently believed; plants and animals manage to adapt to the changes that have already become inevitable; human society develops much greater political will to bring emissions under control; and major technological breakthroughs occur that help society to limit emissions and to adjust to climate change.
Some technological breakthroughs are already making cleaner energy more attractive. 

In the United States, for instance, coal has been losing out to natural gas as a power source, as new drilling technology has made gas more abundant and cheaper; for a given amount of power, gas cuts emissions in half. In addition, the cost of wind and solar power has declined so much that they are now the cheapest power source in a few places, even without subsidies.

Unfortunately, scientists and energy experts say the odds of all these things breaking our way are not very high. 

The Earth could just as easily turn out to be more sensitive to greenhouse gases as less.

 Global warming seems to be causing chaos in parts of the natural world already, and that seems likely to get worse, not better. 

So in the view of the experts, simply banking on rosy assumptions without any real plan would be dangerous. They believe the only way to limit the risks is to limit emissions.

5. Will reducing meat in my diet really help the climate?

Yes, beef especially.

Agriculture of all types produces greenhouse gases that warm the planet, but meat production is especially harmful — and beef is the most environmentally damaging form of meat. Some methods of cattle production demand a lot of land, contributing to destruction of forests; the trees are typically burned, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Other methods require huge amounts of water and fertilizer to grow food for the cows.
The cows themselves produce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that causes short-term warming. Meat consumption is rising worldwide as the population grows, and as economic development makes people richer and better able to afford meat.
This trend is worrisome. Studies have found that if the whole world were to start eating beef at the rate Americans eat it, produced by the methods typically used in the United States, that alone might erase any chance of staying below an internationally agreed-upon limit on global warming. Pork production creates somewhat lower emissions than beef production, and chicken lower still. So reducing your meat consumption, or switching from beef and pork to chicken in your diet, are moves in the right direction. Of course, as with any kind of behavioral change meant to benefit the climate, this will only make a difference if lots of other people do it, too, reducing the overall demand for meat products.
6. What’s the worst case?

There are many.

That is actually hard to say, which is one reason scientists are urging that emissions be cut; they want to limit the possibility of the worst case coming to pass. 
Perhaps the greatest fear is a collapse of food production, accompanied by escalating prices and mass starvation. It is unclear how likely this would be, since farmers are able to adjust their crops and farming techniques, to a degree, to adapt to climatic changes. But we have already seen heat waves contribute to broad crop failures. A decade ago, a big run-up in grain prices precipitated food riots around the world and led to the collapse of at least one government, in Haiti.
Another possibility would be a disintegration of the polar ice sheets, leading to fast-rising seas that would force people to abandon many of the world’s great cities and would lead to the loss of trillions of dollars worth of property and other assets. In places like Florida and Virginia, towns are already starting to have trouble with coastal flooding.  
Scientists also worry about other wild-card events. Will the Asian monsoons become less reliable, for instance? Billions of people depend on the monsoons to provide water for crops, so any disruptions could be catastrophic. Another possibility is a large-scale breakdown of the circulation patterns in the ocean, which could potentially lead to sudden, radical climate shifts across entire continents.
7. ​Will a technology breakthrough help us?

Even Bill Gates says don’t count on it, unless we commit the cash.

As more companies, governments and researchers devote themselves to the problem, the chances of big technological advances are improving. But even many experts who are optimistic about technological solutions warn that current efforts are not enough. For instance, spending on basic energy research is only a quarter to a third of the level that several in-depth reports have recommended. And public spending on agricultural research has stagnated even though climate change poses growing risks to the food supply. People like Bill Gates have argued that crossing our fingers and hoping for technological miracles is not a strategy — we have to spend the money that would make these things more likely to happen. 
8. How much will the seas rise?

The real question is not how high, but how fast.

The ocean is rising at a rate of about a foot per century. That causes severe effects on coastlines, forcing governments and property owners to spend tens of billions of dollars fighting erosion. But if that rate continued, it would probably be manageable, experts say.
The risk is that the rate will accelerate markedly. If emissions continue unchecked, then the temperature at the Earth’s surface could soon resemble a past epoch called the Pliocene, when a great deal of ice melted and the ocean rose by something like 80 feet compared to today. A recent study found that burning all the fossil fuels in the ground would fully melt the polar ice sheets, raising the sea level by more than 160 feet over an unknown period. Many coastal experts believe that even if emissions stopped tomorrow, 15 or 20 feet of sea-level rise is already inevitable.
The crucial issue is probably not how much the oceans are going to rise, but how fast. And on that point, scientists are pretty much flying blind. Their best information comes from studying the Earth’s history, and it suggests that the rate can on occasion hit a foot per decade, which can probably be thought of as the worst case. Even if the rise is much slower, many of the world’s great cities will flood eventually. Studies suggest that big cuts in emissions could slow the rise, buying crucial time for society to adapt to an altered coastline.
9. Are the predictions reliable?

They’re not perfect, but they’re grounded in solid science.

