Fighting the mega-mine #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Fighting the mega-mine

Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson of Shoal Collective talk to Ken Peters-Dodd, a First Nations activist fighting against the construction of a mega-mine project threatening to devastate the environment.

Activists from Australia and beyond are joining forces to prevent what is set to be one of the world’s biggest ecological catastrophes.

The massive Carmichael coal mega-mine will devastate the Great Barrier Reef, contribute massively to global climate change, and further marginalise Australia’s First Nations people.

Adani, the controversial Indian corporation planning the mine, is set to extract 2.3 billion tonnes of coal over its planned 60 years of operation.

It is just one of nine mega-mines planned in Australia’s Galilee Basin that would produce 330 million tonnes of coal. According to Greenpeace, that much coal would fill a train long enough to wrap around the world one and a half times.

It will be exported by train from the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point port on the Great Barrier Reef.

More than one million cubic metres of sea floor would be dredged from the Reef in order to extend the port.

The Reef was seriously damaged by unprecedented levels of bleaching in 2016 and 2017 due to rising sea temperatures, and is at risk of further damage in 2018.

With hundreds more coal ships filling the waters, dredging, extra noise and light pollution, and the risk of coal spills, it is feared that the Adani mine will destroy the Reef completely.

This is just the latest massive mining project to threaten First Nations people’s connections to their lands in Australia.

Since the first days of colonisation, Aboriginal land has been exploited for the benefit of Europeans, and now the same thing is being done to increase  the profits of international corporations.

Like indigenous people the world over, First Nations Australians are fighting against their lands being seized for the benefit of global capitalism.

The Adani project is in financial trouble due to the massive campaign against it in Australia. Globally, 28 banks have now ruled out all or part of the Galilee Basin mining projects.

In December 2017, Adani’s application for a AUD$1bn state loan was blocked by the Queensland Premier. But many more companies are still involved, many of which are are based in London.

Some of the international companies involved include WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff, Jefferies, Investec, KY, Marsh, and Baker McKenzie. These companies could also bow to public pressure and withdraw their support from Adani.

Such withdrawals could prove fatal to the project.

In short, it is still possible to stop this project.

A coalition of First Nations activists and groups such as Frontline Action Against Coal and Stop Adani are determined to halt the project in its tracks.

Recently, activists have set up a protest camp near Bowen to oppose the project.

We travelled to Bowen on Australia’s east coast, close to the Abbot Point coal port, and joined both locals and international campaigners for Frontline Action on Coal’s week of action to stop Adani.

Roads were blocked and activists locked themselves to the railway tracks used to export coal.

We interviewed Ken Peters-Dodd, a First Nations elder of the Birriah people, whose traditional country will be affected by the project.

Adani plans to construct the railway line through Birriah land to export the coal to its port. Ken calls on international activists to join the fight against the Adani mine.

He told us: “I am from the Birriah people, of the Bowen river.

I am also from the Widi, the mountain and hill people of the hinterlands.

We are part of the Birri Gubba language group.”

What was the affect of colonisation on your country?

Colonisers came here in the late 1860s.

When they got here their main interest was mining and exploiting the resources on our land. They came with the English police force and began the cutting and logging of our timbers.

The wars and battles carried on for decades.

The massive majority of our people were totally annihiliated.

After that, people were forced to work in pastoralism and cattle.

There was a great roundup and my great grandparents were forcibly moved onto [Christian] missions way up in Cape York and Mission Beach, never to return to their country.

How will the Adani project impact on your people?

The Adani project will have an impact on the environment, our cultural heritage and our rights as caretakers and custodians of our country for generations to come.

The project will also have an impact on neighbouring groups.

It will impact the Juru people, whose country is on the coast where the coal will be loaded onto ships.

It will affect their reefs, wetlands and their rights to protect country.

Were First Nations people consulted by Adani?

There was a process where the company came in and set up a meeting. But it was designed to manipulate and divide people.

People didn’t get the right information [on which] to base their decision.

You had a minority of people only in it for financial gain – influencing the meetings in favour of the mining company.

Expert advice to inform this process was done internally by the company.

Our family was in the negotiations and walked out in disgust at how it was being manipulated.

It was already signed and delivered by the mining company and the company’s lawyers when we walked out.

The financial offerings were peanuts compared to what they would make off the country.

Many of the families never signed.

Can you tell us how you’ve been involved in the campaign against the project?

I’m fully supportive of the campaign against Adani as there’s no difference between Aboriginal and environmental activists standing for ecology, water and the reef.

We’ve gone out and pulled our lines together.

We went on to Abbot Point port with local group Reef Defenders and protested against the project.

With Juru elders we’ve made pledges [to oppose the project].

When we went to Adani’s office to deliver our pledges, they never sent the CEO down to collect them. Adani didn’t want to be seen as having anything to do with it. We’ve also been on campaign roadshows, saying that this project does not have the consent of Aboriginal people.

We had Juru elders, who were part of the negotiations with Adani, speaking about why they didn’t support the project.

We’re encouraging other First Nations peoples to join in and fight this. Our people since day one have been standing in protest, speaking out as custodians of this land.

For over two hundred years we have witnessed the destruction of country and it’s time that we as a people stand up to stop this happening.

It’s a turning point.

We ask all First Nations people to stand in alliance in this struggle.

Is the fight against the Adani project only a struggle for First Nations people?

No. Everyone should participate who has an interest in the impacts these projects will have.

We fully support people from around the world to get involved.

It’s not just a struggle for First Nations people but for everyone who has interests and rights in this country.

We want people to come together and support us on country, build a strong alliance and challenge the separation between First Nations people and the wider Australian people.

The Adani mine will have a massive impact on global climate change for generations to come.

Underground waters are going to be depleted, which will have impacts throughout the Great Dividing Range.

The government has no concern for the future generations, or for the people at all.

[Even if planning permission is legally approved], people can still resist the project and we will carry on our fight to protect our country, including protesting physically and peacefully.

It’s a critical point as it will affect other projects in Australia.

What do you say to those who think that the Adani project is vital for creating new jobs in Queensland?

That’s just a political argument made by people with a relationship with the mining industry, campaigning for their positions.

Everyday Australians know that they won’t get a job: the industry wants a transient community which has no physical connection to country. We need to plan for renewable energy.

Even the other mining industries will feel an impact from this project because the price of coal in the area will be driven down [because of oversupply].

We came together and protested against the Commonwealth Bank and temporarily closed down seven of their branches. [Commonwealth Bank, as well as the other big Australian banks, have now pledged not to finance Adani].

Do you want people internationally to resist the involvement of foreign banks?

Definitely. We send clear support for people globally to put pressure on international banks which may have an interest in funding this project. Go and campaign outside these banks and put pressure on them. We want that clear message to come from people internationally. We’d be prepared to go over and support people in this.

We call on people from all areas: social, political and environmental. We ask people from around the world to support us.

We need to pull together and plan for the future because this project will set a precedent which will diminish the future rights of all First Nations people.

Press link for more:


50 years since climate change was first seen. Now time is running out #auspol #qldpol #sapol #StopAdani

It’s 50 years since climate change was first seen.

