Sea Ice

Seas could rise by over a metre by 2100 #auspol #climatechange 

CSU hosts climate change symposium Thursday
Researchers once thought the more drastic effects of climate change were centuries away, leaving humans time to adjust their conduct to mitigate the damage.
Not anymore.
“The Arctic Ocean is expected to become essentially ice free in summer before mid-century,” reports the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, adding Greenland lost 36 to 60 cubic miles of ice each year from 2002 to 2006, and Antarctica lost 36 cubic miles of ice from 2002 to 2005.


It notes 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been reported since 2001. Last year was the warmest year on record, with eight of its 12 months the warmest months on record.
Because of melting ice, sea levels worldwide have risen 8 inches since 1880, and are expected to rise from one to four feet by the year 2100.
The warming caused by greenhouse gasses trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere wouldn’t stop now even if humans immediately quit adding more carbon dioxide.
“Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, global warming would continue to happen for at least several more decades if not centuries,” says NASA. “That’s because it takes a while for the planet to respond, and because carbon dioxide – the predominant heat-trapping gas – lingers in the atmosphere for hundreds of years.”
The public’s invited to hear more about climate change 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center, 701 Front Ave.
The symposium “Climate Change: The Facts, The Fiction, The Future” features speakers from CSU’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences.
Physics Professor Kimberly Shaw will lead off with “Venus and the Greenhouse Effect: How Scientists Talk About Scientific Knowledge,” followed by geology Professor David Schwimmer talk on “Paleoclimates and What They Tell Us About the Past and Present.”
Columbus has a connection to an ancient climate. The high sea levels of the Cretaceous Period, from 145.5 million to 65.5 million years ago, created Georgia’s Fall Line, the ancient seacoast. The state chose this site for the city of Columbus so mills here could harness the hydropower from the river’s abrupt drop in elevation.
Following Schwimmer will be William Scott Gunter, an assistant professor of atmospheric science, with “Taking Earth’s Temperature: What Global Measurements Tell Us About Climate Change,” and then environmental science Professor Troy Keller will talk about “’Hacking’ Your Carbon Footprint.”
After that, the audience gets about 30 minutes to ask questions, followed by a reception with refreshments.
“This is in a sense a followup to the march on Washington,” Schwimmer said, referring to Saturday’s “March for Science” at the capital.
Those who couldn’t travel to Washington wanted to have a local event, he said.

Press link for more: Ledger-enquirer.com

Arctic Ice Melt Could Cost Trillions by 2100 #auspol 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Press link for more: Huffingtonpost.com

March for Science! Today is the day to stand up for #Science 

Today is our chance to show support for science.

All over the planet people will be marching for universal values of science.

Find out where and when in your locality and join the scientists. 

Universal Literacy

A well-informed community is essential to a free and successful society. 

We support education to promote broad public knowledge and discussion of scientific work. 

As professionals, parents, and community-engaged volunteers, we enthusiastically contribute our time and expertise to helping children and students of all ages engage with the physical universe and biological world.

Open Communication

Publicly-funded scientists have a responsibility to communicate their research and public outreach and accessibility of scientific knowledge should be encouraged. 

Communication of scientific findings and their implications must not be suppressed.

Informed Policy

Public policy should be guided by peer-reviewed evidence and scientific consensus. 

Public policy must enable scientists to communicate their publicly-funded research results, and must support literacy in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Stable Investment

A long-term, strategic approach to investment in scientific research and development is essential for driving true innovation. 

Government commitment to stable science funding policy will deliver solutions to complex challenges, promoting prosperity for all.


Our acknowledgment

Science belongs to everyone. It should be pursued for the benefit of all people and for the health of the environment we depend upon.
At March for Science Australia we acknowledge the traditional custodians of the Australian continent, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and pay our respects to ancestors and Elders both past and present.
We recognise that science and scientific pursuits have been used in the past to disenfranchise many minority groups. We are committed to the promotion of science, now and in the future, as an endeavour which all persons have the right to pursue and enjoy the fruits of, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, religion or lack thereof, political affiliation, or socioeconomic status.
Diversity has strengthened and enriched scientific inquiry, and the inclusion of all peoples and the promotion of equal opportunity and training within science should be a goal pursued by scientists and non-scientists alike.

