Extinction

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Why don’t we just ignore #ClimateChange ? #auspol 

What are the arguments for ignoring climate change?

By Alistair Woodward

The simplest is to deny such a thing exists. President Trump’s tweets on the topic, for instance, mostly run along the lines of “It’s record cold all over the country and world – where the hell is global warming, we need some fast!” But this is plainly at odds with the evidence, given what we know now about rising temperatures and accumulation of heat in the oceans.

The next-level argument accepts that the world is warming, but claims that humans are not responsible. However the recent climate record is difficult to explain any other way. For example, while the lower levels of the Earth’s atmosphere are warming, the stratosphere is cooling. This is contrary to what would be expected if warming was caused by increased solar activity, or changes in the Earth’s spin and tilt that expose the planet to more incoming radiation, which would heat the atmosphere all the way through. But it fits if the predominant cause is a thickening blanket of heat-trapping greenhouse gases close to the surface of the planet.


One might argue that climate change is underway, and yes, humans are responsible by and large, but it is not such a bad thing. Under this banner a variety of positions are taken. It may be (and is, sometimes) claimed that the benefits of climate change outweigh the disadvantages. More common is a nuanced argument along the lines of “it is not such a bad thing compared with other problems we now face” and therefore it makes sense to push climate change down the list of priorities. In effect, the problem is ignored.
The “not such a bad thing” world-view minimizes the risks of climate change to human health and well-being. One way of testing this position is to examine the impacts of past changes in the climate (which, it must be noted, are relatively minor compared with what is projected to lie ahead if present trends in greenhouse emissions continue).
Climate change has played an important part in the long course of human history. Indeed the emergence and success of our species were climate-related. Environmental conditions were the motor that drove evolution – stature, mobility, skin colouring, brain size are just some of the consequences of intermittent drying, heating, and cooling, and it is not drawing too long a bow, perhaps, to say that in some respects climate change made us human.
Bearing in mind this legacy, it is not so surprising that our physiology is very sensitive to ambient temperature and humidity. Humans operate, as tuned machines, in the “Goldilocks zone”, with just enough but not too much warmth or rainfall. Pre-requisites for health such as a nutritious diet and a secure supply of safe drinking water are affected by climate; disease vectors (mosquitoes and ticks for example) may be suppressed or promoted by climate shifts. Extreme weather leading to floods, fires, and heatwaves causes death, disease, and displacement, even in high-income countries – and the effects are amplified by poverty.


High water by Hans. CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay.

If we want to understand the sensitivity of human societies to heating, cooling, drought, and excessive rainfall, then there is ample material in the historical record. Crises stand tallest – there are many examples of dramatic peaks in mortality associated with droughts, migration, warfare, and plagues. Rapid cooling and unusual variability in the climate at the end of the so-called “Classical Optimum” (around 400 CE) promoted the arrival and spread of new infections in failing Rome. Hunger and violent disorder following crop failures in drought-ridden Central America accelerated the fall of the Mayans. When Mt Tambora erupted in 1815, it threw so much ash into the atmosphere that temperatures fell around the world by as much as three degrees Centigrade on average, leading to a decade of food crises, epidemics, and social unrest.
The spread of farming, the Bronze Age, the rise and fall of American civilizations, and the impacts of the Little Ice Age in Europe and China all present direct connections between death, disease, de-population, and climate changes in both the regional and global sense.
So the argument here is: if we look back, we see the ways in which climate bears down on human health. If we look forward, we face changes that greatly exceed, in scale and speed, what happened in the past. The Holocene, the past 11,000 years during which human culture flourished and the nation state emerged, was a relatively stable time. Rises and falls in decadal-average temperatures rarely exceeded two degrees Centigrade. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that global average temperatures may rise by four degrees Centigrade by 2100, with heating occurring much more rapidly in some parts of the world (most spectacularly and dangerously, in the Arctic).
In short, we ignore climate change at our peril. What puts humans at risk is the combination of culpability (we have the capacity now to put a serious spoke in the wheel of global systems) and vulnerability. To those who cannot or will not engage, we might say “watch out – humans may be clever enough to cause the problem, but not clever enough to escape the consequences, short of mass migration to a new and better planet”.
Featured image: Tree by katja. CC0 Public domain via Pixabay.
Alistair Woodward is a Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. He has worked extensively on environmental health issues in New Zealand and many other countries. He has investigated climate change, road safety, housing policy, the risks of cell phones and other modern concerns. Closely involved with the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 2001 (and a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007), he led the writing group on health impacts for the 5th Assessment Report. He has worked frequently for WHO as a consultant on environmental health topics; most recently on the health co-benefits of well-chosen climate mitigation measures.

Press link for more: Oxford University Press

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Trump could set back climate action 20 years. #auspol 

Two scientists’ concerns over years of climate inaction
Precisely how the incoming Trump administration will deal with climate change remains uncertain. But Donald Trump’s statements during the campaign and since his election – and also his Cabinet nominations and his immediately purging the whitehouse.gov website of climate science information – signal, at a minimum, that he will not make addressing climate change a priority. 

And that the administration likely will move to shelve federal government mitigation efforts.
Throughout his campaign and during the transition leading up to his January 20th inauguration, Trump frequently had been dismissive of the science and bullish on coal and fossil fuels generally. Proponents for aggressive action and many in the climate science research community have expressed increasing concerns.

In recent months, two climate modelers – Ben Sanderson, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colorado, and Reto Knutti of ETH Zurich, Switzerland – examined how Trump administration inaction and actions might influence future planetary warming. They concluded that a four- or eight-year delay in mitigation could lead to substantially exceeding global temperature limits for dangerous levels of emissions and concentrations, perhaps indefinitely.
Background on the scientists’ analysis
Sanderson and Knutti wrote in a December Nature Climate Change commentary that the U.S. accounts for about 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, likely leading some to conclude that U.S. inaction “would only have a small effect.” 

