San Paulo

Climate Change is an existential risk. 

Human-induced climate change is an existential risk to human civilisation: an adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.

Special precautions that go well beyond conventional risk management practice are required if the “fat tails” — the increased likelihood of very large impacts — are to be adequately dealt with.

 The potential consequences of these lower-probability, but higher-impact, events would be devastating for human societies.

The bulk of climate research has tended to underplay these risks, and exhibited a preference for conservative projections and scholarly reticence, albeit increasing numbers of scientists have spoken out in recent years on the dangers of such an approach.


Climate policymaking and the public narrative are significantly informed by the important work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

 However, IPCC reports also tend toward reticence and caution, erring on the side of “least drama”, and downplaying more extreme and more damaging outcomes. 

 Whilst this has been understandable historically, given the pressure exerted upon the IPCC by political and vested interests, it is now becoming dangerously misleading, given the acceleration of climate impacts globally.

 What were lower-probability, higher-impact, events are now becoming more likely.

This is a particular concern with potential climatic “tipping points” — passing critical thresholds which result in step changes in the system — such as the polar ice sheets (and hence sea levels), and permafrost and other carbon stores, where the impacts of global warming are non-linear and difficult to model at present.


 Under-reporting on these issues contributes to the “failure of imagination” that is occurring today in our understanding of, and response to, climate change.

If climate policymaking is to be soundly based, a reframing of scientific research within an existential risk-management framework is now urgently required.

 This must be taken up not just in the work of the IPCC, but also in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations if we are to address the real climate challenge.

Current processes will not deliver either the speed or the extent of change required.

Three decades ago, when serious debate on human-induced climate change began at the global level, a great deal of statesmanship was on display. 

 There was a preparedness to recognise that this was an issue transcending nation states, ideologies and political parties which had to be addressed proactively in the long-term interests of humanity as a whole, even if the existential nature of the risk it posed was far less clear cut than it is today.


As global institutions were established to take up this challenge, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and the extent of change this would demand of the fossil-fuel-dominated world order became clearer, the forces of resistance began to mobilise.

 Today, as a consequence, and despite the diplomatic triumph of the 2015 Paris Agreement , the debate around climate change policy has never been more dysfunctional, indeed Orwellian.
In his book 1984, George Orwell describes a double-speak totalitarian state where most of the population accepts “the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. 

 By lack of understanding they remained sane.”
Orwell could have been writing about climate change and policymaking. 

 International agreements talk of limiting global warming to 1.5–2°C, but in reality they set the world on a path of 3–5°C.


 Goals are reaffirmed, only to be abandoned. 

 Coal is “clean”. 


 Just 1°C of warming is already dangerous, but this cannot be said. 

 The planetary future is hostage to myopic national self-interest. 

 Action is delayed on the assumption that as yet unproven technologies will save the day, decades hence. 

 The risks are existential, but it is “alarmist” to say so.

 A one-in-two chance of missing a goal is normalised as reasonable.

Climate policymaking for years has been cognitively dissonant, “a flagrant violation of reality”.

 So it is unsurprising that there is a lack of a understanding amongst the public and elites of the full measure of the climate challenge. 

 Yet most Australians sense where we are heading: three-quarters of Australians see climate change as catastrophic risk and half see our way of life ending within the next 100 years.

Politics and policymaking have norms: rules and practices, assumptions and boundaries, that constrain and shape them. 

 In recent years, the previous norms of statesmanship and long-term thinking have disappeared, replaced by an obsession with short-term political and commercial advantage Climate policymaking is no exception.

Since 1992, short-term economic interest has trumped environmental and future human needs.  

The world today emits 48% more carbon dioxide (CO2 ) from the consumption of energy than it did 25 years ago, and the global economy has more than doubled in size.

 The UNFCCC strives ” to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner”, but every year humanity’s ecological footprint becomes larger and less sustainable.

 Humanity now requires the biophysical capacity of 1.7 planets annually to survive as it rapidly chews up the natural capital.

A fast, emergency-scale transition to a post-fossil fuel world is absolutely necessary to address climate change. But this is excluded from consideration by policymakers because it is considered to be too disruptive. 

 The orthodoxy is that there is
time for an orderly economic transition within the current short-termist political paradigm. 

 Discussion of what would be safe –– less warming that we presently experience –– is non-existent. 

 And so we have a policy failure of epic proportions.

Policymakers, in their magical thinking, imagine a mitigation path of gradual change, to be constructed over many decades in a growing, prosperous world.

 The world not imagined is the one that now exists: of looming financial instability; of a global crisis of political legitimacy; of a sustainability crisis that extends far beyond climate change to include all the fundamentals of human existence and most significant planetary boundaries (soils, potable water, oceans, the atmosphere, biodiversity, and so on); and of severe global energy sector dislocation.

In anticipation of the upheaval that climate change would impose upon the global order, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was established by the UN in 1988, charged with regularly assessing the global consensus on climate science as a basis for policymaking.

 The IPCC Assessment Reports ( AR ), produced every 5–6 years, play a large part in the public framing of the climate narrative: new reports are a global media event.

 AR5 was produced in 2013-14, with AR6 due in 2022. 

 The IPCC has done critical, indispensable work of the highest standard in pulling together a periodic consensus of what must be the most exhaustive scientific investigation in world history. 

 It does not carry out its own research, but reviews and collates peer-reviewed material from across the spectrum of this incredibly complex area, identifying key issues and trends for policymaker consideration.

However, the IPCC process suffers from all the dangers of consensus-building in such a wide-ranging and complex arena.

 For example, IPCC reports, of necessity, do not always contain the latest available information.

 Consensus-building can lead to “least drama”, lowest-common-denominator outcomes which overlook critical issues. 

 This is particularly the case with the “fat-tails” of probability distributions, that is, the high-impact but relatively low-probability events where scientific knowledge is more limited. 

