El nino

History of #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

History of climate change

Climate change has become a huge threat for the world.

The history of climate change reveals that the issue is not a recent phenomenon but it dates back to seventies.

Climate change is associated with the increasing number of population globally.

Humans are the main cause behind growing risk of climate change.

The change in weather patterns is what basically ‘climate change’ is.

In 1712, Thomas Newcomen invented first widely used steam engine, which set the way for the Industrial Revolution.

In 1800, world population swelled to one billion.

French physicist Joseph Fourier described the Earth’s natural ‘greenhouse effect’ in 1824, he wrote: ‘The temperature of the Earth can be augmented by the interposition of the atmosphere, because heat in the state of light finds less resistance in penetrating the air, than in re-passing into the air when converted into non-luminous heat.’

In the year 1861, Irish physicist John Tyndall showed that water vapour and certain other gases produce the greenhouse effect.

He concluded that: ‘This aqueous vapour is a blanket more necessary to the vegetable life of England than clothing is to man’.

He was honoured for founding UK’s first prominent his climate research organisation, the Tyndall Centre, named after him.


In 1886, Karl Benz unveiled the Motorwagen, also assumed as the first true automobile.

Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius, in 1896, concluded that industrial-age coal burning will enhance the natural greenhouse effect.

He suggested this might be beneficial for future generations.

His conclusions on the likely size of the ‘man-made greenhouse’ are in the same ballpark, a few degrees Celsius for a doubling of CO2 — as modern-day climate models.

The one third century of climate change saw the effect of steam engine to the man-made greenhouse.

In 1900, another Swede, Knut Angstrom, discovered that at the tiny concentrations found in the atmosphere, CO2 strongly absorbs parts of the infrared spectrum.

Although he does not realise the significance, Angstrom has shown that a trace gas can produce greenhouse warming.

In 1927, carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning and industry reached one billion tonnes per year. And in 1930, human population reached two billion.

The year 1938 saw the usage of records from 147 weather stations around the world. British engineer Guy Callendar showed that temperatures had risen over the previous century.

He also showed that CO2 concentrations had increased over the same period, and suggested this caused the warming.

As Ban Ki-Moon said, we have only one planet that is friendly to life.

Therefore, climate change must be curbed for the sake of future generations

It was US scientist Wallace Broecker who first coined the term ‘global warming’ and got it publicized.

One can assume that the term global warming was first used in 1975. And 1987, human population reached five billion.

In 1987, Montreal Protocol was agreed.

It restricted chemicals that damage the ozone layer.

Although not established with climate change in mind, it has had a greater impact on greenhouse gas emissions than the Kyoto Protocol. 1988 — Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) formed to accumulate and assess evidence on climate change.

UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, possessor of a chemistry degree, warned in a speech to the UN in 1989 that: ‘We are seeing a vast increase in the amount of carbon dioxide reaching the atmosphere… The result is that change in future is likely to be more fundamental and more widespread than anything we have known hitherto.’ She called for a global treaty on climate change.

Whereas in 1989, carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning and industry reached six billion tonnes per year.

In 1990, IPCC produced First Assessment Report.

Which concluded that temperatures have risen by 0.3-0.6C over the last century, which humanity’s emissions are adding to the atmosphere’s natural complement of greenhouse gases, and the addition would be expected to result in warming.

In 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, governments of different countries came close to agree the United Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Whom key objective is ‘stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’. Developed countries agree to return their emissions to 1990 levels. And in the year 1995, IPCC Second Assessment Report concluded that the balance of evidence suggests ‘a discernible human influence’ on the Earth’s climate.

This has been called the first definitive statement that humans are responsible for climate change. And this second report showed that humans are the main responsible entities which get climate change occurred. In 1999, human population reached six billion.

In 2001, President George W Bush removed the US from the Kyoto process.

In 2001, the IPCC Third Assessment Report found ‘new and stronger evidence’ that humanity’s emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause of the warming seen in the second half of the 20th Century.

In 2005, The Kyoto Protocol become international law for those countries still inside it.

In the same year 2005, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair selected climate change as a priority for his terms as chair of the G8 and president of the EU. And in 2006, The Stern Review concluded that climate change could damage global GDP by up to 20 percent if left unchecked, but curbing it would cost about one percent of global GDP.

However, carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning and industry reached eight billion tonnes per year in 2006.

In the 2007, the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report concluded that it is more than 90% likely that humanity’s emissions of greenhouse gases are responsible for modern-day climate change.

In 2007, the IPCC and former US vice-president Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize ‘for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change’.

