San Paulo

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It’s More Than Just Climate Change #auspol 

It’s More than Just Climate Change
Study shows climate change is one of many inter-related threats to natural systems and human societies, with other interconnnected factors being economic inequality, consumption and population
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (PRWEB) February 24, 2017
A recent scientific paper by a University of Maryland-led international team of distinguished scientists, including five members of the National Academies, argues that there are critical two-way feedbacks missing from current climate models that are used to inform environmental, climate, and economic policies.

 The most important inadequately-modeled variables are inequality, consumption, and population.
In this research, the authors present extensive evidence of the need for a new paradigm of modeling that incorporates the feedbacks that the Earth system has on humans, and propose a framework for future modeling that would serve as a more realistic guide for policy making and sustainable development.

The large, interdisciplinary team of 20 coauthors are from a number of universities (University of Maryland, Northeastern University, Columbia University, George Mason University, Johns Hopkins University, and Brown University) and other institutions (Joint Global Change Research Institute, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the Institute for Global Environment and Society, Japan’s RIKEN research institute, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center).
The study explains that the Earth System (e.g., atmosphere, ocean, land, and biosphere) provides the Human System (e.g., humans and their production, distribution, and consumption) not only the sources of its inputs (e.g., water, energy, biomass, and materials) but also the sinks (e.g., atmosphere, oceans, rivers, lakes, and lands) that absorb and process its outputs (e.g., emissions, pollution, and other wastes).
Titled “Modeling Sustainability: Population, Inequality, Consumption, and Bidirectional Coupling of the Earth and Human Systems”, the article describes how the recent rapid growth in resource use, land-use change, emissions, and pollution has made humanity the dominant driver of change in most of the Earth’s natural systems, and how these changes, in turn, have critical feedback effects on humans with costly and serious consequences, including on human health and well-being, economic growth and development, and even human migration and societal conflict. However, the paper argues that these two-way interactions (“bidirectional coupling”) are not included in the current models.

The Oxford University Press’s multidisciplinary journal National Science Review, which published the paper, also highlighted the paper in a separate “Research Highlight”, pointing out that “the rate of change of atmospheric concentrations of CO2, CH4, and N2O [the primary greenhouse gases] increased by over 700, 1000, and 300 times (respectively) in the period after the Green Revolution when compared to pre-industrial rates.” See attached figure.
“Many datasets, for example, the data for the total concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases, show that human population has been a strong driver of the total impact of humans on our planet Earth. This is seen particularly after the two major accelerating regime shifts: Industrial Revolution (~1750) and Green Revolution (~1950)” said Safa Motesharrei, UMD systems scientist and lead author of the paper. “For the most recent time, we show that the total impact has grown on average ~4 percent between 1950 and 2010, with almost equal contributions from population growth (~1.7 percent) and GDP per capita growth (~2.2 percent). This corresponds to a doubling of the total impact every ~17 years. This doubling of the impact is shockingly rapid.”
“However, these human impacts can only truly be understood within the context of economic inequality,” pointed out political scientist and co-author Jorge Rivas of the Institute for Global Environment and Society.

 “The average per capita resource use in wealthy countries is 5 to 10 times higher than in developing countries, and the developed countries are responsible for over three quarters of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions from 1850 to 2000.”
“The disparity is even greater when inequality within countries is included,” added University of Maryland geographer and coauthor Klaus Hubacek.

 “For example, about 50 percent of the world’s people live on less than $3 per day, 75 percent on less than $8.50, and 90 percent on less than $23. One effect of this inequality is that the top 10 percent produce almost as much total carbon emissions as the bottom 90 percent combined.”


The study explains that increases in economic inequality, consumption per capita, and total population are all driving this rapid growth in human impact, but that the major scientific models of Earth-Human System interaction do not bidirectionally couple Earth System Models with the primary Human System drivers of change such as demographics, inequality, economic growth, and migration.
Instead of two-way coupling with these primary human drivers of change, the researchers argue that current models usually use independent, external projections of those drivers. “This lack of two-way coupling makes current models likely to miss critical feedbacks in the combined Earth-Human system”, said National Academy of Engineering member and co-author Eugenia Kalnay, a Distinguished University Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at the University of Maryland.
“It would be like trying to predict El Niño with a sophisticated atmospheric model but with the Sea Surface Temperatures taken from external, independent projections by, for example, the United Nations. 

Without including the real feedbacks, predictions for coupled systems cannot work; the model will get away from reality very quickly,” said Kalnay
In this new scientific research, the authors present extensive evidence of the need for a new paradigm of modeling that incorporates the feedbacks that the Earth System has on humans, and propose a framework for future modeling that would serve as a more realistic guide for policymaking and sustainable development.


“Ignoring this bidirectional coupling of the Earth and Human Systems can lead to missing something important, even decisive, for the fate of our planet and our species,” said co-author Mark Cane, G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who recently won the Vetlesen Prize for creating the first coupled ocean–atmosphere model with feedbacks that successfully predicted El Niño.
“The result of not dynamically modeling these critical Human-Earth System feedbacks would be that the environmental challenges humanity faces may be significantly underestimated. Moreover, there’s no explicit role given to policies and investments to actively shape the course in which the dynamics unfold. Rather, as the models are designed now, any intervention — almost by definition — comes from the outside and is perceived as a cost,” said co-author Matthias Ruth, Director and Professor at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University. “Such modeling, and the mindset that goes with it, leaves no room for creativity in solving some of the most pressing challenges.”
”The paper correctly highlights that other human stressors, not only the climate ones, are very important for long-term sustainability, including the need to reduce inequality”, said Carlos Nobre (not a co-author), one of the world’s leading Earth System scientists, who recently won the prestigious Volvo Environment Prize in Sustainability for his role in understanding and protecting the Amazon. ”Social and economic equality empowers societies to engage in sustainable pathways, which includes, by the way, not only the sustainable use of natural resources but also slowing down population growth, to actively diminish the human footprint on the environment.”
Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, who is not a co-author of the paper, commented: “We cannot separate the issues of population growth, resource consumption, the burning of fossil fuels, and climate risk. 

They are part of a coupled dynamical system, and, as the authors show, this has dire potential consequences for societal collapse. 