 Vested interest pressure is acute in all directions; climate denialists accuse the IPCC of alarmism, whereas climate action proponents consider the IPCC to be far too conservative. 

 To cap it all, the IPCC conclusions are subject to intense political oversight before being released, which historically has had the effect of substantially watering-down sound scientific findings.

These limitations are understandable, and arguably were not of overriding importance in the early period of the IPCC.

 However, as time has progressed, it is now clear that the risks posed by climate change are far greater than previously anticipated. 

 We have moved out of the twilight period of much talk but relatively limited climate impacts. Climate change is now turning nasty, as we have witnessed in 2017 in the USA, South Asia, the Middle East and Europe, with record-breaking heatwaves and wildfires, more intense flooding and more damaging hurricanes.


The distinction between climate science and risk is now the critical issue, for the two are not the same.

 Scientific reticence — a reluctance to spell out the full risk implications of climate science in the absence of perfect information — has become a major problem. 

 Whilst this is understandable, particularly when scientists are continually criticised by denialists and political apparatchiks for speaking out, it is extremely dangerous given the “fat tail” risks of climate change.

 Waiting for perfect information, as we are continually urged to do by political and economic elites, means it will be too late to act.

Irreversible, adverse climate change on the global scale now occurring is an existential risk to human civilisation.

 Many of the world’s top climate scientists quoted in this report well understand these implications — James Hansen, Michael E. Mann, John Schellnhuber, Kevin Anderson, Eric Rignot, Naomi Oreskes, Kevin Trenberth, Michael Oppenheimer, Stefan Rahmstorf and others — and are forthright about their findings, where we are heading, and the limitations of IPCC reports.

This report seeks to alert the wider community and leaders to these limitations and urges change to the IPCC approach, and to the wider UNFCCC negotiations. It is clear that existing processes will not deliver the transformation to a low-carbon world in the limited time now available.
We urgently require a reframing of scientific research within an existential risk-management framework. This requires special precautions that go well beyond conventional risk management. 

 Like an iceberg, there is great danger “In what lies beneath”.

Press link for more: What lies beneath Report

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5 Charts show human impact on extreme weather. #StopAdani #auspol 

These 5 charts explore the human impact on extreme weather

Flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey encompass the Motiva Enterprises LLC in Port Arthur, Texas, U.S. August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif – RC1254851E70

It’s not an exact science, but it’s science: humans are partly to blame for worsening weather
Linking specific extreme weather events to global warming is difficult, and this plays into the hands of climate-change deniers.
In the past couple of weeks, tropical storms have devastated communities around the world. Hurricane Harvey has wreaked havoc in Texas, destroying homes and claiming lives.

 Typhoon Hato has left a similar trail of destruction in southern China and Hong Kong.
There is a strong argument to be made that humans are at least partly responsible for both of these extreme weather events.

 The problem is it’s often difficult to produce tangible evidence.
What we do know for sure, however, is that climate change enhances storm surges and causes flooding – both of which can have devastating consequences.

Interstate highway 45 is submerged from the effects of Hurricane Harvey seen during widespread flooding in Houston, Texas, U.S. August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RC1BA1656450    

Parts of Texas remain submerged in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Spike in carbon emissions

This chart, which was produced by NASA, shows the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide – or C02, to give it its chemical formula – over the past 400,000 years.
As human activity gathered momentum in the mid 20th century – in the form of growing populations and the rise of heavy industry – carbon emissions also followed an upward trajectory.
The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide has created a warming effect. This has coincided with an uptick in the number and scale of natural disasters such as droughts, floods, wildfires and storms.
    

CO2 levels have increased rapidly since the 1950s
Image: NASA
These countries produce the most C02

It will come as no surprise to learn that China and the United States are the most prolific carbon emitters. Both countries are among those with the biggest populations, the most factories and the highest number of cars.
    

China produces more carbon emissions than any other country
Image: US Energy Information Administration

The same countries suffer the most natural disasters
Interestingly, it is those same countries that top the table in terms of carbon emissions that have experienced the highest number of hydrological, meteorological and climatological disasters in recent years.
According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), China, the US and India were among the countries worst hit by extreme weather events from 1995 to 2015.
Large parts of Africa and Europe have so far been relatively unscathed by the onslaught of these types of natural disasters.
    

China, the US and India have suffered the highest number of natural disasters in recent times
Image: UNISDR

More floods than ever before
As the atmosphere gets warmer it absorbs more moisture – this works out at roughly 7% more for every 1℃ rise in temperature. The end result is worse flooding.
Higher sea levels in turn lead to bigger storm surges, such as those that have caused devastation in Texas and southern China.
It’s no coincidence that an increase in carbon emissions coincides with a steady rise in the number of hydrological disasters over recent years.
    

2016 saw an increase in the number of hydrological disasters around the world
Image: Munich Re
The cost of catastrophe


It has been estimated previously that flooding could cost coastal cities around $1 trillion per year by the year 2050.
Yet again, it is towns and cities in the US and China that are expected to bear the brunt.

Press link for more: WEForum.org

Adani will Hasten Climate Catastrophe “See you at the barricades” #StopAdani 

The Adani coalmine will hasten a climate catastrophe. 

As faith leaders, we must act | Jonathan Keren-Black and Tejopala Rawls
Wednesday 23 August 2017 15.10 AEST

Australian Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg


‘Josh Frydenberg paints the Adani issue as more complex than we may appreciate.’ Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Earlier in August, six faith leaders met Australia’s environment and energy minister, Josh Frydenberg. Our group included Bishop Philip Huggins, the president of the National Council of Churches, a Uniting Church reverend, a rabbi, a Catholic nun and an ordained Buddhist. This is not the start of a joke, but a polite and serious exchange.
It might seem that religion has little to do with the environment or energy. Yet each of us at the meeting wanted to raise a matter that, when we consider the deepest values of our respective traditions, is of grave moral concern: the proposed Adani coalmine. We were there to ask the minister to revoke its environmental licence.

