Keeling Curve

To Take Down Fossil Fuels, We Must Abandon Capitalism #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #ClimateStrike Stop Stealing our children’s future! #ExtinctionRebellion

Dahr Jamail’s latest book bears witness to the destruction of our natural world due to climate change.
Ritesh Chaudhary / Shutterstock

Dahr Jamail, staff writer at Truthout, has been writing about the global emergency of climate change for nearly a decade. In his new book, The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Destruction, which is being released today, Jamail shares his firsthand accounts of returning to beloved spaces in the natural world. He observes the drastic ways in which they’ve been destroyed due to humanity’s relentless burning of fossil fuels, and mourns over how many of them are unlikely to recover over the duration of human existence.

A million fish die in Australia’s Murray-Darling River System

Anton Woronczuk: In bearing witness to the destruction of the natural world, you write about the severe impacts of climate change on several different kinds of ecosystems and landscapes. Instead of The End of Ice,you could’ve as easily chosen The End of Rainforests, The End of Coral or The End of Coastal Cities as a relevant title for your book. Why did you decide on “ice”?

Dahr Jamail: That’s exactly right … we are in an age of loss, and the book could have had any number of titles. I landed on “ice” for two reasons. First, because that is where I personally feel the loss the most, given how much time I spend in the mountains, and where the idea of the book originated. Having lived in Alaska and spent so much time on glaciers there while climbing, that is where I saw how dramatically climate change was already unfolding back in the mid-1990s. The second reason I chose ice was because as we lose glaciers and ice fields, literally hundreds of millions, and even billions of people will be directly impacted by lack of drinking water, lack of water for irrigation for agriculture, and so much more. This is no small thing.

Record breaking drought in Australia

In your accounts about scaling glaciers in Alaska or snorkeling along the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, you reflect on how much has changed since you first visited them. Which was the hardest place to return to? Which was the hardest to leave?

All of it was heartbreaking, from what I see happening on Denali and other glaciers in Alaska that I have long-term relationships with, to the loss of the Great Barrier Reef. But certainly, the moment when I was out of the Great Barrier Reef, it was the last snorkel of the day, and time to head back to land, when my heart broke. It really felt like it was the last time I’d see the reef, and I was saying goodbye. I wept. That year, 30 percent of the reef died from that coral bleaching event I was witnessing. The next year, another bleaching event took out 20 percent of the reef. So, in two years, half of the single largest coral reef on the planet was wiped out from climate change-induced bleaching. That’s why I wept, knowing that was happening, and was only going to continue.

Dahr Jamail.
Via Dahr Jamail

I’m wondering if even more significant changes have occurred in some of the places you’ve written about in The End of Ice.

I could write pages about that. I was updating my scientific reports in my citations up until my final deadline for publishing, and even then, struggling to keep pace with the changes. Since then, intensely dramatic changes have happened.

One example is a study published in Nature [that] showed that over the last quarter century, the oceans have absorbed 60 percent more heat annually than estimated in the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. The study underscored that the globe’s oceans have, in fact, already absorbed 93 percent of all the heat humans have added to the atmosphere, that the climate system’s sensitivity to greenhouse gases is far higher than thought, and that planetary warming is far more advanced than had previously been grasped.

Thousands of flying foxes die from heat exhaustion Cairns Australia

To give you an idea of how much heat the oceans have absorbed: if that heat had instead gone into the atmosphere, the global temperature would be 97 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than it is today. For those who think that there are still 12 years left to change things, the question posed by a sea level rise expert in my book seems painfully apt: How do we remove all the heat that’s already been absorbed by the oceans?

Two weeks after that Nature article came out, a study in Scientific Reports warned that the extinction of animal and plant species, thanks to climate change, could lead to a “domino effect” that might, in the end, annihilate life on the planet. It suggested that organisms will die out at increasingly rapid rates because they depend on other species that are also on their way out. It’s a process the study calls “co-extinction.”

A common thread throughout your book is that the fate of our ecosystems and the many ecological sites you visited has been decided. This seems to be in marked contrast with mainstream wisdom, which says that humanity can prevent a climate-induced catastrophe as long as we make major changes within a decade or so. Why do you think this discrepancy exists?

Global capitalism, neoliberal economics and the power structure depend upon things continuing as they are. The only real chance at mitigation of the impacts from climate change that are now entrenched in the climate system, would have been to abandon capitalism and enact something akin to the New Green Deal back when NASA’s James Hansen sounded the alarm about climate change to Congress in the 1980s. A radical restructuring of the entire fossil-fuel based economy means those who have all the power today would be rendered obsolete. The current hierarchy would have to be obliterated. And so, in short, power never concedes power willingly.

Press link for more: Truth Out

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Are We Living Through Climate Change’s Worst-Case Scenario? #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion Demand a #GreenNewDeal

“We’re a lot closer than we should be,” one Stanford scientist warned.

Smoke and steam billow from Belchatow Power Station in Poland, the site of the UN’s 2018 climate conference.Kacper Pempel / Reuters

The year 2018 was not an easy one for planet Earth.