Now time is running out |

Richard WilesFri 16 Mar 2018 01.47 AEDT

Making up for years of delay and denial will not be easy, nor will it be cheap. Climate polluters must be held accountable

Scientists attribute 15-40% of the epic rain of Hurricane Harvey to climate change.’ Photograph: Marcus Yam/LA Times via Getty Images

Fifty years ago, the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) delivered a report titled Sources, Abundance, and Fate of Gaseous Atmospheric Polluters to the American Petroleum Institute (API), a trade association for the fossil fuel industry.

The report, unearthed by researchers at the Center for International Environmental Law, is one of the earliest attempts by the industry to grapple with the impacts of rising CO2 levels, which Stanford’s researchers warned if left unabated “could bring about climatic changes” like temperature increases, melting of ice caps and sea level rise.

The year was 1968, and the term “global warming” would not appear in a peer-reviewed academic journal until 1975. Famed Nasa scientist James Hansen would not testify before Congress that “global warming has begun” for another 20 years. And the US would not enter into – only to later pull out of – the Paris climate accord for nearly half a century.

The anniversary of SRI’s report to the API on climate change represents not just a damning piece of evidence of what the fossil fuel industry knew and when, but a signal of all that we have lost over the decades of policy inaction and interference. It should also serve as a potent motivator in the fight for climate accountability and justice.

At the time, CO2 levels in the atmosphere stood about 323ppm. The planet was warming but was still well within the historical norm. Sea levels had risen by about 4in compared with 1880 levels. The report, however, cautioned that “man is now engaged in a vast geophysical experiment with his environment, the Earth” and that “significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000”.

Those predictions proved to be correct: by the turn of the century, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had risen to 369ppm, causing a temperature increase of nearly half a degree over pre-industrial averages. Today, virtually all climate scientists agree there is little or no chance the world can stay within the goal of 1.5C, the limit of what scientists believe to be safe.

With each decade of delay and denial the impacts and costs of climate change have continued to mount

Over the next 20 years, the scientific community and policymakers around the world began to reach a consensus on the threat posed by rising CO2 levels. Scientists at least one major oil company, Exxon, did their own climate modeling, which agreed with the scientific consensus. During this period a budding movement to cut emissions began.

To counter and slow down that effort to address climate change, the fossil fuel industry began its long and powerful strategy of climate denial and obstructionism. Even though they knew the science, they also realized that attempts to control emissions could seriously damage their bottom lines.

In 1998, as the first global attempt to rein in climate pollution, the Kyoto protocol, was headed to the Senate for ratification, API circulated what has come to be known as the Victory Memo, a detailed road map to undermining science and promoting denial of climate change. According to API’s top strategists: “Victory will be achieved when: those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appear to be out of touch with reality.”

California’s deadly wildfires which were set up by five years of drought.’ Photograph: Kurod/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

The memo’s end goal was clear: create doubt about science where none existed, deceive the media and Congress about the risks of climate change, and block the momentum that was building to address rising emissions through the Kyoto protocol, a precursor to the Paris accord. ExxonMobil alone would go on to spend upwards of $30m on ads, front groups, and pseudoscience intended to carry out the plan. That’s in addition to the cash that flooded the coffers of climate deniers in Congress who are rewarded amply for willful ignorance.

API’s strategic deception campaign was a success, which is why we now stand at the brink of the highest global temperature considered safe. Just what it will mean to cross that line remains an ongoing question for atmospheric scientists, but we’ve already started to get a glimpse and it doesn’t look good.

The damage is all around us, from hurricanes on steroids – scientists attribute 15-40% (8in-24in) of the epic rain of Hurricane Harvey to climate change – to California’s deadly wildfires which were set up by five years of drought, followed by record snowfall, then record heat that turned huge areas of the state into tinderboxes. In 2017 there were 16 separate billion-dollar disasters in the US, resulting in a total of $306bn of damages, nearly $100bn more than the second highest year 2005 (Katrina). While technically climate change did not “cause” these disasters, most of the carnage was aggravated in some way by climate change and the fossil fuel emissions that cause it in the first place.

Other impacts are more long-term and irreparable. Anyone born after 1985 has never experienced a month with average temperatures that fall below the historical norm and, without action, probably never will. Mass coral bleaching events due to warming waters and ocean acidification have rendered large swaths of some of the ocean’s most diverse ecosystems lifeless. The vanishing Arctic ice cap appears already to be affecting global weather patterns, and the loss of ice in Antarctica may have reached a tipping point that many now view as irreversible, a development that will require tough and costly decisions for coastal cities.

It never had to be this way. But with each decade of delay and denial the impacts and costs of climate change have continued to mount. Now taxpayers are left holding the bill for a literal rising tide of impacts that pose the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. Meeting that challenge must begin with accountability on the part of climate polluters, and justice for citizens who did nothing to cause the problem other than drive to work and heat their homes when they had no other alternatives.

We can’t turn back the clock, but we can turn off the fossil fuel firehose that’s been pumping CO2 into our atmosphere and demand that those who left it running help foot the bill for the cleanup. Already we’ve seen cities like New York, San Francisco, and other coastal cities file lawsuits against climate polluters, seeking to recover costs associated with planning for and adapting to a warming world. With massive costs facing hundreds more cities and no remedy in sight, more litigation will follow.

Making up for 50 years of delay and denial will not be easy, nor will it be cheap. But taxpayers should not have to shoulder the burden alone. The API and its climate polluters knowingly and deliberately caused this mess. They must help pay to clean it up.

Richard Wiles is the executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity

Press link for more: The Guardian

World scientists’ warning to humanity #auspol #sapol #StopAdani

World scientists’ warning to humanity

By Rex Weyler

Rex Weyler was a director of the original Greenpeace Foundation, the editor of the organisation’s first newsletter, and a co-founder of Greenpeace International in 1979.

Environmental activists and organisations typically try and stay positive, to give people hope that we can change.

Positive signs exist, going back to the historic whaling and toxic dumping bans of the 1980s.

The 1987 Montreal Protocol, reducing CFC gas emissions, led to a partial recovery of the ozone hole.

Birth rates have declined in some regions, and forests and freshwater have been restored in some regions.

The world’s nations have, at least, made promises to reduce carbon emissions, even if action has been slow.

A challenge we face as ecologists and environmentalists, however, is that when we step back from our victories and assess the big picture – the global pace of climate change, forest loss, biodiversity decline – we must admit: our achievements have not been enough.

Children playing near a coal plant in Central Java

25 years ago, in 1992, the Union of Concerned Scientists issued the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” signed by 1,700 scientists, including most living Nobel laureates.

They presented disturbing data regarding freshwater, marine fisheries, climate, population, forests, soil, and biodiversity.

They warned that “a great change” was necessary to avoid “vast human misery.”

This year, on the 25th anniversary of that warning, the Alliance of World Scientists published a second warning – an evaluation of our collective progress.

With the exception of stabilising ozone depletion, they report that “humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse.”

A short history of warnings

Environmental awareness is not new.

Over 2,500 years ago, Chinese Taoists articulated the disconnect between human civilisation and ecological values.

Later Taoist Bao Jingyan warned that “fashionable society goes against the true nature of things… harming creatures to supply frivolous adornments.”

Modern warnings began in the 18th century, at the dawn of the industrial age, particularly from Thomas Malthus, who warned that an exponentially growing population on a finite planet would reach ecological limits.

