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#Irma & #Harvey should kill all doubt #climatechange is real. 

Irma and Harvey should kill any doubt that climate change is real

By By Michael E. Mann, Susan J. Hassol and Thomas C. Peterson

As we begin to clean up from Hurricane Harvey, the wettest hurricane on record, dumping up to 50 inches of rain on Houston in three days, and await landfall of Irma, the most powerful hurricane on record in the open Atlantic Ocean, people are asking: What is the role of human-induced climate change in these events, and how else have our own actions increased our risks?

Fundamental physical principles and observed weather trends mean we already know some of the answers — and we have for a long time.
Hurricanes get their energy from warm ocean waters, and the oceans are warming because of the human-caused buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, primarily from the burning of coal, oil and gas.

 The strongest hurricanes have gotten stronger because of global warming.

 Over the past two years, we have witnessed the most intense hurricanes on record for the globe, both hemispheres, the Pacific and now, with Irma, the Atlantic.

We also know that warmer air holds more moisture, and the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere has increased because of human-induced global warming.

 We’ve measured this increase, and it has been unequivocally attributed to human-caused warming. 

That extra moisture causes heavier rainfall, which has also been observed and attributed to our influence on climate. 

We know that rainfall rates in hurricanes are expected to increase in a warmer world, and now we’re living that reality.

And global warming also means higher sea levels, both because ocean water expands as it warms and because ice in the mountains and at the poles melts and makes its way into oceans.

 Sea level rise is accelerating, and storm surge from hurricanes rides on top of higher seas to infiltrate further into our coastal cities.
Heavier rain and higher sea levels can combine to compound flooding in major hurricanes, as the deluges cause flooding that must drain to the sea but can’t do so as quickly because of storm surges. 

Sadly, we saw this effect in play in the catastrophic flooding from Harvey.


We don’t have all of the answers yet. 

There are scientific linkages we’re still trying to work out. 

Harvey, like Hurricane Irene before it in 2011, resulted in record flooding, because of a combination of factors. 

Very warm ocean temperatures meant more moisture in the atmosphere to produce heavy rainfall, yes. 

But both storms were also very slow-moving, nearly stationary at times, which means that rain fell over the same areas for an extended period.
Cutting-edge climate science suggests that such stalled weather patterns could result from a slowed jet stream, itself a consequence — through principles of atmospheric science — of the accelerated warming of the Arctic. 

This is a reminder of how climate changes in far-off regions such as the North Pole can have very real effects on extreme weather faced here in the Lower 48.
These linkages are preliminary, and scientists are still actively studying them. But they are a reminder that surprises may be in store — and not welcome ones — when it comes to the unfolding effects of climate change.

Which leads us, inevitably, to a discussion of policy — and, indeed, politics. Previous administrations focused on adapting to climate change, with an eye to what the planet would look like in the future. 

But events such as Harvey, and probably Irma, show that we have not even adapted to our current climate (which has already changed because of our influence).
The effects of climate change are no longer subtle. 

We are seeing them play out before us here and now. 

And they will only worsen if we fail to act.
The Trump administration, however, seems determined to lead us backward. 

In recent months, we have witnessed a dismantling of the policies put in place by the Obama administration to

 (a) incentivize the necessary move from climate-change-producing fossil fuels toward clean energy, 

(b) increase resilience to climate change effects through sensible regulations on coastal development, and

 (c) continue to fund basic climate research that can inform our assessments of risk and adaptive strategies.

 Ironically, just 10 days before Harvey struck, President Trump rescinded flood protection standards put in place by the Obama administration that would take sea level rise and other climate change effects into account in coastal development plans.

And as Trump kills policies that would reduce the risks of climate disasters, our nation continues to support policies that actually increase our risks.

 For example, without the taxpayer-subsidized National Flood Insurance Program, banks would be less likely to provide mortgages for rebuilding houses in locations that have been flooded before, sometimes repeatedly. 

And the flood insurance program is itself underwater: badly in debt and set to expire at the end of this month unless Congress finds a way to keep it afloat, just as billions of dollars in claims from Harvey come pouring in.
Harvey and Irma are sad reminders that policy matters. At a time when damage from climate change is escalating, we need sensible policy in Washington to protect the citizens of this country, both by reducing future climate change and preparing for its consequences. We should demand better of our leaders.

Press link for more: Washington Post

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Coastal Cities Are Increasingly Vulnerable #ClimateChange #StopAdani 

Coastal Cities Are Increasingly Vulnerable, and So Is the Economy that Relies on Them
Gregory Unruh September 07, 2017

sept17-07-490535380

There was a time a decade or two ago when society could have made a choice to write off our massive investment in a fossil fuel-based economy and begin a policy driven shift towards a cleaner renewable infrastructure that could have forestalled the worst effects of climate change.

 But the challenges of collective action, a lack of political courage, and the power of incumbent pecuniary interests to capture the levers of power meant we did not. 

The bill is now coming due.

That means that many of our great, low-lying coastal cities are what we call “stranded assets.” 

GreenBiz founder Joel Makower defines a stranded asset as “a financial term that describes something that has become obsolete or nonperforming well ahead of its useful life, and must be recorded on a company’s balance sheet as a loss of profit.”

 Makower was talking about Exxon and other companies that built their businesses on the combustion of climate changing fossil fuels, not cities. 

But the concept easily transfers from businesses built on carbon to cities threatened by carbon’s impact.

Consider Miami.

 An invaluable, irreplaceable cultural jewel that will be stranded, both figuratively and literally, by climate change.
How can an entire metropolis that encompasses the lives, culture, and wellbeing of millions be considered “nonperforming?”

 The physical installations, infrastructures, and architecture upon which Miami are founded were built on what we now can see as a flawed assumption.

 An assumption of permanence.

 That the sea’s surface would stay as it had for the entirety of human experience.

 That Atlantic hurricane season would send infrequent storms of knowable magnitude that we could prepare for and ride out. 

It was that perception of permanence and predictability that underlay urban planning and shaped of tens of thousands of investment decisions that fostered billions of dollars of wealth in Miami.

 As long as nothing disturbs that perception, value will continue to accrue on paper.

 But if the perception of permanence that underlies those expectations is undercut, market value will disappear. 

Value is in the eyes of the buyer… until its not.

Climate change in general, and sea level rise in particular, are hard for us to see.

 The tides that surround Miami are elevating at a rate of centimeters per year. 

It is a slow motion train wreck that will be measured in decades, not seconds.

 For now, Miami property buyers don’t see it. 

A 2017 survey found that the majority of property buyers (over two-thirds) don’t ask even their brokers about the implications of climate change and sea level rise on the properties they are buying.

But for those willing to look, the impacts of sea level rise are already evident. 

So-called “sunny day flooding”, (i.e tidal flooding or flooding that occurs without the rain) is already occurring predictably in many parts of Miami, inundating streets, blocking traffic, killing lawns, corroding infrastructure and cars, contaminating groundwater, and reversing sewage systems. 

As sea level rise worsens, the inescapable conclusion is that some point Miami will be inundated and unlivable. 

Absent a civil engineering miracle, the entire city will become a stranded asset that society will have to write off. 

And it’s not alone: Reuters estimates at least $1.4 trillion in property is sitting within 700 feet of the U.S. shoreline, but the number is much probably larger.
When the irrational exuberance about the value of coastal real estate pops and thousands of buyers collectively mark down those assets, it will make the housing bubble of ten years ago look like a small blip.
The consequences will reverberate through the economy, through society and through the political landscape. 

Depending on what Hurricane Irma does, we could get a sobering preview of what that will look like. 

We have already seen the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, a city that was also built on the flawed founding assumption of permanence. 

Houston’s city planners and businesses also ignored warnings as far back as 1996 that climate change would bring exactly the kind of disaster they city is currently suffering today. 

It’s hard to blame them. 

We’ve all ignored the warnings.

We can’t anymore.

