Climate change victims need money to survive, not words. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Climate change victims need money to survive, not words

Published on 20/03/2018, 10:35am

There is an opportunity in May to help people hit hardest by climate change; governments must take it.

Sakina Bibi has lost three homes in 8 years to coastal erosion (Pic: EnGIO)

By Harjeet Singh, Sven Harmeling and Julie-Anne Richards

Sakina Bibi has lost three mud houses to the sea in less than 8 years, at Mousuni island in the Indian Sundarbans.

The 65-year-old is not alone. Since Cyclone Aila hit the region in the year 2009, over 2,000 families have been displaced due to unpredictable coastal flooding destroying their homes and livelihoods.

As climate change causes sea level rise, more than 13 million people living in the low-lying Sundarbans – a Unesco World Heritage Site spread across Bangladesh and India – face an uncertain future.

In May, there will be an opportunity to help people like Sakina Bibi: the Suva expert dialogue on “loss and damage”, to take place during interim UN climate talks in Bonn.

Governments must make sure this is not just a talking shop and leads to new finance for those hit hardest by climate change.

A pre-meeting last week showed promise, but also signs of resistance from rich countries to meaningful action. So what would be a positive outcome?

New money

First and foremost, the dialogue should mobilise money. Rich countries must engage constructively with what finance and support vulnerable countries need, who will provide it and how it will be channeled.

To date, there has been an emphasis on providing insurance against climate risks, but the expectation is that vulnerable populations pay the premiums. This is very unfair, as those people did not cause climate change. Also, insurance does not cover “slow onset events” like sea level rise and glacier melt.

We want to see polluters pay for the damage they have caused. One way would be to equitably implement a “climate damages tax” on fossil fuel extraction, which could raise billions of dollars a year.

The provisional concept does not guarantee to put such innovative financial mechanisms at the heart of the expert dialogue, but they will at least be on the agenda.

Science focus

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is due to release a report later this year on 1.5C global warming, the toughest target in the Paris Agreement. It will detail what would be required to meet the target and the consequences of exceeding it.

This is an ideal opportunity to build up the evidence base around loss and damage. Sadly, some rich country representatives on the executive committee have blocked meaningful engagement with the IPCC, despite the science panel’s willingness to cooperate.

Julie-Anne Richards


At the #WIM #ExCom7 meeting. For the 2nd time reps from US, Australia, UK, Germany all trying to shut down discussions between the #IPCC and this @UNFCCC body tasked with dealing with #lossanddamage from #climatechange. Why? What are they so afraid of?

9:10 PM – Mar 14, 2018


At the Paris climate summit in 2015, governments commissioned a task force to “avert, minimise and address” climate-induced displacement, which according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre already affects an average of 21.5 million people each year.

Made up of specialists from climate negotiations and agencies like the International Organisation for Migration and UN Refugee Agency, the task force is holding a stakeholder consultation mid-May to develop policy recommendations. The process will complement the UN Global Compact on Migration, which concludes this year.

Policymakers must rise above politics and self-interest to protect the life and dignity of people forced to move by climate changes beyond their control.

Sakina Bibi and millions like her depend on it.

Harjeet Singh is the global climate change lead for Action Aid International, Sven Harmeling is global policy lead on climate change for Care International and Julie-Anne Richards is an independent consultant

Press link for more: Climate change news


#ClimateChange 140 million #Climate #Refugees #StopAdani #auspol qldpol

Climate change soon to cause mass movement, World Bank warns

140m people in three regions expected to migrate before 2050 unless environment is improved

Fiona HarveyLast modified on Tue 20 Mar 2018 05.09 AEDT

Lalmonirhat in Bangladesh was flooded last year. It is one of the areas likely to be hard-hit by climate change, leading to high levels of migration. Photograph: Zakir Chowdhury/Barcroft Images

Climate change will result in a massive movement of people inside countries and across borders, creating “hotspots” where tens of millions pour into already crowded slums, according to the World Bank.

More than 140 million people in just three regions of the developing world are likely to migrate within their native countries between now and 2050, the first report on the subject has found.

The World Bank examined three regions, which between them account for 55% of the developing world’s population. In sub-Saharan Africa, 86 million are expected to be internally displaced over the period; in south Asia, about 40 million; and in Latin America, 17 million.

Such flows of people could cause enormous disruption, threatening governance and economic and social development, but the World Bank cautioned that it was still possible to stave off the worst effects.

“Climate change-driven migration will be a reality, but it does not need to be a crisis, provided we take action now and act boldly,” said John Roome, a senior director for climate change at the World Bank group.

He laid out three key actions governments should take: first, to accelerate their reductions of greenhouse gases; second, for national governments to incorporate climate change migration into their national development planning; and third, to invest in further data and analysis for use in planning development.

Within countries, the effects of climate change will create multiple “hotspots”: made up of the areas people move away from in large numbers, and the areas they move to.

“Local planners need to make sure the resources are made available, and to make sure it takes place in a comprehensive and coordinated manner,” said Roome.

Globally, many tens of millions more are expected to be similarly affected, creating huge problems for national and local governments. Nearly 3% of the population was judged likely to move owing to climate change in the areas studied – a proportion that might be repeated elsewhere.

