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Recent Arctic warming and ice melt are ‘unprecedented’ in human history. #StopAdani

By Andrew Freedman

Sea ice near Svalbard, Norway.

Image: Shutterstock / Avatar_023

Each year for the past 12 years, an international team of scientists have issued a “report card” on the Arctic climate system. The report amounts to a physical exam of the vast, rapidly changing region, including details on everything from surface air temperatures to sea ice melt and permafrost loss.

With each passing year, the report cards have become more dire, depicting a region that is moving into a totally new regime as sea ice melts, air temperatures warm, and the once permanently frozen ground gives way. The report is the product of 85 scientists from 12 different countries.

The 2017 Arctic Report Card, released Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans, is no exception, with scientists warning that the magnitude and the pace of the 21st Century plunge in sea ice extent as well as the amount of ocean surface warming is unprecedented in at least the past 1,500 years.

SEE ALSO: Crucial Arctic monitoring satellites are blinking out just when we need them most

High-resolution Arctic paleo-reconstructions, based on 45 different “proxy” indicators, such as tree rings, sediment cores, and ancient air bubbles trapped in ice cores, permit scientists to trace sea ice extent back well before there were satellites monitoring the region.

“The Arctic shows no signs of returning to the reliably frozen state it was in just a few decades ago,” said Jeremy Mathis, who leads the Arctic program for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Image: Shutterstock / Nightman1965

“The Arctic is going through the most unprecedented transition in human history,” Mathis said. He explained that everyone in the U.S. and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere has a stake in what happens in the far north.

“We want every single American to know… these changes will impact all of our lives,” he added, citing climate refugees, extreme weather events, and higher food prices that have potential links to rapid Arctic climate change. Mathis said modeling studies increasingly show that there are links between sea ice loss in the Arctic, which changes the amount of heat and moisture in the air there, and extreme weather events that affect the U.S. and Europe, though he cautioned this research is not yet definitive.

According to the report, the Arctic had its second-warmest year on record in 2017, with an average annual air temperatures of 2.9 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1981 to 2010 average. Temperature data for the region dates back to 1900.

Surface air temperature anomalies in the Arctic during 2017.

Sea ice extent, which peaks in late winter, didn’t have much of a recovery after summer melting. The winter ice maximum was the lowest on record since satellite measurements began in 1979, the report says.

However, even with the sea ice entering the melt season in a precarious position, a relatively cool summer prevented Arctic sea ice from setting another record summer minimum, and also slowed Greenland melting, at least for a short time.

According to Emily Osborne, a report coauthor with the NOAA Arctic Research Program, 10 of the lowest sea ice minimums have occurred in the past 11 years.

Many scientists think the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free during the summer months within the next few decades, likely before 2050. One sign of this is that one-year-old ice, which melts easily, made up 79 percent of the Arctic sea ice in 2017, the report found. Older, thicker, multiyear ice comprised just 21 percent of the 2017 sea ice cover, compared to more than twice that in 1985.

Osborne cited data from 45 different indicators of sea ice extent dating back 1,500 years, such as tree rings and other so-called “proxy data,” showing that the recent plunge in sea ice extent is “unprecedented in the last 1500 years and likely longer.”

The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the globe, largely because of a process known as Arctic amplification. Through this process, warming air and sea temperatures melt sea ice, which exposes darker ocean waters to incoming sunlight. Since the ocean waters are less reflective than the ice, they absorb more heat, thereby warming the sea and air, and then, well, melting more ice.

In addition to this inherent feedback process in the region, there has been an increase in the amount of heat being transported into the Arctic Ocean from both the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans, scientists said.

Arctic sea ice extent in the past 1,500 years.

Image: NOAA Climate.gov; Kinnard et al., 2011

The loss of sea ice cover and increased exposure to sunlight has led to a boost in algae blooms and other biological activity in the marine food web, which could have profound implications for marine species.

There is also a growing concern regarding the melting of permanently frozen soil ringing the Arctic, known as permafrost.

As this melting occurs, more greenhouse gases are emitted, including methane, which is a shorter-lived but more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. This represents a positive feedback loop that could yield substantially more global warming, depending how much and how quickly permafrost melts.

For now, Vladimir Romanovsky, a researcher at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, said that in 2016, the majority of Arctic observing sites reported their highest permafrost temperatures on record, with the highest readings in Svalbard, Norway, as well as the Alaskan and Canadian Arctic.

One of the more remarkable aspects about the 2017 Arctic Report Card is that it came out at all. The Trump administration has been deleting climate change references from federal websites, reassigning climate scientists at some government agencies, and preventing scientists from speaking about climate change in public forums.

However, so far at least, NOAA has been relatively sheltered from this interference.  “The public should have high confidence in us,” said acting NOAA director Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet, who pointed out that NOAA continues to research and report on climate science, including with this comprehensive Arctic summary.

Gallaudet said he has briefed the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on the findings of the report.

“The White House is addressing it, acknowledging it, and factoring it into its agenda,” he said.

President Donald Trump is the first president in decades to go this long without a science advisor, who would head up OSTP and brief the president on the report’s findings.

Press link for more: Mashable.com

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“So reckless it’s terrifying!” #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

“So reckless it’s terrifying!” Simon Baker, award-winning actor and director, has an important message for all Australians.

