Sea Ice

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

Drastic Impact of #ClimateChange on U.S. #StopAdani #Auspol 

Government Report Finds Drastic Impact of Climate Change on U.S.
By LISA FRIEDMANAUG. 7, 2017

A draft report by government scientists concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. Branden Camp/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years, according to a sweeping federal climate change report awaiting approval by the Trump administration.


The draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies, which has not yet been made public, concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. 

It directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet who say that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain, and that the ability to predict the effects is limited.


“Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” a draft of the report states. 

A copy of it was obtained by The New York Times.
The authors note that thousands of studies, conducted by tens of thousands of scientists, have documented climate changes on land and in the air. 

“Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change,” they wrote.


The report was completed this year and is a special science section of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years.

 The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the draft report and the authors are awaiting permission from the Trump administration to release it.
One government scientist who worked on the report, and who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity, said he and others were concerned that it would be suppressed.
A draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies, which has not yet been made public but was obtained by The New York Times, concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now.

The White House and Environmental Protection Agency did not immediately respond to calls and emails requesting comment on Monday night.
The report concludes that even if humans immediately stopped emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the world would still feel at least an additional 0.50 degrees Fahrenheit (0.30 degrees Celsius) of warming over this century compared with today. 

The projected actual rise, scientists say, will be as much as 2 degrees Celsius.
A small difference in global temperatures can make a big difference in the climate: The difference between a rise in global temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius and one of 2 degrees Celsius, for example, could mean longer heat waves, more intense rainstorms and the faster disintegration of coral reefs.

Among the more significant of the study’s findings is that it is possible to attribute some extreme weather to climate change. 

The field known as “attribution science” has advanced rapidly in response to increasing risks from climate change.
The E.P.A. is one of 13 agencies that must approve the report by Aug. 18.

 The agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, has said he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.
“It’s a fraught situation,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geoscience and international affairs at Princeton University who was not involved in the study. 

“This is the first case in which an analysis of climate change of this scope has come up in the Trump administration, and scientists will be watching very carefully to see how they handle it.”


Scientists say they fear the Trump administration could change or suppress the report. 

But those who challenge scientific data on human-caused climate change say they are equally worried that the draft report, as well as the larger National Climate Assessment, will be publicly released.
“The National Climate Assessment seems to be on autopilot because there’s no political that has taken control of it,” said Myron Ebell, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He was referring to a lack of political direction from the Trump administration.
The report says significant advances have been made linking human influence to individual extreme weather events since the last National Climate Assessment was produced in 2014. Still, it notes, crucial uncertainties remain.
It cites the European heat wave of 2003 and the record heat in Australia in 2013 as specific episodes where “relatively strong evidence” showed that a man-made factor contributed to the extreme weather.

In the United States, the authors write, the heat wave that broiled Texas in 2011 was more complicated. 

That year was Texas’ driest on record, and one study cited in the report said local weather variability and La Niña were the primary causes, with a “relatively small” warming contribution. Another study had concluded that climate change made extreme events 20 times more likely in Texas.
Based on those and other conflicting studies, the federal draft concludes that there was a medium likelihood that climate change played a role in the Texas heat wave. But it avoids assessing other individual weather events for their link to climate change. Generally, the report described linking recent major droughts in the United States to human activity as “complicated,” saying that while many droughts have been long and severe, they have not been unprecedented in the earth’s hydrologic natural variation.
Worldwide, the draft report finds it “extremely likely” that more than half of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 can be linked to human influence.
In the United States, the report concludes with “very high” confidence that the number and severity of cool nights has decreased since the 1960s, while the frequency and severity of warm days has increased. Extreme cold waves, it says, are less common since the 1980s, while extreme heat waves are more common.
The study examines every corner of the United States and finds that all of it was touched by climate change. The average annual temperature in the United States will continue to rise, the authors write, making recent record-setting years “relatively common” in the near future. It projects increases of 5.0 to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 to 4.8 degrees Celsius) by the late century, depending on the level of future emissions.
It says the average annual rainfall across the country has increased by about 4 percent since the beginning of the 20th century. Parts of the West, Southwest and Southeast are drying up, while the Southern Plains and Midwest are getting wetter.
With a medium degree of confidence, the authors linked the contribution of human-caused warming to rising temperatures over the Western and Northern United States. It found no direct link in the Southeast.
Additionally, the government scientists wrote that surface, air and ground temperatures in Alaska and the Arctic are warming at a frighteningly fast rate — twice as fast as the global average.
“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,” the report says.
Human activity, the report goes on to say, is a primary culprit.
The study does not make policy recommendations, but it notes that stabilizing the global mean temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius — what scientists have referred to as the guard rail beyond which changes become catastrophic — will require significant reductions in global levels of carbon dioxide.
Nearly 200 nations agreed as part of the Paris accords to limit or cut fossil fuel emissions. If countries make good on those promises, the federal report says, that will be a key step toward keeping global warming at manageable levels.
Mr. Trump this year announced the United States will withdraw from the Paris agreement, saying the deal is bad for America.

Press link for more: nytimes.com

5 Countries are winning the battle against #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol 

These 5 Countries Are Killing It in the Battle Against Climate Change
Raya BidshahriAug 07, 2017

When it comes to climate change, government leaders and politicians must begin to think beyond their term limits and lifetimes. They must ask themselves not how they can serve their voters, but rather how they can contribute to our species’ progress.

 They must think beyond the short term economic benefits of fossil fuels, and consider the long term costs to our planet.


Climate change is considered one of the greatest threats to our species. 

If current trends continue, we can expect an increase in frequency of extreme weather events like floods, droughts and heat waves. 

All of these pose a threat to crops, biodiversity, freshwater supplies and above all, human life.
The core of the problem is that we still rely on carbon-based fuels for 85 percent of all the energy we consume every year. 

But as Al Gore points out in his latest TED talk, there is a case for optimism.

“We’re going to win this. 

We are going to prevail,” he says. “We have seen a revolutionary breakthrough in the emergence of these exponential curves.” 

We are seeing an exponential decrease in the costs of renewable energy, increase in energy storage capacity and increase in investments in renewables.

In an attempt to reverse the negative effects of climate change, we must reduce carbon emissions and increase reliance on renewable energy.

