La Niña

“Our planet is being destroyed!” #StopAdani #Auspol 

Every second we waste denying climate change exists is time we steal from the next generation who will suffer the terrible consequences
Friday 4 August 2017
Our planet is being destroyed. 

But it is not only the forests and the oceans, the wildlife and the Arctic sea ice that is being wiped out – soon it will be the people, too.

The Lancet has today published a report that lays bare the devastating impact climate change will have on populations across Europe. 

Between 1981 and 2010, extreme weather events killed about 3,000 people a year.
According to the research, this will increase 50 times to an estimated 152,000 people who will die in weather-related disasters every year between 2071 and 2100.

There are people alive today who will witness these deaths. 

I could be one of them – in 2071, I would be approaching my 86th birthday. 

Climate change is not a far-off problem of the future. 

It is happening right now – and if we do not take action, our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren, will be put at risk.
Every second we waste denying climate change exists and ignoring its deadly impact is time we steal from the next generation, who will suffer the terrible consequences.

It is the poor who will suffer first – particularly those who live in the most hostile climates and lack the resources to protect themselves. In fact, they are already suffering.
The suicides of nearly 60,000 Indian farmers over the last three decades have been linked to climate change – despite them contributing very little to the emissions that cause global warming.
Perhaps most devastating of all is the fact that those with wealth and power, who have such a disproportionate effect on the planet, will pay little attention until it is their livelihood and their peers under threat from extreme weather.
Donald Trump’s favourite golf course will need to be underwater before he starts to pay attention to the environmental havoc he has played such a pertinent role in. But by then, it will be too late.
As our European neighbours enter their fifth day of a blistering heatwave, as Portugal mourns more than 60 people killed in its worst forest fires in recorded history and as Cornwall cleans up after a mid-summer flood, we must heed the warning signs.
Since 2002, Britain has lost green space equivalent to the size of Liverpool. That’s a rich heritage of woodlands, gardens, parks that have gone to waste. At the same time, our Government has recklessly promoted intensive and polluting fossil fuel extraction in the face of the enormous threat that we face from climate change.
The Lancet paper makes for grim reading, but it should also serve as a much needed wake-up call for governments across Europe. We cannot continue to tinker around the edges and hope for a miracle cure to climate change.
We have to pull up our boots and get on with it – and do so with vigour. The UK has the chance to be a world leader by kickstarting a renewables revolution to create clean and stable energy for all. The alternative does not bear thinking about.
Amelia Womack is deputy leader of the Green Party

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Messing with the Earth’s climate is risky business. #StopAdani #auspol 

Can we cure Climate Change? 

Scientists Debate If We Should

By Elana Glowatz
Scientists are debating if there is a way to stop Earth’s climate from changing or even help the planet cool down — and, if they can do such work, whether or not they should.
Offsetting the effect of greenhouse gas emissions is a complicated science called geoengineering. 

In ideas that have been proposed, experts would either have to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or tinker with the system so that more of the sun’s radiation reflects back into space or more heat can escape the Earth. 

But any effort to cool off the planet could have unintended consequences, assuming it is first performed accurately and effectively. 

Three separate articles just published in the journal Science focus on those concepts and concerns.

Read: When Will It Rain in the Middle East? 

Climate Study Says in 10,000 Years
Scientists from the Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative warn in their article that the world will have to work together to choose a solution, rather than allowing a single person, country or small group of countries to make a choice and run with it.

 That could “further destabilize a world already going through rapid change” if something goes wrong.
But even in the case of the world’s leaders deciding upon a solution together, messing with the Earth’s climate is a risky business.
“In so doing, we may expose the world to other serious risks, known and unknown,” the authors say.
When it comes to removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, such work “would need to be implemented at very large scales to have the desired effect,” according to the scientists. That takes up a lot of land, which could put a squeeze on the agricultural industry, thus affecting food prices and availability. Such a method could also affect biodiversity.
Solar radiation management, the process through which scientists would change the amount of radiation reflecting back into space as opposed to reaching Earth, is no less perilous. The scientists foresee effects on the cycle through which water evaporates from the surface and returns as precipitation, changing rain patterns and doing nothing to slow down the acidification of the ocean.

The sun shines down on Earth, as seen from the International Space Station. Photo: NASA/JSC
“The world’s most vulnerable people would likely be most affected,” they wrote.
Even if methods to decrease warming were successful, the writers also point out, Earth’s population would still need to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — the geoengineering simply would be buying us time to figure things out.
Some of those methods of buying time include changing the planet’s cloud coverage. 

