Singapore

Extreme Cities, Climate Change & Class Warfare #auspol #neoliberalism is a failed ideology. #StopAdani

Extreme Cities,’ Climate Change and Class Warfare

Book sets out problems sharply, but fumbles on solutions.

By Crawford Kilian 16 Feb 2018 | TheTyee.ca

‘Extreme cities’ like Shanghai shine for the rich, and condemn the rest to a life increasingly at risk, argues author. Photo by Abriga Media, Creative Commons licensed.

• Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change

• Ashley Dawson

• Verso (2017)

A professor of English at the City University of New York would not seem to be the most reliable authority to discuss the interconnection of climate change, cities and class warfare. Yet Ashley Dawson has made himself such an authority.

In his basic argument, he’s very persuasive: great cities are both the chief instigators of climate change, and their greatest victims.

In his suggested solution, he is much less so.

Dawson’s argument is simple: the world’s “megacities” burn fossil fuels to drive the global economy, drawing hundreds of millions of people from the countryside to the slums to find work.

But the more the economies prosper, the poorer the slum dwellers become, the more the climate deteriorates, and the more the poor suffer as a result of monster storms and floods — and rebuilding that favours the rich.

To make his case, Dawson focuses on New York City, with passing references to other coastal megacities like Jakarta and Shanghai.

These are “extreme cities,” where scores of millions are packed in, trying to make a living by means that will destroy the cities themselves.

“Thirteen of the world’s twenty largest cities are port cities,” Dawson writes. “But this has generated a deadly contradiction that is one of the most overlooked facts of the twenty-first century: the majority of the world’s megacities are in coastal zones threatened by sea level rise.

Today, more than 50 percent of the world population lives within 120 miles of the sea; by 2025, it is estimated that this figure will reach 75 percent.”

Uninhabitable cities

Climate change is making such cities uninhabitable.

Jakarta’s millions get their water by pumping it out of the ground beneath them, making the land subside until floods sweep in routinely.

Miami is doing something similar.

Meanwhile, three years of drought are about make Cape Town run out of water sometime this spring — a Day Zero for four million people.

Dawson argues that growing cities shunt their workers — especially their minorities — into ugly corners, where they’re exposed to industrial pollution and bad sanitation, and receive few or no social services.

When a disaster — like Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy — comes along, the poor lose what little they have.

The more affluent get government funding to “build back better.”

Governments like New York City’s are perfectly aware of climate change and its implications.

They’ve developed plans for “greening” their cities, even building barriers against the rising sea with parks and bike trails on top.

But the barriers go up to protect lower Manhattan, and when money does reach poor shoreline neighbourhoods, it’s only to gentrify them.

Once protected, such neighbourhoods attract affluent bargain-hunters looking for relatively cheap housing and business space.

By crowding in, however, they only expose themselves to the next storm surge. The poor people they displaced are now somewhere else, still more exposed.

This top-down response ensures that the rich and upper middle classes will be reasonably well protected for the time being; they will congratulate themselves on being “green” and “resilient” and can look forward to rebuilding with government help when their new boutiques and condos are flooded out — again and again.

A familiar scenario for Vancouverites

Big coastal cities once had good reasons to exist: they were both manufacturing centres and shipping hubs.

When New York was a city of sweatshops, workers had to live fairly close by.

But such cities were gradually hollowed out as manufacturers migrated to cheaper labour — first to smaller cities and towns in the South, then overseas.

The big cities turned to “FIRE”— finance, insurance and real estate — to sustain their economies.

Workers, and especially minority workers, were effectively abandoned in inner city slums or public housing projects on the outskirts.

As real estate in particular begins to drive urban economies, speculators gentrify the inner city and push into the outskirts with new middle-class developments; with housing costs rising year after year, the middle class still needs to buy relatively cheap housing.

Their demand encourages the speculators to raise prices still more.

Vancouverites are all too familiar with this scenario, and while we’re nowhere near as big as Shanghai or Los Angeles, we face similar economic, political and environmental problems.

Dawson makes a persuasive case for a kind of big-city class warfare fuelled by “fossil capitalism,” with the working class generally on the losing side.

He is less persuasive in arguing for “disaster communism” as the secret weapon for a counterattack.

As a play on Naomi Klein’s “disaster capitalism,” it’s a witty term, and describes a real response to disaster.

Fort McMurray had its communist moment in the big 2016 fire: those who could were glad to help those who couldn’t.

Some Puerto Rican communities after Hurricane Maria are doing something similar to rebuild their power systems.

From Occupy Wall Street to Occupy Sandy

Dawson says disaster communism rescued outlying New York communities battered by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 while the authorities were busy looking after more prosperous neighbourhoods.

Veterans of the Occupy Wall Street movement seized the opportunity to get out into the housing projects and decayed neighbourhoods, and to canvass residents on what they needed. Using social media, Occupy Sandy formed an effective communications network and mobilized resources the people needed — including setting up a free medical clinic.

It worked, and municipal, state and federal authorities implied as much by continuing to focus on their preferred communities, leaving the Occupy Sandy teams to do the heavy lifting among the poor and people of colour.

But within months Occupy Sandy was little more than a voluntary social agency, taking pressure off governments just as food banks do.

New York, unlike most coastal megacities, had a nucleus of volunteer radicals.

Suppose a typhoon drowned Jakarta; any grassroots “Occupy Jakarta” relief effort would likely trigger the mass murder of its workers by the Indonesian army, which led the killing of hundreds of thousands of “communists” in 1965.

China would be equally hostile to a non-Communist Party grassroots recovery effort if a storm surge crippled Shanghai.

Still, climate change can indeed lead to regime change.

Over a thousand years ago, several American civilizations imploded.

A minor climate change caused serious drought.

The Mayan kingdoms collapsed, and so did the Anasazi of the U.S. Southwest.

Those cultures’ elites had held power by promising to bring rain when it was needed.

