Queensland

The Morrison government’s biggest economic problem? #ClimateChange denial #StopAdani #EndCoal #WentworthVotes for #ClimateAction

By Judith Brett
The government’s stubborn commitment to coal is alienating it from its natural supporters in the business community. Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Last week Peter Costello accused Malcolm Turnbull of failing to develop an economic narrative to unite the Coalition. Turnbull promised this when he challenged Tony Abbott for the leadership of the Liberal Party, but, said Costello, it never came, and the result is a government struggling to manage deep differences over social issues. There was “jobs and growth”, but this is really just a goal without much of a story about how to get there, except for the company tax cuts. 

The big question, though, is why the government does not have a coherent economic narrative.

One possible answer is that it has been too preoccupied with social issues such as religious freedom and before that, same-sex marriage, to give the economy sufficient attention. There is something in that. 

But this does not get to the heart of the problem, which is the inability of the Coalition to face the reality of climate change and its stubborn determination to live in a parallel universe of business as usual.

It is climate change denial that is preventing the government from developing a coherent economic narrative.

To be sure, those who doubt the seriousness of climate change are now more likely to describe themselves as sceptics rather than outright deniers, but the effects are the same. Doubting the risks of climate change, opposing serious counter measures and believing in coal’s long-term future is an identity issue for many Coalition politicians.

Then-treasurer Scott Morrison brings a lump of coal to question time in February 2017. Climate change denial is holding back the government from a clear economic strategy. AAP/Mick Tsiakis

As an identity issue, it is largely impervious to evidence, as we saw in government ministers’ hasty dismissal of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report – before they had even read it, one suspects. Identity issues are also resistant to the normal processes of bargaining and compromise with which many political conflicts are resolved. The National Energy Guaranteewas the last of the government’s energy policies to founder on the suspicion that a market mechanism might damage coal. Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s Clean Energy Target met the same fate.

So now, some members of the party of private enterprise and the free market, which argued for and oversaw the privatisation of most of Australia’s power utilities, are seriously advocating that the government develop a coal-fired power station. Barnaby Joyce has been at it again in recent weeks.

When AGL announced the planned closure of its ageing Liddell coal-fired power station last year, the government strenuously tried to dissuade it, keep it running for longer or to sell it to rival power company Alinta. The pressure was very public on AGL to “do the right thing”, but also private, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ringing AGL Chairman Graeme Hunt. It was to no avail, and AGL persisted with its commercially based decision to close the plant and invest instead in the generation of renewable energy, as it had every right to do.

To state the obvious, the stubborn commitment to coal is pulling the government’s economic policy towards the sort of state socialism it is supposed to abhor. No wonder it is having difficulty developing a coherent economic narrative.

Further, it is alienating the government, and the Liberal Party in particular, from its natural supporters in the business community. With the collapse of the NEG, the government has no energy policy to provide certainty to business and investors. The focus of the new minister for energy, Angus Taylor, has contracted to reducing power prices for consumers. Climate policy has been shifted back into the portfolio of the Minister for the Environment, separating energy from emissions and further demonstrating the identity denialism that distorts the government’s economic narrative. Faced with doubts about Australia’s capacity to meet its agreed to Paris targets, the government blithely says we are “on track”.

But most big business outside the fossil fuel industries is not in denial about the real risks of climate change, nor the imperatives of international action. Since Turnbull walked away from the NEG in a vain attempt to appease his critics and save his leadership, the Australian Industry Group and the Business Council of Australia have both been discussing ways to “go it alone” on emissions reduction.

Australian Financial Review journalist Phil Coorey last week quoted a member of the Business Council of Australia’s Energy and Climate Change Committee: 

Someone has got to do something. This has to be industry-led unless government wants to take over the markets.

Industry needs certainty to invest, and to maintain and create the jobs that are central to the government’s focus on “jobs and growth”. That certainty needs to last beyond the tenure of one government or even two, and have bipartisan support. 

Yet the government is unwilling to provide that certainty. As Angus Taylor told an AFR National Energy Summit last week:

There is no room for bipartisanship when we have a 26% [reduction target] and the other side has 45%.

But because climate policy has become an identity issue for some members of the Coalition, and they fight on it tooth and nail, is has been removed from the normal processes of policy formation.

No wonder the government can’t develop a coherent economic narrative.

Press link for more: The Conversation

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Trump’s & @ScottMorrisonMP Climate Denial Isn’t Just a War on Our Coastlines. It’s a War on Our Brains. #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #WentworthVotes for #ClimateAction #StopAdani #EndCoal

Trump’s Climate Denial Isn’t Just a War on Our Coastlines. It’s a War on Our Brains.

The effects of small-particulate pollution are going to get worse with climate change. Photo: Jed Share/Kaoru Share//Getty Images

The list of crimes Donald Trump has committed against the planet, in just two years, is already so impeachably long that his slippery-fish climate denial registers as hardly more than a footnote. “I have a natural instinct for science,” the president bragged to the Associated Press Tuesday, a week after the U.N.’s IPCC raised the alarm on global warming that is much faster, and more horrifying, than it had acknowledged before. “And I will say that you have scientists on both sides of the picture,” said Trump. On Sunday, Lesley Stahl pressed the president on his contention that there were scientists saying that extreme weather had been worse in the past: “Who says that? ‘They say’?” Trump responded, defensively, “People say. People say.”

It was an especially grotesque demonstration of bad faith, given that just weeks ago, his administration had announced that, as a matter of climate policy, it was now assuming a worst-case global warming scenario — four degrees Celsius this century, an assumption suggesting that any effort to regulate American emissions would be effectively pointless.

In the blink of an eye, the Republican Party seemed to pass directly from insisting that global warming isn’t happening to taking for granted a climate hellscape so inevitable that there’s nothing we can, or should, do about it.