The delegation reminded the minister that a number of faith leaders from across Australia wrote him an open letter about it on 5 May, to which he had not yet replied.
Around the world a great many people of faith are deeply concerned about the climate crisis. 

Despite the reactionary nature of some in the United States, faith leaders are almost completely united and supportive of the science.

 The pope has issued his famous encyclical, Laudato Si, faith leaders were part of the successful movement in the US to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, and the Dalai Lama has spoken of the need for strong action. The co-founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, is a mild-mannered Methodist Sunday school teacher.
Of course, the faith traditions do not have a monopoly on morality. 

There are very proud secular and indigenous traditions in this struggle that we honour and respect. 

Yet we do have much to offer when it comes to ethics and morals. And on this issue, there is a significant groundswell.
In Buddhism, the first precept is non-harm, or loving kindness, towards all beings. The tradition also points out the profound interconnectedness of all things, including all forms of life.


In Judaism, the first portion of the Torah, B’reshit, makes it clear that our human responsibility is to look after God’s world. We may use it, we may eat from it, but it is clear that we must maintain it in a healthy state to pass on to generations to come. In short, thousands of years before the term was coined, Torah has the strongest of mandates for sustainability.
Whichever way you look at it, this is the great moral issue of our time
Muslim leaders in the UK say: Allah in His Mercy has placed an amanat (trust) upon all of humanity to safeguard and nurture creation. He has appointed humanity as guardians of His creation, as “a khalifa (steward)” [Qur’an 2:30].
In the US, the evangelical Christian and climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe states: “The poor, the disenfranchised, those already living on the edge, and those who contributed least to this problem are also those at greatest risk to be harmed by it. That’s not a scientific issue; that’s a moral issue.”
Pope Francis writes in his encyclical: “Politics and business have been slow to react in a way commensurate with the urgency of the challenges facing our world … Those who will have to suffer the consequence of what we are trying to hide will not forget this failure of conscience and responsibility.”
Whichever way you look at it, this is the great moral issue of our time. Nothing less than the stability of civilisation and the viability of life on Earth is at stake.
Frydenberg told our delegation that, if Australian coal were not burnt in India, dirtier coal would be burnt instead, resulting in greater carbon emissions. We pointed out that one argument against the abolition of slavery in Great Britain was that they would just have lost market share to the Dutch and the French, who would apparently have treated the slaves worse. The minister rejected the comparison.


Frydenberg paints the Adani issue as more complex than we may appreciate. We need the employment. We point out how a fraction of the promised subsidies could employ more people, in clean, renewable energy jobs, while further coral bleaching and 500 extra ships per year through the reef would jeopardise thousands of tourism jobs. We emphasise the crucial truth that the world can only produce around 700bn tonnes more CO2 if we are to avoid climate catastrophe, and that global emissions are currently around 50bn tonnes a year, so time is extremely limited. Adani alone will add 4.6bn tonnes. We do appreciate the complexities; even so, this mine ultimately involves a simple moral choice.
Aside from the dangers of rising temperatures and seas, more intense storms, floods and droughts, World Health Organisation figures show that over 100,000 people each year will also die prematurely from lung diseases from burning the coal from this reef-wrecking mega-mine. The minister seems unmoved.
Rabbi Keren-Black asked the minister what he thought were the views of climate scientists employed by the Australian government about building this mine. Momentarily, Frydenberg seemed lost for words.


As the meeting came to a close, our Buddhist member, Tejopala, told the minister that he would stand in front of machinery if digging started and that other members of his order had said the same thing. Reverend Sangster concurred.
Faith communities have real influence. The minister probably only granted us a meeting because we are religious leaders. Perhaps the two most powerful things people of faith can do are to encourage moving our accounts from banks and superannuation funds that invest in fossil fuels, and to practice non-violent direct action – peacefully obstructing the worst coal, oil and gas projects by physically standing in their way.
As we stepped outside the meeting, Reverend Sangster turned to the group and said: “Well, then. See you at the barricades.” Indeed.
Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black is an environmental adviser within the Progressive Jewish Movement. Tejopala Rawls is a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order. If you would like to get involved in a faith-based response to the Adani coalmine or climate action generally please contact faithsforclimatejustice@gmail.com

Press link for more: The Guardian.com

Renewables Could Eliminate 99% of CO2 Emissions by 2050 #auspol #StopAdani

A New Roadmap to Renewable Dependence Could Eliminate 99% of CO2 Emissions by 2050

Far-Reaching and Inclusive
Setting goals to reduce carbon emissions and then figuring out a way to achieve those goals is difficult for any country.

 Now, imagine doing that for not just one nation but 139 of them.
That’s the enormous task a team of researchers led by Stanford University environmental engineer Mark Jacobson decided to take on. 

He and his colleagues built a roadmap for 139 countries across the globe that would lead to them relying solely on renewable energy by 2050, and they’ve published that plan today in Joule.
renewable energy solar energy wind energy water energy


Image Credit: The Solutions Project

The 139 countries weren’t picked arbitrarily. 

The researchers chose them because data on each was publicly available through the International Energy Agency. Combined, the chosen nations also produce more than 99 percent of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.
To develop their roadmap, the researchers first analyzed each country. 

They looked at how much raw renewable energy resources each one has, and then they determined the number of wind, water, and solar energy generators needed for that country to reach 80 percent renewable energy dependence by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.


The researchers also calculated the amount of land and rooftop area such power sources would require, as well as how a transition to renewables could reduce each nation’s energy demand and costs. 

Aside from the energy sector, the team also took into account the transportation, heating/cooling, industrial, and agriculture/fishing/forestry industries of each of the 139 countries while creating their roadmap.