The idea that Earth is sensitive to greenhouse gases is confirmed by many lines of scientific evidence. For instance, the basic physics suggesting that an increase of carbon dioxide traps more heat was discovered in the 19th century, and has been verified in thousands of laboratory experiments.
Climate science does contain uncertainties, of course. The biggest is the degree to which global warming sets off feedback loops, such as a melting of sea ice that will darken the surface and cause more heat to be absorbed, melting more ice, and so forth. It is not clear exactly how much the feedbacks will intensify the warming; some of them could even partly offset it. This uncertainty means that computer forecasts can give only a range of future climate possibilities, not absolute predictions.
But even if those computer forecasts did not exist, a huge amount of evidence suggests that scientists have the basic story right. The most important evidence comes from the study of past climate conditions, a field known as paleoclimate research. The amount of carbon dioxide in the air has fluctuated naturally in the past, and every time it rises, the Earth warms up, ice melts and the ocean rises. A hundred miles inland from today’s East Coast of the United States, seashells can be dug from ancient beaches that are three million years old, a blink of an eye in geologic time.
These past conditions are not a perfect guide to the future, because humans are pumping carbon dioxide into the air far faster than nature has ever done. But they show it would be foolish to assume that modern society is somehow immune to large-scale, threatening changes. 
10. Why do people question the science of climate change?

Hint: ideology.

Most of the attacks on climate science are coming from libertarians and other political conservatives who do not like the policies that have been proposed to fight global warming. Instead of negotiating over those policies and trying to make them more subject to free-market principles, they have taken the approach of blocking them by trying to undermine the science.
This ideological position has been propped up by money from fossil-fuel interests, which have paid to create organizations, fund conferences and the like. The scientific arguments made by these groups usually involve cherry-picking data, such as focusing on short-term blips in the temperature record or in sea ice, while ignoring the long-term trends.
The most extreme version of climate denialism is to claim that scientists are engaged in a worldwide hoax to fool the public so that the government can gain greater control over people’s lives. As the arguments have become more strained, many oil and coal companies have begun to distance themselves publicly from climate denialism, but some are still helping to finance the campaigns of politicians who espouse such views.
11. Is crazy weather tied to climate change?

In some cases, yes.

Scientists have published strong evidence that the warming climate is making heat waves more frequent and intense. It is also causing heavier rainstorms, and coastal flooding is getting worse as the oceans rise because of human emissions. Global warming has intensified droughts in regions like the Middle East, and it may have strengthened a recent drought in California.
In many other cases, though, the linkage to global warming for particular trends is uncertain or disputed. That is partly from a lack of good historical weather data, but it is also scientifically unclear how certain types of events may be influenced by the changing climate.
Another factor: While the climate is changing, people’s perceptions may be changing faster. The Internet has made us all more aware of weather disasters in distant places. On social media, people have a tendency to attribute virtually any disaster to climate change, but in many cases there is little or no scientific support for doing so.
12. Will anyone benefit from global warming?

In certain ways, yes.

Countries with huge, frozen hinterlands, including Canada and Russia, could see some economic benefits as global warming makes agriculture, mining and the like more possible in those places. It is perhaps no accident that the Russians have always been reluctant to make ambitious climate commitments, and President Vladimir V. Putin has publicly questioned the science of climate change.
However, both of those countries could suffer enormous damage to their natural resources; escalating fires in Russia are already killing millions of acres of forests per year. Moreover, some experts believe countries that view themselves as likely winners from global warming will come to see the matter differently once they are swamped by millions of refugees from less fortunate lands.
13. Is there any reason for hope?

If you share this with 50 friends, maybe.

Scientists have been warning since the 1980s that strong policies were needed to limit emissions. Those warnings were ignored, and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were allowed to build up to potentially dangerous levels. So the hour is late.
But after 20 years of largely fruitless diplomacy, the governments of the world are finally starting to take the problem seriously. A deal reached in Paris in late 2015 commits nearly every country to some kind of action. President Trump decided in 2017 to pull the United States out of that deal, saying it would unfairly burden American businesses. But other countries are promising to go forward with it anyway, and some states and cities have defied Mr. Trump by adopting more ambitious climate goals.
Religious leaders like Pope Francis are speaking out. Low-emission technologies, such as electric cars, are improving. Leading corporations are making bold promises to switch to renewable power and stop forest destruction.
What is still largely missing in all this are the voices of ordinary citizens. Because politicians have a hard time thinking beyond the next election, they tend to tackle hard problems only when the public rises up and demands it.
14. How does agriculture affect climate change?

It’s a big contributor, but there are signs of progress.

The environmental pressures from global agriculture are enormous. Global demand for beef and for animal feed, for instance, has led farmers to cut down large swaths of the Amazon forest.
Brazil adopted tough oversight and managed to cut deforestation in the Amazon by 80 percent in a decade. But the gains there are fragile, and severe problems continue in other parts of the world, such as aggressive forest clearing in Indonesia.
Scores of companies and organizations, including major manufacturers of consumer products, signed a declaration in New York in 2014 pledging to cut deforestation in half by 2020, and to cut it out completely by 2030. The companies that signed the pact are now struggling to figure out how to deliver on that promise.
Many forest experts consider meeting the pledge to be difficult, but possible. They say consumers must keep up the pressure on companies that use ingredients like palm oil in products ranging from soap to lipstick to ice cream. People can also help the cause by altering their diets to eat less meat, and particularly less beef.
15. Will the seas rise evenly across the planet?

Think lumpy.

