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Nine things we should all do during the Climate Crisis. #auspol 

If everyone in the U.S. gave up meat and cheese just one day a week, it would be equivalent to not driving 91 billion miles, or taking 7.6 million cars off the road, according to the Environmental Working Group. 
My friend the writer and editor Laura M. Browning asked me to write about environmental action for her newsletter “One Small Thing,” which advises people on personal actions they can take to improve their world. Here’s a preview:
Most Americans believe climate change is real and that something should be done about it, but they seem to want someone else to do it—usually, the government. In the wake of the 2016 election, what was always true should be abundantly clear: government won’t solve the problem of climate change.
That leaves us. Fortunately, there are lots of things we can do ourselves. I’ve listed nine of them below. They might look like small things, but they are powerful things.
Sometimes we may feel powerless to transform the transportation, energy and industrial sectors ourselves, and so we want some omnipotent being to do it for us. But while we’re feeling powerless, are we overlooking personal actions that can further our goals?
The Powers That Be may not heed our protests, read our letters, listen to our environmental groups, but they can’t stop us from taking back the dollars we inadvertently contribute to their polluting economy every year.
Here is a list of simple actions that work:
1. Become a vegetarian, or better yet a vegan. 

The share of greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture is usually pegged at 14.5 percent to 18 percent, but the Worldwatch Institute found lots of oversights in those calculations that, when properly counted, bring the ag contribution all the way up to 51 percent. That, you’ll notice, is more than half. Which means that after we clean up all the transportation, energy, industry and commerce in the world, we’ve done less than half the job. The other half is meat and dairy. Refuse to eat it. If this seems too challenging, consider giving it up one day a week. It will still be the most important action you can take.

2. Eat organic when you can.

 Organic food is good for us because we’re not putting pesticides in our bodies, but organic food is also grown without synthetic fertilizers, most of which begin as byproducts of oil refining. When you buy a conventional apple, you’re giving a little boost to Big Oil.
3. Buy local when you can. 

I’m not talking about patronizing mom and pop stores, although that may have its own merit; I’m talking about buying locally-manufactured products made with locally-sourced materials. This goes for food too, with home organic gardening as a local ideal. To the extent that we minimize transportation of goods, we mitigate climate change.
4. Live in the climate. 

The biggest residential demand on our dirty energy system is climate control—home heating and cooling. We travel from our air conditioned homes to our air conditioned workplaces in air conditioned cars. Of course, we need climate control to protect us from freezing temperatures in winter and soaring temperatures in summer, but do we need the atmosphere to be exactly 70 degrees everywhere we go, all year long? Let’s use climate control only for the extremes. When temperatures are moderate, live in the climate we evolved to inhabit.
5. Line dry your clothes. 

Since I stopped using a clothes dryer, not only do I feel good about the fossil fuel I’m not burning, but my clothes last much longer. Which means I don’t need to buy new clothes nearly as often. Which means new clothes are not being shipped to me from Asia in freighters burning dirty, unregulated fuel oil.
6. Vote with your feet. 

Every time you drive a car, you vote for the car. Every time you ride a bike, you vote for the bike. You vote economically in the fuel you purchase—or don’t—but you also vote pragmatically. These days, transportation departments keep meticulous track of road usage and transit trips. Where there are a lot of bicyclists, bicycle infrastructure is more likely to get support. Where there are a lot of pedestrians, most transportation departments will try to make streets safer and friendlier for people, not cars.
7. If you have children, don’t use them as an excuse to wage war on their environment.

“I have children, therefore I must buy meat,” goes the thinking. “I have children, therefore I must drive a car.” This is like saying, “I have children, therefore I must destroy their future.” Researchers estimate each child increases a parent’s carbon footprint by nearly six times! Raise little vegetarians who know how to live in the climate and use public transit—survival skills for the 21st Century.

8. Reduce and reuse before recycle. 

Recycling emerged as a virtue before we knew we had a climate problem, and it turns out that transporting and processing materials for recycling is carbon intensive. Recycling still uses less energy than making new products from scratch, but reducing and reusing are even cleaner.
9. Offset your carbon emissions. After we’ve done everything above, we’ll still be responsible for some unavoidable emissions until our society cleans up its act. It only cost me $35 to offset my carbon emissions for 2016, which included some airline flights. The United Nations has made offsetting easy, cheap, and reliable, and you decide where the money goes—mine went to solar water heaters in India, inhibiting the spread of conventional water heaters there. Calculate and offset your emissions at climateneutralnow.org
By Jeff McMahon, based in Chicago

Press link for more: Forbes.com

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Most talked about climate papers in 2016 #science #climatechange #auspol 

Every year, thousands of scientific journal papers are published by researchers across the world, but only a tiny proportion make it into the pages of the newspapers.
Using Altmetric, we’ve compiled a list of the 25 most talked-about climate papers of 2016. You can see the Top 10 in our infographic above (zoomable version here).
Altmetric scores academic papers based on how many times they’re mentioned in online news articles and on social media platforms. You can read more about how the Altmetric scoring system works in last year’s article.
Top of the table

The highest scoring article of the year, with an Altmetric tally of 2,716, is the Nature paper “Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise”, by Prof Robert DeConto of the University of Massachusetts and Dr David Pollard of Penn State University.
Published in March, the study found that Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a metre of sea level rise by 2100 and more than 15 metres by 2500, if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated.

The paper had more coverage in the news than another other climate paper published in 2016. It was featured in 386 news stories and was covered by – among 271 outlets in total – the BBC, Guardian, MailOnline, Independent, Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post and the New Yorker.
The study made a particular splash in the US after further analysis, published in August by estate agent firm Zillow, highlighted that 1.8m of sea level rise by 2100 could put two million American homes underwater.