“Aside from eliminating emissions and avoiding 1.5 degrees Celsius [2.7 degrees Fahrenheit] global warming and beginning the process of letting carbon dioxide drain from the Earth’s atmosphere, transitioning eliminates 4-7 million air pollution deaths each year and creates over 24 million long-term, full-time jobs by these plans,” Jacobson said in a press release.

“What is different between this study and other studies that have proposed solutions is that we are trying to examine not only the climate benefits of reducing carbon but also the air pollution benefits, job benefits, and cost benefits,” he added.
Benefits Beyond the Climate
As each of these 139 countries is unique, their paths to 100 percent renewable energy are necessarily unique as well. 

For instance, nations with greater land-to-population ratios, such as the U.S., the E.U., and China, have an easier path to renewable dependence and could achieve it at a faster rate than small but highly populated countries surrounded by oceans, such as Singapore.
For all countries, however, the goal is the same: 100 percent dependence on renewables.

According to the study, this transition would lessen worldwide energy consumption as renewables are more efficient than their fossil fuel-powered counterparts.
It would also result in the creation of 24 million long-term jobs, reduce the number of air pollution deaths by 4 to 7 million annually, and stabilize energy prices.

 The world could potentially save more than $20 trillion in health and climate costs each year.
And these 139 nations now know exactly what they need to do to reach this goal and all the benefits that come with it.
“Both individuals and governments can lead this change.

 Policymakers don’t usually want to commit to doing something unless there is some reasonable science that can show it is possible, and that is what we are trying to do,” Jacobson explained. 

“There are other scenarios. 

We are not saying that there is only one way we can do this, but having a scenario gives people direction.”
For co-author Mark Delucchi from the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, the study sends a very clear message: “Our findings suggest that the benefits are so great that we should accelerate the transition to wind, water, and solar, as fast as possible, by retiring fossil-fuel systems early wherever we can.”

Press link for more: Futurism.com

A Billion Climate Migrants by 2050 #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol #Refugees 

Climate Migrants Might Reach One Billion by 2050
By Baher Kamal
ROME, Aug 21 2017 (IPS) – Imagine a world with as many as one billion people facing harsh climate change impacts resulting in devastating droughts and/or floods, extreme weather, destruction of natural resources, in particular lands, soils and water, and the consequence of severe livelihoods conditions, famine and starvation.


Although not yet based on definite scientific projections, the proven speed with which the process of climate change has been taking place, might lead to such a scenario by 2050. 

If so, 1 in 9 human beings would be on the move by then.
Currently, forecasts vary from 25 million to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis, with 200 million being the most widely cited estimate, according to a 2015 study carried out by the Institute for Environment and Human Security of the United Nations University.

“This figure equals the current estimate of international migrants worldwide.”
Other specialised sources estimate that “every second, one person is displaced by disaster.” 

On this, the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reports that in 2015 only, more than 19.2 million people fled disasters in 113 countries. 

“Disasters displace three to ten times more people than conflict and war worldwide.”
One Person Displaced Every Second

As climate change continues, adds NRC, it will likely lead to more frequent and severe natural hazards; the impact will be heavy, warns this independent humanitarian organisation providing aid and assistance to people forced to flee.
“On average, 26 million people are displaced by disasters such as floods and storms every year. 

That’s one person forced to flee every second.” See: Climate Victims – Every Second, One Person Is Displaced by Disaster
For its part, the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) also forecasts 200 million environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis. Many of them would be coastal population.

In an interview to IPS, the IOM Director General William Lacy Swing explained that political crises and natural disasters are the other major drivers of migration today.
“We have never had so many complex and protracted humanitarian emergencies now happening simultaneously from West Africa all the way to Asia, with very few spots in between which do not have some issue.”

The UN specialised body’s chief added “We have today 40 million forcibly displaced people and 20 million refugees, the greatest number of uprooted people since the Second World War.” See: Q&A: Crisis and Climate Change Driving Unprecedented Migration
Droughts, Desertification
Another warning comes from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which estimates that some 135 million people may be displaced by 2045 as a result of desertification.
Up to 12 million hectares of productive land become barren every year due to desertification and drought alone, which is a lost opportunity to produce 20 million tons of grain, adds the Bonn-based Convention secretariat.
Meantime, the increase in droughts and flash floods that are stronger, more frequent and widespread is destroying the land – the Earth’s main fresh water store, according to UNCCD.
“Droughts kill more people than any other single weather-related catastrophe and conflicts among communities over water scarcity are gathering pace. Over 1 billion people today have no access to water, and demand will increase by 30 per cent by 2030.”
On the other hand, getting sustainable energy to all represents one of the biggest development challenges of the 21st century, it continues.
“Research suggests that 1.4 billion people — over 20 per cent of the global population — lack access to electricity, and that at least 2.7 billion people — some 40 cent of the global population — rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking.”
In short, land, water and energy as resources are all pillars of our survival and of sustainable development.
“They stand or fall together. To be sustainable and in particular to reach poor rural populations, we need to enhance supply, access and security across all three pillars, at the same time, while supporting global climate ambitions.”
National Security, Migration
On this, based on the UN Environment Programme’s 2009 study “From Conflict to Peace-building. The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment,” UNCCD reminds that 40 per cent of all intrastate conflicts in the past 60 years are linked to the control and allocation of natural resources.
“The exposure of more and more poor people to water scarcity and hunger opens the door to the failure of fragile states and regional conflicts. Non-state actor groups are increasingly taking advantage of large cross-border migration flows and abandoned lands.”
Where natural assets including land are poorly managed, warns the Convention, violence might become the dominant means of resource control, forcing natural resource assets out of the hands of legitimate government.
Meanwhile, the number of international migrants worldwide has been on the rise. According to the International migration report (2015), their number has continued to grow rapidly over the past fifteen years reaching 244 million in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000.
Losing productive land is driving people to make risky life choices, says UNCCD, adding that in rural areas where people depend on scarce productive land resources, land degradation is a driver of forced migration.
Africa is particularly susceptible since more than 90 per cent of economy depends on a climate-sensitive natural resource base like rain-fed, subsistence agriculture.
“Unless we change the way we manage our land, in the next 30 years we may leave a billion or more vulnerable poor people with little choice but to fight or flee.”