Many people imagine the ocean to be like a bathtub, where the water level is consistent all the way around. In fact, the sea is rather lumpy — strong winds and other factors can cause water to pile up in some spots, and to be lower in others.
Also, the huge ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica exert a gravitational pull on the sea, drawing water toward them. As they melt, sea levels in their vicinity will fall as the water gets redistributed to distant areas.
How the rising ocean affects particular parts of the world will therefore depend on which ice sheet melts fastest, how winds and currents shift, and other related factors. On top of all that, some coastal areas are sinking as the sea rises, so they get a double whammy.
16. What are ‘carbon emissions?’

Here’s a quick explainer.

The greenhouse gases being released by human activity are often called “carbon emissions,” just for shorthand. That is because the two most important of the gases, carbon dioxide and methane, contain carbon. Many other gases also trap heat near the Earth’s surface, and many human activities cause the release of such gases to the atmosphere. Not all of these actually contain carbon, but they have all come to be referred to by the same shorthand.
By far the biggest factor causing global warming is the burning of fossil fuels for electricity and transportation. That process takes carbon that has been underground for millions of years and moves it into the atmosphere, as carbon dioxide, where it will influence the climate for many centuries into the future. Methane is even more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, but it breaks down more quickly in the air. Methane comes from swamps, from the decay of food in landfills, from cattle and dairy farming, and from leaks in natural gas wells and pipelines.
While fossil-fuel emissions are the major issue, another major creator of emissions is the destruction of forests, particularly in the tropics. Billions of tons of carbon are stored in trees, and when forests are cleared, much of the vegetation is burned, sending that carbon into the air as carbon dioxide.
When you hear about carbon taxes, carbon trading and so on, these are just shorthand descriptions of methods designed to limit greenhouse emissions or to make them more expensive so that people will be encouraged to conserve fuel.

Press link for more: NY Times

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How many reasons do we need to #StopAdani #Auspol ?

1. Fossil fuels are destroying the world’s coral UNESCO Report

2. Climate change driven by fossil fuels is causing global conflict. Breakthrough Online


3. Air pollution (mainly coal) is killing millions Washington Post

4. Clean renewable energy is cheaper than coal. Forbes.com

5. Clean energy creates more jobs e2.org

6. $56 billion reasons to #StopAdani and protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef is too big to fail ABC

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-26/great-barrier-reef-valued-56b-deloitte/8649936

SMH.COMu

Rob Pyne Video

Let’s Change The Conversation #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

Let’s Change The Conversation From Climate Change To ‘Shared Benefits’

By Max Guinn 

Founder of Kids Eco Club

Max Guinn,16, is the founder of Kids Eco Club (www.kidsecoclub.org), an organization of over 100,000 K-12 students, which raises eco-consciousness through school environmental clubs. 

Max has collaborated with, and been recognized by, organizations such as the United Nations,The Sierra Club, the State of California, the City of San Diego – and even the Dalai Lama – as a leader in youth engagement in environmental stewardship. 

Recently, Max also co-founded Climate Change Is 4 Real (www.ccis4r.com), to virtually connect thought leaders from all academic disciplines with student groups and educators to share facts, inspiration, and scalable solutions, to promote ocean conservation, and combat human-caused climate change and mass animal extinction.
Last September, I emailed President Obama. 

His response helped me to focus on what matters. He wrote,

“Progress doesn’t come easily, and it hasn’t always followed a straight line. 

Keeping our world’s air, water, and land clean and safe takes work from all of us, and voices like yours are sparking the conversations that will help us get to where we need to be.

 I will continue pushing to protect the environment as long as I am President and beyond, and I encourage you to stay engaged as well.”
But I worry that adults will never agree on climate change.

 The issue has become too political. 

The words “climate change” have even been scrubbed from government websites!

 Our current President refers to climate change as “a hoax.” 


Most people have no interest in discussing it.

 Try talking about C02 levels or climate science and see how far you get. 

The reality is that climate change has become a matter of opinion, rather than a matter of scientific fact.

 It has made the opinion of the ordinary person with no scientific background equal to the findings of eminent scientists who have devoted their lives and education to the study of the problem.

Only 27 percent of Americans surveyed in a 2016 Pew study agreed with the statement that, “almost all” climate scientists believe climate change is real and primarily caused by humans.

 Contrast this to multiple peer-reviewed scientific studies finding that 97 percent of climate scientists believe climate change is real and that humans are the main contributor. 

In an age of alternative facts and a distrust of science, how do we talk about climate change and the need for action without turning people off?
Stanford Professor Rob Jackson thinks we should stop arguing over climate change and start talking about the shared benefits of addressing problems, like health, green energy jobs, and safety.

 My experience tells me that he is right.
theguardian.com

Renewable Energy Jobs

Six years ago, just before I turned 10, I started a non-profit called Kids Eco Club to inspire kids to care for the planet, its wildlife and each other.

 It starts and supports environmental clubs in K-12 schools.

 Over 100,000 kids now participate annually in Kids Eco Club activities, learning the skills necessary to lead, and to understand the issues facing our world, including climate change. 

Kids Eco Club is successful because we focus on shared values rather than C02 levels.

 Take a class snorkeling, and everyone becomes interested in protecting coral reefs.

 Bring local wildlife into the classroom, and kids will fight for green energy and clean water to protect their habitat. Passion drives us.

kidsecoclub.org

Porcupine classroom visit

My generation does not have the luxury of addressing human-caused climate change as callously or as passively as the generations before us ― because we are running out of time. 