Migration between countries has previously taken the spotlight, with its potential for cross-border conflicts, but internal migration may cause as much disruption, putting pressure on infrastructure, jobs, food and water resources.

The 140 million figure extrapolates from current trends, but could be reduced if changes are made. If economic development is made more inclusive, for instance through better education and infrastructure, internal migration across the three regions could drop to between 65 million and 105 million, according to the report. If strong action is taken on greenhouse gas emissions, as few as 30 million to 70 million may migrate.

Climate change is likely to most affect the poorest and most vulnerable, making agriculture difficult or even impossible across large swaths of the globe, threatening water resources and increasing the likelihood of floods, droughts and heatwaves in some areas. Sea level rises and violent storm surges are also likely to hit low-lying coastal areas, such as in Bangladesh.

Kristalina Georgieva, the chief executive of the World Bank, in her introduction to the report published on Monday, said: “There is growing recognition among researchers that more people will move within national borders to escape the effects of slow-onset climate change, such as droughts, crop failure and rising seas.

“The number of climate migrants could be reduced by tens of millions as a result of global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and with far-sighted development planning. There is an opportunity now to plan and act for emerging climate change threats.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

Want to Stop Climate Change? Take ‘Em to Court! #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Want to Stop Climate Change? Take ‘Em to Court!

A novel case highlights the profound unfairness of global warming.

More stories by Mark Buchanan19 March 2018, 10:00 pm AEST

A generational issue.

Photographer: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Climate change is profoundly unfair: By failing to address it, today’s leaders are imposing what could prove to be an unbearable burden on future generations.

But how can they be made to recognize the danger and act?

Using the U.S. legal system, a group of children has found a novel way to do so.

The 2015 Paris Agreement on reducing carbon emissions looked like a big step forward in addressing global warming.

But since then, the U.S. has pulled out, and many other governments have fallen short.

Total emissions will likely rise this year in the U.S., India, China and elsewhere.

Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions climb since LNP stopped the price on carbon.

Energy experts predict that we’ll go on using fossil fuels for decades, with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels more than doubling compared with pre-industrial times.

In 50 years or so, we should expect a rash of effects: falling productivity in fisheries and farming, rising sea levels, and drought-driven migrations fueling political instability.

It’s easy to see how this can be construed as a crime against children.

So three years ago a group of them, along with Our Children’s Trust and the youth-centered environmental group Earth Guardians, sued the U.S. government. They argued that its energy policies violated their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, while also failing to protect essential public resources.

They have a plausible case: In earlier proceedings, the U.S. District Court in Oregon ruled that the due process clause of the Constitution guarantees citizens an “unenumerated fundamental right” to “a climate system capable of sustaining human life.”

The trial was supposed to begin last month. But in June, the government petitioned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco for a so-called Writ of Mandamus, asking that the suit be dismissed because the process of discovery — the pre-trial gathering of evidence — would be too burdensome and threaten the separation of powers. It didn’t work: Three judges dismissed the petition, ruling that the issues the government raised “were better addressed through the ordinary course of litigation.”

Hence, a new trial date will be set. The stakes for the government could be high. The process of discovery alone promises to be embarrassing, as lawyers for the plaintiffs seek detailed information showing how long authorities have known about the risks of carbon emissions (probably more than 50 years). If the children win, the court could compel the U.S. to produce and act on a firm plan to decarbonize its energy system.

Granted, it’s probably fantasy to suppose such a ruling could survive the conservative Supreme Court, to which the government would almost certainly appeal. Yet the ultimate outcome may be less important than the mere fact that the case has come this far. The spectacle of a trial — or even arguments over whether the government can avoid a trial, and why it wants to — could inspire broader demands for real action, especially among younger people and those most vulnerable to global warming.

From civil rights to the environment, meaningful change requires persistent activism, growing public awareness and engagement. This case reflects a larger global trend, in which people are invoking existing law to protect the young. Such cases rest on the notion of intergenerational equity, the idea that the actions of one generation should not be allowed to deprive future generations of similar opportunities. A recent survey found that the constitutions of some 144 nations, accounting for nearly three-quarters of all carbon emissions, have protections against climate change.

The challenge is to get courts and governments to enforce the law. If it takes a child to make that happen, then so be it.

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India is most vulnerable to #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

India most vulnerable country to climate change: HSBC report

LONDON (REUTERS) – India is the most vulnerable country to climate change, followed by Pakistan, the Philippines and Bangladesh, a ranking by HSBC showed on Monday (March 19).

The bank assessed 67 developed, emerging and frontier markets on vulnerability to the physical impacts of climate change, sensitivity to extreme weather events, exposure to energy transition risks and ability to respond to climate change.

The 67 nations represent almost a third of the world’s nation states, 80 per cent of the global population and 94 per cent of global gross domestic product.

HSBC averaged the scores in each area for the countries in order to reach the overall ranking. Some countries were highly vulnerable in some areas but less so in others.

Of the four nations assessed by HSBC to be most vulnerable, India has said climate change could cut agricultural incomes, particularly unirrigated areas that would be hit hardest by rising temperatures and declines in rainfall.

Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines are susceptible to extreme weather events, such as storms and flooding.