About 2007, at the UN negotiations in Bali, governments agreed the two-year ‘Bali roadmap’ aimed at hammering out a new global treaty by the end of 2009. And in 2008, half a century after beginning observations at Mauna Loa, the Keeling project showed that CO2 concentrations have risen from 315 parts per million (ppm) in 1958 to 380ppm in 2008.

In 2008, two months before taking office, incoming US president Barack Obama pledged to ‘engage vigorously’ with the rest of the world on climate change.

In the year 2009, China overtook the US as the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, although the US remained well ahead on a per-capita basis. And in 2009, computer hackers downloaded the huge tranche of emails from a server at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and released some on the internet, leading to the ‘Climate Gate’ affair. In 2009, 192 governments convened for the UN climate summit in Copenhagen with expectations of a new global agreement, but they left only with a controversial political declaration, the Copenhagen Accord. And in 2010, the developed countries began contributing to a $30bn, three-year deal on ‘Fast Start Finance’ to help them ‘green’ their economies and adapt to climate impacts. 2010 — A series of reviews into ‘Climate Gate’ and the IPCC ask for more openness, but clear scientists of malpractice. In 2010, the UN summit in Mexico did not collapse, as had been feared, but ended with agreements on a number of issues.

In 2011, a new analysis of the Earth’s temperature record by scientists concerned over the ‘Climate Gate’ allegations proved the planet’s land surface really had warmed over the last century. And in 2011, human population reached seven billion. In the same this year 2011, data showed concentrations of greenhouse gases are rising faster than in previous years.

In 2013, the Mauna Loa Observatory on Hawaii reported that the daily mean concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since measurements began in 1958. And in 2013, the first part of the IPCC’s fifth assessment report says scientists are 95 percent certain that humans are the ‘dominant cause’ of global warming since the 1950s.

As Ban Ki-Moon said, we have only one planet that is friendly to life.

So we need to make it greener not for today but for the upcoming generations.

We all have to realise that our today’s actions should not leave a negative impact on environment that will impact our coming generations.

The writer is a researcher, freelance contributor and MEAL officer in a NGO at Hyderabad, Sindh. E-mail: furqanhyders@gmail.com. Tweeter @furqanppolicy

Published in Daily Times, February 25th 2018.

Press link for more: Daily Times


Farmers look to wind farms for drought relief. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #climatechange

Queensland farmers looking to wind farms for drought relief

By Melanie Vujkovicabout an hour ago

Photo: Jade and Blair Wenham say the turbines on their farm will give them a constant income stream. (ABC News: Jennifer Huxley)

A community of Queensland farmers hopes a wind farm, set to be the southern hemisphere’s largest, will be able to drought-proof their futures.

Ten years in the making, a sod was turned yesterday on the Coopers Gap project, west of Brisbane.

A total of 123 turbines will be built across a dozen properties, over the South Burnett and Western Downs council areas, with landowners benefiting from leasing arrangements.

The 450-megawatt wind farm will produce more than 1.5 million megawatt hours of renewable energy annually, enough to power more than 260,000 homes.

Photo: When built the wind farm will generate enough power for 260,000 homes. (ABC Central West: Gavin Coote)

Russell Glode will have nine 180-metre tall turbines on his cattle property at Cooranga North.

“We’ve been waiting for so many years for the project to happen so I’m quite pleased it’s finally eventuating,” he said.

Jade Wenham and his wife Blair will also put turbines on their property.

“It will definitely give us a constant stream of income, where we don’t have to put a great deal of output into,” Mr Wenham said.

“It will be a big benefit to us … it’s not something we’ve banked on but it will be a great bonus that’s for sure.”

In a region battling with drought, Ms Wenham hopes it will provide financial security.

Photo: Cattle farmer Russell Glode says it’s been a long wait for work to start. (ABC News: Jennifer Huxley)

“The seasons have been difficult … we haven’t grown very good crops over the last couple of years so the idea of drought proofing is good,” she said.

“There’s also a lot of people picking up work that don’t have any towers on their place, but now have a job where they live.”

General manager of power development for AGL Dave Johnson says the project will generate 200 jobs during construction, and 20 permanent positions.

“To the maximum extent possible we will be employing locals,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of work that’s been going into community engagement and making sure the local towns and businesses are aware of what work they can bid into and some of those work packages have already gone out to local contractors.

“For the farmers it’s diversification of income.”

South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell hopes it will revive the community.

“The reality is it’s a new business in the area that each of us can achieve some benefit from and it puts our region on the map,” he said.

The wind farm is set to begin producing energy by mid 2019.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

On the Brink of Collapse #auspol #qldpol #climatechange #StopAdani

System Failure

29th January 2018

Is complex society on the brink of collapse?

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 24th January 2018

It’s a good question, but it seems too narrow. “Is Western civilisation on the brink of collapse?”, the lead article in this week’s New Scientist asks.

