Ocean Acidification

Coral Reefs Fighting Climate Change #StopAdani #Auspol 

Mike Bloomberg’s New Frontier For Fighting Climate Change: Coral Reefs
Aug 12, 2017 @ 08:00 AM
50 Reefs


Great Barrier Reef (2017), Photo Courtesy of 50 Reefs
50 Reefs, a $2 million initiative funded by Michael Bloomberg, Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen and the Tiffany Co. Foundation, launched a platform on Thursday to take non-divers to the world’s biggest coral reefs — without getting them wet. 

Instead of a pleasant journey of the oceanic world, however, the initiative reveals a world through 360° images on Facebook where corals from the Great Barrier Reefs to Cook Islands die rapidly and the species that rely heavily on them disappear.


While coral reefs support 25% of all marine life worldwide, they are estimated to have a value of at least $1 trillion, generating $300 to 400 billion each year through food, tourism, fisheries, and medicines, according to the Word Wildlife Fund.

 50 Reefs says that 90% of coral reefs have been dying of overfishing, pollution and climate change, and will keep on dying in the next 30 years even with the Paris Climate Agreement in place. 

The initiative is now taking its fight to Washington, D.C. to push for immediate action, despite the fact that President Trump declared in June that the U.S. is pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
“I realized most of the issues underwater are big communication challenges,” says Richard Vevers, whose nonprofit Ocean Agency is now spearheading the 50 Reefs initiative together with the University of Queensland.

 “The fact that people can’t see what’s going on underwater is a major issue,” he adds. 

Having documented the biggest global coral bleaching (dying off) event in history in the past three years, Vevers came up with an ambitious but what he calls a “manageable” project that would allow him and his team to identify reefs that are least vulnerable to climate change and then get them to reseed.

 “Corals are brilliant at essentially recovery once the environment they’re in is stabilized,” he says, “We are buying time so they can bounce back as naturally as possible.”
Upon hearing the concept of 50 Reefs, Bloomberg’s foundation reached out to Vevers in late 2016, and he showed the organization footage from his award-winning Netflix documentary, Chasing Coral, which debuted on the streaming service on July 14.

 In a time lapse video, coral reefs faded from florescent pink to white, and then to dark brown. “Their flesh is becoming clear, and you’re seeing their skeleton,” Vevers describes. Bloomberg, who is the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, is one of the largest ocean donors and donated $53 million in 2014 to address overfishing, a catalyzer of coral bleaching.
Climate change hits the oceans harder than anywhere else and coral reefs are the “frontline of climate change,” according to Vevers. “Ninety three percent of the heat goes into the ocean,” the activist says: The Great Barrier Reef lost nearly half its corals in 2016 and 2017. Yet, he sees this environmental catastrophe as an opportunity for humanity to bounce back as well. “We’ve always portrayed climate change and climate action as something negative,” he says, “That’s the wrong way of communicating it. It’s about the business opportunities and it’s about improving lives.”

Press link for more: Forbes.com

The planet’s worse case climate scenario. #StopAdani #Auspol 

The planet’s worst-case climate scenario: ‘If not hell then a place with a similar temperature’
Aug 12, 2017, 2:53 AM

If we don’t cut greenhouse gas emissions, we’ll see more deadly heat waves, acidic oceans, and rising seas.


At this point, the planet will warm no matter what — but we can still prevent it from getting too bad.

Environmentalist and author Bill McKibben told Business Insider that without intervention, the world would be: “If not hell, then a place with a similar temperature.”

The world is almost certainly going to warm past what’s frequently considered a critical tipping point.
A recent study pointed out that we have just a 5% chance of keeping the planet from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius, the upper limit the Paris Agreement was designed to avoid. Beyond that threshold, many researchers say the effects of climate change — like rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and intense storms — will become significantly more concerning.

But how bad could it really get? What would the planet look like if we don’t cut emissions and instead keep burning fossil fuels at the rate we are now?
Business Insider recently asked author and environmentalist Bill McKibben that question, and his description of what Earth would look like was sobering.
“If not hell, then a place with a similar temperature,” he said. “We have in the Earth’s geological record some sense of what happens when you run carbon levels up to the levels we’re running them now — it gets a lot hotter.”
Extreme as that might sound, there’s significant evidence that we’re feeling the effects of climate change already. Unchecked, the planet will get far hotter by 2100 — a time that many children alive today will see.