SHARE + ACT: Tell Turnbull to protect our Reef >> http://www.fightforourreef.org.au/simonbaker

#FightForOurReef #StopAdani

Simon Baker’s message should be a wake up call for everyone.

Climate change is causing extreme events all over the planet.

It’s hard to believe Australian politicians from both Labor & Liberal Parties are still not taking the climate science seriously.

Future generations of Australians will never understand how we ignored the warnings.

Scientists, economists, doctors are doing what they can to create awareness.

This week in France leaders from all over the world came together to demand climate action and plan for a carbon neutral economy. The One Planet Summit was ignored by Australian politicians & most of the Australian media.

If we are to limit global warming to 2C we must cease using fossil fuels by 2050.

Investing in new coal mines is reckless, it completely ignores the science & will most likely be the end of the Great Barrier Reef putting 70,000 jobs in Tourism at risk.

The threat to humanity from air pollution is also ignored.

A recent report from the World Health Organization said the 500,000 babies die every year from air pollution a large percentage of that due to burning coal.

Using the atmosphere as a garbage dump for carbon dioxide when we use fossil fuels has to end.

Putting a price on carbon is the most cost effective way to solve the problem.

#ClimateChange link to #CoralBleaching #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

According to a new research report published today in a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the 2016 global average temperature and extreme heat wave over Asia occurred due to continued long-term climate change.

The report included research from NOAA scientists.

Additionally, climate change was found to have influenced other heat events in 2016, including the extreme heat in the Arctic, development of marine heat waves off Alaska and Australia, as well as the severity of the 2015-2016 El Nino, and the duration of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef.

The sixth edition of Explaining Extreme Events from a Climate Perspective presents 27 peer-reviewed research papers that examine episodes of extreme weather across six continents and two oceans during 2016.

It features the research of 116 scientists from 18 countries — including five reports co-led by NOAA scientists — who analyzed historical observations and changing trends along with model results to determine whether and how climate change might have influenced an extreme event or shifted the odds of it occurring.

The findings

The new research found climate change increased the risk of wildfires in the western U.S., and the extreme rainfall experienced in China, along with South Africa’s drought and resultant food shortages.

Researchers found that climate change had reduced the likelihood of the cold outbreaks experienced in China and western Australia in 2016.

No conclusive link to climate change was found by scientists examining severe drought in Brazil, record rains in Australia, or stagnant conditions creating poor air quality in Europe.

In the report, 21 of the 27 papers in this edition identified climate change as a significant driver of an event, while six did not.

Of the 131 papers now examined in this report over the last six years, approximately 65 percent have identified a role for climate change, while about 35 percent have not found an appreciable effect.

There could be several reasons no climate signal was found by some papers; it might be that there were no changes in the frequency or severity for that type of event over time or that researchers weren’t able to detect changes using the available observational record or scientific tools and models available today.

Future studies could yield new insights on the climate’s influence on extreme weather.

More about the report

The BAMS annual report is designed to improve the scientific understanding of the drivers of extreme weather, provide insight into how the various weather extremes may be changing over time, and help community and business leaders better prepare for a rapidly changing world.

Press link for more: NOAA.GOV

Where is the food going to come from? #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #OnePlanet

This is the question everyone should be attending to – where is the food going to come from?

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 11th December 2017

Brexit; the crushing of democracy by billionaires; the next financial crash; a rogue US president: none of them keeps me awake at night. This is not because I don’t care – I care very much. It’s only because I have a bigger question on my mind. Where is the food going to come from?

By mid-century there will be two or three billion more people on Earth. Any one of the issues I am about to list could help precipitate mass starvation. And this is before you consider how they might interact.

The trouble begins where everything begins: with soil.

The UN’s famous projection that, at current rates of soil loss, the world has 60 years of harvests left, appears to be supported by a new set of figures.

Partly as a result of soil degradation, yields are already declining on 20% of the world’s croplands.

Now consider water loss.

In places such as the North China Plain, the central United States, California and north-western India – among the world’s critical growing regions – levels of the groundwater used to irrigate crops are already reaching crisis point. Water in the Upper Ganges aquifer, for example, is being withdrawn at 50 times its recharge rate. But, to keep pace with food demand, farmers in South Asia expect to use between 80 and 200% more water by 2050. Where will it come from?

The next constraint is temperature. One study suggests that, all else being equal, with each degree Celsius of warming the global yield of rice drops by 3%, wheat by 6% and maize by 7%. This could be optimistic. Research published in the journal Agricultural & Environmental Letters finds that 4°C of warming in the US Corn Belt could reduce maize yields by between 84 and 100%.

The reason is that high temperatures at night disrupt the pollination process. But this describes just one component of the likely pollination crisis. Insectageddon, caused by the global deployment of scarcely-tested pesticides, will account for the rest. Already, in some parts of the world, workers are now pollinating plants by hand. But that’s viable only for the most expensive crops.

Then there are the structural factors. Because they tend to use more labour, grow a wider range of crops and work the land more carefully, small farmers, as a rule, grow more food per hectare than large ones. In the poorer regions of the world, people with less than 5 hectares own 30% of the farmland but produce 70% of the food. Since 2000, an area of fertile ground roughly twice the size of the United Kingdom has been seized by land grabbers and consolidated into large farms, generally growing crops for export rather than the food needed by the poor.

