Limits to Growth

A Matter of 50C Climate Change in Australia #StopAdani 

A Matter of Fifty Degrees: Climate Change in Australia
A country baked to the core, its citizens roasted, an electricity grid battered to its limits.

 Capital cities trapping scorching heat, toasting its citizens and assaulting the young, the elderly, the infirm with temperature fluctuations. 


 This is the vision of Australia by the end of this century according to an Australian National University study released earlier this month. 
The study, published in Geophysical Letters, insists that,
“Understanding the magnitude, as well as the frequency, of such future extremes [in temperature] is critical for limiting detrimental impacts.”


Glumly, the authors note how,
“The severity of possible future temperature extremes simulated by climate models in this study poses serious challenges for preparedness for future climate change in Australia.” 
A few of the implications are pointed out by the chief investigator of the project, Dr. Sophie Lewis of the Fenner School of Environment and Society and the Centre of Excellent for Climate System Science at ANU.
“We have to be thinking about how we can be prepared for large population groups commuting to and from the CBD on these extremely hot days, and how we send young children to school on 50C days, how our hospitals are prepared for a larger number of admissions of young or old people, and how our infrastructure can cope with it.”


As with so much in the climate change literature, the tone is one of mild hope tempered by catastrophic prospect, a breathless urgency tinged with a slight degree of panic. 

 Assumptions are made and duly factored in.
The ANU study, for instance, presumes a credible effort to contain global warming to 1.5C, the target set by the Paris Agreement. 

 Even so, claims Lewis,
“A lot of warming is locked into the climate system and we really have to be prepared for extremes in the future to get much worse than they are now.”
According to Lewis, the climate modelling “projected daily temperatures of up to 3.8 degrees Celsius above existing records in Victoria and New South Wales, despite the ambitious Paris efforts to curb warming.”

The study’s primary focus is on major cities, and, as is the Australian tendency, the two largest tend to figure prominently as sites of study. 

Prepare, city dwellers of Sydney and Melbourne, for those 50C days.

 Prepare, suggests Sydney’s Deputy Lord Mayor Jess Miller, for melting public transport. Anticipate “heat continents” with “grey infrastructure and roads and buildings absorbing all that heat”.

Do such reports and findings matter? 

 In Australia, the battles rage, the sceptics froth.

 The ABC news site invited readers to advance suggestions as to how best to cope with such temperature rises.

 There is flippancy, disbelief and the usual scepticism that anyone should even bother.
Forget the model mad scientist, runs this line of opinion: temperature rises may or may not be rising and suggestions that the human race is set for catastrophe are exaggerated, if not hysterical. 

 There is denial, even a good smattering of abuse. Climate change models are, simply, models.

A certain commentator by the name of “Rational” found Lewis and her findings tiresome, and duly employed the oldest tactic in the manual of debate by simply ignoring her findings:
“Blah Blah Blah again from Dr. Sophie Lewis, my guess is she is around 30 years of age, most records broken this year are only 10/15 years of data please show me otherwise. But keep paying the good Dr in the interim.”

Robbert Bobbert simply chose outright, abusive dismissal.
“More delusion and those addicted to their Computer Model Toys.”
This was all a “Sham Scam” and Lewis and those “ABC acolyte journalists” were hardly going to be around in 83 years to falsify it. “Maybe the baby that this hysterical scientist wrote about will be around to check.”
The human instinct to embrace the driving force of Thanatos, to write collective suicide notes and be cast into oblivion is well known. Entire civilizations have collapsed for failing to adapt and adjust. Evidence, even if disconcertingly staring in the face, can be refuted with pig-headed stubbornness.
In Australia, a persistent, coal-coloured scepticism remains about climate and its effects. 

 Where mining remains the holder of orb and sceptre, a rational discussion about environment, let alone climate, is always going be stunted. 

 The good life, even if warmer, is set to continue.

The Tony Abbots will continue to praise rising heat on the global stage, and, if confounded by their impacts, suggest that it could hardly be happening. 

Such are the views of those in denial. 

 Chin-up and understatement are seemingly in order, and that was duly supplied Miller herself. “It’s not great news, obviously.”
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMITUniversity, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Press link for more: Global Research

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Everything we love is at risk! #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

The Last Decade and You
Everything we love is at risk, unless we build a faster, more disruptive and more visionary climate movement, now.
Alex Steffen

Jun 6

The Last Decade is a manifesto about the need to see farther ahead, fight smarter and dream bigger — if we’re going to make it through this climate emergency.

— — —


The Last Decade: An Introduction.

 

Even before Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement — the first essentially universal commitment by the peoples of the Earth to pursue the same goal of an ecological future — we all knew our planet was in crisis.

 

We all know that at the very center of that crisis is growing climate chaos. 

Most people living on Earth know this now. 

What fewer of us know — and even fewer have deeply explored — is the spring driving the mechanism of our greenhouse disaster.

 

That tight-wound spring is time; specifically, how little of it we have left.

 

When we think of the climate crisis, we think of the causes and the consequences: belching smokestacks, roads packed with cars. cracking ice sheets, burning forests. 

What few of us think enough about are the curves.

 

We all know about climate budgets — estimates of how much carbon pollution we can release and still keep the planet within a given temperature range.

 Most of us understand that when you have a budget, and you’re depleting it at a steady rate, it becomes a deadline. 

The only way to extend that deadline is to curve downwards the rate at which you are exhausting your budget. 

With climate emissions, that curve arches inexorably towards zero, and quite possibly beyond, into a world where we commit serious resources to restoring the atmosphere to a saner chemistry.


 

Every day that we continue filling the sky with greenhouse pollution, the curve back towards sanity grows steeper. 

At a certain point, that curve grows so steep that the actions we need to take are no longer connected to the actions we might have taken before.

 We are compelled to attempt large, headlong changes. 

We are forced to spring forward at a tempo we wouldn’t previously have considered.

 

To cut to the chase, I believe we have passed that point, and everything is moving rapidly now, except for our thinking.

 

It’s no big mystery why our thinking is so outdated. 

For more than two decades, many people tried to sell climate action — especially here in America — by arguing that it wouldn’t really demand much change, at all. 

Small steps, we were told, could add up to big impacts. 

Innovation would whisk away the most polluting parts of our lives, leaving us with green SUVs, McMansions and big box stores. 

Abstract and distant mechanisms — like cap-and-trade schemes — could do the remaining heavy lifting, and we’d barely even know they were working. 

Saving the planet might not be exactly easy — this argument went — but it could be slow, gradual, a barely noticeable transition.

 

It was a nice idea. 

The problem is, it wasn’t true, even then.

 There once was a time when steady incremental actions could have staved off planetary catastrophe.

 That hasn’t been the case, though, since at least the mid-1990s. 

As the years have passed this vision of slow climate action without large scale transformation has gone from unworkable to a downright dangerous delusion, part of the crisis itself.

 

The destruction of planetary stability is not some ancient curse. 

Instead, it’s the momentum of choices made by people who are largely still alive. 

The world we were born into was made unsustainably. 

Between roughly 1990 and now, half of all greenhouse gasses humanity has ever emitted were poured into the sky.

 Go back to the end of World War Two, and the percentage rises past 85%. 

Now, even as the natural world is spiraling into wider (and wilder) chaos, the energy, transportation, manufacturing and agricultural systems we built in the years since World War Two are still revving at doomsday machine velocities.

 There’s some evidence climate emissions have leveled off, but they’re still so dire that every year that goes by forecloses some of humanity’s options. 

Business as usual leads directly, quickly, inexorably to total catastrophe. 

It cannot go on, and what cannot go on, comes to an end.

To stay within two degrees, we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions 50% a decade, while launching a massive commitment to ecological conservation and reforestation.

The world we were born into is coming to an end. That’s the good news. 

The bad news is, it’s not coming to an end fast enough.

 

Remember those curves? 