 Even more, we need to prepare for the already-emerging negative consequences of changing climates.
Winning the battle against climate change is not a venture that a few nations can accomplish alone. It will take global initiative and collaboration. Here are examples of a few countries leading the way.
Denmark
Considered the most climate-friendly country in the world, Denmark is on the path to be completely independent of fossil fuels by 2050. With the most effective policies for reducing carbon emissions and using renewable energy, it is also a top choice for international students when it comes to environmental education. The nation has also developed an extensive strategy for coping with the effects of extreme weather.
Note that while Denmark is placed fourth by many rankings, including the ‘The Climate Change Performance Index 2016′, it is actually the highest-ranking in the world. Sadly, there was no actual first, second or third place in the rankings since no country was considered “worthy” of the positions.
China
China is far from being the most environmentally friendly country. Yet the nation’s recent investments in renewable energy are noteworthy. Home to the world’s biggest solar farm, China is the world’s biggest investor in domestic solar energy and is also expanding its investments in renewable energies overseas.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the country installed more than 34 gigawatts of solar capacity in 2016, more than double the figure for the US and nearly half of the total added capacity worldwide that year.
France
Home to the international Paris Agreement and the global effort against climate change, France has for long been a global leader in climate change policy. The nation seeks to reduce its emissions by 75 percent in 2050. Thanks to the production of nuclear energy, representing 80 percent of nationwide energy production, France has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions.
President Emmanuel Macron recently announced that the French government is inviting climate change researchers to live and work in France, with all their expenses paid. The government will be providing four-year grants to researchers, graduate students and professors who are working hard on tackling climate change.
India
The world’s emerging economies have some of the greatest energy demands. India’s current leadership recognizes this and has launched several federal-level renewable energy-related policies. Consequently, the nation is on the path to becoming the third-largest solar market in the world.
As solar power has become cheaper than coal in India, the nation is leading a significant energy and economic transformation. It will be the host of the International Solar Alliance, with the objective of providing some of the poorest countries around the world with solar energy infrastructure.
Sweden
Sweden has passed a law that obliges the government to cut all greenhouse emissions by 2045. The climate minister has called for the rest of the world to “step up and fulfill the Paris Agreement.”
With more than half of its energy coming from renewable sources and a very successful recycling program, the country leads many initiatives on climate change. According to the OECD Environmental Performance Review 2014, it is one of the most innovative countries when it comes to environment-related technology.
Protecting our Home, The Pale Blue Dot
Legendary astronomer Carl Sagan said it best when he pointed out that “The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.”
On February 14 1990, as the spacecraft Voyager 1 was leaving our planetary neighborhood, Sagan suggested NASA engineers turn it around for one last look at Earth from 6.4 billion kilometers away. The picture that was taken depicts Earth as a tiny point of light—a “pale blue dot,” as it was called—only 0.12 pixels in size.
In Sagan’s own words, “The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.”
When we see our planet from a cosmic perspective and consider the fragility of our planet in the vast cosmic arena, can we justify our actions? Given the potential of climate change to displace millions of people and cause chaos around the planet, we have a moral imperative to protect our only home, the pale blue dot.

Press link for more: Singularity hub.com

What ice cores tell us about #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

This is what ancient, 3km long ice cores tell us about climate change

Cracks are seen on the Fourcade glacier near Argentina’s Carlini Base in Antarctica, January 12, 2017. Picture taken January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Nicolas Misculin – RTSW9RN

The speed at which CO₂ is rising has no comparison in the recorded past.

Image: REUTERS/Nicolas Misculin

There are those who say the climate has always changed, and that carbon dioxide levels have always fluctuated.

 That’s true. But it’s also true that since the industrial revolution, CO₂ levels in the atmosphere have climbed to levels that are unprecedented over hundreds of millennia.
So here’s a short video we made, to put recent climate change and carbon dioxide emissions into the context of the past 800,000 years.

The temperature-CO₂ connection
Earth has a natural greenhouse effect, and it is really important. Without it, the average temperature on the surface of the planet would be about -18℃ and human life would not exist. Carbon dioxide (CO₂) is one of the gases in our atmosphere that traps heat and makes the planet habitable.
We have known about the greenhouse effect for well over a century. About 150 years ago, a physicist called John Tyndall used laboratory experiments to demonstrate the greenhouse properties of CO₂ gas. Then, in the late 1800s, the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius first calculated the greenhouse effect of CO₂ in our atmosphere and linked it to past ice ages on our planet.
Modern scientists and engineers have explored these links in intricate detail in recent decades, by drilling into the ice sheets that cover Antarctica and Greenland. Thousands of years of snow have compressed into thick slabs of ice. The resulting ice cores can be more than 3km long and extend back a staggering 800,000 years.
Scientists use the chemistry of the water molecules in the ice layers to see how the temperature has varied through the millennia. These ice layers also trap tiny bubbles from the ancient atmosphere, allowing us to measure prehistoric CO₂ levels directly.

 

The ice cores reveal an incredibly tight connection between temperature and greenhouse gas levels through the ice age cycles, thus proving the concepts put forward by Arrhenius more than a century ago.
In previous warm periods, it was not a CO₂ spike that kickstarted the warming, but small and predictable wobbles in Earth’s rotation and orbit around the Sun. CO₂ played a big role as a natural amplifier of the small climate shifts initiated by these wobbles. As the planet began to cool, more CO₂ dissolved into the oceans, reducing the greenhouse effect and causing more cooling. Similarly, CO₂ was released from the oceans to the atmosphere when the planet warmed, driving further warming.
But things are very different this time around. Humans are responsible for adding huge quantities of extra CO₂ to the atmosphere – and fast.
The speed at which CO₂ is rising has no comparison in the recorded past. The fastest natural shifts out of ice ages saw CO₂ levels increase by around 35 parts per million (ppm) in 1,000 years. It might be hard to believe, but humans have emitted the equivalent amount in just the last 17 years.
Before the industrial revolution, the natural level of atmospheric CO₂ during warm interglacials was around 280 ppm. The frigid ice ages, which caused kilometre-thick ice sheets to build up over much of North America and Eurasia, had CO₂ levels of around 180 ppm.
Burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, takes ancient carbon that was locked within the Earth and puts it into the atmosphere as CO₂. Since the industrial revolution humans have burned an enormous amount of fossil fuel, causing atmospheric CO₂ and other greenhouse gases to skyrocket.
In mid-2017, atmospheric CO₂ now stands at 409 ppm. This is completely unprecedented in the past 800,000 years.


The massive blast of CO₂ is causing the climate to warm rapidly. The last IPCC report concluded that by the end of this century we will get to more than 4℃ above pre-industrial levels (1850-99) if we continue on a high-emissions pathway.
If we work towards the goals of the Paris Agreement, by rapidly curbing our CO₂ emissions and developing new technologies to remove excess CO₂ from the atmosphere, then we stand a chance of limiting warming to around 2℃.
The fundamental science is very well understood. The evidence that climate change is happening is abundant and clear. The difficult part is: what do we do next? More than ever, we need strong, cooperative and accountable leadership from politicians of all nations. Only then will we avoid the worst of climate change and adapt to the impacts we can’t halt.