The implications couldn’t be more profound.”
This work was supported by the University of Maryland Council on the Environment 2014 Seed Grant (1357928). The authors would like to acknowledge the following grants and institutions: SM, KF, and KH: National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)–US National Science Foundation (NSF) award DBI-1052875; JR: The Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES); GRA: Laboratory Directed Research and Development award by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which is managed by the Battelle Memorial Institute for the US Department of Energy; MAC: Office of Naval Research, research grant MURI N00014-12-1-0911; FMW: NSF award CBET-1541642; VMY: The Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET).
“Modeling Sustainability: Population, Inequality, Consumption, and Bidirectional Coupling of the Earth and Human Systems” is available at: https://academic.oup.com/nsr/article/doi/10.1093/nsr/nww081/2669331/Modeling-Sustainability-Population-Inequality and https://doi.org/10.1093/nsr/nww081; or PDF https://academic.oup.com/nsr/article-pdf/3/4/470/10325470/nww081.pdf
UMD Web Release
For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/02/prweb14095379.htm

Press link for more: My Sanantonio.com

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We’re at War to save the planet! #auspol #climatechange #science 

By Paul Mason

It hits you in the face and clings to you. 

It makes tall buildings whine as their air conditioning plants struggle to cope.

 It makes the streets deserted and the ice-cold salons of corner pubs get crowded with people who don’t like beer. 

It is the Aussie heatwave: and it is no joke.

Temperatures in the western suburbs of Sydney, far from the upmarket beachside glamour, reached 47C (117F) last week, topping the 44C I experienced there the week before.

 For reference, if it reached 47C in the middle of the Sahara desert, that would be an unusually hot day.
For Sydney, 2017 was the hottest January on record. 

This after 2016 was declared the world’s hottest year on record. 

Climate change, even in some developed societies, is becoming climate disruption – and according to a UN report, one of the biggest disruptions may only now be getting under way.

El Niño, a temperature change in the Pacific ocean that happens cyclically, may have begun interacting with the long-term process of global warming, with catastrophic results.
Let’s start by admitting the science is not conclusive. 

El Niño disrupts the normal pattern by which warm water flows westwards across the Pacific, pulling the wind in the same direction; it creates storms off South America and droughts – together with extreme temperatures – in places such as Australia. 

It is an irregular cycle, lasting between two and seven years, and therefore can only be theorised using models.
Some of these models predict that, because of climate change, El Niño will happen with increased frequency – possibly double. 

Others predict the effects will become more devastating, due to the way the sub-systems within El Niño react with each other as the air and sea warm.
What cannot be disputed is that the most recent El Niño in 2015/16 contributed to the extreme weather patterns of the past 18 months, hiking global temperatures that were already setting records.

 (Although, such is the level of rising, both 2015 and 2016 would have still been the hottest ever without El Niño.) 

Sixty million people were “severely affected” according to the UN, while 23 countries – some of which no longer aid recipients – had to call for urgent humanitarian aid. 


The catastrophe prompted the head of the World Meteorological Association to warn: 

“This naturally occurring El Niño event and human-induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways that we have never before experienced.”
The warning was enough to prompt the UN to issue a global action plan, with early warning systems, beefed-up aid networks and disaster relief preparation, and calls for developing countries to “climate proof” their economic plans.
Compare all this – the science, the modelling, the economic foresight and the attempt to design multilateral blueprint – with the actions of the jackass who runs Australia’s finance ministry.

Scott Morrison barged into the parliament chamber to wave a lump of coal at the Labor and Green opposition benches, taunting them: 

“Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared. 

It’s coal. 

It was dug up by men and women who work in the electorate of those who sit opposite.” 

Coal, argues the Australian conservative government, has given the economy “competitive energy advantage for more than 100 years”. 

Labor and the Greens had called, after the Paris climate accord, for an orderly shutdown of the coal-fired power stations that produce 60% of the country’s energy.
The Aussie culture war over coal is being fuelled by the resurgence of the white-supremacist One Nation party, led by Pauline Hanson, which is pressuring mainstream conservatives to drop commitments to the Paris accord and, instead, launch a “royal commission into the corruption of climate science”, which its members believe is a money-making scam.
All over the world, know-nothing xenophobes are claiming – without evidence – that climate science is rigged. 

Their goal is to defend coal-burning energy, promote fracking, suppress the development of renewable energies and shatter the multilateral Paris agreement of 2015.


Opposition to climate science has become not just the badge of honour for far-right politicians like Ukip’s Paul Nuttall.

 It has become the central tenet of their appeal to unreason.
People facing increased fuel bills, new taxes on methane-producing cattle farms, dimmer light bulbs and the arrival of wind and wave technologies in traditional landscapes will naturally ask: is this really needed? 

Their inner idiot wishes it were not. 

For most of us, the inner rationalist is strong enough to counteract that wish.

What distinguishes the core of the rightwing populist electorate is its gullibility to idiocy-promoting rhetoric against climate science. 

They want to be harangued by a leader who tells them their racism is rational, in the same way they want leaders who tell them the science behind climate change is bunk.


Well, in Australia, people are quickly finding out where such rhetoric gets you: more devastating bushfires; a longer fire season; more extreme hot days; longer droughts. And an energy grid so overloaded with demands from air conditioning systems that it is struggling to cope.
And, iIf the pessimists among climate scientists are right, and the general rise in temperature has begun to destabilise and accentuate the El Niño effects, this is just the start.
The world is reeling from the election victory of Donald Trump, who has called climate science a hoax.

 Dutch voters look set to reward Geert Wilders, whose one-page election programme promises “no more money for development, windmills, art, innovation or broadcasting”, with first place in the election. 

In France, 27% of voters are currently backing the Front National, a party determined to take the country out of the Paris accord, which it sees as “a communist project”.
The struggle against the nationalist right must, in all countries, combine careful listening to the social and cultural grievances of those on its periphery with relentless stigmatisation of the idiocy, selfishness and racism of the leaders and political activists at its core.
It’s time to overcome queasiness and restraint. 

We, the liberal and progressive people of the world, are at war with the far right to save the earth. 
The extreme temperatures and climate-related disasters of the past 24 months mean this is not some abstract struggle about science or values: it’s about the immediate fate of 60 million people still recovering from a disaster.

Press link for more: The Guardian.com

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It only takes 10% to cause disruption. #auspol 

When I asked whether consumer choices are an act of political rebellion, I noted that it only took a 10% cut in coal demand to radically slash the coal industry’s credit worthiness.
What if we could do the same thing for oil?