We are coming to the moment where smart actions delayed become smart actions made impossible. 

If we miss the next decade, the 2020s, those curves become steep enough that the options we have left will be tragic and desperate, even forlorn hopes.

 

 All good work now keeps in mind when we are. 

It also acknowledges that the kind of action now called for are different than the ones from earlier, gentler curves — and that the ways they’re different require us to embrace new thinking.

 

 Real sustainability only comes in one variety, now: Disruptive.

 

 All sensible people are rightly appalled at the climate denialism and carbon cronyism we see in Congress and the White House. 

Having been forced to turn from the national stage to other approaches, though, we will now discover that the greatest barrier to bold climate action is no longer denialism, but delay.

 

 Predatory delay is everywhere. 

Corruption erodes the very foundations of our democracy. 

Disinformation floods our media. 

Civic sabotage and broken governments slow progress to a crawl. 

Outdated thinking clouds our sense of what’s truly possible. 

The Carbon Bubble looms. 

Many who claim to also desire climate action throw up fierce hostility in defense of a destructive status quo. 

In Blue America, anti-climate politics isn’t about disputing science, it’s about denying what science tells us about the need to act quickly. 

Delay is doom, but delay has many champions.

 

 The curve we’ve been forced onto bends so steeply, that the pace of victory is part of victory itself. 

Winning slowly is basically the same thing as losing outright. 

We cannot afford to pursue past strategies, aimed at limited gains towards distant goals. 

In the face of both triumphant denialism and predatory delay, trying to achieve climate action by doing the same things, the same old ways, means defeat. 

It guarantees defeat. 

 

 Want to win fast? 

What we need now is a movement to unmake and rebuild the world we were born into. 

That work must be disruptive to the dirty systems around us. 

It must be achieved in the face of direct political opposition. 

It must accelerate itself through cascading successes. 

If climate action doesn’t aggressively out-compete and replace fossil fuel production, fossil-fuel-dependent industries and high-carbon practices, it’ll fail.


 

 We need strategies for working together that can actually win. 

This is why I’m kicking off this newsletter with a short, raw manifesto, The Last Decade.

 I’ll be publishing that over the next three weeks or so.

 

 We need a movement built to win.

 I think such a movement is within our grasp. 

Fighting to win, and win fast, can open up new opportunities for millions of people — especially young people — that cannot exist where change is slow and timid. 

Those opportunities, in turn, give us a shot at not only solving longstanding problems — housing, jobs, health, food — but gaining the political power to win bigger changes on wider scales. 

Remaking the world can give us the power to go on remaking it, despite the powerful enemies we face.

 

 Millions and millions of us are ready. 

We want to not only build carbon-zero cities and regions but to live the lives that will make them thrive. 

We want clean energy, sure; indeed, we demand all energy be clean energy. But generating more clean energy — vital as it is — is only one part of making the world we need. 

We also need to imagine, design and rapidly build cities where prosperity demands much less energy to begin with and ends up shared with far more of our neighbors: cities of abundant housing in super-insulated green buildings; of walkable neighborhoods, effective transit, shared vehicles and abundant bike lanes; of circular flows of resources and frugal excellence; of breakthrough technologies and worldchanging designs; of lived innovation and community creativity — of more adventure, more fun, and, for fuck’s sake, more beauty.


 

 Beauty matters.

 The sheer ugliness of the old industrial way of life all around us is something we’re taught not to see. 

We’re taught not too see its aesthetic ugliness, sure, but even more we are taught to ignore its ugliness of soul, it’s ugliness of purpose, its ugliness of effect. Look away, numb yourself, never speak of it again.

 

 Millions of us do not want to spend our brief spans on Earth contributing to these systems of catastrophic ugliness. 

We want to live in systems that are beautiful to be a part of, beautiful in their workings, and beautiful for future generations.

 

 We need to demand the freedom build the beautiful. 

If a new movement today is going to be about anything meaningful, it must be at its very core a fight to build the beautiful, at the scale of the necessary, in the very short time we have left.

 

 Which brings me to the last part, the critical power of positive and practiced imagination. We can’t launch a movement we can’t imagine.

 

As I’ve said for years, protesting the things we oppose may slow disaster but it doesn’t build a new world. 

We must also imagine the future we want, and in times when only heroic actions will do, we’re called on to imagine a heroic future.

 

This is why I’m telling future stories now, here in this newsletter. My anticipatory journalism of life in the fictional city of San Patricio, California in 2025 is meant to offer paths into the interior lives of people working to create the kinds of changes we need. I have strong intuitions about what the transformation we’re going through means, how it might work, how it will feel. I may not be right, but if I spur you as a reader into developing your own new intuitions about the future, we’ve both won.

 

See, I feel a powerful certainty that we need an explosion of creativity in the next couple years. We must see ahead with fresh eyes. That kind of seeing demands creative exploration, prototypes and experiments, cultural events and experiences, tinkering and invention, trying new things at scale, I want to be part of a movement that embraces the wild permission to do extraordinary things that comes from living in a collapsing society.
My contribution, I hope, will be my words.

 

Of course, we need to not only see, but act. Everywhere in the world, we desperately need to re-imagine radically better lives but the advocacy and enterprises that can make them possible. We not only we need to imagine them fast, we need to imagine them as fast. We need to imagine undertakings that can out-compete the world we were born into through political uprising, economic disruption, risk-taking innovation and above all else, speed.

 

Headlong speed, my friends, is the only way left to say yes to the world.

 

Speed, you see, means everything. Speed means planetary sanity. Speed means justice. Speed means prosperity. Speed means a future for our kids. For potentially hundreds of millions of people, speed means survival itself. Speed is beauty.

 

 We are about to begin the last decade. The time has come to become the people who can first re-imagine and then remake the world in the time we have left. The time is now to seize the future.

Press link for more: The Nearly Now

Summer Could Be One Long Heatwave 2C #ClimateChange #Auspol #StopAdani 

Summer Could Be One Long Heatwave If Planet Hits Increase of 2 Degrees C


How heatwaves will change around the world for every 1°C increase in global average temperatures
Heatwaves will become a daily occurrence over summer in some regions even if global warming is kept to 2°C.
Summer in some regions of the world will become one long heatwave even if global average temperatures rise only 2°C above pre-industrial levels and certain regions may become close to unliveable if temperatures increase by 5°C.
Even with just a 1.5°C increase in global temperatures there are significant changes to the length, intensity, and frequency of heatwaves in every part of the world.
That’s the finding of new research by Dr. Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science published Sept. 27 in Scientific Reports that divides the globe into 26 regions and looks at how heatwaves will change with every 1°C rise in global temperatures.

When all the regions are combined, for every 1°C of warming during summer the researchers found there would likely be:
An extra 14.8-28.2 heatwave days.

Heatwaves would be 3.4-17.5 days longer.

The peak intensity of heatwaves will increase 1.2°C-1.9°C. 

But it’s when the researchers drilled down to the region-by-region level that the most startling changes appeared.
“We were particularly surprised by the alarmingly fast increase in heatwave days in the tropics where some regions transition to an almost constant heatwave state with just a 2°C rise,” said Perkins-Kirkpatrick.
“We also found that even with just a 1.5°C increase in global temperatures, almost all regions started to experience heatwave events every four years that once only occurred every 30 years.

 If global temperatures were to rise by 5°C such events would occur every year.”


By dividing the globe into 26 distinct regions, the research also highlighted the wide variation in heatwave responses across the world. 

There was a much sharper increase in peak temperatures of heatwaves over the Mediterranean and Central Asia.
Meanwhile, tropical regions saw many more additional heatwave days and longer continuous heatwaves than other parts of the world.
The only decline to appear across the research was the number of discrete heatwave events in two regions, Central America and Eastern Africa. 
But this was not good news because these regions also saw the greatest increase in heatwave days.
Effectively what had once been two heatwaves had now merged into one long heatwave.
“This study is yet another wake-up call to policymakers that we need to act on limiting the rise in global average temperatures due to human-caused climate change,” Kirkpatrick said. 