The paper – not the news stories – was also tweeted from 369 accounts and posted on 16 Facebook walls. Overall, the paper’s score puts it in the top 5% of all journal articles in the Altmetric database.
Runner-up

In second place is “Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change”, by lead author Dr Marco Springmann from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food at the University of Oxford.
This paper was published in March in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), which also landed a paper in second place in last year’s list.
The research found that a worldwide switch to diets that rely less on meat and more on fruit and vegetables could reduce global mortality by up to 10% and food-related greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70% by 2050.

The paper’s overall Altmetric score of 1,981 includes 203 new stories from 156 news outlets, as well as 660 tweets from 627 users. This paper scored highest for Facebook, with 115 wall posts from 109 people.
Part of the popularity of the paper stems from being referenced in a press release for the “Kickstart Your Health Rochester” programme in which doctors in New York encouraged local residents to adopt a vegan diet for three weeks in May to improve their health.
Third place

Coming in third is another PNAS paper, “Temperature-driven global sea-level variability in the Common Era,” by lead author Dr Robert Kopp of Rutgers University.
The study compiled the first-ever estimate of global sea level change over the last 3,000 years. Their headline finding – that the speed of rising seas in the 20th century was faster than during any of the previous 27 centuries – generated headlines around the world, from the Boston Globe and Bangkok Post to Le Monde and the Hindu.
With a total score of 1,800, this paper appeared in 228 news stories from 186 outlets, was tweeted by 200 users, and posted on 21 Facebook walls.
Just missing out on the medals

In fourth place, published at the very beginning of 2016, is “The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene” in Science.
This study presented evidence that the impact of humans on the Earth is so severe and so enduring that the geological time period since the mid-20th century should be declared the “Anthropocene”.
This paper was one of the most tweeted about in our Top 25, with 904 tweets from 853 users, reaching a potential of more than three million followers.
The Anthropocene was also the subject of a feature article in Carbon Brief in October, which explored the history of the idea and the debate among geologists on whether they will formally inscribe a new epoch into their books.

In fifth is a paper that sounds like it could be the plot of a James Bond film. “The abandoned ice sheet base at Camp Century, Greenland, in a warming climate”, published in Geophysical Research Letters, assessed the possible fate of a US military base built in 1959 beneath the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
This nuclear-powered “city under the ice” doubled as a top secret site to study the feasibility of deploying missiles from the Arctic. The base was abandoned in 1967, under the assumption that all its chemical, biological, and radioactive wastes would forever be preserved in ice. However, the study shows that ice sheet melt as a result of climate change could uncover these wastes by the end of the century.
Completing the Top 10

Elsewhere in the Top 10, coming sixth is “Climate change decouples drought from early wine grape harvests in France” in Nature Climate Change.
This research found that increasingly hot summers are pushing wine grapes in French vineyards to mature earlier in the year. While this could bring some good years for French wine in the near future, it doesn’t bode well for the longer term, the researchers told Carbon Brief when we covered the paper in March.
The study was the second-most covered in the news of our Top 25, presumably because the fate of wine is a subject close to the hearts of many.

The topic of the paper in ninth place is quite a hot potato in climate science. “Greening of the Earth and its drivers”, published in Nature Climate Change, showed that up to half of the Earth’s vegetation-covered land is now “greener” than it was 30 years ago – mostly caused by rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
But any benefits of “CO2 fertilisation” may be temporary and are outweighed by the negative consequences of climate change, one of the authors told Carbon Brief.
And while the general principles of CO2 fertilisation are known, there is still much to learn about how these processes will act in future as the world continues to warm, said Prof Richard Betts, head of climate impacts research at the Met Office Hadley Centre, in a guest post for Carbon Brief.
Completing the Top 10 is “Consequences of twenty-first-century policy for multi-millennial climate and sea-level change” in Nature Climate Change. The paper aimed to tackle the “misleading impression in the public arena” that human-caused climate change is merely a 21st century problem.
Projecting changes in temperature and sea levels for the next 10,000 years, the researchers find that greenhouse gas emissions could eventually lead to 7.5C of warming and global sea level rise of 25-52m. With such stark results, it’s no surprise that the paper caught people’s attention.
Final score

If you want a closer look at the final scores, we’ve compiled all the data for the Top 25 climate papers of 2016 here. And there’s just space for a few honourable mentions…
Just missing out on the Top 10 in 11th place is “Observed Arctic sea-ice loss directly follows anthropogenic CO2 emission” in Science. This novel study calculated that for every tonne of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, summer sea ice cover in the Arctic shrinks by three square metres.

Number 14 on the list is “Evidence for climate change in the satellite cloud record”, published in Nature, which used satellite data to gather evidence on how cloud patterns have changed in recent decades. The findings are another “brick in the wall” that “supports our confidence in the mainstream view of climate science,” a scientist not involved in the study told Carbon Brief.
Last month, scientists from the University of East Anglia and the Global Carbon Project released their annual stocktake of global CO2 emissions. Their paper, “Global Carbon Budget 2016”, published in Earth System Science Data, comes in 16th for 2016.
Their figures revealed that the amount of CO2 we put into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, gas flaring and cement production has held steady for three years in a row. But it’s too early to say whether this constitutes a peak in global emissions, one of the scientists told Carbon Brief.
Elsewhere in the Top 25 are “Millions projected to be at risk from sea-level rise in the continental United States” in Nature Climate Change (21st), and “Climate change: The 2015 Paris Agreement thresholds and Mediterranean basin ecosystems” in Science (25th). You can read more about both in our coverage here and here, respectively, when the papers were originally published.
Overall, the Top 25 is made up of six papers each from journals Science and Nature Climate Change, followed by three in Nature, two each in Environmental Research Letters and PNAS, and one in each of Earth System Science Data, Geophysical Research Letters, Nature Geoscience, Progress in Human Geography, Science Advances, and The Lancet.
Top infographic by Rosamund Pearce for Carbon Brief.
Press link for more: Carbon Brief

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Short-lived greenhouse gases cause centuries of sea-level rise. #auspol 

Short-lived greenhouse gases cause centuries of sea-level rise

Researchers report that warming from short-lived compounds; greenhouse gases such as methane and chlorofluorocarbons, that linger in the atmosphere for just a year to a few decades; can cause sea levels to rise for hundreds of years after the pollutants have been cleared from the atmosphere.


