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5 Charts show human impact on extreme weather. #StopAdani #auspol 

These 5 charts explore the human impact on extreme weather

Flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey encompass the Motiva Enterprises LLC in Port Arthur, Texas, U.S. August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif – RC1254851E70

It’s not an exact science, but it’s science: humans are partly to blame for worsening weather
Linking specific extreme weather events to global warming is difficult, and this plays into the hands of climate-change deniers.
In the past couple of weeks, tropical storms have devastated communities around the world. Hurricane Harvey has wreaked havoc in Texas, destroying homes and claiming lives.

 Typhoon Hato has left a similar trail of destruction in southern China and Hong Kong.
There is a strong argument to be made that humans are at least partly responsible for both of these extreme weather events.

 The problem is it’s often difficult to produce tangible evidence.
What we do know for sure, however, is that climate change enhances storm surges and causes flooding – both of which can have devastating consequences.

Interstate highway 45 is submerged from the effects of Hurricane Harvey seen during widespread flooding in Houston, Texas, U.S. August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RC1BA1656450    

Parts of Texas remain submerged in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Spike in carbon emissions

This chart, which was produced by NASA, shows the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide – or C02, to give it its chemical formula – over the past 400,000 years.
As human activity gathered momentum in the mid 20th century – in the form of growing populations and the rise of heavy industry – carbon emissions also followed an upward trajectory.
The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide has created a warming effect. This has coincided with an uptick in the number and scale of natural disasters such as droughts, floods, wildfires and storms.
    

CO2 levels have increased rapidly since the 1950s
Image: NASA
These countries produce the most C02

It will come as no surprise to learn that China and the United States are the most prolific carbon emitters. Both countries are among those with the biggest populations, the most factories and the highest number of cars.
    

China produces more carbon emissions than any other country
Image: US Energy Information Administration

The same countries suffer the most natural disasters
Interestingly, it is those same countries that top the table in terms of carbon emissions that have experienced the highest number of hydrological, meteorological and climatological disasters in recent years.
According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), China, the US and India were among the countries worst hit by extreme weather events from 1995 to 2015.
Large parts of Africa and Europe have so far been relatively unscathed by the onslaught of these types of natural disasters.
    

China, the US and India have suffered the highest number of natural disasters in recent times
Image: UNISDR

More floods than ever before
As the atmosphere gets warmer it absorbs more moisture – this works out at roughly 7% more for every 1℃ rise in temperature. The end result is worse flooding.
Higher sea levels in turn lead to bigger storm surges, such as those that have caused devastation in Texas and southern China.
It’s no coincidence that an increase in carbon emissions coincides with a steady rise in the number of hydrological disasters over recent years.
    

2016 saw an increase in the number of hydrological disasters around the world
Image: Munich Re
The cost of catastrophe


It has been estimated previously that flooding could cost coastal cities around $1 trillion per year by the year 2050.
Yet again, it is towns and cities in the US and China that are expected to bear the brunt.

Press link for more: WEForum.org

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Climate Change: Africa can no longer feed itself. #StopAdani #Auspol 

Global warming has compromised Africa’s ability to feed its population. 

It’s time African nations adapt to the changing scenario.


 Displaced people gather at an artificial water pan near Habaas town of Awdal region in Somaliland in April 2016. 

As East Africa reels from the worst drought in a century, scientific studies show the impact of drought is more severe because of climate change.

Something strange is happening across East Africa. 

The region, which receives rainfall twice a year, is reeling from the worst drought in a century. Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda, which boast of rich agricultural lands, have received below-average rainfall for the third year in a row. 

This has caused food prices to skyrocket to record levels, doubling the price of staple cereals in some areas, and exacerbating the acute food insecurity prevailing over most parts of the continent.

 ªOver the past six months, severe drought conditions have contributed to the displacement of more than 700,000 people within Somalia, 300,000 in Ethiopia and over 41,000 in Kenya,” says Jemal Seid, Director, Climate and Geospatial Research, at the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research.
In some places camel carcasses are being stacked up as even the world’s most robust animal has not been able to survive this persistent drought. 

High number of people at the risk of starvation prompted South Sudan, a largely water-surplus region, to declare famine in February—the first such declaration anywhere in the world since 2011.

 In March, the World Health Organization warned that Somalia is at the risk of third famine in 25 years. 

According to the UN, 12 million people in the region are now dependent on humanitarian aid.
The persistent dry conditions are partly linked to the Indian Ocean dipole, which is similar to El Niño weather phenomenon in the Pacific and pushes away the moist air that brings rain to East Africa. 

But scientific studies show that the severity of the problem is due to changing climate. 

“The impacts of current and recent droughts in East Africa are likely to have been aggravated by climate change,” notes the 2017 report by Oxfam, an international confederation of charitable organisations focused on the alleviation of global poverty.
The latest Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released in 2014, had warned of such an eventuality in Africa.

 Over the past century, temperatures across the continent have soared by 0.5°C or more, with minimum temperatures rising faster than the maximum temperatures. 

Higher temperatures result in greater evaporation, causing soil moisture depletion, reinforcing drier conditions and intensifying the impacts of failed rains, noted the IPCC report. According to the 2016 report by Berlin-based policy institute Climate Analytics, summer monsoon rain, which brings maximum precipitation to East Africa, has decreased in recent years due to rapid warming of the Indian Ocean. 

These changing climatic conditions pose the third whammy for a continent, already struggling with the need to feed more and more people and rising food import bill. 
“Climate change has compromised Africa’s ability to feed herself,” says Oscar Magenya, chief research scientist at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, Nairobi. “Climate change affects many physical and biological systems, disrupting growing seasons, fluctuating plant and animal ranges and resulting in the emergence of virulent pests and diseases,” Magenya explains. 

In Sahel, for instance, most farmers depend on rain-fed crops. But these days rains do not last long enough to grow a full crop. This shrinking rainy season is affecting food security and exacerbating malnutrition in the region. In an April report to IPCC, experts have said that in some countries, yields from rain-fed crops could be reduced by up to 50 per cent by 2020.
Recurrent droughts is fuelling desertification.

 Sahel region, which alternately experiences wet and dry seasons, has been suffering from drought on a regular basis since the early 1980s. 

As a result, says Peter Tarfa, acting director of the climate change department under Nigeria’s environment ministry, semi-arid Sahel is not only fast turning into a desert but also encroaching on northern Nigeria, affecting farming and pastoral activities in the region.
While there is no study to link climate change with dwindling water resources, the fact is the Congo, the world’s second-largest river, is experiencing a 50 per cent drop in its water levels. Lake Chad has shrunk by nearly 90 per cent since 1963.

