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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CNN’s Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report

Press link for more: CNN.COM


We’re not building clean energy fast enough to avoid catastrophic #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol

At this rate, it’s going to take nearly 400 years to transform the energy system

Here are the real reasons we’re not building clean energy anywhere near fast enough.

James Temple

Fifteen years ago, Ken Caldeira, a senior scientist at the Carnegie Institution, calculated that the world would need to add about a nuclear power plant’s worth of clean-energy capacity every day between 2000 and 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Recently, he did a quick calculation to see how we’re doing.

Not well.

Instead of the roughly 1,100 megawatts of carbon-free energy per day likely needed to prevent temperatures from rising more than 2 ˚C, as the 2003 Science paper by Caldeira and his colleagues found, we are adding around 151 megawatts.

That’s only enough to power roughly 125,000 homes.

At that rate, substantially transforming the energy system would take, not the next three decades, but nearly the next four centuries.

In the meantime, temperatures would soar, melting ice caps, sinking cities, and unleashing devastating heat waves around the globe (see “The year climate change began to spin out of control”).

Caldeira stresses that other factors are likely to significantly shorten that time frame (in particular, electrifying heat production, which accounts for a more than half of global energy consumption, will significantly alter demand). But he says it’s clear we’re overhauling the energy system about an order of magnitude too slowly, underscoring a point that few truly appreciate: It’s not that we aren’t building clean energy fast enough to address the challenge of climate change.

It’s that—even after decades of warnings, policy debates, and clean-energy campaigns—the world has barely even begun to confront the problem.

The UN’s climate change body asserts that the world needs to cut as much as 70 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions by midcentury to have any chance of avoiding 2 ˚C of warming. But carbon pollution has continued to rise, ticking up 2 percent last year.

So what’s the holdup?

Beyond the vexing combination of economic, political, and technical challenges is the basic problem of overwhelming scale. There is a massive amount that needs to be built, which will suck up an immense quantity of manpower, money, and materials.

For starters, global energy consumption is likely to soar by around 30 percent in the next few decades as developing economies expand. (China alone needs to add the equivalent of the entire US power sector by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency.) To cut emissions fast enough and keep up with growth, the world will need to develop 10 to 30 terawatts of clean-energy capacity by 2050.

On the high end that would mean constructing the equivalent of around 30,000 nuclear power plants—or producing and installing 120 billion 250-watt solar panels.

Energy overhaul

There’s simply little financial incentive for the energy industry to build at that scale and speed while it has tens of trillions of dollars of sunk costs in the existing system.

“If you pay a billion dollars for a gigawatt of coal, you’re not going to be happy if you have to retire it in 10 years,” says Steven Davis, an associate professor in the Department of Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine.

It’s somewhere between difficult and impossible to see how any of that will change until there are strong enough government policies or big enough technology breakthroughs to override the economics.

A quantum leap

In late February, I sat in Daniel Schrag’s office at the Harvard University Center for the Environment. His big yellow Chinook, Mickey, lay down next to my feet.

Schrag was one of President Barack Obama’s top climate advisors. As a geologist who has closely studied climate variability and warming periods in the ancient past, he has a special appreciation for how dramatically things can change.

Sitting next to me with his laptop, he opened a report he had recently coauthored assessing the risks of climate change.

It highlights the many technical strides that will be required to overhaul the energy system, including better carbon capture, biofuels, and storage.

The study also notes that the United States adds roughly 10 gigawatts of new energy generation capacity per year.

That includes all types, natural gas as well as solar and wind. But even at that rate, it would take more than 100 years to rebuild the existing electricity grid, to say nothing of the far larger one required in the decades to come.

“Is it possible to accelerate by a factor of 20?” he asks. “Yeah, but I don’t think people understand what that is, in terms of steel and glass and cement.”

Climate observers and commentators have used various historical parallels to illustrate the scale of the task, including the Manhattan Project and the moon mission. But for Schrag, the analogy that really speaks to the dimensions and urgency of the problem is World War II, when the United States nationalized parts of the steel, coal, and railroad industries.

The government forced automakers to halt car production in order to churn out airplanes, tanks, and jeeps.

The good news here is that if you direct an entire economy at a task, big things can happen fast. But how do you inspire a war mentality in peacetime, when the enemy is invisible and moving in slow motion?

“It’s a quantum leap from where we are today,” Schrag says.

The time delay

The fact that the really devastating consequences of climate change won’t come for decades complicates the issue in important ways. Even for people who care about the problem in the abstract, it doesn’t rate high among their immediate concerns.

As a consequence, they aren’t inclined to pay much, or change their lifestyle, to actually address it. In recent years, Americans were willing to increase their electricity bill by a median amount of only $5 a month even if that “solved,” not eased, global warming, down from $10 15 years earlier, according to a series of surveys by MIT and Harvard.

It’s conceivable that climate change will someday alter that mind-set as the mounting toll of wildfires, hurricanes, droughts, extinctions, and sea-level rise finally forces the world to grapple with the problem.

But that will be too late.

Carbon dioxide works on a time delay.

It takes about 10 years to achieve its full warming effect, and it stays in the atmosphere for thousands of years.

After we’ve tipped into the danger zone, eliminating carbon dioxide emissions doesn’t decrease the effects; it can only prevent them from getting worse.

Whatever level of climate change we allow to unfold is locked in for millennia, unless we develop technologies to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere on a massive scale (or try our luck with geoengineering).

This also means there’s likely to be a huge trade-off between what we would have to pay to fix the energy system and what it would cost to deal with the resulting disasters if we don’t. Various estimates find that cutting emissions will shrink the global economy by a few percentage points a year, but unmitigated warming could slash worldwide GDP more than 20 percent by the end of the century, if not far more.

In the money

Arguably the most crucial step to accelerate energy development is enacting strong government policies.

Many economists believe the most powerful tool would be a price on carbon, imposed through either a direct tax or a cap-and-trade program. As the price of producing energy from fossil fuels grows, this would create bigger incentives to replace those plants with clean energy (see “Surge of carbon pricing proposals coming in the new year”).

“If we’re going to make any progress on greenhouse gases, we’ll have to either pay the implicit or explicit costs of carbon,” says Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at the University of California, Berkeley.

But it has to be a big price, far higher than the $15 per ton it cost to acquire allowances in California’s cap-and-trade program late last year. Borenstein says a carbon fee approaching $40 a ton “just blows coal out of the market entirely and starts to put wind and solar very much into the money,” at least when you average costs across the lifetime of the plants.

