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This Isn’t “The New Normal #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

This Isn’t ‘the New Normal’ for Climate Change — That Will Be Worse
David Wallace-Wells

October 11, 2017 10:12 am


A Fountaingrove Village homeowner surveys her destroyed home she and her husband have owned for four years, on October 9, 2017, in Santa Rosa, California. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

It’s been a terrifying season for what we used to call natural disasters.

For the first time in recorded history, three hurricanes arose simultaneously in the Caribbean. 

Harvey and Irma ravaged a series of islands then turned north and hit the U.S. mainland. 

Days later came Maria, the third storm this season to register among the top-four most devastating hurricanes in dollar terms to ever make landfall in the U.S. (Maria seems likely to be remembered as among the worst humanitarian disasters America has ever seen, with 40 percent of Puerto Rico still without running water, power out for likely six months, and native agriculture devastated for a full year.)


 For years, we’ve conceived of climate change in terms of sea level, meaning it was often possible to believe its devastating impacts would be felt mostly by those living elsewhere, on the coasts; extreme weather seems poised to break that delusion, beginning with hurricanes. And then the unprecedented California wildfires broke out over the weekend, fueled by the Diablo Winds, killing 17 already and burning through 115,000 acres across several counties by Wednesday, casting even the sky above Disneyland in an eerie postapocalyptic orange glow and lighting up satellite images with flames visible from space.

 The smoke was visible from there, too.
It is tempting to look at this string of disasters and think, Climate change is here. 

Both hurricanes and wildfires are made worse by warming, with as much as 30 percent of the strength of hurricanes like Harvey and Maria attributable to climate change, and wildfire season both extended and exacerbated by it. 

As the journalist Malcolm Harris put it blithely on Twitter, “There didn’t used to be a major natural disaster every single day.”

What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal. 

It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship.

But the truth is actually far scarier than “welcome to the new normal.”

 The climate system we have been observing since August, the one that has pummeled the planet again and again and exposed even the world’s wealthiest country as unable (or at least unwilling) to properly respond to its destruction, is not our bleak future. 

It is, by definition, a beyond-best-case scenario for warming and all the climate disasters that will bring. 

Even if, miraculously, the planet immediately ceased emitting carbon into the atmosphere, we’d still be due for some additional warming, and therefore some climate-disaster shakeout, from just the stuff we’ve put into the air already. 

But of course we’re very far from zeroing out on carbon, and therefore very far from stalling climate change.

 A recent debate has centered around the question of whether it is even conceivably possible for the planet to pull up short of one-point-five degrees Celsius of warming, which means, at the absolute very least, we have 50 percent more warming to go (since we’re at about one degree already). But even most optimistic experts expect we’ll at least hit two degrees, and possibly two-point-five or even three. 

That means as much as 200 percent more warming ahead of us.

 And what that means for extreme weather and climate disasters is horrifying.

Watch: How Climate Change Is Creating More Powerful Hurricanes
Of course, there is also an enormous variance in weather, and we shouldn’t expect, say, that next year’s hurricane season will be necessarily as bad as this one, or worse, or that next year’s wildfire season will be as bad as this one, or worse, even as the planet continues to warm.

 We are probably dealing with a lot of bad luck in 2017 (and that’s not even counting the earthquakes, unrelated to climate, that shook Mexico last month, reducing whole neighborhoods to rubble). But, over time, the trend lines are inarguable: Climate change will give us more devastating hurricanes than we have now, and more horrible wildfires, as well as more tornadoes and droughts and heat waves and floods.
What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal.

It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship. 

Perhaps because of the exhausting false debate about whether climate change is “real,” too many of us have developed a misleading impression that its effects are binary. 

But global warming is not “yes” or “no,” it is a function that gets worse over time as long as we continue to produce greenhouse gas. 

And so the experience of life in a climate transformed by human activity is not just a matter of stepping from one stable environment into another, somewhat worse one, no matter how degraded or destructive the transformed climate is.

 The effects will grow and build as the planet continues to warm: from one degree to one-point-five to almost certainly two degrees and beyond.