 A prolonged drought could affect large parts of the shoreline of Lake Victoria—the world’s largest tropical lake and the source of the Nile—which depends on rainfall for 80 per cent of the water. 

This would destroy fish breeding grounds and traditional agriculture, putting millions of lives at risk. 

In West Africa, as rising sea levels redraw the shoreline and ocean acidification damages coral reefs, fishing and agriculture that form the foundation of livelihoods suffer a blow. 

The coast accounts for 56 per cent of the region’s gdp.
Why at the receiving end

What countries across Africa are experiencing is nothing unusual in this age of Anthropocene. Then why does the continent bear the insurmountable loss and damage? Munich-based reinsurance company Munich Re offers an explanation. While climate change is a global problem, its impacts are unevenly distributed, with poor and developing countries bearing the maximum brunt. The impact of natural disasters is much greater on developing countries currently 13 per cent of their gdp—than on rich nations, where it is 2 per cent, according to Munich Re. There is also a disparity among different parts of the developing world. While Asia is highly exposed to natural disasters, Africa is most vulnerable to its impacts. According to the Natural Hazards Vulnerability Index by risk analysis and research company Verisk Maplecroft, nine of 10 countries found most vulnerable on the index are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Analysis by Down To Earth shows that climate change impacts are more pronounced in Africa because of a few reasons. One, agriculture is largely rain-fed and underdeveloped; two, 90 per cent of the farms are small yet contribute to 80 per cent of the total food production; and three, a majority of the farmers have few financial resources, limited access to infrastructure and extremely limited access to weather and technological information.

According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (fao), in developing countries the agriculture sector, including crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry, absorbs 22 per cent of the economic impact caused by natural disasters. But in Africa, the sector only adds to the impact. Africa’s crop and livestock losses caused by natural disasters in 2003-13 were US $26 billion. Kulthoum Omari, Coordinator, Adaptation of African Agriculture (aaa), a 27-nation coalition, cites the enormity of the problem: “About 80 per cent of people in Africa depend on agriculture for their livelihood and sustenance. Therefore, boosting agricultural activities will have a positive impact on local and national economies in Africa. However, this is being hampered by the impacts of climate change.”
The latest ipcc report also states that climate change is worsening the already deplorable state of agricultural systems in Africa. The white paper on the initiative for the Adaptation of African Agriculture (aaa) to climate change, presented at the Marrakech UN Climate Change Conference in 2016, says the continent has 500 million hectares of severely degraded land—this accounts for 27 per cent of the world’s total degraded soils. The paper cites water erosion, chemical degradation and soil compaction as the prime reasons for land degradation. Further, about 66 per cent of African lands are located in arid or semi-arid areas, and suffer from water shortages. Due to uneven distribution of water resources, around 25 per cent of the population faces water scarcity, especially in North Africa and the Sudano-Sahelian region, and only 2 per cent of arable land is irrigated in Africa against 42 per cent in Asia, highlights the white paper.
Worse, Africa is least prepared to tackle weather-related risks. Two-thirds of its countries have little or no capacity to manage these risks. According to the aaa white paper, there are only 781 synoptic weather stations (that collect meteorological information every six hours) in Africa as compared to 1,696 synoptic weather stations in Asia. Besides, Africa is the world’s lowest consumer of improved agricultural inputs, such as seeds resistant to heat, drought or diseases. Though some farmers are adopting climate resilient agriculture, such attempts are limited to certain pockets. For instance, farmers in Bankass district of Mali are infusing vigour to the degraded soil by growing trees as well as staple food like millets on the same farm. In Northern Ghana, several non-profits are sensitising women farmers about the effects of pesticides on food crops as well as soil.
There is an urgent need to replicate such initiatives across the continent as extreme weather will significantly disrupt the agricultural calendar and affect crop yields and livestock production.
Time to step up action

Going by the latest IPCC report, changes in average temperature would be greater over northern and southern Africa and relatively smaller over central Africa. This means, Sahara and southern parts of Africa would get warmer in coming years. Extreme precipitation changes, such as droughts and heavy rainfall, that eastern African has been experiencing more frequently in last 30-60 years, is likely to batter the region in future.
By 2080, arid and semi-arid areas could expand by 60-80 million hectares. Viable arable land is predicted to decline, with 9-20 per cent becoming less suitable for agriculture. Suitable land for corn (maize) and beans—staple crops in the continent—could reduce by 20-40 per cent. Conversely, sorghum, cassava, yam and pearl millet could show little loss, or even gains, in the area suitable for production. Western Africa appears to be a highly vulnerable region, where suitable land for maize, sorghum, finger millet, groundnut and bananas are likely to reduce by 10 per cent.
This will impact crop productivity. A study by international research firm CGIAR predicts that because of climate change, maize yield could reduce by 22 per cent, groundnut by 18 per cent, sorghum and millet by 17 per cent and cassava by 8 per cent. Banana production could also decline in western Africa and in the lowlands of eastern Africa. In arid Egypt, production of paddy would decline by 11 per cent and that of soybean by 28 per cent by 2050.