They said that would be “a naïve assessment.”
They argue, to the contrary, that continued or increasing emissions during that period of U.S. inaction would put the world so far off course that it could not recover before dangerous limits have been bypassed.
“Delay is the worst enemy for any climate target,” they wrote. That’s because the additional emissions accrued during a four- or eight-year period of U.S. mitigation inaction would leave the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere beyond or close to the maximum amount considered by the nearly 200 signatories of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to be sufficiently protective.
In their December commentary, the two scientists cautioned against “overinterpreting” their analysis, given uncertainties in how the “economic and ideological shift in U.S. governance will affect greenhouse gas emissions.” Rather, they said their findings help in anticipating the “bounding scenarios that could plausibly happen.”
Though the new administration has not yet articulated a detailed climate policy – and mid-January Senate confirmation hearings on Trump cabinet nominations did little to elaborate – the researchers said there is ample reason to be concerned about the “very different path … for future U.S. climate policy.”

Recognizing all the uncertainties, Sanderson and Knutti assumed that if the U.S. were to drop its commitments to cut back carbon emissions and also stop funding cutbacks by less-developed countries, other big emitters – the European Union, China, and India – might do likewise.
(Many experts conclude that even if China moves to fill a leadership void created by Trump administration decisions, the global agreements represented by the 2015 Paris agreement might well break down, with no clear timetable for a subsequent renewed global accord.)

4- to 8-years of inaction = 15 to 20-year setback
In their analysis, Sanderson and Knutti elaborated on the consequences if U.S. momentum to address climate change stalls, and if global cooperation to deal with climate change doesn’t resume in earnest until 2025.
“Even if emissions were to decrease again after eight years, it could take an additional 15-25 years for emissions to get back to current levels, assuming mitigation rates typical for strong mitigation scenarios,” they wrote.
Sanderson and Knutti conclude that “only immediate, global concerted and effective action can achieve the temperature targets discussed in Paris.” They calculated the chances that, with further delays, the planet might avoid warming by more than 1.5 degrees C or 2 degrees C above pre-industrial temperatures, the goal and stretch goal agreed to in the Paris agreement.
It’s important to understand that the planet already has warmed by about 1 degrees C since the industrial revolution. Climate researchers are in general agreement that even 1 degrees C more would commit the planet to dramatically increased sea-level rise. In addition, they’re concerned that the entire planet would suffer punishing changes from changing storm patterns and intensity, heat waves and droughts. Many climate scientists fear that temperatures more than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial temperatures would be catastrophic in countless ways.

The Sanderson and Knutti commentary, published in Nature Climate Change, was not peer-reviewed. But their commentary was based on a methodology Sanderson and two coauthors presented last summer in a peer-reviewed study published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
Science Writer Dan Grossman’s Q&A

with NOAA Scientist Ben Sanderson
This Q&A relates to the description above of the Nature Climate Change commentary in which the interviewee and a colleague conclude that a U.S. four- or eight-year halt on reducing greenhouse gases would have serious adverse impacts lasting far beyond the delay itself.
Yale Climate Connections freelance science journalist Daniel Grossman spoke with NOAA scientist Ben Sanderson by telephone about their commentary, in which they argued that a U.S. climate stand-down of four or eight years would set back climate efforts by 15 to 25 years.
A lightly edited transcription of their interview follows:
Dan Grossman: I realize that it makes sense that a problem is solved sooner rather than later. But it’s not obvious that a four- or eight-year delay during a Trump administration would have longer-lasting impacts. Why isn’t that right?
Ben Sanderson: There are two main reasons. First, the climate system has inertia. And second the quantity that matters is the cumulative emissions of carbon, not the amount emitted in any given year.
The critical number to keep in mind is the total amount of carbon that humans can safely emit to stay within either 1.5 or 2 degrees C of the pre-industrial temperature. It’s called the carbon budget.

That total is calculated from the beginning of the industrial revolution until the time we stop burning fossil fuels. We’ve already emitted over 600 billion tons of carbon, out of a total budget of about 1,000 billion tons to remain below 2 degrees C, or about 700 billion tons to remain below 1.5 degrees C. We are using up the budget very quickly right now.
At present rates of global emissions, we have somewhere between four and 10 years before we have committed the Earth to blow past the 1.5-degree goal. For 2 degrees, we have somewhere between 15 and 25 years.

Grossman: You mean that if the incoming administration drops the ball for eight years, we commit the planet to bypassing 1.5 degrees?
Sanderson: Yes. With an eight-year delay in action, it would be virtually impossible to avoid going above 1.5 over pre-industrial. We’re very, very close to these thresholds, so the timeline for achieving them is incredibly short.
Grossman: But barring the reduced effort you posit in your peer-reviewed paper, is it still possible to avoid dangerous warming impacts?
Sanderson: So the background to this and the reason that the delay would render these targets unattainable is that anything short of an unprecedented World War II-level global-scale effort, starting now, would probably fail to prevent 1.5 degrees of warming. It would require global cooperation to completely transform the energy and transport infrastructure of the planet on a timescale of a few decades. To avoid a plus-1.5-degrees world, net emissions from the entire planet needs to be zero by 2040 or just after, just over 20 years from now. After that we’d have to be actively removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