“Huge swaths of the world will be living in places that by the end of the century will have heat waves so deep that people won’t be able to deal with them, you have sea level rising dramatically, to the point that most of the world’s cities are drowning, the ocean turning into a hot, sour, breathless soup as it acidifies and warms,” McKibben said.
The evidence for how bad it could get
None of that is exaggeration. A recent study in the journal Nature Climate Change found that 30% of the world is already exposed to heat intense enough to kill people for 20 or more days each year. That temperature is defined using a heat index that takes into account temperature and humidity; above 104 degrees Farenheit (40 degrees C ), organs swell and cells start to break down.
Heat waves are the deadliest weather events most years , more so than hurricanes or tornadoes. In 2010, more than 10,000 people did in a Moscow heat wave. In 2003, some estimates say a European summer heat wave killed up to 70,000.
Even if we drastically cut emissions by 2100, the world will continue to warm due to the greenhouse gases that have already been emitted. That would cause the percentage of the world exposed to deadly heat for 20 or more days to rise to 48%. Under a scenario with zero emissions reductions from today, researchers estimate that 74% of the world will be exposed to deadly heat by the end of the century.
Our oceans are at risk, too. A draft of an upcoming US government report on climate change projects that even if emissions are cut to hit zero by 2080, we’ll still see between one and four feet of sea level rise by 2100. Without the cuts, it suggests that an eight-foot rise can’t be ruled out. That report also suggests that oceans are becoming more acidic faster than they have at any point in the last 66 million years. Increased acidity can devastate marine life and coral reefs, which cover less than 2% of the ocean floor but are relied upon by about 25% of marine species — including many fish that are key food sources for humans.
The key takeaway here is not that the world is doomed, however. It’s that if we don’t dramatically cut emissions soon, we’ll put the planet on course to be a much less pleasant place.
In some ways, progress towards emissions reductions is already underway. Market trends are increasing use of renewable energy sources, political movements are pushing leaders to enact new types of policies, and legal challenges to government inaction on climate are popping up around the world. The question is whether we’ll act fast enough to stave off the most dire consequences of greenhouse gas emissions.
“In order to catch up with the physics of climate change, we have to go at an exponential rate,” McKibben said. “It’s not as if this was a static problem. If we don’t get to it very soon, we’ll never get to it.”

Press link for more: Business Insider

Wake up call: We need to act now on #ClimateChange #auspol 

Wake-Up Call: Asia-Pacific Needs to Act Now on Climate Change
Hans Joachim SchellnhuberAugust 11, 2017

An interview with Founding Director of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

From L) Nobel prize winners French climatologist Jean Jouzel, German physicist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, French physicist Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and French physicist Serge Haroche pose outside the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris. 
Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images
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“The Asian countries hold Earth’s future in their hands. 

If they choose to protect themselves against dangerous climate change, they will help to save the entire planet.” 

That’s how Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a leading climate change researcher and founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, sees it.


He made the comments recently during the launch of a new report from the Asian Development Bank and its research institute. 

The report, A Region at Risk: The Human Dimensions of Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific, presents the latest research on the dire consequences of climate change in Asia and the Pacific under a business-as-usual scenario.


Schellnhuber spoke with ADB about the climate-related challenges facing Asia and the Pacific.
Asian Development Bank: What are the main impacts of climate change foreseen under the business-as-usual scenario?
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber: First of all, one needs to get a sense of what it really means. 

We talk about 4 to 6 degrees of warming—planetary warming, so the global average—by 2100 if we do business-as-usual. 


Think of the global mean temperature as your body temperature. 

If you have 2 degrees warming in your body you have fever. 

Six degrees warming means you are dead. 

That’s the metaphor to use for the planet. 

That means with 4 to 6 degrees warming our world would completely change. The world as we know it would disappear.
Maybe it’s most clearly understood in terms of sea level rise. 

One degree warming means at least 3 to 4 meters’ sea level rise; 2 degrees warming would mean 7 or 8 meters’ rise. 

This would simply mean that many of the low-lying island states would disappear. 

Their home would be destroyed. We need to do everything to avoid that.

ADB: How will climate change impact individuals?
Schellnhuber: Just a week ago in Asia you had temperatures of 54 degrees centigrade in Pakistan and in Iran. 

We can calculate that with 5 to 6 degrees global warming you would create uninhabitable zones on this planet. 

There would be regions, in particular in Asia, where you could not survive in the open without air conditioning physiologically. 

Temperatures would hit 60 degrees and it simply would mean that you would have no-go areas.

 Now think of slums, where people do not have air conditioning now. 

There will be places where you cannot work and you cannot survive.


So it is really about, “Can you survive under climate change?” And the answer is, “No”— at least in certain regions in Asia.
ADB: The report also anticipates significant climate-related migration.
Schellnhuber: What we are really worried about is migration and conflict. In the end, all these knock-on effects will heavily impact on national security and international migration. It might mean that hundreds of millions of people will be displaced because of global warming; and you have to accommodate them.
We in Europe just had this experience. In Germany in particular, we have taken up a million refugees. Believe me, this is very hard to digest. Now, we are talking about a million being absorbed by one of the richest countries in the world. Think of hundreds of millions of people being absorbed by poor people, by poorer countries.
If people are displaced in Bangladesh they will generally go to West Bengal in India, for example. If Tuvalu gets inundated, people will hop to the next island. They will not buy a business class ticket and go to Los Angeles.
Digesting, absorbing major migration waves is a challenge I think most of the current nations will not be able to meet. So let’s avoid it.
ADB: What are the implications for business and the regional economy?
Schellnhuber: We often make this joke that the first law of capitalism is, “Don’t kill your customers!” If you kill your customers, you cannot do business. But in a more sober way you can look at the various sectors, agriculture, fisheries, and so on.
For fisheries, climate change comes with ocean acidification. Half of the CO2that we put into the air by burning fossil fuels is absorbed by the oceans. If this isn’t stopped, under a business-as-usual scenario oceans will get so acidic that the coral reefs will dissolve virtually.
Now one-third of marine productivity—including the top predators, fish—is created in the corals. So, the marine business will just be destroyed. The same is true for tourism: If you have no corals you will have no people going to the coral reefs. The Great Barrier Reef, for example, is at stake as well as the Coral Triangle.
We did a study, and this is in the report, of how global supply chains will be disrupted or even interrupted by extreme events. When there were the big floods in Thailand, for example, a sort of wave was created all over the planet. First the computer industry in Japan was hit, and ultimately in the U.S. and so on. You have knock-on effects, cascades of impacts. To put it in one sentence: Climate change is really bad for business.
ADB: How should governments, business, and citizens respond?
Schellnhuber: First, you have to recognize the problem.

