Finland

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Climate Change the hidden Catalyst #Auspol 

Climate change is taking an obvious physical toll on earth: from depleted farmland to the rise of toxic pollution to the degradation of long-stable ecosystems to the disappearance of biodiversity and endangered species. 

But looking beyond the physical, experts are also trying to sound the alarm about the quieter, more insidious effects of climate change: namely, that global warming is threatening the emotional health of humans worldwide. 
“We see a sense of despair that sets in as inevitably Mother Nature, who we think of as our nurturing force, tells us we’re not going to be able to survive the conditions she’s set for us,” Dr. Lise Van Susteran, a practicing psychiatrist and expert on the dangers of climate change on mental health, told CBS News. 
Dr. Van Susteran presented on this topic earlier this month at the Climate & Health Meeting in Atlanta, a conference that looked at climate change through the lens of public health. 

Former Vice President Al Gore organized the meeting when, days before President Trump’s inauguration, a long-planned Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) summit on the topic was abruptly cancelled.

Extreme weather, extreme trauma, extreme aggression

Study after study shows that climate change has led to an increased burden of psychological disease and injury worldwide, particularly in developing countries. 
What’s behind this link? 

For starters, climate change has normalized extreme weather events. 

These events, including floods, tornadoes, fires, drought, and sea level rise, are known to trigger mental health problems including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, the abuse of alcohol and drugs, and more.

Extreme weather has a particularly disturbing link to increased aggression. 

In 2013, researchers from Princeton University and the University of California-Berkeley found that even slight spikes in temperature and precipitation have increased the risk of personal violence and social upheaval throughout human history. 
 

The researchers found that just one standard-deviation shift in heat or rainfall increases the risk of a riot, civil war or ethnic conflict by an average of about 14 percent. A similarly sized uptick in heat or rain triggers a 4 percent increase in person-on-person violence like rape, murder and assault. 
With projections that the Earth may warm between three and four degrees Fahrenheit by 2050, the researchers warned that climate change is almost certainly the precursor to more human conflict in the near future.
Global warming is a particularly corrosive force in some farming economies, where overheating, unpredictable weather, new invasive species, and land losses are sinking communities into extreme poverty and creating a breeding ground for violent conflict.  
For millions, the effects of climate change are so severe that leaving home is the only option for survival.

 Thirty-two million people fled their homes because of extreme weather in 2012 alone, according to the United Nations. 

Escaping hazards ranging from mudslides to drought, climate refugees add more stress to an already dire refugee situation worldwide. According to the UN, the world is currently witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record.
As climate refugees become more and more common, refugee laws lag behind: none of the existing international or regional refugees law mechanisms specifically addresses climate refugees, the UN says. 
Problems can affect anyone, anywhere

Climate change is triggering mental health problems beyond just developing countries and conflict zones. 
In cities, babies who are exposed in the uterus to higher levels of urban air pollutants (known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are more likely to develop symptoms of anxiety and depression down the line, Columbia University researchers found in 2012. 

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are the chemicals come from burning fossil fuels. 

 

“Climate anxiety” can cripple individuals regardless of their geography, privilege, or vulnerability to the effects of climate change, Dr. Van Susteran said. Joining with other mental health professionals, she is one of the founders behind the Climate Psych Alliance, a new coalition trying to raise awareness about the links between climate change and clinical trauma. 
“You can see how desperate, angry, despairing people are,” she said. “It’s a legitimate response to what people see as inaction, intentional inaction… Whether we know it or not, whether you accept it or not, everyone experiences climate anxiety.”
Seen through a certain lens, inaction on global warming meets the criteria of child abuse for future generations, she said.
“When children believe their parents didn’t do something right, or did something wrong, they spend a whole lifetime feeling abandoned. What in the world are future generations going to think or feel when they know that action could have been taken?” 
Climate change: the hidden catalyst

In the age of an unstable climate, the link between natural disasters and psychological trauma is “under-examined, underestimated and not adequately monitored,” Italian researchers assessed in a January study in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. That research gap is particularly worrisome in Africa, German researchers said in a paper published last year. 
Climate change is often the hidden catalyst — the fuel behind war, displacement and collapsed economies that doesn’t make it into the headlines.
Syria’s civil war, for instance, is most frequently framed as an entrenched political conflict. Closer examination shows that’s far from the full story: in fact, the country’s six-year conflict is rooted in a devastating drought. Earnings depleted and Syrian farmers moved to overcrowded cities, where political corruption and public health crises helped foment bloody revolution. 
Climate change carries enormous political risk for the 21st century, Dr. Van Susteran warned. 
“In times of peril and scarcity, people regress,” she said. “They turn to what they perceive as strong leaders to protect them, and are willing to give up their freedoms and values in exchange for perceived security.”

