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Next 4 years likely to be extremely hot! #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal @SciNate #Drought #Heatwave

Extreme temperatures ‘especially likely for next four years’

Cyclical natural phenomena that affect planet’s climate will amplify effect of manmade global warming, scientists warn

Jonathan WattsWed 15 Aug 2018 01.00 AEST

The world is likely to see more extreme temperatures in the coming four years as natural warming reinforces manmade climate change, according to a new global forecasting system.

Following a summer of heatwaves and forest fires in the northern hemisphere, the study in the journal Nature Communications suggests there will be little respite for the planet until at least 2022, and possibly not even then.

Rising greenhouse gas emissions are steadily adding to the upward pressure on temperatures, but humans do not feel the change as a straight line because the effects are diminished or amplified by phases of natural variation.

From 1998 to 2010, global temperatures were in a “hiatus” as natural cooling (from ocean circulation and weather systems) offset anthropogenic global warming. But the planet has now entered almost the opposite phase, when natural trends are boosting man-made effects.

“Everything seems to be adding up,” said the author of the paper, Florian Sévellec of the French National Centre for Scientific Research. “There is a high possibility that we will be at the peak of a warm phase for the next couple of years.”

The scientist built his forecasting system by statistical “hind-casting”. This crunches the data from previous climate models to measure which combination was most effective in predicting past temperature trends.

Based on this analysis, Sévellec says the statistical upward nudge from natural variation this year is twice as great of that of long-term global warming. Next year, it is likely to be three times higher.

He cautions that this should not be seen as a prediction that Europe will definitely have more heatwaves, the US more forest fires, South Africa more drought or the Arctic more ice melt. The likelihood of these events will increase, but his model is on a broad global scale. It does not predict which part of the world will experience warming or in which season.

But his data clearly suggests that water in the oceans will warm faster than air above land, which could raise the risks of floods, hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones.

“Natural variability is a wriggle around the freight train that is global warming,” he says. “On a human scale, it is what we feel. What we don’t always feel is global warming. As a scientist, this is frightening because we don’t consider it enough. All we can do it give people information and let them make up their own mind.”

He said his model should not be seen as the final word, but be taken alongside other forecasting systems, including those that look in more detail at what is happening on a regional level.

Dr Sam Dean, chief climate scientist at New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, said the paper indicated mankind will have to rely less on “fortuitously cool years” from natural processes. Instead of the cooling La Niñas experienced in the first decade of the century, he said there have been more warming El Niños since 2014 and this trend looks set to continue.

“While we can’t be sure exactly how things will play out, at the moment the odds are higher for hot years,” he said.

Other scientists praised the paper but concurred on the need for wider analysis. “The findings suggest it’s more likely we’ll get warmer years than expected in the next few years. But their method is purely statistical, so it’s important to see what climate models predict based on everything we know about the atmosphere and the oceans. Those are more expensive to run but also use more climate physics and observational information,” said Prof Gabi Hegerl of Edinburgh University.

Professor James Renwick of Victoria University of Wellington said the new forecasting system was clever, but its value will only be clear in the future. The broader trend, however, was clear.

“If the warming trend caused by greenhouse gas emissions continues, years like 2018 will be the norm in the 2040s, and would be classed as cold by the end of the century,” he wrote.

Press link for more: The Guardian

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Talanoa Dialogue Builds Momentum #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani Demand #climateaction #NEG #ClimateChange

TALANOA

TALANOA DIALOGUE

The Talanoa Dialogue is building momentum as more and more stakeholders begin to participate in this new approach to urgently increasing the ambition of countries’ , known as “NDCs.”

Through its leadership of the COP23 Presidency, Fiji is taking a Pacific concept of grassroots storytelling, consensus building and decision making to the world.

The Talanoa Dialogue represents a radical departure from the formal negotiating process by creating an open space where countries, cities, businesses, civil society, faith-based organisations, indigenous communities, youth groups and others can share their ideas and experiences and learn from each other without fear of finger pointing or recrimination.

Speaking at the second Climate Action Pacific Partnership Conference, COP23 President Frank Bainimarama said, “More and more people are opening their minds to the possibility that talanoa might be a better way of deciding what we can all deliver under the Paris Agreement than pointing the finger at someone else or engaging in self-defeating arguments.”

The Talanoa Dialogue is carried out in two phases: the preparatory phase, which runs until the beginning of COP24 in December, and the political phase, which will take place during COP24 amongst political leaders.

During the preparatory phase, all stakeholders are invited to submit written inputs that respond to one of the three central questions that guide the Talanoa:

• Where are we now?

• Where do we want to go?

• How do we get there?

To date, more than a thousand stories have been shared as part of the formal process. There are already 33 published inputs from Parties and 240 published inputs from Non-Party stakeholders, with the Presidencies encouraging everyone, especially the Parties, to provide written submissions. On top of these, more than 700 stories were shared during the Talanoas at the May Sessions.

But beyond the written submissions, the Presidencies have also called on stakeholders to organise events in support of the Talanoa Dialogue, to help prepare their submissions and to approach these important questions in the spirit of talanoa. In other words, share your stories in an inclusive and positive atmosphere focused on finding common solutions rather than laying blame. The ultimate goal is to share your story, listen to the stories of others and, hopefully, inspire greater ambition and action on the ground.

The Fijian Presidency is very pleased by the amount of Talanoa activity already taking place around the globe. Important multilateral events such as the  European Union Talanoa,  and African Climate Week have been convened, with other regional talanoas, such as the African Climate Talks, the EU-Serbia Talanoa, the Asia-Pacific Climate Week Talanoa  and the Pacific Leaders’ Talanoa, taking place worldwide.

Other important alliances and networks have also readily embraced the concept. The Cities and Regions Talanoa Dialogues, coordinated by ICLEI, are taking place in more than 40 countries around the globe. And the Global Adaptation Forum met earlier in the year to help shape its contribution.

