Keeling Curve

US Senator John McCain urges #ClimateAction #StopAdani 

John McCain urges action on Great Barrier Reef and Paris climate deal

A diver checking bleached coral on the Great Barrier Reef – around half has now been bleached. 

The death of the Great Barrier Reef is one of the “great tragedies of our lives”, US senator John McCain has said, arguing America should uphold its commitment to the Paris climate agreement, or accede to it with minor modifications.
Speaking in Sydney on Tuesday night, the veteran politician and former Republican party presidential candidate said climate change was undeniably real and that it was incumbent upon world leaders to act now to halt and reverse global warming.

“I think that climate change is real. 

I think that one of the great tragedies of our lives is the Great Barrier Reef dying [and] the environmental consequences of that,” he said.
The position of the world’s second-largest carbon emitter on the Paris climate change agreement is uncertain and a subject of global speculation. 

US commitment to reducing emissions or otherwise could have significant ramifications for other countries upholding their promised reductions.
Donald Trump has said he will announce this week whether the US will uphold the Paris carbon reduction commitments it agreed to in 2015, under his predecessor Barack Obama.

How did the Great Barrier Reef reach ‘terminal stage’?

McCain said he wanted to see America remain in the Paris accord. “I would like to see us … either accept the agreements as were made by the Obama administration or suggest modifications which would make it palatable for us and acceptable to us to join.
“If we don’t address this issue, I am very much afraid about what the world is going to look like for our children and grandchildren.”

Climate change caused unprecedented back-to-back mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 on the Great Barrier Reef, killing almost half of its coral.
The federal and Queensland’s governments’ two-year-old plan to protect the reef until 2050 is reportedly already redundant because the impacts of climate change are far more severe than predicted.

Recent surveys have found bleaching is significantly worse than predicted, with more than 70% of shallow-water coral north of Port Douglas killed last year.
McCain was in Australia as a guest of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. 

In a wide-ranging speech he conceded that the Trump administration was mired in scandal, but urged America’s allies to stand by the US as it navigated troubled times.
He said America’s reputation had suffered in the early months of Trump’s presidency as scandals over ties to Russia, nepotism, FBI investigations and foundering relations with other world leaders have rocked the administration with crippling consistency.

John McCain: ‘Putin is world’s most important threat’ – video

“We are going through a rough period,” McCain said. “We really are, and for me to tell you that we aren’t, politically, is not fair. But we’ve gone through other troubled times. I can remember Watergate scandal and how it brought down a president. I’m not suggesting that’s going to happen to this president, but we are in a scandal, and every few drops another shoe drops from this centipede, and we’ve got to get through that.”
McCain said observers of the US must look beyond the president.
“Our foreign friends always tend to focus on the person in the White House. But America is far bigger than that. 

America is our courts of justice. 

America is our state and local governments. 

America is our Congress.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

Sea level rise threatens thousands of Melbourne homes. #StopAdani #auspol 

By Adam Carey

How a possible two-metre sea level rise would flood thousands of Melbourne homes
Tens of thousands of homes and businesses in Melbourne face a bigger risk of tidal flooding by century’s end, and major roads, tram routes and industrial areas could disappear under water due to future sea level rises, new modelling shows.
The updated modelling of possible sea level rises caused by climate change predicts Victoria’s coastline could be hit by sea level rises of two metres or more by 2100, due to the rapid melting of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.
Streets in Elwood after a flash flood in December.

Streets in Elwood after a flash flood in December. Photo: Wayne Taylor

A two-metre rise would flood several low-lying suburbs in Melbourne including South Melbourne, Albert Park, Port Melbourne, Southbank, Docklands, Altona, Williamstown, Elwood, St Kilda, Seaford, Carrum, Bonbeach and Aspendale.
Large areas in Geelong and the seaside towns of Barwon Heads, Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale would also be heavily inundated at high tide by century’s end, it is predicted.
Sections of major roads including CityLink, Flinders Street, Wurundjeri Way, Footscray Road, Clarendon Street and Queens Parade would go under water at high tide, as would several tram routes in Melbourne’s bayside suburbs.

The Mornington Peninsula Freeway near Frankston would face the same fate.
Industrial areas such as the Port of Melbourne, Fishermans Bend and Coode Island would also be inundated.
The modelling is based on new research by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), which this year released updated projections for sea level rises made in the landmark 2013 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
That report said a 74-centimetre sea level rise by 2100 was a worst-case scenario.
Since then, ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland have been found to be melting more rapidly than thought and projections have been revised so that the 74cm “worst-case scenario” is considered probable, while a rise of two metres to 2.7 metres is now a “plausible worst-case global mean sea level rise scenario”, according to NOAA.

The effect this would have on Australia’s coastline has been mapped by NGIS, using local tidal data and Google mapping technology to overlay a possible two-metre sea level rise on the nation’s cities, towns and beaches.
Nathan Eaton is from NGIS and was co-creator of the Coastal Risk Australia website that shows the projected impacts of sea level rises in Australia.
Mr Eaton said that just as the rate at which the sea level has risen has accelerated in the past few decades, much of the potential rise of two metres would occur in the latter half of this century.
“Anyone can look at these maps and visualise exactly how sea-level rise, driven by climate change, will permanently alter our coastline and neighbourhoods,” Mr Eaton said. “We already knew this was going to be bad news for low-lying areas, but the latest science is telling us to brace for even worse.”
Central Melbourne is no stranger to flash flooding – this is Elizabeth Street in February, 1972. 

Central Melbourne is no stranger to flash flooding – this is Elizabeth Street in February, 1972. Photo: Neville Bowler
Alan Stokes, executive director of the Australian Coastal Councils Association, said the revised modelling was a wake-up call for governments.
“If the sea rises to that level it would be a national disaster,” Mr Stokes said.
He called on the federal government to reverse funding cuts it has made to research to support climate change adaptation.
An online tool for councils called Coast Adapt faces a heavy funding cut from July 1.
“Coastal councils are at the forefront of dealing with these projected impacts but they are really tackling this problem with one arm tied behind their backs because they just don’t have the resources to respond effectively,” Mr Stokes said.  

The global mean sea level has risen by 21 to 24 centimetres since 1880, with about eight centimetres of that rise happening since 1993.
“Scientists expect that [sea levels] will continue to rise throughout the 21st century and beyond, because of global warming that has already occurred and warming that is yet to occur due to the still uncertain level of future emissions,” the NOAA report says.

Press link for more: The

It’s the end of the world! #climatechange #auspol #science 

It’s the end of the world and we know it: Scientists in many disciplines see apocalypse, soon

While apocalyptic beliefs about the end of the world have, historically, been the subject of religious speculation, they are increasingly common among some of the leading scientists today. 

This is a worrisome fact, given that science is based not on faith and private revelation, but on observation and empirical evidence.
Perhaps the most prominent figure with an anxious outlook on humanity’s future is Stephen Hawking. Last year, he wrote the following in a Guardian article:

Now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. 

We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans. 

Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. 

We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.
There is not a single point here that is inaccurate or hyperbolic.

 For example, consider that the hottest 17 years on record have all occurred since 2000, with a single exception (namely, 1998), and with 2016 being the hottest ever.

 Although 2017 probably won’t break last year’s record, the UK’s Met Office projects that it “will still rank among the hottest years on record.” Studies also emphasize that there is a rapidly closing window for meaningful action on climate change.

 As the authors of one peer-reviewed paper put it:
The next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far.

 Policy decisions made during this window are likely to result in changes to Earth’s climate system measured in millennia rather than human lifespans, with associated socioeconomic and ecological impacts that will exacerbate the risks and damages to society and ecosystems that are projected for the twenty-first century and propagate into the future for many thousands of years.
Furthermore, studies suggest that civilization will have to produce more food in the next 50 years than in all of human history, which stretches back some 200,000 years into the Pleistocene epoch.

