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Scientists up their projections for sea level rise. #auspol 

Scientists keep upping their projections for how much the oceans will rise this century

 A 30-mile-long meltwater river runs through Petermann glacier, Greenland, on August 27, 2016. (Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post)

A report by a leading research body monitoring the Arctic has found that previous projections of global sea level rise for the end of the century could be too low, thanks in part to the pace of ice loss of Arctic glaciers and the vast ice sheet of Greenland.
It’s just the latest in a string of cases in which scientists have published numbers that suggest a grimmer picture than the one presented in 2013 by an influential United Nations body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The new Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic report presents minimum estimates for global sea level rise by the end of the century, but not a maximum. This reflects the fact that scientists keep uncovering new insights that force them to increase their sea level estimates further, said William Colgan, a glaciologist with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, who contributed to the sea level rise section.
“Because of emerging processes, especially related to the Greenland ice sheet and the Antarctic ice sheet, it now looks like the uncertainties are all biased positive,” Colgan said.
The assessment found that under a relatively moderate global warming scenario — one that slightly exceeds the temperature targets contained in the Paris climate agreement — seas could be expected to rise “at least” 52 centimeters, or 1.7 feet, by the year 2100. Under a more extreme, “business as usual” warming scenario, meanwhile, the minimum rise would be 74 centimeters, or 2.4 feet.
The new findings were published Tuesday as part of a broader overview report by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, a working group of the intergovernmental Arctic Council, which unites eight Arctic nations, including the United States, and six organizations representing the indigenous peoples of the Arctic.
It is the work of 90 scientists and 28 peer reviewers and is expected to be presented in Fairbanks, Alaska, next month at the next summit of Arctic political leaders.
The report bluntly contrasts its sea level findings with a previous 2013 report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which had put the “likely” low end sea level rise number for these two scenarios at 32 centimeters (about 1 foot) and 45 centimeters (1.5 feet) for the period between 2081 and 2100. That global body — whose high end sea level rise number for the year 2100 was just shy of one meter, or 3.2 feet — has often seen its assertions on sea level rise faulted by scientists for being too conservative.
“These estimates are almost double the minimum estimates made by the IPCC in 2013,” said the new Arctic Council report, which is dubbed a “Summary for Policymakers” because the technical report underpinning it has not yet been released.
The new Arctic report is hardly the first of late to call the IPCC’s figures into question.
An influential study of Antarctica published last year in the journal Nature suggested that the frozen continent alone could nearly double the IPCC’s sea level projections for the end of the century.
(The IPCC did concede that sea levels could be higher than its “likely” forecast in the event of a “collapse of marine-based sectors of the Antarctic ice sheet” — but it added that “there is medium confidence that this additional contribution would not exceed several tenths of a meter of sea level rise during the 21st century.”)
And since then, several other scientific documents — presumably aware of this Antarctic research — have cited the possibility of particularly extreme sea level rise by 2100, even if they cannot necessarily quantify the likelihood of it occurring.
At the close of the Obama administration, a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggested that, at least as an “extreme” case, seas could possibly rise by as much as 8 feet by century’s end.
And yet another report, prepared for the state of California and released this month by a team of climate researchers, has now also presented the possibility of extreme sea level scenarios by 2100 — albeit ones that have either a low or an unknown probability of occurring.
That document looked specifically at California coastlines, and found that for San Francisco, for instance, the “likely” range for sea level rise in the year 2100 under a high global warming scenario would be 1.6 to 3.4 feet. But it also said there was a 1-in-20 chance of 4.4 feet, a 1-in-200 chance of 6.9 feet, and even a chance, whose probability could not be estimated, of 10 feet.
“We’re learning an increasing amount about the instability of marine based ice, and the amount of marine based ice that there is in Antarctica,” said Bob Kopp, a sea level researcher at Rutgers University and one of the authors of the California report. “And as we take more of these processes into account, the extent of the things that we don’t know that much about and aren’t yet able to quantify well has become clearer.”
The report for the Arctic Council, by contrast, focuses on a growing Arctic contribution to sea level rise, rather than an Antarctic one. Antarctica has far greater potential to raise seas over all, but the Arctic report emphasizes that for now, Greenland is actually raising seas the most and that it too has a great deal of potential sea level rise to contribute.
“These estimates of higher sea level contributions from the Arctic will only add to the new, higher estimates of potential sea level contributions from Antarctica — which is not good news,” said Rob DeConto, a geoscientist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who published the aforementioned Antarctica study and also worked on the California study. He was not involved in the new Arctic report.
Here’s a figure that the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland’s Colgan provided, showing the new sea level projections for a modest and more severe warming scenario, as well as the different and changing components of sea level rise over time:

 The sources and amounts of sea level rise from 1850 to the present, and then projected to the year 2100. RCP4.5 represents a modest global warming scenario that’s not too much warmer than the goals contained in the Paris climate agreement, whereas RCP8.5 represents a more severe “business as usual” scenario (William Colgan)