Even if there comes a day when the world completely stops emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, coastal regions and island nations will continue to experience rising sea levels for centuries afterward, according to a new study by researchers at MIT and Simon Fraser University.
In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers report that warming from short-lived compounds — greenhouse gases such as methane, chlorofluorocarbons, or hydrofluorocarbons, that linger in the atmosphere for just a year to a few decades — can cause sea levels to rise for hundreds of years after the pollutants have been cleared from the atmosphere.

“If you think of countries like Tuvalu, which are barely above sea level, the question that is looming is how much we can emit before they are doomed. Are they already slated to go under, even if we stopped emitting everything tomorrow?” says co-author Susan Solomon, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at MIT. “It’s all the more reason why it’s important to understand how long climate changes will last, and how much more sea-level rise is already locked in.”

Solomon’s co-authors are lead author Kirsten Zickfeld of Simon Fraser University and Daniel Gilford, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.
Short stay, long rise
Recent studies by many groups, including Solomon’s own, have shown that even if human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide were to stop entirely, their associated atmospheric warming and sea-level rise would continue for more than 1,000 years. These effects — essentially irreversible on human timescales — are due in part to carbon dioxide’s residence time: The greenhouse gas can stay in the atmosphere for centuries after it’s been emitted from smokestacks and tailpipes.
In contrast to carbon dioxide, other greenhouse gases such as methane and chlorofluorocarbons have much shorter lifetimes. However, previous studies have not specified what their long-term effects may be on sea-level rise. To answer this question, Solomon and her colleagues explored a number of climate scenarios using an Earth Systems Model of Intermediate Complexity, or EMIC, a computationally efficient climate model that simulates ocean and atmospheric circulation to project climate changes over decades, centuries and millenia.
With the model, the team calculated both the average global temperature and sea-level rise, in response to anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons.
The researchers’ estimates for carbon dioxide agreed with others’ predictions and showed that, even if the world were to stop emitting carbon dioxide starting in 2050, up to 50 percent of the gas would remain in the atmosphere more than 750 years afterward. Even after carbon dioxide emissions cease, sea-level rise should continue to increase, measuring twice the level of 2050 estimates for 100 years, and four times that value for another 500 years.
The reason, Solomon says, is due to “ocean inertia”: As the world warms due to greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide included — waters heat up and expand, causing sea levels to rise. Removing the extra ocean heat caused by even short-lived gases, and consequently lowering sea levels, is an extremely slow process.
“As the heat goes into the ocean, it goes deeper and deeper, giving you continued thermal expansion,” Solomon explains. “Then it has to get transferred back to the atmosphere and emitted back into space to cool off, and that’s a very slow process of hundreds of years.”
Stemming tides
In one particular climate modeling scenario, the team evaluated sea level’s response to various methane emissions scenarios, in which the world would continue to emit the gas at current rates, until emissions end entirely in three different years: 2050, 2100 and 2150.
In all three scenarios, methane gas quickly cleared from the atmosphere, and its associated atmospheric warming decreased at a similar rate. However, methane continued to contribute to sea-level rise for centuries afterward. What’s more, they found that the longer the world waits to reduce methane emissions, the longer seas will stay elevated. 
“Amazingly, a gas with a 10-year lifetime can actually cause enduring sea-level changes,” Solomon says. “So you don’t just get to stop emitting and have everything go back to a preindustrial state. You are going to live with this for a very long time.”
The researchers found one silver lining in their analyses: Curious as to whether past regulations on pollutants have had a significant effect on sea-level rise, the team focused on perhaps the most successful global remediation effort to date — the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty ratified by 197 countries in 1989, that effectively curbed emissions of ozone-depleting compounds worldwide.   
Encouragingly, the researchers found that the Montreal Protocol, while designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out pollutants such as chlorofluorocarbons — has also helped stem rising seas. If the Montreal Protocol had not been ratified, and countries had continued to emit chlorofluorocarbons to the atmosphere, the researchers found that by 2050, the world would have experienced up to an additional 6 inches of sea-level rise.
“Half a foot is pretty significant,” Solomon says. “It’s yet another tremendous reason why the Montreal Protocol has been a pretty good thing for the planet.”
In their paper’s conclusion, the researchers point out that efforts to curb global warming should not be expected to reverse high seas quickly, and that longer-term impacts from sea-level rise should be seriously considered: “The primary policy conclusion of this study is that the long-lasting nature of sea-level rise heightens the importance of earlier mitigation actions.”
This research was supported, in part, by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and NASA.

Press link for more: Climate.NASA.Gov

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#DayAgainstDenial Protests Across the US. #auspol #climatechange 

#DayAgainstDenial Protests Across the U.S. Call Attention to Climate Change as Trump Cabinet Confirmation Hearings Begin
By Sharon Kelly • Tuesday, January 10, 2017 – 11:57

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees for the Cabinet began appearing before the U.S. Senate to start their confirmation hearing process on Tuesday — and some of the slots to be filled will have major implications for American climate change policies. Rex Tillerson, who announced his retirement as CEO of ExxonMobil, is scheduled to appear before the Senate on Wednesday, as is Elaine Chao, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Transporation.

