Sea Turtles

Climate Change will force millions to migrate. #auspol 

The effects of climate change will force millions to migrate.

 Here’s what this means for human security.


 A rescuer of the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station carries a migrant baby rescued from a wooden boat in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sabratha in Libya this month. (Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters)

Climate change is more than melting icecaps and swamped islands. 

The environmental effects of climate change — droughts, floods and severe weather, for instance — have increasingly put more people on the move.

In 2015, the U.N. Refugee Agency counted 65.3 million people around the world as “forcibly displaced,” including about 40 million within their home countries. 

Wars, ethnic conflicts, economic stresses, famines and disasters are among the reasons people leave their homes.


Less understood, perhaps, is how climate-induced environmental changes — such as increased flooding, salinization, droughts or desertification — amplify these drivers of migration. 

What are the policy options to help people stay in place or minimize the security concerns related to migration?

 These questions are becoming more and more important to figure out.
Climate change and conflict
To look at these issues in depth, the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University convened a working group on human migration and climate change. 

ISD’s April 2017 report, “New Challenges to Human Security: Environmental Change and Human Mobility,” brings together analysis and discussion from experts on climate change, resource management, migration, foreign policy and national security, and included government and nongovernmental organization policymakers and foreign policy practitioners.

The report provided a number of guiding principles for policymakers. Here are five key findings:
1) Environmental migration poses significant human security challenges. 

Local and regional tensions over water problems are likely to rise sharply in the coming decades, according to a 2012 U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC) report on water security. 

The U.S. government designated climate change a national security issue a decade ago.
Over the next 20 years, a 2016 NIC report warns that increasing numbers of countries may be overwhelmed or destabilized by climate-related stresses such as famines, weather-related disasters or resource shortages. 

In 2015, for instance, a tropical cyclone hit Yemen — the first in the country’s recorded history — dropping several years’ worth of rain in a single day. 

The flooding heightened political tensions in a country “already suffering a humanitarian crisis from war and water shortage,” according to the NIC.
These are not isolated incidents. 

We see conflicts over water and land resources growing in Mexico, Syria, Nigeria, Mauritania, Somalia, Mali, Vietnam and many other countries — along with parts of the U.S. Southwest.
[How climate change makes the world more violent]
2) Extreme weather events are likely to displace more people. 

The 2014 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) cautions that most communities are unprepared for cyclones, storm surges and other climate-related extremes, which can cause “disruption of food production and water supply damages to infrastructure and settlements.” 

Whether these events cause short- or long-term displacement of people, the likelihood is that more people will be on the move in the decades ahead.
3) Many displaced people head to nearby cities, and that’s a problem. 

The ongoing urban population explosion means coastal cities will continue to grow. 

But many of these cities probably already feel the brunt of many of the same environmental problems driving people from their homes — water and other shortages, increased salinization or rising sea levels, for instance.
Figuring out the “pull” mechanisms to direct people where their needs can be met is a policy priority, as is job creation.

 An added challenge is the rising trend of “urbanization without growth” — when new jobs or economic growth fail to keep up with the influx of new residents, leaving environmental migrants few work options.
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Commentary on political science and political issues.

4) We don’t adequately define “environmental migrants.”

 Those who relocate within their own nations rely on the protections and assistance of their government. 

But how do we identify and protect those who cross national borders in search of safety from environmental harm? 

These definitions are important for a host of legal, economic and security reasons. Not all environmental migrants are “refugees” — a term that confers specific legal rights and protections.
5) “Planned relocations” will become more frequent.

 From the coastlines of Alaska and Louisiana to growing numbers of Pacific island nations, communities are already preparing to relocate as rising sea levels wash away their homes and leave the land too salty to support crops or livestock. 

These are highly complex and expensive moves and require much planning. 

The island nation of Kiribati, for instance, is negotiating with Australia and New Zealand to take some of its population, and Kiribati has already purchased part of an island in neighboring Fiji.
None of these challenges has an easy fix, but many governments, international organizations and communities are looking at ways to boost the resiliency of communities at risk from climate change, as well as facing the reality that climate change will displace millions more in the coming decades.

 In 2015, for instance, more than 100 governments pledged to support the Nansen Initiative, a Swiss-Norwegian plan to bring about greater global collaboration to protect people displaced by climate change and disasters. With the numbers of displaced people rising, there’s a lot to discuss — and a lot of lives at stake.
Kelly M. McFarland is director of programs and research at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and an adjunct professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
Vanessa Lide is associate editor with the Monkey Cage, based at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. She edits diplomacy cases for the institute’s online case studies library.

Press link for more: Washington Post

Connecting with Climate Science #auspol

Connecting with climate science
Protecting science-based policymaking requires engaging the public, not politicians. 

Cultural institutions and the arts provide non-partisan platforms for communication that can connect scientific climate change data to people’s lives.
A rapid stream of policy changes and an unprecedented public reaction marked the first weeks of the Trump presidency.

 In response to signs from the Trump administration that they plan to muzzle government researchers, cut grant funding, and reverse science-based policies, a March for Science is being organized for Earth Day (22 April 2017) in Washington DC and around the world (http://go.nature.com/2kOWpXm). 


However, there are concerns that a March for Science will only reinforce the view held by sceptics that the research itself is politicized.

 Writing in The New York Times, coastal geologist Robert Young argued that to effect change, scientists need to work harder to communicate with the general public, not politicians, about the scientific evidence and how it relates to people’s lives. 

“We need storytellers, not marchers.”
Incorporating climate change into cultural experiences can engage the public and change the conversation. 

In this issue’s Feature (page 168), Sonja van Renssen explores the myriad ways the arts are being used to communicate the oftentimes-abstract impacts of climate change and the underlying scientific data. 

