Dolphins

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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

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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

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“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

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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

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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

Trump’s climate denial is just one of the forces that points towards war #auspol

By George Monbiot

The failure to get to grips with our crises, by all mainstream political parties, is likely to lead to a war between the major powers in my lifetime.

Wave the magic wand and the problem goes away. 

Those pesky pollution laws, carbon caps and clean-power plans: swish them away and the golden age of blue-collar employment will return. This is Donald Trump’s promise, in his video message on Monday, in which the US president-elect claimed that unleashing coal and fracking would create “many millions of high-paid jobs”. 

He will tear down everything to make it come true.

But it won’t come true. Even if we ripped the world to pieces in the search for full employment, leaving no mountain unturned, we would not find it.

 Instead, we would merely jeopardise the prosperity – and the lives – of people everywhere. 

However slavishly governments grovel to corporate Luddism, they will not bring the smog economy back.

No one can deny the problem Trump claims to be addressing. 

The old mining and industrial areas are in crisis throughout the rich world. And we have seen nothing yet. I have just reread the study published by the Oxford Martin School in 2013 on the impacts of computerisation. 

What jumps out, to put it crudely, is that jobs in the rust belts and rural towns that voted for Trump are at high risk of automation, while the professions of many Hillary Clinton supporters are at low risk.

The jobs most likely to be destroyed are in mining, raw materials, manufacturing, transport and logistics, cargo handling, warehousing and retailing, construction (prefabricated buildings will be assembled by robots in factories), office support, administration and telemarketing. So what, in the areas that voted for Trump, will be left?

Farm jobs have mostly gone already. Service and care work, where hope for some appeared to lie, will be threatened by a further wave of automation, as service robots – commercial and domestic – take over.
Yes, there will be jobs in the green economy: more and better than any that could be revived in the fossil economy. But they won’t be enough to fill the gaps, and many will be in the wrong places for those losing their professions.
At lower risk is work that requires negotiation, persuasion, originality and creativity. 

The management and business jobs that demand these skills are comparatively safe from automation; so are those of lawyers, teachers, researchers, doctors, journalists, actors and artists. The jobs that demand the highest educational attainment are the least susceptible to computerisation. 

The divisions tearing America apart will only widen.

Even this bleak analysis does not capture in full the underlying reasons why good, abundant jobs will not return to the places that need them most. As Paul Mason argues in PostCapitalism, the impacts of information technology go way beyond simple automation: they are likely to destroy the very basis of the market economy, and the relationship between work and wages.

And, as the French writer Paul Arbair notes in the most interesting essay I have read this year, beyond a certain level of complexity economies become harder to sustain. There’s a point at which further complexity delivers diminishing returns; society is then overwhelmed by its demands, and breaks down. He argues that the political crisis in western countries suggests we may have reached this point.

Trump has also announced that on his first day in office he will withdraw America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He is right to do so, but for the wrong reasons. 

Like TTIP and Ceta, the TPP is a fake trade treaty whose primary impact is to extend corporate property rights at the expense of both competition and democracy. But withdrawal will not, as he claims, “bring jobs and industry back to American shores”. The work in Mexico and China that Trump wants to reclaim will evaporate long before it can be repatriated.

As for the high-quality, high-waged working-class jobs he promised, these are never handed down from on high. 

They are secured through the organisation of labour. 

But the unions were smashed by Ronald Reagan, and collective bargaining has been suppressed ever since by casualisation and fragmentation.

 So how is this going to happen? Out of the kindness of Trump’s heart? Kindness, Trump, heart?
But it’s not just Trump. Clinton and Bernie Sanders also made impossible promises to bring back jobs. Half the platform of each party was based on a delusion. The social, environmental and economic crises we face require a complete reappraisal of the way we live and work. 

The failure by mainstream political parties to produce a new and persuasive economic narrative, which does not rely on sustaining impossible levels of growth and generating illusory jobs, provides a marvellous opening for demagogues everywhere.

Governments across the world are making promises they cannot keep. 

In the absence of a new vision, their failure to materialise will mean only one thing: something or someone must be found to blame.

 As people become angrier and more alienated, as the complexity and connectivity of global systems becomes ever harder to manage, as institutions such as the European Union collapse and as climate change renders parts of the world uninhabitable, forcing hundreds of millions of people from their homes, the net of blame will be cast ever wider.

