Methane

We have radically underestimated #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Australia warned it has radically underestimated climate change security threat
Fijian girl walks over flooded land in her village.


As the Senate launches an inquiry into the national security ramifications of climate change, a new report has warned global warming will cause increasingly regular and severe humanitarian crises across the Asia-Pacific.


Press link for full report: Breakthrough

Disaster Alley, written by the Breakthrough Centre for Climate Restoration, forecasts climate change could potentially displace tens of millions from swamped cities, drive fragile states to failure, cause intractable political instability, and spark military conflict.
Report co-author Ian Dunlop argues Australia’s political and corporate leaders, by refusing to accept the need for urgent climate action now, are “putting the Australian community in extreme danger”.
“Global warming will drive increasingly severe humanitarian crises, forced migration, political instability and conflict. 

The Asia Pacific region, including Australia, is considered to be ‘disaster alley’ where some of the worst impacts will be experienced,” the report, released this morning, says.
“Australia’s political, bureaucratic and corporate leaders are abrogating their fiduciary responsibilities to safeguard the people and their future wellbeing. 

They are ill-prepared for the real risks of climate change at home and abroad.”
On Friday, the Senate passed a motion for an inquiry into the threats and long-term risks posed by climate change to national and international security, and Australia’s readiness to mitigate and respond to climate-related crises in our region.
Dunlop, a former chairman of the Australian Coal Association and chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, told the Guardian the security impacts of climate change were not far-distant future concerns, but happening now.
The ongoing Syrian civil war – which has killed 450,000 and forced an estimated 5.5 million people to flee the country over six years of conflict – is attributed, in significant part, to an extended drought, exacerbated by climate change, that left millions without food or livelihoods.
“Once these effects start, then they unfold right the way through the system as an accelerant,” Dunlop said. 

“Natural disasters lead to social pressures, to increasing conflicts, competing claims for scarce resources. 

These fuel extremist positions, which could be religious, tribal, or political, which can lead to mass migrations.

We are going to see a lot of people start moving, in our region especially, and to think we stop that by finessing things like ‘stop the boats’, is frankly naive.”
Dunlop said the global nature of the climate change challenge should force countries to cooperate.


“Climate change has to become seen as a reason for far greater levels of global cooperation than we’ve seen before. 

If we don’t see it that way, then we’re going to be in big trouble. 

This problem is bigger than any of us, it’s bigger than any nation state, any political party.
“We’re going to be steamrolled by this stuff unless we take serious action now.”

The security implications of climate change have been identified by thinktanks, governments, and militaries across the world.


A decade ago, Alan Dupont and Graeme Pearman wrote for the Lowy Institute that the security threat posed by climate change had been largely ignored and seriously underestimated.
In 2013 the commander of US Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, said the greatest long-term threat in the Asia-Pacific was not military ambitions of another state, or the threat of nuclear weapons, but climate change.
In 2015, the US Department of Defense commissioned a report, examining the security implications of disrupted climate, and current secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, has said climate change is a clear and current threat to US troops.
Australia’s 2016 defence white paper said climate change would contribute to state fragility, which it identified as one of the six key drivers that will “shape the development of Australia’s security environment to 2035”.

“Climate change will be a major challenge for countries in Australia’s immediate region. 

Climate change will see higher temperatures, increased sea-level rise and will increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. 

These effects will exacerbate the challenges of population growth and environmental degradation, and will contribute to food shortages and undermine economic development.”
“Instability in our immediate region could have strategic consequences for Australia should it lead to increasing influence by actors from outside the region with interests inimical to ours. 

It is crucial that Australia help support the development of national resilience in the region to reduce the likelihood of instability.”
The Senate inquiry into the national security threats of climate change will report in December. 

But the issue remains politically charged.
Greens senator Scott Ludlam, in putting the motion before the Senate said the government had failed to apprehend the global security risk posed by climate change.
“As one of the highest per-capita emitters on the planet, Australia must play a constructive role as our region responds to climate change. 

The government won’t listen to the scientists, and it won’t listen to the renewable energy sector. 

Maybe it will listen to defence and security experts and the personnel on the frontline.”
But assistant minister to the prime minister, Senator James McGrath, said the inquiry was unnecessary.
He told the Senate a defence climate security adviser had been established within the office of the vice chief of the defence force group. 