The Arctic report states that Greenland, in particular, lost 375 billion tons of ice per year from 2011 through 2014, enough to single-handedly raise the global sea level by about a millimeter per year. That annual loss, the document states, is “equivalent to a block of ice measuring 7.5 kilometers or 4.6 miles on all sides.”
Meanwhile, the melting glaciers of the Alaskan, Canadian and Russian Arctic are all steadily raising seas as well and could also see their contributions grow. The report therefore estimates that 19 to 25 centimeters (0.6 to 0.8 feet) of sea level rise in this century will come from the Arctic alone, and that must be combined with all the sea level rise contributed by Antarctica, other glacier systems and the steady expansion of seawater itself as it gets warmer.
Because of the difference between the worst case and more moderate sea level rise scenarios, the report concludes that the Paris climate agreement could substantially reduce the global sea level rise seen by 2100, even though seas will still rise considerably under any scenario.
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“You have to have a deliberate and sustained implementation of Paris for 30 years before you see a significant difference in the rate of global sea level rise,” Colgan said.
The Trump administration has been divided over whether to stick with the president’s campaign pledge and withdraw the United States from that agreement. Because of the upcoming G-7 meeting in May, where Trump is likely to be pressed on climate change, many observers expect a decision relatively soon.
It is unclear how the United States may react to the new Arctic report at the upcoming Arctic council meeting — the U.S. is currently chairing the council — or whether this will also put any additional pressure on the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, scientists studying the planet’s ice and its seas continue their work.
“If you look at the history of sea level rise projections over the last 20 years, they’re going up through time,” said Colgan. “Not just because of sea level actually rising, but also because of our understanding of the processes improving through time.”

Press link for more: Washington Post

Why I March #ClimateChange #auspol 

Why I March: Climate Change And Migration Have Everything To Do With Each Other

By Thanu Yakupitiyage 

It’s pretty ironic that among Donald Trump’s first policies on his agenda were a crackdown on immigrant communities, followed by the dismantling of climate and environmental protections.

 By rolling back the little progress the U.S. has made on climate change ― as well as slashing the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency and lifting a moratorium on federal coal leases ― Trump’s administration is sending a global message: the U.S. (a country that considers itself a leader) will not meet any commitment to bring down greenhouse gas emissions or invest in clean energy jobs. 

Meanwhile, the world is warming at an alarming rate, with each year hotter than the last. And while the planet warms and more climate-related disasters take place ― droughts get longer, rain patterns shift, land becomes infertile, food and water become scarce, and sea levels rise ― more and more people are migrating due to climate change impacts. These are often the world’s poorest people, from regions that have done the least to contribute to the severity of the climate crisis.

By disregarding the necessity for bold action on climate change, the Trump administration and climate deniers everywhere (the United States, China, India, and Russia have the highest emission rates) are ensuring that communities across the globe continue to be displaced and have no choice but to migrate for their own survival.
While Trump and many in his administration throw brown and black immigrants under the bus using hateful and racist isolationist tactics, calling for “Muslim Bans” and empowering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to deport millions with little to no due process, his administration’s short-sighted and deliberate decisions to invest in the fossil fuel industry means that he is effectively aiding the process of creating more migrants.

It is estimated that by 2050, there will be 200 million people displaced by climate change-related impacts. According to the International Displacement Monitoring Centre, since 2008, an average of 26.4 million people per year have been displaced from their homes by disasters brought on by natural hazards. Climate change causes migration, and people migrate to flee the impacts of climate change on their homelands.
Make no mistake: people should have the right to migrate no matter what. 

However, the majority of migration happens because people need access to a better life.

 If there is no way for them to live in their homelands ravaged by climate change and other socio-economic impacts, they are left with no choice but to move.
In the United States, people in the Gulf are already being internally displaced due to rising sea levels.

We see this all over the world.

 In the United States, people in the Gulf are already being internally displaced due to rising sea levels. 

Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana, home to the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe, has lost 98% of its land and most of its population to coastal erosion and rising sea levels since 1955. 

The population of the island is now down to less than 85 residents from the previous hundreds. In January 2016, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funded The Isle de Jean Charles Resettlement Project, the first allocation of federal dollars to move 400 tribe members struggling with the impacts of climate change to inland locations. (This year, the Trump Administration is proposing to slash the HUD budget by 6 billion).
In Mexico, farmers have been dealing with severe drought for decades, leading to a loss of agricultural productivity.

 The outcome?

 More rural Mexicans are migrating to the United States for better futures.