But after an eight-year delay, we get into the realm of it being completely politically infeasible to stay within 1.5 or even 2 degrees C of the pre-industrial temperature.
Grossman: Why couldn’t we just pick up where we stopped after the delay? What makes a short period of delay, four or eight years, so dire?
Sanderson: The basic point is that for four or eight years we’d be putting an additional allotment of carbon into the atmosphere. And even if after the delay ended and we started reducing emissions at the same rate as we might otherwise do, we’d have to first remove that additional carbon in the atmosphere that was emitted during those lost years.
That extra CO2, translates into an increased temperature commitment for the future. Even if, post 2024, we reverted to the emissions reductions anticipated before the delay, it would be nearly impossible to return to a trajectory that would keep us safely below the Paris temperature thresholds. We’d have to pull huge amounts of CO2 directly from the air later in the century.
Some such negative emissions are already assumed. But even more would be needed. Prior scenarios that keep us below 1.5 degrees C already assume that we will max-out our technological capacity for negative emissions in the latter part of the century. In effect, the delay translates to a long-term commitment to a temperature rise beyond what we could have otherwise achieved.
Grossman: And that’s assuming that emissions stay at current rates and don’t actually rise?
Sanderson: Yes. And we can’t be certain that will happen. We also considered the effect of a short-term increase in emissions, due to policies encouraging production and consumption of fossil fuels like coal. That would commit us to an even higher temperature, both because of the extra CO2 that would be released during that period and because the investment in high-carbon infrastructure would lock in increased emissions for decades afterwards.
The scenarios for avoiding the 1.5- or 2-degree temperature limits already push the boundaries of feasibility. Any delay will cause us to miss the targets. In our paper, we calculate that if emissions increase for the next eight years (rather than falling as might otherwise occur), there’s only a 33 percent chance of avoiding warming of 2 degrees C or more.
Grossman: In your paper, you also discussed the effects of reduced research on solar power, wind energy, and other technologies for lowering carbon emissions. What would be the outcome of that?
Sanderson: We considered the possibility that eight years of reduced research in low-carbon infrastructure would hinder our ability to cut emissions post-2024, setting us back even further. If we add this effect, it makes the chance of achieving the two-degree target effectively nil, only about 10 percent. Adding in this factor increases the possibility of warming to a 3 degrees C world.


Grossman: Considering all these possibilities, what’s the bottom line?
Sanderson: The consequences of eight years of pro-fossil fuel policies in the U.S., which in turn trigger a global short-term abandonment of climate policy ambition, could be huge. It would put us it into a completely different scenario for the long-term future. The differences in costs and impacts between two-degree and three-degree worlds in the long term are enormous.
What we do even over the next decade is really important for determining what the world of our children and grandchildren will look like. It could transform the landscape of the world in the second part of this century. This is real and will have consequences for people that we know. The idea that you can kick the ball down the road for another decade is just demonstrably not true. The time is running out to avoid dangerous climate change.
Grossman: You wrote, “It’s not easy to be dispassionate watching an uncertain future unfold.” Should we expect scientists to be dispassionate about these things?
Sanderson: As climate scientists, we spend all of our time thinking about the impact of different emissions scenarios. They’re abstract, but the impacts translate into real problems which will affect people’s lives in real ways. Things like health, mortality, and disease outbreak.
It’s hard not to have an emotional response when the conclusions are so clear that the consequences of unbridled and untamed emissions would be disastrous for humanity and for every ecosystem on the planet. It’s hard not to come to the opinion that it would be better to act to avoid damage beyond what we’re already committed to.
Grossman: The new administration might be antagonistic to government employees or scientists opposed to pro-fossil-fuel policies. Are you worried about your job?
Sanderson: I’m concerned, of course. But my plan, and the plan of everyone I know, is just to carry on doing our jobs. Whatever course humanity takes, climate change will happen to some degree, and understanding how those changes are going to affect our society can give us a head start on mitigating some of the risks.
And so, we’ll carry on doing good science to provide the best information. If the political climate stops us from doing that, it would in my view be disastrous. Some of the best climate science in the world is done within the United States, and if American climate scientists were silenced, there would be dire consequences in terms of mankind’s ability to predict the effects and to respond to climate change.

Press link for more: Yale Climate Connections

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It’s Time To Stand Up For Climate And Civilisation! #science #democracy #auspol 

DURING HIS CAMPAIGN for president, Donald Trump promised to end action on climate change and kill the climate treaty adopted in 2015 in Paris. 


To truly understand why that’s such a big deal—perhaps the biggest deal ever—you need to think about a few things.
Yes, you need to think about the oft-repeated but nonetheless true and alarming statistics: 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded till 2015 snatched the crown—till 2016 obliterated the record. Last summer featured some of the hottest days ever reliably recorded on this planet: 128 degrees Fahrenheit in cities like Basra, Iraq—right at the edge of human endurance. Global sea ice has been at a record low in recent months.

Think about the slow, difficult, centuries-long march of science that got us to the point where we could understand our peril. 

Think of Joseph Fourier in the 1820s, realizing that gases could trap heat in the atmosphere; John Tyndall in the middle of that century, figuring out that carbon dioxide is one of those gases; and the valiant Svante Arrhenius in the 1890s, calculating by hand how the global temperature rises in lockstep with carbon dioxide levels.

 Think of Hans Suess and Roger Revelle in the 1950s, fumbling toward an understanding that the oceans would not absorb excess CO2—the first modern realization that CO2 must be accumulating in the atmosphere and hence, as Revelle put it, “human beings are now carrying out a large-scale geophysical experiment of a kind that could not have happened in the past nor be reproduced in the future.” 

Think of Charles Keeling in 1958, installing the first real CO2 monitor on the side of Mauna Loa and for the first time watching the CO2 level steadily rise. 

Think of the scientists who built on that work, using satellites and ocean buoy sensors to erect a scaffolding of observations; think of the theorists who used that data and the new power of supercomputers to build models that by the 1980s had made it clear we faced great danger. 

Think of the men and women who educated those scientists and who built the institutions in which they were educated and who organized the learned societies that supported them. 

And think of the forums—like the UN and its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—that brought them together from across the planet to combine their knowledge.

The Paris accord would limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius—unless the incoming administration dismantles it.JONATHAN RAA/PACIFIC PRESS/LIGHTROCKET/GETTY IMAGES

All this, taken together, is one part of what we call civilization.
Now think of the men and women of the diplomatic corps, who over generations have learned to build bridges across nations, to sometimes reconcile disputes short of war. 

