Sea Ice

Global warming will happen faster than we think! #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike We urgently need a global #GreenNewDeal #TheDrum

Three trends will combine to hasten it, warn Yangyang Xu, Veerabhadran Ramanathan and David G. Victor.

Devastating wildfires ravaged California last month. Credit: Gene Blevins/Reuters

Prepare for the “new abnormal”. That was what California Governor Jerry Brown told reporters last month, commenting on the deadly wildfires that have plagued the state this year.

He’s right. California’s latest crisis builds on years of record-breaking droughts and heatwaves.

The rest of the world, too, has had more than its fair share of extreme weather in 2018. The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change announced last week that 157 million more people were exposed to heatwave events in 2017, compared with 2000.

Such environmental disasters will only intensify. Governments, rightly, want to know what to do. Yet the climate-science community is struggling to offer useful answers.

In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report setting out why we must stop global warming at 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, and how to do so1. It is grim reading. If the planet warms by 2 °C — the widely touted temperature limit in the 2015 Paris climate agreement — twice as many people will face water scarcity than if warming is limited to 1.5 °C. That extra warming will also expose more than 1.5 billion people to deadly heat extremes, and hundreds of millions of individuals to vector-borne diseases such as malaria, among other harms. 

But the latest IPCC special report underplays another alarming fact: global warming is accelerating. Three trends — rising emissions, declining air pollution and natural climate cycles — will combine over the next 20 years to make climate change faster and more furious than anticipated. In our view, there’s a good chance that we could breach the 1.5 °C level by 2030, not by 2040 as projected in the special report (see ‘Accelerated warming’). The climate-modelling community has not grappled enough with the rapid changes that policymakers care most about, preferring to focus on longer-term trends and equilibria.

Sources: Ref. 1/GISTEMP/IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (2014)

Policymakers have less time to respond than they thought. Governments need to invest even more urgently in schemes that protect homes from floods and fires and help people to manage heat stress (especially older individuals and those living in poverty). Nations need to make their forests and farms more resilient to droughts, and prepare coasts for inundation. Rapid warming will create a greater need for emissions policies that yield the quickest changes in climate, such as controls on soot, methane and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases. There might even be a case for solar geoengineering — cooling the planet by, for instance, seeding reflective particles in the stratosphere to act as a sunshade. 

Climate scientists must supply the evidence policymakers will need and provide assessments for the next 25 years. They should advise policymakers on which climate-warming pollutants to limit first to gain the most climate benefit. They should assess which policies can be enacted most swiftly and successfully in the real world, where political, administrative and economic constraints often make abstract, ‘ideal’ policies impractical.

Speeding freight train

Three lines of evidence suggest that global warming will be faster than projected in the recent IPCC special report. 

First, greenhouse-gas emissions are still rising.

In 2017, industrial carbon dioxide emissions are estimated to have reached about 37 gigatonnes.

This puts them on track with the highest emissions trajectory the IPCC has modelled so far.

This dark news means that the next 25 years are poised to warm at a rate of 0.25–0.32 °C per decade. That is faster than the 0.2 °C per decade that we have experienced since the 2000s, and which the IPCC used in its special report. 

Second, governments are cleaning up air pollution faster than the IPCC and most climate modellers have assumed.

For example, China reduced sulfur dioxide emissions from its power plants by 7–14% between 2014 and 2016 (ref. ).

Mainstream climate models had expected them to rise. Lower pollution is better for crops and public health. But aerosols, including sulfates, nitrates and organic compounds, reflect sunlight. This shield of aerosols has kept the planet cooler, possibly by as much as 0.7 °C globally. 

Third, there are signs that the planet might be entering a natural warm phase that could last for a couple of decades. The Pacific Ocean seems to be warming up, in accord with a slow climate cycle known as the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation. This cycle modulates temperatures over the equatorial Pacific and over North America. Similarly, the mixing of deep and surface waters in the Atlantic Ocean (the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation) looks to have weakened since 2004, on the basis of data from drifting floats that probe the deep ocean. Without this mixing, more heat will stay in the atmosphere rather than going into the deep oceans, as it has in the past. 

These three forces reinforce each other. We estimate that rising greenhouse-gas emissions, along with declines in air pollution, bring forward the estimated date of 1.5 °C of warming to around 2030, with the 2 °C boundary reached by 2045. These could happen sooner with quicker shedding of air pollutants. Adding in natural decadal fluctuations raises the odds of blasting through 1.5 °C by 2025 to at least 10% (ref. ). By comparison, the IPCC assigned probabilities of 17% and 83% for crossing the 1.5 °C mark by 2030 and 2052, respectively.

Four fronts

Scientists and policymakers must rethink their roles, objectives and approaches on four fronts. 

Assess science in the near term. Policymakers should ask the IPCC for another special report, this time on the rates of climate change over the next 25 years. The panel should also look beyond the physical science itself and assess the speed at which political systems can respond, taking into account pressures to maintain the status quo from interest groups and bureaucrats. Researchers should improve climate models to describe the next 25 years in more detail, including the latest data on the state of the oceans and atmosphere, as well as natural cycles. They should do more to quantify the odds and impacts of extreme events. The evidence will be hard to muster, but it will be more useful in assessing real climate dangers and responses. 

Rethink policy goals. Warming limits, such as the 1.5 °C goal, should be recognized as broad planning tools. Too often they are misconstrued as physical thresholds around which to design policies. The excessive reliance on ‘negative emissions technologies’ (that take up CO2) in the IPCC special report shows that it becomes harder to envision realistic policies the closer the world gets to such limits. It’s easy to bend models on paper, but much harder to implement real policies that work. 

Realistic goals should be set based on political and social trade-offs, not just on geophysical parameters. They should come out of analyses of costs, benefits and feasibility. Assessments of these trade-offs must be embedded in the Paris climate process, which needs a stronger compass to guide its evaluations of how realistic policies affect emissions. Better assessment can motivate action but will also be politically controversial: it will highlight gaps between what countries say they will do to control emissions, and what needs to be achieved collectively to limit warming. Information about trade-offs must therefore come from outside the formal intergovernmental process — from national academies of sciences, subnational partnerships and non-governmental organizations. 

