Religion

Coal War! #StopAdani #auspol #ClimateChange #AirPollution @KateRaworth #NaomiKlein

A News Corporation newspaper in Townsville Australia declares War on Stop Adani activists.

War on ordinary Australian moms and dads who have heard the warnings of scientists & doctors saying we are heading to catastrophic climate Change.

In Sydney on Saturday the temperature soared to 47C. The temperature in the centre of the Sydney Cricket Ground was measured at 56C.

Scientists are warning that heatwaves like this will be more frequent, hotter and last longer.

Predictions of 50C temperatures in Sydney & Melbourne by 2040 look to be a an understatement.

Most Australian journalists and politicians seem to support the opening of new coal mines even though the rest of the world is moving rapidly towards renewable energy.

Both the Liberal National Party and the Australian Labor Party are wedded to neoliberalism. An ideology that has a fundamental flaw, continuous growth is impossible on a finite planet.

Many leading economists are questioning neoliberalism and looking for alternatives.

Kate Raworth & Naomi Klein have both written excellent books on the problems of environmental degradation and inequality we are currently experiencing.

Instead of declaring war on ourselves let’s look for solutions to the enormous problems we are facing.

Our children and future generations are depending on us to solve the problems if not they will face a very uncertain future.

Advertisements

#ClimateChange & #Health #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #WHO

Climate change and health

Key facts

• Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.

• Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.

• The direct damage costs to health (i.e. excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation), is estimated to be between US$ 2-4 billion/year by 2030.

• Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.

• Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through better transport, food and energy-use choices can result in improved health, particularly through reduced air pollution.

Climate change

Over the last 50 years, human activities – particularly the burning of fossil fuels – have released sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to trap additional heat in the lower atmosphere and affect the global climate.

In the last 130 years, the world has warmed by approximately 0.85oC. Each of the last 3 decades has been successively warmer than any preceding decade since 1850(1).

Sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting and precipitation patterns are changing. Extreme weather events are becoming more intense and frequent.

What is the impact of climate change on health?

Although global warming may bring some localized benefits, such as fewer winter deaths in temperate climates and increased food production in certain areas, the overall health effects of a changing climate are likely to be overwhelmingly negative.

Climate change affects social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.

Extreme heat

Extreme high air temperatures contribute directly to deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory disease, particularly among elderly people. In the heat wave of summer 2003 in Europe for example, more than 70 000 excess deaths were recorded(2).

High temperatures also raise the levels of ozone and other pollutants in the air that exacerbate cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

Pollen and other aeroallergen levels are also higher in extreme heat. These can trigger asthma, which affects around 300 million people. Ongoing temperature increases are expected to increase this burden.

Natural disasters and variable rainfall patterns

Globally, the number of reported weather-related natural disasters has more than tripled since the 1960s.

Every year, these disasters result in over 60 000 deaths, mainly in developing countries.

Rising sea levels and increasingly extreme weather events will destroy homes, medical facilities and other essential services.

More than half of the world’s population lives within 60 km of the sea.

People may be forced to move, which in turn heightens the risk of a range of health effects, from mental disorders to communicable diseases.

Increasingly variable rainfall patterns are likely to affect the supply of fresh water.

A lack of safe water can compromise hygiene and increase the risk of diarrhoeal disease, which kills over 500 000 children aged under 5 years, every year.

In extreme cases, water scarcity leads to drought and famine.

By the late 21st century, climate change is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of drought at regional and global scale(1).

Floods are also increasing in frequency and intensity, and the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation is expected to continue to increase throughout the current century(1). Floods contaminate freshwater supplies, heighten the risk of water-borne diseases, and create breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes. They also cause drownings and physical injuries, damage homes and disrupt the supply of medical and health services.

Rising temperatures and variable precipitation are likely to decrease the production of staple foods in many of the poorest regions.

This will increase the prevalence of malnutrition and undernutrition, which currently cause 3.1 million deaths every year.

Patterns of infection

Climatic conditions strongly affect water-borne diseases and diseases transmitted through insects, snails or other cold blooded animals.

Changes in climate are likely to lengthen the transmission seasons of important vector-borne diseases and to alter their geographic range.

For example, climate change is projected to widen significantly the area of China where the snail-borne disease schistosomiasis occurs(3).

Malaria is strongly influenced by climate.

Transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes, malaria kills over 400 000 people every year – mainly African children under 5 years old. The Aedes mosquito vector of dengue is also highly sensitive to climate conditions, and studies suggest that climate change is likely to continue to increase exposure to dengue.

Measuring the health effects

Measuring the health effects from climate change can only be very approximate. Nevertheless, a WHO assessment, taking into account only a subset of the possible health impacts, and assuming continued economic growth and health progress, concluded that climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050; 38 000 due to heat exposure in elderly people, 48 000 due to diarrhoea, 60 000 due to malaria, and 95 000 due to childhood undernutrition.

Who is at risk?

All populations will be affected by climate change, but some are more vulnerable than others. People living in small island developing states and other coastal regions, megacities, and mountainous and polar regions are particularly vulnerable.

Children – in particular, children living in poor countries – are among the most vulnerable to the resulting health risks and will be exposed longer to the health consequences. The health effects are also expected to be more severe for elderly people and people with infirmities or pre-existing medical conditions.

Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.

WHO response

Many policies and individual choices have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce major health co-benefits. For example, cleaner energy systems, and promoting the safe use of public transportation and active movement – such as cycling or walking as alternatives to using private vehicles – could reduce carbon emissions, and cut the burden of household air pollution, which causes some 4.3 million deaths per year, and ambient air pollution, which causes about 3 million deaths every year.

In 2015, the WHO Executive Board endorsed a new work plan on climate change and health. This includes:

• Partnerships: to coordinate with partner agencies within the UN system, and ensure that health is properly represented in the climate change agenda.

• Awareness raising: to provide and disseminate information on the threats that climate change presents to human health, and opportunities to promote health while cutting carbon emissions.

• Science and evidence: to coordinate reviews of the scientific evidence on the links between climate change and health, and develop a global research agenda.

• Support for implementation of the public health response to climate change: to assist countries to build capacity to reduce health vulnerability to climate change, and promote health while reducing carbon emissions.

References

(1) IPCC, 2014: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

(2) Death toll exceeded 70,000 in Europe during the summer of 2003. Robine JM, Cheung SL, Le Roy S, Van Oyen H, Griffiths C, Michel JP, et al. C R Biol. 2008;331(2):171-8.

(3) Potential impact of climate change on schistosomiasis transmission in China. Zhou XN,

Yang GJ, Yang K, Wang XH, Hong QB, Sun LP, et al. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2008;78(2):188-94.

Press link for more: WHO.INT

We all depend on rain. #auspol #qldpol #climatechange #StopAdani #Water

CLIMATE LEADER PAPERS

Benedito Braga, President of the World Water Council (WWC), describes how climate change is affecting the natural water cycle and points out the necessity for water infrastructure adaptation and finance.