At the national level, talanoas have already taken place in France, Serbia, Estonia and many other countries. A number of very productive discussions have also taken place as part of larger gatherings, such as ICC Talanoa Dialogue Roundtable held on the margins of SB48 in Bonn, the Talanoa on gender at CBA12 in Malawi, and the Talanoa Dialogue at the World Farmers Organization General Assembly, to give but a few examples.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, with many others holding talanoas within their sectors, within their professional networks, and even with their clients.*

As this momentum continues to grow, we encourage anyone with a stake in the global campaign against climate change to consider how they can participate in a Talanoa of their own, whether it is within your own organisation, within your network, with your local or national government, within your local community, or even informally with your friends.

The Talanoa Dialogue is ultimately based on the notion that no single actor can solve the climate challenge on their own – that the whole world must join together in a collective effort to make the transition to net-zero emissions as quickly as possible. This will only work with a solid foundation of trust and cooperation between all stakeholders, and we believe that the Talanoa Dialogue is how we start building this foundation.

Press link for more: COP23

You can’t help farmers if you won’t tackle #climatechange #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal @SciNate #Drought #Wildfires #Heatwave #NEG

You can’t help farmers if you won’t tackle climate change, farmer tells government.

By Ben Potter

Goondiwindi grain and cattle producer Peter Mailler says heat and inconsistent rain have made farming so tough he thinks his parents’ five MW solar farm could be a better bet. Wayne Pratt

Peter Mailler, a third-generation grain and cattle grower who sent pregnant cows for slaughter this week because he can’t feed them all, has a message from drought-stricken northern NSW to the Turnbull government.

It is aimed especially at the Nationals and their former leader Barnaby Joyce – against whom Mr Mailler ran in last December’s byelection – as well as ex-PM Tony Abbott and other coal power-friendly Coalition figures.

First, don’t pretend to champion drought-struck farmers if you’re not prepared to tackle climate change – because the increasing frequency of extremely hot, dry weather is compounding the effects of drought by impairing crops’ ability to use what rain they do get.

Second, don’t talk about giving coal-fired power “a free kick” in the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) when a full accounting of its environmental costs will tell you not that we can’t afford to close coal plants but that “we can’t afford to run one tomorrow”.

Peter Mailler says agriculture is working towards becoming carbon neutral but it is a challenge because it uses so much diesel fuel for machinery and transport. Wayne Pratt

Third, don’t lean on high-risk, struggling industries like agriculture for deeper carbon emissions cuts when the stable, regulated electricity industry can obviously bear a larger share of the burden.

Last, the impacts of climate change on farming families threaten the survival of the Nationals’ support base in rural and regional Australia, so it is time for the Coalition to dispense with “undermining science” and have an honest debate about climate change.

“In a normal year we produce enough grain to feed about 7000 families and I am flat out educating my kids,” Mr Mailler tells The Australian Financial Review from his near 2420-hectare property near Goondiwindi on the NSW-Queensland border.

“I actually don’t see a pathway for my kids to come back – and some of them want to.” His parents built a five-megawatt solar farm on their property when they retired and he thinks this could be a better bet.

Mr Mailler says the conversation needs to be more robust. “If Turnbull and his cohort are nor prepared to diligently install some truth in the debate then what’s the point?” he says.

Coal-friendly coailtion MPs Craig Kelly, Eric Abetz, Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce and Kevin Andrews are doing farmers no favours, Peter Mailler says. Alex Ellinghausen

First, “you cannot fix the energy problem if you are going to ignore climate … because you are working on the wrong set of assumptions”, says Mr Mailler, who trained as an agricultural scientist before returning to his parents’ farm and then striking out on his own.

A ‘free kick’ for electricity

That makes it “disingenuous” and “hypocritical” for Mr Joyce to stand shoulder to shoulder with farmers and say “we have got to do something about the drought and not say we have got to do something about climate change”.

Mr Mailler says politicians have the resources to find out the truth “yet we have politicians who spend all their time trying to undermine science and create doubt”.

Moree in northern NSW sweated through an unprecedented heatwave in January and February of 2017. Supplied

“The science [of man-made global warming] is pretty unequivocal and the idea that you can subvert it and create doubt is not just irresponsible, it’s diabolical,” he says.

“They are talking about trying to claw back more emissions from agriculture and they are talking about giving electricity a free kick. It’s ridiculous.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will propose a “coal-friendly” side deal for the NEG at Tuesday’s party room meeting to try to win over climate change sceptics.

Critics say the NEG is already too coal-friendly because it only requires a pro rata 26 per cent carbon emissions cut from the electricity sector. CSIRO advised the government that grid emissions would have to be cut by 52 per cent to 70 per cent for Australia to meet the government’s Paris pledge for an economy-wide 26 per cent cut because it is much more costly to cut emissions in other industries.

Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will try to win backbench sceptics over the NEG with a coal-friendly side-deal. Alex Ellinghausen

Mr Mailler says agriculture is itself working towards becoming carbon neutral but it is a challenge because agriculture uses so much diesel fuel for machinery and transport.

“The hardest thing to solve is transport. The simplest thing to change is static electricity. If you look at it, coal-fired power generators are coming to the end of their life. The idea that you could have politicians effectively saying we should build more of them and have them for another 50 years is absurd.”

Heat and rain: Double whammy

Mr Mailler’s position is influenced by bitter experience as well as science. In January 2014, the nearest Bureau of Meteorology station at Moree recorded a record high of 47.3 degrees Celsius, and everyone said it was “a one-in-a-hundred year event”.

Yallourn coal-fired power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. Carla Gottgens

That one day wiped out crops and cost the region hundreds of millions of dollars in production, he says. But it didn’t get the same attention as losses from cyclones, which are more visible.

In February last year the one-in-a-hundred year event happened again, only this time it came with a record run of days over 35 degrees.

Biochemical reactions like photosynthesis are optimised at 37-38 degrees. But at extreme high temperatures plants go into shock and the photosynthesis process is degraded.

As well, rain is increasingly coming in big dumps followed by dry spells, which make it harder for young plants to get going than if less rain falls more frequently.

“In some of those scenarios we have adequate moisture but we can’t handle the heat. People are unable to get ahead. Even though some of those years before we have had significant rainfall, the way it’s fallen in big dumps has been problematic and the heat has meant we are not able to use that rainfall as effectively as we have in the past.”