The climate is already warmer than it has ever been at any point in human history. Should we get all the way to four degrees of warming, it will be warmer than in many millions of years, since the Arctic was effectively tropical and oceans were hundreds of feet higher. But Trump’s know-nothing-ism here is trivial compared to the cruel indifference of his actual policies: pulling out of the climate accords, of course, so spitefully that he had the band at the press conference play “Summertime” before the announcement; rolling back limits on the emission of methane, a far stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

These are environmental policies scientists say could kill 80,000 per decade(actually more: they say their findings account for just a fraction of the impact), and which even Trump’s own EPA admits would kill at least hundreds every year.

But one under-noticed horror arrived last week, when the EPA announced it was formally disbanding its own panel devoted to studying the effects of what’s called small-particulate pollution.

What is that?

It’s most of what you think of as air pollution — the tiny, dirty stuff that smogs up the air. It’s produced whenever you burn fossil fuels — in power plants, in cars, in coal furnaces — but also by volcanoes, dust storms, and wildfires.

You can also mitigate it, using a variety of clean-up and filtration technologies that are, in just about every part of the industrialized world, required to some degree.

The disbanding of this panel is a sign that, well, compared to every other advanced nation in the world, the Trump administration just isn’t going to worry about small-particulate matter very much.

This is very bad. The term “small-particulate” suggests a trivial form of pollution, but while the particles are small, the effects are actually enormous. About 9 million people die each year, globally, from small-particulate pollution — that is one out of every six deaths everywhere on the planet. This year, scientists estimated that the death toll from particulate pollution in a world two degrees warmer would be 150 million higher than at 1.5 degrees. In the U.S., the numbers are smaller, but not that much smaller: a 2013 study found 200,000 preventable deaths each year, in the U.S., from air pollution. And “lesser” effects are pervasive, too, and horrifying: small-particulate pollution causes dramatic drops in cognition, significant increases in the prevalence of mental illness, and is “strongly correlated” with dementia.

There is, actually, a silver lining here — at least that strange, now-familiar kind of silver lining for climate change, whereby awful, harrowing news seems possibly to contain the potential to wake people up from their suicidal slumber. The case for optimism is this: that a much more galvanizing appeal to action on climate change might be made from public health arguments than has yet been managed on the basis of sea level rises, which could reach six or eight feet by the end of the century; agriculture, which could lose as much as half of its global productivity; or wildfires, which could grow sixteenfold. (Sixteenfold!)

That appeal would have many component parts — there is the public-health cost of direct heat, which could make many of the most populous cities in India literally uninhabitable by just 2050, and do the same to large portions of the Middle East and North Africa by 2100, and infectious disease, which could bring malaria and other tropical diseases well beyond their historical habitats in a “globalization” of dengue, yellow fever, and Zika, among others. (At four degrees of warming, which we are due to reach by 2100, there would be 8 million cases of dengue each year in Latin America alone.)

But the mobilization against small-particulate pollution seems especially possible, because it builds on familiar and popular earlier eras of environmental protection (which cleaned up the air so you could see Los Angeles again from Malibu); because its effects are so massive (that death toll in the millions); and because it hits us, among other ways, in our brain function, which is both a core vanity and an immediate source of anxiety for most people in the modern world. There is already, emerging on the environmental left, a strange kind of admiration for Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who has seized the role of climate leader in the age of Trump — and who has taken aggressive action in recent years mostly in the name of public health. In 2013, a third of all deaths in China were the result of air pollution; since then, there has been an unprecedented cleanup of Chinese air, and yet more than a million people are dying each year there from pollution.

How big are the developmental and cognitive effects? The term researchers use is “huge” — the equivalent of having lost a year of education. Reducing Chinese pollution to the EPA standard, they found, would improve the country’s test scores by 13 percent and its verbal scores by 8 percent —potential boosts in productivity that should alarm anyone concerned about the country’s rapid economic and geopolitical ascent. (Simple temperature rise has a robust and negative impact on test-taking, too: scores go down when it’s hotter out.) Air pollution has been linked to worse memory, attention and vocabulary, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders. A higher pollution level in the year a baby is born has been shown to reduce earnings and labor force participation at age 30, and the relationship of pollution to premature births and low birth-weight of babies is so strong that the simple introduction of E-ZPass in American cities reduced them by 10.8 percent and 11.8 percent, respectively, just by cutting down on the exhaust expelled when cars slowed down to pay tolls. Pollution has been shown to damage the development of neurons in the brain, and proximity to a coal plant can even deform your DNA.

We are still learning, in 2018, just how much social damage was done by the many varieties of lead pollution we casually countenanced all through the postwar years — IQ declines, ADHD, criminal behavior. The literature on small-particulates is much younger, but the impacts appear to be significantly worse, and every new finding seems grimmer still. It is also a reminder, if we needed one, that climate change is not just a matter of sea levels and coastlines or even wildfires in the American West and hurricanes in the Caribbean — it is an everywhere problem, enveloping everyone on the Earth in a toxic swaddle of pollution produced by burning carbon. And we are not just condemning future generations to suffer, but — in the case of small-particulates — inflicting dementia on ourselves and hindering the brain development of our children.

But there is one upside, believe it or not, to small-particulate pollution. Those particulates are one form of what is called aerosol pollution — an umbrella term for more or less everything that is now suspended in the atmosphere as a result of human activity. Globally, that pollution may be killing millions each year, and significantly diminishing the mental capacity of those who don’t die. But, while it is up there in the sky, it is also reflecting a considerable amount of sunlight back into space, which means that the Earth is somewhat cooler with that pollution — and those millions of deaths — than it would be without it. How much cooler? Estimates range from between a half-degree and a full degree Celsius. Which means that if we solve our small-particulate problem, we might also bring the planet from 1.1 degrees of warming all the way to 2 degrees — the level that the U.N. declared, just last week, an avoid-at-all-costs climate catastrophe.

Press link for more: NY MAG

Fracking protesters show, a people’s rebellion is the only way to fight #climatebreakdown #StopAdani #EndCoal #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #WentworthVotes for #ClimateAction to stop catastrophic #ClimateChange

Today, the notion of public service seems as quaint as a local post office.