 One study found climate change-driven changes to agricultural livelihoods have impacted the rate of emigration to the United States, estimating that by 2080, climate change-induced migration from Mexico could be up to $6.7 million. Another study argues that undocumented migration to the U.S from rural Mexico very much has to do with climate change and the declining livelihoods of farmers facing droughts and lack of rainfall.
And while many factors have led to the conflict in Syria, some argue that severe drought that started in 2006, worsened by a warming climate, drove Syrian farmers to abandon their crops and flock to cities, helping trigger the civil war. It is widely acknowledged, including by the Pentagon, that climate change acts as a threat multiplier, intensifying conflict and war. The United Nations estimates that there are over five million Syrian refugees now. Within his first 100 days in office, Donald Trump made two attempts to ban refugee resettlement to the U.S from Syria as part of his “Muslim Ban.”
The climate crisis has been decades in the making, but it’s worsening each day that politicians and their fossil fuel ilk sow doubt about its existence. Meanwhile, many Western nations are seeing a rise in xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment at the same time as the displacement of people hits a record high. The road ahead requires that we collectively do what’s right – we must stand up for the rights of migrants everywhere who deserve dignity and respect as they seek better lives for themselves and their families, as we build bold and just solutions to the climate crisis.
That’s why these major actions in the upcoming days are so important. On April 29th, I’ll join tens of thousands in the Peoples Climate March in Washington D.C. There are over 314 sister marches across the United States and around the world. On the 100th day under the Trump administration, we will surround the White House and put forward our vision to build bold solutions for climate, jobs, and justice. Together with a broad spectrum of communities including indigenous peoples, workers, immigrants, and communities of all backgrounds, we understand that mitigating the climate crisis is a matter of social, economic, racial, gender, and immigrant justice.
Then on May 1st, workers and immigrants everywhere will participate in the annual International Workers Day. In light of the assaults on immigrant communities in the United States, this May Day is of particular importance. (Here are just some of the events taking place.) We will harness the energy of the climate march back into our communities to build local solutions and to stand in solidarity with immigrants. We will resoundingly say, “No Ban, No Wall, No Raids,” and push back against a white supremacist and anti-immigrant agenda that aims to divide people, disrespecting the very workers that help uplift America.
There is hope. We’ve seen people fearlessly stand up for justice and it’s imperative that we keep up the momentum. Communities around the world are advocating for more clean energy solutions such as solar paneling and wind power, as well expanding green jobs. We saw the power of inspirational indigenous-led movements like #NoDAPL that called on thousands to push back against destructive pipeline projects. And thousands rose to the occasion to protect and defend immigrants impacted by Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban, as well as to continue to push back against unjust deportations through creating sanctuary spaces.
The clock is ticking for our planet and our communities. Only by seeing these issues as inherently connected can we rise up to demand a fair and just world.

Press link for more: Huffingtonpost.com

A mussel’s view on #ClimateChange #marchforscience #auspol 

To understand climate change, look at it from a mussel’s perspective

By Brian Helmuth

Brian Helmuth’s “robomussels” have been deployed around the world to measure the real temperatures experienced by mussels inside their shells.


Brian Helmuth, Northeastern University marine biologist.

The phrase “climate change” triggers images of a huge, global phenomenon. Rising seas. Drought. Ocean acidification.
But it’s actually experienced on a much smaller scale, by individual plants, animals and people.
And most of the world’s organisms experience it much differently than humans do.
“As humans, we have this really biased view of the world. Well over 95 percent of the organisms on Earth, they’re completely dependent on the ambient environment for their temperature,” says Northeastern University marine biologist Brian Helmuth.
Many of those organisms are stuck in one place for most of their lives and depend on ocean currents for food and oxygen.
Helmuth has built his career on trying to better understand how mussels experience temperature and other environmental changes, and he argues it’s essential to look beyond our own human perspective when thinking about climate change. If we don’t, he says, we’ll miss big parts of how our changing world will impact our food sources and surroundings.
“Unless we have a pretty good handle on how those nonhuman organisms are experiencing climate change, we’re not going to have any sense of how further climate change is likely to affect us,” Helmuth says.
Consider the mussel

Think about a mussel that’s stuck to a rock in a tidal area for most of its life. It can’t move to find shade when it’s hot out. It can’t control its own body temperature.
When the tide is low and the sun is out, its dark shell absorbs heat just like asphalt on a summer afternoon.
“You are sitting there in the blazing sun, you’re not going to be able to move,” Helmuth says. “You can’t escape the heat, you can’t escape the sun, you can’t go into a crevice like something like a crab.”
Mussels can literally start to cook on the rocks if they get too hot.
They also have to wait for water currents to bring them plankton to eat and oxygen to breathe.
“The closest thing I can think of to describe what that’s like, is, if you reached down into your chest cavity, you rip out your lungs, and you hold them above your head,” Helmuth says, “and you hope to God that the wind blows because if it doesn’t you’re going to suffocate.”
Stationary creatures evolve to withstand a wide range of climatic conditions, but in some cases, global warming is bringing them closer and closer to their limits.
And it’s not only temperature that’s changing: Water currents in the Atlantic Ocean are changing, too. The ocean is getting more acidic, so it’s harder for mollusks to form the shells that protect them from predators.
All these stressors add up to a harder life for mussels in some parts of the world, including the United States’ East Coast. Wild blue mussel populations have sharply declined in places like the Gulf of Maine in recent decades.
Why do we care?
Seafood is a major protein source, especially for the global poor. Farmed mussels are a $3 billion worldwide industry. Mussels, clams and oysters caught in the US alone were worth more than $400 million in 2015.
If we want the mussel industry and others to thrive, Helmuth argues we need to look at climate change from the right perspective.
Here’s an example: In the 1990s, Helmuth invented a gadget called a “robomussel,” which uses sensors to measure the temperature inside synthetic mussel shells designed to closely replicate the real thing.
Up until then, Helmuth says, scientists generally used to gauge mussel temperature by measuring surrounding air temperature. That is, after all, how we humans experience heat.
Helmuth worked with collaborators to plant these robomussels in mussel beds all around the world. And he made an important finding: Temperatures can grow much hotter inside mussel shells than outside of them, especially if the mussels are out of the water at low tide during the hottest part of the day.
“We can see animal temperatures of 100 degrees or more, even though the air temperature may be as low as 70 [or] 75,” Helmuth says.  
That means some cooler regions that may previously have been seen as hospitable to mussels in a warmer future might, in fact, grow too hot for them.  
“For example, we see places in central Oregon where they’ll really bake, even though it’s pretty far north because all the low tides are happening in the middle of the day,” Helmuth says.
In other places, like in Santa Barbara, California, summertime low tides tend to come in the middle of the night, so mussels there aren’t too stressed.
“If we’re only looking at the edges of species distributions, if we’re only looking at the southern distribution in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re probably missing a lot of the action, a lot of the damage,” Helmuth says.
Helmuth and his colleagues have used robomussel readings and other data to predict where mussels will thrive, and where they’ll likely die, in the future.
His methods are being used by scientists developing marine conservation plans on the US West Coast, and by collaborators working with the aquaculture industry in Italy.
Helmuth hopes that by shifting our perspective, we’ll be able to keep mussels in our waters, and on our menus, well into the future.