Recent analysis in the McIntyre Valley indicates that irrigators’ water use efficiency is down 30 per cent, and for dryland farmers 60 per cent, Mr Mailler says. Another measure is the inability to get consecutive good years or even one in five – the minimum to build resilience – for more than 20 years.

The last really good year in his region was 1996, Mr Mailler says – which gave him the confidence to strike out on his own.

“I have no doubt that in my lifetime weather patterns have shifted significantly. I don’t know many farmers who would dispute that the climate has changed,” he says.

“And it’s obviously going to get worse.”

Press link for more: AFR.COM

#ClimateChange denial won’t even benefit oil companies. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal

Climate change denial won’t even benefit oil companies soon | Phil McDuff

Phil McDuffTue 31 Jul 2018 18.00 AEST

The year 2018 is on track to be the fourth warmest on record, beaten only by 2016, 2015 and 2017. In other words, we have had the warmest four-year run since we started measuring.

According to data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), June 2018 is the 402nd consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th-century average.

The UK’s Environmental Audit Committee has warned that we could see summer temperatures reaching 38C by the 2040s, leading to a potential 7,000 heat-related deaths a year.

One hot summer does not a changing climate make, but the trend in the global data is now irrefutable.

When Michael Mann published the “hockey stick” graph back in 1998, there was vociferous public pushback, yet the observed temperature rises match what Mann had predicted.

Today’s hockey stick graph isn’t a forward projection but a historical record.

The world has been getting hotter, and it will continue to do so.

The only question now is how much hotter it gets.

The mechanisms behind this are not difficult to understand.

Over a period of millions of years, carbon became trapped in deposits under the Earth’s crust, as coal, oil and natural gas. As the great engines of industrialisation came online across the planet, humanity developed an insatiable hunger for this trapped carbon. Burning it powered the machines that drove economic growth and development, which in turn raised the demand for more machines and more carbon. Carbon that took millions of years to trap has been released into the atmosphere at a rate that is, in geological terms, almost instantaneous.

Climate change isn’t happening, they said, and even if it is happening it’s nothing to do with us

We have known about the probable impact that this sudden release of carbon into the atmosphere would have on the Earth’s climate since the middle of the last century.

However, we have been unable and unwilling to do anything about it.

To pull that carbon out of the ground we created giant corporations whose sole role was to find it, mine it and sell it.

Our demand led to vast profits for these companies, and unfathomable riches for the people running them.

This meant that when the research showed that our insatiable carbon demand needed to be curbed for the good of the planet, there was a very powerful interest group in place with a vested interest in keeping it going.

We know now that the fossil fuel extraction industry has known about climate change since at least 1977, when James L Black, a scientist at Exxon, gave a presentation to the company’s board detailing his research into global warming.

A year later, in 1978, Black would write a memo saying: “Present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to 10 years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.”

But by the time this 10-year window closed in 1988, the energy companies had been pouring money not into reducing carbon but into denying the reality of climate change.

Through well-orchestrated media campaigns and lobbying efforts, a standard narrative of denial had been firmly entrenched as common knowledge.

Climate change isn’t happening, they said, and even if it is happening it’s nothing to do with us, and even if it is something to do with us it would be too expensive to change it.

The fossil fuel lobby managed to convince lawmakers and huge swaths of the broader public that this was a battle between “business” on the one hand, and a coalition of corrupt scientists and hippies on the other.

A fracking site in California: energy companies have poured money not into reducing carbon but into denying the reality of climate change. Photograph: David McNew/Getty Images

But not all businesses are energy companies.

Every business and every person lives on the planet now, where costs will rise because of climate change.

A study by the Economics of Climate Adaptation (ECA) working group found that losses due to climate change could reach up to 19% of GDP in some parts of the world by 2030.

For all our talk of climate denial being the “business” position, we’ve strangely ignored the insurance industry, especially the climate research branches of the major reinsurance firms.

Swiss Re is part of the ECA working group, and Munich Re’s geo risks research department has been in place since 1973, four years before Black wrote his memo.

This is not because reinsurance is some enclave of liberal hippies nestled in the bosom of capitalism, but because their industry, by definition, can’t rely on kicking the can down the road and letting someone else pick up the pieces.

If we get floods, famines and droughts leading to mass migration events, they’ll be among the ones paying out.

It was easy to let ourselves believe that what was good for energy companies would be good for us all, because the immediate upsides of the cheap carbon windfall were so compelling.

There was no problem that couldn’t be solved by throwing more fossil fuels at it, and the reality of climate change threatened to tell us what it cost.

The fossil fuel industry told us that we could take out an interest-only mortgage against the future of the planet and prices would always go up, interest rates would always go down and there would never be a reckoning.

We now find ourselves facing repayments on the scale of trillions of dollars. That does not even cover the human costs that these dry figures obscure: the lives lost, the homes flooded, the farms wasted away to drought.

It is impossible to map the path not taken.

Perhaps a commitment to reducing carbon consumption could have spurred innovation in alternative sources of energy. Or maybe the path we are on is an inevitable result of an economic system that cannot stop unless it crashes. We’ve seen the “Minsky cycle” of speculation leading to crash play out time and again in the financial sector; perhaps climate change is a centuries-long Minsky cycle we could never hope to stop. Maybe we are destined to become the civilisational equivalent of Monty Python’s Mr Creosote, a man who gorged himself until he literally exploded.

Regardless of the alternative histories and the might-have-beens, it may be too late to stop it, but we still need to learn an important lesson. If a CEO tells us that it would be bad for business if they weren’t allowed to pump poison into the air and water, then that’s too bad for them: one business is not an economy, and it certainly isn’t a biosphere.

We’d have survived the crisis of an oil CEO missing out on his fifth yacht, but many won’t survive the consequences of letting them lead us by the nose into disaster.

• Phil McDuff writes on economics and social policy

Press link for more: The Guardian

Young People Convincing Politicians to Stop Taking Fossil Fuel Money #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #Heatweek #NEG #Divest

Sunrise Movement rally in Philadelphia.