With everybody talking about climate change in the hottest year on record, it is easy to get the impression that the sky is falling. And it is easy to forget that it is only rain that falls on our heads. This rain gives humanity the water we depend on: to drink, but also to grow food and produce energy, to stay clean and healthy, and much more. As climate change scientists predict, the gift of gentle rain will not be something we can depend on. The sky will not fall, but the rain might come down harder – or not at all.

Understanding the problem of climate change requires an understanding of how water is distributed on the planet, and how it impacts all aspects of our lives. Only 2 per cent of the world’s water is fresh, not salty. Of that, less than 0.05 per cent is in the atmosphere at any given time as vapour, clouds, rain or snow. Yet this tiny portion is critical, as it drives the water cycle and brings fresh water to the world. The overall effect of climate change is an intensification of the water cycle, causing more extreme floods and droughts, and hampering many people’s resilience – mostly in the less developed countries. This global shift is affecting the distribution of water across the planet, threatening to fundamentally disrupt our water security.

The impacts of this disruption cannot be predicted with confidence by current models, because it is not just about how precipitation will change – it is also about how we will react. Therefore, a recent research programme conducted by the World Water Council in collaboration with the Government of Mexico set out to collect case studies from different parts of the world on the roles that infrastructure and governance play in adapting and increasing resilience to climate change. This project, which resulted in the book Increasing Resilience to Climate Variability and Change, has shown that countries can enhance their water security in a sustainable manner through strong investment in water infrastructure. The studies also demonstrate that decision-making has changed over time, and will have to keep on changing, as authorities address knowledge and data gaps, unresolved water management concerns and many other open issues.

Residents of Australia’s Murray–Darling Basin are among those whose livelihoods have been gravely threatened by ongoing droughts. Happily, policy reforms have enabled adaptation measures to better manage climatic variability. By developing strategies such as water capping extraction, conjunctive management of surface and ground water, water markets and improved water storage facilities for distribution and irrigation, the basin authority has increased resilience to climate change, building adaptive capacities and means for greater water security. These measures have significantly reduced the socio-economic impacts of climatic variability in the past two decades, and have decoupled growth and benefits from water consumption. Among other places that have never experienced severe drought, the Metropolitan Region of São Paulo, Brazil, had reductions to the inflows to its water supply reservoirs to 25 per cent of average in 2014. This has required implementation of infrastructure and demand management initiatives sooner than was envisaged in the water resources plan of the Tiete river basin.

These cases show how complex decision-making has become. As climate conditions change, knowledge and understanding of the social, economic and environmental impacts, as well as the political ones, have been seen to improve, but still need to progress globally to be more comprehensive.

Redistribution and saving

In discussing the complexity of climate change, it is necessary to keep in mind that even this thorny issue is, in some ways, a tree hiding a larger forest from view. There is a need to view concerns about climate change alongside water security. Crucially, the most common solution to meeting increased demand is also a way of insuring ourselves against climate change impacts: the engineered redistribution of water over space and time. This includes reservoirs to store water, pipelines to transfer it and desalination to recover fresh water from the oceans. At the same time, efforts must also be made to increase water saving, reuse and recycling through major investments by governments and the water industry.

Following the adoption of the post-2015 agenda and the Paris Agreement, it is important to recognise just how much water permeates both. In the arena of climate negotiations, COP21 created some spaces for water, with dedicated events organised by the French and Peruvian Presidencies and partners from civil society. The World Water Council joined forces with multiple organisations worldwide in the #ClimateIsWater initiative, rallying the climate community around efforts to ensure that climate discussions continue to consider water issues. We need to continue creating this dialogue.

It was with this same purpose that the World Water Council, in conjunction with the COP22 Presidency, the Moroccan Government, co-organised the International Conference on Water Security for Climate Justice that took place in Rabat in July 2016. The outcome of this was the ‘Water for Africa’ call, which appeals to the international community to pay as much attention to measures to adapt to climate change as to mitigate it. The plea called specifically for developing ways to finance water security across Africa in the face of climate change. I am very confident that these initiatives will catalyse action to bring water and adaptation to the forefront of the climate negotiations at COP22 in Marrakech.

Developing planning awareness

For too long, water has been a neglected and marginalised sector in discussions of public policies for growth and sustainable development.

In comparison with sectors like energy and transport,

share of political support. This lack of attention becomes more visible and dangerous, in the form of insufficient water infrastructure. We see this in countries at all stages of development, where not enough is being done to maintain and replace existing systems and structures, nor to prepare the infrastructure for growing future requirements. Water infrastructure – especially large and multipurpose infrastructure – is costly, and its funding needs to receive the attention of the international financing systems.

This inattention will change in the years ahead. Whatever the concerns may be, water security is also a genuine economic opportunity, and so is investment in sustainable and resilient water infrastructure. While long-term finance has been more difficult to find since 2008, at the same time, now is the best moment to raise funding for infrastructure at historically low borrowing costs.

In taking on a new generation of infrastructure, I recognise that we have a lot to learn. Infrastructure planning needs to evolve to fit new requirements and constraints, pressed by climate change, scarcity, conflict over resources and other factors. This implies a more inclusive and eclectic approach to the planning of such projects.

Funding concerns

Funding infrastructure will also require the same inclusiveness. An important reason why water infrastructure is so underfunded is that it rarely satisfies the criteria of financial viability required by commercial funding sources. While more could be done to make effective use of existing traditional sources of infrastructure finance, there is both a need and an opportunity to engage with newer sources, such as climate funding, green bonds, pension funds, insurance funds and sovereign wealth funds.

In the face of present and future challenges, water, finance and growth are inevitably connected. Research led by the World Bank shows that water scarcity could cost some regions up to 6 per cent of their GDP. New infrastructure will minimise water scarcity and will reduce the economic impacts of floods, droughts, inadequate water access and poor sanitation. These are the substantial costs that are forcing governments to pay greater attention to water, and hopefully to look at water not simply as a problem but as a solution and a navigable route to sustainable development.

Political commitment

The Sustainable Development Goals call for universal and equitable access to water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030. Achieving SDG Targets 6.1 and 6.2 alone will require about three times the current level of investment, a total capital cost of US$114 billion per year. Implementing a more comprehensive agenda, one that would also ensure water for food and energy production for sustainable development and economic growth, would cost at least US$840 billion a year over the next 20 years. However, that level of investment would deliver more than US$3 trillion annually in economic, environmental and social benefits. The technical solutions already exist for these massive water resources development projects; it is only the right economic incentives and innovative financing models that are needed to make them a reality.

Nothing comes easy when the clouds run dry. Yet I hope we can recognise the scale of the challenge as an equally large opportunity. It is an opportunity to solve the world’s most pressing threat, and to address sources of suffering and inequity that have persisted for far too long. Achieving water security, sustainability and resilience means a shared commitment to adapting water management in the face of a changing world and changing social needs. Many complex processes are involved, but one fact is universal: long-term, consistent commitment at the highest political level is needed in order to succeed.

Read the full Climate Action 2016/17 Publication here

Press link for more: Climate Action Program

Mega disasters. They’re going to get worse. #StopAdani #ClimateChange #auspol

Megadisasters devastated America this year.

They’re going to get worse.