Press link for more: March for Science Australia

The Science that reveals #ClimateChange is Sound. #auspol 

Valley Voice: The science that reveals climate change is sound

By Dwight Fine 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2) sea level rise;

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

4) declining Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets;

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

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


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

Press link for more: Elpaso Times

Climate Change Predictions are accurate #auspol #science 

By Robert S. Eshelman 

Climate change contrarians have used many arguments to cast doubt on the scientific consensus that the atmosphere is warming and humans are to blame. 

They’ve alleged that tens of thousands of scientists, working across dozens of different disciplines, have organized a vast conspiracy to manipulate data. They’ve said more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will actually be a benefit because it will boost agricultural production. And they’ve even said that global warming has paused in recent years.

 

But their primary tactic these days appears to be to acknowledge that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is increasing due to human causes, but suggest that the scientific community just can’t pin down what impact those emissions will have on the climate system.

 

Trump’s EPA administrator Scott Pruitt made that claim during his Senate confirmation hearing, as did former ExxonMobil CEO turned Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

 

Kyle Armour of the University of Washington, writing in Nature Climate Change, says that, actually, the scientific community has done quite well at developing accurate predictions of how sensitive the atmosphere and oceans are to carbon pollution.

 

The debate, he says, pivots around a number called equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), which is the temperature change that scientists expect to occur with a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere compared to before the Industrial Revolution.

 

“This is the number that’s been essentially at the heart of climate change predictions for decades now,” he said. “It has a lot of policy relevance. If this number is high, we have a very sensitive Earth that will warm up a lot in response to greenhouse gases. If the number is low, we have a less sensitive climate system that would warm up a lot less.”

 

Put another way, climate sensitivity tells us how we need to limit greenhouse gas emissions in order to stay well below an average global temperature increase of 2°C compared to the mid-19th century, which many scientists say is a dangerous threshold to pass.

 

The problem is observations collected over the past 100 years have shown the climate to be less sensitive to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations than computer models of the climate have predicted.

 

And that’s where Armour got to work.

 

“It appeared that newer observations suggested a fairly low climate sensitivity in the range of about 2°C for a doubling of CO2, whereas the models suggested a higher climate sensitivity more in the range of 3°C for a doubling of CO2,” he said. “What I was interested in with the study was basically how much of the discrepancy between the observations and the models could be explained by the fact that climate sensitivity changes over time.”

 
 

There’s an incredible amount of inertia built into Earth’s climate system. The increased amount of energy trapped in the atmosphere due to all of the greenhouse gas emissions from our coal-fired power plants and internal combustion engines takes many decades to fully take effect.
And the climate system works in complex ways. When rising air temperatures in the Arctic melt summer sea ice, for example, it creates larger areas of dark, open ocean which absorb rather than reflect sunlight, which in turn causes more global warming. That type of feedback loop combined with the inertia of the climate system means climate change doesn’t move along smooth, linear plots on a line graph.

 

Armour found that while observations might show climate sensitivity to be on the lower end, the models are picking up quite well the amount of warming that emerges over the long-term.

 

“The conclusions are really two-fold,” said Armour. “When the models are treated consistently with the observations, that is measuring climate sensitivity within the models in the same way you would with the observations, it brings that value of sensitivity in the models downward, meaning they’re not too sensitive.”

 

“But the other way you could view the results,” he added, “is that the model range of future warming is rather realistic, meaning that our apparent climate sensitivity we get from the observations can be expected to increase in the future, meaning more global warming than you might naïvely expect from taking just that low value that people have been talking about from the observations.”

 

Gavin Schmidt, a NASA climate scientist not involved in the study, said Armour’s findings complemented the results of a 2016 report on climate sensitivity conducted by researchers at NASA and Columbia University. 

 

“What Armour finds is that [feedback loops] do change and in such a way that if you estimate the final sensitivity from just the early period you will end up underestimating the ECS,” he said in an email. “This is important because that’s almost exactly what’s happening when we try and use recent temperature trends to estimate the ECS. Those estimates have tended to come in lower than others, in ways that aren’t consistent with our understandings of processes or paleoclimate. So this result makes those studies much more consistent with other methods.”

 

Armour pointed to a pair of feedbacks that have yet to take effect, but are likely to lead to significant levels of warming.