Photo: Dave Levitan

PHILADELPHIA—The temperature reached a sticky 92 degrees on Wednesday, and hadn’t cooled much by the time the climate action rally started at 5 o’clock. About 50 people gathered in the inner courtyard of City Hall, holding “No Fossil Fuel Money” and “Our Time to Lead” signs. The leaders of the rally, from a youth-led climate group known as the Sunrise Movement, still sported the City Hall visitors stickers they wore to drop off a petition to Mayor Jim Kenney’s office.

“I heard Mayor Kenney was a climate champion,” said Madison Roberts from the makeshift stage. “As of right now, all he has made are promises.”

Roberts, a 2017 Virginia Tech graduate who acted as the rally’s emcee, was one of several Sunrise fellows in attendance.

The petition they brought to the Mayor urged him to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, a promise to not accept contributions of over $200 from fossil fuel interests.

The pledge has over 800 signres at this point, including numerous local, state, and national-level candidates, as well as current office holders such as Bernie Sanders and House members Tulsi Gabbard and Barbara Lee.

The Sunrise Movement is a national organization aimed at “building an army of young people” with the goal of stopping climate change.

Founded in 2017, they are focused on a grassroots effort to get the fossil fuel money out of politics, through local organizing and supporting candidates committed to the massive shifts required to stave off warming’s worst effects.

This particular event was part of #HeatWeek, a set of rallies, sit-ins, and other actions across the country.

“If you aren’t going to stand up for our health and safety then we’re going to vote you out of office.”

Along with lawsuits against the federal government and a recent series of youth climate marches, the Sunrise Movement reflects the growing engagement of young people in the climate fight.

They didn’t make this mess, but they seem more inclined than anyone else to try and clean it up.

And the youth-led climate movement doesn’t seem to care which party it takes aim at. Kenney, a Democrat in a thoroughly blue city, has signed Philadelphia on to a pledge to transition to 100 percent renewable energy, but hasn’t offered a response to the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge just yet. According to Sunrise’s media liaison, a recent Swarthmore College graduate named Sophia Zaia, Mayor Kenney has not responded to numerous requests for meetings. On Wednesday, Zaia said the door to his office was closed on the group until eventually a representative emerged to listen and accept the petition.

Though Sunrise is specifically geared toward climate action, the rallies and events often have a local angle that grounds it more firmly in the community. At City Hall, along with the fossil fuel money pledge, the rally-goers were there to oppose a proposed natural gas combined heat and power plant, slated for construction in North Philadelphia’s Nicetown neighborhood.

Activists say the plant, which will be built by SEPTA, the Philly transit authority, isn’t necessary and will worsen air quality in the area. Nicetown is a predominantly African-American neighborhood, with asthma rates already well above both city and national averages. SEPTA has claimed the plant will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by generating their own power for rail and bus needs rather than pulling from the grid, but its local emissions could pose more of a problem. In a May 2017 filing, SEPTA estimated nitrous oxides emissions of almost 22 tons per year for the new project, placing it just shy of a “major” source of this ozone precursor. Ozone can make asthma worse, among other harmful effects.

In an emailed statement, a representative from the Mayor’s office said said the city’s Department of Public Health, Air Management Services has “completed a thorough review” of the plant, and determined it would comply with emissions requirements. Still, the statement said that the department is “aware of, and sensitive to, the community’s concerns,” and that stringent monitoring and emissions testing will be required once the plant is completed. (The city directed questions regarding the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge to the Mayor’s campaign; we will update if the campaign responds.)

Zaia called the proposed gas plant a clear example of environmental racism — a position that has found its way to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s opinion pages, as well. From the stage, Roberts got her biggest cheer with this line: “A zip code should not determine any citizen’s right to breathe clean air!”

Photo: Dave Levitan

Other local activist groups, including the Center for Returning Citizens and 350 Philadelphia, joined in the rally, and the show was stolen by a crew of adorable preschoolers from a neighborhood adjacent to Nicetown who showed up carrying their own set of clean air-related signs.

Zaia, who is originally from Austin, Texas, said she first started learning about climate change as a teenager living through increasingly intense droughts. “I thought, ‘why aren’t more people talking about this?’” she said. At Swarthmore, she joined the fossil fuel divestment movement, and has kept up the fight after college.

“Youth are really tired of seeing politicians answer to the money from the NRA, or Wall Street, or fossil fuel billionaires, and [we are] standing up to say enough is enough,” she said, noting that Pennsylvania has outpaced every other state with a huge increase in millennial voter registrations since the Parkland shooting in February. “If you aren’t going to stand up for our health and safety then we’re going to vote you out of office.”

The group seems unafraid of the fight, no matter how entrenched the opponent. Several Sunrise members were arrested during a sit-in at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office this week, another Democrat who has had trouble distancing himself from fossil fuel money. His opponent in the governor’s race, Cynthia Nixon, has signed the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge. Sunrise has endorsed a range of candidates in the 2018 midterms, as part of “phase 2” of its founding four-year plan. Along with Nixon these include Randy Bryce, running for Paul Ryan’s seat in Wisconsin; Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous; and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

As the rally wrapped up, the organizers steered people toward a few volunteers to lead a brief canvassing expedition. One of the volunteers sported a particularly relevant t-shirt: “Who Says Youth Don’t Vote?”

Dave Levitan is a journalist, and author of the 2017 book Not A Scientist: How politicians mistake, misrepresent, and utterly mangle science. Find him on Twitter and at his website.

Press link for more: Earthen.gizmodo.com

#Drought: On climate inaction, it is time to say enough #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #nswpol @SciNate

I feel so sorry for the dire situation many farmers are in because of the drought.

I wish it were not so, but when I look back, it has been all so predictable.

When I saw a map on TV news showing the drought area covering a huge proportion of south-east Australia, I was struck by the similarity to a map I was shown 26 years ago when I visited CSIRO’s Atmospheric Research Division.

The 1992 map showed modelling of changing rainfall pattern over a 30-year cycle.

I was shocked at the time, but even more so when I was told that the modelling included a delay factor – an increase in carbon dioxide takes 20 years or so to show an effect on climate patterns.

