R&D

An ocean of evidence on global warming is our cue to take action – now #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #GreenNewDeal #auspol #qldpol

By John Church

Over 90 per cent of the heat trapped in the climate system by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations from our burning of fossil fuels is stored in the oceans. With much less variability than surface temperatures, ocean warming is one of the most important indicators of the ongoing pace of climate change.

Two new studies published last week confirm the world’s oceans are warming.

The first, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, shows that ocean warming has accelerated since 1870.

The second, a perspective published in the prestigious iournal Science, reports studies that indicate the rate of ocean warming over recent decades is 10 per cent or more greater than the studies considered in the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment published in 2013, and that the rate has increased since 1991.

The updated observations are in agreement with the results of climate model simulations of the impacts of our continuing release of greenhouse gases.

These models show the ocean will continue to warm through the 21st century and beyond.

Greenhouse gases have a long life time in the atmosphere. Even if carbon dioxide emissions were to cease completely, atmospheric concentrations would only decrease slowly over thousands of years unless we discover a way to artificially remove them from the atmosphere.As a direct consequence, surface temperatures would remain elevated. As result of the oceans’ ability to store heat, they will continue to warm for centuries.

Decisions we make now about greenhouse gas emissions have long-term consequences for the world and Australia’s climate and sea level, and of course for the natural environment and our modern society.

Continued greenhouse gas emissions at a business-as-usual rate would result in the ocean warming accelerating through the 21st century, and a contribution to sea-level rise of about 30cm from ocean thermal expansion alone by 2100. The warmer ocean would be accompanied by warmer surface temperatures, increased frequency of climate extremes, and increased intensity of extreme rainfall events and hurricanes, with major disruptions to society.

The ice sheets are even more important for long-term sea-level change. Unabated emissions this century would commit the world to metres of sea-level rise over coming centuries. We would likely cross the threshold, well before 2100, leading to an accelerating melting of the Greenland ice sheet and a sea level rise of up to about seven metres. An acceleration of the Greenland contribution to sea level rise has already been observed.

For Antarctica, a warming ocean would lead to the decay of ice shelves and an accelerating flow of ice into the ocean, as revealed by recent observations of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The rate of sea level contribution from Antarctica is more uncertain but could equal or exceed the contribution from thermal expansion by 2100, and could be metres over coming centuries

Global average temperature is already about 1C above pre-industrial levels and we have already seen an increased frequency of coastal flooding events. Unabated emissions would see permanent inundation and a dramatic increase in the frequency of coastal flooding events, disrupting the lives of tens to hundreds of millions of people.

Urgent, significant and sustained mitigation of our greenhouse gas emissions are required if we are to meet the Paris targets of “limiting global average temperatures to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels”, and thus significantly reduce the impacts of climate change. Current mitigation “promises” are not sufficient to meet these goals, and planned mitigation is even further away. Every day we delay action makes the Paris targets more difficult to achieve.

The long time scales of the ocean means we will have to adapt to climate and sea level change resulting from past emissions. However, further sea level rises and other changes in our climate can be greatly reduced, but not eliminated, by reaching the Paris goals.

We should remember that sea levels were six to nine metres above current levels at a global average temperature about 1C above pre-industrial values.

Current Australian government figures do not indicate Australia is on track to meet our committed greenhouse gas emission mitigation target of 26 to 28 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 “in a canter”. Meeting this target will require the urgent development of an effective Australian climate policy.

Perhaps more importantly, this target is completely inadequate. To make a proportionate commitment to meeting the Paris targets, Australia needs to ratchet up our targets, as expected by the Paris agreement, and to urgently develop realistic plans to meet these targets.

Actions we take now will affect the lives of our children and grandchildren and that of future generations. We know what is required for significant mitigation and we have the knowledge and technologies to do it. What we require urgently is the will to do it.

John Church is a professor at the Climate Change Research Centre, University of NSW, and the first Australian to receive the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge in climate change award, for his work on rising sea levels.

Press link for more: SMH

Advertisements

#StopAdani protestors storm ALP conference speech #auspol #qldpol #ClimateAction #COP24 #LabConf18 #ClimateChange “Our Greatest Moral Challenge #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion

Refugee and climate change protesters have stormed the stage at Labor’s national conference just as Bill Shorten started to speak.

The refugee protesters had to be dragged from the stage, while Mr Shorten accepted a “stop Adani” flag from another protester.

The beginning of his speech at the conference in Adelaide on Sunday was delayed as the protests were cleared.

Activist group Galilee Blockade claimed responsibility for the anti-Adani protest and identified the man who unfurled the banner behind Mr Shorten as Isaac Astill.

“Will you please stop the Adani coal mine?

There are bushfires across Queensland, heat records are tumbling, the Great Barrier Reef is heading for a third bleaching event, we have to stop the Adani coal mine,” Mr Astill asked the Labor leader.

“Oh mate. Alright,” Mr Shorten replied, and added, “thanks for making that statement. Do I get to keep the flag?”

“You can keep the flag if you like, absolutely, of course,” the protester replied.

“Good on you mate, cheers. See ya,” Mr Shorten said.

A statement from Galilee Blockade after the protest said: “80 per cent of Labor supporters believe new coal mines are no longer in the national interest.

Yet Bill Shorten and the Labor Party still support Adani’s mine, opening up one of the largest untapped coal reserves on Earth.”

It’s not the first time this week Mr Shorten has been interrupted by the stop-Adani group.

Press link for more: SBS

David Attenborough: collapse of civilisation is on the horizon #auspol #qldpol #ClimateStrike #Cop24 #ExtinctionRebellion #StopAdani #TheDrum #QandA Huge Wake Up Call!