 Our report is a wake-up call. 

If you read it you get scared.

 But you need to be scared because the future would be very bleak if we just do business-as-usual. 

Once you know there is a big problem, then you have to assess how the various nations and regions will be affected.

Even 2 degrees warming will deliver a completely new world. 

You have to find out what are you going to do in Vietnam, what are you going to do in South India, in Kazakhstan, in Uzbekistan. 

What needs to happen in Tuvalu and Vanuatu?
First, try to provide the evidence and based on that you can do good projects. But you have to do it within a strategic framework. I would urge ADB to first come up with a differentiated assessment of the situation and then go in and implement best practice and act on the best proposals.
ADB: Do you see any silver lining?
Schellnhuber: People feel there is a trade-off between development and climate protection, but that’s not true. As our report makes clear, if you do not stabilize the climate you will actually destroy the good prospects for development. And if you take climate action in a clever way you will create new opportunities for doing business.
I will give you just one example: The modern society was based on the use of fossil fuels. The industrial revolution started 200 years ago in England and Scotland. 

This was based on using, in a clever way, coal and later gas and oil. But now this model has come to an end.


This may just push us into adopting a new model for growth. Solar energy is abundant in Asia, for example. It is free. The sun is shining without any charge. I think the climate issue is giving us the right push to go into a new industrial model and that will be built on renewables, recycling, a circular economy, and the better use of resources.
In a way, it’s an eye-opener. Because we almost destroyed our civilization through the externality of climate change, we wake up and say, “Oh, there is an even better model of doing sustainable business.”
I think we will have another industrial revolution, even a bigger one. And it will be the most important modernization project in the 21st century. The opportunity is there. Let’s do new business, better business involving more people, and as a nice side effect we will save the planet.
This interview first appeared on the Asian Development Bank’s website.

Press link for more: Brink News

Bleak world if the Great Barrier Reef dies. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

Scientist Dr Charlie Veron’s warning to Gold Coasters of a bleak world if the Great Barrier Reef dies

Dr Charlie Veron with a piece of coral named Blastomussa. Picture: Zak Simmonds
A RENOWNED scientist has painted a bleak picture of the impact on the Gold Coast if the Great Barrier Reef dies, warning of a worldwide environmental disaster that will hurt even more if rising carbon dioxide levels keep cooking the planet.
Dr Charlie Veron has urged young Gold Coasters to build multiple skills for a chaotic world, saying important fields like medicine and agriculture will be vital as carbon dioxide levels increase because of the burning of fossil fuels, particularly coal.
Even if nations stopped production of carbon dioxide, the oceans would keep heating for another 20 years, leading to a vicious pendulum ride between cyclonic storms and floods, and severe drought and bushfires.

Dead and dying staghorn coral, central Great Barrier Reef in May 2016. Credit: Johanna Leonhardt

“Half of all coral colonies on the Great Barrier Reef died over the past two years due to coral bleaching,’’ Dr Veron said.
“It’s going to be a horrible world. Young people now are going to curse the present generation for what we’ve done. We’ll have left them a planet in dire straits.’’
Known as the Godfather of Coral, Dr Veron has been hailed by the likes of high-profile British naturalist David Attenborough for his career that led to him being appointed chief scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science and to recognition as a wideranging specialist in corals and reefs.

Dr Charlie Veron was the first full-time researcher on the Great Barrier Reef and has described more than a quarter of the world’s coral species.

With several books to his name including his memoir, A Life Underwater, Dr Veron was a prominent speaker at the Byron Writers Festival at the weekend.
“The Australian public is asleep. They seem to be unaware of what’s going on,’’ he told the Gold Coast Bulletin outside the festival.
Rising levels of the otherwise rare gas carbon dioxide were increasing ocean temperatures, which were causing bleaching and killing coral reefs, putting the entire marine environment in peril.
“Australia is now the biggest coal exporter in the world,’’ he said.
“Australians are fuelling this as fast as they can through the mining of coal, which is the worst driver of this.’’
Dr Veron, who has been an outspoken critic of the proposed Adani coal mine in Central Queensland, feared the Great Barrier Reef could be gone within 15 years.