Design strategies for adaptation. The time for rapid adaptation has arrived. Policymakers need two types of information from scientists to guide their responses. First, they need to know what the potential local impacts will be at the scales of counties to cities. Some of this information could be gleaned by combining fine-resolution climate impact assessments with artificial intelligence for ‘big data’ analyses of weather extremes, health, property damage and other variables. Second, policymakers need to understand uncertainties in the ranges of probable climate impacts and responses. Even regions that are proactive in setting adaptation policies, such as California, lack information about the ever-changing risks of extreme warming, fires and rising seas. Research must be integrated across fields and stakeholders — urban planners, public-health management, agriculture and ecosystem services. Adaptation strategies should be adjustable if impacts unfold differently. More planning and costing is needed around the worst-case outcomes. 

Understand options for rapid response. Climate assessments must evaluate quick ways of lessening climate impacts, such as through reducing emissions of methane, soot (or black carbon) and HFCs. Per tonne, these three ‘super pollutants’ have 25 to thousands of times the impact of CO2. Their atmospheric lifetimes are short — in the range of weeks (for soot) to about a decade (for methane and HFCs). Slashing these pollutants would potentially halve the warming trend over the next 25 years.

There has been progress on this front. At the Global Climate Action summit held in September in San Francisco, California, the United States Climate Alliance — a coalition of state governors representing 40% of the US population — issued a road map to reduce emissions of methane, HFCs and soot by 40–50% by 2030. The 2016 Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which will go into force by January 2019, is set to slash HFC emissions by 80% over the next 30 years.

Various climate engineering options should be on the table as an emergency response. If global conditions really deteriorate, we might be forced to extract large volumes of excess CO2 directly from the atmosphere. An even faster emergency response could be to inject aerosols into the atmosphere to lower the amount of solar radiation heating the planet, as air pollution does. This option is hugely controversial, and might have unintended consequences, such as altering rainfall patterns that lead to drying of the tropics. So research and planning are crucial, in case this option is needed. Until there is investment in testing and technical preparedness — today, there is almost none — the chances are high that the wrong kinds of climate-engineering scheme will be deployed by irresponsible parties who are uninformed by research. 

For decades, scientists and policymakers have framed the climate-policy debate in a simple way: scientists analyse long-term goals, and policymakers pretend to honour them.

Those days are over.

Serious climate policy must focus more on the near-term and on feasibility.

It must consider the full range of options, even though some are uncomfortable and freighted with risk. 

Nature 564, 30-32 (2018)

Press link for more: Nature.com

“Operation Navy Help”Cyclone Tracy Darwin Christmas 1974.Why I became a climate activist. #auspol #qldpol #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #StopAdani Catastrophic #ClimateChange #COP24

In 1974 as a young sailor married with two children I was in Darwin when Cyclone Tracy destroyed Darwin, my wife and I lay under a mattress with our boys while our house was torn apart. I was just learning the power of nature.

Watch the video Operation Navy Help

Naval Headquarters Darwin after Cyclone Tracy

After the clean up I retired from the navy and continued my career in the Australian Airforce.

I read the Club of Rome’s “Limits to Growth”

The message of this book still holds today: The earth’s interlocking resources – the global system of nature in which we all live – probably cannot support present rates of economic and population growth much beyond the year 2100, if that long, even with advanced technology.

In the summer of 1970, an international team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology began a study of the implications of continued worldwide growth.

They examined the five basic factors that determine and, in their interactions, ultimately limit growth on this planet-population increase, agricultural production, nonrenewable resource depletion, industrial output, and pollution generation.

The MIT team fed data on these five factors into a global computer model and then tested the behavior of the model under several sets of assumptions to determine alternative patterns for mankind’s future.

The Limits to Growth is the nontechnical report of their findings.

The book contains a message of hope, as well: Man can create a society in which he can live indefinitely on earth if he imposes limits on himself and his production of material goods to achieve a state of global equilibrium with population and production in carefully selected balance.

Today I do what I can to help people to understand the science, understand the challenge we face.

Listen. To Sir David Attenborough Address to COP24

How to keep going. #COP24 #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #GreenNewDeal #StopAdani Where do we find hope? #auspol #qldpol #TheDrum #QandA #ClimateChange

By Emily Johnston

Emily Johnston

Poet, scribe, climate activist, runner, builder. My book, Her Animals, is out now: http://bit.ly/2FjfLLP

At the MIT Media Lab’s Disobedience Award ceremony on Friday, someone asked me how I keep going—where I find hope.

As a climate organizer, it’s a question I get all the time, but it struck me a little differently this time. What she said was something to the effect of “On a good day, I can believe that we can win against misogyny and racism over time. But climate change, on such a short timeline? Shit. 

How do you keep going?

I was glad she asked, because we’d been asked the same on our panel, and I’d failed to say what I’d wanted to, which is that I see our job not as having hope, but of making space for hope.

If we don’t act boldly in the next couple of years, we lose most of our leverage to save huge swaths of the astonishing life on this planet, and we fail both existing and future lives almost incomprehensibly.

Globally, acting so boldly as to not fail is unlikely. But it doesn’t matter how unlikely a thing is; it only matters if it’s possible, and worth working for. Scientists are remarkably unified in believing it is possible, and nothing has ever been more worth working for.

So our job is not to feel hope—that’s optional.

Our job is to be hope, and to make space for the chance of a different future.

Climate Strike students give us hope.

The woman who asked me the question is young, articulate, savvy. She thinks about political change a lot. So perhaps that’s why something finally struck me this morning: when people ask this question, they’re not actually questioning whether there is hope, theoretically; they’re questioning their own ability to rise to this moment in time. They’re surveying the near future and finding themselves wanting—because they’re using the wrong lens.