Storms, fires, floods, and heat caused unprecedented destruction in 2017. Why?

By Umair Irfan and Brian Resnick Dec 28, 2017, 9:40am EST

2017 is about to become the most expensive disaster year in US history, costing nearly $400 billion in damages.

How did that happen? Consider some of the record-breaking weather events that came our way:

• California was drenched in the wettest winter on record, ending years of drought.

• Then came California’s most destructive and largest wildfire season ever. The Tubbs Fire in Northern California killed 22 people and damaged more than 5,600 structures.

• Hurricane Harvey broke a rainfall record for a single tropical storm with more than 4 feet of rain.

• Puerto Rico is still mired in the longest blackout in US history after Hurricane Maria struck three months ago. More than 1,000 are estimated to have died in the storm and its aftermath.

San Francisco reported its hottest temperature ever, 106 degrees Fahrenheit, while other parts of the country set records for high-temperature streaks.

• 14 places across Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas reported record-high water levels during floods in April and May.

• Requests for federal disaster aid jumped tenfold compared to 2016, with 4.7 million people registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

As of October, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had counted 15 disasters with damages topping $1 billion, tying 2017 with 2011 for the most billion-dollar disasters in a year to date. And that was before the California wildfires. (We included some of those fires in the map below):

The unending string of calamities was shocking to many Americans. As Paolo Bacigalupi, who writes climate dystopia fiction, tweeted in August: “The thing that bothers me most about these unprecedented disasters is that even I imagined they wouldn’t happen for a long time yet.”

Yet we must see 2017 as an average year, if not a baseline. We must reckon with the likelihood of even worse storms, heat waves, fires, and droughts as the Earth warms — because scientists expect even this “new normal” to get worse.

The reasons for this are many: As the climate changes, the US is becoming much more vulnerable to disasters. People keep flocking to live in places we know are likely to be hit. And our policies don’t protect them, not by a long shot.

Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned from 2017, and what they suggest for how to prepare for future catastrophes.

What 2017 taught us about climate and extreme weather

Climate scientists have been warning about extreme weather, that it would become more frequent and intense in new ways. Yet 2017 still seemed like a brutal wake-up call to nature’s extraordinary power, and the frightening possibilities of this warmer world.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about why some weather is so extreme and how much climate change is to blame (especially when it comes to hurricanes). But 2017 gave us more clues about what we can expect in the world to come, hints that hopefully will help us prepare for the future.

This is what we understand about the connections between climate change and the disasters we saw this year.

Floods and rain

The year started off with torrential rainfall in California, marking the wettest winter in a century. Parched after years of drought, the rainfall officially brought the dry spell to an end as floods inundated hundreds of homes, landslides buried roads, and high water levels threatened to burst dams. Flooding across Missouri and Arkansas in the spring also claimed 20 lives and carried a $1.7 billion price tag.

California’s Oroville Dam suffered damage to its spillway after record rainfall, forcing almost 200,000 people to evacuate. Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Rainfall, both the amount and the rate, represents one of the strongest signals of climate change. Warmer air increases the evaporation rate of water, and for every degree Celsius increase in temperature, a parcel of air can hold 7 percent more water.

Average annual rainfall across the United States has gone up by 5 percent since 1990, though there’s regional variation, according to the National Climate Assessment.

Scientists have found that the amount of rain dished out by heavy rainstorms has gone up 10 percent since 1900 due to global warming. Extreme rainfall events are trending upward, and nine of the top 10 years for extreme one-day precipitation events have happened since 1990.

And all this moisture-laden air helped drive the powerful hurricanes that made landfall in the United States.

“Hurricanes live and die by the amount of rainfall they make out of moisture,” George Huffman, a research meteorologist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, told Vox.

The three biggest hurricanes of 2017 making landfall in the US. Courtesy of Chris Dolce

Hurricanes

“To say this hurricane season has been historic is an understatement,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long told Congress in October.

Harvey, Irma, and Maria all made landfall as powerful Category 4 storms with winds exceeding 130 mph. Harvey in particular dumped a truly staggering amount of rain over Houston. The estimated 24 trillion gallons that fell there was so heavy it actually depressed the earth more than half an inch in some spots, according to preliminary analysis from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

These are the types of storms climate scientists expect to see more of in a warmer world.

Hurricane Harvey dumped somewhere between 24 and 34 trillion gallons on Texas and Louisiana. Javier Zarracina/Vox

First off, yes: There’s consensus that the science of climate change predicts that in a warming world, hurricanes will become more intense, carry more rain, and cause worse coastal flooding linked in part to sea level rise.

But here’s the thing: We don’t yet currently know, conclusively, that the hurricane season as a whole represents a result of climate change. “At this point it’s really uncertain if there’s any detectable human influence on any hurricane or tropical cyclone metric,” Tom Knutson, an NOAA meteorologist who studies hurricanes, told Vox in October.

There’s just not enough data. Meteorologists have only been tracking hurricanes with satellites since the 1970s. It’s possible that historic hurricane records, which go back to the 1800s, are incomplete or have inaccurate information on wind speeds and size. Considering how hurricanes have been lashing against the Atlantic’s coasts for untold epochs, we just have a tiny slice of data to determine what’s “normal.”

While it’s hard to say if the punishing number and intensity of storms were due to climate change, climate scientists have now determined — in two separate research efforts — that Hurricane Harvey’s record-blasting rains (best measured in feet for much of Houston) were likely amplified by climate change.

“Human-induced climate change likely increased Harvey’s total rainfall around Houston by at least 19 percent, with a best estimate of 37 percent,” Michael Wehner, a co-author on an attribution study recently published in Geophysical Research Letters, said at the American Geophysical Union conference in December. And the corresponding study in Environmental Research Letters concluded that climate change increased flooding by around 15 percent.

Even with climate change, Harvey’s rain was an extremely rare event, expected not to return for thousands of years, Karin van der Wiel, a co-author of the Environmental Research Letters study, said. Still, the odds of seeing such an extreme event have changed, she says. “It’s between 1.5 and 5 times more likely now than in pre-industrial times.”

What’s still not known: Did climate change alter the odds of seeing three incredibly strong storms — Harvey, Irma, Maria — in a row this season?

“We tend to look at [hurricanes] one at a time,” Wehner said. “What’s the probability of having three extraordinary events? What’s the probability of having $250 billion in damage one season? That’s a blind spot.”

Heat waves

In June, the Western US experienced the most intense heat wave ever to strike so early in the year, leading to dozens of flight cancellations. On June 21, Ocotillo Wells, California, reported a temperature of 124 degrees Fahrenheit, the hottest reading ever in San Diego County.

A map of how much higher temperatures were this year relative to the average between 1895 and 2017. NOAA

Farther north, Olympia, Washington, set a June temperature record of 98 degrees Fahrenheit. The searing heat persisted throughout July in the Pacific Northwest, and was followed by another wave in October, as high temperatures rippled through the Midwest and reached triple digits around Los Angeles, shattering records.

Wildfires

One of the biggest factors in this year’s record wildfire season was, oddly, rainfall.