 

“Over the next several decades to centuries we expect the Southern Ocean to warm up almost as much as the Arctic and get that big, positive feedback to start kicking in,” he said. “So it’s really that delay in the positive feedbacks kicking in that causes this increase in climate sensitivity into the future.”

 

That feedback in the southern hemisphere is projected to occur when ocean temperatures in the Southern Ocean warm, melting sea ice, like is already happening in the Arctic, causing the ocean to absorb more sunlight and leading to greater amounts warming.

 

Increased warming in the eastern tropical Pacific over the next several decades, he added, is is likely to diminish cloud cover in the region. That cloud cover, like sea ice in the Arctic and Southern Ocean, reflects incoming sunlight. 

 

“Initially in the very early stages of global warming, like today, like we’ve seen over the last hundred years, your clouds in the eastern tropical Pacific are actually acting to limit global warming, it has a negative, damping impact,” he said. “But in the future, say over the next several decades, we expect those to be a positive feedback, enhancing global warming.”

 

What Armour didn’t find was any suggestion that Earth’s climate might somehow absorb all of our increased greenhouse gas emissions and warm less than any climate model has predicted.

 

“There are no examples of models showing a decrease in sensitivity by any significant amount,” he said. “That range of predicted warming in the future, is actually, as far as we can tell, pretty accurate.”

 

And those predictions, whether gleaned from UN reports or NASA or any other peer-reviewed account, warn of dangerous changes to the climate, which could imperil millions of people and future generations.

 

“This is a good result for the scientists — because it closes a hole of inconsistency — but in terms of the ‘public’ argument, this won’t matter,” said NASA’s Schmidt. “The contrarians have been ignoring studies like this for years, and I doubt they will stop doing so now.”

Press link for more: Seeker.com

Sea Level Rise Will Be Catastrophic. #auspol 

A state-commissioned report on climate change released Wednesday raises the stakes for fighting global warming, offering a clearer and, in some cases, more catastrophic picture of how much sea levels will rise in California.

By Kurtis Alexander
The Bay Area will see the ocean swell as much as 3.4 feet by 2100 if significant action isn’t taken, the report says.

 The scientists who produced the study pegged the prospect of that outcome at 67 percent.

 Tougher action on greenhouse gases would mean a lesser rise of up to 2.4 feet, the study says.
The scope of the likely rise is largely in line with earlier estimates, but not completely. 

One worst-case scenario says ocean levels could rise 10 feet by century’s end, which would swamp countless homes, roads, harbors and even airports along the coast.

“We have learned that the potential for a higher sea level is greater than we thought,” said Gary Griggs, a professor of Earth sciences at UC Santa Cruz and one of seven climate experts who prepared the report.
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency thinks the Paris climate change agreement is a “bad deal” for the US. According to Reuters, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt did not confirm in that same statement, given sunday, whether the United States would remain in the global climate change pact. 

In the 2015 agreement, nearly all countries agreed to halt or curb their greenhouse gas emissions, even the world’s biggest emitter China.

Media: WochIt Media

The 71-page document was requested by the California Natural Resources Agency and the California Ocean Protection Council, in collaboration with the governor’s office, to help state and local officials plan for rising seas.
The report, an update of a 2013 state analysis, lays out expected ocean levels through 2150 for a number of locations and scenarios varying with the amount of greenhouse gas emissions globally.
Last year, nearly 200 nations committed in Paris to curb greenhouse gases enough so that the Earth’s temperature wouldn’t rise more than 2 degrees Celsius. 

The emission targets are not binding, however, and many scientists predict that President Trump’s executive order aimed at repealing Obama administration limits on coal-fired power plant pollution will prevent the U.S. from reaching its target.
The new analysis for California is based largely on recent, better information on ice melt at the Earth’s poles.


The main drivers of rising seas to date have been melting glaciers and the expansion of water that naturally occurs as temperatures warm. 

However, thawing ice sheets will soon become the primary contributor, according to the state-commissioned study.
The report indicates that Greenland has enough ice to raise global sea level by 24 feet while Antarctica has enough to lift oceans 187 feet. 

