Looming El Niño weather event could make 2018 hottest-ever year #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #EndCoal #SaveTheReef #Drought

World temperatures could soar to the warmest they have ever been before the end of the year, according to one global weather body.

Researchers from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) have said they believe there is a 70 percent chance of a strong El Niño weather system in coming months.

An El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is when sea surface temperatures are significantly warmer than average, causing a change in wind circulation and movement in typical rain patterns.

As a result, rainfall occurring over land generally reduces and surface temperatures in countries tend to skyrocket.

The WMO said that this year an opposite system – known as La Niña – that began at the start of 2018 was not strong enough to lower global temperatures to reduce the drastic effects of an El Niño.

As a result, the body has claimed that the weather conditions at the end of the year could mark 2018 as one of the world’s hottest years on record.

World temperatures could soar to the highest they have ever been by the end of 2018, according to one global weather body. (Nine)

The World Meteorological Organisation has predicted a 70 percent chance of an El Niño event occurring before the end of the year. (Nine)

Data from the researchers has shown that temperatures around the world so far this year have been  almost 0.8 of a degree hotter than the century before.

The WMO attributed the shift in global temperatures to climate change, which it says has influenced the dynamics of El Niño and La Niña systems.

What does it mean for Australia?

The Bureau of Meteorology has reported that the chance of an ENSO weather system in Australia is currently “neutral”, but El Niño is possible from late Spring onwards.

Despite the WMO’s outlook, the BoM believes there is only a 50 percent chance of Australia being affected by warmer weather systems – however that is still double the normal likelihood of it forming.

The WMO said that the event could be worse than once thought because an earlier La Niña this year did not drop temperatures as much as predicted. (AAP)

In Australia, the forming of an El Niño effect moves tropical rainfall out over the Pacific Ocean rather than over land and a lack of cloud cover causes warmer-than-average temperatures.

“Most international climate models surveyed by the Bureau indicate that the tropical Pacific is likely to warm to El Niño thresholds by the end of spring,” the BoM said in an ENSO report.

“El Niño during spring typically results in below-average rainfall in eastern and northern Australia.

An El Niño event in Australia means rainfall generally moves off-land, causing temperatures to skyrocket and land to dry up. (BoM)

“In summer, this drying influence retracts to tropical regions of Australia, although the possibility of high temperatures elsewhere remains high.”

While an El Niño does not always spark drought-like conditions, if the system does form it will come as most of eastern Australia is battling the crippling effects of a dry spell.

In its seasonal outlook for Spring last month, the BoM also said the widespread drought looks to continue for some time amid a dry season and lower-than-average rainfall.

The strong weather system would hit as most of Australia’s eastern states are battling the crippling effects of drought. (AAP)

Spring rainfall is likely to be below average for much of mainland Australia, with strongest chances of a drier-than-average season in southern New South Wales, Victoria and south-west Western Australia.

Daytime temperatures during spring are also expected to be warmer than average in the north and west of the country.

“These regions need a lot of rain to break the current drought,” Bureau of Meteorology manager of long range forecasting Dr Andrew Watkins said.

An earlier BoM seasonal outlook also predicted that Spring will be dry and battling farmers will not feel the relief of rainfall. (AAP)

“Like all Australians, all of us at the Bureau of Meteorology are hoping those affected by the drought will get the rain they need soon.

“Unfortunately, our outlooks show odds favouring a drier and warmer than average spring for many areas.”

Press link for more:


#ClimateChange in Malaysia: floods, less food, and water shortages – #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #EndCoal #ClimateEmergency

Climate change in Malaysia: floods, less food, and water shortages – yet its people are complacent

Sea levels and temperatures are rising, but most Malaysians don’t link this to climate change, and even fewer care about the issue. Experts say it’s time the country adapted to a phenomenon that will only grow

Shamil NorshidiThursday, 20 Sep 2018, 11:04AM

Dr Hezri Adnan was at a coffee shop near Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippine capital on what seemed like just another work day. Warnings of a typhoon had been buzzing for days, but no one seemed to be making a fuss.

As the scholar settled down with his latte and emails, the cafe fell eerily silent, pausing at the sound of trees snapping outside. “Tree branches were flying. A one-tonne pickup truck actually fell on its side because of the wind,” Hezri says of the 2006 typhoon.

How many more will have to die as Asia gets hotter?

At the time, Hezri was conducting comparative climate studies focusing on Malaysia and the Philippines. That morning’s storm – Typhoon Xangsane, called Milenyo in the Philippines – proved timely for his data collection, but at that moment, intrigue gave way to fear for the softly spoken scientist.

Hezri and a few dozen other morning commuters would be stranded in the cafe for two hours waiting for the storm to die down.

Scholar Hezri Adnan (second from the right) doing field work in Tasik Chini, Malaysia. Photo: Shamil Norshidi

Twelve years on, Hezri is a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, and has become a leading consultant in the country’s fight against climate change. A specialist in environmental policy and sustainable development strategy, he co-founded the Buwana Institute in Indonesia to explore how culture allied to technology can forge a greener future.

Recalling the 2006 storm, Hezri says: “I can imagine if this were to happen in Kuala Lumpur. People would panic – we’re not used to it.”

Typhoon Mangkhut: hopes fade for Philippines landslide victims

The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 typhoons every year, according to the Asian Disaster Reduction Centre, about five of which are destructive. With global temperatures rising, the storms are becoming more severe. In December last year, 266 people died when Tropical Storm Tembin slammed into the country, while a still unknown number died when Typhoon Mangkhut struck the northern part of Luzon island last week.