 The last few months of climate disasters may look like about as much as the planet can take. 

But things are only going to get worse.

Press link for more: NYMag.com

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

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

#Irma & #Harvey should kill all doubt #climatechange is real. 

Irma and Harvey should kill any doubt that climate change is real

By By Michael E. Mann, Susan J. Hassol and Thomas C. Peterson

As we begin to clean up from Hurricane Harvey, the wettest hurricane on record, dumping up to 50 inches of rain on Houston in three days, and await landfall of Irma, the most powerful hurricane on record in the open Atlantic Ocean, people are asking: What is the role of human-induced climate change in these events, and how else have our own actions increased our risks?

Fundamental physical principles and observed weather trends mean we already know some of the answers — and we have for a long time.
Hurricanes get their energy from warm ocean waters, and the oceans are warming because of the human-caused buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, primarily from the burning of coal, oil and gas.

 The strongest hurricanes have gotten stronger because of global warming.

 Over the past two years, we have witnessed the most intense hurricanes on record for the globe, both hemispheres, the Pacific and now, with Irma, the Atlantic.

We also know that warmer air holds more moisture, and the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere has increased because of human-induced global warming.

 We’ve measured this increase, and it has been unequivocally attributed to human-caused warming. 

That extra moisture causes heavier rainfall, which has also been observed and attributed to our influence on climate. 

We know that rainfall rates in hurricanes are expected to increase in a warmer world, and now we’re living that reality.

And global warming also means higher sea levels, both because ocean water expands as it warms and because ice in the mountains and at the poles melts and makes its way into oceans.

 Sea level rise is accelerating, and storm surge from hurricanes rides on top of higher seas to infiltrate further into our coastal cities.
Heavier rain and higher sea levels can combine to compound flooding in major hurricanes, as the deluges cause flooding that must drain to the sea but can’t do so as quickly because of storm surges. 

Sadly, we saw this effect in play in the catastrophic flooding from Harvey.


We don’t have all of the answers yet. 

There are scientific linkages we’re still trying to work out. 

Harvey, like Hurricane Irene before it in 2011, resulted in record flooding, because of a combination of factors. 

Very warm ocean temperatures meant more moisture in the atmosphere to produce heavy rainfall, yes. 

But both storms were also very slow-moving, nearly stationary at times, which means that rain fell over the same areas for an extended period.
Cutting-edge climate science suggests that such stalled weather patterns could result from a slowed jet stream, itself a consequence — through principles of atmospheric science — of the accelerated warming of the Arctic. 

This is a reminder of how climate changes in far-off regions such as the North Pole can have very real effects on extreme weather faced here in the Lower 48.
These linkages are preliminary, and scientists are still actively studying them. But they are a reminder that surprises may be in store — and not welcome ones — when it comes to the unfolding effects of climate change.

Which leads us, inevitably, to a discussion of policy — and, indeed, politics. Previous administrations focused on adapting to climate change, with an eye to what the planet would look like in the future. 

But events such as Harvey, and probably Irma, show that we have not even adapted to our current climate (which has already changed because of our influence).
The effects of climate change are no longer subtle. 

We are seeing them play out before us here and now. 

And they will only worsen if we fail to act.
The Trump administration, however, seems determined to lead us backward. 

In recent months, we have witnessed a dismantling of the policies put in place by the Obama administration to

 (a) incentivize the necessary move from climate-change-producing fossil fuels toward clean energy, 

(b) increase resilience to climate change effects through sensible regulations on coastal development, and

 (c) continue to fund basic climate research that can inform our assessments of risk and adaptive strategies.

 Ironically, just 10 days before Harvey struck, President Trump rescinded flood protection standards put in place by the Obama administration that would take sea level rise and other climate change effects into account in coastal development plans.

And as Trump kills policies that would reduce the risks of climate disasters, our nation continues to support policies that actually increase our risks.

 For example, without the taxpayer-subsidized National Flood Insurance Program, banks would be less likely to provide mortgages for rebuilding houses in locations that have been flooded before, sometimes repeatedly. 