Sure, wind and solar energy kept getting cheaper, and an electric car became America’s best-selling luxury vehicle. But the most important metric of climatic health—the amount of heat-trapping gas entering the atmosphere—got suddenly and shockingly worse.

In the United States, carbon emissions leapt back up, making their largest year-over-year increase since the end of the Great Recession.

This matched the trend across the globe. According to two major studies, greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide shot up in 2018—accelerating like a “speeding freight train,” as one scientist put it.

U.S. emissions do remain 11 percent below their 2007 peak, but that is one of the few bright spots in the data. Global emissions are now higher than ever. And the 2018 statistics are all the more dismal because greenhouse-gas emissions had previously seemed to be slowing or even declining, both in the United States and around the world.

Many economists expect carbon emissions to drop somewhat throughout the next few decades. But maybe they won’t.

If 2018 is any indication, meekly positive energy trends will not handily reduce emissions, even in developed economies like the United States. It raises a bleak question: Are we currently on the worst-case scenario for climate change?

“We’re actually a lot closer than we should be; I can say that with confidence,” says Rob Jackson, an Earth scientist at Stanford and the chair of the Global Carbon Project, which leads the research tracking worldwide emissions levels.

Read: How to understand the UN’s dire new climate report

When climate scientists want to tell a story about the future of the planet, they use a set of four standard scenarios called “representative concentration pathways,” or RCPs. RCPs are ubiquitous in climate science, appearing in virtually any study that uses climate models to investigate the 21st century. They’ve popped up in research about subjects as disparate as southwestern mega-droughts, future immigration flows to Europe, and poor nighttime sleep quality.

Each RCP is assigned a number that describes how the climate will fare in the year 2100. Generally, a higher RCP number describes a scarier fate: It means that humanity emitted more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during the 21st century, further warming the planet and acidifying the ocean. The best-case scenario is called RCP 2.6. The worst case is RCP 8.5.

“God help us if 8.5 turns out to be the right scenario,” Jackson told me. Under RCP 8.5, the world’s average temperature would rise by 4.9 degrees Celsius, or nearly 9 degrees Fahrenheit. “That’s an inconceivable increase for global temperatures—especially when we think about them being global average temperatures,” he said. “Temperatures will be even higher in the northern latitudes, and higher over land than over the ocean.”

This scenario could still be in the planet’s future, according to Zeke Hausfather, an analyst and climate scientist at Berkeley Earth. Since 2005, total global greenhouse-gas emissions have most closely tracked the RCP 8.5 scenario, he says. “There may be good reasons to be skeptical of RCP 8.5’s late-century values, but observations to-date don’t really give us grounds to exclude it,” he recently wrote.

Even if we avoid RCP 8.5, the less dramatic possibilities still could lead to catastrophic warming. Jackson, the Stanford professor, warned that every emissions scenario that meets the Paris Agreement’s 2-degree Celsius “goal” assumes that humanity will soon develop technology to remove carbon directly from the atmosphere. Such technology has never existed at industrial scales.

“Even some [of the scenarios] for 3 degrees Celsius assume that at some point in the next 50 years, we will have large-scale industrial activities to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a very dangerous game, I think. We’re assuming that this thing we can’t do today will somehow be possible and cheaper in the future. I believe in tech, but I don’t believe in magic.”

Read: No ecosystem on Earth is safe from climate change

Yet not all data suggest that we’re doomed to RCP 8.5 or equivalent amounts of warming, Hausfather cautions. If you look only at pollution from fossil-fuel burning—and not from land-use events like deforestation—then humanity’s recent record trends closer to RCP 4.5.

That’s good news, but only by comparison: RCP 4.5 still forecasts that global temperatures will rise by 2.4 degrees Celsius, enough to kill off nearly every coral reef and soar past the 2-degree target set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

There are a few reasons it’s hard to say which RCP comes closest to our reality. First, most of the RCPs tell roughly the same story about global emissions until about 2025 or 2030. Second, the RCPs describe emissions across the entire sweep of the 21st century—and the century mostly hasn’t happened yet. Trying to pick the most likely RCP in 2018 is a bit like trying to predict the precise depth of late-night snowfall at 4:32 a.m.

The RCP 8.5 scenario may also become less likely in years to come, even if major polluters like the United States, China, and India never pass muscular climate policy. RCP 8.5 says that the global coal industry will eventually become seven times bigger than it is today. “It’s tough to claim that … that is a business-as-usual world,” Hausfather says. “It’s certainly a possible world, but we also live in a world today where solar is increasingly cheaper than coal.”

That’s part of the reason the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will soon expand its list of standard scenarios. Its next major synthesis report, due to be published in 2021, will replace RCPs with five “socioeconomic pathways”that allow for a broader range of futures.

Jackson urged caution. “We don’t know yet what scenario we’re on,” he said. “I think most climate scientists will tell you that we’re below the 8.5 scenario. But every year that emissions increase like they have this year, it makes the 8.5 scenario more plausible.”

Jackson published his first academic paper in 1989, just a year after the NASAscientist James Hansen first warned Congress that global warming had begun in earnest. I asked whether he thought actual emissions would ever come close to RCP 8.5. 