While these multiple disasters unfold on land, the seas are being sieved of everything but plastic. Despite a massive increase in effort (bigger boats, bigger engines, more gear), the worldwide fish catch is declining by roughly 1% a year, as populations collapse. The global land grab is mirrored by a global seagrab: small fishers are displaced by big corporations, exporting fish to those who need it less but pay more. Around 3 billion people depend to a large extent on fish and shellfish protein. Where will it come from?

All this would be hard enough. But as people’s incomes increase, their diet tends to shift from plant protein to animal protein. World meat production has quadrupled in 50 years, but global average consumption is still only half that of the UK – where we eat roughly our bodyweight in meat every year – and just over a third of the US level. Because of the way we eat, the UK’s farmland footprint (the land required to meet our demand) is 2.4 times the size of its agricultural area. If everyone aspires to this diet, how do we accommodate it?

The profligacy of livestock farming is astonishing. Already, 36% of the calories grown in the form of grain and pulses – and 53% of the protein – are used to feed farm animals. Two-thirds of this food is lost in conversion from plant to animal. A graph produced last week by Our World in Data suggests that, on average, you need 0.01m2 of land to produce a gram of protein from beans or peas, but 1m2 to produce it from beef cattle or sheep: a difference of 100-fold.

It’s true that much of the grazing land occupied by cattle and sheep cannot be used to grow crops. But it would otherwise have sustained wildlife and ecosystems. Instead, marshes are drained, trees are felled and their seedlings grazed out, predators are exterminated, wild herbivores fenced out and other lifeforms gradually erased as grazing systems intensify. Astonishing places – such as the rainforests of Madagascar and Brazil – are laid waste to make room for yet more cattle.

Because there is not enough land to meet both need and greed, a global transition to eating animals means snatching food from the mouths of the poor. It also means the ecological cleansing of almost every corner of the planet.

The shift in diets would be impossible to sustain even if there were no growth in the human population. But the greater the number of people, the greater the hunger meat eating will cause. From a baseline of 2010, the UN expects meat consumption to rise by 70% by 2030 (this is three times the rate of human population growth). Partly as a result, the global demand for crops could double (from the 2005 baseline) by 2050. The land required to grow them does not exist.

When I say this keeps me up at night, I mean it. I am plagued by visions of starving people seeking to escape from grey wastes, being beaten back by armed police. I see the last rich ecosystems snuffed out, the last of the global megafauna – lions, elephants, whales and tuna – vanishing. And when I wake, I cannot assure myself that it was just a nightmare.

Other people have different dreams: the fantasy of a feeding frenzy that need never end, the fairytale of reconciling continued economic growth with a living world. If humankind spirals into societal collapse, these dreams will be the cause.

There are no easy answers, but the crucial change is a shift from an animal to a plant-based diet. All else being equal, stopping both meat production and the use of farmland to grow biofuels could provide enough calories for another 4 billion people and double the protein available for human consumption. Artificial meat will help: one paper suggests it reduces water use by at least 82% and land use by 99%.

The next Green Revolution will not be like the last one. It will rely not on flogging the land to death, but on reconsidering how we use it and why. Can we do this, or do we – the richer people now consuming the living planet – find mass death easier to contemplate than changing our diet?

http://www.monbiot.com

Press link for more: Monbiot.com

2016 Global Heatwaves due to Climate Change #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #OnePlanet

Global heat waves in 2016 due purely to climate change: study

The findings mark the first time that global scientists have identified severe weather that could not have happened without climate change, said the peer-reviewed report titled “Explaining Extreme Events in 2016 from a Climate Perspective.”

Until now, the contribution of human-driven climate change has been understood to raise the odds of certain floods, droughts, storms and heat waves — but not serve as the sole cause.

“This report marks a fundamental change,” said Jeff Rosenfeld, editor-in-chief of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, which published the peer-reviewed report.

“For years scientists have known humans are changing the risk of some extremes. But finding multiple extreme events that weren’t even possible without human influence makes clear that we’re experiencing new weather, because we’ve made a new climate.”

The report included 27 peer-reviewed analyses of extreme weather across five continents and two oceans.

A total of 116 scientists from 18 countries took part, incorporating historical observations and model simulations to determine the role of climate change in nearly two dozen extreme events.

Records shattered

In 2016, the planet reached a new high for global heat, making it the warmest year in modern times.

These record average surface temperatures worldwide were “only possible due to substantial centennial-scale anthropogenic warming,” said the report.

Asia also experienced stifling heat, with India suffering a major heat wave that killed 580 people from March to May.

Thailand set a new record for energy consumption as people turned on air conditioners en masse to cool off.

Even though the tropical Pacific Ocean warming trend of El Nino was pronounced in 2015 and the first part of 2016, researchers concluded that it was not to blame.

“The 2016 extreme warmth across Asia would not have been possible without climate change,” said the report.

“Although El Nino was expected to warm Southeast Asia in 2016, the heat in the region was unusually widespread.”

In the Gulf of Alaska, the nearby Bering Sea, and off northern Australia, water temperatures were the highest in 35 years of satellite records.