The answer is probably.

But why just Western?

Yes, certain Western governments are engaged in a frenzy of self-destruction.

In an age of phenomenal complexity and interlocking crises, the Trump administration has embarked on a mass deskilling and simplification of the state. Donald Trump might have sacked his strategist Steve Bannon, but Bannon’s professed intention, “the deconstruction of the administrative state”, remains the central – perhaps the only – policy.

Defunding departments, disbanding the teams and dismissing the experts they rely on, shutting down research programmes, maligning the civil servants who remain in post, the self-hating state is ripping down the very apparatus of government. At the same time, it is destroying the public protections that defend us from disaster.

A series of studies published in the past few months have started to explore the wider impact of pollutants. One, published in the British Medical Journal, suggests that the exposure of unborn children to air pollution in cities is causing “something approaching a public health catastrophe”. Pollution in the womb is now linked to low birth weight, disruption of the baby’s lung and brain development, and a series of debilitating and fatal diseases in later life.

Another report, published in the Lancet, suggests that three times as many deaths are caused by pollution as by AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Pollution, the authors note, now “threatens the continuing survival of human societies.” A collection of articles in the journal PLOS Biology reveals that there is no reliable safety data on most of the 85,000 synthetic chemicals to which we may be exposed. While hundreds of these chemicals “contaminate the blood and urine of nearly every person tested”, and the volume of materials containing them rises every year, we have no idea what the likely impacts may be, either singly or in combination.

As if in response to such findings, the Trump government has systematically destroyed the integrity of the Environmental Protection Agency, ripped up the Clean Power Plan, vitiated environmental standards for motor vehicles, reversed the ban on chlorpyrifos (a pesticide now linked to the impairment of cognitive and behavioural function in children), and rescinded a remarkable list of similar public protections.

In the UK, successive governments have also curtailed their ability to respond to crises. One of David Cameron’s first acts on taking office was to shut down the government’s early warning systems: the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and the Sustainable Development Commission. He did not want to hear what they were telling him. Sack the impartial advisers and replace them with toadies: this has preceded the fall of empires many times before. Now, as we detach ourselves from the European Union, we degrade our capacity to solve the problems that transcend our borders.

But these pathologies are not confined to “the West”. The rise of demagoguery (the pursuit of simplistic solutions to complex problems, accompanied by the dismantling of the protective state) is everywhere apparent. Environmental breakdown is accelerating worldwide. The annihilation of vertebrate populations, Insectageddon, the erasure of rainforests, mangroves, soil, aquifers, the degradation of entire Earth systems, such as the atmosphere and the oceans, proceed at astonishing rates. These interlocking crises will affect everyone, but the poorer nations are hit first and worst.

The forces that threaten to destroy our well-being are also everywhere the same: primarily the lobbying power of big business and big money, that perceive the administrative state as an impediment to their immediate interests. Amplified by the persuasive power of campaign finance, covertly-funded thinktanks, embedded journalists and tame academics, these forces threaten to overwhelm democracy. If you want to know how they work, read Jane Mayer’s book Dark Money.

Up to a certain point, connectivity increases resilience. For example, if local food supplies fail, regional or global markets allow us to draw on production elsewhere. But beyond a certain level, connectivity and complexity threaten to become unmanageable. The emergent properties of the system, combined with the inability of the human brain to encompass it, could spread crises rather than contain them. We are in danger of pulling each other down. New Scientist should have asked “is complex society on the brink of collapse?”.

Complex societies have collapsed many times before. We live in a sort of civilisational interglacial, a brief respite from social entropy. It has always been a question of when, not if. But “when” is beginning to look like “soon”.

The collapse of states and social complexity has not always been a bad thing. As James C Scott points out in his fascinating book Against the Grain, the dissolution of the earliest states, that were founded on slavery and coercion, is likely to have been experienced by many people as an emancipation. When centralised power began to collapse, through epidemics, crop failure, floods, soil erosion or the self-destructive perversities of government, its corralled subjects would take the chance to flee. In many cases they joined the “barbarians”.

This so-called “secondary primitivism”, Scott notes, “may well have been experienced as a marked improvement in safety, nutrition and social order. Becoming a barbarian was often a bid to improve one’s lot.” The dark ages that inexorably followed the glory and grandeur of the state may, in that era, have been the best times to be alive.

But today there is nowhere to turn. The wild lands and rich ecosystems that once supported hunter gatherers, nomads and the refugees from imploding early states who joined them now scarcely exist. Only a tiny fraction of the current population could survive a return to the barbarian life. (Consider that, according to one estimate, the maximum population of Britain during the Mesolithic, when people survived by hunting and gathering, was 5000). In the nominally democratic era, the complex state is now, for all its flaws, all that stands between us and disaster.