Pakistan was ranked by HSBC among nations least well-equipped to respond to climate risks.

South and southeast Asian countries accounted for half of the 10 most vulnerable countries. Oman, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Mexico, Kenya and South Africa are also in this group.

The five countries least vulnerable to climate change risk are Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia and New Zealand.

In its last ranking in 2016, HSBC only assessed G20 countries for vulnerability to climate risk.

Press link for more: Straits Times

Fighting the mega-mine #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Fighting the mega-mine

Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson of Shoal Collective talk to Ken Peters-Dodd, a First Nations activist fighting against the construction of a mega-mine project threatening to devastate the environment.

Activists from Australia and beyond are joining forces to prevent what is set to be one of the world’s biggest ecological catastrophes.

The massive Carmichael coal mega-mine will devastate the Great Barrier Reef, contribute massively to global climate change, and further marginalise Australia’s First Nations people.

Adani, the controversial Indian corporation planning the mine, is set to extract 2.3 billion tonnes of coal over its planned 60 years of operation.

It is just one of nine mega-mines planned in Australia’s Galilee Basin that would produce 330 million tonnes of coal. According to Greenpeace, that much coal would fill a train long enough to wrap around the world one and a half times.

It will be exported by train from the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point port on the Great Barrier Reef.

More than one million cubic metres of sea floor would be dredged from the Reef in order to extend the port.

The Reef was seriously damaged by unprecedented levels of bleaching in 2016 and 2017 due to rising sea temperatures, and is at risk of further damage in 2018.

With hundreds more coal ships filling the waters, dredging, extra noise and light pollution, and the risk of coal spills, it is feared that the Adani mine will destroy the Reef completely.

This is just the latest massive mining project to threaten First Nations people’s connections to their lands in Australia.

Since the first days of colonisation, Aboriginal land has been exploited for the benefit of Europeans, and now the same thing is being done to increase  the profits of international corporations.

Like indigenous people the world over, First Nations Australians are fighting against their lands being seized for the benefit of global capitalism.

The Adani project is in financial trouble due to the massive campaign against it in Australia. Globally, 28 banks have now ruled out all or part of the Galilee Basin mining projects.

In December 2017, Adani’s application for a AUD$1bn state loan was blocked by the Queensland Premier. But many more companies are still involved, many of which are are based in London.

Some of the international companies involved include WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff, Jefferies, Investec, KY, Marsh, and Baker McKenzie. These companies could also bow to public pressure and withdraw their support from Adani.

Such withdrawals could prove fatal to the project.

In short, it is still possible to stop this project.

A coalition of First Nations activists and groups such as Frontline Action Against Coal and Stop Adani are determined to halt the project in its tracks.

Recently, activists have set up a protest camp near Bowen to oppose the project.

We travelled to Bowen on Australia’s east coast, close to the Abbot Point coal port, and joined both locals and international campaigners for Frontline Action on Coal’s week of action to stop Adani.

Roads were blocked and activists locked themselves to the railway tracks used to export coal.

We interviewed Ken Peters-Dodd, a First Nations elder of the Birriah people, whose traditional country will be affected by the project.

Adani plans to construct the railway line through Birriah land to export the coal to its port. Ken calls on international activists to join the fight against the Adani mine.

He told us: “I am from the Birriah people, of the Bowen river.

I am also from the Widi, the mountain and hill people of the hinterlands.

We are part of the Birri Gubba language group.”

What was the affect of colonisation on your country?

Colonisers came here in the late 1860s.

When they got here their main interest was mining and exploiting the resources on our land. They came with the English police force and began the cutting and logging of our timbers.

The wars and battles carried on for decades.

The massive majority of our people were totally annihiliated.

After that, people were forced to work in pastoralism and cattle.

There was a great roundup and my great grandparents were forcibly moved onto [Christian] missions way up in Cape York and Mission Beach, never to return to their country.

How will the Adani project impact on your people?

The Adani project will have an impact on the environment, our cultural heritage and our rights as caretakers and custodians of our country for generations to come.

The project will also have an impact on neighbouring groups.

It will impact the Juru people, whose country is on the coast where the coal will be loaded onto ships.

It will affect their reefs, wetlands and their rights to protect country.

Were First Nations people consulted by Adani?

There was a process where the company came in and set up a meeting. But it was designed to manipulate and divide people.

People didn’t get the right information [on which] to base their decision.

You had a minority of people only in it for financial gain – influencing the meetings in favour of the mining company.

Expert advice to inform this process was done internally by the company.

Our family was in the negotiations and walked out in disgust at how it was being manipulated.

It was already signed and delivered by the mining company and the company’s lawyers when we walked out.

The financial offerings were peanuts compared to what they would make off the country.

Many of the families never signed.

Can you tell us how you’ve been involved in the campaign against the project?

I’m fully supportive of the campaign against Adani as there’s no difference between Aboriginal and environmental activists standing for ecology, water and the reef.

We’ve gone out and pulled our lines together.

We went on to Abbot Point port with local group Reef Defenders and protested against the project.

With Juru elders we’ve made pledges [to oppose the project].

When we went to Adani’s office to deliver our pledges, they never sent the CEO down to collect them. Adani didn’t want to be seen as having anything to do with it. We’ve also been on campaign roadshows, saying that this project does not have the consent of Aboriginal people.