Naturalist tells leaders at UN climate summit that fate of world is in their hands

By

The naturalist was chosen to represent the world’s people in addressing delegates of almost 200 nations who are in Katowice to negotiate how to turn pledges made in the 2015 Paris climate deal into reality.

As part of the UN’s people’s seat initiative, messages were gathered from all over the world to inform Attenborough’s address on Monday. “Right now we are facing a manmade disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change,” he said. “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

“Do you not see what is going on around you?” asks one young man in a video message played as part of a montage to the delegates. “We are already seeing increased impacts of climate change in China,” says a young woman. Another woman, standing outside a building burned down by a wildfire, says: “This used to be my home.”

Attenborough said: “The world’s people have spoken. Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now. Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend is in your hands.”

Attenborough urged everyone to use the UN’s new ActNow chatbot, designed to give people the power and knowledge to take personal action against climate change.

Recent studies show the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, and the top four in the past four years. Climate action must be increased fivefold to limit warming to the 1.5C scientists advise, according to the UN.

The COP24 summit was also addressed by António Guterres, the UN secretary general. “Climate change is running faster than we are and we must catch up sooner rather than later before it is too late,” he said. “For many, people, regions and even countries this is already a matter of life or death.”

Guterres said the two-week summit was the most important since Paris and that it must deliver firm funding commitments. “We have a collective responsibility to invest in averting global climate chaos,” he said.

He highlighted the opportunities of the green economy: “Climate action offers a compelling path to transform our world for the better. Governments and investors need to bet on the green economy, not the grey.”

Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland, spoke at the opening ceremony, saying the use of “efficient” coal technology was not contradictory to taking climate action. Poland generates 80% of its electricity from coal but has cut its carbon emissions by 30% since 1988 through better energy efficiency.

Friends of the Earth International said the sponsorship of the summit by a Polish coal company “raises the middle finger to the climate”.

A major goal for the Polish government at the summit is to promote a “just transition” for workers in fossil fuel industries into other jobs. “Safeguarding and creating sustainable employment and decent work are crucial to ensure public support for long-term emission reductions,” says a declaration that may be adopted at the summit and is supported by the EU.

In the run-up to the summit, Donald Trump expressed denial about climate change, while there were attacks on the UN process from Brazil’s incoming administration under Jair Bolsonaro.

Ricardo Navarro, of Friends of the Earth in El Salvador, said: “We must build an alternative future based on a just energy transformation. We face the threat of rightwing populist and climate-denying leaders further undermining climate protection and racing to exploit fossil fuels. We must resist.”

Another goal of the summit is for nations to increase their pledges to cut carbon emissions; currently they are on target for a disastrous 3C of warming. The prime minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, who led the 2017 UN climate summit, said his country had raised its ambitions. He told the summit: “If we can do it, you can do it.”

Press Link For More: The Guardian

Climate Change Is Changing the Politics of #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #ClimateStrike #Heatwave #Bushfire #Flood #ExtinctionRebellion #Insiders #QandA #TheDrum #StopAdani

By David Doniger

A pessimist could be forgiven for thinking the treadmill of climate denial and inaction is endless.

For at least 50 years, senior oil company executives have known that burning their product was destabilizing our climate.

President Lyndon Johnson called on Congress in 1965 to pass legislation to curb carbon dioxide pollution, and Congress enacted that law—the Clean Air Act—in 1970. Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned Richard Nixon, and every subsequent president has had his Jeremiah to sound the alarm.

We made steps forward under Clinton and Obama only to suffer sharp reversals under the second Bush and—sharpest of all—Trump.

But even at this late hour, I tend toward hope that this cycle is about to change.

Why?

Because in 1965, 1995, and even 2015, climate change seemed still off in the future, theoretical, something our worst politicians could deny altogether, and our best ones could leave for later.

No longer.

Climate change is here and now. And palpably getting worse. That is rapidly changing how Americans think about it.

The shift from “future problem” to “now crisis” is being fueled by blockbuster scientific reports and blockbuster real-world catastrophes.

Camp Fire, California, 2018 

California National Guard

Queensland bushfires Labelled catastrophic November 2018

In October millions of Americans were rocked by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s devastating report on the consequences of letting global temperatures rise above 1.5° C (2.7° F). And now we’re absorbing the litany of calamities that await communities in every part of our country, laid out last Friday in the National Climate Assessment prepared by top federal scientists and national experts. The Trump administration’s climate deniers hoped to burythis report in our post-Thanksgiving tryptophan haze, but millions of Americans are paying attention.

And they’re paying attention to the catastrophic wildfires and hurricanes that have pounded California, North Carolina, and Florida this fall, on top of Texas and Puerto Rico last year. 53 killed by Hurricane Florence and 36 by Hurricane Mitchell. 85, to date, killed by the California fires.  

Nearly 3000 dead in Puerto Rico in Hurricane Maria’s aftermath last year.

The one-two punch of irrefutable science and irrefutable experience has raised the urgency of climate action in all voters and in both parties.

The mid-terms have brought a new crop of leaders to the House of Representatives, governors mansions, and state houses who campaigned on clean energy and climate change.

The U.S. Climate Alliance will likely expand from 17 governors to 25 or more, representing states accounting for the bulk of America’s economy. State and city leaders will advance bold policies to decarbonize our electricity and transportation systems.

Changing Washington will take a bit longer—but it will go faster than we thought. President Trump won’t change.

He’ll almost surely exit office without ever taking a briefing from climate scientists.

Australia ‘s new PM Scott Morrison loves coal.

With his “natural instinct for science,” he’ll continue to deny and lie on climate, like so many other topics.

The president says the climate “goes up and down” and, like that, some foolish senator will say it “ebbs and flows.”