As well, an environmental planning and advisory cell has been established within headquarters joint operations command, and defence is represented at the government’s disaster and climate resilience reference group.
Press link for more: The Guardian

We need to harness the wind. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

Utilities need to harness the wind
Most people accept that coal is a dirty fuel: Dirty to mine, dirty to burn and dirty to dispose of the ash.


Already there is a shift away from coal-fired power plants, but they still account for 30 percent of our electric power nationwide.

 In many cases, natural gas (also known as methane) has been the preferred alternative fuel.

 Natural gas has some advantages, but it is important to recognize that it also emits carbon dioxide, and the leakage rates of natural gas completely negate its partial benefit as a solution to climate change.


Wind power has caught on briskly in iconically oil-rich Texas, where it generates about 16 percent of the state’s electric power at a lower retail rate than the national average. 

Wind power is equally or less costly than electricity derived from coal-fired power plants in nearly all environments. Various calculations show that there is vastly more potential wind energy available in the United States than the current electricity consumption rate. 
Most of the existing capacity is derived from land-based windmills, but there is enough potential for offshore wind power along the Atlantic coast to supply all the electricity from Virginia to Maine with windmills located in shallow waters.


Some folks don’t like the idea of windmills spoiling their view of the ocean, but my suspicion is that most of these same folks would not want to live near a coal-fired or nuclear-generating station either. 

And all of those who live downwind of coal-fired power plants suffer the consequences of the air pollution they generate. Some birds are killed by wind facilities, but the overall rate of mortality from windmills is much less than that caused by house cats and collisions with buildings.

 There are consequential impacts of generating electricity.
Utilities argue that wind power is problematic, because the wind does not always blow and it may not blow at the time of day or season that corresponds to peak demand for electricity. 

This problem can be overcome by an adequate, interconnected and robust grid of electric lines to move power from where it is generated to where it is needed. 

Mark Jacobson and his colleagues at Stanford University have shown that when using reliable grid and power storage facilities, the intermittent nature of wind power is of no consequence. 

The wind is always blowing somewhere.
All this argues for electric utility companies to spend far less money planning natural gas and nuclear power plants and far more on windmills and improvements to the grid, if they are to fulfill their mission of supplying least-cost electric power to the American public. 

A change of mindset is needed – one that does not embrace old, unhealthy and expensive sources of electricity when newer sources are at hand. 

If the tradition can be broken in Texas, it can be broken anywhere.
William H. Schlesinger is Dean Emeritus of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.

Press link for more: new Observer.com

UN wants the world to be more ambitious on Climate Change. #StopAdani 

As US weighs climate pullout, UN wants world to be more ambitious

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged the world to raise its ambition in implementing the Paris climate agreement as the United States weighed pulling out of the landmark emissions-cutting deal.
Making his first address on climate since taking the UN helm five months ago, Guterres said it was “absolutely essential” that the world implements the 2015 agreement “with increased ambition.”

The United States is among the 147 countries and parties that have ratified the agreement but President Donald Trump has voiced concerns that the deal signed by the previous US administration could harm the US economy.
“We believe that it would be important for the US not to leave the Paris agreement,” Guterres said in response to a question following his address at New York University.
“But even if the government decides to leave the Paris agreement, it’s very important for US society as a whole — the cities, the states, the companies, the businesses — to remain engaged.”
“It is very clear that governments aren’t everything.”
At a summit meeting of the G7 group of leading economies over the weekend, Trump refused to join the other six leaders in pledging to implement the Paris accord and said he would announce the US position this week.


Guterres said the United Nations was engaged with the US administration and Congress to try to convince them to abide by the agreement.
His appeal suggested that if the United States, the world’s biggest carbon emitter after China, were to quit the deal, the onus would be on other key players like China, India and the European Union to do more to fight global warming.
The Paris agreement’s commitment to curb carbon emissions and limit temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees “do not nearly go far enough,” he said.
“So we must do our utmost to increase ambition and action until we can bend the emissions curve and slow down global warming,” he said.