“It’s nuts,” he said. “But I used to think a lot of things were nuts that turned out not to be nuts.”

Press link for more: The Atlantic

An ocean of evidence on global warming is our cue to take action – now #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #GreenNewDeal #auspol #qldpol

By John Church

Over 90 per cent of the heat trapped in the climate system by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations from our burning of fossil fuels is stored in the oceans. With much less variability than surface temperatures, ocean warming is one of the most important indicators of the ongoing pace of climate change.

Two new studies published last week confirm the world’s oceans are warming.

The first, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, shows that ocean warming has accelerated since 1870.

The second, a perspective published in the prestigious iournal Science, reports studies that indicate the rate of ocean warming over recent decades is 10 per cent or more greater than the studies considered in the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment published in 2013, and that the rate has increased since 1991.

The updated observations are in agreement with the results of climate model simulations of the impacts of our continuing release of greenhouse gases.

These models show the ocean will continue to warm through the 21st century and beyond.

Greenhouse gases have a long life time in the atmosphere. Even if carbon dioxide emissions were to cease completely, atmospheric concentrations would only decrease slowly over thousands of years unless we discover a way to artificially remove them from the atmosphere.As a direct consequence, surface temperatures would remain elevated. As result of the oceans’ ability to store heat, they will continue to warm for centuries.

Decisions we make now about greenhouse gas emissions have long-term consequences for the world and Australia’s climate and sea level, and of course for the natural environment and our modern society.

Continued greenhouse gas emissions at a business-as-usual rate would result in the ocean warming accelerating through the 21st century, and a contribution to sea-level rise of about 30cm from ocean thermal expansion alone by 2100. The warmer ocean would be accompanied by warmer surface temperatures, increased frequency of climate extremes, and increased intensity of extreme rainfall events and hurricanes, with major disruptions to society.

The ice sheets are even more important for long-term sea-level change. Unabated emissions this century would commit the world to metres of sea-level rise over coming centuries. We would likely cross the threshold, well before 2100, leading to an accelerating melting of the Greenland ice sheet and a sea level rise of up to about seven metres. An acceleration of the Greenland contribution to sea level rise has already been observed.

For Antarctica, a warming ocean would lead to the decay of ice shelves and an accelerating flow of ice into the ocean, as revealed by recent observations of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The rate of sea level contribution from Antarctica is more uncertain but could equal or exceed the contribution from thermal expansion by 2100, and could be metres over coming centuries

Global average temperature is already about 1C above pre-industrial levels and we have already seen an increased frequency of coastal flooding events. Unabated emissions would see permanent inundation and a dramatic increase in the frequency of coastal flooding events, disrupting the lives of tens to hundreds of millions of people.

Urgent, significant and sustained mitigation of our greenhouse gas emissions are required if we are to meet the Paris targets of “limiting global average temperatures to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels”, and thus significantly reduce the impacts of climate change. Current mitigation “promises” are not sufficient to meet these goals, and planned mitigation is even further away. Every day we delay action makes the Paris targets more difficult to achieve.

The long time scales of the ocean means we will have to adapt to climate and sea level change resulting from past emissions. However, further sea level rises and other changes in our climate can be greatly reduced, but not eliminated, by reaching the Paris goals.

We should remember that sea levels were six to nine metres above current levels at a global average temperature about 1C above pre-industrial values.

Current Australian government figures do not indicate Australia is on track to meet our committed greenhouse gas emission mitigation target of 26 to 28 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 “in a canter”. Meeting this target will require the urgent development of an effective Australian climate policy.

Perhaps more importantly, this target is completely inadequate. To make a proportionate commitment to meeting the Paris targets, Australia needs to ratchet up our targets, as expected by the Paris agreement, and to urgently develop realistic plans to meet these targets.

Actions we take now will affect the lives of our children and grandchildren and that of future generations. We know what is required for significant mitigation and we have the knowledge and technologies to do it. What we require urgently is the will to do it.

John Church is a professor at the Climate Change Research Centre, University of NSW, and the first Australian to receive the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge in climate change award, for his work on rising sea levels.

Press link for more: SMH

Climate Change Is an Existential Crisis—It Should Be ​the Top Political Issue, Too #auspol #qldpol #Drought #Heatwave #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #StopAdani

By David Suzuki

Global warming isn’t a partisan issue—or it shouldn’t be.

The many experts issuing dire warnings about the implications of climate disruption work under political systems ranging from liberal democracies to autocratic dictatorships, for institutions including the U.S. Department of Defense, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and numerous business organizations and universities.

In 1988, when NASA scientist James Hansen reported to Congress that evidence for human-caused global warming was near undeniable, conservative politicians including the UK’s Margaret Thatcher, U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Canada’s Brian Mulroney agreed that action was needed.

In my home province of British Columbia, a right-leaning government, the British Columbia Liberal Party, introduced a carbon tax in 2008.

Now, as the evidence compels us to increasingly urgent action—the latest IPCC report says we have about 12 years to get emissions under control or face catastrophe—politicians from parties that once cared about the future are lining up to downplay or deny human-caused climate disruption and are hindering plans to address it.