Others think the price should be higher still. But it’s very hard to see how any tax even approaching that figure could pass in the United States, or many other nations, anytime soon.

The other major policy option would be caps that force utilities and companies to keep greenhouse emissions below a certain level, ideally one that decreases over time. This regulations-based approach is not considered as economically efficient as a carbon price, but it has the benefit of being much more politically palatable. American voters hate taxes but are perfectly comfortable with air pollution rules, says Stephen Ansolabehere, a professor of government at Harvard University.

Fundamental technical limitations will also increase the cost and complexity of shifting to clean energy. Our fastest-growing carbon-free sources, solar and wind farms, don’t supply power when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. So as they provide a larger portion of the grid’s electricity, we’ll also need long-range transmission lines that can balance out peaks and valleys across states, or massive amounts of very expensive energy storage, or both (see “Relying on renewables alone significantly inflates the cost of overhauling energy”).

The upshot is that we’re eventually going to need to either supplement wind and solar with many more nuclear reactors, fossil-fuel plants with carbon capture and other low-emissions sources, or pay far more to build out a much larger system of transmission, storage and renewable generation, says Jesse Jenkins, a researcher with the MIT Energy Initiative. In all cases, we’re still likely to need significant technical advances that drive down costs.

All of this, by the way, only addresses the challenge of overhauling the electricity sector, which currently represents less than 20 percent of total energy consumption. It will provide a far greater portion as we electrify things like vehicles and heating, which means we’ll eventually need to develop an electrical system several times larger than today’s.

But that still leaves the “really difficult parts of the global energy system” to deal with, says Davis of UC Irvine. That includes aviation, long-distance hauling, and the cement and steel industries, which produce carbon dioxide in the manufacturing process itself. To clean up these huge sectors of the economy, we’re going to need better carbon capture and storage tools, as well as cheaper biofuels or energy storage, he says.

These kinds of big technical achievements tend to require significant and sustained government support. But much like carbon taxes or emissions caps, a huge increase in federal research and development funding is highly unlikely in the current political climate.

Give up?

So should we just give up?

There is no magic bullet or obvious path here. All we can do is pull hard on the levers that seem to work best.

Environmental and clean-energy interest groups need to make climate change a higher priority, tying it to practical issues that citizens and politicians do care about, like clean air, security, and jobs. Investors or philanthropists need to be willing to make longer-term bets on early-stage energy technologies. Scientists and technologists need to focus their efforts on the most badly needed tools. And lawmakers need to push through policy changes to provide incentives, or mandates, for energy companies to change.

The hard reality, however, is that the world very likely won’t be able to accomplish what’s called for by midcentury. Schrag says that keeping temperature increases below 2 ˚C is already “a pipe dream,” adding that we’ll be lucky to prevent 4 ˚C of warming this century.

That means we’re likely to pay a very steep toll in lost lives, suffering, and environmental devastation (see “Hot and violent”).

But the imperative doesn’t end if warming tips past 2 ˚C. It only makes it more urgent to do everything we can to contain the looming threats, limit the damage, and shift to a sustainable system as fast as possible.

“If you miss 2050,” Schrag says, “you still have 2060, 2070, and 2080.”

Press link for more: Technology Review

The World’s Largest Mass Extinction May Have Been Caused by Burning Coal #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

The World’s Largest Mass Extinction May Have Been Caused by Burning Coal.

The Permian Extinction saw over 90 percent of marine species die. New evidence has been discovered that suggests a cause.

By Avery Thompson

Mar 14, 2018

The Permian Extinction, 200 million years ago, was the single greatest species die-off in the history of the world.

Over 90 percent of marine species and 70 percent of land species died.

Despite being such a large event, its direct cause has eluded scientists so far.

Theories range from asteroid impacts to volcanic eruptions to increased ocean acidification.

A new study submitted to the journal Global and Planetary Change provides new evidence for a different option: too much burning coal.

The research was conducted by Benjamin Burger, a professor at Utah State University. Burger was studying rock layers in Sheep Creek Valley in Utah when he found some surprising elements in one of the layers.

According to the analysis, the rocks contain high levels of lead, mercury, carbon, and zinc.

Together, these point to extreme levels of coal burning as a cause of the extinction.

Burning coal produces mercury, lead, zinc, and other metals, and as we all know releases large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

This can lead to high levels of carbon in the rock layer.

Trace amounts of other elements also found in the rocks reinforce the hypothesis.

Burning coal has been one possible explanation for the Permian Extinction for several years, but until now there was never a whole lot of evidence for it.

The idea is that volcanic eruptions released lava that found their way into underground coal deposits built up over previous eons and ignited them.

The fallout released tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, increased the acidification of the oceans, and triggered global warming and other forms of climate change.

This study is still awaiting publication, so the finding has yet to be confirmed by peer review. But if the study holds up, it could show us what’s in store for our planet in the present.

It’s no coincidence that coal burning led to the largest mass extinction in the Earth’s history: it’s very bad for life and for the planet.

Right now, we’re in the middle of another mass extinction caused by our insatiable appetite for fossil fuels, and there’s a good chance that our own species could be one of the casualties.

Source: EarthArXiv via The Guardian

Climate change is a disaster foretold, just like the First World War #auspol #StopAdani

Climate change is a disaster foretold, just like the first world war

Jeff Sparrow

“The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

The mournful remark supposedly made by foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey at dusk on 3 August 1914 referred to Britain’s imminent entry into the first world war. But the sentiment captures something of our own moment, in the midst of an intensifying campaign against nature.

According to the World Wildlife Fund’s 2016 Living Planet Report, over the last four decades the international animal population was reduced by nearly 60%. More than a billion fewer birds inhabit North America today compared to 40 years ago. In Britain, certain iconic species (grey partridges, tree sparrows, etc) have fallen by 90%. In Germany, flying insects have declined by 76% over the past 27 years. Almost half of Borneo’s orangutans died or were removed between 1999 and 2015. Elephant numbers have dropped by 62% in a decade, with on average one adult killed by poachers every 15 minutes.

We inherited a planet of beauty and wonders – and we’re saying goodbye to all that.

The cultural historian Paul Fussell once identified the catastrophe of the first world war with the distinctive sensibility of modernity, noting how 20th century history had “domesticate[d] the fantastic and normalize[d] the unspeakable.”