Press link for more: MSN.com

Arctic Ice Melt Could Cost Trillions by 2100 #auspol 

Arctic Ice Melt Could Cost The World Trillions Of Dollars By 2100

By Chris Di’Angelo
WASHINGTON — Climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is causing the Arctic to warm “faster than any other region on Earth,” according to a new international assessment. 

The thaw there is expected to have “major consequences for ecosystems and society,” potentially costing tens of trillions of dollars by the end of this century.
“The Arctic is showing clear evidence of evolving into a new state before mid-century,” with warmer, wetter and more variable conditions, according to the report from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program.
By the late 2030s, the report suggests the Arctic could be completely free of summer sea ice, likely resulting in more extreme weather in southern latitudes. 

Without immediate action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the melting of land-based Arctic ice could raise global sea levels an estimated 10 inches by 2100, threatening coastal communities around the globe. 
“The changes are cumulative, and so what we do in the next five years is really important to slowing down the changes that will happen in the next 30 or 40 years,” James Overland, an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and an author of the report, said during a media briefing Tuesday.

 “The emphasis on action and immediacy is one of the key findings [of the report].”
It’s yet another terrifying reminder of what’s in store if humans continue with business as usual. 

Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images
A polar bear looks for food at the edge of the pack ice north of Svalbard, Norway.

The new report adds to the findings of the 2011 “Snow, Water, Ice, Permafrost in the Arctic” study, also coordinated by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program.

 Dozens of scientists contributed to the latest assessment, which mainly covers the five years from 2011 to 2015.
The cumulative cost of the changes unfolding in the Arctic could range from $7 trillion to $90 trillion by 2100, researchers found. 
The 200-plus page report calls on governments around the world to take immediate action to cut carbon emissions and to follow through on commitments made as part of the historic Paris climate pact. 

Such steps could stabilize Arctic temperatures in the later half of the century and prevent nearly 8 inches of additional sea level rise, according to the report. 
“The main message that’s coming through in this report, the main message we’d like to convey, is that over the timescale of the next 50 to 100 years, human actions can make a difference in the trajectory of the Arctic climate system,” contributing author John Walsh, a chief scientist at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska, said in a video accompanying the report.

 “The way the cryosphere — ice and snow — will respond to climate change will depend a lot on the emissions scenarios, which basically are determined by human actions.” 


The assessment comes as President Donald Trump moves to roll back Obama-era policies aimed at reducing the United States’ carbon footprint and fighting climate change. 

Trump previously vowed to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, in which nearly 200 countries committed to cut carbon emissions (there is some indication that cooler heads may prevail).

 He has also dismissed climate change as “bullshit” and a “hoax.” And he has given encouragement to those who support oil and gas development in Arctic waters. 
Margaret Williams, managing director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Arctic Program, said the new report underscores the urgency of reining in emissions and allowing only sustainable development in the Arctic.
“An intact Arctic is critical to our future, but the planet’s air conditioner is in jeopardy,” Williams, who was not involved in the study, said in a statement. “The staggering pace of Arctic warming reinforces the need for scientists to continually engage policymakers and the public about these changes. Smart Arctic policy will come from sound science and shared responsibility.” 
Earlier this month, the International Union for Conservation of Nature called on world leaders to safeguard the Arctic from such threats as oil development and shipping. It highlighted seven marine areas worthy of protection.
This weekend, on Trump’s 100th day in office, thousands of Americans are expected to descend on Washington, D.C., to participate in the People’s Climate March, a demonstration against the president’s environmental policies.