Press link for more: weforum.org

Sea level rise’s impacts hardest to ignore. #StopAdani #auspol 

The State of Climate Science: Sea Level Rise’s Impacts Are the Hardest to Ignore – Climate Liability News
For years, politically and financially motivated campaigns have wrapped climate science in a cloak of doubt. 

Scientists, initially caught off guard, eventually responded with a relentless barrage of peer-reviewed papers producing a collection of very specific findings that together have led to irrefutable evidence of the human fingerprints on climate change. 

In this three-part series, we’ll look at the state of the science linking human-induced climate change to environmental, human and business impacts and whether the science has grown strong enough to be successful evidence in lawsuits holding fossil fuel producers accountable for those impacts.
By Amy Westervelt

Few people are clearer on the scientific evidence for anthropogenic climate change than those who study the warming, rising oceans.

 And among all of climate change’s impacts, sea level rise is the most obvious to see and quantify.
According to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global sea levels have risen by about 8 inches since 1880, the start of the industrial revolution.

 The report shows that rate is increasing, with projections of 2 to 7 more feet of rise this century, the higher number based on a high-emissions scenario in which the Greenland Ice Sheet melts completely by 2100.
A groundbreaking study led by Robert Kopp, associate professor in Rutgers’ Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, published last year in Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS) quantified the extent to which human behavior has impacted sea level rise.

Kopp and his colleagues found that without human-caused global warming, global sea level would have risen by less than half the observed 20th century increase and might even have fallen. 

“The 20th-century rise was extraordinary in the context of the last three millennia – and the rise over the last two decades has been even faster,” Kopp said when the paper was published.
Ben Strauss, vice president for sea level rise and climate impacts at Climate Central, said research conducted over the past three years has been able to precisely pinpoint the human contribution to sea level rise by stripping away all other potential drivers, including natural variability, sinking land, non-emissions-related human causes, and the global cooling of the 19th century. “You need a rigorous analysis to quantify the human contribution to sea level rise, versus just quantifying total global sea rise,” he said.  
Recent research has done just that, and the results are conclusive: humans have caused the seas to rise in addition to the increases that occurred naturally.

 On average, globally, human causes have increased sea levels between 5 and 6 inches. The potential damage threatens coastal communities and infrastructure throughout the U.S., putting millions of people in harm’s way.
“In the period since 1980, atmospheric CO2 emissions attributable to man—and it doesn’t all stay in the atmosphere, some is deposited in oceans, forests, and so forth—but cumulative emissions from that period, 1980 to now, is equal to or greater than all previous emissions, going back to the pre-industrial age,” said Dan Cayan, a climate and atmospheric science researcher at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego.
“So in this relatively short period of time, we’ve almost doubled the amount of CO2 in the ecosystem.”
Cayan, who works with the state of California to determine the impacts of sea level rise and plan mitigation strategies, said both global and regional temperatures have responded accordingly. “According to most models, doubling emissions would increase temperatures in California by about 4 degrees Fahrenheit,” he said.
That might not seem like much, but it has cascading and worrisome consequences. “In California, for every degree Fahrenheit of warming, we lose about 20 percent of the spring snowpack,” Cayan said.
California will be hard hit by global climate change, as sea levels rise and coastal flooding increases. Science linking that rise to human-related CO2 emissions is now building the foundation for legal action. Lawsuits filed in July by the counties of San Mateo and Marin and the city of Imperial Beach charge some of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions – 37 fossil fuel companies – with public nuisance and negligence in an attempt to require these companies to absorb some of the costs associated with adapting to sea level rise.
Detailing the Damage
Other coastal cities may soon follow suit, pun intended. New York City has estimated its adaptation costs with respect to sea level rise at about $19.5 billion. Recent studies have attributed about $2 billion of the $12 billion in damage inflicted by superstorm Sandy in New York City alone to human contributions. That estimate was made possible in part by the research led by Kopp.
Strauss and his team have taken that research and run with it, analyzing the frequency of nuisance floods, defined as flooding that closes coastal area roads, overwhelms storm drains, and compromises infrastructure. Strauss calculated that from 1950 through 2014, 5,809 of the 8,726 nuisance flood days— two-thirds of them— would not have taken place without human-caused global sea level rise. Even using a low estimate, more than 3,500 of the flood days would not have taken place.

“Intuitively, you could say that every coastal flood should be more damaging if it starts at a higher sea level, and most attribution science focuses on the question of whether a damaging event was made more likely by climate change,” Strauss said. “But working with sea level and coastal floods you can sidestep that question entirely. You can basically say we don’t care how or why the storm happened, in fact you can even assume climate change had no role in the strength or length of the storm, and still say it did more damage because it started at a higher sea level.”
Strauss said three out of four coastal floods over the last decade in the U.S. were tipped over the balance by human-caused climate change. “They would not have exceeded the National Weather Service’s definition of a flood if you removed that human-caused sea level rise,” he said.
Strauss and his team are now working to refine work they began in 2014, quantifying the cost of the damage inflicted by human-induced sea-level rise during superstorm Sandy. By focussing on New York City, the team initially attributed about $2 billion of the $12 billion in damages to human-related sea level rise. “That was before the Kopp et al paper came out,” Strauss said. “Now we’re working with real numbers, and we’re expanding to include the tri-state area.”
Those numbers run counter to the arguments used by fossil fuel companies for decades to justify continuing and unlimited fossil fuel burning: that climate change is not driven by human activity, and even if it was, its impacts won’t be significant and won’t be felt until far in the future.
Data and Deception
That campaign to obscure the realities of climate change has come into increasing focus in recent years.
“There is growing awareness and documentation that major fossil fuel companies knew of the impacts of their products back in the 1980s and that they invested millions of dollars and time in order to sow confusion and avoid regulation,” said Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Much of that documentation has come to light in the cases brought against ExxonMobil by the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts. A timeline included in the exhibits filed as part of the California cases reveals the impact of this deception. It shows mounting scientific evidence, and transparency, around the human drivers of climate change in the 1970s and 1980s, building to the summer of 1988 when several bills targeting greenhouse gas emissions were proposed (half by Republicans). The trends shift in the early 1990s, as fossil fuel industry trade groups like the Information Council for the Environment (ICE), formed by the coal industry, and the American Petroleum Institute, begin to fund national climate change denial campaigns. In the intervening years, scientists have worked to compile data that is hard, if not impossible, to politicize or deny.  
In addition to the work Kopp and Strauss have done to pinpoint how humans have impacted sea level rise, Frumhoff and his colleagues have worked to link human-induced climate change to natural disasters and their resulting deaths. Frumhoff also points to the work of Richard Heady, which quantified the contribution of a relatively small group of companies – what Heady calls the “carbon majors” – to climate change. “Heady’s work reveals the remarkable fact that two thirds of industrial emissions are attributable to a small number of companies,” Frumhoff said.
The amount of evidence mixed with the documented deception has many drawing parallels to the tobacco cases in the 1980s and 1990s.
“One thing I’ve been struck by is that in the early days of cases being brought against tobacco, juries and judges initially ruled for industry,” Frumhoff said. “They focused on smoking as a personal choice, and so forth. Over time that changed and by the 1980s cases were beginning to be adjudicated differently and hold companies liable. But the science didn’t change, it stayed the same. What changed was the evidence – some through legal discovery – that companies were engaging in obfuscation, and it was clear that they knew what they were doing and were deliberate in their behavior.”
Frumhoff sees a similar pattern now, with even more powerful new science strengthening the argument.
“There are changes in climate science that are germane,” he said. “The fact that we have this list of a few companies that are primary contributors to climate change coming out at the same time that we have this evidence of deception from companies on climate science … it would be ironic if it weren’t also catastrophic.”  