 This is partly due to the ongoing problem of overpopulation, where Pew projects approximately 9.3 billion people living on spaceship Earth by 2050. 

According to the 2016 Living Planet Report, humanity needs 1.6 Earths to sustain our current rate of (over)consumption — in other words, unless something significant changes with respect to anthropogenic resource depletion, nature will force life as we know it to end.

Along these lines, scientists largely agree that human activity has pushed the biosphere into the sixth mass extinction event in the entire 4.5 billion year history of Earth.

 This appears to be the case even on the most optimistic assumptions about current rates of species extinctions, which may be occurring 10,000 times faster than the normal “background rate” of extinction. 

Other studies have found that, for example, the global population of wild vertebrates — that is, mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians — has declined by a staggering 58 percent between 1970 and 2012. 

The biosphere is wilting in real time, and our own foolish actions are to blame.
As for disease, superbugs are a growing concern among researchers due to overuse of antibiotics among livestock and humans.

 These multi-drug-resistant bacteria are highly resistant to normal treatment routes, and already some 2 million people become sick from superbugs each year.
Perhaps the greatest risk here is that, as Brian Coombes puts it, “antibiotics are the foundation on which all modern medicine rests. 

Cancer chemotherapy, organ transplants, surgeries, and childbirth all rely on antibiotics to prevent infections. If you can’t treat those, then we lose the medical advances we have made in the last 50 years.” Indeed, this is why Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization, claims that “Antimicrobial resistance poses a fundamental threat to human health, development and security.”
Making matters even worse, experts argue that the risk of a global pandemic is increasing. The reason is, in part, because of the growth of megacities. According to a United Nations estimate, “66 percent of the global population will live in urban centers by 2050.”

 The closer proximity of people will make the propagation of pathogens much easier, not to mention the fact that deadly germs can travel from one location to another at literally the speed of a jetliner.

 Furthermore, climate change will produce heat waves and flooding events that will create “more opportunity for waterborne diseases such as cholera and for disease vectors such as mosquitoes in new regions.” This is why some public health researchers conclude that “we are at greater risk than ever of experiencing large-scale outbreaks and global pandemics,” and that “the next outbreak contender will most likely be a surprise.”

Finally, the acidification of the world’s oceans is a catastrophe that hardly gets the attention it deserves. 

What’s happening is that the oceans are absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and this is causing their pH level to fall. 

One consequence is the destruction of coral reefs through a process called “bleaching.” 

Today, about 60 percent of coral reefs are in danger of bleaching, and about 10 percent are already underwater ghost towns.
Even more alarming, though, is the fact that the rate of ocean acidification is happening faster today than it occurred during the Permian-Triassic mass extinction. That event is called the “Great Dying” because it was the most devastating mass extinction ever, resulting in some 95 percent of all species kicking the bucket.

 As the science journalist Eric Hand points out, whereas 2.4 gigatons of carbon were injected into the atmosphere per year during the Great Dying, about 10 gigatons are being injected per year by contemporary industrial society. 

Thus, the sixth mass extinction mentioned above, also called the Anthropocene extinction, could turn out to be perhaps even worse than the Permian-Triassic die-off.
So Hawking’s dire warning that we live in the most perilous period of our species’ existence is quite robust.

 In fact, considerations like these have led a number of other notable scientists to suggest that the collapse of global society could occur in the foreseeable future. 

The late microbiologist Frank Fenner, for example, whose virological work helped eliminate smallpox, predicted in 2010 that “humans will probably be extinct within 100 years, because of overpopulation, environmental destruction, and climate change.”

 Similarly, the Canadian biologist Neil Dawe reportedly “wouldn’t be surprised if the generation after him witness the extinction of humanity.” And the renowned ecologist Guy McPherson argues that humanity will follow the dodo into the evolutionary grave by 2026. 

(On the upside, maybe you don’t need to worry so much about that retirement plan.)
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists also recently moved the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to midnight, or doom, primarily because of President Donald J. Trump and the tsunami of anti-intellectualism that got him into the Oval Office. 

As Lawrence Krauss and David Titley wrote in a New York Times op-ed:
The United States now has a president who has promised to impede progress on both [curbing nuclear proliferation and solving climate change]. Never before has the Bulletin decided to advance the clock largely because of the statements of a single person. But when that person is the new president of the United States, his words matter.
At two-and-a-half minutes before midnight, the Doomsday Clock is currently the closest to midnight that it’s been since 1953, after the U.S. and the Soviet Union had both detonated hydrogen bombs.
But so far we have mostly ignored threats to our existence that many leading risk scholars believe are the most serious, namely those associated with emerging technologies such as biotechnology, synthetic biology, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence. In general, these technologies are not only becoming more powerful at an exponential rate, according to Ray Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns, but increasingly accessible to small groups and even lone wolves. The result is that a growing number of individuals are being empowered to wreak unprecedented havoc on civilization. Consider the following nightmare disaster outlined by computer scientist Stuart Russell:
A very, very small quadcopter, one inch in diameter can carry a one- or two-gram shaped charge. You can order them from a drone manufacturer in China. You can program the code to say: “Here are thousands of photographs of the kinds of things I want to target.” A one-gram shaped charge can punch a hole in nine millimeters of steel, so presumably you can also punch a hole in someone’s head. You can fit about three million of those in a semi-tractor-trailer. You can drive up I-95 with three trucks and have 10 million weapons attacking New York City. They don’t have to be very effective, only 5 or 10 percent of them have to find the target.
Russell adds that “there will be manufacturers producing millions of these weapons that people will be able to buy just like you can buy guns now, except millions of guns don’t matter unless you have a million soldiers. You need only three guys,” he concludes, to write the relevant computer code and launch these drones. 
This scenario can be scaled up arbitrarily to involve, say, 500 million weaponized drones packed into several hundred semi-trucks strategically positioned around the world. The result could be a global catastrophe that brings civilization to its knees — no less than a nuclear terrorism attack or an engineered pandemic caused by a designer pathogen would severely disrupt modern life. As Benjamin Wittes and Gabriella Blum put it in their captivating book “The Future of Violence,” we are heading toward an era of distributed offensive capabilities that is unlike anything our species has ever before encountered.
What sort of person might actually want to do this, though? Unfortunately, there are many types of people who would willingly destroy humanity. The list includes apocalyptic terrorists, psychopaths, psychotics, misanthropes, ecoterrorists, anarcho-primitivists, eco-anarchists, violent technophobes, militant neo-Luddites and even “morally good people” who maintain, for ethical reasons, that human suffering is so great that we would be better off not existing at all. Given the dual technology trends mentioned above, all it could take later this century is a single person or group to unilaterally end the great experiment called civilization forever.
It is considerations like these that have led risk scholars — some at top universities around the world — to specify disturbingly high probabilities of global disaster in the future. For example, the philosopher John Leslie claims that humanity has a 30 percent chance of extinction in the next five centuries. Less optimistically, an “informal” survey of experts at a conference hosted by Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute puts the probability of human extinction before 2100 at 19 percent. And Lord Martin Rees, co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge University, argues that civilization has no better than a 50-50 likelihood of enduring into the next century.
To put this number in perspective, it means that the average American is about 4,000 times more likely to witness civilization implode than to die in an “air and space transport accident.” A child born today has a good chance of living to see the collapse of civilization, according to our best estimates.
Returning to religion, recent polls show that a huge portion of religious people believe that the end of the world is imminent. For example, a 2010 survey found that 41 percent of Christians in the U.S. believe that Jesus will either “definitely” or “probably” return by 2050. Similarly, 83 percent of Muslims in Afghanistan and 72 percent in Iraq claim that the Mahdi, Islam’s end-of-days messianic figure, will return within their lifetimes. The tragedy here, from a scientific perspective, is that such individuals are worried about the wrong apocalypse! Much more likely are catastrophes, calamities and cataclysms that cause unprecedented (and pointless) human suffering in a universe without any external source of purpose or meaning. At the extreme, an existential risk could tip our species into the eternal grave of extinction.
In a sense, though, religious people and scientists agree: We are in a unique moment of human history, one marked by an exceptionally high probability of disaster. The difference is that, for religious people, utopia stands on the other side of the apocalypse, whereas for scientists, there is nothing but darkness. To be clear, the situation is not by any means hopeless. In fact, there is hardly a threat before us — from climate change to the sixth mass extinction, from apocalyptic terrorism to a superintelligence takeover — that is inevitable. But without a concerted collective effort to avert catastrophe, the future could be as bad as any dystopian sci-fi writer has imagined.
Parts of this article draw from my forthcoming book “Morality, Foresight, and Human Flourishing: An Introduction to Existential Risks.”