In one perspective in Science, researchers investigate the pros, cons and nuances of thinning cirrus clouds to allow more heat to escape Earth. 

Those clouds specifically are not responsible for reflecting much of the sun’s radiation back into space, and serve more to trap heat coming off the surface below. 

Thinning out those clouds, therefore, could have a cooling effect. 

But it may negatively impact tropical climates.
“For the time being, cirrus cloud thinning should be viewed as a thought experiment that is helping to understand cirrus cloud–formation mechanisms,” the article says.
Read: Did Ocean Volcanoes Keep Carbon Dioxide High In Last Ice Age?
Another journal piece focuses on the details and implications of mimicking intense volcanic eruptions as a method to cool off Earth. Injecting aerosol particles of sulfur into the atmosphere would increase a protective layer that prevents heat from the sun from reaching the surface, instead reflecting it back into space.
“The effect is analogous to the observed lowering of temperatures after large volcanic eruptions,” the article says. 

And the process “could be seen as a last-resort option to reduce the severity of climate change effects such as heat waves, floods, droughts, and sea level rise.”
At the same time, however, it would reduce evaporation from the Earth’s surface, which would also reduce the amount of rainfall and could affect water availability.
No matter what option the world chooses — or doesn’t choose — the writers all call on leaders to start the discussion.
“The world is heading to an increasingly risky future and is unprepared to address the institutional and governance challenges posed by these technologies,” the scientists from the Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative say. “Geoengineering has planet-wide consequences and must therefore be discussed by national governments within intergovernmental institutions, including the United Nations.”

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We Must Act Immediately To save The Reef #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

We must act immediately to save the Great Barrier Reef 

| Jules Howard
And so it begins: the end of days.

 The Great Barrier Reef is bleaching for the second year in a row and now, according to the results of helicopter surveys released on Monday, it is the middle part (all 300 miles-plus of it) that is suffering the awful reef stress that comes courtesy of a warming ocean.

Coral bleaching is incredibly serious. In especially warm summers, the complex balance between the symbiotic algae and the coral becomes disrupted. To save themselves, the coral expels the algae in the hope of better times ahead. In this state, the coral becomes whitened. That’s what bleaching is.

Without the algae to synthesise most of its energy, the coral operates on a kind of “standby” mode. It is vulnerable in this state. Only one third of the entire Great Barrier Reef remains unbleached. The bell, it seems, is tolling for one of the most biologically active parts of planet Earth.
I watched this Great Barrier Reef story unfold, and what started out as quite a conservative bit of science reporting quickly morphed into something else. By midday, many news outlets started running with the line that the Great Barrier Reef was now in a “terminal stage” – a phrase used by one (understandably frustrated) expert in the Guardian’s coverage of the story and recycled into all sorts of other online reports, which then did loops on Twitter.

“Oh Christ,” I thought, “James Delingpole is going to love this.” Skip forward a few hours and the columnist did his thing on Breitbart – don’t go looking for it, but let’s just say I was proved right. For a bleached reef is not a dead reef as you no doubt know – and the climate-change deniers have enjoyed the chance to throw around more allegations of “scaremongering” and their accusations that “Greenies don’t do science” – which is, of course, ridiculous.
Such backlash from climate-change deniers like Delingpole is inevitable. But in this case, I think the conservation hand really was overplayed. Is the Great Barrier Reef really in terminal decline? Is it really done and dusted? I don’t think so. Because coral bleaching, though incredibly serious and concerning, quite simply is not death. (Indeed the scientists involved in the study themselves said: “Bleached corals are not necessarily dead corals …”). Coral reefs can recover. There is reason for hope, therefore. Hope, but not complacency.