When the rain didn’t come and crops died, Maya and Anasazi farmers overthrew their elites.

It must have been ugly.

But the farmers didn’t simply take over their governments; they walked away from urban civilization, back to self-sufficient small villages.

Life was still tough, but they survived.

An offer they can’t refuse

That option seems impossible today: we have too many people, and too few of them are farmers.

We have to stay urban and high-tech, or die by the billions.

The communism of the twentieth century was another kind of disaster because it was premised on the disposability of whole classes of skilled people.

It was like taking over a dairy farm and killing the cows because you want to raise chickens.

The disaster governments of this century should know better.

Rather than slaughter the one per cent and their servants, they will hire them.

“You’re really good at generating wealth in new ways,” those governments will say. “Now take all the smart people you’ve gathered to run Amazon and SpaceX and Google and Apple, and put them to work designing a new economy that can slow climate change and give everyone a reasonable living. Say, $100,000 a year, including yourselves.”

And if they refuse?

It will be an offer they can’t refuse, unless they prefer to join the lost kings of the Maya.

Read more: Environmen

Press link for more : Thetyee.ca

Advertisements

Climate Change will accelerate extreme weather events #auspol #StopAdani

Climate change will accelerate extreme weather events in the coming years

Living on Earth

February 18, 2018 · 10:15 AM EST

This Jan. 4 Geocolor image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) GOES-16 satellite captured the record “bomb cyclone” nor’easter that battered the East Coast of the United States in January 2018.  Credit: NOAA

Humanity is now facing an ever-increasing threat of unpredictable and extreme weather, climate scientists warn.

While global warming is creating more powerful storms and record-breaking, drought-driven wildfires, it would be a mistake to view these events as the “new normal,” they say.

The planet has not reached a new climate stability, so the years ahead could be quite a lot worse.

“‘New normal’ implies that we reach some new sort of equilibrium and that’s where things stay, whereas what we’re looking at is an ever-shifting baseline,” says Penn State professor and atmospheric scientist Michael Mann.

“If we continue to emit these warming greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, then the heat waves will become more frequent and more intense, [along with] droughts, wildfires and floods,” he continues. “We are seeing a taste of what’s in store and there’s no question in my mind that, in the unprecedented extreme weather that we’ve seen over the past year, we can see the fingerprint of human influence on our climate.”

Scientists have long predicted the type of events that occurred in 2017. A warming Earth and warming oceans would supply more energy to intensify hurricanes and killer storms; more moisture in the atmosphere would increase the amount of heavy rainfall leading to Harvey- and Irma-like floods; and, while it seems paradoxical, as the rainfall events become more intense, they would be fewer and farther between, creating more widespread drought.

“The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle,” Mann says. “We are seeing them play out now in the form of these unprecedented events.”

So, even while EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt personally oversees the scrubbing of the term “climate change” from federal government websites, states, cities, towns and municipalities are planning for climate change’s costs and consequences. And taxpayers are paying the tab: $306 billion in 2017 alone — and that number is expected to increase.

“If you talk to the leading economists who study climate change mitigation, they will tell you that the cost of inaction is already far greater than the cost of action — which is to say, doing something about the problem, imposing a price on carbon emissions, is a much cheaper option than the option of not doing anything and experiencing more of these devastating $300 billion or greater annual tolls from climate change,” Mann says.

The Trump administration’s actions, through the EPA and the Departments of the Interior and Energy, increase the risk of incurring even higher costs, in lives and money, from the effects of extreme weather, Mann believes.

“Right now, here in the United States, we don’t have the support at the executive level that we’d like to see for climate action,” Mann says. “The risks are clear. They’re not subtle anymore. We’re seeing them play out. [The] extreme weather and climate-related damage this last year … had the fingerprint of human impact on climate. It doesn’t stop there. If we continue not to act, then the damages accrue.”

“Pretty soon, we commit to the melting of much of the Greenland ice sheet and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet,” he continues, “and sea level rise, that thus far had been limited to less than a foot, starts to become measured in feet and then pretty soon in meters and yards.”

“So, there isn’t a new normal,” he concludes. “Things get continually worse if we go down this highway. What we need to do is to take the earliest exit ramp that we can in the form of decreasing our emissions and transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy.”

This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Living on Earth with Steve Curwood.

Press link for more: PRI.ORG

United Nations: Climate change is affecting every country. #auspol #StopAdani

Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent.

It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow.

People are experiencing the significant impacts of climate change, which include changing weather patterns, rising sea level, and more extreme weather events.

The greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are driving climate change and continue to rise.

They are now at their highest levels in history.

Without action, the world’s average surface temperature is projected to rise over the 21st century and is likely to surpass 3 degrees Celsius this century—with some areas of the world expected to warm even more.

The poorest and most vulnerable people are being affected the most.

Affordable, scalable solutions are now available to enable countries to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.

The pace of change is quickening as more people are turning to renewable energy and a range of other measures that will reduce emissions and increase adaptation efforts.

But climate change is a global challenge that does not respect national borders.

Emissions anywhere affect people everywhere.

It is an issue that requires solutions that need to be coordinated at the international level and it requires international cooperation to help developing countries move toward a low-carbon economy.

To address climate change, countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the COP21 in Paris on 12 December 2015.

The Agreement entered into force less than a year later.

In the agreement, all countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and given the grave risks, to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Implementation of the Paris Agreement is essential for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and provides a roadmap for climate actions that will reduce emissions and build climate resilience.

Press link for more: UN.ORG

Cape Town Water Wars. #ClimateChange #StopAdani

WATER WARS: Cape Town Could be Just Weeks Away from Exploding Into Violence with People Fighting Over Water After Severe Drought

February 18, 2018

The vista could hardly be more barren or forbidding – a parched sandy landscape, baking beneath the afternoon sun, broken only by scarred trunks of long-dead trees and a few dried-up fish. Ruined houses, scraps of road and a rail track are the only signs of humanity, haunting remnants of long-disappeared lives.