– Betting on the green economy –
Describing the agreement as a “remarkable moment in the history of humankind,” the UN chief stressed that private corporations including oil and gas companies were not awaiting government policy and joining the green economy.
“Some may seek to portray the response to climate change as a fundamental threat to the economy,” said Guterres. 

“Yet what we are witnessing in these early years of a systemic response is the opposite.”
“Those who fail to bet on the green economy will be living in a grey future,” he warned.


“On the other hand, those who embrace green technologies will set the gold standard for economic leadership in the 21st century.”
Guterres pointed to growth in the clean energy sector, saying solar power grew 50 percent last year and that more new jobs were being created in renewable energy than in oil and gas.


He argued that climate action was a sound security policy, warning of mass displacement from natural disasters or from refugees whose lands become unlivable.
The UN chief vowed to mobilize governments, the energy industry, investors and civil society to “raise the bar on climate action.”
As a first step, Guterres said he would press for ratification of an agreement reached last year on phasing out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Guterres announced plans for a summit in 2019 to review progress in implementing the Paris agreement.

Press link for more: UK News

Most Australians agree #ClimateChange is a “Catastrophic Risk” #StopAdani

Three-quarters of Australians say climate warming “a catastrophic risk”, even as government turns a blind eye
 by David Spratt
Published at RenewEconomy on 29 May 2017 

Three in four Australians understand that climate warming poses a “catastrophic risk,” even as the Australian government turns a blind eye. 

That was the clear result from a new survey for the Global Challenges Forum (GCF), and the publication of its 2017 Global Catastrophic Risk report.
84% of 8000 people surveyed in eight countries for the GCF consider climate change a “global catastrophic risk”. The figure for the Australian sample was 75%.


Question were asked about a number of risks, including nuclear war, pandemics, biological weapons, climate change and environmental collapse.

 The climate question asked how much participants agreed or disagreed that “climate change, resulting in environmental damage, such as rising sea levels or melting of icecaps” could be considered as “a global catastrophic risk”? A global catastrophic risk was described as “a future event that has the potential to affect 10% of the global population”.


For Australia, the results were: 39% “strongly agree” and 36% “tend to agree” (for total agree of 75%); with “tend to disagree” at 15%, “strongly disagree” at 6% and 4% “don’t know”.
The 2017 Global Catastrophic Risk report summarises the the evidence for catastrophic climate change risk as:

Discussions of climate change usually focus on limiting temperature rises to 1-3˚C above pre-industrial levels.

 A rise of 3ºC would have major impacts, with most of Bangladesh and Florida under water, major coastal cities – Shanghai, Lagos, Mumbai – swamped, and potentially large flows of climate refugees. 

While the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change sought to keep global temperature rises below a threshold of 1.5–2ºC, national pledges have fallen short and set the world on a 3.6°C temperature rise track. 

There is also now scientific consensus that, when warming rises above a certain level, self-reinforcing feedback loops are likely to set in, triggered by the pushing of the Earth’s systems – ocean circulation, permafrost, ice sheets, rainforests and atmospheric circulation – across certain tipping points. 

The latest science shows that tipping points with potential to cause catastrophic climate change could be triggered at 2ºC global warming. 

These include the risk of losing all coral reef systems on Earth and irreversible melting of inland glaciers, Arctic sea ice and potentially the Greenland ice sheet. 


As well as the immediate risk to human societies, the fear is that crossing these tipping points would have major impacts on the pace of global warming itself. 

Although climate change action has now become part of mainstream economic and social strategies, too little emphasis is put on the risk of catastrophic climate change. 

The same survey found 81% of the 1000 Australian participants in the poll agreed with the proposition: “Do you think we should try to prevent climate catastrophes, which might not occur for several decades or centuries, even if it requires making considerable changes that impact on our current living standards?” The figure across the 8000 people polled in eight countries (Australia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, UK, Germany and USA) was 88%.
This shows a stronger level of support than several other polls for action that may impact on future living standards and have a personal material cost. 