Press link for more:

The Science that reveals #ClimateChange is Sound. #auspol 

Valley Voice: The science that reveals climate change is sound

By Dwight Fine 

In his April 10 Valley Voice, “Another opinion on climate science,” Larry Wilhelmsen expresses skepticism over climate change and bases that skepticism, in part, on a petition signed by “31,000 people with various science-related degrees,” and on two publications by atmospheric scientists. 

This illustrates the denialist techniques of “fake experts” and “magnified minority.”
The “petition signed by 31,000 scientists” has long since been discredited. 

The petition was sent out by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, a small group calling itself a research organization. 

Anyone with a bachelors degree or higher in a science-related field was invited to sign. 

Examination of the signatures showed that only about 0.1% of the signers had ever had any involvement with climate science research.

I do not feel that my own Ph.D. in chemistry qualifies me to speak with authority on climatology; instead, I look for the consensus of scientists who have actually done research in the field and have published their results in peer-reviewed journals.

Studies of publications of climatologists have been carried out at Queensland University, the University of Chicago and Princeton University. These studies examined some 12,000 publications.

 The average for the studies showed that 97 percent of climate scientists supported the hypothesis that global warming is real and mainly induced by human activity.

Furthermore, some 30 major scientific societies such as the American Chemical, Physical and Geological Societies have now endorsed this hypothesis, as have the national science academies of 80 countries. Are we to believe that all of these scientists, societies and academies are engaged in a gigantic conspiracy to perpetrate a hoax?
Wilhelmsen states that climate has changed forever and that advocates of human-induced climate change have stopped calling it global warming because warming was stopping. Stopping? 2016 was the warmest year on record, according to data reported by NASA and NOAA, and 15 of the 16 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. Yes, the climate has always changed, but it has never changed at such an abrupt rate as we are observing now. The term ”climate change” came into use so as to be more inclusive of events other than increased surface temperatures.
Such events include:

1) increased severity of blizzards, tornadoes, flooding and wildfires;

2) sea level rise;

3) warming of oceans and increasing acidification of ocean waters due to increased concentrations of carbonic acid; this has led to extensive destruction of coral reefs;

4) declining Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets;

5) declining Arctic sea ice – we now have cruise ships sailing the once impenetrable Northwest Passage;

6) retreating of glaciers in the Himalayas, Andes, Alps, Rockies and Alaska.

As to the “pleasures” we owe to fossil fuels the Wilhelmsen referenced, such pleasures are becoming limited. Reserves of coal and oil are finite and non-renewable, and these fuels become increasingly difficult, expensive and hazardous to extract as reserves are depleted. Landscapes are littered with abandoned strip mines and oilfields, often laden with toxic chemicals. Renewable energy would seem to offer far greater potential in the way of jobs and development.
For readers confused by denialist rhetoric in regard to climate change, I recommend the websites and skeptical
Dwight Fine is a retired research chemist living in Palm Springs. Email him at

Press link for more: Elpaso Times

Aging & Climate Change: Graying Green #auspol 

Mike Smyer is on a fellowship on climate change and aging at Stanford University. (Photo: Patrick Beaudouin)
It’s a common misconception: Older adults don’t care about climate change.

 Why? Because they won’t be around long enough to experience the results, the misguided thinking goes.
Mick Smyer has stepped inside the eye of the storm to reverse this myth.
It began with Hurricane Katrina, which devastated his hometown of New Orleans in 2005. 

Then it was the birth of twin grandsons in 2015, who deserve a planet free from devastating weather events.
After that, Smyer knew exactly how he’d spend his yearlong civic innovation fellowship with Stanford’s design school.
But first he had to overcome some human obstacles.
“I thought I’d work with hundreds of other people who were working at the intersection of two global patterns,” aging and climate change, he said.
He quickly learned there were only a handful of people straddling the two worlds. 

So he launched the website Graying Green to help foster a social movement that would “energize older adults around what is arguably our most important issue.”
And where others – including climate change scientists – only saw tired victims, Smyer saw possibilities. “It’s an important, growing and largely untapped demographic,” he adds.
What Can I Do?
Smyer has so far interviewed 400 adults over 60 using his simple, three-step Graying Green engagement process. 

Most are from California or Colorado.
First, he asks them to select a special place they love, then imagine it being affected by extreme weather. 

“It sidesteps the politics,” said Smyer, 66. “Everybody has a place they care about.”
Next, Smyer asks them to sort climate-change action cards into three piles: what they’re already doing about it, what they might do, and things they’ll never do.
“It’s kind of odd, but people like doing this,” he said. “It’s important to acknowledge the things they’re already doing.”
Finally, comes the commitment contract. Smyer asks the participants to commit to one of the actions in their “might” pile. He may even suggest a commitment website like StickK.
What if they don’t follow through? Bad news. They must commit to donating money to a cause they dislike, like the campaign of an opposing candidate.
“I’m delighted to see how many things I’m already doing, but I’m even more delighted to see what my next step is,” quoted Smyer of a typical response. “And that’s the point. Helping people see the next step on their journey.”
Show Me the Future
In 2015, Santa Cruz marine scientist Susanne Moser led a team who installed a 360-degree climate change viewer on the Mill Valley-Sausalito Multi-Use Path in Marin County. For 14 weeks, observers used the viewer to see the future influence of climate change on the landscape.
Besides envisioning water three feet higher, other possible futures included a sea wall to protect against flooding — one that completely blocked their view — and a levee with a bikeway. All would dramatically change the landscape.
The installation tallied more than 3,700 views, with 150 participants leaving audio feedback after their peek into the future.
“Amazing messages,” said Moser. “Some of them quite emotional.”
Moser says those who began the interactive session with the least concern about climate change did an abrupt turnaround: “They were the most likely to want to engage and make an impact in the community.” The experiment is summarized in the paper “Never Too Old to Care: Reaching an Untapped Cohort.” 
Others are exploring the intersection of aging and climate change.
University of California, Berkeley, associate professor Greg Niemeyer is pairing 130 Berkeley middle school and Stanford earth-sciences students with older adults to record their observations about climate change. The three-minute videos will be posted on YouTube.
In 2011, Canada’s Simon Fraser University hosted the conference titled, “Growing Old in a Changing Climate.”
At a recent conference hosted by Physicians for Social Responsibility addressing the health effects of climate change, the average age of participants in conference work groups was 74.
The Lessons of Fracking
Smyer and others are taking a cue from another important environmental movement: the fight against fracking.
“It’s very inspirational to see how elders have played a major role in this movement,” said Wenonah Hauter, founder of Food & Water Watch. 
The controversial fracking process involves shooting jets of water into the earth to release trapped oil and gas. Environmentalists have said that the practice may contribute to groundwater contamination or other health hazards.
Hauter said older adults have been integral to the movement because they offer three important attributes: wisdom, life experience and time.
“There is a huge momentum in this movement,” she stated. “And I can tell you, elders are playing an important role.”
The myth that older adults don’t care about climate change is parodied in a humorous video by the website Funny or Die featuring Hollywood celebrities like Ed Asner and Cloris Leachman. “You know why I don’t care about climate change?” jokes actor M. Emmett Walsh. “Because I’ll be dead, silly.”
The truth, said Smyer, is that older adults are both worried and confused.
“They’re concerned about it, but they don’t know what to do about it,” he stressed, citing a common reply: “I have time and talent, but I don’t know what to use it on.”
Military Support
Most recently, climate change opponents have been empowered by President Donald Trump and new Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt, both climate change deniers. Yet even some fervent right-wing organizations believe humans are responsible for rising temperatures.
In 2009, the U.S. military officially acknowledged the reality of climate change. Not only will climate change create greater global instability, say officials, but refueling fossil fuel tankers puts American troops at greater risk.
The American public is largely concerned as well.
A shocking map [] from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication shows that a majority of citizens in nearly every county in the United States believe that climate change is occurring.
Smyer has a diverse and extensive background – he has worked as a clinical psychologist, and been the head of the Center on Aging & Work at Boston College and provost at Bucknell University.