Malaysia is fortunate not to be in the path of such monster cyclones, but climate scientists’ projections for 2030 are worrying enough. Selangor, Malaysia’s richest state and home to almost six million people, is expected to experience more frequent water shortages, says Dr Renard Siew, Malaysian head of the Climate Reality Project, an education and advocacy group established by former US vice-president Al Gore.

Low water level at Sungai Selangor Dam. Photo: Alamy

Climate change is causing extreme variations in rainfall, says Siew, and areas including the one where the Sungai Selangor Dam – which supplies 60 per cent of Kuala Lumpur’s water – is located have recently become drier.

Malaysians won’t just be queuing longer for water, but for hospital treatment for heatstroke and the consequences of a lack of clean water, says Siew.

Coordinated response needed to fight threat of climate change

If estimations are correct, by 2030 about a quarter of Malaysia’s population will be displaced because of climate change, Siew says. The worst floods in the past 30 years have all occurred since 2003. Those in 2006, 2007, 2010, 2014 and 2017 were particularly bad.

Dr Renard Siew is the Malaysian head of the Climate Reality Project. Photo: Shamil Norshidi

As sea levels and temperatures rise, the situation will only get worse. For every one degree Celsius increase in temperature, Siew says, the Earth’s atmosphere will absorb 7 per cent more moisture – resulting in more extreme weather.

Floods in the northern state of Kelantan last year caused more than 30 million ringgit (US$7.2 million) in damage. December 2017 floods in Penang cost the island state 34 million ringgit]. Such costs could skyrocket by 2030. “My estimation is in the range of [1 trillion ringgit],” Siew says.

Growing up in Kuantan, on Peninsular Malaysia’s east coast, Siew could not accept that the floods he was witnessing were simply an “act of God”, as he was told. His search for the truth led him to Tanzania in East Africa, where he studied how farmers used technology to adapt to extreme drought.

Scientists say the Zika virus, carried by mosquitoes, spread because of rising temperatures. Photo: Alamy

Along with extreme weather, Malaysia will also face biological threats, Siew says.

Mitigation is doing our part to prevent temperatures from rising. Adaptation is to assume that temperatures are rising, and to prepare for it.

Dr Renard Siew

“The Zika virus has always existed in mosquitoes [of the Aedes genus], it’s just that it hasn’t become widespread in the past because temperatures were still moderate. Mosquitoes would die off before the virus could develop. So with temperatures increasing, mosquitoes can really become a vector for that disease,” he says. Zika can cause birth defects and is linked to Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a serious autoimmune disorder. A Zika epidemic struck the Americas in 2015 and 2016.

Malaysia is seeing a 10 to 15 per cent drop in farm yields annually because of unpredictable weather, says Siew. The trend could see more farmers deserting their fields, harming families and Malaysia’s food security.

Both Hezri and Siew agree it’s time for Malaysia to focus on adapting to climate change as well as seeking to mitigate it.

“Mitigation is doing our part to prevent temperatures from rising. Adaptation is to assume that temperatures are rising, and to prepare for it,” Siew says.

But Hezri points to a basic problem: the lack of data to facilitate adaptation.

“I would have expected that, over 60 years after independence, we would have a very detailed flood hazard map. I was surprised it’s still being developed,” he says.

Yeo Bee Yin leads the Energy, Green Technology, Science and Climate Change Ministry in Malaysia. Photo: Shamil Norshidi

There is a ray of hope, though. In July, two months after the new Pakatan Harapan government was voted in, Yeo Bee Yin, 35, was appointed as Malaysia’s youngest female cabinet minister, in charge of the newly created Energy, Green Technology, Science and Climate Change Ministry.

And she’s already drawn up her battle lines. Yeo will be manoeuvring Malaysia – heavily reliant on fossil fuels –towards an economy based on renewable energy.

Renewable energy not yet a threat to oil and gas industry

“I do not agree with [the idea of increasing] the price of electricity so that people use less electricity. The first priority of the government is to provide a better life for our people – that means affordable living,” Yeo says.

She points to the Sungai Selangor Dam as an example of how Malaysia is adapting. Three years ago, when experts began noticing lower levels of water in the dam, the state implemented a “hybrid off-river augmentation system”, with new collection ponds created downstream.

The success of this adaptive policy may hinge on pressure from the public. Selangor and Penang states have one of the largest concentrations anywhere in Malaysia of NGOs focused on climate change.

Mike Campton is assistant manager of the Malaysian Youth Delegation. Photo: Shamil Norshidi

Mike Campton represents one of them. Born and raised in Malaysia, Campton is assistant manager of the Malaysian Youth Delegation, a youth movement that champions education on climate change policy.

While studying in San Francisco, Campton saw how the environmentalist culture of an outdoors-loving public can push forward a green agenda.

Groups like Campton’s must confront an uncomfortable truth: Malaysia has never favoured forgoing today’s comforts for tomorrow’s sustainability – one of Yeo’s biggest conundrums. How do you move Malaysia towards a green economy when many citizens can’t comprehend climate change?

A worker carries out mosquito fogging in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Alamy

In research conducted by Hezri to determine the level of awareness in Malaysia of global warming, only 40 per cent of respondents linked rising temperatures and sea levels to climate change.

A similar Merdeka Centre survey in 2016 found that only 32 per cent of Malaysians were concerned about climate change.