On Monday, environmentalists nationwide organized protests at senators’ home offices, with organizers calling on their representatives to refuse to confirm Cabinet nominees hostile to combating climate change.
The #DayAgainstDenial protests attracted hundreds of demonstrators in cities large and small, organizers said. More than 200 people arrived at Senator Susan Collins’ office in Portland, Maine, according to protesters, who said it was among the largest demonstrations ever organized outside Collin’s Portland office. Protests in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, and San Francisco each drew crowds that numbered in the hundreds (despite sub-freezing temperatures across much of the U.S. on Monday).
According to protest organizers, ralliers in Newark, New Jersey, calling for Senator Cory Booker and Senator Robert Menendez to reject Trump’s cabinet nominees were joined by Congressman Frank Pallone, who urged climate activists to “keep up the fight” on Twitter.
Activists face an uphill battle in preventing Cabinet nominees from being confirmed. Republicans control 52 Senate seats, plus Mike Pence, Vice President-elect, would cast the decisive vote in the case of a tie.
Trump expressed little concern about the nomination process, telling reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower Monday morning, “I think they’ll all pass.”
Senate Democrats voiced opposition to the nominees for many reasons. “Bear in mind President-elect Trump’s nominees pose particularly difficult ethics and conflict-of-interest challenges,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York told the Associated Press. “They come from enormous wealth, many have vast holdings and stocks, and very few have experience in government.”

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson spent his entire professional career at ExxonMobil — a company currently under investigation by two state attorneys general for concealing what it knew about climate change from investors for decades and under a federal Securities and Exchange Commission investigation that is probing not only whether Exxon overstated the value of its oil and gas reserves, but also how it handles climate change and the prospects for regulation worldwide in its disclosures to investors.
“Scientists and Pennsylvanians have spoken: climate change is an urgent threat to the health and safety of our communities and to people all over the world,” protest organizer Mitch Chanin of 350 Philadelphia said in a statement.

 “We need cabinet officials who recognize those realities and who will work for a just and rapid transition to renewable energy,” he added, “rather than denying the threats that we face and advancing the interests of the fossil-fuel industry.”
Since, 2006, Exxon, under Tillerson, has publicly acknowledged that climate change is real. The company’s official position on climate science includes a statement that “[i]ncreasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere are having a warming effect.”
After that acknowledgement, however, Exxon still continued to support organizations that deny climate science like the American Enterprise Institute and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and has spent over $1.8 million on campaign contributions to politicians who deny climate change or the role that people have played in warming the globe.
Tillerson came under fire for his admissions on climate change from the extreme right.
“I do not understand, however, why [environmentalists] would oppose Tillerson, who believes in man-caused global warming and supports the Paris Climate Agreement,” Jay Lehr, a director of The Heartland Institute — which received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from Exxon under Tillerson — said in a statement. “I hope he is Trump’s sacrificial goat to the Senate committees that will be questioning his appointees.”
Protest organizers said that given Exxon’s record, they did not believe Tillerson’s statements accepting climate science or supporting the Paris agreement were very useful for predicting what organizations run by Tillerson will actually do.
 ”A quick look at ExxonMobil’s ‘Energy Outlook,’ their annual report on the future of the market, shows that they’re counting on fossil fuel use to increase and have no intention of helping the world meet the targets laid out in the Paris Agreement,” said Jamie Henn, co-founder of 350.org.
Climate scientists have warned that because of methane leaks, a switch from coal to natural gas for powering the nation’s electrical grid could actually be worse for the climate than a continued reliance on coal. In other words, carbon emissions are not the only greenhouse gas emissions that matter; methane leaks matter too.
“Exxon isn’t stupid, they know that the best way to weaken climate policy is to get a seat at the table and offer up a low price on carbon that will drive out coal but help their natural gas business,” Henn added. “This offering up of false solutions is just as dangerous as straight up climate denial, if not more so.”
Another campaign against Tillerson’s nomination also launched on Monday. The Reject Exxon campaign said it had gathered over 16,000 letters to senators asking them to oppose Tillerson’s appointment.
Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, came under fire for his support for a law to deregulate fracking in 1999 — a bill that Sessions sponsored the same year that he and his wife invested in an oil and gas company involved in fracking, organizers from Food and Water Watch said, citing reporting by DeSmog’s Steve Horn.
“Senator Sessions’ attempt to deregulating fracking at a time his wife was acquiring a large stake in an oil and gas company that would directly benefit raises many questions,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch said. “It adds to the many other ethics questions that are swirling around his nomination — not to mention his troubling civil rights record.”
Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, has also worried environmentalists with her record of defending fossil fuels.
“As a longtime resident of Kentucky who has spent many long hours listening to the worries and anxieties of the people of my home state, particularly those in the Kentucky coal fields, it has become increasingly clear to me that the Foundation’s ‘Beyond Coal’ initiative is incompatible with my commitments to the Commonwealth and its people,” she wrote while resigning from a foundation that backed the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.
Chao is scheduled for nomination hearings on Wednesday as well. If appointed, she will run the federal agency that sets fuel economy standards for the nation’s fleet of motor vehicles.
Protest organizers also focused on the nominations of former Texas Governor Rick Perry — a board member of Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline; Scott Pruitt, Trump’s choice to run the Environmental Protection Agency, who has been called a “Climate Change Denialist” by The New York Times; and Ryan Zinke, who once said that climate science is “not a hoax, but it’s not proven science either,” to head the Department of the Interior.
Regardless of the outcomes for the nominees, protest organizers said they would keep the pressure on throughout the Trump administration.