While rising sea levels will affect fisheries productivity by 50-60 per cent, substantial reductions in forage availability in some regions would alter productivity of livestock. It is projected that at temperatures above 30ºC, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry reduce their feed intake by 3-5 per cent for each 1°C increase. These impacts will have varying effects on the millions of African farmers who depend on livestock for incomes and food security. “Temperature changes also have a much stronger impact on yields than precipitation changes. It is clear that the economic cost of natural disasters in agriculture sector is expected to increase because of climate change,” says Tarfa.
An estimation by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that African countries would face 2-4 per cent annual loss in gdp by 2040 due to climate change. However, there will be a strong regional variability in the degree of loss experienced in the agriculture sector. fao estimates that parts of Sahara would suffer the maximum agricultural losses, followed by western and central Africa and northern and southern Africa.
To increase climate resilience among farmers, several African countries have introduced novel adaptation initiatives. In fact, 50 of the 54 African countries have made these initiatives part of their climate action plans submitted to the UN Frame-work Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). One such initiative is the establishment of African Risk Capacity. The specialised agency of the African Union aims to help member states improve their capacities to plan, prepare and respond to extreme weather events, and thereby improve food security and vulnerability of their populations. The other initiative is setting up Agriculture and Climate Risk Enterprise (ACRE), the largest agricultural index insurance programme in sub-Saharan Africa in which the farmers pay a market premium. The programme now spans across Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. A similar insurance programme in Ethiopia allows farmers to pay the insurance premium through labour. But implementation of these initiatives is still a challenge.
TOO MUCH WATER IN DRYLANDS
Sahel will see floods in the future, followed by droughts 
IN THE past few decades, the semi-arid tropical Savanna region Sahel, stretching from Mauritania in the west to Eriteria in the east, has seen several devastating floods. The Niger floods of 2010 and 2012 are two such deluge witnessed at Niamey weather station since record keeping began in 1929. In 1995, 1998 and 1999, five, eight and 11 countries in the region were hit by heavy rainfall respectively. A 2008 study by the University of South Wales and University of Ghana suggests that Sahelian countries ªlay to rest the desertification narrativeº and ªconsider the possibility of both floods and droughts, and mobilise local memory for anticipatory learning and practical adaptationº. That suggestion has gained much relevance over the years, with the IPCC report predicting that high-intensity rainfall events could increase by 20 per cent over the next decades.
Scientists attribute this weather anomaly to global warming. As the surface temperature of the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Mediterranean Sea in the north increases, more water evaporates. The moist air drifts onto land, where vapour is released as rainfall. A study by climate scientists at Potsdam University, Germany, and Columbia University, US, shows moisture flux from the Atlantic into Sahel will increase more strongly than from the Mediterranean by the end of the 21st century. “We looked at 30 climate models to understand projections of summer rainfall in Sahel. Out of those, seven models showed a doubling of average summer rainfall by 2100, including three models that project an increase of over 100 per cent in average summer (July- September) rainfall across the central and eastern Sahel,” says Jacob Schewe, co-author of the study. The increase in rainfall is also attributed to a northward shift in West African monsoon circulation dynamics. “West African monsoon, which generally covers the region between latitudes 9o N and 20oN, tapers off as it moves further north. But in future, it can make inroads into new territories,” says Schewe. What explains this shift is the fact that the northern hemisphere has been heating up faster than southern hemisphere since 1980, largely because the former has more land and less ocean, and greenhouse trapping is larger over land than ocean at the same temperature.
Says Omari, “Many African countries still lack comprehensive disaster risk management plans because of reasons, such as lack of guidelines, insufficient capacity at the regional, national and sub-national levels to assess and address loss and damage, and insufficient research in understanding the scope, magnitude and character of the climate risks and impacts.” Magenya says unless countries prioritise and integrate climate change programmes into their development plans, the effects of climate change on agriculture in Africa are likely to persist. Seid says there is an urgent need to integrate solutions offered through technologies, institutions and government policies to manage the risks of drought and climate variability in Africa.
There is also a need for the international community to safeguard agriculture from climate change impacts. The Paris Agreement, the landmark climate change deal that came into force in November 2016, talks of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change in the preamble. But the word agriculture finds a miss in the Agreement. 
@down2earthindia
 Press link for more: Downtoearth.org

Harvey Latest #ClimateChange Alarm Bell #StopAdani #auspol 

Hurricane Harvey is the latest alarm bell on climate change

Hurrican-Harvey.jpg
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Green Party leaders are calling Hurricane Harvey the latest alarm bell on global warming and said that President Trump and Congress must make solving the climate crisis the nation’s top priority.
Greens expressed sympathy and solidarity with people in Houston and other parts of Texas and Louisiana who are suffering the effects of the hurricane and have lost homes, belongings, and loved ones.
Green Party of the United States

http://www.gp.org

@GreenPartyUS
For Immediate Release:

Thursday, August 31, 2017
Contact:

Scott McLarty, Media Director, 202-904-7614, scott@gp.org
Talking points on the storm, global warming, and Green solutions
Texas Greens urge support for frontline relief efforts
“Along with providing relief to those affected by Harvey, we need a reversal of the U.S. political establishment’s irresponsible direction on climate change. The only solution to the crisis is a Green solution,” said Wesson Gaige, co-chair of the Green Party of Texas.
Texas Greens are urging support and donations to several frontline relief organizations: visit http://www.txgreens.org/news and http://www.colorlines.com/articles/how-donate-money-and-other-aid-communities-color-houston. The Green Party of the United States held its 2016 Presidential Nominating Convention at the University of Houston.
The Green Party listed talking points on Hurricane Harvey, climate change, and Green solutions:
• The severity of Hurricane Harvey and the devastation it wreaked in Houston must be recognized as an effect of climate change and an indication of similar and worse disasters to come. The planet’s climate functions as a system: there are no isolated storms, all weather is affected by global warming. The Trump Administration’s rejection of science is already having deadly consequences.
• Although rainfall from Harvey is unprecedented, 2017 is the city’s third year with severe flooding. The disaster in Houston is one of many floods around the world that have displaced tens of millions this summer, with more than 1,000 deaths in South Asia.
• Lowering the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is urgently necessary, otherwise increasingly unstable weather and the rise of sea levels promise a future of Katrinas, Sandys, Harveys, mass population displacement, and global social breakdown in the coming decades. Working class communities, the poor, and people of color are facing the worst effects. The only solution is a rapid conversion from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.
• The Green Party has called for 100% renewable energy by 2030. To achieve this goal, Green candidates are promoting the Green New Deal, a plan to reorganize the U.S. economy, expand the public sphere, and create millions of new jobs in conservation and energy conversion.
• The Green Party has compared global warming to the global threat posed by the Axis powers at the beginning of World War II and has called for U.S. leadership in a worldwide alliance to end the crisis that includes peaceful cooperation with currently perceived enemies like Russia and Iran.
• ExxonMobil and other companies that knew about the reality of climate change placed oil refineries and other toxic sites in flood zones. In the wake of Harvey, their irresponsibility resulted in a toxic brew that is now spreading over hundreds of square miles and contaminating water tables. Two explosions and fume injuries were reported Thursday morning. The poor and people of color who live in affected areas are suffering the most harm. State and local governments in Texas have refused to undertake any preparation or enact regulation in the face of predictable emergencies. 
• Only the Green Party is taking the climate crisis seriously. Greens said that a political field limited to two parties, both of which accept money and influence from the fossil-fuel industry, has become a threat to future generations.
Republicans, led by President Trump, continue to deny that the crisis exists and are dismantling environmental regulations and agencies, including the EPA, even as the need for these agencies and for regulation has grown. Republicans are likely to use Hurricane Harvey to call for more drilling and refineries.
The Green Party has condemned President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change.
Democrats acknowledge the crisis but won’t take necessary action. The Obama Administration made sure that the Paris accords were not legally binding and President Obama boasted of increased oil production.
Hillary Clinton and her representatives kept carbon taxes, a ban on fracking, and other measures out of the 2016 Democratic Party platform.
Green Party leaders said that the “100 by ’50 Act” (Senate Bill 987) introduced by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Oreg.) and Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vt.) was “too little, too late” in light of warnings from scientists about the severity of the crisis.
See also:
Water Contamination a Concern After Hurricane Harvey

Bloomberg, August 28, 2017
We’re Nowhere Near Prepared for the Ecological Disaster That Harvey Is Becoming

By Charles P. Pierce, August 30, 2017
Why are the crucial questions about Hurricane Harvey not being asked?

