nuclear

Major polluters spend 10 times as much on climate lobbying as green groups #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #NoNewCoal

Fossil fuel companies are some of the most significant lobby groups in the US for climate change-related issues ( Getty Images )

Major polluters have had a massively disproportionate financial influence on US politics in recent years, according to a new analysis of climate lobbying.

Over the past two decades lobby groups have spent more than $2bn (£1.55bn) in attempts to influence climate change legislation in the US.

The vast majority of this money has come from groups that stand to lose out from limits on carbon emissions, such as the electrical utilities sector, fossil fuel companies and transportation.

This spending dwarfed that of environmental organisations and the renewable energy sector, which overall contributed around a tenth of the funds given by sectors with significant greenhouse gas emissions.

“The vast majority of climate lobbying expenditure came from sectors that would be highly impacted by climate legislation,” explained Dr Robert Brulle of Drexel University, who conducted the analysis.

An environmental sociologist by background, Dr Brulle conducted his study using mandatory lobbying reports made available on the website OpenSecrets.

“The spending of environmental groups and the renewable energy sector was eclipsed by the spending of the electrical utilities, fossil fuel and transportation sectors,” he said.

Dr Brulle looked at spending information for related issues between 2000 and 2016, a period in which climate change was a crucial issue in national politics.

The electrical utilities sector spent the most on climate change lobbying during this stretch – over $500m and a quarter of all overall spending.

This was followed closely by the fossil fuel sector at $370m and the transportation sector at around $250m.

The efforts of environmental groups and the renewable energy sector paled in comparison to these figures, accounting for just 3 per cent of overall funding each.

Overall, this meant sectors relying on fossil fuels spent ten times as much as green interests did during this 16-year period. These findings were published in the journal Climatic Change.

“Lobbying is conducted away from the public eye. There is no open debate or refutation of viewpoints offered by professional lobbyists meeting in private with government officials,” said Dr Brulle.

“Control over the nature and flow of information to government decision-makers can be significantly altered by the lobbying process and creates a situation of systematically distorted communication.

“This process may limit the communication of accurate scientific information in the decision-making process.”

Dr Brulle said that as lobbying by environmental groups often constitutes short-term efforts, it cannot compete with the considerable firepower employed by professional lobbyists. He said his findings have considerable implications for the future of climate legislation in the US.

Press link for more: Independent.Co

Advertisements

Meet the Teenagers Leading a Climate Change Movement. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #Longman

By Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks

“The march is a launch,” Jamie Margolin, the founder of Zero Hour, said of Saturday’s demonstration in Washington. “It isn’t, ‘That’s it, we’re done.’”Erin Schaff for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Some of them met on Instagram. Others coordinated during lunchtime phone conferences. Most of them haven’t even graduated from high school.

The teenagers behind Zero Hour — an environmentally focused, creatively minded and technologically savvy nationwide coalition — are trying to build a youth-led movement to sound the alarm and call for action on climate change and environmental justice.

For the last year, a tight-knit group spanning both coasts has been organizing on social media.

The teenagers kicked off their campaign with a protest on Saturday at the National Mall in Washington, along with sister marches across the country.

As sea levels rise, ice caps melt and erratic weather affects communities across the globe, they say time is running out to address climate change.

The core organizing group of about 20 met with almost 40 federal lawmakers about their platforms on Thursday, and hope to inspire other teenagers to step up and demand change.

“The march is a launch. It isn’t, ‘That’s it, we’re done,’” said Jamie Margolin, the founder of Zero Hour. “It means it doesn’t give them an excuse to be like, ‘I don’t know what the kids want.’ It’s like, ‘Yes, you do.’”

They are trying to prove the adults wrong, to show that people their age are taking heed of what they see as the greatest crisis threatening their generation.

“In our generation when we talk about climate change, they’re like: ‘Ha ha, that’s so funny.

It’s not something we’ll have to deal with,’” said Nadia Nazar, Zero Hour’s art director. “‘Oh, yeah, the polar bears will just die, the seas will just rise.’ They don’t understand the actual caliber of the destruction.”

The group is building off the momentum of other recent youth-led movements, such as the nationwide March for Our Lives rallies against gun violence.

“No one gives you an organizing guide of how to raise thousands of dollars, how to get people on board, how to mobilize,” Ms. Margolin said. “There was no help. It was just me floundering around with Dory-like determination, like, ‘Just keep swimming,’” she said, referring to the Disney movie “Finding Nemo.”

At the Sierra Club’s Washington headquarters on Wednesday, as Zero Hour members continued to make preparations, six of the coalition’s leaders and founding members discussed how they became involved with the group, and why they think it’s one of young people’s best shots at creating a healthy, sustainable environment.

Ms. Margolin said she has been overwhelmed by the response from people of all ages to Zero Hour. “We’ve proven ourselves,” she said.Erin Schaff for The New York Times

‘We are on the verge of something amazing’

Jamie Margolin, 16, Seattle

“I’ve always planned my future in ifs,” Ms. Margolin said. If climate change hasn’t destroyed this, if the environment hasn’t become that.

So for the last few years, Ms. Margolin has worked to raise awareness about climate justice issues.