 Business leaders and politicians need to begin wrapping their heads around the big idea that climate change may mean huge financial losses in the world’s great coastal metropolises.

Press link for more: Harvard Business Review

Systematic failure #ClimateChange #StopAdani 

Climate change, Migration, Capitalism. Solutions for systemic failure. 

Part 1: Systemic failures
Introduction
David Wallace-Wells’ recent article The Unhabitable Earth in New York Magazine has been read by hundreds of thousands. 

“It is, I promise, worse than you think,” the first sentence reads.

 There is no doubt that many readers have been shocked by the avalanche of sober information that the author presents in order to make the point that it is, indeed, worse, much worse, than most of us think.

 In fact, without exaggeration, it is even worse than Wallace-Wells portrays the situation because – but this is inevitable when trying to achieve the impossible by capturing the main dangers of climate change in one article – some essential papers have been left unaddressed, for example the Friedrich and the Hansen papers.
There are also some mistakes.

 For example, Wallace-Wells writes that:
“The most exciting research on the economics of warming has (…) come from Hsiang and his colleagues (…) who offer some very bleak analysis of their own: 

Every degree Celsius of warming costs, on average, 1.2 percent of GDP (…) 

This is the sterling work in the field, and their median projection is for a 23 percent loss in per capita earning globally by the end of this century (resulting from changes in agriculture, crime, storms, energy, mortality, and labor.)

 Tracing the shape of the probability curve is even scarier:

 There is a 12 percent chance that climate change will reduce global output by more than 50 percent by 2100, they say, and a 51 percent chance that it lowers per capita GDP by 20 percent or more by then, unless emissions decline” 
This is not what Hsiang, Burke and Miguel are saying (see here and here for a FAQ-list about the Nature article in question). Hsiang et al. point out that climate change will make the world economy smaller than it would be without climate change – not that it will make the world economy of the future smaller than it is now.
How large will the economy be in 2100?

 According to the OECD, the total output of the global economy will grow at three percent for the next 50 years . As Dolan explains, projecting that rate to the end of the century would make global real GDP about fourteen times higher in 2099 than in 2010.

 Hsiang et al. use several estimates of growth rates, including one that assumes that per capita GDP in each country will grow from 2010 to 2099 at the same rate it grew from 1980 to 2010.

 Their results imply an average annual growth rate of 2.35 percent, which would make per capita global GDP about eight times higher in 2099 than in 2010.

 As Ed Dolan explains, based on these estimates, if climate change cuts real GDP by 23 percent relative to what it otherwise would be, total output of the global economy would still be eleven times larger than it is today, using the OECD estimate for growth.

 And, as Dolan writes, with the method used by Hsiang et al., per capita GDP in 2099, with climate change, would be more than six times higher in 2099 than in 2010.
Burke has posted online complete country-by-country growth estimates. 

The chart shows the ratio of estimated 2099 GDP per capita to 2010 GDP per capita for 165 countries without climate change (blue dots) and with climate change (red dots). 

The points are arranged along the horizontal axis according to 2010 GDP per capita, so for each country, the blue dot lies directly above or below that same country’s red dot.

 Climate change is on average detrimental to GDP, except for 38 of the 165 countries.

 The biggest “winners” are Mongolia, Finland, Iceland, and Russia. 

The biggest losers are countries that were hot to begin with and grew slowly in the base period, with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates faring worst of all.
Dolan

Figure 1: Projected 2099 GDP per capita with and without climate change according to Burke (Source: Ed Dolan, Niskanen Center). 
Not that I believe this. Look at what Ed Dolan writes:
“(I)t is hardly surprising that these models (…) see the likely future as one with both continued global warming and continued economic growth. (…) (T)here is a fundamental causal relationship between the two. The standard models are built on the premise that economic activity is the principle source of the carbon emissions that drive climate change (…). Given the structure of the models, then, if the economy were to begin shrinking rather than growing, then other things equal, climate change itself would slow”. 
But this is a cardinal misunderstanding: there will be no other things equal, not only because of the delay phenomenon (if we stop emitting carbon dioxide today, temperature will still rise for a long time), but also, and more importantly, because, man-made climate change (Anthropogenic Climate Disruption, ACD) compromised (and continues to compromise) the capacity of the Earth system to capture CO2, while at the same time man-made warming causes the Earth system to increasingly emit CO2 and methane.


 This means that the “standard models” are wrong, because the premise they are built upon is wrong: “economic activity” is no longer the only important source of carbon emissions.

 The estimate is that about 50% of total global fossil fuel emissions over the past 100 years have been absorbed by the land and oceans. 

If the sinks are exhausted or overwhelmed or shallow marine sediment outgassing and permafrost melting occurs, it is possible that, in the worst case scenario, a 50% reduction in the use of fossil fuels (not that there is a realistic strategy to achieve this) would have no effect on the growth rate of atmospheric CO2.

This is how serious the situation is.
To make it worse than you think it is, given the above: it is not that we are making progress. 

As a world, we do not. 

Fossil fuels accounted for 81% of the world’s energy consumption in 1987.

 Incredibly, thirty years and twenty one international climate change conferences later the figure is the same: 81% And forget ‘clean coal.’ Clean coal is as feasible as it is unaffordable.

Certainly, some countries have made substantial progress. But as a world, the “business-as-usual” scenario is the progress. And this will not change, at least not for as long as, as Flassbeck writes, the current oil price remains lower than in 1974 – a fact that is not well-known and of which the consequences are unfathomable.
Systemic failures

The United Nations recently released a report warning us that we will likely see upward of 50 million climate refugees within the next decade.

 They were wrong.

 Today, the estimate of displaced persons because of ACD is in excess of 65 million. 

There is no doubt that this is only the beginning of a much bigger, almost unfathomable, change. 

In 2014, the IPCC suggested that up to 700 million people currently living in low-lying coastal zones – 438 million in Asia and 246 million in the least developed countries – will be directly at risk to threats of climate change in the 21th Century. 

According to a new study by Geisler et al. the figure could be 1.4 billion by 2060 and 2 billion by the end of the century. 

What are global policy-makers doing?
Logically enough, the low lying islands, coastal regions, large river deltas and underdeveloped regions are most in danger of catastrophic change.

 According to a report from the World Bank (2014; updated 2015), 30 percent of arable land risks disappearing in Africa and 26% in Asia by 2030.


According to this report, massive floods will occur in some areas, as well as massive reductions in fish catch, there will be prolonged and severe droughts in Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia, agricultural yields and nutritional quality will drop (in combination with growing populations), there will be sea-level rise, the destruction of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, the increasing acidification of oceans, increasing under-nourishment, increases in childhood stunting.

 Malaria and other easily preventable or curable diseases will prove lethal for many.

 As Wallace-Wells reminds us, for every degree increase in temperature, the malaria parasite reproduces ten times faster.
In sub-Saharan Africa more than 60 million people who are already going hungry are likely to see their situation worsen due to increasing drought, other ACD impacts and threat multipliers such as uprooted communities, ethnic and/or religious strife, semi-failed and failed states, rising fundamentalism, conflicts within and wars between states.
Problems by no means only occur in developing countries.

 In Europe, desertification is creeping up north year by year. 

Cities such as Madrid and Barcelona are suffering water shortages during summer.

 The drought destroys the livelihoods of rural communities, both to the south and to the north of the Pyrenees. Desertification is taking place in the south of Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. 

By the end of the century, two out of three people living in Europe will be affected by heat waves, coastal floods and other weather-related disasters, largely due to global warming and climate change, according to a study published in the Lancet Planetary Health.

 Overall, weather-related disasters are expected to cause 152,000 deaths a year in Europe between 2071 and 2100, jumping from 3.000 weather disaster-related deaths a year between 1981 and 2010.

A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that four hundred cities in the U.S. are going to be swamped by rising sea levels, no matter what mitigation measures are taken to decrease carbon dioxide emissions.