I should have understood that before, but I’d been distracted by the way “how do you keep going?” is nearly always paired with “how do you stay hopeful?”

So let me state clearly again: only in the Rebecca Solnit sense (where it’s “an axe you break down doors with in an emergency” and located “in the spaciousness of uncertainty [where there] is room to act”) do I have hope.

Feeling hope for any particular outcome—even avoiding the extinction of human beings—is not what fuels me.

What fuels me is the knowledge that we can still make a difference, and therefore we must: we can preserve lives, and life, in the most basic and beautiful sense possible.

It’s an astonishing and surreal luxury to know that some lives, even some species, may continue because of the work that we do. But being attached to any particular hope now is a fool’s game; the one thing we know for sure is that in coming decades, nearly everything will change.

If I’m fighting only for my own family, or only for human lives, or only for orcas, or only for monarch butterflies, then when I’m forced to see that one or all of those are exceedingly unlikely to survive past a few more centuries—and they are—then all heart will go out of my efforts—and other families, or humpback whales, or parrots, or wolves, will thereby lose a little bit of their hope too. And that’s senseless, because I would dedicate my life to their survival too, if I understood it to be possible.

It’s a privilege and a profound responsibility, to be born into a moment when nurturing life on Earth into the future is possible, and into a nation that has, in truth, nowhere to go but up in living up to its responsibilities.

In other words, we cannot know who and what will survive, but it’s exceedingly likely that some will, if we fight hard enough, and those are the ones that matter. It’s that “spaciousness of uncertainty”, the space that we ourselves must make, selflessly, for other lives.

So let me ask and try to answer the question more clearly: how do we rise to this moment in time, especially if we don’t imagine ourselves powerful in the right ways?

I think we have to reconsider what we mean by power, and see that taking responsibility and taking care — for/of ourselves, the work, and others — is one of its deepest manifestations.

The Disobedience Award gathering was one of the most inspiring events I’ve been to, because of the way in which the winners and finalists held/hold power. To a person — to a woman, because all were—they held other people up, and many commented on their own privilege, in one case even while describing her abuse at the hands of state forces.

It seemed that all felt what one expressed, which is that they acted simply because they couldn’t look themselves in the mirror if they didn’t.

Several explicitly rejected the idea of themselves as heroes.

What the event was really honoring, in many ways, was resilience.

They weren’t knights in shining armor, or moved by a narrative urge to sacrifice, or touched with the light of pure faith; they were people who did the right thing under difficult circumstances, and kept doing it, and learned along the way.

In nearly all cases, they did so by joining together with others.

They didn’t have to make change by themselves; they simply helped to catalyze it, making space for others to join them, both because they needed help, and because they wanted to help.

I suspect they didn’t feel powerful, either, in other words—or at least, they often didn’t.

Very seldom did, if I’m speaking for myself. And I think it’s exceedingly likely that when Tarana Burke started #MeToo ten years ago, it wasn’t because she was feeling hopeful that she could eradicate sexual violence — no more than I feel hopeful that we can stop climate change.

No single drop of water can renew parched soil.

We will fail utterly if we do not share our strength. There is exactly no time to waste: whatever our gifts are, we must give them now—without specific hope, without pride, without waiting for the thing that feels just right, or the people who feel like exactly the ones we’d choose to do this work with.

We must fail, and then get up and try again.

We must work with what we have, every day that we can, as wisely as we can, together.

It’s that simple.

That’s how we keep going. And some days, at least, there is more joy in this work than I could possibly have imagined.

Press link for more: Medium

The school #climatestrike was a new generation’s activism – and I’m so proud #auspol #qldpol #ExtinctionRebellion #StopAdani #ClimateChange is stealing our children’s future #TheDrum

The school climate strike was a new generation’s activism – and I’m so proud

By Naaman Zhou

The kids couldn’t believe it.

The adults couldn’t believe it. 

Martin Place hadn’t seen anything like it for years, and Elly and her sister had never seen anything like it – ever.

Elly, 14, and Aidan, 10, had come thinking the strike would be “a small thing”. Elly said she didn’t know many people from her school who were coming. She found a thousand others.

On Friday, in a crowded Martin Place, the chants went up and I’ve never felt prouder.

This week thousands of students in every state walked out of school to protest inaction over climate change and the sense that their future is being frittered away.

They had the signs, the statistics, the anger – and the solutions too. I looked around and felt I had seen the future, clever and full of passion.

I count myself as nearly of the same generation as the strikers.

I’m six years out of high school, nearly graduated from university – but I’ve never seen a protest like this.

I came in with cynicism. In the exact same spot, I have seen so many protests wither on the vine, outnumbered by food-court patrons.

University students like to think that they are the epicentre of social change, or at least they were in the heyday of the 70s. But on Friday in Sydney all you could hear in the CBD were the school kids, and in Melbourne they stopped traffic at 1pm on a school day.

Activism seems to have skipped a generation, and I couldn’t be happier.

In Sydney, Jean Hinchliffe, 14, had the stage and took the roll, in a way. She asked who here was in primary school, who was in high school, who was from western Sydney, who had travelled from the bush, who wanted their politicians to do way more about climate change. The roar sent the microphones screaming into static and camera operators winced with their headphones in.

Scott Morrison had told them not to gather and that only made them feel better about doing it. Finally, something the politicians couldn’t control. That was the theme of the day – the frustration of feeling powerless.

“You have failed us all so terribly,” said Nosrat Fareha, 15, from Auburn Girls High school.

“We deserve better. Young people can’t even vote but will have to live with the consequences of your inaction for decades.”

Morrison was mentioned by every speaker and booed every time. How much he must regret that throwaway line in question time, that “kids should go to school” and be “less activist”, and the electoral harm it threatens to cause in a few more years.

It was so easily turned around, and the irony obvious to all. “If Scott Morrisonwants children to stop acting like a parliament, then maybe the parliament should stop acting like children,” Manjot Kaur, 17, said.