And the flood insurance program is itself underwater: badly in debt and set to expire at the end of this month unless Congress finds a way to keep it afloat, just as billions of dollars in claims from Harvey come pouring in.
Harvey and Irma are sad reminders that policy matters. At a time when damage from climate change is escalating, we need sensible policy in Washington to protect the citizens of this country, both by reducing future climate change and preparing for its consequences. We should demand better of our leaders.

Press link for more: Washington Post

Coastal Cities Are Increasingly Vulnerable #ClimateChange #StopAdani 

Coastal Cities Are Increasingly Vulnerable, and So Is the Economy that Relies on Them
Gregory Unruh September 07, 2017

sept17-07-490535380

There was a time a decade or two ago when society could have made a choice to write off our massive investment in a fossil fuel-based economy and begin a policy driven shift towards a cleaner renewable infrastructure that could have forestalled the worst effects of climate change.

 But the challenges of collective action, a lack of political courage, and the power of incumbent pecuniary interests to capture the levers of power meant we did not. 

The bill is now coming due.

That means that many of our great, low-lying coastal cities are what we call “stranded assets.” 

GreenBiz founder Joel Makower defines a stranded asset as “a financial term that describes something that has become obsolete or nonperforming well ahead of its useful life, and must be recorded on a company’s balance sheet as a loss of profit.”

 Makower was talking about Exxon and other companies that built their businesses on the combustion of climate changing fossil fuels, not cities. 

But the concept easily transfers from businesses built on carbon to cities threatened by carbon’s impact.

Consider Miami.

 An invaluable, irreplaceable cultural jewel that will be stranded, both figuratively and literally, by climate change.
How can an entire metropolis that encompasses the lives, culture, and wellbeing of millions be considered “nonperforming?”

 The physical installations, infrastructures, and architecture upon which Miami are founded were built on what we now can see as a flawed assumption.

 An assumption of permanence.

 That the sea’s surface would stay as it had for the entirety of human experience.

 That Atlantic hurricane season would send infrequent storms of knowable magnitude that we could prepare for and ride out. 

It was that perception of permanence and predictability that underlay urban planning and shaped of tens of thousands of investment decisions that fostered billions of dollars of wealth in Miami.

 As long as nothing disturbs that perception, value will continue to accrue on paper.

 But if the perception of permanence that underlies those expectations is undercut, market value will disappear. 

Value is in the eyes of the buyer… until its not.

Climate change in general, and sea level rise in particular, are hard for us to see.

 The tides that surround Miami are elevating at a rate of centimeters per year. 

It is a slow motion train wreck that will be measured in decades, not seconds.

 For now, Miami property buyers don’t see it. 

A 2017 survey found that the majority of property buyers (over two-thirds) don’t ask even their brokers about the implications of climate change and sea level rise on the properties they are buying.

But for those willing to look, the impacts of sea level rise are already evident. 

So-called “sunny day flooding”, (i.e tidal flooding or flooding that occurs without the rain) is already occurring predictably in many parts of Miami, inundating streets, blocking traffic, killing lawns, corroding infrastructure and cars, contaminating groundwater, and reversing sewage systems. 

As sea level rise worsens, the inescapable conclusion is that some point Miami will be inundated and unlivable. 

Absent a civil engineering miracle, the entire city will become a stranded asset that society will have to write off. 

And it’s not alone: Reuters estimates at least $1.4 trillion in property is sitting within 700 feet of the U.S. shoreline, but the number is much probably larger.
When the irrational exuberance about the value of coastal real estate pops and thousands of buyers collectively mark down those assets, it will make the housing bubble of ten years ago look like a small blip.
The consequences will reverberate through the economy, through society and through the political landscape. 

Depending on what Hurricane Irma does, we could get a sobering preview of what that will look like. 

We have already seen the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, a city that was also built on the flawed founding assumption of permanence. 

Houston’s city planners and businesses also ignored warnings as far back as 1996 that climate change would bring exactly the kind of disaster they city is currently suffering today. 