Vegetation across much of the drought-stricken west eagerly soaked up the surfeit of water from the wet winter, leading to a rapid, vast growth spurt in trees, grasses, and shrubs in the spring. Then summer and fall brought intense heat that dried out these plants, turning the greenery into fuel.

Wildfires began igniting over the summer, sending choking air pollution through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and California. Huge new fires appeared in subsequent months, causing record damage, including the ongoing fires around Los Angeles that are poised to burn the rest of the year. The Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, at more than 280,000 acres, is the largest fire in California history. Across the United States, more than 9.5 million acres have burned to date, making 2017 the second-worst year for fires in terms of area.

A Los Angeles County firefighter monitors approaching flames on October 9. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

But the wildfires that scorched vast swaths of the US this year can scarcely be described as natural disasters, since human activities exacerbated them at every step.

“The context for this is as much about society living in these very fire-prone environments as it is about the climate,” said Tim Brown, director of NOAA’s Western Regional Climate Center. “One significant difference is we’ve had very significant population growth and urban development here since the 1960s.”

And changes in the climate are making many of these wildfires worse. Researchers found that human-caused climate change accounts for 55 percent of the increase in drying out of Western forests, a major factor in wildfires, and has led to a doubling of the area burned.

But as with hurricanes, there is some nuance to climate’s role in wildfires. Rising temperatures and less precipitation have had a bigger effect on fire risk in a temperate region like Northern California but has less of an impact in an area that’s already hot and dry, like Los Angeles County.

At the moment, scientists say they haven’t detected a climate signal in fire patterns in this region. But in study published in Environmental Research Letters in 2015, researchers projected that the area scorched by wildfires in Southern California will grow by as much as 77 percent by the middle of the century due to warming.

Why these disaster cost billions

Irma Maldanado stands with Sussury, her parrot, and her dog in what is left of her home in Corozal, Puerto Rico, on September 27. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Worldwide, 2017 is shaping up to be the most expensive year for climate disasters ever. In the US, it’s already the most costly year ever for hurricanes and for wildfires.

Such expensive weather events are part of an ongoing trend. Since 1980, there have been 218 disasters across the United States with costs topping $1 billion. The Congressional Research Service reported earlier this year that inflation-adjusted disaster appropriations have shot up 46 percent from a median of $6.2 billion between 2000 and 2006 to $9.1 billion between 2007 and 2013.

And the price of disaster damage is continuing to go up, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Part of it is that the hurricanes this year really were immense, but they have a bigger impact when they collide with growing cities. As more people compete for real estate, property values have skyrocketed in Florida and California. That means any time a disaster strikes, it becomes horrendously expensive to repair all the infrastructure and personal property.

But it’s still difficult to tabulate the costs of the storms. Many of the dollar values are drawn from insured properties, which represent only a fraction of the devastation. Over the past decade, only 30 percent of catastrophic losses around the world were insured, according to the reinsurance firm Swiss Re. That leaves a gap of $1.7 trillion in uninsured damages.

And for a place like Puerto Rico, still mired in blackout, the estimated $95 billion it will cost to rebuild doesn’t really convey all the suffering caused by the storm. About 43 percent of the island’s 3.3 million residents live below the poverty line, so the dollar amount of the damage may be lower than for places like Houston, Texas, with large homes and expensive industrial facilities.

Now the big question is who pays the bill. FEMA has offered more than $3.3 billion in aid to disaster victims through its Individuals and Households Program and $1.4 billion in public assistance this year. But it’s crunched for cash, as the huge storms and fires have depleted its reserves. An $81 billion emergency disaster relief package for Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, and California is likely to languish for weeks as Congress leaves for the holidays.

The disasters will have long-lasting health effects

The disasters of 2017 took hundreds of lives. Hurricane Maria was especially cruel, with estimates of more than 1,000 deaths in Puerto Rico. Hurricane Harvey was responsible for taking 82 lives. The Tubbs Fire in Northern California killed 22 people. There were at least six deaths attributed to heat waves this year.

Yet the toll of storms, fires, floods, and heat on human health can also be more insidious and can linger for years.

Heat is rarely listed as a cause of death, but it can be a factor in heart attacks, strokes, and respiratory arrests. High temperatures also worsen deadly air pollutants like ozone, which is linked to respiratory illnesses such as asthma.

Smoke inhalation from wildfires can also be deadly over time, since fine smoke particles in the air aggravate asthma, provoke inflammation, and strain the heart and lungs.

When concentrations of very small particles of wood smoke pollution (smaller than 2.5 microns, a.k.a. “PM 2.5”) reach above 10 micrograms per cubic meter, researchers find a 7 percent increase in asthma inhaler refills. “But if there’s a 100 microgram per meter smoke day, we’d expect that to go to a 100 percent increase of inhaler refills for the population,” Katelyn O’Dell, who studies the health hazards of wildfire smoke at Colorado state university said. Many of the wildfires this past year created conditions that exceeded this level of pollution.

Researchers expect that as climate change makes wildfires more likely over the course of this century, deaths and illnesses attributed to pollution from wood smoke will rise too, even offsetting gains made from cleaning up emissions from industry.

And the fury of a hurricane can leave people scraped, bruised, crushed, or drowned. When a storm cuts off electricity, other dangers abound. “Just about every interaction with the health system now involves electricity, from calling a hospital for help to accessing electronic medical records and powering lifesaving equipment like hemodialysis machines or ventilators,” Vox’s Julia Belluz wrote in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Smoke from the Thomas Fire on December 12 in Carpinteria, California. David McNew/Getty Images

Disasters are a strain not just on physical health but on mental health as well. “Expect a burden of mental health problems, which will include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and it’s particularly going to impact groups who don’t have access to rapid opportunities for recovery,” Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, told Vox after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.

After a major disaster, studies find a 5 to 15 percent increase in the incidence of mental health problems among survivors.

“We all have a threshold that if we watch a loved one swept away in rushing water and drown, that can definitely create post-traumatic stress disorder,” Charles Benight, who studies trauma at the University of Colorado, said during the peak of the hurricane season.

We’ve always been vulnerable to natural disasters. But now the climate is changing.

There are few signs at the local or federal level that policymakers are taking the risks of climate change and extreme weather seriously, and some forces are even exacerbating the risk.

Engineers have long known that Houston is especially prone to flooding, yet land developers have acted as though the risk is nonexistent for decades. Future development will need to reckon with a need for better drainage.

RELATED

We have no system to deal with escalating climate damages. It’s time to build one.

As sea levels rise and disaster risks to coastal communities grow, some planners are broaching the idea of a “strategic retreat” from areas that face persistent floods and fires. And based on projections showing these events happening over and over, we should be saving up money to rebuild when these disasters happen again.

But we’re not doing any of that.

International Space Station orbited over Hurricane Harvey and photographed the storm bearing down on the Texas coast. NASA

Instead, programs like the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, which helps homeowners pay for damage from floods, ends up encouraging people to rebuild in areas that are likely to get flooded again. In one egregious case, a Houston home valued at $115,000 flooded 18 times in 16 years, costing the government $800,000.