In normal circumstances, these relics would be hidden from view.

For this desert-scape where I am walking does not lie in some arid wasteland.

It sits in the middle of what was, until recently, a massive reservoir that held the precious lifeblood of a major modern city.

Those trees and houses and rail tracks should lie submerged beneath almost 50ft of glistening water. But the waters have receded, exposing the valley floor.

‘Every day you see something new emerge from the water,’ says Jacques Dreyer, a local sports club manager, pointing out white lines still visible on a road that was under water for four decades until last week.

Dreyer used to enjoy life at the water’s edge, taking a daily dip just 20 yards from his door. Now he must travel a mile and a half for a swim while his boats are banked, his campsites largely empty and his business struggling.

But this is not just one man’s tragedy, it is a national emergency – and one with chilling implications for the whole planet.

This vast dammed reservoir, surrounded by stunning mountains, supplies almost two-thirds of the water for Cape Town, a city of four million people at the fertile centre of South African agriculture. Produce from surrounding fields and orchards helps fill British supermarket shelves with fruit and vegetables all year round.

Yet it is only at 11.7 per cent capacity after the region’s worst drought in more than a century. Some time soon, perhaps this week, the water will drop below the level it needs to be to flow into the supply pipes that take it into the city.

Africa’s tenth biggest city is facing an unprecedented crisis. Rigid water restrictions on businesses, farms and households have helped hold disaster at bay – but it may not be enough.

For the moment called ‘Day Zero’ is approaching. This is when most taps will be turned off and residents will have to queue at 200 standpipes installed in streets for diminishing water supplies. If insufficient rain falls when their winter arrives to replenish key water supplies, Cape Town has just over 100 days left before that fateful day arrives.

The authorities in a conurbation scarred by extreme inequality are scrambling to prepare disaster plans for disease epidemics and urban unrest.

Businesses are drawing up survival plans, with jobs already disappearing in their thousands.

There are even predictions of an exodus of families used to living in a fully-functioning city – and claims that this disaster is the first urban equivalent of droughts that before now only blighted rural parts of this continent.

No one knows what would happen if a major urban area ran out of water, but one expert talked to me about ‘Mad Max’ scenarios with roaming gangs on the streets.

‘This situation is far more serious than people realise,’ said Benoit Le Roy, a water analyst. ‘Even in a war zone you can usually get water. If there is not enough water, unemployment will increase and the army will need to keep the peace.’

On one level, this crisis symbolises the corruption and incompetence that festered under Jacob Zuma, who finally resigned as South Africa’s president last week after nine years of sleazy misrule that so tarnished the legacy of Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC). Yet Cape Town also sends a warning to the world: that water is a limited resource, that climate change can have a cataclysmic impact and that even wealthy areas are not immune to its devastating effects.

This is not the first city to experience water shock, but it is the most serious. Sao Paolo in Brazil saw supplies run so low three years ago the pipes sucked up mud and the flow of water to homes was cut to twice a week. Competition for water has been cited as a factor behind Middle East conflict, while some fear the situation will only worsen as urban populations swell in global hotspots, placing unsustainable pressure on dwindling supplies.

Military strategists even talk of water, not oil, as the potential trigger for 21st Century conflicts, while the United Nations has warned water scarcity could displace 700 million people by 2030.

Even away from war zones, there are many places with fast-growing populations, inadequate infrastructure and rising demand for water as affluence increases. Melbourne in Australia says its water could run out in a decade – and even London has warned that demand is close to capacity and the city faces future supply problems.

If you want to know how an urban water catastrophe would affect life, you can find out in Cape Town today. There is already a 50 litre (11 gallon) daily water limit per person – the amount used during an average shower in Britain – with 2,000 devices a week being installed that cut household supplies if this is breached. Under emergency restrictions it is now illegal to wash cars, water gardens, run fountains and fill swimming pools from municipal supplies.

Buckets under showers in homes collect water, cafes ask customers not to flush toilets, clothes are worn for longer, farms have been forced to slash water usage, hotels have removed bath plugs to stop anyone tempted to fill them and signs everywhere detail how to save supplies.

Xanthea Limberg, chairman of the council’s water resilience committee, even told me she has cut the long tresses that used to hang down her back since shorter hair needs less washing. ‘This is the reality of our new normal,’ she said. ‘Climate change is a reality. In 2017 the weather people predicted we would have average levels of rainfall after two difficult years but then it was the worst in recorded history.’

The problem is most visible at the giant, rapidly disappearing reservoir, near Villiersdorp, about 70 miles from Cape Town.

Here, I came across a party of Christians praying for deliverance. One woman was on her knees begging the Lord for rain, while a German man was striking the ground with a stick in hope of emulating the biblical tale of Moses finding water.

Joan Ackerman, a retired machinist from near Cape Town, told me she was praying ‘to ask God to open the floodgates from heaven.’

Her friend Maxie Esau, a 48-year-old hairdresser, suggested the drought was divine retribution for crime, drugs, drinking and homosexuality in their home city. Utter nonsense, of course.

But in a country with brutal politics, there is savage bickering over who bears responsibility for a crisis that some experts and officials saw coming.

Clearly there was too little spending on infrastructure for a city that doubled its population in a decade, despite efforts to slash wastage and improve systems. Yet the blame game is complicated since the city is a stronghold of the opposition Democratic Alliance, while national government – controlled since the end of apartheid in 1994 by the ANC – has responsibility for critical state infrastructure.

And no one really knows if the reduced rains and scarce snows on mountains are a meteorological extreme or an alarming sign of the times.

People are left hoping – praying – that this year will see enough rain fall to fill the reservoirs, unlike the past three. Activists already complain restrictions unfairly target poorer communities, arguing the council was slow to stop private swimming pools being filled but quick to install smart meters that limit water in less wealthy districts.