No one knows how to react to the migration crises that will result from ACD.

 There are no plans, although it is glaringly obvious that within one generation tens of millions of people will flee their regions.

 That will only be the start. 

These people will be displaced persons in their own country or end up in refugee camps. 

International law does not recognize the existence of ecological refugees. 

It protects indigenous people, but once the ecosystem collapses, there is no protection.
This is bitterly, indeed, insanely unfair, especially since poor countries, which bear the biggest burden, contributed historically the least to climate change. 


The number of those impoverished, malnourished, and deprived of fundamental needs such as security, health care, and education totals in the hundreds of millions.

 Under current international law, climate-induced, cross-border migration triggers little, if any, protection or assistance mechanisms. 

The truism that ungoverned spaces attract terrorist networks does not need to be repeated.
The ‘best’ (sic) European policy-makers seem to be capable of is continuing to adhere to the Geneva Convention, while at the same time trying to differentiate between motives: political asylum seekers in; economic immigrants out.

 As if this makes sense, as if it is possible. 

This is now called the problem of ‘mixed migration’ . 

However, it is clear that we will not do this well: the future will see more restrictions, the further hollowing-out of the right to asylum, while voices – by far not only from the extreme Right – go up and speak louder by the day to ‘close off’ all ‘entry-points,’ such as the Mediterranean and the Balkan route (see here).
The human tragedy will get worse, much worse. 

According to Geisler et al. from the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell, in the year 2100, two billion people – about one-fifth of the world’s population – could become climate change refugees. 

Those who once lived on coastlines will face displacement and resettlement bottlenecks as they seek habitable places inland. 

The Earth’s population is expected to top 9 billion people by 2050 and climb to 11 billion people by 2100.
Geisler et al. write that:
“The colliding forces of human fertility, submerging coastal zones, residential retreat, and impediments to inland resettlement is a huge problem.

 We offer preliminary estimates of the lands unlikely to support new waves of climate refugees due to the residues of war, exhausted natural resources, declining net primary productivity, desertification, urban sprawl, land concentration, ‘paving the planet’ with roads and greenhouse gas storage zones offsetting permafrost melt”.
Feeding that population will require more arable land as swelling oceans consume fertile coastal zones and river deltas. 

Clearly, those who talk about “closing off” the Mediterranean and other “entry points” or paying off despots of countries at the border of the European continent to keep immigrants out are dreaming. 

It will not work and it should not, because it is inhumane.
That population growth, in itself, is not the problem, can be made clear by a few simple figures.

 Currently, the world population is some 7 billion.

 Of those 7 billion, some 30% is either mal-nourished, under-nourished or lives under conditions of famine, notwithstanding the fact that, today, the world produces enough food to feed in excess of 12 billion people. 

It is therefore not ‘physical limits’ that are the problem, it is the political economy of the global system, or, more prosaic, the fact that agriculture is in the hands of the Nestles, the Monsanto’s and the Cargills of this world which means that everyone can eat who can pay of it, as Amartya Sen Sen explained a long time ago. 

Climate change affects food security on both the national aggregate and the individual level. For food security to exist, Sen’s ‘three As’ – availability, accessibility and affordability – need to be present.

Food security depends on domestic production, imports and food aid. Climate change affects all of them.
How will this work?

 As Wallace-Wells explains, the basic rule for staple cereal crops grown at optimal temperature is that for every one degree Celsius of warming, yields decline by 10 percent.

 Some estimates run as high as 15 or even 17 percent.


 This means that, if average global temperature will be four degrees warmer at the end of the century – this is by no means an extravagant or unrealistic expectation any longer, the contrary is true – we may have as many as 40 percent more people to feed and 40 percent less cereal output. 

Proteins, Wallace-Wells writes, are still way worse, as it takes 16 calories of grain to produce one single calorie of hamburger meat, butchered from a cow that spent her life polluting the environment by farting and belching methane and producing nitrates.
Many – plant physiologists among them – point out that this sort of math is too simple, too childish even, that it is only valid for regions already at peak growing temperature, and even then. 

Theoretically, climate change will make growing corn in Greenland or in Northern Russia easier. 

I do not want to criticise Wallace-Wells and I hope his article reaches a lot more people, but his reference (to Rosamond Naylor and David Battisti) does not prove what he is saying. 

However, as far as I can tell, what Wallace-Wells is saying is true: the tropics are already too hot to efficiently grow grain, and those places where grain is produced today are at optimal growing temperature, which means that even small warming will push them down the slope of declining productivity. 

To this has to be added that it is impossible to move croplands up north some hundreds of miles because the soil is unsuitable to grow these crops there. It seems that it takes centuries to produce optimally fertile dirt – the couple of centimetres of top soil we depend upon for our life.
What, then, will happen?

 By 2080, without dramatic reductions in emissions – and, again, there is not one single credible sign that such reductions will become a reality – southern Europe will be in permanent extreme drought. 

The drought will be worse than the American dust bowl, the human misery of which has been immortalised in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Countries like Iraq, Iran, Syria and Pakistan will see their agricultural production plummeting. 

This, in fact, will be true for all the MENA (Middle East and North African) countries.

 The demographic evolution in each in these countries is the mirror image of most of their European counterparts: rapid population growth.


 Drought will wreck – this is, make impossible – agriculture in some of the most densely populated parts of Australia, in sub-Saharan Africa, in South America, where, in some countries such as Peru and Bolivia, conditions are already critical, and China.

 In a future not too far away, none of these places, which today still produce much of the world’s food, will be reliable sources of anything. 

Add to this that climate change will decrease the growth potential of most countries on earth and that food prices will spike. 

These changes will likely lead, or at least contribute, to a reconfiguration of global political and economic hegemony, with all risks that this will entail.
There is, and this has been going on for years now, not one month in which I do not learn about a problem which is new to me and which turns out to be incredible serious. 

Often enough, it then transpires that this problem is not being addressed, that it does not find its way into the IPCC reporting or to computer modelling.
It is, for example, of course not only drought. 

According to a new study from MIT, climate change in Pakistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka could be so severe that temperatures and humidity may exceed the upper levels of human survivability.


We are talking about extreme conditions of a crescent-shaped region where 1.5 billion people live. 

The researchers used data on climate that identifies variations in terrain and vegetation down to 10 square miles (ca. 25 square km) and fed it into global circulation models to produce detailed computer simulations.

 The resulting predictions showed extremes in so-called wet-bulb temperatures in South Asia. 

Wet-bulb temperatures (WTs) hotter than 35 degrees Celsius make it impossible for the body to dissipate heat naturally.
Although WT temperatures today typically do not exceed ca. 31°C, they nearly reached the threshold (35°C) in the summer of 2015, when an extreme heat wave hit Iran and parts of the Persian/Arabian Gulf.

 Not very much of the land in and around the area of the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula is devoted to agriculture, fewer people live in this region than in South Asia and they tend to be wealthier. 

But WT temperatures could pass the threshold in parts of north-eastern India and most of Bangladesh during seasonal heat waves.

 Eltahir’s models predicted that the second-hottest wet-bulb temperatures would occur in South Asia.

 These scorching conditions would occur over land, where one-fifth of the world’s population lives and where many more people are vulnerable because they are poor and work outside.

As we need protein, it makes sense to look at fish.

 Here too, there is a plethora of problems.

 To name just one, according to an article in Global Change Biology, warmer waters as a result of climate change could shrink the size of fish by 20 to 30 percent.

William Cheung from the University of British Columbia explains the mechanism: fish, being cold blooded animals, are not able to regulate their body temperatures. When the waters they live in become warmer their metabolism accelerates and they require more oxygen to sustain their body functions. 