We expect those who govern us to grab what they can, permitting predatory banks and corporations to fleece the public realm, then collect their reward in the form of lucrative directorships.

As the Edelman Corporation’s Trust Barometer survey reveals, trust worldwide has collapsed in all major institutions, and government is less trusted than any other.

As for the economic elite, as the consequences of their own greed and self-interest emerge, they seek, like the Roman oligarchs fleeing the collapse of the western empire, only to secure their survival against the indignant mob.

An essay by the visionary author Douglas Rushkoff this summer, documenting his discussion with some of the world’s richest people, reveals that their most pressing concern is to find a refuge from climate breakdown, and economic and societal collapse.

Should they move to New Zealand or Alaska?

How will they pay their security guards once money is worthless?

Could they upload their minds on to supercomputers?

Survival Condo, the company turning former missile silos in Kansas into fortified bunkers, has so far sold every completed unit.

Trust, the Edelman Corporation observes, “is now the deciding factor in whether a society can function”.

Unfortunately, our mistrust is fully justified.

Those who have destroyed belief in governments exploit its collapse, railing against a liberal elite (by which they mean people still engaged in public service) while working for the real and illiberal elite.

As the political economist William Davies points out, “sovereignty” is used as a code for rejecting the very notion of governing as “a complex, modern, fact-based set of activities that requires technical expertise and permanent officials”.

Nowhere is the gulf between public and private interests more obvious than in governments’ response to the climate crisis.

On Monday, UK energy minister Claire Perry announced that she had asked her advisers to produce a roadmap to a zero-carbon economy.

On the same day, fracking commenced at Preston New Road in Lancashire, enabled by the permission Perry sneaked through parliament on the last day before the summer recess.

The minister has justified fracking on the grounds that it helps the country affect a “transition to a lower-carbon economy”. But fracked gas has net emissions similar to, or worse than, those released by burning coal.

As we are already emerging from the coal era in the UK without any help from fracking, this is in reality a transition away from renewables and back into fossil fuels.

The government has promoted the transition by effectively banning onshore wind farms, while overriding local decisions to impose fracking by central diktat. Now, to prevent people from taking back control, it intends to grant blanket planning permission for frackers to operate.

None of it makes sense, until you remember the intimate relationship between the fossil fuel industry, the City (where Perry made her fortune) and the Tory party, oiled by the political donations flowing from both sectors into the party’s coffers. These people are not serving the nation.

They are serving each other.

In Germany, the government that claimed to be undergoing a great green energy transition instead pours public money into the coal industry, and deploys an army of police to evict protesters from an ancient forest to clear it for a lignite mine.

On behalf of both polluting power companies and the car industry, it has sabotaged the EU’s attempt to improve its carbon emissions target. Before she was re-elected, I argued that Angela Merkel was the world’s leading eco-vandal. She might also be the world’s most effective spin doctor: she can mislead, cheat and destroy, and people still call her Mutti. 

Other governments shamelessly flaunt their service to private interests, as they evade censure by owning their corruption. A US government report on fuel efficiency published in July concedes, unusually, that global temperatures are likely to rise by 4C this century. It then uses this forecast to argue that there is no point in producing cleaner cars, because the disaster will happen anyway. Elsewhere, all talk of climate breakdown within government is censored. Any agency seeking to avert it is captured and redirected.

In Australia, the new prime minister, Scott Morrison, has turned coal burning into a sacred doctrine. I would not be surprised if the only lump of coal he has ever handled is the one he flourished in the Australian parliament. But he dirties his hands every day on behalf of the industry. These men with black hearts and clean fingernails wear their loyalties with pride.

If Jair Bolsonaro takes office in Brazil, their annihilistic actions will seem mild by comparison. He claims climate breakdown is a fable invented by a “globalist conspiracy”, and seeks to withdraw from the Paris agreement, abolish the environment ministry, put the congressional beef caucus (representing the murderous and destructive ranching industry) in charge of agriculture, open the Amazon Basin for clearance and dismantle almost all environmental and indigenous protections.

With the exception of Costa Rica, no government has the policies required to prevent more than 2C of global warming, let alone 1.5C. Most, like the UK, Germany, the US and Australia, push us towards the brink on behalf of their friends. So what do we do, when our own representatives have abandoned public service for private service?

On 31 October, I will speak at the launch of Extinction Rebellion in Parliament Square. This is a movement devoted to disruptive, nonviolent disobedience in protest against ecological collapse.

The three heroes jailed for trying to stop fracking last month, whose outrageous sentences have just been overturned, are likely to be the first of hundreds. The intention is to turn this national rising into an international one.

This preparedness for sacrifice, a long history of political and religious revolt suggests, is essential to motivate and mobilise people to join an existential struggle. It is among such people that you find the public and civic sense now lacking in government.

That we have to take such drastic action to defend the common realm shows how badly we have been abandoned.

 George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

Press link for more: The Guardian

“Let’s start designing the future that gives us a future” #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #WentworthVotes #StopAdani #EndCoal #ClimateChange now #ClimateBreakdown #TheDrum #QandA

“Let’s start designing the future that gives us a future”

The United Nations says we have 12 years to take action against climate change, to avoid global disaster.

It’s the greatest design challenge in history, says Nicolas Roope.


The climate is in trouble and we’ve now been given a deadline by the UN to pull our proverbial socks up and try to avert a catastrophe.

I’ve already had nights of sleeplessness and worry, with that heavy feeling of inevitable doom. But that worry won’t change anything. We have to move on and do something about it.

The clock’s ticking.

We already know we can turn our washing machines down a few degrees, change to efficient lighting (Plumen of course) and reuse shopping bags. But it is now the time to ask what more we can do to scale the solutions that so often feel out of reach by individuals, and the sole preserve of governments and legislators. And more specifically, what can designers and architects do to accelerate an at-scale response to the problem?

Finding efficiencies in each individual product and project is a good start but how can these binary digits become viral phenomena?

So that the force doesn’t come from pushing, campaigning and regulation, but from the warm rush of exuberance, cheered by global applause?