Press link for more: cbsnews.com

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Siberia’s doorway to the Underworld is Getting Bigger. #ClimateChange #auspol #science 

Siberia’s ‘doorway to the Underworld’ Is Getting So Big It’s Uncovering Ancient Forests

A doorway to 200,000 years ago.
It’s no secret that Siberia’s permafrost has been on thin ice lately. Conditions are varying so much that huge holes are appearing out of nowhere, and, in some places, tundra is quite literally bubbling underneath people’s feet.
But new research has revealed that one of the biggest craters in the region, known by the local Yakutian people as the ‘doorway to the underworld’, is growing so rapidly that it’s uncovering long-buried forests, carcasses, and up to 200,000 years of historical climate records.
Known as the Batagaika crater, it’s what’s officially called a ‘megaslump’ or ‘thermokarst’.
Many of these megaslumps have been appearing across Siberia in recent years, but researchers think Batagaika could be something of an anomaly in the region, located around 660 km (410 miles) north-east of the region’s capital city of Yakutsk.
Not only is the crater already the largest of its kind, almost 1 km (0.6 miles) long and 86 metres (282 feet) deep, but it’s getting bigger all the time.


Alexandra  Gabyshev, Research Institute of Applied Ecology of the North
Research presented last year by Frank Günther from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany revealed that the head wall of the crater has grown by an average of 10 metres (33 feet) per year over the past decade of observations.

 And in warmer years, the growth has been up to 30 metres (98 feet) per year.
The team also suspects that the side wall of the crater will reach a neighbouring valley in the coming months as temperatures heat up in the Northern Hemisphere, which could lead to even more land collapse.
“On average over many years, we have seen that there’s not so much acceleration or deceleration of these rates, it’s continuously growing,” Günther told Melissa Hogenboom from the BBC. 

“And continuous growth means that the crater gets deeper and deeper every year.”
That’s not great news for climate change.

 The crater formation first started after a large chunk of forest was cleared nearby in the 1960s.
Because the ground was no longer shaded in the warm, summer months, it heated up more rapidly than it had in the past, eventually causing the permafrost to melt and the ground to collapse. 

Major flooding in 2008 made the melting even worse, and contributed to the size of the crater.

inside batagaika closeupAlexander Gabyshev, Research Institute of Applied Ecology of the North
The instability of the region isn’t just dangerous for locals, there are also concerns that as the hole gets deeper and larger, it will expose carbon stores that have been locked away for thousands of years.
“Global estimations of carbon stored in permafrost is [the] same amount as what’s in the atmosphere,” Günther told the BBC.
As the crater continues to melt, these greenhouse gases could be released into the atmosphere, triggering more warming.
“This is what we call positive feedback,” added Günther.

 “Warming accelerates warming, and these features may develop in other places. 
But it’s not all terrible news.

 A study published this month in the journal Quaternary Research has shown that the layers exposed by the crater could now reveal 200,000 years of climate data.
That’s in addition to the preserved remains of long-buried forests, ancient pollen samples, and even the frozen remains of a musk ox, mammoth, and a 4,400-year-old horse.
Here’s some ancient tree remains in the melting permafrost:

Julian Murton
The research was led by Julian Murton from the University of Sussex, who says the exposed sediment could be useful for understanding how the climate of Siberia changed in the past, and predicting how it will change in the future.
While most of the planet went through periods of cooling and warming over the past 200,000 years, the climate history of Siberia is vastly unknown.
But according to Murton, the last time Siberia saw this kind of slumping occur was around 10,000 years ago, as Earth transitioned out of its last Ice Age.
And today greenhouse gas levels in our atmosphere are much higher than they were back then – we’re now at 400 parts per million CO2, compared to 280 parts per million when the last Ice Age ended.
“The Batagaika site contains a remarkably thick sequence of permafrost deposits, which include two wood-rich layers interpreted as forest beds that indicate past climates about as warm or warmer than today’s climate,” Murton told Sarah Emerson over at Motherboard last year.
“The upper forest bed overlies an old land surface that was eroded, probably when permafrost thawed in a past episode of climate warming.”
If the researchers can use this information to understand exactly what happened to Siberia last time the permafrost melted, we might be able to better prepare for when it happens again.
But there’s more research that needs to be done – the exact dates of the sediment that have been exposed in the crater still aren’t known, Murton told Hogenboom.
He’s now planning to drill bore holes in the region to analyse more sediment and get a more accurate understanding of what happened in the past.
“Ultimately, we’re trying to see if climate change during the last Ice Age [in Siberia] was characterised by a lot of variability: warming and cooling, warming and cooling as occurred in the North Atlantic region,” says Murton.
The research has been published in Quaternary Research.

