Limits to Growth

Climate Change is Rapidly Accelerating! #auspol #Qldpol 

Climate change is rapidly accelerating. 

By  Paul Dawson

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


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

There is no natural explanation for this. 

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

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


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

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

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

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

Let’s reverse carbon and methane emissions.

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

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

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

Press link for more: Idaho Statesman

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

Deadly Threat to Coral #climatechange #auspol

Climate change remains the biggest threat to coral reefs around the world, with rising sea surface temperatures driving widespread bleaching events, according to the Climate Council’s latest report.
The report ‘Climate Change: A Deadly Threat to Coral Reefs’, shows worsening bleaching events are also placing tourism and global economies at risk, with the loss of coral reefs potentially costing an astounding $1 trillion.

KEY FINDINGS
1. The Great Barrier Reef is experiencing severe bleaching in 2017, following the worst bleaching event on record in 2016.

Last year the Great Barrier Reef experienced its worst bleaching event ever. The pristine reefs in the north (Port Douglas to Papua New Guinea) were the most badly affected, with mortality of two-thirds of coral in this region.

While the El Niño has waned, bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef has continued, fueled by climate change.

Severe bleaching has already been observed in offshore reefs from north of Ingham to near Cairns. In 2017 more bleaching is being observed in the central section of the GBR, which was spared last year.

Reefs bleached in both 2016 and 2017 have had no opportunity to recover and so high mortality rates can be expected.


2. Climate change is threatening our reefs and putting their future health at extreme risk.
Rising sea surface temperatures, driven by climate change, are increasing the frequency and severity of mass coral bleaching events and reducing the opportunities for corals to recover.

The longest global coral bleaching event on record, ongoing since 2014, has led to widespread bleaching and mortality of reefs as pools of unusually warm water move around the globe. 

It was virtually impossible for the extreme ocean temperatures that led to coral bleaching along the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 to have occurred without climate change.

3. Coral reefs are a huge economic asset, providing jobs and incomes to local communities.

Loss of coral reefs potentially puts an astounding $1 trillion at risk globally.

The World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef is a national economic asset worth $7 billion annually, supporting the livelihoods of 69,000 Australians employed in sectors such as tourism.

If severe bleaching continues, regions adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef risk losing more than 1 million visitors annually – equivalent to at least $1 billion in tourism spending and 10,000 jobs.

Over the next two to three decades, bleaching events are likely to become even more frequent and severe in Australia, with catastrophic impacts on reef health and the economy.


4. We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions now to protect our reefs.

While carbon emissions flat-lined last year in China and declined in the United States and elsewhere, Australia’s net emissions continue to rise, increasing by 0.8% in 2016.

Over the next two to three decades, bleaching events are likely to become even more frequent and severe in Australia, with catastrophic impacts on reef health and the economy.

In the long term, protecting our coral reefs requires the rapid phasing out of fossil fuels globally, and the uptake of cheap, clean and efficient renewable energy and energy storage technologies. Australia must play its part.

The commissioning of new coal mines such as that planned for the Galilee Basin, and the pursuit of polluting and expensive “clean coal” projects and new gas plants, is completely at odds with protecting the Great Barrier Reef and other reefs globally.

Press link for full report: Climate Council

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

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

By Barry Saxifrage

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

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

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

Even the increases are increasing

Annual CO2 increase in atmosphere

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

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

 The IEA numbers might be wrong. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humans might be increasing CO2 emissions from other sectors. 

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

 We could be increasing CO2 from these.

Climate change might be increasing CO2 emissions. 

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

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

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

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


Press link for more: National Observer

#2020DontBeLate #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol 

The historic and legally binding Paris Agreement gave us a roadmap to address climate change once and for all. 

194 nations universally adopted this agreement, committing to holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°c above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°c.

IT’S NECESSARY

IT’S DESIRABLE

IT’S ACHIEVABLE
Bending the curve of emissions by 2020 is the only way to limit global warming and ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals remain within our reach. 


It will also pave the way to delivering a just transition to net zero emissions by 2050.


The Great Barrier Reef is dying, meanwhile Australian politicians are still dreaming of so called “clean coal” 


The visual evidence of dying coral is ignored, as our so called “leaders” offer a billion dollars of tax payers money & water rights that will put Australian agriculture at risk in an effort to seduce Adani to open a huge new coal mine in Queensland.