 Two-thirds of Great Barrier Reef hit by back-to-back mass coral bleaching

Looking at other reefs around the world offers us some perspective. Of 21 reefs monitored by scientists in the Seychelles, for instance, 12 have since recovered after a coral bleaching episode in 1998. (The other nine? Now seaweed-covered ruins). In Palau, many reefs recovered within a decade after being hit by the same 1998 temperature spike. Likewise, in an isolated reef system in Western Australia, that same bleaching episode also affected 90% of the corals. For six years the reef remained bleached, but by 2010 it had recovered.
This isn’t to say that all reefs can recover. But given time and enough protection from other threats, there is hope.
Though bleaching events have never been known to occur back-to-back (for example in 2016 and 2017) as they have in parts of the Great Barrier Reef this year, the reef has recovered from bleaching events before in 1998 and 2002 – and no doubt before that. It can recover, given time and the security a commitment to global carbon emission targets would bring. It can, and must, survive this latest episode of bleaching. After all, the Great Barrier Reef is worth £3.5bn to the Australian economy each year, and keeps 69,000 people in work. As well as being a bubbling, spiralling three-dimensional maze of biological interactions, it’s also an economic nest-egg for Australia. What sort of government would want to squander that?
So it’s not terminal, yet. Instead, the bleaching is an indicator that yet another wild place is taking a battering. That yet another flag is waving. That the climate is changing. That the incredible symbiosis of algae and coral is breaking down. We must act immediately.

Press link for more: The Guardian

We’re at War to save the planet! #auspol #climatechange #science 

By Paul Mason

It hits you in the face and clings to you. 

It makes tall buildings whine as their air conditioning plants struggle to cope.

 It makes the streets deserted and the ice-cold salons of corner pubs get crowded with people who don’t like beer. 

It is the Aussie heatwave: and it is no joke.

Temperatures in the western suburbs of Sydney, far from the upmarket beachside glamour, reached 47C (117F) last week, topping the 44C I experienced there the week before.

 For reference, if it reached 47C in the middle of the Sahara desert, that would be an unusually hot day.
For Sydney, 2017 was the hottest January on record. 

This after 2016 was declared the world’s hottest year on record. 

Climate change, even in some developed societies, is becoming climate disruption – and according to a UN report, one of the biggest disruptions may only now be getting under way.

El Niño, a temperature change in the Pacific ocean that happens cyclically, may have begun interacting with the long-term process of global warming, with catastrophic results.
Let’s start by admitting the science is not conclusive. 

El Niño disrupts the normal pattern by which warm water flows westwards across the Pacific, pulling the wind in the same direction; it creates storms off South America and droughts – together with extreme temperatures – in places such as Australia. 

It is an irregular cycle, lasting between two and seven years, and therefore can only be theorised using models.
Some of these models predict that, because of climate change, El Niño will happen with increased frequency – possibly double. 

Others predict the effects will become more devastating, due to the way the sub-systems within El Niño react with each other as the air and sea warm.
What cannot be disputed is that the most recent El Niño in 2015/16 contributed to the extreme weather patterns of the past 18 months, hiking global temperatures that were already setting records.

 (Although, such is the level of rising, both 2015 and 2016 would have still been the hottest ever without El Niño.) 

Sixty million people were “severely affected” according to the UN, while 23 countries – some of which no longer aid recipients – had to call for urgent humanitarian aid. 

The catastrophe prompted the head of the World Meteorological Association to warn: 

“This naturally occurring El Niño event and human-induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways that we have never before experienced.”
The warning was enough to prompt the UN to issue a global action plan, with early warning systems, beefed-up aid networks and disaster relief preparation, and calls for developing countries to “climate proof” their economic plans.
Compare all this – the science, the modelling, the economic foresight and the attempt to design multilateral blueprint – with the actions of the jackass who runs Australia’s finance ministry.

Scott Morrison barged into the parliament chamber to wave a lump of coal at the Labor and Green opposition benches, taunting them: 

“Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared. 

It’s coal. 

It was dug up by men and women who work in the electorate of those who sit opposite.” 

Coal, argues the Australian conservative government, has given the economy “competitive energy advantage for more than 100 years”. 

Labor and the Greens had called, after the Paris climate accord, for an orderly shutdown of the coal-fired power stations that produce 60% of the country’s energy.
The Aussie culture war over coal is being fuelled by the resurgence of the white-supremacist One Nation party, led by Pauline Hanson, which is pressuring mainstream conservatives to drop commitments to the Paris accord and, instead, launch a “royal commission into the corruption of climate science”, which its members believe is a money-making scam.
All over the world, know-nothing xenophobes are claiming – without evidence – that climate science is rigged. 

Their goal is to defend coal-burning energy, promote fracking, suppress the development of renewable energies and shatter the multilateral Paris agreement of 2015.

Opposition to climate science has become not just the badge of honour for far-right politicians like Ukip’s Paul Nuttall.

 It has become the central tenet of their appeal to unreason.
People facing increased fuel bills, new taxes on methane-producing cattle farms, dimmer light bulbs and the arrival of wind and wave technologies in traditional landscapes will naturally ask: is this really needed? 