Press link for more: Science Alert.com

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Let’s Make a Deal #ClimateChange Put a price on pollution. #auspol 

Left & Right “Let’s Make a Deal” Put a price on Carbon Pollution #ClimateChange #auspol 

Earlier this month, conservative elder statesmen issued a “Let’s Make a Deal” on climate: Nix Obama-era regulations in return for a carbon tax and dividend.
So far, the idea has gained little traction from unretired Republicans who could actually make a deal. 

But if that changes, should Democrats and pro-environment independents accept it?

The proposal was issued with great fanfare by the newly formed Climate Leadership Council. 

Conservative economists Martin Feldstein and Gregory Mankiw and former secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker III touted the plan in op-eds for the The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. 

The council launched its effort at the National Press Club the same day.
A carbon tax appeals to free-market conservatives by empowering markets to find the cheapest ways to cut emissions.

 By returning the money through a dividend, the tax would not grow the size of government. 

The council estimates the dividend would start at $2,000 for a family of four, and rise with the carbon tax.
However, the council isn’t offering something for nothing. 

Their proposal calls for ending President Obama’s climate regulations. 

Specifically, they would nix the Clean Power Plan, tougher fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks and additional regulations yet to be specified. 

Fortunately, the council is not seeking to weaken light-duty fuel economy standards, appliance efficiency standards or the hydrofluorocarbon deal signed in Kigali, Rwanda, last year.


Obama pledged under the Paris climate agreement that the United States would aim for 28 percent emission reductions by 2025 from 2005 levels. 

As I wrote last year, the U.S. had already cut emissions 9 percent by 2014. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just announced that emissions fell another 2.2 percent in 2015.
The council estimates that continuation of Obama-era policies would leave the U.S. about 12 percentage points shy of its Paris pledge. 

That’s why 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had proposed an ambitious agenda for further progress.

With President Trump and congressional Republicans calling to reverse Obama’s policies without replacement, we’d likely fall further behind.
To meet our Paris pledge, the council proposes a carbon tax starting at $40/ton and rising with time. 

Unlike weaker taxes discussed before, the new proposal would likely be more than sufficient for that goal. 

A recent Treasury Department analysis estimates that a $49/ton tax would far surpass the emission cuts needed for Paris.

Meanwhile, Resources for the Future modeled various sets of carbon taxes that could achieve the Paris pledge. 

As co-author Marc Hafstead explained via email, their modeling shows a tax rising to $38/ton (in year 2013 dollars) by 2025 would meet the target. 

The council’s proposal would exceed that level with its annual increases, and yield further benefits for decades to come.
Interestingly, Hafstead noted that their calculation of a $38/ton threshold for Paris compliance assumes the U.S. abandons efforts to control more potent greenhouse gases like methane. 

That may be the case, as the House voted this month to overturn rules on methane emissions from oil and gas drilling.
But if we don’t abandon progress on other pollutants, Hafstead estimates a tax of just $22/ton would be sufficient.
Ditching methane controls is a bad deal for many reasons. 

Methane is the leading source of ozone smog worldwide. 

That’s why researchers such as Jason West of the University of North Carolina and Arlene Fiore of Columbia University have shown that methane reductions can save tens of thousands of lives.

Leaking methane also means wasting a valuable fuel. 

Since methane is short-lived, it actually causes more warming near-term than traditional 100-year outlooks would suggest. 

Controlling methane while keeping the council’s $40-plus/ton tax proposal would accelerate U.S. progress toward its ultimate goal of 80 percent emission reductions by 2050.
Environmentalists have little to lose trading the Clean Power Plan for a carbon tax. 

As I wrote with Leah Parks last year, the U.S. is well ahead of schedule to meet the plan’s targets.

 That’s because cheaper natural gas and renewables are already displacing coal, even as the Clean Power Plan remains tied up in court.


The main importance of the Clean Power Plan is preventing a swing back to coal if natural gas prices rise. 

But a carbon tax averts that scenario. 

A $40/ton tax would add 4.2 cents per kilowatt hour to the cost of coal electricity, but just 1.6 cents for natural gas combined cycle plants. 

Solar and wind would pay nothing.

With many coal plants already losing money, coal would quickly give way to cheaper and cleaner forms of electricity.

 Meanwhile, the tax on natural gas is comparable in size to existing tax credits for wind and solar. 

Even without those tax credits, wind and solar are already as cheap as new natural gas plants. 