The coal lobbyists and ideologues he’s put into power at EPA and other agencies will keep rolling back climate and clean energy regulations—though many of those moves are destined to fail when we see them in court.

But the mid-term elections show a decisive rejection of Trumpism.

The House’s new Democratic leaders—from veterans to freshman—will push ambitious plans to transition America to clean energy and bring carbon pollution to zero—or even below zero, drawing carbon out of the air—in the next few decades.

Whether Trump’s party will change remains to be seen. But as many GOP representatives found out, the old formula doesn’t work in the suburbs anymore. The Senate map and gerrymandering won’t help Republicans out of their demographic jam.

On climate, like other issues, their party must respond or wither away.

In this Congress, while advancing big ideas, leaders also have a chance to make progress on more modest but crucial building blocks.

A growing number of GOP politicians see the rising economic and political force in clean energy.

With clean energy job creation booming, climate policies are not so easy to dismiss as “job-killing” anymore.

Will we see them embrace policies to modernize the grid, promote renewables and efficiency, curb methane waste and pollution, move to next-generation refrigerants? Measures like that could move in the House, and even be embraced in the Senate, if both parties read the political handwriting on the wall.

Almost certainly, climate change will play bigger in the 2020 election.

Unfortunately, the here-and-now pounding of climate impacts will continue, as the IPCC and National Climate Assessment foretell. More Americans will be affected, many grievously.  And more Americans will see and feel

clean energy’s vital role in our economic future.

When the next president takes office, he or she will find the American people ready for—and ready to demand—the ambitious transition to the clean energy and a low-carbon future that our survival depends on.

Press link for more: NRDC

It should not be up to Australia’s schoolchildren to #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #ClimateStrike we should all be protecting our kids from from catastrophic #ClimateChange #ExtinctionRebellion #COP24

By Ebony Bennett

The Coalition government under Scott Morrison appears to have forgotten the first rule of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging.

It’s far too early to describe the Morrison government as terminal; the six months or so till a mooted May federal election is a long time in politics. But the government seems content to write off the message from Liberal voters in Wentworth and Victoria, particularly on climate change, because they do not represent its ‘base’. God only knows where the Liberal base is if it isn’t located in blue ribbon Liberal seats, but who are we to argue?

Coalition government policies under John Howard, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and now Scott Morrison have failed to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Australia’s emissions are rising when they should be falling.

Worse, the Morrison government appears determined to back policies and projects that will increase emissions and fuel global warming.

There were 114 fires burning across Queensland on Friday.

Photo: QFES Media

It was sickening to watch the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan welcome Adani’s announcement that it was ready to start construction of its mega coal mine before Christmas, at the same time as bushfires raged across Queensland during an unprecedented heatwave.

Mining and burning coal is a major cause of the greenhouse gas pollution that is heating the atmosphere, cooking the Great Barrier Reef and intensifying the extreme weather conditions Queensland is currently experiencing.

For the first time in Queensland’s history, the state’s fire danger warning was raised to ‘catastrophic’, the new category of fire danger that had to be invented following the Black Saturday fires of 2009. It is only five years since the Bureau of Meteorology had to add new colours – deep purple and pink – to indicate temperatures beyond its 50-degree cap. Australia’s extreme heat and fire danger is now literally off the charts.

As far as divine signs to stop burning fossil fuels go, more than a hundred bushfires in Queensland’s tropical north rainforest country during the wet season could not be more obvious. Thousands of residents were given ‘Leave Now’ warnings, with authorities bluntly warning residents who refused to flee that they could “burn to death” and that the firestorm could create “dead man zones” which would be impossible to survive, even in a car.

Even on the beach.

“I’m sure that some people have probably got very good and elaborate systems of pumps and dams and systems and they believe that I’ll be OK and I know what I’m doing and I’ve done this before,” said Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford, who experienced Victoria’s Ash Wednesday fires firsthand as a firefighter. “Today is not one of those days. Today is different. We are expecting a firestorm.”

Australia’s extreme heat and fire danger is now literally off the charts.

Queensland residents described 20-metre-high flames fanned by “tornado-like” winds. The heatwave is set to continue. There is no rain forecast. Watching a senior minister tweet photos of bushfire devastation in Queensland while applauding Adani’s coal mine is like watching someone hand out cigarettes to cancer patients.

Is it any wonder thousands and thousands of students turned out in force across Australiaon Friday for the School Strike 4 Climate?

Australia’s kids are willing to sacrifice their education to stop Adani because they know it is their future at stake, it is their generation who will be forced to clean up the policy mess that ministers like Matt Canavan have left them.

But of course, it should not be up to Australia’s schoolchildren to stop Adani. The Labor party, Australia’s likely future government, should give voters a real choice at the next election and commit to stop Adani’s mine by any means available to it.

Adani’s mine is a dud project for any one of a dozen reasons. No bank would touch it, Adani has had to finance the mine itself. There won’t be many jobs in it, Adani boasts “When we ramp up the mine, everything will be autonomous from mine to port”. Traditional owners do not consent to the mine on their land and are challenging Adani before a full federal court bench next year. Adani is still under investigation for potential environmental breaches in Australia and it has an appalling record of environmental destruction and prosecutions overseas, including allegations of corruption, fraud and money laundering.

The federal Environment Department found Adani probably broke the law in its environmental application by giving false evidence. Federal and Queensland governments are yet to sign off on key water plans which water scientists say are grossly inadequate to protect precious water. As Queensland burns and suffers through drought, it seems grossly unfair that Adani has been granted a license to extract 12.5 billion litres of water every year for 60 years, nearly as much as all local farmers combined, without a full environmental impact assessment, as documents obtained by Lock The Gate Alliance under Queensland’s Right To Information laws showed. And the Queensland government is still offering Adani a secret royalty subsidy.