Their inner idiot wishes it were not. 

For most of us, the inner rationalist is strong enough to counteract that wish.

What distinguishes the core of the rightwing populist electorate is its gullibility to idiocy-promoting rhetoric against climate science. 

They want to be harangued by a leader who tells them their racism is rational, in the same way they want leaders who tell them the science behind climate change is bunk.

Well, in Australia, people are quickly finding out where such rhetoric gets you: more devastating bushfires; a longer fire season; more extreme hot days; longer droughts. And an energy grid so overloaded with demands from air conditioning systems that it is struggling to cope.
And, iIf the pessimists among climate scientists are right, and the general rise in temperature has begun to destabilise and accentuate the El Niño effects, this is just the start.
The world is reeling from the election victory of Donald Trump, who has called climate science a hoax.

 Dutch voters look set to reward Geert Wilders, whose one-page election programme promises “no more money for development, windmills, art, innovation or broadcasting”, with first place in the election. 

In France, 27% of voters are currently backing the Front National, a party determined to take the country out of the Paris accord, which it sees as “a communist project”.
The struggle against the nationalist right must, in all countries, combine careful listening to the social and cultural grievances of those on its periphery with relentless stigmatisation of the idiocy, selfishness and racism of the leaders and political activists at its core.
It’s time to overcome queasiness and restraint. 

We, the liberal and progressive people of the world, are at war with the far right to save the earth. 
The extreme temperatures and climate-related disasters of the past 24 months mean this is not some abstract struggle about science or values: it’s about the immediate fate of 60 million people still recovering from a disaster.

Press link for more: The

Clean Coal is a Dirty Lie #Auspol 

When the industry talks about “clean coal,” it is referring to a range of technologies that burn coal more efficiently, and pollution controls that remove some of the nastiest pollutants from the smokestack.

Yet even the most efficient coal-fired power plants only operate at around 44% efficiency, meaning that 56% of the energy content of the coal is lost. 

These plants emit 15 times more carbon dioxide than renewable energy systems and twice as much CO2 as gas-fired power plants.

Pollution controls can remove sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides, PM2.5 and mercury from the smokestacks. However, installing these pollution controls can add hundreds of millions of dollars to the cost of a new coal plant, making them more expensive than other renewable options, and discouraging their adoption. Today many countries continue to build new coal plants and run existing coal plants without modern pollution controls, seriously affecting the health of their citizens.
While pollution controls can remove a lot of the toxic waste from the smokestake, these toxins end up in the coal ash. This ash is stored in waste ponds or landfills which leach sulfur dioxide and heavy metals into surface and groundwater. Studies in the United States show an increase in water pollution after installation of scrubbers on coal plants.

The coal industry advocates that carbon capture and storage (CCS) can reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. 

However, CCS is an unproven technology which has not yet been implemented at a large-scale fossil fuel plant. 

The greatest barrier to CCS is its economic viability. 

Between 25-40% more coal would be required to produce the same amount of energy using this technology. 

Consequently, more coal would be mined, transported, processed and burned, increasing the amount of air pollution and hazardous waste generated by coal plants. 

The cost of construction of CCS facilities and the “energy penalty” would almost double the costs of electricity generation from coal, making it economically unviable.
Furthermore, there are considerable questions about the technical viability of CCS. 

It is unclear whether CO2 can be permanently sequestered underground and what seismic risks underground storage poses.
Ultimately, coal cannot be considered “clean” when you factor in the air and water pollution generated by coal mining, preparation, transport and combustion. Pollution from the coal life cycle harms human health and the environment. 

Clean coal is a dirty lie.

Press link for more: End Coal


People living around the Pacific Ocean, including Australia, parts of Asia and western North and South America, should expect wilder climate swings in the 21st century.
Extreme versions of El Niño and La Niña, the sibling Pacific weather patterns that can translate into torrential rains or searing droughts, will likely occur nearly twice as often—approximately once every decade—if greenhouse gases continue increasing on their current trajectory, an international team of scientists has concluded.

The results are actually very, very convincing, and terrifying in a way because we know the impact can be dramatic,” said Wenju Cai, an Australian climate scientist who was the lead author of two recent papers about the research.

If the predictions prove true, it could mean tens of thousands more weather-related deaths and devastating economic damages.

Using computer models that simulate how increasing greenhouse gases alter ocean and land temperatures and wind patterns, the study finds that particularly intense La Niñas will occur approximately every 13 years in this century, compared with every 23 years in the past one.