Glaciers, meanwhile, contain only enough ice to raise seas 1.5 feet.
While these continent-size masses of ice are not expected to completely melt, even a small amount of liquefaction could have big effects, particularly for California.
Because the ocean at the poles is lifted by strong gravitational forces, when that ice thaws and water is released toward the tropics, the liquid relaxes and spreads out, according to Griggs.
“It turns out for Antarctica, the biggest impact is along the California coast,” he said.
For every foot of global sea-level rise caused by melting ice in the western Antarctic, California will see the the ocean rise about 1.25 feet, according to the report.
The report emphasizes the importance of preparing for the spike.
“California leads the way in both addressing climate change and protecting our coastal and ocean communities and resources,” Jenn Eckerle, deputy director of the Ocean Protection Council, said in a statement.

 “Our statewide policy on sea-level rise is another example of that leadership.

 We provide guidance to state agencies and local governments for incorporating sea-level rise projections into planning, permitting, investment, and other decisions.”

Press link for more: SFGate.com

Climate Change is Rapidly Accelerating! #auspol #Qldpol 

Climate change is rapidly accelerating. 

By  Paul Dawson

Data shows 16 of the world’s 17 hottest years have occurred since 2000. 


Carbon dioxide concentrations have accelerated to the highest levels in human history. 

There is no natural explanation for this. 

Scientists and models may have been too conservative in the past. 

The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, heat waves, droughts, flooding and wildfires are all accelerating. So are health effects from climate change, such as heat stress, air pollution and infectious diseases. Oceans are warming about 13 percent faster than previously thought and the destruction of coral reefs is happening at a rate that scientists didn’t expect for another 30 years.


The Arctic is warming at two to four times the rate as the rest of the planet.

 Sea ice is melting from above and below and is very shallow. Greenland ice sheets are also quickly melting and are increasing global sea levels. As the Arctic warms and loses its ice, it absorbs more solar radiation and warming accelerates. This produces more water vapor, a greenhouse gas. In addition, the Arctic permafrost melts and some of the abundant greenhouse gases (GHG) of methane and carbon dioxide from organic materials in the frozen soil are released into the atmosphere. In time, humanity’s release of GHG may be small in comparison to the natural release mechanisms of the GHG from the ocean, wetlands, soils, and permafrost of the Arctic. But this tipping point has not been reached yet.
 

Many Americans seem to lack a sense of urgency in dealing with climate change. 

A few years ago, mankind used chlorofluorocarbons as refrigerants and in aerosol dispensers and these chemicals reacted with ozone to create a hole in the ozone layer of the atmosphere. The ozone layer absorbs harmful solar ultraviolet radiation. Thankfully, the countries respected scientific findings and agreed to stop using the damaging chemicals. Now, ozone is filling in the opening and the ozone crisis has ended.
Fortunately, renewable energy can now compete economically with fossil fuel energy, especially if energy subsidies were removed. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that global energy subsidies, including the social and environmental costs associated with heavily subsidized fossil fuels, are costing the world’s governments upward of $5 trillion annually. This figure includes over $700 billion in subsidies to U.S. fossil fuel companies. This is equivalent to every American giving fossil fuel corporations $2,180 annually in the form of taxes. This is absurd and shocking. The IMF said that ending subsidies for fossil fuels would cut global carbon emissions by 20 percent.
Let’s end energy subsidies. 

Let’s reverse carbon and methane emissions.

 Let’s support the Paris Agreement and make climate change a high priority for us and for our elected officials. 

Please join the People’s Climate March on Saturday, April 29.
Paul Dawson is an emeritus professor of engineering at Boise State University, specializing in the thermal sciences, atmospheric science and renewable energy.
CLIMATE MARCH

The People’s Climate March in Idaho, hosted by Idaho Sierra Club, will be at noon Saturday, April 29, at the Idaho Capitol in Boise. Call (208) 384-1023 for details.

Press link for more: Idaho Statesman

We Can’t Ignore Existential Threats #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange 