So what we do? Next week, barring upsets, I will propose a new way forward. The path we now follow is not the path we have to take.


Press link for more: Monbiot.com

Don’t shoot the #climatechange messenger #StopAdani #auspol #qldpole

Last year was among the hottest on record, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. Photo: Shutterstock

OPINION: Today, when our weather forecasters tell us a heatwave is coming, we can be quietly confident of the time it will arrive and the temperatures that will be reached. When western Sydney broke records on January 7, hitting 47 degrees, the Bureau of Meteorology had warned us, enabling individuals and organisations to prepare. While analysis of this event is ongoing, researchers at the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence on Climate Extremes found a similar Sydney heatwave last year was twice as likely due to the climatic impacts of humans.

The role of forecasting is to use the best information available at the time to predict conditions, and give us time to prepare, adjust or change course. When we’re talking about tomorrow’s, or even next week’s, weather everyone plans accordingly, without a second thought. Using seasonal forecasts, based on predictions of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), industries and governments routinely respond months in advance to forecast patterns of rainfall and wind.

By contrast, when many of the same scientists predict how the climate is likely to change over decades, they find themselves ignored, disbelieved, disparaged or even threatened.

Yet weather, seasonal and climate forecasting all rely on much the same models (based on the same laws of physics). Climate modelling also incorporates external factors that can be estimated long into the future including – most importantly – how levels of carbon dioxide (and other gases) will change under various socio-economic conditions. Because we have a good understanding of how additional cabon dioxide affects the earth’s energy balance, we can estimate its effect on the climate. This means we can forecast key trends for different regions, such as if rainfall will be higher or lower on average, if currents are strengthened or weakened, or if extreme events such as heatwaves will become more or less intense and/or frequent.

For decades, climate change forecasters have mainly been telling us what we’d prefer not to hear. Concentrations of global greenhouse gases are rising relentlessly (with the biggest hike in 2017), 17 of the Earth’s 18 hottest years ever have been recorded since 2000 and the oceans off Australia’s east coast are warming two to three times faster than the global average, radically altering, for example, the composition of marine species off Tasmania. Officials at the Australian Open in Melbourne were forced to consider how excessive heat was affecting, or threatening, elite players.

We can’t ignore research that reveals the damage being done to the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Shutterstock

Given our aversion to bad news, perhaps it’s not surprising so many scientists endure damaging ‘shoot the messenger’ attacks. Consider the recent tirade by a Queensland tourism industry representative against one of Australia’s most distinguished experts, Professor Terry Hughes, the director of the ARC Centre for Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. Hughes’ latest research demonstrates that devastating coral bleaching events, due to warmer waters, are occurring too regularly for mature coral reefs to recover. It is research the tourism industry representative would like to have de-funded; presumably for fear of scaring off tourists and their cash.

Such short-term thinking – and numerous responses of a similar ilk – demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the role, rigour and immense value of research and forecasting as the global climate changes. This puts us all at risk.

Next month, UNSW Sydney hosts one of the largest and most important international conferences of meteorologists, oceanographers and climate scientists focusing on the Southern Hemisphere; our critical climatic backyard. Delegates will have some complex science and modelling on their plates.

It’s clear new partnerships must be forged between forecasters and climate scientists and communities, industries and decision-makers, if we are to go beyond denial and derision, to work together more effectively.

Two recent news stories remind us of the urgent need for a concerted global response. First, the World Meteorological Organisation revealed last year was among the hottest on record without the exacerbating effects of El Nino conditions boosting temperatures, reinforcing global scientific consensus that we are not merely facing natural climate variability, but the effects of human activity.

Second, Nature published a forecast of global temperature increases for this century within a narrower range than previous predictions. While is it is too early to know how important this study is, it suggests two critical things. One, that the climate’s sensitivity to rising emissions is high enough to demand action. Two, that we may still have time to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Emma Johnston is Dean of Science and Professor of Marine Ecology and Ecotoxicology at UNSW. She will open the 12th International Conference for Southern Hemisphere Meteorology and Oceanography at UNSW, which runs from 5 to 9 February. Dr Alex Sen Gupta is a climate scientist at UNSW and the conference organiser.

Press link for more: Newsroom.unsw.edu.au

Corals Die, Farmers Suffer #ClimateChange #Auspol #StopAdani

Corals die, farmers suffer through Australia’s third-hottest year

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia had its third-hottest year on record in 2017, the country’s weather bureau said on Wednesday, as global warming changed the continent’s climate and farmers warned unpredictable seasons are hurting the $47 billion agricultural sector.