Press link for more: Huffingtonpost.com

Earth Day: Climate Change, Conflict & Extreme Poverty #auspol 

Earth Day: Climate Change, Conflict and Extreme Poverty
By Kathleen Colson, Founder and CEO of the BOMA Project
Earth Day has become a worldwide call to action to address the many critical consequences of climate change and global warming: deforestation, species extinction, ocean acidification, rising seas, extreme weather. 

The impacts of climate change are also acutely felt in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) of Africa – over 40% of the continent. 

While residents of these regions are accustomed to extended dry seasons, the cycles of drought are now more severe. The United Nations announced in March that in East Africa, 20 million people are on the brink of starvation, a consequence of drought and severe civil conflicts, which uproot communities and disrupt the distribution of food aid by humanitarian organizations.

There is a direct causal relationship between climate change and conflict in these areas. 

As communities struggle over dwindling resources like grazing land and water, violence is too often the result.

 Meanwhile, humanitarian aid networks struggle to deliver essential supplies and services, and vulnerable populations become overwhelmed by the two-fold tragedies of famine and violence.

As a non-profit organization operating in Northern Kenya, where the government recently declared a national disaster in 23 counties due to drought, we see every day the impact that climate change has on the most vulnerable members of extreme-poverty populations—women and children.

 The result is costly humanitarian aid programs that create a cycle of dependence, treating residents as passive beneficiaries instead of participants in the building of the resilience of their communities. 

Humanitarian response is important and saves lives, but it must be coupled with proven, holistic, resilience-building programs to help people make a meaningful transition from dependence to self-reliance, even in the face of severe and frequent shocks such as climate change and conflict. 

Globally, the poverty graduation approach has been proven to break the cycle of extreme poverty and lift families into self-sufficiency.

 In the face of growing skepticism about foreign aid, and significantly reduced funds for humanitarian responses, the global community has a responsibility to invest in programs that help families withstand the impacts of climate change and build resilience in their communities. 

If we don’t, we will see repeated cycles of expensive humanitarian responses that do little to solve the long-term problem.

Press link for more: Huffington Post

March for Science or March for Reality?

March for Science or March for Reality?

By Laurance M. klauss

Shortly after the inauguration of Donald Trump as President, it was announced that a March for Science would be held Washington DC and in a host of other cities in the United States and around the world to protest the new Administration’s apparent anti-science agenda—from denial of climate change to dismantling the EPA, to budget priorities that will cut key science programs throughout the country—and to lobby for science-based policymaking as well as support for scientific research to address the challenges of the 21st century.


Meanwhile the Trump administration’s anti-science actions continue.

 Attorney General Sessions announced just this week that he was disbanding the National Commission on Forensic Science, which advises the federal government to enhance national standards in this area.
I have no idea how the Marches for Science—now over 400 in number across the globe—will play out, and how the media will interpret them.

 A series of worrisome tweets emanating from the March for Science twitter account over the past week, following similar early statements made on the groups website that were subsequently removed, claimed that scientific research promotes violence and inequity in society. 

These have been disavowed but the variety of mixed communications from leaders of the march over the past months suggests at the very least that the organization encompasses a wide diversity of agendas.
This is not surprising. After all, the scientific community has never been a one-issue community, like, say, the anti-abortion movement.

 And the current administration is pushing so many different buttons at the same time, with various attacks on fundamental rights, privacy, diversity, and freedom of expression, that these are bound to get caught up in any movement that promotes openness and free-inquiry, the hallmarks of the scientific enterprise.
Despite any such concerns, a host major science organizations, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science to Union of Concerned Scientists, have signed on as supporters of the March, and are urging their members to join their local marches and speak out for science-based public policy on April 22.


If the event becomes a ‘March By Scientists’ rather than a March for Science—namely if it is dominated by scientists labeling themselves as such, in costumes like white lab coats, rather than by members of the general public supporting evidence-based public policy—that too could be problematic. 

The March for science could then appear as a self-serving political lobbying effort by the scientific community to increase its funding base.
Let’s imagine that this is not the case, and the organizers are wildly successful in attracting hundreds of thousands or million of marchers across the globe this coming Saturday.

 It is still reasonable to wonder what the long-term impact of the marches might be. 

After all, following the worldwide March for Women, in which millions of people marched around the world in support of women’s rights, the Trump administration reacted with a deaf ear. 

Just this past week the President signed legislation allowing states and local governments to withhold federal funding for Planned Parenthood, for example.
The situation is different in this case however, and it may have nothing directly to do with science policy, or even in those areas where science should play a key role in affecting policy.
Every week, the alternative realities invoked by the Trump administration are being demonstrated, by events, to be vacuous. 

The administration claimed it would immediately end, and then fix, problems with Obamacare, and failed miserably. Donald Trump campaigned against foreign military intervention, and this week alone initiated unilateral bombings in Syria and Afghanistan. 

Donald Trump pledged to immediately revise NAFTA, forcing Canada and Mexico to the table to make a better deal. 

Nothing has happened.
He promised Mexico would pay for a wall. 