“Without prompt action, there could be disastrous consequences for many regions around the world.”

Press link for more: Lab Manager

Sea Level 2M Higher by 2100 #StopAdani #ClimateChange #Auspol #Qldpol 

Fingerprinting’ the Ocean to Predict Devastating Sea Level Rise
Scientists are using satellites to identify where increasing sea levels could result in the most destructive storm surge as hurricanes grow more powerful due to climate change.
Sep. 18, 2017

The St. Johns River rises from storm surge flood waters from Hurricane Irma on September 11, 2017, in Jacksonville, Florida.Sean Rayford/Getty Images/AFP

Scientists are “fingerprinting” sea level rise around the world in an effort to identify coastal areas most at risk from devastating storm surge, as hurricanes grow increasingly destructive.
Warming ocean temperatures due to climate change can fuel more powerful storms. 

Hurricane-force winds push water onto land, putting lives and property at risk while rising sea levels in coastal areas have magnified the impact of such storm surge.

 Now a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters verifies the accuracy of a satellite-based monitoring tool called “sea level fingerprinting.” 

The technology detects varying patterns in regional sea levels, which can be used for predicting how climate change will affect future storm surge in flood-prone coastal areas.
“Sea level fingerprints tell us about how sea level rises regionally around the globe due to melting ice sheets and changes in water storage,” said the study’s lead author, Isabella Velicogna, a professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine, and a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Sea level fingerprints will provide information on where sea level rises faster and therefore the coastline is more vulnerable to storm surge.”
The bulk of the data used for the project was collected by a pair of Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites that can detect movement of water on Earth – such as sea level rise or depletion of freshwater aquifers – by measuring the resulting gravitational changes. Velicogna and her coauthor Chia-Wei Hsu, a postdoctoral scholar at U.C. Irvine, compared 12 years of sea level fingerprint data with data taken by seafloor pressure sensors that measure the overlying mass of water and ice. While the physical measurements are considered most accurate, Velicogna and Hsu found the satellite-derived measurements were very similar.
The scientists concluded that the satellite data provides a fairly accurate picture of sea level fingerprints that could create a roadmap for better placement of seafloor pressure sensors. These sensors may be used to improve sea level fingerprint calculations in the future – and help people in vulnerable coastal zones better understand the extent of storm surge when a hurricane strikes. Velicogna said that based on sea level fingerprint data, it’s already become clear which geographic regions are most vulnerable to floods.
“The greatest rise is not near the ice sheets – where sea level will actually fall – but far from the ice sheets,” said Velicogna. “So, the largest increase in sea level is going to be at low latitudes” where the water mass of melted ice is redistributed over large areas.


Global sea levels have increased by an average of 3in (8cm) globally since 1992, with some areas experiencing a rise greater than 9in (23cm), according to NASA. If climate change continues at its current pace, increased warming may melt enough of Earth’s ice caps, ice sheets and glaciers to raise average sea levels as much as 6.6ft (2m) by 2100.
The two GRACE satellites have been collecting data about Earth’s gravity field for the past 15 years, allowing scientists for the first time to calculate the depletion of freshwater supplies in aquifers around the world and the rate at which glaciers are melting. But one of the satellites has nearly exhausted its nitrogen fuel supply and its battery is failing. While NASA and its partner, the German Aerospace Center, have stabilized the failing satellite, they announced last week that both GRACE satellites would be decommissioned after a final mission ends in November. Now the space agencies are rushing to put a new pair of satellites, GRACE-Follow-On, into orbit by early 2018 to avoid an interruption in the collection of crucial data.
In the meantime, scientists will continue monitoring the seas in an attempt to predict floods before they happen, especially before major storms. “Sea level fingerprints will provide information on where sea level rises faster and therefore the coastline is more vulnerable to storm surge,” said Velicogna.

Press Link for more: News Deeply.Com

The Truth About Souring Power Prices #auspol #climatechange 

The truth about soaring power prices: wind and solar not to blame.
By ABC business editor Ian Verrender 


Between them, however, competition kahuna Rod Sims and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week demolished an old chestnut about renewable energy: it is not the cause for the recent spike in electricity prices.
In fact, according to both, it has had very little impact.
For the past decade or more, we’ve been bombarded with the message from a vocal but powerful minority within Parliament and the broader community that the switch to renewable energy has made Australia uncompetitive, crippled our industry and driven power prices higher.


The real issue is that, fundamentally, they don’t believe climate change is real or that humans have adversely affected the planet.
Having spent so long denying science and rejecting the overwhelming body of evidence, they’re now being forced to ignore economics; that renewables have become a cheaper longer term power source.
Coal is the future, they argue.

Coal-fired generators have no future here


Much of the debate about our future power generation has become mired in political point scoring and simplistic arguments designed to inflame and outrage, writes Ian Verrender.

That’s simply not a view shared by the power generators, whose primary motivation is to turn a profit and stay in business, or the banks who must finance them.
Nor is it a view shared by BHP, the nation’s biggest company that built a large part of its wealth on coal exports.
Last week, it confirmed it was reviewing its membership of the Minerals Council of Australia because of “materially different positions” on issues such as a Clean Energy Target and climate change.
Technical innovation around renewable energy generation has seen costs plummet.
So much so that US investment bank Goldman Sachs — hardly a standard bearer for radical ideology — now argues that, rather than pushing power costs higher, renewable energy is the cheapest form of power generation.

 More on that later.
The truth about the power price spike
As the theatre over keeping open the creaking Liddell coal-fired power station in NSW’s Hunter Valley played an encore last week, the ACCC boss and the PM delivered a few sobering nuggets.
First, there was Rod Sims at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday: “Forty-one per cent of the increase in electricity prices over the last 10 years has been in network costs and we keep forgetting that.”
He went on: “Those poles and wires that run down your street are the main reason you are paying too much for your electricity.”
Video: Rod Sims addressed the National Press Club on “Australia’s Gas and Electricity Affordability Problem” (National Press Club)

According to Mr Sims, extra retail charges account for 24 per cent of the higher prices while higher generation costs as a result of a failure to invest make up 19 per cent of the price hikes.
Green energy initiatives contribute just 16 per cent to the recent price hikes.
On Thursday in Brisbane, responding to questions, the PM concurred, explaining that “particularly for retail customers, the largest single part of your bill is the network costs.”
“That’s the poles and wires basically,” he said.
Gas, not coal, will fix prices
The short-term fix to Australia’s soaring electricity prices is to fix the gas crisis, but long-term fix it’s greater investment in renewables and energy storage, writes Ian Verrender.

But then he elaborated on the more immediate issues, particularly around generation and the changes that have been foisted upon consumers.
“In terms of the green schemes, they do have a cost but it is a relatively small cost,” he said.
“Gas is the biggest single fact at this point in time.”
What does gas have to do with it? As the PM explained, the electricity price is set by the last generator to come into the stack.
It’s what economists call the marginal cost of production. You might be to meet half the demand at low price. But it is the expensive bit at the end that determines how much a producer will charge everyone.
When it comes to electricity, gas is that last final element.
“It is peaking power,” the PM said. “The increase in the gas price has increased the cost of electricity.”
The gas debacle

Gas prices haven’t just increased. They have quadrupled.
And the tragedy is that Australia, with one of the greatest reserves of gas on the planet, now charges its households and businesses far more to use that energy than the countries to which we export.
Gas forgotten in energy debate
As politicians continue trading barbs over the merits of renewable energy versus coal-fired power generation, missing from the debate these days has been the role of gas.