The long term interests of future generations are ignored. The warnings of scientists go unheeded.


Press link for more: Mission 2020

The Single Shining Hope To Stop Climate Change #auspol #qldpol #science 

Shining Hope to Stop Climate Change
By Michael E. Mann

TimeApril 9, 2017
It is the single shining hope to avoid the worst of global warming
Science is under attack at the very moment when we need it most.

 President Donald Trump’s March 28 executive order went much further than simply throwing a lifeline to fossil fuels, as industry-funded congressional climate changedeniers have done in the past. It intentionally blinded the federal government to the impacts of climate change by abolishing an interagency group that measured the cost of carbon to public health and the environment. 

Now, the government won’t have a coordinated way to account for damages from climate change when assessing the costs and benefits of a particular policy.
With that in mind, Trump should read the landmark “2020” report now published by Mission 2020, a group of experts convened by the former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

 The report establishes a timeline for how we can ensure a safe and stable climate. 

We don’t have much time – 2020 is a clear turning point.

If emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, the world stands very little chance of limiting global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the threshold set by the Paris Agreement, and a temperature limit that many of the world’s most vulnerable communities consider a threshold for survival. 

We have four years to bend the curve of global greenhouse gas emissions toward a steady decline.
The good news is, we’re already moving in the right direction. 

Global carbon emissions have plateaued, and are projected to remain flat over the coming years, thanks to China’s widespread economic transformation and the global boom in renewable energy production. 

The 2020 climate turning point is within reach.
But, as the authors of the report reveal, the bad news is we aren’t moving fast.

 Thankfully, there is a range of actions that, if achieved, can deliver a safe future. 

The study shows that by 2020, renewable energy must beat out coal in all major energy markets. 

Countries must commit to electrifying the transportation system, and transmission infrastructure must be built out to host efficient, low-carbon energy systems. 

Deforestation must be reigned in, and the restoration of already degraded land must be well underway. 

All of the Fortune 500 companies that represent heavy industries must have committed to the Paris targets, and their emissions-reduction plans must be in effect. 

And, finally, capital markets must double investment in zero-emission technologies.
Around the world, more and more politicians are listening to scientists. 

Nearly 200 heads of state adopted the Paris Agreement in December of 2015, and 136 have since ratified the deal in record time.

 Leaders in China and India have redoubled investments in renewables, and investors across the developed world are walking away from coal.

 And last fall, all 197 parties to the Montreal Protocol adopted a critical amendment that will phase down Hydrofluorocarbon, a particularly potent greenhouse gas.
Even in the United States, where public concern about climate is high but doubt of the scientific consensus on climate change has also spiked in recent years (I should know, having recently testified to the climate changedenying chair of the House Science Committee), and where the new Administration wants to stop funding climate science, many politicians are redoubling their commitment to climate action. 

From mayors of major cities to Congressional Republicans to the Defense Secretary, serious policy responses are being debated.


The only way to avoid dangerous climate change, and to keep the 1.5 degree Celsius target in play, is to step up our ambition by 2020, and deliver emissions reductions across all sectors.

 Only by drawing down global carbon emissions, by making sure that they drop steadily from 2020 forward, can we ensure that the world avoids the worst fates of climate change.
Science has no political affiliation and shouldn’t be a political issue.

 Chemistry and physics don’t care who is president or which party runs a parliament. 

No politician should ignore the warnings of scientists, economists and military leaders, and argue against health, increased stability and economic prosperity – all of which depend on how the world responds to climate change.
There is no denying it: 2020 will be a very important year.
This article was originally published on TIME.com

Why We need Nikola Tesla to fight Climate Change #auspol #qldpol #science

By John F. Wasik

Nikola Tesla, the genius inventor of alternating current, radio and robotics, still provides uplifting guidance in this time of automation, climate change, globalization and political division.
Tesla died in 1943 at the age of 86, but his time has come again — particularly in light of the Trump administration’s decision earlier this week to roll back the progressive environmental policies that former President Barack Obama championed.
Adopting Tesla’s vision involves a new way of thinking about our relationship to the planet. Although great environmentalists like Teddy Roosevelt, John Burroughs and John Muir were articulating this new role during Tesla’s lifetime, world leaders today will also need to embrace Pope Francis’s radical “integral ecology.”