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
It’s a disorienting year in many democracies, and we are trying to define this moment. Last week, writer Francis Fukuyama talked about democracy in crisis.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: People need to pay attention. They need to participate. The problem, I think, really is in the polarization that there’s so much anger and distrust between the two sides of this divide.
MARTIN: Today, Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and United Nations Human Rights Commissioner – she sees a moment of self-interest. Less than three years ago, a global climate agreement showed global cooperation. Now, she says, much has changed.
MARY ROBINSON: It’s quite a strange moment because we had a very strong multilateral set of frameworks that were adopted. And then somehow we seem to be now going into identity nationalism in a narrow sense, hate speech, wanting to do down the other or fear of the other.
MARTIN: People seem to be running away from global cooperation, she says. I asked Mary Robinson if she sympathizes with the average workers around the globe who feel global institutions and agreements have left them behind.
ROBINSON: I do because I think we do have a very, very unequal world, and it’s getting worse. And that is breaking down the trust for a lot of young people who are very cynical about the political framework because they see the countries that preach democracy and human rights being countries largely responsible in their view for the problems in their region, you know, for wars like especially the war in Iraq and what happened in Libya and what’s happening now in Syria and the lack of sort of honest discourse about responsibility.
I think the frameworks that we saw adopted in 2015 are the answer, are the way forward. How do we get back on track to that?
MARTIN: How do you make that happen when everything in this moment is pointing the other direction, when people feel left out of this, when they don’t see any benefit from these international agreements?
ROBINSON: Well, I do think we have to listen and take onboard the fact that there are very many people who feel left out, who feel their incomes are shrinking who are part of a Rust Belt in the United States, who are part of worrying about migrants taking their jobs, etc. We have to be sensitive to all of those issues.
But I think we have to then continue with not just our values but the fact that the world faces a genuine existential threat of climate change, and it’s a battle for the minds and hearts of the moment. And it’s a battle that can’t be lost by the side that knows that it is clean energy and a fairer world of solidarity that will bring us forward.
MARTIN: It’s no secret that there is a level of skepticism here in the United States about the ability of international organizations to make real change. And, as you know, critics often cite the fact that countries with horrible human rights records have been allowed to sit on the U.N. Human Rights Commission – Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, at one point Libya was the chair of the commission.
ROBINSON: I’m aware of that skepticism, but actually I saw in reality that it can help to have countries with quite bad records in organizations. It’s good to have them involved because then their own civil society can come to Geneva and hold them to account, and they do.
I mean, they come from all over the world, and it’s their one chance to have their country in the dock and to accuse it, and if they’re members of the Human Rights Council to accuse it all the more seriously.
MARTIN: If I could ask you about a real world case in this moment. The U.S. strikes in Syria against the Assad regime came in response to this chemical weapons attack that left so many civilians in Italy province dead. Do you support that strike? Do you think it was a good idea?
ROBINSON: I think it’s hard to answer that in one liner. You have to look at the terrible tragedy of what has happened in Syria. It’s not right that chemical weapons have been used more than once, as we know, but I also don’t like hasty gestures. And I think that this was something done, perhaps, in haste to prove a point, rather than of necessity after due consideration that this had to be done.
At the same time, I’m just worried about how this will play out in the future because the message has gone that a country can act unilaterally and bomb. Are other countries listening? And what message are they getting?
MARTIN: I wonder if I could ask an even broader question about how you think of intervention for humanitarian purposes. I mean, Western democracies have tended to intervene when there’s a connection to their own self-interest. But there are plenty of other situations where that link is not necessarily apparent. You take the Rohingya in Myanmar, the slaughter happening now in South Sudan or Nigeria. Do you think all these crisis demand intervention? And if not, how do you decide which lives are worth saving and which are not?
ROBINSON: I think we have a real problem of double standards. To me there should always be a very open, generous, solidarity response to genuine humanitarian problems, and they shouldn’t be linked to is this in my interest as a country? You know, the word intervention is a strange word in a way. We should just be there for our fellow human beings in a helpful and supportive a way.
Again, I am – I’m very worried, as I mentioned earlier, about the fact that climate change is undermining development in countries that are already very disrupted by climate. We don’t feel it so much in resilient countries, rich countries but that won’t be able to continue if it gets a good deal worse as it may.
MARTIN: But you also understand what it means to be the leader of a nation of people and to have to look out for the interests of in your case the Irish and to look, have a hard look at what your financial capability is, how much you can devote to foreign aid to helping those very people who are suffering those climate-related disasters and figuring out how to provide jobs for people who are unemployed in Ireland.
ROBINSON: Yes. That’s very true. I did have my priorities. I did have a consciousness. My country couldn’t do the impossible and shouldn’t be asked to. But, actually, again, if I may, you know, given my focus on human rights and tackling injustice, including the injustice of climate change and its impacts. But I have never had to be the head of state of a country that knows that the country itself will go out of existence if we go above 1.5 degrees Celsius. I never had to do that.
We need to do things that are very serious, and we have no time to waste. I’m very conscious of this because I’m a happy Irish grandmother. So I’ve asked myself as a grandmother what are we doing to make sure that there will be a secure world where people can live in peace and harmony? We should all be asking that question.
MARTIN: Mary Robinson served as president of Ireland and as high commissioner for human rights at the United Nations. She now leads the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice. Thank you so much for your time.
ROBINSON: OK. Thank you very much.