Agriculture, deforestation, and dependence on fossil fuels release greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere, trapping heat, making the Earth warmer. 

The hottest year on record? 

Last year, 2016.

 A warmer Earth creates major impacts everywhere: on ecosystems, oceans, weather.

 Sea levels are rising because the polar ice caps are melting, and the oceans are warming, which causes them to expand. Severe weather events are created from warmer oceans – warmer water, more evaporation, clouds, and rain―causing greater storm damage, more flooding, and, ironically, larger wildfires and more severe droughts since weather patterns are also changing.

graphics.latimes.com

The morning Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans

Imagine three out of every four animal species you know disappearing off the face of the Earth.

 According to the Center for Biological Diversity, we are currently experiencing the worst species die-off since dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago. 

Species are vanishing at a rate roughly 100 times higher than normal. 

While things like asteroids and volcanoes caused past extinctions, humans almost entirely cause the current crisis. 

Global warming caused by climate change, habitat loss from development and agriculture, pesticide use, poaching, unsustainable fishing practices, pollution and disease spread by the introduction of exotic species, are driving the crisis beyond the tipping point. 

Can you picture a world without butterflies, penguins, elephants, rhinos, sea turtles, honeybees, orangutans, salamanders, or sharks?

Getty Images

Mother orangutan and baby

The oceans provide 50% of the earth’s oxygen and 97% of its livable habitat. 

The health of our oceans is vital to our survival and the survival of the over one million types of plants and animals living there. Climate change and fossil fuel reliance raise ocean temperatures, causing extreme weather, coastal flooding, and ocean acidification. 

Ocean acidification is beginning to cause the die-off of calcium-rich species at the base of the ocean’s food chain, like coral, shellfish, and plankton.

 This die-off would trigger a spiral of decline in all sea life – from fish to seabirds to whales – and negatively impact hundreds of millions of people who rely on the oceans for food.

 Other human threats include overfishing, pollution, oil drilling and development. 

We need to act now to create change in our own communities by protecting ocean habitats, promoting conservation, and creating sustainable solutions to nurse our oceans back to health.

mintpressnews.com

Dead sperm whales found with plastic in their stomachs

In a world with over 7 billion people, we cannot continue to divide ourselves into categories like believers and climate change deniers, or Republicans and Democrats. (labor or Liberal) 

The best chance we have of ensuring a world with clean water and clean air is to engage all of us.

 If this takes changing the conversation from “climate change,” to “shared benefits,” then change the conversation. Together all things are possible.

Press link for more: HuffingtonPost

Climate change has been underestimated. #auspol #science

Science has underestimated Earth’s sensitivity to CO2 changes, study finds
By Jim Shelton

April 7, 2016

Global warming

A Yale University study says global climate models have significantly underestimated how much the Earth’s surface temperature will rise if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase as expected.

Yale scientists looked at a number of global climate projections and found that they misjudged the ratio of ice crystals and super-cooled water droplets in “mixed-phase” clouds — resulting in a significant under-reporting of climate sensitivity. The findings appear April 7 in the journal Science.
Equilibrium climate sensitivity is a measure used to estimate how Earth’s surface temperature ultimately responds to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Specifically, it reflects how much the Earth’s average surface temperature would rise if CO2 doubled its preindustrial level. In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated climate sensitivity to be within a range of 2 to 4.7 degrees Celsius.
The Yale team’s estimate is much higher: between 5 and 5.3 degrees Celsius. Such an increase could have dramatic implications for climate change worldwide, note the scientists.
“It goes to everything from sea level rise to more frequent and extreme droughts and floods,” said Ivy Tan, a Yale graduate student and lead author of the study.
Trude Storelvmo, a Yale assistant professor of geology and geophysics, led the research and is a co-author of the study. The other co-author is Mark Zelinka of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison.

A key part of the research has to do with the makeup of mixed-phase clouds, which consist of water vapor, liquid droplets, and ice particles, in the upper atmosphere. A larger amount of ice in those clouds leads to a lower climate sensitivity — something known as a negative climate feedback mechanism. The more ice you have in the upper atmosphere, the less warming there will be on the Earth’s surface.
“We saw that all of the models started with far too much ice,” said Storelvmo, an assistant professor of geology and geophysics. “When we ran our own simulations, which were designed to better match what we found in satellite observations, we came up with more warming.”
Storelvmo’s lab at Yale has spent several years studying climate feedback mechanisms associated with clouds. Little has been known about such mechanisms until fairly recently, she explained, which is why earlier models were not more precise.
“The overestimate of ice in mixed-phase clouds relative to the observations is something that many climate modelers are starting to realize,” Tan said.
The researchers also stressed that correcting the ice-water ratio in global models is critical, leading up to the IPCC’s next assessment report, expected in 2020.
Support for the research came from the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship Program, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Press link for more: Yale.edu

Rise Up For The Climate! #auspol 

Earth Week’s climate change plea

Photo: reb gro@Flickr

The University of Manchester’s Students’ Union launched Earth Week with a panel discussion, including campaigners Asad Rehman, from Friends of the Earth, and Martin Empson, from Campaign Against Climate Change.
Asad Rehman began with an enlightening speech about the effects of climate change on developing countries, and how intertwined the cause is with that of the #NoBanNoWall campaign. 

It is estimated that roughly 70,000 people die due to climate change related issues each year, but millions more are displaced from their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. 