Modern growth advocates have ridiculed Malthus for being wrong, but his logic and maths are impeccable.

He did not foresee the discovery of petroleum, which allowed economists to ignore Malthus for two centuries, aggravating the crisis that Malthus correctly identified.

Rachel Carson ignited the modern environmental movement in 1962 with Silent Spring, warning of eminent biodiversity collapse.

A decade later, in the early days of Greenpeace, the Club of Rome published The Limits To Growth, using data to describe what we could see with our eyes: declining forests and biodiversity, and resources, clashing head-on with growing human population and consumption demands.

Conventional economists mocked the idea of limits, but The Limits to Growth projections have proven accurate.

In 2009, in Nature journal, a group of scientists lead by Johan Rockström published Planetary Boundaries, warning humanity that essential ecological systems – biodiversity, climate, nutrient cycles, and others – had moved beyond ecological limits to critical tipping points.

Melting iceberg in the Southern Ocean

Three years later, 22 international scientists published a paper called ‘Approaching a State Shift in Earth’s Biosphere’ which warned that human growth had “the potential to transform Earth…  into a state unknown in human experience.” Canadian co-author, biologist Arne Mooers lamented, “humans have not done anything really important to stave off the worst. My colleagues… are terrified.”

In 2014 Michael Gerst, Paul Raskin, and Johan Rockström published ‘Contours of a Resilient Global Future’ in Sustainability 6, searching for viable future scenarios that considered both the natural limits to growth and realistic targets for human development. They warned that the challenge is “daunting” and that “marginal changes” are insufficient.

Last year, the UN International Resource Panel (IRP), published ‘Global Material Flows and Resource Productivity’ warning nations that global resources are limited, human consumption trends are unsustainable, and that resource depletion will have unpleasant impacts on human health, quality of life, and future development.

This year, the second “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity,” alerted us again that marginal changes appear insignificant and that we are surpassing “the limits of what the biosphere can tolerate without substantial and irreversible harm.”

The data speaks

The Alliance of World Scientists researchers tracked data over the last 25 years, since the 1992 warning. They cite some hopeful signs, such as the decline in ozone-depleting CFC gases, but report that, from a global perspective, our “changes in environmental policy, human behavior, and global inequities… are far from sufficient.”

Here’s what the data shows:

Ozone: CFC (chlorofluorocarbons) emissions are down by 68% since 1992, due to the 1987 UN Montreal Protocol. The ozone layer is expected to reach 1980 levels by mid-century. This is the good news.

Freshwater: Water resources per capita have declined by 26% since 1992. Today, about one billion people suffer from a lack of fresh, clean water, “nearly all due to the accelerated pace of human population growth” exacerbated by rising temperatures.

Fisheries: The global marine catch is down by 6.4% since 1992, despite advances in industrial fishing technology. Larger ships with bigger nets and better sonar cannot catch fish that are not there.

Ocean dead zones: Oxygen-depleted zones have increased by 75 %, caused by fertilizer runoff and fossil-fuel use. Acidification due to carbon emissions kills coral reefs that act as marine breeding grounds.

Forests: By area, forests have declined by 2.8% since 1992, but with a simultaneous decline in forest health, timber volume, and quality. Forest loss has been greatest where forests are converted to agricultural land. Forest decline feeds back through the ecosystem as reduced carbon sequestration, biodiversity, and freshwater.

Biodiversity: Vertebrate abundance has declined 28.9 %. Collectively, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals have declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012. This is harrowing.

CO2 emissions: Regardless of international promises, CO2 emissions have increased by 62% since 1960.

Temperature change: The global average surface temperature is increasing in parallel to CO2 emissions. The 10 warmest years in the 136-year record have occurred since 1998. Scientists warn that heating will likely cause a decline in the world’s major food crops, an increase in storm intensity, and a substantial sea level rise, inundating coastal cities.

Population: We’ve put 2 billion more humans on this planet since 1992 – that’s a 35 % increase. To feed ourselves, we’ve increased livestock by 20.5 %. Humans and livestock now comprise 98.5% of mammal biomass on Earth. The scientists stress that we need to find ways to stabilise or reverse human population growth. “Our large numbers,” they warn, “exert stresses on Earth that can overwhelm other efforts to realise a sustainable future”

Soil: The scientists report a lack of global data, but from national data we can see that soil productivity has declined around the world (by up to 50% in some regions), due to nutrient depletion, erosion, and desertification. The EU reports losing 970 million tonnes of topsoil annually to erosion. The US Department of Agriculture estimates 75 billion tons of soil lost annually worldwide, costing nations $400 billion (€340 billion) in lost crop yields.

The pending question

“We are jeopardising our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption,” the scientists warn, “and by not perceiving … population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and societal threats.”

The Alliance of World Scientists report offers some hope, in the form of steps that we can take to begin a more serious transition to sustainability:

• Expand well-managed reserves – terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and aerial – to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem services.

• Restore native plant communities, particularly forests, and native fauna species, especially apex predators, to restore ecosystem integrity.

• End poaching, exploitation, and trade of threatened species.

• Reduce food waste and promote dietary shifts towards plant-based foods.

•  Increase outdoor nature education and appreciation for children and adults.

• Divest from destructive industries and invest in genuine sustainability. That means phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels, and adopting renewable energy sources on a large scale.

• Revise economic systems to reduce wealth inequality and account for the real costs that consumption patterns impose on our environment.

• Reduce the human birth-rate with gender-equal access to education and family-planning.

These proposed solutions are not new, but the emphasis on population is important, and often overlooked. Some environmentalists avoid discussing human population, since it raises concerns about human rights. We know that massive consumption by the wealthiest 15% of us is a fundamental cause of the ecological crisis. Meanwhile, the poorest individuals consume far less than their fair share of available resources.

Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

As an ecologist, I feel compelled to ask myself: if the last 50 years of environmental action, research, warnings, meetings, legislation, regulation, and public awareness has proven insufficient, despite our victories, then what else do we need to do?

That question, and an integrated, rigorous, serious answer, needs to be a central theme of the next decade of environmentalism.

Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International.

Resources and Links:

World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice; eight authors and 15,364 scientist signatories from 184 countries; BioScience, W.J. Ripple, et. al., 13 November 2017

List of 15,364 signatories from 184 Countries: Oregon State University

Alliance of World Scientists:  Oregon State University

Recovery of Ozone depletion after Montreal Protocol: B. Ewenfeldt, “Ozonlagret mår bättre”, Arbetarbladet 12 September, 2014.

Fertility rate reduction in some regions: UN

Accuracy of Limits to Growth Study: “Is Global Collapse Imminent? An Update to Limits to Growth with Historical Data,” Graham Turner, 2014): Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute

“Contours of a Resilient Global Future,” Michael Gerst, Paul Raskin, and Johan Rockström,  Sustainability 6, 2014.

Arithmetic, Population, and Energy: Albert Bartlett video lecture on exponential growth

William Rees, The Way Forward: Survival 2100, Solutions Journal, human overshoot and genuine solutions.

Johan Rockström, et. al., “Planetary Boundaries,” Nature, September 23, 2009.