This strong expression may, in part, be due to the framing of climate as a potentially catastrophic risk.
The GCF report found that many people now see climate change as a bigger threat than other issues such as epidemics, population growth, use of weapons of mass destruction and the rise of artificial intelligence threats. GCF vice-president Mats Andersson says “there’s certainly a huge gap between what people expect from politicians and what politicians are doing”. 
The report says that for the first time in human history:

We have reached a level of scientific knowledge that allows us to develop an enlightened relationship to risks of catastrophic magnitude. Not only can we foresee many of the challenges ahead, but we are in a position to identify what needs to be done in order to mitigate or even eliminate some of those risks. Our enlightened status, however, also requires that we consider our own role in creating those risks, and collectively commit to reducing them.

However, “the institutions we rely on to ensure peace, security, development and environmental integrity are woefully inadequate for the scale of the challenges at hand”.
The dissonance between what Australian’s understand and what government is doing is remarkable.

 Australia is failing in its responsibility to safeguard its people and protect their way of life. 

It is also failing as a world citizen, by downplaying the profound global impacts of climate change and shirking its responsibility to act.


Australia’s per capita greenhouse emissions are in the highest rank in the world, and its commitment to reduce emissions are rated as inadequate by Climate Action Tracker, which says that “Australia’s current policies will fall well short of meeting” its Paris Agreement target, that the Emissions Reduction Fund “does not set Australia on a path that would meet its targets” and “without accelerating climate action and additional policies, Australia will miss its 2030 target by a large margin”.
Australia’s biggest corporations are no better. 

The S&P/ASX All Australian 50 has the “highest embedded carbon” of any group in the S&P Global 1200, according to the S&P Dow Jones Carbon Scorecard report, which assesses global companies’ carbon footprint, fossil fuel reserve emissions, coal revenue exposure, energy transition and green-brown revenue strain. At the 2017 Santos annual general meeting, chairman Peter Coates asserted that it is “sensible” and “consistent with good value” to assume for planning purposes a 4°C-warmer world.
Former senior fossil fuel industry executive Ian Dunlop has recently noted that the most dangerous aspect of fossil-fuel investments made today is that their impacts do not manifest themselves for decades to come. If we wait for catastrophe to happen — as we are doing — it will be too late to act. 

Time is the most important commodity; to avoid catastrophic outcomes requires emergency action to force the pace of change. In these circumstances, opening up a major new coal province is nothing less than a crime against humanity.

Press link for more: 

Climate Code Red

Let’s Change The Conversation #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

Let’s Change The Conversation From Climate Change To ‘Shared Benefits’

By Max Guinn 

Founder of Kids Eco Club

Max Guinn,16, is the founder of Kids Eco Club (www.kidsecoclub.org), an organization of over 100,000 K-12 students, which raises eco-consciousness through school environmental clubs. 

Max has collaborated with, and been recognized by, organizations such as the United Nations,The Sierra Club, the State of California, the City of San Diego – and even the Dalai Lama – as a leader in youth engagement in environmental stewardship. 

Recently, Max also co-founded Climate Change Is 4 Real (www.ccis4r.com), to virtually connect thought leaders from all academic disciplines with student groups and educators to share facts, inspiration, and scalable solutions, to promote ocean conservation, and combat human-caused climate change and mass animal extinction.
Last September, I emailed President Obama. 

His response helped me to focus on what matters. He wrote,

“Progress doesn’t come easily, and it hasn’t always followed a straight line. 

Keeping our world’s air, water, and land clean and safe takes work from all of us, and voices like yours are sparking the conversations that will help us get to where we need to be.

 I will continue pushing to protect the environment as long as I am President and beyond, and I encourage you to stay engaged as well.”
But I worry that adults will never agree on climate change.

 The issue has become too political. 

The words “climate change” have even been scrubbed from government websites!

 Our current President refers to climate change as “a hoax.” 


Most people have no interest in discussing it.

 Try talking about C02 levels or climate science and see how far you get. 

The reality is that climate change has become a matter of opinion, rather than a matter of scientific fact.

 It has made the opinion of the ordinary person with no scientific background equal to the findings of eminent scientists who have devoted their lives and education to the study of the problem.

Only 27 percent of Americans surveyed in a 2016 Pew study agreed with the statement that, “almost all” climate scientists believe climate change is real and primarily caused by humans.

 Contrast this to multiple peer-reviewed scientific studies finding that 97 percent of climate scientists believe climate change is real and that humans are the main contributor. 