A passionate writer, she went through an “op-ed phase,” submitting essays to publications, like one titled “An Open Letter to Climate Change Deniers” published in the monthly magazine Teen Ink.

Still, Ms. Margolin thought that she and other young people could — and should — be doing more.

“I had had this idea building up since January, since the Women’s March” last year, Ms. Margolin said. “The kind of idea that was nagging me and you try to ignore, but it’s an idea poking you.”

At a Princeton University summer program last year, she met other teenagers interested in taking action on climate change and created Zero Hour.

They began to plan a huge protest in the nation’s capital.

On social media, Ms. Margolin espoused factoids and reached out to other young activists.

A professed climate justice advocate, Ms. Margolin has kept the movement inclusive, putting the stories and concerns of those most directly affected by environmental issues at the heart of Zero Hour’s mission.

Youths from in and around the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation spoke on Saturday, and others repeatedly called attention to those killed during

Hurricane Maria and threatened by rising sea levels in the Marshall Islands.

Since starting Zero Hour, Ms. Margolin said she had been overwhelmed by the response from people of all ages.

Dozens of environmental advocacy groups and nonprofits have approached the coalition, looking to donate to or sponsor it.

“We flipped the scenario as the underdog. We’ve proven ourselves,” she said. “We are on the verge of something amazing. We’re going to change history.”

Kallan Benson has encouraged other young people to express their concerns about the climate through art.Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Showing a movement’s artistic side

Kallan Benson, 14, Crownsville, Md.

When Ms. Benson was planning a trip to the Peoples Climate March last year with her family, she knew she wanted to make a statement.

Ms. Benson doesn’t consider herself an artist. But a 24-foot-wide play parachute that she covered in a gigantic monarch butterfly design and hundreds of signatures from children in her community became a canvas for her to display the dire future she and coming generations may face, and express optimism that they will overcome it.

A chance encounter with the son of the founder of the nonprofit Mother Earth Project led Ms. Benson to encourage children around the world to create parachutes of their own made of recycled bedsheets (to be “environmentally conscious,” of course).

Inspired by the AIDS Memorial Quilt that has been unfurled on the National Mall in years past, some of those parachutes, sent from every continent except Antarctica, were laid out on the grass during Saturday’s march.

“The original idea was, ‘We got to get them on the National Mall,’ but then we thought that, ‘Well that shouldn’t be our first exhibit; it’s a little ambitious,’” Ms. Benson said.

“Then we talked to Zero Hour and they were like, ‘Hey, why don’t you bring them out?’” she continued. “I never imagined it would get this far.”

Madelaine Tew’s finance team has raised about $70,000 for Zero Hour.Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Where business and the environment meet

Madelaine Tew, 15, Teaneck, N.J.

As Zero Hour’s director of finance, Ms. Tew has had to get creative about securing funds and grants.

On the day of a deadline for a major grant — $16,000 from the Common Sense Fund — Ms. Tew’s school was hosting an event where seniors gave presentations about their internships. But she knew the grant would be a huge boost for Zero Hour.

“So I went to the nurse and was like: ‘Oh, I have cramps. Can I lie down with my computer?’” she said. “Then I just went in and wrote the whole grant.”

Her stunt paid off. Zero Hour secured the grant, and now Ms. Tew’s finance team, made up of students just like her, has raised about $70,000 for the coalition.

Ms. Tew, who attends a magnet high school where she takes classes in business and finance, has been involved in clubs to get the school and local businesses to adopt more renewable practices. But before meeting Ms. Margolin at the Princeton summer program last year, she thought those local efforts were “as far as you can go” for someone her age.

“It shifted from youth being a limitation to ‘it doesn’t matter,’” Ms. Tew said.

Though the practices of big corporations can sometimes anger environmentalists, for Ms. Tew, combining “my love for business and my care, my concern for climate” just makes sense.

“In many cases you can see how the environmental movement can be rooted in the way we do business,” she said.

That could take the form of encouraging companies to divest from fossil fuel industries or having local communities build their own solar or wind grids.

“We’re not just talking about building more cooperative farms,” Ms. Tew said, but also figuring out how to integrate ethical and sustainable environmental policies into business so “we can continue the American economy’s future.”

Iris Fen Gillingham believes that sustainable lifestyles are essential for the success of her generation.Erin Schaff for The New York Times

‘Repping the younger generation’

Iris Fen Gillingham, 18, Livingston Manor, N.Y.

When three floods in the mid- to late 2000s swept through the vegetable farm Iris Fen Gillingham’s family owned in the Catskill Mountains, the topsoil was washed away and their equipment was submerged, eliminating their main source of income.

The floods devastated Ms. Gillingham’s family, which has always lived “very consciously with the land and with nature,” she said. Even her name, Iris Fen, like the flower and marshy wetland behind her house, alludes to that attachment.

“I have a pair of mittens that are made out of one of our Icelandic sheep, Rosalie,” Ms. Gillingham said. “My brother named her, I remember her being born and I’ve seen her grow up and my mom sheering her and spinning the wool.”

So when landsmen came to explore the possibility of hydraulic fracturing — a technique of oil and gas extraction also known as fracking — in their neighborhood when she was about 10, Ms. Gillingham joined her father, an environmental activist, in speaking out at local meetings, often as the youngest in the room.