There’s good reason to assume that just such a disruption is coming, and sooner than many people think. Consider these recent headlines from around the web:
— Smart cars going 100% electric in the US (Cleantechnica)

—Sydney Airport orders 40 more electric buses (Cleantechnica – again…)

—Vattenfall (a giant Swedish utility) converting entire vehicle fleet to electric

—20% of new buses in China are now electric (yours truly)
Headlines like these are coming so thick and fast these days that we have to pick and choose which ones we write about. Individually, they are all just a blip in the global picture of oil demand, but collectively it won’t be long before they really start to add up. And when they do start to add up, it won’t take too much cut in demand to radically reshape the future prospects for oil.
Of course, all of the above stories are about adoption of existing technologies at current pricing. But what if prices were to fall further, and faster, than they have so far? Wards Auto is reporting on conversations with auto industry insiders who say electric vehicle batteries should be under $100 per kilowatt hour by 2020, and $80 not long after that. That’s a figure well below the $125 per kilowatt hour that the Department of Energy set in 2010 as a target for cost parity with internal combustion engines.
And once we reach cost parity, there’s little that can be done by dropping tax credits or removing other incentives, to slow the march to electrification.
It’s important to note, of course, that electrification isn’t the only—or even the best—way to reduce oil demand. From massive investments in cycling infrastructure to growing transit ridership in many major cities, there are plenty of other trends underway that could squeeze oil demand from all sides. And once you squeeze oil demand enough, the infrastructural, political and economic advantages that Big Oil once enjoyed quickly start to melt away.
Take, for example, gas stations. In cities with high uptake of electric vehicles, decent transit and cycle infrastructure, and restrictions on polluting vehicles, how long will it be for sales to drop far enough that the current number of gas stations are no longer viable? And once gas stations start thinning out, there’s one more reason for everyone else to abandon their gas cars too.
I look forward to revisiting this topic in ten years time. I suspect we may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly things have changed. I’ll leave the last word to Tony Seba, whose ambitious predictions about oil industry disruption I’ve written about before. In response to a recent tweet from a certain Mr Musk, Seba had this to say:
All my #CleanDisruption predictions are accelerating and it looks like they’re happening ahead of 2030! #solar #EV #batteries #selfdriving https://t.co/wnA3YliOpK
— Tony Seba (@tonyseba) February 15, 2017

I, for one, am beginning to believe he is right.

Press link for more: Treehugger.com

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Hydro isn’t clean energy. #auspol #climatechange 

Thousand Island Lake in China, the result of a dam built in the 1950s on the Xin’an River. A global study has found that greenhouse gas emissions from reservoirs are substantial, with methane contributing to 90 percent of a reservoir’s global warming potential during the first 20 years of its life. 

Photo by Bryan Ong on Flickr, under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license
From the Amazon Basin to boreal forests, and from the Mekong to the Himalayan foothills, rivers worldwide are being targeted for major new dams in a global hydropower boom that also aims to supply drinking water to exploding human populations and to facilitate navigation on the planet’s rivers; 3,700 new dams — 847 of them larger than 100 MW — are slated for construction.
But one strong argument in favor of hydropower is now looking far weaker. 

Scientists have compiled the most comprehensive assessment yet of the global impact that dam reservoirs have on the world’s atmosphere and greenhouse emissions. 

And it isn’t good news.
Globally, the researchers estimate that reservoirs — long considered “zero emitters” by the United Nations climate program — contribute 1.3 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. 

Emissions on this scale are comparable to those from rice paddy cultivation or biomass burning, the study authors write.
But despite their magnitude, these reservoir emissions are not currently counted within United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) assessments.

 In fact, countries are currently eligible under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism to receive carbon credits for their newly built dams. 

The study raises the question as to whether hydropower should continue to be counted as green power.

Construction at the São Manoel dam site on the Teles Pires River, Brazil, where three other dams are now nearing completion. These new hydropower dams also form part of the controversial Tapajos Complex of dams and reservoirs intended to support a vast industrial waterway for transporting soy from Brazil’s interior downriver to the Amazon River, to the coast, and on to China. 

Photo by International Rivers on Flickr, licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license

Dams not “emission free”
The study, published in BioScience, looked at the carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) emitted from 267 reservoirs across six continents.

 In total, the reservoirs studied have a surface area of more than 77,287 square kilometers (29,841 square miles). That’s equivalent to about a quarter of the surface area of all reservoirs in the world, which together cover 305,723 square kilometers (118,040 square miles) — roughly the combined size of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

“The new study confirms that reservoirs are major emitters of methane, a particularly aggressive greenhouse gas,” said Kate Horner, Executive Director of International Rivers, adding that hydropower dams “can no longer be considered a clean and green source of electricity.”
Importantly, the study teased apart the relative emission contributions of each of the three gases — a crucial consideration as these gases have varying degrees of impact on global temperature. 

Methane and nitrous oxide are many times more potent than carbon dioxide, and they also behave differently over time once released into the atmosphere, and both of these factors are relevant in the context of short and long-term policies on emission targets. 

Over a 100-year timeframe, methane’s effect on global warming is more than 30 times, and nitrous oxide’s effect is almost 300 times, greater than CO2.
But the study authors argue that the next 100 years are not nearly so relevant as the next 20 years for determining climate change policy aimed at quickly curbing global warming and meeting global emission targets set out in the Paris Agreement. And because methane “is relatively short-lived in the atmosphere (atmospheric lifetime on the order of a decade) relative to CO2 (atmospheric lifetime on the order of centuries),” they write, CH4 “has a higher global warming potential over the shorter 20-year time horizon.”
In fact, methane’s effect is 86 times greater than that of CO2 when considered on this two-decade timescale.

 Importantly, the study found that methane is responsible for 90 percent of the global warming impact of reservoir emissions over 20 years.

A dam and reservoir near Banff, Canada. The new study looked at emissions from 267 reservoirs on six continents and found that methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions together contribute 1.3 percent of human-produced greenhouse gas emissions.

 Photo by Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

The trouble with bubbles
Around half of the methane emitted from reservoirs is released in bubbles, which rise from sediment and travel through the water column to the reservoir’s surface. 

The gas trapped inside these bubbles in the water column, “is the most direct route for methane to reach the atmosphere without being turned into carbon dioxide via [interaction with] oxygen,” said Tonya DelSontro, one of the study’s co-authors, of the University of Quebec, Montreal.
Accounting for the contribution of methane bubbles is therefore a vital component of accurate reservoir emission estimates, but measuring them is challenging.

 Bubbles are hard to locate, explained DelSontro, who has studied methane emissions from lakes and reservoirs in Switzerland, Zambia and Canada.
Many factors affect when and where bubbles occur, and how likely it is that researchers will detect them, such as proximity to the shore and to river inflows, and water and air pressure. 

The method used to measure gas emission from reservoirs is also important, as many commonly used techniques may miss bubbling — known as ebullition — altogether. 

The scientists report that only half of the studies they examined took bubbles into account in their methane emission measurements — meaning methane emissions are being undercounted.
Reservoir emission estimates that included ebullition in their calculations were on average double those that did not, but the contribution of methane bubbles was “also highly variable, constituting anywhere from 0 to 99.6 percent of total CH4 flux [methane emitted into the atmosphere],” the scientists write.