This ocean warming led to “massive bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef and one of the largest harmful algal blooms ever off the Alaska shore,” according to the report.

“It was extremely unlikely that natural variability alone led to the observed anomalies.”

Another chapter found that the so-called “blob” of sub-Arctic 2016 warmth “cannot be explained without anthropogenic climate warming.”

Most, not all

Most of the extreme events studied were influenced to some extent by climate change, as in the past six years that the work has been published.

Climate change was found to have boosted the odds and intensity of El Nino, the severity of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef, and warmth in the North Pacific Ocean.

Flash droughts over southern Africa, like the one in 2015 and 2016, have tripled in the last 60 years mainly due to human-caused climate change, it said.

“Extreme rains, like the record-breaking 2016 event in Wuhan, China are 10 times more likely in the present climate than they were in 1961.”

The unusual Arctic warmth observed in November–December 2016 “most likely would not have been possible without human-caused warming,” it added.

But not all extreme weather was influenced by global warming.

About 20 percent of the events studied were not linked to human-caused climate change, including a major winter snowstorm in the Mid-Atlantic United States, and the drought that led to water shortages in northeast Brazil.

The findings were released at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans.

Press link for more: SBS.COM.AU

Planetary Prosperity Means Zero Carbon #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #OnePlanetSummit

PLANETARY PROSPERITY MEANS ZERO CARBON

DR.MATHIS WACKERNAGEL – CEO OF GLOBAL FOOTPRINT NETWORK on December 12, 2017

Mother Nature seems to be in full revolt.

A stone’s throw from the city of Oakland, where Global Footprint Network is based, the seasonal Diablo winds recently reached record intensity, fanning the worst fires that the famous wine-producing region of Napa has known, reducing to ashes vineyards and residential neighbourhoods, and pushing tens of thousands of inhabitants on the roads.

Now Santa Ana winds are wreaking similar havoc in Southern California, causing more evacuations and burning more structures.

On the other side of the continent, the Caribbean islands most affected by the hurricanes of the last weeks – Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy and Puerto Rico in front – face a tremendous reconstruction project, needing to rebuild access to safe water and electricity.

The time is not for discouragement or defeatism.

More than ever, it is evident that every human community must do its utmost to keep pace with the planet that is hosting us.

The time for transformation is now.

Humanity is not idle.

The root causes are recognized.

On December 12, we celebrate the two-year anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, when world leaders came together to commit to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and strive for 1.5 degrees.

Although President Donald Trump has withdrawn from the agreement, leaders around the world are standing firm.

In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and UN Secretary António Guterres will gather at the One Planet Summit on December 12 to call for concrete action.

Similarly, I am among 31 Blue Planet Laureates who not only want to mark this important anniversary but also remind the world that the climate agreement is achievable and desirable.

We have summarized our position as follows:

Planetary Prosperity Means Zero Carbon

The resource hunger of the human enterprise has become too large for our planet.

The Paris Climate Agreement recognizes this. It aims to limit global warming to less than 2°C above the preindustrial level.

This means ceasing fossil-fuel use before 2050, increasing ecosystem and biodiversity conservation, and improving human well-being.

We, Blue Planet Laureates, wholeheartedly and emphatically support this transformation.

It is technologically possible, economically beneficial, and our best chance for a prosperous future.

Our planet is finite. But human possibilities are not. The transformation will succeed if we apply people’s greatest strengths: foresight, innovation, and care for each other.

Examples across the globe show positive results.

Cities like Zurich, Curitiba, Malmö, Masdar, and Reykjavik have shown leadership. Regions have taken charge, including California, where Gov. Jerry Brown will convene the Global Action Climate Summit next year.

China has made creating an Ecological Civilization in harmony with nature a priority in its latest 5-year plan.

France and the UK have announced the end of fossil fuel cars by 2040, and Tesla surpassed General Motors earlier this year to become the most valuable US auto maker – without ever building a gasoline-powered car.

Other companies such as Schneider Electric thrive on driving down their clients’ carbon emissions and costs. Achieving Paris is possible.

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of this transformation is sparking the imagination of people around the world and making them realize that a zero-carbon world is much more likely to secure long-term prosperity than continuing our destructive path.

We also need to start to recognize that this transformation primarily builds on foresight and innovation, not sacrifice and suffering.

Even with the UN projecting world population growth of 13 percent by 2030 and 28 percent by 2050, flourishing lives on this one planet are possible through walkable cities that are renewably powered and sustainably fed.

Encouraging smaller families and empowering women around the world will also produce immediate positive health and educational outcomes for those families.

Such steps will also substantially reduce the carbon footprint and ease the resource budget for each country in the long run. Indeed, ‘family planning’ and ‘educating girls’ rank sixth and seventh in Project Drawdown’s ranking of solutions to reverse global warming.

We stand for one-planet prosperity. ‘One planet’ means that we recognize the physical context of our economies. ‘Prosperity’ means that we choose flourishing lives over misery. Will you join us?

Press link for more: Impakter.com

One Planet 🌍 #auspol #qldpol #climatechange #StopAdani

Climate Change is our greatest challenge it’s a race against time, and we’re losing.

Australia & the United States should be leading the world.

Instead we continue to invest in fossil fuels and refuse to put a price on carbon pollution.