Dr Charlie Veron 

“If the Great Barrier Reef dies then you can be sure most coral reefs in the world would have died and the oceans will be in a state of ecological collapse. Nowhere is going to be exempt,’’ he said.
“We will see fishing industries collapse, for starters.
“Between a quarter and a third of all marine species have part of their life cycle in a coral reef. Taking away the reefs precipitates ecological collapse of the oceans. It’s happened twice in the past due to volcanoes releasing carbon dioxide and lava flows, but that was nothing like the amount of carbon dioxide being released now.’’
One of those mass extinctions, at the end of the Mesozoic era 65 million years ago, brought an end to the dinosaurs. The other was at the end of the Palaeozoic era about 200 million years ago, which wiped out corals.
“A lot of marine species here (in Gold Coast and Byron Bay waters) have come from the Great Barrier Reef,’’ Dr Veron said.
“The corals here have all come from the barrier reef as have all the tropical marine species. They come down the East Australia Current and colonise here. This applies to migratory fish species too.
“It’s all gloom and doom, I’m afraid.
“The science has been right.
“The sceptics now have no credibility. The deniers of climate change might as well deny Jumbo jets can fly. It’s no longer an issue of science or judgment. It’s happening.’’
Carbon dioxide was important in keeping the earth warm and keeping green plants going.
But concentrations had now reached 406 parts per million.
“But when you go over the limit it becomes a very dangerous gas,’’ he said. “It’s now reached that point.
“It’s doing this slowly. It’s like putting a jug of water on the stove. It takes a long time to equilibrate with the heat under it.
“The oceans are taking at least 20 years to equilibrate with current conditions. We have oceans that have warmed in response to carbon dioxide levels of the 1990s. (Even if carbon dioxide production stopped now) the oceans have got 20 years of warming ahead.’’

Press link for more: Gold Coast Bulletin

Climate Science Special Report. #Auspol #StopAdani

Executive Summary

Introduction

New observations and new research have increased our understanding of past, current, and
future climate change since the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA3) was
published in May 2014.

 This Climate Science Special Report (CSSR) is designed to capture
that new information and build on the existing body of science in order to summarize the
current state of knowledge and provide the scientific foundation for the Fourth National
Climate Assessment (NCA4).

Since NCA3, stronger evidence has emerged for continuing, rapid, human-caused warming of
the global atmosphere and ocean. 


This report concludes that “it is extremely likely that human
influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.

 For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation
supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

The last few years have also seen record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes, the three
warmest years on record for the globe, and continued decline in arctic sea ice.

 These trends
are expected to continue in the future over climate (multidecadal) timescales. 


Significant
advances have also been made in our understanding of extreme weather events and how they
relate to increasing global temperatures and associated climate changes.

 Since 1980, the cost
of extreme events for the United States has exceeded $1.1 trillion, therefore better
understanding of the frequency and severity of these events in the context of a changing
climate is warranted.

Periodically taking stock of the current state of knowledge about climate change and putting
new weather extremes, changes in sea ice, increases in ocean temperatures, and ocean
acidification into context ensures that rigorous, scientifically-based information is available to
inform dialogue and decisions at every level. 


Most of this special report is intended for those
who have a technical background in climate science and to provide input to the authors of
NCA4.

 In this Executive Summary, green boxes present highlights of the main report. 

These
are followed by related points and selected figures providing more scientific details. 

The
summary material on each topic presents the most salient points of chapter findings and
therefore represents only a subset of the report’s content. 

For more details, the reader is
referred to the individual chapters. 

This report discusses climate trends and findings at several
scales: global, nationwide for the United States, and for ten specific U.S. regions (shown in
Figure 1 in the Guide to the Report)

A statement of scientific confidence also follows each
point in the Executive Summary. 

The confidence scale is described in the Guide to the Report.
 

At the end of the Executive Summary and in Chapter 1: Our Globally Changing Climate, there is also a summary box highlighting the most notable advances and topics since NCA3 and since the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

For full report press here: Climate Science Special Report

Coal is a big contributor to air pollution. #StopAdani #Auspol 

Energy the key to fight climate change
President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris climate accord must not become a distraction from urgent global efforts to combat climate change.


Countries in Asia were among the most committed supporters of the Paris goals.

 Thailand, for example, has committed to a 20 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030.

 Now is not the time to break stride, but to reinforce the resolve.
Energy demand is set to double this century, with the world’s population reaching 11 billion, up from 7.5 billion today. 
As the world changes, so will the energy system that powers it, driven by the need to reduce carbon emissions and – crucially for Asia – tackle air pollution that blights so many lives. 

Coal is a big contributor to that air pollution. 

This can, and must, change. 

Put simply: we will need more and cleaner energy if Asian countries are to continue to thrive in the coming decades. 

Today, coal is still the biggest source of power in the region, at 47 per cent of the power mix, compared to natural gas at 10 per cent. 

In some countries, coal’s share is rising.

For Asia’s population, renewable energy will be essential to meeting growing demand while tackling climate change and air pollution.
But renewables chiefly produce electricity. 

And there are parts of the economy, such as industries that produce iron, steel, cement, plastic and chemicals, that cannot be electrified yet – certainly not at a reasonable cost. 

That’s one reason why the world will still need oil and gas in large quantities in the coming decades.
During this time we will see a big change in the way energy is produced, used and made available to people. 

And I see a combination of renewables, such as wind and solar, and natural gas – the cleanest-burning hydrocarbon – playing an increasingly important role.

 Modern gas-fired power plants can quickly respond to an increase in demand for electricity when there’s no sun or little wind.
By the end of the century many millions of people in emerging economies will join the middle class. 

Most will use cell phones and refrigerators. 

Many will drive cars – or travel in self-driving cars – as their quality of life improves.
All this will create enormous pressures on the global energy system. 

At the same time, we face serious environmental challenges.

 What kind of air will our children and grandchildren breathe?