Press link for more: Relief web

Climate change denial looks a lot like psychosis #auspol #StopAdani 

New studies and new catastrophes give climate change deniers a lot to deny.

In this July 22, 2017, photo, Canadian Coast Guard Capt. Victor Gronmyr looks out over the ice covering the Victoria Strait as the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica traverses the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

 Nordica has set a new record for the earliest transit of the fabled Northwest Passage. 

The once-forbidding route through the Arctic, linking the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, has been opening up sooner and for a longer period each summer due to climate change.

David Goldman AP

August 10, 2017 7:01 PM
Denial begins to look like psychosis.
Just in the past week, a cascade of new findings and climate anomalies have added to the scientific consensus that we’re cooked. Miami in particular.
We’re seeing wildfires in Greenland, for heaven’s sake. 

Famously soggy Seattle has just gone through a record 54 consecutive days (and counting) without rain.
On Thursday, Arctic explorer Pen Hadow left Nome, Alaska, in a 50-foot sailboat intent on something unfathomable before the onset of global warming.

 He and his crew intend to sail through the melting ice pack to the very North Pole. “If we can produce a visual image of a sail boat at 90 degrees north I think that could become an iconic image of the challenge that the twenty-first century faces,” Hadow wrote in his blog.
That image would nicely illustrate the National Climate Assessment draft report publicized this week by the New York Times.

 “Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” noted the assessment, based on input by scientists from 13 different federal agencies.


Scientists involved in the report were worried that Donald Trump, our climate-denier-in-chief (a Chinese hoax, he called global warming) would suppress the final report, which concluded that it was “extremely likely” that human activity accounted for more than half of the rising global temperatures since 1951.
“Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans.”
Draft report of the National Climate Assessment
The assessment makes for particularly gloomy reading in South Florida, where rising waters already plague our ritziest zip codes. “It is very likely that the accelerated rate of Arctic warming will have a significant consequence for the United States due to accelerating land and sea ice melting that is driving changes in the ocean including sea level rise threatening our coastal communities.”
Yeah, that’s us.
That ought to convince even the most obstinate politicians that unless something is done about greenhouse emissions, we’re in deep, deep (as in encroaching sea waters) trouble.
But there was more.
A young student on her bicycle carefully crosses the water logged street on Lincoln Road Court as water levels have risen on the begimming of the annual King’s Tide where certain areas of Miami Beach become flooded, on Oct. 13, 2016.

C.M. GUERRERO. cmguerrero@elnuevoherald.com

On Wednesday, researchers from the University of Florida published findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that sea levels along the southeast Atlantic coast, south of Cape Hatteras down to South Florida, are rising six times faster than the global averages. So if sea level rise is bad elsewhere, it’s going to be hell in Miami.
That was published the very same day that Swiss Re, a Switzerland-based reinsurance company, released an analysis that climate change and rising seas, in league with population growth and coastal development, has rendered Miami vulnerable to unimaginable losses if a Hurricane Andrew-sized storm strikes the city. “Losses in this case are estimated to be $100-$300 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster ever seen in the U.S.,” Swiss Re reported. Only $60-180 billion of Miami’s property losses would be covered by the private insurance market, “leaving a huge shortfall in funding to rebuild.”
Swiss Re added that “risk mitigation and climate adaptation are keys to strengthening community resilience.”
That ought to be obvious. Except we have a president in Washington and a governor and a speaker of the House in Tallahassee who pretend global warming is some kind of liberal invention. Two years ago, employees of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection claimed they had been barred from using the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in emails, reports or official communications. That doesn’t sound like an administration ready to confront Florida’s coming climate crisis.
Meanwhile, a dozen of Florida’s U.S. representatives and one of its U.S. senators (Marco Rubio) are essentially climate change deniers.
They’ve somehow held onto their “it ain’t happening” beliefs even during what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has described as the second-warmest year in the contiguous United States (so far) in 123 years of record keeping. In case you didn’t notice, July was the hottest month ever in Miami, according to Climate Central.
While 2016 was the second warmest year on record (after 2012) in the U.S., it was the hottest ever for the planet. NOAA reports that 16 of the 17 warmest years on record, worldwide, have occurred since 2001.


Yet our pols pretend otherwise. (They ignore a report on the effects of climate change in Architectural Digest that said rising seas have made South Florida “the worst metropolitan area in the country in regards to storm surge risk, with an estimated 780,000 homes potentially affected.”)
They just keep denying. Even during a week when a Russian tanker, without an ice breaker escort, was able to traverse the Arctic with a load of liquid natural case. In a week when the Asian Development Bank warned that, “unabated climate change” would lead to “disastrous climate impacts for the people of Asia and the Pacific.” Which echoed a study published this week in the journal Science Advances warning that “Climate change, without mitigation, presents a serious and unique risk in South Asia, a region inhabited by about one-fifth of the global human population, due to an unprecedented combination of severe natural hazard and acute vulnerability.” The journal warned that “the most intense hazard from extreme future heat waves is concentrated around densely populated agricultural regions of the Ganges and Indus river basins.”
It was a week when geologists warned that “all glaciers in Iceland are retreating at an unprecedented pace.” A week when a study published in the Lancet Planetary Health declared, “Climate change is one of the biggest global threats to human health of the 21st century.”
So much dire news in single week. Not that our steadfastly oblivious leaders in Washington and Tallahassee were deterred by melting glaciers or droughts or wildfires or record temperatures or rising seas or disappearing polar ice or threats to human health. Deniers just keep on denying.