The problem is that the surface area of the gills, where oxygen is gathered, does not grow at the same rate as the rest of the body, so the fish stops growing prematurely and, with it, our food supply diminishes.
A new study in Science projects that climate change will increase the amount of nitrogen ending up in US rivers and other waterways by 19 percent on average over the remainder of the century — and much more in hard-hit areas such as the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin (up 24 percent) and the Northeast (up 28 percent). And that is not counting likely increases in nitrogen inputs from more intensive agriculture, or from increased human population (see here).
Eva Sinha (from Stanford) et al. took historical records of nitrogen runoff as a result of rainstorms over the past few decades, recorded by the US Geological Survey. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that there will be no change in the amount of nitrogen being added to the environment, they calculated how much additional nitrogen would be leached out of farm fields and washed down rivers solely because of extreme weather events and increased rainfall predicted in most climate change scenarios. As Sinha et al. write:
“Anticipated changes in future precipitation patterns alone will lead to large and robust increases in watershed-scale nitrogen fluxes by the end of the century for the business-as-usual scenario” (see here).
More on this can be read here. Nitrogen creates dead zones, for example in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Pacific and inland waterways, lakes and other freshwater bodies where toxic blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) bloom (this is also a problem in Sweden, where more rain decreases the amount of drinking water). This problem is being exacerbated by warmer temperatures and increased rainfall associated with climate change. Efforts to protect the water supply may not work in the future because climate change introduces many new uncertainties about hydrology, stratification, and nutrient dynamics (see here). One such bloom in the western end of Lake Erie forced the city of Toledo in Ohio, to cut off the water supply temporarily to 500.000 residents in 2014. The same happened in China’s Lake Taihu in 2007, leaving 2.3 million people without water (see here). In the United States, a 2015 study found evidence of blue-green algae blooms in 62 percent of the 3,100 U.S. counties surveyed and concluded that these blooms were “significantly related to the risk of non-alcoholic liver disease death” (see here).
In fact, the nitrogen problem is enormous. Atmospheric nitrogen – from intensive farming and livestock operations, power plants, road traffic, and other sources – now gets deposited everywhere, making soils more fertile. That has the paradoxical effect of reducing plant diversity by displacing native species adapted to nutrient-poor soils (this also happens in Sweden where the invasive Lupinus is displacing native plants).
According to Sinha, climate change means that it will be necessary to cut agricultural nitrogen use in the Mississippi River Valley not by 32 percent, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now proposes, but by almost double that amount (see here), which will – perhaps – be accomplished by genetically engineered cereals and laboratory cultured meat. But the challenge will be far greater in the developing world, particularly Asia. India is especially vulnerable because it has one of the fastest-growing populations. As climate change multiplies the rate of nitrogen runoff, they may increasingly find their water undrinkable (see here).
And so on and so forth.
“The uncomfortable truth,” Istvan Meszaros argued many years ago, “is that if there is no future for a radical mass movement in our time, there can be no future for humanity itself.” What is more, those who want to stand up need to do it now. It is not only a question of cooperation. We can all very well cooperate to make our ultimate demise a reality. We need to stand up for humanity as a whole. All the rest is betrayal. In this normative position, lies the kernel of a “solution” that I will explain in Part 2.
Let’s take a break for now and read the news about Irma, the second “once in 500 years” storm in a week. It seems that two more are on their way.

Press link for more: Flassbeck Economics

Climate Change is an existential risk. 

Human-induced climate change is an existential risk to human civilisation: an adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.

Special precautions that go well beyond conventional risk management practice are required if the “fat tails” — the increased likelihood of very large impacts — are to be adequately dealt with.

 The potential consequences of these lower-probability, but higher-impact, events would be devastating for human societies.

The bulk of climate research has tended to underplay these risks, and exhibited a preference for conservative projections and scholarly reticence, albeit increasing numbers of scientists have spoken out in recent years on the dangers of such an approach.


Climate policymaking and the public narrative are significantly informed by the important work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

 However, IPCC reports also tend toward reticence and caution, erring on the side of “least drama”, and downplaying more extreme and more damaging outcomes. 

 Whilst this has been understandable historically, given the pressure exerted upon the IPCC by political and vested interests, it is now becoming dangerously misleading, given the acceleration of climate impacts globally.

 What were lower-probability, higher-impact, events are now becoming more likely.

This is a particular concern with potential climatic “tipping points” — passing critical thresholds which result in step changes in the system — such as the polar ice sheets (and hence sea levels), and permafrost and other carbon stores, where the impacts of global warming are non-linear and difficult to model at present.


 Under-reporting on these issues contributes to the “failure of imagination” that is occurring today in our understanding of, and response to, climate change.

If climate policymaking is to be soundly based, a reframing of scientific research within an existential risk-management framework is now urgently required.

 This must be taken up not just in the work of the IPCC, but also in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations if we are to address the real climate challenge.

Current processes will not deliver either the speed or the extent of change required.

Three decades ago, when serious debate on human-induced climate change began at the global level, a great deal of statesmanship was on display. 

 There was a preparedness to recognise that this was an issue transcending nation states, ideologies and political parties which had to be addressed proactively in the long-term interests of humanity as a whole, even if the existential nature of the risk it posed was far less clear cut than it is today.


As global institutions were established to take up this challenge, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and the extent of change this would demand of the fossil-fuel-dominated world order became clearer, the forces of resistance began to mobilise.

 Today, as a consequence, and despite the diplomatic triumph of the 2015 Paris Agreement , the debate around climate change policy has never been more dysfunctional, indeed Orwellian.
In his book 1984, George Orwell describes a double-speak totalitarian state where most of the population accepts “the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. 

 By lack of understanding they remained sane.”
Orwell could have been writing about climate change and policymaking. 

 International agreements talk of limiting global warming to 1.5–2°C, but in reality they set the world on a path of 3–5°C.


 Goals are reaffirmed, only to be abandoned. 

 Coal is “clean”. 


 Just 1°C of warming is already dangerous, but this cannot be said. 

 The planetary future is hostage to myopic national self-interest. 

 Action is delayed on the assumption that as yet unproven technologies will save the day, decades hence. 

 The risks are existential, but it is “alarmist” to say so.

 A one-in-two chance of missing a goal is normalised as reasonable.

Climate policymaking for years has been cognitively dissonant, “a flagrant violation of reality”.

 So it is unsurprising that there is a lack of a understanding amongst the public and elites of the full measure of the climate challenge. 

 Yet most Australians sense where we are heading: three-quarters of Australians see climate change as catastrophic risk and half see our way of life ending within the next 100 years.

Politics and policymaking have norms: rules and practices, assumptions and boundaries, that constrain and shape them. 

 In recent years, the previous norms of statesmanship and long-term thinking have disappeared, replaced by an obsession with short-term political and commercial advantage Climate policymaking is no exception.

Since 1992, short-term economic interest has trumped environmental and future human needs.  

The world today emits 48% more carbon dioxide (CO2 ) from the consumption of energy than it did 25 years ago, and the global economy has more than doubled in size.

 The UNFCCC strives ” to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner”, but every year humanity’s ecological footprint becomes larger and less sustainable.

 Humanity now requires the biophysical capacity of 1.7 planets annually to survive as it rapidly chews up the natural capital.

A fast, emergency-scale transition to a post-fossil fuel world is absolutely necessary to address climate change. But this is excluded from consideration by policymakers because it is considered to be too disruptive. 

 The orthodoxy is that there is
time for an orderly economic transition within the current short-termist political paradigm. 

 Discussion of what would be safe –– less warming that we presently experience –– is non-existent. 

 And so we have a policy failure of epic proportions.

Policymakers, in their magical thinking, imagine a mitigation path of gradual change, to be constructed over many decades in a growing, prosperous world.

 The world not imagined is the one that now exists: of looming financial instability; of a global crisis of political legitimacy; of a sustainability crisis that extends far beyond climate change to include all the fundamentals of human existence and most significant planetary boundaries (soils, potable water, oceans, the atmosphere, biodiversity, and so on); and of severe global energy sector dislocation.

In anticipation of the upheaval that climate change would impose upon the global order, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was established by the UN in 1988, charged with regularly assessing the global consensus on climate science as a basis for policymaking.