“The resistance against Trump’s agenda doesn’t end with opposing his denying nominees,” Sam Rubin, the Eastern Pennsylvania Organizer for Food and Water Watch, said. “It must include a bold call for environmental justice. We need a clean energy revolution, and we need it to provide high quality jobs that address the worst inequalities in our society.”

Press link for more: Desmogblog.com

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Short lived Greenhouse Gases can drive sea level rise for centuries. #auspol 

Climate Change: Even Short-Lived Greenhouse Gases Can Drive Sea-Level Rise For Centuries

Over the past 100 years, the global average sea level has risen by roughly 7 inches. This rise has been fuelled by two key factors — the added water from melting land ice, and the expansion in volume of seawater as it absorbs heat from the atmosphere.
If we examine the trend over the past 20 years alone, world’s oceans have warmed at a rate of 0.12 degrees Celsius per decade — a continuation of the trend that began in the last half of the 20th century, when humans began pumping massive quantities of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
In such a scenario, there is a question climate activists have often asked — what, if anything, can be done to prevent sea levels from rising to an extent that poses an existential threat to low-lying island nations such as Fiji, the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands?
The answer, going by the findings of a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is not much.
This is because oceans, once they have absorbed a certain amount of heat, take hundreds of years to cool down — a phenomenon the authors of the study called “ocean inertia.”
“As the heat goes into the ocean, it goes deeper and deeper, giving you continued thermal expansion,” study co-author Susan Solomon, a professor of climate science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a statement. “Then it has to get transferred back to the atmosphere and emitted back into space to cool off, and that’s a very slow process of hundreds of years.”

In order to reach their conclusions, the researchers used a climate model to simulate three scenarios —global greenhouse gas emissions ending in 2050, 2100, and 2150. Even in the most optimistic scenario, wherein anthropogenic emissions of all heat-trapping gases ceased altogether in 2050, up to 50 percent of carbon dioxide would remain in the atmosphere for over 750 years. And, even after carbon dioxide emissions cease, sea levels will continue to rise, measuring twice the level of 2050 estimates for 100 years, and four times that value for another 500 years.
Even methane — a gas that has an atmospheric lifespan of just 10 years — would continue to contribute to sea level rise for centuries after it has cleared up from the atmosphere.

Effectively, this means that even if humans were to stop emitting all greenhouse gases right now, thermal expansion and the ensuing rise of ocean levels would continue for centuries to come — quite possibly inundating several island nations and low-lying coastal areas in cities across the world.
“If you think of countries like Tuvalu, which are barely above sea level, the question that is looming is how much we can emit before they are doomed. Are they already slated to go under, even if we stopped emitting everything tomorrow?” Solomon said. “It’s all the more reason why it’s important to understand how long climate changes will last, and how much more sea-level rise is already locked in.”

There is, however, one silver lining. As part of their study, the researchers also examined what impact the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which eliminated the use of the ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, had had on stemming the rise of ocean levels. They found that if the deal had never been ratified, and if countries had continued to emit CFCs, the world would have experienced up to an additional 6 inches of sea-level rise by 2050.
“Half a foot is pretty significant,” Solomon said. “It’s yet another tremendous reason why the Montreal Protocol has been a pretty good thing for the planet.”

Press link for more: IBTimes.com

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2016 was a milestone year for climate change #auspol 

2016 was a milestone year in the continued warming of the planet. From unstable agriculture to the drought in California to melting ice sheets to extreme weather events and heat waves, climate change has disrupted virtually every corner of the world.
It’s impossible to exhaustively list all the ways in which climate change was felt in 2016, but here’s a guide to understanding the year that was for the planet:
   A carbon dioxide milestone
“In the centuries to come, history books will likely look back on September 2016 as a major milestone for the world’s climate,” Brian Kahn of Climate Central wrote earlier this year.
   That’s because, during September, a month in which atmospheric carbon dioxide — a heat-trapping greenhouse gas —is usually at its lowest, the monthly value failed to drop below 400 parts per million. The 400 ppm mark has sad significance in the climate community, as it has long been considered a point of no return for the atmosphere by scientists. 
On pace to be the hottest year yet


This year is poised to be the hottest year in the 137-year official record, with global temperatures climbing even higher than record-breaking 2015, according to data released in November from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Temperatures were particularly high in the first half of the year due to the power of El Niño.

Last month, the average Arctic sea ice extent — the measurement scientists use to represent the area of ocean where there is at least some sea ice — was 17.7 percent below the averages from 1981 to 2010, according to NOAA. That’s the lowest November extent since the NOAA began keeping records in 1979.
“For the people in the Arctic, no one has to tell them an abrupt climate change has hit,” Paul Mayewski, professor at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute, told CBS News in an interview last week.


Continued melting of polar ice could lead to catastrophic sea level rise and flooding on coastlines around the world. Some 13 million Americans could become “climate refugees” by the end of this century if the worst projections come to pass, one study this year warned.
Scientists say human activities are directly linked to Arctic warming: driving a gas-powered car about 90 miles – the distance between New York and Philadelphia – produces enough carbon pollution to melt about a square foot of Arctic sea ice during the critical month of September, research shows.
Around the world, instability in agriculture

The continued warming of the planet in 2016 is having a destabilizing impact on agriculture worldwide. 

Those disruptions were particularly felt in coffee production, which supports an estimated 120 million of some of the world’s poorest people in Africa, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia.