And those La Niñas will follow more frequently on the heels of a severe El Niño—which according to the earlier study is to be expected every 10 years rather than every 20.

During the most recent extreme La Niña, in the late 1990s, the southwestern United States endured a severe drought, while more than half of Bangladesh was underwater and flooding in China killed thousands and displaced over 200 million people. The preceding El Niño is blamed for weather that did more than $33 billion in damage and claimed 23,000 lives worldwide.

Press link for more: National Geographic

Why we should go it alone on climate change.#Auspol #EarthtoParis #COP21

What if the negotiations in Paris later this month matter less than we think? There are lots of good reasons unilateral action to combat climate change might be a better option. Christian Downie and Peter Drahos write.
In less than a month world leaders will gather in Paris in the latest attempt to address climate change. But what if the negotiations matter less than we think? What if all the hype and expectation misses the fact that states are going it alone on climate change? And not only that, given the urgency of the problem, unilateral action could be our best bet to halt rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Traditionally, we tend to think of climate change as a global collective action problem. The climate is a global public good that requires all nations to act together to protect it. The standard logic is that public goods will be undersupplied because all nations have an incentive to free ride on the efforts of others. For example, Australia can sit back, do nothing and let the US and China reduce emissions. That way we get all the benefits of a better environment, but we incur none of the costs.
Of course, if all countries take this position there will be no environment to enjoy. Which is why the countries have spent the last two decades negotiating. The only way we can protect the climate is to coordinate our actions together. For example, the US only promises to act if China and India reciprocate.
It is this logic of reciprocity that has driven the international climate negotiations since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. There have been some huge successes such as the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, which set legally binding emissions targets for many countries including Australia. But even with the Protocol global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise.
In this context, it may seem irrational to argue for countries to take unilateral actions. In other words, to take actions to reduce emissions that are not contingent on other countries reciprocating and actions that are voluntary in so far as they are being undertaken without a threat of any kind.

A state that acts ahead of time is more likely to be able to shape events than be shaped by them.

Why should Australia reduce emissions if other countries have not signed onto a legally binding agreement to do the same? Why should we incur the costs?
We argue that there are three good reasons for nations to act unilaterally. What’s more, many already are. As an example take the US and China, the two largest emitters in the world that together contribute around 44 per cent of global emissions. Neither country is under any internationally legally binding obligation to act, but they are moving and with increasing swiftness.
For example, in 2013, President Obama outlined his Clean Power Plan to reduce emissions from the power sector by 30 percent by 2030. This follows similar measures, targeting the transport, building and land sectors.
China has also taken a unilateral path. Its 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015) has set nation-wide targets to improve energy intensity, carbon intensity, the share of non-fossil fuels in the economy, not to mention a series of pilot emissions trading schemes, all aimed at drastically reducing its contribution to climate change.
This is not to say that the US and China have not been spurring each other on. After all, President Obama and President Xi jointly announced new targets for addressing climate change in 2014. Yet their actions are not being taken on the condition of direct reciprocity. Neither country is under any internationally binding obligation to act. In short, they are acting unilaterally.
So what are the reasons for acting unilaterally?
First, it can be economically rational. Applying free-rider logic implies that it is rational to find enforceable ways to share the economic costs of reducing emissions. Acting alone is therefore irrational. But is this true? In the trade regime many countries in recent decades have opted for unilateral tariff reduction in order to increase their competitive advantage in the value chains that now straddle the global economy.
Further, a unilateral approach may provide a nation with a significant competitive advantage in international markets. There is good economic evidence to show that when nations implement environmental standards ahead of the pack, like Germany did in the 1990s, they give a nation’s companies an early mover advantage in international markets. With many nations beginning to move on climate change, those that move first, second, third and so on are likely to reap the biggest gains. The global low carbon economy will be dominated by technical standard-setting processes that will cause profound restructuring of national economies. As most companies know it is better to be leader than a laggard in standard setting processes.
Unilateral action is also a prudent geopolitical strategy. Climate change will lead to crisis events, as the US Department of Defence has warned, and will threaten the survival of states themselves, including small island states in our region. Where survival is a dominant motive of states unilateralism is geopolitically rational and something of an imperative. And, a state that acts ahead of time is more likely to be able to shape events than be shaped by them. It is better to lead with ideas and regulatory models than to have them imposed.
Third, it is the right thing to do. To the extent that a unilateral reduction in emissions by any nation reduces the number of deaths and incidence of disease caused by climate change, it is morally superior to act than not to. The claim by some that the actions of one nation will make little difference is not justified. This line of argument confuses the moral correctness of an action with its scale effects. We do not, for example, question the moral correctness of actions by a few brave individuals that have saved only a small number of people from death in concentration camps.
To be clear, we are not arguing for nations to abandon the international climate change negotiations in Paris at the end of the year; far from it. They provide critical momentum to climate change action. But we should not wait for them either. It is in our economic and geopolitical interests to act now; others already are. It is also the right thing to do.
Christian Downie is Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of New South Wales.
Peter Drahos is a professor in the Regulatory Institutions Network at the Australian National University and holds a chair in intellectual property at Queen Mary, University of London.