 The IPCC Assessment Reports ( AR ), produced every 5–6 years, play a large part in the public framing of the climate narrative: new reports are a global media event.

 AR5 was produced in 2013-14, with AR6 due in 2022. 

 The IPCC has done critical, indispensable work of the highest standard in pulling together a periodic consensus of what must be the most exhaustive scientific investigation in world history. 

 It does not carry out its own research, but reviews and collates peer-reviewed material from across the spectrum of this incredibly complex area, identifying key issues and trends for policymaker consideration.

However, the IPCC process suffers from all the dangers of consensus-building in such a wide-ranging and complex arena.

 For example, IPCC reports, of necessity, do not always contain the latest available information.

 Consensus-building can lead to “least drama”, lowest-common-denominator outcomes which overlook critical issues. 

 This is particularly the case with the “fat-tails” of probability distributions, that is, the high-impact but relatively low-probability events where scientific knowledge is more limited. 

 Vested interest pressure is acute in all directions; climate denialists accuse the IPCC of alarmism, whereas climate action proponents consider the IPCC to be far too conservative. 

 To cap it all, the IPCC conclusions are subject to intense political oversight before being released, which historically has had the effect of substantially watering-down sound scientific findings.

These limitations are understandable, and arguably were not of overriding importance in the early period of the IPCC.

 However, as time has progressed, it is now clear that the risks posed by climate change are far greater than previously anticipated. 

 We have moved out of the twilight period of much talk but relatively limited climate impacts. Climate change is now turning nasty, as we have witnessed in 2017 in the USA, South Asia, the Middle East and Europe, with record-breaking heatwaves and wildfires, more intense flooding and more damaging hurricanes.


The distinction between climate science and risk is now the critical issue, for the two are not the same.

 Scientific reticence — a reluctance to spell out the full risk implications of climate science in the absence of perfect information — has become a major problem. 

 Whilst this is understandable, particularly when scientists are continually criticised by denialists and political apparatchiks for speaking out, it is extremely dangerous given the “fat tail” risks of climate change.

 Waiting for perfect information, as we are continually urged to do by political and economic elites, means it will be too late to act.

Irreversible, adverse climate change on the global scale now occurring is an existential risk to human civilisation.

 Many of the world’s top climate scientists quoted in this report well understand these implications — James Hansen, Michael E. Mann, John Schellnhuber, Kevin Anderson, Eric Rignot, Naomi Oreskes, Kevin Trenberth, Michael Oppenheimer, Stefan Rahmstorf and others — and are forthright about their findings, where we are heading, and the limitations of IPCC reports.

This report seeks to alert the wider community and leaders to these limitations and urges change to the IPCC approach, and to the wider UNFCCC negotiations. It is clear that existing processes will not deliver the transformation to a low-carbon world in the limited time now available.
We urgently require a reframing of scientific research within an existential risk-management framework. This requires special precautions that go well beyond conventional risk management. 

 Like an iceberg, there is great danger “In what lies beneath”.

Press link for more: What lies beneath Report

Sue The Bastards #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

Sue the Bastards
L. Hunter Lovins, Contributor President Natural Capitalism Solutions, Professor of Sustainable Management Bard MBA

When flood waters rose in Houston and Hurricane Harvey spread eastward to already battered regions of the Gulf coast, the urgent priority was preservation of life, evacuation of those threatened and long-term care of the displaced. 

The unfolding tragedy that is Harvey has already killed dozens, with more to come. 

Cost estimates rose from $30 billion before the storm, to $75 billion, as the severity became obvious, to over $100 billion. 

Harvey will certainly exceed Katrina, the previous record holder, costing up to one percent of U.S. GDP.


As usual, Americans reached deep to lend sympathy, understanding and practical assistance. 

As always, groups like the Red Cross stepped up, offering Text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10
But is anyone responsible for Harvey?
When the Deep Horizon well blew out, no one questioned that the parties who killed eleven people and spewed oil across the Gulf of Mexico would be held to account. 

The only question was how much. 

BP’s costs for taking a $500,000 short cut was in the neighborhood of $62 billion, although they offset many of the fines against taxes.


Damage from storms has routinely been considered an “Act of God.” 

Legal dictionaries define this as, “An event that directly and exclusively results from occurrence of natural causes that could not have been prevented by the exercise of foresight or caution; an inevitable accident.”
But is that true of Harvey?
The ultra warm waters of the Gulf and the tendency of storms now to move very slowly—the warming arctic is unable to maintain the jet stream that previously blew such storm away from the hot Gulf that fuels them—clearly contributed to the billions in damage. 

These, we now know, are results of global warming.

Several California communities recently tired of blaming God and sued the oil and coal companies claiming THEY caused the climate change that forecasts warned would devastate their communities in years to come.

 Global warming, they said, could have been prevented.

 They’re right: my first book on how to do this was in 1981.

 Since then many of us have shown that energy efficiency and renewable energy is cheaper than burning the fossil fuels that drive climate change, and that it would be better business to go green and just solve the crisis.


Marin and San Mateo Counties, and the city of Imperial Beach carried the argument further.

 Using the work of my colleague Richard Heede who showed that just 90 companies are responsible for two thirds of human caused global warming, they decided if you can name the creators of the harm, you ought to be able to sue them.

Wake up to the day’s most important news.
The governments argued, “37 coal, oil, and gas companies including Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Peabody Energy, knew about the harm their products posed to the planet and continued to undermine and obfuscate the dangers of climate change.”

The suit faces challenges.

 Peabody, once the world’s largest coal company, promptly claimed its recent bankruptcy shields it from such liability. 

Interestingly, it did not deny that it might have been liable, only that its early recognition of the unviability of its business model now enabled it to duck any ongoing responsibility. Mighty neighborly….
For arcane legal reasons (preemption by the Federal government limits people’s ability to sue) previous efforts to hold companies liable have failed. 

When the Inuit village being eaten by rising sea levels sought federal damages, they were told that only the legislative and executive branches could deliver relief.
But what if Congress and the Child-in-Chief are bought and paid for advocates for the fossil industry? 


Maybe suing is the only way to bring accountability to our system. 

Yes, apportioning blame will be tricky.

 And yes, every one of us is to blame every time we fire up a car or board an airplane.

 But we’ll already be paying the costs through our tax dollars. 

Isn’t it time that those who have made billions keeping us all addicted to oil pay their share?

Framing their case to mimic the successful public nuisance suits that forced tobacco companies to settle and pay damages for the public costs imposed on taxpayers to treat smokers, and filing in state court, may enable California plaintiffs to overcome the hurdles that derail federal law suits. 

Still, they must prove that any particular defendant is responsible for their specific harm, especially when the damage they allege is only anticipated.
But Harvey’s harm is all too real, compounding daily with creeping mold, exploding chemical plants, loss of water supplies, and the threat of disease. 

Harvey has already forced the release of millions of pounds of chemicals from oil operations spread across Houston. 

One Exxon facility collapsed, releasing 13,000 pounds of nastiness including benzene, a known carcinogen.

And the challenge of dealing with global warming is only beginning. As meteorologist Eric Holthaus put it, “Harvey is what climate change looks like.”
“In all of U.S. history,” he stated, “There’s never been a storm like Hurricane Harvey…. Houston, as it was before Harvey, will never be the same again.”
He points out that Harvey is the third 500-year flood to hit the Houston area in three years. A storm like Harvey should not happen more than once in a millennium. 

The week before, 1,200 people died in floods also triggered by record rainfall across India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Futurist Alex Steffen calls our tendency to deny threats like climate change “predatory delay”—it adds inevitable risk to the system.

 Legal liability is supposed to impose a measure of responsibility on parties with the capacity do damage. 

But if no one can be held liable, what will stop the catastrophe?
Holthaus warns, “It’s up to the rest of us to identify this behavior and make it morally repugnant….The symbolism of the worst flooding disaster in U.S. history hitting the sprawled-out capital city of America’s oil industry is likely not lost on many. 

