Renewable Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does it mean for Australia?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press link for more: 9news.com

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

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

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

Shamil NorshidiThursday, 20 Sep 2018, 11:04AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Typhoon Mangkhut: hopes fade for Philippines landslide victims

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

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

Low water level at Sungai Selangor Dam. Photo: Alamy

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

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

Coordinated response needed to fight threat of climate change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Renard Siew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Renewable energy not yet a threat to oil and gas industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mahathir expands cabinet, appoints youngest-ever minister

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

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

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

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

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

How climate change can cause more super typhoons

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

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

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

Press link for more: SCMP.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Effective Carbon Rates 2018

Download a summary with key findings

Press link for more: OECD.ORG

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

How can we learn to see climate change around us?

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

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

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

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

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

Yet they offer lessons that are distinct.

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

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

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

We Can’t Buy Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Can’t Ignore History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Can’t Pretend We Are Not of This World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Can’t Look Away

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press link for more: Public Books

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

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

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

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

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has a plan to change that.

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

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

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

Kinda makes sense!

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

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

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

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

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

Zoya Teirstein

Press link for more: Grist

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

LIMITING GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE TO 1.5° ABOVE PRE-INDUSTRIAL LEVELS CAN PREVENT WORLD HERITAGE-LISTED CORAL REEFS FROM EXPERIENCING DEVASTATING EFFECTS OF RECURRENT SEVERE BLEACHING THIS CENTURY.

UNESCO Update

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full Report

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

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

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

Press link for more: UNESCO

#ClimateChange = Economic Damage Terrifically Expensive. #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #EndCoal U.S. & Australia are rapidly becoming rogue nations @scheerlinckeva

Climate change is first and foremost a threat to human society.

That fact has been somewhat obscured in regular discourse, in favor of a false dichotomy portraying climate policy as an upper-middle-class noblesse oblige idea for anxious birders and other environmentalist types, and hardheaded economists who think building up yet more wealth is more important.

In reality, one obvious way that threat to humanity is going to be expressed is through economic damage.

In other words, unchecked climate change is going to be terrifically expensive.

Now, its exact cost is basically impossible to predict.

Contrary to people who would confidently rely on cost damage estimates for 2100, economic projections tend to be wildly inaccurate over even five years.

Furthermore, the amount of damage will depend greatly on what humans do in the future, and there have been few studies on what damage would be like under higher warming scenarios of 3 degrees or above.

But we can say the damage is going to be very large — indeed, it’s already quite bad.

NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information estimates that 2017 was America’s most expensive year for climate disasters of all time, with 16 disasters costing over $1 billion (more than three times the 1980-2017 average, after accounting for inflation) and a total cost of over $300 billion.

That’s about 1.5 percent of total GDP — or enough to pay for a $300 per month child allowance for every parent in America, with some left over.

This year is already off to a bad climate start as well.

There is a severe precipitation shortfall in parts of the Southwest, with some Colorado drainages at less than 30 percent of the median snowpack.

Southern California has also been rather dry — with the exception of severe rains that hammered parts of the region over the last few days, causing flooding and multiple mudslides that have killed at least 20 people.

Even the blizzard that recently struck the Northeast may have been influenced by climate change.

Contrary to the notions of President Trump, who appears to believe that climate science predicts it will never be cold again anywhere at any time, it seems warming disrupts the “polar vortex,” or the belt of cold air that circles around the poles of the Earth. With a weak polar vortex, frigid Arctic air can make it further south than usual — while warmer air can make it further north, leading to the paradoxical result of Anchorage occasionally being warmer than New York, or even Jacksonville.

The dramatic and rapid increase in climate damages over the last decade suggests that disasters may increase nonlinearly with warming — that is, a doubling of greenhouse gas concentrations might lead to more than twice the quantity of disasters.

The only way to be sure about that is after the fact, but it’s still wise to assume it might be true, due to the larger downside risk.

If not, then we have decarbonized our society more rapidly than we might otherwise have. But if it is true and we don’t take action, the result could be catastrophic.

Now, a few caveats are in order.

First, of course we cannot say with ironclad certainty that these weather disasters are 100 percent caused by climate change, because climate change isn’t the sort of phenomenon that causes individual events.

What we can say is that these are just exactly the sort of weather disasters that are predicted to become more common and worse as the planet continues to warm.

Don’t let careerist debate pedants mix you up on this point. (And in fact, preliminary work on Hurricane Harvey found that climate change significantly increased its amount of rainfall.)

Second, expense is a highly problematic metric for measuring the overall world damage to climate change.

The countries most vulnerable to climate change are generally poor, and so devastating climate disasters aren’t going to show up as costing very much in dollar terms.

Indeed, by far the worst disasters of 2017 happened outside the United States. As Rachel Cleetus at the Union of Concerned Scientists notes, over 11,000 people were killed by weather disasters in 2017, including 2,700 in South Asia — as against perhaps 1,400 or so in the United States (the vast majority in Puerto Rico).

Nevertheless, climate disasters really are going to be hugely expensive for the United States — and not just in dollar terms.

For example, the refusal from President Trump and the Republican Congress to properly rebuild Puerto Rico has not just killed probably over 1,000 people, it has also led to a severe shortage of IV bags, no doubt killing many more.

It drives home the fact that dawdling on climate policy, as Democrats did when they had majorities in 2009-10 — or denying it’s even necessary, as virtually every person of consequence in the Republican Party does — is not going to be some profitable venture.