Shaheed Mahomed, committee member of the Water Crisis Coalition, said 200,000 houses have multiple families living in them with up to 15 residents but faced similar restrictions to prosperous single-family dwellings.

‘People are really angry,’ he said. ‘By the time kids go to school or people set off for work the authorities have already turned off the taps. I lived through the 1980s when there was huge anger against apartheid but it is much worse now.’

Officials are preparing for possible chaos. ‘The primary risk would be breakdown in the sanitary system,’ said Greg Pillay, head of the Disaster Risk Management Centre. ‘Then there could be an outbreak of disease and civil unrest.’

Clem Sunter, a scenario planner advising the city, has warned against underestimating how catastrophic Day Zero might be, with the city relying on thousands of water tankers. ‘You would have to think of temporarily evacuating people,’ he said.

One adviser told me he knows of businesses quietly shifting offices and jobs to other cities, driving up already high unemployment levels. He believes many families will flee the region if the crisis is not rapidly resolved.

There are signs tourists are cancelling trips. Top attractions have seen a decline in their visitor numbers: Robben Island, where Mandela was jailed, lost almost a third in a year. Western Cape farms, which contribute 23 per cent of South Africa’s agricultural output and are the main employer in rural areas, have also been hit as they need so much water to irrigate their orchards, fields and vineyards. Livestock herds have been slaughtered, fruit trees felled and yields of surviving crops are sharply down, while 50,000 workers have seen incomes suffer.

It is estimated to have cost the sector almost £1 billion already while the domino effect hurts related areas of the economy. One tomato puree factory, for instance, warned it will not open this season.

I visited Chiltern Farms, where 600 workers produce 12,000 tons of fruit a year including Pink Lady and Gala apples sold in British supermarkets. Farm manager Emile Pretorius said watering restrictions meant apples and pears are smaller, more fruit is damaged by ‘sunburn’ and yields are down.

‘As farmers we are optimistic next year will always be better,’ said Pretorius. ‘But you can see a pattern of less rain each year and less snow in the mountains.

‘If this does not change we will have to lay people off.’

South Africans like to say they are stoic, yet many I spoke to seemed pessimistic over escaping this crisis if it continues, especially after Zuma’s appalling regime drained cash from state coffers and undermined fiscal credibility.

The clouds could open any time, of course. But as one expert said, if this drought is down to climate change, albeit intensified by woeful mismanagement, then it is a wake-up call for both a verdant region ringed by deserts and the wider world.

Perhaps people should listen to South Africa’s First People: the bushmen who live in the Kalahari and Karoo deserts for days without food and drinking just half a litre (less than a pint) of water a day.

‘They should have prepared for this,’ said Kerson Pafre Jackson, 47, a bushman originally from Namibia. ‘Western people must be so clean, everything around them, even cars. People in the city shower for hours.

‘Water is life,’ he added. ‘You mustn’t play with water.’

Press link for more: The Sydney News

Climate Change longer droughts, floods & 120-degree temps. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Climate change to bring North Texas longer droughts, heavy rains, 120-degree temps within 25 years

2 days ago

Tom Fox

The United States (and Australia) has just come off a record year for weather and climate disasters and, by most accounts, it’s only going to get worse.

Last year hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria; the wildfires and floods in California; and tornado outbreaks in the Midwest and the South delivered $306.2 billion in damages, more than any year in history when adjusted for inflation.

Texas is particularly  vulnerable to a changing climate.

It has had more costly weather-related disasters than any other state, and those events will happen more often as air and ocean temperatures climb, scientists say.

“Climate change is not just about polar bears,” said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University with an impressive YouTube following. “It will affect North Texas profoundly.”

Between 2041 and 2050, Dallas-Fort Worth may see August temperatures rise from a mean of 86 degrees Fahrenheit at the end of the 20th century to 94 degrees, with extremes rising above 120, reports one study by scientists at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Longer droughts and more extreme rainstorms will pose a challenge for those who manage drinking water supplies, those who raise cattle, and those who oversee our roads and railways.

The changes may also have unexpected effects on people’s daily lives, including jobs.

Intense heat can imperil cars and airplanes, evaporate drinking water supplies,  and halt outdoor labor such as farm work and construction.

Adam Smith, a scientist with the federal government’s main climate agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, calls Texas “the disaster capital of the United States.”

As Smith explains, Texas is susceptible to almost every kind of weather and climate hazard, from extreme cold to extreme heat, from severe drought and wildfires to torrential floods. Texas is also home to a booming population and critical infrastructure, including the petrochemical plants that were damaged in Hurricane Harvey.

“Texas is a hot-spot for a wide range of extreme natural events due to its geography,” said Smith. “We expect many of these extremes to become more frequent and intense as time moves forward.”

While uncertainty is built into climate models, scientists have a high degree of confidence in many of the changes they observe and predict.

The bigger, longer and more common an event is, the greater the accuracy with which scientists can project how climate change will impact it, said Hayhoe, a lead author of a November 2017 climate change report overseen by scientists at 13 federal agencies. Larger events have more data associated with them and can be  easier to model.

Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe

(Ashley Rodgers,Texas Tech)

Researchers are very confident that climate change will increase both average and extreme temperatures. They are also confident that climate change is likely to increase the risk of heavy precipitation in many areas and may bring stronger droughts to the south-central and southwestern parts of the  U.S.

Projected impacts on smaller-scale events like tornadoes and hailstorms are less well understood.

One area of consensus is the cause of climate change. “It is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” note the authors of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a Congressionally mandated review that scientists conduct every four years.  They add that there are no convincing alternative explanations.

Here is how these changes will affect our area, the evidence behind the projections, and how confident scientists are in each of these findings.

Heat

More record-setting heat in North Texas is a virtual certainty.

Already, we are living through the warmest period in the history of modern civilization, the federal report found, and that warming will accelerate.