It is now the time to ask what more we can do to scale the solutions that so often feel out of reach

First we need to look at where we are and how we got here.

One way to do this is by using my favourite graph, the Kubler-Ross Change Curve, which charts the mental journey we go through when processing grief or trauma.

For the environment, the chart starts about a decade ago – there was a real awakening, with the subject really surfacing in the mainstream. But quickly the clarity was diluted and became vague through the clever antagonisms of anti-fact propaganda. Add to that the tendency of organisations to greenwash and you can understand the eventual despondence and fatigue.

It became too complicated, too tiring, too scary, and we all entered a period of denial.

I’m hypersensitive to light bulbs obviously, so over this period I noticed a huge resurgence of Edison-style lamps.

They were everywhere, as a collective “fuck you” to climate change, a swan song to a bloated inefficient technology that really had no place in the enlightened world.

Beef, the least sustainable livestock, also had a huge resurgence, with modern quality burger joints popping up in every corner.

We weren’t going to acknowledge climate change, let alone do anything about it.

No, we were going to surf our Range Rovers into oblivion in a hedonistic puff of carbonised smoke.

That period was followed by frustration and depression, as the majority finally accepted the problem was real, but the scientific community and media organisations were still rooting out the final naysayers.

Frustration and depression often happen when you feel like you’ve been tricked and conned by those in authority. Remember the financial crash? How no one saw it coming?

But look back at the graph. There’s hope. Because when the facts of a challenge or a change finally settle, there’s a change of mindset, a new mood for the challenge and a new will to overcome all the barriers that hitherto seemed unsurmountable. I want us to focus on this part.

Stop pretending that attaching a windmill to a tower block is going to fix anything

What we can do, as designers, architects, culture makers, symbol creators, desire directors, is to stop telling half-truths.

Stop designing things that ride the environmental story, with a lack of real intent or impact.

Stop pretending that attaching a windmill to a tower block is going to fix anything.

Stop talking about eco retreats at the end of a long haul flight.

To change anything we need to get beyond the confusion and the empty virtue signalling.

We need real impact.

Shell has suggested the idea of sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere with new technology it is funding. But on further reading you realise that it would take hundreds of thousands of these suckers to make any meaningful impact. And who’s going to pay for that?

No one of course, which is precisely why it’s not a solution.

How can a technology that costs trillions to run day and night operate when it’s only a cost on the national balance sheet?

When you buy a tank full of petrol, you’re not paying to spew out tons of carbon, you’re buying the transport miles.

You’re buying the benefit of getting somewhere.

The CO2 is a bi-product.

So to create a shadow industry – to balance every car, plane and power station burning stuff in the world – would reach an impossible scale of economies.

Perhaps it could work if the costs were offset by taxation on users but that’s a political quagmire unlikely to pass.

This situation shows the systemic nature of the problem.

So many interrelated activities make the behaviours and interdependencies hard to unlock. And yet, as creative thinkers, designers are incredibly well skilled to establish new codes and systems.

Designers are so often in the business of creating desire, of providing the fuel for dreams that drives so much production, commerce and construction.

Why can’t we coral this skill, to infect everyone with a lust for the truly progressive objects, projects and experiences?

Great design doesn’t just make things more usable and elegant, it elevates them and makes them cool

In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell talks about how the smoking habit was perpetuated through cultural memes.

The individuals most likely to smoke at the start were the most gregarious and popular social animals, the ideal to which others aspired.

The cigarette therefore became a signal of social potency and status through this association, ensuring its uptake and spread across the masses who wanted to bathe in the reflected status.

Designers don’t just create arbitrary things outside culture’s context, they pull the levers of reference and narrative, to reflect the zeitgeist and to create directionality, to pull people in who want to associate and identify with this direction and inferred values.

This is most obvious perhaps with fashion, where the designer’s expression becomes a cultural artefact and symbol for the label’s underlying status and values.

The consumer buys into this and they themselves get to fly the flag as a wearer. It’s a logical step therefore to see how fashion designers have a key role to play in shepherding opinion, with their acute grasp of our attention and the alchemic skills they have for conjuring allure.

Louis Vuitton’s window displays this summer featured a beautiful patchwork of solar panels, a kind of aestheticising of these otherwise utilitarian objects. But the statement was helpful –  there are €5000 jumpers and there’s stopping the world from melting. And they’re both cool, says Louis Vuitton.

This is what we have done with Plumen – used design to encourage a reappraisal of the bulb as a technology and commodity, a way of calling out category indifference, but also provided something really positive, a beautiful and efficient product that gives the user real pleasure.

More than that, it gives a symbol of hope.

Bound up in Plumen’s genesis is the idea that making a lovely light bulb is one thing, but helping the world see a positive future, where sustainability and pleasure are not necessarily at odds with each other, is something that will help grease the wheels of change and move us from despondence to exuberance for building this new world.

So many people still believe living better will come at a heavy cost.

With the light bulb at least, we’ve helped to break that spell. And we’re certainly not alone.

Let’s all just get serious about how we can take responsibility for both the problem and the power in our hands to tackle it

Tesla has been the poster boy of this philosophy.

It changed the automotive business, because it made the electric powertrain cool. And when you make things cool, you give everyone permission to own one and to actively align with these new symbols.

Without Tesla I don’t think we would have seen Volvo announcing to go all electric for another decade.

We need to create a new landscape where we have permission to care and permission to act.

That’s exactly where design needs to come in.

Great design doesn’t just make things more usable and elegant, it elevates them and makes them cool.

Coolness may seem trite and superficial in the face of climate change, but it is the very cultural trigger that creates this much needed permission.

It is the difference between partial uptake and things going truly mainstream. Coolness drives the market, drives adoption of new behaviours and transforms the unusual into the normal.

There are already some examples of significant change happening that should give us encouragement and hope.

Look at the speed of change in how we eat.

Vegetarianism is going mainstream, fuelled by social-media feeds that break with clichés and traditions of vegetarian food dramatically.

This dramatic, visible change signals a new culture and therefore new space for new identities.