Institutionalized climate denial in our political system and climate denial by inaction by the rest of us have real consequences. 

They look like Houston.”

Press link for more: Huffington Post

Catastrophic Hurricane Irma #Catastrophic #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol 

Catastrophic Hurricane Irma — now a Cat 5 — is on a collision course with Florida
By Brian McNoldy, Jason SamenowSeptember 5, 2017 at 2:05 PM
Hurricane Irma is an “extremely dangerous” Category 5, barreling toward the northern Lesser Antilles and Southern Florida. It’s already the strongest hurricane ever recorded outside the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s likely to make landfall somewhere in Florida over the weekend.
If it does, the impact could be catastrophic.

The storm is life-threatening for the United States, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and the southeastern Bahamas. 

Hurricane warnings have been issued for the northern Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

 A hurricane watch is in effect for Hispaniola and southeastern Bahamas.
With maximum winds of 185 mph, Irma is tied for the second strongest storm ever observed in the Atlantic.

 And in its Tuesday morning discussion, the National Hurricane Center said the storm is in an environment “ideal for some additional intensification.”
Hurricane Irma, a powerful Category 5 storm, plowed toward the Caribbean and the southern United States on Sept. 5 with residents in its path braced for possible life-threatening winds, storm surges and flooding. (Reuters)
The hurricane is expected to remain at least a Category 4 for the next few days with minor fluctuations in intensity.

 It could even become slightly stronger, but it is already nearing historical precedent and a theoretical limit for how strong it can get.
It cannot be overstated that Hurricane Irma is extremely dangerous and will produce the full gamut of hurricane hazards across the Caribbean and potentially in South Florida, including a devastating storm surge, destructive winds and dangerous flash flooding.
All of Florida — especially South Florida and the Keys — should be preparing for a major hurricane landfall on Sunday. Tropical-storm-force winds are expected to arrive as soon as Friday.
Mainland U.S. landfall threat
Computer models are in strong agreement that by Saturday, Irma will be approaching the Florida Keys — where dangerous storm conditions are likely. 

Then, they show a sharp northward turn by Sunday morning. The precise timing and location of the turn has huge implications for Florida.

Model ensemble guidance out to 10 days from the European model (top) and the U.S. model (bottom). (B. Tang, UAlbany)

It is impossible to say with certainty whether Irma will track up along the eastern side of the Florida peninsula, the western side, or straight up the peninsula. Since the weekend, models have generally shifted westward with the storm’s forecast track, which means interests along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico should also closely monitor this storm.

For a major hurricane, the exact track of the storm’s eyewall — the zone surrounding its calm center — is critical as it will determine where the most severe effects tend to concentrate. The most violent winds coincide with the eyewall, and the biggest storm surge occurs just to its right (or north).
But as Irma is such a large and powerful hurricane, very dangerous weather will also occur up to 200 miles away from the eyewall — including coastal surge, flooding rains and potentially damaging winds.
“The hurricane force winds in Irma are wider than Florida,” tweeted Bryan Norcross, hurricane specialist at the Weather Channel. “You won’t need a direct hit to get Wilma-type winds & storm surge on both coasts.”
Beyond the weekend, the scenarios really depend on which side of Florida it tracks. But for now, it’s safe to say that the southeast United States, including the Florida panhandle, Georgia and the Carolinas, should also brace for potential impacts, such as flash flooding, storm surge and strong winds.

Impact on the Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
At 2 p.m. Tuesday, the powerhouse storm was positioned 180 miles east of the island of Antigua in the northern Leewards, where it is forecast to make a direct impact early Wednesday. The storm was moving westward at 14 miles per hour.
Destructive winds as well as heavy rain that can produce flash flooding and mudslides are possible in the warning areas. Along the coast, the storm surge height – or rise in water above normally dry air – could reach 7-11 feet – especially just north of the storm center.
Irma is likely to become the strongest hurricane on record to hit the Leeward Islands, even more intense than David, which raked across the central Leeward Islands in 1979. “David was a horrible hurricane for Leeward Islands: 56 fatalities in Dominica,” tweeted Phil Klotzbach, hurricane expert at Colorado State University.
Antigua, Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Anguilla — in particular — are right in the path of the storm.
“Really feel for the northern Leeward Islands,” tweeted National Hurricane Center forecaster Eric Blake. “A hurricane this strong there only comes around once a generation or two.”
Areas affected by the core winds near the storm’s eye face devastating wind destruction. The Hurricane Center provides this description of the damage inflicted by Category 5 winds:
A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
After passing the northern Leeward Islands, the hurricane will strike the British Virgin Islands with potentially catastrophic effects.
The U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico may remain south of the storm’s center, so less prone to Irma’s most hostile conditions. But even so, damaging winds and torrential rains are likely.
Irma’s place in history
Irma’s peak intensity so far ranks among the strongest in recorded history, exceeding the likes of Katrina, Andrew and Camille – whose winds peaked at 175 mph.
Among the most intense storms on record, it only trails Hurricane Allen in 1980 which had winds of 190 miles per hour. It is tied for second most intense with Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and the 1935 Florida Keys hurricane.

If Irma makes landfall as a Category 4 or higher in the United States, joining Hurricane Harvey, it will become the first time two storms so strong struck the United States in the same season.
Tropical Storm Jose forms in eastern Atlantic
While all attention is on Hurricane Irma, Tropical Storm Jose formed in the eastern Atlantic Tuesday morning. This storm is also predicted to intensify into a hurricane over the coming days, but the latest track forecast keeps it away from land areas for the most part.

(National Hurricane Center)

The truth about Harvey and climate change is in the middle
Texas continues Harvey recovery efforts as Hurricane Irma looms in the Atlantic
Brian McNoldy works in cyclone research at the University of Miami’s world-renowned Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS). His website hosted at RSMAS is also quite popular during hurricane season.
Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang’s chief meteorologist. He earned a master’s degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.

Press link for more: Washington Post

5 Charts show human impact on extreme weather. #StopAdani #auspol 

These 5 charts explore the human impact on extreme weather

Flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey encompass the Motiva Enterprises LLC in Port Arthur, Texas, U.S. August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif – RC1254851E70

It’s not an exact science, but it’s science: humans are partly to blame for worsening weather
Linking specific extreme weather events to global warming is difficult, and this plays into the hands of climate-change deniers.
In the past couple of weeks, tropical storms have devastated communities around the world. Hurricane Harvey has wreaked havoc in Texas, destroying homes and claiming lives.

 Typhoon Hato has left a similar trail of destruction in southern China and Hong Kong.
There is a strong argument to be made that humans are at least partly responsible for both of these extreme weather events.

 The problem is it’s often difficult to produce tangible evidence.
What we do know for sure, however, is that climate change enhances storm surges and causes flooding – both of which can have devastating consequences.

Interstate highway 45 is submerged from the effects of Hurricane Harvey seen during widespread flooding in Houston, Texas, U.S. August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RC1BA1656450    

Parts of Texas remain submerged in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Spike in carbon emissions

This chart, which was produced by NASA, shows the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide – or C02, to give it its chemical formula – over the past 400,000 years.
As human activity gathered momentum in the mid 20th century – in the form of growing populations and the rise of heavy industry – carbon emissions also followed an upward trajectory.
The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide has created a warming effect. This has coincided with an uptick in the number and scale of natural disasters such as droughts, floods, wildfires and storms.
    

CO2 levels have increased rapidly since the 1950s
Image: NASA
These countries produce the most C02

It will come as no surprise to learn that China and the United States are the most prolific carbon emitters. Both countries are among those with the biggest populations, the most factories and the highest number of cars.
    