Climate science contrarians often attack the models on which climate projections are based. Myron Ebell, who led President Donald Trump’s transition team at the Environmental Protection Agency, accepts that humans are most likely responsible for warming, but he says models have exaggerated the outcome.  Ebell is director of  the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. He acknowledges that he is not a scientist.

In fact, researchers have used models to predict global temperature changes for more than 50 years, and the models’ projections have been fairly accurate over the long term. In the early 21st century,  a discrepancy appeared between observed and modeled temperatures — a period dubbed the “global warming slowdown” or “hiatus.”

Scientists have published scores of studies on the mismatch and tied it to several factors that contributed to lower-than-expected observed temperatures. Those factors include a series of small volcanic eruptions, the cooling effects of which scientists had underestimated, and lower than expected solar output.

Findings from those studies are helping to improve climate model simulations and helping scientists better understand why there are differences between simulations and observations in the early 21st century, said Ben Santer, a climate scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Global average temperatures increased about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 115 years.

In Dallas, they climbed from about 65 degrees Fahrenheit during the early part of the 20th century to 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the most recent decade. If nothing is done to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, average temperatures in the city may reach the low 70s by 2050 and surpass 75 degrees by the end of the century.

The Dallas area warmed twice as fast as the North Texas region as a whole due to urbanization combined with long-term warming, said John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas’ state climatologist and a professor at Texas A&M University.

Rapid development in Dallas accelerates the so-called “urban heat island” effect. Man-made building materials absorb and lock in more heat than soil and natural landscapes, so urban areas are generally warmer than rural areas, especially after sunset.

While some northern areas stand to benefit from warmer weather, that is not the case for Dallas-Fort Worth. “North Texas and a lot of the southern United States are quite close to thresholds where things get really bad,” said Amir Jina of the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy.

Earlier this year, he and colleagues published a study in the journal Science that estimated economic damage from climate change in each county of the U.S.

Once temperatures reach the high 90s, equal to or above body temperature, fatality rates go up.

And Jina’s study predicts 24 extra deaths per 100,000 people each year in Dallas County by the end of the century if global emissions increase at the same rate they have been. That would be 600 extra deaths per year at the county’s 2015 population level.

Heat also affects roads. A 2015 study by the University of Texas at Arlington that focused on the impact of climate change on transportation  predicted “an increase in wildfires along paved highways, heat-induced stress on bridges and railroads, air-conditioning problems in public transport vehicles and heat-related accidents by failure of individual vehicles and heat-related stress.”

Some of these changes are already happening. In January, grass fires in Parker and Denton counties forced evacuations and road closures.

The study concluded, “These impacts can be translated into substantial mobility and economic loss.”

Drought

Along with heat will come stronger drought, which “has profound economic impacts,” said Hayhoe.

The prediction that North Texas will have longer and more severe droughts is based on multiple factors, including the relationship between high temperatures and soil dryness and the presence of more frequent and longer lasting high-pressure systems in summer that suppress rainfall and deflect storms away from our area.

Hayhoe points to Texas’ 2010-2013 drought as a probable sign of things to come. Although this drought occurred naturally, as a result of a strong La Niña event that typically brings dry conditions to our area, it was exacerbated by extreme heat. That event created severe hay shortages for cattle farmers and led some ranchers to prematurely slaughter their herds or export them out of state.

“Cotton can be drought-resistant, but not cattle,” said Hayhoe.

The 2015 UTA study predicts a reduction in soil moisture of 10 percent to 15 percent in all seasons by 2050, which can also lead to cracked pavement and the premature loss of roads, railways and other infrastructure.

Heat and drought also pose a problem for drinking water supplies, which North Texas sources from surface reservoirs that will be increasingly prone to evaporation. Hayhoe says some water managers are considering pumping the reservoirs underground during exceptionally hot and dry conditions, or covering them with polymer “blankets.”

The blankets are an invisible layer of organic molecules that can help reduce evaporation.

Floods

While it’s not likely that annual precipitation totals will change in North Texas, rainfall patterns likely will. Hayhoe and Nielsen-Gammon both say we will likely see enhanced “feast or famine” cycles with torrential rainstorms in the spring followed by longer than usual dry periods.

These predictions carry a high degree of certainty, because climatologists have already recorded this trend playing out.

“Rainfall becoming more extreme is something we expect because we’ve observed this not just in North Texas but throughout the U.S., and models consistently predict it will continue to happen,” said Nielsen-Gammon.

Floodwaters from the swollen Trinity River surround a roadway as people walk from the Sylvan Avenue bridge toward the flooded Trinity River Greenbelt Park on May 29, 2015, in Dallas. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News)

Warm air holds more water vapor, which feeds rainstorms. If annual rainfall totals do not increase, that translates to longer dry spells in between the downpours.

Severe rainstorms, the UTA scientists predict, will have the capacity to flood highway exit and service roads in the FEMA 100-year flood plain.

“While the state highway system was built above flooding levels, the connector roads may be easily flooded,” said Arne Winguth, a climate scientist at UTA who co-authored the report.

Tornadoes and hail

Two events climate scientists cannot reliably project are hailstorms and tornadoes. “A lot of the things we care about are too small-scale to predict with more confidence,” said Nielsen-Gammon. “The historical record is not large enough for longer-term forecasts.”

There is some evidence that tornadoes, like rainstorms, are becoming more concentrated on fewer days and that their season has become less predictable.

The same is true with hail. “One thing we expect to happen with a warming climate is that the average humidity in the lower atmosphere may decrease, and if that happens it’s easier for hail to stay frozen,” said Nielsen-Gammon. “That factor might increase hailstorms, but that’s just one of many factors that do affect hail.”

Economy

Jina of the University of Chicago predicted in his study that climate change would decrease Dallas County’s annual income by 10 percent to 20 percent in the coming decades unless emissions are reduced. “North Texas is one of the worst-affected places in the country,” he said. Much of the loss comes from higher mortality rates, soaring air-conditioning costs and reduced labor productivity.