We see similar problems with fire insurance in California, which lets homeowners rebuild a torched home, though some insurers are dropping homeowners in high fire risk areas. And as insurance rates rise, fewer people are buying insurance at all, which ends up passing recovery costs to the federal government.

Meanwhile, the Stafford Act limits federal reconstruction efforts to restoring the status quo ante. That means for a place like Puerto Rico, whose energy infrastructure vulnerabilities were laid bare after Hurricane Maria, there isn’t much room in the budget to make power lines, generators, and transformers more resistant to future disasters.

Even without the threat of climate change, we’ve long known that hurricanes are dangerous. They’ve inflicted grave damage on coastal communities for as long as we’ve had them. Louisiana has long been notorious for flooding, and Arizona renowned for triple-digit heat, and wildfires have always been an iconic part of the American West.

But the climate is changing, and the potential harm from these events is growing. In a recent analysis of climate events from last year, 2016, scientists determined three events — record-breaking global heat, a heat wave over Asia, and a “blob” of unusually warm water in the Northern Pacific — could not have occurred without human-induced climate change. “I’ve never seen that language in a paper until now,” Jeff Rosenfeld, editor-in-chief of Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, which published the report, said. “We’re virtually certain that [these events were] impossible without human-induced climate change.”

So larger hurricanes are coming.

More wildfires will ignite.

Longer heat waves will sear.

And other climate disasters are likely grow bigger, more intense, more expensive, and more frequent.

We see them on the horizon.

And we need to start preparing now.

Press link for more: Vox.com

Baba Brinkman makes Climate Rap hot. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Rapper’s Lyrics about Climate Change Are Smart

Baba Brinkman makes climate rap hot

Mark FischettiDecember 27, 2017

Credit: Olivia Sebesky

Want to hear the most cogent scientific, social and political arguments about climate change?

Check out Baba Brinkman’s song “Make It Hot.” Brinkman is a Canadian rapper who has garnered fame for his various collections of work, such as The Rap Guide to Religion.

He’s become a bit of a phenomenon in the science and policy community, first with The Rap Guide to Evolution and his more recent collection of 24 songs called The Rap Guide to Climate Chaos.

He performed what may be his biggest hit, “Make It Hot,” at the COP21 climate meeting in Paris. And I heard him perform that piece last week at the AGU Annual Meeting in New Orleans, a conference of 23,000 earth, climate and space scientists. The audience was spellbound.

The organizers invited Brinkman, who now lives in New York City, to perform the song at the beginning of a major keynote address for the week. Not knowing what to expect, the audience was a little skeptical when Brinkman appeared—a tall, clean cut, well-dressed, middle-aged man who began by talking about climate, not rapping. But the large crowd became thoroughly enthralled after he got about a minute into the song. That’s because the lyrics are smart. Really smart.

I’m not the first to write about Brinkman’s work, but this may be the first time you’ve heard about him. Rather than me say more, just read the lyrics for yourself, below. I’ve highlighted a couple lines in particular that struck me. You can also see Brinkman perform the song on YouTube, below.

Enjoy. And share; the song will make people reflect about the role they, and all of us, play in making the climate issue hot.

“Make It Hot”

Written by D. Brinkman and D. Moross

Advertisement

Scientists are telling us that we’re standing on a precipice

And we have to convert the global economy and make it emission-less

And those emissions are caused by every single one of our jobs

Every one of us contributing carbon emissions to the smog

For instance, if I write a rhyme tryin’ to describe climate change

And it’s hot, so it catches on, someone’s gonna fly me someplace

To perform it, and the appeal of that is enormous

It’s not an option for me to turn down work for global warming

‘Cause I make it hot, people say my rhymes are dope

I twist words until they’re unrecognizable

I make it hot, make it heezy fa sheezy

So hot even climate change skeptics will believe me

I make it hot, like the temperature it needs to be

Before the tea party will believe the IPCC

I make it hot, I liquefy the Greenland ice sheets

Seven meters of sea level rise, that’ll do nicely

And yeah, humans are adaptable, and we can toughen up

But that response ignores people who feel like it’s already tough enough

Make a list of countries that nobody visits as a tourist
They have low carbon emissions, the richest inflicted this on the poorest

We did it by heating our houses, and feeding our spouses

And flying and driving places and having no patience for power outages

The Pope calls it anthropocentric, he calls it obnoxious

But I got work to do, and work takes energy to accomplish

And I make it hot, I turn up the heat on the crowd

You make it hot too though, so don’t try to be weaseling out

I make it hot like the African sun

Like the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

I make it hot, feel that bass when it vibrates

Hot like the permafrost releasing methyl hydrates

I make it hot, like a planet with low albedo

Like me rockin’ a trench coat on a beach instead of a speedo

Hot with no apologies, but still I’m feelin’ a lot grief

For the impact my lifestyle has on the planet’s ecology

My carbon footprint is bigger than crypto-zoology’s

I’m talkin’ Loch Ness monstrous, so I’m not at peace

Because the aggregate effect of every decision I’m makin’ is tragic

But I can’t just quit, they say that we’re “carbon emission addicts”

But that’s just glib, you want me to live in poverty abject

And if I did, what happens to greenhouse gasses on average?

If I quit and you don’t, it’s still hell in a hand-basket

Advertisement

A traffic jam with no plan of action, fantastic

This is a classic arms race that we’re trapped in, it’s ominous

Self-interested parties stuck in a tragedy of the commons

The problem is caused by our collective emissions of carbon

But the person who emits is not the person emissions are harmin’

So it’s a failure of the market, everyone is incentivized

To pollute as much as they can get away with, and catch a free ride

So it’s no surprise to see emissions on the rise
When the cost of burning fossil fuel is externalized

It’s effectively subsidized, it’s paid for by the victims

Of the eventual climate impacts caused by our emissions

And Bill McKibben and the Guardian have been targeting investments

Like: Dirty energy is the new tobacco, so keep your distance

From anybody makin’ a profit off of fossil fuels

Cool, I’m down with the boycott, I’m just boycotting myself too

‘Cause I make it hot, I cause a heat wave

How about nine degrees hotter than the hottest ones these days?

I make it hot, like climate refugees

Picture a hot hundred million displaced Bangladeshis

I make it hot, split flames, rap metaphors

A five-alarm blaze killing the last redwood forest

I make it hot, I make it six degrees

Causing the extinction of forty percent of species

Hot! So what are we left with?

A speeding train with no brakes, some kind of a death wish?