It is estimated that 1 person every second is displaced from their homes as a result of drought, flood, or other climate change related disasters. 

So just as you have refugees of war, you have refugees of climate change.
What makes matters worse, is it is beyond their control. 

10 per cent of the richest countries are responsible for 50 per cent of the carbon emissions.

 Asad uses the analogy, “climate change is like the Titanic, and we’ve hit the proverbial iceberg. 

But it is the richer countries that are the people getting on the boats, whilst the poor and locked in the cabin.”
It is therefore not surprising that those who are feeling the effect of climate change-induced famine or other natural disasters are seeking refuge and help from us. 

But rather than villainising them as ‘economic migrants’, they need and deserve our legal protection.
It is because of this injustice that Asad stressed that we must rebuild a system of justice, and give a face to millions that don’t have a voice. 


We have a social responsibility to support causes such as Friends of the Earth and Campaign Against Climate Change to “build bridges, not walls”.

 Although we may not see the damage we cause, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Martin Empson elaborated that the way you can help such causes is to just get involved. 

Currently protests are everywhere and are certainly making the public’s voice heard, but he stressed that you should take part in all movements to do your bit. 

Or if that, sign a petition, write to your local MP or donate to make sure something is done.
Everyone wants to protest Trump right now, but we need to ensure the environmental and migration movements work together to positively reinforce each other and make their voices louder. 

By doing this, Martin claims we can “create a positive agenda that creates hope”.

Press link for more: Manunion.com

The Earth is over heating! #auspol 

Last year, the Earth sweltered under the hottest temperatures in modern times for the third year in a row, US scientists said Wednesday, raising new concerns about the quickening pace of climate change.


Temperatures spiked to new national highs in parts of India, Kuwait and Iran, while sea ice melted faster than ever in the fragile Arctic, said the report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Taking a global average of the land and sea surface temperatures for the entire year, NOAA found the data for “2016 was the highest since record keeping began in 1880,” said the announcement.
The global average temperature last year was 1.69 Fahrenheit (0.94 Celsius) above the 20th century average, and 0.07 degrees F (0.04 C) warmer than in 2015, the last record-setting year, according to NOAA.
This was “not a huge margin to set a new record but it is larger than the typical margin,” Deke Arndt, chief of NOAA global climate monitoring, said on a conference call with reporters.
A separate analysis by the US space agency NASA also found that 2016 was the hottest on record.
The World Meteorological Organization in Geneva confirmed the US findings, and noted that atmospheric concentrations of both carbon dioxide and methane reached new highs.


Upward trend
The main reason for the rise is the burning of fossil fuels like oil and gas, which send carbon dioxide, methane and other pollutants known as greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and warm the planet.
The mounting toll of industrialization on the Earth’s natural balance is increasingly apparent in the record books of recent decades.
“Since the start of the 21st century, the annual global temperature record has been broken five times (2005, 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016),” said NOAA.

Another factor has been the Pacific Ocean warming trend of El Nino, which experts say exacerbates the planet’s already rising warmth.
El Nino comes and goes. The latest episode became particularly strong in 2015, and subsided about halfway through 2016.
But El Nino was responsible for just a small fraction of last year’s warmth, according to Peter Stott, acting director of Britain’s Met Office Hadley Center.
“The main contributor to warming over the last 150 years is human influence on climate from increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” he said.
This year is likely be cooler, but probably not by much, said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.
“Because the long-term trends are so clear, it is still going to be a top-five year in our analysis. I’m pretty confident about that.” he told reporters.
– Scenes from a warming world –
Last year, all of North America was the warmest since records began in 1910, breaking that region’s last record set in 1998.
Europe and Asia each saw their third hottest years on record, while Australia marked its fourth warmest year since records began more than a century ago.
Unusual spikes in temperature were seen in Phalodi, India, which reached 124 F (51 C) on May 19 — marking India’s hottest temperature ever.
Dehloran, Iran hit 127 F (53 C) on July 22, a new national record.
Meanwhile, Mitribah, Kuwait hit an all-time high of 129 F (54 C) on July 21, which may be the highest temperature ever recorded in all of Asia, NOAA said.
Planet-wide, the heat led to more melting at the poles. In the Arctic, average annual sea ice extent was approximately 3.92 million square miles (10.2 million square kilometers), the smallest annual average in the record, NOAA said.
Antarctic annual sea ice extent was the second smallest on record.

Dangers
Unusually hot years wreak havoc on the planet by increasing rainfall in some parts of the world while leading to drought in others, damaging crops.
Fish and birds must migrate farther than ever to find suitable temperatures and habitats.
Diseases can spread faster in the warming waters, sickening marine life and killing corals.
Glaciers and polar ice caps melt, accelerating sea level rise that will eventually swallow many of the globe’s coastal communities, home to some one billion people.
Experts say the only solution is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, in favor of Earth-friendly renewable energy such as wind and solar.
“Climate change is one of the great challenges of the twenty first century and shows no signs of slowing down,” said Mark Maslin, professor of climatology at University College London.
“The decarbonization of the global economy is the ultimate goal to prevent the worst effects of climate change.”
Source: Manila Bulletin | 19 January 2017

Press link for more: ClimateChange.searca.org

“There is no such thing as climate change.” – A beautiful lie #auspol 

A paradise that has been degraded and destroyed. Man may be unwittingly changing the world’s climate through the waste products of its civilization. The burning of coal, oil and wood is releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The greenhouse effect has been detected and it is changing our climate now. Guess where the temperature goes? It goes up. Climate change is already in our backyards. It’s official.
Climate change is a rising danger for our planet, and Pakistan is confronting huge number of effects resulting from it. The Super Floods of 2010 and the typhoons of 1999 and 2007, are dreary indications of the way that we are arranging a genuine test postured by environmental change.