Unusually, the high heat last year came despite the absence of an El Nino weather system in the Pacific, which tends to warm Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology said in its annual climate statement.

“I think what it illustrates is even without the strong driver of an El Nino, the world is still producing very warm temperatures,” Blair Trewin, a senior climatologist at the bureau told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

During 2017 hotter ocean temperatures near Australia’s northeast coast prompted “significant” coral bleaching along the world-heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, the first time it had occurred in consecutive summers.

The national mean temperature was nearly one degree Celsius above average, with the heat “mostly associated” with human-caused global warming that also reduced rainfall in Australia’s south, the bureau’s statement said.

That made for the driest September ever recorded in crucial grain-growing regions of New South Wales and the Murray-Darling riverbasin, with heavy rains then hitting during harvest and making it even more difficult for farmers.

The world’s fourth largest wheat exporter is set for its smallest crop in a decade.

“It’s really the unpredictability of it rather than the actual event,” said Matt Dalgleish, a market analyst at agricultural advisory firm Mecardo.

“Farmers are used to dealing with different weather as long as it can run within a reasonably predictable pattern and sit reasonably close to the seasons they expect – it’s when you get these events that are uncharacteristically out of season that cause the most amount of heartache.”

Seven of Australia’s 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005, the bureau found, and another hotter-than-average year is expected in 2018, which has already brought heatwave conditions to the country’s southeast.

Sydney on Sunday sweltered through its hottest day in 80 years, while highway bitumen melted in Victoria state and bushfires burned out of control. In the northwest, a tropical storm is gathering and forecast to make landfall at cyclone-strength between Broome and Port Hedland on Saturday.

Globally it is likely 2017 will be the second- or third-warmest year on record since 1850, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Michael Perry

Press link for more:Reuters.com

Coral Bleaching ‘The New Normal’ #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Coral reef bleaching ‘the new normal’ and a fatal threat to ecosystems

Study of 100 tropical reef locations finds time between bleaching events has shrunk and is too short for full recovery

Helen DavidsonLast modified on Fri 5 Jan ‘18 06.01 AEDT

Coral bleaching on the Great Barrief Reef.

While mass bleaching events used to occur once every 27 years, by 2016 the median time between them was 5.9 years. Photograph: Greg Torda/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Repeated large-scale coral bleaching events are the new normal thanks to global warming, a team of international scientists has found.

In a study published in the journal Science, the researchers revealed a “dramatic shortening” of the time between bleaching events was “threatening the future existence of these iconic ecosystems and the livelihoods of many millions of people”.

The study examined 100 tropical reef locations across the world, analysing existing data on coral bleaching events as well as new field research conducted on the Great Barrier Reef after the longest and worst case of bleaching caused by climate change killed almost 25% of the coral.

“Before the 1980s, mass bleaching of corals was unheard of, even during strong El Niño conditions,” said lead author Prof Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. “Now repeated bouts of regional-scale bleaching and mass mortality of corals has become the new normal around the world as temperatures continue to rise.”

The study found that time between bleaching events had diminished five-fold in the past 30 to 40 years, and was now too short to allow for a full recovery and was approaching unsustainable levels.

While mass bleaching events used to occur about once every 27 years, by 2016 the median time between them had shrunk to 5.9 years.

Only six of the 100 sites had escaped bleaching.

“Our analysis indicates that we are already approaching a scenario in which every hot summer, with or without an El Niño event, has the potential to cause bleaching and mortality at a regional scale,” the paper said.

Globally, the annual risk of severe and moderate bleaching had increased by almost 4% a year since the 1980s, from an expected 8% of locations to 31% in 2016.

The Western Atlantic remained at highest risk but Australasia and the Middle East saw the strongest increases in risk of bleaching.

Hughes said he hoped the “stark results” would prompt stronger action on reducing greenhouse gases. In May scientists warned that the central goal of the Australian government’s protection plan was no longer feasible because of the dramatic impact of climate change.

Friday’s paper also determined the link between El Niño and mass bleaching events has diminished as global warming continues.

Prior to the 1980s mass coral bleaching on a regional scale was “exceedingly rare or absent” and occurred in localised areas stretching tens of kilometres, not the hundreds of kilometres affected in recent times, the paper said.

These local bleaching events were largely caused by small-scale stressors like unusually hot or cold weather, freshwater inundation or sedimentation.

Then global warming increased the thermal stress of strong El Niño events, the paper said, widening the impact of individual bleaching events. Now, they are occurring at any time.

“Back in the 80s it was only during El Niño events that waters became hot enough to damage corals and induce them to bleach,” co-author Andrew Baird, a professor at James Cook University, told Guardian Australia.

“But now it’s 30, 40 years later and we’re seeing those temperatures in normal years.”