Taxing natural gas would help renewables extend their recent dominance of new generation capacity without the need for subsidies.
For transportation, the effects of a carbon tax would be far milder. 

A $40/ton tax would add just 36 cents to the cost of a gallon of gasoline. 

That’s not going to convince many people to drive less or buy an electric car, especially since electricity prices would rise a bit too. 

However, with fuel economy standards set to tighten, electric car sales would continue to rise.

Looking beyond the 2025 Paris target, swapping regulations for a carbon tax becomes an even more attractive deal. 

The Clean Power Plan ends in 2030. 

However, a steadily rising carbon tax would continue to drive down emissions for decades to come.
Carbon taxes have traditionally been criticized as regressive, since the poor spend a greater share of their income on energy. 

However, by rebating the tax through a per-person dividend, the Climate Leadership Council’s proposal would leave many low-income families better off.
So should Democrats and independents welcome this deal?
In a word, yes. 

Writers in The Nation, the The New York Times and Mother Jones have reached similar conclusions. 

I’d bargain for tougher methane regulations, but could accept waiting to restore those later.
Trouble is, conservative economists and retired Republican statesmen are in no position to seal this deal. 

RepublicEn, Citizens Climate Lobby and the Climate Solutions Caucus are trying to rally Republican and bipartisan support for a carbon tax in Congress.
For now, such efforts have fallen on deaf ears from politicians who hear no evil on climate.

 If that changes, liberals and moderates shouldn’t shy away from nixing Obama-era policies to accept a market-based solution to climate change.
Dan Cohan is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University.

Press link for more: The Hill

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Climate Change One of Mankind’s Most Serious Threats. #Auspol 

Catastrophic Climate Change Makes List of Mankind’s Most Serious Threats
Extreme climate change is among the greatest threats facing mankind, says a new study released by the Global Challenges Foundation


Still politicians (Who receive huge donations from coal miners) push coal ignoring climate scientists.

Scott Morrison  Liberal Party in the Australian Parilament 
The GCF works to raise awareness of Global Catastrophic Risks, defined as events that would end the lives of roughly 10 percent or more of the global population, or do comparable damage.


The industrial landscape across the Dee Estuary at sunrise as steam rises from Deeside power station, Shotton Steelworks and other heavy industrial plants on April 13, 2016 in Flint, Wales. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The list includes “significant ongoing risks” such as nuclear war and worldwide disease outbreaks but also highlights several scenarios that are “unlikely today but will become significantly more likely in the coming decades,”such as the continued rise of artificial intelligence. 

It’s there, among the emerging risks, that the study places the threat of catastrophic climate change.

Politician addicted to coal donations

Barnaby Joyce National Party in the Australian Parliament 
Even if we succeed in limiting emissions, the study says, scientists expect significant climate change to occur, which could lead to a host of global challenges including environmental degradation, migration, and the possibility of resource conflict.

The study goes on to say that, in a worse case scenario, global warming could top 6 degrees Celsius, which would leave “large swathes of the planet dramatically less habitable.”
“The precise levels of climate change sufficient to trigger tipping points – thresholds for abrupt and irreversible change – remain uncertain,“ the study says, “but the risk associated with crossing multiple tipping points in the earth system or in interlinked human and natural systems increases with rising temperature.”

The main goal of the study is to raise awareness of these potential catastrophes and encourage greater global cooperation to keep them at bay.
(MORE: Climate Change Poses Urgent Health Risk, White House Says)
“Market and political distortions mean that these risks are likely to be systematically neglected by many actors,” the study says.
The study suggests there are three main ways to reduce the risks from climate change: adaptation to climate change, abatement of emissions, and geo-engineering. Research communities should increase their focus on understanding the pathways to and the likelihood of catastrophic climate change, and possible ways to respond, the study says.
MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Before and After Shots of Rising Sea Levels

This photo illustration depicts Durban, South Africa, after a 2 degrees Celsius increase in global temperature, a threshold that, if surpassed, could usher in catastrophic global impacts from climate change. (Credit: sealevel.climatecentral.org/Nickolay Lamm) 
Press link for More: Weather.com

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Capitalism Will Starve Humanity By 2050! #auspol 

By Drew Hansen

Unless It Changes, Capitalism Will Starve Humanity By 2050
Capitalism has generated massive wealth for some, but it’s devastated the planet and has failed to improve human well-being at scale.
• Species are going extinct at a rate 1,000 times faster than that of the natural rate over the previous 65 million years (see Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School).
• Since 2000, 6 million hectares of primary forest have been lost each year. That’s 14,826,322 acres, or just less than the entire state of West Virginia (see the 2010 assessment by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN).
• Even in the U.S., 15% of the population lives below the poverty line. For children under the age of 18, that number increases to 20% (see U.S. Census).
• The world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050 (see United Nations’ projections).