The Paris accord was a triumph for them, not because it solved the problem (it didn’t, not even close) but because it existed at all. Somehow 195 nations—rich and poor, those with oil beneath their sand and those that have to import it—managed to agree that we should limit the rise in temperature to 2 degrees Celsius this century and set up an intricate architecture to at least begin the process. That too is an aspect of what we call civilization.
None of this should be taken for granted. The building blocks of our common home—science and diplomacy and also civility—are hard-won, and history would indicate that they can fade fast. In fact, we now seem likely to start tossing them away based on nothing but the politically useful whim that climate change is a hoax. When Trump announced on the campaign trail that he would “cancel” the Paris agreement, it represented an assault on civilization as surely as announcing that he would jail his political opponent represented an assault on democracy. He’s backed down from the latter plan and, under pressure, said he now has an “open mind” about Paris—though his chief of staff clarified that his “default position” is that climate change is bunk. 

In any event, he has packed his transition team and cabinet with a small band of climate deniers who have blocked action for years. Already they’ve announced their intention to end NASA’s climate research, which has been a bulwark of the scientific edifice. 

If they have their way, there will be no more satellites carefully measuring the mass of ice sheets so we can track their melt, no more creative and fascinating “missions to planet Earth” that the space agency has run so successfully. We seem intent on blinding ourselves, on ripping out the smoke detectors even as the house begins to burn.
Trump’s team can’t, by themselves, change everything.

 Engineers and entrepreneurs have done their jobs magnificently over the past decade, as the price of a solar panel has fallen 80 percent. 

Because of that work, the potential for rapid change is finally at hand. 

Denmark generated nearly half its power from wind in 2015, and not because it cornered the world’s supply of breeze. Given the new economics of renewable energy, progress will continue.

 But the climate question has never been about progress per se; we know that eventually we’ll move to the sun and wind. The issue has always been about pace, and now Trump will add serious friction, quite likely shifting the trajectory of our path enough that we will never catch up with the physics of climate change. 

Other assaults on civilization and reason eventually wore themselves out—fascism, communism, imperialism.

 But there’s no way to wait out climate change, because this test has a timer on it. 

Melt enough ice caps and you live on a very different planet. 

Either we solve this soon or we don’t solve it. 

And if we don’t, then the cascading crises that follow (massive storms, waterlogged cities, floods of migrants) will batter our societies in new ways that we are ill prepared to handle, as the xenophobia of this election season showed.

Which is why we need to rise to the occasion. Not only in our day jobs but in our roles as citizens—of city, state, country, planet.

 Engineers should, by all means, keep developing the next generation of batteries; but that work is merely necessary now, not sufficient. 

We must not watch idly as Trump takes a hammer to the mechanisms of our civilization, mechanisms that can’t be rebuilt in the time we have. 

We need to resist in all the nonviolent ways that we’ve learned over the past century and in new ones that the moment suggests. 

There will be marches and divestment campaigns, pressure to be put on city halls and statehouses. We will not lack for opportunity. If many join in, then civilization will not just endure but will emerge stronger for the testing, able to face our problems with renewed vigor. At best, it’s going to be a very close call.


Bill McKibben is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and founder of global grassroots climate campaign 350.org.”

Press link for more: Wired.com

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A Human Economy? #auspol 

The paper has a larger aim, setting out some initial thinking on the constituent elements of a “human economy approach” that can turn around both inequality and other public bads created by prevailing orthodoxies. Here are the headlines:
A human economy would see national governments accountable to the 99 percent, and playing a more interventionist role in their economies to make them fairer and more sustainable.

A human economy would see national governments cooperate to effectively fix global problems such as tax dodging, climate change and other environmental harm.


A human economy would see businesses designed in ways that increase prosperity for all, and contribute to a sustainable future.

A human economy would not tolerate the extreme concentration of wealth or poverty, and the gap between rich and poor would be far smaller.

A human economy would work equally as well for women as it does for men.


A human economy would ensure that advances in technology are actively steered to be to the benefit of everyone, rather than meaning job losses for workers or more wealth for those who own the businesses.

A human economy would ensure an environmentally sustainable future by breaking free of fossil fuels and embarking on a rapid and just transition to renewable energy.

A human economy would see progress measured by what actually matters, not just by GDP. This would include women’s unpaid care, and the impact of our economies on the planet.

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The Climate Threat posed by Right-Wing Populism’s rising tide. #Auspol 


Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom, speaks to members of the media before the start of the the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 19, 2016. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The day after American voters chose Donald Trump as their next president, Dutch politician Geert Wilders, leader of his country’s Party for Freedom, gave his take on the election to Russian broadcaster RT.

“I think that the people of America, as in Europe, feel insulted by all the politicians that ignore the real problems,” he said. “The lesson for Europeans is: Look at America. What America can do, we can do as well.” Wilders asserted that 2017 will see a series of electoral wins for right-wing nationalist parties, each an echo of Trump’s victory in the US.
There’s another reason the world should be considered about the form this growing disillusionment and outrage has taken: Right-wing populism threatens climate action.

The idea is not far-fetched. Both the June 2016 Brexit referendum and Trump’s unexpected win in November show all too clearly that it’s hard to predict where the anger bubbling beneath the surface of the western world will find an outlet — polls were unhelpful in both the Brexit vote and the US election. But when that anger does erupt, it tends to buoy nationalists who channel it toward established institutions and the elite.
The advance of these right-wing movements has caused quite a bit of concern within Europe. First, the nationalists’ hardline immigration policies threaten the pluralism Western nations prize. These victories also seem to foretell a global geopolitical realignment that would elevate Russia and Vladimir Putin as the West becomes more reactionary and isolationist.
But there’s another reason the world should be concerned about the form this growing disillusionment and outrage has taken: Right-wing populism threatens climate action.