Consider, then, the work of climate change.

In February, for instance, scientists recorded temperatures 35 degrees above the historical average in Siberia, a phenomenon that apparently corresponded with the unprecedented cold snap across Europe.

As concentrated CO2 intensifies extreme events, a new and diabolical weather will, we’re told, become the norm for a generation already accustomising itself to such everyday atrocities as about eight million tons of plastics are washed into the ocean each year.

It may seem impossible to imagine, that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we’re now in the process of doing.”

This passage from the New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert concluded a piece on global warming, which was published way back in 2005. Over the 13 years since, the warnings from scientists have grown both more specific and desperate – and yet the march to destruction has only redoubled its pace.

The extraordinary – almost absurd – contrast between what we should be doing and what’s actually taking place fosters low-level climate denialism. Coral experts might publicise, again and again and again, the dire state of the Great Barrier Reef but the ongoing political inaction inevitably blunts their message.

It can’t be so bad, we think: if a natural wonder were truly under threat, our politicians wouldn’t simply stand aside and watch.

The first world war killed 20 million people and maimed 21 million others. It shattered the economy of Europe, displaced entire populations, and set in train events that culminated, scarcely two decades later, with another, even more apocalyptic slaughter

And it, too, was a disaster foretold, a widely-anticipated cataclysm that proceeded more-on-less schedule despite regular warnings about what was to come.

As early as 1898, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia initiated a conference to discuss international arbitration and limit the arms race taking place in Europe. At its opening session at The Hague, he noted that the competition between nations, in which each country was building up its forces to defend against its neighbours, had “transform[ed] the armed peace into a crushing burden that weighs on all nations and, if prolonged, will lead to the very cataclysm that it seeks to avert.”

Over the next years, the rivalries intensified, leading to further militarisation and a complex series of (often secret) treaties, as, between 1908 and 1913, the military spending of the major powers increased by 50%.

In 1912, the international socialist movement had staged an emergency meeting in Basel in Switzerland in which representatives from almost every nation spoke out for peace.

“The great European peoples are constantly on the point of being driven against one another,” the congress resolved, “although these attempts are against humanity and reason cannot be justified by even the slightest pretext of being in the interest of the people.”

Yet in early 1914, Winston Churchill noted that “the world is arming as it has never armed before”. The eventual declaration of war in August that year was still a shock – but only in the sense that those attending a patient expiring from a long illness might be startled by the death rattle.

The appeals to humanity and reason did not move states jostling for trade and commercial advantages. For the people of Europe, the arms race was disastrous; for specific governments, it made perfect sense, for those who did not compete risked falling behind.

The same might be said today.

From a global perspective, the necessity to abandon fossil fuels cannot be denied. But for individual economies, change risks undermining comparative advantages.

If we don’t sell coal, says Malcolm Turnbull, our competitors will – which was, of course precisely the logic of the British fleet expansion in 1908.

The devastation of the first world war eventually engendered a wave of revolt from a populace appalled at the carnage their politicians had wrought.

Climate change has not yet spurred an equivalent of the mutinies in France or the revolution in Petrograd or the uprising in Berlin.

Yet Labor’s appalling equivocation over the Adani mine – a piece of environmental vandalism for which there can be no justification – illustrates the urgency with which we need a new and different type of politics.

The stakes could not be higher. Lamps are going out all over the natural world … and no one will ever see them lit again.

• Jeff Sparrow is a Guardian Australia columnist

Press link for more: The Guardian

Third Industrial Revolution Will Create a Green Economy Jeremy Rifkin #StopAdani #auspol

This essay is the first in a four-part series on the theme, “The Third Industrial Revolution.” An introduction by Arianna Huffington is available here. Part two is available here. Part three is here. Part four is here. Stay tuned for responses from leading global figures and technologists.

The global economy is slowing, productivity is waning in every region of the world and unemployment remains stubbornly high in every country.

At the same time, economic inequality between the rich and the poor is at the highest point in human history.

In 2010 the combined wealth of the 388 richest people in the world equaled the combined wealth of the poorest half of the human race.

By 2014 the wealth of the 80 richest individuals in the world equaled the combined wealth of the poorest half of the human race.

This dire economic reality is now compounded by the rapid acceleration of climate change brought on by the increasing emissions of industry-induced global warming gases.

Climate scientists report that the global atmospheric concentration of carbon, which ranged from about 180 to 300 parts per million for the past 650,000 years, has risen from 280 ppm just before the outset of the industrial era to 400 ppm in 2013.

The atmospheric concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide, the other two powerful global warming gases, are showing similar steep trajectories.

At the Copenhagen global climate summit in December 2009, the European Union proposed that the nations of the world limit the rise in Earth’s temperature to 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius).

Even a 3.5 degree rise, however, would take us back to the temperature on Earth several million years ago, in the Pliocene epoch, with devastating consequences to ecosystems and human life.

The EU proposal went ignored.

Now, six years later, the sharp rise in the use of carbon-based fuels has pushed up the atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide far more quickly than earlier models had projected, making it likely that the temperature on Earth will rush past the 3.5 degree target and could top off at 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit (4.8 degrees Celsius) by 2100 — temperatures not seen on Earth for millions of years. (Remember, anatomically modern human beings — the youngest species — have only inhabited the planet for 195,000 years or so.)

What makes these dramatic spikes in the Earth’s temperature so terrifying is that the increase in heat radically shifts the planet’s hydrological cycle.

Ours is a watery planet.

The Earth’s diverse ecosystems have evolved over geological time in direct relationship to precipitation patterns. Each rise in temperature of 1 degree Celsius results in a 7 percent increase in the moisture-holding capacity of the atmosphere. This causes a radical change in the way water is distributed, with more intense precipitation but a reduction in duration and frequency.

The consequences are already being felt in ecosystems around the world.

We are experiencing more bitter winter snows, more dramatic spring storms and floods, more prolonged summer droughts, more wildfires, more intense hurricanes (category 3, 4 and 5), a melting of the ice caps on the great mountain ranges and a rise in sea levels.

The Earth’s ecosystems cannot readjust to a disruptive change in the planet’s water cycle in such a brief moment in time and are under increasing stress, with some on the verge of collapse. The destabilization of ecosystem dynamics around the world has now pushed the biosphere into the sixth extinction event of the past 450 million years of life on Earth. In each of the five previous extinctions, Earth’s climate reached a critical tipping point, throwing the ecosystems into a positive feedback loop, leading to a quick wipeout of the planet’s biodiversity.