We had Juru elders, who were part of the negotiations with Adani, speaking about why they didn’t support the project.

We’re encouraging other First Nations peoples to join in and fight this. Our people since day one have been standing in protest, speaking out as custodians of this land.

For over two hundred years we have witnessed the destruction of country and it’s time that we as a people stand up to stop this happening.

It’s a turning point.

We ask all First Nations people to stand in alliance in this struggle.

Is the fight against the Adani project only a struggle for First Nations people?

No. Everyone should participate who has an interest in the impacts these projects will have.

We fully support people from around the world to get involved.

It’s not just a struggle for First Nations people but for everyone who has interests and rights in this country.

We want people to come together and support us on country, build a strong alliance and challenge the separation between First Nations people and the wider Australian people.

The Adani mine will have a massive impact on global climate change for generations to come.

Underground waters are going to be depleted, which will have impacts throughout the Great Dividing Range.

The government has no concern for the future generations, or for the people at all.

[Even if planning permission is legally approved], people can still resist the project and we will carry on our fight to protect our country, including protesting physically and peacefully.

It’s a critical point as it will affect other projects in Australia.

What do you say to those who think that the Adani project is vital for creating new jobs in Queensland?

That’s just a political argument made by people with a relationship with the mining industry, campaigning for their positions.

Everyday Australians know that they won’t get a job: the industry wants a transient community which has no physical connection to country. We need to plan for renewable energy.

Even the other mining industries will feel an impact from this project because the price of coal in the area will be driven down [because of oversupply].

We came together and protested against the Commonwealth Bank and temporarily closed down seven of their branches. [Commonwealth Bank, as well as the other big Australian banks, have now pledged not to finance Adani].

Do you want people internationally to resist the involvement of foreign banks?

Definitely. We send clear support for people globally to put pressure on international banks which may have an interest in funding this project. Go and campaign outside these banks and put pressure on them. We want that clear message to come from people internationally. We’d be prepared to go over and support people in this.

We call on people from all areas: social, political and environmental. We ask people from around the world to support us.

We need to pull together and plan for the future because this project will set a precedent which will diminish the future rights of all First Nations people.

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The temperature is rising … and so is the death toll #bushfire #auspol #nswpol #springst #StopAdani

I’ve investigated the impact of climate change driven extreme weather on public health for 20 years.

The research shows the links between the two couldn’t be clearer – extreme weather events such as severe heatwaves, bushfires and supercharged storms are placing Australian lives at risk.

The threats to our lives from extreme weather isn’t limited to heatwaves, but extends to more severe storms and floods and more intense and ‘out of season’ bushfires. Photo: AFP

As we continue to burn fossil fuels such as coal and gas, more carbon pollution is released into our climate system, causing more intense, more severe and more frequent extreme weather events, which in turn, will continue to place increasing pressure on health systems, emergency services and our communities.

Globally, we’ve just experienced the hottest five year period ever recorded, stretching from 2013 to 2017, and this month parts of Queensland were hit with a severe heatwave, breaking February averages by more than  10 degrees.

The reality is that Australia will become warmer and drier as a direct result of intensifying climate change as heatwaves continue to become hotter, longer, and more frequent.

Severe heatwaves are silent killers, causing more deaths since the 1890s than all of Australia’s bushfires, cyclones, earthquakes, floods and severe storms combined.

Over the past decade, severe heatwaves around Australia have resulted in deaths and an increased number of hospital admissions for heart attack, stroke, respiratory illness, diabetes and kidney disease.

Older people, young children, and those with chronic health conditions are at high risk, but so are outdoor workers and our emergency responders.

In January 2009, Melbourne suffered three consecutive days of above 43 degrees, while elsewhere in Victoria it came within a whisker of 49.

There were 980 heat-related deaths during this time, which was around 60% more than would normally occur at that time of year.

Morgues were over capacity and bodies had to be stored in refrigerated trucks.

A few years earlier in 2004, Brisbane experienced a prolonged heatwave with temperatures reaching up to 42 degrees in February, which increased overall deaths by 23%.

The threats to our lives and livelihoods from extreme weather isn’t limited to heatwaves, but extends to more frequent and more severe storms and floods, more intense and ‘out of season’ bushfires, and widespread and prolonged drought.

Of course, we’re used to extreme weather in Australia, so much so that it is embedded in our cultural identity.

From ancient Indigenous understandings of complex seasons and use of fire to manage landscapes, to Dorothea McKeller’s 1908 poem My Country, to Gang Gajang’s 1985 anthem Sounds of Then (This is Australia), we sure like to talk about the weather.

But climate change is making these events more and more deadly, and we can’t afford to be complacent.

So what do we do to protect ourselves and our loved ones from extreme heat and other events?

We can check in with our friends, family and neighbours on extreme heat days and we can strive to make our health services more resilient and responsive, but this doesn’t deal with the cause.

Without rapid effective action to reduce carbon emissions we’re locking ourselves into a future of worsening, out of control extremes.

Ultimately, to protect Australians from worsening extreme weather events and to do our fair share in the global effort to tackle climate change, we have to cut our greenhouse gas pollution levels quickly and deeply.