It is said, “Coming events cast their shadows before.” Scientists of the world, in government as well in private, under the umbrella of Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have confirmed that the climate of the Earth has undergone a significant change over the last 150 years or so. The most significant manifestation of this change is Global Warming i.e. rise in temperature of Earth. According to them, 1990 was the warmest decade and 2005 the warmest year on record since 1860. As a consequence, glaciers are melting/ retreating, sea levels are rising, more frequent storms and extreme weather events are taking place.
There is broad consensus by scientists that this change is a consequence of human activities, primarily burning of fossil fuels and deforestation due to population explosion, industrialization and urbanization. These human activities produce green house gases (GHG) mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (NO2) which trap heat inside the atmosphere and warm the surface of the earth. It is said that Earth has warmed by over 0.740 C in the last 100 years. Warmer surface temperatures heat the oceans, melt ice sheets, and alter weather patterns across the globe. As a result, sea levels rose globally by 10-20 millimeters during the 20th century and snow cover has receded by 10% since 1960, with a 5- kilometer retreat in alpine and continental glaciers. The situation is so serious in the Arctic, where the ice cover has retreated faster than the global average, it is predicted that the summers in the North Pole will be ice free within 100 years.


It is observed that impact of any calamity is much more adverse if it strikes suddenly. However, if there is awareness and preparedness, its impact is much reduced. Let’s now look at this observation from the an angle which affects Pakistan. Sindh being the lowest riparian of the Indus River System, climate change is going to have a big impact on its water availability due to melting of glaciers, cultivation due to less water, delta due to no supplies of water, coast due to see level rise. Creating awareness about these impacts is like reducing the misery and getting people prepared for calamity.
Maybe the greatest security risk confronting Pakistan today is the likelihood of environmental change and ecological variables destabilizing Karachi, which is viewed as the nation’s financial spine. With a populace of roughly 17 million individuals, the city pulls in very nearly a million transients consistently because of its immense pool of work openings, per a report by Express Tribune. Karachi is also Pakistan’s principle port city, and records for 42 percent of its total GDP. It produces about half of the nation’s of tax revenue, and houses its stock trade, national bank, and the priciest land in the nation, as per the CEO of real estate portal Zameen.com. Karachi is also near the Indus River Delta, where the Indus streams into the Arabian Sea. Because of rising ocean levels, the delta is currently nearly at-level with the Arabian Sea. This undermines the strength of the ecosystem since it prompts to land disintegration and expands the saltiness of creeks spilling out of the Indus, making an unfriendly situation for amphibian animals and mangrove trees that rely on upon new water. Ocean interruption can bring about transitory and changeless flooding to vast land ranges, adversely affecting nearby ecosystems and fresh water supplies that villagers depend on for sustenance security and drinking water.

Pakistan runs on an agrarian economy. From 1949 to 1950, Pakistan’s agricultural sector was in charge of 53 percent of the total GDP. By 1980 to 1981, this number had dropped to 31 percent; lately, it has fallen much further to 21.4 percent. Among different variables, specialists accuse the drop for expanded surges and dry spells. The decrease in agricultural commitments to national GDP has hindered the monetary development of the nation. As indicated by leading financial analyst Ishrat Husain, the economy developed by 2.9 percent for each year in the most recent five years, yet it could have surpassed an anticipated rate of 6.5 percent if flooding had not brought about monetary and human misfortunes.
As per a report distributed by the U.S. Department of Defense, “environmental change will intensify worldwide instability, representing an immediate threat to national security.” Among different elements, the report recognized strained water supplies because of dissolving glaciers as a component that could trigger instability. Pakistan is the the 6th most crowded nation on the planet, and is as of now not able to take care of the developing water demand. The flooding and droughts destroy billions of dollars of yields each year, increasing the rates of inflation and unemployment. Notwithstanding the water deficiency, the long term damage to fields and products will prompt to nourishment shortage. On the off chance that this continues, Pakistan will not be able meet the demands of its populace, which is developing by about 2 percent every year.
What can be done. Pakistan ought to draw advantage from the Green Climate Fund, made by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010 for reducing greenhouse gas discharges in 3rd world countries and helping them set up climate-resilient tasks.
We also need to bring out the soul of self improvement. However, rather than swinging to renewable energy sources like daylight, wind, geothermal warmth and so forth, the government has expedited work on coal power projects and nuclear power plants.
Taking eco-accommodating initiatives is also extremely essential. Speaking of which, ventures like the Billion Tree Tsunami will help a great deal. Movements like ‘Save The Forests’ should be encouraged. Planting trees on both sides of the streets and avenues will add a huge number of more plants to the current ones. Therefore, more carbon dioxide will be expended and higher generation of oxygen will occur.
Facilities like the metro-bus service and mass transit trains in real urban areas of the nation will advance utilization of open transport. That way the utilization of private vehicles will be decreased which is useful for both money related and ecological reasons. Why not likewise advance cycling that is both a sound practice and a method for transport? These are just some areas that should be looked at by the people who can make a change – and have the cards in their hands.
We wait

We pray for the rain

For a rain

To wash away

We try

Deny

To believe to believe

We can’t believe

In anything

I don’t want to say goodbye

I don’t want to say goodbye

Stars falling from the sky

Stars falling from the sky.