Corporations have corrupted our democracies.

Our children & future generations will pay for our greed & negligence.

Nature’s Shock & Awe for The U.S #ClimateChange #auspol #StopAdani

Shock and awe. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is meant to be, in Southern California, the start of rainy season.

Not this year.

The Thomas Fire, the worst of those roiling the region this last week, grew 50,000 acres on Sunday alone; it has now burnt 270 square miles and forced 200,000 people from their homes.

There is no rain forecast for the next seven to ten days, and as of Monday morning, Thomas is just, in the terrifying semi-clinical language of wildfires, “10% contained.” To a poetic approximation, it’s not a bad estimate of how much of a handle we have on the forces of climate change that unleashed it — which is to say, hardly any.

“The city burning is Los Angeles’s deepest image of itself,” Joan Didion wrote in “Los Angeles Notebook,” collected in Slouching Towards Bethlehem. But the cultural impression is apparently not all that deep, since the fires that broke out last week produced, in headlines and on television and via text messages, an astonished refrain of the adjectives “unthinkable,” “unprecedented,” and “unimaginable.”

Didion was writing about the fires that had swept through Malibu in 1956, Bel Air in 1961, Santa Barbara in 1964, and Watts in 1965; she updated her list in “Fire Season (1989),” describing the fires of 1968, 1970, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, and 1982: “Since 1919, when the county began keeping records of its fires, some areas have burned eight times.”

We could use further updating: Five of the 20 worst fires in California history have now hit since just September, when 245,000 acres in Northern California burned — devastation so cruel and sweeping that two different accounts were published in two different local newspapers of two different aging couples taking desperate cover in pools as the fires swallowed their homes.

One couple survived, emerging after six excruciating hours to find their house transformed into an ash monument; in the other, it was only the husband who emerged, his wife of 55 years having died in his arms. As Americans traded horror stories in the aftermath of those fires, they could be forgiven for mixing the stories up or being confused; that climate terror could be so general as to provide variations on such a theme seemed, as recently as September, impossible to believe.

But if last week’s wildfires were not unprecedented, what did we mean when we called them that?

Like September 11, which followed several decades of morbid American fantasies about the World Trade Center, the brushfires that began last week north of Santa Paula look to a horrified public like a climate prophecy, made in fear, now made real.

That prophecy was threefold.

First, the simple intuition of climate horrors — an especially biblical premonition when the plague is out-of-control fire, like a dust storm of flame.

Second, of the expanding reach of wildfires in particular, which now can feel, in much of the West, like a gust of bad wind away, and never impossible no matter the time of year.

Over the last few decades, the wildfire season has already grown by two months, and by 2050, destruction from wildfires is expected to double (for every additional degree of global warming, it will quadruple).

But perhaps the most harrowing of the ways in which the fires seemed to confirm our cinematic nightmares was the third: that climate chaos could breach our most imperious fortresses — that is, our cities.

With Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, Irma, Americans have gotten acquainted with the threat of flooding, but water is just the beginning.

In the affluent cities of the West, even those conscious of environmental change have spent the last few decades believing that, and behaving as though, we had — with our street grids, our highways, our superabundant supermarkets and all-everywhere, all-enveloping internet — built our way out of nature.

We have not.

A paradise dreamscape erected in a barren desert, L.A. has always been an impossible city, as Mike Davis, among many others, has so brilliantly written.

The sight of flames straddling the eight-lane 405 is a reminder that it is still impossible.

In fact, getting more so.

One response to seeing things long predicted actually come to pass is to feel that we have settled into a new era, with everything transformed.

In fact, that is how Governor Jerry Brown described the state of things this weekend: “a new normal.”

The fact that the news cycle has already moved on, while the fires are just as out of control, is another sign of our eagerness to normalize these horrors — or at least to look away.

But normalization is problematic, as perversely comforting as it may feel to think we’ve settled into a familiar nightmare.

Climate change is not binary, and we have not now arrived at a new equilibrium; as I’ve written before, the climate suffering we are seeing now is a “beyond best case” scenario for our future.

With each further tick upward in global temperatures — each tiny tick — the effects will worsen.

And further ticks are inevitable; the question is only how many.

It would be much more accurate to say that we have passed beyond the end of normal, into a new realm unbounded by the analogy of any human experience.

But two big forces conspire to prevent us from normalizing fires like these, though neither is exactly a cause for celebration.

The first is that extreme weather won’t let us, since it won’t stabilize — so that even within a decade, it’s a fair bet that these fires will be thought of as the “old normal.”

Whatever you may think about the pace of climate change, it is happening mind-bendingly fast, almost in real time.

It is not just that December wildfires were unheard of just three decades ago.

We have now emitted more carbon into the atmosphere since Al Gore wrote his first book on climate than in the entire preceding history of humanity, which means that we have engineered most of the climate chaos that now terrifies us in that brief span.

The second force is also contained in the story of the wildfires — the way that climate change is finally striking close to home.

Striking, in fact, some quite special homes: Last Thursday, for instance, there were reports that the fires were threatening the Getty Museum in Pacific Palisades and Rupert Murdoch’s Bel-Air estate.

