El nino

Earth too hot for humans! 

A must read in the New York Magazine today.
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans.html

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.

Press link for more: WEFORUM

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

By Paul Mason

It hits you in the face and clings to you. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

“Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared. 

It’s coal. 

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

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

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

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


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

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

Their inner idiot wishes it were not. 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Press link for more: The Guardian.com

I Don’t Believe in Climate Change #Auspol #science 

I don’t believe in climate change: A line in the sand

Mark Robinson 

Meteorologist

Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 12:01 PM – I don’t believe in climate change.
Wait! Before you start smashing a nasty reply back to me, keep reading.
As a trained meteorologist, storm chaser who also studied wildlife biology as an undergraduate, I don’t believe in climate change.
I accept the overwhelming evidence for it.
And that’s the critical point. When you’re talking about science, there’s no such thing as believe. There’s an acceptance or a rejection of the evidence presented. I hear far too often, from both side of the “debate” that this person or that person BELIEVES in climate change.
It drives me up the wall.

But it’s also the crux of the issue.

 I have talked to many people about climate change and why I accept the evidence for it. 

One commonality that I find with people who reject the evidence is an almost religiosity in their belief (and I use this term correctly) that the evidence is either not there or has been faked, or manipulated, or… whatever. There’s a long list.


I have no issue talking with people about their point of view.

 I like it. 

It’s my way of getting out of my own echo chamber that’s so easy to fall into. 

The only thing that I ask is that if you want to debate this, bring your science to the table. 

Otherwise it’s bringing a chihuahua to a badger fight. It’s not going to be pretty and it’s not going to last long.

What I continuously find is that the people who want to discuss it have no science, but a metric (expletive)-tonne of belief. 

I get told that the planet’s been cooling for the last 10 years, or that Climategate is still a thing.

 Or that Michael E. Mann’s graph has been debunked. 

Sources for this information are almost inevitably a blog post or a web page. 

It’s almost never credible peer-reviewed journals; which constitute the gold standard for science.

It’s the exact same tactics I practiced in my wildlife biology undergrad, but substitute evolution for climatology. 

 The same lack of real science, the same conspiracy theory tactics, the same Gish Gallops, it’s all there again.
I don’t believe in evolution either.

 I accept the overwhelming evidence for it. 

Scientific truth isn’t something you “feel”. 

It doesn’t depend on your political preferences.
Science is the single most powerful method humans have ever come up with to get as close to “truth” as possible.
And I for one, am not going to let it be destroyed because some people don’t like its conclusions.
This is my line in the sand.

Press link for more: The Weather Network

Expect Climate Catastrophe: Paris Agreement Lacks Enforcement #auspol

By Andres Corr

Enforcement mechanisms for climate change targets are not being implemented, including in the Paris Agreement of December 2015. 

We are actually sliding backwards on this critical element of a global climate deal.
Sanctions were agreed in 2001, that any developed countries that missed emission limits between 2008 and 2012 would have even steeper limits in the future. 

That has since lapsed. 

In 2011, all countries agreed that a climate agreement should have “legal force.” Legal force requires an enforcement mechanism, which the Paris Agreement lacks. The E.U. pushed hard for binding targets in the Paris


Agreements, including international sanctions for noncompliance. Those did not come about. Bolivia called for an International Climate Justice Tribunal with the mandate to penalize countries for lack of compliance. There is no tribunal in the Paris Agreement.
Rather, most developed and emerging economies have systematically resisted international enforcement mechanisms. China (the world’s biggest emissions producer), Russia, the U.S., Canada, India, Japan, Australia, and major energy exporters, resisted the toughest climate change countermeasures over the years, including international monitoring and sanctions. Some in these countries have bemoaned the loss of sovereignty from transparency and enforceable international climate deals.

 As a result, the 2°C limit in the Paris Agreement on climate change, which started this month, is unenforceable and therefore solely an aspiration if the world can achieve carbon neutrality by 2100. The way things are going, that is unlikely. The Paris Agreement is now among over 500 similarly powerless global and regional environmental agreements.

President-elect Trump and other Republicans have dismissed global warming and the international coordination required to stop it.

 The countries most responsible for lagging in their pledges and policies since the Paris Agreement include Russia, Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. 


The U.S., China, India, Brazil, and E.U. countries also lag in their pledges and policies to achieve a climate-neutral future. Those countries that most opposed enforcement, unsurprisingly, also lag in their policy measures to achieve the Paris goals.

Given current pledges, temperature rise is predicted to be 2.8°C by 2100. But even these pledges to limit greenhouse gases have not been fulfilled. 

Factoring in current policies, rather than just aspirational pledges, temperature rise is predicted to be 3.6°C. So despite the political fanfare in Paris, the planet is likely headed for irreversible catastrophic climate change. 