“It was always myself repping the younger generation,” Ms. Gillingham said. “Part of that was my brother and I saying, ‘We don’t want to play on contaminated soil,’” (The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that fracking can contaminate drinking water in some circumstances.)

But part of it was also knowing firsthand how essential a sustainable lifestyle — growing food at home, conscious spending, building greener homes — will be for her generation.

“We’re setting aside our differences and we are building a family and a community using our skills and our creativity,” Ms. Gillingham said of the movement. “We’re having fun, we’re laughing with each other, but we’re also talking about some pretty serious issues and injustices happening in this country.”

Nadia Nazar got her start as an activist by trying to persuade people not to go to SeaWorld.Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Linking animal rights and environmentalism

Nadia Nazar, 16, Baltimore

Before joining Zero Hour, Nadia Nazar considered herself mostly an animal-rights activist. When she was 12, she saw a PETA video on slaughterhouses and immediately became a vegetarian.

“I had just gotten a cat,” Ms. Nazar said. “What if my cat was that cow?”

She got her start as an activist by trying to persuade people in her neighborhood not to go to SeaWorld, which has been criticized over its treatment of animals. (“I was slightly successful in that.”)

Then she dug deeper into the root causes of animal suffering and death.

“I found out how so many species are endangered by climate change, and how many are dying and going towards extinction that we caused ourselves,” Ms. Nazar said.

During a class, she stumbled upon Ms. Margolin’s Teen Ink essay and followed her on Instagram. And a little over a year ago, when Ms. Nazar saw a post by Ms. Margolin calling for action, she knew it was her chance to put her artistic skills to use. As art director, she helped organize a smaller art festival on Friday, and created the majority of the graphic elements for the coalition.

“Her story said: ‘I’m going to do it. Who wants to join me?” Ms. Nazar said. She immediately messaged Ms. Margolin. She was in.

Zanagee Artis said he was inspired by Ms. Margolin’s enthusiasm to do “a big, big thing.”Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Working together toward a bigger goal

Zanagee Artis, 18, Clinton, Conn.

Zanagee Artis’s journey as an environmentalist began in the same place many other budding activists get their start — in a high school club.

During his junior year, he had big ambitions for his school: the building facilities department would finally start recycling white paper, students would start composting their food waste and the lunchroom would be free of plastic foam trays.

“I’m going to accomplish all these things and I’m going to go to the administration and tell them, ‘Stuff needs to change,’” Mr. Artis said.

But, he said, “nothing ever happened.” Mr. Artis said the problem was clear: Without engaging other students who might be interested, change was unlikely to happen.

So he started a sustainability committee within the school’s National Honor Society, and the results spoke for themselves. The group was able to buy the school an aquaponic system — a tank-based farming system that combines hydroponics (water-based planting) and aquaculture (fish cultivation) — and raise $700 to install water bottle refilling stations.

“So we accomplished all these things because we worked together as a community, and that’s how I feel about the climate movement,” he said.

Still, Mr. Artis said he “really didn’t think I could do much” beyond his local community until he met Ms. Margolin and Ms. Tew last summer at Princeton. Inspired by Ms. Margolin’s enthusiasm to do “a big, big thing,” Mr. Artis became Zero Hour’s logistics director, in charge of submitting permits for Saturday’s march, estimating attendance numbers, checking for counterprotests and helping sister marches with logistical issues.

“I was like, ‘Yes!’” he said with a satisfying clap. “‘Let’s do it.’”

Press link for more: New York Times

Who will pay to protect our cities from rising seas? #auspol #qldpol

A public nuisance

By Patrick Parenteau

Since most American state and local governments are cash-strapped, cities and counties fear that they won’t be able to afford all the construction it will take to protect their people and property.

So some communities in California are in a bid to force them to foot the bill. Recently, , when it sued 21 oil and gas companies “for knowingly contributing to climate change and the catastrophic consequences to the State and its residents, economy, eco-system, and infrastructure”.

Does it make sense to hold the industries responsible for global warming liable for the price – in dollars and cents – that everyone will have to pay to adapt to a changed climate?

I believe climate liability cases like these have merit.

The local governments asking the courts to intervene allege that higher sea levels brought about by climate change are a public nuisance.

That may sound odd at first, but I believe that is fair to say. It is also the legal basis on which similar liability lawsuits have been filed before.

The sea level along California’s coasts may have risen about 8 inches in the past century. Scientists project that they may rise by as much as 55 inches by the end of this century.

That worst-case scenario would put nearly half a million people at risk of flooding by 2100, and threaten $100bn in property and infrastructure, including roadways, buildings, hazardous waste sites, power plants, parks and tourist destinations.

Superstorm Sandy caused over $60bn in damage along the New Jersey and New York coasts. Several researchers have concluded that sea level rise and a warming ocean played a major role in making that storm so catastrophic.

The Trump administration has released a national climate change assessment, confirming that extreme weather events – storms on steroids – are becoming more frequent and intense.

If anything, characterising these catastrophes as a public nuisance is an understatement.

A question about jurisdiction

Oakland and San Francisco both sued five of the world’s largest oil companies in state court, asserting claims based on California’s own nuisance law. They are seeking billions of dollars for an abatement fund.