It was an articulate anger, and the speakers made sure to say they had the solutions too, not just the doom and gloom. There was music and happiness. They sang Stand by Me and everyone knew the words – an old-school activist vibe to make anyone dewy-eyed. One girl said to another, “Oh I should have put you up on my shoulders for that!” and then did on the next song.

“Here’s to us”, said Fareha. “The generation that can’t wait until it’s too late”.

There will inevitably be blowback from the rightwing commentariat, and the politicians themselves, that these young activists have been whipped into a false frenzy. But that’s not what this was. It was a hesitant, cautious embrace of something long overdue.

“When I say student, you say power!” Hinchliffe shouted. They did. And it felt like a sense of self-actualisation – hundreds looking around and thinking yes, everyone is actually, really saying it too. Maybe it’s true. The call and response came up and down Martin Place in waves, swimming long laps. They were clutching their ears it was so loud.

Press link for more: The Guardian

World must triple efforts or face catastrophic #climatechange, says UN #auspol #qldpol #COP24 #StopAdani demand #ClimateAction #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #TheDrum

Rapid emissions turnaround needed to keep global warming at less than 2C, report suggests

New taxes on fossil fuels, investment in clean technology and much stronger government policies to bring down emissions are likely to be necessary.

Governments must also stop subsidising fossil fuels, directly and indirectly, the UN said.

Gunnar Luderer, one of the authors of the UN report and senior scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said: “There is still a tremendous gap between words and deeds, between the targets agreed by governments and the measures to achieve these goals.

“Only a rapid turnaround here can help. Emissions must be reduced by a quarter by 2030 [to keep warming to no more than 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels] and for 1.5C emissions would have to be halved.”

In all, a tripling of effort may be needed to keep warming to less than 2C, meeting scientific advice on avoiding the most dangerous effects of climate change.

Greenhouse gas emissions continued their long-term rise last year, according to the UN, but they could be brought under control.

There are promising signs, such as investment from the private sector in renewable energy and other technologies to cut carbon, but these are currently insufficient to meet scientific advice.

Joyce Msuya, deputy executive director of UN Environment, said: “The science is clear: for all the ambitious climate action we’ve seen, governments need to move faster and with greater urgency.

We’re feeding this fire, while the means to extinguish it are within reach.”

Australia is feeding the fire with coal.

Global emissions have reached what the UN has called “historic levels” of 53.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, and are showing no signs of peaking, despite a levelling off in the past decade.

The report came a day after Donald Trump said he did not believe his own administration’s latest report warning about the dire risk of inaction on climate change.

Australia’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions soaring since government axed the carbon price.

Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of the dire effects of allowing global warming to reach 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. The world has a little over a decade to bring down greenhouse gas emissions before such dangerous levels of warming become inevitable.

Only 57 countries, representing 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions, are on track to cause their emissions to peak before 2030. If emissions are allowed to rise beyond that, the IPCC has said countries are likely to breach the 1.5C limit, which will trigger sea-level rises, droughts, floods and other extreme weather events.

On Monday, the biggest review of climate change in the UK for a decade found that flooding was likely to become more severe and summers could become more than 5C hotter within 50 years.

The UN’s warning comes before key talks in Poland next month, when governments will meet to discuss how to implement the commitments made in Paris in 2015. According to the Paris agreement, the first global pact to bind both developed and developing countries to a specific temperature goal, governments must do all they can to stop warming reaching 2C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration to limit warming to no more than 1.5C.

Jian Liu, the chief scientist at UN Environment, said some of the necessary policies were clear and available, if there was political will to implement them. “When governments embrace fiscal policy measures to subsidise low-carbon alternatives and tax fossil fuels, they can stimulate the right investments in the energy sector and significantly reduce carbon emissions. If all fossil fuel subsidies were phased out, global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 10% by 2030.”

Carbon pricing is one way of achieving this, but has run into difficulties as taxes are often unpopular and schemes to reduce carbon through emissions tradingare often contested by businesses and other interests.

Greenhouse gas emissions stalled soon after the global financial crisis of a decade ago, then quickly resumed their rise, to the consternation of climate experts. For three years before 2017 they fell once again, but last year there was an increase. Emissions are expected to rise further this year, pointing to an emissions gap between what countries promised in Paris and what their policies are delivering.

Looking for human remains after recent fires in California

Another problem is that infrastructure such as buildings, transport networks and energy generation that is built now to rely on fossil fuels will in effect lock infuture emissions for the lifetime in which that infrastructure operates, usually up to 50 years.

Changing the way we construct infrastructure is therefore essential, but many companies and governments still rely on old measures of economic performance and old ways of generating energy and constructing buildings.

Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said: “The window of opportunity is starting to close and if we fail to act now the opportunity will be gone.

Failure to act will lock in catastrophic global warming that will change the planet irrevocably and condemn millions to suffering. What are governments waiting for?”

Stephanie Pfeifer, the chief executive of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, said some businesses were taking action. “Investors understand the opportunity presented by the move to a low-carbon economy. The right signals from government will help to unlock low-carbon investment from the private sector.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

Mining for power: How Adani hopes to get its way #auspol #qldpol Why we need a Federal #ICAC urgently. #StopAdani #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #Corruption #ClimateChange

To mark its fifth birthday, The New Daily digs deeper into the power of the mining lobby in Australia.

Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine in Central Queensland is nothing if not controversial. Yet the Indian multinational conglomerate is determined to turn its mega mine dream into reality.

Pushing an uphill battle against public opinion, political appetite and fund sourcing, Adani’s “people” are in the ear of Australia’s decision makers consistently.

Like no other entity currently on the Australian political landscape, Adani needs representation at the highest levels of government.

And it is paying the big bucks to make sure it gets exactly that.

The Australian Government Lobbyists Register lists Govstrat Pty Ltd as Adani’s chief lobbyist company.

Govstrat is headed by former Queensland Labor Party treasurer Damian Power.

The company employs as its senior counsel and principal adviser the former Queensland premier and Nationals Party leader Rob Borbidge.