Reducing our carbon pollution means a healthier Australia, now and in the future, with fewer deaths, fewer ambulance call-outs, fewer trips to the hospital, and reduced costs to the health system.

The only thing standing in the way of Australia tackling climate change is political will.

Professor Hilary Bambrick is a member of the Climate Council and heads the School of Public Health and Social Work at QUT.

Press link for more: Canberra Times

50 years since climate change was first seen. Now time is running out #auspol #qldpol #sapol #StopAdani

It’s 50 years since climate change was first seen.

Now time is running out |

Richard WilesFri 16 Mar 2018 01.47 AEDT

Making up for years of delay and denial will not be easy, nor will it be cheap. Climate polluters must be held accountable

Scientists attribute 15-40% of the epic rain of Hurricane Harvey to climate change.’ Photograph: Marcus Yam/LA Times via Getty Images

Fifty years ago, the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) delivered a report titled Sources, Abundance, and Fate of Gaseous Atmospheric Polluters to the American Petroleum Institute (API), a trade association for the fossil fuel industry.

The report, unearthed by researchers at the Center for International Environmental Law, is one of the earliest attempts by the industry to grapple with the impacts of rising CO2 levels, which Stanford’s researchers warned if left unabated “could bring about climatic changes” like temperature increases, melting of ice caps and sea level rise.

The year was 1968, and the term “global warming” would not appear in a peer-reviewed academic journal until 1975. Famed Nasa scientist James Hansen would not testify before Congress that “global warming has begun” for another 20 years. And the US would not enter into – only to later pull out of – the Paris climate accord for nearly half a century.

The anniversary of SRI’s report to the API on climate change represents not just a damning piece of evidence of what the fossil fuel industry knew and when, but a signal of all that we have lost over the decades of policy inaction and interference. It should also serve as a potent motivator in the fight for climate accountability and justice.

At the time, CO2 levels in the atmosphere stood about 323ppm. The planet was warming but was still well within the historical norm. Sea levels had risen by about 4in compared with 1880 levels. The report, however, cautioned that “man is now engaged in a vast geophysical experiment with his environment, the Earth” and that “significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000”.

Those predictions proved to be correct: by the turn of the century, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had risen to 369ppm, causing a temperature increase of nearly half a degree over pre-industrial averages. Today, virtually all climate scientists agree there is little or no chance the world can stay within the goal of 1.5C, the limit of what scientists believe to be safe.

With each decade of delay and denial the impacts and costs of climate change have continued to mount

Over the next 20 years, the scientific community and policymakers around the world began to reach a consensus on the threat posed by rising CO2 levels. Scientists at least one major oil company, Exxon, did their own climate modeling, which agreed with the scientific consensus. During this period a budding movement to cut emissions began.

To counter and slow down that effort to address climate change, the fossil fuel industry began its long and powerful strategy of climate denial and obstructionism. Even though they knew the science, they also realized that attempts to control emissions could seriously damage their bottom lines.

In 1998, as the first global attempt to rein in climate pollution, the Kyoto protocol, was headed to the Senate for ratification, API circulated what has come to be known as the Victory Memo, a detailed road map to undermining science and promoting denial of climate change. According to API’s top strategists: “Victory will be achieved when: those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appear to be out of touch with reality.”

California’s deadly wildfires which were set up by five years of drought.’ Photograph: Kurod/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

The memo’s end goal was clear: create doubt about science where none existed, deceive the media and Congress about the risks of climate change, and block the momentum that was building to address rising emissions through the Kyoto protocol, a precursor to the Paris accord. ExxonMobil alone would go on to spend upwards of $30m on ads, front groups, and pseudoscience intended to carry out the plan. That’s in addition to the cash that flooded the coffers of climate deniers in Congress who are rewarded amply for willful ignorance.

API’s strategic deception campaign was a success, which is why we now stand at the brink of the highest global temperature considered safe. Just what it will mean to cross that line remains an ongoing question for atmospheric scientists, but we’ve already started to get a glimpse and it doesn’t look good.

The damage is all around us, from hurricanes on steroids – scientists attribute 15-40% (8in-24in) of the epic rain of Hurricane Harvey to climate change – to California’s deadly wildfires which were set up by five years of drought, followed by record snowfall, then record heat that turned huge areas of the state into tinderboxes. In 2017 there were 16 separate billion-dollar disasters in the US, resulting in a total of $306bn of damages, nearly $100bn more than the second highest year 2005 (Katrina). While technically climate change did not “cause” these disasters, most of the carnage was aggravated in some way by climate change and the fossil fuel emissions that cause it in the first place.

Other impacts are more long-term and irreparable. Anyone born after 1985 has never experienced a month with average temperatures that fall below the historical norm and, without action, probably never will. Mass coral bleaching events due to warming waters and ocean acidification have rendered large swaths of some of the ocean’s most diverse ecosystems lifeless. The vanishing Arctic ice cap appears already to be affecting global weather patterns, and the loss of ice in Antarctica may have reached a tipping point that many now view as irreversible, a development that will require tough and costly decisions for coastal cities.