Eventually the anger that cannot be assuaged through policy will be turned outwards, towards other nations. 

Faced with a choice between hard truths and easy lies, politicians and their supporters in the media will discover that foreign aggression is among the few options for political survival.

 I now believe that we will see war between the major powers within my lifetime. 

Which ones it will involve, and on what apparent cause, remains far from clear. But something that once seemed remote now looks probable.

A complete reframing of economic life is needed not just to suppress the existential risk that climate change presents (a risk marked by a 20°C anomaly reported in the Arctic Ocean while I was writing this article), but other existential threats as well – including war. 

Today’s governments, whether they are run by Trump or Obama or May or Merkel, lack the courage and imagination even to open this conversation.

 It is left to others to conceive of a more plausible vision than trying to magic back the good old days. 

The task for all those who love this world and fear for our children is to imagine a different future rather than another past.

Press link for more: theguardian.com

This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian refugees filling their buckets at Atmeh refugee camp, in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, Syria, Friday, April 5, 2013. A barrage of rockets slammed into a contested district on the northeastern edge of Damascus, killing several people and trapping others under the rubble, while violence raged around suburbs of the capital, activists said. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center AMC)

Veterans Day 2030 Could Look Like Syria Today, Thanks To Climate Change #Auspol #COP21

The Syrian conflict has triggered the world’s largest humanitarian crisis since World War II,” reports the European Commission. And a major 2015 study confirmed what Climate Progress has been reporting for years: “Human-caused climate change was a major trigger of Syria’s brutal civil war.

Now half of Syria’s population has fled their homes and the massive influx of refugees is taking a toll on other nations in the Middle East and Europe. The chaos has even prompted the United States to deploy troops to the decimated country.

We will have to work as hard as possible to make sure we don’t leave a world of wars to our children.

That means avoiding decades, if not centuries, of strife and conflict from catastrophic climate change, from the synergistic effect of soaring temperatures or Dust-Bowlification and extreme weather and sea level rise and super-charged storm surges, which will create the kind of food insecurity that drives war, conflict, and the competition for arable and/or habitable land.

The Pentagon itself made the climate/security link explicit in a 2014 report warning that climate change “poses immediate risks to U.S. national security,” has impacts that can “intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict” and will probably lead to “food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources.”

The world’s leading scientists and governments came to the same conclusion after reviewing the scientific literature. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned last year that climate change will “prolong existing, and create new, poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger.” And it will “increase risks of violent conflicts in the form of civil war and inter-group violence.”

That same year, Tom Friedman wrote a column, “Memorial Day 2050,” which begins by quoting Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State who observed: “We’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.” He concludes that the fight against climate change is our most important “fight for freedom” today, and ends “Let’s act so the next generation will want to honor us with a Memorial Day, the way we honor the sacrifice of previous generations.”

Previously, Friedman had described how warming-worsened drought has exacerbated political instability even now in Syria. His piece “Without Water, Revolution” explained that while the drought didn’t “cause” the civil war, it made the Fertile Crescent fertile grounds for one:

… between 2006 and 2011, some 60 percent of Syria’s land mass was ravaged by the drought and, with the water table already too low and river irrigation shrunken, it wiped out the livelihoods of 800,000 Syrian farmers and herders, the United Nations reported. “Half the population in Syria between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers left the land” for urban areas during the last decade, said [Syrian economist Samir] Aita. And with Assad doing nothing to help the drought refugees, a lot of very simple farmers and their kids got politicized. “State and government was invented in this part of the world, in ancient Mesopotamia, precisely to manage irrigation and crop growing,” said Aita, “and Assad failed in that basic task.”

Friedman concludes, “Young people and farmers starved for jobs — and land starved for water — were a prescription for revolution.” You can watch Friedman enter Syria during the civil war to learn more about the climate change connection here.

Now, large swaths of Syria and Iraq are being overrun and terrorized by the extremist group ISIS, which was able to gain its original foothold in Syria because of the corrupt regime’s misgovernance and the subsequent civil war.

The 2015 study, “Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought,” found that global warming made Syria’s 2006 to 2010 drought two to three times more likely. “While we’re not saying the drought caused the war,” lead author Dr. Colin Kelley explained. “We are saying that it certainly contributed to other factors — agricultural collapse and mass migration among them — that caused the uprising.”