That means adopting a holistic approach to energy — intensive activities and tossing self-centered, widely held attitudes that takes man out of the center of his Ptolemaic universe.

Pope Francis, in his Laudato Si encyclical, doesn’t dispute the science behind climate change. The planet is getting hotter and man-made activities have some part in it. Last year was the hottest 12 months on record.
We need to get over ourselves and do something about the situation.
By “greening” all of the major systems of civilization — energy, transportation, manufacturing, building and consumer consumption — we can implement national networks of renewable energy and production.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order that begins the process of reversing climate change policies put in place by President Barack Obama, including his predecessor’s Clean Power Plan. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday has the details. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press
Tesla was a firm believer in green energy. He supported hydro, geothermal and solar power more than 100 years ago. His vision for wireless power is still a major engineering challenge. Yet what if we produced clean energy from 24/7 sunlight in space and beamed it down to our planet? Many engineers are working on this problem across the world.
Although Tesla’s alternating current systems power most of the world’s electrical grid, he saw the dangers of burning fossil fuels to generate electricity. It’s still a massive problem contributing to global warming.
Since the earth is a closed-loop system, integral ecology recognizes the fact that we can’t keep extracting resources forever. A growing world population will demand more and more of the planet to sustain us.
As physicist and systems theorist Fritjof Capra writes:
“At the very heart of our global crisis lies the illusion that unlimited growth is possible on a finite planet…In this economic system, the irrational belief in perpetual growth is carried on relentlessly by promoting excessive consumption and a throwaway economy that is energy and resource intensive, generating waste and pollution, and depleting the Earth’s natural resources.”
How can we provide enough fertilizer and arable land to growing countries? How do we conserve water where it’s most needed? How do we switch over from burning fossil fuels in every country to a renewable portfolio of solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and hydrogen systems? How do we replace SUVs and McMansions with highly efficient, healthy homes?
All of these ideas have been on the table for decades, although progress has been made most notably in Northern Europe, which is working toward ambitious goals to free itself from fossil fuels and create a renewable energy grid.
The biggest obstacle to change has been our human-centered entitlement to global resources, which should be transformed to a responsible sharing of the commons, not an increasingly privatized resource. The earth can be managed more like a public library, not a buffet.
Ultimately, the almost immutable human mantra “it’s all about me” needs to be swapped with a shared prosperity and purpose “made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness,” the Pope notes.
Focus on quality of life over quantity of goods.

The most radical concept of all to be considered by world leaders? How to replace the damaging, universal dogma of economic growth with what the Pope calls “authentic humanity.”
That means more efficient and hospitable cities that embrace the poor, smaller/local commerce, better public transportation, respect for all species, and a new focus on quality of life over quantity of goods.

In crafting a truly integral approach that treats ecology, economics and ethics as points on an equilateral triangle, we’ll not only be addressing climate change, but safeguarding our deeper spiritual journey on this bountiful planet. Since Tesla was fervent advocate of world peace, he would’ve endorsed this worldview.
But to achieve this mission, we need to adhere to some of Tesla’s principles. We must visualize, conceptualize, and create solutions, then aggressively collaborate to make them blossom. Ecology is about relationships, but nothing can happen without consensus and cooperation.
John F. Wasik is a journalist, speaker, and the author of 17 books. 

This column is adapted from Lightning Strikes; Timeless Lessons in Creativity from the Life and Work of Nikola Tesla (Sterling, 2016)

Press link for more: Market Watch

The Dance of Death #climatechange #neoliberalism #auspol 

The Dance of Death

By Chris Hedges

The ruling corporate elites no longer seek to build.

 They seek to destroy. 

They are agents of death. 

They crave the unimpeded power to cannibalize the country and pollute and degrade the ecosystem to feed an insatiable lust for wealth, power and hedonism. 

Wars and military “virtues” are celebrated.

 Intelligence, empathy and the common good are banished.

 Culture is degraded to patriotic kitsch.

 Education is designed only to instill technical proficiency to serve the poisonous engine of corporate capitalism. 

Historical amnesia shuts us off from the past, the present and the future.

 Those branded as unproductive or redundant are discarded and left to struggle in poverty or locked away in cages. 

State repression is indiscriminant and brutal.

 And, presiding over the tawdry Grand Guignol is a deranged ringmaster tweeting absurdities from the White House.