Anthony D. Barnosky, et. al., “Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere,” Nature, June 7, 2012.

Press link for more: Greenpeace

Welcome to the Third Industrial Revolution #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Welcome to the Third Industrial Revolution

Arianna Huffington

In his 2009 book “The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis,“ Jeremy Rifkin posed one of the defining questions of our time: in a hyper-connected world, what is the goal of all that unprecedented technological connectivity? “Seven billion individual connections,” he wrote, “absent any overall unifying purpose, seem a colossal waste of human energy.”

Now, I’m delighted that The WorldPost is featuring a new series by Rifkin exploring how the possibilities of an even more connected world can lead to solutions to one of our greatest crises: climate change.

With 2015 widely predicted to supersede 2014 as the hottest year on record, the topic’s relevance and timeliness are obvious. According to analysis by Climate Central, “13 of the hottest 15 years on record have all occurred since 2000 and … the odds of that happening randomly without the boost of global warming is 1 in 27 million.”

‘Thirteen of the hottest 15 years on record have all occurred since 2000 and … the odds of that happening randomly without the boost of global warming is 1 in 27 million.’

At the same time, we’re in a moment of real promise, which is why the series, the “Third Industrial Revolution,” will focus not only on the climate crisis but also on the wealth of innovation, creativity and potential solutions out there, which media too often overlook.

Rifkin, one of our premier scholars and thinkers whose work confronts a range of global challenges, sees the rise of “a new biosphere consciousness, as the human race begins to perceive the Earth as its indivisible community. We are each beginning to take on our responsibilities as stewards of the planetary ecosystems that sustain all of life,” he writes. And this new consciousness is coalescing at a moment when we are seeing a tipping point on climate change — both in terms of awareness and action.

For instance, we have seen an unprecedented commitment to common action by the leaders of the two largest economies in the world — the U.S. and China — to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In September, cities, states and provinces from around the world came together in Los Angeles to make the same commitment and to find practical ways to work together at both the global and local levels.

In June, Pope Francis drew worldwide attention to climate change with the release of his encyclical “Laudato Si,” which elevated the issue to a spiritual challenge and moral imperative. As HuffPost’s Jaweed Kaleem wrote at the time of the encyclical’s publication:

In the lengthy treatise, more broadly addressed to ‘every person’ who lives on Earth, the pope lays out a moral case for supporting sustainable economic and population growth as part of the church’s mission and humanity’s responsibility to protect God’s creation for future generations. While saying that there were natural causes to climate change over the earth’s history, the letter also says in strong words that human activity and production of greenhouse gases are to blame.

Then there is the U.N. summit on climate change, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in Paris, with the goal of reaching a binding international agreement to reduce emissions. As President Obama told Rolling Stone in September, looking ahead to the Paris talks, “we’re now in a position for the first time to have all countries recognize their responsibilities to tackle the problem, and to have a meaningful set of targets as well as the financing required to help poor countries adapt.” If the summit leads to meaningful commitments, Obama said, that will pave the way for future progress: “Hope builds on itself. Success breeds success.”

For all the promise and possibility of official gatherings, much of the change we need will come from outside the halls of power. This is where technological advances and innovations, including the Internet of Things, are especially important. Rifkin sees tremendous potential in this aspect of increased connectivity: “For the first time in history,” he writes, “the entire human race can collaborate directly with one another, democratizing economic life.” Advances in digital connectivity, renewable energy sources and smart transportation are allowing us to responsibly shift the way we see the world and our place in it.

Rifkin labels all this the “Third Industrial Revolution” because, “to grasp the enormity of the economic change taking place, we need to understand the technological forces that have given rise to new economic systems throughout history.”

In the coming weeks, our series will outline the path ahead for the realization of this Third Industrial Revolution. And a range of other voices will join the conversation, including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on how the Internet of Things can boost China’s manufacturing base and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on the need for a new, forward-looking narrative for European unity that captures the imagination of young people.

So please join the conversation on climate change, technology and the growing global movement toward solutions. And, as always, use the comments section to let us know what you think. Read the first essay here.

Press link for more: Huffington Post

Game changer’: New vulnerability to climate change in ocean food chain. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Game changer’: New vulnerability to climate change in ocean food chain

By Peter Hannam

15 March 2018 — 5:00am

Excessive rates of carbon dioxide undermines the health of key micro-organisms in the oceans, potentially undermining the base of critical marine food chains, according to new research by US scientists.

A team of researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) applied techniques from the emerging field of synthetic biology to understand how ocean acidification from the absorption of CO2 is affecting tiny plants known as phytoplankton.

Phytoplankton like these diatoms turn out to be sensitive to ocean acidification, according to new research.

Photo: Scripps Institution/Nature

Phytoplankton are not only a key food source for global fisheries, they are also important to the removal of CO2, much like how trees absorb the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.

In a paper published on Thursday in Nature, the team demonstrated how the microscopic plants require carbonate ions to acquire iron from the water to grow.

As CO2 levels rise, the oceans have less carbonate, affecting phytoplankton’s ability to secure sufficient nutrient iron for growth. In fact, the concentration of sea surface carbonate ions are on course to drop by half by the end of this century.

“Ultimately our study reveals the possibility of a ‘feedback mechanism’ operating in parts of the ocean where iron already constrains the growth of phytoplankton,”said Jeff McQuaid, lead author of the study who made the discoveries as a PhD student at Scripps Oceanography.

“In these regions, high concentrations of atmospheric CO2 could decrease phytoplankton growth, restricting the ability of the ocean to absorb CO2 and thus leading to ever higher concentrations of CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere.”

Phytoplankton off New York. The micro-organisms help remove carbon dioxide from the ocean.

Photo: NASA

Andrew E. Allen, a biologist at Scripps and JCVI and the paper’s senior author, said that while the genetics of common animals such as rats or rabbits was well known, the same was not true of marine microbes that play important roles in the global food chain.

The researchers inserted a mutated copy of a gene into phytoplankton cells and tested how it responded to changing ocean chemistry.

“It was a complete game changer,” Professor Allen told Fairfax Media, noting interest in who acidification impacts on phytoplankton had been “a pretty intensive topic of research for the past 10-20 years” given the implication for the food web. Progress, though, had been limited until the new techniques emerged.

“With [synthetic biological] tools like this we can really study the function of a protein in detail to really enable some breakthroughs.”

Professor Allen discovered several iron-responsive genes in diatoms – a type of phytoplankton – in 2008 that had no known function.

DNA analysis of samples that were collected by Mr McQuaid during a trip in the same year to Antarctica revealed one of Professor Allen’s iron genes was not only present in every sample of seawater, but that every major phytoplankton group in the Southern Ocean seemed to have a copy.

The subsequent research centred on the more common of two methods of iron take-up by diatoms.

“In the Southern Ocean, where the temperature decreases the solubility of carbonate, we should already be in the zone where the models project which start to limit iron uptake,” Professor Allen said. “Certainly by 2100…the uptake of iron by this [primary] mechanism could be reduced by 45 per cent.”

While the micro organisms had a secondary way to extract the iron they needed to grow, that method was “a lot more energetically expensive and less efficient”, Professor Allen said.

“If you take away one kind of iron substrate, there could be ripples through the microbial food web.”