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Climate Change, Our Children’s Future and the “Oh Sh*t” Moment #Auspol

Governments from around the world gathered in Morocco over the last two days to discuss how to increase ambition on climate change action. Countries responsible for 90% of the world’s CO2 emissions have submitted their reduction plans in advance of the Paris climate meeting later this year, and their collective efforts still add up to a whole lot of climate change – well over the 2° C limit world leaders set for themselves. As ministers were discussing long-term goals and review periods to ensure the Paris agreement doesn’t lock in low ambition for the long-term, I couldn’t help but wonder whether they fully, deeply realized the implications of what they were doing.
Rolling Stone’s recent interview with President Obama underscores the importance of what it means to truly experience the ramifications of climate change. By that I mean to have the “oh, shit” moment described in the article – the kind of moment that hits you over the head like a sledgehammer. A moment that makes you forever remember where you were when you experienced it, like remembering where you were on 9/11.
Jeff Goodell: “Al Gore once told me that he thinks that everyone who cares deeply about climate change has had what he called an “oh, shit” moment when they realized what’s at stake. What was your “oh, shit” moment?”

President Obama: “Well, I did grow up in Hawaii. And the way that you grow up in Hawaii is probably surprisingly similar to the way some folks grew up here in the Arctic Circle. There are traditions that are very close to the land — in Hawaii, the water — and you have an intimate awareness of how fragile ecosystems can be. There are coral reefs in Hawaii that, when I was growing up, were lush and full of fish, that now, if you go back, are not.

And so I don’t think that there was a eureka moment. In my early speeches in 2007-2008, we were already talking about this and making it a prominent issue. What’s happened during my presidency is each time I get a scientific report, I’m made aware that we have less time than we thought, that this is happening faster than we thought. And what that does for me is to say that we have to ring the alarm louder, faster.”

Reading this, I have to admit my first reaction was, “Aha, that explains it, he never had the ‘oh shit’ moment.” Being aware that ecosystems are fragile is one thing; understanding that climate change is not simply an environmental problem but the defining challenge of his generation is something else entirely. Perhaps I am being unfair. President Obama has taken extraordinary measures to lower US CO2 emissions, especially considering the congressional hand he was dealt.
But it’s nowhere near enough, and I can’t help wonder what more he might have done if he’d experienced a life-changing moment. Would he still have allowed the massive expansion of leases for new coal production on federal land? Would he have given Shell leave to explore for oil in the Chukchi Sea? Might he have killed the Keystone XL pipeline years ago? In other words, would he have abandoned his “all of the above” energy strategy in favor of one that leads us more quickly to a 100% renewable energy future?
We’ll never know, nor will we know how many other government leaders realize that their climate policies – the actions they take to curtail their nations’ greenhouse gas emissions – will be the single most important yardstick for how they will be judged by history.