For instance, photorealistic depictions of iconic coastal cities under 2 °C and 4 °C warming scenarios provoke stronger emotional responses than simply knowing that sea level rise could be between 7–10 metres; films that allow viewers to actually see a city’s daily carbon emissions (pictured) and musical compositions based on climate data4, 5may better capture aspects of the data’s meaning that are not easily “grasped from a static scientific graph, like very large quantities or changes over time. These artistic renderings bridge the gap between knowing the facts and understanding them.

CARBON VISUALS, WWW.CARBONVISUALS.COM

As museum advisor Morien Rees writes in a Commentary (page 166), “how and where communication is achieved is as important as what is communicated”. He argues that museums are ideal venues to address the challenges of climate change communication because of their unique ability to foster dialogue across disciplines, making complex global issues locally relevant. 

For instance, his own museum in Norway is working with climate researchers and national park rangers to create an exhibit within the Varanger Peninsula National Park (http://go.nature.com/2lPpY8P) to highlight the impact of climate change on park wildlife. 

In a similar vein, the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg, Canada, has an award-winning exhibit (http://go.nature.com/2ksDwG0) that integrates virtual reality and video simulation technology and pure water science to draw attention to the problems facing Lake Winnipeg due to climate change and the actions required to save it.
Climate change is often presented as an issue for scientists and policymakers, which can make it easy for the public to remain disconnected.

 Both van Renseen and Rees discuss ways in which cultural experiences of climate change can complement major international policy and scientific events to turn passive observers into active participants. 

For example, van Renssen highlights ArtCop21, a global climate art festival that included 551 cultural events and exhibits across 54 countries in the four months preceding the 2015 UN climate conference. 

These musical, literary, theatrical, and visual arts events connected people to the climate problem and the importance of the Paris meeting. Rees proposes that a similar international event should accompany publication of the next IPCC report. Rather than passively learning about the contents from traditional news media, the public could be provided with opportunities to actively engage with the report content through a coordinated global dissemination project designed and executed by the international museum sector.

Indeed, the museum sector already has a cooperative international infrastructure in place that can be mobilized to this end.
The communication divide between scientists and the public, and the influence of political ideology on perceptions of science, is not limited to research topics like climate change that are themselves politically polarizing. For example, a 2016 poll conducted by Research!America (http://go.nature.com/2kpbyQr) found that 81% of respondents could not name a living scientist. #actuallivingscientist subsequently went viral on 3 February 2017 and was used by scientists to explain who they are and what they do in 140 characters

While it seemed to respond to the problem of people lacking awareness of scientists, it is not clear that this has done more than unite the scientific community — people who do not know a living scientist are unlikely to be following one on social media. This falls short of the personal public engagement that Robert Young envisions, and does little to overcome the perception that climate change is a partisan issue. Museums and galleries provide impartial platforms to disseminate climate and science messages beyond the echo chamber, but scientists can contribute by thinking about new ways to make their data accessible and personally meaningful.

Press link for more:Nature.com

Poisonous weed will kill the Great Barrier Reef #climatechange #auspol #qldpol 

The Griffith University study, conducted in collaboration with national and international experts in reef and chemical ecology, showed that if the world continues with ‘business as usual’ CO2 emissions important reef building corals will suffer significantly by 2050 and die off by 2100.

Associate Professor Guillermo Diaz-Pulido, of Griffith’s School of Environment, says that is because algae will compete for space with corals in the reef, much like a weed, and eventually take over.

Researchers knew increased CO2 had an effect on seaweed behaviour but have now been able to demonstrate just how this happens. They discovered this is due to an increase in the potency of chemical compounds that poison corals.


“This is a major step forward in understanding how seaweeds can harm corals and has important implications for comprehending the consequences of increased carbon dioxide emissions on the health of the Great Barrier Reef,” says Associate Professor Diaz-Pulido.
“For the algae to grow they need light and CO2, just like any other plant, and because algae in the future would be exposed to much more CO2 in seawater we wanted to know to what extent the CO2 would affect some of the things algae do, the physiology and the interaction with animals.”
Professor Mark Hay, from the Georgia Institute of Technology and co-author of the study, adds: “What we’ve discovered is that some algae produce more potent chemicals that suppress or kill corals more rapidly.

 This can occur rapidly, in a matter of only weeks.
“If the algae overtake the coral we have a problem which contributes to reef degradation, on top of what we already know with coral bleaching, crown of thorn starfish outbreaks, cyclones or any other disturbance.”
The research was undertaken at Heron Island, a coral cay on the southern end of the reef using underwater reef experiments and outdoor lab studies.
Associate Professor Diaz-Pulido says the study has global impacts because one of the seaweeds studied that causes the most damage is a common brown alga species found in reefs worldwide.
“That’s a problem because if these algae take advantage of elevated CO2 in seawater that’s even more a matter of concern,” he says.
“The scale of the problem is so big removing a bunch of seaweed from the reef isn’t going to do much because it just regrows and regenerates, so I think the way to address this really is to reduce the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.”

Explore further: Study analyzed reef fish grazing behaviors to understand coral reef health
More information: Carlos Del Monaco et al, Effects of ocean acidification on the potency of macroalgal allelopathy to a common coral, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/srep41053 

Press link for more: Phys.org

Satellite data confirm annual carbon dioxide minimum 400ppm #auspol

Each year during the Northern Hemisphere spring, the greening of the planet begins. Trees sprout their leaves, plants grow and vegetation takes hold north of the equator, where nearly 70 percent of Earth’s total land mass lies.
As photosynthesis ramps up, plants breathe in carbon dioxide (CO2), and atmospheric levels of CO2 begin to drop. Then in fall and winter, when trees lose their leaves and foliage declines, CO2 levels begin to rise again. 