Frankly Australia’s next government should not only stop Adani, it should put a moratorium on all new coal mines. Even with a ban on new mines, Australia Institute research shows Australia’s coal production would decline only gradually as existing mines reached the end of their economic lives. If Adani’s coal mine goes ahead, with flat world demand for coal, every new coal mine opened in new coal regions like the Galilee simply reduces production in existing coal regions like the Hunter Valley, Bowen Basin and Surat Basin. This will lead to the closure of some mines and layoffs in others. A moratorium on new coal mines would protect existing coal jobs. It is impossible to limit global warming while building new coal mines.

The Morrison government’s determination to use taxpayers’ money to underwrite new coal-fired power is also concerning. Just as you can’t dig yourself out of a hole, you can’t reduce electricity prices by building coal-fired power stations – the most expensive form of new energy to build. Renewable energy and battery storage are cheap and getting cheaper and renewables have been putting downwards pressure on electricity prices for years now.

But Minister for Energy Angus Taylor appears determined to invest in coal – like investing billions of taxpayers’ dollars in Video Ezy while blaming the world for streaming Netflix. Coal-fired fired power stations aren’t even that reliable and our ageing fleet increasingly fails in the heat when we need them most. The Australia Institute’s Gas and Coal Watch has tracked 109 separate breakdowns at coal-fired power stations this year: 67 at black coal plants and 42 at brown coal plants, hardly  ‘reliable’.

Taxpayers should be concerned the Government is gearing up to sign risky contracts for billions of dollars, possibly without the authority to do so. It is policy on the run from a government in panic mode, only it is Australian taxpayers, not the Liberal and National parties, who will be left on the hook for any liability arising from the Minister’s rushed process.

The Liberal party is perfectly entitled to keep its ‘homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers’ branding – as Kelly O’Dwyer so succinctly put it – if it thinks it’s onto a winner. The only danger now is that the Coalition will mire Australia in its climate policy bog as it doubles down on coal and digs itself further away from the political mainstream.

Ebony Bennett is deputy director at The Australia Institute @ebony_bennett

The school #climatestrike was a new generation’s activism – and I’m so proud #auspol #qldpol #ExtinctionRebellion #StopAdani #ClimateChange is stealing our children’s future #TheDrum

The school climate strike was a new generation’s activism – and I’m so proud

By Naaman Zhou

The kids couldn’t believe it.

The adults couldn’t believe it. 

Martin Place hadn’t seen anything like it for years, and Elly and her sister had never seen anything like it – ever.

Elly, 14, and Aidan, 10, had come thinking the strike would be “a small thing”. Elly said she didn’t know many people from her school who were coming. She found a thousand others.

On Friday, in a crowded Martin Place, the chants went up and I’ve never felt prouder.

This week thousands of students in every state walked out of school to protest inaction over climate change and the sense that their future is being frittered away.

They had the signs, the statistics, the anger – and the solutions too. I looked around and felt I had seen the future, clever and full of passion.

I count myself as nearly of the same generation as the strikers.

I’m six years out of high school, nearly graduated from university – but I’ve never seen a protest like this.

I came in with cynicism. In the exact same spot, I have seen so many protests wither on the vine, outnumbered by food-court patrons.

University students like to think that they are the epicentre of social change, or at least they were in the heyday of the 70s. But on Friday in Sydney all you could hear in the CBD were the school kids, and in Melbourne they stopped traffic at 1pm on a school day.

Activism seems to have skipped a generation, and I couldn’t be happier.

In Sydney, Jean Hinchliffe, 14, had the stage and took the roll, in a way. She asked who here was in primary school, who was in high school, who was from western Sydney, who had travelled from the bush, who wanted their politicians to do way more about climate change. The roar sent the microphones screaming into static and camera operators winced with their headphones in.

Scott Morrison had told them not to gather and that only made them feel better about doing it. Finally, something the politicians couldn’t control. That was the theme of the day – the frustration of feeling powerless.

“You have failed us all so terribly,” said Nosrat Fareha, 15, from Auburn Girls High school.

“We deserve better. Young people can’t even vote but will have to live with the consequences of your inaction for decades.”

Morrison was mentioned by every speaker and booed every time. How much he must regret that throwaway line in question time, that “kids should go to school” and be “less activist”, and the electoral harm it threatens to cause in a few more years.

It was so easily turned around, and the irony obvious to all. “If Scott Morrisonwants children to stop acting like a parliament, then maybe the parliament should stop acting like children,” Manjot Kaur, 17, said.

It was an articulate anger, and the speakers made sure to say they had the solutions too, not just the doom and gloom. There was music and happiness. They sang Stand by Me and everyone knew the words – an old-school activist vibe to make anyone dewy-eyed. One girl said to another, “Oh I should have put you up on my shoulders for that!” and then did on the next song.

“Here’s to us”, said Fareha. “The generation that can’t wait until it’s too late”.

There will inevitably be blowback from the rightwing commentariat, and the politicians themselves, that these young activists have been whipped into a false frenzy. But that’s not what this was. It was a hesitant, cautious embrace of something long overdue.

“When I say student, you say power!” Hinchliffe shouted. They did. And it felt like a sense of self-actualisation – hundreds looking around and thinking yes, everyone is actually, really saying it too. Maybe it’s true. The call and response came up and down Martin Place in waves, swimming long laps. They were clutching their ears it was so loud.