By George Monbiot, The Guardian, August 29, 2017
The Uninhabitable Earth; Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.

By David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine, July 9, 2017
Videos from the Green Party’s 2017 Annual National Meeting in Newark, N.J., July 13-16: Press conferences, plenary speeches, and more
MORE INFORMATION
Green Party of the United States http://www.gp.org

202-319-7191

@GreenPartyUS

Press link for more: GP.ORG

A toolkit to save the world. #auspol #StopAdani #education 

A toolkit to save the world: five skills you’ll need to fight climate change
15 Aug 17

Kevin Rudd described global warming as “the greatest moral challenge of our generation,” but that’s too simple.

 It’s the greatest economic, political, social, cultural, environmental and scientific challenge of our time.

A silver bullet won’t be found in a scientist’s laboratory, the halls of Parliament, nor a community activist’s meeting.
Nope, it’ll take a coordinated effort from researchers, corporations, politicians, innovators and communities to tackle climate change.

This is precisely why social scientists are poised to play such a crucial role. People with the breadth of understanding and skills to navigate and coordinate all of these moving parts will be absolutely crucial.
So with that in mind, here are five of the instruments in a social scientist’s toolkit that we’ll need to fight this real and present danger.
Data Analysis

It sounds dry, but data analysis strikes at the very heart of the climate change debate. 

The interpretation of global temperature data is the major flashpoint for the conversation, and so understanding and communicating this information will only become more important over time.
On top of this, big data is proving to be crucial in the response to global warming.
Microsoft’s mind-boggling Madingley project is a real-time virtual biosphere – ie. a simulation of all life on earth. It creates a simulation of the global carbon cycle and predicts how it will impact everything from pollution to animal migration to deforestation.
Political leadership

Leaders with a deep understanding of socio-political structures and forces will be needed to enact change on a legislative and global level.
The recent failure of the Paris Accord shows just how important negotiation and diplomacy will be in order to get countries from around the world to work together.

This not only involves political guile, but also communication skills, cultural knowledge and courage to make difficult but necessary decisions.
Research and innovation

Without technological transformation in some of the world’s biggest industries, we won’t stand a chance.
Existing alternative energy sources such as solar and wind need to become more efficient, and fledgeling technologies like ocean, hybrid and bio energies need to develop to support ever-increasing energy demands.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has famously framed climate change as an issue of economic competitiveness and innovation.
The countries and businesses that are more successful at producing new energy technologies and practices will thrive.
The rest will fall behind.
Corporate leadership

With this in mind, leadership in the corporate sector naturally has a massive role to play. Far swifter and more meaningful change can come from within a business than when it’s mandated by government regulations.
Business models will need to be forward-thinking, not relying on traditional methods of production, and change company cultures in the process.

A recent example of this sort of industry leadership is Volvo who announced they will cease production of purely internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2019.
Communication skills

Professor Andrew J. Hoffman from the University of Michigan perfectly articulated the state of the “toxic” climate change debate:
“On the one side, this is all a hoax, humans have no impact on the climate and nothing unusual is happening.
“On the other side, this is an imminent crisis, human activity explains all climate changes, and it will devastate life on Earth as we know it. Amidst this acrimonious din, scientists are trying to explain the complexity of the issue.”
As a society we’ll need to reach some sort of meaningful consensus on the issue. From the boardroom to Twitter, we’ll need opinion leaders who can navigate the clashing world views that dictate how we view the science.
It won’t be easy, but it is necessary.
Clearly, climate change and many other global concerns are multi-faceted issues that necessitate a range of approaches and perspectives.
It’s for this very reason that Griffith University’s Dr Ben Fenton-Smith believes “there is no question that social scientists are going to be in huge demand in the next 20–30 years.
“As our use of data, technology and information increases, we are going to need social scientists to make sense of it.”
Complex problems have complex solutions.


Griffith University is introducing a brand new Bachelor of Social Science to develop the next generation of Aussie leaders keen to tackle the biggest issues facing the world today. Head over here to find out about this exciting new degree.

Press link for more: Techly.com.au

How do we communicate deadly risk? #ClimateChange #auspol #StopAdani 

Hurricane Harvey Is Testing Our Ability To Communicate Natural Disaster Risks
How do scientists drive home a threat that has no precedent?
WASHINGTON — Since slamming into the Texas coast as a Category 4 hurricane late Friday, Harvey has dumped at least 9 trillion gallons of rain across the state — enough to fill Utah’s Great Salt Lake twice.

And with Houston already inundated, the rain continues to fall.

 One meteorologist estimates that by the time the storm subsides it will have dropped a mind-boggling 25 trillion gallons of water across the state.
Certain locations along the Gulf of Mexico are expected to see as much rain in a few short days as is typical in an entire year. 

To accurately portray the staggering totals, the National Weather Service had to add new colors to its precipitation maps.

Harvey has wreaked havoc along the Texas Gulf Coast, just as meteorologists warned it would. But it has also proved somewhat of a communications nightmare. 
Marshall Shepherd, director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia and a former president of the American Meteorological Society, told HuffPost that the bottom line is this: Harvey is an unprecedented storm system. 
“We’re kind of making this up as we go,” he said of meteorologists’ mapping and communication about the sheer magnitude of the event. 

“We haven’t seen this type of rainfall over [such a short] amount of time.” 
Given precipitation totals through Monday and the forecast for the rest of the week, Shepherd said the situation in Texas “is shaping up to be [the] worst flood disaster in U.S. history.”