Professor Allen credited the now-Dr McQuaid for pulling together a wide-range of scientific fields – tapping experts in molecular evolution, iron and carbonate chemistry, synthetic biology and diatom biology – to “weave a coherent, integrated story”.

Press link for more: The

Hotter, Drier, Hungrier: How Global Warming Punishes the World’s Poorest #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Hotter, Drier, Hungrier: How Global Warming Punishes the World’s Poorest


On the outskirts of Kakuma in northwestern Kenya. Always arid, the area has become hotter and drier with the onset of climate change.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

KAKUMA, Kenya — These barren plains of sand and stone have always known lean times: times when the rivers run dry and the cows wither day by day, until their bones are scattered under the acacia trees. But the lean times have always been followed by normal times, when it rains enough to rebuild herds, repay debts, give milk to the children and eat meat a few times each week.

Times are changing, though. Northern Kenya — like its arid neighbors in the Horn of Africa, where Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson paid a visit last week, including a stop in Nairobi — has become measurably drier and hotter, and scientists are finding the fingerprints of global warming. According to recent research, the region dried faster in the 20th century than at any time over the last 2,000 years. Four severe droughts have walloped the area in the last two decades, a rapid succession that has pushed millions of the world’s poorest to the edge of survival.

Amid this new normal, a people long hounded by poverty and strife has found itself on the frontline of a new crisis: climate change. More than 650,000 children under age 5 across vast stretches of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are severely malnourished. The risk of famine stalks people in all three countries; at least 12 million people rely on food aid, according to the United Nations.

A woman washed near a water distribution point in Kakuma. Four droughts have hit the region in the last 20 years.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

A grandmother named Mariao Tede is among them. Early one recent morning, on the banks of a dry stream, with the air tasting of soot and sand, Ms. Tede stood over a pile of dark embers, making charcoal. A reed of a woman who doesn’t keep track of her age, she said she once had 200 goats, enough to sell their offspring at the market and buy cornmeal for her family. Raising livestock is traditionally the main source of income in the region, because not much food will grow here.

Many of her goats died in the 2011 drought, then many more in the 2017 drought. How many were left? She held up five fingers. Not enough to sell. Not enough to eat. And now, in the dry season, not even enough to get milk. “Only when it rains I get a cup or two, for the kids,” she said.

The most recent drought has prompted some herders to plunder the livestock of rival communities or sneak into nature reserves to graze their hungry droves. Water has become so scarce in this vast county — known as Turkana, in northwestern Kenya — that fetching it, which is women’s work, means walking an average of almost seven miles every day.

Ms. Tede now gathers wood to make charcoal, a process that is stripping the land of its few trees, so that when the rains come, if the rains come, the water will not seep into the earth. On the roadside stood what were once sacks of food aid, now stuffed with charcoal, waiting for customers.

Charcoal for sale along the main road in Turkana County. Production is stripping the land of its few trees.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

Further along that same road, in a village blessed with a water pump, a herder named Mohammed Loshani offered up his ledger of loss. From 150 goats a little over a year ago, he had 30 left. During the 2017 drought, 10 died one month, a dozen the next.

“If we get rain I can build back my herd,” he said. “If not, even the few I have will die.” He knew no one who had rebuilt their herds to pre-2011 drought levels.

“If these droughts continue,” Mr. Loshoni said, “there’s nothing for us to do. We’ll have to think of other jobs.”

Women near Kakuma. Food is hard to grow in the region, so raising livestock is the main source of income.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

Poor Rains and You’re ‘Done’

When Gideon Galu, a Kenyan meteorologist with the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, or FewsNet, looks at 30 years of weather data, he doesn’t see doom for his country’s herders and farmers. He sees a need to radically, urgently adapt to the new normal: grow fodder for the lean times, build reservoirs to store water, switch to crops that do well in Kenya’s soil, and not just maize, the staple.

Rainfall is already erratic. Now, he says, it’s getting significantly drier and hotter. The forecast for the next rains aren’t good. “These people live on the edge,” he said. “Any tilt to the poor rains, and they’re done.”

His colleague at FewsNet, Chris Funk, a climatologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has linked recent drought to the long-term warming of the western Pacific Ocean as well as higher land temperatures in East Africa, both products of human-induced climate change. Global warming, he concluded, seems to produce more severe weather disruptions known as El Niños and La Niñas, leading to “protracted drought and food insecurity.”

Jessica Tierney, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Arizona, took the longer view. By analyzing marine sediments, she and her colleagues came to the conclusion that the region is drying faster now than at any time in two millenniums and that the trend may be linked to human activity. That rapid drying in the Horn of Africa, she wrote, is “synchronous with recent global and regional warming.”

A woman collected water from a pit dug in a dry riverbed near Kakuma.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

It falls to James Oduor, the head of Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority, to figure out what to do about the new reality. “In the future,” he said flatly, “we expect that to be normal — a drought every 5 years.”

Mr. Oduor keeps a postcard-size, color-coded map of his country to explain the scale of the challenge: dark orange for arid zones, light orange for semiarid zones, and white for the rest.

More than three-fourths of the land, he points out, is dark or light orange, which means they are water-stressed in the best of times and during droughts, dangerously so. “The bigger part of my country is affected by climate change and drought,” he said. “They’re frequent. They last long. They affect a big area.”

Water is so scarce in Turkana County that fetching it means walking almost seven miles every day, on average.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

Ethiopia is even worse off. FewsNet, which is funded by the United States government, has warned of continuing “food security emergency” in the country’s southeast, where rains have failed for the last three years in a row and political conflict has displaced an estimated 200,000 people.

In Somalia, after decades of war and displacement, 2.7 million people face what the United Nations calls “severe food insecurity.” During the 2017 drought, international aid efforts averted a famine. In the previous drought, in 2011, nearly 260,000 Somalis died of hunger, half of them children, the United Nations reported.

Women waited in the the shade in Turkana Country as an aid group evaluated children for malnutrition.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

‘Five Are Dead, Then 10’

I traveled across Turkana and neighboring Isiolo County in northern Kenya last month. Off the main highway, sandy paths led through sandy plains. A cluster of round twig-and-thatch huts emerged. Dust whipped through the air.

Pastoralists have walked these lands for centuries. The older ones among them remember the droughts of the past. Animals died. People died. But then the rains came, and after four or five years of normal rains, people living here could replenish their herds. Now, the droughts are so frequent that rebuilding herds is pretty much impossible.

“You wake up one morning and five are dead, then 10,” said David Letmaya, at a clinic in Isiolo County where his family had come to collect sacks of soy and cornmeal.

Drawing water in Turkana County.


Joao Silva/The New York Times

These days, shepherds like Mr. Letmaya range further and further, sometimes clashing with rivals from Turkana over pasture and water, other times risking a confrontation with an elephant or a lion from the national park next door.

Almost every night, park rangers can hear gunshots. Herders raid each others’ livestock to replenish their own.

At the Isiolo health center, everyone kept precise count of their losses. One woman said she lost all three of her cows last year and was left now with only three goats. A second said her husband was killed a few years ago in a fight with Turkana herders over pasture, and then, last year, the last of her cows died. A third said she lost 20 of her 30 goats in the last drought.