Today, he’s trying to save the world from the effects of climate change by uncovering heroes: “Giving back is elders’ superpower.”
Matt Perry wrote this article for California Health Report’s “Aging With Dignity” website with the support of a journalism fellowship from New America Media, the Gerontological Society of America and the Silver Century Foundation.

Press link for more:

Climate Change is Rapidly Accelerating! #auspol #Qldpol 

Climate change is rapidly accelerating. 

By  Paul Dawson

Data shows 16 of the world’s 17 hottest years have occurred since 2000. 

Carbon dioxide concentrations have accelerated to the highest levels in human history. 

There is no natural explanation for this. 

Scientists and models may have been too conservative in the past. 

The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, heat waves, droughts, flooding and wildfires are all accelerating. So are health effects from climate change, such as heat stress, air pollution and infectious diseases. Oceans are warming about 13 percent faster than previously thought and the destruction of coral reefs is happening at a rate that scientists didn’t expect for another 30 years.

The Arctic is warming at two to four times the rate as the rest of the planet.

 Sea ice is melting from above and below and is very shallow. Greenland ice sheets are also quickly melting and are increasing global sea levels. As the Arctic warms and loses its ice, it absorbs more solar radiation and warming accelerates. This produces more water vapor, a greenhouse gas. In addition, the Arctic permafrost melts and some of the abundant greenhouse gases (GHG) of methane and carbon dioxide from organic materials in the frozen soil are released into the atmosphere. In time, humanity’s release of GHG may be small in comparison to the natural release mechanisms of the GHG from the ocean, wetlands, soils, and permafrost of the Arctic. But this tipping point has not been reached yet.

Many Americans seem to lack a sense of urgency in dealing with climate change. 

A few years ago, mankind used chlorofluorocarbons as refrigerants and in aerosol dispensers and these chemicals reacted with ozone to create a hole in the ozone layer of the atmosphere. The ozone layer absorbs harmful solar ultraviolet radiation. Thankfully, the countries respected scientific findings and agreed to stop using the damaging chemicals. Now, ozone is filling in the opening and the ozone crisis has ended.
Fortunately, renewable energy can now compete economically with fossil fuel energy, especially if energy subsidies were removed. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that global energy subsidies, including the social and environmental costs associated with heavily subsidized fossil fuels, are costing the world’s governments upward of $5 trillion annually. This figure includes over $700 billion in subsidies to U.S. fossil fuel companies. This is equivalent to every American giving fossil fuel corporations $2,180 annually in the form of taxes. This is absurd and shocking. The IMF said that ending subsidies for fossil fuels would cut global carbon emissions by 20 percent.
Let’s end energy subsidies. 

Let’s reverse carbon and methane emissions.

 Let’s support the Paris Agreement and make climate change a high priority for us and for our elected officials. 

Please join the People’s Climate March on Saturday, April 29.
Paul Dawson is an emeritus professor of engineering at Boise State University, specializing in the thermal sciences, atmospheric science and renewable energy.

The People’s Climate March in Idaho, hosted by Idaho Sierra Club, will be at noon Saturday, April 29, at the Idaho Capitol in Boise. Call (208) 384-1023 for details.

Press link for more: Idaho Statesman

CO2 the ever increasing driver of global warming! #auspol #qldpol 

The primary driver of global warming, disruptive climate changes and ocean acidification is the ever-increasing amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

By Barry Saxifrage

Despite decades of global efforts towards climate policies, clean energy and efficiency, CO2 levels continue to rise and are actually accelerating upwards.

 For those of us hoping for signs of climate progress, this most critical and basic climate data is bitter news indeed.

 It shows humanity racing ever more rapidly into a full-blown crisis for both our climate and our oceans.
That’s the story told by the newest CO2 data released by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Let’s take a look….
Even the increases are increasing

Even the increases are increasing

Annual CO2 increase in atmosphere

My first chart, above, shows NOAA’s CO2 data thru 2016.
Each vertical bar shows how much the level of CO2 in the atmosphere increased that year. You can see at a glance how the annual changes keep getting larger.
Indeed, the last two years (dark orange) saw CO2 rise by three parts-per-million (3 ppm) for the first time ever recorded.
And the relentless upwards march of CO2 is even more clear in the ten-year averages.
Annual atmospheric CO2 increases. Ten-year averages.

My second chart shows these ten-year average increases as yellow columns. Up, up, up.
NOAA’s press release highlighted the “unprecedented” CO2 rise in last two years.
The scientists also pointed out that 2016 “was a record fifth consecutive year that carbon dioxide (CO2) rose by 2 ppm or greater.” Those last five years also broke a new record by exceeding +2.5 ppm per year for the first time.
I’ve included both the new five-year record and the new two-year record as black bars on the chart. All told, we’ve managed to pull off the triple crown of climate failure. The last ten years, five years and two years have all smashed records for CO2 increases.
If humanity is making climate progress, someone forgot to tell the atmosphere about it.
I thought we were making progress on CO2, what’s going on?
Recently the climate press has been buzzing about a hopeful CO2 report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA estimates that fossil fuel CO2 didn’t increase in either 2015 or 2016. Even better, they point out, this is the first time that has happened while the global economy expanded. I was curious how to reconcile this plateau in fossil fuel CO2 with the continued acceleration of atmospheric CO2. Here’s what I found:
Fossil fuel CO2 might be increasing.

 The IEA numbers might be wrong. 

They rely on nations to accurately report their fossil fuel use.

 Not all of them do, especially when it comes to burning their own coal supplies. 

In fact, the lack of a system to accurately verify national CO2 claims was a key issue in the Paris Climate Accord discussions.

 The worry is that as nations face increasing pressure and scrutiny around their CO2, the incentives to cook the books will increase.

 Incorrect accounting of just one percent globally could switch the storyline from “hopeful plateau” to “continuing acceleration”. 

The IEA devotes two chapters of their “CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion” report to the various issues impacting data accuracy.

Humans might be increasing CO2 emissions from other sectors. 

Roughly a quarter of the CO2 released by humans comes from non-energy sources not covered in the EIA numbers. These include land use changes, agriculture, deforestation, fugitive emissions, industrial processes, solvents and waste.