The Paris Climate Agreement — the culmination of a more-than-20-year-long effort by the United Nations — is already in peril, thanks to America’s right-wing populists. It is a devastating irony that less than a week after the Paris Climate Agreement went into effect, America elected a climate change denialist who promptly announced he would pull America out of the deal.


However, even if America does leave the pact, other major emitters — China, India, Russia, Brazil and the European Union — are expected to stay the course. At the moment, Europe’s pledge to quickly cut climate change-causing emissions to 40 percent of 1990 levels is one of the most ambitious in the agreement. But if the predictions of leaders like Wilders and others on Europe’s far-right prove prescient, the presumption of Europe’s continued enthusiastic involvement in the deal could become far less safe.
Europe’s right-wing parties don’t share a common ideology or set of policy platforms, and they often have qualms about working with one another. Some of Europe’s right-wing populist leaders mirror Trump’s outright rejection of climate action — but not all. France’s Marine Le Pen of the National Front, for instance, questions climate science but champions “eco-nationalism.”
Europe’s right-wing populists are, however, largely united in their skepticism of cooperative bodies like the EU and the UN. These organizations are essential to progress on climate change. Taken as a unit, the European Union is the third-largest emitter of climate change-causing pollution, behind China and the United States, and the European Commission, which governs the EU, has played an essential role in pushing European nations to cut back pollution and green their economies. Yet this sort of international economic cooperation raises suspicions among Europe’s right, which, like Trump, denounces “globalism.” Le Pen’s National Front party, for instance, has described the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, a legal arrangement that undergirds the Paris Deal, as “a communist project.” UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage describes the fight for climate action as “one of the biggest and stupidest collective misunderstandings in history.”
“If climate change is labeled as an elitist, global project, which is what UKIP and Le Pen want to do, then it’s dead,” Nick Mabey, an environmental consultant and a former climate adviser to the UK government, told Bloomberg during a recent UN meeting in Marrakech to chart the path forward for the Paris deal.
Although the rise of right-wing populism has little to do with climate change, the world’s inability to deal with it may become our current populist moment’s most lasting impact. Establishment institutions including the UN and the EU are far from perfect, and the Paris deal alone will not be enough to ensure a stable climate future. But by attacking these institutions, populists’ victories will throw another speed bump onto the meandering and already quite bumpy road toward warding off climate catastrophe.
“NATO, the UN, the European Union and others were institutions that could be a bulwark of the international rule of law, as opposed to what we had before that, which was whoever had the biggest gunships, or the modern day equivalent, got what they wanted,” said Anthony Hobley, CEO of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, a London-based nonprofit group that tracks the risk climate change poses to financial markets.

“If you take an issue like climate change, you’ve got a feedback loop. Without those institutions it makes it harder to fight climate change. A more destabilized climate will erode economic security and will increase migration. These issues add more pressure that may cause more populist politicians to be elected. That erodes international rule of law further and makes it harder to fight climate change, and so on.”
The first of these potential wins may come in March, when the Netherlands is holding its general election and Wilders’ party is expected to gain ground. Then, in the fall, Germany will hold elections. Many predict that anti-immigrant sentiment bolstered by terrorist attacks like the December assault on a Berlin Christmas market will allow the right-wing Alternative for Germany party to challenge Angela Merkel’s leadership. With Merkel at the helm, Germany has charted one of the steadiest courses toward addressing climate change. With the election looming, the country could veer off course.
If and when the US government rejoins international efforts to tackle climate change, the same forces that caused it to ditch those efforts may have fundamentally reshaped the efforts themselves, derailing the global climate action that just months ago seemed poised to finally get off the ground.

Press link for more: billmoyers.com

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Australia joining US in openly trashing global climate efforts. #auspol 

Australia joining US in openly trashing global climate efforts.
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Here we are – Donald Trump is about to become the 45th president of the United States and we have to prepare for the onslaught.

It beggars belief that in 2016 an outright climate change denier could rise to the highest office in the US, dragging with him a Republican controlled Congress hungry to revive the old glory days of coal, gas and oil, not to mention a Secretary of State that until last month ran the biggest oil company on earth.

McKibben (black cap) was among activists arrested outside the White House in 2013 protesting against the proposed expansion of the Keystone oil pipeline. Two years later, the expansion was canned. Photo: Getty Images

Yet while Australians may groan and worry at the destruction that Trump will bring, take a look at your own Trump-like administration.
Washington DC may be awash with fossil fuel operatives, but Australia is no stranger to fossil fuel barons holding political sway either – indeed, you elected one to Parliament a few years ago in the form of Clive Palmer. 

And as Trump thrusts the US firmly into a position as international climate pariah, we are sadly joining Australia as two rogue developed nations openly trashing global climate efforts.


Bill McKibben warns Australia risks missing out on the new jobs and investment opportunities offered by renewable energy industries. Photo: Nic Walker

Similarly, while Trump and his team talks big about slashing environmental regulations and opening up new federal lands to drilling, the Turnbull Government is pushing ahead to develop the first new minerals basin in 40 years through the Adani coal mine project in Queensland.
Driven by Resource Minister – and coal zealot – Senator Matt Canavan, the Adani proposal runs roughshod over the wishes of the local Traditional Owners and the glaringly obvious science that shows to stay within the safe limit of 2 degrees of warming there can be no new fossil fuel projects.
If all the coal in this mega mine is dug up and burned it will produce as much pollution as all the European Union countries put together and would put not only the Great Barrier Reef in harm’s way but clearly the global climate.
The call for no new coal, oil and gas is not an ideological position. It is basic physics. It is the Trump and Turnbull governments that are pursuing their dangerous ideological agendas in the face of facts, science and the Paris climate agreement.