Labor leader Bill Shorten’s one-time chief of staff Ken Macpherson is also on the books as a Govstrat lobbyist as is Jeff Popp, who was chief of staff to the former Liberal National Party Queensland deputy premier Jeff Seeney.

“There is something that jumps out very clearly with this lobby firm,” said one well-known Canberra lobbyist who asked not to be named.

“They have got well-connected people and they have both sides of politics covered.

“There is also a strong Queensland link here. But these people are walking the corridors in Canberra too.

“Of course there is the wining and dining and whatever kind of representation they can get. And it is about using your networks. But it is also far more sophisticated than that. The stakes are so high here. The Adani lobbyists are putting up a strong political and economic argument.”

Also on the lobbyists register is the firm Strategic Political Counsel Pty Ltd, a newish company founded by Michael Kauter – a personal friend of former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce.

Among the clients listed under Strategic Political Counsel are British American Tobacco Australia, the Australian Lotteries and Newsagents Association, and one Adani Australia.

Adani’s lobbyists are up against stiff public opposition. Photo: AAP

“All of these lobbyists, from whichever firm has a stake in Adani, are working extremely hard right now,” another Canberra lobbyist said.

“They are working hard on the business case and trying to convince those in charge of the economic and central government portfolios that the case is good.

“They are not going to get any other portfolios. They need the economic portfolios. They want to get [Prime Minister] Scott Morrison on board and they are working hard on that. They likely sh-t themselves with the leadership change, but their focus is now on him.

“They can only win this if they can convince the right people that their project fits with the Coalition’s economic model for Australia. And they are investing big time in Queensland.”

Another Canberra powerbroker who asked for anonymity spoke somewhat more grimly about the current power of the mining lobbyists.

“Lobbyists’ ability to influence legislation right now is zero because there is a federal election on the horizon,” the contact said.

“To some degree, lobbyists are butt kickers, but the problem is right now that we don’t know whose butt to kick.

Gautam Adani, chair of the Adani group, in 2010. Photo: Getty

“The big lobbyists are well known enough that they can keep out of trouble. But with an election looming, most are executing a transitional model and that can be quite problematic.

“Working on a relationships model is OK, but nothing is getting done. And the mining lobbyists are some of the hardest hit right now.”

As the federal election draws closer – and as polling increasingly points to a change in government – many lobbyists have shifted their focus from the Coalition to Labor.

“People are leaving lobby firms and those stocks are not being replenished,” one lobbyist said.

“There is a rapid changeover of staff with some good people not coming back to the profession and a lack of investment in good new people to replace them.

“Adani wants the best and is willing to pay for it. But there is a fatigue factor setting in with a lot of mining lobbyists. Adani is no exception.”

Press link for more: The New Daily

40C in Cairns today that’s 3C above November Record. 2018 the last straw for the Great Barrier Reef #auspol #qldpol #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #ClimateEmergency #StopAdani Demand #ClimateAction

The Great Barrier Reef Is “In for a Rough Ride”

Eminent coral researcher Terry Hughes says the key to protecting the iconic corals off Australia’s coast is to stop global warming

Record break heatwave in Cairns Today
Today the temperature in Cairns is 3C hotter than the previous November record set in 1971.
The death knell for the Great Barrier Reef?

During summer 2017 a large swath of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef—normally a riot of electric oranges, reds and other colors—turned ghostly pale.

Unusually warm water temperatures, partly due to global warming, had caused the corals to expel from their tissues the symbiotic algae that provide them with food and give them their brilliant hues.

It was the second mass-bleaching event to hit the reef in as many years. Together, the back-to-back events hit two thirds of the reef.

Now, with the 2019 Australian summer poised to begin, atmospheric scientists are predicting an El Niño—a recurring period marked by warmer temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

This potential for high temperatures again poses a threat to the Great Barrier Reef, one that marine biologist Terry Hughes—a high-profile champion of coral reef protection—will be watching, looking for signs of more damage to the reef as he continues to push for protecting it.

Hughes thinks there are some worthy mitigation efforts to explore, such as reforesting the watersheds that drain into the reef to prevent pollution-bearing runoff. But ultimately he believes the key to saving corals lies in addressing greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming.

Professor Terry Hughes. Credit: Arccoe Wikimedia

Hughes’s efforts to raise awareness about the fate of the 2,300-kilometer-long coral reef—the largest on the planet and home to thousands of marine species—have put him at odds with business and political interests. Last month it emerged the Australian Research Council (ARC) would drop its funding of the coral reef institute Hughes directs at James Cook University in Queensland—a move decried by ocean scientists around the world. (The ARC and the current conservative Australian government have said the decision was not politically motivated, according to news reports.) Last week Hughes was awarded The John Maddox Prize for championing scientific evidence in the face of hostility. Scientific American caught up with him at the annual Falling Walls science conference in Berlin earlier this month and spoke about the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

What is your outlook for the Great Barrier Reef in the coming months?

NOAA [the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology are both projecting a high likelihood of an El Niño event forming later this year. If that happens, the likelihood of bleaching when summer sea temperatures peak next March would be very high, but we won’t know for sure until about January. A well-timed cyclone could cool the water despite the long-term forecast. But you have to be careful what you wish for. In 2016 the southern third of the Great Barrier Reef was rescued by a spent cyclone that brought the [water] temperature down about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius. But with Cyclone Debbie in 2017, the bleaching had already occurred and the storm was a category 4 when it hit the coast—so it was actually very damaging and destructive [to the reef].

How do you monitor a bleaching event?

Our aerial surveys, which we match to satellite temperature data, are reef-wide. It takes us seven or eight days to crisscross the entire Great Barrier Reef in a small plane flying up to eight hours a day. It’s pretty grueling but that’s the best way that we have of getting the full picture. We ground-truth all of that [data] underwater [during dives]. Each event that we study has a different geography. The 2016 event was very much a northern affair. The maps for the 2017 bleaching will show that the hottest part of the reef—the part that had the most bleaching—was in the center.