It’s hard to blame them. 

We’ve all ignored the warnings.

We can’t anymore.

 Business leaders and politicians need to begin wrapping their heads around the big idea that climate change may mean huge financial losses in the world’s great coastal metropolises.

Press link for more: Harvard Business Review

Al Gore Warned This Would Happen. #ClimateChange #Irma #StopAdani 

Climate Change Made Hurricane Irma Worse: Al Gore Warned This Would Happen But People Didn’t Listen to His ‘Inconvenient Truth’
By Tufayel Ahmed On Friday, September 8, 2017 – 12:04


Al Gore

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore attends a screening for “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” in Los Angeles on July 25. Photo: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

When Al Gore’s climate-change documentary An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power opened to less than $1 million at the box office in early August—coming in 16th place in its first weekend of wide release—the right-leaning media was quick to dismiss it as a “bomb.” The sequel’s takings, the likes of Fox News noted, were far below its Academy Award–winning predecessor, An Inconvenient Truth, released in 2006.
But to dwell on An Inconvenient Sequel ’s box office receipts is to the miss the point. The film’s message—a warning wrapped in the guise of a blockbuster movie experience—is no more critical than it is right now.


The devastation of Hurricane Harvey in August has flooded the city of Houston.

 In the first week of September, more tropical storms are already foretold to cause even more chaos. 

The Category 5 Hurricane Irma has ripped its way through the Caribbean on its way to Florida, while Hurricane Jose is tipped to closely follow behind it in ravaging several Caribbean Islands. 

A third hurricane, Katia, could hit Mexico by Saturday morning. That country was just hit with a major earthquake Thursday night.
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The back-to-back disasters may not be directly caused by climate change, but the intensification of global warming certainly played a factor, scientists say. 

Rising temperatures on the earth’s surface and sea can “badly exacerbate” the impact of a storm, climate scientist Anders Levermann told Bloomberg earlier this week. 

That echoes research by MIT meteorology expert Kerry Emanuel, who in March said that “climate change potentially affects the frequency, intensity and tracks of tropical cyclones.”
In spite of science, climate deniers and skeptics, like President Trump, who pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change earlier in 2017, continue to dismiss the effects of human activities affecting our environment. But Irma and company are just the beginning. By the end of the 21st century, according to the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, hurricanes will be a lot more powerful and dangerous due to rising temperatures of seawater.
Someone tried to warn us—even as little as a month ago.
Al Gore’s Inconvenient films, packaged as major motion pictures with all the polished sheen and expensive marketing one expects from a superhero movie, are not just slick popcorn films. They’re packaged that way to make them more palatable to the average Joe. So if you missed the former vice president’s movie when it hit theaters last month, now is the time to see it.
The trailer for An Inconvenient Sequel alone is pretty damning of the blind eye being turned to climate change. “The most criticized scene in the movie An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore says of his first film, “was showing that the combination of sea level rise and storm surge would flood the 9/11 memorial site. And people said, ‘What a terrible exaggeration.’” Cut to footage of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which did indeed flood the memorial.
The earlier Inconvenient film foresaw that incident, while the latest features an eerie prediction for the Florida-bound Irma.

In the film, Gore visits Miami, parts of which are under several inches of water due to rising sea levels. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine tells him they are circumventing water flooding the streets by using pumps and raising roads. But Gore points out that it’s a temporary measure at best, as sea levels continue to rise. “Kind of hard to pump the ocean.”
If Irma hits Miami—and it might—the impact could be disastrous because of the already high water levels, the consequence of which would be more flooding.
Gore told Newsweek last month that Trump pulling out of the climate accord is not yet a done deal—the earliest the U.S. would be able to withdraw is just after the next presidential election. If a new president is elected, the U.S. could choose to remain part of the Paris Agreement.
So there is still time to act. According to Gore’s Inconvenient marketing, at the state level, more than 100 million U.S. citizens live in places still committed to climate action, representing 36 percent of the population. In the wake of Irma and other tropical storms, that figure could realistically increase. Here’s how the movie advises you to take action:
By the way, An Inconvenient Sequel is still in theaters across the U.S. to help you get educated.