 To bequeath a livable planet to our grandchildren, citizens must demand of their governments greater global transparency and enforcement measures against emissions.

Press link for more: Forbes.com

This Film Festival Offers Solutions to Climate Change #auspol

A photograph featuring the Jury members and attending winners of the Film4Climate Global Video Competition.
As the COP22 Film4Climate Global Video Competition begins, the mood is somber: it’s the end of the first week of the Conference of Parties and just five days after the announcement of Trump’s election win. While uncertainty and fear for the future are palpable, there’s also a sense of hope, as this is where the efforts for taking action on climate change merge with the creative medium of filmmaking.
Part of the World Bank Group’s Connect4Climate initiative, the Film4Climate competition features the winners of various categories for under-one-minute PSA videos, and short films under five minutes. Winning productions portray both singular and comprehensive, oftentimes highly self-made movies that reflect the realities of and actions taken by many on the ground.


Jeffrey Sachs, Professor at and director of Earth Institute at Columbia University, addressing the audience at Film4Climate Global Video Competition. 

“So much talent in this room,” he begins, “and you have to listen to an economist. Go figure that.”
“It’s extremely important to use your voice and your reach to explain what’s at stake,” says Professor and director of Earth Institute at Columbia University, Jeffrey Sachs, during his opening speech. 

“The people that want their grubby hands on the steering wheel in Washington are ExxonMobil and Chevron and people who bought this [American] election,” he says. 

Citing “the names that are being kicked about in the US media”—including Trump’s selection of Myron Ebell to oversee the EPA transition team—Sachs expounds a stern but necessary reminder of the battle ahead. 

“It’s fine to be ignorant, just don’t do it in Washington. 

Because we’ve got important things to do, and we really don’t have time for really greedy, nasty, or completely scientifically ignorant people to be anywhere near decision-making right now.”

Press link for videos: The Creators Project

World War II mobilisation for climate action #auspol 

Drawing upon episodes of World War II mobilisations Dr. Delina lays out contingency climate action strategies based upon the relative optimism provided by rapid deployment of demonstrated and proven sustainable energy technologies.

In this assessment of accelerated sustainable energy transitions, Dr. Delina describes in a thought experiment how we could quickly mobilise the required technologies, finance, and labour resources, as well as how these processes can be coordinated by governments. 

Although wartime narratives can provide some lenses for getting us back to a safer climate, Dr. Delina acknowledges that this analogy is far from perfect.


Dr. Laurence Delina discusses his recent book, ‘Strategies for Rapid Climate Mitigation: wartime mobilisation as a model for action?’.

Press link for audio presentation: Breakthrough online

Radical Realism About Climate Change #auspol

Lili Fuhr heads the Ecology and Sustainable Development Department at the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

BERLIN – Mainstream politics, by definition, is ill equipped to imagine fundamental change. But last December in Paris, 196 governments agreed on the need to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels – an objective that holds the promise of delivering precisely such a transformation. Achieving it will require overcoming serious political challenges, reflected in the fact that some are advocating solutions that will end up doing more harm than good.

One strategy that has gained a lot of momentum focuses on the need to develop large-scale technological interventions to control the global thermostat. Proponents of geo-engineering technologies argue that conventional adaptation and mitigation measures are simply not reducing emissions fast enough to prevent dangerous warming. Technologies such as “carbon capture and storage” (CCS), they argue, are necessary to limit damage and human suffering.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change seems to agree. In its fifth assessment report, it builds its scenarios for meeting the Paris climate goals around the concept of “negative emissions” – that is, the ability to suck excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

But this approach ignores serious problems with the development and deployment of geo-engineering technologies. Consider CCS, which is the process of capturing waste CO2 from large sources like fossil-fuel power plants and depositing it in, say, an underground geological formation, thereby preventing it from entering the atmosphere.

It sounds good. But what makes it economical is that it enables enhanced oil recovery. In other words, the only way to make CCS cost-effective is to use it to exacerbate the problem it is supposed to address.

The supposed savior technology – bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) – is not much better. BECCS begins by producing large amounts of biomass from, say, fast-growing trees which naturally capture CO2; those plants are then converted into fuel via burning or refining, with the resulting carbon emissions being captured and sequestered.

But bioenergy is not carbon neutral, and the surge in European demand for biomass has led to rising food commodity prices and land grabs in developing countries. These realities helped persuade the scientists Kevin Anderson and Glen Peters recently to call carbon removal an “unjust and high-stakes gamble.”

What about other geo-engineering proposals? Solar Radiation Management (SRM) aims to control the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth, essentially mimicking the effect of a volcano eruption. This may be achieved by pumping sulphates into the stratosphere or through “marine cloud brightening,” which would cause clouds to reflect more sunlight back into space.