In the mountains of eastern Uganda, a coffee-rich region, growers struggled to protect their crops — which require just the right altitude and temperature and the right amounts of rain and sunshine — from the effects of global warming. Faced with headaches such as new pests and diseases, and beans rendered inedible from too much sunshine, many small-scale family farmers can no longer rely on coffee production to feed their families, pay for medical care, and send their kids to school. 
Experts project that by the middle of this century, climate change could rule out as much as half of the land now used for coffee production worldwide, CBS News’ Mark Phillips reported in December.

A troubling new chapter for the Great Barrier Reef
Warming oceans in 2016 caused the largest die-off of corals ever recorded on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, scientists said in November. The reef’s coral cover suffered significant bleaching this year due to the El Nino weather effect and continued climate change.

Coral bleaching occurs when unusual environmental conditions, like increased sea temperatures, result in corals expelling the small algae which normally provide oxygen and nutrients. The loss turns the corals white. Reefs can recover if temperatures drop and the algae resettle, but if not, the corals will die.
This year’s coral die-off was “substantially worse” than the previous worst-ever event in 1998, Australian scientists reported. Experts estimate the Great Barrier Reef has lost 50 percent of its coral cover in the past three decades.
A resilient body, the Great Barrier Reef could regain the corals it’s lost, Australian officials said. But even under good conditions, that could take 10 to 15 years, scientists said, and the acceleration of climate change threatens to derail the natural rhythm of loss and recovery. 

Press link for more: cbsnews.com

Climate costs bolt upward. #auspol #science

President-elect Donald Trump stops taking climate change into account when making federal energy policy, he’ll do so just as a leading projection of climate-related costs bolts upward. 

William Nordhaus of Yale University is a central figure in the study of climate change and economics. In the early 1990s he developed what became the leading computer model for studying the effects of warming on the global economy. The Dynamic Integrated model of Climate & the Economy (DICE) has long given resource economists, students, and policymakers an opportunity to test how different scenarios might lead to quite different future climates.
Nordhaus recently updated DICE. He published results of an early test-drive of it this week in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, titled “Projections and Uncertainties About Climate Change in an Era of Minimal Climate Policies.”
Readers of recent headlines might be forgiven for assuming the “era of minimal climate policies” referred to is about the next four years. In fact, Nordhaus suggests, the “minimal policy” era is the one we’re currently in. (Nordhaus couldn’t be reached for comment.)
The paper’s findings “pertain primarily to a world without climate policies, which is reasonably accurate for virtually the entire globe today,” he writes. “The results show rapidly rising accumulation of CO2, temperature changes, and damages.”

Even after adjusting for uncertainty, he writes, there is “virtually no chance” that nations will prevent the world from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), the upper bound for avoiding cascading catastrophes. With revisions to methods and data in the model, he estimates that the price associated with each ton of carbon dioxide emitted should be about 50 percent higher than the previous version of DICE.

His simulations echo findings of analyses such as the Climate Action Tracker project, which suggest current policies might lead to average warming of 3.6 Celsius. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that the world needs to slash emissions about 25 percent below what’s projected in 2030.
Here’s why the research is so consequential. DICE is one of three major “integrated assessment models” used by governments and the private sector to estimate the cost, in today’s dollars, of the damage climate change will cause. The Obama administration relied on these models to produce the “social cost of carbon” (SCC) at the heart of dozens of energy-related federal rules. The measure is expressed in dollars per ton of carbon dioxide emitted. The current U.S. estimate is about $40. 
The SCC, paradoxically, has become semi-famous just by being so obscure. It has always drawn attention within the climate policy world because it’s so influential and complicated. Different assumptions entered into the models can yield dramatically different results. The measure has popped up at least twice since the 2016 election. Once, in a questionnaire that a Trump transition official sent to the Department of Energy (the document was later disavowed by the transition team). It also appeared on a post-election energy-policy wish list of the Institute for Energy Research (IER), a nonprofit, which said the estimates should no longer be used. IER’s president, Thomas Pyle, a former Koch Industries lobbyist, became head of the Trump Energy Department transition last month.

The National Academies has undertaken a major study of how best to update the SCC, with the final report due early next year. The current process was approved by a federal court as recently as August.


Tea-leaf-reading aside, the new administration’s actual intentions and priorities will become clear only after Jan. 20. The planet, meanwhile, seems to have intentions and priorities of its own, judging by the unprecedented warm Christmas near the top of the world. 

Press link for more: bloomberg.com

Climate Change Is Mauling the Arctic Worse Than We Even Thought #auspol 

Temperatures in the Arctic this year were the highest since records started more than a century ago, and are driving a decline in sea ice cover, snowpack melt, ocean acidification, and other environmental catastrophes that will accelerate the decline of the Arctic’s fragile ecosystem — with potentially dire consequences for the rest of the earth.

On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic Research program released its annual Arctic Report Card — and it paints a bleak picture. “Rarely have we seen the Arctic show a clearer, stronger or more pronounced signal of persistent warming and its cascading effects on the environment than this year,” said Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA’s Arctic Research Program.
On the Arctic’s overall health, “I would give it a F,” Mathis told Foreign Policy. “And I would give our response to the changes we’re seeing in the Arctic a D+.”
Unfortunately for the rest of the world, the Arctic’s environmental health has a major impact on the rest of the globe, he added. “What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic,” Mathis told FP.