Press link for more: The Guardian

40C in Cairns today that’s 3C above November Record. 2018 the last straw for the Great Barrier Reef #auspol #qldpol #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #ClimateEmergency #StopAdani Demand #ClimateAction

The Great Barrier Reef Is “In for a Rough Ride”

Eminent coral researcher Terry Hughes says the key to protecting the iconic corals off Australia’s coast is to stop global warming

Record break heatwave in Cairns Today
Today the temperature in Cairns is 3C hotter than the previous November record set in 1971.
The death knell for the Great Barrier Reef?

During summer 2017 a large swath of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef—normally a riot of electric oranges, reds and other colors—turned ghostly pale.

Unusually warm water temperatures, partly due to global warming, had caused the corals to expel from their tissues the symbiotic algae that provide them with food and give them their brilliant hues.

It was the second mass-bleaching event to hit the reef in as many years. Together, the back-to-back events hit two thirds of the reef.

Now, with the 2019 Australian summer poised to begin, atmospheric scientists are predicting an El Niño—a recurring period marked by warmer temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

This potential for high temperatures again poses a threat to the Great Barrier Reef, one that marine biologist Terry Hughes—a high-profile champion of coral reef protection—will be watching, looking for signs of more damage to the reef as he continues to push for protecting it.

Hughes thinks there are some worthy mitigation efforts to explore, such as reforesting the watersheds that drain into the reef to prevent pollution-bearing runoff. But ultimately he believes the key to saving corals lies in addressing greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming.

Professor Terry Hughes. Credit: Arccoe Wikimedia

Hughes’s efforts to raise awareness about the fate of the 2,300-kilometer-long coral reef—the largest on the planet and home to thousands of marine species—have put him at odds with business and political interests. Last month it emerged the Australian Research Council (ARC) would drop its funding of the coral reef institute Hughes directs at James Cook University in Queensland—a move decried by ocean scientists around the world. (The ARC and the current conservative Australian government have said the decision was not politically motivated, according to news reports.) Last week Hughes was awarded The John Maddox Prize for championing scientific evidence in the face of hostility. Scientific American caught up with him at the annual Falling Walls science conference in Berlin earlier this month and spoke about the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

What is your outlook for the Great Barrier Reef in the coming months?

NOAA [the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology are both projecting a high likelihood of an El Niño event forming later this year. If that happens, the likelihood of bleaching when summer sea temperatures peak next March would be very high, but we won’t know for sure until about January. A well-timed cyclone could cool the water despite the long-term forecast. But you have to be careful what you wish for. In 2016 the southern third of the Great Barrier Reef was rescued by a spent cyclone that brought the [water] temperature down about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius. But with Cyclone Debbie in 2017, the bleaching had already occurred and the storm was a category 4 when it hit the coast—so it was actually very damaging and destructive [to the reef].

How do you monitor a bleaching event?

Our aerial surveys, which we match to satellite temperature data, are reef-wide. It takes us seven or eight days to crisscross the entire Great Barrier Reef in a small plane flying up to eight hours a day. It’s pretty grueling but that’s the best way that we have of getting the full picture. We ground-truth all of that [data] underwater [during dives]. Each event that we study has a different geography. The 2016 event was very much a northern affair. The maps for the 2017 bleaching will show that the hottest part of the reef—the part that had the most bleaching—was in the center.

Dead coral. Credit: J.W. Alker Getty Images

Is there any area of the reef you are especially worried about?

My worst nightmare is that the bottom [southern] third of the Great Barrier Reef, which escaped the last two events, will bleach. It was simply good luck that prevented it from bleaching in 2016 and 2017. Those reefs have very high numbers of branching corals that happen to be the most susceptible to bleaching. So if it does get a blast of heat next summer or some summer soon, there will be high levels of mortality. That would mean all sectors of the reef will have been hit within a handful of years.

How did the Australian government respond to the bleaching events?

The Great Barrier Reef story in Australia, following the unprecedented back-to-back bleaching, is very politically contentious. You would think an appropriate response by the government would be to declare, for instance, that it wasn’t going to proceed with the world’s largest coal mine [with a coal shipping terminal near the reef] or that it would ramp up its renewable energy targets. Neither has occurred. The government has put quite a lot of money into investigating different interventions. Some are downright silly—the [underwater cooling] fans, the floating sunscreen. There’s a campaign to ban plastic straws. If you were cynical, you would say that it was more about giving the appearance of helping reefs when the elephant in the room is still climate change. There’s also money for improving water quality. Runoff of sediment and nutrients from agriculture into the inner part of the Great Barrier Reef is an important issue, but the amount of funding that’s being spent on that is nowhere near sufficient to reach the government’s own targets. As the country responsible for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, Australia should be leading the international efforts to reduce emissions, especially following the latest IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report. Our current commonwealth government has officially signed on to the 1.5-degree C target [for limiting global temperature rise] of the Paris agreement, but Australia’s emissions are actually increasing.

How will the loss of funding from the Australian Research Council affect your work?

It’s roughly a quarter of our funding and it won’t take effect for another two to three years, so we’ve got time to continue with our current level of activity and to change our funding model by moderate amounts to make up that loss. It’s not good news, certainly. But we will continue to do the research that we’re doing, especially if we see bleaching next year.

What do people misunderstand about the Great Barrier Reef?

There are still about 10 billion corals out there alive and kicking. We’ve just gone through one hell of a natural selection event where the so-called losers—the heat-susceptible species—have been badly depleted. The mix of species has changed. The genetic composition of the coral populations is changing. I think that is just the beginning of a transition that hopefully will make the Great Barrier Reef tougher for inevitable future events. Things will generally get worse before they get better. Until CO2 emissions and temperatures stabilize, the corals are going to be in for a rough ride. Because corals have big populations that are geographically widely dispersed, there is light at the end of the tunnel—but it is completely contingent on whether we can keep temperatures to the 1.5-degree C target.