Mahathir expands cabinet, appoints youngest-ever minister

Campton bemoans the lack of debate, and says that, ultimately, this can be blamed on Malaysia’s culture of convenience. “Even with public transport available, ‘KL-ites’ would rather take their car because of convenience,” he says of people who live in the capital.

No single issue underscores Yeo’s dilemma more than the debate over fuel subsidies. Since May, the new administration has spent some 1.4 billion ringgit on reinstating fuel subsidies.

Malaysians travel by boat after flooding in 2017. Photo: AFP

The Malaysian Youth Delegation has voiced opposition to the move, warning that the subsidy is essentially money to pollute. The greater cost, it argues, will be seen in the future in the form of more floods, landslides, droughts and potentially loss of life.

Yeo is diplomatic on the issue, stating that many people outside the Malaysian capital would suffer without fuel subsidies.

How climate change can cause more super typhoons

Despite acknowledging the Malaysian Youth Delegation’s concerns, she says the current round of subsidies is only intended to stabilise prices. The next step is to move towards targeted subsidies, “meaning only the poor will receive them”, Yeo says.

Meanwhile, Hezri believes the answer could lie in appealing to people’s spiritual side. The population of Malaysia is 61 per cent Muslim, 19 per cent Buddhist, nine per cent Christian and six per cent Hindu. “If you can tap into the commitment and power of religious influence, half of the matter is solved,” he says.

Though Malaysia’s religious diversity has often precipitated social tension, he says the threat of climate change and the basic survival of its communities may finally bring people of different faiths together.

Press link for more: SCMP.COM

Few countries are pricing carbon high enough to meet climate targets #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateChange is now a #ClimateEmergency #StopAdani #EndCoal #UNFCCC

Governments need to raise carbon prices much faster if they are to meet their commitments on cutting emissions and slowing the pace of climate change under the Paris Agreement, according to a new OECD report.

Effective Carbon Rates 2018: Pricing Carbon Emissions through Taxes and Emissions Trading presents new data on taxes and tradeable permits for carbon emissions in 42 OECD and G20 countries accounting for around 80% of global emissions.

It finds that today’s carbon prices – while slowly rising – are still too low to have a significant impact on curbing climate change.

The report shows that the carbon pricing gap – which compares actual carbon prices and real climate costs, estimated at EUR 30 per tonne of CO2 – was 76.5% in 2018.

This compares favourably with the 83% carbon gap reported in 2012 and the 79.5% gap in 2015, but it is still insufficient.

At the current pace of decline, carbon prices will only meet real costs in 2095.

Much faster action is needed to incentivise companies to innovate and compete to bring about a low-carbon economy and to stimulate households to adopt low-carbon lifestyles.

“The gulf between today’s carbon prices and the actual cost of emissions to our planet is unacceptable,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “Pricing carbon correctly is a concrete and cost-effective way to slow climate change.

We are wasting an opportunity to steer our economies along a low-carbon growth path and losing precious time with every day that passes.”

The report measures carbon prices using the Effective Carbon Rate, which is the sum of three components: specific taxes on fossil fuels, carbon taxes and prices of tradeable emission permits. All three instruments increase the price of high-carbon relative to low- and zero-carbon fuels, encouraging energy users to go for low- or zero-carbon options.

The vast majority of emissions in industry and in the residential and commercial sector are entirely unpriced, the report finds.

The carbon pricing gap is lowest for road transport (21% against the EUR 30 benchmark) and highest for industry (91%). The gap is over 80% in the electricity and the residential and commercial sectors.

Country analysis on 2015 carbon prices shows large variations, with carbon pricing gaps ranging from as low as 27% in Switzerland to above 90% in some emerging economies. France, India, Korea, Mexico and the United Kingdom substantially reduced their carbon pricing gaps between 2012 and 2015. Yet, still only 12 of the 42 countries studied had pricing gaps of below 50% in 2015.

New carbon pricing initiatives in some countries, such as China’s emissions trading scheme and renewed efforts in Canada and France to price carbon, could significantly reduce these gaps. The carbon-intensity of GDP is usually lower in countries with lower carbon pricing gaps.

The report rates emission trading as an effective way to price emissions, providing permit prices are stable at realistically high levels. Taxes have the advantage of simple administration, especially if grafted onto existing tax regimes. Revenue-neutral reforms can enable other taxes to be cut or carbon pricing can facilitate domestic revenue mobilisation.

Read Effective Carbon Rates 2018

Download a summary with key findings

Press link for more: OECD.ORG

Let Us Now See #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #EndCoal Demand #ClimateAction

How can we learn to see climate change around us?

What would it really look like for climate change to come into our homes and lives?

It used to be that climate change was portrayed as a distant, abstract phenomenon.

Popular writing sought to persuade readers of its existence and scientific credibility, to rouse them with calls to action in hopes of combating incipient warming before predicted effects became palpable.

By contrast, three recent books—Jeff Goodell’s The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World, Ashley Dawson’s Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change, and Elizabeth Rush’s Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore—drop us into a world that is undeniably and irrevocably in flux.

The books traverse overlapping geographies in their shared attention to a United States already marked by flooding seas (for the authors, Hurricane Sandy was a common turning point, the moment when climate change’s ramifications hit home).

Yet they offer lessons that are distinct.

Each book provides a different lens, a specific tool in crafting a new way of seeing.

This is a sight that allows us to look through physical, economic, social, and political “certainties,” showing them to be faulty guides to the reality we face.