Press link for more: climateliabilitynews

Why we are naively optimistic about #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

Why We Are Naively Optimistic About Climate Change
Marcelo GleiserAugust 2, 20178:36 AM ET

Sunset at Paranal Observatory in northern Chile.

S. Guisard/ESO

There is comfort in distance, especially when the distance is in time.
Things that will happen far in the future seem not to bother us much, given that we will, most likely, be out of the picture.

This is certainly true when I put on my astrophysicist hat and talk about how the sun will turn into a red giant star in about five billion years, engulfing Mercury and Venus in the process, swelling up to almost Earth’s orbit. 

Clearly, such cosmic cataclysm will mark the definitive end of our planet as we know it. A roasted chunk of stuff will remain, but nothing like we see today.
But who cares, right? 

It’s so far away in the future, that even if I say that changes in the sun will turn Earth inhospitable for life much earlier, perhaps under a billion years from now, people will still shrug. 

A billion years? 

I can’t comprehend that kind of time.
Fair enough. 

But if we could bring the cataclysmic clock a bit closer to us, what would be the timeframe that would make people start to care, hopefully fear, the horrendous oncoming destruction of our way of life? 

One million years?

 Too far out. 

One thousand years? 

Still, not really relevant. 

One hundred years? 

Okay, here it starts to get uncomfortable. 

Seventy years?

 Now we are within the lifetime of most people under 10 years old.

So, if the world as we know it would cease to be in 70 years, people should start to take notice now. 

I have an 11-year-old and a 5-year-old.

 Barring unforeseen catastrophe, they will be around in 70 years.

 I would want their world to be better than mine, not worse. 

That should be the legacy of our generation.

 Unfortunately, we are failing, and those who deny it won’t have to see the consequences of their choices. 

How comfortable.

Seventy takes us near the end of this century, when predictions from climate models describe terrifying scenarios.

 We tend to focus on the rising of the oceans, and the forced displacement of tens of millions to the interior. 

Miami, New York, Rio, Bangladesh — How is that going to work, exactly? 

Where will the people go? 

How are they going to eat, find shelter?

 Are we, or the government, doing enough to prepare, even for a just-in-case scenario?

Last month, a trillion-ton iceberg the size of Delaware broke off from the Western coast of Antarctica, part of the Larsen C shelf.

 (Make sure you watch the video too.) 

The geographical change is so dramatic that maps of the continent will have to be redrawn. 

Although it’s hard to attribute a particular weather-related event to climate change — scientific modeling of global warming describes the relative statistical possibilities of different scenarios, not sure-shot predictions — the cumulative effect of this event and others that preceded it in Larsen shelves A and B add up to a radical change in Antarctica’s landscape.

As David Wallace-Wells pointed out last month in an important article for New York Magazine, even if we enjoy watching movies and TV series about dystopian futures, such as Mad Max, The Hunger Games, and Black Mirror, we tend to dismiss such scenarios as a realistic possibility in our lifetimes. 

Unless, that is, things begin to crumble. 

As Wallace-Wells remarked: “It is unlikely that all of these warming scenarios will be fully realized, largely because the devastation along the way will shake our complacency.” We will react under pressure, even if, by then, it will be too late to reverse or even slow down, in any relevant way, the warming trend.
According to the latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), over the next decades the sea level will rise gradually anywhere from 0.2 meter (0.67 ft.) to 1 meter (3.3 ft.) by 2100. 


In their assessment, scientists working for the IPCC use words like “highly likely” and “high confidence,” and only rarely “virtually certain,” which are not dramatic enough for the general public or politicians. 

Models show that temperatures will fluctuate more widely, with heat waves increasing over time. 

The planet is already warming up, as recent decades have been the warmest on average over the past 150 years. 

Heat waves impact food production, increase disease, and affect those in need more directly. A European heat wave in 2003 killed 2,000 people a day, with more than total 35,000 dead. 

As Wallace-Wells summarizes from interviews with many professional scientists who have spent their careers studying the weather and climate change: “No plausible program of emissions reductions alone can prevent climate disaster.” This is a runaway train.
The list of horrors is long. Widespread famine leads to massive migration, making what’s happening in Europe today pale in comparison. As the temperature rises, the Arctic permafrost (land that is permanently frozen, or should be) has started to melt, potentially releasing enormous amounts of trapped carbon in the form of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with an impact that can reach 34 times that of carbon dioxide by century’s end. If the melting accelerates to two decades, the impact is 86 times as powerful. While the temperature rises, diseases spread, some of them from trapped ice in high latitudes, ancient bugs we have no antibodies to fight. Even if many of these bugs may die during the thawing process, many will survive, carried by air currents and infected people to overpopulated latitudes.
Meanwhile, the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes the oceans to acidify at an alarming rate, compromising corals and fisheries. Coral reefs supply about one-quarter of marine life and feed more than half a billion people today. The dead zones spur the growth of oxygen-eating bacteria, making it impossible for fish to survive. Decomposing organic matter generates hydrogen sulfide, a highly poisonous gas that shuts down the nerves regulating breathing, killing in seconds even at low concentrations. Hydrogen sulfide played a key role in the most severe of all mass extinctions in Earth’s past, when 97 percent of all life died 252 million years ago.
Interestingly, as Wallace-Wells remarks, many climatologists remain optimistic, believing that we will find technological mechanisms to sequester the excess amounts of carbon that are slowly chocking the planet. This trust in science as savior is understandable: If we engineered this mess, we should be able to fix it. But it is also very dangerous. To trust human ingenuity alone is a risky wager, one we can’t afford to lose. The mindset needs to change, and scientists can only do so much to promote this change. People are not getting scared, and scaring tactics often backfire.
Perhaps it will be those who are now 10-years-old that will fix this, knowing that their elders messed it up for them. Shame on us.