 We could be increasing CO2 from these.

Climate change might be increasing CO2 emissions. 

Increases in wildfires, droughts, melting permafrost — as well as changes to plankton and oceans — can all cause sustained increases in CO2 emissions. And climate change is affecting all of these. Perhaps some of these changes are underway.

The oceans and biosphere might be absorbing less of our CO2. Much of the CO2 humans release gets taken up by the oceans (ocean acidification) and the biosphere (increased plant growth). Some climate models predict these “CO2 sinks” will lose their ability to keep up. If that is starting to happen, then dumping the same amount of CO2 into the atmosphere will result in increasing amounts staying there.

Unfortunately we don’t have good enough measurements to say what the mix of these factors is. However, what we can accurately measure is the CO2 level in our atmosphere. That’s the CO2 number we have to stop from rising because it is what drives global warming, climate changes and ocean acidification. Sadly, it’s also the CO2 number that shows no sign of slowing down yet.
Out burping the ice age
NOAA’s press release also provided some perspective on how historically extreme our atmosphere’s CO2 increases have been:
“… the rate of CO2 growth over the last decade is 100 to 200 times faster than what the Earth experienced during the transition from the last Ice Age. This is a real shock to the atmosphere.”
For context, during the last ice age all of Canada was buried beneath a massive northern ice cap. The ice was two miles thick over the Montreal region, and a mile thick over Vancouver. So much water was locked up in ice that global sea levels were 125 meters (410 feet) lower. We are talking a lot of ice and a radically different climate.
Recent research reveals that:
“… a giant ‘burp’ of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the North Pacific Ocean helped trigger the end of last ice age, around 17,000 years ago.”
Just how big of a CO2 ‘burp’ did it take to help heat the frigid global climate, eliminate the continent-spanning ice sheets and raise sea levels by hundreds of feet? Around 80 to 100 ppm — the same amount we’ve belched into our atmosphere just since 1960. We did it 100 times faster than that so-called “burp” and we are still accelerating the rate we pump it out.
I’ve added the ice-age-ending ‘burp’ rate as a red line on the chart above. Look for it way down at the bottom. Such incredible climate altering power from even small CO2 increases shows why we must reverse the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Adding it up: the rising level of CO2 in our atmosphere
So far we’ve only been looking at annual increases in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It’s an important metric to evaluate whether we’re making any progress against climate pollution. But what actually drives the greenhouse effect is the total amount that has accumulated in our atmosphere over time. So let’s take a look at that.
Here’s my next chart showing atmospheric carbon dioxide as a solid blue line. Just for interest, I’ve also included a series of dotted lines showing how quickly CO2 was increasing in each of the last few decades. I’ve extended each of those out to 2030 so you can see at a glance how the CO2 curve keeps bending relentlessly upwards, decade after decade.

Accelerating towards the 450 ppm ‘guardrail’
Every major nation in the world has agreed that climate change must be limited to a maximum of +2oC in global warming. Beyond that point we risk destabilizing droughts, floods, mega-storms, heat waves, food shortages, climate extremes and irreversible tipping points. The best climate science says that staying below +2oC means we can’t exceed 450 ppm of CO2.
At the top of the chart I’ve highlighted this critical climate ‘guardrail’ of 450 ppm as a red line.
Notice how much faster we are approaching that danger line as the decades go by. Back in 1970, it seemed we had more than a century and a half to get a grip on climate pollution because CO2 was increasing much more slowly. But at our current rate we will blow through that guardrail in just 18 years. And, as we’ve seen, our “current rate” keeps accelerating.
Our foot-dragging at reducing climate pollution has left us in a dangerous situation with little time left to act. We’ve spent decades accelerating CO2 emissions to unprecedented extremes. We’ve blown our chance to deal gracefully with the climate and ocean crisis.
Global efforts so far
Beginning in 1995, the world’s nations have gathered every year to address the climate crisis. I’ve included all 22 of these annual meetings of the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) on the chart above. Despite these decades of negotiations, plans, protocols and accords, CO2 is now increasing 60 per cent faster than when they first met.
Instead of slowing the rise of CO2, we’ve accelerated it.
What would Plan B for 2C look like?
Recently, two of the world’s premier energy agencies — International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) — produced a joint report that tries to answer that question. Here’s the blunt summary:
“Limiting the global mean temperature rise to below 2°C with a probability of 66% would require an energy transition of exceptional scope, depth and speed. Energy-related CO2 emissions would need to peak before 2020 and fall by more than 70% from today’s levels by 2050 … An ambitious set of policy measures, including the rapid phase out of fossil fuel subsidies, CO2 prices rising to unprecedented levels, extensive energy market reforms, and stringent low-carbon and energy efficiency mandates would be needed to achieve this transition. Such policies would need to be introduced immediately and comprehensively across all countries … with CO2 prices reaching up to US dollars (USD) 190 per tonne of CO2.”
And here is their key chart showing annual energy-related CO2 emissions. Note the 50 percent surge since 1990 … and the need to reverse it by 2030.

Press link for more: National Observer

Carbon dioxide levels rising at record pace. #auspol #science 

Carbon dioxide levels rose at record pace for 2nd straight year | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Carbon dioxide levels measured at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Baseline Atmospheric Observatory rose by 3 parts per million to 405.1 parts per million (ppm) in 2016, an increase that matched the record jump observed in 2015.
The two-year, 6-ppm surge in the greenhouse gas between 2015 and 2017 is unprecedented in the observatory’s 59-year record. And, it was a record fifth consecutive year that carbon dioxide (CO2) rose by 2 ppm or greater, said Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network.
“The rate of CO2 growth over the last decade is 100 to 200 times faster than what the Earth experienced during the transition from the last Ice Age,” Tans said. “This is a real shock to the atmosphere.”
Globally averaged CO2 levels passed 400 ppm in 2015 — a 43-percent increase over pre-industrial levels. In February 2017, CO2 levels at Mauna Loa had already climbed to 406.42 ppm.

This graph shows the annual mean carbon dioxide growth rates observed at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Baseline Atmospheric Observatory.

This graph shows the annual mean carbon dioxide growth rates observed at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Baseline Atmospheric Observatory. Further information can be found on the ESRL Global Monitoring Division website. (NOAA)

Measurements are independently validated
NOAA has measured CO2 on site at the Mauna Loa observatory since 1974. To ensure accuracy, air samples from the mountaintop research site in Hawaii are shipped to NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, for verification. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which first began sampling CO2 at Mauna Loa in 1956, also takes independent measurements onsite.
Emissions from fossil-fuel consumption have remained at historically high levels since 2011 and are the primary reason atmospheric CO2 levels are increasing at a dramatic rate, Tans said. This high growth rate of CO2 is also being observed at some 40 other sites in NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network.
The greenhouse effect, explained
Carbon dioxide is one of several gases that are primarily responsible for trapping heat in the atmosphere. This “greenhouse effect” maintains temperatures suitable for life on Earth. Increasing CO2 levels trap additional heat in the atmosphere and the oceans, contributing to rising global average temperatures.
Atmospheric CO2 averaged about 280 ppm between about 10,000 years ago and the start of the Industrial Revolution around 1760.

Press link for more: NOAA

The Crazy Climate Technofix #auspol 

by Mark White
Illustrations by Bren Luke 
Earth’s climate has been edging towards a scene usually reserved for a post-apocalyptic movie.

 Some posit geoengineering as a radical fix to climate change.

 Others say the risks are too high and its proponents mad. 

Welcome to the debate where science fiction meets climate science.

If you visit a block of land near the West Australian dairy town of Harvey in a few years’ time, you will see a few pipes sticking out of the ground, a solar panel and an aerial for communications devices. 