It was a blazing afternoon, with no respite in sight. One by one, hauling boxes of soy and cornmeal bearing a World Food Program stamp, the women walked back home across the dry plains and the dry riverbeds, resting sometimes under an acacia heavy with nests that weaver birds had made from the dry brush.

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Third Industrial Revolution Will Create a Green Economy Jeremy Rifkin #StopAdani #auspol

This essay is the first in a four-part series on the theme, “The Third Industrial Revolution.” An introduction by Arianna Huffington is available here. Part two is available here. Part three is here. Part four is here. Stay tuned for responses from leading global figures and technologists.

The global economy is slowing, productivity is waning in every region of the world and unemployment remains stubbornly high in every country.

At the same time, economic inequality between the rich and the poor is at the highest point in human history.

In 2010 the combined wealth of the 388 richest people in the world equaled the combined wealth of the poorest half of the human race.

By 2014 the wealth of the 80 richest individuals in the world equaled the combined wealth of the poorest half of the human race.

This dire economic reality is now compounded by the rapid acceleration of climate change brought on by the increasing emissions of industry-induced global warming gases.

Climate scientists report that the global atmospheric concentration of carbon, which ranged from about 180 to 300 parts per million for the past 650,000 years, has risen from 280 ppm just before the outset of the industrial era to 400 ppm in 2013.

The atmospheric concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide, the other two powerful global warming gases, are showing similar steep trajectories.

At the Copenhagen global climate summit in December 2009, the European Union proposed that the nations of the world limit the rise in Earth’s temperature to 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius).

Even a 3.5 degree rise, however, would take us back to the temperature on Earth several million years ago, in the Pliocene epoch, with devastating consequences to ecosystems and human life.

The EU proposal went ignored.

Now, six years later, the sharp rise in the use of carbon-based fuels has pushed up the atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide far more quickly than earlier models had projected, making it likely that the temperature on Earth will rush past the 3.5 degree target and could top off at 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit (4.8 degrees Celsius) by 2100 — temperatures not seen on Earth for millions of years. (Remember, anatomically modern human beings — the youngest species — have only inhabited the planet for 195,000 years or so.)

What makes these dramatic spikes in the Earth’s temperature so terrifying is that the increase in heat radically shifts the planet’s hydrological cycle.

Ours is a watery planet.

The Earth’s diverse ecosystems have evolved over geological time in direct relationship to precipitation patterns. Each rise in temperature of 1 degree Celsius results in a 7 percent increase in the moisture-holding capacity of the atmosphere. This causes a radical change in the way water is distributed, with more intense precipitation but a reduction in duration and frequency.

The consequences are already being felt in ecosystems around the world.

We are experiencing more bitter winter snows, more dramatic spring storms and floods, more prolonged summer droughts, more wildfires, more intense hurricanes (category 3, 4 and 5), a melting of the ice caps on the great mountain ranges and a rise in sea levels.

The Earth’s ecosystems cannot readjust to a disruptive change in the planet’s water cycle in such a brief moment in time and are under increasing stress, with some on the verge of collapse. The destabilization of ecosystem dynamics around the world has now pushed the biosphere into the sixth extinction event of the past 450 million years of life on Earth. In each of the five previous extinctions, Earth’s climate reached a critical tipping point, throwing the ecosystems into a positive feedback loop, leading to a quick wipeout of the planet’s biodiversity.

On average, it took upward of 10 million years to recover the lost biodiversity.

Biologists tell us that we could see the extinction of half the Earth’s species by the end of the current century, resulting in a barren new era that could last for millions of years. James Hansen, the former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, forecasts a rise in the Earth’s temperature of 4 degrees Celsius between now and the turn of the century — and with it, the end of human civilization as we’ve come to know it. The only hope, according to Hansen, is to reduce the current concentration of carbon in the atmosphere from 400 ppm to 350 ppm or less.

Typhoon Haiyan survivors make camp in the ruins of their neighborhood on the outskirts of Tacloban, central Philippines. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

Now, a new economic paradigm is emerging that is going to dramatically change the way we organize economic life on the planet.

The European Union is embarking on a bold new course to create a high-tech 21st century smart green digital economy, making Europe potentially the most productive commercial space in the world and the most ecologically sustainable society on Earth.

The plan is called Digital Europe.

The EU vision of a green digital economy is now being embraced by China and other developing nations around the world.

The digitalization of Europe involves much more than providing universal broadband, free Wi-Fi and a flow of big data.

The digital economy will revolutionize every commercial sector, disrupt the workings of virtually every industry, bring with it unprecedented new economic opportunities, put millions of people back to work, democratize economic life and create a more sustainable low-carbon society to mitigate climate change.

Equally important, this new economic narrative is being accompanied by a new biosphere consciousness, as the human race begins to perceive the Earth as its indivisible community.

We are each beginning to take on our responsibilities as stewards of the planetary ecosystems that sustain all of life.

To grasp the enormity of the economic change taking place, we need to understand the technological forces that have given rise to new economic systems throughout history. Every great economic paradigm requires three elements, each of which interacts with the other to enable the system to operate as a whole: new communication technologies to more efficiently manage economic activity; new sources of energy to more efficiently power economic activity; and new modes of transportation to more efficiently move economic activity.

In the 19th century, steam-powered printing and the telegraph, abundant coal and locomotives on national rail systems gave rise to the First Industrial Revolution. In the 20th century, centralized electricity, the telephone, radio and television, cheap oil and internal combustion vehicles on national road systems converged to create an infrastructure for the Second Industrial Revolution.

The Third Industrial Revolution

Today, Europe is laying the ground work for the Third Industrial Revolution. The digitalized communication Internet is converging with a digitalized, renewable “Energy Internet” and a digitalized, automated “Transportation and Logistics Internet” to create a super “Internet of Things” infrastructure. In the Internet of Things era, sensors will be embedded into every device and appliance, allowing them to communicate with each other and Internet users, providing up-to-the-moment data on the managing, powering and moving of economic activity in a smart Digital Europe. Currently, billions of sensors are attached to resource flows, warehouses, road systems, factory production lines, the electricity transmission grid, offices, homes, stores and vehicles, continually monitoring their status and performance and feeding big data back to the Communication Internet, Energy Internet and Transportation and Logistics Internet. By 2030, it is estimated there will be more than 100 trillion sensors connecting the human and natural environment in a global distributed intelligent network. For the first time in history, the entire human race can collaborate directly with one another, democratizing economic life.

The EMC earth station at Raisting in Germany provides satellite-based communications for aid organizations, the United Nations and emerging markets. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The digitalization of communication, energy and transportation also raises risks and challenges, not the least of which are guaranteeing network neutrality, preventing the creation of new corporate monopolies, protecting personal privacy, ensuring data security and thwarting cybercrime and cyber terrorism. The European Commission has already begun to address these issues by establishing the broad principle that “privacy, data protection, and information security are complementary requirements for Internet of Things services.”

In this expanded digital economy, private enterprises connected to the Internet of Things can use Big Data and analytics to develop algorithms that speed efficiency, increase productivity and dramatically lower the marginal cost of producing and distributing goods and services, making European businesses more competitive in an emerging post-carbon global marketplace. (Marginal cost is the cost of producing an additional unit of a good or service, after fixed costs have been absorbed.)