Press link for more: App.com

To avoid extreme #ClimateChange start removing CO2 #StopAdani #auspol

Carbon dioxide must be removed from the atmosphere to avoid extreme climate change, say scientists
The Independent 

Ian Johnston

The Independent July 19, 2017

Humans must start removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as soon as possible to avoid saddling future generations with a choice between extreme climate change or spending hundreds of trillions of dollars to avoid it, according to new research.


An international team of researchers – led by Professor Jim Hansen, Nasa’s former climate science chief – said their conclusion that the world had already overshot targets to limit global warming to within acceptable levels was “sufficiently grim” to force them to urge “rapid emission reductions”.


But they warned this would not be enough and efforts would need to be made to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by about 12.5 per cent.
This, the scientists argued, could be mostly achieved by agricultural measures such as planting trees and improving soil fertility, a relatively low-cost way to remove carbon from the air.

Other more expensive methods, such as burning biomass in power plants fitted with carbon-capture-and-storage or devices that can remove carbon from the air directly, might also be necessary and would become increasingly needed if steps were not taken soon.
An academic paper in the journal Earth System Dynamics estimated such industrial processes could cost up to $535 trillion this century and “also have large risks and uncertain feasibility”.
“Continued high fossil fuel emissions unarguably sentences young people to either a massive, implausible clean-up or growing deleterious climate impacts or both,” said the paper.


“We conclude that the world has already overshot appropriate targets for greenhouse gas amount and global temperature, and we thus infer an urgent need for rapid phasedown of fossil fuel emissions [and] actions that draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide.
“These tasks are formidable and … they are not being pursued globally.”
Cuts to emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane, nitrous oxide and ozone would also be required.
The study is to be used as part of a ground-breaking lawsuit brought against the US Government by 21 children in which the plaintiffs claim their constitutional right to have a health climate in which to live in is being violated by federal policies.


If the case succeeds, environmentalists believe it could force the Trump administration to reduce greenhouse gases and take other measures to prevent global warming.
The paper pointed out that the last time temperatures were this high, during the Eemian period, global sea levels were about six to nine metres higher than they are today, suggesting significant rises are still to occur.
The paper said that the Paris Agreement, the tumbling price of renewable energy and the recent slowdown in the increase of fossil fuel emissions had led to a sense of optimism around the world.
But, speaking to The Independent, Professor Hansen said he believed this optimism was misplaced.
“The narrative that’s out there now … is that we’ve turned the corner,” he said.
“On the contrary, what we show is the rate of growth of climate forcing caused by increased methane [and other gases] is actually accelerating. 

That’s why it’s urgent.”
Asked to assess the world’s current progress in fighting climate change, he said the “s*** is hitting the fan”.
Professor Hansen, now a scientist at the Columbia University Earth Institute in the US, said he believed the court case had a chance of winning.
A court would not be able to tell the Government what to do, he admitted, but would be able to say that failing to deal with the problem was unconstitutional and require politicians to produce an effective plan.
The paper said the need for “prompt action implied by these realities [of climate change] may not be a surprise to the relevant scientific community” because of the available evidence.


“However, effective communication with the public of the urgency to stem human-caused climate change is hampered by the inertia of the climate system, especially the ocean and the ice sheets, which respond rather slowly to climate forcings, thus allowing future consequences to build up before broad public concern awakens,” it said.
“All amplifying feedbacks, including atmospheric water vapor, sea ice cover, soil carbon release and ice sheet melt could be reduced by rapid emissions phasedown.
“This would reduce the risk of climate change running out of humanity’s control and provide time to assess the climate response, develop relevant technologies, and consider further purposeful actions to limit and/or adapt to climate change.”
It warned that sea level rise of up to a metre “may be inevitable even if emissions decline” and would have “dire consequences”.
Sea level rise of several metres would result in “humanitarian and economic disasters”.
“Given the increasing proportion of global population living in coastal areas, there is potential for forced migrations of hundreds of millions of people, dwarfing prior refugee humanitarian crises, challenging global governance and security,” the paper said.

Press link for more: Yahoo.com

Three years to save humanity. #StopAdani #ClimateChange 

We have three years to save humanity from climate change, warn experts

The world has three years to start making significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or face the prospect of dangerous global warming, experts have warned in an article in the prestigious journal Nature.
Calling for world leaders to be guided by the scientific evidence rather than “hide their heads in the sand”, they said “entire ecosystems” were already beginning to collapse, summer sea ice was disappearing in the Arctic and coral reefs were dying from the heat.


The world could emit enough carbon to bust the Paris Agreement target of between 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius in anything from four to 26 years if current levels continue, the article said.
Global emissions had been rising rapidly but have plateaued in recent years. 

The experts, led by Christiana Figueres, who as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change played a key role in the Paris Agreement, said they must start to fall rapidly from 2020 at the latest.

“The year 2020 is crucially important for another reason, one that has more to do with physics than politics,” they said.
Citing a report published in April, they added: “Should emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, or even remain level, the temperature goals set in Paris become almost unattainable.
“Lowering emissions globally is a monumental task, but research tells us that it is necessary, desirable and achievable.”
The article was signed by more than 60 scientists, such as Professor Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, politicians, including former Mexican President Felipe Calderon and ex-Irish President Mary Robinson, businesspeople like Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever, investment managers, environmental campaigners and others.

Since the 1880s, the world’s temperature has risen by about 1C because of greenhouse gases resulting from human activity – a process predicted by a Swedish Nobel Prize-winning scientist in 1895.
The Nature article laid out the effect of this sudden increase on the planet.

“Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are already losing mass at an increasing rate,” it said.
“Summer sea ice is disappearing in the Arctic and coral reefs are dying from heat stress – entire ecosystems are starting to collapse.”

And it added: “The social impacts of climate change from intensified heatwaves, droughts and sea-level rise are inexorable and affect the poorest and weakest first.”
Humanity is currently emitting about 41 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide a year, but if the Paris target is to be met it only has a carbon ‘budget’ of between 150 and 1,050 gigatonnes.