Press link for more: Scientific American

New #ClimateChange Report Places Blame On Human Actions For Natural Disasters #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani Join #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike Demand World 🌎 wide #GreenNewDeal

NPR’s Scott Simon speaks with Katherine Hayhoe of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University about a new report showing that recent extreme natural events are due to climate change. 

Scott Simon

Katharine Hayhoe

SCOTT SIMON, HOST: 

The federal government’s newest comprehensive report on climate change and its effects was released yesterday.

The news is grim.

It found not only that humans are responsible for climate change, but human actions are making wildfires, floods, extreme rainfall and droughts worse.

The 48 contiguous states are already almost two degrees warmer than they were 100 years ago, and the surrounding seas are an average of 9 inches higher, and heat waves are more frequent and far worse. We’re joined now by Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. Thanks very much for being with us.

KATHARINE HAYHOE: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: This report is pretty blunt, isn’t it?

HAYHOE: It is. Climate change is happening here and now. It is affecting all of us no matter where we live. And the more climate changes, the more serious and even more dangerous the impacts will become.

SIMON: How might life be different in the United States in, say, 20 or 25 years?

HAYHOE: The main reason we care about a changing climate is because it takes the risks we already face and it exacerbates them, it makes them worse.

So we’ve always had hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, but now they’re stronger, and there’s much more rainfall associated with them than there would have been 50 or 100 years ago.

We’ve always had wildfires in the West, but they’re burning greater and greater area compared to 50 or 100 years ago.

We’re seeing increases in heavy rain events, in flood and sea level rise. And it matters to us because we can’t just pick up our cities and move them.

SIMON: One of the things I noted is the report says Chicago could have, in about 25 years, as many 100 degree days as Phoenix does now, and Phoenix could have 100-degree-plus days for almost half the year.

HAYHOE: I know. It’s incredible.

In Chicago, we’ve already seen huge increases in heavy rain events. We’ve already seen that the city is recommending that people plant trees that are native to further south so that when they reach maturity, they’ll be accustomed to Chicago’s climate. But we care about a changing climate because we are not prepared for such rapid changes in the places where we live.

SIMON: And who’s most vulnerable?

HAYHOE: Those who are most vulnerable are lower income and other marginalized communities, people who are already poor or sick, or the very young or the very old. Those who already have the least resources are those who are being hit first and fastest, both here in the United States as well as around the world.

SIMON: Too late to do anything?

HAYHOE: It is not too late.

This report even says that we’re starting to head in the right direction, but we are not doing enough fast enough.

Some amount of impacts are inevitable.

It’s as if we’ve been smoking a pack of cigarettes every day for decades. But the time to stop smoking is now, and we absolutely can avoid the worst impacts if we act now. And that’s what this report really lays out very clearly.

SIMON: As I don’t have to tell you, at least so far, the current administration doesn’t share the entire premise of the report.

Are you hoping this report might change their approach?

HAYHOE: Unfortunately, we know that those who reject the science of climate change do not do so because of any lack of information.

They do so because their political ideology is directly opposed to the idea that we have to wean ourselves off fossil fuels as soon as possible in order to stop this thing. And the good news is we already are.

There’s more jobs in the solar energy industry than there is in all fossil fuels put together in terms of generating electricity across the U.S.

For the last five years, the fastest growing job in the U.S. has been wind energy technician.

So we are moving in the right direction, but we have to do so faster if we’re going to avoid the truly dangerous impacts of a changing climate.

SIMON: Is there something that gives you hope?

HAYHOE: I absolutely have to look for hope because without hope we’re going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. And I don’t find that hope in the science.

Every new study that comes out says that climate is changing faster or to a greater extent than we thought it seems. But I find hope in looking at what people are doing because people are acting.

There are incredible things happening, from kids growing algae biofuels under their beds and winning science fair projects, to big companies like Walmart and Apple going with clean, renewable power over fossil fuels.

The world is changing, and by sharing these stories of hope, we too can have hope, and that’s how we’re going to fix this thing.

SIMON: Katharine Hayhoe, professor at Texas Tech University, joined us by Skype. Thanks so much for being with us.

HAYHOE: Thank you.

Press link for more: NPR

Are you keeping up with a greener Singapore? #auspol #qldpol #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike demand #ClimateAction #StopAdani #VicVotes2018 #TheDrum #QandA #Insiders #SDGs

Growing awareness around the carbon footprint of the built environment is creating a demand for greener, smarter buildings.

Is your organisation keeping up with the green wave, or will it be left behind, asks Johnson Controls’ Ken Lim.

In many Asian cities, including Singapore, the interest in sustainable living is growing as the effects of global warming—intense extreme weather events and rising sea levels—leave their mark across the region.

Without radical change, Asia Pacific will account for 48 per cent of global carbon emissions by 2030.

The race to build green cities across Asia is on.

An estimated US$6 billion is expected to go into financing projects to counter climate change by 2020, focusing on renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, resilient infrastructure, and better preparation for climate-related disasters.

Singapore: A fast-growing green city

Green buildings, which have a lower carbon footprint compared to regular buildings, are key to sustainable urban planning since the built environment contributes 33 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

It has been estimated that urban residents could save as much as US$16 billion annually through the use of intelligent, energy efficient technologies. To date, Singapore has “greened” more than a third of the building stock (by gross floor area). In fact, we rank second among global cities for green buildings, according to a 2016 report.

But to reach the government’s aim of having 80 per cent of Singapore’s buildings certified under the Building and Construction Authority Green Mark scheme by 2030, we need to green an additional 50 per cent of our buildings within the next 12 years.