But Chevron, one of the five oil majors being sued, objected and sought to transfer the San Francisco and Oakland lawsuit to a federal district court, where Judge William Alsup recently dismissed the case.

Still, it wasn’t a clear win for oil companies.

Alsup accepted the scientific consensus that the defendants’ line of business is driving climate change and therefore poses a clear and present danger to coastal communities and others. But in his ruling, he also questioned whether it’s “fair to now ignore our own responsibility in the use of fossil fuels and place the blame for global warming on those who supplied what we demanded”.

And while the judge also acknowledged that federal courts have the authority “to fashion common law remedies for claims based on global warming”, he opted to “stay his hand in favor of solutions by the legislative and executive branches”. In other words, he said it’s up to Congress and the White House to figure out whether oil companies ought to pay to, say, move San Francisco’s airport to higher ground.

Even if prospects for federal action on this front are next to nil for the foreseeable future, given the Trump administration’s warm embrace of oil, gas and coal, this is no legal dead end. I believe that Oakland and San Francisco will surely file an appeal to the 9th Circuit, which could rule differently.

Even more importantly, there is another case pending that is taking a different course. The counties of Marin and San Mateo and the City of Imperial Beach, California, are also suing oil companies with similar climate liability claims. Judge Vince Chhabria sees things differently than Alsup and ruled that state law, not federal law, should prevail.

He has ordered that case back to state court, a move that Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil and the other oil company defendants are trying to prevent.

In addition to coastal communities concerned about rising sea levels, several Colorado counties filed their own climate liability cases in April 2018. Those lawsuits allege that oil companies should be held responsible for the higher temperatures now reducing the state’s snowpack. Getting less snow is jeopardising Colorado’s agriculture, water supply and ski industry.

Several legal precedents

I maintain that these cases do belong in state court because there are many relevant legal precedents.

U.S. courts have repeatedly held manufacturers liable for the damage their products wreak, especially when those companies knew full well that their products, used as intended, would cause that harm.

The biggest precedent is the tobacco industry’s 1998 settlement with the states, which called for companies to pay out $246bn over the next 25 years.

In addition, there have been many judgments against oil companies and other corporations responsible for manufacturing a potentially cancer-causing chemical called MTBE that used to be a common gasoline additive and has contaminated public water supplies.

And a panel of California judges ordered paint companies to pay more than $1bn to help get lead out of housing that remains contaminated decades after the government banned lead-laced paint. The companies are vowing to take the case to the Supreme Court if they can.

Currently, another new kind of liability lawsuit is emerging against opioid manufacturers. Ohio and at least six other states are seeking damages to help cover the expense of dealing with widespread addiction from the allegedly irresponsible marketing of prescription painkillers – which it says the companies should have known were being abused.

Exxon knew

As for the oil industry, it has evidently known for 60 years or longer that burning fossil fuels would eventually overheat the planet, with monumental consequences.

Rather than alert the public and engage in good-faith discussions to address the problem, oil majors like Exxon sought to mislead and deny what they knew about the risks of fossil fuels. Furthermore, the fossil fuel industries have sought to block any meaningful federal climate response by donating vast sums to the political campaigns of candidates who promised to oppose the requisite policies.

In a perfect world, the nation’s elected leaders at all levels of government would be hard at work passing laws and establishing programs to confront the existential threat of climate change and to help communities prepare for the unavoidable impacts that are already baked into the system.

Alas, that is not the case. The courts are the last line of defense in this epic struggle to deal with the effects of climate change – including the astronomically expensive costs of moving housing, businesses, schools and other structures out of harm’s way.

Patrick Parenteau, Professor of Law, Vermont Law School.

Press link for more: City Metric

Heatwaves around the world. #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #Longman

Heatwave sees record high temperatures around world this week

From Europe to Africa, extreme and widespread heat raises climate concerns in hottest La Niña year to date on record

Jonathan Watts

Record high temperatures have been set across much of the world this week as an unusually prolonged and broad heatwave intensifies concerns about climate change.

The past month has seen power shortages in California as record heat forced a surge of demand for air conditioners. Algeria has experienced the hottest temperature ever reliably registered in Africa. Britain, meanwhile, has experienced its third longest heatwave, melting the roof of a science building in Glasgow and exposing ancient hill forts in Wales.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the rising temperatures were at odds with a global cyclical climate phenomena known as La Niña, which is usually associated with cooling.

“The first six months of the year have made it the hottest La Niña year to date on record,” said Clare Nullis of the WMO.

Taiwan is the most recent place to report a new high with a temperature of 40.3C in Tianxiang on Monday. This followed a flurry of other anomalies.

Last week, a weather station at Ouargla in Algeria’s Sahara Desert, reported a maximum temperature of 51.3C on 5 July, the highest temperature reliably recorded in Africa.

Even when the sun goes down, night is not providing the cooling relief it once did in many parts of the world. At Quriyat, on the coast of Oman, overnight temperatures remained above 42.6C, which is believed to be the highest “low” temperature ever recorded in the world. Downtown Los Angeles also saw a new monthly July minimum overnight record of 26.1C on 7 July.

Globally, the warmest year on record was in 2016, boosted by the natural climate cycle El Niño. Last year, temperatures hit the highest level without that amplifying phenomenon. This year, at the other cooling end of the cycle, is continuing the overall upward trend.