In an age of alternative facts and a distrust of science, how do we talk about climate change and the need for action without turning people off?
Stanford Professor Rob Jackson thinks we should stop arguing over climate change and start talking about the shared benefits of addressing problems, like health, green energy jobs, and safety.

 My experience tells me that he is right.
theguardian.com

Renewable Energy Jobs

Six years ago, just before I turned 10, I started a non-profit called Kids Eco Club to inspire kids to care for the planet, its wildlife and each other.

 It starts and supports environmental clubs in K-12 schools.

 Over 100,000 kids now participate annually in Kids Eco Club activities, learning the skills necessary to lead, and to understand the issues facing our world, including climate change. 

Kids Eco Club is successful because we focus on shared values rather than C02 levels.

 Take a class snorkeling, and everyone becomes interested in protecting coral reefs.

 Bring local wildlife into the classroom, and kids will fight for green energy and clean water to protect their habitat. Passion drives us.

kidsecoclub.org

Porcupine classroom visit

My generation does not have the luxury of addressing human-caused climate change as callously or as passively as the generations before us ― because we are running out of time. 

Agriculture, deforestation, and dependence on fossil fuels release greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere, trapping heat, making the Earth warmer. 

The hottest year on record? 

Last year, 2016.

 A warmer Earth creates major impacts everywhere: on ecosystems, oceans, weather.

 Sea levels are rising because the polar ice caps are melting, and the oceans are warming, which causes them to expand. Severe weather events are created from warmer oceans – warmer water, more evaporation, clouds, and rain―causing greater storm damage, more flooding, and, ironically, larger wildfires and more severe droughts since weather patterns are also changing.

graphics.latimes.com

The morning Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans

Imagine three out of every four animal species you know disappearing off the face of the Earth.

 According to the Center for Biological Diversity, we are currently experiencing the worst species die-off since dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago. 

Species are vanishing at a rate roughly 100 times higher than normal. 

While things like asteroids and volcanoes caused past extinctions, humans almost entirely cause the current crisis. 

Global warming caused by climate change, habitat loss from development and agriculture, pesticide use, poaching, unsustainable fishing practices, pollution and disease spread by the introduction of exotic species, are driving the crisis beyond the tipping point. 

Can you picture a world without butterflies, penguins, elephants, rhinos, sea turtles, honeybees, orangutans, salamanders, or sharks?

Getty Images

Mother orangutan and baby

The oceans provide 50% of the earth’s oxygen and 97% of its livable habitat. 

The health of our oceans is vital to our survival and the survival of the over one million types of plants and animals living there. Climate change and fossil fuel reliance raise ocean temperatures, causing extreme weather, coastal flooding, and ocean acidification. 

Ocean acidification is beginning to cause the die-off of calcium-rich species at the base of the ocean’s food chain, like coral, shellfish, and plankton.

 This die-off would trigger a spiral of decline in all sea life – from fish to seabirds to whales – and negatively impact hundreds of millions of people who rely on the oceans for food.

 Other human threats include overfishing, pollution, oil drilling and development. 

We need to act now to create change in our own communities by protecting ocean habitats, promoting conservation, and creating sustainable solutions to nurse our oceans back to health.

mintpressnews.com

Dead sperm whales found with plastic in their stomachs

In a world with over 7 billion people, we cannot continue to divide ourselves into categories like believers and climate change deniers, or Republicans and Democrats. (labor or Liberal) 

The best chance we have of ensuring a world with clean water and clean air is to engage all of us.

 If this takes changing the conversation from “climate change,” to “shared benefits,” then change the conversation. Together all things are possible.

Press link for more: HuffingtonPost

Alaska’s carbon is being released. #StopAdani #ClimateChange

By Dr Joe Romm

“This carbon’ of Alaska’s tundra is being released, speeding up global warming“

This is ancient carbon, thousands and millions of years old.” 

It’s being released “much earlier than we thought.”

NASA’s Land Ocean Temperature Index (LOTI) data for April. CREDIT: NASA.

The Alaskan tundra is warming so quickly it has become a net emitter of carbon dioxide ahead of schedule, a new study finds.