With the continued reversal of policy on carbon pricing and climate change, the unofficial industry consensus was to build solar and wind generation with gas-fired back-up to shore up reliability; a decision affirmed by the chief scientist Alan Finkel in his report on how to cope with future challenges.
But three major export terminals were built at Curtis Island just off Gladstone in Queensland, with Santos building a plant that required far more gas than to which it had access.
To fulfil its export contracts, it began sourcing gas previously destined for the domestic market.
That forced the price of domestic gas sky high just as a global glut sent international prices crashing.
It’s now cheaper to buy Australian gas in Asia. A fortnight ago, gas from West Australia’s giant Gorgon project was sold to India at $8.70 a gigajoule. East coast gas sells here for $17.50.
That’s why the Federal Government has shanghaied gas producers like Santos to direct export gas back into the local market.
If Australians could get the same deal on our gas that Indians have secured, our electricity would be much cheaper.
Renewables or coal: What is the cheapest?
 A line chart showing the price of LCOE dropping dramatically since 1983.


When it comes to cost, coal lobbyists usually refer to the subsidies doled out to the renewable sector to argue the industry wouldn’t exist if it had to stand on its own.
That’s a valid point. But it overlooks two things; the vast billions handed out to the coal industry and the increasing competitiveness of renewables.
Every coal fired generator in Australia was built, not just partially subsidised, entirely with taxpayer funds.
When they were privatised, many were given state owned coal mines with contract prices way below market, effectively a further subsidy.
Then there are the health costs.
A health study in the Latrobe Valley last year identified much higher respiratory and asthma admissions to hospital than the Victorian average while life expectancy was significantly lower than the state average.
But it is the cost of energy generation where the game really is changing.
As the Goldman Sachs graphs above show, renewable energy costs have plunged by up to 70 per cent since 2009 and will be the cheapest form of generation in Europe this year and in the US within eight years on a levelised cost basis.
When the cost of installation is taken into account, however, the story changes.

Wind and solar are much cheaper. Not only is the fuel free and faces no regulatory risk — in the form of a carbon price — but the technology is simpler and quicker to install.
Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel went one step further. He factored the extra costs of adding gas or battery backup to ensure stability or baseload power in the system.
Wind still came out cheapest, with solar only marginally more expensive than black coal.


Renewable plants can be built within one to three years while coal-fired plants take between four and seven years to build.
Putting aside arguments about climate change, the main problem with coal-fired electricity is that the numbers no longer stack up.
It’s too expensive, it has much higher regulatory risks and renewable technology is rapidly advancing.
It will take more than a taxpayer subsidy to build one here. It will need a full taxpayer handout. And it will result in more expensive power bills.
Coal is simply a form of stored solar energy. New technology has delivering cleaner, more efficient and cheaper ways to directly harvest solar energy to power our lives.
Don’t expect that innovation to stop.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

We’re in a race against time! Demand climate action #StopAdani #auspol 

We’re in a race against time!
A most important video. Every thing is at stake & your actions will determine the future of humanity!

Systematic failure #ClimateChange #StopAdani 

Climate change, Migration, Capitalism. Solutions for systemic failure. 

Part 1: Systemic failures
Introduction
David Wallace-Wells’ recent article The Unhabitable Earth in New York Magazine has been read by hundreds of thousands. 

“It is, I promise, worse than you think,” the first sentence reads.

 There is no doubt that many readers have been shocked by the avalanche of sober information that the author presents in order to make the point that it is, indeed, worse, much worse, than most of us think.

 In fact, without exaggeration, it is even worse than Wallace-Wells portrays the situation because – but this is inevitable when trying to achieve the impossible by capturing the main dangers of climate change in one article – some essential papers have been left unaddressed, for example the Friedrich and the Hansen papers.
There are also some mistakes.

 For example, Wallace-Wells writes that:
“The most exciting research on the economics of warming has (…) come from Hsiang and his colleagues (…) who offer some very bleak analysis of their own: 

Every degree Celsius of warming costs, on average, 1.2 percent of GDP (…) 

This is the sterling work in the field, and their median projection is for a 23 percent loss in per capita earning globally by the end of this century (resulting from changes in agriculture, crime, storms, energy, mortality, and labor.)

 Tracing the shape of the probability curve is even scarier:

 There is a 12 percent chance that climate change will reduce global output by more than 50 percent by 2100, they say, and a 51 percent chance that it lowers per capita GDP by 20 percent or more by then, unless emissions decline” 
This is not what Hsiang, Burke and Miguel are saying (see here and here for a FAQ-list about the Nature article in question). Hsiang et al. point out that climate change will make the world economy smaller than it would be without climate change – not that it will make the world economy of the future smaller than it is now.
How large will the economy be in 2100?

 According to the OECD, the total output of the global economy will grow at three percent for the next 50 years . As Dolan explains, projecting that rate to the end of the century would make global real GDP about fourteen times higher in 2099 than in 2010.

 Hsiang et al. use several estimates of growth rates, including one that assumes that per capita GDP in each country will grow from 2010 to 2099 at the same rate it grew from 1980 to 2010.

 Their results imply an average annual growth rate of 2.35 percent, which would make per capita global GDP about eight times higher in 2099 than in 2010.

 As Ed Dolan explains, based on these estimates, if climate change cuts real GDP by 23 percent relative to what it otherwise would be, total output of the global economy would still be eleven times larger than it is today, using the OECD estimate for growth.

 And, as Dolan writes, with the method used by Hsiang et al., per capita GDP in 2099, with climate change, would be more than six times higher in 2099 than in 2010.
Burke has posted online complete country-by-country growth estimates. 

The chart shows the ratio of estimated 2099 GDP per capita to 2010 GDP per capita for 165 countries without climate change (blue dots) and with climate change (red dots). 

The points are arranged along the horizontal axis according to 2010 GDP per capita, so for each country, the blue dot lies directly above or below that same country’s red dot.

 Climate change is on average detrimental to GDP, except for 38 of the 165 countries.

 The biggest “winners” are Mongolia, Finland, Iceland, and Russia. 

The biggest losers are countries that were hot to begin with and grew slowly in the base period, with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates faring worst of all.
Dolan

Figure 1: Projected 2099 GDP per capita with and without climate change according to Burke (Source: Ed Dolan, Niskanen Center). 
Not that I believe this. Look at what Ed Dolan writes:
“(I)t is hardly surprising that these models (…) see the likely future as one with both continued global warming and continued economic growth. (…) (T)here is a fundamental causal relationship between the two. The standard models are built on the premise that economic activity is the principle source of the carbon emissions that drive climate change (…). Given the structure of the models, then, if the economy were to begin shrinking rather than growing, then other things equal, climate change itself would slow”. 
But this is a cardinal misunderstanding: there will be no other things equal, not only because of the delay phenomenon (if we stop emitting carbon dioxide today, temperature will still rise for a long time), but also, and more importantly, because, man-made climate change (Anthropogenic Climate Disruption, ACD) compromised (and continues to compromise) the capacity of the Earth system to capture CO2, while at the same time man-made warming causes the Earth system to increasingly emit CO2 and methane.


 This means that the “standard models” are wrong, because the premise they are built upon is wrong: “economic activity” is no longer the only important source of carbon emissions.

 The estimate is that about 50% of total global fossil fuel emissions over the past 100 years have been absorbed by the land and oceans. 

If the sinks are exhausted or overwhelmed or shallow marine sediment outgassing and permafrost melting occurs, it is possible that, in the worst case scenario, a 50% reduction in the use of fossil fuels (not that there is a realistic strategy to achieve this) would have no effect on the growth rate of atmospheric CO2.

This is how serious the situation is.
To make it worse than you think it is, given the above: it is not that we are making progress. 

As a world, we do not. 

Fossil fuels accounted for 81% of the world’s energy consumption in 1987.

 Incredibly, thirty years and twenty one international climate change conferences later the figure is the same: 81% And forget ‘clean coal.’ Clean coal is as feasible as it is unaffordable.