“If the current rate of annual emissions stays at this level, we would have to drop them almost immediately to zero once we exhaust the budget. 

Such a ‘jump to distress’ is in no one’s interest. 

A more gradual descent would allow the global economy time to adapt smoothly,” the experts wrote.
But they urged people not to abandon hope.
“The good news is that it is still possible to meet the Paris temperature goals if emissions begin to fall by 2020,” they said.


Donald Trump, the US President and climate science-denier, has pledged to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, which will take until 2020.
The Nature article urged world leaders to take the opposite approach by using science to guide policy and defending scientists.
“Those in power must stand up for science,” it said.
“French President Emmanuel Macron’s Make Our Planet Great Again campaign [a deliberate play on Mr Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan] is a compelling example.
“He has spoken out to a global audience in support of climate scientists, and invited researchers to move to France to help accelerate action and deliver on the Paris agreement.”
We still don’t know if Trump believes climate change exists
Any delay would pose a threat to human prosperity.
“With no time to wait, all countries should adopt plans for achieving 100 per cent renewable electricity production, while ensuring that markets can be designed to enable renewable-energy expansion,” the experts wrote.
Optimism was also important.
“Recent political events have thrown the future of our world into sharp focus,” they said. 

“But as before Paris, we must remember that impossible is not a fact, it’s an attitude. It is crucial that success stories are shared.
“There will always be those who hide their heads in the sand and ignore the global risks of climate change.
“But there are many more of us committed to overcoming this inertia. 

Let us stay optimistic and act boldly together.”

Press link for more: Independent.co.uk

Existential Risk! #StopAdani 

EXISTENTIAL RISK

An existential risk is an adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential (Bostrom 2013).

 For example, a big meteor impact or large-scale nuclear war.

Existential risks are not amenable to the reactive (learn from failure) approach of conventional risk management, and we cannot necessarily rely on the institutions, moral norms, or social attitudes developed from our experience with managing other sorts of risks. 

Because the consequences are so severe – perhaps the end of human global civilisation as we know
it – “even for an honest, truth-seeking, and well-intentioned investigator it is difficult to think and act rationally in regard to… existential risks” (Bostrom and Cirkovic 2008).

Yet the evidence is clear that climate change already poses an existential risk to global stability and to human civilisation that requires an emergency response.

 Temperature rises that are now in prospect could reduce the global human population by 80% or 90%. 

But this conversation is taboo, and the few who speak out are admonished as being overly alarmist.

Prof. Kevin Anderson considers that “a 4°C future [relative to pre-industrial levels] is incompatible with an organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems, and has a high probability of not being stable” (Anderson 2011). 

He says: “If you have got
a population of nine billion by 2050 and you hit 4°C, 5°C or 6°C, you might have half a billion people surviving” (Fyall 2009).

Asked at a 2011 conference in Melbourne about the difference between a 2°C world and a 4°C world, Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber replied in two words: “Human civilisation”. 

The World Bank reports: “There is no certainty that adaptation to
a 4°C world is possible” (World Bank 2012). 

Amongst other impacts, a 4°C warming would trigger the loss of both polar ice caps, eventually resulting, at equilibrium, in a 70-metre rise in sea level.


The present path of greenhouse gas emissions commits us
to a 4–5°C temperature increase relative to pre-industrial levels. 

Even at 3°C of warming we could face “outright chaos” and “nuclear war is possible”, according to the 2007 Age of Consequences report by two US think tanks (see page 10).

Yet this is the world we are now entering. 

The Paris climate agreement voluntary emission reduction commitments, if implemented, would result in the planet warming by 3°C, with a 50% chance of exceeding that amount.


This does not take into account “longer-term” carbon-cycle feedbacks – such as permafrost thaw and declining
efficency of ocean and terrestrial carbon sinks, which are now becoming relevant. 

If these are considered, the Paris emissions path has more than a 50% chance of exceeding 4°C warming. 

(Technically, accounting for these feedbacks means using a higher gure for the system’s “climate sensitivity” – which is a measure of the temperature increase resulting from a doubling of the level of greenhouse gases – to calculate the warming.

A median figure often used for climate sensitivity is ~3°C, but research from MIT shows that with a higher climate sensitivity gure of 4.5°C, which would account for feedbacks, the Paris path would lead to around 5°C of warming (Reilly et al. 2015).)

So we are looking at a greater than one-in-two chance of either annihilating intelligent life, or permanently and drastically curtailing its potential development.

 Clearly these end-of-civilisation scenarios are not being considered even by risk-conscious leaders in politics and business, which is an epic failure of imagination.

The world hopes to do a great deal better than Paris, but it may do far worse. 

A recent survey of 656 participants involved in international climate policy-making showed only half considered the Paris climate negotiations were useful, and 70% did not expect that the majority of countries would fulfill their promises (Dannenberg et al. 2017)

Human civilisation faces unacceptably high chances of
being brought undone by climate change’s existential risks yet, extraordinarily, this conversation is rarely heard. 

The Global Challenges Foundation (GCF) says that despite scientific evidence that risks associated with tipping points “increase disproportionately as temperature increases from 1°C to 2°C, and become high above 3°C”, political negotiations have consistently disregarded the high-end scenarios that could lead to abrupt or irreversible climate change. 

In its Global Catastrophic Risks 2017 report, it concludes that “the world is currently completely unprepared to envisage, and even less deal with, the consequences of catastrophic climate change”. (GCF 2017) 

PRess link for full report: Disaster Alley

Climate Change promises a frightening future. #StopAdani

Are the Effects of Global Warming Really that Bad?