 “This highlights how crucial it is to measure both types of CH4 emission in order to estimate the total flux from reservoir surface waters.”

The Tucuruí dam spillway on Brazil’s Tocantins River. Additional emissions, not taken into account in the study, include the gases released when water is aerated in turbines and spillways. Scientists argue that United Nations IPCC assessments should include reservoir emissions in their calculations. 

Photo courtesy of International Rivers on flickr under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license

Reservoir emission mechanisms
What determines how much greenhouse gas a given reservoir emits?

 Previous studies pointed to the importance of latitude, with tropical reservoirs — such as those planned or under construction in the Amazon — counted as emissions heavyweights. 

But this latest study found that mid-latitude reservoirs could be equally high methane emitters.

 Rather than latitude itself being important, methane emissions were best predicted by reservoir nutrient-richness.
If nutrients and organic materials — able to sustain microbial and algal populations — are abundant, methane emissions will be higher. 

This is often the case in tropical forest reservoirs, because a lot of vegetation may be submerged at the time the reservoir is first filled.

 But the authors identified other potentially high methane emitters: reservoirs built in productive agricultural regions at other latitudes — where nutrients and organic matter may leach from catchment areas into the reservoir.
The new research also identified water temperature as being an important factor, with warmer water promoting microbial and algal activity. 

How this will play out as global temperatures rise is uncertain, but the researchers warn that a “potential positive feedback loop” could be created as a warmer global atmosphere heats the planet’s reservoirs.
DelSontro explained that “future climate change, human population pressure, increased agriculture and other land use changes could cause an increase of nutrient input into freshwaters, thereby stimulating production (e.g., algal blooms) and perhaps higher rates of methane emission.”

 More methane in the atmosphere would mean a warmer climate, which could in turn enhance algal and microbial growth in the reservoirs, resulting in more greenhouse gas emissions that would further warm the climate.
The study also highlights other important emission pathways that are not generally taken into account when reservoir emissions are calculated, and that require further study. These include emissions from “drawdown zones,” the areas that are repeatedly exposed and flooded as water levels fluctuate; “degassing” as water is aerated in turbines and spillways; and the decomposition of standing wood, known to be a major contributor to tropical reservoir emissions but not studied elsewhere.

The Mekong River in Laos. Numerous dams are planned or under construction on the Mekong River and its tributaries, despite adverse impacts to riverine communities, fisheries, aquatic habitat and likely greenhouse gas emissions from reservoirs. 

Photo by Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

Global emission budgets
The authors caution that with a near doubling of reservoir area predicted for the coming decades, the benefits of new dams need to be carefully weighed against the costs of building them: 847 large (more than 100 MW) and 2,853 smaller (more than 1 MW) hydropower projects are currently planned or under construction around the world.
Importantly, the greenhouse gases that reservoirs emit should no longer be overlooked in international policy, the researchers argue, but instead be included “in future UN IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] budgets and other inventories of anthropogenic GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions,” particularly as methane emissions have the greatest impact in the first 20 years of a reservoir’s life.
“The role of hydroelectric dams in emissions inventories and in mitigation has been systematically ignored,” and urgently needs to be addressed, wrote Philip Fearnside, of the National Institute for Research in Amazonia, in 2015.
“International Rivers has advocated for reservoir emissions to be included in national greenhouse gas inventories for many years,” Horner added, “and the IPCC should no longer give dam builders a pass when it reconsiders its methodology for such inventories.”
Fearnside highlighted another significant omission in IPCC consideration of reservoir emissions: land-use change such as deforestation, which often accompanies dam construction. Horner raised the same issue: “Hydropower projects, for example, in the Amazon, in Central Africa and in Southeast Asia often open up pristine forest areas to deforestation. The findings of the study are conservative in that they don’t consider the massive emissions from this additional deforestation.”
Beyond greenhouse gas emissions, numerous additional environmental and social impacts often accompany dam development, as seen in the Amazon, the Mekong and elsewhere: communities are displaced, aquatic and terrestrial habitats are irrevocably altered, fisheries negatively impacted, migratory patterns blocked, and water and nutrient cycles disrupted.
Some of the emissions that reservoirs produce can be mitigated if dams are sited upstream of nutrient sources, and if nutrient levels are reduced in reservoir catchment areas, the scientists suggest. Clearing vegetation before inundation is another strategy to reduce the initial spike in methane emissions. However, Horner cautioned, “the cleared biomass will still emit CO2 when it burns or decomposes, and the long-term emissions from organic matter that is deposited in a reservoir can’t be avoided.”

Munduruku warriors gather to oppose new dams in the Tapajós basin of the Amazon. Beyond greenhouse gas emissions, numerous additional environmental and social impacts often accompany dam development, with indigenous and traditional communities displaced, aquatic and terrestrial habitats altered, fisheries negatively impacted, migratory patterns blocked, and water and nutrient cycles disrupted. 

Photo by Mauricio Torres

DelSontro’s ongoing research in the lakes of Quebec suggests that understanding the interaction between temperature and nutrients is important for accurate greenhouse gas emission predictions. “These types of predictors are what some people, including myself, are looking for to better help us make predictions for potential changes to greenhouse gas budgets of freshwaters in the face of global environmental change.”
“As for reservoirs in particular, it is vital to understand that these water bodies have the potential to emit greenhouse gases, even hydroelectric reservoirs that are helping produce a ‘clean’ and ‘green’ form of energy,” she concluded. “Therefore, potential reservoir projects should include an environmental assessment that includes potential greenhouse gas emissions, bearing in mind that emissions from the natural ecosystem must be taken into account.”
Horner takes a bolder stance on new hydropower dams: “At a time when wind and solar power have become cheap and abundant, such greenhouse gas emissions can’t be justified.”
Citation:
Bridget R. Deemer, John A. Harrison, Siyue Li, Jake J. Beaulieu, Tonya DelSontro, Nathan Barros, José F. Bezerra-Neto, Stephen M. Powers, Marco A. Dos Santos, and J. Arie Vonk (2016) Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Reservoir Water Surfaces: A New Global Synthesis. BioScience, 66: 949-964

Press link for more: news.mongabay.com

Infographic Timeline of Major 2016 Extreme Weather Events_V4

Link Between Climate Change & Extreme Weather. #auspol 

The Link Between Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events

All extreme weather events are being influenced by climate change as they are now occurring in a more energetic climate system (Trenberth 2012).

While extreme weather events are a natural feature of the climate system, the atmosphere and surface ocean of today contain significantly more heat than in
the 1950s.

 In fact, the rate of increase in global average temperature since 1970
is approximately 170 times the baseline
rate over the past 7,000 years (Marcott et
al. 2013; Ste en et al. 2016; NOAA 2017b). 