A scientific consensus that we’re standing on a precipice

And a population with no idea of how to reduce their emissions

Some people do offset their footprint voluntarily

With the milk of human altruism, hope, faith and charity

But that’s not gonna cut it – it’s not counterproductive

But we got a global carbon budget and it’s globally busted

And there are hundreds of gigatons that you would have to offset

You might as well donate your piggy bank to the national debt

I ain’t got no spare change to donate to carbon offsetting

I don’t even want to calculate my footprint, I find it upsetting

It’s like the medieval Catholic church, back when it was indulgence-selling

If you get a big mac and a diet coke, your belly is still swelling

But here’s what I’m willing: I’m willing to pay a tax

A fee that’s calculated against my carbon impacts

And globally harmonized to switch incentives around

And make sure most of that carbon stays safely underground

But I’m not gonna pay it, not unless you all pay it too

That way I can be sure that you’ll do what you say you’ll do

How about everyone has to pay it, no free riders allowed

No international pact with the US or China left out

You can invest it in green R&D, or you can dividend it back to me

But either way I won’t be happy until the day they’re carbon taxing me

Advertisement

‘Cause then I can make it hot, without ever feelin’ a chill

I’m sick of the guilt trip killin’ my high when I’m feelin’ a thrill

So I make it hot, I get your emotions aroused

If we can’t make those hot, we’re not gonna keep the oceans down

So let’s make it hot, people, let’s turn up the heat

On polluters tryin’ to catch a ride on all the rest of us for free

I make it hot on the mic and in my social life

When I agitate for my friends to agitate for a carbon price

And that’s how you make it hot

From The Rap Guide to Climate Chaos, released September 30, 2016

Written by D. Brinkman and D. Moross

Press link for more: Scientific American

Listening to the voices we don’t want to hear #Science #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Climate change: We were warned in 1992

By Anthony Doerr:

November 20, 2017

Twenty-five years ago this month, more than 1,500 prominent scientists, including over half of the living Nobel laureates, issued a manifesto titled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” in which they admonished, “A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.”

They cited stresses on the planet’s atmosphere, forests, oceans and soils, and called on everybody to act decisively.

“No more than one or a few decades remain,” the scientists wrote, “before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost.”

I was 19 years old when their warning was published and though I understood, in a teenager-y, “Rainforest Rap” sort of way, that humans were messing with the planet, the document freaked me out.

It was so urgent, so dire. E.O. Wilson had signed it.

Carl Sagan had signed it!

So did I act immediately and decisively?

Um, I did not.

In the ensuing years I wrote cheques to some conservation organisations, replaced some incandescent bulbs and rode my bike to work.

I hammered together a composting bin that promptly fell apart.

I gave a self-important lecture to a neighbour on the importance of using his recycling can.

I also hurtled through the troposphere on hundreds of airplanes (each round trip from New York to London costs the Arctic another three square metres of ice), bought and sold multiple automobiles and helped my wife put two more Americans onto the planet.

Our air-conditioning compressor is at least a decade old, my truck averages 15 miles to the gallon and I routinely walk up to a podium, open a brand new plastic bottle of water, take a sip and promptly forget that it exists.

Sometimes I wake at 2am worrying that my great-granddaughter will have to march through her distant, broiling future gathering all the plastic I ever disposed of.

“You mean he knew,” she’ll ask her mum, as she pulls the plastic clamshell I ate a Chinese chicken salad out of back in November 2017, “and he still did this?”

 If our biological imperative is to pass our genes to the next generation, our moral imperative has to be to try, before we become corpses, to leave them a planet they can survive on.

“I told you,” her mother will say. “He was the absolute worst.”

This autumn, as smoke from dozens of wildfires made the air outside our windows in Boise, Idaho, about as healthy as a casino smoking lounge, as Harvey flooded parts of Texas and Maria smashed Puerto Rico, as 210,000 gallons of oil leaked from the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota, I was tempted to imagine US President Donald Trump cruising in his jumbo jet above the various cataclysms with some coal-friendly legislation in his lap and his fingers in his ears.

This is a man, after all, who in a single month in 2007 poured 2 million gallons of fresh water through the lawns, pool and 22 bathrooms of his Palm Beach, Florida, residence.

But sometimes making villains out of other people can distract us from our own complicities. If Trump were never elected, Harvey still would have flooded Houston, October still would have been the 394th consecutive month that global average temperatures were above the 20th century average, and New Delhi would still be choking on air so foul that just breathing for a day is roughly equivalent to smoking 44 cigarettes.

In a season when the silencing of voices is so rightfully in the public discussion, maybe the 25th anniversary of the “Scientists’ Warning” offers an opportunity to reflect on just how well each of us is listening to the voices we don’t want to hear.

Here’s what I think happens with me.

Maybe I wake up, turn on my phone, read something like, “On average, populations of vertebrate species declined by 58 per cent between 1970 and 2012,” and I feel queasy — as though I’m living in a world that’s a shadow of the world I was born into — and at the same time I probably also get a little less sensitive to the insanity of our trajectory, and then I put down my phone and get swamped by the tsunami of the day: One kid has strep throat, another needs to go to the dentist, I’ve forgotten six or seven internet passwords, the dog just pooped on the rug.

Hour by hour, minute by minute, I make decisions that seem like the right things to do at the time, but which prevent me from reflecting on the most significant, most critical fact in my life: Every day I participate in a system that is womanising our big, gorgeous planet against our kids.

“Death,” Zadie Smith wrote in 2013, “is what happens to everyone else; If I truly believed that being a corpse was not only a possible future but my only guaranteed future — I’d do all kinds of things differently.”

If our biological imperative is to pass our genes to the next generation, our moral imperative has to be to try, before we become corpses, to leave them a planet they can survive on.

Since the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity,” humans have done extraordinary things. We stabilised the stratospheric ozone layer; we connected people in instantaneous and previously unimaginable ways; we landed a golf cart on Mars and drove it around.

We even got every nation-state on earth (except ours, apparently) to agree to try to achieve net zero greenhouse-gas emissions by midcentury.

But we’ve also removed enough forests to cover Texas nearly twice, pumped almost half of the carbon emitted in human history into the atmosphere, grown the population by over two billion and cut the number of wild animals on earth by something close to half.

This month a new coalition of scientists, led by researchers at Oregon State University, published a new warning: “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice.”

It’s not as poetic as the first, unfortunately, but it’s just as grim. “Soon,” they write, “it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out.” Over 15,000 scientists have signed the new call to action; according to the Alliance of World Scientists, that’s the most people to ever co-sign and formally support a published journal article.

For decades science has been warning us that we are compromising earth’s systems, and that none of us will be immune to the consequences.

Everywhere you look, people are trying: adopting renewable energy, working to guarantee women control over their reproductive decisions, fighting food waste, shifting to plant-based diets.

Maybe the most important thing the rest of us can do is take our fingers out of our ears and join them.

— New York Times News Service

Anthony Doerr is the author, most recently, of the novel All the Light We Cannot See.

Press link for more: Gulf News.com

Pope Denounces #ClimateChange deniers #Auspol #Qldvotes #StopAdani

Pope Francis denounces climate change deniers

AP November 16, 2017, 4:48 PM

BONN, Germany — Pope Francis denounced those who deny global warming and urged negotiators at climate talks in Germany to avoid falling prey to such “perverse attitudes” and instead accelerate efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Francis issued a message Thursday to the Bonn meeting, which is working to implement the 2015 Paris accord aimed at capping global emissions.

In the message, Francis called climate change “one of the most worrisome phenomena that humanity is facing,” and urged negotiators to ignore special interests and political or economic pressures and instead engage in an honest dialogue about the future of the planet.

He denounced that such efforts are often frustrated by those who deny climate change, are indifferent to it, or think it can only be solved by technical solutions.