On average, it took upward of 10 million years to recover the lost biodiversity.

Biologists tell us that we could see the extinction of half the Earth’s species by the end of the current century, resulting in a barren new era that could last for millions of years. James Hansen, the former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, forecasts a rise in the Earth’s temperature of 4 degrees Celsius between now and the turn of the century — and with it, the end of human civilization as we’ve come to know it. The only hope, according to Hansen, is to reduce the current concentration of carbon in the atmosphere from 400 ppm to 350 ppm or less.

Typhoon Haiyan survivors make camp in the ruins of their neighborhood on the outskirts of Tacloban, central Philippines. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

Now, a new economic paradigm is emerging that is going to dramatically change the way we organize economic life on the planet.

The European Union is embarking on a bold new course to create a high-tech 21st century smart green digital economy, making Europe potentially the most productive commercial space in the world and the most ecologically sustainable society on Earth.

The plan is called Digital Europe.

The EU vision of a green digital economy is now being embraced by China and other developing nations around the world.

The digitalization of Europe involves much more than providing universal broadband, free Wi-Fi and a flow of big data.

The digital economy will revolutionize every commercial sector, disrupt the workings of virtually every industry, bring with it unprecedented new economic opportunities, put millions of people back to work, democratize economic life and create a more sustainable low-carbon society to mitigate climate change.

Equally important, this new economic narrative is being accompanied by a new biosphere consciousness, as the human race begins to perceive the Earth as its indivisible community.

We are each beginning to take on our responsibilities as stewards of the planetary ecosystems that sustain all of life.

To grasp the enormity of the economic change taking place, we need to understand the technological forces that have given rise to new economic systems throughout history. Every great economic paradigm requires three elements, each of which interacts with the other to enable the system to operate as a whole: new communication technologies to more efficiently manage economic activity; new sources of energy to more efficiently power economic activity; and new modes of transportation to more efficiently move economic activity.

In the 19th century, steam-powered printing and the telegraph, abundant coal and locomotives on national rail systems gave rise to the First Industrial Revolution. In the 20th century, centralized electricity, the telephone, radio and television, cheap oil and internal combustion vehicles on national road systems converged to create an infrastructure for the Second Industrial Revolution.

The Third Industrial Revolution

Today, Europe is laying the ground work for the Third Industrial Revolution. The digitalized communication Internet is converging with a digitalized, renewable “Energy Internet” and a digitalized, automated “Transportation and Logistics Internet” to create a super “Internet of Things” infrastructure. In the Internet of Things era, sensors will be embedded into every device and appliance, allowing them to communicate with each other and Internet users, providing up-to-the-moment data on the managing, powering and moving of economic activity in a smart Digital Europe. Currently, billions of sensors are attached to resource flows, warehouses, road systems, factory production lines, the electricity transmission grid, offices, homes, stores and vehicles, continually monitoring their status and performance and feeding big data back to the Communication Internet, Energy Internet and Transportation and Logistics Internet. By 2030, it is estimated there will be more than 100 trillion sensors connecting the human and natural environment in a global distributed intelligent network. For the first time in history, the entire human race can collaborate directly with one another, democratizing economic life.

The EMC earth station at Raisting in Germany provides satellite-based communications for aid organizations, the United Nations and emerging markets. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The digitalization of communication, energy and transportation also raises risks and challenges, not the least of which are guaranteeing network neutrality, preventing the creation of new corporate monopolies, protecting personal privacy, ensuring data security and thwarting cybercrime and cyber terrorism. The European Commission has already begun to address these issues by establishing the broad principle that “privacy, data protection, and information security are complementary requirements for Internet of Things services.”

In this expanded digital economy, private enterprises connected to the Internet of Things can use Big Data and analytics to develop algorithms that speed efficiency, increase productivity and dramatically lower the marginal cost of producing and distributing goods and services, making European businesses more competitive in an emerging post-carbon global marketplace. (Marginal cost is the cost of producing an additional unit of a good or service, after fixed costs have been absorbed.)

The marginal cost of some goods and services in a Digital Europe will even approach zero, allowing millions of prosumers connected to the Internet of Things to produce and exchange things with one another for nearly free in the growing Sharing Economy. Already, a digital generation is producing and sharing music, videos, news blogs, social media, free e-books, massive open online college courses and other virtual goods at near zero marginal cost. The near zero marginal cost phenomenon brought the music industry to its knees, shook the television industry, forced newspapers and magazines out of business and crippled the book publishing market.

While many traditional industries suffered, the zero marginal cost phenomenon also gave rise to a spate of new entrepreneurial enterprises including Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and thousands of other Internet companies, which reaped profits by creating new applications and establishing the networks that allow the Sharing Economy to flourish.

Economists acknowledge the powerful impact the near zero marginal cost has had on the information goods industries. But, until recently, they have argued that the productivity advances of the digital economy would not pass across the firewall from the virtual world to the brick-and-mortar economy of energy, and physical goods and services. That firewall has now been breached. The evolving Internet of Things will allow conventional businesses enterprises, as well as millions of prosumers, to make and distribute their own renewable energy, use driverless electric and fuel-cell vehicles in automated car-sharing services and manufacture an increasing array of 3-D-printed physical products and other goods at very low marginal cost in the market exchange economy, or at near zero marginal cost in the Sharing Economy, just as they now do with information goods.

Jeremy Rifkin is the author of “The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism.” Rifkin is an advisor to the European Union and to heads of state around the world, and is the president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, D.C..

For more information, please visit The Zero Marginal Cost Society.

Press link for more: Huffington Post

Labor fiddled with factions while the Land of Tofu burned #auspol #StopAdani #BatmanVotes

Labor fiddled with factions while the Land of Tofu burned

By Jake Niall

10 March 2018 — 4:56pm

Illustration: Joe Benke

In 2007, Batman was the safest Labor seat in Australia, held by a landslide-proof 76-24 against the Liberals.

On March 17, when we, the burghers of Batman, cast our vote in a byelection caused by a citizenship malfunction, it’s close to an even money chance that the fortress will fall.