Swathes of the northern hemisphere have seen unusually persistent warmth due to strong, persistent high pressure systems that have created a “heat dome” over much of Eurasia.

“What’s unusual is the hemispheric scale of the heatwave,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. “It’s not just the magnitude in any one location but that high temperatures are being seen over such a large area.”

Northern Russia’s exceptionally sunny weather – seen on TV by billions thanks to the World Cup – has caused wildfires that affected 80,000 hectares of forest near the Krasnoyarsk region, which reported daily anomalies of 7C above average. The Western Siberian Hydromet Center has issued storm warnings after temperatures of more than 30C for five days. Climate watchers fear this will accelerate the melting of permafrost, releasing methane – a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

People cool off in the water on Huntington Beach during record heat in California. Photograph: Ringo Chiu/ZUMA Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

In California, daytime records were also set last week at Chino (48.9C), Burbank airport (45.6C) and Van Nuys airport (47.2C). In Canada, at least 54 deaths have been attributed to the prolonged heatwave and high humidity in Quebec. Montreal saw a new record high temperature of 36.6C on 2 July.

In Europe, the WMO has warned of droughts, wildfires and harvest losses after the second hottest June on record. Over the past two weeks, records have been set in Tbilisi (40.5C), Shannon (32C), and Belfast (29.5C)

Britain has cooled slightly in the past two days, after 17 days of temperatures over 28C. This was the third longest heatwave on record, following the record 19-day run in 2013 and the famous summer of 1976, when there were two prolonged spells of 18 days and 15 days. Dean Hall of the UK’s Met Office said Britain’s temperatures were forecast to rise again over the coming week.

The concern is that weather fronts – hot and cold – are being blocked more frequently due to climate change. This causes droughts and storms to linger, amplifying the damage they cause. This was a factor in the recent devastating floods in Japan, where at least 150 people died after rainfall up to four times the normal level.

Floods in Kurashiki city, western Japan. More than 150 people have died in the country following torrential rain. Photograph: Jiji Press/EPA

Paolo Ruti of the WMO said it was difficult to ascribe any one weather event to climate change, but that recent high temperatures, intense rains and slow-moving fronts were in line with forecasts of how rising emissions will affect the climate.

“Recent analysis suggests that anthropogenic forcing might indeed affect the characteristics of summer blocking events in the Euro-Asia sector, in particular leading to longer blocking episodes,” he said.

Extreme weather events have buffeted much of the world over the past 12months, from the “Day Zero” drought in Cape Town to the abnormally powerful hurricanes Harvey and Irma that buffeted the east coast of the US and Caribbean.

Underscoring the link, a new report from scientists at the World Weather Attribution group indicates that manmade climate change and its effect on rainfall made the recent Cape Town drought three times more likely.

Press link for more: The Guardian

Japan floods a warning of #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #NoNewCoal #StopAdani #Longman

Japan floods a warning for a changed climate

Kumuda Simpson

The scenes in Japan in the wake of torrential rain that has caused landslides and widespread flooding are heartbreaking.

The rains have been described as unprecedented, and the death toll has continued to rise as emergency workers and volunteers search for those who are still missing.

While some people have been able to return to their homes, many of the people who were ordered to evacuate remain displaced.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has committed millions of dollars to aid recovery.

The planet has already warmed.

To continue to ignore or downplay this should no longer be acceptable.

Japan has experienced more than its fair share of disasters, including the devastating tsunami in 2011 that caused the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Scenes this week of flooded landscapes with the roofs of houses just visible above the water are eerily reminiscent of the horrific aftermath of the 2011 tsunami.

However, the recent rain and flooding have different lessons for us.

Extreme weather events such as this are very likely to become increasingly common as a result of climate change and the continued warming of the planet.

Heatwaves, bush fires, intense typhoons and cyclones, sea-level rise, flooding, and drought will all increase in both intensity and frequency unless we keep global warming below 1.5–2 degrees Celsius. Even if we keep global warming below 2 degrees we are still likely to face a significantly less stable or predictable climate than the one most of us grew up with.

In response to extreme heat and precipitation events across Asia, Europe, America, and the Middle East during June and July, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change stated that:

Episodes of extreme heat and precipitation are increasing as a result of climate change. Although it is not possible to attribute the individual extreme events of June and July to climate change, they are compatible with the general long-term trend due to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases.

In the same week as the disaster in Japan, record hot temperatures were registered across California, with Disneyland soaring to 45 degrees Celsius on 12 July.

In Australia, the state of New South Wales continued to be affected by one of the worst droughts in recent history.

In Muscat, Oman, in June, the temperature didn’t drop below 42 degrees for more than 24 hours. Reports of record-breaking extremes and violent “once in a hundred year” storms are becoming commonplace.

We need to talk about climate change

In media coverage of all these events, climate change is only occasionally mentioned, and often just in passing.

There is a reluctance to talk about climate change in the wake of tragedy, particularly when linking a specific weather event to climate change is complex. Establishing a direct causal link involves complex scientific modelling and analysis of data, with results that are often nuanced rather than clear-cut.

The conclusion is often that while floods and droughts have always occurred, climate change is making their occurrence more frequent.