Press link for more: Daily Pakistan

Losses of soil carbon under climate warming might equal US carbon emissions #auspol 

Map of predicted changes in soil C stocks by 2030-50 due to a 1°C rise in global average temperature. The darker red the color, the greater the carbon loss.

Image courtesy of the researchers
A new global analysis finds that warming temperatures will trigger the release of trillions of kilograms of carbon from the planet’s soils into its atmosphere, driven largely by the losses of soil carbon in the world’s colder places. The increase in the atmospheric CO2 concentration will accelerate the pace of climate change. 

For decades, scientists have speculated that rising global temperatures might reduce the ability of soils to store carbon, potentially releasing huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and triggering runaway climate change. Yet dozens of studies at single locations in different places around the world have produced mixed signals on whether this storage capacity will actually decrease—or even increase—as the planet warms.

A new study published in the journal Nature, based on 49 climate change experiments worldwide, including six in Minnesota, suggests that scientists might have been looking in the wrong places.
The study, led by College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences (CFANS) Department of Forest Resources Adjunct Professor T.W. Crowther, found that warming will drive the loss of at least 55 trillion kilograms of carbon from the soil by mid-century, adding an additional 17 percent on top of the projected emissions due to human-related activities during that period. That would be roughly the equivalent of adding to the planet another industrialized country the size of the United States and thus have a big impact by accelerating climate change
Critically, the researchers, including CFANS Dept. of Forest Resources Regents Professor and Institute on the Environment Fellow Peter Reich, found that carbon losses will be greatest in the world’s colder places, at high latitudes, which had largely been missing from most previous research. In those regions, massive stocks of carbon have built up over thousands of years and slow microbial activity has kept them relatively secure.
Most of the previous research had been conducted in the world’s temperate regions, where there were smaller carbon stocks to begin with. Studies that focused only on these regions would have missed the vast proportion of potential soil carbon losses, said Crowther, who conducted his research while a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology.
“Carbon stores are greatest in places like the Arctic and the sub-Arctic, where the soil is cold and often frozen. In those conditions microbes are less active and so carbon has been allowed to build up over many centuries,” said Crowther.
“But as you start to warm, the activities of those microbes increases, and that’s when the losses start to happen,” he said. “The scary thing is, these cold regions are the places that are expected to warm the most under climate change.”
The results are based on an analysis of data on stored soil carbon from dozens of climate warming experiments conducted over the past 20 years by more than 30 co-authors in different regions of the world.
The study predicts that for one degree of warming, about 30 petagrams of soil carbon will be released into the atmosphere.
“This is a big deal,” Reich said, “because the Earth is likely to have warmed by 2 degrees Celsius by mid-century, releasing as much carbon over that time period as will be emitted from fossil fuel burning in the United States.” A petagram is equal to 1,000,000,000,000 kilograms.
The study considered only soil carbon losses in response to warming. There are several other biological processes—such as faster plant growth as a result of carbon dioxide increases or slower plant growth due to climate warming and drought—that could dampen or enhance the effect of this soil carbon feedback. Several long-term experiments in Minnesota forests and grasslands led by Reich are addressing these questions. 
“Getting a handle on these kinds of feedbacks globally is essential if we’re going to make meaningful projections about future climate conditions,” said Crowther. “Only then can we generate realistic greenhouse gas emission targets that are effective at limiting climate change.” 

Press link for more: Twin Cities University

The Ponzi scheme that is our global economy. #auspol 

And who better to oversee our unsustainable economy than Donald Trump?

By Dr. Joe Romm

Donald Trump launches Trump University in 2005. He recently settled the Trump U fraud case for $25 million. CREDIT: AP/Bebeto Matthews

Black Friday has become an orgiastic celebration of unbridled consumerism. It’s perhaps the inevitable outcome of a country whose citizens are commonly referred to as “consumers.”

So it’s a good day to reflect on the Ponzi scheme that is our global economy — and the modern-day King Midas we just elected to run it.

Donald Trump, is, after all, the king of conspicuous over-consumption. As the National Review reported last year, he owns a “custom gold motorcycle,” a “gold-plated helicopter,” a Trump tower penthouse with extensive 24-karat fittings befitting “King Midas’s abode,” a Boeing 757 with “the predictable 24-karat gold faucets, table legs, seatbelt buckles, trimmings, and insignias,” and a line of vodka “labeled with a 24-karat gold ‘T’.”

Just like the unsustainable global economy, however, Trump’s wealth is a house of cards. CNNMoney reports that his only public company went belly-up and lost tens of millions of dollars for investors, all while Trump was extracting $39 million to pay himself.

Trump has had six bankruptcies total, and actually lost $900 million in one year. 

The Wall Street Journal reported Trump “Made Millions From Multilevel Marketing Firm” (aka a pyramid scheme). The Atlantic described an expose on the Trump Network as “the latest in a series of stories you can find online about Trump duping hard-working people like you.”