The Greens took the seat of Melbourne in the next election of 2010 in what any amateur demographer or North Fitzroy real estate agent could see was a launching pad for a takeover of the city’s progressive and rapidly gentrified inner north, so often lampooned as the land of tofu, single-origin coffee and, in recent times, “stop Adani’’ signage.

The ALP, as some party insiders explained, had higher priorities back then – such as trying to govern the country as a parliamentary minority.

Batman and its neighbouring seat of Wills don’t appear to have been given any strategic thought.

Labor candidate for Batman, Ged Kearney, at the Preston Market.

Even in 2010, there were blatant signs of what was coming.

The voting booth closest to my home, at Northcote High School, recorded a 48 per cent primary vote to the Greens, the second highest for them in the country (just behind North Fitzroy). Batman was the “safest’’ in the country only v the Libs.

By 2016, with an ill-suited David Feeney clinging to the seat by his factional fingernails, this booth had a Greens primary vote of 63 per cent (clearly number 1 in Australia).

One would think that Labor apparatchiks – including Feeney – would have been alarmed by the trend in 2010; that they might have noticed the wholefoods industry moving steadily north up High Street and would be ready to find a palatable candidate for bourgeois Batman – the Courtney Barnett fans whose hearts bled for refugees – once Martin Ferguson departed.

Ferguson, a NSW native and ex-ACTU boss, had been parachuted into the seat in 1996 with scant local connections, but you could have pre-selected any hack and still held that margin until the early 2010s.

It was evident to me that Ferguson had ceased to be a good fit for Batman’s lower half  when a friend from the Institute of Public Affairs effusively praised his performance as resources minister.

If Ferguson gradually became demographically unsound, the choice of David Feeney as the prospective new member for Batman mystified and/or outraged the politically engaged in the southern half of Batman – Northcote, Thornbury, Fairfield and those parts of Preston (especially west) that were transforming into bitumen Green strongholds.

Feeney was a senator looking for a new seat who a) didn’t live in the electorate; b) was a consummate factional headkicker; c) was in the right wing and d) looked like an accountant. While he technically won the seat in a contested pre-selection, the realpolitik is that Batman was grabbed as a kind of factional spoil, much like Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin carving up Europe in the Yalta conference.

Local roots and engagement are about as crucial here as the candidate’s values, or the kind of virtue signalling that the Greens are so versed in.

The late state MP Fiona Richardson was in the ALP’s right, yet stubbornly held Northcote against the tide 56-44 in 2014. Richardson focused on prosaic local needs (schools, childcare, traffic et al) and simply worked hard for her constituents.

Conversely, Feeney’s most visible connection to the electorate turned out to be a negatively-geared Northcote investment property that he failed to declare to the parliamentary register in 2016. If he is clearly a shrewd political operator, Labor showed none of that quality – and zero foresight – by allowing him to take up the Tofu Throne.

The new Labor hope for Batman, Ged Kearney, the ACTU president with firm left credentials who lived in the electorate for most of the past three decades and now resides in Brunswick, gives the ALP a far better shot at holding Batman. Continued gentrification aside (I know Liberal voters moving here), the fresh headwind facing Kearney and Labor in our seat is the lack of a Liberal candidate; Labor people know – and the Northcote byelection showed – that they need Liberal preferences to get over the line.

It’s unclear where these Liberal votes will go and which evil – ALP or Green – they will ultimately choose via preferences. The Victorian senator Mitch Fifield, who lives in Northcote, wouldn’t say which way he’d vote when I asked his office. Cory Bernardi’s Conservatives are preferencing Labor.

The Greens candidate (yet again), Alex Bhathal, has her own troubles, namely that some sabotaging Greens in her branch have accused her of bullying, stacking and other misdeeds.

Boosted: Senator Richard Di Natale and Greens candidate for the seat of Batman, Alex Bhathal.

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

But the candidate’s foibles or foes seems to matter less for the Greens, whose emotive appeal to hipsters and the educated, disaffected ex-ALP voter is largely based on a set of values. Against: Adani, Manus Island. For: refugees, carbon-abatement and Change the Date.

Kearney can’t be as unequivocal in taking those positions, since the ALP has to win in Rooty Hill as well as Thornbury and its asylum seeker policy is geared accordingly. Kearney told this column that Adani won’t get off the ground and that she’s dead against it, but she can’t be as definitive as the party that won’t govern.

While they dwindle once you reach Reservoir, the signs on the lawns favour the Greens by a massive margin, and “Stop Adani” signs – which surely predict a Green vote like Collingwood beanies denote support for the Pies – are even more abundant. Labor says internal polling has it “very close”. But is Kearney’s candidacy too late?

If Batman does fall, much of the narrative will focus, rightly, on the Green tide of gentrification sweeping old Labor aside. It will be noted, too, that this is a peculiar Melbourne phenomenon, given that Tanya Plibersek and Anthony Albanese are much safer in their inner-Sydney latte electorates.

But whether Batman goes green or stays red with Ged, this seat didn’t turn from impregnable to 51-49 simply by dint of gentrification and the real estate prices that Courtney Barnett describes in Depreston.

Labor, by choosing or retaining such inappropriate candidates at precisely the wrong time, fiddled with factions while Batman burned.

Press link for more: The Age

Two minutes to midnight. #ClimateChange or Nuclear war. #auspol

“The Republicans (strongly supported by the Liberal National Party in Australia) are the most dangerous organisation in human history.” Noam Chomsky

In this interview Chomsky explains why Trump’s America is a threat to the future of humanity.

Trump and the Republicans are ignoring science on climate change and waging war on all who get in their way.

The United Nations urge urgent action to reduce greenhouse house gas emissions.

Meanwhile conservatives in the U.S. and Australia are encouraging the fossil fuel companies to continue to extract their deadly products knowing that it will cause catastrophic climate change.

Only people power can save humanity from extinction.

Our generation has a moral duty to bring about political change. Neoliberalism has led us to the eve of destruction.

The time for action is now.

Join a protest movement, get active, together we must stop this global madness!

Neoliberalism is a suicide pact, Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is greed. We need strong democratic governments to regulate multinational corporations to make sure they put people and the environment before profit.

North Qld declared a ‘catastrophe’ yet again, after torrential rain #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange

North Queensland declared a ‘catastrophe’ after torrential rain

The Insurance Council of Australia has declared North Queensland a catastrophe as the region remains inundated after torrential rain

The region has been hammered by rough weather over the past four days, with more than 600mm of rain falling in some catchment areas during that period.