This up-and-down sequence creates an annual cycle of minimum and maximum levels of atmospheric CO2.
“The exchange between vegetation and the atmosphere makes this sort of wavy pattern, and what seems to be happening now is that we’re reaching an annual minimum that is above 400 ppm [parts per million],” says Joao Teixeira, Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) Science Team leader at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). 

“Unless something dramatic happens with humans and the planet, it will never be 400 again in the next several decades.”
“Seeing global concentrations above the 400 ppm threshold at a time of year when atmospheric CO2 is typically at its lowest level is a critical turning point.”
– Laurie J. Schmidt, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Climate milestone
Ice core records show that until the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric CO2 levels remained fairly steady at around 280 ppm. By 1961, CO2 data collected at a monitoring station at the summit of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano showed that atmospheric CO2 levels were rising steadily by about 2 ppm per year. Nearly half a century later, in 2005, CO2 concentrations had increased to 380 ppm.
The station at Mauna Loa is considered the “gold standard” for monitoring atmospheric CO2 from the surface. But the 2002 launch of the AIRS instrument made it possible for researchers to map CO2 levels in the troposphere on a global scale.

 “Suddenly, we have measurements over the ocean, over the land and over the poles, and now we can track these levels over time,” says Edward Olsen, a scientist and AIRS team member at NASA JPL. 
“We’ve crossed a boundary, and we will have to live with the consequences.

 It’s probably the time to stop and act and make sure that CO2 doesn’t increase much more.”

– Joao Teixeira, AIRS Science Team leader at NASA JPL

In May 2013, the Mauna Loa station recorded CO2 levels above the benchmark 400 ppm for the first time. 

Although that measurement marked a climate milestone, AIRS data have now confirmed a more significant landmark:

 the annual minimum CO2 level has now exceeded 400 ppm—not just in one location, but over the entire globe.

 “We take these measurements all over the world in different places, and we average everything out,” says Teixeira. 

“So AIRS gave us the global mean value of CO2 in the atmosphere.”
New territory
Seeing global concentrations above the 400 ppm threshold at a time of year when atmospheric CO2 is typically at its lowest level is a critical turning point. 

“The significance of the minimum exceeding 400 ppm is that the natural processes that draw down atmospheric CO2 are not sufficiently strong to bring the level back down again,” says Olsen. 
“Unfortunately, how things will change is still not totally clear,” says Teixeira. 

“But even if we stopped emitting right now, we will have enough CO2 to still have an increase in temperatures.”
Although the 400 ppm benchmark is somewhat symbolic, Teixeira says it’s an important milepost that underscores how humans are impacting the planet. 


“The 400 ppm threshold isn’t any more scientifically meaningful than, say, 398 ppm,” he says. “But it’s really this idea that we’ve crossed a boundary, and we will have to live with the consequences.

 It’s probably the time to stop and act and make sure that CO2 doesn’t increase much more.”

Press link for more: climate.nasa.gov

We Need Vigilance On Climate Change #auspol #science 

We Need Vigilance On Climate Change

An iceberg larger than Delaware is about to break off into the Weddell Sea. 

For the third year in a row, Earth’s average surface temperature was the warmest ever-recorded.

 Across the U.S. 2016 ranked as second hottest year on record with 15 weather-related disasters over $1 billion each, totaling $45 billion in losses.

There is no debate on these issues, but what the Trump administration does need to study is how we get out of this mess and what this really means for the United States and the rest of the world. 

So far all we have seen coming out of the new administration is denial that humans play a role in the changing climate, and the black out of government web pages that document and discuss the climate problem.

NASA estimates the recent strong El Nino boosted 2016 temperature about 25 percent. If climate models are correct, El Nino is going to recur with greater frequency and ferocity as the air continues to warm.

Here in Hawaii, El Nino is a big deal. 

In Honolulu the 2015-2016 El Nino produced 11 record-setting days of rainfall, 24 days of record-setting heat, massive ocean waves, a prolonged failure of the normally cooling trade winds, state-wide coral bleaching and nine months of drought. 

Urban flooding and heat waves characterized the late summer and early fall of 2015 straining our energy utility, emergency responders, and government resources.

 We had 15 tropical cyclones in local waters. 

In an average year we typically see only 3 or 4.
Another historic event happened recently, the American people installed a new administration that, while stating that climate change is real, does not believe humans have significant effects on the climate nor that climate change poses a meaningful threat to our way of life.

This attitude unabashedly ignores facts to the contrary: around the world global warming has increased drought by 10 percent and extreme rainfall 12 percent. 

Record hot days now outnumber cold days by 12 to 1. Nine of the 10 deadliest heat waves in history have occurred since 2000 and is responsible for 140,000 deaths.

The number of insured weather-related loss events has tripled globally over the past three decades, the tropics are expanding and the Arctic is melting. 

Climate-related local extinctions (where species have left historic ranges to move to cooler latitudes and elevations) have already occurred with hundreds of plants and animals.
The global percentage of bleached reefs tripled over the past three decades. 


The West Antarctic ice sheet is retreating much faster than researchers expected, and scientists best estimates of worst case sea level rise by the end of the century have been raised from 3 feet in 2013 to 8 feet today.
As we move forward into a hotter and more dangerous future, led by an administration that denies this reality, the need for a vigilant media to report on climate change has never been more urgent.

Scientists must increase efforts to bring these facts to the public’s attention, and the public must take responsibility for monitoring news of climate change. 

It’s not that hard to raise your level of understanding such that climate change becomes a comfortable topic of discussion.