Press link for more: Newsweek.com

Climate Change is an existential risk. 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


 Goals are reaffirmed, only to be abandoned. 

 Coal is “clean”. 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 And so we have a policy failure of epic proportions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press link for more: What lies beneath Report

Sue The Bastards #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

Sue the Bastards
L. Hunter Lovins, Contributor President Natural Capitalism Solutions, Professor of Sustainable Management Bard MBA

When flood waters rose in Houston and Hurricane Harvey spread eastward to already battered regions of the Gulf coast, the urgent priority was preservation of life, evacuation of those threatened and long-term care of the displaced. 

The unfolding tragedy that is Harvey has already killed dozens, with more to come. 

Cost estimates rose from $30 billion before the storm, to $75 billion, as the severity became obvious, to over $100 billion. 

Harvey will certainly exceed Katrina, the previous record holder, costing up to one percent of U.S. GDP.


As usual, Americans reached deep to lend sympathy, understanding and practical assistance. 

As always, groups like the Red Cross stepped up, offering Text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10
But is anyone responsible for Harvey?
When the Deep Horizon well blew out, no one questioned that the parties who killed eleven people and spewed oil across the Gulf of Mexico would be held to account. 

The only question was how much. 

BP’s costs for taking a $500,000 short cut was in the neighborhood of $62 billion, although they offset many of the fines against taxes.


Damage from storms has routinely been considered an “Act of God.” 

Legal dictionaries define this as, “An event that directly and exclusively results from occurrence of natural causes that could not have been prevented by the exercise of foresight or caution; an inevitable accident.”
But is that true of Harvey?
The ultra warm waters of the Gulf and the tendency of storms now to move very slowly—the warming arctic is unable to maintain the jet stream that previously blew such storm away from the hot Gulf that fuels them—clearly contributed to the billions in damage. 

These, we now know, are results of global warming.

Several California communities recently tired of blaming God and sued the oil and coal companies claiming THEY caused the climate change that forecasts warned would devastate their communities in years to come.

 Global warming, they said, could have been prevented.

 They’re right: my first book on how to do this was in 1981.

 Since then many of us have shown that energy efficiency and renewable energy is cheaper than burning the fossil fuels that drive climate change, and that it would be better business to go green and just solve the crisis.


Marin and San Mateo Counties, and the city of Imperial Beach carried the argument further.

 Using the work of my colleague Richard Heede who showed that just 90 companies are responsible for two thirds of human caused global warming, they decided if you can name the creators of the harm, you ought to be able to sue them.

Wake up to the day’s most important news.
The governments argued, “37 coal, oil, and gas companies including Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Peabody Energy, knew about the harm their products posed to the planet and continued to undermine and obfuscate the dangers of climate change.”

The suit faces challenges.

 Peabody, once the world’s largest coal company, promptly claimed its recent bankruptcy shields it from such liability. 

Interestingly, it did not deny that it might have been liable, only that its early recognition of the unviability of its business model now enabled it to duck any ongoing responsibility. Mighty neighborly….
For arcane legal reasons (preemption by the Federal government limits people’s ability to sue) previous efforts to hold companies liable have failed. 

When the Inuit village being eaten by rising sea levels sought federal damages, they were told that only the legislative and executive branches could deliver relief.
But what if Congress and the Child-in-Chief are bought and paid for advocates for the fossil industry? 


Maybe suing is the only way to bring accountability to our system. 

Yes, apportioning blame will be tricky.

 And yes, every one of us is to blame every time we fire up a car or board an airplane.

 But we’ll already be paying the costs through our tax dollars. 

Isn’t it time that those who have made billions keeping us all addicted to oil pay their share?

Framing their case to mimic the successful public nuisance suits that forced tobacco companies to settle and pay damages for the public costs imposed on taxpayers to treat smokers, and filing in state court, may enable California plaintiffs to overcome the hurdles that derail federal law suits. 