Baird said it was difficult to know if the current conditions were reversible but “the window to address it is diminishing”.

“It’s impossible to know if this is the end of coral reefs but it might be,” he said. “We really need to get on top of climate change as soon as possible.”

There have been several large-scale and devastating mass bleaching events in recent years. The 2015-16 event affected 75% of the reefs studied by the researchers, who said it was comparable to the then unprecedented mass bleaching of 1997-98, when 74% were affected.

“Interestingly one of the first papers that effectively drew attention to the issue – back in 1999 – suggested that by 2016, 2017, 2020, we would be seeing bleaching annually,” Baird said. “That’s pretty close to what’s happening unfortunately.

“Some of these earlier works were quite prescient in their prediction and unfortunately we didn’t pay enough attention back then.”

The study follows a discovery late last year that 3% of the Great Barrier Reef could facilitate recovery after bleaching – a finding the researchers at the time suggested was akin to a life-support system but small enough not to be taken for granted.

Press link for more: The Guardian

Cities have the power to lead #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #OnePlanet #StopAdani

Cities have the power to lead climate change

Cities, as hubs of innovation, now stand at the forefront of climate action


Christiana Figueres, vice-chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors | via Global Covenant of Mayors

Negotiating the Paris Agreement was a monumental achievement.

Nations rallied together and subnational actors, especially cities and local governments, afforded confidence that targets could be met, leading to swift approval and ratification.

As we lean into implementation, leaders in every corner of the world, in cities large and small, are taking bold climate action to ensure we are able to meet these commitments — and, importantly, take even more ambitious action.

However, for some local leaders, implementation of the Agreement comes with challenges. This is especially pertinent when it comes to obtaining the financial support needed to turn ideas into action and make the changes necessary to ensure they can help meet the goals set forth in Paris.

Luckily, one of the many successes of the Paris Agreement was the establishment of mechanisms to increase climate-friendly ideas and investment.

Cities, as hubs of innovation, now stand at the forefront of climate action, ready to accept these investments.

I am proud to serve as the vice-chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, an initiative that supports city leaders in meeting these commitments.

Together with our partner city networks both globally and locally, cities in this alliance are developing cutting-edge solutions to the challenges of climate finance.

They are providing critical leadership and support as national governments move towards a greener future.

The power these cities have to tackle climate change cannot be understated.

Mayors and local leaders often have greater influence over the sectors that most impact carbon emissions.

Buildings, transportation, water and waste are all complex systems, and city leaders’ in-depth knowledge of regional environmental landscapes means they are uniquely suited to pinpoint which areas need the most attention to reduce emissions while increasing sustainability and economic efficiency.

“We must see climate in every facet of the economy, from green buildings and infrastructure to sustainable agriculture, so that our growth will be climate neutral.”

Central to scaling timely global climate action is financing the development of modernized low carbon infrastructure.

We must see climate in every facet of the economy, from green buildings and infrastructure to sustainable agriculture, so that our growth will be climate neutral.

Investments in these priorities now will build the tomorrow we want our children to live in.

As cities work to accelerate the collective impact of their actions, improving city-level access to finance will increase investment flows into cities and other urban areas. It will unlock the potential of cities to be a fundamental part of the global climate solution. It will re-shape the economics of development and reinforce sustainable infrastructure as a stronger investment over high-carbon polluting options.

In Cape Town, this philosophy has been taken to heart as a number of new strategies are pursued to increase investments in our green future. Many climate and resilience solutions, such as renewable energy, green transportation and net-zero buildings, are less expensive to operate than they are to build, meaning it takes partnerships between governments and the private sector to finance them.

“Cape Town is poised to become the first city in Africa to install an electric bus system.”

For example, Cape Town is poised to become the first city in Africa to install an electric bus system. The MyCiTi bus system is an ambitious project and will be made possible by a public-private investment partnership and pay dividends to the city in the future. The strategic partnership goes beyond just buying buses: the buses, currently made by Chinese green energy firm BYD, will soon be manufactured at a new plant in Cape Town in 2018. The implementation of the MyCiTi bus system is not only increasing sustainability and helping to reduce carbon emissions, it is boosting the city’s economy and creating hundreds of jobs. This project will help Cape Town save money with reduced maintenance and operating costs while supporting the city’s ongoing journey to build a strong and prosperous green economy.

The city is also collaborating with the private sector to mitigate the dire effects of drought on Cape Town’s water supply. To accelerate emergency water projects, the city is issuing tax-exempt green bonds to private sector developers to incentivize developments that will enhance sustainability and improve water security. Thanks to the investment spurred by green bonds and other innovative strategies, a platform of climate security is being created from which the city’s future is wide open.