But blasting sulphates into the stratosphere does not reduce CO2 concentrations; it merely delays the impact for as long as the spraying continues. Moreover, sulphate injections in the northern hemisphere could cause serious drought in the Africa’s Sahel region, owing to dramatic reductions in precipitation, while some African countries would experience more precipitation. The effect on the Asian monsoon system could be even more pronounced. In short, SRM could severely damage the livelihoods of millions of people.

If geo-engineering can’t save us, what can? In fact, there are a number of steps that can be taken right now. They would be messier and more politically challenging than geo-engineering. But they would work.

The first step would be a moratorium on new coal mines. If all currently planned coal-fired power plants are built and operated over their normal service life of 40 years, they alone would emit 240 billion tons of CO2 – more than the remaining carbon budget. If that investment were re-allocated to decentralized renewable-energy production, the benefits would be enormous.

Moreover, with only 10% of the global population responsible for almost 50% of global CO2 emissions, there is a strong case to be made for implementing strategies that target the biggest emitters. For example, it makes little sense that airlines – which actually serve just 7% of the global population – are exempt from paying fuel taxes, especially at a time when ticket prices are at an historic low.

Changes to land use are also needed. The 2009 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development charts the way to a transformed agricultural system – with benefits that extend far beyond climate policy. We must apply this knowledge around the world.

In Europe, the waste sector could make a significant contribution to a low-carbon economy. Recent research, commissioned by Zero Waste Europe, found that optimal implementation of the European Commission’s “circular economy package” waste targets could save the European Union 190 million tons of CO2 per year. That is the equivalent of the annual emissions of the Netherlands!

Available measures in the transport sector include strengthening public transportation, encouraging the use of railways for freight traffic, building bike paths, and subsidizing delivery bicycles. In Germany, intelligent action on transport could reduce the sector’s emissions by up to 95% by 2050.

Another powerful measure would be to protect and restore natural ecosystems, which could result in the storage of 220-330 gigatons of CO2 worldwide .

None of these solutions is a silver bullet; but, together, they could change the world for the better. Geo-engineering solutions are not the only alternatives. They are a response to the inability of mainstream economics and politics to address the climate challenge. Instead of trying to devise ways to maintain business as usual – an impossible and destructive goal – we must prove our ability to imagine and achieve radical change.

If we fail, we should not be surprised if, just a few years from now, the planetary thermostat is under the control of a handful of states or military and scientific interests. 

As world leaders convene for the 22nd United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to bring the Paris agreement into force, they should repudiate geo-engineering quick fixes – and demonstrate a commitment to real solutions.

Press link for more: Project-Syndicate

How Indonesia’s Fires Made it the Biggest Climate Polluter #Auspol #ClimateChange

Indonesia’s forest fires have catapulted the southeast Asian nation to the top of the rankings of the world’s worst global warming offenders, with daily emissions exceeding those of China on at least 14 days in the past two months.
The nation’s total daily carbon dioxide emissions, including from power generation, transport and industry, exceeded those of the U.S. on 47 of the 74 days through Oct. 28, according to Bloomberg analysis of national emissions data from the World Resources Institute in Washington and Indonesian fire-emissions data from VU University in Amsterdam.

Smog caused by the fires has generated headlines and a diplomatic flare-up between Indonesia and its neighbors in southeast Asia. It’s a threat to human health and has disrupted flights in the region. At the same time, burning trees and peatlands are pumping heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere at a time when more than 190 nations are gearing up to sign a new agreement to stem global warming in Paris in December.

“The problem that we see in Indonesia with essentially unrestrained deforestation going on is a bad message for the world,” Bill Hare, chief executive officer of Potsdam, Germany-based policy researcher Climate Analytics, said in a phone interview. “If we can’t really control deforestation in this region, who’s going to be next? It would be a signal that countries can get away with this kind of deforestation without any real constraint.”

The fires are caused by clearing woodland for paper and palm oil plantations, and have been worsened by El Nino-related dry

Indonesia’s forest fires have catapulted the southeast Asian nation to the top of the rankings of the world’s worst global warming offenders, with daily emissions exceeding those of China on at least 14 days in the past two months.

QUICKTAKE

Deforestation

The nation’s total daily carbon dioxide emissions, including from power generation, transport and industry, exceeded those of the U.S. on 47 of the 74 days through Oct. 28, according to Bloomberg analysis of national emissions data from the World Resources Institute in Washington and Indonesian fire-emissions data from VU University in Amsterdam.

Smog caused by the fires has generated headlines and a diplomatic flare-up between Indonesia and its neighbors in southeast Asia. It’s a threat to human health and has disrupted flights in the region. At the same time, burning trees and peatlands are pumping heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere at a time when more than 190 nations are gearing up to sign a new agreement to stem global warming in Paris in December.