This extremely rapid, long-term rate of temperature increase is being driven by
the additional greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that have accumulated primarily from the burning of coal, oil and gas.

Over the past decade climate scientists have made strong progress in identifying the links between climate change and extreme weather events, based on three main lines of evidence:

› The basic physics that govern the behaviour of the climate system shows that extreme weather events are now occurring in a significantly warmer
and wetter atmosphere, which means the atmosphere contains more energy, facilitating more severe extreme weather.

› Where sufficient  long-term data are available, observations show trends towards more intensity in many types of extreme weather events.

› More recently, ‘attribution studies’ based on detailed modelling experiments explore how climate change has already increased the probability that extreme weather events would have occurred.

Press link for full report: Climate Council

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LNG, Recession,China & Wind reduce US carbon emissions (Less Coal) #auspol 

Energy Technologies, Markets, and Government Policies’ 

Major Impacts on U.S. Carbon Emissions, 2005-2016
Energy-and-Policy-Developments-rect
The U.S. continues to make fairly good progress in reducing its fossil fuels consumption and associated carbon emissions since the mid-2000’s. 

This article updates a previously posted analysis, which detailed government policies, technologies and market factors that have most enabled the U.S. to continue reducing its total fossil fuels consumption and carbon emissions.
2005-16 U.S. Carbon Emissions – U.S. carbon emissions from fossil fuels consumption peaked just before the 2007-09 Great Recession. 

Following the recession and the relatively slow economic recovery, U.S. fossil fuels carbon emissions have continuously declined on average.
Figure 1


Data Source – EIA MER carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels consumption.
U.S. fossil fuels’ carbon emissions nearly peaked at 6,000 million metric tons per year (MMT/yr.) in 2005. 

Total carbon emissions have declined by 935 MMT/yr. or 16% 2005-16. 

This level of carbon emissions’ reduction represents over half of the U.S. Paris Climate Agreement pledge made late last year.
The reduction in U.S. fossil fuels carbon emissions has been primarily due to a large decline in coal consumption. 

Coal consumption has declined due to the combination of ‘fuels-switching’ to lower carbon power generation sources and accelerated retirements of Coal Power plants.


 To better understand the impacts of different government policies, energy technologies and market related factors lets first review the changes of fossil fuels demand and carbon emissions for each U.S. ‘End-Use’ Sector.
Figure 2


Data source – EIA MER.

 Note: EIA data has been modified by separating the Power Sector’s carbon emissions from the four End-Use Sectors’ total emissions. 

The carbon emissions for the Transportation Sector are based on motor fuels consumption and the Power, Industrial, Residential & Commercial Sectors emissions are based primarily on heating fuels consumption.
The Power Sector’s reduction in carbon emissions is the largest contributor to total reduced U.S. carbon emissions 2005-16; 71% of the total reduction. 

This emission reduction is primarily due to a combination of ‘fuels switching’ to lower carbon natural gas fuel and expansion of renewable power generation. 

The Industrial Sector is the second largest contributor to reduced U.S. carbon emissions 2005-16; 11% of the total.

 This carbon emission reduction has been unfortunately due primarily to the decline in U.S. Manufacturing Sector’s production output and the increased imports.
The Transportation Sector’s carbon emissions declined significantly following the 2007-09 Recession, up to 2012.

 This was due to a combination of increased vehicle’s fuel efficiency (CAFE) and renewable fuels (RFS2) standards, and, reduced vehicle’s usage or decrease in average vehicle miles travelled (VMT) 2008-12. 


 Total petroleum motor fuels consumption and associated carbon emissions has unfortunately begun increasing significantly 2012-16. 

This has been due to increased vehicles purchases & registrations (largely SUV’s and Light Duty Trucks recently), increasing VMT and total increased fuels consumption by the growing U.S. population (2.3 million per year average growth 2005-16). 

Fortunately, the net Transportation Sector’s overall decline of carbon emissions contributed to 9% of total U.S. emissions reduction, 2005-16.
The Residential Sector’s natural gas and petroleum heating fuels consumptions also declined significantly over the past decade and contributed to 7% of total U.S. carbon emissions reduction 2005-16. 

This was due primarily to increased efficiency technologies and possibly improved Resident’s consumption behaviors.

 Increased Residential energy efficiency has been support by numerous State and Federal energy efficiency policies and programs (EERE for example). 

Although the Commercial Sector’s fossil fuels consumption should have been influenced-reduced by similar EERE policies, its reduction in carbon emissions only contributed to < 2% of total U.S. reduced carbon emissions 2005-16.
Major Contributing Factors to Reduced U.S. Carbon Emissions – Since 2005 total U.S. fossil fuels consumption and mix have changed very significantly. 

These changes have been strongly influenced by a number of factors, including market price, recent technology developments, and past-recent Government policies & regulations.
Figure 3


Data source – EIA MER.
‘Fuels switching’ from coal to lower carbon natural gas in the Power Sector has clearly been the largest contributing factor towards total U.S. carbon emissions reduction 2005-16. 


During 2005-16 coal-to-natural gas ‘fuels switching’ has reduced total U.S. fossil fuels carbon emissions by 50%.

 Major contributing factors for making the switch from coal-to-natural gas have been heating fuel market prices, shutdown-retirement of over 30% of Coal Power Plants and a 7% increase in Natural Gas Power Plants since 2005. 

The Coal Power Plant shutdowns are largely the result of substantially growing compliance costs for the EPA regulations including the Clean Air Mercury Rule and the future likely impacts of the developing EPA Clean Power Plan.
Natural Gas Power Plants ‘net generation’ has grown due to both increased utilization of available Power Plants’ capacities and construction of new-higher efficiency Power Plants.

 The major factor to increased coal-to-natural gas ‘fuels switching’ has been almost a 2/3rds. drop in natural gas market prices since 2005; while coal prices remained fairly constant during the same period.
Wind Power is the next largest contributing factor towards U.S. reduced carbon emissions.


 During 2005-16, the combination of Federal and State regulations created major incentives and/or mandates for the construction, power generation, and production tax credits for new-recently built Wind Power. 

Total net Wind Power generation grew 13-fold 2005-16 and the percentage of total U.S. electric power net generation from Wind Power increased from 0.4% (2005) up to 5.7% in 2016. 

Wind Power contributed to 14% of U.S. total carbon emissions reduction, 2005-16.
The reduction in the fossil fuels and power consumption in primarily the Residential & Commercial Sectors was third largest (13% of the total) contributing factor for reduced U.S. carbon emissions 2005-16. 

This was due to a combination of increased energy efficiency technologies installations and use, and, other factors that encouraged and/or led to reduced fossil fuels consumption by most Consumers in the Residential and Commercial Sectors. 