 How will climate change effect the quality of life of people in the most exposed areas, such as coastal regions?

Natural gas is one of the few energy sources that can be used across all sectors of the global economy, including fuelling transport, heating and lighting homes, and powering industries. Reserves are abundant and available in many regions. 
The environmental benefits are also clear. 

In power generation, for example, natural gas emits around half the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and less than one-tenth of air pollutants compared to coal.
Some countries are already taking significant steps to boost the use of gas.
In Thailand, the government has introduced policies to open up the market to new suppliers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as it aims to meet the country’s future energy needs while reducing emissions.
China plans to raise the share of gas in primary energy from 6 per cent today to 15 per cent by 2030. 

It is also widely using gas for transport, with more than 200,000 trucks and buses fuelled by LNG.
In the city of Lanzhou, strict air pollution policies reduced coal consumption by 40 per cent and significantly increased the number of days with clear skies between 2012 and 2016.
In India, where gas makes up only 8 per cent of the energy mix, the government is moving towards its greater use, creating infrastructure such as gas pipelines and LNG terminals. 

In Gujarat, India’s most industrialised state, gas now makes up 25 per cent of the energy system, fuelling transport and cooking, as well as major plants producing petrochemicals, fertilisers and glass. 

Policies of successive governments will determine the extent to which gas will play a key role in coming decades.

 Their decisions must reflect the commitments made at the UN Paris climate summit. 

Government-led mechanisms that put a price on CO2 emissions would stimulate the development of low-carbon and renewable technologies. 

Singapore, for example, will be the first country in Southeast Asia to have a carbon tax to encourage industries to reduce emissions.
Beyond policy choices from governments, a lot will also depend on the action of energy companies. 

For Shell’s part, we continue to increase our investment in gas, now around half of our total production. And we are exploring commercial opportunities in areas such as biofuels, hydrogen and wind power. 
Governments, companies and consumers have the power to shape a new energy future, where renewables and natural gas play critical roles. Now is the time to step up the drive to deliver on the environmental pledges made in Paris. 
The writer is integrated gas and new energies director of Shell

Press link for more: Nation Multimedia

“Our planet is being destroyed!” #StopAdani #Auspol 

Every second we waste denying climate change exists is time we steal from the next generation who will suffer the terrible consequences
Friday 4 August 2017
Our planet is being destroyed. 

But it is not only the forests and the oceans, the wildlife and the Arctic sea ice that is being wiped out – soon it will be the people, too.

The Lancet has today published a report that lays bare the devastating impact climate change will have on populations across Europe. 

Between 1981 and 2010, extreme weather events killed about 3,000 people a year.
According to the research, this will increase 50 times to an estimated 152,000 people who will die in weather-related disasters every year between 2071 and 2100.


There are people alive today who will witness these deaths. 

I could be one of them – in 2071, I would be approaching my 86th birthday. 

Climate change is not a far-off problem of the future. 

It is happening right now – and if we do not take action, our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren, will be put at risk.
Every second we waste denying climate change exists and ignoring its deadly impact is time we steal from the next generation, who will suffer the terrible consequences.

It is the poor who will suffer first – particularly those who live in the most hostile climates and lack the resources to protect themselves. In fact, they are already suffering.
The suicides of nearly 60,000 Indian farmers over the last three decades have been linked to climate change – despite them contributing very little to the emissions that cause global warming.
Perhaps most devastating of all is the fact that those with wealth and power, who have such a disproportionate effect on the planet, will pay little attention until it is their livelihood and their peers under threat from extreme weather.
Donald Trump’s favourite golf course will need to be underwater before he starts to pay attention to the environmental havoc he has played such a pertinent role in. But by then, it will be too late.
As our European neighbours enter their fifth day of a blistering heatwave, as Portugal mourns more than 60 people killed in its worst forest fires in recorded history and as Cornwall cleans up after a mid-summer flood, we must heed the warning signs.
Since 2002, Britain has lost green space equivalent to the size of Liverpool. That’s a rich heritage of woodlands, gardens, parks that have gone to waste. At the same time, our Government has recklessly promoted intensive and polluting fossil fuel extraction in the face of the enormous threat that we face from climate change.
The Lancet paper makes for grim reading, but it should also serve as a much needed wake-up call for governments across Europe. We cannot continue to tinker around the edges and hope for a miracle cure to climate change.
We have to pull up our boots and get on with it – and do so with vigour. The UK has the chance to be a world leader by kickstarting a renewables revolution to create clean and stable energy for all. The alternative does not bear thinking about.
Amelia Womack is deputy leader of the Green Party

Press link for more: Independent.co.uk

We need to fill the #ClimateChange leadership void! #StopAdani

Pennsylvania needs to fill climate change leadership void

Leanne Krueger-BranekyJuly 29, 2017 — 3:01 AM EDT

President Trump’s reckless decision to withdraw our country from the historic Paris Climate Agreement has put the health, safety and economy of both Pennsylvania and the United States in peril. 

Climate change affects all things, from industries such as agriculture and tourism to the health and mortality of infants and children. 

It is the No. 1 most pressing challenge affecting every nation on the planet.
As a mom, business leader and legislator, I cannot just stand by while this decision puts the health and economic future of our children at risk.