“The problem that we see in Indonesia with essentially unrestrained deforestation going on is a bad message for the world,” Bill Hare, chief executive officer of Potsdam, Germany-based policy researcher Climate Analytics, said in a phone interview. “If we can’t really control deforestation in this region, who’s going to be next? It would be a signal that countries can get away with this kind of deforestation without any real constraint.”

The fires are caused by clearing woodland for paper and palm oil plantations, and have been worsened by El Nino-related dry conditions.
In a satellite record that began in 1997, 2015 is the second worst year on record for emissions from Indonesian forest fires, according to Guido van der Werf, professor of Earth sciences at VU University. It’s unlikely to exceed 1997, which itself was probably worse than any year predating the satellite record, he said.

“We have some confidence in the numbers because by using atmospheric models we can predict, based on our emissions, how elevated concentrations of gases and aerosols will be in the atmosphere,” van der Werf said in an e-mail. “That corresponds reasonably well with what we actually measure in the atmosphere.”

Without including land use changes and deforestation, Indonesia emits about 761 megatons (761 million metric tons) of carbon dioxide a year, according to 2012 data from the World Resources Institute. That works out at 2.1 megatons a day, compared with almost 16 for the U.S. and 29.3 for China. 

Indonesian daily emissions from fires alone rose as high as 61 megatons on Oct. 14, according to van der Werf’s data, part of the Global Fire Emissions Database. That accounted for almost 97 percent of total national emissions for the day.

Exceeding China

The daily average emissions for Indonesia, including those of the wider economy, was 22.5 megatons in September and 23 megatons for Oct. 1 through Oct. 28, according to Bloomberg calculations. That’s more than the U.S. average for those two months, based on a typical year, though still short of China. Even so, daily emissions first exceeded those of China on Sept. 8, and most recently did so on Oct. 23.

“Put simply, this is a climate catastrophe,” Nigel Sizer, global director of WRI’s forests program said in an e-mailed reply. “The emissions from these fires are likely to add about 3 percent to total global greenhouse gas emissions from human activities for the year.”

The WRI posted analysis in an Oct 16 blog that showed emissions from the fire exceeding those of the entire U.S. economy.

Indonesia has pledged to cut its emissions by 29 percent from a projected “business-as-usual” scenario by 2030 as part of the new UN deal on climate change. The plan, short on details, includes an unquantified commitment to reduce deforestation. The country already has a moratorium in place on clearing primary forests, and a ban on converting peatlands to other uses.

Failed Efforts

“An enormous amount of effort has gone in from different countries to support reductions in deforestation and burning of peat land and it’s really failed,” said Hare.

Van der Werf said it takes 100 years or more to grow trees that will absorb the CO2 released by burning primary forests. For carbon-rich peat soils that have been burnt, the lag is even bigger, he said.

“What is burning in Indonesia is for a large part peat that has accumulated over thousands of years and will not regrow so this is a net source of CO2, just like fossil fuel emissions,” he said. “Unless there is a dramatic change in land management these peatlands will not be restored.”

Press link for more: Alex Morales | bloomberg.com

Billy Sweet & John Marra explain nuisance floods. #ClimateChange

Flooding on Wingate-Bishops Head Road, Eastern Shore, Maryland, during a spring high tide, October 2007. (Photo by Wanda Diane Cole, for Sea Level Rise: Technical Guidance For Dorchester County, a report to the Maryland DNR Coastal Zone Management Division.)
Scientists from NOAA’s National Ocean Service have recently completed an analysis of “nuisance flooding” in 27 U.S. cities. Their report includes the number of nuisance flood days each location experienced in 2014, how nuisance flooding has changed since 1950, and how El Niño is likely to boost the number of nuisance flood days for many cities through spring 2016. (press release | full report) In this Q&A, oceanographers Billy Sweet and John Marra explain nuisance flooding and the risks it poses to U.S. cities.
Q. In a nutshell, what is nuisance flooding?

Nuisance flooding is minor, recurrent flooding that takes place at high tide. It occurs when the ocean has reached the “brim” locally. Because of sea level rise, nuisance flooding in the United States has become a “sunny day” event—not necessarily linked to storms or heavy rain.
Q. If the impacts are minor, why do we care?

During nuisance flooding, waves may overtop old seawalls, water may inundate low-lying roads, and storm-water drainage can be diminished. These impacts may not be life threatening, but they disrupt transportation, damage infrastructure, and strain city and county maintenance budgets. A nuisance flood can become a more severe problem if a local rainstorm, storm surge, or wave-overtopping event coincides with high tide.

  
When water levels reach the nuisance flood level, locally the ocean has reached the “brim” and minor flooding starts to occur. Impacts include overtopping of old seawalls, flooding of specific roadways and diminished storm-water drainage capability, among others. A more severe problem results if a local rainstorm, storm surge or wave overtopping event also happen concurrently during high tide.

Press link for more: William Sweet & John Marra | climate.gov