The implication is that the current drought may be the worst ever, but we can expect it to become the norm.

Then I find myself reflecting on the distractions that prevented action.

The denial, the arguments about cost, clinging to the old ways; the political failure to act, trashing the carbon tax to satisfy one man’s ambitions.

The National Party, supported by many farmers, fought valiantly against conservationist policies.

We were told climate action in Australia could wait.

How much longer will it be before we say, “Enough” – stop fooling with Adani and get on with de-carboning our energy industries and our transport systems?

David Lamb, Kew East

We’ll just use the desal plants … oh right

So there’s another predictable dreadful Australian drought?

Just wait a moment and all those coastal desalination plants, built by the federal government, will be turned on and all the drought areas will be irrigated.

That’s what intelligent government is all about.

It’s called planning.

Paul Drakeford, Kew

You can’t grow crops in cement

Understandably we are all concerned about the plight of farmers who are suffering in the drought-ravaged country as a consequence of the real effects of climate change.

However, successive governments of all persuasions are allowing developers to buy up vast tracks of arable land upon which to build houses.

Surely there are better solutions to solving housing shortages than plonking these buildings on land that could be used to grow food.

After all it is very hard to prepare an evening meal using bricks and mortar.

Ian Gray, Benalla

George Goyder, come back

In 1865, George Goyder, the assistant surveyor-general of South Australia, drew a line across the state north of Adelaide that became known as the Goyder Line.

After extensive surveys, Goyder claimed that because of consistent patterns of low rainfall farming would not be viable above the line.

However, over the next few years there was a higher than usual rainfall across South Australia.

Ignoring Goyder’s warning settlement grew and farms were established north of the line.

The problem was that after several years the rainfall returned to its past figures of little more than four inches a year.

Farmers went bankrupt and whole towns were deserted as anyone who has visited the Flinders Rangers can attest.

I wonder what would have happened if Goyder were the surveyor-general for the commonwealth?

Perhaps large tracts of the country would have been set aside for other purposes than agriculture.

By all means we must assist the drought-affected farmers, but with the effects of climate change already biting perhaps we need another Goyder Line.

Lance Sterling, Burwood

Salvation is in the pipeline

Instead of tax cuts, the government should start drought proofing Australia by installing a network of pipelines from desalination plants. Farming is essential to the economy and the drought is driving people off farms.

Zona Severn, Mount Martha

Little soil renewal

Suggestions that the drought in NSW may mean that the viability of agriculture is being affected by climate change are nothing new.

However, seldom said is the fact that agriculture in Australia is fundamentally unsustainable regardless of technological improvement.

Australian soils have experienced negligible renewal for 300 million years, whereas most soils in Europe, East Asia and the Americas are constantly renewed by the weathering of rising mountains and their glaciers.

Australian soils are thus a non-renewable resource, and thus agriculture in Australia should be treated like fossil fuels – something whose phase-out is a requisite for sustainability.

Although many Australian farmers would suffer from mass revegetation, many more in Eurasia and the Americas would gain opportunities for a new potentially sustainable livelihood that is now uneconomic, and many ancient Australian species threatened by land clearing and climate change would recover.

Julien Benney, Carlton

Press link for more: The Age

Think It’s Hot Now? Wait Until We Reach Hothouse Earth #auspol #qldpol #heatwave #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #ClimateChange now #ClimateCrisis @SciNate

Think It’s Hot Now? Wait Until We Reach Hothouse Earth

Steven Salzberg7:30 am

The river bed of the Rhine is dried on August 8, 2018 in Duesseldorf, western Germany, as the heatwave goes on. (Photo credit: PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s getting hotter all over the planet.

This week the temperature in Bar Harbor, Maine, reached 91° F (32.8° C).

In my 20 years vacationing here, this is easily the hottest weather I’ve ever experienced.

Up and down the U.S. east coast, cities are sweltering, and temperatures out west are even hotter, with California seeing all-time high temperatures, including the hottest July on record in some areas, which has fed damaging fires across the state. Death Valley is always hot, but this week has been crazy, with temperatures on August 7 reaching 122° F (50° C).

At the same time, Europe is baking under a “heat dome” that has brought unprecedented high temperatures, including 45° C (113° F.) in Portugal. It’s so hot that people aren’t even going to the beach.

Global warming is here, folks.

I know we’re supposed to call it “climate change,” because it’s much more complex than simply warming, but warming is one of the most obvious consequences.

And yes, a single heat wave doesn’t prove anything, and weather is not the same as climate. I know. But a just-released study from Oxford University found that climate change made this summer’s heat wave in Europe twice as likely.

And now, a new study published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says it could get much, much hotter if we don’t do something about it.

In this paper, an international team of climate scientists led by Will Steffen and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber explain that, thanks to human activities, the planet is well on its way to a “Hothouse Earth” scenario.

In a Hothouse Earth, global average temperatures would rise 4–5° C (7–9° F) and sea levels will rise 10–60 meters (33–200 feet) above today’s levels.

This would be catastrophic for many aspects of modern civilization.

Many agricultural regions would become too hot and arid to sustain crops, making it impossible to feed large swaths of humanity.

Low-lying coastal areas would disappear or become uninhabitable without massive engineering efforts, displacing hundreds of millions of people. As Steffen et al. put it:

“The impacts of a Hothouse Earth pathway on human societies would likely be massive, sometimes abrupt, and undoubtedly disruptive.”

That’s putting it mildly.

One reason this scenario is happening, as the study explains, is that we are very close to “tipping points” beyond which certain changes cannot be stopped. (We may have already passed some of them.)

These include losing the Arctic ice cap in the summer, and losing the Greenland ice sheet permanently: because they are basically white, these massive expanses of ice serve as giant reflectors to send much of the sun’s heat back into space. Without the ice, the darker planet surface absorbs far more heat, creating a positive feedback effect. Another example is the melting of the permafrost, land that has been frozen for thousands of years and that contains a great deal of carbon in the form of methane. Once that methane is released, it will create further warming.

We are also likely to lose the Amazon rainforest, all of our coral reefs, and huge swaths of boreal forests. (See here for a global map of these tipping points.)