No easy answers or assured next steps are forthcoming here, but we emerge empowered nonetheless—better equipped to navigate our turbulent present and future and to grapple with truths about climate change in newly tangible, alarming, and necessary ways.

We Can’t Buy Time

Building on a series of articles in Rolling Stone, Jeff Goodell’s The Water Will Come takes readers on what feels like a rock-star tour of resilience.

Or, more accurately, the dispiriting lack thereof—even and perhaps especially among those who bring ample resources to bear.

From a helicopter hovering over the gleaming towers of downtown Miami to Air Force One in the company of President Barack Obama, Goodell chronicles how a subset of the rich and powerful are coming to perceive the challenges posed by global warming.

On the one hand, this is a vantage point from which certain dimensions of change are increasingly visible; in Greenland, for instance, “climate paparazzi” now swarm the melting “Kim Kardashian of glaciers,” while ever-higher tides swamp the luxe streets of Miami Beach.

On the other hand, this visibility gives rise to schemes that seem driven by much the same boosterism and thirst for profit that brought ill-fated developments such as Miami Beach into being in the first place.

One outsized example Goodell describes is the MOSE barrier, aka the “Ferrari on the seafloor,” under construction in Italy’s Venetian Lagoon. With a name intended to invoke Moses’s divine power to part the waters, MOSE is promoted as a way to protect the ancient buildings of Venice from rising and corrosive waves.

However, despite MOSE’s mind-boggling immensity—costly enough for corrupt officials to skim off perhaps as much as $1 billion from the project before being caught, weighty enough to tip the scales at more like 25,000 Ferraris—the barrier appears dazzlingly inadequate. It was designed for a mere eight inches of sea level rise by the end of the century, Goodell reports, a point in time now expected to see closer to eight feet of extra water.

Still, a spokesperson assures him, MOSE should keep the water out until 2050 or so. “After that,” the spokesperson acknowledges, “the sea will come in from other places … There is nothing we can do to stop it.” Like many of the other plans and projects Goodell encounters over the course of the book, MOSE presents an enormous investment of resources aimed primarily at “buying time”—a phrase that recurs throughout The Water Will Come.

The pervasiveness of attempts to “buy time” speaks to the dominant desire to forestall a particular future for as long as financially possible or profitable. It also signals a wish or perceived need to prolong the status quo, even when so doing will paradoxically work to hasten rather than avert the direst outcomes.

When pressed on what happens next, beyond the buying of time, Goodell’s interlocutors have a tendency to issue vague assurances in the passive voice: “solutions will be found,” they say, “something will be done.”

The flipside of this evangelical faith is acquiescence to the apocalyptic, which leads people of particular means to play what Goodell calls “real estate roulette.” The gamble: when to sell one’s property in order to make maximal gains and escape before the money—and time—runs out. Until then, fossil-fueled lifestyles continue apace, driving ever up worst-case estimates of what the future holds.

We Can’t Ignore History

If much of The Water Will Come depicts the misadventures of those with power to buy time, Ashley Dawson’s Extreme Cities details how this power became concentrated among an elite few partly through foreclosing the futures of others.

In the “extreme cities” of the book’s title, vulnerability to the impacts of climate change stems as much from extreme inequality as it does from exposure to extremes of weather or geography.

Extreme Cities begins with Hurricane Sandy, which wreaked especial havoc in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the Americas, before going on to strike New York City, one of the wealthiest cities in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

Here, too, those who had been most vulnerable before the storm made up most of the hardest hit: 55 percent of storm-surge victims in New York City, Dawson notes, were low-income renters making an average of $18,000 a year.

The story of these local and global disparities extends beyond the storm; “Haiti and New York were linked long before Sandy by centuries of imperialism and racial capitalism,” Dawson explains, which laid the groundwork for uneven vulnerability in the present. Taking readers back to the 18th century, he narrates how the people of Haiti succeeded in overthrowing their French enslavers and declaring independence, only to have France demand payment for slaveholders’ lost “capital.” The resulting debt was compounded in ensuing decades by US-backed dictators and foreign aid that went to fund private NGOs in place of public infrastructure and services. “The plunder of Haiti,” Dawson writes, “which left the island defenseless when Hurricane Sandy barreled down on it, is a product of the very same system that has amassed wealth, power, and a degree of insulation (for some) from disasters in global cities such as New York.”

Coming to terms with climate change means learning a new way of seeing.

It is these insulated some whose high levels of consumption have also contributed disproportionately to the emissions that drive global warming. And in a further climate injustice, the world’s wealthiest are well positioned not just to protect themselves from what they’ve wrought but also to profit, becoming insulated and enriched through what Dawson terms “accumulation by adaptation,” while the majority of the world’s population, urban and rural alike, suffer the consequences.

Extreme Cities does more than simply lay out the existence of these disparities; it illuminates the relationship between them. By recovering such connections, the book tells a different story than The Water Will Come, even as both engage common sites, projects, and experts in climate science and urban engineering.