More than 80 per cent of local organisations and 70 per cent of global organisations today than in 2016, according to the 2017 Johnson Controls Energy Efficiency Indicator survey, which polled more than 1,500 facility and management executives worldwide.

With 2018 designated as the Year of Climate Action for Singapore, close to a quarter of a million citizens, business corporations and civil have pledged to take climate action and reduce their carbon footprint. The nation has also committed under the Paris Agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 36 per cent compared to 2005 levels by 2030.

Singapore’s artificial natural paradise.

Are you focusing on energy efficiency?

Given the importance of energy efficiency in sustainable living, how are local companies addressing the issue?

Our survey findings revealed a strong positive outlook for green investments among local respondents. Eighty-three per cent of Singapore companies have said they are expecting to increase investments on energy efficiency projects, a strong lead over the global average of nearly 60 per cent.

Outfitting buildings to be more energy efficient is a key component of creating sustainable buildings. Some possible solutions include energy-efficient cooling devices and systems that streamline energy use. In fact, improvements to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning ranked as the top energy efficiency measure adopted by nearly 80 per cent of local companies in the survey.

Are you actively integrating your building systems?

Smart technologies are an integral part of green buildings. As built environments become greener and smarter, there will be more demand for agile products and systems that are smart, cyber-secure and future ready.

In the last year, about 43 per cent of local organisations have reported investing in systems integration. Heading the list is integration with external data sources, such as weather and utility information with other building technology systems, followed by integration with energy management, life safety systems, and lighting systems.

Smart buildings are responsive to the needs of the occupants in real time, leveraging building data to optimise energy usage, lower facility costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring safety and sustainability. These green buildings often connect internal systems—such as heating, ventilation, cooling, data networks, power management and surveillance—with external networks to manage building operations more efficiently.

Do you have net zero built environments in the pipeline?

Building net zero energy building and further reducing greenhouse gas footprint should also be on organisations’ radars as we move toward green, sustainable urban living.

The increase in local demand for green buildings is expected to pump up demand for net zero energy buildings as well, according to our survey. It showed that 66 per cent of organisations in Singapore are very likely to plan to achieve near zero, net zero or energy positive status for at least one building within the next 10 years. In comparison, about 54 per cent of organisations globally are committed to the same goal.

Effective carbon reduction in the built environment is a concerted effort that depends on a combination of planning, design, construction and use. New buildings offer the largest potential savings of 75 per cent or higher in energy use; although it would require an approach that combines technological and behavioural change. Building owners should thus consider energy savings from the beginning of the project as part of construction and design.

However, nearly 30 per cent of local companies lack the technical expertise to evaluate or execute projects as the primary barrier to pursuing energy efficiency. Other obstacles included the lack of funding to pay for improvements, as well as the uncertainty regarding savings and performance.

Green up to keep up

It will take active involvement, close cooperation and mindset change of organisations and communities to achieve environmental sustainability.

Joining the growing ranks of organisations that have integrated myriad systems such as life safety, lighting, water management with advanced building technology would be a good start. Gaining insights and new ideas from regional collaborative platforms, such as the World Green Building Council, to jump-start your green building projects could be another.

Leveraging performance benchmarking and certifications can be effective in driving energy efficiency improvements. More than 80 per cent of local respondents ranked benchmarking and certification as very important. Other effective policies included government leadership in leasing, building design, and retrofits; as well as public and private sector building efficiency targets.

Experts have singled out a clearly defined governance structure and effective leadership as the bedrock to the success of any enterprise-wide strategy. Without exception, a successful climate change strategy necessitates a holistic approach that requires competence that cuts across functions, operations and geographies.

Ken Lim is General Manager and Managing Director, BT&S Singapore at Johnson Controls. This article was written for Eco-Business. 

Press link for more: Eco Business

Can the Blue Wave Deliver a Green New Deal? #auspol #qldpol #springst We need a world 🌎 wide #GreenNewDeal to avoid catastrophic #ClimateChange #ExtinctionRebellion #StopAdani

The base is demanding a bold plan from the newly empowered Democrats—and the planet is crying out for it.

Amid raging California wildfires, rising sea levels, and a sudden wave of Democratic power in Congress, the idea of a Green New Deal to create millions of new jobs combating the climate crisis is surging.

In her first day of orientation as a new member of Congress, on November 13, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stood with around 200 protesters in Representative Nancy Pelosi’s office demanding just such a deal in the upcoming Congress. “This is about uplifting the voice and the message of the fact that we need a Green New Deal and we need to get to 100 percent renewables because our lives depend on it,” she told reporters outside Pelosi’s office.

As news of the protest proliferated, Pelosi soon backed the move via Twitter, albeit in general terms. “Deeply inspired by the young activists & advocates leading the way on confronting climate change. The climate crisis threatens the futures of communities nationwide,” wrote Pelosi. Despite Pelosi’s friendly words, 51 young Sunrise Movement activists were arrested and later released.

Since then, Sunrise Movement, which has been waging feisty actions to propel the Green New Deal forward, has kept up the momentum—and the pressure. On November 19, Sunrise activists in Rhode Island disrupted a speech by Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez, demanding that party leaders “pledge and adopt a #GreenNewDeal into the party platform.” Today, hundreds of young people will be fanning out across the country, protesting at congressional representatives’ offices, as part of a national day of action.

Support for a Green New Deal is building, both on the streets and inside Congress. In the past week, nearly a dozen members of the House—mostly newcomers like Representative Rashida Tlaib, but also a handful of sitting representatives like Ro Khanna, John Lewis, and Jared Huffman—have backed a proposal by Ocasio-Cortez for a select committee for a Green New Deal. This committee would be tasked with drafting a 10-year green jobs and infrastructure plan to radically reduce carbon emissions while expanding living-wage jobs. As detailed on Ocasio-Cortez’s website, “The select committee shall have authority to develop a detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan…for the transition of the United States economy to become carbon neutral and to significantly draw down and capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and oceans.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

It’s an ambitious plan and an inspiring one, even as questions abound: What exactly would this Green New Deal look like?