Marcelo Gleiser is a theoretical physicist and writer — and a professor of natural philosophy, physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College. He is the director of the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement at Dartmouth, co-founder of 13.7 and an active promoter of science to the general public. His latest book is The Simple Beauty of the Unexpected: A Natural Philosopher’s Quest for Trout and the Meaning of Everything. You can keep up with Marcelo on Facebook and Twitter: @mgleiser

Press link for more: NPR.ORG

Choices to be made. #StopAdani #ClimateChange #auspol 

Choices to be made
02 August 2017

Local and regional authorities are making climate-conscious choices, whilst climate change impacts will soon mean individuals need to make choices to survive.
Subject terms:
Business and industry Climate-change impacts

Climate-change mitigation

The breaking off of a large piece (over 5,800 km2) of the Larson-C Ice Shelf has dominated the news headlines of late — a widening crack spread closer to the edge of the shelf, finally reaching the edge and freeing the iceberg on 12 July 2017. 

The dramatic and trackable event played out over weeks. 


It came in the aftermath of President Trump’s announcement of the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and in the lead up to a G20 climate discussion meeting.
The G20 meeting, held in Hamburg, Germany, concluded with a statement in which 19 of the 20 nations affirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement, citing that the agreement was ‘irreversible’. 

The US stands apart from this group, and considering the situation more broadly with Nicaragua and Syria, the only other nations not committing to the Paris Agreement.
Whether there will be a softening of the US stance is yet to be seen but it is heartening to see commitments from states and cities within the US stepping up to mitigate emissions while the federal government steps back. 

As Mark Watts, executive director of C40, writes in a Commentary (page 537) “Mayors of the world’s cities understand that there is no alternative to urgent, bold and transformative action against climate change.

 By the end of 2020, every C40 city will have a plan in place to ensure they can deliver on their obligations to the Paris Agreement.”

 In a related Feature (page 543), Erica Gies investigates the role of businesses, as a number of large corporations are making commitments in line with the Paris Agreement, supporting the work of cities and states.

Joerg Boethling / Alamy Stock Photo

To track progress and ensure countries and other committed parties are meeting their ambitions we need reliable data on emissions, which requires research funding and observing platforms.

 Mitigation commitments will hopefully also translate into funding to support these efforts.

 Another point to be considered is quantifying the baseline temperature from which warming will be measured, as discussed by Andrew Schurer and colleagues (page 563).

 The Paris Agreement aims to limit warming to 1.5 °C, but the pre-industrial temperature has not been defined and this Letter discusses the implications of different choices for likelihood and timing of exceedance of temperature targets, as well as allowable carbon emissions.
Action is needed: states and cities will have to, and are already starting to, deal with the consequences of a changing climate.

 California and China are discussing climate cooperation, with California all too aware of the challenges it will face having already experienced a number of years of extreme drought. 

The intensification of the hydrological cycle is discussed by Simon Wang and colleagues in a recent Commentary using recent events in California as an example (Nat. Clim. Change 7, 456–458; 2017). 

This change from extreme drought in 2012–2016 to extreme flooding over the 2016–2017 Californian winter is an example of anomalous circulation patterns that can persist and then flip, with such extremes being emphasized under climate change.
The situation in California is one example but, as has been reported in the literature, extremes of natural climate cycles are likely to increase, with El Niño having potentially far-reaching consequences due to its influence across the globe. 

Whilst the predictions are no longer suggesting there will be an El Niño event later this year, the warmer-than-average sea-surface temperatures in the west Indian Ocean and the cooler-than-average temperatures in the east suggest a shift to a positive Indian Ocean dipole event. 

Positive Indian Ocean dipole is associated with extreme droughts in the eastern Indian Ocean nations and maritime continent, whilst if there is, as predicted, a positive Indian Ocean dipole this year, the drought-ravaged regions of Sudan and tropical eastern Africa could be hit by extreme rainfall, potentially leading to flooding and landslides (Cai et al. Nature 510, 254–258; 2014).

 This is a situation mirroring hydrological extremes seen in California, but in developing nations with less capacity to cope with such events.
Another example is flooding and inundation from sea-level rise and storm surge. A recent study looks at the lower 48 states of the USA and which coastal communities are suffering chronic flooding and inundation (Aton, A. Scientific American http://go.nature.com/2u11YVi; 12 July 2017). 

The results show that over 90 communities already face chronic inundation, with the number projected to rapidly increase, dependent on emissions in the coming years.

 These communities will require fortification and adaptation to remain, or they will be forced to relocate.
The choice to abandon is not an easy one to make and an Article in this issue, and featured on the cover (page 581), investigates the choices being made by residents on four low-lying islands of the Philippines. 

These residents have chosen to remain and adapt despite a relocation plan being developed by the authorities. 

This is a choice that will hopefully be available to, but not needed by, others as the impacts of climate change continue to spread.

Press link for more: Nature.com

A Failure of Imagination on Climate Risk #StopAdani

A failure of imagination on climate risks
By Ian Dunlop and David Spratt

This is an extract from Disaster Alley: Climate change, conflict and risk published recently by Breakthrough.
Climate change is an existential risk that could abruptly end human civilisation because of a catastrophic “failure of imagination” by global leaders to understand and act on the science and evidence before them.


At the London School of Economics in 2008, Queen Elizabeth questioned: “Why did no one foresee the timing, extent and severity of the Global Financial Crisis?” The British Academy answered a year later: “A psychology of denial gripped the financial and corporate world… [it was] the failure of the collective imagination of many bright people… to understand the risks to the system as a whole”.
A “failure of imagination” has also been identified as one of the reasons for the breakdown in US intelligence around the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
A similar failure is occurring with climate change today.
The problem is widespread at the senior levels of government and global corporations. A 2016 report, Thinking the unthinkable, based on interviews with top leaders around the world, found that:

“A proliferation of ‘unthinkable’ events… has revealed a new fragility at the highest levels of corporate and public service leaderships. Their ability to spot, identify and handle unexpected, non-normative events is… perilously inadequate at critical moments… Remarkably, there remains a deep reluctance, or what might be called ‘executive myopia’, to see and contemplate even the possibility that ‘unthinkables’ might happen, let alone how to handle them.