The U.S. offers a sad example. When confronted with a detailed report compiled by more than 300 scientists and endorsed by a dozen different agencies, including NASA, NOAA and the defense department, that warned climate change threatens the American economy, way of life and human health, the president responded, “I don’t believe it.”

Here in Canada, politicians claim to take climate change seriously but reject plans to mitigate it without offering better alternatives. Some provincial and federal leaders are governing or building campaigns around rejection of carbon pricing, a proven tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s interesting, because carbon pricing is a market-based strategy, whereas the kind of government regulation that would be required in its absence is something conservative thinkers usually reject.

Meanwhile the Australian Prime Minister Loves Coal

To be fair, few politicians are emerging as climate heroes, regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum. Our federal government has some good climate policies, including carbon pricing, but is still pushing for pipelines and oil sands expansion. It’s even watered down carbon-pricing plans to appease industry.

Alberta’s NDP government has likewise implemented some good policies and encouraged clean energy development, but by promoting pipelines and the fossil fuel industry to appease a bitumen-beholden voting base that likely won’t support it anyway, the party is alienating young people and others who care about climate and the future.

In Australia Both Labor & LNP refuse to rule out opening the Adani Coal Mine

It bewilders me that so many people are opposed to environmental protection, to ensuring Earth remains habitable for humans and other life.

It doesn’t take much to see that we’ve screwed up in many ways. Climate disruption, species extinction, plastic pollution and contaminated water and air are all symptoms of our wasteful, consumer-driven lives, in which profit is elevated above all else. Prioritizing a relatively recent economic system designed when conditions were much different over the very things that keep us healthy and alive is suicidal.

Millions of fish killed in the Darling River

We can’t stop using fossil fuels or shut down the oil sands overnight. But if we don’t start somewhere, we’ll get nowhere. I and others have been writing and talking about global warming for decades, while emissions continued to rise, oil and gas development expanded and global temperatures kept climbing. There’s little evidence that governments are treating the climate emergency as seriously as is warranted, preferring to focus on short-term economic gains and election cycles instead.
As we head into an election year in Canada, we must ensure that climate and the environment are priorities for all parties. This costly crisis will bring devastation to economies, food production, human health and much more if we fail to put everything we can into resolving it.

We’ve seen major national and international efforts to confront serious threats before, regardless of the money and resources needed to do so—from defeating the Nazis in the Second World War to investing in science during the space race. These paid off in many ways, accomplishing their stated purposes and spurring numerous beneficial inventions and technologies.

Now, as humanity faces an existential crisis, we must do everything we can to push those who would represent us to truly act in our interests rather than kowtowing to a dying industry.

Climate change should be the top issue in this year’s federal election and all others.

David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation senior editor Ian Hanington.

Press link for more: Eco watch

Banks should recognise the risks of #climatechange #auspol #qldpol #ClimateRisk #StopAdani #COP24

BoE governor Mark Carney is right to suggest adding global warming to stress tests

Mark Carney: any move by the Bank of England to incorporate climate risks in stress tests would be the first by a central bank of a major financial centre © Bloomberg

Most central bankers make a virtue of the narrowness of their remit, remaining circumspect on issues deemed to go beyond it.

Not Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, who, despite facing criticism for exceeding his mandate, has suggested the risks arising from climate change should form part of its annual stress tests for banks from 2019. 

The suggestion is timely.

It comes a few days after rules governing how to implement the Paris climate agreement were approved, against significant odds, by nearly 200 countries at the COP24 talks in Poland.

It is also uncontroversial — it does not require a change to the regulatory framework, but simply adds a risk to the list that banks are already meant to measure. Furthermore, the Bank of England is suggesting including climate change as an exploratory scenario, which banks can neither pass nor fail.

They are required only to scrutinise whether they are doing enough. For that reason, many climate activists will consider the proposal, much like the Paris agreement itself, does not go far enough. 

The measure should at least help to convince financial sector actors of the potential impact they face from climate issues.

The latest warnings about global warming are sobering.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report noted that on current trends, average global temperatures are set to rise by 3-4C from pre-industrial levels by 2100.

Failure to take action to curb that rise creates multiple risks.

Extreme heat events are likely to multiply.

So, too, are the frequency and intensity of heavy rain and floods, and of droughts. 

Actions taken to mitigate climate change also carry risk.

New policies aimed at limiting average global temperature rises, in line with the Paris agreement, will make it harder for hydrocarbon-intensive industries to operate profitably.

This could leave companies with stranded assets worth billions, and the banks that lent to them with enormous unpaid debts.

Whatever the source of the risk, a core function of a central bank is to ensure that money is being safely lent. 

Lenders are moving slowly because unlike the insurance sector they are less directly exposed to the destructive power of extreme weather. But they are not immune — and should be paying more heed.

A report by insurance company Swiss Re found the total economic loss from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters nearly doubled to $337bn in 2017, from $180bn the year before.

Lloyd’s of London this year posted its first loss in six years, citing the impact of a series of natural disasters.

Axa, the large insurer, has warned that more than 4C of warming this century would make the world “uninsurable”.