Certainly, some countries have made substantial progress. But as a world, the “business-as-usual” scenario is the progress. And this will not change, at least not for as long as, as Flassbeck writes, the current oil price remains lower than in 1974 – a fact that is not well-known and of which the consequences are unfathomable.
Systemic failures

The United Nations recently released a report warning us that we will likely see upward of 50 million climate refugees within the next decade.

 They were wrong.

 Today, the estimate of displaced persons because of ACD is in excess of 65 million. 

There is no doubt that this is only the beginning of a much bigger, almost unfathomable, change. 

In 2014, the IPCC suggested that up to 700 million people currently living in low-lying coastal zones – 438 million in Asia and 246 million in the least developed countries – will be directly at risk to threats of climate change in the 21th Century. 

According to a new study by Geisler et al. the figure could be 1.4 billion by 2060 and 2 billion by the end of the century. 

What are global policy-makers doing?
Logically enough, the low lying islands, coastal regions, large river deltas and underdeveloped regions are most in danger of catastrophic change.

 According to a report from the World Bank (2014; updated 2015), 30 percent of arable land risks disappearing in Africa and 26% in Asia by 2030.


According to this report, massive floods will occur in some areas, as well as massive reductions in fish catch, there will be prolonged and severe droughts in Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia, agricultural yields and nutritional quality will drop (in combination with growing populations), there will be sea-level rise, the destruction of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, the increasing acidification of oceans, increasing under-nourishment, increases in childhood stunting.

 Malaria and other easily preventable or curable diseases will prove lethal for many.

 As Wallace-Wells reminds us, for every degree increase in temperature, the malaria parasite reproduces ten times faster.
In sub-Saharan Africa more than 60 million people who are already going hungry are likely to see their situation worsen due to increasing drought, other ACD impacts and threat multipliers such as uprooted communities, ethnic and/or religious strife, semi-failed and failed states, rising fundamentalism, conflicts within and wars between states.
Problems by no means only occur in developing countries.

 In Europe, desertification is creeping up north year by year. 

Cities such as Madrid and Barcelona are suffering water shortages during summer.

 The drought destroys the livelihoods of rural communities, both to the south and to the north of the Pyrenees. Desertification is taking place in the south of Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. 

By the end of the century, two out of three people living in Europe will be affected by heat waves, coastal floods and other weather-related disasters, largely due to global warming and climate change, according to a study published in the Lancet Planetary Health.

 Overall, weather-related disasters are expected to cause 152,000 deaths a year in Europe between 2071 and 2100, jumping from 3.000 weather disaster-related deaths a year between 1981 and 2010.

A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that four hundred cities in the U.S. are going to be swamped by rising sea levels, no matter what mitigation measures are taken to decrease carbon dioxide emissions.

No one knows how to react to the migration crises that will result from ACD.

 There are no plans, although it is glaringly obvious that within one generation tens of millions of people will flee their regions.

 That will only be the start. 

These people will be displaced persons in their own country or end up in refugee camps. 

International law does not recognize the existence of ecological refugees. 

It protects indigenous people, but once the ecosystem collapses, there is no protection.
This is bitterly, indeed, insanely unfair, especially since poor countries, which bear the biggest burden, contributed historically the least to climate change. 


The number of those impoverished, malnourished, and deprived of fundamental needs such as security, health care, and education totals in the hundreds of millions.

 Under current international law, climate-induced, cross-border migration triggers little, if any, protection or assistance mechanisms. 

The truism that ungoverned spaces attract terrorist networks does not need to be repeated.
The ‘best’ (sic) European policy-makers seem to be capable of is continuing to adhere to the Geneva Convention, while at the same time trying to differentiate between motives: political asylum seekers in; economic immigrants out.

 As if this makes sense, as if it is possible. 

This is now called the problem of ‘mixed migration’ . 

However, it is clear that we will not do this well: the future will see more restrictions, the further hollowing-out of the right to asylum, while voices – by far not only from the extreme Right – go up and speak louder by the day to ‘close off’ all ‘entry-points,’ such as the Mediterranean and the Balkan route (see here).
The human tragedy will get worse, much worse. 

According to Geisler et al. from the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell, in the year 2100, two billion people – about one-fifth of the world’s population – could become climate change refugees. 

Those who once lived on coastlines will face displacement and resettlement bottlenecks as they seek habitable places inland. 

The Earth’s population is expected to top 9 billion people by 2050 and climb to 11 billion people by 2100.
Geisler et al. write that:
“The colliding forces of human fertility, submerging coastal zones, residential retreat, and impediments to inland resettlement is a huge problem.

 We offer preliminary estimates of the lands unlikely to support new waves of climate refugees due to the residues of war, exhausted natural resources, declining net primary productivity, desertification, urban sprawl, land concentration, ‘paving the planet’ with roads and greenhouse gas storage zones offsetting permafrost melt”.
Feeding that population will require more arable land as swelling oceans consume fertile coastal zones and river deltas. 

Clearly, those who talk about “closing off” the Mediterranean and other “entry points” or paying off despots of countries at the border of the European continent to keep immigrants out are dreaming. 

It will not work and it should not, because it is inhumane.
That population growth, in itself, is not the problem, can be made clear by a few simple figures.

 Currently, the world population is some 7 billion.

 Of those 7 billion, some 30% is either mal-nourished, under-nourished or lives under conditions of famine, notwithstanding the fact that, today, the world produces enough food to feed in excess of 12 billion people. 

It is therefore not ‘physical limits’ that are the problem, it is the political economy of the global system, or, more prosaic, the fact that agriculture is in the hands of the Nestles, the Monsanto’s and the Cargills of this world which means that everyone can eat who can pay of it, as Amartya Sen Sen explained a long time ago. 

Climate change affects food security on both the national aggregate and the individual level. For food security to exist, Sen’s ‘three As’ – availability, accessibility and affordability – need to be present.

Food security depends on domestic production, imports and food aid. Climate change affects all of them.
How will this work?

 As Wallace-Wells explains, the basic rule for staple cereal crops grown at optimal temperature is that for every one degree Celsius of warming, yields decline by 10 percent.

 Some estimates run as high as 15 or even 17 percent.


 This means that, if average global temperature will be four degrees warmer at the end of the century – this is by no means an extravagant or unrealistic expectation any longer, the contrary is true – we may have as many as 40 percent more people to feed and 40 percent less cereal output. 

Proteins, Wallace-Wells writes, are still way worse, as it takes 16 calories of grain to produce one single calorie of hamburger meat, butchered from a cow that spent her life polluting the environment by farting and belching methane and producing nitrates.
Many – plant physiologists among them – point out that this sort of math is too simple, too childish even, that it is only valid for regions already at peak growing temperature, and even then. 

Theoretically, climate change will make growing corn in Greenland or in Northern Russia easier. 

I do not want to criticise Wallace-Wells and I hope his article reaches a lot more people, but his reference (to Rosamond Naylor and David Battisti) does not prove what he is saying. 

However, as far as I can tell, what Wallace-Wells is saying is true: the tropics are already too hot to efficiently grow grain, and those places where grain is produced today are at optimal growing temperature, which means that even small warming will push them down the slope of declining productivity. 

To this has to be added that it is impossible to move croplands up north some hundreds of miles because the soil is unsuitable to grow these crops there. It seems that it takes centuries to produce optimally fertile dirt – the couple of centimetres of top soil we depend upon for our life.
What, then, will happen?

 By 2080, without dramatic reductions in emissions – and, again, there is not one single credible sign that such reductions will become a reality – southern Europe will be in permanent extreme drought. 

The drought will be worse than the American dust bowl, the human misery of which has been immortalised in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Countries like Iraq, Iran, Syria and Pakistan will see their agricultural production plummeting. 

This, in fact, will be true for all the MENA (Middle East and North African) countries.

 The demographic evolution in each in these countries is the mirror image of most of their European counterparts: rapid population growth.