Capitalism is unsustainable in its current form. (Credit: ZINIYANGE AUNTONY/AFP/Getty Images)
How do we expect to feed that many people while we exhaust the resources that remain?
Human activities are behind the extinction crisis. Commercial agriculture, timber extraction, and infrastructure development are causing habitat loss and our reliance on fossil fuels is a major contributor to climate change.
Public corporations are responding to consumer demand and pressure from Wall Street. 

Professors Christopher Wright and Daniel Nyberg published Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations last fall, arguing that businesses are locked in a cycle of exploiting the world’s resources in ever more creative ways.
“Our book shows how large corporations are able to continue engaging in increasingly environmentally exploitative behaviour by obscuring the link between endless economic growth and worsening environmental destruction,” they wrote.
Yale sociologist Justin Farrell studied 20 years of corporate funding and found that “corporations have used their wealth to amplify contrarian views [of climate change] and create an impression of greater scientific uncertainty than actually exists.”

Corporate capitalism is committed to the relentless pursuit of growth, even if it ravages the planet and threatens human health.
We need to build a new system: one that will balance economic growth with sustainability and human flourishing.
A new generation of companies are showing the way forward. They’re infusing capitalism with fresh ideas, specifically in regards to employee ownership and agile management.
The Increasing Importance Of Distributed Ownership And Governance
Fund managers at global financial institutions own the majority (70%) of the public stock exchange. 

These absent owners have no stake in the communities in which the companies operate. 

Furthermore, management-controlled equity is concentrated in the hands of a select few: the CEO and other senior executives.
On the other hand, startups have been willing to distribute equity to employees. 

Sometimes such equity distribution is done to make up for less than competitive salaries, but more often it’s offered as a financial incentive to motivate employees toward building a successful company.
According to The Economist, today’s startups are keen to incentivize via shared ownership:
The central difference lies in ownership: whereas nobody is sure who owns public companies, startups go to great lengths to define who owns what. 

Early in a company’s life, the founders and first recruits own a majority stake—and they incentivise people with ownership stakes or performance-related rewards. 

That has always been true for startups, but today the rights and responsibilities are meticulously defined in contracts drawn up by lawyers. 

This aligns interests and creates a culture of hard work and camaraderie.
 Because they are private rather than public, they measure how they are doing using performance indicators (such as how many products they have produced) rather than elaborate accounting standards.
This trend hearkens back to cooperatives where employees collectively owned the enterprise and participated in management decisions through their voting rights. 

Mondragon is the oft-cited example of a successful, modern worker cooperative. 

Mondragon’s broad-based employee ownership is not the same as an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. 

With ownership comes a say – control – over the business. 

Their workers elect management, and management is responsible to the employees.

Press link for more: Forbes.com

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Rapid warming sets the stage for ‘societal collapse’ #auspol #climatechange

Rapid warming and disintegrating polar ice set the stage for ‘societal collapse’

By Dr Joe Romm 

Carbon pollution is destabilizing both the Arctic and Antarctic.

A crack in Antarctics’s Larsen C ice shelf has grown sharply in recent months. CREDIT: NASA.
The Arctic and Antarctic are seeing an accelerated collapse of both sea and land ice.
When you add in Trump’s aggressive agenda to undo both domestic and global climate action, we are facing the worst-case scenario for climate change — and one new study finds that the worst case is “societal collapse.”
The unprecedented drop in global sea ice we reported on last month has continued. Arctic sea ice reached a new record low, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reports.

Compared to the record low set in January 2016, last month’s new record low Arctic sea ice extent was smaller by the size of Wyoming.
Climate models have long predicted that if we keep using the atmosphere as an open sewer for carbon pollution, the ice cap would eventually enter into a death spiral because of Arctic amplification — a vicious cycle where higher temperatures melt reflective white ice and snow, which is replaced by the dark land or blue sea, which both absorb more solar energy, leading to more melting.
That’s why the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the planet. And last week saw another monster Arctic heat wave with temperatures a stunning 50°F (28°C) above normal.

Climate Reanalyzer image via Washington Post.

This is the third monster Arctic heat wave this winter. “I’ve been looking at Arctic weather and climate for 35 years and I’ve never seen anything like the warming conditions we’ve been seeing this winter,” NSIDC director Mark Serreze told Inside Climate News earlier this month.
NOAA reported in December that Arctic air temperatures in 2016 were “by far” the highest since 1900. The chart below shows the extreme polar warmth in 2016 (in yellow) and again in 2017 (red).