It never had to be this way. But with each decade of delay and denial the impacts and costs of climate change have continued to mount. Now taxpayers are left holding the bill for a literal rising tide of impacts that pose the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. Meeting that challenge must begin with accountability on the part of climate polluters, and justice for citizens who did nothing to cause the problem other than drive to work and heat their homes when they had no other alternatives.

We can’t turn back the clock, but we can turn off the fossil fuel firehose that’s been pumping CO2 into our atmosphere and demand that those who left it running help foot the bill for the cleanup. Already we’ve seen cities like New York, San Francisco, and other coastal cities file lawsuits against climate polluters, seeking to recover costs associated with planning for and adapting to a warming world. With massive costs facing hundreds more cities and no remedy in sight, more litigation will follow.

Making up for 50 years of delay and denial will not be easy, nor will it be cheap. But taxpayers should not have to shoulder the burden alone. The API and its climate polluters knowingly and deliberately caused this mess. They must help pay to clean it up.

Richard Wiles is the executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity

Press link for more: The Guardian

Global warming puts nearly half of species in key places at risk: report #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

An elephant splashes at sunset in the waters of the Chobe river in Botswana in 2015.

(CNN)About half of all plants and animals in 35 of the world’s most biodiverse places are at risk of extinction due to climate change, a new report claims.

“Hotter days, longer periods of drought, and more intense storms are becoming the new normal, and species around the world are already feeling the effects,” said Nikhil Advani, lead specialist for climate, communities and wildlife at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The report, a collaboration between the University of East Anglia, the James Cook University, and the WWF, found that nearly 80,000 plants and animals in 35 diverse and wildlife-rich areas — including the Amazon rainforest, the Galapagos islands, southwest Australia and Madagascar — could become extinct if global temperatures rise.

The 35 places were chosen based on their “uniqueness and the variety of plants and animals found there,” the WWF said.

“The collected results reveal some striking trends. They add powerful evidence that we urgently need global action to mitigate climate change,” the report said. A corresponding study was also published by the scientific journal Climate Change.

If temperatures were to rise by 4.5 degrees Celsius, animals like African elephants would likely lack sufficient water supplies and 96% of all breeding ground for tigers in India’s Sundarbans region could be submerged in water.

An Indian tigress wearing a radio collar wades through a river after being released by wildlife workers in Storekhali forest in the Sundarbans, some 130 kilometers south of Kolkata, in 2010.

However, if temperature rise was kept to below 2 degrees Celsius — the global target set by the landmark Paris Climate Accord in 2015 — the number of species lost could be limited to 25%.

“This is not simply about the disappearance of certain species from particular places, but about profound changes to ecosystems that provide vital services to hundreds of millions of people,” the WWF said in its report.

CNN’s Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report

Press link for more: CNN.COM

Lessons We Can Learn From Cape Town’s Water Crisis. #auspol #sapol #StopAdani

Lessons We Can Learn From Cape Town’s Water Crisis

By David Suzuki

Canada has more freshwater per capita than most countries, but not as much as we might think, and that’s a problem.

Many of us in Canada take water for granted, despite drinking water problems in First Nations communities. World Water Day, on March 22, reminds us that as the human population continues to grow, putting greater demand on all resources, and as climate change exacerbates drought in many places, we can’t be complacent.

Our cities may not be running out of water yet, but people in Cape Town didn’t expect their water supply to go dry.

The four-million residents of South Africa’s second-largest city could see their taps turned off by May 11, called “Day Zero” — or sooner, if people don’t obey severe water restrictions.

“People didn’t believe anything like this could happen, but I think the reality has dawned on everyone and it is pretty tense,” University of Cape Town hydrologist Piotr Wolski told Smithsonian magazine.

piyaset via Getty Images

Cape Town is entering its fourth year of drought — the worst in 100 years, with an average of 234 millimetres of rainfall a year for the past three years, less than half the average since 1977.

Wolski says climate change is a big part of the problem, but so is city mismanagement.

Cape Town isn’t the only city with these problems.

Others, including São Paulo, Beijing, Cairo, Jakarta, Indonesia, Moscow, Istanbul, Mexico City, London, Tokyo and Miami, all face water shortages related to climate change, population growth, waste and mismanagement.

Depleted supply is only one result.

As more water is drawn from underground aquifers, land is sinking, disrupting road and transit infrastructure and building foundations.

As water for agriculture becomes increasingly scarce, food prices rise, which can lead to conflict and human migration.

Canada has more freshwater per capita than most countries, but not as much as we might think. Although water covers 70 per cent of Earth’s surface, only 3 per cent is fresh. Canada has about 20 per cent of the world’s freshwater, but only 7 per cent of renewable freshwater. (A lot is stored in glaciers, lakes and aquifers that aren’t being replenished, or at least not fast enough to replace usage.) As our agricultural and industrial activity expand and population grows, water demands grow and more sources become polluted.

Cape Town introduced a number of measures to combat its crisis.

People are restricted to 50 litres of freshwater a day, going down to 25 after Day Zero — although average consumption is still about 95 litres a day.

Europeans average 100 litres a day, and Canadians each used about 250 litres a day in 2013, down from 330 in 2005, not including industrial, commercial and other uses. Consumption has been declining as more people install low-flow shower heads, faucets and toilets.