Dead coral. Credit: J.W. Alker Getty Images

Is there any area of the reef you are especially worried about?

My worst nightmare is that the bottom [southern] third of the Great Barrier Reef, which escaped the last two events, will bleach. It was simply good luck that prevented it from bleaching in 2016 and 2017. Those reefs have very high numbers of branching corals that happen to be the most susceptible to bleaching. So if it does get a blast of heat next summer or some summer soon, there will be high levels of mortality. That would mean all sectors of the reef will have been hit within a handful of years.

How did the Australian government respond to the bleaching events?

The Great Barrier Reef story in Australia, following the unprecedented back-to-back bleaching, is very politically contentious. You would think an appropriate response by the government would be to declare, for instance, that it wasn’t going to proceed with the world’s largest coal mine [with a coal shipping terminal near the reef] or that it would ramp up its renewable energy targets. Neither has occurred. The government has put quite a lot of money into investigating different interventions. Some are downright silly—the [underwater cooling] fans, the floating sunscreen. There’s a campaign to ban plastic straws. If you were cynical, you would say that it was more about giving the appearance of helping reefs when the elephant in the room is still climate change. There’s also money for improving water quality. Runoff of sediment and nutrients from agriculture into the inner part of the Great Barrier Reef is an important issue, but the amount of funding that’s being spent on that is nowhere near sufficient to reach the government’s own targets. As the country responsible for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, Australia should be leading the international efforts to reduce emissions, especially following the latest IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report. Our current commonwealth government has officially signed on to the 1.5-degree C target [for limiting global temperature rise] of the Paris agreement, but Australia’s emissions are actually increasing.

How will the loss of funding from the Australian Research Council affect your work?

It’s roughly a quarter of our funding and it won’t take effect for another two to three years, so we’ve got time to continue with our current level of activity and to change our funding model by moderate amounts to make up that loss. It’s not good news, certainly. But we will continue to do the research that we’re doing, especially if we see bleaching next year.

What do people misunderstand about the Great Barrier Reef?

There are still about 10 billion corals out there alive and kicking. We’ve just gone through one hell of a natural selection event where the so-called losers—the heat-susceptible species—have been badly depleted. The mix of species has changed. The genetic composition of the coral populations is changing. I think that is just the beginning of a transition that hopefully will make the Great Barrier Reef tougher for inevitable future events. Things will generally get worse before they get better. Until CO2 emissions and temperatures stabilize, the corals are going to be in for a rough ride. Because corals have big populations that are geographically widely dispersed, there is light at the end of the tunnel—but it is completely contingent on whether we can keep temperatures to the 1.5-degree C target.

Press link for more: Scientific American

Bernie Sanders Amplifying Progressive Calls To Cut Emissions #GreenNewDeal #auspol #qldpol #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #StopAdani #ClimateChange is now a #ClimateCrisis #COP24

The likely 2020 presidential candidate is daring TV networks to finally cover climate change.

By Alexander C. Kaufman

Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is hosting a livestreamed summit on climate change next month, intensifying pressure on the new Congress and TV networks to devote attention to the crisis.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will host a livestreamed town hall summit on climate change next month, a move that may intensify pressure on the next Congress to curb planet-warming emissions and challenge TV networks to cover a rapidly worsening crisis they’ve long ignored.

The 90-minute event ― scheduled from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 3 ― will be held at the Capitol Visitor Center Auditorium in Washington and broadcast over Facebook, YouTube and Twitter by seven progressive media outlets.

“We need millions of people all over this country to stand up and demand fundamental changes in our energy policy in order to protect our kids and our grandchildren and the planet,” Sanders told HuffPost by phone. “The good news is the American people are beginning to stand up and fight back.”

Speakers include 350.org founder Bill McKibben, activist and “Big Little Lies” star Shailene Woodley, climate scientist Brenda Ekwurzel, activist and musician Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, and Mayor Dale Ross of deep-red Georgetown, Texas, whose avowedly pragmatic embrace of newly cheap renewable energy has made him a poster boy for how Republicans could quit climate change denialism. 

It’s the fifth live-broadcast town hall Sanders has hosted. Past programs examined the universal health care proposal Medicare for All, inequality, the Iran nuclear deal, and workers vs. chief executives. 

The event bolsters Sanders, a likely contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, as the most serious candidate on climate change, offering a far more comprehensive response than rival progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who staked out a climate policy based on a bill to force public companies to disclose financial risk from warming or regulations to curb emissions. 

The summit, which took months to plan, will take place less than a month after Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) propelled talk of a so-called Green New Deal into the Democratic mainstream, giving play for the first time to the sort of federal response to climate change scientists say is necessary to fully meet the scale of the crisis.

In October, the United Nations concluded world governments must halve emissions over the next 12 years or risk catastrophic warming with $54 trillion in damage. 

The historic wildfire that left 63 dead and 631 missing in Northern California this month, in what was once the Golden State’s rainy season, offers a glimpse of that future, Sanders warned.

Search and rescue workers search for human remains at a trailer park burned by the Camp Fire in Northern California. 

“What we are seeing is a growing consciousness,” Sanders said. “The horrors that we’ve seen in California in the largest forest fire that that state has ever experienced ― this is not going to be an anomaly unless we begin the long, hard struggle to transform our energy system.”

Climate remains a low priority for most voters. Just 38 percent of registered voters said candidates’ positions on global warming would be “very important” to their voting decisions, according to a Yale Program On Climate Change Communication survey published in May. Rising temperatures ranked 15th of 28 issues voters ranked in the questionnaire. 

But among liberal Democrats in that poll, the issue ranked fourth, behind health care, gun policies and general environmental protections.

A YouGov survey of 2018 voters found 75 percent of Democrats strongly supported charging companies with big carbon dioxide footprints a polluter fee, and 56 percent favored giving unemployed Americans federally backed jobs in energy efficiency and weatherization. 