 Such failures are manifested in two ways in climate policy. At the political, bureaucratic and business level in underplaying the high-end risks and in failing to recognise that the existential risk of climate change is totally different from other risk categories. And at the research level in underestimating the rate of climate change impact and costs, along with an under-emphasis on, and poor communication of, those high-end risks.

Existential risk
An existential risk is an adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential. For example, a big meteor impact, large-scale nuclear war, or sea levels 70 metres higher than today.
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 — researchers say that “even for an honest, truth-seeking, and well-intentioned investigator it is difficult to think and act rationally in regard to… existential risks”.
Yet the evidence is clear that climate change already poses an existential risk to global economic and societal 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”. 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”. 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”. 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 The Age of Consequences report by two US think tanks.
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 “long-term” carbon-cycle feedbacks — such as permafrost thaw and declining efficiency 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 figure 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 figure of 4.5°C, which would account for feedbacks, the Paris path would lead to around 5°C of warming.)
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.
Of course, 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.
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”. 

Paris emissions path (in blue), not accounting for “long-term” carbon-cycle feedbacks (Climate Interactive)
Scholarly reticence
The scientific community has generally underestimated the likely rate of climate change impacts and costs. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports are years out of date upon publication. Sir Nicholas Stern wrote of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report: “Essentially it reported on a body of literature that had systematically and grossly underestimated the risks [and costs] of unmanaged climate change”.
Too often, mitigation and adaptation policy is based on least-drama, consensus scientific projections that downplay what Prof. Ross Garnaut called the “bad possibilities”, that is, the lower-probability outcomes with higher impacts. In his 2011 climate science update for the Australian Government, Garnaut questioned whether climate research had a conservative “systematic bias” due to “scholarly reticence”. He pointed to a pattern, across diverse intellectual fields, of research predictions being “not too far away from the mainstream” expectations and observed in the climate field that this “has been associated with understatement of the risks” 
 In 2007, The Age of Consequences reported:

“Our group found that, generally speaking, most scientific predictions in the overall arena of climate change over the last two decades, when compared with ultimate outcomes, have been consistently below what has actually transpired. There are perhaps many reasons for this tendency—an innate scientific caution, an incomplete data set, a tendency for scientists to steer away from controversy, persistent efforts by some to discredit climate “alarmists,” to name but a few”.

For many critical components of the climate system, we can identify just how fast our understanding is changing. Successive IPCC reports have been reticent on key climate system issues:

Coral reefs: Just a decade or two ago, the general view in the literature was that the survival of coral systems would be threatened by 2°C warming. In 2009, research was published suggesting that preserving more than 10% of coral reefs worldwide would require limiting warming to below 1.5°C. The coral bleaching events of the last two years at just 1-1.2°C of warming indicate that coral reefs are now sliding into global-warming-driven terminal decline. Three-quarters of the Great Barrier Reef has been lost in the last three decades, with climate change a significant cause.

Arctic sea ice: In 2007, the IPCC reported that late summer sea-ice was “projected to disappear almost completely towards the end of the 21st century”, even as it was collapsing in the northern summer of that year. In 2014, the IPCC had ice-free projections to 2100 for only the highest of four emissions scenarios. In reality, Arctic sea ice has already lost 70% of summer volume compared to just thirty years ago, and expectations are of sea-ice-free summer within a decade or two.  

Antarctica: In 2001, the IPCC projected no significant ice mass loss by 2100 and, in the 2014 report, said the contribution to sea level rise would “not exceed several tenths of a meter” by 2100. In reality, the Amundsen Sea of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet sector has been destabilised and ice retreat is unstoppable for the current climate state. It is likely that no further acceleration in climate change is necessary to trigger the collapse of the rest of the ice sheet, with some scientists suggesting a 3–5 metre sea-level rise within two centuries from West Antarctic melting.

Sea levels: In the 2007 IPCC report, sea levels were projected to rise up to 0.59 metre by 2100. The figure was widely derided by researchers, including the head of NASA’s climate research as being far too conservative. By 2014, the IPCC’s figure was in the range 0.55 to 0.82 metre, but they included the caveat that “levels above the likely range cannot be reliably evaluated.” In reality, most scientists project a metre or more. The US Department of Defence uses scenarios of 1 and 2 metres for risk assessments, and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides an “extreme” scenario of 2.5 metres sea level rise by 2100.

To be useful in a risk context, climate change assessments need:

a much more thorough exploration of the [high-end] tails of the distributions of physical variables such as sea level rise, temperature, and precipitation, where our scientific knowledge base is less complete, and where sophisticated climate models are less helpful. We need greater attention on the strength of uncertain processes and feedbacks in the physical climate system […] (e.g., carbon cycle feedbacks, ice sheet dynamics), as well as on institutional and behavioral feedbacks associated with energy production and consumption, to determine scientifically plausible bounds on total warming and the overall behavior of the climate system. Accomplishing this will require synthesizing multiple lines of scientific evidence […] , including simple and complex models, physical arguments, and paleoclimate data, as well as new modeling experiments to better explore the possibility of extreme scenarios.

A prudent risk-management approach for safeguarding people and protecting their ways of life means a tough and objective look at the real risks to which we are exposed, including climate and conflict risks, and especially those “fat tail” events whose consequences are damaging beyond quantification, and which human civilization, as we know it, would be lucky to survive. We must understand the potential of, and plan for, the worst that can happen and be relieved if it doesn’t. If we focus on “middle of the road” outcomes, and ignore the “high-end” possibilities, we will probably end up with catastrophic outcomes that could have been avoided.
It is not a question of whether we may suffer a failure of imagination. We already have.
Yet people understand climate risks, even as political leaders wilfully underplay or ignore them. 84% of 8000 people in eight countries recently surveyed for the Global Challenges Foundation consider climate change a “global catastrophic risk”. The figure for Australia was 75%. The GCF report found that many people now see climate change as a bigger threat than other concerns such as epidemics, population growth, weapons of mass destruction and the rise of artificial intelligence threats. GCF vice-president Mats Andersson says “there’s certainly a huge gap between what people expect from politicians and what politicians are doing”.

The same survey found 81% of the 1000 Australians polled agreed with the proposition: “Do you think we should try to prevent climate catastrophes, which might not occur for several decades or centuries, even if it requires making considerable changes that impact on our current living standards?”.