The graveyard of world empires—Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Mayan, Khmer, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian—followed the same trajectory of moral and physical collapse.

 Those who rule at the end of empire are psychopaths, imbeciles, narcissists and deviants, the equivalents of the depraved Roman emperors Caligula, Nero, Tiberius and Commodus.

 The ecosystem that sustains the empire is degraded and exhausted. 

Economic growth, concentrated in the hands of corrupt elites, is dependent on a crippling debt peonage imposed on the population.

 The bloated ruling class of oligarchs, priests, courtiers, mandarins, eunuchs, professional warriors, financial speculators and corporate managers sucks the marrow out of society.
The elites’ myopic response to the looming collapse of the natural world and the civilization is to make subservient populations work harder for less, squander capital in grandiose projects such as pyramids, palaces, border walls and fracking, and wage war.

 President Trump’s decision to increase military spending by $54 billion and take the needed funds out of the flesh of domestic programs typifies the behavior of terminally ill civilizations. 

When the Roman Empire fell, it was trying to sustain an army of half a million soldiers that had become a parasitic drain on state resources.
“The death instinct, called Thanatos by post-Freudians, is driven by fear, hatred and violence.”
The complex bureaucratic mechanisms that are created by all civilizations ultimately doom them. 

The difference now, as Joseph Tainter points out in “The Collapse of Complex Societies,” is that “collapse, if and when it comes again, will this time be global. 

No longer can any individual nation collapse. 

World civilization will disintegrate as a whole.”
Civilizations in decline, despite the palpable signs of decay around them, remain fixated on restoring their “greatness.” 

Their illusions condemn them. 

They cannot see that the forces that gave rise to modern civilization, namely technology, industrial violence and fossil fuels, are the same forces that are extinguishing it.

 Their leaders are trained only to serve the system, slavishly worshipping the old gods long after these gods begin to demand millions of sacrificial victims.
“Hope drives us to invent new fixes for old messes, which in turn create even more dangerous messes,” Ronald Wright writes in “A Short History of Progress.” “Hope elects the politician with the biggest empty promise; and as any stockbroker or lottery seller knows, most of us will take a slim hope over prudent and predictable frugality. Hope, like greed, fuels the engine of capitalism.” 
The Trump appointees—Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson, Steve Mnuchin, Betsy DeVos, Wilbur Ross, Rick Perry, Alex Acosta and others—do not advocate innovation or reform. They are Pavlovian dogs that salivate before piles of money. They are hard-wired to steal from the poor and loot federal budgets. Their single-minded obsession with personal enrichment drives them to dismantle any institution or abolish any law or regulation that gets in the way of their greed. Capitalism, Karl Marx wrote, is “a machine for demolishing limits.” There is no internal sense of proportion or scale. Once all external impediments are lifted, global capitalism ruthlessly commodifies human beings and the natural world to extract profit until exhaustion or collapse. And when the last moments of a civilization arrive, the degenerate edifices of power appear to crumble overnight.
Sigmund Freud wrote that societies, along with individuals, are driven by two primary instincts. One is the instinct for life, Eros, the quest to love, nurture, protect and preserve. The second is the death instinct. The death instinct, called Thanatos by post-Freudians, is driven by fear, hatred and violence.