Air temperatures north of 80 degrees latitude for 2017 (red), compared to 2016 (yellow), and the long-term average (blue). Credit: Zack Labe/ Danish Meteorological Institute

It bears repeating that what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. Arctic amplification drives more extreme weather in North America, while accelerating both Greenland ice sheet melt (which causes faster sea level rise) and the defrosting of carbon-rich permafrost (which releases CO2 and methane that each cause faster warming).
At the same time, Antarctica is seeing record loss of sea ice and the land-based ice sheet (which contains enough frozen water to raise sea levels some 200 feet).
A major crack in the Larson C ice shelf “grew 17 miles in the last two months,” the New York Times reported last week. Here’s a close up of the crack:

CREDIT: NASA

Floating ice shelves don’t add to sea level rise directly. But “they buttress land ice and keep it inland,” NASA explains. Therefore, when a shelf becomes destabilized and disintegrates, “glaciers that feed it can flow more quickly out to sea — a process that directly increases sea level.”
Humanity is playing with fire, literally. Fossil fuel combustion and other human activity now overwhelm all of the natural cycles that have driven slow climate changes in the past. According to a new study, we are “causing the climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces.”
If we fail to change course sharply, the study warns we risk “abrupt changes in the Earth System that could trigger societal collapse.”
Tragically, the president has pledged to kill domestic and global climate action, and his team is a den of deniers. If Trump succeeds in destroying the Paris climate deal, the world’s last best hope to sharply slow global warming, then we are headed toward an unbounded worst case scenario for our children and the next 50 generations.

Press link for more: Think Progress.org

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Rise Up For The Climate! #auspol 

Earth Week’s climate change plea

Photo: reb gro@Flickr

The University of Manchester’s Students’ Union launched Earth Week with a panel discussion, including campaigners Asad Rehman, from Friends of the Earth, and Martin Empson, from Campaign Against Climate Change.
Asad Rehman began with an enlightening speech about the effects of climate change on developing countries, and how intertwined the cause is with that of the #NoBanNoWall campaign. 

It is estimated that roughly 70,000 people die due to climate change related issues each year, but millions more are displaced from their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. 


It is estimated that 1 person every second is displaced from their homes as a result of drought, flood, or other climate change related disasters. 

So just as you have refugees of war, you have refugees of climate change.
What makes matters worse, is it is beyond their control. 

10 per cent of the richest countries are responsible for 50 per cent of the carbon emissions.

 Asad uses the analogy, “climate change is like the Titanic, and we’ve hit the proverbial iceberg. 

But it is the richer countries that are the people getting on the boats, whilst the poor and locked in the cabin.”
It is therefore not surprising that those who are feeling the effect of climate change-induced famine or other natural disasters are seeking refuge and help from us. 

But rather than villainising them as ‘economic migrants’, they need and deserve our legal protection.
It is because of this injustice that Asad stressed that we must rebuild a system of justice, and give a face to millions that don’t have a voice. 


We have a social responsibility to support causes such as Friends of the Earth and Campaign Against Climate Change to “build bridges, not walls”.

 Although we may not see the damage we cause, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Martin Empson elaborated that the way you can help such causes is to just get involved. 

Currently protests are everywhere and are certainly making the public’s voice heard, but he stressed that you should take part in all movements to do your bit. 

Or if that, sign a petition, write to your local MP or donate to make sure something is done.
Everyone wants to protest Trump right now, but we need to ensure the environmental and migration movements work together to positively reinforce each other and make their voices louder. 

By doing this, Martin claims we can “create a positive agenda that creates hope”.

Press link for more: Manunion.com

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We Must Close All Coal Power Plants To Meet Climate Change Goals #auspol

The EU Must Close All Coal Power Plants by 2030 to Meet Climate Change Goals

A new investigation suggests that if the European Union hopes to meet its climate change goals, it must close all coal power plants by no later than 2030.


Climate Analytics, the research institute responsible for this finding, reports that in order to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global temperature rise less than two degrees Celsius, Europe must phase out all of its 315 coal-fired power stations by the 2030 deadline. 

Allowing the stations to run to the end of their natural lives just isn’t an option, they claim.
Not only that, but the EU must take immediate steps in order to stay on track to meet temperature control goals.

 The executive summary of this report notes:
To stay within the Paris Agreement temperature limit, a quarter of the coal-fired power plants already operating in the EU would need to be switched off before 2020; a further 47% should go offline by 2025. 

If the EU is to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, any investments in new plants and most investments in existing power plants will not be recovered by investors.
Climate Analytics arrived at these stark warnings by projecting current fossil fuel trends and estimating the EU’s carbon budget, as well as predicting what they will be by 2050. With this information, the group could evaluate if the figures matched up, or if there was a discrepancy — and there was.