Pope Francis gives his weekly general audience at St. Peter’s Square on Nov. 15, 2017, in Vatican City.

Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

Also Thursday, the top American representative at the talks told other delegates the United States is still committed to reducing greenhouse gas even though the Trump administration still plans to pull out of the Paris accord.

Britain and Canada, meanwhile, announced a new alliance aimed at encouraging countries to phase out the use of coal to curb climate change. Among others, the Global Alliance to Power Past Coal also includes Finland, France, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand and several U.S. states and Canadian provinces.

In closing remarks to the conference, the U.S. State Department’s Judith Garber said “we remain open to the possibility of rejoining (the Paris climate deal) at a later date under terms more favorable to the American people.”

Despite U.S. skepticism over the Paris accord, “the United States will continue to be a leader in clean energy and innovation, and we understand the need for transforming energy systems,” said Garber, the acting assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs.

“We remain collectively committed to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions through, among other things, increased innovation on sustainable energy and energy efficiency, and working towards low greenhouse gas emissions energy systems,” she said.

The talks are expected to end Friday.

While coal-fueled power stations are considered one of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide that’s heating up the Earth’s atmosphere, countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and the United States are planning to expand their use of coal in the coming years. Even Germany and Poland, hosts of climate talks this year and next, are holding onto coal for the foreseeable future.

Garber did not mention the use of coal, but said as countries strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, each “will need to determine the appropriate energy mix based on its particular circumstances, taking into account the need for energy security, promotion of economic growth and environmental protection.”

“In that context, we want to support the cleanest, most efficient power generation, regardless of source,” she added.

In a private initiative announced Thursday, Storebrand, a Norwegian investment fund that manages assets worth over $80 billion, said it would pull investments from 10 companies over their involvement in the coal sector.

Chief executive, Jan Erik Saugestad, said the decision is meant as a warning to utility companies to “clean up” their energy sources “or lose customers and investors.”

The companies affected include German energy company RWE, Poland’s PGE and Eskom Holdings of South Africa.

Storebrand said it hopes the much larger Norwegian Sovereign Wealth fund, which holds $1 trillion generated from the country’s sale of oil, will follow its divestment decision.

Press link for more: CBSNEWS

Climate Change will create worlds biggest refugee crisis #StopAdani 

Climate change ‘will create world’s biggest refugee crisis’
Experts warn refugees could number tens of millions in the next decade, and call for a new legal framework to protect the most vulnerable
By Matthew Taylor


Successive droughts, like those seen in sub-Saharan Africa, could cause millions to migrate to Europe. Photograph: Peter Caton/Tearfund

Tens of millions of people will be forced from their homes by climate change in the next decade, creating the biggest refugee crisis the world has ever seen, according to a new report.
Senior US military and security experts have told the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) study that the number of climate refugees will dwarf those that have fled the Syrian conflict, bringing huge challenges to Europe.
“If Europe thinks they have a problem with migration today … wait 20 years,” said retired US military corps brigadier general Stephen Cheney. “See what happens when climate change drives people out of Africa – the Sahel [sub-Saharan area] especially – and we’re talking now not just one or two million, but 10 or 20 [million]. 

They are not going to south Africa, they are going across the Mediterranean.”
The study published on Thursday calls on governments to agree a new legal framework to protect climate refugees and, ahead of next week’s climate summit in Germany, urges leaders to do more to implement the targets set out in the Paris climate agreement.

Sir David King, the former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, told the EJF: “What we are talking about here is an existential threat to our civilisation in the longer term.

 In the short term, it carries all sorts of risks as well and it requires a human response on a scale that has never been achieved before.”
The report argues that climate change played a part in the build up to the Syrian war, with successive droughts causing 1.5 million people to migrate to the country’s cities between 2006 and 2011. 

Many of these people then had no reliable access to food, water or jobs.
“Climate change is the the unpredictable ingredient that, when added to existing social, economic and political tensions, has the potential to ignite violence and conflict with disastrous consequences,” said EJF executive director, Steve Trent.


“In our rapidly changing world climate change – and its potential to trigger both violent conflict and mass migration – needs to be considered as an urgent priority for policymakers and business leaders alike.”
Although the report highlights to growing impact of climate change on people in the Middle East and Africa, it says changing weather patterns – like the hurricanes that devastated parts of the US this year – prove richer nations are not immune from climate change.
But Trent said that although climate change undoubtedly posed an “existential threat to our world” it was not to late to take decisive action.
“By taking strong ambitious steps now to phase out greenhouse gas emissions and building an international legal mechanism to protect climate refugees we will protect the poorest and most vulnerable in our global society, build resilience, reap massive economic benefits and build a safe and secure future for our planet. Climate change will not wait. Neither can we. For climate refugees, tomorrow is too late.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

Our Greatest Moral Challenge #StopAdani #Qldvotes #CoralnotCoal 

Catholic, Anglican bishops unite in opposition to Adani mega-mineOctober 30 2017 – 2:25PM


By Nicole Hasham

It may have the Turnbull and Palaszczuk governments firmly in its corner, but the Adani super-mine is facing a formidable new opponent: the Christian faith.
The Catholic and Anglican bishops of Townsville have issued a joint statement to their followers criticising “projected mega-mining developments across Queensland, especially the Galilee Basin”, and accusing politicians and big business of failing to protect the common good.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s campaign speech was interrupted by anti-Adani protesters.


Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s campaign speech was interrupted by anti-Adani protesters. Photo: Darren England

The bishops’ message puts them head-to-head with Adani, the Indian mining behemoth behind the $16.5 billion Carmichael mine proposed for the Galilee Basin. 

It also puts them at odds with the local council and state and federal governments, which resoundingly support the project.
Adani has located its regional headquarters in Townsville, and the statement will fuel debate in the already divided community over what would be Australia’s biggest coal mine. 
Adani Group founder and chairman Gautam Adani meets with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Delhi in April.


Adani Group founder and chairman Gautam Adani meets with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Delhi in April. Photo: AAP

The Right Reverend William Ray of the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland, and the Most Reverend Timothy Harris of the Catholic Diocese of Townsville, issued the statement to their parishes on Saturday.
They cited Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on the environment in June 2015, in which he said “the Earth, our home, is beginning to look … like an immense pile of filth”.

“We, too, as bishops in north Queensland, have concerns about many global and local issues that are impacting negatively on our environment and which require greater dialogue, examination, prayer and action,” the statement said.
The bishops said human dominion over the planet should be understood as “responsible stewardship”, especially to future generations.
Adani detractors fear the effects on tourism and the environment – especially the Great Barrier Reef 

Adani detractors fear the effects on tourism and the environment – especially the Great Barrier Reef – and say the company’s promise of 10,000 new jobs is vastly inflated. Photo: ACF/VUAS

“The elephant in the room is obviously the impending loss of the Great Barrier Reef with back-to-back yearly coral bleaching across two thirds of its length,” they said.
The bishops lamented toxic run-off, increased sea freight traffic and marine pollution, adding that government spending to fix the reef’s problems was “not matching needs”.