In the lead up to the 2018 midterm elections, the fossil fuel industry spent $100 million to crush pro-climate ballot measures across the West, and to prop up candidates who supported increased oil and gas extraction. Yet that base of climate hawks helped elect a cadre of Democrats whose urgent visions for climate action earned plaudits from a spectrum ranging from mainstream environmental groups to so-called eco-socialists. And a new majority of Democratic state attorneys general are facing growing pressure to file lawsuits over climate damages. 

Activists, freshly galvanized by the hellscape images of California’s deadliest wildfire, seem primed for action, and the party’s progressive wing has signaled a new willingness to force a more serious debate over an issue that’s remained stagnant in the House for much of the past decade. 

“The fact that [climate change] is that high among the base of one of our two major political parties is remarkable, because that was not the case even five years ago,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, a senior research scientist and Yale’s climate program director. “If you think of Bernie, you’d think he’d be talking about inequality or civil rights. There’s a whole host of progressive issues, yet this is the one he’s leading with. It may suggest there’s been an alignment of the stars.”

Last week, youth activists with the grassroots climate group Sunrise Movement staged sit-ins in the offices of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the likely next chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, who opposed the creation of a select committee on a Green New Deal. 

At least three sitting members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus agreed to back a resolution Ocasio-Cortez proposed to establish a 15-member Green New Deal panel. Activists are hoping Sanders’ event will add the 2016 presidential contender’s star power to their movement.  

The horrors that we’ve seen in California in the largest forest fire that that state has ever experienced ― this is not going to be an anomaly unless we begin the long hard struggle to transform our energy system. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

“He helped popularize things like Medicare for All, a living wage and a lot of other fights he’s taken up,” said Varshini Prakash, the co-founder of Sunrise Movement. “I hope he pushes for a Green New Deal and helps really add fuel to the fire that’s been lit under politicians and the public over the past week.” 

Sanders stopped short of endorsing the Green New Deal. But in April 2017, he co-sponsored legislation to move the United States to 100-percent clean energy by 2050. The bill included $7 billion in targeted infrastructure and environmental investments in fossil-fuel communities, and called for union labor protections for workers on federally backed green jobs. In November 2017, Sanders introduced a bill to spend $146 billion rebuilding storm-ravaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with renewable energy.

“What we need is extremely bold legislation,” Sanders said. “If there are Democrats who cannot support it, well, we’ve got to push pressure on them.” 

The relative absence of climate science from TV broadcasts that dominate American political discourse makes it hard to raise awareness of the near-term threats warming poses.

Seventy-one percent of major, televised debates in the 2018 midterm elections ignored the issue completely. Only four of the 107 segments ABC, CBS and NBC aired from Nov. 8 to Nov. 13 on the deadly wildfires scorching California this month discussed climate change. In 2017, the influential Sunday morning talk shows on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News aired a combined 260 minutes of climate coverage, 79 percent of which focused exclusively on President Donald Trump’s personal beliefs on science and his decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement. 

“This is an issue of huge consequence and you would think that ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox would be talking about this every day, having the debate, ‘What do we do? Where do we go?’” Sanders said. “Clearly you aren’t seeing that debate.” 

Sanders’ inequality town hall in March drew 1.7 million viewers. Similar numbers might show cable news producers that climate change is not, as MSNBC host Chris Hayes revealingly described it in July, a “ratings killer.” 

“These are a big deal,” Sanders said. “We hope this can be part of the revolution that we need in thinking on climate change.”

Press link for more: Huffington Post

New #ClimateChange Report Places Blame On Human Actions For Natural Disasters #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani Join #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike Demand World 🌎 wide #GreenNewDeal

NPR’s Scott Simon speaks with Katherine Hayhoe of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University about a new report showing that recent extreme natural events are due to climate change. 

Scott Simon

Katharine Hayhoe

SCOTT SIMON, HOST: 

The federal government’s newest comprehensive report on climate change and its effects was released yesterday.

The news is grim.

It found not only that humans are responsible for climate change, but human actions are making wildfires, floods, extreme rainfall and droughts worse.

The 48 contiguous states are already almost two degrees warmer than they were 100 years ago, and the surrounding seas are an average of 9 inches higher, and heat waves are more frequent and far worse. We’re joined now by Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. Thanks very much for being with us.

KATHARINE HAYHOE: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: This report is pretty blunt, isn’t it?

HAYHOE: It is. Climate change is happening here and now. It is affecting all of us no matter where we live. And the more climate changes, the more serious and even more dangerous the impacts will become.

SIMON: How might life be different in the United States in, say, 20 or 25 years?

HAYHOE: The main reason we care about a changing climate is because it takes the risks we already face and it exacerbates them, it makes them worse.

So we’ve always had hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, but now they’re stronger, and there’s much more rainfall associated with them than there would have been 50 or 100 years ago.

We’ve always had wildfires in the West, but they’re burning greater and greater area compared to 50 or 100 years ago.

We’re seeing increases in heavy rain events, in flood and sea level rise. And it matters to us because we can’t just pick up our cities and move them.

SIMON: One of the things I noted is the report says Chicago could have, in about 25 years, as many 100 degree days as Phoenix does now, and Phoenix could have 100-degree-plus days for almost half the year.

HAYHOE: I know. It’s incredible.

In Chicago, we’ve already seen huge increases in heavy rain events. We’ve already seen that the city is recommending that people plant trees that are native to further south so that when they reach maturity, they’ll be accustomed to Chicago’s climate. But we care about a changing climate because we are not prepared for such rapid changes in the places where we live.

SIMON: And who’s most vulnerable?

HAYHOE: Those who are most vulnerable are lower income and other marginalized communities, people who are already poor or sick, or the very young or the very old. Those who already have the least resources are those who are being hit first and fastest, both here in the United States as well as around the world.

SIMON: Too late to do anything?

HAYHOE: It is not too late.

This report even says that we’re starting to head in the right direction, but we are not doing enough fast enough.

Some amount of impacts are inevitable.