I remember my own such moment, and how it changed my life. It was the summer of 1988, and I was a proud new mother. One day after work my husband turned to me and said “I’m afraid the world’s not going to be a very nice place when our girl grows up.” He had just received a detailed scientific briefing on climate change and was visibly shaken. I’d known about the issue for some time as I had majored in environmental studies in college. But when he told me about the emerging scientific consensus that we were heading for much deeper trouble than anyone had realized, I burst into tears. Like every new mother I had sworn on everything I held holy that I would keep my child safe. And I was devastated when I realized what that promise would mean in a warming world.
But that realization also made me determined to do whatever I could to defy the odds. And even though the odds have only worsened in the meantime, I remain hopeful.
The latest global energy scenario produced by Greenpeace and the Global Wind Energy Council provides a roadmap for safeguarding our children’s future. And guess what? Their forecasts over the last 15 years have been shown in an independent analysis to have been the most reliable – the ones to have most accurately predicted what eventually came to pass – when compared with the more conservative projections of the International Energy Agency, the US Energy Information Administration, Bloomberg New Energy Finance and many others. We have gone much faster than most analysts had predicted, and we can go much faster still.
Now that my kids have grown up, and the impacts of climate change are being seen all over the world, I can barely imagine the changes they will experience in their lifetimes. Hopefully one of those changes will be the total transition to a world fueled by clean, renewable energy.
As World Bank President Jim Kim said recently, “My son will live through a 2, 3 or maybe even 4 degree Celsius warming. We cannot keep apologizing to our children for our lack of action. We must change course now.” Let’s hope that each and every government leader experiences that defining moment, when they decide to do whatever it takes to protect our children’s future.

Press link for more: Kelly Rigg |

Parents/Grandparents Call For Climate Action: ‘We Consider It Our Moral Obligation’ #Auspol

Protecting the planet for future generations has become a near-universal reason — at least among those who accept climate science — to act on climate change. Noted climate scientist James Hansen has said that the U.S. government’s inaction on climate change violates “the fundamental rights of…future generations,” and President Obama said in January that “no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”It’s in that spirit that 14 organizations from around the world announced the launch of Our Kids’ Climate, a group that’s calling on world leaders to act on climate for the sake of kids’ futures. The group, launched Tuesday, is focusing its efforts on the Paris climate talks in December. Members plan to deliver a petition — which so far has garnered nearly 4,000 signatures — to world leaders during the conference “demand[ing] actions strong enough to protect the children we love from catastrophic climate change.” The petition, which organizers say is also addressed towards local and state leaders, calls for international commitments to “keep global temperature rise at safe levels” and, ideally, “a world powered by 100 percent clean energy with net zero greenhouse gas emissions.”

The goal of the organization is to connect parents and grandparents who want to join the fight against climate change, Frida Berry Eklund of Sweden’s pro-climate action group Parents Roar said on a press call Tuesday.

“When I became a parent, the threat of catastrophic climate change became much more real to me,” Eklund said. During the 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen, the voices of parents and grandparents weren’t as loud as they should have been, she said. This year, Our Kids’ Climate wants to make sure parents and grandparents are heard: the group is planning a march for climate action in Paris during the talks.

Parents wanting the best future possible for their children isn’t surprising, but pushing for climate action in order to safeguard kids’ futures makes sense in more ways than one. A 2013 study from Unicef found that children around the world — especially those in poor countries — will be hit with some of the worst impacts of climate change. According to Unicef, 25 million more children won’t get enough to eat due to climate change by 2030, and they’ll be among the most vulnerable when faced with increased incidence of heatwaves.

“Children’s little bodies are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” said Molly Rauch, public health policy director, Moms Clean Air Force. Children’s lungs aren’t yet done growing, she said, which makes them even more vulnerable to smog and other pollutants, and they also take more breaths per minute than adults do. Diarrheal diseases, which are among the leading causes of death in children worldwide, could also increase in incidence as the planet warms. And climate change’s threat to children isn’t a distant one — overall, Rauch said, 88 percent of the deaths caused by climate change in the year 2000 were among children.

“Addressing climate change is an incredible opportunity to give our children not just safe world for the future, but also a world that keeps them healthy today,” she said. “We consider it our moral obligation to take action.”

As parents and grandparents fight for climate action on behalf of their kids, children and young adults themselves have also joined the fray. Twenty young people sued the federal government in August, arguing that inaction on climate change violates their fundamental rights. And youth climate movements have emerged as a strong voice in international climate talks, and the movement to divest from fossil fuel funds has been largely driven by students on college campuses.

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Migrant Crisis: ‘If We Don’t Stop Climate Change…What We See Right Now Is Just the Beginning’

A Q&A with Frank Biermann, a Dutch researcher who led a controversial 2010 study on climate refugees, who fears crises like Europe’s will only get worse.

By Phil McKenna

Sep 14, 2015

The surge of people fleeing to Europe from the Middle East highlights how quickly mass migrations can occur. It may also offer a glimpse of what’s to come as climate change makes some regions around the world unlivable, according to a leading researcher on the human effects of climate change.