To track labor productivity, Jina and his colleagues examined national time-use surveys — diaries kept by thousands of volunteers across the country — and compared them with local weather data. He found that on extremely hot days, people tended to stop working about 30 minutes early.

“There’s direct evidence that people concentrate less well, make more mistakes and their brain just functions less efficiently if it’s too hot,” he said. Heat also disrupts sleep.  “The general lack of productivity leads to them saying, ‘No more work today.'”

The good news is that many climate-change effects are manageable. They do require local and federal authorities to plan ahead and take action, said Smith of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“It is important,” he said, “to address where we build, how we build and also to build protections for populations already exposed in vulnerable areas.

Press link for more: Dallas News

Australia’s Tourism Industry is Under Threat #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Australia’s tourism industry is under threat

Australia’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry is under increasing threat from climate change with some of the nation’s top natural wonders in the firing line as temperatures and sea levels rise, a study warned.

The report by environmental advocacy group the Climate Council said the government needed to do more to reduce carbon emissions harming Australia’s beaches, national parks and the Great Barrier Reef.

Tourism is the nation’s second-largest export industry, valued at Aus$40 billion (US$31 billion) and employing more than 580,000 people, it said. But popular visitor destinations were at risk, with major cities in coastal areas expected to face more frequent flooding in coming years, while Australia’s “Red Centre” region could experience more than 100 days annually above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2030, it found.

“Tourists travel across the globe to see Australia’s remarkable natural wonders. But these icons are in the climate firing line as extreme weather events worsen and sea levels continue to rise,” ecologist and report co-author Lesley Hughes said. “Some of our country’s most popular natural destinations, including our beaches, could become ‘no-go zones’ during peak holiday periods and seasons, with the potential for extreme temperatures to reach up to 50 degrees in Sydney and Melbourne.”

Bondi Beach

A separate report last year from Deloitte Access Economics valued the Great Barrier Reef as an asset worth Aus$56 billion, which included its tourism revenues and its indirect value for people who have not yet visited but know it exists.

The World Heritage-listed site, which attracts millions of tourists each year, is reeling from significant bouts of coral bleaching due to warming sea temperatures linked to climate change. “Without credible climate policy that cuts Australia’s rising carbon pollution levels, the impacts of climate change will only intensify and accelerate across the country over the coming decades,” Climate Council chief executive Martin Rice said,

Uluru / Ayers Rock

Environmental advocates on Thursday urged Canberra to move away from coal-fired power generation. With its heavy use of coal-fired power and relatively small population, Australia is considered one of the world’s worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters. “The extra heat from global warming will further reduce the tourist season and make some enterprises unviable,” said Liz Hanna, from the School of Environment at the Australian National University. “Protecting the tourism industry protects jobs and protects Australia’s economic wellbeing.”

Great Barrier Reef

Canberra insists it is taking strong action to address the global threat of climate change, having set an ambitious target to reduce emissions to 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Australia sweltered through its third-hottest year on record in 2017, with seven of its 10 warmest years experienced since 2005.

Press link for more: DW.COM

Climate Change, Water Scarcity hits African Farmers. #Drought #StopAdani

Climate change; Scarcity of water hit Kaduna wheat & Tomatoes farmers ,as they loses huge amount of money in this year dry season farming

African Climate ReportersFebruary 16, 2018

Water scarcity has a huge impact on food production and  Without water people do not have a means of watering their crops

The dry season this year has come with so many challenges, as most farmers of Rigachikum ,Igabi local Government of Kaduna state north western Nigeria  complained bitterly over the shortage of water to supply to their farm ,as most of the stream they used in pitching water were all dried,

Water is vital for all socio-economic development and for maintaining healthy ecosystems.

As population increases the utilization of groundwater and surface water for the domestic, industrial sectors and agriculture exaggerate, leading to tensions, conflicts between users, and extreme pressure on the environment.

Mallam Usman Ahmed Rigachikun, is one of the local farmer in the area, he described how the shortage of water is drying all their farm crops, adding that climate change has contributed immensely to the dryness of the sources of the water they used for their farm land.

Ahmed says, Majority of the wheat farmers has already abandoned their farmland due to scarcity of the water,”

All our farm crops are dying due to the shortage of water and it’s a huge lost to many farmers in the area, that is why we are calling on the state government to come to our rescues,”

“As you can see we cannot do anything with the dry crops , so we donate them to cattle breeder for their animals to eat, because there is no water, no water at all in the area”

Most of the farm crops are changing colors due to shortage of water, the leaves and the body of the crops are also drying, and this is a bad sign for wheat and Tomatoes farmers in the area this year

He further say that, “if  you check all the stream and the little well with pond that most farmers depend on during the dry season  for farming, you will discovered that they were  all dried, and  there is no any other sources of water apart from the one we depend on”

“The stream where the water do usually stay are all dry,all the well and other sources of water in the area are dried”

Another farmer in the area mr Bulus Alhassan,who has been farming  for over 20 years in the area  pointed out that apart from wheat ,we have many other crops in the area that are facing the same problems due to scarcity of water.

He says plants like maize,rice,okro,ETC are all drying due to lack of water and this is making the farmers losing huge amount of money

Bulus added that ,we want government to come and construct a boreholes and other places where we will be getting water,

He said “This year dry season is the worse of it kind,and its all because of the global climate changes that we are hearing through the radio.”

Bulus ended by calling on state government to quickly come to their rescues

Meanwhile African climate reporters has called on all Nigerian local farmers to be aware of climate change ,while calling on state and federal government to find means of supporting the local farmers.