The door has opened for people who didn’t fit the “veggie” picture. With the shift comes an acceleration of change and the much needed growth in scale.

Livestock is a huge CO2 contributor.

Making vegetarianism attractive to billions is as much a design challenge as it is culinary. And the project is already well underway.

A Vegan Burger

We can  also find solace in other recent seismic shifts.

For better or worse, we live in a world where we can shape-shift faster than ever.

The 12-year timeframe the UN report has given us all to make a meaningful reduction in emissions is longer than it took Apple to get the smartphone concept into the hands of more than half the world’s population.

No legislators were needed to drive this meteoric rise, just the intense allure of technology, shaped by compelling design.

Perhaps we should be asking Jony Ive and Tony Fadell for some tips about how to start a revolution of this magnitude for the good of the planet?

The role of design in driving these shifts can be oblique. But scratch the surface and it’s there.

Take for instance air travel.

Technologists agree that alternative fuels for aviation are way off.

The energy density in batteries makes long distant flights an economic impossibility for this weight-sensitive mode of transportation.

So designing a new kind of plane isn’t helpful because the limit is technological. But rejuvenating domestic destinations for the staycation is something architects and designers can do, so people don’t need to head to the airports in the first place.

In the UK, we’re already seeing our neglected seaside towns become attractive destinations again.

In 2017, a national survey revealed a 23.8 per cent rise in UK holiday planning. That’s a lot of unreleased carbon. If the true cost of flying increases for consumers, you’ve got an even more compelling reason to stay at home.

The technology is there to make remote meetings as good as those in person, but so many still feel compelled to fly across oceans to commune in the flesh. Surely this too is a design challenge. Create new kinds of meeting spaces to enhance the virtual experience and shape the rituals for a new way to conduct the face to face in virtual space. Another move to pull some more planes out of the sky.

Off-shore wind already is trading at £52 per megawatt against Hinkley Point’s £92. But on-shore is a great deal cheaper to construct and service. However communities resist them because they don’t like a blot on the landscape – a design challenge if ever I heard one, and one I’m working on as it happens.

Freaking out isn’t going to help anyone.

Let’s all just get serious about how we can take responsibility for both the problem and the power in our hands to tackle it.

Not just as designers but as global citizens, as parents to every subsequent generation, let’s engage the complexity.

Let’s learn where the biggest impacts can be made so we’re not wasting time and resources, and let’s not leave space for empty gestures.

It is an incredible moment in human history, whether it’s something we come to look back at fondly or with regret

World politics is clearly unfit for purpose for a problem of this scale.

It’s never had a problem like this to tackle, where the entire world community faces such a common enemy.

Our divisions have been a source of power because a common enemy is galvanising. This time we really do need to come together.

While the rise of populism is dark and daunting, we need to remember one thing very clearly.

We as designers can make things popular. And if we shape new modes, behaviours, products, buildings, ideas, words, looks to create popular movements, we’ll hear a change of tune from our leaders. When they know we all care and we all think progressiveness is cool, they’ll turn. Soft power, turning hard and with it another step towards material change at the required scale.

Design is already global.

Everyone, everywhere engages with it in some form, and uses its many tools and techniques. It reaches beyond borders and language. We just need to stop ignoring it, or pretending the little we do is enough.

This is perhaps the biggest challenge humankind has ever faced, and also perhaps its most exciting.

We can join together like never before, to write the rules of a new world.

It is an incredible moment in human history, whether it’s something we come to look back at fondly or with regret.

So let’s start designing the future that gives us a future. Now.

Press link for more: Dezeen

Limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C Will Require Deep Emissions Cuts #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #EndCoal #WentworthVotes for #ClimateAction Stop #ClimateBreakdown #TheDrum #QandA

By Climate Central

The Paris Climate Change Agreement set a goal of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F).”

In that agreement, world leaders asked the IPCC, the preeminent climate science body, “to provide a Special Report in 2018 on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways.”

After being formally approved by all the UN country representatives, that special report was released this week.

Human activities have already warmed the planet about 1°C (1.8°F) since the pre-industrial era, defined by the IPCC as the latter half of the 19th century. At the current rate of warming, Earth would reach the 1.5°C threshold between 2030 and 2052.

Limiting warming to 1.5°C is not easy and requires drastic changes to our energy, transportation, food, and building systems.

Net CO2 emissions need to drop 45 percent from their 2010 levels by 2030, and reach net-zero by 2050 (meaning that any remaining CO2 emissions would need to be offset by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere).

Meeting this goal involves a large jump in renewables for the global energy supply, providing 70-85 percent of electricity use by 2050.

Moreover, because CO2 remains in the atmosphere for centuries, we have already committed to future warming with our historical emissions.

As a result, even with drastic emissions cuts, meeting this 1.5°C goal likely means a brief exceedance, or overshoot, of the 1.5°C threshold before returning to that level for the longer term and requires some removal of CO2 from the atmosphere — either via reforestation, soil carbon sequestration, or technological advancements enabling direct capture of carbon from the atmosphere.

Even limiting warming to 1.5°C comes with higher risks from extreme heat, drought, and heavy precipitation.

This harms agriculture, food and water supplies, human health, and the oceans. Optimum agricultural belts will shift, water supplies will be at additional risk, and disease-carrying insects will move into new areas. Additionally, an extra half-degree Celsius (about 1°F) from 1.5°C to 2°C would magnify impacts:

  • Doubling the number of people affected by water scarcity
  • Doubling the losses of corn yields in the tropics
  • Increasing by 10 times the frequency of ice-free summers in the Arctic Ocean
  • Losing 30 percent more coral reefs (meaning a total of 99 percent of coral reefs will disappear)
  • Losing an additional 50 percent of global fisheries
  • Adding 10 million people to those affected by sea level rise

With current technologies in place, drastic changes still make the goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C possible, but the window is rapidly closing to meet that goal.