Frank Biermann, a professor of political science and environmental policy sciences at VU University Amsterdam, led researchers in the Netherlands five years ago in a study that warned there may be as many as 200 million climate refugees by 2050. That staggering number first arose out of research in 1995, and it has always been controversial. The study Biermann led in 2010 recommended the creation of an international resettlement fund for climate refugees.
Today’s migrant crisis may be due in part to climate change, Biermann said in an interview with InsideClimate News. Syria, where 7.6 million people are displaced inside the country and another 4 million are seeking asylum elsewhere, a severe drought plagued the country from 2006-09. A recent study pinned the blame for that drought on climate change, and the drought has been cited as a contributing factor to the unrest there. Millions of additional refugees may need to leave their homes in coming decades as a result of a changing climate, Biermann said.
As Biermann discussed the issue, his 9-year-old daughter was preparing a welcome package that included toys, books and a note with her home phone number that will be delivered to an immigrant girl her own age.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
InsideClimate News: The ongoing uprising in Syria was preceded by the region’s most severe drought on record. Are the Syrians now moving into Europe climate refugees?

Frank Biermann: Many of these refugees come from countries that are affected by climate change, there is no doubt about that, even though I would not make necessarily any causal link between climate change and the Syrian or Iraqi crises. Of course, there are many other reasons responsible for the war and civil strife in these countries.
My argument in the paper from 2010 has been that over the following decades and the second half of the century we can expect much more migration to happen due to the impacts of climate change. That is the expectation from many models that have to do with sea level rise, land degradation, desertification, water shortages and a number of other issues that historically have been causes for migration. It’s quite obvious in the case of sea level rise where coastal defenses are technically not feasible or too expensive. In such cases people will have to move and resettle somewhere else.
ICN: How does what we are seeing now compare with what is likely to come?
FB: There are a number of scenarios in the literature that are predicting vast numbers of climate refugees in the future, up to 200 million people by 2050. Many of these projections and scenarios are slightly outdated. The current debate is a bit more careful or optimistic because these newer scenarios are all based on assumptions about the adaptive capacities of these countries and the severities of climate change impacts and also on human behavior. Many people would now argue that the numbers that have been published especially in the 1990s and early 2000s are too pessimistic.  
On other hand, it’s quite obvious that there are certainly areas, especially low-lying coastal areas, that quite likely will be severely affected from sea level rise. You can look at how many people are in low-lying areas in Bangladesh, in Egypt, in Vietnam and the eastern part of China. There are millions of people who are in these kinds of areas, and the same is also true for land degradation, desertification and water shortages. It is likely that a lot of this migration will be internal migration within the country; it’s not necessarily to be expected that everyone will go on a boat to Europe.
ICN: The 200 million figure you cite in your 2010 study has been controversial since Norman Myers of Oxford University first proposed it in 1995. The Biodiversity Institute at Oxford said the figure is “widely viewed as lacking academic credibility,” and Stephen Castles from Oxford’s International Migration Institute said Myers’ objective was to “really scare public opinion and politicians into taking action on climate change.” Does what we are seeing now change things?
FB: I think it’s much more complex than thought originally. If climate change continues to develop the way it is predicted to develop, then there is a high likelihood that more people will be negatively affected in their livelihoods, and it’s likely that more people will have at some point to relocate and resettle.
Climate change has the potential of increasing all refugee crises and of creating new refugee crises. It is never a one-to-one relationship that people are leaving just because of climate change. It is always linked to all kind of other factors—economic factors, social factors, political factors, religious factors—but all these factors that are supporting civil war and migration might be increased by climate change.  
If we don’t stop climate change, then what we see right now is just the beginning. It has the possibility to turn into a major driver of migration movements, and this is one of the many, many arguments of why we have to stop climate change.
ICN: What needs to happen to protect future climate refugees?
FB: We see a direct moral and legal connection between rich countries and the impacts of climate change. The majority of people negatively affected by climate change live in poor countries where they have almost nothing to do with the causation of the problem.  
We came up with a proposal to have a separate fund, the Climate Refugee Protection and Resettlement Fund, to address this particular problem. The bottom line is when you are sitting in Tuvalu and you have to leave your island, and you are certainly not responsible for climate change, then you can have a moral and legal right to request compensation and assistance from rich countries.
ICN: Since your 2010 study, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change launched the Green Climate Fund to do much of what you describe. The initial plan was to have wealthy countries donate $100 billion a year by 2020, but so far only $10.2 billion has been pledged. Is this enough?
FB: The original numbers in the $100 billions are realistic, but I think definitely more investment is needed.

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