The marginal cost of some goods and services in a Digital Europe will even approach zero, allowing millions of prosumers connected to the Internet of Things to produce and exchange things with one another for nearly free in the growing Sharing Economy. Already, a digital generation is producing and sharing music, videos, news blogs, social media, free e-books, massive open online college courses and other virtual goods at near zero marginal cost. The near zero marginal cost phenomenon brought the music industry to its knees, shook the television industry, forced newspapers and magazines out of business and crippled the book publishing market.

While many traditional industries suffered, the zero marginal cost phenomenon also gave rise to a spate of new entrepreneurial enterprises including Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and thousands of other Internet companies, which reaped profits by creating new applications and establishing the networks that allow the Sharing Economy to flourish.

Economists acknowledge the powerful impact the near zero marginal cost has had on the information goods industries. But, until recently, they have argued that the productivity advances of the digital economy would not pass across the firewall from the virtual world to the brick-and-mortar economy of energy, and physical goods and services. That firewall has now been breached. The evolving Internet of Things will allow conventional businesses enterprises, as well as millions of prosumers, to make and distribute their own renewable energy, use driverless electric and fuel-cell vehicles in automated car-sharing services and manufacture an increasing array of 3-D-printed physical products and other goods at very low marginal cost in the market exchange economy, or at near zero marginal cost in the Sharing Economy, just as they now do with information goods.

Jeremy Rifkin is the author of “The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism.” Rifkin is an advisor to the European Union and to heads of state around the world, and is the president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, D.C..

For more information, please visit The Zero Marginal Cost Society.

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The third industrial revolution. #StopAdani #auspol

The third industrial revolution

The digitisation of manufacturing will transform the way goods are made—and change the politics of jobs too

THE first industrial revolution began in Britain in the late 18th century, with the mechanisation of the textile industry. Tasks previously done laboriously by hand in hundreds of weavers’ cottages were brought together in a single cotton mill, and the factory was born.

The second industrial revolution came in the early 20th century, when Henry Ford mastered the moving assembly line and ushered in the age of mass production.

The first two industrial revolutions made people richer and more urban.

Now a third revolution is under way. Manufacturing is going digital.

As this week’s special report argues, this could change not just business, but much else besides.

A number of remarkable technologies are converging: clever software, novel materials, more dexterous robots, new processes (notably three-dimensional printing) and a whole range of web-based services.

The factory of the past was based on cranking out zillions of identical products: Ford famously said that car-buyers could have any colour they liked, as long as it was black.

But the cost of producing much smaller batches of a wider variety, with each product tailored precisely to each customer’s whims, is falling.

The factory of the future will focus on mass customisation—and may look more like those weavers’ cottages than Ford’s assembly line

Towards a third dimension

The old way of making things involved taking lots of parts and screwing or welding them together.

Now a product can be designed on a computer and “printed” on a 3D printer, which creates a solid object by building up successive layers of material.

The digital design can be tweaked with a few mouseclicks.

The 3D printer can run unattended, and can make many things which are too complex for a traditional factory to handle.

In time, these amazing machines may be able to make almost anything, anywhere—from your garage to an African village.

The applications of 3D printing are especially mind-boggling.

Already, hearing aids and high-tech parts of military jets are being printed in customised shapes.

The geography of supply chains will change.

An engineer working in the middle of a desert who finds he lacks a certain tool no longer has to have it delivered from the nearest city.

He can simply download the design and print it.

The days when projects ground to a halt for want of a piece of kit, or when customers complained that they could no longer find spare parts for things they had bought, will one day seem quaint.

Other changes are nearly as momentous.

New materials are lighter, stronger and more durable than the old ones.

Carbon fibre is replacing steel and aluminium in products ranging from aeroplanes to mountain bikes.

New techniques let engineers shape objects at a tiny scale.

Nanotechnology is giving products enhanced features, such as bandages that help heal cuts, engines that run more efficiently and crockery that cleans more easily. Genetically engineered viruses are being developed to make items such as batteries. And with the internet allowing ever more designers to collaborate on new products, the barriers to entry are falling. Ford needed heaps of capital to build his colossal River Rouge factory; his modern equivalent can start with little besides a laptop and a hunger to invent.

Like all revolutions, this one will be disruptive.

Digital technology has already rocked the media and retailing industries, just as cotton mills crushed hand looms and the Model T put farriers out of work. Many people will look at the factories of the future and shudder.

They will not be full of grimy machines manned by men in oily overalls. Many will be squeaky clean—and almost deserted.

Some carmakers already produce twice as many vehicles per employee as they did only a decade or so ago.

Most jobs will not be on the factory floor but in the offices nearby, which will be full of designers, engineers, IT specialists, logistics experts, marketing staff and other professionals. The manufacturing jobs of the future will require more skills.

Many dull, repetitive tasks will become obsolete: you no longer need riveters when a product has no rivets.

The revolution will affect not only how things are made, but where. Factories used to move to low-wage countries to curb labour costs. But labour costs are growing less and less important: a $499 first-generation iPad included only about $33 of manufacturing labour, of which the final assembly in China accounted for just $8. Offshore production is increasingly moving back to rich countries not because Chinese wages are rising, but because companies now want to be closer to their customers so that they can respond more quickly to changes in demand. And some products are so sophisticated that it helps to have the people who design them and the people who make them in the same place.

The Boston Consulting Group reckons that in areas such as transport, computers, fabricated metals and machinery, 10-30% of the goods that America now imports from China could be made at home by 2020, boosting American output by $20 billion-55 billion a year.

The shock of the new

Consumers will have little difficulty adapting to the new age of better products, swiftly delivered.

Governments, however, may find it harder.

Their instinct is to protect industries and companies that already exist, not the upstarts that would destroy them.

They shower old factories with subsidies and bully bosses who want to move production abroad.

They spend billions backing the new technologies which they, in their wisdom, think will prevail. And they cling to a romantic belief that manufacturing is superior to services, let alone finance.

None of this makes sense.

The lines between manufacturing and services are blurring.

Rolls-Royce no longer sells jet engines; it sells the hours that each engine is actually thrusting an aeroplane through the sky.

Governments have always been lousy at picking winners, and they are likely to become more so, as legions of entrepreneurs and tinkerers swap designs online, turn them into products at home and market them globally from a garage.

As the revolution rages, governments should stick to the basics: better schools for a skilled workforce, clear rules and a level playing field for enterprises of all kinds.

Leave the rest to the revolutionaries.

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Two minutes to midnight. #ClimateChange or Nuclear war. #auspol

“The Republicans (strongly supported by the Liberal National Party in Australia) are the most dangerous organisation in human history.” Noam Chomsky

In this interview Chomsky explains why Trump’s America is a threat to the future of humanity.

Trump and the Republicans are ignoring science on climate change and waging war on all who get in their way.

The United Nations urge urgent action to reduce greenhouse house gas emissions.

Meanwhile conservatives in the U.S. and Australia are encouraging the fossil fuel companies to continue to extract their deadly products knowing that it will cause catastrophic climate change.

Only people power can save humanity from extinction.

Our generation has a moral duty to bring about political change. Neoliberalism has led us to the eve of destruction.

The time for action is now.

Join a protest movement, get active, together we must stop this global madness!