Press link for more: African Climate Reporters

These charts show how hot the US might be by 2090

These charts show how hot the US might be by 2090

These maps show how hot the U.S. could get in 2090. Image: REUTERS/Mike Blake

Adam Jezard, Formative Content

Climate change has been a burning political and social topic for a long time — and a set of maps showing how the United States could be affected by climate change between now and the end of the century are likely to make discussions even hotter.

The charts, produced by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), part of the US Department of Commerce, are based on a range of average temperature predictions that depend on whether man-made CO2 emissions are stabilized or not.

What the maps show is that, even if drastic action is taken to ensure CO2 emissions are reduced and the global temperature does not rise more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, the world is still in for a hot old time.

On this basis, even if the world gets its act together, average maximum summer temperatures across most of the nation will rise from the low to mid-60s°F (17–20°C), to somewhere in the 80–90°F (27–32°C) range or above.

Meanwhile, if nothing is done to reduce emissions, the outlook is even hotter.

From the same mid-60s°F range now, the average maximum summer temperatures could rise to nearer 100°F-110°F.

Average predicted unstabilized maximum temperature 2090. Image: NOAA

Health, wealth and coffee

The maps highlight the impact that rising temperatures are likely to have on the US and beyond. For example, how agriculture and coastal habitats may be affected, and how the changes could affect global gross domestic product and health.

Coffee drinkers (as well as growers) could be one group who will suffer, as recent studies have suggested high quality and value coffee-growing areas, such as Ethiopia, could lose up to 60% of available farming land because of climate change.

And 2016 research by Coffee World has even suggested that, although demand for the beverage could have doubled by 2050, the amount of land required to grow it on could have halved.

Meanwhile, on the health front, the US Environmental Protection Agency has warned that increases in global temperature could lead to increased risks of heat stroke and dehydration, as well as rises in cardiovascular, respiratory and cerebrovascular diseases.

“Changes in the climate affect the air we breathe both indoors and outdoors,” the EPA says. “Warmer temperatures and shifting weather patterns can worsen air quality, which can lead to asthma attacks and other respiratory and cardiovascular health effects.

“Wildfires, which are expected to continue to increase in number and severity as the climate changes, create smoke and other unhealthy air pollutants. Rising carbon dioxide levels and warmer temperatures also affect airborne allergens.”

So can the world manage to achieve the target of keeping the global temperature from rising 2°C?

In 2016, 174 countries and the European Union adopted the Paris Agreement and agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C, and even strive for 1.5°C. But the US, one of the world’s biggest emitters, has since said it will withdraw from the deal under President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, many scientists feel achieving the 2°C target itself is a largely symbolic gesture and should be set lower, as even at this temperature sea levels are likely to rise and there is an increased risk of droughts and crop shortages.

Press link for more: Medium.com

Combating #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Combating climate change

Goals for the coming years

Just as the United States is in the process of pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, US government data revealed that the need for action to stem global warming is as urgent as ever.

US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) both published separate reports last month that indicate that 2017 was among the three warmest years since 1880, when record-keeping began.

NASA calculations show that globally averaged temperatures in 2017 were 0.90 degrees Celsius (1.62 degrees Fahrenheit) above the arithmetic mean of the 1951–1980 years.

According to the NOAA analysis, average temperature was 0.84 degrees Celsius (1.51 degrees F) above the 20th century average.

In light of these alarming trends, what can be done, and how are various stakeholders responding to these renewed challenges?

Unfortunately, there is not much encouraging news on combating climate change.

While signatories to the Paris Agreement met twice since December 2015, progress on its implementation and finance has been slow, and emissions of carbon show no signs of levelling off.

Between 2014–16, for three years, emissions remained steady at over 32.1 metric gigatons of CO2 each year, but now appear to be rising again.“Three years without emissions growth is notable, but it needs to be turned into a decline,” said Glen Peters, a senior researcher at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research-Oslo in Norway.

It is too early to judge whether the cause of combating climate change has advanced or experienced a setback since the Paris Accord was signed over two years ago.

At the global level, there is no doubt that public awareness has increased, and scientific progress in the realm of clean energy and emissions control has been phenomenal.

Price of solar panels, electric cars, and renewable energy has come down steadily.

However, at the same time, the pace of economic growth and demand for energy is again drawing on low-cost sources including coal-powered power plants.

Urgewald, a German non-profit association, estimates that currently there are 1,600 coal plants planned or under construction in 62 countries which would increase the capacity of coal-powered plants by 43 percent, and make it harder to meet the goals set in the Paris Accord to keep global temperatures from rising below 2 degrees Centigrade.

While global awareness of the perils of climate change is high and environmental activism is growing in every nook and corner, these two forces of dynamism have hit the hard wall of reality, represented by renewed global economic uptick.

I call this the tug of war between activism vs reality.

GDP growth during 2018–20 is predicted to be robust, and increased energy demands will be met mainly by non-renewable energy sources, including coal, gas, and oil. United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) released its Emissions Gap, 2017 report in November and it shows a “disparity between the world’s stated ambitions on climate and the actions it is currently taking.”

In a similar vein, Fatih Birol, Executive Director of International Energy Agency, asserts, “The era of fossil fuels is far from being over, even if the Paris pledges are fully implemented,”

Today, he said, the share of fossil fuels in the global energy mix is about 81 percent; if Paris goals are met, the share will drop only to 74 percent by 2040.

The bodies entrusted with the implementation of the Paris Accord, particularly the Conference of the Parties (COP) met twice since the Paris summit.

The first, COP22 met in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016 and COP23 Fiji, so named because Fiji was at the presidency, was held in Bonn, Germany in November 2017.

COP24 is expected to meet in December 2018 in Katowice, Poland.

The group is entrusted with formulating the rules and principles of implementation of the Paris Accord, known as the Rulebook, and finalising the format of “Talanoa dialogue”, a Fijian name for the collective “stocktake” or progress report due in 2018.

Even at COP23 it was clear that with US participation in doubt, future negotiations on some sticking points, particularly “loss and damage” and financing, will probably drag on beyond 2018.