Dawson and Goodell similarly decry the stark inequality that characterizes climate impacts and the ability to adapt (both books, for instance, contain chapters called “Climate Apartheid”). But while The Water Will Come depicts the dramatic social divides of cities such as Miami and Lagos, Extreme Cities analyzes the production of these divides and, in so doing, draws out their relationship to the forces driving environmental destruction and runaway warming. The book thus works to avoid what Kyle Powys Whyte critiques as the “bad luck view” of climate injustice, which presents uneven vulnerability as arising from “an accidental convergence” of the new problem of climate change with the existing but purportedly unrelated effects of systems such as settler colonialism.2

In truth, carbon-intensive industrial development was facilitated by acts of colonial and capitalist extraction, exploitation, and violence. This continues to be the case, driving environmental change while actively constraining the ability of those most affected by this change to adapt.3 It is these histories of engineered vulnerability that fill the pages of Extreme Cities, underscoring the extent to which the past recurs in the present and—barring the success of social movements and mass collective action—threatens to persist in producing radically unequal futures.

We Can’t Pretend We Are Not of This World

The threat from which the “elite emitters” profiled in Extreme Cities and The Water Will Come seek to protect themselves is not simply the warming climate and resulting redistribution of water.

Rather, it is the associated redistribution of wealth and population that might follow.

It is anxiety about such redistribution that gives rise to racialized visions of what The Water Will Come unfortunately follows its subjects in referring to as a “flood of climate refugees.” (Those with assets as mobile as they are, the players of real estate roulette, are not counted among this “flood,” nor is their search for safety freighted with the same policing and concern).

Reporting from the Paris climate talks in December 2015, shortly after a series of terrorist attacks on the city, Goodell describes an “unspoken fear” pervasive among attendees at the talks.

The fear is that the attacks offered “a preview of things to come,” should climate change go on to displace vast numbers of people.

A dangerous link is thus constructed between displacement and terrorism, a link that reappears after Goodell visits Makoko, a neighborhood of informal homes in Lagos, Nigeria.

Residents there have proven skillful at sustaining themselves in a permeable landscape, but Makoko is a place under increasing threat—not from climate change but from government officials bent on demolishing the neighborhood as out of place on a waterfront being rebuilt for the wealthy. “In a rational world,” Goodell writes, “the city of Lagos or the government of Nigeria or some wealthy oil baron … would invest a few hundred thousand dollars in improving sanitation for the people in Makoko and hold them up as model citizens of the future. Instead,” he laments, “their houses will be chain-sawed or burned and they will be forced to live on the streets or jam themselves into tiny rooms in shabby concrete-block buildings … creating a new generation of refugees who may or may not turn to crime or terrorism.”

The intended point, that the very people who have engineered some of the most innovative and sustainable solutions to living with environmental change are being maligned, ignored, and forced ever further to society’s margins, to the detriment of all, has merit. But in casting the victims of violence as its potential future perpetrators, such statements risk reinforcing the very trend Goodell condemns, of countries turning “inward” and “turning their backs on displaced people of any sort.”4

As The Water Will Come and Extreme Cities both illustrate and warn against, anxieties about climate change can all too easily slip between the fearful power of rising waves and racist fears projected onto the least powerful.

Elizabeth Rush’s Rising is a book that seeks to unravel such fears.

The encounters with climate change that it traces are at once less anthropocentric and more humane. To the hard-hitting analysis of Extreme Cities and globetrotting action of The Water Will Come, Rising brings close attention to the emotional, embodied experiences through which effects of climate change become meaningful in everyday life.

Rush reports from parts of the United States where these effects are viscerally present: a Maine marsh whose “musky, almost strawberry scent” reveals its rot from the intruding salt water, an Oregon forest where shifting birdsong marks changes in habitats and migratory routes, the Gulf Coast barrier island eaten away by oil-company canals whose inhabitants have begun the slow, solemn “work of unsettling the shore.”

Throughout, she chronicles the toll taken not just on her myriad interlocutors—plant, animal, and human—but also on her own body and mind. Rush finds her sleep disrupted by dreams of surging water and recognizes a new kind of nausea-inducing anxiety she terms “endsickness,” which sets in with any sign of unusual environmental conditions. “The world isn’t only the physical universe of objects outside the body,” she writes, meditating on a quote by Wendell Berry, “it also hums within the mind, is the constellation of thoughts we have about tangible matter,” such that “just imagining an end to the world as we know it means also, at least partially, losing your own mind.”

Refusing to detach the intrusions of human-caused climate change from other interrelated forms of systemic, embodied violence, Rising also depicts the sexual assault and harassment Rush confronted while doing reporting for the book.

Anxieties about climate change can all too easily slip between the fearful power of rising waves and racist fears projected onto the least powerful.

On one trip to Pensacola, Florida, Rush relates, she made her way to a trailer at the far end of a flood-prone neighborhood mostly abandoned by its former residents. Accompanying her was a fellow researcher, Samuel, an expert in assessing risk. Samuel’s presence, Rush notes, soothed her initial fear of entering the home of the man who opened the trailer’s door. This man, Alvin, was, in contrast to Rush and Samuel, black and poor, a wound visible on his leg. “In the moment I first stood in Alvin’s doorway,” Rush confides, “I believed—if briefly—that he was the risk and Samuel a feeble form of protection.” Yet, as it happened, “the exact opposite had been true.” After leaving Alvin’s home, when they are alone on a Pensacola beach, Samuel grabs Rush from behind and kisses her without consent.

Reflecting on her faulty first impressions, Rush comes to see a pattern in how the dominant cultural tropes of a racist, patriarchal society taught her to misidentify the true threats to her safety. “The more I sat with this knowledge,” she writes, “the more I felt that I had begun to understand the perverse nature of risk: That those considered at risk are taught to fear or distrust each other, instead of those who stand to lose the most should the edifice of white male power crumble.”