Ultimately, the poorer a country is — and the worse it is governed — the more warming-worsened drought is likely to drive instability.

The New York Times reported in 2009 that “climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions, say the analysts, experts at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies who for the first time are taking a serious look at the national security implications of climate change.”

That’s a key reason 33 generals and admirals supported the comprehensive climate and clean energy jobs bill in 2010, asserting “Climate change is making the world a more dangerous place” and “threatening America’s security.”

Even with the climate pledges made in the lead up to Paris, we are headed well past the 2°C “defense line” against catastrophic climate change, where we cross carbon cycle tipping points create a world of rapid warming and a ruined climate far outside the bounds of any human experience.

It is a world with dozens of Syrias and Darfurs and Pakistani mega-floods, of countless environmental refugees — hundreds of millions in the second half of this century — all clamoring to occupy the parts of the developed world that aren’t flooded or Dust-Bowlified.

It would be a world where everyone eventually becomes a veteran. And if we don’t act swiftly and strongly to stop it, the IPCC warned in 2014 that the worst impacts were irreversible on a time scale of centuries if not millennia.

So when does this start to happen on a grand scale?

Back in 2008, Thomas Fingar, then “the U.S. intelligence community’s top analyst,” sees it happening by the mid-2020s:

By 2025, droughts, food shortages and scarcity of fresh water will plague large swaths of the globe, from northern China to the Horn of Africa.

For poorer countries, climate change “could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Fingar said, while the United States will face “Dust Bowl” conditions in the parched Southwest.

…Floods and droughts will trigger mass migrations and political upheaval in many parts of the developing world.

We’ve already seen that even areas expected to become wetter can experience an extreme heat wave so unprecedented that it forces the entire country to suspend grain exports, as happened in Russia in 2010.

The U.K. government’s chief scientist, Professor John Beddington, laid out a scenario similar to Fingar’s in a 2009 speech. He warned that by 2030, “A ‘perfect storm’ of food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy resources threaten to unleash public unrest, cross-border conflicts and mass migration as people flee from the worst-affected regions,” as the UK’s Guardian put it.

And we are not just talking about upheaval overseas. If we don’t take far stronger action on climate change, then here is what a 2015 NASA study projected the normal climate of North America will look like. The darkest areas have soil moisture comparable to that seen during the 1930s Dust Bowl.

Press link for more: Joe Romm | thinkprogress.org

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Physics Doesn’t Negotiate. #ClimateChange #Auspol

Notes on the dangerous difference between science and political science
President Obama is visiting Alaska this week — a territory changing as rapidly as any on earth thanks to global warming. He’s talking constantly about the danger that climate change poses to the planet (a welcome development given that he managed to go through virtually the entire 2012 election without even mentioning it). And everything he’s saying is right: we are a nation, and a planet, beset by fire, flood, drought. It’s the hottest year in earth’s recorded history. July was the hottest month ever measured on planet earth.
But of course the alarm he’s sounding is muffled by the fact that earlier this year he gave Shell Oil a permit to go drill in the Arctic, potentially opening up a giant new pool of oil.
It’s as if the health teacher giving the anti-smoking talk to junior-high assembly had a Marlboro dangling from her lip.

To most of us this seems like a contradiction. But to the political mind it doesn’t, not really. In fact, here’s how David Balton, the State Department’s diplomat for ocean issues, explained it. On the one hand, he said, the idea that we should stop all Arctic drilling was “held by a lot of Americans. It’s not a radical view.” On the other hand, “there are plenty of people on the other side unhappy that areas of the Arctic, and areas on land, have been closed to hydrocarbon development by the very same president.”
So — and here’s the money quote — “Maybe that means we’re in the right place, given that people on both sides are unhappy with us.”
Maybe. But probably not. Because here’s the thing: Climate change is not like most of the issues politicians deal with, the ones where compromise makes complete sense.
Down the hall from Balton’s office at the State Department, he has some colleague negotiating the Iran nuclear deal. By its very nature, a deal has two sides and you meet somewhere in the middle — to insist that Iran get nothing in return for giving up their nukes would be to kill the very idea of negotiations. That’s true in most encounters. If I want $30 an hour to work for your fast food restaurant, and you’d just as soon use slaves, then $15 an hour represents a workable compromise. We can come back in 5 years and negotiate some more. Be reasonable. One step at a time. Zealots make bad policy.
But climate change isn’t like that. Balton — and Obama, and almost everyone else in power — makes the same simple-but-deadly category mistake. They think the relevant negotiation is between the people who want to drill and the people who don’t. But actually, this negotiation is between People and physics. And therefore it’s not really a negotiation.
Because physics doesn’t negotiate. Physics just does.