Press link for more: Climate Code Red

Elon Musk exposes deep coal divide in Australia. #StopAdani @AnnastaciaMP #Qldpol #auspol 

Elon Musk Exposes Deep Coal Divide in Australia Bloomberg
Elon Musk’s intervention in Australia’s energy crisis is widening a divide over the future of coal.
The billionaire Tesla Inc. founder, who has promised to help solve an Australian state’s clean energy obstacles, sees no place for the fossil fuel. 

That conflicts with the national government’s push for it remaining a mainstay source of electricity generation, as well as the “clean, beautiful coal” technologies that U.S. President Donald Trump sees helping to save American mining jobs.

Elon Musk in Adelaide on July 7.


Photographer: Ben MacMahon/EPA

“Coal doesn’t have a long-term future,” Musk told reporters in Adelaide last week during a short trip to Australia. “The writing’s on the wall.”


His declaration in energy-strapped South Australia, where the 46-year-old entrepreneur announced plans to build the world’s biggest battery to support the state’s blackout-plagued power grid, has rankled lawmakers.

Photo Green TNQ (Tablelands Far North Queensland) 

Energy minister Josh Frydenberg, 45, accused the state of tapping a celebrity to paper over its patchy clean energy record. 

Tesla’s battery plan “is a lot of sizzle for very little sausage,” Frydenberg, a member of the conservative Liberal-led federal government, said Monday. 

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, 50, said Musk’s plan “doesn’t make a hell of a lot of difference” to the nation’s struggles over energy security.


Most of Australia’s states and territories — free to determine their own energy and climate policies independent of the national government — beg to differ. 

Just hours after Musk’s announcement, the neighboring state of Victoria closed the door on new coal-fired power stations, saying energy companies would rather invest in renewables.

Adani Project
The northern state of Queensland, where India’s Adani Group is planning to develop the $16.5 billion Carmichael coal mine, expects a move to clean energy will completely wipe out its carbon emissions by 2050.
Energy policy is a fraught subject Down Under, where a push by the majority of Australians for more renewable power sources is clashing with the government’s political imperative to keep a lid on soaring power prices. 

Currently, some 76 percent of Australia’s electricity is drawn from coal-fired power stations which, while a cheap supply source, are at odds with a commitment to lower climate emissions.

A series of power outages in South Australia the past year spurred fears of more widespread blackouts across the nation’s electricity market and raised questions as to why one of the world’s largest producers of coal and gas is struggling to keep the lights on in a mainland state.
The nation’s largest and also dirtiest power generator, AGL Energy Ltd., says its investment appetite for coal has reversed in the space of just a few years. 

The economics of building new coal plants don’t stack up and increasingly renewables will dominate base-load power, AGL Chairman Jeremy Maycock said last week. 

Australians overwhelmingly want the government to focus on clean energy, according to a June poll by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute.


‘Highly Improbable’
“It’s highly improbable that AGL will be constructing new coal-fired power stations because we don’t think the economics are likely to favor that,” Maycock said in a phone interview. “As the largest generator we want to play our fair share in the country’s emissions reduction targets.”

For Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, banging the drum on coal is proving a treacherous task.
In 2009, Turnbull lost his job as leader of the then opposition Liberal Party to Tony Abbott due to his support for an emissions trading program that was eventually installed by a Labor Party government in 2012.
After defeating Labor in 2013, Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition dismantled the levy on carbon emissions, claiming it was responsible for higher electricity costs, and cut targets for how much energy Australia aims to draw from wind and solar generation by 2020.
‘Good for Humanity’

While in power, Abbott claimed coal was “good for humanity” and his government attacked wind farms for being “ugly.” Since seizing the leadership from his unpopular predecessor almost two years ago, Turnbull has toned down the government’s attack on renewables.
Turnbull announced in March a plan to boost capacity at Australia’s largest hydro-electric power project by 50 percent in a bid to tackle surging electricity prices and supply constraints.

Yet the climate issue continues to create rancor within Turnbull’s party. When Chief Scientist Alan Finkel proposed last month that Australia gradually increase its renewable target to 42 percent by 2030, at least 22 members of his ruling coalition spoke out about it. Renewable energy generation provided 17.3 percent of Australia’s annual electricity generation in 2016, according to an annual report from the industry-led Clean Energy Council.

Abbott, who remains a lawmaker on the government backbench, is now calling for the government to subsidize the building of new coal-fired power plants even as investors shy away from it. Turnbull has refused to rule it out while his deputy Joyce has talked up the potential for the government taking an equity stake in any new plant. For now, the official political line is all energy sources need to be in the mix. Just don’t rule out coal.
“When it comes to energy sources, ours is a technology-neutral and all-of-the-above approach,” Frydenberg said in an emailed response to questions last week. “With a significant amount of base-load generation being phased out over the next 15 years, we need to ensure we are prepared and have enough power to meet future needs.”
‘An Absurdity’
Joyce, whose New England electorate in rural New South Wales is home to a number of coal mines, is typically more blunt. Not having any coal-fired power generation in Australia is “an absurdity,” he told Sky on Sunday.
Frydenberg and state and territory energy ministers agreed to implement 49 of the Finkel report’s 50 recommendations at a meeting in Brisbane on Friday. Among those endorsed were a requirement that renewable energy sources provide a backup in the event of blackouts, and that large power generators give at least three years notice before plant closures.
Not sanctioned was the report’s recommendation that a national clean-energy target be implemented. Instead, most state and territory Labor governments moved to have the Australian Energy Market Commission press ahead with designing options for a benchmark that could be introduced by the states.
Australia exported more coal than any other country in 2015, and has the fourth-largest share of the planet’s coal resources, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said in December. Still, the existing and perceived political and environmental costs attached to coal are deterring lenders.
‘Run a Million Miles’

“The high risk and cost associated with new coal plants make investors and financiers run a million miles from it in Australia,” said Ali Asghar, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Sydney. “The only way new coal could get built is if the government funds it and indemnifies any private entity against all future carbon risks.”
And doing so makes little sense, given that the cost of building cleaner, so-called high-efficiency, low-emission coal plants in Australia exceeds that of new projects relying on solar, wind, or gas, Asghar said.
“As solar and wind become cheaper and continue to undermine the economics of operating coal, investment in new coal plants become an even riskier proposition.”

Press link for more: Bloomberg.com

How did Australia get this stupid about Clean Energy! #auspol #qldpol

How did Australia get this stupid about clean energy?