Still, they must prove that any particular defendant is responsible for their specific harm, especially when the damage they allege is only anticipated.
But Harvey’s harm is all too real, compounding daily with creeping mold, exploding chemical plants, loss of water supplies, and the threat of disease. 

Harvey has already forced the release of millions of pounds of chemicals from oil operations spread across Houston. 

One Exxon facility collapsed, releasing 13,000 pounds of nastiness including benzene, a known carcinogen.

And the challenge of dealing with global warming is only beginning. As meteorologist Eric Holthaus put it, “Harvey is what climate change looks like.”
“In all of U.S. history,” he stated, “There’s never been a storm like Hurricane Harvey…. Houston, as it was before Harvey, will never be the same again.”
He points out that Harvey is the third 500-year flood to hit the Houston area in three years. A storm like Harvey should not happen more than once in a millennium. 

The week before, 1,200 people died in floods also triggered by record rainfall across India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Futurist Alex Steffen calls our tendency to deny threats like climate change “predatory delay”—it adds inevitable risk to the system.

 Legal liability is supposed to impose a measure of responsibility on parties with the capacity do damage. 

But if no one can be held liable, what will stop the catastrophe?
Holthaus warns, “It’s up to the rest of us to identify this behavior and make it morally repugnant….The symbolism of the worst flooding disaster in U.S. history hitting the sprawled-out capital city of America’s oil industry is likely not lost on many. 

Institutionalized climate denial in our political system and climate denial by inaction by the rest of us have real consequences. 

They look like Houston.”

Press link for more: Huffington Post

Former Green Leader Bob Brown Slams Evil, Corrupt Adani Mine #StopAdani #auspol

Bob Brown slams ‘evil, corrupt’ Adani mine

Veteran conservationist Bob Brown has compared Adani’s Carmichael coal mine to Tasmania’s quashed Franklin Dam, slamming the “destructive wealth and arrogance” of the company’s chairman.
The former Greens leader joined protesters from the Stop Adani group in Sydney on Saturday where he demanded no public money be spent on the Queensland project.

Mining tycoon Gautam Adani this week declared the company would break ground on its controversial $16.5 billion coal mine in Queensland in October.
“This is the biggest environmental, heritage, Indigenous and lifestyle issue I have seen come along in decades in Australia,” Mr Brown told reporters at the summit.

He said Mr Adani had signalled, in a “heightened arrogance”, that a billion-dollar loan for the project from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund was already locked in despite no public announcement from the Turnbull government.

Opponents vow to continue Adani fight
Opponents of Adani’s proposed coal mine say they will continue to examine it’s lawfulness after the Federal Court threw out two attempts to stop it going ahead.


Adani fined over Qld stormwater release
Adani has been fined by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection over a license breach at its Abbot Point facility.
“You’re not welcome to bring your destructive wealth and arrogance to ride over the majority opinion of Australian people who don’t want you to have that loan and won’t let you get away with that mine,” Mr Brown said.
He predicted a revolt at the next election if the loan and “evil, rotten, corrupt” mine went ahead.
Mr Brown rose to prominence as director of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society as it campaigned against the Franklin Dam in the late 1970s and 1980s.
It was a battle won by conservationists and Mr Brown warned Carmichael mine opponents were similarly prepared to physically sit in front of machinery.
Maggie McKeown from the Mackay Conservation Group said Queenslanders had seen the impacts of climate change in the form of heat, coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef and cyclone damage.
“If Adani opens up the coal in the Galilee Basin, it’s undeniable that these events will become more frequent and more intense,” she said.

Hanson says Adani railway should be built by Australians, not ‘foreign investors’
Pauline Hanson says a railway between Adani’s mega-coal mine and the Queensland coast should be built and owned by Australia, rather than “foreign investors”.
Adani mine ‘threatens finch’s survival’
Experts working to save an endangered species of finch say Adani’s Queensland coal mine will put it on a fast track to extinction.
Mine opponents argue the project cannot proceed because carbon emissions from the coal being burned in India will further damage the already-ailing reef through climate change.
The Federal Court last week dismissed two legal bids to stop it going ahead, from traditional owners and environmental groups.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has ruled out financial support but her Labor government views the enormous project as a valuable jobs generator.
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has been accused by protesters of sitting on the fence on the issue.
The Stop Adani group will hold a national day of action against the project on October 7.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office declined to comment.