Yet the argument over whether or not this particular drought or that particular storm was directly and indisputably caused by the warming planet is counterproductive.

Instead, it is imperative that we shift the conversation away from a debate about climate change that all too often becomes politicised either though omission or oversimplification. We must focus on what these events can teach us about the kinds of climate-related risks we face in the near future, and how unprepared we are for them.

The tragedy in Japan should serve as a particularly alarming indicator of the kinds of challenges even the most disaster-prepared country faces.

Japan has a highly developed disaster early-warning system, one that was utilised before the worst of the flooding and landslides caused so much devastation.

Early analysis suggests that a combination of urban development and land use in floodprone areas; human complacency in the face of evacuation orders, or an inability to evacuate safely; the sudden onset of torrential rains; and Japan’s unique geography interacted in such a way that the human toll has been unacceptably high.

The Center for Climate and Security recently released a report titled A Responsibility to Prepare. It argues that we face a future of unprecedented risks as a result of climate change. Yet we also possess a unique capacity to predict some of these risks and prepare to deal with them.

This will involve more than just early-warning systems or financial aid to rebuild after disasters. It will involve paying attention to the unanticipated consequences of climate change and the human and institutional factors that make resilience or adaptability possible. As researcher Joshua Busby has argued:

the disruption to the Earth’s climate will ultimately command more attention and resources and have a greater influence on the global economy and international relations than other forces visible in the world today.

Our first responsibility should be mitigation.

The Paris Agreement must be upheld, and strengthened. Failure to radically cut global carbon emissions will mean disasters such as the one unfolding in Japan will become the new normal.

Our second responsibility is to learn from the past and present, and be prepared for a future in which extreme weather events will challenge even the wealthiest, most developed states, and will be devastating for the poorest and least developed. The global climate is changing, and the planet has already warmed. To continue to ignore or downplay this should no longer be acceptable.

Press link for more: Lowy Institute

One Third Of 18-34 Year Olds ‘Very Worried’ About #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #NoNewCoal #StopAdani #Longman @ElliottShayne CEO @ANZ_AU #Divest

One Third Of 18-34 Year Olds ‘Very Worried’ About Climate Change

‘No one will understand the impact before it’s too late.’

Charley Ross

Almost one third (31%) of 18 to 34 year olds are very or extremely worried about climate change, according to new research.

In comparison, only one fifth (19%) of over 65s identified as concerned.

“Millennials are the first generation that were taught about climate change at school – so we have grown up with it being a fact, something that we are constantly aware of,” Stephanie Shields, 24, told HuffPost UK.

ginosphotos via Getty Images

While 93% of Brits believe that the world’s climate is definitely or probably changing, only one quarter (25%) of people are very or extremely worried about climate change, according to the annual British Social Attitudes Survey.

Meanwhile, 45% are only somewhat worried, and 28% are not very or not at all worried at all.

So, why is there such a disparity when it comes to concern for climate change?

For Jess Dante, 28, the biggest problem is that it’s “not a visible, tangible problem”.

“No one will understand the impact of [climate change] before it’s too late to reverse it,” she told HuffPost UK.

Cutting your meat and dairy intake was recently reported to be the best thing you can do for the planet.

For Jess, this was her starting point: “To help do my part, I recently cut out meat from my diet completely, as the meat industry is one of the biggest drivers of climate change.”

Thomas Jayamaha, a 19-year-old participant in Greenpeace’s My World, My Home leadership programme for young people, feels it’s his duty as a young person and a global citizen to do the best he can for the environment. “We should take a guardian role and not a disruptive one towards our planet.

Education has empowered me to take a stance against climate change,” he told HuffPost UK.

Jo Salter, 51, can’t see why the older demographic aren’t more concerned, as she became even more focussed on the “bigger picture” after having children. “I guess it’s because many people over 35 are more focussed on short term, every day living,” she told HuffPost UK. “There’s probably also a bit of a hangover from the 80s and 90s ‘looking after yourself’ attitude. Back then, environmentalists were considered to be hippies and slightly laughed at.”

For younger people, the environment (and what our current lifestyles are doing to it) is no a laughing matter. “The thing that worries me most is the effect that it will and is already having on nature,” Stephanie said. “Humans created this problem, but the animals that will feel it most are those who are specially adapted to a different habitat, such as polar bears and other arctic animals.”

Millennials are the first generation that was taught about climate change at school – so we have grown up with it being a fact, something that we are constantly aware of.

The survey also found that people aged 18 to 34 are less likely to report doing things to save energy, even though they were part of the most ‘concerned’ age group. Chris Bryant, 25, says that he’s found decisions like these aren’t completely cut and dry.

“It could be due to the fact that millennials make these choices due to ethical, as well as environmental, reasons,” he said. “And in a lot of cases, I feel like people are more likely to engage in pro-environmental behaviours as their incomes rise, which also happens as you get older,” he told HuffPost UK.

Press link for more: Huffington Post

Climate Change Will Change Everything #auspol #qldpol #NoNewCoal #StopAdani #Longman @ElliottShayne CEO @ANZ_AU #Divest

Climate Change Will Change Everything

Stephen Farrell

There is no doubt that climate change is no longer just a threat, it is a real and present danger that is increasingly impacting the lives of many people and the natural world. The question is what are we doing about it?