After the president-elect settled a fraud case against Trump University for $25 million, the New York Attorney General said, “Mr. Trump used his celebrity status and personally appeared in commercials making false promises to convince people to spend tens of thousands of dollars they couldn’t afford for lessons they never got.”

It’s no wonder people like billionaire Michael Bloomberg, Marco Rubio, and so many other have described him as a con man.

In contrast, Pope Francis — the anti-Trump — has warned world leaders that “unbridled consumerism” is assaulting the natural environment “and this will have serious consequences for the world economy.” In his powerful 2015 climate encyclical, the Pope went further, writing of “extreme consumerism” and “compulsive consumerism” and “an unethical consumerism bereft of social or ecological awareness.”

The “pace of consumption,” the Pope asserts, “can only precipitate catastrophes.” Francis offered this blunt warning:

“Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction.”

The definition of a Ponzi scheme, such as the one Bernie Madoff ran, is “a fraudulent investment operation where the operator … pays returns to its investors from new capital paid to the operators by new investors, rather than from profit earned by the operator,” as Wikipedia notes. It is unsustainable because it “requires an ever-increasing flow of money from new investors to sustain the scheme.” Eventually, people catch on, and the whole thing collapses.

Our current global economy is a Ponzi scheme in this sense: It is an utterly unsustainable system that effectively takes wealth from our children and future generations — wealth in the form of ground water, arable land, fisheries, a livable climate — to prop up our carbon-intensive lifestyles. To avoid collapse, we must rapidly transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy.

We cannot stop catastrophic climate change — in the long term and possibly even the medium-term — without a pretty dramatic change to our overconsumption-based economic system. We have already overshot the Earth’s biocapacity — and the overshoot gets worse every year.

“A quarter of the energy we use is just in our crap,” physicist Saul Griffith explains in his detailed discussion of our carbon footprint. You can watch the MacArthur genius award winner soberly dissect his formerly unsustainable lifestyle here.

Or you can read the Onion’s black humor, “Chinese Factory Worker Can’t Believe The Shit He Makes For Americans.”

The tragic irony is that much of this holiday shopping is supposedly for our kids — and yet this overconsumption is a core part of our climate inaction, which, as President Obama has said, “would betray our children.”

Climate science is clear that inaction is suicidal. That’s why “virtually all” climatologists “are now convinced that global warming is a clear and present danger to civilization,” as Lonnie Thompson has put it.

That’s why a stunning 2012 World Bank climate report warned that, “A 4°C [7°F] world can, and must, be avoided’ to avert ‘devastating’ impacts,”

Tom Friedman interviewed me for a NY Times column on this subject, several years ago:

“We created a way of raising standards of living that we can’t possibly pass on to our children,” said Joe Romm, a physicist and climate expert who writes the indispensable blog climateprogress.org. We have been getting rich by depleting all our natural stocks — water, hydrocarbons, forests, rivers, fish and arable land — and not by generating renewable flows.

“You can get this burst of wealth that we have created from this rapacious behavior,” added Romm. “But it has to collapse, unless adults stand up and say, ‘This is a Ponzi scheme. We have not generated real wealth, and we are destroying a livable climate …’ Real wealth is something you can pass on in a way that others can enjoy.”

The adults, in short, are not standing up. Sadly, most still haven’t even taken the time to understand that they should.

And so every generation that comes after the Baby Boomers is poised to experience the dramatic changes in lifestyle that inevitably follow the collapse of any Ponzi scheme, a point that bears repeating on Black Friday.

In our version of a Ponzi scheme, investors (i.e. current generations) are paying themselves (i.e. you and me) by taking the nonrenewable resources and livable climate from future generations. To perpetuate the high returns the rich countries in particular have been achieving in recent decades, we have been taking an ever greater fraction of nonrenewable energy resources (especially hydrocarbons) and natural capital (fresh water, arable land, forests, fisheries), and, the most important nonrenewable natural capital of all — a livable climate.

We aren’t all Madoffs in the sense of people who have knowingly created a fraudulent Ponzi scheme for humanity. But given all of the warnings from scientists and international governments and independent energy organizations over the past quarter-century — we still elected a gilded climate science denier who campaigned on destroying the Paris climate agreement.

So it has gotten harder and harder for any of us to pretend that we are innocent victims, that we aren’t just hoping we can maintain our own personal wealth and well-being for a few more decades before the day of reckoning. Après nous le déluge.

Press link for more:  thinkprogress.org

7 shocking facts about air pollution. #auspol Time to put a price on pollution. 

Air pollution is the fourth-largest threat to human health.

It is the deadliest form of pollution, killing millions of people each year, according to a new study.
The Cost of Air Pollution, a joint report by the World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), also highlights the economic toll, showing that premature deaths linked to air pollution cost the global economy hundreds of billions of dollars in lost labour income.

92%
More than nine out of 10 of the world’s population – 92% – lives in places where air pollution exceeds safe limits, according to research from the World Health Organization (WHO).
4th
Air pollution is the fourth-largest threat to human health, behind high blood pressure, dietary risks and smoking.
The health risks of breathing dirty air include respiratory infections and cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic lung disease and lung cancer.
6.5 million
There were an estimated 6.5 million deaths worldwide from air pollution-related diseases in 2012, WHO data shows. That’s 11.6% of all global deaths – more than the number of people killed by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and road injuries combined.


Press link for more: weforum:org