NGOs, foundations and corporations should step in to the research-funding gap that will likely develop as this administration, and a willing Congress, enacts cuts to federal research in the Earth and environmental sciences.
The renewable energy marketplace has grown more robust, but this status is fragile. 

As former President Obama has pointed out, between 2008 and 2015 national CO2 emissions from the energy sector fell by 9.5 percent while the economy grew by 10 percent. 

This decoupling of greenhouse gas emissions from economic growth signals to the world that in the U.S., combating climate change does not mean lower growth or fewer jobs.

It is estimated that a global temperature increase of 4o degrees, currently projected by late mid-century if greenhouse gases are not rapidly curtailed, will cost the American economy in the form of lost jobs and reduced federal revenue of $340 billion to $690 billion per year.


 In order to achieve the prosperous future that President Trump has promised us all, eventually he must recognize that climate change threatens public safety and the American economy. The sooner he does this, the sooner the world will become a safer place.
If we love our children and grandchildren more than we love ourselves, forward progress on adapting to and mitigating climate change must continue, in fact it must accelerate.

Press link for more: Civil Beat

Climate Change is already hurting the Philippines #auspol 

Rescuers ferry stranded residents from their houses due to floods caused by Tropical Storm Ondoy along Ortigas in Cainta Rizal in September 2009. Nearly 60 people were killed, Manila was blacked out and airline flights were suspended as a powerful storm battered the main Philippines island of Luzon on a weekend, disaster officials said. INQUIRER PHOTO/EDWIN BACASMAS
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is the final research paper of the graduate class on humanitarian reporting under Prof. Reynaldo Guioguio of the UP Diliman College of Mass Communication.)
MANILA — Unlike in some parts of the world where the reality of climate change is still being debated upon and sometimes even questioned, in the Philippines, its effects have been felt more profoundly in different parts of the country.
In recent years, deaths and destruction of Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana), Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi), Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) and Supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan), have left trails of lives and livelihood lost, homes shattered and communities forever changed.
In Yolanda alone, non-government organization Germanwatch placed the damage to property and the country’s economy to be at least P650 billion ($13 billion), that is aside from the deaths of more than 6,000 people.
Metro Manila was not spared from the destruction caused by typhoons and habagat. The government estimated the lost cost by Typhoon Ondoy, which struck the capital in 2009, to about P11 billion.
With unusual changes in weather patterns and disturbances, experts agree that the threat in the Metro caused by climate change is real.
Environmental issues
The Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) has identified the following phenomena as major environmental issues and challenges, which will arise as a result of climate change: tropical cyclones, flooding, coastal erosion and land subsidence. These weather phenomena can be expected to result further in temperature changes and sea level rise.
With the increase in sea level, coastal cities of Metro Manila such as the Camanava area (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela), are faced with the possibility of having several, if not huge portions of their communities submerged.
Meanwhile, as early as 2007, experts from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have warned policymakers in the country of the possible catastrophic impact of climate change, particularly sea-level rise in Metro Manila. They have also recommended measures which can mitigate the impact of climate change in the capital’s low-lying areas.
For Giovannie Antonious Reyes, the reality of land subsidence is something close to home. He has been involved in the local government’s efforts in mitigating the impact of climate change in his community.
“Aware kami kasi palaging binabaha ang Malabon kapag may bagyo o pag-ulan kasi nga nasa below sea level kami (We are aware of the problem because Malabon always gets hit by floods during typhoons or just heavy rains as it is below sea level),” said Reyes. While not familiar with the actual measure of land being lost to the sea, he added that they have long known how their community has lost some of its soil to the sea. “Yearly bumababa ang land sa Malabon (Yearly, the level of land in Malabon goes down),” he added.
Reyes is the command center head of the Malabon City Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation (DRRM) Council. He is involved in the local government’s efforts in stemming the impact of climate change in their community. “City level ang effort, kasama ang City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), at iba pang agencies. Lahat naman ng agencies sa Malabon, nagtutulung-tulungan (The effort is city level, done with the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, Department of Public Works and Highways, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and other agencies. All agencies in Malabon cooperate in addressing the problems),” he said.
These joint efforts involving the CENRO, DPWH, PNP, BFP and other agencies, he said, have resulted in the cleaning of water passageways (esteros), river channels, canals, and other areas which if obstructed, could cause or contribute to heavy flooding. These initiatives, he added, have become parts of the city government’s efforts to minimize the effects of land subsidence.
Impact of climate change
Being at the forefront of his community’s disaster-preparedness and climate change mitigating arm, Reyes said he knew of the JICA study. “Identified na ang risks kaya identified na rin ang evacuation centers, in case malala ang dulot ng malakas na pag-ulan. Alam na rin namin ang level ng tubig o pagbaha sa bawat barangay (The risks are identified and evacuation centers have been identified and made ready in case rains cause serious flooding. The level of floodwater in every village is projected),” he said.
Aside from the Camanava, the JICA study identified the Pasig-Marikina River System as another area in Metro Manila which may be affected drastically by the effects of climate change.
Communities in the cities of Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Quezon, San Juan, Antipolo, Cainta, Rodriguez, San Mateo and Pasay, experience flooding due to excess runoffs, which overflow from banks of both the Pasig and Marikina rivers.
JICA funded a flood control project in the area, which is now known as the Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project. The project’s construction and design was based on anticipated changes in the area’s flood patterns in the 30 years following its initial year of use.
The Mangahan Floodway, which straddles a portion of the Marikina River, also aids in the control of excess flood water in the area. With the facility, excess water is diverted to Laguna de Bay instead of allowing to flow into other cities of Metro Manila such as Taguig, Pateros, Taytay, Makati and Pasig.
These findings, which also take into consideration the existing public flood-control infrastructure of the time, communicated a sense of urgency then to policymakers and leaders in the Philippine government.
In 2012, PEMSEA released a study similar to that conducted by JICA, which highlighted the need for government to address the risks posed by climate change to Metro Manila.
Cognizant of the need to expand the coverage of disaster risk reduction and management preparation to management of communities, their study covered not only sea-level rise but also risk scenarios and sea use planning.
Global warming
Echoing the JICA study, the PEMSEA paper said Metro Manila’s coastal areas along Manila Bay risk inundation due to sea level rise. This increase in the water level is due to global warming rate of subsidence and storm surges, which result from intense tropical storms and typhoons.
Despite its warning, the partnership program, composed of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and implemented in the Philippines via the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), has admitted that while they are certain of sea level rise, they are unsure as to its timing.
Similar to the proposal forwarded by JICA, PEMSEA also recommends the adoption of climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies for coastal communities, particularly in their use of the areas, which are identified to be at risk. Information on these areas, they also recommended, should be constantly updated to prevent avoidable damage and loss of life.
The study identifies land use as an important factor in ensuring the safety of communities from the effects of climate change. To ensure widespread and official adoption by agencies of a climate-sensitive land use plan, PEMSEA suggests that policies be passed by government, ensuring proper implementation and regulation of identified areas in Metro Manila.
Climate Change Commission
Recognizing the dangers posed by climate change, not only to Metro Manila but to the country as a whole, the Philippine government passed Republic Act 9729 of the Climate Change Act of 2009, mandating the creation of the Climate Change Commission under the Office of the President.
The Commission, headed by the President, with three commissioners appointed to six-year fixed terms, is mandated to formulate a strategic framework on climate change, which will be the basis for climate change planning, research and development, monitoring of impacts of climate change in the country and information and knowledge management.
The commission is also charged with recommending legislation pieces to Congress, policies for offices in the executive branch of government and formulating programs and securing appropriations for climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.
A year after its creation, the commission was able to formulate the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change (NFSCC) in 2010 while the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) would later be signed in 2011.
Roadmap
Under the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change (NFSCC), the Philippine government plans to pursue a roadmap, which will be based on the attainment of the country’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), with recognition of the governance and institutional factors that affect the country’s ability to adapt to the impact of climate change.
The framework recognizes adaptation which requires resources and the cooperation of various stakeholders from different segments of society. This strategy also recognizes the reality that climate change adaptation goes farther than the impacts of climate change, acknowledging economic targets and sustainability.
The NFSCC was formulated by the commission with consideration of the impact of climate change in the Philippines: increasing temperature, sea level rise, changing rainfall patterns and extreme weather events. These phenomena are expected to affect the country’s food sources, water supply, public health, social infrastructure, energy sources and the society at large.
Under the NCCAP, the commission outlined the climate change adaptation and mitigation priorities for 2011 to 2028. These priorities cover food security, water sufficiency, ecosystems and environmental stability, human security, climate-smart industries and services, sustainable energy and knowledge and capacity development.
These strategic priorities under the action plan and intended to “build the capacities of women and men in their communities, increase the resilience of vulnerable sectors and natural ecosystems to climate change, and optimize mitigation opportunities towards gender-responsive and rights-based sustainable development.
The commission also acknowledged the complementing relationship between climate change and disaster risk management, with the ultimate goal of reducing the risks of dangers posed by extreme weather events, as well as the effects of rising temperatures, changing rain patterns and sea level rise.
Paris Agreement