There may be a hut and some room for parking.
These will be the only visible signs of the South West Hub project, designed to test the feasibility of pumping megatonnes of carbon dioxide into the vast Wonnerup sandstone layer, a kilometre-and-a-half deep beneath the Jarrah-Marri trees on the surface.
The gas will be liquefied in a nearby compressor building – an anonymous farm shed – and transported to the injection site via underground pipes.
Wonnerup is an example of carbon capture and storage, one of a suite of technologies known as geoengineering, or climate engineering.
Geoengineering is a mixed bag, but the idea involves large-scale interventions at the level of the whole planet, with the goal of fixing the climate.

 It’s tricky, dangerous, and largely considered “fringe science”.
The proposals come in two main flavours. 

One is carbon dioxide removal, which strips the gas from the atmosphere and slowly restores atmospheric balance.

 A mix of techniques would be needed: hundreds of factories like Wonnerup, billions of new trees and plants, plus contentious technologies such as artificially encouraging the growth of plankton.
The second is solar radiation management, intended to cool the Earth by stopping the sun’s heat from reaching the planet’s surface. 

That can be achieved by pumping minute particles into the atmosphere, but carries the risk of killing billions of people.
Right now, we don’t have the tools or the knowledge to deploy these fixes. 

But some prominent climate scientists argue that as carbon emissions continue to rise, geoengineering will have to be employed to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Last December’s meeting of world leaders in Paris produced a voluntary agreement to try to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5C over pre-industrial levels, and to not exceed 2C – the widely agreed level of devastating heat increase.

 But agreement and actual efforts didn’t seem to go hand in hand.

“The roar of devastating global storms has now drowned the false cheer from Paris,” a team of 11 climate scientists wrote in a January letter to The Independent, “and brutally brought into focus the extent of our failure to address climate change. 

The unfortunate truth is that things are going to get much worse.”
University of Cambridge Professor Peter Wadhams says: “Other things being equal, I’m not a great fan of geoengineering, but I think it absolutely necessary given the situation we’re in. 

It’s a sticking plaster solution. 

But you need it, because looking at the world, nobody’s instantly changing their pattern of life.”
Since then, temperatures have been soaring month after month, we’ve learned that the Great Barrier Reef is in extremely poor health and bleaching rapidly, while new quests continue to unearth more fossil fuels.
As we’re failing to keep the planet pleasant and habitable for future generations, could we instead fix the climate with technology? 
With geoengineering?
Debate about geoengineering in Australia is “almost being avoided”, according to Professor David Karoly, a noted atmospheric scientist at the University of Melbourne.

 He is a member of the Climate Change Authority, which advises the federal government, and was involved in preparing the 2007 IPCC report on global warming.
“There’s very little discussion on it in terms of government circles, there’s very little research on it, there’s very little discussion of it in what might be called mainstream science,” Professor Karoly says.

Policymakers are including geoengineering in their plans, but many technologies are still unproven and potentially dangerous.
“You’ll generally find among climate scientists that almost all are opposed to geoengineering,” says Professor Jim Falk, of the University of Melbourne’s Sustainable Society Institute. 

“They’re already pretty concerned about what we’ve done to the climate and don’t want to start stuffing around doing other things we only half-understand on a grand scale.”
When the US National Academy of Science launched a report last year analysing geoengineering options, committee head Marcia McNutt, a geophysicist, was asked if any should be deployed. 

She replied “Gosh, I hope not”.
The report considered carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation management so risky it used the term “climate intervention” instead of geoengineering, arguing the term “engineering” implied a level of control that doesn’t exist.
But the IPCC has considered scenarios where such engineering would be necessary: its 2014 assessment report mentions bio-energy carbon capture and storage (known as BECCS), where plant fuel is burned and the resulting carbon dioxide buried.
And the Paris Agreement noted there would be need for a “balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases” in 2050-2100.
“A few years ago, these exotic Dr Strangelove options were discussed only as last-ditch contingencies,” wrote Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, of the Paris talks in Nature magazine.
“Now they are Plan A.”

The term “geoengineering” raises the spectre of a James Bond villain cackling in his lair and planning to make volcanoes erupt at the push of a button. And that’s quite fitting, given that one approach to solar radiation management consists of mimicking the fallout from such giant explosions.
Treating the problem like an outlandish movie script may be the only way of comprehending the scale of the challenge. To reduce atmospheric CO2 levels by 1ppm – approaching the volume needed to stabilise global temperature – requires the withdrawal of 18 gigatonnes of gas, the equivalent of 18,000 South West Hub plants running for a year.
Tim Flannery, the former Australian of the Year who helped raise the profile of climate change, is vocal in supporting some geoengineering approaches. He prefers the less-toxic term “Third Way technologies”, based on the Earth’s natural processes.
Flannery says those which work at the gigatonne scale – the only ones which will dent the problem – may take decades to be developed.
“The only way you can get to a Paris-like outcome is by slamming hard on emissions,” he says, “reducing them as fast as humanly possible as well as investing now in these technologies that’ll give you these gigatonne gains in 20 or 30 years time.”
”The question for most of these technologies is – we don’t know if they work. But we need them to work.”
Flannery says solar-radiation management approaches should be treated with great caution, as they mask the problem: they will reduce the temperature, but not affect rising CO2 levels, leaving the oceans ever more acidic. That could see a catastrophic loss of reefs and oceanic life, devastating the aquatic food chain.
Ironically, one of the reasons the atmosphere isn’t already at a 2C warming mark, says Professor Karoly, is due to the aerosols already in the atmosphere – an unintentional form of solar radiation management.
He says the current best estimate of stabilising the temperature at that level, with a 50 per cent likelihood, is for a carbon equivalent reading of 420-480ppm. The current figure is 481ppm, and rising at 3ppm per year.
Solar radiation management – deliberate and large scale – might buy time in an emergency, says Flannery. “There’s a broad highway to hell that’s easy to go down and it’s really cheap, relatively. It’s instantly effective, nations can do it unilaterally and it gives you a lower temperature.
“But there’s a narrow, crooked, winding path to heaven which is the carbon reduction stuff. It’s at a very early stage, but that actually does solve the problem.”

Once we capture carbon, it can actually be used productively. American researchers have produced carbon nanofibres from atmospheric carbon dioxide – initially only 10g per hour, but they are convinced it could scale.
There could be vast baths of molten chemicals across large swathes of the Sahara Desert, powered by solar radiation, forming layers of a valuable building material on submerged electrodes.
A research project at a California university has gone further, manufacturing a building material dubbed CO2NCRETE from captured carbon dioxide. A pilot plant at Australia’s University of Newcastle is investigating whether a similar process, combining excess CO2 from an Orica plant with minerals to form building materials, has commercial potential.
Flannery is interested in desktop studies on carbon-sucking seaweed and algae, as well as research reporting that carbon dioxide can be made to fall as snow over the Antarctic.

Picture this: the temperature plummeting well below freezing until a blizzard of dry ice cascades onto the barren plains below, each cuboctahedral flake representing a miniscule improvement in carbon levels, to be stored safely – somehow – from warming into a gas and re-entering the air.
“We’re at very, very early days,” Flannery warns. “Various approaches have different favourable aspects to them, but I don’t think any of them are anything like a silver bullet.”
Flannery’s championing of unorthodox technologies – even as avenues for research – isn’t shared by many high-profile climate change campaigners. David Karoly calls Flannery’s interest “surprising”. He deems ideas such as dry ice snowfall in Antarctica as “rather technofix solutions”.
“How do you get sufficient CO2 out of the atmosphere and store it?” asks Professor Karoly. “It’s probably the most inhospitable environment in the world and he’s talking about – if you work out what this equates to, it’s a mountain higher than Everest, the size of a soccer field every year.”
The Paris target of a 1.5C rise is “virtually impossible” without new technologies, he says, which “have not been proved either commercially viable or without major harm”.
“My concern is, the cure might be substantially worse than the disease.”
Clive Hamilton, professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University, who wrote about geoengineering in his 2013 book Earthmasters, is more blunt.
“The schemes [Flannery] proposes are real pie-in-the-sky stuff, way out there,” he says. “He seems to have been sucked in by a kind of strange techno-promise that’ll get us out of this.”