 It seeks the dissolution of all living things, including our own beings. One of these two forces, Freud wrote, is always ascendant. Societies in decline enthusiastically embrace the death instinct, as Freud observed in “Civilization and Its Discontents,” written on the eve of the rise of European fascism and World War II. 
“It is in sadism, where the death instinct twists the erotic aim in its own sense and yet at the same time fully satisfies the erotic urge, that we succeed in obtaining the clearest insight into its nature and its relation to Eros,” Freud wrote. “But even where it emerges without any sexual purpose, in the blindest fury of destructiveness, we cannot fail to recognize that the satisfaction of the instinct is accompanied by an extraordinary high degree of narcissistic enjoyment, owing to its presenting the ego with a fulfillment of the latter’s old wishes for omnipotence.”
The lust for death, as Freud understood, is not, at first, morbid. It is exciting and seductive. I saw this in the wars I covered. A god-like power and adrenaline-driven fury, even euphoria, sweep over armed units and ethnic or religious groups given the license to destroy anything and anyone around them. Ernst Juenger captured this “monstrous desire for annihilation” in his World War I memoir, “Storm of Steel.”
A population alienated and beset by despair and hopelessness finds empowerment and pleasure in an orgy of annihilation that soon morphs into self-annihilation. It has no interest in nurturing a world that has betrayed it and thwarted its dreams. It seeks to eradicate this world and replace it with a mythical landscape. It turns against institutions, as well as ethnic and religious groups, that are scapegoated for its misery. It plunders diminishing natural resources with abandon. It is seduced by the fantastic promises of demagogues and the magical solutions characteristic of the Christian right or what anthropologists call “crisis cults.”
Norman Cohn, in “The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Messianism in Medieval and Reformation Europe and Its Bearing on Modern Totalitarian Movements,” draws a link between that turbulent period and our own. Millennial movements are a peculiar, collective psychological response to profound societal despair. They recur throughout human history. We are not immune.
“These movements have varied in tone from the most violent aggressiveness to the mildest pacifism and in aim from the most ethereal spirituality to the most earth-bound materialism; there is no counting the possible ways of imagining the Millennium and the route to it,” Cohen wrote. “But similarities can present themselves as well as differences; and the more carefully one compares the outbreaks of militant social chiliasm during the later Middle Ages with modern totalitarian movements the more remarkable the similarities appear. The old symbols and the old slogans have indeed disappeared, to be replaced by new ones; but the structure of the basic phantasies seems to have changed scarcely at all.”
These movements, Cohen wrote, offered “a coherent social myth which was capable of taking entire possession of those who believed in it. It explained their suffering, it promised them recompense, it held their anxieties at bay, it gave them an illusion of security—even while it drove them, held together by a common enthusiasm, on a quest which was always vain and often suicidal.
“So it came about that multitudes of people acted out with fierce energy a shared phantasy which though delusional yet brought them such intense emotional relief that they could live only through it and were perfectly willing to die for it. It is a phenomenon which was to recur many times between the eleventh century and the sixteenth century, now in one area, now in another, and which, despite the obvious differences in cultural context and in scale, is not irrelevant to the growth of totalitarian movements, with their messianic leaders, their millennial mirages and their demon-scapegoats, in the present century.”
The severance of a society from reality, as ours has been severed from collective recognition of the severity of climate change and the fatal consequences of empire and deindustrialization, leaves it without the intellectual and institutional mechanisms to confront its impending mortality. It exists in a state of self-induced hypnosis and self-delusion. It seeks momentary euphoria and meaning in tawdry entertainment and acts of violence and destruction, including against people who are demonized and blamed for society’s demise. It hastens its self-immolation while holding up the supposed inevitability of a glorious national resurgence. Idiots and charlatans, the handmaidens of death, lure us into the abyss.

Press link for more: commondreams.com

Economic cost of #climatechange are ‘massive’ #auspol #science 

Funding efforts to fight climate change is “a waste of your money,” the director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney said in a press conference today.
 But Mulvaney is dangerously wrong: in fact, experts say that that the economic costs of climate change are so massive that delayed action, or inaction, is the most expensive policy option out there.
Mulvaney was defending President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget, which cuts funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent — making good on Trump’s threat to dismantle the agency. 

“Regarding the question as to climate change, the president was fairly straightforward,” Mulvaney said.

 “‘We’re not spending money on that anymore.’”
That’s a really bad idea, for a couple of reasons. 

But first, let’s get this out of the way: there is overwhelming evidence that climate change is real, and caused by carbon emissions.

 Scientifically, the debate’s over and this is our fault — no matter how much Scott Pruitt or Ryan Zinke try to duck responsibility on behalf of humankind.
Sitting out on global warming is a bad deal for America

Second, there are big chunks of the US economy that depend on the global temperature staying put — like the agriculture and fish industries, for example. 

All told, the agriculture and food sectors account for more than $750 billion dollars of the United States’ gross domestic product, according to an EPA report.
Physicist William Happer loves to say that plants grow better when there are higher atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, but that’s only one part of the picture. 

Most plants also have specific temperature and moisture ranges. 

And as global temperatures climb, severe droughts, extreme rain and snowfall, flooding, and heatwaves have already started to increase — making it a lot harder to grow crops no matter how much they love guzzling down that CO2.
Unchecked climate change will hit farmers where it hurts
We’ve started seeing some of the consequences of climate change on agriculture already, according to a government report: high temperatures in 2011 cost meat producers more than $1 billion dollars in what the EPA called “heat-related losses.” 