 Drought will wreck – this is, make impossible – agriculture in some of the most densely populated parts of Australia, in sub-Saharan Africa, in South America, where, in some countries such as Peru and Bolivia, conditions are already critical, and China.

 In a future not too far away, none of these places, which today still produce much of the world’s food, will be reliable sources of anything. 

Add to this that climate change will decrease the growth potential of most countries on earth and that food prices will spike. 

These changes will likely lead, or at least contribute, to a reconfiguration of global political and economic hegemony, with all risks that this will entail.
There is, and this has been going on for years now, not one month in which I do not learn about a problem which is new to me and which turns out to be incredible serious. 

Often enough, it then transpires that this problem is not being addressed, that it does not find its way into the IPCC reporting or to computer modelling.
It is, for example, of course not only drought. 

According to a new study from MIT, climate change in Pakistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka could be so severe that temperatures and humidity may exceed the upper levels of human survivability.


We are talking about extreme conditions of a crescent-shaped region where 1.5 billion people live. 

The researchers used data on climate that identifies variations in terrain and vegetation down to 10 square miles (ca. 25 square km) and fed it into global circulation models to produce detailed computer simulations.

 The resulting predictions showed extremes in so-called wet-bulb temperatures in South Asia. 

Wet-bulb temperatures (WTs) hotter than 35 degrees Celsius make it impossible for the body to dissipate heat naturally.
Although WT temperatures today typically do not exceed ca. 31°C, they nearly reached the threshold (35°C) in the summer of 2015, when an extreme heat wave hit Iran and parts of the Persian/Arabian Gulf.

 Not very much of the land in and around the area of the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula is devoted to agriculture, fewer people live in this region than in South Asia and they tend to be wealthier. 

But WT temperatures could pass the threshold in parts of north-eastern India and most of Bangladesh during seasonal heat waves.

 Eltahir’s models predicted that the second-hottest wet-bulb temperatures would occur in South Asia.

 These scorching conditions would occur over land, where one-fifth of the world’s population lives and where many more people are vulnerable because they are poor and work outside.

As we need protein, it makes sense to look at fish.

 Here too, there is a plethora of problems.

 To name just one, according to an article in Global Change Biology, warmer waters as a result of climate change could shrink the size of fish by 20 to 30 percent.

William Cheung from the University of British Columbia explains the mechanism: fish, being cold blooded animals, are not able to regulate their body temperatures. When the waters they live in become warmer their metabolism accelerates and they require more oxygen to sustain their body functions. 

The problem is that the surface area of the gills, where oxygen is gathered, does not grow at the same rate as the rest of the body, so the fish stops growing prematurely and, with it, our food supply diminishes.
A new study in Science projects that climate change will increase the amount of nitrogen ending up in US rivers and other waterways by 19 percent on average over the remainder of the century — and much more in hard-hit areas such as the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin (up 24 percent) and the Northeast (up 28 percent). And that is not counting likely increases in nitrogen inputs from more intensive agriculture, or from increased human population (see here).
Eva Sinha (from Stanford) et al. took historical records of nitrogen runoff as a result of rainstorms over the past few decades, recorded by the US Geological Survey. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that there will be no change in the amount of nitrogen being added to the environment, they calculated how much additional nitrogen would be leached out of farm fields and washed down rivers solely because of extreme weather events and increased rainfall predicted in most climate change scenarios. As Sinha et al. write:
“Anticipated changes in future precipitation patterns alone will lead to large and robust increases in watershed-scale nitrogen fluxes by the end of the century for the business-as-usual scenario” (see here).
More on this can be read here. Nitrogen creates dead zones, for example in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Pacific and inland waterways, lakes and other freshwater bodies where toxic blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) bloom (this is also a problem in Sweden, where more rain decreases the amount of drinking water). This problem is being exacerbated by warmer temperatures and increased rainfall associated with climate change. Efforts to protect the water supply may not work in the future because climate change introduces many new uncertainties about hydrology, stratification, and nutrient dynamics (see here). One such bloom in the western end of Lake Erie forced the city of Toledo in Ohio, to cut off the water supply temporarily to 500.000 residents in 2014. The same happened in China’s Lake Taihu in 2007, leaving 2.3 million people without water (see here). In the United States, a 2015 study found evidence of blue-green algae blooms in 62 percent of the 3,100 U.S. counties surveyed and concluded that these blooms were “significantly related to the risk of non-alcoholic liver disease death” (see here).
In fact, the nitrogen problem is enormous. Atmospheric nitrogen – from intensive farming and livestock operations, power plants, road traffic, and other sources – now gets deposited everywhere, making soils more fertile. That has the paradoxical effect of reducing plant diversity by displacing native species adapted to nutrient-poor soils (this also happens in Sweden where the invasive Lupinus is displacing native plants).
According to Sinha, climate change means that it will be necessary to cut agricultural nitrogen use in the Mississippi River Valley not by 32 percent, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now proposes, but by almost double that amount (see here), which will – perhaps – be accomplished by genetically engineered cereals and laboratory cultured meat. But the challenge will be far greater in the developing world, particularly Asia. India is especially vulnerable because it has one of the fastest-growing populations. As climate change multiplies the rate of nitrogen runoff, they may increasingly find their water undrinkable (see here).
And so on and so forth.
“The uncomfortable truth,” Istvan Meszaros argued many years ago, “is that if there is no future for a radical mass movement in our time, there can be no future for humanity itself.” What is more, those who want to stand up need to do it now. It is not only a question of cooperation. We can all very well cooperate to make our ultimate demise a reality. We need to stand up for humanity as a whole. All the rest is betrayal. In this normative position, lies the kernel of a “solution” that I will explain in Part 2.
Let’s take a break for now and read the news about Irma, the second “once in 500 years” storm in a week. It seems that two more are on their way.

Press link for more: Flassbeck Economics

Climate Change is an existential risk. 

Human-induced climate change is an existential risk to human civilisation: an adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.

Special precautions that go well beyond conventional risk management practice are required if the “fat tails” — the increased likelihood of very large impacts — are to be adequately dealt with.

 The potential consequences of these lower-probability, but higher-impact, events would be devastating for human societies.

The bulk of climate research has tended to underplay these risks, and exhibited a preference for conservative projections and scholarly reticence, albeit increasing numbers of scientists have spoken out in recent years on the dangers of such an approach.


Climate policymaking and the public narrative are significantly informed by the important work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

 However, IPCC reports also tend toward reticence and caution, erring on the side of “least drama”, and downplaying more extreme and more damaging outcomes. 

 Whilst this has been understandable historically, given the pressure exerted upon the IPCC by political and vested interests, it is now becoming dangerously misleading, given the acceleration of climate impacts globally.

 What were lower-probability, higher-impact, events are now becoming more likely.

This is a particular concern with potential climatic “tipping points” — passing critical thresholds which result in step changes in the system — such as the polar ice sheets (and hence sea levels), and permafrost and other carbon stores, where the impacts of global warming are non-linear and difficult to model at present.


 Under-reporting on these issues contributes to the “failure of imagination” that is occurring today in our understanding of, and response to, climate change.

If climate policymaking is to be soundly based, a reframing of scientific research within an existential risk-management framework is now urgently required.

 This must be taken up not just in the work of the IPCC, but also in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations if we are to address the real climate challenge.

Current processes will not deliver either the speed or the extent of change required.

Three decades ago, when serious debate on human-induced climate change began at the global level, a great deal of statesmanship was on display. 

 There was a preparedness to recognise that this was an issue transcending nation states, ideologies and political parties which had to be addressed proactively in the long-term interests of humanity as a whole, even if the existential nature of the risk it posed was far less clear cut than it is today.


As global institutions were established to take up this challenge, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and the extent of change this would demand of the fossil-fuel-dominated world order became clearer, the forces of resistance began to mobilise.