However the first $2 billion installment for a wall was included in the budget proposal he presented to Congress, compensated by cuts in funding in key areas of science, but also in support of the arts and humanities in this country.
He promised to drain the swamp, but he removed restrictions on lobbyists entering government, and as the New York Times reported just this week, he has filled his administration with them, including individuals who are already facing conflict of interest allegations because of their former activities lobbying the organizations they now run.
He lobbied against Wall Street, but former Wall Street leaders dominate his cabinet and economic advisory groups.
He said he would release his taxes after his inauguration and has not. 

And he claimed he would immediate increase growth and the economy, but as the Wall Street Journal reported just this week, projections for growth of the economy have decreased sharply in recent months, as have retail sales, and the consumer price index.


These are just a few of the immediate and obvious inconsistencies. 

Further, as administration policies on energy and the environment take effect, citizens in communities with drinking water at risk from environmental threats will find that programs to avert further deterioration have been cut, and coal mining communities will find that the natural gas glut has much more to do with the continuing demise of coal than Obama’s efforts to improve air quality in the US by restricting coal plants, which, whatever Trump may claim, are bad for the environment. 

(Indeed as the New York Times reported this week, more than 200,000 tons of coal ash residue each year are produced by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and this has been making its way into groundwater, potentially affecting drinking water supplies, even as the EPA is now delaying compliance with rules enacted to enhance the safe storage and disposal of coal ash.).
The very essence of science, indeed that which is motivating the March for Science, involves skeptical inquiry and a reliance on empirical evidence and constant testing to weed out false hypotheses and unproductive or harmful technologies as we move toward a better understanding of reality: A willingness, in short, to force beliefs and policies to conform to the evidence of reality, rather than vice versa.


Unlike its perception among much of the public and its presentation in many schools today, science is not simply a body of facts, but rather a process for deriving what the facts are. 

This process has helped us uncover hidden secrets of the Universe that never would have been dreamed of and producing technologies that have not only been largely responsible for the standard of living enjoyed by the first world today, but have also increased lifespans around the world. 

With this process the very possibility of “alternative facts” disappears.
By providing such a constant and sharp explicit and observable contrast between policy and empirical reality, the Trump administration can encourage a new public skepticism about political assertions vs. reality, and a demand for evidence before endorsing policies and the politicians who espouse them—the very things that most marchers on April 22nd will be demanding. 

This skepticism is beginning to manifest itself in data. 

A Gallup poll result on April 17 indicated that only 45 percent of the public believe President Trump’s promises, a drop of 17 percent since February.
In this regard, it is worth remembering the words of the Nobel Prizewinning physicist, Richard Feynman, who said: For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. 

Or, as the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick more colorfully put it: Reality is that which continues to exist even when you stop believing in it.
The Trump Administration is discovering that obfuscation, denial, and hype may work when selling real estate, but in public arena eventually reality has a way of biting you in the butt. And the public is watching. 

The March for Science may be lucky to capitalize upon a growing awareness that there is no Wizard behind the curtain. The number of marchers, their backgrounds, or even their myriad messages may not drive the success of the March. Rather, it may be driven by the harsh examples coming out every day that reality exists independent of the desires or claims of those in power. 

In this case, the greatest asset the March for Science has going for it may be Donald Trump himself.

Press link for more: Scientific American

Scientists March For Truth. #auspol 

Scientists to take to the streets in global march for truth.

By Mark Lynas
March for Science on 22 April will see scientists and supporters at more than 500 locations stand up for evidence-based thinking.


Scientists and science supporters will take to the streets in a global March for Science on 22 April . 

What began as a small Facebook group in the US capital, Washington DC has spiralled into a global phenomenon that will now see marches and other events in more than 500 locations around the world, from Seattle to Seoul.
It is great news that so many people are prepared to stand up and defend the need for evidence-based thinking and the scientific method. 

But it is also a sad comment on our times that a March for Science is needed at all. 


Post-truth populism has infected democracies around the world, scientific objectivity is under threat from multiple sources and there seems a real danger of falling into a modern dystopian dark age.
It is clear that the old days of scientists staying in the lab, publishing papers in scholarly journals, and otherwise letting the facts speak for themselves are over. 

As the Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes reminds us: “The facts don’t speak for themselves because we live in a world where so many people are trying to silence facts.” 

In her book, Merchants of Doubt, Oreskes wrote about these efforts from the tobacco industry onwards; science denialist attempts that are paralleled in today’s climate sceptic, anti-vaccine and anti-GMO movements.


These campaigners against truth take great pains to deny the existence of scientific consensus on their different issues. 

The fact that 97% of the peer-reviewed literature on climate change supports the consensus that most of global warming is human-induced is dismissed as mere elitism. 

But as Dr Sarah Evanega, director of the Alliance for Science at Cornell, writes: “The values we defend are those of the Enlightenment, not the establishment.” 

Expertise is real, and we reject it at our peril.

Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the March for Science, and what may prove to be its most enduring legacy, is its truly global nature. 

Science is not western; it is everywhere and for everyone. 

I have worked with Alliance for Science colleagues to help get marches off the ground in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Uganda, Venezuela, Chile and other places.

 In between long Skype calls about logistics, fundraising, and media outreach I watched the lights flash on as the number of marches on the global map kept on increasing. 