Cape Town’s government is also trying to diversify its water supply by drilling for groundwater and building desalinization and water recycling plants, and has imposed higher fees on those who use more than a certain limit.

With freshwater shortages looming, it’s wasteful to use drinking water to flush toilets and water lawns. Although recycling or re-using toilet water, or “black water” — about one-third of water use in the average household — is difficult, although not impossible, because of bacterial contamination, grey water from baths, showers, sinks, dishwashers and laundry machines can be treated and used to flush toilets, water plants and gardens, even wash clothes. That can save as much as 70 litres of water a day per person.

It also bewilders me that in Canada, where most people can get clean drinking water from the tap, so many pay more for bottled water than gasoline, which creates more plastic and raises issues around corporations profiting from water supplies.

One lesson from places like Cape Town is that we should start tackling the issue now rather than waiting until it becomes a crisis. We must get better at conserving water, preventing water pollution and protecting natural ecosystems like forests and wetlands that filter and store water while also preventing flooding. Beyond the obvious ways to conserve household water, we should also rethink our obsession with lawns that need constant watering, and discourage luxuries like private swimming pools.

Some say our next major wars could be about water rather than resources like oil. If we in Canada and elsewhere plan properly, that needn’t be the case.

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

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World scientists’ warning to humanity #auspol #sapol #StopAdani

World scientists’ warning to humanity

By Rex Weyler

Rex Weyler was a director of the original Greenpeace Foundation, the editor of the organisation’s first newsletter, and a co-founder of Greenpeace International in 1979.

Environmental activists and organisations typically try and stay positive, to give people hope that we can change.

Positive signs exist, going back to the historic whaling and toxic dumping bans of the 1980s.

The 1987 Montreal Protocol, reducing CFC gas emissions, led to a partial recovery of the ozone hole.

Birth rates have declined in some regions, and forests and freshwater have been restored in some regions.

The world’s nations have, at least, made promises to reduce carbon emissions, even if action has been slow.

A challenge we face as ecologists and environmentalists, however, is that when we step back from our victories and assess the big picture – the global pace of climate change, forest loss, biodiversity decline – we must admit: our achievements have not been enough.

Children playing near a coal plant in Central Java

25 years ago, in 1992, the Union of Concerned Scientists issued the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” signed by 1,700 scientists, including most living Nobel laureates.

They presented disturbing data regarding freshwater, marine fisheries, climate, population, forests, soil, and biodiversity.

They warned that “a great change” was necessary to avoid “vast human misery.”

This year, on the 25th anniversary of that warning, the Alliance of World Scientists published a second warning – an evaluation of our collective progress.

With the exception of stabilising ozone depletion, they report that “humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse.”

A short history of warnings

Environmental awareness is not new.

Over 2,500 years ago, Chinese Taoists articulated the disconnect between human civilisation and ecological values.

Later Taoist Bao Jingyan warned that “fashionable society goes against the true nature of things… harming creatures to supply frivolous adornments.”

Modern warnings began in the 18th century, at the dawn of the industrial age, particularly from Thomas Malthus, who warned that an exponentially growing population on a finite planet would reach ecological limits.

Modern growth advocates have ridiculed Malthus for being wrong, but his logic and maths are impeccable.

He did not foresee the discovery of petroleum, which allowed economists to ignore Malthus for two centuries, aggravating the crisis that Malthus correctly identified.

Rachel Carson ignited the modern environmental movement in 1962 with Silent Spring, warning of eminent biodiversity collapse.

A decade later, in the early days of Greenpeace, the Club of Rome published The Limits To Growth, using data to describe what we could see with our eyes: declining forests and biodiversity, and resources, clashing head-on with growing human population and consumption demands.

Conventional economists mocked the idea of limits, but The Limits to Growth projections have proven accurate.

In 2009, in Nature journal, a group of scientists lead by Johan Rockström published Planetary Boundaries, warning humanity that essential ecological systems – biodiversity, climate, nutrient cycles, and others – had moved beyond ecological limits to critical tipping points.

Melting iceberg in the Southern Ocean

Three years later, 22 international scientists published a paper called ‘Approaching a State Shift in Earth’s Biosphere’ which warned that human growth had “the potential to transform Earth…  into a state unknown in human experience.” Canadian co-author, biologist Arne Mooers lamented, “humans have not done anything really important to stave off the worst. My colleagues… are terrified.”

In 2014 Michael Gerst, Paul Raskin, and Johan Rockström published ‘Contours of a Resilient Global Future’ in Sustainability 6, searching for viable future scenarios that considered both the natural limits to growth and realistic targets for human development. They warned that the challenge is “daunting” and that “marginal changes” are insufficient.

Last year, the UN International Resource Panel (IRP), published ‘Global Material Flows and Resource Productivity’ warning nations that global resources are limited, human consumption trends are unsustainable, and that resource depletion will have unpleasant impacts on human health, quality of life, and future development.

This year, the second “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity,” alerted us again that marginal changes appear insignificant and that we are surpassing “the limits of what the biosphere can tolerate without substantial and irreversible harm.”