Innisfail residents have been warned to prepare to evacuate as river levels rise.

A group of students on school camp at the Echo Creek adventure park near Tully remain trapped by flood waters and have received an emergency airdrop of food, clothing and medical supplies.

ICA CEO Rob Whelan said the “catastrophe” declaration means insurers would now prioritise claims from people affected by floods and storm-related damage.

Disaster recovery specialists will be deployed to the worst-affected areas once roads reopened, while policyholders needing help can contact the ICA’s disaster hotline on 1800 734 621.

The state government has already declared a disaster situation in the region.

The declaration gives emergency services the powers they need to respond effectively to the flood.

Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk, who will travel to flood-affected regions on Sunday, said the full extent of the damage would not be known for weeks.

She said flooding would have a detrimental impact on banana and sugar cane crops, as well as the aquaculture industry.

“We will get the full assessments over the next few weeks about the impact on the economy and I think everyone should spare a thought for the farmers who are going to feel a huge impact,” she said.

Ms Palaszczuk said one parent and one child had been evacuated from the school camp at Tully for pre-existing medical reasons, but that police had

She said the group was otherwise happy and healthy.

“No one else wanted to leave, they wanted to remain there,” she said.

“They’re in good spirits and we are in regular contact with them.”

Flooding in Ingham, where more than 200 homes were inundated is easing, as the wet weather pushes further north to Cairns.

Major flood warnings remained in place for the Herbert, and Flinders rivers. Moderate and minor flood warnings were in place for many other rivers in the region.

Press link for more: SBS.COM.AU

This time last year North Queensland was hit with a catastrophic cyclone Debbie.

Cyclone Debbie by the numbers: How it compares with Cyclone Tracy, Marcia, Yasi and the others

Felicity Caldwell12:00pm

By Felicity Caldwell

Updated29 March 2017 — 5:06pm

Cyclone Debbie had been predicted by some to be “bigger than Marcia”, the category 5 system that smashed Queensland in 2015, but while it failed to reach that level of severity, it certainly left a trail of devastation.

Debbie blew away the previous official recorded wind gust speed by more than 50km/h, with 263km/h gusts blasting Hamilton Island on Tuesday morning.

Previously, the highest wind gust recorded in Queensland was during Cyclone Marcia, on Middle Percy Island in 2015 of 208km/h.

So just how did Debbie measure up?

We’ve broken down the key facts on Debbie and how it compares with previous destructive cyclones.

How does Cyclone Debbie compare?

Debbie: Category 4 – maximum wind gusts recorded at 263km/h. Roofs lost, properties destroyed, trees felled, boats wrecked, heavy rain, flooding predicted, roads cut, 63,000 people without power.

Marcia (2015, central Queensland): Category 5 – maximum wind gusts recorded 208km/h, estimated 295km/h. Houses damaged, uprooted trees, downed power lines, storm surge, beach erosion, rainfall totals up to 300mm in 6-8 hours, flooding.

Yasi (2011, north Queensland): Category 5 – maximum wind gusts estimated 285km/h. Major property damage, banana crops destroyed, rainfall totals up to 471mm, storm surge.

Larry (2006, north Queensland): Category 4/5 – maximum wind gusts estimated 240km/h. Extensive damage to infrastructure and crops, with total loss estimated at half a billion dollars, about 10,000 houses damaged, flooding disrupted road and rail access for several days.

Orson (1989, Western Australia): Category 5 – Wind gusts of 249km/h recorded. Caused $20.9 million in damages in 1989 dollars, with damage to 70 per cent of homes in Pannawonica.

Tracy (1974, Darwin): Category 4 – maximum wind gusts recorded 217km/h. At least 65 people died, the majority of buildings in Darwin were destroyed or badly damaged, with the damage bill in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Debbie rainfall – 48 hours to 9am Wednesday

Hamilton Island – 242.4mm

Mackay – 227.6mm

Proserpine – 289.4mm – but the gauge broke at 2.42am

Bowen – 381.2mm

Moranbah – 120.8mm

Wind speeds

Strongest wind recorded on Hamilton Island – wind gusts of 263km/h at 10.30am, the wind speed at the time was 183km/h.

Debbie featured the strongest gusts official recorded in Queensland.

The strongest wind gusts recorded in Australia were 267km/h in Western Australia in 1999 during Cyclone Vance.

Other cyclones have likely brought stronger winds, with highest estimated wind gusts, but they were not officially recorded.

Debbie has been downgraded to a tropical low but still carried sustained winds near the centre of 55km/h and wind gusts up to 120km/h.

At 5am (AEST) on Wednesday, the Bureau of Meteorology indicated the system was 100km south-west of Collinsville, and 125km north-west of Moranbah.

Weather to come

Debbie was expected to more south over the central interior of the state about 14 km/h.

Damaging winds and heavy rain would continue to lash the Central Coast, Whitsundays, Central Highlands and Coalfields districts on Wednesday.

Widespread falls of up to 250mm were expected, with flash flooding possible in areas including Mackay, Yeppoon and Emerald.

The Bureau of Meteorology was predicting heavy rain in the south-east Queensland corner from Thursday, easing on Friday.

Meteorologist Adam Blazak said there would likely be strong, gusty winds on the weekend around Moreton Bay, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, with temperatures set to drop.

Dam releases and totals

Queensland dams are being monitored closely by SunWater and Seqwater following Cyclone Debbie.

The weather bureau had issued a flood watch for coastal catchments between Ayr and the NSW border.

Dams in the Bowen and Mackay area were experiencing inflows and minor downstream flows, with significant increases in outflows likely within the next 72 hours.

With heavy rain predicted in south-east Queensland, Water Supply Minister Mark Bailey said operational releases from Somerset Dam to Wivenhoe Dam would be made on Wednesday to balance supply volumes, but it would not impact flooding downstream of Wivenhoe Dam.

Wivenhoe Dam and North Pine Dam were not releasing floodwater and were unlikely to do so in the next 24-36 hours.

South-east Queensland’s combined water storage capacity was at 71.7 per cent.

Wivenhoe Dam was at 67.9 per cent, Somerset Dam was 74.5 per cent and North Pine Dam was 51.5 per cent. The floodwater storage compartments at Wivenhoe Dam and Somerset Dam were fully available.

Ungated dams – Hinze Dam, Little Nerang Dam, Wyaralong Dam and Wappa Dam – were currently spilling.