Let’s be clear – there is no mandate for these governments to destroy the global climate. Trump was not exactly swept into office – he lost the popular vote by more than 3 million people and aided by mass electoral interference by a foreign country.
I have met Malcolm Turnbull and I actually believe he wants (or once wanted) to see action on climate change. He believes, I think, in the role of science and innovation to create a cleaner future and a strong economy, but is being held hostage by fringe elements in his party and sadly seems unable to provide strong leadership. He has shrunk into his role and allowed rabid climate deniers to prevent Australia from benefiting from the rapidly growing low-carbon economy.

The fossil fuel era now has an expiry date. Investors know it, businesses know it and global markets know it.
Large scale renewable energy projects are now cheaper than new coal power plants and every year the costs get cheaper. This year China has pledged to spend $US360 billion ($482 billion) over the next four year on renewable projects. This is as much as the whole world spent over the past four years.
Can you imagine what this will mean for clean technology in China? Not only will it create 13 million new jobs, but an investment of this size will drive even greater innovation. By vacating this space not only are Australia and the US blocking faster action on climate change, they are opting to miss out on the new jobs and investment opportunities offered by these industries.
We all have a role to play in ensuring our governments remain culpable for their failures and seize the opportunities of tomorrow. When our governments and laws fail to act in our best interests we have a responsibility to step up and take action.
That is why I will continue to protest the Donald Trump Presidency and all it stands for. I expect my friends in Australia to do the same. The next few years are going to test us. But with the cresting power of clean energy at our backs, we have a chance.
​Bill McKibben is the founder of 350.org, an author and former New Yorker staff writer.

Press link for more: smh.com.au

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Ocean Acidification could have significant influence on marine animals. #auspol 

Ocean Acidification and the extent to which marine species are able to deal with low pH levels in the Earth’s seas, could have a significant influence on shifting the distribution of marine animals in response to climate warming.

This is one the findings of a landmark new study that has taken a first-ever global scale integrative approach to the topic, bringing together population genetics, growth, shell mineralogy and metabolic data for marine snails found in the North Atlantic.
Published in this month’s Nature Communications, the report, Regional adaptation defines sensitivity to future ocean acidification, reveals that populations at the northern and southern range edges are the most sensitive to ocean acidification, and the least likely to be able deal with significant implications for biogeography and diversity.
Scientists at the University of Quebec in Rimouski (UQAR), Canada, the University of Plymouth, the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and the University of Birmingham, launched the project in 2010 with funding from a number of sources, including the Natural Environment Research Council’s UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme.

Project lead Dr Piero Calosi, from the Department of Biology, Chemistry and Geography at UQAR, said: “It is well established that an organism’s physiological response to temperature is a major determinant of species distributions, which in turn can dictate the sensitivity of populations and species to global warming. In contrast, little is known about how other major global change drivers, such as ocean acidification, will help shape species’ distributions in the future.”
The team sampled the common periwinkle Littorina littorea – an intertidal snail that has a wide latitudinal distribution – from six populations living along the European coastline of the North Atlantic, including warm temperate, cold temperate and subpolar regions.
Specimens were transported to the Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre at the University of Plymouth and kept in aquaria containing either sea water representing current (pH 8.0) levels, or low pH predicted to occur for the year 2100 (pH 7.6).
Upon analysis, the scientists discovered a range of impacts including markedly higher rates of shell dissolution and degradation across all of the specimens maintained in the low pH condition, caused by the corrosive water conditions. This was particularly marked in the snails from the subpolar region, which have genetically adapted to the colder waters.

Where populations exhibited clear differences was in their metabolic responses to low pH conditions. The snails from warm temperate populations were found to decrease their metabolism as a trade-off between maintaining their physiological systems and their ability to grow, ultimately limiting the latter. Snails from the subpolar populations maintained their metabolic rates, but increased the amount of energy they put into shell mineralization. And the snails taken from the cold temperate waters were able to increase their metabolic rate, fuelling the maintenance of their growth and of their physiological systems to a better level than the other populations.
Dr Simon Rundle, from the School of Biological and Marine Sciences at University of Plymouth, said: “Such latitudinal differences in the metabolic ‘strategies’ may, in part, help explain the observed reduced growth towards range edges. Exposure to ocean acidification was shown to cause a reduction in the energy metabolism of the snails, and such reductions can lead to a reallocation of the energy budget away from fundamental fitness-related functions.”
Professor Stephen Widdicombe, Head of Science in Marine Ecology and Biodiversity at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, said: “Together, the findings of this study suggest that the relative sensitivity of different populations of L. littorea to future ocean acidification are likely to vary considerably across its geographical range of extension in the North East Atlantic through local and regional adaptation, with populations closer to the range edges being most sensitive.”
Dr Lucy Millicent Turner, from the University of Plymouth, added: “If ocean acidification selects against sensitive, range-edge genotypes, it could cause a reduction of genetic diversity levels that could have far-reaching consequences for the ability of these populations to respond and further adapt to other local and global stressors.”
The results, say the authors, also demonstrate the risks of using single population studies when aiming to predict species’ and community responses to global environmental drivers.
“We may be currently over- or underestimating the impact of different environmental changes in different climatic regions,” concludes Dr Calosi, “with this having important implications for the development of directives and policies to promote the preservation of marine biodiversity under the ongoing global change.”

Press link for more: Phys.org

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We’re blowing the carbon budget! 

As of now—by one calculation—the world has one year to stop pumping CO2 into the atmosphere if we want to stop climate change at 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, the aim of the Paris climate agreement.

A carbon countdown clock from researchers at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change does the math, estimating the time left at current emission levels. Even with a higher limit of two degrees of warming and the most optimistic projections, we still only have about 23 years to fully transition to a carbon-free economy.

“Once we have exhausted the carbon budget, every ton of CO2 that is released by cars, buildings, or industrial plants would need to be compensated during the 21st century by removing the CO2 from the atmosphere again,” says Fabian Löhe, a spokesperson for the Mercator researchers. “Generating such ‘negative emissions’ is even more challenging, and we do not know today at which scale we might be able to do that. Hence, the clock shows that time is running out: It is not enough to act sometime in the future, but it is necessary to implement more ambitious climate policies already in the very short-term.”