The data speaks

The Alliance of World Scientists researchers tracked data over the last 25 years, since the 1992 warning. They cite some hopeful signs, such as the decline in ozone-depleting CFC gases, but report that, from a global perspective, our “changes in environmental policy, human behavior, and global inequities… are far from sufficient.”

Here’s what the data shows:

Ozone: CFC (chlorofluorocarbons) emissions are down by 68% since 1992, due to the 1987 UN Montreal Protocol. The ozone layer is expected to reach 1980 levels by mid-century. This is the good news.

Freshwater: Water resources per capita have declined by 26% since 1992. Today, about one billion people suffer from a lack of fresh, clean water, “nearly all due to the accelerated pace of human population growth” exacerbated by rising temperatures.

Fisheries: The global marine catch is down by 6.4% since 1992, despite advances in industrial fishing technology. Larger ships with bigger nets and better sonar cannot catch fish that are not there.

Ocean dead zones: Oxygen-depleted zones have increased by 75 %, caused by fertilizer runoff and fossil-fuel use. Acidification due to carbon emissions kills coral reefs that act as marine breeding grounds.

Forests: By area, forests have declined by 2.8% since 1992, but with a simultaneous decline in forest health, timber volume, and quality. Forest loss has been greatest where forests are converted to agricultural land. Forest decline feeds back through the ecosystem as reduced carbon sequestration, biodiversity, and freshwater.

Biodiversity: Vertebrate abundance has declined 28.9 %. Collectively, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals have declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012. This is harrowing.

CO2 emissions: Regardless of international promises, CO2 emissions have increased by 62% since 1960.

Temperature change: The global average surface temperature is increasing in parallel to CO2 emissions. The 10 warmest years in the 136-year record have occurred since 1998. Scientists warn that heating will likely cause a decline in the world’s major food crops, an increase in storm intensity, and a substantial sea level rise, inundating coastal cities.

Population: We’ve put 2 billion more humans on this planet since 1992 – that’s a 35 % increase. To feed ourselves, we’ve increased livestock by 20.5 %. Humans and livestock now comprise 98.5% of mammal biomass on Earth. The scientists stress that we need to find ways to stabilise or reverse human population growth. “Our large numbers,” they warn, “exert stresses on Earth that can overwhelm other efforts to realise a sustainable future”

Soil: The scientists report a lack of global data, but from national data we can see that soil productivity has declined around the world (by up to 50% in some regions), due to nutrient depletion, erosion, and desertification. The EU reports losing 970 million tonnes of topsoil annually to erosion. The US Department of Agriculture estimates 75 billion tons of soil lost annually worldwide, costing nations $400 billion (€340 billion) in lost crop yields.

The pending question

“We are jeopardising our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption,” the scientists warn, “and by not perceiving … population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and societal threats.”

The Alliance of World Scientists report offers some hope, in the form of steps that we can take to begin a more serious transition to sustainability:

• Expand well-managed reserves – terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and aerial – to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem services.

• Restore native plant communities, particularly forests, and native fauna species, especially apex predators, to restore ecosystem integrity.

• End poaching, exploitation, and trade of threatened species.

• Reduce food waste and promote dietary shifts towards plant-based foods.

•  Increase outdoor nature education and appreciation for children and adults.

• Divest from destructive industries and invest in genuine sustainability. That means phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels, and adopting renewable energy sources on a large scale.

• Revise economic systems to reduce wealth inequality and account for the real costs that consumption patterns impose on our environment.

• Reduce the human birth-rate with gender-equal access to education and family-planning.

These proposed solutions are not new, but the emphasis on population is important, and often overlooked. Some environmentalists avoid discussing human population, since it raises concerns about human rights. We know that massive consumption by the wealthiest 15% of us is a fundamental cause of the ecological crisis. Meanwhile, the poorest individuals consume far less than their fair share of available resources.

Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

As an ecologist, I feel compelled to ask myself: if the last 50 years of environmental action, research, warnings, meetings, legislation, regulation, and public awareness has proven insufficient, despite our victories, then what else do we need to do?

That question, and an integrated, rigorous, serious answer, needs to be a central theme of the next decade of environmentalism.

Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International.

Resources and Links:

World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice; eight authors and 15,364 scientist signatories from 184 countries; BioScience, W.J. Ripple, et. al., 13 November 2017

List of 15,364 signatories from 184 Countries: Oregon State University

Alliance of World Scientists:  Oregon State University

Recovery of Ozone depletion after Montreal Protocol: B. Ewenfeldt, “Ozonlagret mår bättre”, Arbetarbladet 12 September, 2014.

Fertility rate reduction in some regions: UN

Accuracy of Limits to Growth Study: “Is Global Collapse Imminent? An Update to Limits to Growth with Historical Data,” Graham Turner, 2014): Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute

“Contours of a Resilient Global Future,” Michael Gerst, Paul Raskin, and Johan Rockström,  Sustainability 6, 2014.

Arithmetic, Population, and Energy: Albert Bartlett video lecture on exponential growth

William Rees, The Way Forward: Survival 2100, Solutions Journal, human overshoot and genuine solutions.

Johan Rockström, et. al., “Planetary Boundaries,” Nature, September 23, 2009.

Anthony D. Barnosky, et. al., “Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere,” Nature, June 7, 2012.

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