The previous benchmark for flooding in an American city was Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, which dumped 40 inches of rain on Houston in five days, killing nearly two dozen people and causing $5 billion in damage. (The one-day U.S. record, 43 inches, hit rural Alvin, just south of Houston, during 1979′s Tropical Storm Claudette.)
Harvey delivered as much rain as Allison in roughly half the time — a statistic Shepherd described as “ridiculous.” 
For Shepherd and other experts, the extent of the disaster came as little if any surprise. Early forecasts called for massive amounts of rain and “catastrophic and life-threatening flooding.” On Friday, the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi offered this stark warning: “Locations may be uninhabitable for weeks or months.” And by Sunday morning, the NWS was cautioning that “all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced.”
As Harvey has shown, conveying to the public the deadly risks of such an unprecedented weather event is not easy.
Sarah Watson, a climate and flood risk communication consultant that does contract work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told HuffPost she sees the problem as cultural. Many people associate tropical storms with wind and storm surges but not necessarily with heavy rain — which often proves to be the most destructive effect. When a storm like Harvey is downgraded from a Category 4 hurricane to a tropical storm, for example, people are often quick to think the threat has subsided. 
Gina Eosco, a social scientist and risk communication expert at Eastern Research Group, addressed this in a pair of posts to Twitter on Saturday. 

As Watson sees it, a larger issue is how Americans use — and react to — certain language.
“We can describe a burrito and a pizza as ‘epic,’ but when we are trying to describe rainfall as ‘epic,’ and we’re truly meaning this is epic — we’ve never seen anything like this in this country — it’s not necessarily resonating,” she told HuffPost.
Harvey has been reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina.

 As Katrina strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane and barreled toward the coast of Louisiana in late August of 2005, the National Weather Service in New Orleans warned of “devastating damage” that would leave areas “uninhabitable for weeks.”

 Many people ignored or were unable to comply with a mandatory evacuation order.
In counties across southeast Texas this weekend, residents refused to leave their homes despite voluntary and mandatory evacuation orders. Partly that’s because of horrific earlier experiences with evacuation attempts, but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told an NBC affiliate in Houston: “A lot of people are taking this storm for granted thinking it may not pose much of a danger to them.” 
Finding ways to better communicate the risks associated with natural disasters is an ongoing and complicated battle.


Last year, a study funded by the National Weather Service and NOAA’S Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research looked at how people interpret weather warnings and the risks associated with floods. 

Among other things, the team of researchers concluded that “people differ in how they react to uncertainty; for some, not having a concrete example of what a risk means can make them uncertain of what the actual impacts might entail and thereby impede their decision on whether to take action.”

 They also found that “motivation for action came from knowing what was forecast for their specific town, and knowing what neighbors, friends, and family were doing to prepare.”
Jennifer Marlon, an associate research scientist as Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communication, told HuffPost via email that improvements in technology and forecasting do not always translate into better communication or members of the public taking appropriate action.
“Humans,” she said, “are not built to quickly and easily translate something as abstract as a precipitation map into a vivid, visceral feeling. And yet feelings and memories are what drive us in many cases, even more so than logic or reason.”
In a study published in 2015, Marlon surveyed more than 1,000 people living along the Connecticut shore — where a mandatory evacuation was ordered in advance of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 — about whether they would evacuate or ride out a Category 2 storm. What she found was people fall somewhere in a spectrum — on one end are those who will evacuate any hurricane, on the other are “diehards” confident they can remain in place — and that different audiences would benefit from targeted messages.
If the goal is to get people’s attention, she said, agencies must help the public grasp how a natural disaster is going to affect their daily life.
“Harvey was incredibly severe, of course, and evacuation isn’t always the safest thing to do if officials are not prepared for it,” Marlon said. “But these kinds of events are part of our warming world now, so unfortunately we are beginning to get more practice with them.”

Sunshine Menezes, executive director of the University of Rhode Island’s Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting, told HuffPost that when federal meteorologists are using words like “unprecedented” to describe a weather event, it’s easy for the public to feel overwhelmed.
“When you’re dealing with something that is quite literally beyond the scale that any of the professionals have worked with before, it doesn’t matter how good a job they did within the divisional media they have to work with and the words they have to work with,” Menezes said. “The understanding of that information is what, of course, is the most important, and we clearly don’t know yet how to communicate that without effectively sounding like kind of doomsday scaremongers.” 
Given the magnitude of the the flooding in Texas and the increased risk of extreme weather as a result of climate change, Menezes expects Harvey will trigger a national conversation in the science-communication world about how to improve weather warnings.
When it comes to hurricanes, Shepherd wants to see less emphasis on a storm’s category. With Harvey, he said, forecasters were stressing that the more serious threat was long-term, sustained rainfall — a point he felt was lost on some residents and local officials. 
“We need a way to elevate significant flood threats like this to a level that gets people’s attention in the same way the category of a hurricane does or the rating of a tornado does,” he said.
Shepherd sees Harvey as a learning opportunity, not only for the low-lying city of Houston but also for other flood-prone states, including Louisiana.
There’s also the threat of more intense and frequent rainstorms as climate change drives up global temperatures.
“We’re going to get tested time and time again with extreme rainfall like this,” Shepherd said. “We better figure it out quickly in terms of how to message, how to respond.” 

Press link for more: Huffington Post

We can no longer tolerate climate change denial! #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

We can no longer tolerate climate change denial
August 30 2017 – 12:05AM

Comment

 The United States Weather Service, normally not an agency prone to colourful language, issued an extraordinary statement on Sunday regarding hurricane Harvey, saying, “This event is unprecedented and all impacts are unknown beyond anything experienced”. 

It is now predicted the storm could eventually drop over 150 centimetres of rain in some areas, more than any other in the region’s history.

Far from over, it is already clear that Harvey’s impact is catastrophic. 

Six people are confirmed dead and that number is expected to increase. Cost estimates range up to $US100 billion.
America’s efforts to combat climate change have been battered by President Donald Trump.

America’s efforts to combat climate change have been battered by President Donald Trump. 


Meanwhile flooding in Bangladesh, India and Nepal during the region’s worst monsoon season in a decade has killed an estimated 1200 people.

Climate scientists are reluctant to attribute any particular weather event to global warming, though in this case the signs are that human behaviour contributed to the formation and severity of the storm and its impact.
As tropical storm Harvey moved towards the Texas coast last week, few models predicted it would intensify into such a damaging weather system.