Among the recent campaigns of the commission is the country’s ratification of the Paris Agreement, an international commitment promoted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is intended to address the threats posed by climate change on the global population.
Slated to be adopted by members of the United Nations by 2020, the Paris Agreement has become a flashpoint for local political camps in the Philippines when President Rodrigo Duterte made statements opposing the covenant.
In July 2016, Duterte said the agreement would limit the industrialization of developing countries such as the Philippines, keeping the nation’s population struggling with restricted economic activities and employment opportunities.
By November, however, Duterte changed his mind after a meeting with his Cabinet. He retained his doubts though on the agreement because of the lack of sanctions on countries which might renege on their commitment.
Adopted by 196 countries in Paris after the UN Climate Change Conference Paris 2015 or COP21, the agreement lapsed into international law last Nov. 4. Being an international covenant, the Philippine Constitution requires its ratification by Congress and the signature of the President before it will be considered as binding with the Filipino nation.
It remains to be seen if the President will honor his statement of signing the agreement in the coming months. Congress has also yet to make a commitment to ratify the covenant. And while these policymakers and national leaders have yet to bind us to a commitment to limit the causes of climate change, the effects of climate change now slowly eat away at the coastlines of Metro Manila, slowly taking away the soil of communities in Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Novaliches by ebb and flow; causing heavier than usual rains in San Mateo, Cainta and Montalban; and causing floods in Marikina and Quezon City. The endangered communities in Metro Manila can only prepare themselves for what climate change might bring in the coming months and years. SFM

Press link for more: Global Nation

Human Beings Are The Real Disaster. #auspol 

Human Beings Are The Real ‘Disaster For Wildlife’, Not David Attenborough.
Undoubtedly, there are issues facing the planet. In the age of the Anthropocene, we’re facing a sixth mass extinction that may see the loss of tigers and elephants, and climate change has become a fast approaching detriment to the health of planet Earth. Biologists call it an “extinction crisis”, and it’s no secret that human impact is the primary catalyst, with each of us to blame for the demise of Mother Nature.
There’s also no shortage of information about the Earth’s major problems. From climate change and biodiversity loss, to illegal whaling and deforestation, we have clear (and often free) access to reports, pictures, documentaries, films, interviews, statistics, debates and other material about wildlife and our troubled environment.