If this seems grim, Steffen and colleagues point out that we still have time to avoid it. They propose that societies must act collectively to create a “Stabilized Earth” at no more than 2° C above pre-industrial levels, which is possible but not easy:

“Stabilized Earth will require deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, protection and enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, efforts to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, possibly solar radiation management, and adaptation to unavoidable impacts of the warming already occurring.”

None of this is beyond our abilities.

We know what we need to do, but it requires large-scale, coordinated action that many governments must agree on if it’s to have an impact.

Unfortunately, humans (and our governments) tend to do nothing until faced with an emergency, and the tipping points leading to a Hothouse Earth may not look like emergencies, not at first. For example, Arctic sea ice has been declining steadily for 25 years or more, but because few people are aware of this (and even fewer experience it first hand), it doesn’t seem urgent.

Yet it is.

So perhaps this summer’s heat wave can serve as a wake-up call that we need to pay more attention to our planet’s health. Otherwise it’s going to get a lot hotter.

Steven Salzberg is the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University.

I’m the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University. From 2005-2011 I was the Horvitz…MORE

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California Wildfires ‘Undeniable Link to #ClimateChange #Drought ‘ #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani @SciNate

‘Undeniable link to climate change’ in California’s fire season, expert says

Wildfires in California have broken records this year after the Mendocino Complex Fire became the largest in the state’s recorded history.

The Thomas Fire from last year set records as well, burning more than 280,000 acres before it was declared completely contained in January 2018.

Experts have said that rising temperatures linked to climate change are making the fires larger, more dangerous and more expensive to fight.

After several record-breaking wildfires in California last year, Gov. Jerry Brown said the severe fires were the “new normal” for the state and said that years of drought and rising temperatures from climate change contributed to the worsening fire season.

Firefighters conduct a burn operation to remove fuel around homes on Grand Ave as the Holy Fire grows to more than 10,000 acres as the wildfire comes closer to Lake Elsinore, Aug. 10, 2018. Photo Credit: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Polaris

Firefighters conduct a burn operation to remove fuel around homes on Grand Ave as the Holy Fire grows to more than 10,000 acres as the wildfire comes closer to Lake Elsinore, Calif., Aug. 10, 2018. Photo Credit: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Polaris

Michael Mann, an atmospheric science professor at Penn State University, believes climate change is contributing to the level of these events.

“We’re not saying that climate change is literally causing the events to occur. What we can conclude with a great deal of confidence now is that climate change is making these events more extreme. And its not rocket science, you warm the atmosphere it’s going to hold more moisture, you get larger flooding events, you get more rainfall. You warm the planet, you’re going to get more frequent and intense heat waves. You warm the soils, you dry them out, you get worse drought,” Mann said on PBS NewsHour. “You bring all that together and those are all the ingredients for unprecedented wildfires.”

Mann said another part of the problem is that climate change is creating conditions that cause extreme weather to stay over the same area for multiple days, leading to unprecedented heat or rain events.

Before the Carr Fire broke out near Sacramento, the area was facing its hottest July on record — temperatures had been above average for months, as much as 10 degrees higher than normal.

ABC News Senior Meteorologist Rob Marciano said it was an exceedingly long heatwave and that the high temperatures could create more wind in the afternoon and evening, which is partly why the Carr fire spread so rapidly.

“Even by July standards, this is an unusually long July heat wave with triple-digit heat in areas for three weeks straight. And the night that the fire went off, temperatures were well above 110 degrees. In cases like this, there’s an undeniable link to climate change,” Marciano said.

While rising temperatures may not spark a wildfire, the heat often make fires more likely and more severe. Droughts dry out trees and vegetation that becomes fuel for fires more likely to spread farther, faster.

Noah Diffenbaugh researches the connection between climate and extreme weather as a professor of Earth System Science at Stanford University. He said the longer fire season in California is related to climate change because global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions has increased the average temperature by almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We’re getting warmer and warmer conditions around the globe but certainly here in California and in the western United States we’re getting earlier melting of snowpack,” Diffenbaugh told ABC News’ Brad Mielke on the “Start Here” podcast. “That means that when those warm conditions happen in the summer and fall all the vegetation is even more dried out and that means that when lightning strikes when a spark from a from a car or a campfire hits the ground that the vegetation is more dried out there’s more fuel available

Smoke rises behind a leveled apartment complex as a wildfire burns in Ventura, Calif., Dec. 5, 2017. Over 100 structures have burned so far in Ventura County, officials said.

Multiple studies have found a connection between rising temperatures and the severity of wildfires, but other research suggests other factors also are at play. One study published last year said that many studies that connect climate change and wildfires don’t account for unique factors in smaller geographic areas.

That study, published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that climate change had less of an effect in areas that were more populated because people can both start fires where they wouldn’t normally occur or can reduce the risk of wildfires by managing the land.

The researchers found that in some cases the way people manage or develop land in a specific area can counteract increased risks associated with rising temperatures or drought.

“Climate change may indeed be a concern for those areas with strong fire-climate relationships. However, our results suggest that, in some areas, anthropogenic (or human-caused) factors diminish the influence of climate on fire activity,” the authors wrote in the study, saying that humans’ influence on fires needs to be a larger part of the conversation about the connection between fires and climate change.

The U.S. Forest Service has been warning of the increasing costs related to fighting these wildfires for years, saying that it had to borrow money from programs intended to prevent fires to pay for fire suppression. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which includes the Forest Service, said that 2017 fire season cost more than $2 billion, making it the most expensive fire season on record.

A record-setting 129 million trees on 8.9 acres were dead at the end of 2017 because of the state’s drought, according to the U.S. Forest Service and California fire and forestry agency.

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Lack of Political Leadership the other #Drought #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Lack of political leadership in the bush leaves the consumer the only driver of change

Jamie Brown

A lack of government leadership when it comes to water and vegetation management is restricting farmers’ abilities to survive drought, and for their pastures to recover when rains return, says an organic producer from Inverell.

Glenn Morris, Figtrees Organic Farms, Swanvale, rues the loss of government funded extension services, particularly the axing of catchment management authorities, that encouraged producers to manage water cycling through appropriate earthworks and tree planting.