There may not be two better symbols of the imperiousness of American money than the Getty villa, a San Simeon built on the pure blue Pacific with Texas oil money laundered through art philanthropy; and the nearby toy vineyard of climate-change-denier Rupert Murdoch, built on some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

One imagines that Murdoch will not be writing tweets like this one again anytime soon; then again, who knows?

When, on Thursday, I tweeted that NBC News was reporting that Murdoch’s vineyard was on fire, it immediately spawned a thread of gleeful, crowing responses, more than a thousand of them. But, of course, his property and the Getty were not being singled out; they were fighting off flames because the entire rest of the county was, too, and — no matter how well-equipped or well-defended or well-heeled they were — having just as much trouble. Which is, as uncomfortable as it may be to admit, a very useful allegory for the rest of us to keep in mind.

By accidents of geography and by the force of its wealth, the United States has, to this point, been mostly protected from the devastation climate change has already visited on parts of the less-developed world — mostly.

The condition of Puerto Rico, nearly three months after Hurricane Irma hit, is a harrowing picture of what climate devastation can do to the least among us. That it is now hitting our wealthiest citizens is not just an opportunity for ugly bursts of liberal Schadenfreude; it is also a sign of just how hard, and how indiscriminately, it is hitting. The wealthy used to build castles to defend themselves against the world; more recently it’s been a more modern kind of fortress, cities, enclosing more and more of us in an illusion of man-made security. All of a sudden, it’s getting a lot harder to protect against what’s coming.

Why UK banks are falling behind French #ClimateChange #auspol #StopAdani

Why UK banks are falling behind French in response to climate change

A new ranking by responsible investment NGO ShareAction shows that French banks outperform their European peers on climate-related issues.

ShareAction’s Sonia Hierzig argues that the UK should follow France in making disclosures on climate-related risks and opportunities mandatory

Banks are affected by climate change in many ways.

As financial intermediaries with ties to every industry sector, they face climate-related risks and opportunities.

On the one hand, they are exposed to the physical, transitional and liability risks linked to climate change via the clients they lend to and do business with.

On the other hand, banks are also able to make a positive contribution to tackling climate change by mobilising the capital required for a successful low-carbon transition.

ShareAction has ranked the 15 largest European banks based on their responses to climate-related risks and opportunities.

The three French banks surveyed all came out in the top five, while three of the UK banks ranked in the bottom five banks.

This is partly down to the introduction of Article 173 in France, which requires that all listed companies, including banks, disclose (1) information about the financial risks related to the effects of climate change; (2) the measures adopted by the company to reduce them and; (3) the consequences of climate change on the company’s activities and on the use of goods and services it produces.

For banks, it additionally requests the disclosure of the risk of excessive leverage (not carbon-specific) and the risks exposed by regular stress tests.

Sonia Hierzig, ShareAction

As regulation appears to be a key driver encouraging banks to manage climate-related risks and opportunities, other countries might benefit from introducing similar legislation to ensure banks headquartered there do not fall behind.

For instance, if the UK government wants to succeed in its ambition of promoting the UK as a global centre for green finance post-Brexit, it should consider introducing similar mandatory requirements on disclosure and stress testing.

This is particularly relevant considering the poor performance of several UK banks in this survey, and the fact that the European Banking Authority will move from London to Paris. Banks’ institutional investors should also support necessary changes by engaging with policymakers and regulators.

While the French banks have scored relatively well, it is noticeable that several of the UK banks appear to be lagging behind, including Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Standard Chartered.

This is not only due to the lack of similar innovative legislation in the UK, but also because many of the UK banks have weaker policies compared to their European peers on the sectors highly exposed to climate-related risks, including fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

For example, Lloyds Banking Group’s policy on coal mining and power merely takes into account breaches of relevant greenhouse gas emission regulations, while other banks have committed to not financing certain coal-related projects and/or companies linked to the sector.

To meet the goal of limiting global temperature rises to below 2°C, there can be no new fossil fuel-related exploration or infrastructure developments, and it is also essential that some fields and mines are closed before they have been fully exploited. UK banks in particular still have a long way to go to align their sector policies with these needs of a successful low-carbon transition, and currently none of the UK banks is fully aligned yet.

BNP Paribas (credit: Tupungato/Shutterstock Inc)

While legislative and regulatory action is important, it is also crucial that shareholders in banks request better management of climate-related risks and opportunities within the institutions they are invested in. ShareAction also provides a number of recommendations for institutional investors to support them in their climate-related engagements with banks.

As the surveyed banks generally performed the poorest on the topic of climate-related risk management, it is recommended that shareholders focus their efforts in this area until there are marked improvements.

For example, banks should be encouraged to place increased emphasis on developing methodologies for scenario analysis, strengthen policies on coal mining and thermal coal power generation, oil and gas, deforestation and peatland exploitation in line with below 2°C scenarios, and introduce more stringent below 2°C engagement policies to guide dialogues with clients active in sectors highly exposed to climate-related risks.

Once shareholders note significant improvements in those areas, they might consider also asking banks about climate-related opportunities, their engagement with external actors, such as policymakers, and the governance structures they have in place to ensure climate-related issues are managed appropriately.

ShareAction hopes that this report will encourage action on behalf of institutional investors, policymakers and regulators to ensure the European banking sector acts in support of the low-carbon transition, rather than obstructing it.