Such fear and distrust, Rush notes, can make it difficult to cultivate the empathy, solidarity, and collective action necessary to sustain ourselves in these times and to alter the course of “an unjust society whose governing principles, social norms, and laws were not, generally speaking, written by those who know, intimately, the fear that comes with physical peril.” Written by men like Samuel, for whom “peril is primarily financial … at a safe remove” from his own body and mind, the time is ripe for their dismantling, for new authors, perspectives, and practices to emerge.

We Can’t Look Away

For Rush, Dawson, and Goodell, coming to terms with climate change means learning a new way of seeing. Reading The Water Will Come, this way of seeing surfaces in the disjuncture between the book’s glossy cover, featuring futuristic half-submerged Miami skyscrapers, the spiel of Miami Beach boosters, and Goodell’s barefoot encounter with the sewage that floods up through the city’s storm drains, lacing the encroaching tides with levels of fecal matter hundreds of times higher than state limits.

For Dawson it arises in the small moments of foreboding that fill daily life in New York after Sandy—when “endemic subway delays from heavy rain … no longer seem like mere temporary inconveniences, but rather prologues to a permanently drowned city”—and the glimpses of possibility in mutual aid forms of “disaster communism” that suggest more viable futures.

In Rush’s case it is as much a mode of listening as seeing, of tuning in to the sounds, songs, and warning bells of species she does not readily understand, as well as to the voices of people whose stories she can hear and record but whose reality she can never fully inhabit. Making space for these voices on the page, Rising intersperses Rush’s writing with the transcribed firsthand accounts of others, modeling a more open, “radically egalitarian” way of living with change. “What,” Rush asks us to imagine, “might [it] look like if we thought of sea level rise as an opportunity to mend our relationship with the land and with each other?”

Ultimately, all three authors conclude with the realization that in Rush’s words, “we must learn to retreat”—to unbuild the places where we live and, in the process, learn to unsee our homes, habitats, and the borders and boundaries in between as fixed, coming to see them instead as fluid, impermanent, and open to change, while recognizing that “the ability to move … is a privilege not shared equally by everyone and everything currently residing along the water’s edge.”

One wonders what these ways of seeing climate change might have revealed had they not been set at “the water’s edge.” What if it had been a heat wave, drought, or even inland flooding rather than the baptism of Sandy’s surge that served as their shared inspiration and starting point for figuring what the future holds? Still, sea level rise is a reality difficult to deny, the effects of which are starting to become evident even far from the coast.

Speculative images of coastal cities swamped and abandoned are easy to come by. Harder to imagine is how we will get there and what might happen in the meantime. The Water Will Come, Extreme Cities, and Rising take on the needed work of slowing down to chronicle and consider this meantime, without shying away from its messiness. Taken together, their depictions reveal the fault lines of the future, a future that is uneven, multiplicitous, and still very much in the making.

Press link for more: Public Books

Adani reveals coal mine conceptual plan to rail owner #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #EndCoal #SaveTheReef from #ClimateChange #Drought

Adani originally planned to build a rail line from the mine to Abbot Point (pictured) for export. Photo: AAP

Adani has submitted a conceptual operating plan for its Carmichael coal mine and says it will start construction without government funding.

The plan has been submitted to the owner of the existing rail network, triggering a process that will allow Adani to begin establishing the connection of its narrow-gauge rail line.

Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow says the company is not seeking any state or federal money for the start of the mine project construction.

“There has been a lot of misinformation and speculation that we need taxpayer money to be able to build the mine and rail,” Mr Dow said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This is absolutely not the case; this project will stand on its own two feet.”

The news comes a day after the Indian mining giant admitted it had failed to declare some activity at the mine site in the Galilee Basin.

Environmental activists earlier this month published drone and satellite pictures that showed track clearing and bore drilling at the site, which they claimed was in breach of the company’s environmental conditions.

The Queensland Department of Environment and Science said last week it would investigate the claims, however Adani has now given all material to the department, claiming an administrative error is to blame for it not being handed over sooner.

Activists are ramping up pressure on the miner over its use of water, with fears its bores could affect the Great Artesian Basin.

There are also concerns Adani could take billions of litres of water from a nearby river system for use in its proposed mine.

The federal government says a broad assessment of the company’s plan to pump 12.5 billion litres of water from the Suttor River each year and pipe it to its Carmichael coal mine project does not apply.


Press link for more: The New Daily

Elizabeth Warren wants corporations to account for #climatechange @scheerlinckeva @aistbuzz #StopAdani #EndCoal #ClimateRisk #Divest #auspol #qldpol #nswpol Time to “fess up”

It’s Tuesday, September 18, and Elizabeth Warren wants corporations to ’fess up to their climate impacts.

Right now, public companies don’t have to say what kind of threat climate change poses to their business or whether they are contributing to the problem.

We simply don’t know how much major corporations are to blame for the pickle we’re in.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has a plan to change that.

On Friday, the possible 2020 presidential hopeful proposed the Climate Risk Disclosure Act.

The legislation would compel companies to disclose a wide variety of climate-related information, such as greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel investments, and how things like rising sea levels and increased temperatures might affect their operations.

If a publicly traded company is going to get hit hard by climate change and knows it, Warren thinks the public has a right to know.

Kinda makes sense!

“Climate change is a real and present danger — and it will have an enormous effect on the value of company assets,” Warren said in a statement.

The act is co-sponsored by a slew of Democratic senators, including two other rumored presidential hopefuls, Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Climate hawk Al Gore and a coalition of green groups have backed the legislation.