With a projection that the EU’s carbon budget will be around 6.5 GtCO2 by 2050 — and assuming that coal-fired power plants continue to be in operation as planned until that time — the EU will exceed its CO2 emissions budget by 85 percent.
Obviously these figures only serve as projections. 

Nevertheless, the report indicates that by phasing out coal aggressively, the targets set during the Paris Agreement could still be met.
“We find the cheapest way for the EU to make the emissions cuts required to meet its Paris Agreement commitments is to phase out coal from the electricity sector, and replace this capacity with renewables and energy efficiency measures,” Paola Yanguas Parra, a lead author of the report, stated.


While nearly all EU nations will need to take swift action, the report highlights calls on Poland and Germany – two nations with the largest number of coal power plants — to lead the charge.
Although the EU as a whole should provide incentives and financial support to help Germany and Poland achieve these targets, progress in this area appears doubtful.


The Guardian reports:
Germany is postponing its coal phase-out plans until after elections later this year. 

Poland, which is preparing a legal challenge to the EU’s climate policy, argues that it can plant trees to offset coal emissions, and one day apply experimental carbon capture and storage technology (CCS).
Poland’s attempts at carbon sink have been discussed and debated at great length.

 While undoubtedly there are benefits to using and maintaining forests as one form of CO2 reduction, researchers remain unconvinced that the system will reach a balance. 

Instead, this report emphasizes that there is a more straightforward route: simply closing coal power stations.
There are several actions that the EU can take to improve its progress toward emission caps and temperature increase reduction.

 The report highlights how increasing the affordability of renewable energy has led to a significant shift toward greener energy in the past decade — something that can be further supported as we work toward target reductions.


Furthermore, stricter environmental regulations in the form of a clear phase-out schedule and supporting policies would ensure that coal fire plants are not kept alive. 

There is a particular concern that the UK, despite committing to CO2 reduction targets — and specifically, to a coal phaseout — could end up not meeting those goals due to soft regulation allowing coal power stations to stay open.
With the UK parliament looking to trigger Brexit soon, there is even more scrutiny on the UK government to ensure it does not further reduce its environmental commitments.
Regardless of the specific initiatives that EU chooses to institute, one fact becomes abundantly clear from this report: if the world is to hit temperature reduction targets, we cannot keep using fossil fuels as we have been doing. 

While this fact far from new, it’s worth repeating. 

Indeed, the world as we know it may depend on it.

Press link for more: care2.com

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Urgent Climate Threats To Public Health #auspol 

Experts meet to address ‘urgent’ climate threats to public health

Climate change-related droughts in Samburu County, Kenya have placed extra pressure on pastoralists, who must travel further to find pasture for their animals. 

This pressure has intensified competition for resources and violence between local groups such as the Samburu and Turkana peoples. (Edward Harris, Africa Progress Panel/Flickr)

Environmental health experts are gathering at the Carter Center in Atlanta this week to openly discuss the public health response to climate change, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention abruptly canceled the event last month over what some said were fears of running afoul of the U.S. president.
“I’m looking forward to a thorough exchange of the latest science and best practices regarding climate change and health,” former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health Howard Frumkin said in an email to Humanosphere. 

“That will include data on what the risks are, on how to protect people from those risks, on what health co-benefits result from tackling climate change, and on how best to communicate this to the public and to decision-makers.”
The CDC provided no explanation when it canceled the event last month, but several of the event’s scheduled speakers told Washington Post that the government agency did not want to run afoul of a president who has called climate change a “hoax” and nominated climate change skeptics to his Cabinet.


“I was disappointed,” Frumkin said of the cancellation. 

“Climate change is an urgent public health challenge. 

 Whenever a public health challenge gets politicized – whether it’s influenza, heart disease, sexual behavior, violence, climate change, to name a few – that can interfere with discovering and implementing effective science-based solutions.”
This week’s meeting is organized by nongovernmental groups: the American Public Health Association (APHA), Harvard Global Health Institute, the University of Washington Center for Health and the Global Environment, and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and his education and advocacy group the Climate Reality Project.
The organizers stressed the urgency of developing a public health response to climate change in a statement released last month, emphasizing that 2016 was the third consecutive hottest year on record, and that 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001.