Since CO2 is the primary heat-trapping greenhouse gas — and since the permafrost contains twice as much carbon as the atmosphere does today — this means a vicious cycle has begun that will speed up global warming.

“Because it’s getting warmer, there’s more CO2 coming out which means it’s going to get warmer which means there’s more CO2 coming out,” explained Harvard researcher and lead author Roisin Commane.

 Dr. Commane told ThinkProgress that “warming soils will emit more CO2 and this will overwhelm any CO2 uptake” due to an increase in plantlife from “CO2 fertilization and warmer temperatures.”’


The study is the first to report that a major portion of the Arctic is a net source of heat-trapping emissions. 

As a result, Commane warns that our current climate models need to be updated: 

“We’re seeing this much earlier than we thought we would see it.”

Earth’s melting permafrost threatens to unleash a dangerous climate feedback loop
New permafrost study underscores the critical importance of ambitious climate targets, like the Paris agreement.
“We find that Alaska, overall, was a net source of carbon to the atmosphere during 2012–2014,” the study concludes. 

Data from NOAA’s Barrow Alaska station “indicate that October through December emissions of CO2 from surrounding tundra increased by 73 percent since 1975, supporting the view that rising temperatures have made Arctic ecosystems a net source of CO2.”

The permafrost, or tundra, has been a very large carbon freezer. 

For a very long time, it has had a very low decomposition rate for the carbon-rich plant matter.

 But we’ve been leaving the freezer door wide open and are witnessing the permafrost being transformed from a long-term carbon locker to a short-term carbon un-locker.


“This is ancient carbon,” Dr. Commane told Alaska public radio. “The carbon that’s locked in the permafrost in the Arctic is thousands and millions of years old.”

7,000 massive methane gas bubbles under the Russian permafrost could explode anytime
Scorching March brings Arctic temperatures up to 20°F warmer than normal.
Melting permafrost can release not just CO2, but also methane, a much stronger heat-trapping gas.

While most models that include melting permafrost look at CO2, Russian scientists have recently discovered some 7,000 underground bubbles of permafrost-related methane in Siberia.

 Since methane traps heat 86 times more effectively than CO2 over a 20-year span, these findings suggest that the effect of the melting permafrost is even greater than first thought.
Also, a 2008 study, “Accelerated Arctic land warming and permafrost degradation during rapid sea ice loss,” found that rapid sea ice loss — as has been experienced since the study was published — could triple the rate of Arctic warming.

Meanwhile, the rapid Arctic warming that is fueling these emissions continues. On Monday, NASA reported that April 2017 was the second-hottest April on record — only April 2016 was hotter. As the map above shows, Arctic temperatures were blistering, up to 13.5°F (7.5°C) above the 1951–1980 average.

The longer we delay aggressive climate action, the harder it will be to stuff all the toothpaste back into the tube, and the more catastrophic climate impacts we will face.

Press link for more: Think Progress

March for Science or March for Reality?

March for Science or March for Reality?

By Laurance M. klauss

Shortly after the inauguration of Donald Trump as President, it was announced that a March for Science would be held Washington DC and in a host of other cities in the United States and around the world to protest the new Administration’s apparent anti-science agenda—from denial of climate change to dismantling the EPA, to budget priorities that will cut key science programs throughout the country—and to lobby for science-based policymaking as well as support for scientific research to address the challenges of the 21st century.


Meanwhile the Trump administration’s anti-science actions continue.

 Attorney General Sessions announced just this week that he was disbanding the National Commission on Forensic Science, which advises the federal government to enhance national standards in this area.
I have no idea how the Marches for Science—now over 400 in number across the globe—will play out, and how the media will interpret them.

 A series of worrisome tweets emanating from the March for Science twitter account over the past week, following similar early statements made on the groups website that were subsequently removed, claimed that scientific research promotes violence and inequity in society. 

These have been disavowed but the variety of mixed communications from leaders of the march over the past months suggests at the very least that the organization encompasses a wide diversity of agendas.
This is not surprising. After all, the scientific community has never been a one-issue community, like, say, the anti-abortion movement.