Part of the reduced energy consumption was likely due in-part to the relatively slow recovery from the 2007-09 Great Recession and Middle Class average wage stagnation; which limits most Residents’ discretionary income during this period.
The next factor that contributed to 11% of total reduced U.S. carbon emissions 2005-16 was reduced fossil fuels and power consumption of the Industrial Sector. 

While efficiency improvements likely contributed to a small fraction of reduced fossil fuels consumption and carbon emissions, the major impact was unfortunately due to reduced U.S. domestic ‘durable goods’ production & manufacture. This included slowdown of many Industries/Manufacturing facilities’ outputs such as steel production, building materials & hardware-parts fabrication, vehicles & appliances manufacturing, etc.

 These and other domestically produced-manufactured durable goods have been overwhelmingly replaced by increased imports, and trade deficits.
One factor rarely covered in the Media is the fact that U.S. Industries are among the most energy efficient and least carbon intensive compared to most off-shore sources of imported durable goods from countries such as China. 

The net result has been very significant and growing ‘carbon leakage’. 

In other words, the reduction in the U.S. Industrial Sector’s durable goods production 2005-16 may have reduced U.S. carbon emissions by about 100 MMT/yr., but at the expense of shifting these carbon emissions to other countries, primarily China.


 The full lifecycle impact of shutting down U.S. domestic durable goods production with generally lower efficiency Chinese durable goods imports, and shipping them from Asia-to-North America via marine transport, has increased ‘Total World’ carbon emissions. 

This has most likely resulted in a net-increase of World carbon emissions by an additional 25-50 MMT/yr. (added leakage) greater than if the U.S. Consumer durable goods had been produced domestically.
The next largest factor (8%) to reduced U.S. carbon emissions 2005-16 has been largely due to the Transportation Sector’s compliance with Federal regulations. 

The combination of increased Renewable Fuels (blending) and CAFE standards have had the largest impacts on reducing vehicles petroleum motor fuels consumption and offsetting the growing Population’s use of transportation vehicles; lighter duty cars & trucks, and heavier duty/commercial trucks, railroad, and marine.

 To possibly further reduce future U.S. carbon emissions the EPA has substantially increased future CAFE standards and more recently began developing new efficiency regulations for heavier duty vehicles. 

Despite expanding these vehicle related carbon emission regulations, the growth in Transportation Sector vehicle fleets and usage (increased VMT), resulted in increasing petroleum consumption since 2012.
Increases in Nuclear, Solar and Hydropower+biomass+Geothermal Power net generation(s) have reduced U.S. total carbon emissions by a total of about 4%. Growth in Nuclear and Hydropower have been due to increased capacity factors or utilization of existing Power Plants. 

Growth in Solar and Geothermal has been due to increased power generation capacity construction, and, biomass is some combination thereof.
In Conclusion – The U.S. was the World’s largest emitter of carbon emissions before 2007; the year U.S. emissions from fossil fuels peaked.
 In 2007 China’s rapidly growing (and lower energy efficient) economy led to their country’s carbon emissions exceeding the U.S. and becoming the largest & continuously growing source of the World’s total carbon emissions ever since.

 Two other major events occurred beginning about 2007: the Great Recession, and the rapid development of U.S. domestic Oil & Gas ‘hydraulic fracturing’ technologies. Oil and Gas market prices peaked during the recession, then fell to 10-year lows due to increased market supply.

 Unlike crude oil which is primarily influenced by World markets (and/or OPEC), domestic natural gas prices continued to decline following the recession and most the following recovery years. 


This factor led to natural gas increasingly replacing alternative Power Section fuel sources; coal & some petroleum. 

During this same period, renewables (primarily Wind Power) and consumption efficiencies technologies continued to grow & evolve, and reduce the need for some fossil fuels.
The obvious question is: “Will the U.S. continue to make similar progress in the near future?”. 


The answer to this question is of course fairly complex, with significant uncertainties. 

Even though the new Administration has stated they plan to restore the Coal Industry, their ability to accomplish this is somewhat limited. 

Since domestic U.S. natural gas production is projected to continue growing and maintain its lower costs relative to alternative coal fuels, it’s unlikely that ‘fuels switching’ will decline in the near future. 

Also, since a large number of States have adopted regulations that mandate reducing their in-state power supplies’ carbon emissions, and even if the Federal Government temporarily cancels the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the likelihood of the Power Sector replacing recently retired Coal Power Plants in the foreseeable future is very small; i.e. too risky for most investors. 

And, as long as many States continue with their lower carbon power supplies mandates and the Federal Government continues to support Wind & Solar Power capacity growth and power generation subsidies, these renewable power sources should continue to grow significantly in the foreseeable future.
Assuming the Residential & Commercial efficiency improvements continue to expand, this should hopefully result in offsetting increased good & services consumption by the U.S.’s continually growing Population.

 Also, if the new Administration successfully grows the Economy at rates significantly > 2% (U.S. GDP average growth 2009-2016) and the Industrial Sector’s durable goods production increases (reduced imports/trade deficits), World carbon emissions should actually decline at greater rates than increased U.S. Industrial Sector carbon emissions.
Sustaining and possibly growing Nuclear and Hydropower will likely continue to be major challenges.

 If the current Administration truly supports growing the Nuclear Power Industry as stated during the recent campaign, then significantly expanding this zero-carbon technology will definitely help reduce future U.S. carbon emissions. 

Hydropower will likely still face major Environmentalist resistance, which has hindered this major-existing zero carbon power generation source for decades.
Possibly the largest future challenges to further and continuously reducing U.S. fossil fuels consumption and associated carbon emissions will be the Transportation Sector and offsetting the continuously growing Population’s use of all modes of transportation.


 Unless accelerating the expansion of alternative lower-zero carbon transportation fuels & technologies become a reality in the near future, the U.S. could likely continue experiencing increased Transportation Sector petroleum consumption and carbon emissions. 


Electric vehicles (EV) are probably the most feasible solution to reducing and eliminating the need for petroleum motor fuels. 

Besides massively expanding light duty EV fleets, States and the Federal Government need to consider other commercial vehicle alternatives such as electric powered railroads & mass transit, medium-heavier duty on-road EV’s, and other transportation modes that can feasibly and cost effectively be powered by lower carbon electric power sources in the future.

Press link for more: The Energy Collective

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Time to educate leaders on climate & health #auspol #science 

Global consortium formed to educate leaders on climate and health
With funding from The Rockefeller Foundation, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, home to the nation’s first academic program in climate and health, today announces a Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education to share best scientific and educational practices and design model curricula on the health impacts of climate change for academic and non-academic audiences.