On the positive side, China, the world’s largest consumer of energy, is likely to step into a more activist role, filling in the vacuum created by the US departure.

China’s role while crucial is not fully transparent, and is compounded by its mixed record on the ground.

Its energy demand is increasing in double digits, and while it is looking for carbon-free energy sources and electric vehicles, Chinese companies are building coal plants everywhere. “Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world, some in countries that today burn little or no coal.”

According to Bloomberg, China’s coal-fired generation capacity may increase by as much as 19 percent over the next five years. “While the country has cancelled some coal-fired capacity due to lack of demand growth, China still plans to increase its coal-fired power plants to almost 1,100 gigawatts, which is three times the coal-fired capacity of the US”.

The challenges for the coming years are tremendous, but not insurmountable.

Countries must remain committed to the principle of Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to reduce carbon emissions.

Some environmental groups have also suggested that OECD countries, i.e. large, developed countries that have created the current problem,need to keep their side of the bargain, even if the developing countries are falling behind. “Global energy consumption, expected to increase by 48 percent in the next 20 years, needs a major realignment, with current high consumers cutting back to allow the developing countries to catch up.

A substantial reduction in growth of electricity demand is a precondition for the share of renewables to increase.”

Various studies indicated that coal powered power plants need to be phased-out in OECD and EU by 2030 and by 2050 for developing countries.

It is doubtful if this will happen since US is cutting back on its commitment and the Clean Power plan of the Obama era is dead.

However, individual states must take action to help with plant shutdowns or phase-out, by providing the right incentives to the utilities and facilitating retraining of workers affected by closures of coal-fired plants.

While some renewables are competitive with fossil fuels, others are not.

Onshore wind and solar photovoltaic are comparable but offshore wind farms and solar thermal energy, are not.

Solar and wind energy still have some technical issues that have slowed down adoption, and these are intermittency and the resulting high cost of integration into the power grid.

Finally, a word of caution from Proessor Earl Ritchie of University of Houston.

He wrote, “Most scenarios with high percentages of renewables rely on substantial reduction in growth of electricity demand.

It’s questionable how realistic this is, particularly if strong growth in electric automobiles is anticipated.”

Dr Abdullah Shibli is an economist, and Senior Research Fellow at International Sustainable Development Institute (ISDI), a think-tank based in Boston, USA.

Press link for more: The Daily Star

U.S. Media ignores #ClimateChange no wonder it’s not taken seriously. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Capital Weather Gang

Networks spent 260 minutes on ‘climate change’ in 2017.

Most of it was actually about Trump.

By Angela Fritz February 16 at 11:03 AM Email the author

Angela Fritz is an atmospheric scientist and The Washington Post’s deputy weather editor. She has a BS in meteorology and an MS in earth and atmospheric science. Follow @angelafritz

President Trump announces the United States will leave the Paris climate accord in June 2017. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Last year’s weather was among the most extreme on record. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria devastated U.S. states and territories and will cost homeowners, business and taxpayers $265 billion. Add on the damage from California’s biggest wildfires in state history and no fewer than 12 other billion-dollar disasters, and 2017 was the costliest weather year on record, according to NOAA.

Climate scientists agree global warming is playing a role in our weather.

It’s making storms, droughts and floods more extreme.

Amid the chaos, the Trump administration itself issued a report last year that said not only is climate change affecting our weather but also there’s no other explanation for climate change than we (humans) are to blame.

Despite all this, network news largely took a pass on covering climate change in 2017, according to new analysis by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America. Corporate news networks aired six segments that mentioned the link between extreme weather and climate change.

PBS, which is nonprofit, aired nine segments alone.

Segments that discussed link between climate change and extreme weather in 2017

Perhaps the bigger takeaway from the analysis was that, even when climate change was mentioned, Trump was the subject that dominated the news last year.

Networks devoted 260 minutes to climate change in 2017, but nearly all of it was in relation to President Trump and his administration’s actions on the issue, something Media Matters calls “a major oversight in a year when weather disasters killed hundreds of Americans, displaced hundreds of thousands more, and cost the economy in excess of $300 billion.”

To be clear, the 260-minute tally is the combined corporate network coverage of climate change; the survey includes ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news and Sunday morning programs, as well as “Fox News Sunday,” which airs on both the Fox network stations and Fox News cable station.

The Sunday shows themselves, which are traditionally about politics, devoted 95 minutes to climate change, and 94 of those minutes were about the Trump administration.

Of all the segments that discussed climate change, 87 percent were focused on the Trump administration’s actions or statements.

What about climate change was that other minute devoted to?

Good question.

There were three non-Trump moments that Media Matters found:

• Brief coverage of the People’s Climate March on ABC (“And just as they did on day one [of the Trump presidency], protesters filled the streets of the Capitol, this time, demanding action on climate change,” Jonathan Karl said.)

• Fox News Sunday covered Elise Stefanik’s proposed that “Republican resolution that climate change is happening and we need to find a solution.”

• Pope Francis’s views on climate change were mentioned briefly on CBS’s Face the Nation. “Well, the pope isn’t really talking politics though when he’s talking about global warming,” the Rev. James Martin told John Dickerson. “He’s talking about caring for the environment, caring for God’s creation.”

In its report, Media Matters pointed out that numerous studies have linked climate change to more extreme weather. The Trump White House signed off on the 2017 National Climate Assessment that linked extreme weather to climate change — and also went as far as to say that humans have caused climate change and there’s “no convincing alternative explanation.”

That’s not what Trump himself contends, though, disagreeing with the own statements his administration signed off on. Media Matters found 19 percent of the climate segments mentioned that Trump has called climate change a hoax, and 37 percent of those did nothing to rebut that claim or bring in evidence of the consensus among climate scientists. When he’s feeling cold, Trump has a tendency to suggest that a little global warming would be a good thing.

Press link for more: Washington Post