Press link for more: Climate Central

Dangerous Rapidly Intensifying Landfalling Hurricanes Like Michael and Harvey May Grow More Common. #auspol #qldpol #Climatebreakdown Demand #ClimateAction #StopAdani #EndCoal

By Dr Jeff Masters

As Hurricane Michael sped northwards on October 9 towards a catastrophic landfall on Florida’s Panhandle, the mighty hurricane put on an phenomenal display of rapid intensification.

Michael’s winds increased by 45 mph in the final 24 hours before landfall, taking it from a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds to an extremely dangerous high-end Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds.

It was a disturbing déjà vu of what had happened just one year earlier. On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey rapidly intensified by 40 mph in the 24 hours before landfall, from a Category 1 storm with 90 mph winds to a Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds.

Extreme rapid intensification rates expected to become more common

In a 2016 paper, “Will Global Warming Make Hurricane Forecasting More Difficult?” (available here from the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society), MIT hurricane scientist Kerry Emanuel explained that not only will global warming make the strongest hurricanes stronger, it will also increase how fast they intensify.

Troublingly, intensification rates don’t increase linearly as the intensity of a storm increases–they increase by the square power of the intensity.

Thus, we can expect future hurricanes to intensify at unprecedented rates, and the ones that happen to perform their rapid intensification just before landfall will be extremely dangerous.

Dr. Emanuel used a computer model that generated a set of 22,000 landfalling U.S. hurricanes during the recent climate period of 1979 – 2005, then compared their intensification rates to a similar set of hurricanes generated in the climate expected at the end of the 21st century.

For the future climate, he assumed a business-as-usual approach to climate change—the path we are currently on.

The analysis found that the odds of a hurricane intensifying by 70 mph or greater in the 24 hours just before landfall were about once every 100 years in the climate of the late 20th century. But in the climate of the year 2100, these odds increased to once every 5 – 10 years.

What’s more, 24-hour pre-landfall intensifications of 115 mph or more—which were essentially nonexistent in the late 20th Century climate—occurred as often as once every 100 years by the year 2100.

The major metropolitan areas most at risk for extreme intensification rates just before landfall included Houston, New Orleans, Tampa/St. Petersburg, and Miami.

In an email, Dr. Emanuel said: “My own work shows that rates of intensification increase more rapidly than intensity itself as the climate warms, so that rapidly intensifying storms like Michael may be expected to become more common.” Moreover, he added, “My work on Hurricane Harvey and a few other heavy rain-producing hurricanes such as Florence, together with much previous work by others on the subject, strongly suggests that hurricane-related flooding will increase as the climate continues to warm.”

A dangerous scenario: a rapidly intensifying hurricane making landfall

Hurricanes like Michael and Harvey that rapidly intensify just before landfall are among the most dangerous storms there are, since they can catch forecasters and populations off guard, risking inadequate evacuation efforts and large casualties. Lack of warning and rapid intensification just before landfall were key reasons for the high death toll of the most intense hurricane on record to hit the U.S–the 1935 Labor Day hurricane in the Florida Keys. That storm intensified by 80 mph in the 24 hours before landfall, topping out as a Category 5 hurricane with 185 mph winds and an 892 mb pressure at landfall. At least 408 people were killed, making it the eighth deadliest hurricane in U.S. history. Another rapidly intensifying hurricane at landfall, Hurricane Audrey of June 1957, was the seventh deadliest U.S. hurricane, killing at least 416. Audrey’s winds increased by 35 mph in the 24 hours before landfall near the Texas/Louisiana border, when it was a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds. Lack of warning and an unexpectedly intense landfall were cited as key reasons for the high death toll.

Of course, nowadays we have satellites and radar and regular hurricane hunter flights and advanced computer forecast models, so the danger of another Audrey or 1935 Labor Day hurricane taking us by surprise is lower.

Or is it?

All of that fancy technology didn’t help much for 2007’s Hurricane Humberto, which hit Texas as a Category 1 storm with 90 mph winds. Humberto had the most rapid increase in intensity in the 24 hours before landfall of any Atlantic hurricane since 1950: 65 mph. A mere 18 hours before landfall, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) predicted a landfall intensity of just 45 mph, increasing that estimate to 65 mph in a forecast issued 6 hours later. It’s fortunate that Humberto was not a stronger system, or the lack of warning could have led to serious loss of life.

Historical records show that since 1950, the greatest 24-hour intensification rates prior to a U.S. landfall were:

Humberto, 2007 (65 mph increase)
King 1950 (60 mph increase)
Eloise 1975 (60 mph increase)
Danny 1997 (50 mph increase)
Michael 2018 (45 mph increase)
Harvey 2017 (40 mph increase)
Cindy 2005 (40 mph increase)

Poor intensity forecasts make us vulnerable

While track forecasts of hurricanes have improved by more than a factor of two over the past 20 years, intensity forecasts have shown little improvement. Dr. Emanuel gives four reasons for this:

1) Very high resolution computer models are needed (1 km resolution or better), which are beyond the capability of modern computers to run economically.

2) We have poor understanding of and models of the processes in the lowest few hundred meters of the atmosphere (the boundary layer).

3) We have difficulty modeling how the top few hundred meters of the ocean responds to a storm.

4) The process of collecting observations that show a dramatic variation over short distances and correctly initializing a hurricane model with these observations is difficult.

The worrying case of Category 5 Hurricane Patricia’s rapid intensification in 2015

Dr. Emanuel gave another troubling example of a rapid intensification evert that was poorly forecasted: Hurricane Patricia of October 2015, which hit a relatively unpopulated portion of the Pacific coast of Mexico as a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds after topping out as the strongest tropical cyclone ever measured, with 215 mph sustained winds.

During a 24-hour period from 6Z October 22 to 6Z October 23, Patricia intensified by an astonishing 120 mph—from an 85 mph Category 1 storm to a 205 mph Category 5 storm (this was very close to the maximum change in intensity that theory says can happen: 125 mph in 24 hours). During this same period, the National Hurricane Center predicted an intensification by only 35 mph. Dr. Emanuel noted, “Had the storm made landfall at the end of this period of rapid intensification, the result could have been catastrophic given the poor anticipation of the magnitude of the event.” As I wrote in my 2016 blog post, Hurricane Patricia’s 215 mph Winds: A Warning Shot Across Our Bow, we need to be prepared for global warming to bring us more hurricanes like Patricia, which theory and computer modeling predict will happen more often in a warming climate.