The Arctic in many ways acts as a global air conditioner — one that is slowly breaking down. In the past, the snow- and ice-covered polar region reflected a lot of sunlight back into space. The region stayed chilly, and helped circulate cooler air through the world’s oceans and jetstreams, regulating to a degree global climate.
But rising temperatures thanks to ever-higher atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are melting the snow and ice, making for a darker surface that absorbs more sunlight than it used to. That compounds the region’s warming and ensures that the earth as a whole absorbs more heat energy as the reflective ice layers recede.
Additionally, as the region thaws, it could release billions of tons of carbon trapped in the permafrost; NOAA’s report says that permafrost soils contain about twice as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere.
“If all of that were to be broken down and released into the atmosphere, it could triple the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Mathis told FP.
The litany of doomsday statistics in the report are numbing: The extent of North American spring snow cover was the lowest recorded since satellite coverage began in 1967; summer sea ice extent in 2016 tied 2007 for the second-lowest in the records dating back to 1979 (and in September was retreating even faster than in the record year of 2012); and there has been a 3.5° C increase in Arctic air temperature in the last 15 years, double the rate of global temperature increase. Some areas of the Arctic had temperatures more than 8° C above the norm in January.

Still, Mathis finds a few reasons for optimism. The Arctic has so far been an oasis of cooperation between many countries that are otherwise adversarial to the United States, including Russia and China. Matthis’ program runs a research station in Northern Russia, for example, and has kept working as normal despite U.S. and European sanctions on Russia.

The thawing Arctic also opens the region to new economic and commercial activities, from oil drilling to new maritime trade routes. “Communities living in the Arctic are struggling to deal with change,” Mathis said. “Commercial developments could provides jobs and resources for those communities. That’s an opportunity for us to not only grow the national economy but also interconnect other countries’ regional economies.”

The United States, which this year chairs the international forum overseeing the region, the Arctic Council, has prioritized improving Arctic communities, ocean stewardship, and addressing climate change under President Barack Obama. But a change in administration could usher a new approach to the region, as Donald Trump and his top cabinet picks, many of whom are climate change skeptics, take office in January. Some climate scientists, fearing the new administration’s hostility to their work, are even frantically copying down U.S. climate change data lest it vanish after Trump steps into the Oval Office. The Republican-controlled Congress has also been hostile to Obama administration climate-change initiatives, including climate research and efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Mathis, still living happily in a fact-based reality, is hopeful the change won’t impact NOAA’s mission to document the pace of change in the Arctic. “This report is really beyond reproach when it comes to presenting the facts,” he said.

Press link for more: foreignpolicy.com

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Nature is being murdered. #auspol

By Dr. Glen Barry

Miraculous nature is being murdered. Everywhere we look inequitable over-consumption is devastating the natural ecosystems that sustain a living Earth. Together we yield to ecological truth – personally embracing a global ecology ethic, and demanding others do so as well – or we all needlessly die at each others’ throats as the global ecological system collapses and being ends.

Gaia’s ecosystem organs – old-growth forests, natural waterways, bountiful oceans, vibrant soils – will be restored and maintained at all costs as global ecological reserves to power the biosphere and maintain a living and livable Earth. — Dr. Glen Barry
The Signs
Everywhere you look humans are destroying nature. We are eating the ecosystems that sustain us, crapping in our own habitat, calling it development as we destroy our one shared biosphere.
Look outside your window. Chances are that the “nature” you see – some degraded secondary forests, power lines and roadways, with disturbed soil and degraded waterways – was a million year old natural ecosystem only a few generations ago. Never have naturally evolved ancient ecosystems been so swiftly destroyed to produce throw away consumer junk.


We are witnessing the age of ecocidal, conspicuous, and inequitable over-consumption. 90% of old growth forests have been mowed and large ocean fish harvested. Half of both natural soil and vegetation have been destroyed. Oceans are dying from bottom trawling, acidification, and over-harvest.
Abrupt and runaway climate change is well underway as humanity continues to treat our atmosphere as a waste dump. We piss and worse into our natural waterways as billions lack clean drinking water. Plants and animals as well as people are fleeing collapsing ecosystems.
And most people are too fucking dumb to realize what is occurring, little more than microbes being pickled in their own waste as their and all being ends.

The Outlook
China is going to ecologically collapse first, as industrial filth on behalf of all nations has proliferated, and it will be soon. Collapse of this ecocidal tyranny may well by itself pull down the biosphere. Similarly India and Europe are most at risk – where millennia of ecological simplification, along with tremendous over-population, will ensure mass migration and conflict until these population bases are brought into balance once again with natural ecosystems.

The United States may persist longer as the ecocide has not occurred for as long. But here nationalistic militarism along with an unparalleled sense of entitlement, and a lack of understanding of community and the natural world, is perhaps most dangerous. If every American is not allowed to realize their exceptional birthright to wantonly overconsume, they damn well will destroy everybody and everything in fits of infantile rage.
Prepare to see the vegetation, what remains, wither and die. Get used to there being no water in the tap much less locally available. Be ready for major energy shocks where your car sits lifeless in the driveway, a chunk of immobile metal, as your house remains unheated and uncooled. Consider what food can be raised locally, and at what price, as that is all that will be available.


Expect bands of marauders to pillage your belongings and have their way with your wives and daughters. The re-emergence of slavery and warring autocratic city-states is a virtual certainty as centuries of social progress are jettisoned. We are already witnessing the rise of authoritarian demagoguery as environmental conditions worsen.
Entire bioregions are going to be laid to waste and have to be evacuated as they become uninhabitable. Mass migration at unprecedented scales is imminent. Given uncertainly in lag times, and what wells of ecological resiliency remain in the Earth System, it is difficult to know how long it will be until the biosphere goes into positive feedback and collapses and dies. It is also virtually impossible to know when it is too late and will occur regardless.
That is why we must seek an ecological ethic and way of life until our dying breath. Despite its shortcomings, ecocidal inclinations in particular, the human species is an amazing creature. Our ability to think abstractly, examining and learning from our natural surroundings, are unsurpassed. Our opposable thumbs are cool too. Now if we could learn to not use them to destroy nature we will be set to live essentially forever as a species.
The Options
We have everything we need to construct a just, equitable, and verdant future for all. Plentiful renewable energy sources exist. We know how to recreate natural ecosystems and permaculture gardens from the plant diversity that remains. Educating girls, providing free birth control, and economic incentives for small families can stabilize and then reduce the population.
Throughout human history we see time and time again people coming together to do what must be done to beat back evil, reset the social order, and advance. Together we will have to shutdown the fossil fuel industry, demand global demilitarization and demobilization, and insist upon a reduction in the size and influence of corporations and governments alike.