Australian geoengineering research lags far behind the world leaders in the US, UK and Germany. It’s limited to a handful of scientists in Sydney and Hobart, and our major achievement is helping to halt commercial oceanic geoengineering.
The federal government, via its Direct Action policy, focuses on carbon sequestration without the crazy technofix label. Instead it backs land-use practices such as planting new forests, and prioritises soil enhancement, mangrove protection and rainforest recovery.
“There was an enormous groundswell of support for these activities in Paris,” a spokesperson for the Department of the Environment says. “Other actions [in the geoengineering field] would have an enormously high safety bar to cross and are a long way from proof.”
Meanwhile, CSIRO looks set to embark on an expansion of its geoengineering research program, both at land and sea. In a recent memo to staff announcing 350 job cuts at the organisation, CSIRO head Larry Marshall nominated “climate interventions (geo-engineering)” as one area in which it would seek a “step change” in knowledge.
“CSIRO is currently working through the detail of our future climate adaptation and mitigation research, and will include research relevant aspects of onshore and offshore geo-engineering. The scale and scope of this research is still to be determined,” a CSIRO spokesperson told SBS.

Jim Falk categorises geoengineering proposals along various lines, including how big a project needs to be for credible deployment, how big an impact it would have, whether it is reversible, what governance is required, how much it would cost, and the risks involved.
“Then you can say different proposals have different footprints,” Falk says, “and depending on the footprint you can suggest what sort of barriers you would want for their regulations before you would allow an experiment to take place.”
Unlike attempts to reduce global carbon emissions – where everyone must do their part for action to be effective – what scares scientists about solar radiation management is the relative ease of one person launching a planet-wide experiment.
Spraying sulphate particles into the atmosphere from aircraft or balloons is known to reduce temperatures. It mimics what happens when volcanic ash blankets the atmosphere.
There would be spectacular sunsets as solar rays interact with the particles, with brilliant red eddies splashing the evening sky, similar to those in Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream.
And it has been costed at just $US10 billion a year.
One test in August 2008 was conducted on land 500km southeast of Moscow by Yuri Izrael, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s science advisor. He and his team rigged aerosol sprays on a helicopter and car chassis, measuring how solar radiation was retarded at heights up to 200 metres.
“China might decide to pump a load of sulphur into the atmosphere and not tell anyone about it,” says Rosemary Rayfuse, a Law professor at UNSW and a global authority on regulating geoengineering. “Or Australia could do it. Anybody could. That’s the other problem – it’s so easy to do.”
Billionaires Bill Gates and Richard Branson could step forward, says Anita Talberg, a PhD student in the governance of climate engineering at the University of Melbourne. Both support geoengineering and have funded research.
“They could just decide suddenly, ‘I could do enough benefit for the poor and vulnerable in the world, I could just do it and save them from the climate crisis.’”
Such a move could be catastrophic, most immediately due to the risk of drought in the tropics, devastating the food security of billions of people. Those colourful sunsets are projected to see lower rainfall.
The sky will bleach white during the day, while ozone depletes in the tropics – where most of the world’s population live. As the temperature falls, levels of UV radiation will rise, leading to an upsurge in skin cancers.

Professor Andy Pitman, of the Climate Change Research Centre in Sydney, is a member of the World Climate Research Program.
The only role he sees for sulphate injection is alongside steep cuts in carbon emissions. “If people are talking about it as a substitute for that, the technical term you’d use is ‘cloud cuckoo land’.”
But he hopes it’s never necessary.
“God, I hope not. We have a well-studied problem called global warming – we’re not sure of every detail – that would breach every ethics experiment on the planet if you proposed it as an experiment.
“All those problems relate to solar radiation management and I’d suggest any country that tried it at any significant level would find itself in every court in the world.”
There are smaller-scale approaches, he says, without the “ethical problems”. One is painting roofs white to reflect sun, a backyard approach anyone can try, and which would help cool interiors during hot summer days.
Another is genetically modified crops with a higher reflectivity, with variations as simple as leaves that are hairier or have a waxier coating.
Harvard University’s Professor David Keith is leading more research into solar radiation management, arguing in a 2015 paper that the technique could be used in a “temporary, moderate and responsive scenario”.
“Even if we make deep emissions cuts, it might be that the benefits of solar geoengineering outweigh the risks,” he tells SBS. “Or maybe not. To know, we have to decide to learn more.”

The belief in a technical solution – that because we have to find something, we will – has psychological roots in an effect known as ‘optimism bias’, says Melbourne psychologist Dr Susie Burke, who has expertise on issues relating to the environment, climate change and natural disasters.
“It’s intrinsic to humans to be optimistically biased,” she says, “and it’s great because it gets us out of bed in the morning and gives us a healthy motivation. But with respect to climate change, it means we end up minimising our personal risk and even risks that pertain to us – and believing the worst problems will happen to other people, somewhere else or into the future.”
She adds, “With the general population who are struggling to make significant changes to their lifestyle, deep down there is a belief that someone, somewhere will come up with something to solve the problem.”
Even talking about geoengineering carries the risk of “moral hazard”, that a solution to rocketing carbon emissions means they can continue unabated. That scenario troubles many.
“There’s a moral hazard in not discussing these things as well,” says Tim Flannery, “because we know we’re going to need them.”
The worst-case scenario – international agreements fail to stop emissions from rising – would force the use of extreme measures. Clive Hamilton thinks sulphate injection is the most likely use of geoengineering, though not yet.
“If we have a series of years where there are catastrophic droughts, heatwaves and hurricanes which cause massive impacts in several countries – also tipping points, so permafrost is now irreversibly melting – what kind of political and geostrategic environment are we going to be facing?” he asks.
“I think in that kind of scenario – which is not just possible but fairly likely – certain scientists promising they can rapidly reduce the earth’s temperature within a year or two are going to start looking increasingly attractive to some nations.”
Andy Pitman says that could lead to war: “You can imagine a situation – and it’s not too far-fetched – where country X starts a major campaign around sulphur injections into the atmosphere, country Y’s rainfall dramatically declines and is going into serious long-term famine, and that instigated a military response.”
And if carbon emissions continued to rise, the sulphate injection would have to be continuous. Otherwise, the particles would drop out of the atmosphere, leading to a sudden, highly disruptive jump in temperature.
If a war, say, or a pandemic was responsible for the break in sulphate injection, the compounding effects could be existential. 

Talking of human extinction in such a scenario is not too far-fetched.

The possibilities are less apocalyptic for some form of carbon capture and storage. 

Clive Hamilton identifies land being used by the likes of BECCS – bio-energy carbon capture and storage – to capture carbon as one of the main changes in geoengineering in the last few years.
Plants and trees would be grown for fuel, and the resulting carbon emissions from power generation would be stored away. There’s an example of this in Illinois at an ethanol production plant.
But there are questions over BECCS, not least that “no such economic process [is] available at this point and there may never be”, says Jim Falk.
The sheer amount of land needed is staggering, too. 

In a February 2016 paper in Nature,environmental scientist Philip Williamson estimated that one-third of the world’s arable land (430-580 million hectares of crops) would need planting for BECCS use to limit the temperature rise to 2C by 2100.