 It then hit an ocean patch in the Gulf of Mexico that remained so hot over the northern winter that it broke temperature records on one in four days according to Houston meteorologist Matt Lanza. On the day Harvey hit, the area was around 2.2 degrees hotter than normal. Fuelled by the aberrant water temperature Harvey grew rapidly into a category-four cyclone as it hit the coast. It is now trapped in place over Houston, constantly siphoning energy and moisture from an ocean that scientists agree is likely to have been warmed by climate change.
The flooding across America’s fourth-largest city was predicted last year in a joint investigation by the Texas Tribune and the non-profit investigative journalism organisation ProPublica.
“As millions have flocked to the metropolitan area in recent decades, local officials have largely rejected stricter building regulations, allowing developers to pave over acres of prairie land that once absorbed large amounts of rainwater. In the decade after Tropical Storm Allison [in 2001], about 167,000 acres were developed in Harris County, home to Houston,” ProPublica wrote last week when it revisited its earlier investigation.
America’s efforts to combat climate change and set policy to live with its impact have been battered by President Donald Trump, who formally notified the United Nations of his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement earlier this month.
Last month Mr Trump rescinded Obama-era regulations that would have made urban development and infrastructure more flood resilient in future.
Mr Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency director, Scott Pruitt, has made the dismantling of his agency’s effort to combat climate change the central goal of his tenure, and in April the EPA scrapped its climate website entirely.
Australia risks following America’s lead on climate change.

Efforts to craft national energy policy that reflect the realities of climate change and rapidly advancing renewable energy technology are blocked by a hardline faction of the coalition partyroom led by former prime minister, Tony Abbott.
In February last year CSIRO announced massive funding cuts to its climate change research division, only to partially overturn the decision in the face of sustained national and international criticism. This year the government ended all funding for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.
As with America’s, Australia’s ongoing failure to deal with climate change carries practical and moral consequence. We cannot significantly cut our greenhouse gas emissions without determined national effort and we cannot engage our diplomatic expertise and might to contribute more to an international solution until we cut our emissions.
We cannot any longer afford to tolerate the scientific myopia exemplified by Mr Trump and Mr Abbott.

Press link for more: AMP.SMH.COM

Was Hurricane Harvey The Result of Climate change? #auspol #StopAdani 

The Specter of Climate Change Hangs Over Hurricane Harvey
David Wallace-WellsAugust 28, 2017 10:00 pm
A man walks past an abandoned truck while checking the depth of an underpass during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston on Monday.


 Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Was Hurricane Harvey the result of climate change? 

The answer is complicated because weather is complicated, and probably the best science can say, really, is “in part.” But in some very important ways the question is ultimately semantic.

 As journalist Robinson Meyer, at The Atlantic, and climate scientist Michael Mann, on Facebook, have explained very clearly and very helpfully, global warming has meant more moisture in the air, which intensifies rainfall and flooding, and significant sea-level rise, which leads to bigger and more invasive storm surges — these elements, along with lesser anthropogenic factors, accounting for as much as 30 percent of the deluge, according to one scientist Meyer spoke with. 

A storm a third weaker would still be devastating for the Texas Gulf, of course, considering Harvey’s likely rainfall is already over 40 inches in some spots, with another 15 to 25 to come. 

As of last week, the position of the city of Houston was that just 12 inches within 24 hours would be cause for total evacuation. 

But the more important matter is not how much blame for Harvey we should parcel out to climate change; it is how often, in this new age of epic weather, storms like this one will hit. There are complicated variables there, too, of course. But the big-picture answer is clear: much more often than we are prepared for — psychologically, socially, politically.

On Sunday, as the first dramatic images of a flooded Houston were pouring in, President Trump called Harvey “a once-in-500-year flood.” 

The term is not all that precise, but it is at least a very simple benchmark to understand: a storm so severe there is only a 1-in-500 chance we’d encounter something of its scale on any given year, meaning we should expect that kind of devastation only once every five centuries.

 To dwell on that figure just for a moment, it would mean a storm that struck once during the entire history of the Roman empire, or once during the entire history of Europeans in America: 500 years ago there were no English settlements across the Atlantic, so we are talking about a storm that would hit just once as Europeans arrived; established colonies; fought a revolution, a civil war, and two world wars; established an empire of cotton on the backs of slaves, freed them and then brutalized them in other ways; industrialized and post-industrialized; triumphed in the cold war, ushered in the “end of history” and witnessed, just a decade later, its dramatic return. 

One storm in all that time.

When was the last time Houston was hit by a “500-year” flood? Harvey is the third such flood in the last three years. 

Another struck less than 20 years ago, in 2001, when Tropical Storm Allison killed 22, stranded 30,000 residents, and wreaked $5 billion in damage.

 The damage done by Harvey is still being tabulated, of course; present estimates run as high as $40 billion, suggesting it could become the third costliest Atlantic hurricane in American history. 

Inflation and economic growth are a factor in those assessments (as is development on flood plains), but nine of the ten costliest such hurricanes have struck since just 2001.

 To take but one additional case study close at hand, it is now estimated that New York City will suffer “500-year” floods once every 25 years.

 And sea-level rise is more dramatic elsewhere, which means that storm surges will be distributed unequally, too; in some places storms on that scale will hit even more frequently. 

The result is a terrifying, radically accelerated experience of extreme weather — centuries worth of natural disaster compressed into just a decade or two. 


By way of analogy, it may be worth considering what kind of suffering would result if centuries of disease, or famine, or conflict were visited on the planet in just a decade or two.

 Of course, climate change threatens to accelerate each of those plagues, too.

Americans used to call floods like this biblical. 

We haven’t dropped the term just because our public discourse has grown more secular over the decades, but because we understand that the threat, for all its horrific scale, has also grown much more quotidian.

 In my recent cover story surveying worst-case scenarios for climate change, I sketched out seven areas where our future is likely to be much worse, thanks to warming, than most of the public understands: heat stress, agriculture, infectious disease, war, economic growth, air quality, and ocean health. 

I didn’t focus on sea-level rise, since most engaged Americans seem already informed about that threat — at least the threat posed by median projections to places like Miami Beach and Bangladesh. 

I also didn’t focus on extreme weather, which seems likely to become the next aspect of climate change to come clearly into view for the average American. 

That is because they will see it, unmistakably; as Al Gore puts it in An Inconvenient Sequel, “Every night on the news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.”
The superstorms have already begun to arrive more often, and even as we settle into thinking of natural disasters as a regular feature of our weather, the scope of devastation and horror they bring will not diminish, of course. 

The very partial news feed from Harvey has already showed this: a pastor fishing stranded motorists out of flooded cars, city residents fishing fish out of floodwaters inside their homes, the mayor warning people not to take refuge in their attics unless armed with an ax to break through the roof when necessary.