Moving to a clean economy obviously requires massive change. Despite the massive growth of renewable energy, most energy still comes from fossil fuels. China, which is moving aggressively to shut down coal plants and spending an unprecedented $361 billion on renewable energy over the next few years, will still get half of its power from nonrenewable sources in 2020. Most heat is fossil-powered. Most transportation runs on gas. Building the infrastructure needed to change that in a year (or a little over four years, if you look at the optimistic projections for staying under 1.5 degrees) would take a level of action that isn’t happening now.


“Many experts see a growing dissonance between the increasing ambitions of climate policy and the lack of success in achieving sustained emission reductions today,” says Löhe. “So far, there is no track record for reducing emissions globally. Instead, greenhouse gas emissions have been rising at a faster pace during the last decade than previously—despite growing awareness and political action across the globe.”
Researchers have found that the commitments that countries made in the Paris agreement don’t go far enough to keep warming under 1.5 degrees—or even under 2 degrees.
“While countries were able to agree upon adequate long-term climate policy targets, they have not been able to match these long-term ambitions with appropriate short-term actions,” says Löhe. “In fact, short-term emission reduction commitments by countries so far—the so-called nationally determined contributions (NDCs)—will only slow the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions rather than starting an era of substantial and sustained emission reductions.”
That half-degree makes a difference; the flooding and droughts and other extreme weather that are already becoming more common will get worse at 1.5 degrees, and likely far worse at 2 degrees. It’s possible that Arctic sea ice might survive with “only” 1.5 degrees of warming. Some parts of the Persian Gulf that would be uninhabitable after 2 degrees of warming might still be tolerable at 1.5 degrees.
The International Governmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN group that produces comprehensive reports on climate change, won’t publish its report on 1.5 degrees of warming—and how to avoid it—until 2018, likely after the carbon budget has been blown. Even to stay under 2 degrees of warming, the world needs to act much more quickly.
“It is crucial that countries jointly raise the short-term ambition of climate policy by ratcheting up their respective [commitments made in Paris] through concrete policies and credible implementation plans for additional emission reductions,” Löhe says. “To successfully manage the transition toward a carbon neutral world economy, it is crucial to steer investments in the right direction. This will at some point require a price on carbon, either through a tax or a functioning emissions trading system.”

Press link for more: Fast coexist.com

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Interfaith effort spreads the word about climate change #auspol 

Interfaith effort spreads the word about climate change
Interfaith groups throughout Philadelphia came together to challenge climate change deniers as part of the National Day Against Denial recently, and Black organizations want to keep up the momentum.


Christians, Jews, Muslims and other faith communities braved the cold to gather for a march through Center City on Monday. The two-prone effort had others engaged in phone-bank calls to policymakers and lawmakers.
Members of Philadelphia PA Interfaith Power & Light joined with groups outside the faith community to champion the cause of keeping the issue in the political forefront as President-elect Donald Trump has nominated people who question or refute climate change science.
The Rev. Cheryl Pyrch of the Philadelphia PAIPL was among those answering the call to action.
“This is part of the national response to the climate deniers to let them know we are organized,” Pyrch said.
“I could not make it to the event,” he added. “I do know that Rev. Alison Cornish [executive director of PAIPL] was planning this for a while. The 350.org is also involved under the direction of Mitch James. They are involved in different climate environmental justice issues and are active right now.”
Philadelphia PAIPL plans to hold a brainstorming retreat to strategize on how it will help faith communities in the area address climate issues. The event is scheduled for Tuesday at the Summit Presbyterian Church in the Mount Airy section. Pyrch is the pastor at the church.
Mary Wade, founder of One Light, Building Respect in Community, said the issue of climate change came up at one of her recent events. But the associate minister at Wayland Temple Baptist Church in North Philadelphia said race, violence and environmental issues should remain among the focuses for faith-based groups and churches.
“Underlining every issue confronting our community is a disregard for the integrity of life,” Wade said. “Whether in the workplace, by those in authority or everyday people walking the streets of the community, the problem is the same — a lack of appreciation for our Creator and the sacredness of life. There is a lack of awe and deep respect for the God, who created us all and this planet.

“Our national culture is that of extreme irreverence and lack of honor,” she said. “There is little respect and appreciation for the Creator and creation. This undermines and destroys the fiber of society and hope for our future on this planet.
“That’s why we must continue to call upon people of all faiths and goodwill to show dignity, respect and care,” Wade added.
Gloria Jones of Germantown was among those who attended a tree planting along Germantown Avenue. Though the trees planted by PAIPL and others are small, it still brings her great pleasure, she said.
“I believe in a God who loves us so much that he gave us a beautiful place to live,” Jones said. “I think it is wonderful that many are trying to make sure that we save this planet. I know that I try to do my part.
“When I talk about climate change, I find that most African-American Christians do believe it is real, but what I find is that most think other things are more important. I tell them if you cannot breathe or lose the earth, all those other things will not matter,” she said.
“So, I applaud any group that is speaking out about this,” Jone said.

Press link for more: Phillytrib.com

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We’re all in this together. #auspol #science 

The Wretched State of the Human Family and Our Shared Ecological HabitatBY DR. GLEN BARRY · PUBLISHED JANUARY 8, 2017 · UPDATED JANUARY 8, 2017
Humanity’s one shared biosphere that makes Earth habitable is collapsing and dying as industrial growth overruns natural ecosystems and climate; as we have utterly failed to embrace our dependence upon each other and nature for our well-being and very survival. It is time to come together as one human family to resist injustice, inequity, violence, and non-sustainability as we create a rich and verdant life for all amidst resurgent natural ecosystems on a living Earth that can last essentially forever.