Poor countries will be hit worse, but American cities will be wrecked, much critical infrastructure will be destroyed, and many insurance companies and programs will be bankrupted. It will require endless expensive bailouts and reconstruction packages simply to stay ahead of the damage.

Conversely, the faster we move on climate policy, the cheaper it will be. The International Energy Agency has roughly estimated that every year of delay adds $500 billion to the world total of necessary investment to head off climate change. (A stitch in time saves nine, as the saying goes.)

On the most important issue facing humanity, the United States is becoming dangerously close to a rogue state.

Let us hope we can soon rejoin the world community and start acting like sensible, moral adults again.

Press link for more: The Week

What do Gen X and Gen Y worry about most? #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #EndCoal

Climate change is their number one cause for concern and they aren’t impressed by government efforts to tackle environmental challenges

By Dr Julia Cook, Associate Professor Hernán Cuervo and Dr Jenny Chesters, University of Melbourne

Two generations of Australians believe one of the most important issues facing the country right now is climate change.

The latest Life Patterns report by the University of Melbourne shows that many members of both Gen X and Gen Y see climate change as Australia’s most significant and urgent issue.

For many members of Gen X and Gen Y in Australia, climate change is the most pressing issue facing the country. Picture: Takver/Flickr

While people in Gen X are worried specifically about what climate change will mean for their own children, those in Gen Y are generally more concerned about the impact of climate change on future generations.

Generally, when many of us think about the issues that concern us we commonly focus on things that impact upon our day-to-day lives. But, when we asked Australians from the two generations to nominate the three most important issues facing the nation, many set aside individual concerns, turning instead to a collective, global issue.

The Life Patterns study is a two-decade project following two groups of Australians since they left school – one now aged 44-45 that left school in 1991 (our ‘Gen X’ cohort) and another now aged 29-30 that left school in 2006 (our ‘Gen Y’ cohort).

It aims to provide a holistic understanding of the ways in which young (and not-so-young) Australians are responding to our rapidly changing world.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE FUTURE

Many of the older participants say their concerns for the environment are linked directly to their worries over the future their children could face.

One mother from rural Victoria states: The uncertain climate-change reality is an enormous concern for me regarding my children’s future.

Members of the younger group have similar concerns. One female participant working in administration and management in Melbourne says: [We need to] make sure as a generation we minimise our environmental footprint and contribute to leaving this planet in way that supports future generations.

For Gen X in particular, their concerns about the environment relate to how their children will fare in a climate change future. Picture: Getty Images

This subtle difference is grounded in specifically who they are concerned about.

The older group is generally more worried about the impact of environmental issues on their own children, while the younger cohort worry about the impact on future generations more generally.

PUTTING CLIMATE CHANGE ON THE AGENDA

However, while specific views of what actually needs to be done varies, participants from both groups consistently expressed grave concerns about the general lack of action towards climate change mitigation from the current government.

A man in the Gen X group who is married with one child and living in Melbourne writes: Government inaction on climate change in this country is a crying shame.

Look at what they are doing in terms of addressing climate change in California, in Germany, in Scandinavia, even in China. But here, it’s all too hard apparently.

Similarly, a woman in the Gen Y group living with her partner in regional NSW says: I’m concerned about the environment and the lack of action by government to fix problems.

ON A MORE PERSONAL NOTE…

Job security, drug abuse and housing affordability came in as issues number two, three and four for the younger cohort.

In contrast, the older cohort ranked these issues far below cost of living, which came in at number two, followed closely by security/terrorism, politics/government, the economy and education.

The environment was the most important issue for both the Gen X and the Gen Y cohorts in the latest Life Patterns report. Picture: Supplied

These differences can be explained in large part by differing life stages.

At the age of 28 or 29, many younger participants who are looking to settle down and start a family are confronted with increasingly difficult property and job markets. But, at the age of 43 or 44, the older participants who have already started a family are dealing with the everyday expenses associated with education and childcare.

So, Gen Y participants are concerned primarily with issues around their ability to access the resources they feel they need for a worthwhile life, while Gen X participants are more concerned about issues directly relating to social stability.

A member of the younger group living in Sydney says: I have a Master’s degree and my wife is well paid, we are not in a position to buy a home near Sydney in the next five to eight years. No matter how hard we try and save, the goalposts keep shifting and so too the dream of raising a family in a home of our own.

In contrast, a member of the older group living in Canberra with his wife and two children says: Economic policies in Australia are failing to support local productivity and creating uncertainty and instability.

For the most part, as much as these perspectives provide a snapshot of contemporary Australia, they also reflect two generations’ different life stages.

But in a world where we usually only hear about the generational divide – climate change and its future impact for the environment is a pressing concern shared by young and not-so-young Australians.

The Life Patterns study has been supported by a number of grants from the Australian Research Council. It is led by Professor Johanna Wyn and the current project team includes Professor Helen Cahill, Professor Carmen Leccardi, Associate Professor Dan Woodman, Associate Professor Hernán Cuervo, Dr Jenny Chesters, Dr Julia Cook, Josie Reade, Katherine Romei and Shirley Jackson.

Press link for more: Pursuit.UniMelb

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

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

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

By Marcel Theroux, Kate Hardie-Buckley

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

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

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

Ganbaatar’s son Mungun is only eight months old.

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

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

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

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

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

Coal is killing us!

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

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

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

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

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

Press link for more: SBS

Don’t miss this episode of #DateLine

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