I think the biggest challenge is leadership.

When the Pope recently spoke to senior members of the petroleum industry and asked why they continued to spend so much effort finding new reserves of carbon polluting resources to dig up at a time when scientists had concluded the consequences for the planet and humankind of digging up any new reserves of carbon-based fuels will be dire, it begs the question of where is leadership on the issue?

Thank you, Pope.

Increasingly, many people in the corporate sector have confirmed that it is financially irresponsible to expose assets to the real threat of climate change – be it investments, assets or production processes.

Figure 1: New Approaches to Climate Thinking and Risk Management – Prof Jean Palutikof, NCCARF director Climate Leadership Conference 2018 Sydney

Think Global, Act Local

One of these conferences was on leadership, with the clear message that rather than get distracted by the partisan climate change politics of the day at a state and federal government levels, we need to think in global and local terms.

The message is that there has never been a more pressing issue around which to think global and act local.

In terms of local, the message has been that we need to think, plan and act on cities, and liveability, since so many of us live in increasing urbanised and built environments.

The Lens of Climate Change

The other key message I took away from the conferences was that we should consider everything we plan to do and how we do it, through the lens of climate change.

Climate change will change everything we know and have experienced until now.  And what’s more, significant change is already locked in.

We have already added the carbon emissions that will change the world’s climate over the next 20 years.

So firstly, be prepared to deal with that – hence the raft of adaptation strategies that many organisations are now considering.

But most importantly decarbonize, decarbonize, decarbonize, so that we don’t continue to lock in more change.

Not only decarbonise our energy production and consumption but decarbonise our product production processes.  For example, we were told of the importance of decarbonising our current cement production processes, since cement production – as a key resource in the building of new cities to house the worlds growing population – is a major contributor to global carbon emissions.  There was some amazing statistics along the lines’ China had used more cement in the 3 years (2011-2013) than the USA did in the entire 20th century.

We were also told of the tremendous efforts in understanding production processes, and refining or replacing the most carbon intensive polluting parts of the process.  Work by groups like the CRC for Low Carbon Living was very impressive and encouraging.

There were also fascinating presentations on reducing the carbon emissions generated in the production of other products, such as smart phone components; or the changes already being observed in health and diseases as our climate changes.  And there was no surprise to hear how many Defence forces have for some time accepted and have been applying scenarios relating to the likely impacts on anticipated climate change.

Starting at the bottom

I particularly liked the graphic related to the climate change activities relevant to the Great Barrier Reef by David Wachenfeld, GBRMA.

The base of the triangle is tackle climate change (directly by reducing carbon emissions).

Above that are changes in land management practices, and at the top point of the triangle were the adaptation strategies, such assisted gene flow, population relocation etc.

The message was that we shouldn’t get distracted talking about how clever we may be in saving the last species of coral on the reef, we need to focus on decarbonizing at a broad and local level as the most important step we can undertake to help the reef, and then changes in land management practices.

Figure 2: Climate change activities relevant to the Great Barrier Reef by David Wachenfeld, GBRMA

How can spatial sciences and technologies help?

My particular interest was to better understand how spatial sciences and technologies can help us understand the likely impacts.

Understand what will change, and by how much when, and which assets are more or less exposed?  And rather than the traditional likelihood consequence matrix approaches to risk management, it seems we need to consider scenarios, and hence use spatial techniques to expose the what-ifs.

What if there is an increased intensity and frequency of storms, and they come from a different direction? – such as the storms that hit Sydney’s coastline a few years ago – coming more from the east than the south east.

Figure 3: Coastal Impacts of the June 2016 East Coast Storm – Prof Ian Turner University of Sydney Climate Leadership Conference 2018 Sydney

A key theme in recent times has been the uncertainly in climate change forecasts. Which model, what assumptions, what timeframes etc. should be used?  The message from these conferences was unequivocally that uncertainly is no excuse.  Change is coming, get on and plan for it.  There are tools and support available.  Make sure that your assumptions and the data you use are clear or transparent and share what you do.

As better tools and data become available the process can be repeated and refined. Another key message was that we are poor at predicting the extremes, the real events we experience are often worse than our worst case modelled scenarios.  So, use the current scenarios in this context.

The power of spatial technologies is also assisting us better understand and plan for change in our cities – particularly their liveability and sustainability in a changing and more climate challenging world.

Identifying city footprints, or thermal heat distribution were two examples of spatial approaches to better understand and inform planning responses.

Figure 4 & 5:Towards a low carbon future – Scientia Prof Deo Prasad Low Carbon Living CRC Climate Leadership Conference 2018 Sydney

There were a couple of great presentations that highlighted how spatial technologies are increasingly applied to natural disasters, both in traditional ways, such as in the planning and being prepared, and to inform those of the threat and by emergency agencies to respond – but in increasingly innovative ways such as the harvesting of twitter feeds to the help track the fire front.

Climate change will change everything.

It is a societal and moral challenge and dilemma.

We can all play a role and do more.

When future generations ask us where we were and what we did, I think we will want to feel comfortable with our answer.