 In the absence of leadership at the federal level, state and local governments must lead the effort to protect the future of our communities, the commonwealth and our country.
That is why I introduced H.R. 421, urging Pennsylvania to join the 1,200 local officials, businesses – including Apple, Facebook, Google, Target and Walmart — and educational institutions across the nation who have committed to upholding elements of the Paris Agreement by signing on to the U.S. Climate Alliance. 

Many Pennsylvanians have already joined the effort:

 The signers include nine Pennsylvania mayors and the leaders of 15 Pennsylvania colleges and universities, including the presidents of Allegheny College, Bryn Mawr College, Chatham University, Drexel University, Elizabethtown College, Gettysburg University, Lebanon Valley College, Lehigh University, Millersville University, Penn State University and Villanova University.
Formed in response to the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, members of the U.S. Climate Alliance are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the goals of the federal Clean Power Plan. 

By committing to clear benchmarks, we can start to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change – such as rising temperatures, extreme weather, increased smog and more — while creating family-sustaining jobs in Pennsylvania.
According to a report released last year, 5,400 direct and indirect jobs would be created every year if the U.S. meets its goals to reduce methane emissions by the oil and gas industry. 

Many of the jobs created in the clean energy sector pay well and provide long-term security. The median hourly wage for workers in the methane mitigation industry is $30.88, for example, compared with $19.60 for all U.S. jobs.


Joining the Climate Alliance is a step toward fulfilling our moral obligation to provide the next generation with an environment in better shape than the one we inherited.

 If we don’t commit ourselves to taking action, we hand our children a world of increased food insecurity, higher rates of respiratory diseases like asthma, and increased transmission of some infectious diseases, just some of the negative effects of climate change.
By adopting my resolution and urging Gov. Wolf to sign Pennsylvania to join the thirteen states already in the Climate Alliance, we can position our commonwealth to be a leader in sustainable energy jobs for decades to come, all while ensuring for our children a planet with breathable air, drinkable water and a livable climate.
I thank my 39 colleagues in the General Assembly who have signed on as co-sponsors for H.R. 421. 

If you also want Pennsylvania to be a leader in the fight against climate change, contact your local elected officials and urge them to step up and fill the leadership void created by Trump.
Leanne Krueger-Braneky is a Democratic state representative from Delaware County.

Press link for more: Philly.com

A Failure of Imagination on Climate Risk #StopAdani

A failure of imagination on climate risks
By Ian Dunlop and David Spratt

This is an extract from Disaster Alley: Climate change, conflict and risk published recently by Breakthrough.
Climate change is an existential risk that could abruptly end human civilisation because of a catastrophic “failure of imagination” by global leaders to understand and act on the science and evidence before them.


At the London School of Economics in 2008, Queen Elizabeth questioned: “Why did no one foresee the timing, extent and severity of the Global Financial Crisis?” The British Academy answered a year later: “A psychology of denial gripped the financial and corporate world… [it was] the failure of the collective imagination of many bright people… to understand the risks to the system as a whole”.
A “failure of imagination” has also been identified as one of the reasons for the breakdown in US intelligence around the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
A similar failure is occurring with climate change today.
The problem is widespread at the senior levels of government and global corporations. A 2016 report, Thinking the unthinkable, based on interviews with top leaders around the world, found that:

“A proliferation of ‘unthinkable’ events… has revealed a new fragility at the highest levels of corporate and public service leaderships. Their ability to spot, identify and handle unexpected, non-normative events is… perilously inadequate at critical moments… Remarkably, there remains a deep reluctance, or what might be called ‘executive myopia’, to see and contemplate even the possibility that ‘unthinkables’ might happen, let alone how to handle them.

 Such failures are manifested in two ways in climate policy. At the political, bureaucratic and business level in underplaying the high-end risks and in failing to recognise that the existential risk of climate change is totally different from other risk categories. And at the research level in underestimating the rate of climate change impact and costs, along with an under-emphasis on, and poor communication of, those high-end risks.

Existential risk
An existential risk is an adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential. For example, a big meteor impact, large-scale nuclear war, or sea levels 70 metres higher than today.
Existential risks are not amenable to the reactive (learn from failure) approach of conventional risk management, and we cannot necessarily rely on the institutions, moral norms, or social attitudes developed from our experience with managing other sorts of risks. Because the consequences are so severe — perhaps the end of human global civilisation as we know it — researchers say that “even for an honest, truth-seeking, and well-intentioned investigator it is difficult to think and act rationally in regard to… existential risks”.
Yet the evidence is clear that climate change already poses an existential risk to global economic and societal stability and to human civilisation that requires an emergency response. Temperature rises that are now in prospect could reduce the global human population by 80% or 90%. But this conversation is taboo, and the few who speak out are admonished as being overly alarmist.
Prof. Kevin Anderson considers that “a 4°C future [relative to pre-industrial levels] is incompatible with an organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems, and has a high probability of not being stable”. He says: “If you have got a population of nine billion by 2050 and you hit 4°C, 5°C or 6°C, you might have half a billion people surviving”. Asked at a 2011 conference in Melbourne about the difference between a 2°C world and a 4°C world, Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber replied in two words: “Human civilisation”.
The World Bank reports: “There is no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible”. Amongst other impacts, a 4°C warming would trigger the loss of both polar ice caps, eventually resulting, at equilibrium, in a 70-metre rise in sea level.
The present path of greenhouse gas emissions commits us to a 4–5°C temperature increase relative to pre-industrial levels. Even at 3°C of warming we could face “outright chaos” and “nuclear war is possible”, according to the 2007 The Age of Consequences report by two US think tanks.
Yet this is the world we are now entering. The Paris climate agreement voluntary emission reduction commitments, if implemented, would result in the planet warming by 3°C, with a 50% chance of exceeding that amount.
This does not take into account “long-term” carbon-cycle feedbacks — such as permafrost thaw and declining efficiency of ocean and terrestrial carbon sinks, which are now becoming relevant. If these are considered, the Paris emissions path has more than a 50% chance of exceeding 4°C warming. (Technically, accounting for these feedbacks means using a higher figure for the system’s “climate sensitivity” — which is a measure of the temperature increase resulting from a doubling of the level of greenhouse gases — to calculate the warming. A median figure often used for climate sensitivity is ~3°C, but research from MIT shows that with a higher climate sensitivity figure of 4.5°C, which would account for feedbacks, the Paris path would lead to around 5°C of warming.)
So we are looking at a greater than one-in-two chance of either annihilating intelligent life, or permanently and drastically curtailing its potential development.