The consequences for the whole financial system would then be catastrophic.

Any move by the Bank of England to incorporate climate risks in stress tests would be the first by a central bank of a major financial centre. But others are alert to climate change risks.

In 2017, the Dutch central bank published a report entitled “Waterproof?”, which concluded that financial institutions should factor in the consequences of a changing climate and the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. 

Such steps alone will not prevent the oceans rising, climate-induced mass migration or extreme weather.

Governments must develop policies and regulatory environments that change businesses’ behaviour.

The “tragedy of the horizon”, as Mr Carney puts it, is the danger that by the time climate change is recognised by enough actors to be a defining issue for financial stability, it may already be too late to manage it.

Press link for more: Financial Times

Climate change and the risk to civilisation: the doctors’ prescription #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #COP24 #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #SchoolStrike4Climate #TheDrum

By Colin Butler

The 2018 State of the Climate report, released yesterday, again highlights the risk to human wellbeing from our love affair with fossil fuels. Coal, oil and gas have underpinned the incredible advances in affluence, population size, and health since development of the steam engine. But fossil fuel use has an optimum dose, which is now well past.

We are metaphorically drowning in carbon dioxide, the invisible, odourless waste product of burning fossil fuel. As the report notes, this is increasing heatwaves, acidifying the oceans and raising the sea level. It is also lowering the micronutrient concentrations of food.

An evacuation during the November bushfires, near Mount Larcom, Queensland.

Photo: AAP

The report cites growing effects on human and animal health, including from increased fires and flooding, and says extreme heat days are rising alarmingly. This month, dozens of Australians were rescued from the Hume Highway, stranded by intense rainfall. Record heat and fire ravaged north Queensland. A third of the spectacled flying fox population died from heat, possibly exposing animal rescuers to viral diseases.

In November, San Francisco air was worse than Delhi, due to fires that ruined the Californian city of Paradise, recently home for 30,000 people.

Earlier this month, at the Katowice conference, held in the heartland of Polish coal seams, David Attenborough called climate change the greatest threat to humanity in thousands of years. He warned that, without action, “the collapse of our civilisations, and the extinction of much of the natural world, is on the horizon”.

Attenborough’s warnings have a distinguished pedigree. In 2010, Frank Fenner, the great Australian scientist who helped eradicate smallpox, warned that humans risked total extinction due to overpopulation, resource over-consumption, environmental destruction and climate change. Martin Rees, a past president of the world’s oldest scientific organisation, the Royal Society, has warned this century might be our last.

It might be comforting to dismiss these warnings as the fantasies of old men, and some wise old women, such as Jane Goodall. Optimists might argue that a rise of even 2 degrees in average global temperature is trivial, or point out that you could walk to Tasmania during the Ice Age. The sea-level rise of 10 thousand years ago was easily adapted to, and today our technological and social capacity is immeasurably greater. A fever of 2 extra degrees is uncomfortable, but we have paracetamol.

Such responses are deceptive and dangerous. The unprecedented complexity, connectivity and power of modern civilisation is also its weakness. Sea-level rise on the US east coast is already depressing the market value of homes and could help trigger a future financial crash. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation is increasingly concerned about climate change, conflict and future food security. The 2010 heatwave and drought in Russia, which led to the temporary banning of Russian wheat exports, helped spark the Arab Spring and the Syrian civil war. The Australian winter harvest of 2018 was poor, especially from the eastern states, due not only to drought, but heat, reduced soil moisture and a lengthening frost season.

But the collapse of civilisation is not inevitable. Collapse might be avoided by a strong dose of preventive medicine, such as replacing coal with wind and solar, an electric bus revolution and reduced meat consumption (also good for health).

The threat of sea-level rise … erosion at Old Bar, NSW. 

Photo: Shane Chalker

As with a real vaccine, which requires a tiny dose of something potentially harmful (technically known as an antigen) we seem to need a dose of poison (in this case fear) before we act; but too much fear is paralysing. We also need hope, such as provided by the NSW government’s recognition of our overdoseon fossil fuels.

The physical climate is changing, so fast that more and more people, including many children, can now recognise it. If we can harness the internet, new technology, and the common sense of ordinary people then we will we at least have a reasonable chance. Recognising the validity of these warnings is a vital step if we are to survive.

Colin Butler is an epidemiologist and member of the scientific advisory committee of Doctors for the Environment, Australia.

He is an honorary professor in public health at the Australian National University.

Press link for more: SMH

Will Adani’s Carmichael coal mine go ahead? #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #SchoolStrike4Climate #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateChange

Thousands of students march demanding action on climate change in Brisbane, Saturday, December 8, 2018. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP

It was once touted as Australia’s biggest coal mine and a mega project that would create 10,000 jobs but the oft-promised construction of Adani’s Carmichael mine still seems unlikely despite recent announcements.

Last month there seemed to be a breakthrough. After struggling to secure finance to build the mine, Adani announced it would self-fund a scaled-back version and suggested work could begin this year.

The mine was originally expected to be a $16.5 billion project but will now only cost $2 billion. It will create an estimated 1500 direct jobs during the construction phase, much less than previous claims of 10,000 direct and indirect jobs.