No Republicans have backed the act so far, and it’s pretty freakin’ unlikely that the GOP-controlled House and Senate will pass it.

But the fact that 2020’s top Democratic hopefuls are behind this effort seems like a promising sign that the party is shifting toward prioritizing climate action.

Zoya Teirstein

Press link for more: Grist

To #SaveTheReef we must stay below 1.5C Global Warming! UNESCO Update #auspol #qldpol #nswpol @TheCairnsPost @cairnscouncil @BobManningMayor #ClimateChange #StopAdani #EndCoal




Bleaching and mortality of corals due to heat stress, resulting from global warming and observed over the past three decades, is expected to continue and intensify in the coming decades unless CO2 emissions are drastically reduced.

Under a business-as-usual scenario, all 29 World Heritage-listed coral reef properties are expected to experience annual severe bleaching this century, leading to dramatic deterioration in ecological functioning and associated decline in the quality and quantity of ecosystem services provided to humanity.

In contrast, under the RCP2.6 scenario, which reflects the long term goals of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement, exposure of World Heritage-listed coral reefs to annual severe bleaching would be prevented this century.

Furthermore, nearly all of the 29 analyzed World Heritage-listed coral reefs (86%) would escape twice-per-decade severe bleaching this century.

Maintaining the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage- listed coral reef properties will continue to require strong on-site management of pressures as well as national and/or regional enabling legislation to restore resilience and reduce local human stressors while climate stabilization occurs.

However, this update confirms that delivering on the UNFCCC Paris Agreement target of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C” is essential to secure a sustainable future for World Heritage-listed coral reefs.

UNESCO update confirms remaining within 1.5°C climate target is critical for survival of World Heritage-listed coral reefs #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #EndCoal #ClimateChange @scheerlinckeva @TheCairnsPost @cairnscouncil @abcnews #TheDrum

Today, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre released an update to its 2017 first global scientific assessment of the impact of climate change on UNESCO World Heritage coral reefs.

The latest update concludes that limiting global temperatures to 1.5°C degrees above pre-industrial levels would mean World Heritage-listed coral reefs are expected to avoid severe annual bleaching this century.

Together with appropriate management of local pressures, this would allow reefs to continue to provide the vital ecosystem services including food production, coastal protection and recreation to future generations the way we enjoy them today.

Led by NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch, the update forecasts the effects of heat stress on the 29 reef-containing UNESCO World Heritage properties under a Representative Concentration Pathway RCP 2.6 scenario, in which global temperature increase would be limited to 1.5°C degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Under this scenario, which reflects the long-term term target under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement, exposure to annual severe bleaching would likely be prevented this century.

Furthermore, nearly all of the 29 analyzed World Heritage-listed coral reefs (86%) would escape twice-per-decade severe bleaching this century and thus secure a sustainable future for the planets most iconic reef systems.

“While the World Heritage Convention’s work to strengthen on-site management of local pressures enhance resilience of World Heritage-listed coral reefs’ Outstanding Universal Value, this new scientific information shows clearly that delivering on the Paris Agreement is essential for the survival of this iconic part of our global heritage of humanity,”

says Dr. Mechtild Rössler, Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Heat stress events have increasingly caused severe coral bleaching and mortality of World Heritage-listed reefs around the world over the past three decades.

During the 2014-2017 global mass bleaching event, at least 15 World Heritage-listed coral reefs were exposed to repeated severe heat stress, with mortality rates in some locations among the highest ever recorded.

Bleaching and mortality of corals due to heat stress are expected to continue and intensify in the coming decades unless carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are reduced drastically.

Under “business-as-usual scenario”, all 29 World Heritage-listed coral reef properties are expected to experience annual severe bleaching this century, leading to dramatic deterioration in ecological functioning.

Many of them are expected to cease to host functioning coral reef ecosystems under such scenario.

Full Report

The update was produced in response to World Heritage Committee Decision 41 COM7 (Krakow/UNESCO, 2017) to make available the most current knowledge regarding the impacts of climate change on World Heritage properties.

It also responds to the 2017 “UNESCO Strategy for Action on Climate Change”, adopted by the 39th session of the UNESCO General Conference, in particular by raising awareness on the impacts of climate change on the world’s natural and cultural heritage. Work is currently underway to revise the World Heritage committee’s policy on climate change.

This report benefited from in-kind support from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the University of Miami, and the University of Colorado for which the World Heritage Centre is grateful.

Press link for more: UNESCO

The World’s Dirtiest Air #ClimateChange #AirPollution #Coal isn’t “Good for humanity” #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #EndCoal

In Mongolia’s capital, people are literally dying to breathe.

How did this city reach a point where air pollution is 100 times worse than the accepted limit?

By Marcel Theroux, Kate Hardie-Buckley

“In the last few months we haven’t gone far from the hospital.

This air pollution is affecting our kids in an extremely bad way,” Ganbaatar explains after stoking a fire to warm his house in Ulaanbataar.

The citizens of Mongolia’s capital are literally dying to breathe.

Ganbaatar’s son Mungun is only eight months old.

He is exhausted from coughing and breathes from a tank of oxygen.

It’s his second visit to the intensive care ward in two weeks.

He lays in a hospital cot, laboring, but unable to clear his lungs. His mother, Bolor Erdenes, is by his side.

“When he cries, I cry with him. I can’t help him,” she says.

“When I first arrived in the capital in 2000 the air pollution wasn’t as bad as it is now. But my third child was born premature and has been hospitalized several times.”