Unseasonably warm evenings in 2012 caused Michigan’s cherry crop to bud too early, causing $220 million in damage. California’s record-setting drought, which was exacerbated by global warming, cost the state’s agriculture sector $603 million and 4,700 jobs between 2015 and 2016. Unchecked climate change will hit farmers where it hurts.
Let’s talk coastal property, too, since we know how much time President Trump spends at Mar-a-Lago. Florida’s in big trouble because of the sea level rise, a consequence of the warming planet. 

By 2050, between $15 billion and $23 billion of property will be underwater in the state.

 By the end of the 21st century, that could climb to between $53 billion and $208 billion, according to The Risky Business Project’s Climate Risk Assessment. 

And that’s just in Florida. 

Nationwide, The Risky Business Project estimates that anywhere from $66 billion to $106 billion of coastal real estate is probably going to hard to enjoy without a snorkel by the year 2100.
This is bad for more than just Mar-a-Lago: massive coastal flooding could also have major ripple effects on the economy, according to a report by government-sponsored mortgage company Freddie Mac. 

Coastal businesses could relocate or simply go under, taking jobs with them.

 Lenders and mortgage insurers could also suffer huge losses because, the report says, “It is less likely that borrowers will continue to make mortgage payments if their homes are literally underwater.”

 It gets worse: “Non-economic losses may be substantial as some communities disappear or unravel. Social unrest may increase in the affected areas.”
“It is less likely that borrowers will continue to make mortgage payments if their homes are literally underwater.”
Big picture, global warming could cause the global economy to plummet — leading to a 23 percent drop in gross domestic product per person by the year 2100, according to a 2015 study published in Nature.

 “We’re basically throwing away money by not addressing the issue,” Marshall Burke, an assistant professor at Stanford University, told TIME.
Even bankers agree — and they’re not known for being tree-huggers. A 2015 report published by Citigroup estimates that that climate change could cost the global economy between $2 trillion and $72 trillion between 2015 and 2060. Who else but a group of financial wonks could write something like this: “The cumulative losses to global GDP from climate change impacts (‘Inaction’) from 2015 to 2060 are estimated at $2 trillion to $72 trillion depending on the discount rate and scenario used. Lower discount rates encourage early action.”
Trump of all people should see how bad a deal it is

The Department of Defense not only acknowledges climate change, but warns that it could exacerbate “poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions that threaten stability in a number of countries.” ProPublica recently obtained an unpublished testimony by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “Climate change can be a driver of instability and the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon.”
One of the most frustrating parts of Mulvaney’s press conference is that he can just lob statements like fighting climate change is a “waste of money” out into the world — and people might believe it.

 But there are real experts out there, who spend time and money to collect data, analyze it, and publish their results before their conclusions might be somewhat accepted as something resembling fact.
Maybe politicians making claims about science they don’t understand should have to go through the scientific peer review process — even Reviewer 2 wouldn’t let Mulvaney get away with this kind of wild talk:

The most painful part?

 Even the world’s best efforts to combat climate change might not be good enough. 

But waiting to start fighting global warming — or sitting out the fight altogether — is a bad deal for America’s future. Given President Trump’s claims about his business acumen, he, of all people, should see that.

Press link for more: The Verge

Climate Change impact irreversible #auspol #wapol 

Climate change impact on Australia may be irreversible, five-yearly report says

The Tarkine wilderness area in Tasmania

An independent review of the state of Australia’s environment has found the impacts of climate change are increasing and some of the changes could be irreversible.
The latest State of the Environment report, a scientific snapshot across nine areas released by the federal government every five years, says climate change is altering the structure and function of natural ecosystems in Australia, and is affecting heritage, economic activity and human wellbeing.
It warns climate change will result in “location specific vulnerabilities” and says the most severe impacts will be felt by people who are socially and economically disadvantaged.
Record high water temperatures caused “widespread coral bleaching, habitat destruction and species mortality” in the marine environment between 2011 and 2016, it says.