This would accelerate deforestation and, given “not unrealistic” assumptions, see carbon emissions actually increase.
Oliver Munnion, of the UK-based BioFuelwatch website, argues that BECCS is more dangerous than solar radiation management.

 “It’s the most outrageous,” he says. “It’s also the favoured approach amongst policy-makers, scientists and industry.
“The idea that we’d harm proven carbon sinks – forests and soils – to create an unproven and untested carbon sink underground is the antithesis of what climate policy should be geared towards.”
The problem facing geoengineering advocates is that most dangerous schemes are possible, but need to be used as a last resort, while the most promising schemes aren’t possible at scale. 

Even if they were, the numbers quickly turn ugly.
In the Nature article, Philip Williamson estimated that growing seaweed as a carbon pool would use nine per cent of the world’s oceans, with unknown environmental impacts.
Utilising the simple solar-radiation management tool of laying a reflective rock on the ground to reduce carbon levels by 12 per cent would need 1-5 kg/sqm of rock to be applied to 15-45 per cent of the earth’s surface, at a total cost of US$60-600 trillion.

That means an area of land at least the size of the old Soviet Union would have to be set aside and the global economy bankrupted.
The further you look, the more improbable geoengineering concepts become. A presentation to the 2016 American Meteorological Conference on Atmospheric Science called for lasers in the sky to microwave and neutralise methane clouds (another greenhouse gas).
UNSW Law professor Rosemary Rayfuse recalls one UK project looking at increasing the reflectivity of the oceans by making white foam, which had to persist for at least three months: “They were proposing to cover the oceans in meringue, which I thought was rather funny!”
David Karoly calls the idea of hanging mirrors in space to reflect sunlight “just stupid”, calculating the need for one million square kilometres of alfoil. Flannery agrees: “Anything that masks the problem, and lets people think they’ve solved it, is a danger.”
Cutting carbon emissions drastically, and now, would start to solve the problem. But that isn’t happening. Campaigners such as Tim Flannery are crossing their fingers that carbon-scrubbing technology we need to take us on “the narrow winding path to heaven” is developed in time.
If neither happens, we’ll be heading down the “broad highway to hell” of having to rely on solar radiation management, where the devil we don’t know is better than a climate gone rogue.
The effects of pumping simulated volcanic fallout into the atmosphere could dwarf the biggest eruptions in history. Start preparing for vivid red sunsets – and an uncertain future

Press link for more: SBS.COM.AU

Deep Oceans Face Starvation by End of Century #climatechange #science #auspol 

Deep Oceans Face Starvation by End of Century

A habitat that covers half the planet. 

Deep-water Hydroid at 1,050 meters (3,450 feet) deep. Photo: Daniel Jones, SERPENT Project, National Oceanography Centre
The deep ocean floor, Earth’s largest habitat, will be starved of food by the end of this century, scientists have warned. 
New research published in the open-access journal Elementa today shows that food supply to some areas of the earth’s deep oceans will decline by up to half by 2100.
Andrew Sweetman of the Lyell Centre for Earth and Marine Science and Technology at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Lisa Levin, a biological oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, and colleagues from 20 of the world’s leading oceanographic research centers used earth system models and projected climate change scenarios to quantify impending changes to deep oceans in the review released Feb. 23.
The team looked at a number of sea and ocean beds, from the Arctic to Antarctic oceans, focusing on bathyal (200-3,000 meter or 650-9,800-foot) and abyssal (3,000-6,000 meter or 9,800-19,700-foot) depths, the areas defined in the paper as deep ocean. As well as measuring how the deep oceans’ food sources will change, the team examined the impact that predicted seabed temperature increases, oxygen level declines, and increasingly acidic seawater will have, under the sea and across the planet.
“The rate of change underway in our oceans is faster than at any point we know of in geological history,” said Sweetman. “Deep seafloor ecosystems provide services that are vitally important to the entire ocean and biosphere; we should all be concerned at what’s happening on our ocean floors. The organic matter cycling that occurs in the deep sea helps to buffer the ocean against pH changes and the effects of ocean acidification.” 
The changes that are projected in the deep ocean, which accounts for more than 95 percent of the volume of the Earth’s oceans, are likely to significantly alter the health and sustainable functioning of the planet over the next couple of centuries.
“Because many deep-sea environments are naturally very stable in terms of environmental conditions, even slight changes in temperature, oxygen, food supply, and pH are likely to significantly lower the resilience of deep-sea communities to the impact of human activity,” said Levin. “These many challenges call for intensified observations of and spatial planning for the deep ocean, coordinated at an international level.” 
Organic compounds produced through primary production – the creation of chemical energy by algae and other phytoplankton through photosynthesis – sink to the deep ocean and make up much of the food supply there. Most of the deep sea currently experiences a severe lack of food, but according to Sweetman and his research team, it is about to receive even less. That’s because the phytoplankton deep sea organisms rely upon are themselves facing a dwindling supply of nutrients in the surface oceans as warming makes waters more stratified.
Sweetman continued: “Abyssal ocean environments, which are over 3,000 meters deep, are some of the most food-deprived regions on the planet. These habitats currently rely on less carbon per square meter each year than is present in a single sugar cube. We’ve shown that large areas of the abyss will have this tiny amount of food halved by 2100. For a habitat that covers half the earth, the impacts of this will be enormous.”
The researchers also describe an imminent, significant temperature increase that will happen at the deepest parts of the ocean.
“Deep-sea ecosystems are not just going to experience a reduction in food, but will likely also experience an increase in ocean temperature of 1°C within 85 years,” said Andrew Thurber, co-author of the study and a professor at Oregon State University. “This is very worrying because increasing temperature will increase the metabolism of animals and microbes that live in the sediment, meaning they will require more food at a time when much less is available.”
The scientists also examined how certain human activity will continue to affect the deep ocean.
Sweetman said the deep sea is fast becoming a target area for increased exploitation of key resources and the dumping of pollutants. Pressure from fishing has led to many deep-sea fish species being severely exploited through trawling and long-lining, with some species having been fished to commercial extinction.
“There is also extensive interest in mineral mining at hydrothermal vent systems along mid ocean ridges, at seamounts and polymetallic nodule areas at abyssal depths, such as the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean,” he added. 
The review is based on a workshop led by Sweetman and funded by the Norwegian Research Council.
Summary of key findings
Over the next 84 years, the highest temperature changes are likely to occur at the abyssal seafloor in the North Atlantic, Southern and Arctic oceans (0.5-1oC). 

Bathyal depths are also likely to experience increasing temperatures of approximately 4 °C in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans.

Bathyal seafloor habitats in the North Pacific, North Atlantic, Arctic and Southern oceans could experience a reduction in bottom-water oxygenation by 0.03–0.05 milliliters per liter by the year 2100, which represents a reduction in water column O2 levels by 0.5–3.7 %.

Ecosystems within and on the fringes of oxygen minimum zones could be particularly affected by the O2 and warming changes predicted for bathyal environments.

Bathyal seafloor habitats in the North Atlantic and the Weddell Sea, Antarctica in other areas of the world´s oceans will also experience a decrease of 0.29 to 0.37 pH units by the year 2100, as a result of the entrainment of CO2-rich seawater to the seafloor at sites of bottom-water formation.

The areas likely to be impacted by significant declines in food supply lie in the North and South Pacific, North and South Atlantic, and North and South Indian oceans. The abyssal and bathyal regions of the Indian Ocean are predicted to experience declines in food supply by as much as 40 percent and 55 percent, respectively by 2100.

– This news release was adapted from an original issued by Heriot-Watt University

Press link for more: Scripps