China produces more carbon emissions than any other country
Image: US Energy Information Administration

The same countries suffer the most natural disasters
Interestingly, it is those same countries that top the table in terms of carbon emissions that have experienced the highest number of hydrological, meteorological and climatological disasters in recent years.
According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), China, the US and India were among the countries worst hit by extreme weather events from 1995 to 2015.
Large parts of Africa and Europe have so far been relatively unscathed by the onslaught of these types of natural disasters.
    

China, the US and India have suffered the highest number of natural disasters in recent times
Image: UNISDR

More floods than ever before
As the atmosphere gets warmer it absorbs more moisture – this works out at roughly 7% more for every 1℃ rise in temperature. The end result is worse flooding.
Higher sea levels in turn lead to bigger storm surges, such as those that have caused devastation in Texas and southern China.
It’s no coincidence that an increase in carbon emissions coincides with a steady rise in the number of hydrological disasters over recent years.
    

2016 saw an increase in the number of hydrological disasters around the world
Image: Munich Re
The cost of catastrophe


It has been estimated previously that flooding could cost coastal cities around $1 trillion per year by the year 2050.
Yet again, it is towns and cities in the US and China that are expected to bear the brunt.

Press link for more: WEForum.org

Harvey Latest #ClimateChange Alarm Bell #StopAdani #auspol 

Hurricane Harvey is the latest alarm bell on climate change

Hurrican-Harvey.jpg
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Green Party leaders are calling Hurricane Harvey the latest alarm bell on global warming and said that President Trump and Congress must make solving the climate crisis the nation’s top priority.
Greens expressed sympathy and solidarity with people in Houston and other parts of Texas and Louisiana who are suffering the effects of the hurricane and have lost homes, belongings, and loved ones.
Green Party of the United States

http://www.gp.org

@GreenPartyUS
For Immediate Release:

Thursday, August 31, 2017
Contact:

Scott McLarty, Media Director, 202-904-7614, scott@gp.org
Talking points on the storm, global warming, and Green solutions
Texas Greens urge support for frontline relief efforts
“Along with providing relief to those affected by Harvey, we need a reversal of the U.S. political establishment’s irresponsible direction on climate change. The only solution to the crisis is a Green solution,” said Wesson Gaige, co-chair of the Green Party of Texas.
Texas Greens are urging support and donations to several frontline relief organizations: visit http://www.txgreens.org/news and http://www.colorlines.com/articles/how-donate-money-and-other-aid-communities-color-houston. The Green Party of the United States held its 2016 Presidential Nominating Convention at the University of Houston.
The Green Party listed talking points on Hurricane Harvey, climate change, and Green solutions:
• The severity of Hurricane Harvey and the devastation it wreaked in Houston must be recognized as an effect of climate change and an indication of similar and worse disasters to come. The planet’s climate functions as a system: there are no isolated storms, all weather is affected by global warming. The Trump Administration’s rejection of science is already having deadly consequences.
• Although rainfall from Harvey is unprecedented, 2017 is the city’s third year with severe flooding. The disaster in Houston is one of many floods around the world that have displaced tens of millions this summer, with more than 1,000 deaths in South Asia.
• Lowering the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is urgently necessary, otherwise increasingly unstable weather and the rise of sea levels promise a future of Katrinas, Sandys, Harveys, mass population displacement, and global social breakdown in the coming decades. Working class communities, the poor, and people of color are facing the worst effects. The only solution is a rapid conversion from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.
• The Green Party has called for 100% renewable energy by 2030. To achieve this goal, Green candidates are promoting the Green New Deal, a plan to reorganize the U.S. economy, expand the public sphere, and create millions of new jobs in conservation and energy conversion.
• The Green Party has compared global warming to the global threat posed by the Axis powers at the beginning of World War II and has called for U.S. leadership in a worldwide alliance to end the crisis that includes peaceful cooperation with currently perceived enemies like Russia and Iran.
• ExxonMobil and other companies that knew about the reality of climate change placed oil refineries and other toxic sites in flood zones. In the wake of Harvey, their irresponsibility resulted in a toxic brew that is now spreading over hundreds of square miles and contaminating water tables. Two explosions and fume injuries were reported Thursday morning. The poor and people of color who live in affected areas are suffering the most harm. State and local governments in Texas have refused to undertake any preparation or enact regulation in the face of predictable emergencies. 
• Only the Green Party is taking the climate crisis seriously. Greens said that a political field limited to two parties, both of which accept money and influence from the fossil-fuel industry, has become a threat to future generations.
Republicans, led by President Trump, continue to deny that the crisis exists and are dismantling environmental regulations and agencies, including the EPA, even as the need for these agencies and for regulation has grown. Republicans are likely to use Hurricane Harvey to call for more drilling and refineries.
The Green Party has condemned President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change.
Democrats acknowledge the crisis but won’t take necessary action. The Obama Administration made sure that the Paris accords were not legally binding and President Obama boasted of increased oil production.
Hillary Clinton and her representatives kept carbon taxes, a ban on fracking, and other measures out of the 2016 Democratic Party platform.
Green Party leaders said that the “100 by ’50 Act” (Senate Bill 987) introduced by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Oreg.) and Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vt.) was “too little, too late” in light of warnings from scientists about the severity of the crisis.
See also:
Water Contamination a Concern After Hurricane Harvey

Bloomberg, August 28, 2017
We’re Nowhere Near Prepared for the Ecological Disaster That Harvey Is Becoming

By Charles P. Pierce, August 30, 2017
Why are the crucial questions about Hurricane Harvey not being asked?

By George Monbiot, The Guardian, August 29, 2017
The Uninhabitable Earth; Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.

By David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine, July 9, 2017
Videos from the Green Party’s 2017 Annual National Meeting in Newark, N.J., July 13-16: Press conferences, plenary speeches, and more
MORE INFORMATION
Green Party of the United States http://www.gp.org

202-319-7191

@GreenPartyUS

Press link for more: GP.ORG

A toolkit to save the world. #auspol #StopAdani #education 

A toolkit to save the world: five skills you’ll need to fight climate change
15 Aug 17

Kevin Rudd described global warming as “the greatest moral challenge of our generation,” but that’s too simple.

 It’s the greatest economic, political, social, cultural, environmental and scientific challenge of our time.

A silver bullet won’t be found in a scientist’s laboratory, the halls of Parliament, nor a community activist’s meeting.
Nope, it’ll take a coordinated effort from researchers, corporations, politicians, innovators and communities to tackle climate change.

This is precisely why social scientists are poised to play such a crucial role. People with the breadth of understanding and skills to navigate and coordinate all of these moving parts will be absolutely crucial.
So with that in mind, here are five of the instruments in a social scientist’s toolkit that we’ll need to fight this real and present danger.
Data Analysis

It sounds dry, but data analysis strikes at the very heart of the climate change debate. 

The interpretation of global temperature data is the major flashpoint for the conversation, and so understanding and communicating this information will only become more important over time.
On top of this, big data is proving to be crucial in the response to global warming.
Microsoft’s mind-boggling Madingley project is a real-time virtual biosphere – ie. a simulation of all life on earth. It creates a simulation of the global carbon cycle and predicts how it will impact everything from pollution to animal migration to deforestation.
Political leadership

Leaders with a deep understanding of socio-political structures and forces will be needed to enact change on a legislative and global level.
The recent failure of the Paris Accord shows just how important negotiation and diplomacy will be in order to get countries from around the world to work together.

This not only involves political guile, but also communication skills, cultural knowledge and courage to make difficult but necessary decisions.
Research and innovation

Without technological transformation in some of the world’s biggest industries, we won’t stand a chance.
Existing alternative energy sources such as solar and wind need to become more efficient, and fledgeling technologies like ocean, hybrid and bio energies need to develop to support ever-increasing energy demands.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has famously framed climate change as an issue of economic competitiveness and innovation.
The countries and businesses that are more successful at producing new energy technologies and practices will thrive.
The rest will fall behind.
Corporate leadership

With this in mind, leadership in the corporate sector naturally has a massive role to play. Far swifter and more meaningful change can come from within a business than when it’s mandated by government regulations.
Business models will need to be forward-thinking, not relying on traditional methods of production, and change company cultures in the process.