The minister for energy and the environment, Josh Frydenberg, was due to release the report card on Tuesday morning.
In a column for Guardian Australia, Frydenberg says the report indicates the impact of changing weather patterns is being felt in the ocean, on the Great Barrier Reef and on land, affecting biodiversity and species habitat.
“While carbon emissions per capita have declined from 24.1 tonnes in 2011 to 22.2 tonnes in 2015 and energy efficiency improvements are reducing electricity demand, the report makes clear that, for the world to meet its Paris goals, there is much more to do,” Frydenberg says.


The minister says the report makes clear Australia needs to prepare for changes in the environment and “put in place a coordinated, comprehensive, well-resourced, long-term response”.
He warns that failure to do so “will have a direct and detrimental impact on our quality of life and leave a legacy to future generations that is inferior to the one we have inherited”.
The minister says the report presents the government with a mixed picture. “Good progress has been made in the management of the marine and Antarctic environments, natural and cultural heritage and the built environment – while pressures are building in relation to invasive species, climate change, land use and coastal protection,” he says.
Frydenberg says the doubling of Australia’s population in the past 50 years and growing urbanisation “have all combined to contribute to additional pressures on the environment”.
Australia’s heavily populated coastal areas are under pressure, as are “growth areas within urban environments, where human pressure is greatest”, the report finds.
Grazing and invasive species continue to pose a significant threat to biodiversity.
“The main pressures facing the Australian environment today are the same as in 2011: climate change, land use change, habitat fragmentation and degradation, and invasive species,” the report’s summary says. “In addition, the interactions between these and other pressures are resulting in cumulative impacts, amplifying the threats faced by the Australian environment.
“Evidence shows that some individual pressures on the environment have decreased since 2011, such as those associated with air quality, poor agricultural practices, commercial fishing, and oil and gas exploration and production in Australia’s marine environment.
“During the same time, however, other pressures have increased — for example, those associated with coal mining and the coal-seam gas industry, habitat fragmentation and degradation, invasive species, litter in our coastal and marine environments, and greater traffic volumes in our capital cities.”

The report criticises the lack of “an overarching national policy that establishes a clear vision for the protection and sustainable management of Australia’s environment to the year 2050”.
It points to poor collaboration, gaps in knowledge, data and monitoring and a lack of follow-though from policy to action.
“Providing for a sustainable environment both now and in the future is a national issue requiring leadership and action across all levels of government, business and the community,” it says. “The first step is recognising the importance and value of ecosystem services to our economy and society.
“Addressing Australia’s long-term, systemic environmental challenges requires, among other things, the development of a suite of stronger, more comprehensive and cohesive policies focused on protecting and maintaining natural capital, and ongoing improvements to current management arrangements.”
Late last year, the government established a review of its Direct Action climate policy. The current policy has been widely criticised by experts as inadequate if Australia is to meet its international emissions reduction targets under the Paris climate change agreement.
Shortly after establishing the review, Frydenberg ruled out converting the Direct Action scheme to a form of carbon trading after a brief internal revolt. Many experts argue carbon trading would allow Australia to reduce emissions consistent with Paris commitments at least cost to households and businesses.
The Direct Action review still allows for the consideration of the potential role of international carbon credits in meeting Australia’s emissions reduction targets – a practice Tony Abbott comprehensively ruled out as prime minister – and consideration of a post-2030 emissions reduction goal for Australia.
The review also requires an examination of international developments in climate change policy, which is code for an assessment of what is happening on global climate action in the event the US pulls out of the Paris climate agreement.
The New York Times reported last week that the White House was fiercely divided over Trump’s campaign promise to cancel the Paris agreement.
Its report said Trump’s senior strategist Steve Bannon wanted the US to pull out of the Paris agreement but Bannon’s stance was being resisted by the new secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, who are concerned about the diplomatic fallout.
The Turnbull government has already indicated that it intends to stay the course with the Paris agreement, and has argued it would take the US four years to withdraw from the deal under the terms of ratification.
But if the US withdraws from Paris, internal pressure inside the Coalition will intensify, and the prime minister will face calls from some conservatives to follow suit.
In his column for Guardian Australia, Frydenberg says the Coalition is doing good work on the environment and the conservative parties in Australia have been responsible for establishing legislation such as the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, and programs such as the Natural Heritage Trust and the first mandatory Renewable Energy Target.
“The task now is to build on this proud Coalition tradition and to use this report to continue the good work the Turnbull government is already doing across so many areas of environmental policy,” he says.

Press link for more: The Guardian