Mr Morris grows organic pork and beef, marketing both products as a niche brand.

His farm system is modified to fit organic standards which means external inputs are reduced. So is production in a season like this but not as much as one would imagine.

“Billabong” concentrates on grass finishing and this year Mr Morris reduced his intake of weaners by 30 per cent in order to maintain ground cover.

“I could see it was going to be savage,” he says.

At the core of his enterprise is a holistic approach to soil, water and vegetation with an eye on the future as climate change becomes an accepted phenomenon.

Mr Morris began researching sustainable agriculture more than 20 years ago, before the subject was considered relevant. After graduating from agriculture college he completed a masters degree in sustainable agriculture focusing on water, humus, and carbon dioxide absorption.

He became a pioneer in the concept that carbon dioxide could be sequestered in soil and that such action could reduce, or at least stabilise, global warming.

Central to his approach is the on-farm production of humus, a remarkable gel-like substance, half carbon, that holds four times its weight in water.

At a soil depth of 30cm, for instance, just one percent humus will store 160,000 litres or 16mm worth of rain. In simple terms, the encouragement of humus production will help a paddock bounce back after drought.

Pastures allowed to decline to the point where soil biology is impacted will take so much longer to return to full production. Dollars already lost in the dry won’t return to the coffers until much further down the track.

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In fact, elevated soil temperatures above 24 degrees result in  soil biology burning carbon and loss of that carbon back into the atmosphere.

“It is critical that we get the water cycle working again,” says Mr Morris.

Soil biology is the starting point, where microbes convert plant sugars to available nutrients.

“The reality is that there is more to pasture promotion than super and urea,” Mr Morris says.

“Hydroponic-grown pasture and crops using NPK seem to work well if you are getting rain. But this method does nothing to assist water cycling.

“Urea burns humus. Superphosphates stop the production of biology and mineralisation. Synthetic fertilisers are not helping,” he says. “ We’ve got to adopt ‘a do no harm to biology’ approach.

“The simple NPK method of farming has been encouraged by governments and universities for far too long.”

Mr Morris, grew up on the land at Goulburn before the great fires of 1964 wiped out the idea of succession. After a childhood in Sydney, extensive stock experience and university he landed a job managing a degraded farm at Grafton where he began to mend the broken water and mineral cycle through cell grazing.

“I had an intuitive understanding of the environment at that time and could see how rain would follow dry times and that it would simply run-off. Four to six weeks later we would be back in dry. The soil simply would not hold water.

Mr Morris began using techniques that mimicked the great grazing episodes of historic herds which entered high growth pastures and trampled the excess into the soil with their hooves, supplying soil-borne microbes with food which, in turn, returned nutrients back to the plants.

The consumer can make a difference in this arena, Mr Morris says. “They can support farmers doing the right thing.”

While change is coming, with more producers adopting a biological approach the pace is frustratingly slow for Mr Morris.

“This drought is impacting on carbon in the soil,” he says. “It is literally getting burnt out. And what are we doing at the political and university level between droughts to promote better management?

“We’ve got to change the conversation. We’ve got to start linking our actions with what is going on with climate change and improve the water cycle and agricultural abundance. This year for the first time in a while world grain supplies will not match demand because of droughts and heat waves.”

Mr Morris advocates a farm with half in perennial grassland, a quarter under forest – for water cycling – and the remainder under crop.

“It is critical that we don’t have country as bare ground,” he says. “However there is no leadership on this issue.

“At the federal level there is a climate information vacuum of truth and at the state level there is no action. Governments have stripped dollars out of rural Australia through cutbacks in catchment management programs and landcare.

“We are destroying the water cycle through widespread land clearing, particularly in Queensland. We need to start revegetation big time. Trees keep the landscape cool and mild which encourages local rainfall.

When Mr Morris purchased Billabong in 2006 he was caught by surprise by a lack of water, which didn’t fall from the sky until May 2007 and then quickly washed away. His pastures were degraded with poor ground cover, about 10 to 15 percent.

A lot of growing seasons since that time have been pitifully short, only fed only by remnant cyclonic weather from the north

Now, in the current drought, the property retains 100 percent ground cover.

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Mr Morris has modified existing contour banks which slowed erosion but tended to only concentrate water flow in gullies.

Construction of swell and swale, as advocated by William Albrecht, running parallel to the ridge line has stopped erosion, and with native trees planted on those swales, and double fenced to keep livestock out, the mounds of earth remain soft and absorbent. Rain now soaks into those mounds and disperses into the surrounding soil, rather than going down the creek.

Soil re-mineralisation is also helped by giving cattle dry lick in which nutrients like calcium are returned after they have done good in the rumen.

Holistic management through cell grazing has replicated natural grazing pressure, where the hooves of animals punch stubble from a body of feed back into the ground while feeding. And he cites work carried out by Allan Savory in this regard.

The message about food is increasingly cloudy these days, he says. Livestock is an important tool for carbon sequestration. Animal fats are good for us if they contain Omega 3, as they do in a pasture finished product where livestock have access to a diversity of plant species.

“I find it sad that the people who care most about the planet, vegans, are condemning livestock –  one of our greatest tools we’ve got to combat climate change,” he says.

“Currently 40 per cent of the world landscape is under pasture and in order for that area to stay healthy it needs to be managed. If we take animals out of the equation that 40 per cent will turn to desert through over cropping.

“You are wasting nothing when organic matter gets put back in the soil,” says Mr Morris. “The foundation to health and success is underground.”

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Driving The #ClimateChange Conversation To A Neighborhood Near You #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal

Driving The Climate Change Conversation To A Neighborhood Near You

A scientist and a teacher are on a road trip across America to talk about global warming.

Yvette Cabrera

Teri Osborne

Climate change activists Athina Simolaris and Shahir Masri shortly before departing Orange County, California, on Aug. 1 for a road trip across America to raise awareness about global warming.

Among most scientists, there is no debate about the existence of climate change or humanity’s role in global warming. So as he began his career, air pollution scientist Shahir Masri intended to do what scientists do: gather evidence, conduct research and publish papers.