Coal is killing us!

Smog from the same raw coal used to heat housing in the world’s coldest capital blankets the city in toxic PM2.5 particulate matter.

Earlier this year Ulaanbaatar’s pollution level was recorded to be 133 times above the World Health Organisation’s limit.

“The doctor has advised us to leave the city so Mungun can get some clean air,” Ganbaatar says.

“They warned us if he got sick again it would be much worse. That’s why we’re leaving,”

With summer droughts and freezing winters making life in the countryside hard to sustain, Mongolia’s citizens find themselves in an impasse: Stay in the city and choke – or move away at their own risk.

Press link for more: SBS

Don’t miss this episode of #DateLine

Climate Change and Air Pollution caused by burning coal is an insidious combination driving people into the cities and killing their children.

At the Edge of the World, Facing the End of the World #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #EndCoal #ClimateEmergency #FridaysForFuture #C40

At the Edge of the World, Facing the End of the World

Matt Simon

Getty Images

Writing about climate change is an exercise in managed insanity.

The human mind isn’t equipped to parse a crisis—the greatest in the history of our species—of such complexity and urgency and darkness.

With record-breaking superstorms ravaging coastlines at a regular clip, it’s hard to feel good about the impact that Homo sapiens has had on our leafy, temperate, Goldilocks planet.

You might even go so far as to suggest that the human species is a plague, given the untold destruction we’ve wrought on this planet.

Once you subscribe to that argument, it becomes nearly impossible to think of a noble pursuit for a person.

Doctors save lives—firefighters too.

Teachers hope toinspire the next great genius, maybe someone like Norman Borlaug, whose agricultural breakthroughs allowed our population to balloon on a planet with only so much arable land.

All noble pursuits in the name of spreading the human plague.

The thing about the human plague is that while it’s busy wrecking the planet, it’s also demolishing us.

Climate change will destroy not just our bodies, but our psyches.

Supercharged rivers will wash away cities.

Even when we should know better, because we have more than abundant science to back it up, the Trump administration prepares to obliterate regulations controlling methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases.

That plague theory is holding up.

Josh Frydenberg Australia’s new treasurer Loves Coal

Scott Morrison Australia’s new Prime Minister Loves Coal

Trump Loves Coal

But unlike a plague, we can think.

We can plan.

A plague tears through a population indiscriminately.

It can’t pull back when it starts running out of victims and say, Whoa, what am I doing?

If I keep this up, it’ll be the end of me!

We can, and last week at the Global Climate Action Summit, many of the best minds the human species can muster gathered to right the course.

These people included but were not limited to: environmentalists, mayors from around the world, human rights activists, technologists, academics, business leaders, labor leaders, and former secretaries of state.

The kinds of folks with noble pursuits.

This was climate change activism without borders.

If the Paris Agreement, drafted in 2015, was about governments coming together to fight, last week’s event showed that the most ambitious climate action isn’t happening on the national scale—it’s cities and states that are leading the way.

It’s easy to think that our presidents or prime ministers, our queens or our kings, are the undisputed arbiters of a country’s direction.

Not so.

For several thousand years, it’s been the cities that truly guide a nation.

Cities are where citizens trade goods and ideas.

Cities are where foreigners bring their own cultures and knowledge. And cities are were innovation flourishes.

Cities have always competed with each other, but they have also shared ideas.

And so it goes with developing and deploying green technologies. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti put it to me best: “When Shenzhen says, I’ve got 100 percent of our bus fleet electrified and all of our taxis, that’s good competition for LA to try to catch.

Shenzhen China has 16,369 electric powered buses.

And it’s collaborative in the sense that when people back in LA say there’s no way we can electrify our buses by 2030, I can point to the fact that Shenzhen in China just did it, and it took them two and a half, three years.”

While environmentalists or, really, anyone who cares about the future of Earth, have been getting bent out of shape about Trump, cities and states have been gaining tremendous ground in the battle against climate change.

Last week, an organization called C40, essentially a climate-change-busting network of international metropolises, announced that 27 of its member cities had already peaked in their emissions and had come down at least 10 percent from that high.

On the other side of the country, as I write this, Hurricane Florence is tearing the Carolinas to pieces, just days after news broke that the Trump administration had transferred $10 million from FEMA to ICE.

Bad enough in a world without climate change, but all the worse in a world where warmer waters are feeding stronger hurricanes. Scientists suspect Florence is no exception.

And so the climate chasm between American cities and the federal government widens. That’s instilled a sense of urgency in mayors, who were already leading the way on mitigation. The president has galvanized that movement, not crippled it. While Trump’s EPA does literally the opposite of protecting the environment (do keep in mind that a Republican, none other than Nixon, created the EPA, cities are scrambling to deploy solar panels and electric bus fleets and car charger networks. It’s what the planet demands, but also what citizens demand—constituents want clean air, no matter what the EPA does.

Al Gore got onstage Friday and said this, his voice crescendoing into a boom: “We are seeing businesses lead the way, we’re seeing investors lead the way, we’re seeing cities and counties and all kinds of civic organizations leading the way. We must we do it, we can do it. I’m convinced ever more because of the success of this summit here in San Francisco that we will do it. For anyone who doubts that we as human beings have the political will to meet our obligations that history is demanding of us, just remember that political will is itself a renewable resource.”

We’re not only the plague. We’re also the immune system, and we’re fighting back.

Press link for more: Wired