Clearly these end-of-civilisation scenarios are not being considered even by risk-conscious leaders in politics and business, which is an epic failure of imagination.
Of course, the world hopes to do a great deal better than Paris, but it may do far worse. A recent survey of 656 participants involved in international climate policy-making showed only half considered the Paris climate negotiations were useful, and 70% did not expect that the majority of countries would fulfill their promises.
Human civilisation faces unacceptably high chances of being brought undone by climate change’s existential risks yet, extraordinarily, this conversation is rarely heard.
The Global Challenges Foundation (GCF) says that despite scientific evidence that risks associated with tipping points “increase disproportionately as temperature increases from 1°C to 2°C, and become high above 3°C”, political negotiations have consistently disregarded the high-end scenarios that could lead to abrupt or irreversible climate change. In its Global Catastrophic Risks 2017 report, it concludes that “the world is currently completely unprepared to envisage, and even less deal with, the consequences of catastrophic climate change”. 

Paris emissions path (in blue), not accounting for “long-term” carbon-cycle feedbacks (Climate Interactive)
Scholarly reticence
The scientific community has generally underestimated the likely rate of climate change impacts and costs. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports are years out of date upon publication. Sir Nicholas Stern wrote of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report: “Essentially it reported on a body of literature that had systematically and grossly underestimated the risks [and costs] of unmanaged climate change”.
Too often, mitigation and adaptation policy is based on least-drama, consensus scientific projections that downplay what Prof. Ross Garnaut called the “bad possibilities”, that is, the lower-probability outcomes with higher impacts. In his 2011 climate science update for the Australian Government, Garnaut questioned whether climate research had a conservative “systematic bias” due to “scholarly reticence”. He pointed to a pattern, across diverse intellectual fields, of research predictions being “not too far away from the mainstream” expectations and observed in the climate field that this “has been associated with understatement of the risks” 
 In 2007, The Age of Consequences reported:

“Our group found that, generally speaking, most scientific predictions in the overall arena of climate change over the last two decades, when compared with ultimate outcomes, have been consistently below what has actually transpired. There are perhaps many reasons for this tendency—an innate scientific caution, an incomplete data set, a tendency for scientists to steer away from controversy, persistent efforts by some to discredit climate “alarmists,” to name but a few”.

For many critical components of the climate system, we can identify just how fast our understanding is changing. Successive IPCC reports have been reticent on key climate system issues:

Coral reefs: Just a decade or two ago, the general view in the literature was that the survival of coral systems would be threatened by 2°C warming. In 2009, research was published suggesting that preserving more than 10% of coral reefs worldwide would require limiting warming to below 1.5°C. The coral bleaching events of the last two years at just 1-1.2°C of warming indicate that coral reefs are now sliding into global-warming-driven terminal decline. Three-quarters of the Great Barrier Reef has been lost in the last three decades, with climate change a significant cause.

Arctic sea ice: In 2007, the IPCC reported that late summer sea-ice was “projected to disappear almost completely towards the end of the 21st century”, even as it was collapsing in the northern summer of that year. In 2014, the IPCC had ice-free projections to 2100 for only the highest of four emissions scenarios. In reality, Arctic sea ice has already lost 70% of summer volume compared to just thirty years ago, and expectations are of sea-ice-free summer within a decade or two.  

Antarctica: In 2001, the IPCC projected no significant ice mass loss by 2100 and, in the 2014 report, said the contribution to sea level rise would “not exceed several tenths of a meter” by 2100. In reality, the Amundsen Sea of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet sector has been destabilised and ice retreat is unstoppable for the current climate state. It is likely that no further acceleration in climate change is necessary to trigger the collapse of the rest of the ice sheet, with some scientists suggesting a 3–5 metre sea-level rise within two centuries from West Antarctic melting.