 Ahead of the storm, the city of Houston cut off its air-quality monitors, fearing they’d be damaged; on Monday, a cloud of “unbearable” smells began drifting out of the city’s petrochemical plants.
The storm isn’t yet over, which means there is much more adversity and suffering to come — not just in Houston but as far along the coast as New Orleans, where the city is without a full complement of drain pumps after an August 5 storm. 

We are probably weeks, at least, from seeing the full scope of Harvey’s destruction, and further still from understanding just what kind of a rebuild is possible, and what kind necessary. 

But, on that question, that phrase “500-year” flood is very helpful to give context. 

Even a devastated community, buckled in suffering, can endure a long period of recovery if it is wealthy and politically stable and if it needs to do that only once a century. 

Perhaps even once every 50 years. 

But rebuilding for a decade in the wake of storms that hit once a decade, or once every two decades, is an entirely different matter, even for countries as rich as the United States and regions as well-off as greater Houston. 

For the world’s poor, it is almost impossible. 

And just now, according to the Red Cross, exceptional monsoon flooding has hit 7.1 million people in Bangladesh, 1.5 million in Nepal, and fully 14 million India.
One suspects this is not the last 500-year storm those workers will see before retirement.

Rebuilding is not just a matter of wealth, of course.

 Politics matters, too. 

And here recent history counsels almost paralyzing despair. 

Put aside decades of Republican Party climate denial, which amounts to a “nothing to be done” abdication of responsibility to mitigate or prevent climate change on behalf of vulnerable citizens; and put aside the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the climate legacy of the last president — efforts seemingly motivated so primarily out of spite that even their putative constituency, the oil and gas industries, think the policy rollbacks may be a bit too much and a bit too fast. 

Even ignoring all that, just this month President Trump’s FEMA boss Brock Long suggested the agency would cut back on support for flood insurance and disaster relief; and President Trump himself signed an executive order to eliminate Obama-era regulations that required new infrastructure to take account of sea-level rise. 

It had taken ten years of negotiating in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to get those regulations on the books; a decade after that storm, the city still hadn’t finished rebuilding its destroyed homes.
When Katrina hit New Orleans, it was not walloping a thriving city — the 2000 population of 480,000 had declined from a peak of over 600,000 in 1960. 

After the storm, it was as low as 230,000. Houston is a different case: One of the fastest-growing cities in the country — greater Houston even includes the fastest-growing suburb in the country — it has almost ten times as many residents. 

It’s a tragic irony that many of those new arrivals who moved into the path of this storm over the last decades were brought there by the oil business, which has worked tirelessly to undermine public understanding of climate change and derail global attempts at reducing carbon emissions. 

One suspects this is not the last 500-year storm those workers will see before retirement.

 Nor the last to be seen by the hundreds of oil rigs off the coast of Houston, or the several thousand more bobbing now elsewhere off the Gulf Coast, before the toll of our emissions become so brutally clear that those rigs are finally retired, too.

Press link for more: NYMAG.COM

Climate Change Threatens Agriculture #StopAdani #auspol 

Climate Change Threatens Agriculture in Pacific Rim Economies
J Nastranis27 August 2017

Photo: Harvesting rice in Viet Nam. Global rice consumption trends are rising. Photo: FAO/Hoang Dinh Nam

By J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) – Global warming is expected to have a significant impact on future yields of everything from rice to fish, particularly in countries situated closer to the equator, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has warned, and urged the Asia-Pacific economies to take a leading role in adaptation and mitigation.


“Many APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation] economies have already felt the full force of agricultural losses from natural disasters in recent years, with the vast majority of these being climate related,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, reported UN News.
Geographically, the negative impact of climate change on agricultural output could result in lower yields of rice, wheat, corn and soybeans in countries with tropical climates, compared with the impacts experienced by those in higher latitudes. 

Fisheries could also be affected by changes to water temperature, the FAO cautioned.

“The annual tally runs into the billions and billions of dollars in losses. So, the time to act is now. Policy makers need to prepare for changes in supply, shifting trade patterns and a need for greater investment in agriculture, fisheries, land and water management, that will benefit smallholder farmers and others that produce our food,” Kadiresan added.
Many vital agricultural regions in Asia are at risk of crossing key climate thresholds that would cause plant and animal productivity to decline, according to a meeting in Viet Nam of Agriculture Ministers of APEC member economies.
Based on the findings of the global research community, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) anticipates that these trends are expected to worsen in the future with the projected impacts of anthropogenic climate change.
Much can be done to increase the efficiency of agriculture and land-use activities in Asia, according to Kadiresan.
The agriculture sectors account for at least one-fifth of total emissions – mainly from forest to farmland conversions; livestock and paddy production; and application of synthetic fertilizers. Estimates show that 70 per cent of the technical potential to reduce agriculture emissions occurs in tropical developing countries, which characterize much of Asia.

“It is imperative that we start thinking now about the hard decisions and actions that the APEC economies, and others, will need to take. Governments will need to consider greater social protection measures. Industry and trade will need to adapt to shifting supply and demand. There is no quick fix but there is every reason to act,” stressed.
FAO has been working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Viet Nam to assess potential emission reductions the System of Rice Intensification and improved livestock management.
In Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and Mongolia, FAO, has partnered in developing programmes to measure, monitor and report emissions and adaptation actions in the agriculture and land-use sectors.
In the forestry sector, avoiding deforestation, increasing the area under forest, and adopting sustainable forest management will create invaluable carbon sinks. FAO has been supporting national programmes for reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
The meeting made clear that more upfront support is essential to increase farmers’ productivity, build capacity to adapt to climate change and reduce the emissions related to production.
A second area requiring financing is also needed to support capacity-building of appropriate institutions and policies. Climate funds could become an important catalyst for climate change adaptation and mitigation if they are used to build the enabling environment essential for climate-smart agricultural development, while ensuring that public agricultural investment is also climate-smart, and to leverage private finance.


Meanwhile, UN News reported that United Nations humanitarian agencies are working with the Government and partners in Nepal to bring in clean water, food, shelter and medical aid for some of the 41 million people affected by flooding and landslides in South Asia.
Nearly a thousand people have been killed, and tens of thousands of homes, schools and hospitals have been destroyed in Bangladesh, India and Nepal.
“There is the possibility that the situation could deteriorate further as rains continue in some flood-affected areas and flood waters move south,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on August 24 said in an updated note.
In Bangladesh, nearly 2,000 local medical teams have been deployed, even as one-third of the country is reportedly underwater. Aid workers are concerned about waterborne diseases, such as diarrhoea and malaria.