 The Consortium builds on a pledge by 115 medical, nursing, and public health schools in North America, South America, Asia, Europe, Africa, and Australia to add climate and health to their curricula.

“The science linking climate change to human health problems is abundant,” said Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, Dean and DeLamar Professor at the Mailman School. 

“It’s time to ensure that leaders across all sectors receive the tools necessary to prepare for its impacts and are able to translate that science into action. 

Schools that train health professionals are best equipped to catalyze this effort and to introduce climate and health curricula for stakeholders in the knowledge economy.”

The Consortium will also develop a core knowledge set on the health impacts of climate change and support the development of academic partnerships to foster mutual learning, particularly in under-resourced countries which face a disproportionate share of the burden of climate-related illness. 

The Consortium’s ultimate goal is the creation of a cadre of highly trained health professionals to provide guidance as nations, businesses, and civil society grapple with the harmful health effects of climate change.
World leaders have already had to react to longer and more severe heat waves, prolonged allergy seasons, changes in the spread and timing of infectious disease due to changing vector patterns, and worsening air quality associated with human-induced climate change. 


The vision for the Global Consortium began at the 2015 COP-21 conference in Paris when the Mailman School partnered with the White House on a special session to establish baseline knowledge for disease prevention, business growth, and sustainable development particularly in the global south.
Since the COP-21 meeting, the WHO’s July 2016 Second Global Conference on Health and Climate, established the need for “mainstreaming climate change and health topics into medical and public health training.” 

Most recently, the Lancet Countdown, which tracks worldwide movement on health and climate change, defined as a progress indicator, “inclusion of health and climate change within medical and public health curricula.”
“Climate change science must sit alongside biology, ethics, and epidemiology as a vital part of health professionals’ 

education,” said Kim Knowlton, DrPH, a Mailman School faculty member who will help lead the Consortium.

 “Whether our graduates work in ministries of health, clinical services, private industry, or stay in a university, climate knowledge will be crucial to their efforts to improve population and planetary health.”
Knowlton, who serves as senior scientist and deputy director of the Science Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council and served as a co-convening lead author for the human health chapter of the U.S. Third National Climate Assessment, will also guide the Consortium’s Advisory Council of senior leaders from academic, business, philanthropic, and health sectors (see list of members below).
The Mailman School invites representatives of global health professional schools to join the Consortium and help position climate and health education into the toolkit of the next generation of health professionals worldwide.
Jeffrey Shaman, PhD, director of Columbia’s Climate and Health Program, leads and oversees the Consortium. Members of the Advisory Council include the following:
Laurent Chambaud, MD, Dean, EHESP School of Public Health, France

Carlos Dora, MD, PhD, Coordinator Public Health and the Environment Department, World Health Organization

Howard Frumkin, MD, MPH, DrPH, former Dean and Professor of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Washington-Seattle

Lynn Goldman, MD, MS, MPH, Dean, Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, Professor Environmental and Occupational Health, George Washington University, Washington, DC

Andy Haines (Sir Andrew Paul Haines), MD, F Med Sci, Professor Public Health and Primary Care, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Keith Hansen, Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank Group, overseeing the Global Practices for education; health, nutrition, and population; and social protection and labor

Alice C. Hill, Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Resilience Policy on the National Security Council

Haidong Kan, MD, PhD, Professor Public Health and Environmental Sciences Fudan University, Shanghai, China

Linda McCauley, RN, MSN, PhD, Dean and Professor, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Michael Myers, Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation

Jean-Marc de Royere, Senior Vice President International Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility, Air Liquide Corporation (based in France)

Press link for more: Eureka alert.org

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Economist Sounds the Alarm on #ClimateChange #auspol 

A Climate Change Economist Sounds the Alarm
Some people who study climate change believe that addressing it later — when economic growth has made humanity wealthier — would be better than taking drastic measures immediately. Now, though, one of this group’s most influential members appears to have changed his mind.

In the early 1990s, Yale’s William Nordhaus was among the first to examine the economics of reducing carbon emissions. Since then, he and colleagues have mixed climate physics with economic modeling to explore how various policies might play out both for global temperatures and growth. 

The approach attempts to weigh, in present-value terms, the costs of preventative measures against the future benefit of avoiding disaster.


Nordhaus has mostly argued for a small carbon tax, aimed at achieving a modest reduction in emissions, followed by sharper reductions in the medium and long term.

 Too much mitigation now, he has suggested, would damage economic growth, making us less capable of doing more in the future. 

This view has helped fossil fuel companies and climate change skeptics oppose any serious policy response.

In his latest analysis, though, Nordhaus comes to a very different conclusion. 

Using a more accurate treatment of how carbon dioxide may affect temperatures, and how remaining uncertainties affect the likely economic outcomes, he finds that our current response to global warming is probably inadequate to prevent temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above their pre-industrial levels, a stated goal of the Paris accords.


Worse, the analysis suggests that the required carbon-dioxide reductions are beyond what’s politically possible. For all the talk of curbing climate change, most nations remain on a business-as-usual trajectory. Meanwhile, further economic growth will drive even greater carbon emissions over coming decades, particularly in developing nations.
Nordhaus deserves credit for changing his mind as the results of his analyses have changed, and for focusing on the implications of current policies rather than making rosy assumptions about the ability of new technologies to achieve emission reductions in the future. 

Many other analyses — including those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — don’t demand such realism.

Nonetheless, the shift in his assessment is stark. For two decades, the advice has been to do a little but mostly hold off. Now, suddenly, the message is that it’s too late, that we should have been doing a lot more and there’s almost no way to avoid disaster.
Perhaps the main lesson is that we shouldn’t put too much trust in cost-benefit calculations, the standard economic recipe for making policy decisions. 

In the case of climate change, they are inherently biased toward inaction: It’s easy to see the costs of immediate emissions reductions, and much harder to quantify the benefits of avoiding a disaster likely to materialize much farther in the future. By the time the nature and impact of that disaster become clear, it may be too late to act.

Press link for more: Bloomberg.com

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We’re currently on track for 3C or more Global Warming! #auspol #science

PARIS, France — Expansion of renewable energy cannot by itself stave off catastrophic climate change, scientists warned Monday.
Even if solar and wind capacity continues to grow at breakneck speed, it will not be fast enough to cap global warming under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the target set down in the landmark 2015 Paris climate treaty, they reported in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“The rapid deployment of wind, solar and electric cars gives some hope,” lead author Glen Peters, a researcher at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, Norway, told AFP.
“But at this stage, these technologies are not really displacing the growth in fossil fuels or conventional transportation.”