Sonia Hierzig is project manager at responsible investment NGO ShareAction.

Main image credit: Peresanz/Shutterstock Inc

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Top economists call for an end to fossil fuel investment! #StopAdani #Auspol #BeatPollution

Declaration on Climate Finance

In advance of French President Macron’s climate and finance summit, we call for an immediate end to investments in new fossil fuel production and infrastructure, and encourage a dramatic increase in investments in renewable energy.

DECLARATION

We the undersigned, call for an immediate end to investments in new fossil fuel production and infrastructure, and encourage a dramatic increase in investments in renewable energy.

We are issuing this call to action in the lead up to the climate summit hosted by President Macron in Paris this December. President Macron and other world leaders, have already spoken out about the need for an increase in finance for climate solutions, but they have remained largely silent about the other, dirtier side of the equation: the ongoing finance of new coal, oil and gas production and infrastructure.

Ongoing global climate change and environmental destructions are happening at an unprecedented scale, and it will take unprecedented actions to limit the worst consequences of our dependence on oil, coal, and gas.

Equally as critical as drastically curbing the carbon intensity of our economic systems is the need for immediate and ambitious actions to stop exploration and expansion of fossil fuel projects and manage the decline of existing production in line with what is necessary to achieve the Paris climate goals.

Research shows that the carbon embedded in existing fossil fuel production will take us far beyond safe climate limits. Thus, not only are new exploration and new production incompatible with limiting global warming to well below 2ºC (and as close to 1.5ºC as possible), but many existing projects will need to be phased-out faster than their natural decline. Simply put: there is no more room for new fossil fuel infrastructure and therefore no case for ongoing investment.

It is time for the community of global economic actors to fully embrace, safe, and renewable energies and phase out fossil fuels. This letter affirms that it is the urgent responsibility and moral obligation of public and private investors and development institutions to lead in putting an end to fossil fuel development.

A global transition to a low carbon future is already well underway and we recognize that a full transition away from fossil fuels is an opportunity for a new economic paradigm of prosperity and equity. Continued expansion of oil, coal, and gas is only serving to hinder the inevitable transition while at the same time exacerbating conflicts, fuelling corruption, threatening biodiversity, clean water and air, and infringing on the rights of Indigenous Peoples and vulnerable countries and communities.

Energy access and demand can and must now be met fully through the renewable energies of the 21st century. Assertions that new fossil fuels, such the current push for gas, are needed for this transformation are not only inaccurate; they also undermine the speed and penetration of renewable energy.

The global investment community has the power to create the conditions under which this shift is possible. Current and future investments in fossil fuel production are at odds with a safe and equitable transition away from ever stronger climate disasters.

Global investor and international development actors and institutions must recognize that continued investments in fossil fuel production supply-side is irreconcilable with meaningful climate action. Instead, let us all prioritize the tremendous investment opportunities for a 100% renewable future that support healthy economies while protecting workers, communities, and the ecological limits of a finite planet.

Signers of the Declaration on Climate Finance:

• Alain Grandjean

• Economist, Scientific advisor to the Foundation for Nature and Mankind

• Alain Karsenty

• Research Director at CIRAD, Montpellier

• Ann Pettifor

• Director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics, Prime

• Anu Muhammad

• Professor of Economics, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh

• Aurore Lalucq

• Economist and Director of the Veblen Institute

Camilla Toulmin
Professor, Dr

• Carolina Burle Schmidt Dubeux

• Environemental Economist, PhD and teacher at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro · COPPE/Centro Clima

• Cédric Durand

• Maître de conférences en Économie, université Paris 13

• Claudia Kemfert

• Head of the department of energy, transportation and environment at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin

• Co-Pierre Georg

• Associate Professor, University of Cape Town. Research Economist – Deutsche Bundesbank , Policy Associate – Economic Research Southern Africa

Denis Dupré
Professor of finance and ethics

• Dominique Plihon

• Professor Emeritus of Economics, Paris-Nord University Director, Center of Economics of the University of Paris Nord

• Dr Ben Groom

• Associate Professor of Environment & Development Economics, LSE

• Dr Michael Mason

• Associate Professor, Department of Geography and the Environment, LSE

Dr. Alaa Al Khourdajie
Teaching Fellow in Environmental Economics, School of Economics, University of Edinburgh

• Dr. Ashok Khosla

• Chairman, Development Alternatives

• Dr. Charles Palmer

• Associate Professor of Environment and Development, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE),

• Dr. Ron Milcarek

• UMASS Economics Department

• Dr. Simplice Asongu

• Lead Research Economist, African Governance and Development Institute

• Emilio Padilla Rosa

• Associate Professor, Department of Applied Economics, Autonomous University of Barcelona

• Frank Ackerman

• Principal Economist, Synapse Energy Economics

• Gail Whiteman

• Professor

• Gautam Sethi

• Associate Professor of Economics and Econometrics, Bard Center for Environmental Policy

• Helene Ollivier

• Research fellow of the CNRS and Associate Professor at Paris School of Economics

• Herman Daly

• Emeritus Professor, University of Maryland

• Ian Kinniburgh

• Former Director of Department of Policy and Analysis Division, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs

• Ilan Noy

• Chair in the Economics of Disasters, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

• Ivar Ekeland

• Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Former President, the University of Paris-Dauphine

• Jaime De Melo

• Scientific Director at Ferdi (Emeritus Professor, University of Geneva)

• James Kenneth Galbraith

• Economist

• Jean Gadrey

• Jean Gadrey, former Professor of economics, University of Lille

• Jean-Pierre Ponssard,

• Senior Research Fellow CNRS France

• Jeffrey Sachs

• Economist, Senior UN Advisor

• John C. Quiggin

• Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and professor at the School of Economics, University of Queensland

• John Hewson

• Former Leader of the Federal Opposition, Australia

Jon D. Erickson
David Blittersdorf Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy

• José Almeida de Souza Jr.