This week a spokeswoman for Adani Australia told news.com.au that “preparatory works at the mine site are imminent”.

“We are working with regulators to finalise the remaining required management plans ahead of coal production, some of which have been subject to two years of state and federal government review,” she said.

“This process is expected to be complete and provided by governments in the next few

weeks.”

The Australian reported on Friday that bulldozers, graders and service vehicles were sent to the site this week.

Earth moving equipment at Adani site.

However, there’s scepticism about the suggestion work on Adani’s mine is about to get started as it has made premature declarations before.

More than a year ago, in October 2017, Adani scheduled a ceremony to break ground on the coal mine’s rail link.

Adani chairman Gautam Adani was due to attend alongside then-deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce. But the ceremony was cancelled due to rain and was never rescheduled.

This was hardly surprising given a government-funded $1 billion loan it was relying on to build a 389-km rail line hadn’t yet been approved.

The Palaszczuk Government later decided to veto the loan from the federal government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility ahead of the Queensland election.

Meanwhile environmental groups have continue to wage war on the project and protests are continuing, even for the scaled-down version of the mine.

Protesters ambushed Bill Shorten at Labor’s National Conference on Sundayand the dean of St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Dr Peter Catt said he was willing to be arrested standing in front of bulldozers to stop the Adani mine from going ahead.

Dean Dr Peter Catt at St John Anglican Cathedral.

“Both sides of politics are refusing to face the moral implications of coal expansion,” the reverend said at the event Carols for the Earth in Brisbane.

“I will join other citizens standing in front of Adani bulldozers to make political leaders take our climate crisis seriously. I’m calling on people of all faiths to take this same step.”

Concerns about the mine’s potential impact on climate change have continued to grow, particularly after a report from the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggested the use of coal-powered electricity would have to be cut to practically nothing by 2050 to keep global warming to 1.5C.

Even at 1.5C warming most of the world’s coral reefs including the Great Barrier Reef would be lost.

Meanwhile, Adani may be able to start “preparatory works” but there are a few other issues that need to be resolved before it has clear air to move forward.

MORE APPROVALS NEEDED

Adani is not required to submit a new Environment Authority application for its smaller mine but there are approvals it doesn’t yet have.

A spokeswoman for the Queensland Department of Environment and Science said “significant disturbance cannot commence until the required environmental plans for the mine are approved and in place”.

Adani has been asked to update its groundwater dependent ecosystems management plan after the CSIRO, Australia’s peak scientific organisation, identified serious flaws, according to the ABC.

The CSIRO was asked to review Adani’s plan by the Federal Department of the Environment and Energy. Geoscience Australia has also been asked to look at it.

Adani will now have to update its plans to identify the source of the aquifer of the Doongmabulla Springs Complex and measures it will take to protect the springs.

The plan must be approved before the Adani can start excavation of the first box cut, which is a small open cut that acts as an entrance to an underground mine.

The entrance to the box cut at Jabiluka Uranium Mine. Picture: Rohan Kelly. Picture: Supplied

The Queensland department spokeswoman said the state will also take the scientific reviews into consideration as part of its assessment.

“Preliminary advice from CSIRO requires Adani to update the plan,” the spokeswoman said.

She said the department had told Adani it would not continue its assessment until an updated version was submitted and noted there was no “statutory time frame” for assessment to happen.

“The Queensland Government takes environmental protections very seriously and will consider the advice of the (federal department), CSIRO and Geoscience Australia when assessing the plans,” she said.

Both the groundwater plan and a black-throated finch management plan will need to be signed off by state and federal governments.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Department of Environment and Energy told news.com.au the Carmichael biodiversity research fund mechanism would also need to be approved before Adani could start “mining operations”.

WATER WOES

The Queensland Government granted Adani a water licence last year to allow it to take up to 12.5 billion litres of water a year from the Suttor River.

The Federal Government is also required to look at projects likely to have a significant impact on water resources but Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price chose this year not to activate the “water trigger” that would have required a full environmental impact assessment.

Instead only preliminary documentation was considered.

This month the Australian Conservation Foundation launched legal action for a judicial review of this decision. No court date has yet been set.

Until this action is resolved, Adani won’t be able to take water from the Suttor River system although Adani has said this won’t stop it from starting work on the project.

ROYALTIES

Adani has yet to finalise a royalty agreement with the Queensland Government.

It had been in negotiations to allow it to defer payments for the first few years but the deal was never signed. Then in May last year the Palaszczuk Government unveiled a new policy for all developments in the Galilee and Surat Basins and the North West Minerals Province.

The new resources framework allows royalties to be deferred but insists that interest is paid and companies must also ensure “security of payment” is in place.

Eligible projects are required to provide jobs, common-user infrastructure and to have a positive impact on the state’s finances.

However, the government will only enter into an agreement with approved projects and Adani’s mine has not yet been approved.

A spokeswoman for the Deputy Premier Jackie Trad told news.com.au Adani would pay royalties like everyone else.

“No taxpayers money will go to toward this project,” she said.