Bottom line: time to spend more money on hurricane research

With increasing coastal populations, limited skill in intensity forecasting, and steadily increasing sea levels, this potential increase in rapidly intensifying hurricanes results in the “risk of an increased frequency of poorly anticipated high-intensity landfalls leading to higher rates of injury and death,” wrote Dr. Emanuel. He recommended that “greater emphasis be placed on improving hurricane intensity prediction and on preparing populations to respond to high intensity landfalling hurricanes at short notice.”

In other words, we need to fund hurricane research at a much higher level than we do now. As I discussed back in 2006, the National Science Board, in a report issued in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, called for the establishment of a National Hurricane Research Initiative (NHRI), which would “provide urgently needed hurricane science and engineering research and education”. They recommended an increase of $300 million per year in hurricane research funding—a whopping boost from the $20 – $50 million per year we’ve been funding hurricane research at over the past 15 years. The report concluded:

Can we as a Nation continue to remain vulnerable to hurricanes that are an inevitable part of our future, that have demonstrated the capacity to inflict catastrophic damage to our economy, and that kill hundreds of our citizens?

The hurricane warning for our Nation has been issued and we must act vigorously and without delay.

Press link for more: Wunderground

Leaders move past Trump to protect world from #climatechange #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateBreakdown #StopAdani #EndCoal #WentworthVotes #TheDrum #QandA

Far more must be invested in adapting to warming, says new global commission that aims to rebuild political will after US withdrawal from Paris agreement

The Global Commission on Adaptation is being led by Ban Ki-Moon, Bill Gates and Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank. It involves 17 countries including China, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Canada and the UK.

Much more money is being invested in cutting carbon emissions than preparing for the climate change impacts that are already inevitable. More than $380bn (£287bn) was spent on reducing CO2 in 2015-16, compared with just $20bn boosting protection from extreme weather.

Former UN secretary general Ban said a step change in adaptation can and must be achieved: “Climate change is happening much, much faster than one may think. [But] where there is political will, anything can be done.”

However, he said the international consensus to fight global warming had been damaged by Trump’s actions. On Sunday, Trump questioned whether global warming was caused by human activities, contradicting the long-established conclusions of the world’s scientists.

“We were very much united until December 2015 in Paris,” Ban told the Guardian. “Now unfortunately the level of solidarity is being loosened, especially by the Trump administration. Even though it is just one country, it has caused big political damage.”

Adaptation measures to safeguard people’s homes, food, water and energy are being implemented in some places, but at far too small a scale, the commissioners said.

“Continued economic growth and reductions in global poverty are possible despite these daunting challenges – but only if societies invest much more in adaptation,” said Ban. “The costs of adapting are less than the cost of doing business as usual and the benefits are many times larger.”

“We are at a moment of high risk and great promise,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “If everyone does their part, we can reduce carbon emissions, increase access to affordable energy, and help farmers everywhere grow more productive crops.”

“Our climate has already changed. Dramatic weather events and volatile seasons are the new normal,” said Georgieva. “We face a choice: business as usual and hope for the best. Or we act now and build for a resilient future.”

The new group is comprised of 28 commissioners, including two national presidents, representing all regions of the globe and all sectors of development and industry. The US administration is not represented but Francis Suarez, the mayor of Miami, is a commissioner.

The commission will produce a major report on adapting to climate change for the UN climate summit in September 2019, followed by a year of action to implement its recommendations.

“Scientists and economists believe the cost of adaptation could rise to $500bn per year by 2050 and, in the mid-term, $300bn by 2030,” said Ban. This money is available, he said: “I don’t think it is a matter of [getting the] money. The money can be mobilised. If there is political will, I think we can handle this matter.”

In particular, the trillions of dollars held by investment managers and insurers should be put to work, Ban said: “We should not expect all this money to come from governments. The private sector has to be fully engaged.” He said 63% of the $380bn invested in cutting emissions in 2015-16 was from the private sector.

Press link for more: The Guardian

Australia should be ‘exporting sunshine, not coal’, economist Jeffrey Sachs tells @QandA #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #EndCoal #ClimateBreakdown #ClimateChange can’t be ignored.#WentworthVotes

US analyst criticises successive governments for defending coal in wake of alarming IPCC report on climate change

Award-winning journalist with Guardian Australia, specialising in Indigenous affairs, deaths in custody, youth justice, and environment reporting.

“Make a plan, make a timeline, tell the world how you’re going to decarbonise, and then we’ll all be happy to hear from Australia that there’s really a plan,” Sachs said on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night. “All we see is one PM after another falling over this issue.

Also on the panel were UK conservative writer James Bartholomew, Victorian Liberal party senator James Paterson, Labor frontbencher Terri Butler and data science teacher Linda McIver.

Jeffrey Sachs

The debate followed the release last week of an alarming report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warned that fossil fuels would have to be urgently phased out in order to achieve a global reduction in carbon pollution of 45% by 2030, the level required to ensure the planet only warmed by between 1.5C and 2C.

The Australian government has rejected the warning to phase out coal by 2050. Paterson told Q&A the environment was “one of many priorities” for the Morrison government, with another being power prices.

About 60% of Australia’s baseload power is currently generated by coal-fired power generators, but the proportion of renewable energy is increasing thanks to energy auctions in Victoria and South Australia, the Tesla battery in South Australia, and reduced cost of renewable technologies. Labor has committed to 50% renewable energy by 2030.

Sachs said the IPCC report showed the world was “running out of time” to avoid catastrophic climate change and blamed corporate interests and the domination of the Murdoch press for “propounding nonsense” and “telling lies” about climate science and policy.