Environmental causes make up a large share of academic debates and non-profit campaigns work with major advertisers, like Parley and Adidas, to spread the eco-message. The internet is rife with the information we need to make informed decisions. There are films and books and campaigns.
But it’s up to us to watch it. It’s up to us to read it. And it’s up to us to act upon it.
Yesterday, an element of criticism was leveled at David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II, when BBC presenter and production rival Martin Hughes-Games claimed Attenborough was not as transparent about wildlife conservation in his documentary films as he could be.
Hughes-Games went as far as to claim Planet Earth II was ‘a disaster for the world’s wildlife’:
“… These programmes are still made as if this worldwide mass extinction is simply not happening. The producers continue to go to the rapidly shrinking parks and reserves to make their films – creating a beautiful, beguiling fantasy world, a utopia where tigers still roam free and untroubled, where the natural world exists as if man had never been … By fostering this lie they are lulling the huge worldwide audience into a false sense of security.”

So rather than showing a deceased orangutan murdered by palm-oil plantation workers in Malaysia, as is reality, Attenborough’s films showcase picturesque landscapes in Borneo where trees are filled with the swinging red men of the forest. Rather than filming butchered tigers at illegal pelt markets, Attenborough ends his scenes of big cats with thoughtful reminders to consider our environmental impact on their habitats.
However, many say they love Attenborough’s films, and that his work inspired them to take a keener interest in the natural world. In his work outside the BBC, Attenborough speaks almost exclusively to environmental issues, tackling climate change, habitat loss and even challenging President-elect Trump on his natural world policies. But to some, his level of transparency is not enough.
The problem here is that David Attenborough is not our moral compass. David Attenborough is not our first and final hope at being an informed and aware citizen of planet Earth.
For that matter, no documentary filmmaker, conservationist or naturalist owes it to us to ensure we make the right decisions for the planet — that onus is on us.


As a generation, we’ve come to a point in our Earth’s history where claiming naivety is simply no longer good enough. And we certainly cannot blame filmmakers for leaving out the details.
For that matter, no documentary filmmaker, conservationist or naturalist owes it to us to ensure we make the right decisions for the planet — that onus is on us.

We know tigers are endangered. We know global fish stocks are declining. We know our trash ends up in landfills. We know that store-bought puppies came from puppy mills. We know our beef burgers had miserable lives in factory farms. We know leaving electric appliances on contributes to global warming.
But we buy dogs, go fishing, eat meat and leave our lights on anyway.
When it comes to conservation, human beings are the true ‘disaster for wildlife.’ The problems facing our environment do not belong to David Attenborough and his team at the BBC. They belong to failing universal education systems, negligent international governmental bodies and everyday citizens whose repeated ignorance toward our planetary boundaries have failed the environment generation over.
And until we make the small changes necessary to emancipate the natural world from the grasp of modern society, we remain to blame for the destruction of planet Earth.

Press link for more: Huffingtonpost.com

How to manage the end of fossil fuel era. #auspol

Consider how to manage end of fossil fuel era
Georges Alexandre Lenferna Correspondent —

At the UN Climate Negotiations in Paris the world agreed to keep global warming to well below 2°C, above pre-industrial levels. The Paris Agreement was welcome news for averting the worst impact of climate change. But it was pretty bad news for the fossil fuel industry.

About three-quarters of the fossil fuel industry’s coal, oil and gas reserves have to remain in the ground unburnt if the world is to keep warming to 2°C — never mind well below it.
This raises a challenging question: who gets to sell the remaining burnable fossil fuels? Fossil fuel markets have historically been defined by forces like economics, oil cartels, and coal barons, counterbalanced against the rights of states to exploit their natural resources. But policy makers and academics are starting to ask whether the right to sell the last fossil fuels should be allocated according to the logic of equity and justice instead.


The relevance of equity becomes clear when considering who will be most affected by the move away from fossil fuels. Richer Western countries have already exploited the vast majority of fossil fuels, and will be least affected by the transition away from fossil fuels. Developing countries, on the other hand, are set to potentially lose a significant percentage of their GDP from lost fossil fuel revenues.
For instance, sub-Saharan Africa has around 65 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, 5 percent of the world’s total. Three-quarters are situated within Nigeria and Angola. Both are in the United Nations Development Programme’s low human development category. Countries like Angola and Nigeria could see significant reductions in export and government revenue from fossil fuels as the world transitions to clean energy.
Equity and stranded assets

According to a recent study by the Stockholm Environmental Institute, acting in line with climate targets would see: the loss of a sizeable revenue stream specifically for developing country regions, the magnitude of which can be a significant percentage of GDP. This is especially true of sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America.
Alongside other developing regions, the African continent is set to be among those hardest hit by lost fossil fuel revenue. Stockholm Environmental Institute
The study shows that richer regions like North America and Western Europe are also set to see foregone fossil fuel revenue. But they have already exploited much of their burnable reserves and won’t be hit as hard as the developing world.
This unequal impact echoes broader trends of climate and global injustice: the richer global north has benefited the most. The global south, meanwhile, will be hardest hit by climate change in the future unless the world acts in a more equitable way moving forward.
Disruption ahead

Economies that depend on fossil fuels need to act swiftly to diversify their economies. If not, they may suffer a similar fate to Venezuela. Its heavy reliance on oil revenues helped destabilise the country in the midst of the current oil glut.
Saudi Arabia is taking heed. It is already planning for the end of the oil age by ploughing revenue from its oil reserves into diversifying its economy away from oil.
The speed of the transition ahead, however, may be too fast for many fossil fuel reliant countries to fully keep up. Environmental regulations and the rapid progress in clean and alternative energy are stranding coal assets across the globe.