Mounting evidence indicates that climate change will soon pose major health risks to people around the world – particularly the world’s poorest – and threatens to undermine decades of progress in global health and development.
Among these threats are millions more deaths caused by extreme heat; weather extremes including severe storms, droughts and flooding; worsening air quality; more frequent outbreaks of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks; longer allergy seasons; increased spread of some infectious diseases; and reduced quantity and quality of food crops.
Climate change has also led to conflicts and population displacement, which in turn introduce a range of mental and physiological health threats. Experts say such threats will intensify and that new ones will appear in coming years.
The Carter Center’s climate and health meeting will be free, and admission will be on a first-come-first-serve basis. Organizers said they anticipate a packed room of around 200 people, including scientists, public health officials and policymakers.

Press link for more: Humanosphere.org

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Sea Levels ‘Could Rise Higher Than A Three-Storey Buiding’ #climatechange #auspol 

Sea levels ‘could rise higher than a three-storey building due to climate change’


The last time ocean temperatures were this warm, sea levels were up to nine metres higher than they are today, according to the findings of a new study, which were described as “extremely worrying” by one expert. 
The researchers took samples of sediment from 83 different sites around the world, and these “natural thermometers” enabled them to work out what the sea surface temperature had been more than 125,000 years ago. 

This revealed that over the course of some 4,000 years the oceans had got about 0.5C warmer, reaching about the same temperatures as are found now – after a similar increase achieved largely as a result of human-induced climate change in little over a century. 


Previous research has established that sea levels at the time were between six and nine metres higher. 

This gives an indication of what sea levels might be like once the vast oceans expand and ice sheets melt over the course of the next centuries and millennia. 
If sea levels were to increase by nine metres, parts of London and New York, almost all the Netherlands, huge chunks of China, including Shanghai, and much of Bangladesh would be just some of the places that would be lost to the sea. But the bad news does not end there. 


For the computer models used by scientists to predict what the climate will be like in the future had failed to pick up on the rise in temperatures 125,000 years ago. 

This suggests the models could be missing a key warming effect that might be about to kick in, sending temperatures higher than currently expected. 
Another recent study suggested the sensitivity of the climate to greenhouse gases could be much greater than previously thought, potentially putting the world on course for more than 7C of warming by 2100 – a prospect described as “game over” for life as we know it. 
Dr Jeremy Hoffman, of Oregon State University, lead author of a paper in the prestigious journal Science about the new research, told The Independent that sea levels some 125,000 years ago might give a rough indication of what could be expected over the next few centuries as the warmer temperatures slowly take effect. 

But he stressed the reasons for the global warming then and now were very different – the former was natural, the latter caused by humans – so the world’s last major warm period could not be viewed as a simple way to predict the future. 
“There are a lot of things that have happened over the last century that far outpace the natural world,” Dr Hoffman said. 

“It’s not just the warming, it’s the release of carbon from reservoirs [of fossil fuels] in the planet that have been around for millions of years. 
“We’re talking about something that took millions of years to form and we’re removing it in decades,” he said. “The Earth would need to have an eruption like Mount St Helen’s happen every 2.5 hours … to keep pace with the emissions we are producing.” 

Dr Hoffman said perhaps the most significant implication of their research was that current computer models of climate change were failing to pick up on the warming 125,000 years ago. 

“If we are missing some process that would give rise to additional warming [at that time] … that would only work to be under-estimating the future climate as well,” Dr Hoffman said. 
Commenting on the research, Andrew Watson, a Royal Society research professor at Exeter University, said: “Sea level responds directly to global temperatures, but slowly, so that the full extent of sea level rise will only be apparent over thousands of years.

 The study suggests that in the long term, sea level will rise six metres at least in response to the warming we are causing. 

The good news is that with luck it will continue to rise slowly, so that we have time to adapt, but the bad news is that eventually all our present coastal city locations will be inundated.” 
Professor Richard Allan, a climatologist at Reading University, said: “The result that present global sea surface temperatures are indistinguishable from those at the last interglacial 125,000 years ago is extremely worrying since sea levels were six to nine metres higher then compared to present.” 

He said that heating up the “depths of our vast oceans” to the point where sea levels reached that point would take thousands of years “so sustained and substantive cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from energy-intensive activities remain vital and beneficial to societies”. 


And Professor Michael Mann, a renowned climate scientist from Pennsylvania State University, described the studies findings as “sobering”. He continued: “It indicates that we may very well already be committed to several more metres of sea level rise when the climate system catches up with the carbon dioxide we’ve already pumped into the atmosphere.”

 
Dr Mann added: “That is actually consistent with some model simulations. 

The important thing to recognise is that the climate system hasn’t yet come into equilibrium with the increase in carbon dioxide, so it is misleading to compare the historical sea level rise we’ve seen so far with the sea level rise 125,000 years ago, because the latter indicates the full response [to the warming effect].” 

Press link for more: Economic Times Indi