Press link for more: NPR.ORG

CO2 the ever increasing driver of global warming! #auspol #qldpol 

The primary driver of global warming, disruptive climate changes and ocean acidification is the ever-increasing amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

By Barry Saxifrage

Despite decades of global efforts towards climate policies, clean energy and efficiency, CO2 levels continue to rise and are actually accelerating upwards.

 For those of us hoping for signs of climate progress, this most critical and basic climate data is bitter news indeed.

 It shows humanity racing ever more rapidly into a full-blown crisis for both our climate and our oceans.
That’s the story told by the newest CO2 data released by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Let’s take a look….
Even the increases are increasing

Even the increases are increasing

Annual CO2 increase in atmosphere

My first chart, above, shows NOAA’s CO2 data thru 2016.
Each vertical bar shows how much the level of CO2 in the atmosphere increased that year. You can see at a glance how the annual changes keep getting larger.
Indeed, the last two years (dark orange) saw CO2 rise by three parts-per-million (3 ppm) for the first time ever recorded.
And the relentless upwards march of CO2 is even more clear in the ten-year averages.
Annual atmospheric CO2 increases. Ten-year averages.

My second chart shows these ten-year average increases as yellow columns. Up, up, up.
“Unprecedented”
NOAA’s press release highlighted the “unprecedented” CO2 rise in last two years.
The scientists also pointed out that 2016 “was a record fifth consecutive year that carbon dioxide (CO2) rose by 2 ppm or greater.” Those last five years also broke a new record by exceeding +2.5 ppm per year for the first time.
I’ve included both the new five-year record and the new two-year record as black bars on the chart. All told, we’ve managed to pull off the triple crown of climate failure. The last ten years, five years and two years have all smashed records for CO2 increases.
If humanity is making climate progress, someone forgot to tell the atmosphere about it.
I thought we were making progress on CO2, what’s going on?
Recently the climate press has been buzzing about a hopeful CO2 report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA estimates that fossil fuel CO2 didn’t increase in either 2015 or 2016. Even better, they point out, this is the first time that has happened while the global economy expanded. I was curious how to reconcile this plateau in fossil fuel CO2 with the continued acceleration of atmospheric CO2. Here’s what I found:
Fossil fuel CO2 might be increasing.

 The IEA numbers might be wrong. 

They rely on nations to accurately report their fossil fuel use.

 Not all of them do, especially when it comes to burning their own coal supplies. 

In fact, the lack of a system to accurately verify national CO2 claims was a key issue in the Paris Climate Accord discussions.

 The worry is that as nations face increasing pressure and scrutiny around their CO2, the incentives to cook the books will increase.

 Incorrect accounting of just one percent globally could switch the storyline from “hopeful plateau” to “continuing acceleration”. 

The IEA devotes two chapters of their “CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion” report to the various issues impacting data accuracy.

Humans might be increasing CO2 emissions from other sectors. 

Roughly a quarter of the CO2 released by humans comes from non-energy sources not covered in the EIA numbers. These include land use changes, agriculture, deforestation, fugitive emissions, industrial processes, solvents and waste.

 We could be increasing CO2 from these.

Climate change might be increasing CO2 emissions. 

Increases in wildfires, droughts, melting permafrost — as well as changes to plankton and oceans — can all cause sustained increases in CO2 emissions. And climate change is affecting all of these. Perhaps some of these changes are underway.

The oceans and biosphere might be absorbing less of our CO2. Much of the CO2 humans release gets taken up by the oceans (ocean acidification) and the biosphere (increased plant growth). Some climate models predict these “CO2 sinks” will lose their ability to keep up. If that is starting to happen, then dumping the same amount of CO2 into the atmosphere will result in increasing amounts staying there.