The confluence of electric vehicles, increased efficiency and alternative modes of transport means that oil demand could peak as early as 2020. It could shrink thereafter, potentially creating another oil crash. Such trends are already sending shockwaves throughout the fossil fuel industry. They pose significant risks to countries heavily reliant on fossil fuel revenues, such as Nigeria and Venezuela.

If we are to act in line with the Paris Agreements, we will need to move even faster. Global emissions have stagnated over the last three years. But to keep global warming to 1.5°C, they need to be reduced at about 8.5 percent a year. That, according to Oxfam researcher James Morrissey is the equivalent of pulling about 980 coal fired power stations off-line per year.
For a less ambitious 2°C, emissions need to be reduced by 3.5 percent per year. This is a transition which could still represent close on $30 trillion in lost fossil fuel revenue in the next two decades, and $100 trillion by 2050.
Importantly, both the 2°C and the 1.5°C target provide major net positive economic benefits. For instance, estimates show that a 1.5°C pathway would avoid major climate impacts, ensure the global economy is 10 percent bigger by 2050. It would also create many more jobs, improved health and access to energy than business as usual. Nonetheless, the negative impact of losses from fossil fuels raise questions of equity.


An equitable way forward?

According to political philosopher Simon Caney, to act equitably, priority in the sale of fossil fuels should be given to countries with: a low level of development; who have benefited the least from past extraction; and who have the least alternative available forms of energy or resources for development.
The story is more complicated though. Equity does not always align with efficiency.
Some fossil fuel reserves are more carbon and capital intensive than others. To act efficiently and avoid wasting resources, one would give priority to the least carbon and capital intensive fossil fuels, such as those of Saudi Arabia.
An efficient allocation of stranded assets. Nature

One proposal to combine both equity and efficiency is to follow the most efficient route, and then to compensate developing countries who will be hardest hit by stranded assets. The politics surrounding such a proposal would likely be difficult. But there are no easy political answers here.
Ending the fossil fuel era will constitute a major shift to the current global geopolitical order, one dominated by major fossil fuel producers like Russia and the United States. It’s hard to see petrostates eagerly facilitating a transition away from that order, never mind funding a globally just transition away from it.
Given that hard political reality, we need to be careful to not allow questions of stranded assets and equity to derail progress on climate change. It may be an injustice to not strand fossil fuels equitably. But much graver injustice and harm will come from not acting on climate change, particularly for least developed and developing nations.


What’s clear is that the problem shouldn’t be exacerbated by investing in new fossil fuel projects. There are already more than enough fossil fuel reserves and infrastructure to push past climate targets. Investing in more will only exacerbate climate change, deepen the problem of stranded assets, and make an equitable solution even harder to attain.- Conversation Africa
· Georges Alexandre Lenferna, South African Fulbright Scholar, PhD Student in Philosophy, University of Washington

Yes, the Arctic’s freakishly warm winter is due to human influence #auspol

For the Arctic, like the globe as a whole, 2016 has been exceptionally warm. 

For much of the year, Arctic temperatures have been much higher than normal, and sea ice concentrations have been at record low levels.
The Arctic’s seasonal cycle means that the lowest sea ice concentrations occur in September each year. 

But while September 2012 had less ice than September 2016, this year the ice coverage has not increased as expected as we moved into the northern winter. As a result, since late October, Arctic sea ice extent has been at record low levels for the time of year.


These record low sea ice levels have been associated with exceptionally high temperatures for the Arctic region. November and December (so far) have seen record warm temperatures. At the same time Siberia, and very recently North America, have experienced conditions that are slightly cooler than normal.


Extreme Arctic warmth and low ice coverage affect the migration patterns of marine mammals and have been linked with mass starvation and deaths among reindeer, as well as affecting polar bear habitats.
Given these severe ecological impacts and the potential influence of the Arctic on the climates of North America and Europe, it is important that we try to understand whether and how human-induced climate change has played a role in this event.
Arctic attribution
Our World Weather Attribution group, led by Climate Central and including researchers at the University of Melbourne, the University of Oxford and the Dutch Meteorological Service (KNMI), used three different methods to assess the role of the human climate influence on record Arctic warmth over November and December.
We used forecast temperatures and heat persistence models to predict what will happen for the rest of December. But even with 10 days still to go, it is clear that November-December 2016 will certainly be record-breakingly warm for the Arctic.
Next, I investigated whether human-caused climate change has altered the likelihood of extremely warm Arctic temperatures, using state-of-the-art climate models. By comparing climate model simulations that include human influences, such as increased greenhouse gas concentrations, with ones without these human effects, we can estimate the role of climate change in this event.
This technique is similar to that used in previous analyses of Australian record heat and the sea temperatures associated with the Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching event.


To put it simply, the record November-December temperatures in the Arctic do not happen in the simulations that leave out human-driven climate factors. In fact, even with human effects included, the models suggest that this Arctic hot spell is a 1-in-200-year event. So this is a freak event even by the standards of today’s world, which humans have warmed by roughly 1℃ on average since pre-industrial times.
But in the future, as we continue to emit greenhouse gases and further warm the planet, events like this won’t be freaks any more. If we do not reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we estimate that by the late 2040s this event will occur on average once every two years.
Watching the trend
The group at KNMI used observational data (not a straightforward task in an area where very few observations are taken) to examine whether the probability of extreme warmth in the Arctic has changed over the past 100 years. To do this, temperatures slightly further south of the North Pole were incorporated into the analysis (to make up for the lack of data around the North Pole), and these indicated that the current Arctic heat is unprecedented in more than a century.
The observational analysis reached a similar conclusion to the model study: that a century ago this event would be extremely unlikely to occur, and now it is somewhat more likely (the observational analysis puts it at about a 1-in-50-year event).
The Oxford group used the very large ensemble of Weather@Home climate model simulations to compare Arctic heat like 2016 in the world of today with a year like 2016 without human influences. They also found a substantial human influence in this event.