Press link for more: SBS.COM

A toolkit to save the world. #auspol #StopAdani #education 

A toolkit to save the world: five skills you’ll need to fight climate change
15 Aug 17

Kevin Rudd described global warming as “the greatest moral challenge of our generation,” but that’s too simple.

 It’s the greatest economic, political, social, cultural, environmental and scientific challenge of our time.

A silver bullet won’t be found in a scientist’s laboratory, the halls of Parliament, nor a community activist’s meeting.
Nope, it’ll take a coordinated effort from researchers, corporations, politicians, innovators and communities to tackle climate change.

This is precisely why social scientists are poised to play such a crucial role. People with the breadth of understanding and skills to navigate and coordinate all of these moving parts will be absolutely crucial.
So with that in mind, here are five of the instruments in a social scientist’s toolkit that we’ll need to fight this real and present danger.
Data Analysis

It sounds dry, but data analysis strikes at the very heart of the climate change debate. 

The interpretation of global temperature data is the major flashpoint for the conversation, and so understanding and communicating this information will only become more important over time.
On top of this, big data is proving to be crucial in the response to global warming.
Microsoft’s mind-boggling Madingley project is a real-time virtual biosphere – ie. a simulation of all life on earth. It creates a simulation of the global carbon cycle and predicts how it will impact everything from pollution to animal migration to deforestation.
Political leadership

Leaders with a deep understanding of socio-political structures and forces will be needed to enact change on a legislative and global level.
The recent failure of the Paris Accord shows just how important negotiation and diplomacy will be in order to get countries from around the world to work together.

This not only involves political guile, but also communication skills, cultural knowledge and courage to make difficult but necessary decisions.
Research and innovation

Without technological transformation in some of the world’s biggest industries, we won’t stand a chance.
Existing alternative energy sources such as solar and wind need to become more efficient, and fledgeling technologies like ocean, hybrid and bio energies need to develop to support ever-increasing energy demands.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has famously framed climate change as an issue of economic competitiveness and innovation.
The countries and businesses that are more successful at producing new energy technologies and practices will thrive.
The rest will fall behind.
Corporate leadership

With this in mind, leadership in the corporate sector naturally has a massive role to play. Far swifter and more meaningful change can come from within a business than when it’s mandated by government regulations.
Business models will need to be forward-thinking, not relying on traditional methods of production, and change company cultures in the process.

A recent example of this sort of industry leadership is Volvo who announced they will cease production of purely internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2019.
Communication skills

Professor Andrew J. Hoffman from the University of Michigan perfectly articulated the state of the “toxic” climate change debate:
“On the one side, this is all a hoax, humans have no impact on the climate and nothing unusual is happening.
“On the other side, this is an imminent crisis, human activity explains all climate changes, and it will devastate life on Earth as we know it. Amidst this acrimonious din, scientists are trying to explain the complexity of the issue.”
As a society we’ll need to reach some sort of meaningful consensus on the issue. From the boardroom to Twitter, we’ll need opinion leaders who can navigate the clashing world views that dictate how we view the science.
It won’t be easy, but it is necessary.
Clearly, climate change and many other global concerns are multi-faceted issues that necessitate a range of approaches and perspectives.
It’s for this very reason that Griffith University’s Dr Ben Fenton-Smith believes “there is no question that social scientists are going to be in huge demand in the next 20–30 years.
“As our use of data, technology and information increases, we are going to need social scientists to make sense of it.”
Complex problems have complex solutions.


Griffith University is introducing a brand new Bachelor of Social Science to develop the next generation of Aussie leaders keen to tackle the biggest issues facing the world today. Head over here to find out about this exciting new degree.

Press link for more: Techly.com.au

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Press link for more: Huffington Post