Neoliberalism is a suicide pact, Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is greed. We need strong democratic governments to regulate multinational corporations to make sure they put people and the environment before profit.

Climate change will wreak havoc on agriculture. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol yu

By Michael Hiltzik

The California we know is the breadbasket of the U.S., producing more than two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts, including almonds, pistachios, oranges, apricots, nectarines and prunes, and more than a third of its vegetables, including artichokes, broccoli, spinach and carrots.

It’s all valued at more than $50 billion a year.

That’s the assessment of a recent paper by a University of California team led by Tapan Pathak of UC Merced. But the researchers focused on a different aspect of California agriculture: You can kiss much of it goodbye because of climate change.

The paper, published in the journal Agronomy last month, is the most thorough review of the literature on the regional impact of climate change in recent memory. It makes grim reading.

Among the chief manifestations of climate change will be changes in precipitation patterns, leading to more drought and more flooding, and spottier water storage. Generally warmer temperatures, not to mention more frequent and severe heat waves, will reduce yields of wine grapes, strawberries and walnuts; shorter chill seasons will make vast areas no longer suitable for chestnuts, pecans, apricots, kiwis, apples, cherries and pears. Plant diseases and pests will move into regions where they haven’t been a problem before.

The increased rate and scale of climate change is beyond the realm of experience for the agricultural community. — UC Merced agronomist Tapan Pathak, et al.

Few crops will escape the dire effects of the transformation.

Seasonal chilling is necessary to break some crops out of dormancy and launch pollination and flowering.

By the end of this century, according to a study cited by the UC paper, the shrinking winter chill period will reduce the acreage of the Central Valley suitable for chestnut, pecan and quince by 22%, and for apricot, peach, nectarine and walnut by more than half.

By 2000, only 4% of the Central Valley was suitable for apples, cherries and pears, but none of that will be left by 2060 under almost any climate change scenario.

Put it all together, and the prospect is for a dramatic change in the mix of California produce and overall output.

The UC paper foresees a decline of more than 40% in avocado yields, and as much as 20% in almonds, table grapes, oranges and walnuts. (Wine grape yields will be generally unaffected, but their quality might be compromised.)

Disruption is already evident with some crops in some regions, the paper notes — in truth, dealing with natural variations in weather always has been the hallmark of California farming — but that’s nothing compared to what lies ahead. “The increased rate and scale of climate change,” the researchers say, “is beyond the realm of experience for the agricultural community.”

In terms of which areas might be affected the most, “it is hard to point out a single region,” Pathak told me, in part because California is a huge state comprising at least two large and distinct regions, north and south.

“Central Valley chill-sensitive perennial crops, especially the ones that require a higher number of chill hours, are vulnerable to climatological changes,” Pathak says. “Heat-sensitive crops, such as strawberries and vegetables, drive vulnerability in coastal areas. Heat-stress-related vulnerability would greatly impact desert regions.”

California hasn’t been blind to the potential effects of climate change. Indeed, the UC paper tracks closely with the findings from a consortium on long-term impacts convened by the Department of Food and Agriculture in 2013. The state has been on the forefront of water and energy conservation, on the move toward renewable energy sources and on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Awareness of the consequences of inaction may help to explain why California Gov. Jerry Brown has emerged as a leader in the fight against climate change. He understands the economic devastation that will result from continued climatic warning, as well as its impact on food security and health.

Last June, when President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, Brown let him have it with both rhetorical barrels: “This is a crazy decision,” he said during an appearance on CNN. “It’s against the facts, it’s against science, it’s against reality itself.” If we don’t “decarbonize our future,” Brown said, “people are going to die, habitat will be destroyed, seas will rise, insects will spread in areas they’ve never been before. This is not a game.”

California Governor Jerry Brown blasted the President’s decision to leave the Paris accord, describing it as a “crazy decision.” (CNN)

The state’s Natural Resources Agency also has published a road map for dealing with some impacts, including on agriculture. The document acknowledges the prospect of decreased crop yields, declines in water quality and increased pest pressures.

At the moment, the agency has focused more on giving growers and dairy farmers tools for managing the immediate impacts of climate change. The state Department of Food and Agriculture has $67.5 million, provided through the state’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program, to help growers with water efficiency and emission-reduction projects.

“Growers told us at the climate change consortium that they deal with a changing climate every day,” says Amrith Gunasekara, head of the Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation at the Department of Food and Agriculture. “They have to watch out for rain and cold weather, they have to watch out for frost.” But with the exception of the recent multiyear drought, “they’re not experiencing climate change to a drastic enough level that they have adaptation mechanisms at this point.”

One obstacle to long-term planning is that projections of conditions a half-century in the future or more are inherently uncertain, except in general terms. “There’s a general sense that it’s going to get hotter in the south and the Central Valley and warmer in the north,” Gunasekara told me. “They want to incorporate these changes in their business models into the future, but they say that for them to really understand how this is going to impact their businesses, they need to know what the cost of crop relocation will be.”

It may yet be too early to bring the consequences of climate change home to the agricultural sector, Gunasekara says. “For temperature, I think it’s going to take another 1- or 2-degree change,” which is expected to occur over the next 50 to 100 years.

The transformation that does occur will be felt far beyond California’s borders, the UC paper observed. Changes in the state’s crop output “would not only translate into national food security issues, but also economic impacts that could disrupt state and national commodity systems.” As a result of rising global population and increasing biofuel demand, the paper says, global crop production needs to double by 2050, but California’s ability to contribute to that supply is at risk.

The effects of climate change fall into two main interrelated categories in California, as they do most everywhere: temperature and water. Average maximum and minimum temperatures have been rising in the state, leading to less cooling and more heat waves, especially in inland areas such as the Central Valley.

Climate change could shrink the California snowpack by as much as 65% by the end of this century, forcing drastic changes on agriculture. (California Department of Water Resources)

That disrupts precipitation patterns and the water supply. In the winter of 2013-2014, the state suffered its worst drought since records started being kept in 1886. Over the last 30 years, droughts have been getting more severe and years of water surplus rarer. Both the abundance of precipitation and its seasonality have been changing for the worse.

More rain and snowfall in warmer periods means faster snowmelt, which in turn leads to earlier filling of reservoirs, more uncaptured runoff, and consequently, worse winter flooding and summer shortages. The paper cites Department of Water Resources figures showing that the peak runoff in the Sacramento River watershed has shifted earlier by a full month, to mid-March from mid-April, since 1955. That reduces the effectiveness of levees, dams and floodgates that were designed and built for outdated weather patterns.

California experienced its worst drought in 122 years (blue bars) during the winter of 2013-14, while years of surplus water (red bars) have become fewer and farther between. (University of California)

UC Merced’s Pathak says growers and state planners will need to deal with short-term impacts as well as the long-term ones. The near term involves greater variability in weather, namely more droughts and floods. “We need to be prepared to mitigate risks to agriculture due to these extreme events,” he told me. That translates into better flood control, more efficient irrigation and more water storage.

The longer term requires a more strategic approach. California simply won’t be as suitable — or suitable at all — for some crops that have been identified with California farming for decades. Whatever the strategy, California agriculture is going to look very different at the end of this century than it does today, and the time to start taking stock is now.

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