Press link for more: The Conversation

Trump, aided by fake news, wages a war on science and your children’s future #auspol


“Science is my passion, politics is my duty,” explained Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s first Secretary of State.

In sharp contrast is ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, the man President-elect Donald Trump has picked to be the newest Secretary of State. Tillerson has worked his entire life for a company that dedicated itself to suppressing climate science and spreading disinformation about the gravest threat Americans, and indeed all of human civilization, faces today.

For nearly two decades — including the entire time Jefferson was vice president and president — he was also president of the nation’s oldest scientific society, which was founded by the great American scientist Ben Franklin.

America was created during the Age of Reason, so it’s no surprise many founding fathers had a passion for science. Historian Gary Wills called the Declaration of Independence a “scientific paper.”

Fast-forward to today and both the incoming president and vice president, along with roughly the entire cabinet, are active deniers of the most well-established science.

But accurate climate science has arguably never been more important than it is now.

 For it is that science (and the 2015 Paris climate deal resulting from it) that represent our last, best chance to save America from permanent megadrought and other catastrophic impacts, like sea level rise, that are irreversible for 1,000 years.

The Trump team appears to be dedicated to policies that would create a hundred Syrias and intractable refugee problems here and around the world.

Thus far, the media seem utterly paralyzed by how to confront this wave of disinformation, however, failing to communicate clearly to the public that this is not just some abstract “war on science,” this is a war on your children’s future, a war on human civilization.

Rather than calling it out as misleading or false, major media outlets have been reinforcing the disinformation spread by Trump and those associated with his transition in their headlines — headlines that are inevitably read by far more people than the actual story.

The overwhelming majority of climate scientists — over 97 percent — understand that humans are the primary cause of climate change. Every other major country agrees with the science, which is why they agreed unanimously with us last December to keep ratcheting down carbon pollution to avoid civilization-destroying impacts.


Those facts aren’t reflected in the headlines, however. CNN, for instance, ran a “repeat the lie” headline, “Trump: ‘Nobody really knows’ if climate change is real,” on Monday. 

Then on Wednesday they ran another: “Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci: Scientific community gets ‘a lot of things wrong’.”

In this article, we learn Scaramucci is “not a scientist” but he knows climate scientists are wrong about the climate. How? “There was overwhelming science that the earth was flat,” he said. “We get a lot of things wrong in the scientific community.”

In fact, it was early scientists — and the rigorous methods they developed — that debunked such myths.

 Modern scientists, using even more advanced methods of observation and analysis, have been beacons lighting the way for the world to eradicate so many childhood diseases and understand the dire consequences of unrestricted carbon pollution. Heck, Scaramucci himself said several months ago, “The science of climate change is pretty much irrefutable at this point.”

But now we live in a world of fake news, with a president-elect whose statements and world view have no relationship whatsoever to the facts or scientific reality.

The New York Times was itself suckered by Trump’s hypnotic lies after interviewing him recently. 

Their story opened, “President-elect Donald J. Trump on Tuesday tempered some of his most extreme campaign promises… pledging to have an open mind about climate change.”

Literally the only reason the Times uses that phrase is that Trump said he has an “open mind” on climate six times. Everything else he said was alarming anti-scientific gibberish, as many pointed out.

If the media doesn’t stop printing things that aren’t true, they are no different than fake news sites. It is no longer tenable — if it ever was — for the Washington Post to run nonsense headlines that haven’t been fact-checked, like “Trump’s climate plan might not be so bad after all,” from long-debunked purveyors of misinformation like Bjorn Lomborg.

It is no longer tenable for USA Today to keep running “opposing view” opinion pieces based on widely debunked misinformation alongside their “Our view” opinion pieces based on actual climate science. But they’ve already done it three times since September.

Finally, those platforms that consistently push misinformation and attacks on climate scientists must be called out as the “fake news” sites that they are. A good example is the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

A June study by Climate Nexus found that “an analysis of 20 years of the Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages on climate shows a consistent pattern that overwhelmingly ignores the science, champions doubt and denial of both the science and effectiveness of action, and leaves readers misinformed about the consensus of science and of the risks of the threat.”

Consider one recent Journal opinion piece, where Prof. Roger Pielke Jr. portrayed himself as a victim of an attack on academic freedom when he was fired by Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight. The reverse is true.

Pielke wrote an article for Silver based on analysis long criticized by scientists. We and others published critical comments from top scientists. “This is the same old wrong Roger,” Dr. Kevin Trenberth told us. “He is demonstrably wrong and misleads,” Prof. Michael Mann said. A third scientist called Pielke’s piece “surprisingly sloppy.” A fourth called his conclusions “ludicrous.”

Pielke’s op-ed claims he was “attacked by thought police in journalism,” which includes Foreign Policy, the London Guardian, Mashable, Slate, The New Republic, and the New York Times. In fact, he omitted the key detail behind his firing: He sent intimidating emails to Trenberth and Mann, as HuffPost reported. Trenberth said Pielke “was very accusatory and threatened me if I did not respond.” Mann called it a “thinly veiled” threat of legal action. Silver told HuffPost he apologized to Trenberth and Mann for the emails.

For a quarter century, climate scientists have been ignored and even attacked, putting the fate of our children — and the next 50 generations — on a knife’s edge.

The stakes in the renewed war on science are existential and irreversible. So it’s time the media picked the side of facts — and not lies.

By Dr. Joe Romm


Dr. Joe Romm is Founding Editor of Climate Progress, “the indispensable blog,” as NY Times columnist Tom Friedman describes it.

Press link for more: thinkprogress.org