 Today, as a consequence, and despite the diplomatic triumph of the 2015 Paris Agreement , the debate around climate change policy has never been more dysfunctional, indeed Orwellian.
In his book 1984, George Orwell describes a double-speak totalitarian state where most of the population accepts “the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. 

 By lack of understanding they remained sane.”
Orwell could have been writing about climate change and policymaking. 

 International agreements talk of limiting global warming to 1.5–2°C, but in reality they set the world on a path of 3–5°C.


 Goals are reaffirmed, only to be abandoned. 

 Coal is “clean”. 


 Just 1°C of warming is already dangerous, but this cannot be said. 

 The planetary future is hostage to myopic national self-interest. 

 Action is delayed on the assumption that as yet unproven technologies will save the day, decades hence. 

 The risks are existential, but it is “alarmist” to say so.

 A one-in-two chance of missing a goal is normalised as reasonable.

Climate policymaking for years has been cognitively dissonant, “a flagrant violation of reality”.

 So it is unsurprising that there is a lack of a understanding amongst the public and elites of the full measure of the climate challenge. 

 Yet most Australians sense where we are heading: three-quarters of Australians see climate change as catastrophic risk and half see our way of life ending within the next 100 years.

Politics and policymaking have norms: rules and practices, assumptions and boundaries, that constrain and shape them. 

 In recent years, the previous norms of statesmanship and long-term thinking have disappeared, replaced by an obsession with short-term political and commercial advantage Climate policymaking is no exception.

Since 1992, short-term economic interest has trumped environmental and future human needs.  

The world today emits 48% more carbon dioxide (CO2 ) from the consumption of energy than it did 25 years ago, and the global economy has more than doubled in size.

 The UNFCCC strives ” to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner”, but every year humanity’s ecological footprint becomes larger and less sustainable.

 Humanity now requires the biophysical capacity of 1.7 planets annually to survive as it rapidly chews up the natural capital.

A fast, emergency-scale transition to a post-fossil fuel world is absolutely necessary to address climate change. But this is excluded from consideration by policymakers because it is considered to be too disruptive. 

 The orthodoxy is that there is
time for an orderly economic transition within the current short-termist political paradigm. 

 Discussion of what would be safe –– less warming that we presently experience –– is non-existent. 

 And so we have a policy failure of epic proportions.

Policymakers, in their magical thinking, imagine a mitigation path of gradual change, to be constructed over many decades in a growing, prosperous world.

 The world not imagined is the one that now exists: of looming financial instability; of a global crisis of political legitimacy; of a sustainability crisis that extends far beyond climate change to include all the fundamentals of human existence and most significant planetary boundaries (soils, potable water, oceans, the atmosphere, biodiversity, and so on); and of severe global energy sector dislocation.

In anticipation of the upheaval that climate change would impose upon the global order, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was established by the UN in 1988, charged with regularly assessing the global consensus on climate science as a basis for policymaking.

 The IPCC Assessment Reports ( AR ), produced every 5–6 years, play a large part in the public framing of the climate narrative: new reports are a global media event.

 AR5 was produced in 2013-14, with AR6 due in 2022. 

 The IPCC has done critical, indispensable work of the highest standard in pulling together a periodic consensus of what must be the most exhaustive scientific investigation in world history. 

 It does not carry out its own research, but reviews and collates peer-reviewed material from across the spectrum of this incredibly complex area, identifying key issues and trends for policymaker consideration.

However, the IPCC process suffers from all the dangers of consensus-building in such a wide-ranging and complex arena.

 For example, IPCC reports, of necessity, do not always contain the latest available information.

 Consensus-building can lead to “least drama”, lowest-common-denominator outcomes which overlook critical issues. 

 This is particularly the case with the “fat-tails” of probability distributions, that is, the high-impact but relatively low-probability events where scientific knowledge is more limited. 

 Vested interest pressure is acute in all directions; climate denialists accuse the IPCC of alarmism, whereas climate action proponents consider the IPCC to be far too conservative. 

 To cap it all, the IPCC conclusions are subject to intense political oversight before being released, which historically has had the effect of substantially watering-down sound scientific findings.

These limitations are understandable, and arguably were not of overriding importance in the early period of the IPCC.

 However, as time has progressed, it is now clear that the risks posed by climate change are far greater than previously anticipated. 

 We have moved out of the twilight period of much talk but relatively limited climate impacts. Climate change is now turning nasty, as we have witnessed in 2017 in the USA, South Asia, the Middle East and Europe, with record-breaking heatwaves and wildfires, more intense flooding and more damaging hurricanes.


The distinction between climate science and risk is now the critical issue, for the two are not the same.

 Scientific reticence — a reluctance to spell out the full risk implications of climate science in the absence of perfect information — has become a major problem. 

 Whilst this is understandable, particularly when scientists are continually criticised by denialists and political apparatchiks for speaking out, it is extremely dangerous given the “fat tail” risks of climate change.

 Waiting for perfect information, as we are continually urged to do by political and economic elites, means it will be too late to act.

Irreversible, adverse climate change on the global scale now occurring is an existential risk to human civilisation.

 Many of the world’s top climate scientists quoted in this report well understand these implications — James Hansen, Michael E. Mann, John Schellnhuber, Kevin Anderson, Eric Rignot, Naomi Oreskes, Kevin Trenberth, Michael Oppenheimer, Stefan Rahmstorf and others — and are forthright about their findings, where we are heading, and the limitations of IPCC reports.

This report seeks to alert the wider community and leaders to these limitations and urges change to the IPCC approach, and to the wider UNFCCC negotiations. It is clear that existing processes will not deliver the transformation to a low-carbon world in the limited time now available.
We urgently require a reframing of scientific research within an existential risk-management framework. This requires special precautions that go well beyond conventional risk management. 

 Like an iceberg, there is great danger “In what lies beneath”.

Press link for more: What lies beneath Report

How do we communicate deadly risk? #ClimateChange #auspol #StopAdani 

Hurricane Harvey Is Testing Our Ability To Communicate Natural Disaster Risks
How do scientists drive home a threat that has no precedent?
WASHINGTON — Since slamming into the Texas coast as a Category 4 hurricane late Friday, Harvey has dumped at least 9 trillion gallons of rain across the state — enough to fill Utah’s Great Salt Lake twice.

And with Houston already inundated, the rain continues to fall.

 One meteorologist estimates that by the time the storm subsides it will have dropped a mind-boggling 25 trillion gallons of water across the state.
Certain locations along the Gulf of Mexico are expected to see as much rain in a few short days as is typical in an entire year. 

To accurately portray the staggering totals, the National Weather Service had to add new colors to its precipitation maps.

Harvey has wreaked havoc along the Texas Gulf Coast, just as meteorologists warned it would. But it has also proved somewhat of a communications nightmare. 
Marshall Shepherd, director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia and a former president of the American Meteorological Society, told HuffPost that the bottom line is this: Harvey is an unprecedented storm system. 
“We’re kind of making this up as we go,” he said of meteorologists’ mapping and communication about the sheer magnitude of the event. 

“We haven’t seen this type of rainfall over [such a short] amount of time.” 
Given precipitation totals through Monday and the forecast for the rest of the week, Shepherd said the situation in Texas “is shaping up to be [the] worst flood disaster in U.S. history.”

The previous benchmark for flooding in an American city was Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, which dumped 40 inches of rain on Houston in five days, killing nearly two dozen people and causing $5 billion in damage. (The one-day U.S. record, 43 inches, hit rural Alvin, just south of Houston, during 1979′s Tropical Storm Claudette.)
Harvey delivered as much rain as Allison in roughly half the time — a statistic Shepherd described as “ridiculous.” 
For Shepherd and other experts, the extent of the disaster came as little if any surprise. Early forecasts called for massive amounts of rain and “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding.” On Friday, the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi offered this stark warning: “Locations may be uninhabitable for weeks or months.” And by Sunday morning, the NWS was cautioning that “all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced.”
As Harvey has shown, conveying to the public the deadly risks of such an unprecedented weather event is not easy.
Sarah Watson, a climate and flood risk communication consultant that does contract work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told HuffPost she sees the problem as cultural. Many people associate tropical storms with wind and storm surges but not necessarily with heavy rain — which often proves to be the most destructive effect. When a storm like Harvey is downgraded from a Category 4 hurricane to a tropical storm, for example, people are often quick to think the threat has subsided. 
Gina Eosco, a social scientist and risk communication expert at Eastern Research Group, addressed this in a pair of posts to Twitter on Saturday. 