Will Democrats and their leadership make this blend of environmental salvation and economic justice a top priority and lend it all their political will?

Or will they remain far behind the climate-change curve, soft-pedaling moderate reforms? And even if they push it forward, what’s Plan B when the Republicans stifle it in the Senate?

As the Green New Deal hoopla builds, it’s important to understand what it actually means.

More than a decade in the making, the Green New Deal has many iterations, spanning from technocratic to transformational.

It’s a giant policy bucket that includes “clean tech” job incentives and credits, energy-system overhaul, massive expansion of renewable energy, green urban public works, agroforestry, and more.

The immense potential of green jobs is well-documented.

According to a 2018 report by Data for Progress, an expansive plan could generate “10 million new jobs over 10 years” through a mix of employment and training programs. In fact, one study, by the International Trade Union Confederation, estimates that “spending 2 percent of annual GDP on the green economy could create over 15 million green jobs in 5 years.”

For sheer job creation, green economy and clean energy production far outflank fossil fuels, the report found that “In 2017, there were 800,000 Americans employed in low-carbon emission generation technologies, and 2.25 million employed in energy efficiency. This compares to only 92,000 for coal-fired generation.” Solar industry jobs “have grown 168 percent over the past seven years.”

These jobs run the gamut from “entry-level” to highly trained work and include everything from tree planting and building weatherization to wetlands restoration, sustainable agriculture and soil restoration and modernizing and expanding renewable energy grids. Refuting facile stereotypes of green jobs as an elite privilege, a 2016 Brookings Institution report concluded, “The clean economy offers more opportunities and better pay for low- and middle-skilled workers than the national economy as a whole.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s call for a Green New Deal committee builds on these ideas. While she is not the first to put forward the notion—in 2007, Pelosi established a select committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming that covered some similar terrain (until it was killed by Republicans in 2011)—her proposed committee offers considerably more muscle, including legislative authority and investigative powers.

The goals laid out by Ocasio-Cortez’s plan are bold and expansive: generating 100 percent of the nation’s power from renewable sources, building a national, energy-efficient “smart” grid, and “upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety.”

True to her democratic-socialist roots, she also infuses the plan with a call to “mitigate deeply entrenched racial, regional and gender-based inequalities in income and wealth”—a dictum that was not lost on Emma Bouton, co-coordinator of Sunrise Rhode Island. “The focus on equity within the resolution is particularly exciting,” Bouton said in a press release. “By explicitly addressing racial and gender-based inequalities in income and wealth and connecting the ‘Green New Deal’ to other policies such as a federal jobs guarantee and universal healthcare, the plan has the potential to be transformative.”

Yet, for all the promise of Ocasio-Cortez’s plan—and of a Green New Deal more broadly—it remains to be seen whether Democrats will rise to the opportunity. Along with the support, there has been some pushback, even among progressives in Congress, like Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), who told HuffPost, “The resolution is a wonderful statement of urgency, you’ve got to take this seriously and you’ve only got 10 years to do it…. I don’t have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is the mechanisms of how you’re going to get this done. A select committee? Great. Now what?”

At the same time, competing priorities (to say nothing of raw political calculation) have a way of crowding out even the most promising ideas. In September, for instance, Pelosi “[p]reemptively boxed in any potential left-populist agenda on Capitol Hill by backing reinstatement of a ‘pay-go’ rule to offset all new spending with tax increases or budget cuts,” according to a “Democratic Autopsy” report. This austerity-minded agenda, along with the Democrats’ chronic support for bloated military spending, threatens to hamstring a Green New Deal along with other essential domestic progress toward economic equality and ecological sustainability.

No less ominous: Earlier this year the Democratic National Committee dropped its ban on fossil fuel–industry campaign contributions earlier—clogging the political path to a Green New Deal and climate-related reforms with yet more energy-industry dollars.

Still, Democrats would be smart to embrace Ocasio-Cortez’s Select Committee proposal—and with it, the kind of Green New Deal that would deliver both massive carbon reduction and nationwide jobs stimulus. It’s not only vitally important, it’s also smart politics. For one thing, surveys show strong majorities of Americans support investments to create green jobs that address the climate crisis.

More important, a Green New Deal could create living-wage jobs in states that are especially dependent on (or prolific in) fossil-fuel extraction—such as top coal-producers Wyoming, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and oil and gas behemoths Texas, Oklahoma, Alaska, and North Dakota. Most of these top energy-producing states also lead the way in per capita energy consumption, meaning they are locations of environmentally destructive production and consumption.

Creating environmentally beneficial living-wage jobs in fossil-fuel states where so many industrial workers are struggling should be a no-brainer.

One way to pay for this green, job-generating stimulus would be a carbon tax, as has been proposed in the recent past by Representative Jim McDermott and Senator Bernie Sanders, among others. As the Carbon Tax Center explains, taxing America’s 5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year could raise $250 billion—a heap of cash that could be spent on a range of ecological public works, renewable energy grid expansion, and more.

As climate chaos bears down on us, and as millions of Americans struggle with economic insecurity and precariousness, despite some glittery top-level job numbers, Democrats need to offer a bold vision, not just defensive postures. The Green New Deal may seem a dazzling political mirage, but it’s utterly essential, and politically wise. President Trump and the Republican Senate will reject anything the Democrats put forward. So why not try to save the planet, and create millions of living-wage jobs in the process?

Press link for more: The Nation