Unfortunately we don’t have good enough measurements to say what the mix of these factors is. However, what we can accurately measure is the CO2 level in our atmosphere. That’s the CO2 number we have to stop from rising because it is what drives global warming, climate changes and ocean acidification. Sadly, it’s also the CO2 number that shows no sign of slowing down yet.
Out burping the ice age
NOAA’s press release also provided some perspective on how historically extreme our atmosphere’s CO2 increases have been:
“… the rate of CO2 growth over the last decade is 100 to 200 times faster than what the Earth experienced during the transition from the last Ice Age. This is a real shock to the atmosphere.”
For context, during the last ice age all of Canada was buried beneath a massive northern ice cap. The ice was two miles thick over the Montreal region, and a mile thick over Vancouver. So much water was locked up in ice that global sea levels were 125 meters (410 feet) lower. We are talking a lot of ice and a radically different climate.
Recent research reveals that:
“… a giant ‘burp’ of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the North Pacific Ocean helped trigger the end of last ice age, around 17,000 years ago.”
Just how big of a CO2 ‘burp’ did it take to help heat the frigid global climate, eliminate the continent-spanning ice sheets and raise sea levels by hundreds of feet? Around 80 to 100 ppm — the same amount we’ve belched into our atmosphere just since 1960. We did it 100 times faster than that so-called “burp” and we are still accelerating the rate we pump it out.
I’ve added the ice-age-ending ‘burp’ rate as a red line on the chart above. Look for it way down at the bottom. Such incredible climate altering power from even small CO2 increases shows why we must reverse the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Adding it up: the rising level of CO2 in our atmosphere
So far we’ve only been looking at annual increases in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It’s an important metric to evaluate whether we’re making any progress against climate pollution. But what actually drives the greenhouse effect is the total amount that has accumulated in our atmosphere over time. So let’s take a look at that.
Here’s my next chart showing atmospheric carbon dioxide as a solid blue line. Just for interest, I’ve also included a series of dotted lines showing how quickly CO2 was increasing in each of the last few decades. I’ve extended each of those out to 2030 so you can see at a glance how the CO2 curve keeps bending relentlessly upwards, decade after decade.

Accelerating towards the 450 ppm ‘guardrail’
Every major nation in the world has agreed that climate change must be limited to a maximum of +2oC in global warming. Beyond that point we risk destabilizing droughts, floods, mega-storms, heat waves, food shortages, climate extremes and irreversible tipping points. The best climate science says that staying below +2oC means we can’t exceed 450 ppm of CO2.
At the top of the chart I’ve highlighted this critical climate ‘guardrail’ of 450 ppm as a red line.
Notice how much faster we are approaching that danger line as the decades go by. Back in 1970, it seemed we had more than a century and a half to get a grip on climate pollution because CO2 was increasing much more slowly. But at our current rate we will blow through that guardrail in just 18 years. And, as we’ve seen, our “current rate” keeps accelerating.
Our foot-dragging at reducing climate pollution has left us in a dangerous situation with little time left to act. We’ve spent decades accelerating CO2 emissions to unprecedented extremes. We’ve blown our chance to deal gracefully with the climate and ocean crisis.
Global efforts so far
Beginning in 1995, the world’s nations have gathered every year to address the climate crisis. I’ve included all 22 of these annual meetings of the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) on the chart above. Despite these decades of negotiations, plans, protocols and accords, CO2 is now increasing 60 per cent faster than when they first met.
Instead of slowing the rise of CO2, we’ve accelerated it.
What would Plan B for 2C look like?
Recently, two of the world’s premier energy agencies — International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) — produced a joint report that tries to answer that question. Here’s the blunt summary:
“Limiting the global mean temperature rise to below 2°C with a probability of 66% would require an energy transition of exceptional scope, depth and speed. Energy-related CO2 emissions would need to peak before 2020 and fall by more than 70% from today’s levels by 2050 … An ambitious set of policy measures, including the rapid phase out of fossil fuel subsidies, CO2 prices rising to unprecedented levels, extensive energy market reforms, and stringent low-carbon and energy efficiency mandates would be needed to achieve this transition. Such policies would need to be introduced immediately and comprehensively across all countries … with CO2 prices reaching up to US dollars (USD) 190 per tonne of CO2.”
And here is their key chart showing annual energy-related CO2 emissions. Note the 50 percent surge since 1990 … and the need to reverse it by 2030.