“The implementation of the MyCiTi bus system is not only increasing sustainability and helping to reduce carbon emissions, it is boosting the city’s economy and creating hundreds of jobs.”

Cities like Cape Town are helping to spur the global transformation that spells success for the Paris Agreement. By investing in sustainability and resilience now, we can guarantee not only stable returns for our private sector partners, but a stable future for our cities and the world.

Unlocking a sustainable path for cities allows them to accelerate their impact. By 2050, implementing sustainable urban infrastructure choices could save $17 trillion on energy costs alone.

Through initiatives like the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, over 7,400 cities around the world — 9.35 percent of the population — are showing their potential and making real progress to greatly accelerate the world’s achievements towards the legally binding global commitment to create a carbon neutral world this century.


Christiana Figueres, Vice-Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors

“Life on earth would suffocate” #COP23 #StopAdani

Donald Trump Is Wiping Out the World’s Coral Reefs and Small Islands And We’re Not Doing Anything to Stop It

By Helena Wright On 11/19/17 at 9:05 AM

The island nation of Fiji hosted the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn last week, bringing attention to the plight of small islands under climate change.

Fiji is already facing migration of its people, loss of coral reefs, and more intense cyclones such as the one last year that wiped out a third of its GDP.

Fiji is also home to the Great Sea Reef, the third longest continuous barrier reef in the world.

All the countries in the world except the U.S. have now backed the Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to keep climate change below 2 degrees of warming and strive for 1.5 degrees.

However, to save coral reefs the world needs to meet the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees, a level at which around a third of coral reefs may survive.

Any warmer that this – and scientists expect virtually none of the world’s coral reefs to survive.

There is still hope for the world’s coral reefs, but President Donald Trump’s stance on climate change means he is actively contributing to their destruction.

1.5 degrees: Last call for corals

This year, carbon dioxide reached record levels not seen for millions of years, making oceans more acidic.

This reduces the ability of corals to build skeletons, which combined with rising sea temperatures and stronger storms is contributing to their death.

For this reason, coral reefs have been cited as one of the early causalities of climate change. Sometimes known as the ‘rainforests of the sea’, coral reefs support about a quarter of all ocean fish species.

They are a vital part of ocean food webs and as a nursery for young fish, their loss would be devastating for ocean life.

Not only do more than 500 million people around the world directly rely on coral reefs for their livelihood, income and food, but coral reefs provide an estimated $375 billion per year in goods and services to the world.

President Trump’s rejection of climate science not only affects coral reefs – it could affect life on earth. For instance, phytoplankton in the ocean produce over half the world’s oxygen supplies.

Global warming of six degrees could interfere with this, meaning oxygen levels would plummet and life on earth could suffocate.

If we burn all known fossil fuel reserves, the planet could warm by more than six degrees as soon as the end of this century.

To achieve the Paris Agreement, we need to keep the majority of the world’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

However, last week, amid protests from campaigners, the United States hosted an event at the UN Climate Conference to promote fossil fuels.

Trump is actively working against global efforts on climate change, leading to the destruction of the world’s coral reefs and low-lying small islands.

Coral reefs are highly sensitive to climate change, and may experience most damage at relatively low warming thresholds. “

“Once you’ve killed off the coral reefs you are no longer at risk of killing off the coral reefs,” explains Ken Caldeira, an environmental scientist at Stanford University. Dr. Line K Bay/Australian Institute of Marine Science

Raising ambition

Existing climate pledges under the Paris Agreement are not nearly sufficient to achieve the two-degree goal, let alone to keep warming to a level that would save coral reefs.

In fact, national pledges only add up to around 3.2 degrees.   Recent data does not look good either – global emissions are expected to go up again this year after remaining relatively flat for three years.

In order to have a chance of enabling some reefs to survive, global emissions must peak immediately, which means coal power must be phased out within the next ten years.  Some countries are doing this already, with Canada and the U.K. announcing this week a new global alliance on coal phase out.

Efforts have also begun to save coral reefs through coral gardening – growing the most resilient strains of corals and transplanting them into the ocean. However, it is unlikely this can be done on a large enough or fast enough scale to save huge reefs.  There have also been calls for a global ‘seed bank’ for corals to preserve existing coral strains with the hope of restoring them later. This is urgent because damages have already occurred, for example, a third of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef died from bleaching last year.

There is still a fading hope for coral reefs if we raise global ambition on climate change. Globally, renewable energy is getting cheaper which may make this easier, with solar energy costs expected to fall by a further 60% over the next ten years. Earlier this year, solar prices reached a record low in India, making solar cheaper than fossil fuels and prompting a rethink on coal projects.