The Missouri River encroaches on homes in Sioux City, Iowa, during a 2011 flood Stocktrek Images/Media Bakery

Eight degrees Fahrenheit. It may not sound like much—perhaps the difference between wearing a sweater and not wearing one on an early-spring day. But for the world in which we live, which climate experts project will be at least eight degrees warmer by 2100 should global emissions continue on their current path, this small rise will have grave consequences, ones that are already becoming apparent, for every ecosystem and living thing—including us.

According to the National Climate Assessment, human influences are the number one cause of global warming, especially the carbon pollution we cause by burning fossil fuels and the pollution-capturing we prevent by destroying forests. 

The carbon dioxide, methane, soot, and other pollutants we release into the atmosphere act like a blanket, trapping the sun’s heat and causing the planet to warm. 

Evidence shows that 2000 to 2009 was hotter than any other decade in at least the past 1,300 years. This warming is altering the earth’s climate system, including its land, atmosphere, oceans, and ice, in far-reaching ways.
More frequent and severe weather

Higher temperatures are worsening many types of disasters, including storms, heat waves, floods, and droughts.

A warmer climate creates an atmosphere that can collect, retain, and drop more water, changing weather patterns in such a way that wet areas become wetter and dry areas drier. “Extreme weather events are costing more and more,” says Aliya Haq, deputy director of NRDC’s Clean Power Plan initiative. 

“The number of billion-dollar weather disasters is expected to rise.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in 2015 there were 10 weather and climate disaster events in the United States—including severe storms, floods, drought, and wildfires—that caused at least $1 billion in losses.

 For context, each year from 1980 to 2015 averaged $5.2 billion in disasters (adjusted for inflation). 

If you zero in on the years between 2011 and 2015, you see an annual average cost of $10.8 billion.
The increasing number of droughts, intense storms, and floods we’re seeing as our warming atmosphere holds—and then dumps—more moisture poses risks to public health and safety, too. 

Prolonged dry spells mean more than just scorched lawns. Drought conditions jeopardize access to clean drinking water, fuel out-of-control wildfires, and result in dust storms, extreme heat events, and flash flooding in the States. 

Elsewhere around the world, lack of water is a leading cause of death and serious disease. At the opposite end of the spectrum, heavier rains cause streams, rivers, and lakes to overflow, which damages life and property, contaminates drinking water, creates hazardous-material spills, and promotes mold infestation and unhealthy air. A warmer, wetter world is also a boon for food-borne and waterborne illnesses and disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.
Higher death rates

Today’s scientists point to climate change as “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.” 

It’s a threat that impacts all of us—especially children, the elderly, low-income communities, and minorities—and in a variety of direct and indirect ways. 

As temperatures spike, so does the incidence of illness, emergency room visits, and death.
“There are more hot days in places where people aren’t used to it,” Haq says. “They don’t have air-conditioning or can’t afford it. 

One or two days isn’t a big deal. 

But four days straight where temperatures don’t go down, even at night, leads to severe health consequences.” 

In the United States, hundreds of heat-related deaths occur each year due to direct impacts and the indirect effects of heat-exacerbated, life-threatening illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and cardiovascular and kidney diseases. 

Indeed, extreme heat kills more Americans each year, on average, than hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and lightning combined.
Dirtier air

Rising temperatures also worsen air pollution by increasing ground level ozone, which is created when pollution from cars, factories, and other sources react to sunlight and heat. 

Ground-level ozone is the main component of smog, and the hotter things get, the more of it we have. Dirtier air is linked to higher hospital admission rates and higher death rates for asthmatics. 

It worsens the health of people suffering from cardiac or pulmonary disease. And warmer temperatures also significantly increase airborne pollen, which is bad news for those who suffer from hay fever and other allergies.
Higher wildlife extinction rates

As humans, we face a host of challenges, but we’re certainly not the only ones catching heat. 

As land and sea undergo rapid changes, the animals that inhabit them are doomed to disappear if they don’t adapt quickly enough. 

Some will make it, and some won’t. 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2014 assessment, many land, freshwater, and ocean species are shifting their geographic ranges to cooler climes or higher altitudes, in an attempt to escape warming. 

They’re changing seasonal behaviors and traditional migration patterns, too. And yet many still face “increased extinction risk due to climate change.”

 Indeed, a 2015 study showed that vertebrate species—animals with backbones, like fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles—are disappearing 114 times faster than they should be, a phenomenon that has been linked to climate change, pollution, and deforestation.
More acidic oceans

The earth’s marine ecosystems are under pressure as a result of climate change. Oceans are becoming more acidic, due in large part to their absorption of some of our excess emissions. 

As this acidification accelerates, it poses a serious threat to underwater life, particularly creatures with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons, including mollusks, crabs, and corals. 

This can have a huge impact on shellfisheries. 

Indeed, as of 2015, acidification is believed to have cost the Pacific Northwest oyster industry nearly $110 million. 

Coastal communities in 15 states that depend on the $1 billion nationwide annual harvest of oysters, clams, and other shelled mollusks face similar long-term economic risks.
Higher sea levels


The polar regions are particularly vulnerable to a warming atmosphere. 

Average temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere on earth, and the world’s ice sheets are melting fast. 

This not only has grave consequences for the region’s people, wildlife, and plants; its most serious impact may be on rising sea levels. 

By 2100, it’s estimated our oceans will be one to four feet higher, threatening coastal systems and low-lying areas, including entire island nations and the world’s largest cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Miami as well as Mumbai, Sydney, and Rio de Janeiro.
There’s no question: Climate change promises a frightening future, and it’s too late to turn back the clock. 

We’ve already taken care of that by pumping a century’s worth of pollution into the air nearly unchecked. 

“Even if we stopped all carbon dioxide emissions tomorrow, we’d still see some effects,” Haq says. 

That, of course, is the bad news. 

But there’s also good news. 

By aggressively reducing our global emissions now, “we can avoid a lot of the severe consequences that climate change would otherwise bring,” says Haq.
Press link for more: NRDC.org