Press link for more: Brisbane Times

Swiss Re sees income tumble in the face of natural catastrophes.

Insurance companies are struggling to cope with these catastrophic events which are now occurring much more frequently because of climate change.

20,000 scientists have written to governments around the world warning of such catastrophic events.

20,000 scientists give dire warning about the future in ‘letter to humanity’ – and the world is listening.

A dire warning to the world about its future, which predicts catastrophe for humanity, is continuing to gain momentum.

The letter – which was first released in November – has now been signed by around 20,000 scientists. And the world seems to be listening: it is now one of the most discussed pieces of scientific research ever, and its publishers claim it is now influencing policy.

The new letter was actually an update to a an original warning sent from the Union of Concerned Scientists that was backed by 1,700 signatures 25 years ago. It said that the world had changed dramatically since that warning was issued – and almost entirely for the worse.

Lisa Murray’s climate change photography

Mankind is still facing the existential threat of runaway consumption of limited resources by a rapidly growing population, they warned. And “scientists, media influencers and lay citizens” aren’t doing enough to fight against it, the letter read.

If the world doesn’t act soon, there will be catastrophic biodiversity loss and untold amounts of human misery, they wrote.

Now scientists have written a follow-up piece in which they argue scientists and economists need to switch their focus from encouraging growth to conserving the planet. “There are critical environmental limits to resource-dependent economic growth,” the authors state.

The original letter was signed by more than 15,000 scientists. But it has since been endorsed by a further 4,500 – taking the total to around 20,000 and giving further encouragement to scientists working to counteract the dangers highlighted in the letter.

The lead author of the warning letter and new response paper, ecology Professor William Ripple, from Oregon State University, said: “Our scientists’ warning to humanity has clearly struck a chord with both the global scientific community and the public.”

The publishers of the letter now say that the letter is the sixth most-discussed piece of research since Altmetric records, which track publications’ impact, began. It has prompted speeches in the Israeli Knesset and Canada’s BC Legislature.

Press link for more:

“The severe natural disasters of 2017 are not only loss events, they are above all human tragedies.”

Those were the sobering words of Swiss Re group CEO Christian Mumenthaler as he revealed the company’s annual results for 2017 which saw a significant fall in income – from US$3.6 billion in 2016 to just US$331 million this time around. For Mumenthaler, the fact that the company was able to achieve any positive income results in such difficult circumstances, however, was, in itself, an achievement.

“In times like these we demonstrate the critical role re/insurance plays in enabling people and economies to recover,” he elaborated. “I am proud that Swiss Re, also through our clients, will be supporting people and businesses affected with estimated payouts of US$4.7 billion. 2017 proved how our strategy to maintain a superior capital position and pursue disciplined underwriting continues to be the right approach.”

2017 was indeed dominated by natural catastrophes.

After Cyclone Debbie in March, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, along with the Mexican earthquakes and the wildfires in California and British Columbia, caused havoc in the third quarter.

All of these events left Swiss Re with US$4.7 billion in combined estimated claims from large catastrophes.

Overall, its property and casualty reinsurance division suffered a net loss of US$413 million, with US$3.7 billion in catastrophe insurance claims the largest contributor to that fall.

Its corporate solutions division also suffered a net loss of US$741 million, with catastrophes again accounting for US$1 billion in claims.

Press link for more: Insurance business

Adani’s “outback” Coal bet turns sour. #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol

India’s outback coal bets sour as global prices recover

Adani Enterprises, controlled by billionaire Gautam Adani, agreed to buy a coal tenement in the Galilee from Linc Energy Limited.

by Ben Sharples and Perry Williams

Australian mining legend Lang Hancock’s dream four decades ago of exporting coal from the country’s remote Galilee Basin is becoming a nightmare for two Indian conglomerates.

Adani Group bought into the Queensland basin in 2010, followed a year later by GVK Group, with plans to ship thermal coal by the middle of the decade. Deals to build ports and rails signaled early promise, but the projects became embroiled in legal challenges and financing setbacks. Adani now sees first exports from its massive Carmichael mine around 2020, six years behind schedule, as it struggles to shore up financing, with the federal government making clear Wednesday it won’t help with investments or loans.

“There are regulatory and environmental infrastructure requirements, which have thrown up significant hurdles,” said Daniel Hynes, a Sydney-based analyst at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. “There’s still a chance we won’t see Galilee supply in the market in the foreseeable future.

It’s nothing to do with the quality of the coal. It’s more around the infrastructure, which has been quite difficult to overcome.”

Hancock, who was among prospectors that discovered Australia’s iron ore riches in the 1950s, reportedly told a gathering 40 years ago at a hotel in the rural town of Alpha that the area was getting a coal mine.

Decades later, it’s still waiting and the challenges of making the mine viable endure.

Remote Basin

The Galilee Basin holds large deposits of thermal coal, burned to generate electricity, over its 247,000 square kilometers (95,000 square miles), but its remote location and lack of water, power and rail infrastructure have discouraged large-scale mines, according to the state government.

It’s about 200 kilometers (124 miles) inland to the west from the Bowen Basin, where miners including BHP Billiton Ltd. and Anglo American Plc produce metallurgical coal, used to make steel.

“Isolation is absolutely key,” Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies for Australasia at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis said in a Bloomberg TV interview Thursday.

“There is no workforce, no infrastructure, no power, no roads, no railways, no airport.

So everything has to be built from scratch.”

The GVK venture, known as GVK Hancock, didn’t respond to emails or a phone call seeking comment on first sales.

Its chief executive officer left in 2016 and the company is still without a replacement.

G.V. Sanjay Reddy, vice chairman at the group’s publicly traded unit in Secunderabad, India, declined to comment.

Adani’s proposed A$16.5 billion ($12.9 billion) Carmichael project includes the construction of a 388 kilometer rail line to the Abbot Point port and the development of Australia’s largest thermal coal mine, which will have the capacity to produce as much as 60 million tons a year.

The venture is facing strong opposition from environmentalists who say it will increase carbon pollution and endanger the health of the Great Barrier Reef marine park.

A timeline of the Galilee developments include:

August 2010: Adani Enterprises, controlled by billionaire Gautam Adani, agrees to buy a coal tenement in the Galilee from Linc Energy Ltd., which is slated to become the Carmichael mine, with first sales expected by end of 2014.