 And the current administration is pushing so many different buttons at the same time, with various attacks on fundamental rights, privacy, diversity, and freedom of expression, that these are bound to get caught up in any movement that promotes openness and free-inquiry, the hallmarks of the scientific enterprise.
Despite any such concerns, a host major science organizations, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science to Union of Concerned Scientists, have signed on as supporters of the March, and are urging their members to join their local marches and speak out for science-based public policy on April 22.


If the event becomes a ‘March By Scientists’ rather than a March for Science—namely if it is dominated by scientists labeling themselves as such, in costumes like white lab coats, rather than by members of the general public supporting evidence-based public policy—that too could be problematic. 

The March for science could then appear as a self-serving political lobbying effort by the scientific community to increase its funding base.
Let’s imagine that this is not the case, and the organizers are wildly successful in attracting hundreds of thousands or million of marchers across the globe this coming Saturday.

 It is still reasonable to wonder what the long-term impact of the marches might be. 

After all, following the worldwide March for Women, in which millions of people marched around the world in support of women’s rights, the Trump administration reacted with a deaf ear. 

Just this past week the President signed legislation allowing states and local governments to withhold federal funding for Planned Parenthood, for example.
The situation is different in this case however, and it may have nothing directly to do with science policy, or even in those areas where science should play a key role in affecting policy.
Every week, the alternative realities invoked by the Trump administration are being demonstrated, by events, to be vacuous. 

The administration claimed it would immediately end, and then fix, problems with Obamacare, and failed miserably. Donald Trump campaigned against foreign military intervention, and this week alone initiated unilateral bombings in Syria and Afghanistan. 

Donald Trump pledged to immediately revise NAFTA, forcing Canada and Mexico to the table to make a better deal. 

Nothing has happened.
He promised Mexico would pay for a wall. 

However the first $2 billion installment for a wall was included in the budget proposal he presented to Congress, compensated by cuts in funding in key areas of science, but also in support of the arts and humanities in this country.
He promised to drain the swamp, but he removed restrictions on lobbyists entering government, and as the New York Times reported just this week, he has filled his administration with them, including individuals who are already facing conflict of interest allegations because of their former activities lobbying the organizations they now run.
He lobbied against Wall Street, but former Wall Street leaders dominate his cabinet and economic advisory groups.
He said he would release his taxes after his inauguration and has not. 

And he claimed he would immediate increase growth and the economy, but as the Wall Street Journal reported just this week, projections for growth of the economy have decreased sharply in recent months, as have retail sales, and the consumer price index.


These are just a few of the immediate and obvious inconsistencies. 

Further, as administration policies on energy and the environment take effect, citizens in communities with drinking water at risk from environmental threats will find that programs to avert further deterioration have been cut, and coal mining communities will find that the natural gas glut has much more to do with the continuing demise of coal than Obama’s efforts to improve air quality in the US by restricting coal plants, which, whatever Trump may claim, are bad for the environment. 

(Indeed as the New York Times reported this week, more than 200,000 tons of coal ash residue each year are produced by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and this has been making its way into groundwater, potentially affecting drinking water supplies, even as the EPA is now delaying compliance with rules enacted to enhance the safe storage and disposal of coal ash.).
The very essence of science, indeed that which is motivating the March for Science, involves skeptical inquiry and a reliance on empirical evidence and constant testing to weed out false hypotheses and unproductive or harmful technologies as we move toward a better understanding of reality: A willingness, in short, to force beliefs and policies to conform to the evidence of reality, rather than vice versa.


Unlike its perception among much of the public and its presentation in many schools today, science is not simply a body of facts, but rather a process for deriving what the facts are. 

This process has helped us uncover hidden secrets of the Universe that never would have been dreamed of and producing technologies that have not only been largely responsible for the standard of living enjoyed by the first world today, but have also increased lifespans around the world. 

With this process the very possibility of “alternative facts” disappears.
By providing such a constant and sharp explicit and observable contrast between policy and empirical reality, the Trump administration can encourage a new public skepticism about political assertions vs. reality, and a demand for evidence before endorsing policies and the politicians who espouse them—the very things that most marchers on April 22nd will be demanding. 

This skepticism is beginning to manifest itself in data. 

A Gallup poll result on April 17 indicated that only 45 percent of the public believe President Trump’s promises, a drop of 17 percent since February.
In this regard, it is worth remembering the words of the Nobel Prizewinning physicist, Richard Feynman, who said: For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. 