By Giles Parkinson

Just when you thought that the public debate around clean energy in Australia could not possibly get any worse, any dumber, or any further divorced from reality, it did.
Conservatives have been railing against renewables and carbon pricing for at least a decade. 

So ingrained has it become in our national psyche that it is like a State of Origin contest between energy sources and their fans. “Queenslander”, shout the league fans. “Fossil fuels” screech the incumbents.

Photo courtesy Green TNQ (Tablelands Far North Queensland) 
But it plumbed further depths this week. 

And it got really stupid and really nasty. 

Conservatives in the government and the media rebooted their attacks on wind and solar energy, and extended it to battery storage and vehicle emission standards, with the Murdoch media dubbing the latter as a “carbon tax on cars.”
Craig Kelly, the chair of Coalition’s energy policy committee, said renewable energy “would kill people”, a claim happily repeated by columnist Andrew Bolt.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan urged the Queensland government to “forget about climate change”, while the LNP in Queensland will this weekend consider a motion urging Australia to quit the Paris climate deal.
Worse, the conservatives started attacking individuals. 

The verbal assault on chief scientist Alan Finkel was launched way back in February when it was clear he would not toe the fossil fuel line. 

And even after delivering what many consider a “soft option”, the conservatives rekindled their attack.
“The Finkel report is a blueprint for destruction — of the Australian economy and destruction of the Liberal Party,” Murdoch columnist Piers Akerman wrote.
Then they added another target – the new head of the Australian Energy Market Operator, Audrey Zibelman. Broadcaster Alan Jones urged that “this woman”, who he accused of being a “global warming advocate and a promoter of wind turbines”, be “run out of town”.

On the same day, writing in Quadrant magazine, Alan Moran, the former head of regulation for the Institute of Public Affairs, described Zibelman as a “refugee from Hillary Clinton’s presidential defeat.”

 (Actually she worked for New York governor Andrew Cuomo).
“Alan Finkel’s otherworldly prognosis is bad enough. But toss in Malcolm Turnbull’s advocacy of renewables and then add an imported American chief regulator who would have been happier working for Hillary Clinton and where are you? 

The simple answer: thoroughly stuffed,” Moran wrote.
These attacks on Finkel, and now Zibelman, come in groups. 

It begs the question, are they co-ordinated? And if so, by whom?
But really, how did Australia get this stupid? And this ugly?

South Australia’s energy minister Tom Koutsantonis thinks it’s because the conservatives, or at least the Coalition, are in the pockets of the fossil fuel lobby.
“The only thing standing in the way of lower prices, improved grid security and meeting our carbon reduction commitments is a divided federal Liberal Party that is completely beholden to the coal lobby,” Koutsantonis said on Thursday.
He may have a point, because ideology alone does not explain the absurdity and ignorance of some of the remarks made this past week.
It seems there is nothing about the clean energy economy that these people like. The conservatives and the Murdoch camp has been relentless against wind farms for years now and this week they turned its target to battery storage and solar panels.
One story focused on fires from solar panels, claiming 40 such fires occurred over the last five years in Victoria.
Context: Victoria has around 3,000 house fires a year, mostly from heaters and clothes dryers and electric blankets. Fridges cause one fire a week in London, including the recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington that claimed 80 lives.
The Murdoch media’s campaign against Elon Musk’s “bulldust boutique batteries” was actually kick-started by energy minister Josh Frydenberg, who made some ridiculous remarks about how a single battery could not power the whole state, or store its entire wind output.
(But it was 20 times bigger than the 5MW battery storage “virtual power plant” he was hailing earlier in the year).
No one is suggesting that this battery storage array can provide all of the state’s power needs: It is designed to help make up any energy shortfall, which occurred last year when the biggest gas plants sat idle, or when they unexpectedly tripped, and to help ride through network faults and generator failures.
And battery storage would have prevented, or at least reduced, all three major outages that occurred in South Australia since November 2015. It would certainly be smarter and quicker than the dumb, slow responding fossil fuel generator that did the wrong thing and extended the blackout on that day last November.
Battery storage is a threat to the incumbents, and their defenders, because it and other storage will make wind and solar dispatchable, will make more expensive gas peaking plant redundant, and eventually – with the addition of pumped hydro and solar thermal – allow the coal fleet to be entirely replaced.
The attack on proposed vehicle emissions standards was extraordinary. Australia has become a dumping ground for inefficient and polluting vehicles because of its absence of any such standards.
That is causing health issues and higher prices (it means more fuel consumption), but the Murdoch media had no hesitation in calling it a “carbon tax” on cars, and epithet that even Fairfax used to lead its coverage.
“Hands off our cars, warmists,” warned Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun, echoing the extraordinary push back by conservatives against the idea of autonomous driving. “Don’t try and steal my pick-up, I’ve got a gun.”
One wonders: Do any of these people use modern technologies? Or are they still riding a horse and cart, sending telegrams and listening to the wireless, storing their beers in an ice box.
Of course, the clean energy industry doesn’t help itself – either too brow-beaten by the media or scared to offend the government. When I started writing about clean energy a decade ago, I was astonished by the circular nature of the mutual put-downs from the wind, solar, geothermal and biomass industries.
Last week, when the Murdoch media got their “scoop” on an issue well reported in RenewEconomy, the draft standards that may effectively ban lithium-ion batteries from the inside of homes, and bring a halt to the nascent household battery storage industry – a major threat to incumbent utilities.
The response from some of Australia’s leading battery storage developers? The promoters of vanadium and zinc bromine flow batteries hopped on to their soap-box and crowed about how their product was not affected.
No sense of a common purpose there. Sauve qui peux! Every man for themselves. The story of Australia’s energy industry.
Meanwhile, the fossil fuel push continues unrelenting. The Minerals Council producing yet another report claiming that “High efficiency, low emissions” coal plants could meet climate targets. To understand how preposterous that claim is, read this.
“Low emissions” is just another marketing lie. “High emissions, low efficiency” might be a more accurate description of HELE coal plants compared to the alternative smart technologies.
It is an absurd situation we find ourselves in. The public support for these new technologies is overwhelming, as it is in business (apart from those seeking to protect stranded assets), and among most politicians – even many in the Liberal Party, as NSW energy minister Don Harwin revealed late last month.
Yet here we are: Short-term policies; a patchwork of rules on energy efficiency; the worst building stock in the world; the most inefficient and polluting cars; and the world’s most expensive and dirty grid, soaring emissions, and rising temperatures.
And two years after obtaining power, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is still defending policies he once describes as “bullshit,” too afraid to call out the nonsense spread by those keeping him in power.  

Press link for more: Renew economy.com