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. – George Orwell
We are one human family. Best we end the dysfunction and start acting like it or we destroy ourselves and our one shared habitat. – Dr. Glen Barry
Deep ecology essay by Dr. Glen Barry, EcoInternet
We Are All In This Together, One Human Family

In Beijing, New Delhi, and London one can barely breathe. Those sick with addiction are murdered in the Philippines by the state. The socialist paradise of Venezuela is becoming a failed state of wanton hunger, prostitution, and murder. Advanced western democracies turn towards fascism as long anticipated inequitable over-population and abrupt climate change lead to mass flows of refugees.


Western consumption is violence against the natural world and each other. Over a billion people live in abject poverty on $1.50 a day, as a few hundred oligarchs enjoy half of Earth’s wealth. In much of the world shocking and grotesque opulence exists within a sea of absolute human and natural misery. Wildlife continues to be slaughtered as vermin, as do unwanted human beings. Resurgent indigenous protectors are brutalized by settlers as they have been for 500 years.

The current pampered ruling elite in the United States stole an election from a good man working to channel the aspirations of everyday people, while committed to addressing societal issues that threaten us all. Instead we have an US President elect who is an anti-science lunatic that grabs women’s crotches and has sold out the nation to autocratic Russia. This creepy bankrupt reality show host will soon possess the button that can destroy the Earth many times over. Or his turning over of climate and environmental policy to the oil oligarchy may take care of that.

After centuries of war driven by ecological imperialism, and two world wars which brought horrors at unimaginable scale, much of the world supported institutions to make peace, and the desirability of demobilizing and ridding the world of nuclear arms. Then America reacted incautiously to the banditry of a small bunch of Islamic fanatics, using this horrific international crime as a pretext to settle other scores through wanton imperialist invasions. Now radical and medieval christianity and islam are at each other’s throats, which increasingly becomes a conflict between the haves and have nots, as we are plunged into a state of Perma-war from which we may never emerge.
The ecosystems that enable our very being are being cleared for toilet paper to wipe our asses and lawn furniture to luxuriate upon as being ends. Those that are relatively well-off are in profound denial that their inequitable over-consumptive lifestyles can continue as ecosystems and climate collapse. Decadent over-consuming celebrities prattle on about climate change as they flit about in highly-polluting private jets.
Society has atomized, not only between the well-off and dispossessed, but also between those enmeshed within supportive communities and those that are marginalized, unsupported, and ignored. Families have grown dysfunctional, ostracizing and vilifying rather than loving and nurturing, particularly those family members that are different. All life including other human beings (particularly women) and wildlife have become objectified for what they can do for me now, otherwise they are considered disposable.
Not so long ago things were looking good for human advancement. An end to slavery, racial equality, women’s and worker’s rights, environmental sustainability, and a lasting peace dividend were all in our grasp. Decades of human advancement are now threatened by pervasive anti-intellectualism, self-absorption, and simple human greed.

Previous generations believed in social progress, while current self-entitled generations believe in iPhone apps. Things could be so much better if we wanted; or at least had the intelligence, strength, and morality to try.
Until we educate every single one of us, and commit to truthful action to meet the basic needs of every human being, all species, and our shared habitat; humanity is little more than bacteria on a pile of sugar. Those that live extravagantly will soon burn through the living Earth’s resources and then being ends.
We simply must do better or our one shared environment will be destroyed as we die gasping for breath and starving, at each others’ throats as society and the biosphere collapse.
We are one human family. Best we end the dysfunction and start acting like it or we destroy ourselves and our one shared habitat.

To thrive, indeed to survive, we simply must accept and embrace that we are more alike than different, we all feel pain and have desires, and we are utterly dependent upon each other for our well-being. We must do so despite our race, education level, income, and which ultimately unknowable faith we embrace; as we find ourselves hurtling together through space on one shared biosphere which is being murdered.
Lines on the map are vacuous nonsense meant to limit our unity. Nothing threatens the oligarchy’s elites more than the thought of us coming together to demand peace, justice, equity, and ecology.
Together much could be achieved as we learn to value knowledge, experience, shared well-being, and natural ecosystems as the meaning of life or we fall into nothingness. The many visionary sages that speak of and lead us in this great transition must be supported, loved, and heeded, not ignored and vilified.
Where are the necessary lovers of ecological and other truths to lead us to salvation? Who will rise up with them as one and together destroy the ruling oligarchy class sucking the life from humanity and her habitat? From which quarters and unlikely alliances will The Resistance emerge to usher in the great transition to just, equitable, and global ecological sustainability?
There is more to life than throw-away consumption based upon liquidating ecosystems to soothe and comfort your nerve-endings as the expense of other life and your habitat. Stop being a turd polluting and ultimately killing miraculous Gaia and transform yourself and community into a state of personal well-being, societal harmony, and bioregional sustainability.

Believe in something greater than yourself. Commit to action for the land, air, and water. Reach across boundaries to share and love. Nurture and restore natural ecosystems. Work for greater equity where all basic needs are met as those that are smart and work harder have reasonably more. Heal your dysfunctional families and communities. Care for the sick and indigent. Join together in mass protest, when necessary swarming the sources of ecocide and fascism.


Make Love Not War

Make Love Not War

Make love not war.
Risk everything to be part of the great ecological transition to come. Ditch your car. Eat less or no meat. Do not consume old-growth forests, rather protect and restore native ecosystems as holy cathedrals that sustain life. Reduce your personal emissions as you come together with others to do so societally. Grow your food, and exchange the surplus with others.
Be kind and giving. Be not envious but rather rejoice in the success of others as it lifts all and provides valuable inspiration to your own journey. Empathize with the broken and aged, and young and stupid. But for the grace of Gaia there go any one of us.
Let’s stop being afraid of taking the actions individually and collectively required to get better and recover from human neuroses. Let us unite as citizens of the world, coming together as one human family on an Earth that lives forever

Press link for more: EcoInternet.org