He said Australia ought to capitalise on its affinity for solar power.

https://youtu.be/9tdduZ4ktMU

“This wonderful country has so much sunshine, you cannot even believe – you could power the whole world from your desert,” he said. “So the idea that you don’t have alternatives … I don’t know who could possibly believe this. You should be exporting sunshine actually, not coal.”

Bartholomew questioned the IPCC figures, saying that he “knew a scientist” who did not agree with it.

“The IPCC report is based on thousands of scientific reports,” host Tony Jones said in response to Bartholomew’s scepticism. “Six thousand scientific reports and 91 authors and review editors from 40 countries. I mean, balancing that out against the one scientist you know, does it mean that we have to think about consensus?”

McIver said her year 10 students had been modelling data from the IPCC report, and even they could see the figures were robust.

“The idea there is not consensus around climate change is outrageous,” she said.

The panel also heard from Kevin Muslayah, the deputy principal of Red Rock Christian College in Melbourne’s north-western suburbs, who referred to the yet to be released Ruddock report into religious freedom.

Muslayah said his school would like to retain the right to hire, and possibly fire, LGBTI teachers based on “a particular alignment of values”.

Butler said there was no justification for discriminating against LGBTI teachers or students, saying: “A gay teacher doesn’t teach gay maths. They just teach maths.”

Paterson said legislation before parliament this month would prevent discrimination against students on the basis of gender or sexual identity. He said the government would also move to protect teachers “who are willing to teach the values of that school” but said religious schools should retain discretion over who they hire.

Press link for more: The Guardian

Swiss glaciers lost a fifth of their ice within a decade #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #EndCoal #ClimateBreakdown #WentworthVotes

Mount Piz Segnas, left, and the Tschingel Horn mountains, right, with Martin’s Hole near Elm in the canton of Glarus, are pictured in Switzerland. File picture: Gaetan Bally/Keystone via AP

Geneva – A fifth of Switzerland’s glacier volume has melted away over the past 10 years, the Swiss Academy of Sciences said Tuesday after the past record summer delivered a further blow to the country’s iconic Alpine ice.

The melt water over the past decade could cover all of Switzerland’s 41,285 square kilometres with 25 centimetres of water, according to the Academy-funded Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network.

Summers with unusually high temperatures have become more frequent in the country, and the past April-September season was the hottest since records began in the 1860s.

The permanent ice cover on the Alpine peaks lost 2.5 per cent of its volume over the past 12 months.

Receding glaciers increase the risk of large landslides and floods caused by overflowing glacier lakes.

Although Switzerland saw unusually large amounts of snow last winter, most of it melted away during the dry spring and hot summer.

“Many glaciers completely lost their snow cover in the past months,” said Andreas Bauder, one of the network’s scientists.

This is problematic because the white winter snow reflects the sun and protects the darker glacier ice underneath, he told dpa.

In addition, fresh snow is necessary to sustain glaciers over longer periods, because it can turn into ice over the years, Bauder added.

Press link for more: IOL

Stephen Hawking’s last warning from beyond the grave #ClimateBreakdown #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #WentworthVotes #StopAdani #EndCoal #ClimateChange #Science

By Nick Miller

An insular, Trump-age mindset won’t help solve challenges like climate change and population growth, warns physicist Stephen Hawking from beyond the grave.

In his final book, published after his death, physicist Stephen Hawking tackled the big questions of life, the universe and everything.

Photo: AP / Matt Dunham

With tears in her eyes, Lucy Hawking listened to her father’s narration over an animation explaining his insights into the paradoxes of black holes: a problem that he was investigating – and publishing research on – right up to his death.

“It feels sometimes like he’s still here,” she said.

But if he were he would be speaking out not just on the exotic problems of fundamental physics and cosmology.

“He was deeply worried that at a time when the challenges that present themselves are global – and need us to come together and work together – that we were becoming increasingly local in our thinking,” Lucy Hawking said. “That at a time when we should be calling for unity we were becoming more and more fractured and divided.

“I think that was a huge concern for him and one that you’ll find all the way through the book… it’s a call for unity, it’s a call to humanity, to bring ourselves back together and really face up to the challenges in front of us and to work together to find a solution.”

The book is a collection of Professor Hawking’s favourite answers to the questions he was constantly asked over his acclaimed career, such as “will we survive on Earth?” and “will artificial intelligence outsmart us?”.

He began pulling it together before his death, but the project was finished by his family and colleagues.

The tenth and last question in the book is “how do we shape the future?”

In his answer, Hawking emphasised the importance of education and research, lamenting that funding for science was being significantly cut.

“We are also in danger of becoming culturally isolated and insular,” he wrote. “With Brexit and Trump now exerting new forces in relation to immigration and the development of education, we are witnessing a global revolt against experts, which includes scientists.”

But science held the answers to pressing problems such as global warming, the growing population, renewable energy and epidemic diseases.

Making science more accessible to diverse populations and young people “greatly increases the chances of finding and inspiring the new Einstein. Wherever she might be”.

In the book Hawking also said:

  • Colonising the solar system “may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves… if we stay [on Earth] we risk being annihilated”.
  • When computers become smarter than us “we will need to ensure that [they] have goals aligned with ours”.
  • In the future, we will communicate through brain-computer interfaces wired into our skulls.
  • Sometime during this century we will be able to use genetic engineering to improve our memory and lifespan, but “unimproved” humans won’t be able to compete with the new “race of self-designing beings”.
  • Scientists have a duty to alert the public to the “unnecessary risks” posed by climate change.

Professor Hawking concluded that there is “probably no heaven and afterlife”, and there is no reliable evidence for a God that created the universe or directs our fate.

It’s just wishful thinking, he said.

We have just one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe.

“When we die we return to dust. But there’s a sense in which we live on, in our influence and in our genes that we pass on to our children.”

Lucy Hawking said her father would have been “very honoured” by the decision to inter his ashes at Westminster Abbey – between the graves of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

“He never liked to be alone, he always wanted to be at the centre of everything,” she said.

“I like to think that between Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin he will never be alone again.”

Press link for more: SMH