• Economist

• Jusen Asuka

• Professor Tohoku University

• Kate Pickett

• Professor, University of York Research Champion for Justice & Equality

• Kate Raworth

• Senior Visiting Research Associate, Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University

• Katheline Schubert

• Associate Professor at the Paris School of Economics and researcher at the Sorbonne Center for Economics.

• Katrin Millock

• Associate Professor, Paris School of Economics & Research Fellow at CNRS

• Lionel Fontagné

• Professor of Economics at the Paris School of Economics – University Paris 1

• Maria rosa ravelli abreu

• Prof. Universidade Brasilia

• Mariana Mazzucato

• Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value, Director, UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose

• Mark Campanale

• Founder & Executive Director, Carbon Tracker Initiative

• Marzio Galeotti, Ph.D.

• Professor of Environmental and Energy Economics, University of Milan – Milan, Italy

• Maxime Combes

• Maxime Combes, economist for ATTAC

• Michael Jacobs

• Visiting Professor, School of Public Policy, University College London

• Michael Pirson

• Professor, Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University

• Mohammad A Jabbar

• Agricultural Economist, International Livestock Research Institute

• Mouez FODHA

• Professor of Economics, Paris School of Economics & University Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne.

• Mutsuyoshi Nishimura

• Former Ambassador of Japan to the UNFCCC negotiations Research Fellow, The Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIAA)

• Neva Rockefeller Goodwin

• Co-Director, Global Development And Environment Institute, Tufts University

• Nicolas Bouleau

• Mathematician, Economist

• Oliver Sartor, PhD

• Senior Research Fellow Climate and Energy, IDDRI

• Patrick Criqui

• Research Director, CNRS

• Peter A. Victor Ph.D.,FRSC

• Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

• Pierre-Richard Agenor

• Professor of International Macroeconomics and Development Economics, University of Manchester

pirax didier
Econnomist

• Prof Ross Garnaut

• Professorial Research Fellow in Economics, Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Melbourne

• Prof. James Renwick (Victoria University of Wellington

• Professor at Victoria University of Wellington, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences

• Prof. Michael Finus

• Chair in Environmental Economics

• Prof. Phoebe Koundouri

• Athens University of Economics and Business, Director of International Center for Research on the Environment and the Economy, Chair Sustainable Development SOlutions Network Greece

• Prof. Simone Borghesi

• President Elect IAERE – Italian Association of Environmental and Resource Economists

• Ramon E. Lopez

• Professor at the University of Chile , Santiago · Departamento de Economía

• Ramón López

• Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile

• RENOUARD Cécile

• Professor, Centre Sèvres-Jesuit University of Paris and researcher, ESSEC Business School

• Reyer Gerlagh

• Professor of Economics, Tilburg University, Netherlands

• Richard Denniss

• Chief Economist, The Australia Institute

• Richard Wilkinson

• Emeritus Professor of Social Epidemiology University of Nottingham.

• Rick Van der Ploeg

• Professor of Economics and Research Director of the Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies at Oxford University, former Chief Financial Spokesperson in the Dutch Parliament

• Robert Costanza

• VC’s Chair in Public Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University

• Robert M. Freund

• Theresa Seley Professor in Management Science, Sloan School of Management, MIT

• Serge Reliant

• Economiste

• Seyhun Orcan Sakalli

• Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Economics, University of Lausanne

• Shahriar Shahida

• Co-Chief Investment Officer Constellation Capital Management LLC

• Shuzo Nishioka

• Counsellor, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

• Slim Ben Youssef

• Professor, ESC de Tunis

• Suzi Kerr

• Senior Fellow, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

• Takeshi Mizuguchi

• Professor Takasaki City University Of Economics

• Terra Lawson-Remer

• Fellow at the Stanford Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences

• Thomas Porcher

• Associate Professor, Paris School of Business, member of “Les économistes attérrés

• Thomas Sterner

• Chair LOC World Conference of Environmental Economics

• Tim Jackson

• Professor, University of Surrey, UK

• Tom Sanzillo

• Director of Finance for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis

• Tom Steyer

• Founder and former co-senior managing partner of Farallon Capital and the co-founder of OneCalifornia Bank

• Valentina Bosetti

• Associate professor at the Department of Economics, Bocconi University, President of the Italian Association of Environmental Economists

• Véronique Seltz

• PhD in Economics

• Yanis Varoufakis

• Greek Economist, Academic and Politician

• Yifat Reuveni

• Head of social-finance innovation JDC College of Management business school, Faculty of Management – Tel Aviv University

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