Press link for more: Bill McKibben | medium.com

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The news on climate is awful. So now what? #Auspol 

Humanity is probably in for some awful shit, or so I argued in my previous post. Specifically, it appears unlikely we’ll be able to limit global average temperature rise to 2° Celsius over pre-industrial levels, the target threshold agreed to, at least notionally, by all 141 countries engaged in the Copenhagen climate accord.
It is still possible to construct scenarios with sufficient emission reductions to stop short of 2°C, with fairly small net impacts on global GDP, but they require increasingly heroic assumptions, like a globally harmonized price on carbon, 4 to 6 percent annual reductions in worldwide emissions over 50 years, and/or several gigatons’ worth of negative emissions later in the century.
When the economic and technological numbers in those scenarios are translated into real-life sociopolitical action, they represent nothing short of a revolution — a collective effort on the scale of US mobilization for World War II, in every country of the world, beginning within the next decade, sustained for the remainder of the century.
Look around. There is no such grand mobilization in the offing. Progress on carbon reduction remains fitful and scattered. It is difficult to envision a sudden unanimity around carbon reduction sufficient to see global emissions peak in the next five to 10 years and decline rapidly every year thereafter.

And so the likely outcome at this point is exceeding 2°C.
My post elicited all sorts of interesting responses, over email and Twitter (see also Jonathan Koomey and Dan Lashof). A good number, however, took the form, “So what you’re saying is, [thing I’m not saying].” It seems that lots of issues have gotten lumped together in discussions around the 2°C target, so I thought it would be worth a follow-up to try to tease them apart.

  
So what you’re saying is there’s no hope
No!
Remember, the main question at hand is not whether 2°C is physically possible but whether it’s sociopolitically feasible, or likely. That is, to say the least, uncertain, and where’s there’s uncertainty there’s always hope.
After all, we’re talking about scenarios that model economic and technological development out to 2100. It’s one thing to predict how the climate system will change over a century — climate moves slowly — but another entirely to predict human development that far ahead. Social change is non-linear; after periods of relative stasis, societies can lurch to a new equilibrium almost overnight (a pattern known as “punctuated equilibrium”). What will be technologically feasible in 2050, or 2080? What political changes will take place between now and then? We have virtually no idea. So as Koomey says, we can’t know in advance whether 2°C will prove to be feasible. We can’t see the future.
And in general, I agree. I have written in the past about how the integrated assessment models (IAMs) used to create these scenarios contain such a wide array of contestable assumptions, about developments in so far in the future, that it is ludicrous to interpret their results as anything but thought exercises.
There could be a fundamental shift in consciousness and behavior sometime this century. Many people responded to my post by citing the relatively big recent shifts on gay marriage and marijuana as examples.

But … still. Those are mild, passing gusts compared with the mighty wind necessary to blow the entire world economy in a new direction. The shift required to achieve 2°C would have to be enormous — utterly without historical precedent — and it would have to get underway soon.
Hoping for a fundamental shift in human consciousness and politics in the next 10 to 15 years amounts to hoping for a miracle. That’s what hoping for 2°C means — banking on a miracle.
Which is fine. It’s great to have hope! Not that long ago I wrote a whole long post about hope, which came down strongly on the pro-hope side of the debate. (It was popular; you should go read it.)
But particularly when it comes to policymakers and the people advising them, we also need clear-eyed straight talk. “We don’t yet know that 2°C is impossible” is very different from “We’re on track.” The fact is, based on what we know about carbon budgets, path dependence, and status quo bias, changing the fossil fuel energy system fast enough to stay under 2°C appears increasingly unlikely. We are rapidly losing options, and the ones that remain are unrealistic or unpleasant.

Press link for more: David Roberts | vox.com