A recent example of this sort of industry leadership is Volvo who announced they will cease production of purely internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2019.
Communication skills

Professor Andrew J. Hoffman from the University of Michigan perfectly articulated the state of the “toxic” climate change debate:
“On the one side, this is all a hoax, humans have no impact on the climate and nothing unusual is happening.
“On the other side, this is an imminent crisis, human activity explains all climate changes, and it will devastate life on Earth as we know it. Amidst this acrimonious din, scientists are trying to explain the complexity of the issue.”
As a society we’ll need to reach some sort of meaningful consensus on the issue. From the boardroom to Twitter, we’ll need opinion leaders who can navigate the clashing world views that dictate how we view the science.
It won’t be easy, but it is necessary.
Clearly, climate change and many other global concerns are multi-faceted issues that necessitate a range of approaches and perspectives.
It’s for this very reason that Griffith University’s Dr Ben Fenton-Smith believes “there is no question that social scientists are going to be in huge demand in the next 20–30 years.
“As our use of data, technology and information increases, we are going to need social scientists to make sense of it.”
Complex problems have complex solutions.


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How do we communicate deadly risk? #ClimateChange #auspol #StopAdani 

Hurricane Harvey Is Testing Our Ability To Communicate Natural Disaster Risks
How do scientists drive home a threat that has no precedent?
WASHINGTON — Since slamming into the Texas coast as a Category 4 hurricane late Friday, Harvey has dumped at least 9 trillion gallons of rain across the state — enough to fill Utah’s Great Salt Lake twice.

And with Houston already inundated, the rain continues to fall.

 One meteorologist estimates that by the time the storm subsides it will have dropped a mind-boggling 25 trillion gallons of water across the state.
Certain locations along the Gulf of Mexico are expected to see as much rain in a few short days as is typical in an entire year. 

To accurately portray the staggering totals, the National Weather Service had to add new colors to its precipitation maps.

Harvey has wreaked havoc along the Texas Gulf Coast, just as meteorologists warned it would. But it has also proved somewhat of a communications nightmare. 
Marshall Shepherd, director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia and a former president of the American Meteorological Society, told HuffPost that the bottom line is this: Harvey is an unprecedented storm system. 
“We’re kind of making this up as we go,” he said of meteorologists’ mapping and communication about the sheer magnitude of the event. 

“We haven’t seen this type of rainfall over [such a short] amount of time.” 
Given precipitation totals through Monday and the forecast for the rest of the week, Shepherd said the situation in Texas “is shaping up to be [the] worst flood disaster in U.S. history.”

The previous benchmark for flooding in an American city was Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, which dumped 40 inches of rain on Houston in five days, killing nearly two dozen people and causing $5 billion in damage. (The one-day U.S. record, 43 inches, hit rural Alvin, just south of Houston, during 1979′s Tropical Storm Claudette.)
Harvey delivered as much rain as Allison in roughly half the time — a statistic Shepherd described as “ridiculous.” 
For Shepherd and other experts, the extent of the disaster came as little if any surprise. Early forecasts called for massive amounts of rain and “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding.” On Friday, the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi offered this stark warning: “Locations may be uninhabitable for weeks or months.” And by Sunday morning, the NWS was cautioning that “all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced.”
As Harvey has shown, conveying to the public the deadly risks of such an unprecedented weather event is not easy.
Sarah Watson, a climate and flood risk communication consultant that does contract work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told HuffPost she sees the problem as cultural. Many people associate tropical storms with wind and storm surges but not necessarily with heavy rain — which often proves to be the most destructive effect. When a storm like Harvey is downgraded from a Category 4 hurricane to a tropical storm, for example, people are often quick to think the threat has subsided. 
Gina Eosco, a social scientist and risk communication expert at Eastern Research Group, addressed this in a pair of posts to Twitter on Saturday. 

As Watson sees it, a larger issue is how Americans use — and react to — certain language.
“We can describe a burrito and a pizza as ‘epic,’ but when we are trying to describe rainfall as ‘epic,’ and we’re truly meaning this is epic — we’ve never seen anything like this in this country — it’s not necessarily resonating,” she told HuffPost.
Harvey has been reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina.

 As Katrina strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane and barreled toward the coast of Louisiana in late August of 2005, the National Weather Service in New Orleans warned of “devastating damage” that would leave areas “uninhabitable for weeks.”

 Many people ignored or were unable to comply with a mandatory evacuation order.
In counties across southeast Texas this weekend, residents refused to leave their homes despite voluntary and mandatory evacuation orders. Partly that’s because of horrific earlier experiences with evacuation attempts, but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told an NBC affiliate in Houston: “A lot of people are taking this storm for granted thinking it may not pose much of a danger to them.” 
Finding ways to better communicate the risks associated with natural disasters is an ongoing and complicated battle.


Last year, a study funded by the National Weather Service and NOAA’S Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research looked at how people interpret weather warnings and the risks associated with floods. 

Among other things, the team of researchers concluded that “people differ in how they react to uncertainty; for some, not having a concrete example of what a risk means can make them uncertain of what the actual impacts might entail and thereby impede their decision on whether to take action.”

 They also found that “motivation for action came from knowing what was forecast for their specific town, and knowing what neighbors, friends, and family were doing to prepare.”
Jennifer Marlon, an associate research scientist as Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communication, told HuffPost via email that improvements in technology and forecasting do not always translate into better communication or members of the public taking appropriate action.
“Humans,” she said, “are not built to quickly and easily translate something as abstract as a precipitation map into a vivid, visceral feeling. And yet feelings and memories are what drive us in many cases, even more so than logic or reason.”
In a study published in 2015, Marlon surveyed more than 1,000 people living along the Connecticut shore — where a mandatory evacuation was ordered in advance of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 — about whether they would evacuate or ride out a Category 2 storm. What she found was people fall somewhere in a spectrum — on one end are those who will evacuate any hurricane, on the other are “diehards” confident they can remain in place — and that different audiences would benefit from targeted messages.
If the goal is to get people’s attention, she said, agencies must help the public grasp how a natural disaster is going to affect their daily life.
“Harvey was incredibly severe, of course, and evacuation isn’t always the safest thing to do if officials are not prepared for it,” Marlon said. “But these kinds of events are part of our warming world now, so unfortunately we are beginning to get more practice with them.”

Sunshine Menezes, executive director of the University of Rhode Island’s Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting, told HuffPost that when federal meteorologists are using words like “unprecedented” to describe a weather event, it’s easy for the public to feel overwhelmed.
“When you’re dealing with something that is quite literally beyond the scale that any of the professionals have worked with before, it doesn’t matter how good a job they did within the divisional media they have to work with and the words they have to work with,” Menezes said. “The understanding of that information is what, of course, is the most important, and we clearly don’t know yet how to communicate that without effectively sounding like kind of doomsday scaremongers.” 
Given the magnitude of the the flooding in Texas and the increased risk of extreme weather as a result of climate change, Menezes expects Harvey will trigger a national conversation in the science-communication world about how to improve weather warnings.
When it comes to hurricanes, Shepherd wants to see less emphasis on a storm’s category. With Harvey, he said, forecasters were stressing that the more serious threat was long-term, sustained rainfall — a point he felt was lost on some residents and local officials. 
“We need a way to elevate significant flood threats like this to a level that gets people’s attention in the same way the category of a hurricane does or the rating of a tornado does,” he said.
Shepherd sees Harvey as a learning opportunity, not only for the low-lying city of Houston but also for other flood-prone states, including Louisiana.
There’s also the threat of more intense and frequent rainstorms as climate change drives up global temperatures.
“We’re going to get tested time and time again with extreme rainfall like this,” Shepherd said. “We better figure it out quickly in terms of how to message, how to respond.” 

Press link for more: Huffington Post