Or, as the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick more colorfully put it: Reality is that which continues to exist even when you stop believing in it.
The Trump Administration is discovering that obfuscation, denial, and hype may work when selling real estate, but in public arena eventually reality has a way of biting you in the butt. And the public is watching. 

The March for Science may be lucky to capitalize upon a growing awareness that there is no Wizard behind the curtain. The number of marchers, their backgrounds, or even their myriad messages may not drive the success of the March. Rather, it may be driven by the harsh examples coming out every day that reality exists independent of the desires or claims of those in power. 

In this case, the greatest asset the March for Science has going for it may be Donald Trump himself.

Press link for more: Scientific American

Climate Change is Rapidly Accelerating! #auspol #Qldpol 

Climate change is rapidly accelerating. 

By  Paul Dawson

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


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

There is no natural explanation for this. 

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

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


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

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

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

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

Let’s reverse carbon and methane emissions.

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

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

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

Press link for more: Idaho Statesman

Melting Permafrost Threatens To Unleash Dangerous Climate Feedback #auspol

Earth’s melting permafrost threatens to unleash a dangerous climate feedback loopNew permafrost study underscores the critical importance of ambitious climate targets, like the Paris agreement.

By Dr Joe Romm

In this so-called “drunken forest,” in Alaska, the trees tilt because the once-frozen ground (permafrost) is thawing. CREDIT: NSIDC.

Global warming will defrost much more permafrost than we thought, a new study finds. Every 1°C (1.8°F) of additional warming would thaw one-quarter of the earth’s frozen tundra area — releasing staggering amounts of heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Those GHGs would in turn warm the planet more, melting more permafrost, releasing more GHGs, and so on. This is perhaps the most dangerous amplifying carbon-cycle feedback humanity faces — considering permafrost contains twice as much carbon as the atmosphere does today.

That’s why it’s so vital the U.S. adheres to its commitments in the 2015 Paris climate agreement — a landmark accord in which the world unanimously committed to keep ratcheting down carbon pollution to ensure total warming stays “well below 2°C [3.6°F] above pre-industrial levels.” And that’s why President Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine the deal are so dangerous, since they may put the permafrost — and hence our livable climate — across a point of no return.

Trump’s executive order puts the world on the road to climate catastrophe
It’s so egregious, it no longer really matters if he doesn’t formally opt out of the Paris climate deal.
If we could limit total warming to the 1.5°C target identified in the Paris deal, that would save 800,000 square miles of permafrost compared to 2°C warming. But if the Trump administration succeeds in thwarting Paris, then we may lose more than half of the permafrost.

By way of background, the permafrost, or tundra, is soil that stays below freezing (0°C or 32°F) for at least two years. Normally, plants capture CO2 from the air during photosynthesis and slowly release that carbon back into the atmosphere after they die. But the Arctic acts like a very large carbon freezer — and the decomposition rate is very low. Or, rather, it was. We are leaving the freezer door wide open. The tundra is being transformed from a long-term carbon locker to a short-term carbon unlocker.

Significantly, while most of the carbon in a defrosting permafrost would probably be released as CO2, some would be released as methane, which which traps 86 times as much heat as CO2 over a 20-year period.

Yet one study found that the feedback from just the CO2 released by the thawing permafrost alone could add 1.5°F to total global warming by 2100, if we don’t sharply curtail carbon pollution as soon as possible. Worse, none of the models for the recent Fifth Assessment of the climate by the world’s top scientists incorporate loss of the permafrost in their warming assessments.

The bottom line of this new study was well summed up in the headline of its news release: “Huge permafrost thaw can be limited by ambitious climate targets.” And that means huge permafrost thaw can be caused by undermining those targets.

Press link for more: Think Progress

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

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

By Barry Saxifrage

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

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

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

Even the increases are increasing

Annual CO2 increase in atmosphere

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

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

 The IEA numbers might be wrong. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humans might be increasing CO2 emissions from other sectors. 

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

 We could be increasing CO2 from these.

Climate change might be increasing CO2 emissions. 

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

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

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

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


Press link for more: National Observer