It was like watching the world light up with knowledge.
Bangladesh March for Science’s lead organiser Arif Hossain says: “I am marching to let the world know that we are united for science in Bangladesh. 

We have 160 million people to feed in the changed climate, and together we will make a better day with science and innovation.”
Although the issues of most concern vary in different locations, appreciation of the need for science is global. As Nkechi Isaac, an organiser of the March for Science in Abuja, Nigeria, says: “Science is revolutionary.

 It holds the key to constant development and improvement for addressing climate change, food shortage and challenges in medicine. Science holds the solution to our food security.”
Nigerians can testify to the tragic effects of anti-science activism. Efforts to eradicate polio in the country were held up for years because of conspiracy theories spread by those suspicious of modern medicine and vaccines. People die when science is denied.
So here’s what we will be marching for.

 It’s time to enter the post-post-truth era. 

And there is no time to lose.

• Mark Lynas is a science and environment writer and a visiting fellow at the Alliance for Science at Cornell University.

Press link for more: The Guardian

The Science that reveals #ClimateChange is Sound. #auspol 

Valley Voice: The science that reveals climate change is sound

By Dwight Fine 

In his April 10 Valley Voice, “Another opinion on climate science,” Larry Wilhelmsen expresses skepticism over climate change and bases that skepticism, in part, on a petition signed by “31,000 people with various science-related degrees,” and on two publications by atmospheric scientists. 

This illustrates the denialist techniques of “fake experts” and “magnified minority.”
The “petition signed by 31,000 scientists” has long since been discredited. 

The petition was sent out by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, a small group calling itself a research organization. 

Anyone with a bachelors degree or higher in a science-related field was invited to sign. 

Examination of the signatures showed that only about 0.1% of the signers had ever had any involvement with climate science research.

I do not feel that my own Ph.D. in chemistry qualifies me to speak with authority on climatology; instead, I look for the consensus of scientists who have actually done research in the field and have published their results in peer-reviewed journals.

Studies of publications of climatologists have been carried out at Queensland University, the University of Chicago and Princeton University. These studies examined some 12,000 publications.

 The average for the studies showed that 97 percent of climate scientists supported the hypothesis that global warming is real and mainly induced by human activity.

Furthermore, some 30 major scientific societies such as the American Chemical, Physical and Geological Societies have now endorsed this hypothesis, as have the national science academies of 80 countries. Are we to believe that all of these scientists, societies and academies are engaged in a gigantic conspiracy to perpetrate a hoax?
Wilhelmsen states that climate has changed forever and that advocates of human-induced climate change have stopped calling it global warming because warming was stopping. Stopping? 2016 was the warmest year on record, according to data reported by NASA and NOAA, and 15 of the 16 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. Yes, the climate has always changed, but it has never changed at such an abrupt rate as we are observing now. The term ”climate change” came into use so as to be more inclusive of events other than increased surface temperatures.
Such events include:

1) increased severity of blizzards, tornadoes, flooding and wildfires;

2) sea level rise;

3) warming of oceans and increasing acidification of ocean waters due to increased concentrations of carbonic acid; this has led to extensive destruction of coral reefs;

4) declining Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets;

5) declining Arctic sea ice – we now have cruise ships sailing the once impenetrable Northwest Passage;

6) retreating of glaciers in the Himalayas, Andes, Alps, Rockies and Alaska.


As to the “pleasures” we owe to fossil fuels the Wilhelmsen referenced, such pleasures are becoming limited. Reserves of coal and oil are finite and non-renewable, and these fuels become increasingly difficult, expensive and hazardous to extract as reserves are depleted. Landscapes are littered with abandoned strip mines and oilfields, often laden with toxic chemicals. Renewable energy would seem to offer far greater potential in the way of jobs and development.
For readers confused by denialist rhetoric in regard to climate change, I recommend the websites climate.nasa.gov and skeptical science.com.
Dwight Fine is a retired research chemist living in Palm Springs. Email him at dwigf@msn.com.

Press link for more: Elpaso Times

Climate of Hope #auspol #doughnuteconomics 

Michael Bloomberg Says Cities Must Now Lead The Way On Climate Change

Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope 

Outside of Washington, D.C., however, the prospects for climate action look more favorable. You can point to what’s happening at the city level, where mayors are promoting low-carbon buildings, electric cars, and more resilient infrastructure. You can point to the energy industry in general, which seems more concerned with market signals than political signals. And you can point to how strong majorities of Americans want politicians to accept and face up to global warming.
In their new book, Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope, the former executive director of the Sierra Club, argue that a beyond-D.C. approach offers the best opportunity for dealing with climate change. Mayors have more autonomy than national leaders, they say. They’re more accountable to voters for dealing with climate-related problems like pollution and extreme weather events. They originate most of the emissions that cause climate change, and they face the greatest threats from its impacts. And urban populations are generally more supportive of climate action than rural ones.
“Mayors tend to be more pragmatic and less ideological than national legislators, because they are more accountable to voters, and more visible,” former New York City Mayor Bloomberg writes. “The public can see what mayors do, while it’s harder to understand what elected officials at the state level do . . . and much harder at the federal level.”
Empower Cities To Lead
If cities are going to be centers of climate action, they need more tools for the job. “Giving more cities authority to take action on their own–particularly on energy and transportation–is one of the most important steps we can take to address climate change,” Bloomberg writes in the book.
If the Trump administration decides to leave the Paris climate agreement, Bloomberg says U.S. cities should consider joining the accord in their own capacity. “Washington will not have the last word on the fate of the Paris Agreement in the U.S.–mayors will, together with business leaders and citizens,” he wrote in a New York Times op-ed last year.
That independence could also include allowing them to make choices independent of state or federal authority on where they buy electricity (only six states currently sanction this). Twenty-five U.S. cities have now committed to buy all their power from renewable sources.
Or it could mean borrowing money for climate investments more easily. Only 4% of the world’s cities currently have their own credit ratings, enabling them to enter financial markets, Pope says. Others don’t have the power to raise taxes, including many in Africa and South America.