September 2011: GVK Power & Infrastructure Ltd., led by GV Krishna Reddy, buys stakes in projects held by Australia’s Hancock Prospecting Pty, flagging first output in 2014 Newcastle coal price averages about $123 a ton that month before starting a slump that lasts more than four years

2012 to 2014: Companies gain environmental approvals and sign separate deals on rail and port development with groups including Korea’s Posco and Samsung C&T Corp. GVK Hancock signals first exports by 2017 June

2016: GVK Hancock CEO Darren Yeates departs the company December

2017: Three of China’s largest banks join other lenders to rule out financing Carmichael; Adani cancels a planned A$2 billion deal with Downer EDI Ltd. to help construct the project February

2018: Rail operator Aurizon Holdings Ltd. withdraws its application for government funding to help build a line to the Galilee due to a lack of customer contracts; Adani says it will miss March deadline for financing packageNewcastle coal averages about $100 a ton that month, extending a two-year rebound.

Press link for more Economic Times India

U.N. ‘very high risk’ planet will warm beyond 1.5C #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Leaked U.N. climate report sees ‘very high risk’ the planet will warm beyond key limit

Chris Mooney

A draft United Nations climate science report contains dire news about the warming of the planet, suggesting it will likely cross the key marker of 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, of temperature rise in the 2040s, and that this will be exceedingly difficult to avoid.

Temperatures could subsequently cool down if carbon dioxide is somehow removed from the air later in the century, the document notes.

But that prospect is questionable at the massive scales that would be required, it observes.

The 31-page draft, a summary of a much-anticipated report on the 1.5 degrees Celsius target expected to be finalized in October, was published by the website ClimateHome on Tuesday, which said the document had been “publicly available on the US federal register over the past month.”

Last month, several news outlets including Reuters quoted from the draft but did not publish it in full.

The 1.5 C target is crucial to small island nations worried about rising seas, and other nations particularly vulnerable to warming, and was explicitly included in the Paris climate agreement as the more ambitious of two climate goals, the other being 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The draft document states that there is a “very high risk” of the planet warming more than 1.5 degrees above the temperature seen in the mid- to late 19th century.

Maintaining the planet’s temperature entirely below that level throughout the present century, without even briefly exceeding it, is likely to be “already out of reach,” it finds.

Jonathan Lynn, spokesman for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is producing the study, cautioned that the draft is a work in progress.

The text is highly likely to change between this draft and the final approved summary for policymakers,” he said.

Duke University climate expert Drew Shindell, who is listed as one of the drafting authors of the document, also noted that the draft summary was a very early version of the full report.

“It’s much rougher and much more preliminary than even the underlying document,” he said.

Although worrying, the conclusion will not be surprising to those who have followed a growing body of research on just what it would take to stop warming short of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The planet has already warmed by 1 degree Celsius or more.

In some places, the report notes, the temperature increase has already exceeded 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In general, warming is more intense over land than over the oceans and is already particularly intense in the Arctic.

The document finds that a warming of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) would pose substantially larger risks in many respects than 1.5 degrees C — but it also finds that some severe risks will be present at 1.5 degrees, too.

A serious risk is already emerging to highly sensitive marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, the document states, and 1.5 C may already be too much for them. Reefs “are at risk that at 1.5 C and at 2C they will no longer be dominated by corals,” the draft report notes.

The chance that Greenland or the West Antarctic ice sheet will tip toward irreversible retreat is present at both 1.5C and 2C, the study finds — but at 2C, the likelihood of commitment to major sea level rise grows larger.

What’s most striking is the radical nature and rapidity of the changes that would be required to somehow preserve a world below 1.5 degrees.

The document finds that the world has only 12 to 16 years worth of greenhouse gas emissions left, from the start of 2016, if it wants a better than even chance of holding warming below 1.5 degrees.

Two of those years have already elapsed, as of this writing.

A third will have nearly elapsed by the time the draft report is finalized and released in October. (In December in Poland, it will feed into a broader United Nations deliberation about the adequacy of countries current promises to cut emissions.)

And once this “carbon budget” for 1.5 degrees Celsius is used up, emissions would have to plunge to zero to preserve the 1.5 degree goal — something that would almost certainly never happen, as it would sharply impair the world economy.

Since such rapid and severe cuts aren’t likely, the report notes that it’s virtually unavoidable that the planet will “overshoot” 1.5 degrees Celsius.

To cool the Earth down afterward and avoid staying at dangerously high temperatures for long, it would then be necessary to remove carbon dioxide from the air at a massive scale — but that, too, is highly problematic.

Carbon removal scenarios generally involve reforesting large amounts of land, or growing trees or other plants on that land and using it for energy, and storing the resulting carbon dioxide emissions underground.

But “increased biomass production and use has the potential to increase pressure on land and water resources, food production, biodiversity, and to affect air quality,” the draft notes. “Therefore, the scale and speed of implementation assumed in some 1.5C pathways may be challenging.”

“Avoiding a 1.5C warming would be very, very difficult without a significant overshoot,” said Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, noting that he was commenting solely on the state of the science itself, rather than the leaked document. “Such a warming would cause increased bleaching and perhaps destruction of living coral reefs at some locations although at other places, reefs would probably survive a warming closer to 2C.”

“Some of the high level messages I think come as no surprise, in that we are not on track anywhere near towards 1.5 C, and getting there would require enormous changes,” added Shindell, noting that he was not speaking as an author of the draft report or on behalf of the IPCC, but simply as a scientist with expertise in the matter. “That basic conclusion, I think it’s OK to say that it’s not a surprise to anybody.

Any climate scientist would have told you that even without the report.”

The document’s leak has become a standard affair for major United Nations climate science reports, because they are seen by so many reviewers.

In 2013, a leaked draft of part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment report helped lend credence to the questionable idea that global warming had slowed down or “paused,” based on a brief passage suggesting that the rate of warming had declined somewhat between 1998 and 2012. The final draft addressed the issue with more nuance, largely undermining the notion of any significant slowdown.

The authors have until May 15 to include any new published material in the report. Still, it’s unlikely to change the fundamental conclusion that there is too little time to avert 1.5 C degrees of warming — barring some massive technological intervention.

“There is … no documented precedent for the geographical and economic scale of the energy, land, urban and industrial transitions implicit in pathways consistent with a 1.5C warmer world,” the draft report notes.

Press link for more: Chicago Tribune