NATIVE TITLE ACTION

The Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council has been fighting Adani’s indigenous land use agreement (ILUA) saying a vote to approve it had been a sham. The council disputes that 294 people voted for the agreement and only one against.

The W&J lost its legal action but is appealing the decision in the Federal Court. This week it was ordered to pay $50,000 by the end of January as part of a security of costs order to show it was capable of paying Adani’s legal costs if it lost the appeal.

The appeal was due to be heard in February but has now been delayed until May.

W&J traditional owner and lead spokesman Adrian Burragubba said for Adani to act before the appeal was decided would be to “deny our rights and open the way for a grave injustice”.

“Without our consent, the mine is not ready to proceed,” he said.

Adrian Burragubba outside the Federal Court in Brisbane, Friday, August 17, 2018. Picture: Darren England/AAP

RAIL LINE NEGOTIATIONS

Another question remains over whether Aurizon has approved Adani’s request to connect to its existing railway line.

An Adani spokeswoman said Adani had submitted a conceptual operation plan for its new narrow gauge rail line and was working through the “regulatory process”.

“Once it is complete we will commence construction of the rail line,” she said.

When asked whether an agreement had been reached, an Aurizon spokeswoman said it had to treat all requests confidentially.

“Therefore we cannot comment on any discussions that may occur with any third-party,” she said.

Continue the conversation @charischang2 | charis.chang@news.com.au

Press link for more: News.com.au

Risks of ‘domino effect’ of #ClimateChange tipping points #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #COP24

Scientists warn policymakers not to ignore links, and stress that ‘every action counts’

Policymakers have severely underestimated the risks of ecological tipping points, according to a study that shows 45% of all potential environmental collapses are interrelated and could amplify one another.

The authors said their paper, published in the journal Science, highlights how overstressed and overlapping natural systems are combining to throw up a growing number of unwelcome surprises.

“The risks are greater than assumed because the interactions are more dynamic,” said Juan Rocha of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. “The important message is to recognise the wickedness of the problem that humanity faces.”

The study collated existing research on ecosystem transitions that can irreversibly tip to another state, such as coral reefs bleaching and being overrun by algae, forests becoming savannahs and ice sheets melting into oceans.

It then cross-referenced the 30 types of shift to examine the impacts they might have on one another and human society.

Only 19% were entirely isolated. Another 36% shared a common cause, but were not likely to interact. The remaining 45% had the potential to create either a one-way domino effect or mutually reinforcing feedbacks.

The destruction of coral reefs can weaken coastal defences and expose mangrove forests to damage. Photograph: Greg Torda/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Among the latter pairings were Arctic ice sheets and boreal forests. When the former melt, there is less ice to reflect the sun’s heat so the temperature of the planet rises. This increases the risks of forest fires, which discharge carbon into the air that adds to the greenhouse effect, which melts more ice. Although geographically distant, each amplifies the other.

By contrast, a one-way domino-type impact is that between coral reefs and mangrove forests. When the former are destroyed, it weakens coastal defences and exposes mangroves to storms and ocean surges.

The deforestation of the Amazon is responsible for multiple “cascading effects” – weakening rain systems, forests becoming savannah, and reduced water supplies for cities like São Paulo and crops in the foothills of the Andes. This, in turn, increases the pressure for more land clearance.

Until recently, the study of tipping points was controversial, but it is increasingly accepted as an explanation for climate changes that are happening with more speed and ferocity than earlier computer models predicted. The loss of coral reefs and Arctic sea ice may already be past the point of no return. There are signs the Antarctic is heading the same way faster than thought.

Co-author Garry Peterson said the tipping of the west Antarctic ice shelf was not on the radar of many scientists 10 years ago, but now there was overwhelming evidence of the risks – including losses of chunks of ice the size of New York – and some studies now suggest the tipping point may have already been passed by the southern ice sheet, which may now be releasing carbon into the atmosphere.

“We’re surprised at the rate of change in the Earth system. So much is happening at the same time and at a faster speed than we would have thought 20 years ago. That’s a real concern,” said Peterson. “We’re heading ever faster towards the edge of a cliff.”

The fourth most downloaded academic research of 2018 was the Hothouse Earth paper, which considered how tipping points could combine to push the global climate into an uninhabitable state.

The authors of the new paper say their work goes beyond climate studies by mapping a wider range of ecological stress points, such as biodiversity loss, agricultural expansion, urbanisation and soil erosion. It also focuses more on what is happening at the local level now, rather than projecting geo-planetary trends into the future.

“We’re looking at things that affect people in their daily lives. They’re things that are happening today,” said Peterson. “There is a positive message as it expands the range of options for action. It is not just at an international level. Mayors can also make a difference by addressing soil erosion, or putting in place social policies that place less stress on the environment, or building up natural coastal defences.”

Rocha has spent 10 years building a database of tipping points, or “regime shifts” as he calls them. He urges policymakers to adopt a similar interdisciplinary approach so they can better grasp what is happening.

“We’re trying to connect the dots between different research communities,” said Rocha. “Governments also need to look more at interactions. They should stop compartmentalising ministries like agriculture, fisheries and international relations and try to manage environmental problems by embracing the diversity of causes and mechanisms underlying them. Policies need to match the scale of the problem.