Earth is overheating mainly due to the burning of oil, gas and especially coal to power the global economy.
Barely 1C (1.8F) of warming so far has already led to deadly heat waves, drought and super storms engorged by rising seas.

The 196-nation Paris Agreement set a collective goal to cap warming, but lacks the tools to track progress, especially at the country level.
To provide a better toolkit, Peters and colleagues broke down the energy system into half-a-dozen indicators — GDP growth, energy used per unit of GDP, CO2 emissions per unit of energy, share of fossil fuels in the energy mix, etc.
What emerged was a sobering picture of narrowing options.
Barely a dent
“Wind and solar alone are not sufficient to meet the goals,” Peters said.
The bottom line, the study suggests, is how much carbon pollution seeps into the atmosphere, and on that score renewable have — so far — barely made a dent.
Investment in solar and wind has soared, outstripping fossil fuels for the first time last year. And renewables’ share of global energy consumption has increased five-fold since 2000.
But it still only accounts for less than three percent of the total.
Moreover, the share of fossil fuels — nearly 87 percent — has not budged due to a retreat in nuclear power over the same 15-year period.
Even a renewables Marshall Plan would face an unyielding deadline: To stay under 2C, the global economy must be carbon neutral — producing no more CO2 than can be absorbed by oceans and forests — by mid-century.
Compounding the challenge, other key policies and technologies deemed essential for holding down temperatures remain woefully underdeveloped, the study cautioned.
In particular, the capacity to keep or pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store it securely — a cornerstone of end-of-century projections for a climate-safe world — is practically non-existent.
Vetted by the UN’s top climate science panel, these scenarios presume that thousands of industrial-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities will be up-and-running by 2030.
As of today, there are only one or two, with a couple of dozen in various stages of construction.
Negative emissions
Another form of clean energy penciled into most medium- and long-term forecasts that does not yet exist on any meaningful scale is carbon-neutral biofuels.
The idea is that CO2 captured while plants grow will compensate for greenhouse gases released when they are burned for energy.
On paper, that carbon pollution will also be captured and stored, resulting in “negative emissions” — a net reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere.
But here again, reality is dragging its feet.
“It is uncertain whether bioenergy can be sustainably produced and made carbon-neutral at the scale required,” the researchers noted.
All of these technologies must come on line if we are to have a fighting chance of keeping a lid of global warming, which is currently on track to heat the planet by 3C to 4C (5.4F to 7.2F), the study concluded.
Market momentum alone is not enough, Peters added.
“There need to be a shift in focus,” he said in an email exchange.
“Politician seem happy to support wind, solar and electric vehicles through subsidies. But they are not willing to put prices” — a carbon tax, for example — “on fossil fuels.”
“Unless the emissions from fossil fuels goes down, the 2C target is an impossibility.”
In an informal survey last week of top climate scientists, virtually all of them said that goal is probably already out of reach. CBB

Press link for more: News info.inquirer

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President Trump, or, Climate Change Denier in Chief #auspol 

President Trump, or, ‘Climate Change Denier in Chief’ | Opinion
By JEFF TITTEL
Actions speak louder than words, and during President Trump’s first days in office, he has eliminated work on climate change, approved dangerous pipelines, and stopped funding and programs at the EPA. Trump’s first actions have killed President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which has eliminated environmental reviews of governmental actions on their impact on climate change. This includes any rules, regulations, funding and permits for projects like pipelines and oil and gas drilling. The problem is this is just the beginning of his administration’s environmental rollbacks. Between his inaugural address and his first executive actions, our president has basically declared a war on the environment.

Instead of “transferring the power to the people,” Trump is transferring power from the people to Big Oil, Big Gas, and the billionaires. He has reversed President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, while expediting the environmental reviews for pipelines like Dakota Access. This means for state like New Jersey his actions will impede our fights against PennEast and Pilgrim pipeline in New Jersey. People in Hunterdon and Bucks County who had ‘No PennEast’ signs alongside ‘Trump’ signs should know that if it is up to Donald Trump, the pipeline will be pushed through. The Delaware River Basin Commission may even lift the ban on fracking under this Administration, while approving permits for pipelines like PennEast. The South Jersey Gas pipeline through the Pinelands could also be at risk to Trump’s agenda given that the National Park Service has a vote in the decision.

In another assault on the environment, Trump froze regulations and funding at the EPA, while planning to cut the budget by $800 million. By taking aim at the budget, Trump is clearly taking aim at environmental programs. With New Jersey having the most Superfund Sites in the nation, Trump’s actions may put clean-ups throughout the state on hold. By taking away money from states, it will disrupt water quality testing, while stopping efforts to clean up our water supply and retrofit lead pipes. It will mean there will be no money going to resiliency along the shore, restoring the Delaware Bayshore, planting dunes, or upgrading sewer plants. New Jersey could lose money to deal with stormwater, climate change, and implement the Clean Water Act. This freeze is not in a vacuum, it is part of his plan to get rid of these programs and roll back forty five years of environmental progress.

The Trump Administration has even gagged EPA staff from speaking about climate change and removed the website’s climate change page. Trump said climate change is a hoax invented by China, but he is now making us look like a joke because he is the only internationally world leader who is a climate-denier. Instead of coming into office to deal with major issues like dealing with healthcare, re-building our roads and bridges, or create jobs, he is actually putting us at risk. These actions will actually hurt the economy by eliminating green jobs. Instead of the Commander in Chief, our president is really the ‘Climate Denier in Chief.’

While Trump said in his inaugural address that he plans to “harness the energies, industries, and technologies of tomorrow,” his plans will do the opposite. He wants to block offshore wind and getting rid of tax credits for clean energy by continuing to promote fossil foolishness of the past. He has promised to eliminate the historic Clean Power Plan, which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce climate impacts like flooding, sea level rise, and severe storms. He even will get rid of resiliency projects that make us stronger against the next storm and allow building in areas vulnerable to sea level rise. In a state that has been so devastated by climate change and Hurricane Sandy, what Trump is doing is reckless.
Instead of draining the swamp, Trump is going to fill it with pipelines and oil rigs. His Cabinet is stacked with gas and oil industry people like Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt who is in lock step with corporate polluters. Pruitt has sued against regulations that he is now in charge to implement like the Clean Water Rule, Mercury Air Toxic Rule as well as the Clean Power Plan. Trump says he wants to heal our country, but he can’t when he wants to hurt the environment, economy, and public health.
Trump’s words are no longer words, they are serious actions that impact all of us. Instead of bringing us together, he is dividing us since the majority of Americans want clean air, clean water, and action on climate change. That is why we the people throughout the United States must stand united against Trump’s rollbacks and destructive energy policies. We have fought to protect the environment for the last 45 years and we must do so again now.
Jeff Tittel is the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

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