The bishops lamented “the elephant in the room … the impending loss of the Great Barrier Reef with back-to-back yearly coral bleaching across two thirds of its length”. Photo: WWF-Aus/BioPixel

They did not name the Adani mine, but warned against “projected mega-mining developments across Queensland, especially the Galilee Basin”, adding such projects sought to exploit a “coal resource for all ages.”
“Politics and business have been slow to provide strong leadership or urgency for the common good: a leadership that incorporates environmental issues as much as the financial, social or political issues,” the statement said.

Right Reverend William Ray of the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland, who has expressed concern about “projected mega-mining developments across Queensland, especially the Galilee Basin”. Source: Supplied Photo: Supplied

“Although there are a limited number of politicians who are active on behalf of the environment, they are to be commended.”
The statement reflected the personal view of the bishops. It also expressed concern about a lack of recognition for indigenous people, land clearing, a lack of transparency by big business and a gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”.

Most Reverend Timothy Harris of the Catholic Diocese of Townsville, who has expressed concern about “projected mega-mining developments across Queensland, especially the Galilee Basin”. Photo: Supplied

Adani’s Carmichael mine has emerged as a key issue in the Queensland state election, to be held on November 25.

Adani protesters reportedly heckled Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls on the campaign trail on Sunday and Monday.
The mine would extract 2.3 billion tonnes of coal over its 60-year life. Supporters say it will bring much-needed jobs and social benefits to Townsville and the broader region. Detractors fear the effects on tourism and the environment – especially the Great Barrier Reef – and say the company’s promise of 10,000 new jobs is vastly inflated.
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan – back in the job on Friday after the High Court confirmed he was eligible to sit in Parliament – reportedly listed the Adani project and a new coal-fired generator as his first priorities.
The local coal industry has other firm backers – Nationals MP George Christensen took out several full page ads in Mackay’s Daily Mercury last week, urging that a “clean” coal-fired power plant be built in north Queensland. 
President of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, Thea Ormerod, applauded the bishops’ stand and said it “could help shift the mood of the electorate over time”.
She said in the 2016 census, 26.5 per cent of Townsville residents identified as Catholic and 15.2 per cent as Anglican.
“Australia needs such prophetic witness to the importance of protecting our common home over profit-seeking extractive industries,” Ms Ormerod said.
“Adani’s Carmichael mine should never be allowed to go ahead … as a nation, we have the resources to support those communities who are being impacted by our necessary transition away from mining.”

Press link for more: SMH.COM.AU

Deep Democracy A cure for #ClimateChange & Inequality #Auspol #StopAdani 

‘Deep Democracy’ — A Cure For Climate Change And Economic Inequality?John J. Berger

October 21, 2017, Marin Country, CA.—Why has society not been able to solve the climate crisis?
How can the crisis be an opportunity to reduce economic inequality along with greenhouse gases?
What can be done to revitalize our democracy so that grave issues like climate change can be addressed in the public interest?


Policy analyst, activist, and social critic Heather McGhee tackled those questions at the recent 28th annual Bioneers Conference in Marin County (October 19th – 22nd), which drew upwards of 3,000 participants.
The Importance of Healthy Democracy
McGhee attributed the nation’s failure to solve climate change to those who have been in power for the past 40 years and used a culture of racism to foster national divisions along racial, religious, economic, and gender lines.
That fact that a full-blown climate crisis has been allowed to develop, she said, “in full view for over a generation, is as clear a sign as any that we do not have a functioning democracy where the public interest can prevail.”

“Only in a broken democracy,” McGhee declared, “can big fossil fuel companies be allowed to put their next quarter’s profits ahead of the next generation’s existence.”
“Capitalism is writing the rules for democracy,” she stated, “and not the other way around.” According to McGhee, “Climate change is the result of social, economic, and political inequality.”
She did not address climate change as a consequence of global industrialization, urbanization, and the burgeoning energy demands—and rising material expectations—of a rapidly expanding global population.
McGhee is the President of Dēmos, a public policy group based in New York City, focused on climate change, inequality, and democracy reform. 

She is credited with helping shape key provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Dēmos, which means “the people,” aims to create a society where everyone has “an equal say and an equal chance,” according to the group’s 2000-2016 Impact Report.
With a staff of 50 and an annual $8 million budget, Dēmos works to protect the freedom to vote and to quell the influence of money in politics. Other action areas include increasing upward mobility and combating racism and racial inequality.
Hefty Climate Change Costs
The group along with another nonprofit, NextGen America, recently issued a report on the enormous expected lifetime costs to young people today and to future generations, arising from the damaging effects of worsening climate change.
The Price Tag of Being Young: Climate Change and Millennials’ Economic Future, includes these findings:
A baby born in 2015 who later goes on to graduate from college and earn a median income will lose approximately $467,000 in income over its lifetime due to the effects of climate change. If one assumes that the lost income had been invested at 3.5 percent, the lost wealth would total approximately $764,000.

The Dēmos/NextGen America climate report also points to a recent ICF International study which indicated that transitioning to a clean energy economy by 2050 would create up to two million new jobs, boost our economy by $290 billion, and increase household disposable income by $650, saving families $41 billion on energy bills.
McGhee began her Bioneers speech with a moment of silence for the loss of life, homes, and habitats caused by the recent climate-related hurricane disasters that have ravaged the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, and large areas of South Asia and the devastating fires that have ravaged parts of Northern California. 

Only days earlier, the conference site itself been a shelter for evacuees from the fires in California’s Sonoma County and elsewhere.
Noting that climate change disproportionately impacts communities of color and poor communities, McGhee said that, “we see an opportunity out of the crisis of climate change, to use the economic transformation we know is necessary, not just to reduce emissions, but to reduce inequality; not just to increase energy efficiency, but to increase wealth in families and communities of color. . . .”
Up-Ending the Power Structure
McGhee’s group has begun working toward these twin goals by joining forces with a broad coalition of 120 like-minded groups in New York Renews, a climate-equity campaign that aims to zero out human-caused carbon pollution by 2050 and slash it in half by 2030.
It is most important, said McGhee, to direct “40 percent of the revenue from carbon pricing and other measures to the lowest-wealth and most-polluted communities in the state.”
The New York Renews campaign, she asserted, is “upending the normal power structure in the state by bringing together a broad-based coalition of civil and human rights, environmental justice, small business, labor, and democracy reform organizations.”
The approach is not unique to New York, McGhee said. Similar broad-based coalitions for “equitable carbon pricing” are developing in states like Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon, and California.
While this was clearly a source of hope for many in the audience, McGhee also blamed the nation’s legacy of slavery and racism for preventing the nation from recognizing itself as one people with common interests. That, in turn, she said, has stood in the way of collective action “to save our collective home, health, and well-being.”
John J. Berger, PhD. (www.johnjberger.com) is an energy and environmental policy specialist who has produced ten books on climate, energy, and natural resource topics. He is the author of Climate Peril: The Intelligent Reader’s Guide to the Climate Crisis, and Climate Myths: The Campaign Against Climate Science, and is at work on a new book about climate solutions.
Follow John J. Berger on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/johnjberger

Press link for more: Huffington Post