“It’s a little depressing knowing we are not on a trajectory to keep our ecosystem in a functional state, but these connections are also a reason for hope; good management in one place can prevent severe environmental degradation elsewhere. Every action counts.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

Scientists like Dr Adam Levy came away from #COP24 Angry. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani it’s time for #ClimateAction #ClimateStrike #SchoolStrike4Climate #StopAdani Stop stealing our children’s future!

As someone with a background in climate science, I was expecting to learn a lot from going to my first climate negotiations: #COP24.

I was not expecting to feel more angry and scared for our future than I have ever felt before.

Watch Dr Adam Levy

Listen to the scientists listen to Greta Thunberg Speaking at COP24

Stepping Up on Climate at #COP24 #auspol #qldpol #ClimateEmergency #StopAdani Demand a #GreenNewDeal #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #SchoolStrike4Climate

Negotiations at the 24th annual UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP) wrapped up in Katowice, Poland on Saturday, December 15, 2018.
The two-week long summit hosted thousands: from ministers to mayors, from students to civil society, and from businesses to banks.
The implementing guidelines of the Paris Agreement, known as the “Paris rulebook”, are now in place.
Of the many announcements and engagements that took place over the two weeks, here are some highlights:

It was warmly received during the session, with a spontaneous round of applause, and was referenced multiple times in plenary speeches and side events as a major boost for greater ambition.

The new plan significantly boosts support for adaptation and resilience, recognizing mounting climate change impacts on lives and livelihoods, especially in the world’s poorest countries.

By ramping up direct adaptation finance to reach around $50 billion over 2021-2025, the World Bank will, for the first time, give this equal emphasis alongside investments that reduce emissions.

Watch Greta Thunberg

MDB Alignment and a Dedicated Pavilion.

Nine MDBs – the African Development Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank Group, the Islamic Development Bank, the New Development Bank, and the World Bank Group – issued a declaration announcing a joint framework for aligning their activities with the goals of the Paris Agreement, reinforcing their commitment to combat climate change.

The MDBs plan to break the joint approach down into practical work on six core Paris Alignment areas, including ramping up climate finance, capacity building support for countries and other clients, and an emphasis on climate reporting. At next year’s COP25 gathering, the MDBs will report back on their progress with the six building blocks.

For the first time, the World Bank, along with six other MDBs and the CIFs shared a dedicated pavilion. The common space served as a convening and networking hub to promote, discuss and share climate solutions with global leaders, media and online influencers. It also hosted popular daily Facebook Live interviews.

Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, during a speech at the MDB Joint Pavilion. Photo Credits: Kaia Rose, Connect4Climate

A Significant Boost for Climate-Smart Development in Sectors.

For cities: A new IFC report was published which found that cities in emerging markets alone could attract more than $29.4 trillion in climate-related investments in six key sectors by 2030. It analyzed cities’ climate-related targets and action plans in six regions and identified opportunities in priority sectors such as green buildings, public transportation, electric vehicles, waste, water, and renewable energy.

For energy: According to the new RISE report, the number of countries with strong policy frameworks for sustainable energy more than tripled – from 17 to 59 – between 2010 and 2017, and many of the world’s largest energy-consuming countries have significantly improved their renewable energy regulations since 2010. A separate study found that in Poland, host country of COP24, scaling renewable energy sources could provide major benefits for the economy, health and environment. And the report, Managing Coal Mine Closure: Achieving a Just Transition for All, outlined how governments can prepare for and manage coal mine closure, particularly the social and labor impacts, and implement the transition to cleaner, less polluting energy sources.

For food and land use: From 2015-17, 51 countries provided approximately $590 billion in public support for agricultural producers. A new report examined realigning agricultural support to deliver public goods outcomes and promote climate-smart agriculture.

For Infrastructure. Low-carbon, resilient infrastructure has a central role in ensuring development, economic and climate objectives are met. A joint report with OECD and UN Environment laid out what public and private actors can do to align financial flows in infrastructure.

For Transport. A technical paper on Electric Mobility was published to help support countries ensure that climate and environmental concerns as well as regulatory, labor, and fiscal implications were taken on board as they embark on e-Mobility pathways. The report was welcomed by the Polish government who will provide support to a trust fund that will support cutting edge research on e-mobility.

For Disaster Response and Preparedness. 2017 was a stark reminder that disasters have the capacity to destroy in one day what took years to build and they inevitably place a huge financial strain on countries and poor people. A number of announcements were made, aiming to boost support for countries to minimize the impacts, manage the risks of climate change, and support them to access a wider range of financial instruments, including insurance (for instance, the InsurResilience Global partnership, the KfW contribution to the Central America and Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Program and support growing for early warning systems).

The Big Takeaway

Now that the “Paris rulebook is in place, we can move forward on bold implementation.

The big messages that will resonate clearly into 2019 are that the needs for climate action and ambition are great, the opportunities of climate-smart growth are bigger, and our commitment on climate, as the WBG, is as strong as ever.

Press link for more: World Bank