It’s as if we’ve been smoking a pack of cigarettes every day for decades. But the time to stop smoking is now, and we absolutely can avoid the worst impacts if we act now. And that’s what this report really lays out very clearly.

SIMON: As I don’t have to tell you, at least so far, the current administration doesn’t share the entire premise of the report.

Are you hoping this report might change their approach?

HAYHOE: Unfortunately, we know that those who reject the science of climate change do not do so because of any lack of information.

They do so because their political ideology is directly opposed to the idea that we have to wean ourselves off fossil fuels as soon as possible in order to stop this thing. And the good news is we already are.

There’s more jobs in the solar energy industry than there is in all fossil fuels put together in terms of generating electricity across the U.S.

For the last five years, the fastest growing job in the U.S. has been wind energy technician.

So we are moving in the right direction, but we have to do so faster if we’re going to avoid the truly dangerous impacts of a changing climate.

SIMON: Is there something that gives you hope?

HAYHOE: I absolutely have to look for hope because without hope we’re going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. And I don’t find that hope in the science.

Every new study that comes out says that climate is changing faster or to a greater extent than we thought it seems. But I find hope in looking at what people are doing because people are acting.

There are incredible things happening, from kids growing algae biofuels under their beds and winning science fair projects, to big companies like Walmart and Apple going with clean, renewable power over fossil fuels.

The world is changing, and by sharing these stories of hope, we too can have hope, and that’s how we’re going to fix this thing.

SIMON: Katharine Hayhoe, professor at Texas Tech University, joined us by Skype. Thanks so much for being with us.

HAYHOE: Thank you.

Press link for more: NPR

China Stone coal mine gets coordinator-general approval #StopAdani #StopChinaStone #NoNewCoal #ClimateEmergency #ExtinctionRebellion #auspol #qldpol We want #CoralNotCoal

By Andree Withey

A new nearly $7 billion mega-mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin is a step closer after gaining approval from the state’s coordinator-general, who released has an evaluation of the environmental impact statement (EIS), but conservationists say the decision is “reckless”.

Key points:

  • China Stone thermal coal project subject to strict conditions, a spokeswoman for Queensland State Development Minister says
  • Project gives “false hope” to Queenslanders who desperately want jobs, Australian Conservation Foundation says
  • If the China Stone mine gains all approvals, it will take five years to construct
  • Federal Environment Minister now sent EIS evaluation and has six weeks to make decision

MacMines AustAsia’s 20,000-hectare China Stone thermal coal project is expected to produce 38 million tonnes of coal annually. 

It will create thousands of jobs and is planned to be built alongside Adani’s proposed mine in central Queensland, looping into the Indian project’s planned railway line to Abbot Point. 

The $6.7 billion project will contribute about $188 million annually in royalties to the Queensland Government during its first 25 years of operation. 

A spokeswoman for the Queensland Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick, said the project was still subject to plenty of strict conditions.

“This is just another step in the process — not a final approval,” the spokeswoman said.

Coordinator-general Barry Broe’s approval of the China Stone Coal Project came with little fanfare this week when he signed off on the project, uploading his EIS evaluation.

“The project involves the development of a greenfield open-cut and underground thermal coal mine and associated infrastructure, including an airstrip, and accommodation village,” a spokesperson for the coordinator-general said.

“Once fully operational, the mine will produce up to 38 million tonnes of thermal coal per annum for the export market.”

Some of the conditions include MacMines having to avoid, or mitigate and manage, any impact on the black-throated finch habitat, groundwater and surface water resources.

It will also be required to progressively rehabilitate disturbed land throughout the life of the project to ensure it can sustain a post-mining land use.

‘Giving false hope’ of jobs for Queenslanders

Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive officers Kelly O’Shanassy said the approval was “reckless”.

“The environment groups will not sit by and allow governments and corporations to build these coal mines which will threaten life on Earth because they fuel global warming” she said.

Ms O’Shanassy said the major environmental campaign in the Galilee Basin was focussed on Adani’s project because it was the only one of the six mine proposals likely to get up.

“As far as we understand, the China Stone mine does not have financial backing and certainly has many approval to get so it will not be built tomorrow,” she said. 

“It is giving false hope to the people of Queensland who desperately want jobs.

“We respect that, but let’s give people jobs that last and are going to be sustainable into the future, and they are jobs around renewable energy.”

However, Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said new projects in the Galilee Basin would further strengthen the long-term outlook for the industry and provide direct benefits to nearby regions.

“That means more high-paying jobs for regional Queenslanders, especially in places like Mackay, Townsville and Rockhampton,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The resource industry is currently creating a new job every 40 minutes and over the past year has created some 10,000 jobs, so there’s no false hope in that. 

“That’s reality, and we’re seeing mines open not only in the Galilee Basin but right across the Bowen Basin and potentially in the Surat Basin.”

Mr Macfarlane said the China Stone mine’s future would “depend on the approvals process around environmental issues”.

“But certainly within the next four or five years it is possible to see construction starting on this mine,” he said.

“The resources industry adds $62.9 billion to the Queensland economy and supports 316,000 direct and indirect jobs.

“I really think conservationists have to wake up to themselves and realise that this coal will be burnt anyway in a power station somewhere in Asia and it is best that it is coal from Queensland, high-quality coal which gives Queenslanders jobs and pays royalty taxes to the Queensland Government which benefits all Queenslanders.”

Final approvals still to come

The coordinator-general has previously approved five coal mines and three rail projects in the Galilee Basin. The China Stone Coal project is the sixth Galilee Basin coal project his office has assessed.

If the China Stone mine gains all approvals, it will take five years to construct, 300 kilometres west of Mackay, with Charter Towers and Clermont being the closest townships by road, being just over 250 kilometres away.

The proponent has committed to recruit workers locally where possible, who will travel to the site and stay in the project’s accommodation village.

The Federal Environment Minister has been sent the EIS evaluation and now has six weeks to make a decision under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Press link for more: ABC News