But as Masri talked to people in his community and saw the level of misinformation about climate change, he realized he needed to do more.

That’s why he and his girlfriend, Athina Simolaris, a high school and middle school teacher, set out from California in early August on a road trip across the country to engage Americans on one of the most pressing issues of our time.

“We’re at a time when action is increasingly important, and every year that we don’t act is one decade, probably, of increased warming that we’re committing ourselves to,” said Masri, 32, a Tustin, California, native.

You can just be an ordinary person who cares and can make a change. Athina Simolaris

The couple plans to visit three dozen states in the next three months, traveling in Simolaris’ low-emission Hyundai. Their first event in Las Vegas was a question and answer session at a nature preserve. In Utah the couple met with members of the Paiute Indian tribe and visited the Cedar Breaks National Monument to document a bark beetle infestation that’s wiping out hundreds of thousands of acres of trees, and Masri joined a panel of local scientists for a talk at a public library.

Armed with a tent, sleeping bags, a hammock and a donated drone, the couple will sleep outdoors or stay with friends, family members and strangers who have offered their homes (and will make hotel stops when necessary).

“What we want to do is get this conversation going and try to make people feel that it’s OK to talk about climate change, even if we’re not coming at it from the same perspective,” said Simolaris, who recently became certified to teach Spanish.

Both are putting their careers on hold at a crossroads. Simolaris, 28, earned her master’s degree this year and normally would be applying for teaching jobs to pay off her school loans. Masri also has school debt and should be researching and publishing papers ― the prescribed path to tenure in academia.

But he decided last year to make a major change.

He had spent more than a decade immersed in his coursework, earning a Ph.D. in environmental exposure assessment from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2016 before joining the University of California at Irvine, where he works as an assistant specialist in air pollution exposure assessment.

But the more he wandered outside what he describes as the “academic bubble,” the more he realized there were too many misconceptions about climate change for him to keep to the lab.

So he began speaking up.

All the time.

He writes op-eds connecting the dots between climate change and extreme weather-related disasters like the California wildfires.

He strikes up conversations with strangers at public events, like the woman he met at a Republican political booth during a chili cook-off in Orange County last year who told Masri that climate change is due to volcanic activity, not human activity.

And he joined the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a grassroots nonprofit that advocates for national policies to address climate change.

At the organization’s Washington, D.C., conference last year, Masri had planned to tell fellow organizers that he was overwhelmed and needed to take a step back from advocacy. But once he was surrounded by 1,300 other climate activists, he couldn’t do it.

“I actually decided, no, rather than put my climate advocacy aside in the name of my work, I actually need to put my work aside in the name of more climate advocacy,” he said.

He called Simolaris and proposed a one-year sabbatical to dedicate themselves to activism. She agreed. Like Masri, she sees the urgency of addressing climate change. She also knows how nonscientists feel about what can at times seem like an insurmountable problem.

In college she studied Spanish and international relations, and after graduating in 2012 she moved to her mother’s native Dominican Republic to teach English. She was alarmed by the growing amount of trash she saw floating in patches in the ocean around the island — which is dumped into the country’s rivers from homes and informal settlements and washes ashore during storms.

Simolaris made personal changes, like shifting away from single-use items, such as plastic water bottles. When she moved back to her hometown of Boston, she biked to work and started a composting program in her office and at home.

Then she met Masri, and through their conversations began learning about the science of pollution. The more she understood about carbon dioxide emissions, the more concerned she became.

“It scared me, and it made me feel that this is such a bigger issue than doing something on a personal level,” Simolaris said.

She later traveled to Europe to spend several months working on family-run organic farms. She stayed in small towns, where she found farmers and residents were willing to talk openly about climate change. But in the United States, no one talked about global warming, and news stories didn’t connect the dots between weather and climate change. They barely mentioned the phrase “climate change” at all, she said.

We’re at a time when action is increasingly important, and every year that we don’t act is one decade, probably, of increased warming that we’re committing ourselves to. Shahir Masri

Donald Trump’s election as president spurred her to do something, but she was unsure how to take action. Then Masri introduced her to Citizens’ Climate Lobby, where she learned about environmental policies and how to reach out to and meet with elected representatives and other policymakers. She realized she didn’t need to be a scientist to take part.

“You can just be an ordinary person who cares and can make a change,” said Simolaris.

Most Americans say global warming is real — 73 percent of registered voters recently surveyed, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. That’s a high since the program first asked about the issue in 2008, said the program’s director, Anthony Leiserowitz.

The percentage of Americans who believe global warming is happening began dropping after 2008 because of a variety of factors, primarily the rise of the conservative Tea Party and the rightward lurch of the Republican Party, he said.

Global warming is still a deeply politicized issue. Liberal Democrats care about climate change, ranking it as the fourth most pressing national electoral issue. Conservative Republicans rank it last on a list of 28 issues.

Leiserowitz found that there’s a spectrum of attitudes toward climate change and that many Americans fall in the middle ― “moderately certain that global warming is occurring, harmful and human caused,” he said. People along the spectrum can be engaged, but that depends on what messages they are hearing about the issue and who they’re hearing it from, he added.

“A messenger is often more important than the message,” he said. “If you don’t like the messenger, then people are predisposed to discount, ignore or deny the message.”

There’s no messenger with a higher level of trust among the public than climate scientists, he said, but most people don’t have regular access to them.

“Climate scientists and scientists in general are mostly an abstraction to most people,” Leiserowitz said. “They’re not talking to climate scientists over the backyard fence or at a neighborhood barbecue.”

He said the climate science community should do more public engagement ― which is exactly what Masri hopes to do on the road with Simolaris.

He often finds that when he speaks to people about climate change, they express a sense of defeat. They point out that the polar bears are dying and ask if they can really make a difference at this point.

Masri just published a book, “Beyond Debate,” to address common climate change misconceptions and to remind the public that there is still time to act.

“It’s not a foregone conclusion,” he said. “There are climate projections and many different scenarios. Whether we take the worst-case scenario or best-case scenario, that’s still entirely dependent on how we act today.”

Press link for more: Huffington Post