The conferences were:

Climate Leadership conference in Sydney, 2018

Climate Adaption Conference in Melbourne, 2018

For more information, please contact Spatial Vision at info@spatialvision.com.au

Press link for more: Spatial Vision

Higher ambition needed to meet Paris Targets #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #Divest @ElliottShayne CEO @ANZ_AU #NoNewCoal #StopAdani #CoralnotCoal

Higher ambition needed to meet Paris climate targets

EUROPEAN COMMISSION JOINT RESEARCH CENTRE

With current climate policies and efforts to increase clean power generation, the remaining use of fossil fuels in industry, transport and heating in buildings will cause enough CO2 emissions to push climate targets out of reach, according to a study co-authored and co-designed by the JRC.

Accelerated energy efficiency improvements and a widespread electrification of energy demand are needed.

Otherwise, the world will become increasingly dependent on carbon dioxide removal to hold warming to well below 2°C, and the 1.5°C target for this century is likely to be unachievable.

A team of scientists from across the world set out to identify bottlenecks towards achieving the internationally agreed Paris climate targets.

They found that even with very strong efforts by all countries, including early and substantial strengthening of the intended nationally determined contributions, residual carbon emissions will reach around 1000 gigatons of CO2 by the end of the century.

This goes considerably beyond the level that emissions must be limited to in order to achieve the 1.5°C target.

Carbon dioxide removal is therefore no longer a choice, but a necessity for limiting warming to 1.5°C.

None of the scenarios the scientists modelled were able to achieve this target without the availability of a negative emissions technology, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage technology.

The researchers also found that a failure to ramp up mitigation efforts now will increase the dependence on carbon dioxide removal as it locks in even more investments in infrastructures and leaves the world unprepared to make the changes needed to decarbonise.

The research has been published in Nature Climate Change.

Integrated Assessment Modelling

To assess options for emissions reduction, the scientists used 7 state-of-the-art modelling frameworks, which take into account temperature targets as well as the economic costs and technological options.

This included the JRC’s POLES global energy model. JRC scientists also contributed to the design of the research scenarios and the processing and interpretation of the results.

The study was conducted as part of the ADVANCE project, a central aim of which is to evaluate and improve the suitability of models for climate policy impact assessments.

The POLES model covers the entire energy balance, from final energy demand, transformation and power production to primary supply and trade of energy commodities across countries and regions.

It enables scientists to assess climate and energy policies, as well as future energy needs.

Related studies, recently co-authored by JRC scientists include:

The first multi-model analysis of mitigation efforts in the short term (to 2030) and their effectiveness in 2?°C and 1.5?°C climate stabilisation scenarios. The report confirms the importance of energy efficiency improvements and efforts for a zero carbon energy supply; An assessment published in Nature Energy which confirms that considerably up-scaled investment will be needed globally to realise the energy system transformation required to fulfil the Paris Agreement and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Background

These studies contribute to a growing body of scientific insights on the actions needed to achieve the Paris climate targets.

They strengthen the evidence behind climate initiatives which aim to strengthen global commitments to reaching these targets, including the major milestones to be reached by 2020 and the EU’s mid-century strategy for moving to a competitive low carbon economy by 2050, proposals for which are expected in November this year.

Following the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Talanoa Dialogue for climate ambition, constructive, facilitative and solutions oriented approach was launched.

The studies also provide timely evidence ahead of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, which will serve as an input to the Dialogue.

###

Press link for more: Eureka Alert

‘Defiant Earth: The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene’ #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange @ElliottShayne

Philosopher Clive Hamilton joined Amy Mullins in the studio to talk about his new book, ‘Defiant Earth: The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene,’ and how human activity has created a new and dangerous epoch. Broadcast on 11/7/2017.

Press link for this interview: 3RRR Uncommonsense

Humans have become so powerful that we are disrupting the functioning of the earth, to the point where scientists now consider we have entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Clive Hamilton argues this forces us to rethink what kind of creature we humans are, and to acknowledge the power we still have to change the world for good.

Forget everything you know. Nature is no longer nature. Humans are no longer humans. We have entered a new era — the Anthropocene.

Everything has changed.

Humans have become so powerful that we have disrupted the functioning of the Earth, bringing on a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene.

The stable environmental conditions that allowed civilisation to flourish are disappearing.

What does it mean to have arrived at this point, where human history and Earth history collide?

Clive Hamilton argues we need to rethink everything.

The modern belief that we are free beings making our own future by taking control of our environment is now indefensible.

We have rendered the Earth more unpredictable and less controllable; a disobedient planet. And it’s too late to turn back the geological clock.

We must face the fact that humans are at the centre of the world, even if we must give up the idea we can control the planet.

These truths call for a new kind of anthropocentrism, a philosophy by which we might use our power responsibly and find a way to live on a defiant Earth.

About the Author

Clive Hamilton is Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University. One of Australia’s leading thinkers, he is author of the bestselling Requiem for a Species, and The Freedom Paradox and Growth Fetish.

Press link for more: Booktopia.com

We will #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #auspol #qldpol Stop #ClimateChange Draw The Line!

For all the climate heroes who will draw the line on coal today and tomorrow right across Australia.

Leave it in the ground

Leave it in the ground

Leave it in the ground

No more gas, oil or coal!

Leave it in the ground.