From justice, equity, and ecology will flow peace and well-being to all Earth’s peoples and species.
So much of our prospects depend upon living more simply and naturally. That is why posing, preening “climate activists” like Leonardo DiCaprio are so dangerous. They tell us climate change is real from the back of a polluting private jet, spewing emissions from luxurious lifestyles that the majority seek but can never attain. We are going to have to learn to live more simply materially, as we explore the rich abundance in knowledge, sport, arts, leisure, and making love.
A global ecology ethic based upon ecological truths must arise spontaneously utilizing all the tools at our disposal including the Internet. We must come to realize we are one human family spinning through space upon a naturally evolved living organism upon which we are utterly dependent. Gaia’s ecosystem organs – old-growth forests, natural waterways, bountiful oceans, vibrant soils – will be restored and maintained at all costs as global ecological reserves to power the biosphere and maintain a living and livable Earth.
Such a global ecology ethic goes well beyond the obvious and demands a complete reorganization of the dominant paradigm. We perish unless we come to accept the truthful worldview that we are one human family, nation states are a lie, there is no god, and ecology is the meaning of life. Together we embrace and act upon ecology and other such self-evident truths or we face vicious, merciless death at each others’ hands as we collapse the biosphere. And then being ends.

Press link for  more: Ecointernet.org

Methane Emissions Soar. #auspol 

Methane Emissions Soar, Agriculture Likely to Blame
By Alex Kirby
One year ago today, with huge relief, scarcely able to believe their achievement, world leaders finally agreed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.
But a bare 12 months later comes sobering news: Atmospheric concentrations of another gas, methane, are growing faster than at any time in the last 20 years, putting further pressure on the historic Paris agreement to deliver substantial cuts in emissions very soon.

Methane is the second major greenhouse gas, with agriculture accounting for 40 percent of emissions.Neil H / Flickr
Some scientists say the world now needs to change course and do more about methane to have a chance of keeping average global temperatures from rising by more than 2 C.
And one seasoned Arctic watcher said the changes there in the last decade are altering a system which has remained intact since the Ice Age.
Methane is the second major greenhouse gas, with agriculture accounting for 40 percent of emissions. Over a century it is 34 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (though far less abundant), but over 20 years methane is 84 times more potent than CO2.
In an editorial in the journal Environmental Research Letters, an international team of scientists reports that methane concentrations in the air began to surge around 2007 and grew steeply in 2014 and 2015. In those two years concentrations rose by 10 or more parts per billion annually. In the early 2000s they had been rising by an annual average of 0.5 ppb.
Mitigation Possible
The scientists say the reason for the spike is unclear, but they think it may be the consequence of emissions from agricultural sources and mainly around the tropics—possibly from farm sites like rice paddies and cattle pastures.
They say research shows that the growth of CO2 emissions has flattened out in recent years, just as methane’s seem to be soaring.
Rob Jackson, a co-author of the editorial and professor of Earth system science at Stanford University, U.S., said the methane findings “are worrisome but provide an immediate opportunity for mitigation that complements efforts for carbon dioxide.”
He and his fellow authors helped to produce the 2016 Global Methane Budget, a comprehensive look at how methane flowed in and out of the atmosphere from 2000 to 2012 because of human activities and other factors. The budget is published by the Global Carbon Project, a research initiative of Future Earth.
Peter Wadhams, emeritus professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, said scientists are now seeing large plumes of methane escaping from the shallow seas north of Siberia. These emissions and those from the thawing tundra, are contributing to the sudden rise in methane concentrations.
Prof. Wadhams devotes part of his new book A Farewell to Ice to the subject. He told the Climate News Network:
“The methane being released now, at an accelerating rate, could easily negate the carbon reductions we are making.

“A Russian expedition which returned from the Arctic recently estimates there’s so much methane in offshore sediments that if it all escaped it would mean an immediate temperature rise of about 0.6 C. And there’s quite a big chance of a total melt.
“I’ve been going to the Arctic for over 40 years and this is entirely new. The melting sea ice has allowed the water temperature to rise to 7 C since about 2005, affecting the permafrost which had till then remained unchanged since the Ice Age. The methane plumes are an amazing sight, a mass of bubbles erupting from the sea surface.”
And releases of methane from the sea floor are not restricted to the shallow Arctic waters: One of the places they are occurring as well is in the north Pacific.
Rapid Reversal
Methane comes from a variety of sources, including wild areas like marshes and wetlands and fossil fuel exploration. About 60 percent of the gas which enters the atmosphere annually comes from human activities, notably agriculture.
Marielle Saunois, lead author of the ERL paper, from Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines University, France, said the world should do more about methane emissions: “If we want to stay below two degrees temperature increase, we should not follow this track and need to make a rapid turn-around.”
Saunois said that, on available data, she and her colleagues think agricultural growth is the likelier source, at least for now, of rising methane than expanded natural gas drilling.

“When it comes to methane, there has been a lot of focus on the fossil fuel industry, but we need to look just as hard if not harder at agriculture,” Prof. Jackson said. “The situation certainly isn’t hopeless. It’s a real opportunity.”

Press link for more: Ecowatch.com