Press link for more: fastcompany.com

The Solution Is Global Equality #auspol 

The Solution To Extremism Is Global Equality

By Stephan Said
The solution to extremism surrounding us today is global equality. 

To stop the religious, ethnic, and political extremism killing people from Colorado Springs, to Baghdad, San Bernardino and Bamako — to stop the environmental extremism that is burning up our planet — we must stop global inequality, imperialism and greed.
The entire human race is faced with a great ideological dilemma. 

We cannot separate ISIL, planned-parenthood shooters, or global warming. From extreme violence to extreme weather, extremism is rising like the oceans around us because the moral bankruptcy of our troubled world is pushing people and our planet to extremes — suicide bombings and natural disasters.
What we are witnessing is the failure of all existing ideologies and socio-economic systems on earth to have created a sustainable society in which we live in peace. 

We are all responsible for this failure. 

We have destroyed the cradle of civilization, killed millions and created the biggest refugee crisis in generations, for the control of the oil that is making the ice caps melt. 

Anyone who is angry is justified.
However mistaken violent extremism is as a response, it is offering would-be recruits a way to do something to change this unjust world not tomorrow, but today. 

If we want to win this war, we can only do so by lifting a higher, universal ideology by which humankind can live in peace with each other and with nature.
This ideological war is as old as human civilization, and so is the answer. 

No civilization is sustainable unless all of its members are treated as equals, and unless that civilization lives in harmony with nature.

Writers such as Arundhati Roy, Thomas Piketty, Nicolas Henin and Naomi Klein have drawn these connections in recent articles. But, the fact is, humankind has known the deal for thousands of years. We don’t have time to waste restating the obvious. It is urgent. The human race is facing its long-anticipated day of reckoning with its own failure to create a just world.
We have to pick up the torch where Martin Luther King, Jr. left it. 

The cause of global warming and of rising violence between us on earth is due to social and economic inequality. The answer is to organize a mass, global non-violent movement for equality.
We must get beyond the institutional language of a “more equitable world.” Equality is a universal way of being that must become a new socio-economic order that commits to and promises the idea that all people everywhere live equally with each other and nature.
We must demand a united global society across borders. 

We must demand every human being is cared for, fed, housed, educated, given equal voice and dignity, everywhere. We must demand a world in which humankind restores everything we take from nature. 

We must demand that we leave our world better than we found it, not selfishly for our children, but out of deference to the laws of nature itself.


First and foremost we must demand this of ourselves, as it will take unbelievable tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness to do so. 

Then, we must demand this of our governments, religions, political parties, and economic forces, and we must be willing to go into the streets non-violently demanding this global shift.
When we accept that we are all equals with each other and nature, we will not be able to be manipulated and separated from each other by false notions such as ethnicity, religiosity, nationality, or superiority of any kind. This is the only way to peace.
Peace is not impossible. 

I know, because I am the impossible.

 My aunt and cousins from Mosul, Iraq are now refugees because ISIL occupied their next-door neighbors’ house. 

The U.S. sent fighter jets and bombed it to the ground. They had to abandon everything and are somewhere across the border in Turkey.
My father’s Iraqi, Muslim family are refugees for the same reason that my mother’s Austrian, part-Catholic part-Jewish family were refugees and imprisoned or died in Dachau, Mauthausen and Auschwitz.

 Including my cousins’ children today, 6 consecutive generations of my family have been refugees as Catholics, Jews, and Muslims, because of inequality.
With all sides of the prevailing conflict consuming our world today within me, I’ve spent my life studying the single cause of war and hatred simply to be at peace with and construct my own identity. Inequality is the single cause of the chaos enveloping our world.
The majority of us on earth, in every country, in every religion, of every ethnicity knows what we have to do. 

Many people, parents, teachers, governments, and organizations are already working on the systemic shift necessary for the survival of humankind and our planet.

 I have given my entire career and written countless songs to build such a movement. But now, we must come together and turn our demand into action.
We are faced with the task of creating a new global socio-economic model sufficient to create sustainable peace on earth. A mass non-violent movement demanding that all people live equally with each other, loving each other, caring for our planet, is the only solution. 

We have to start today.
Press link for more: Huffington Post