In addition, many sub-national cities and states are raising ambition on air pollution and climate change.  Several U.S. states including Washington State and Oregon have already joined the new alliance to phase out coal.  There are also individual actions we can take – from buying efficient cars to eating sustainably.

However, President Trump is standing in the way.  All countries will need to phase out fossil fuels by mid-century to meet the Paris climate goals.  This will have to include Russia – one of the world’s leading oil and gas producers and exporters.  Trump’s support for fossil fuels is giving Russia an economic gift, but condemning the rest of the world to mass destruction.

Unless Trump changes his stance, the world will hold the U.S. responsible for the damages to coral reefs and small islands.  The clock is ticking, and time is running out.

Dr. Helena Wright is a senior policy adviser at independent sustainability organization E3G currently based in Fiji.

Press link for more: Newsweek.com

Earth too hot for humans! 

A must read in the New York Magazine today.

Why hasn’t the world become more sustainable? #StopAdani #Auspol 

In 1992, more than 170 countries came together at the Rio Earth Summit and agreed to pursue sustainable development, protect biological diversity, prevent dangerous interference with climate systems, and conserve forests.

 But, 25 years later, the natural systems on which humanity relies continue to be degraded.

So why hasn’t the world become much more environmentally sustainable despite decades of international agreements, national policies, state laws and local plans? 

This is the question that a team of researchers and I have tried to answer in a recent article.
We reviewed 94 studies of how sustainability policies had failed across every continent.

 These included case studies from both developed and developing countries, and ranged in scope from international to local initiatives.

Consider the following key environmental indicators. Since 1970:
Humanity’s ecological footprint has exceeded the Earth’s capacity and has risen to the point where 1.6 planets would be needed to provide resources sustainably.
The biodiversity index has fallen by more than 50% as the populations of other species continue to decline.
Greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change have almost doubled while the impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent.
The world has lost more than 48% of tropical and sub-tropical forests.
The rate at which these indicators deteriorated was largely unchanged over the two decades either side of the Rio summit. Furthermore, humanity is fast approaching several environmental tipping points. If crossed, these could lead to irreversible changes.
If we allow average global temperatures to rise 2℃ above pre-industrial levels, for example, feedback mechanisms will kick in that lead to runaway climate change. 

We’re already halfway to this limit and could pass it in the next few decades.

What’s going wrong?
So what’s going wrong with sustainability initiatives? 

We found that three types of failure kept recurring: economic, political and communication.
The economic failures stem from the basic problem that environmentally damaging activities are financially rewarded.

 A forest is usually worth more money after it’s cut down – which is a particular problem for countries transitioning to a market-based economy.
Political failures happen when governments can’t or won’t implement effective policies. 

This is often because large extractive industries, like mining, are dominant players in an economy and see themselves as having the most to lose. 

This occurs in developed and developing countries, but the latter can face extra difficulties enforcing policies once they’re put in place.

Communication failures centre on poor consultation or community involvement in the policy process. Opposition then flourishes, sometimes based on a misunderstanding of the severity of the issue. It can also be fed by mistrust when communities see their concerns being overlooked.
Again, this happens around the world. A good example would be community resistance to changing water allocation systems in rural areas of Australia. 

In this situation, farmers were so opposed to the government buying back some of their water permits that copies of the policy were burned in the street.
These types of failure are mutually reinforcing. 

Poor communication of the benefits of sustainable development creates the belief that it always costs jobs and money. 

Businesses and communities then pressure politicians to avoid or water down environmentally friendly legislation.
Ultimately, this represents a failure to convince people that sustainable development can supply “win-win” scenarios. As a result, decision-makers are stuck in the jobs-versus-environment mindset.
What can we do?
The point of our paper was to discover why policies that promote sustainability have failed in order to improve future efforts. 

The challenge is immense and there’s a great deal at stake.

 Based on my previous research into the way economic, social and environmental goals can co-exist, I would go beyond our most recent paper to make the following proposals.
First, governments need to provide financial incentives to switch to eco-efficient production. 

Politicians need to have the courage to go well beyond current standards.

 Well-targeted interventions can create both carrot and stick, rewarding eco-friendly behaviour and imposing a cost on unsustainable activities.
Second, governments need to provide a viable transition pathway for industries that are doing the most damage.

 New environmental tax breaks and grants, for example, could allow businesses to remain profitable while changing their business model.

Finally, leaders from all sectors need to be convinced of both the seriousness of the declining state of the environment and that sustainable development is possible. 

Promoting positive case studies of successful green businesses would be a start.
There will of course be resistance to these changes. 

The policy battles will be hard fought, particularly in the current international political climate.

 We live in a world where the US president is rolling back climate policies while the Australian prime minister attacks renewable energy.

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