Sea levels: In the 2007 IPCC report, sea levels were projected to rise up to 0.59 metre by 2100. The figure was widely derided by researchers, including the head of NASA’s climate research as being far too conservative. By 2014, the IPCC’s figure was in the range 0.55 to 0.82 metre, but they included the caveat that “levels above the likely range cannot be reliably evaluated.” In reality, most scientists project a metre or more. The US Department of Defence uses scenarios of 1 and 2 metres for risk assessments, and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides an “extreme” scenario of 2.5 metres sea level rise by 2100.

To be useful in a risk context, climate change assessments need:

a much more thorough exploration of the [high-end] tails of the distributions of physical variables such as sea level rise, temperature, and precipitation, where our scientific knowledge base is less complete, and where sophisticated climate models are less helpful. We need greater attention on the strength of uncertain processes and feedbacks in the physical climate system […] (e.g., carbon cycle feedbacks, ice sheet dynamics), as well as on institutional and behavioral feedbacks associated with energy production and consumption, to determine scientifically plausible bounds on total warming and the overall behavior of the climate system. Accomplishing this will require synthesizing multiple lines of scientific evidence […] , including simple and complex models, physical arguments, and paleoclimate data, as well as new modeling experiments to better explore the possibility of extreme scenarios.

A prudent risk-management approach for safeguarding people and protecting their ways of life means a tough and objective look at the real risks to which we are exposed, including climate and conflict risks, and especially those “fat tail” events whose consequences are damaging beyond quantification, and which human civilization, as we know it, would be lucky to survive. We must understand the potential of, and plan for, the worst that can happen and be relieved if it doesn’t. If we focus on “middle of the road” outcomes, and ignore the “high-end” possibilities, we will probably end up with catastrophic outcomes that could have been avoided.
It is not a question of whether we may suffer a failure of imagination. We already have.
Yet people understand climate risks, even as political leaders wilfully underplay or ignore them. 84% of 8000 people in eight countries recently surveyed for the Global Challenges Foundation consider climate change a “global catastrophic risk”. The figure for Australia was 75%. The GCF report found that many people now see climate change as a bigger threat than other concerns such as epidemics, population growth, weapons of mass destruction and the rise of artificial intelligence threats. GCF vice-president Mats Andersson says “there’s certainly a huge gap between what people expect from politicians and what politicians are doing”.

The same survey found 81% of the 1000 Australians polled agreed with the proposition: “Do you think we should try to prevent climate catastrophes, which might not occur for several decades or centuries, even if it requires making considerable changes that impact on our current living standards?”.

Press link for more: Climate Code Red

Cynical & Dishonest Denial of #ClimateChange has to end! #StopAdani #auspol 

The cynical and dishonest denial of climate change has to end: it’s time for leadership | Gerry Hueston
“Each day that goes by without policy settings that invite investment in large-scale renewables only makes the inevitable transition harder.” 

Australia has enough renewable energy to power the country 500 times over. With South Australia a step closer to unveiling the largest lithium ion battery storage facility in the world, it is clear just how fast we can make the transition to large-scale renewables when the right policy settings are in place and investors have certainty. 

More than a decade ago, as the head of BP Australasia I pushed for action on climate change.
At the time many Australian business leaders, global companies, governments and the world’s major scientific institutions accepted the science of climate change. As a sector, we wanted certainty. Ten years later and business is still calling for certainty. That is, long-term policies that allow businesses to commit to do the heavy lifting in response to an identified, significant and growing business risk – climate change.
A carrot-and-stick approach will be required to nurture the transition to a clean energy future and move potential investments from discretionary to mandatory categories. Often there is no competitive advantage in being a first mover.
Businesses will not drive investment without the right policies. Our preference a decade ago was for a price on carbon established by an emissions trading scheme as a core part of policy settings.
The last decade’s climate policy debate has been characterised by U-turns, a lack of bipartisanship, short-term populism, denial and misinformation, not to mention the scoring of political points rather than developing a long-term framework for what is a global and intergenerational issue.
The transition to a low carbon future will now be more expensive and more disruptive than it ever needed to be. An absence of climate and energy policy has left Australia lagging dangerously behind, missing out on significant investment and facing major disruptions in local electricity markets.
Governments have also, for the most part, elected to overlook the social disruptions that our inevitable energy transition will cause.
The recent closure of the Hazelwood coal plant in Victoria was foreseen many years ago. Regrettably, a refusal to acknowledge the need for future planning until it was too late left the La Trobe Valley community to live with the consequences.
Likewise in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, a huge amount of political energy is being wasted talking up the benefits of the nation’s biggest planned coal mine, which will be bad for local communities and puts the Great Barrier Reef at risk.

Big business is often accused of making expedient short-term decisions with little regard to the long-term viability and survival of the business. Rather than long-term planning to address the very real issues being faced by the people in Queensland, we are seeing at best ill-informed and at worst cynical and dishonest denial of the reality.
The effects of climate change are happening now. This looks like sea-level rise and coastal flooding. It looks like record-breaking temperatures and worsening extreme weather events. There is widespread business and public support for action as well as widespread acknowledgment that inaction will leave us increasingly exposed to social and economic disruption.
Strong leadership is vital. Whether we get carrots and sticks or both, industry needs a political consensus that policy arising from the Finkel Review process will stand the test of time and changes of government.
Procrastination is not a good option. It’s time to take responsibility for our past decade of avoidant politicking. Each day that goes by without policy settings that invite investment in large-scale renewables only makes the inevitable transition harder.

Press link for more: The Guardian