Press link for more: National Observer

Sea-level rise is a ‘serious threat’ #ClimateChange #auspol 

Sea-level rise poses ‘a serious threat’ to millions of Europeans, scientists warnA new study spells out the threat of sea-level rise in coastal communities.

The 1824 flooding for St. Petersburg, Russia. Once-a-century floods could become commonplace as the planet heats up. CREDIT: Public Domain
By Marlene Cimons

The kind of devastating flooding that occurs once every century along Europe’s northern coastline could become an annual event if greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb, according to a recent study published in the journal Earth’s Future.

New analysis takes into account changes in sea-level rise, tides, waves, and storm surge over the 21st century and found that climate change could prompt extreme sea levels — the maximum levels seen during major storms, which produce massive flooding — to increase significantly along the European coastline by 2100.

This scenario will likely stress coastal protection structures beyond their capacity, leaving much of the European coastline vulnerable to dangerous flooding, according to study authors.

“Unless we take different protection measures, five million people will be exposed to coastal flooding on an annual basis,” said Michalis Vousdoukas, a coastal oceanographer at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and lead author of the study.

The study described the projected rise in extreme sea levels as “a serious threat” to coastal communities, noting, “their safety and resilience depends on the effectiveness of natural and man-made coastal flood protection.”

Kevin Trenberth, a scientist with the climate analysis section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who was not involved in this research, said the signs of extreme sea levels are already worrisome, not just in Europe, but in the United States as well. “Witness the sunshine flooding in Florida already, the flooding that shows up even with no storm on many streets any time there is a slightly high tide,” he said.

A Florida road flooded by tropical storm Arlene in 2005. Florida is especially susceptible to rising seas. Source: FEMA

“Sea level is going up because the ocean is warming and hence expanding, and because land ice — glaciers, etc. — are melting and putting more water into the ocean. But it is not the gradual rise that matters,” Trenberth said. “Rather, it is the storm surge on top of a high tide riding on top of the increase in sea level that crosses thresholds and causes things to break.”

Richard Alley, professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, who also did not take part in this study, noted that the study didn’t consider the possible collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet. “If that happens, then sea-level rise and impacts to coasts could be much higher than in this paper,” Alley said. “Rapid West Antarctic collapse could cause enough rise to make many of these other factors of secondary importance. So, the ‘worst case’ in this paper isn’t really the worst case.”

The new paper predicted that some regions could experience an even higher increase in the frequency of these extreme flooding events, specifically along the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, where the present day 100-year extreme sea level could occur as often as several times a year.

“The ‘worst case’ in this paper isn’t really the worst case.”

Information about the number of people at risk from flooding can be used to determine how large the social and economic impact of these events will be, said Marta Marcos, a researcher at the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies in Spain, who was not involved in the new study. “In terms of adaptation strategies and policy-making, it is very relevant,” she said.

The researchers studied changes in extreme sea levels by 2100 under different greenhouse gas scenarios and considered how all these components — mean sea level, tides, waves, and storm surge — will be affected by climate change.

The Netherlands is particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise. Source: Pexels

If emissions continue to rise unabated throughout this century, extreme sea levels along Europe’s coastlines could increase by more than 2.5 feet, on average, by 2100. Under a more moderate situation, where greenhouse gas emissions peak in 2040, 100-year extreme sea levels still could jump by nearly 2 feet, on average, by the end of the century — with flooding events occurring every few years — according to study’s authors.

In a related study appearing in Geophysical Research Letters, scientists found that if greenhouse gases continue to rise, there could be disturbing changes by the end of the century in the energy that waves carry to the coast.

In the southern hemisphere, extreme waves could carry up to 30 percent more energy by 2100, according to the study, meaning that stronger waves will become more frequent, and have a greater impact on the coast, said Lorenzo Mentaschi, a researcher at the Joint Research Centre and lead author of the study.

The new study attributed the changes in wave energy to the intensification of weather patterns, like El Niño. The new research will be provided to European Union policymakers. The data will also be made public so it can be used by scientists, engineers, and coastal managers.

Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University, said the research once again underscored how climate change, “which has already increased the threat to our coastlines through a combination of sea-level rise and intensified coastal storms, will be catastrophic for coastal communities if we don’t reduce global carbon emissions.”

Marlene Cimons writes for Nexus Media, a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, policy, art & culture.

Press link for more: Think Progress