As Watson sees it, a larger issue is how Americans use — and react to — certain language.
“We can describe a burrito and a pizza as ‘epic,’ but when we are trying to describe rainfall as ‘epic,’ and we’re truly meaning this is epic — we’ve never seen anything like this in this country — it’s not necessarily resonating,” she told HuffPost.
Harvey has been reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina.

 As Katrina strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane and barreled toward the coast of Louisiana in late August of 2005, the National Weather Service in New Orleans warned of “devastating damage” that would leave areas “uninhabitable for weeks.”

 Many people ignored or were unable to comply with a mandatory evacuation order.
In counties across southeast Texas this weekend, residents refused to leave their homes despite voluntary and mandatory evacuation orders. Partly that’s because of horrific earlier experiences with evacuation attempts, but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told an NBC affiliate in Houston: “A lot of people are taking this storm for granted thinking it may not pose much of a danger to them.” 
Finding ways to better communicate the risks associated with natural disasters is an ongoing and complicated battle.


Last year, a study funded by the National Weather Service and NOAA’S Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research looked at how people interpret weather warnings and the risks associated with floods. 

Among other things, the team of researchers concluded that “people differ in how they react to uncertainty; for some, not having a concrete example of what a risk means can make them uncertain of what the actual impacts might entail and thereby impede their decision on whether to take action.”

 They also found that “motivation for action came from knowing what was forecast for their specific town, and knowing what neighbors, friends, and family were doing to prepare.”
Jennifer Marlon, an associate research scientist as Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communication, told HuffPost via email that improvements in technology and forecasting do not always translate into better communication or members of the public taking appropriate action.
“Humans,” she said, “are not built to quickly and easily translate something as abstract as a precipitation map into a vivid, visceral feeling. And yet feelings and memories are what drive us in many cases, even more so than logic or reason.”
In a study published in 2015, Marlon surveyed more than 1,000 people living along the Connecticut shore — where a mandatory evacuation was ordered in advance of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 — about whether they would evacuate or ride out a Category 2 storm. What she found was people fall somewhere in a spectrum — on one end are those who will evacuate any hurricane, on the other are “diehards” confident they can remain in place — and that different audiences would benefit from targeted messages.
If the goal is to get people’s attention, she said, agencies must help the public grasp how a natural disaster is going to affect their daily life.
“Harvey was incredibly severe, of course, and evacuation isn’t always the safest thing to do if officials are not prepared for it,” Marlon said. “But these kinds of events are part of our warming world now, so unfortunately we are beginning to get more practice with them.”

Sunshine Menezes, executive director of the University of Rhode Island’s Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting, told HuffPost that when federal meteorologists are using words like “unprecedented” to describe a weather event, it’s easy for the public to feel overwhelmed.
“When you’re dealing with something that is quite literally beyond the scale that any of the professionals have worked with before, it doesn’t matter how good a job they did within the divisional media they have to work with and the words they have to work with,” Menezes said. “The understanding of that information is what, of course, is the most important, and we clearly don’t know yet how to communicate that without effectively sounding like kind of doomsday scaremongers.” 
Given the magnitude of the the flooding in Texas and the increased risk of extreme weather as a result of climate change, Menezes expects Harvey will trigger a national conversation in the science-communication world about how to improve weather warnings.
When it comes to hurricanes, Shepherd wants to see less emphasis on a storm’s category. With Harvey, he said, forecasters were stressing that the more serious threat was long-term, sustained rainfall — a point he felt was lost on some residents and local officials. 
“We need a way to elevate significant flood threats like this to a level that gets people’s attention in the same way the category of a hurricane does or the rating of a tornado does,” he said.
Shepherd sees Harvey as a learning opportunity, not only for the low-lying city of Houston but also for other flood-prone states, including Louisiana.
There’s also the threat of more intense and frequent rainstorms as climate change drives up global temperatures.
“We’re going to get tested time and time again with extreme rainfall like this,” Shepherd said. “We better figure it out quickly in terms of how to message, how to respond.” 

Press link for more: Huffington Post

We can no longer tolerate climate change denial! #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

We can no longer tolerate climate change denial
August 30 2017 – 12:05AM

Comment

 The United States Weather Service, normally not an agency prone to colourful language, issued an extraordinary statement on Sunday regarding hurricane Harvey, saying, “This event is unprecedented and all impacts are unknown beyond anything experienced”. 

It is now predicted the storm could eventually drop over 150 centimetres of rain in some areas, more than any other in the region’s history.

Far from over, it is already clear that Harvey’s impact is catastrophic. 

Six people are confirmed dead and that number is expected to increase. Cost estimates range up to $US100 billion.
America’s efforts to combat climate change have been battered by President Donald Trump.

America’s efforts to combat climate change have been battered by President Donald Trump. 


Meanwhile flooding in Bangladesh, India and Nepal during the region’s worst monsoon season in a decade has killed an estimated 1200 people.

Climate scientists are reluctant to attribute any particular weather event to global warming, though in this case the signs are that human behaviour contributed to the formation and severity of the storm and its impact.
As tropical storm Harvey moved towards the Texas coast last week, few models predicted it would intensify into such a damaging weather system.

 It then hit an ocean patch in the Gulf of Mexico that remained so hot over the northern winter that it broke temperature records on one in four days according to Houston meteorologist Matt Lanza. On the day Harvey hit, the area was around 2.2 degrees hotter than normal. Fuelled by the aberrant water temperature Harvey grew rapidly into a category-four cyclone as it hit the coast. It is now trapped in place over Houston, constantly siphoning energy and moisture from an ocean that scientists agree is likely to have been warmed by climate change.
The flooding across America’s fourth-largest city was predicted last year in a joint investigation by the Texas Tribune and the non-profit investigative journalism organisation ProPublica.
“As millions have flocked to the metropolitan area in recent decades, local officials have largely rejected stricter building regulations, allowing developers to pave over acres of prairie land that once absorbed large amounts of rainwater. In the decade after Tropical Storm Allison [in 2001], about 167,000 acres were developed in Harris County, home to Houston,” ProPublica wrote last week when it revisited its earlier investigation.
America’s efforts to combat climate change and set policy to live with its impact have been battered by President Donald Trump, who formally notified the United Nations of his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement earlier this month.
Last month Mr Trump rescinded Obama-era regulations that would have made urban development and infrastructure more flood resilient in future.
Mr Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency director, Scott Pruitt, has made the dismantling of his agency’s effort to combat climate change the central goal of his tenure, and in April the EPA scrapped its climate website entirely.
Australia risks following America’s lead on climate change.

Efforts to craft national energy policy that reflect the realities of climate change and rapidly advancing renewable energy technology are blocked by a hardline faction of the coalition partyroom led by former prime minister, Tony Abbott.
In February last year CSIRO announced massive funding cuts to its climate change research division, only to partially overturn the decision in the face of sustained national and international criticism. This year the government ended all funding for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.
As with America’s, Australia’s ongoing failure to deal with climate change carries practical and moral consequence. We cannot significantly cut our greenhouse gas emissions without determined national effort and we cannot engage our diplomatic expertise and might to contribute more to an international solution until we cut our emissions.
We cannot any longer afford to tolerate the scientific myopia exemplified by Mr Trump and Mr Abbott.

Press link for more: AMP.SMH.COM