“Their most urgent concern is to accessing safe water and sanitation facilities,” OCHA said earlier, citing national authorities. It also warned of dangers to women and children, who are at increased risk for abuse, violence and sexual harassment. In India, rescue operations are ongoing in many flood-affected areas, with those stranded being rescued by helicopter.
Flood relief camps have been established for those displaced by the disaster where they are being provided with food and shelter, OCHA said. The Government recently announced additional funding for relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and flood mitigation. In addition to people suffering, Indian authorities also reported large parts of a famous wildlife reserve park destroyed, with endangered animals killed. [IDN-InDepthNews – 27 August 2017]

Press link for more: In Depth News

Limit warming to 1.2C to save the reef. #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol 

Warming limit of 1.2 degrees needed to save reef: panel
Peter Hannam4 Aug 2017, 9:42 a.m.


Australia and the rest of the world must keep global temperature increases to 1.2 degrees – more than promised at the Paris climate talks – if the Great Barrier Reef’s biodiversity is not going to deteriorate further, a panel led by former chief scientist Ian Chubb says.
The report by a panel of 15 scientists also called for the urgent revision of the reef’s Plan to 2050 to account for “inexorable global warming”.
On Friday, federal and state environment ministers including federal minister Josh Frydenberg agreed in Melbourne to bring forward a review of the plan to start immediately rather than next year as had been planned.

In a separate report prepared by the Reef Advisory Committee, the Queensland Resources Council objected to some members calling for the giant Carmichael coal mine not to proceed.
The report cited the QRC’s objection as being that it argues “there is no direct scientific link between coal mining of itself and climate change”, a paraphrasing the QRC sought to change.
In their report, the scientists highlighted the fact that the Great Barrier Reef’s unprecedented bleaching events over the past two summers had killed “close to 50 per cent” of the corals over the entire reef, and they called for climate action.

“Global emission reduction targets should be set to secure an average temperature increase of no more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, or even less,” the report said.
“To protect current reef biodiversity, global average temperature rise would need to be limited to [about] 1.2 degrees.”
At the end of 2015, almost 200 nations in Paris agreed to keep temperature increases to between 1.5 and 2 degrees to curb the impact of more frequent extreme climate events, such as more potent storms and fiercer heatwaves as the planet heats up.


However, the expert panel said the Paris pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions were inadequate – including Australia’s – putting the world on a warming course of as much as 3.7 degrees.
That is about four times the increase so far, which has already led to several major bouts of coral bleaching.
‘Australia should lead’
“Australia should set targets appropriate to its ‘fair share’ of emission reduction aimed at keeping global warming to the low end of the [Paris] range, or below,” the report said.
In addition, Australia should “play a prominent leading role in securing appropriate global targets and purposeful action to meet a 1.5-degree target, or lower,” the panel concluded.
Mr Frydenberg said the government was “deeply concerned about the impacts of coral bleaching and are committed to action to address climate change through the Paris Agreement, which commits parties to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees”.
“While we consider the expert advice in detail, we have identified a number of actions to be undertaken immediately, including: bringing forward the mid-term review of the Reef 2050 Plan; scaling up crown-of-thorns starfish control, research and management; and improving water quality entering the Reef,” he said.

The Queensland government said it was up to Canberra to lead the way.
“This is yet another report, from the Turnbull government’s own panel of experts, telling them they aren’t doing enough to address the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef,” Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles said.
“This just reinforces the need for the Turnbull government to adopt the Clean Energy Target recommended by their own Finkel review, as well as policies to reduce other emissions,” Mr Miles said.
Coral reefs are among the most prominent “early movers” in terms of ecosystems stressed by rapid warming. Many coral species expel the algae that provide them with most of the energy and their often brilliant colours once certain temperature thresholds are exceeded for a sustained time.
Corals that survive can have reduced reproduction, hindering their recovery and leaving the reef vulnerable to another heat spike.

Report dispute
The Turnbull government has said Australia is on course to meet its 2020 emissions reduction goals and that its 2030 targets are among the most ambitious.
Even if reached, however, Australia would still be one of the world’s largest emitters on a per-capita basis by the end of the next decade.
The expert group recommended the government continue to support programs that reduce other stresses on the corals, such as reducing high-nutrient run-off from Queensland farms.
The report said the government should identify key species that support the reef’s ecology and target interventions “at scale … and with urgency” to support these creatures.
The Queensland Resources Council, meanwhile, sought changes to the advisory committee report it said contained some inaccurate characterisation of its position.
Ian Macfarlane, a former federal energy minister and now chief executive of the QRC, said the mining group “supports the recent findings by the Queensland and Australian governments that climate change causes coral bleaching on the reef”.
“There is a difference between coal burning and coal mining and QRC’s position on the latter is mining itself is not a large contributor to climate change,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“In terms of the burning of coal, Australia has high efficiency, low emissions coal when compared with lower quality, higher emission coals sourced from Indonesia and India,” he said.
A report in Nature Climate Change this week found there was only a 5 per cent chance that global warming can be kept to under 2 degrees compared with pre-industrial era levels by 2100.
The story Warming limit of 1.2 degrees needed to save reef: panel first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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When will Climate Change become a Citizens’ Issue? #StopAdani #auspol 

When Will Climate Change Become A Citizens’ Issue?

By Nivedita Khandekar

Out Look India

Possibly the first full length commercial feature film on the burning topic, ‘Kadvi Hawa’ that will capture the very real threat of climate change making it a topic for people like us too.

Delhi is witnessing a strange phenomenon.

 It is already well past mid-August and still one can see the sprinkling-yellows-amid-lush green-foliage that is Amaltaash (Indian laburnum). 

Now, Amaltaash is a typical spring flower that blooms in Delhi from April-end, May onwards. And even before July, the flowers all vanish making the tree ready for new leaves.
But this year, there are a noticeable number of Amaltaash flowers. 

While the scientists are neither yet calling the extra humidity as caused due to changing climate nor terming Amaltaash as the ‘new canary’ vis-à-vis changing climate. 

But the weather patterns give an indication towards it. 

There are ample enough signs that tell us that our climate is changing and changing for the worse; whether city-slickers notice it with caution or not.

Away from the urban centres, the slightest manifestation in atmospheric conditions make the rural folk sit up and take note.

 Minor change in weather pattern directly affects the water availability and subsequent food production, so the farming community is much alive to the changes.

 The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC http://www.ipcc.ch/ ) has already warned of extreme climatic conditions for South Asia, especially the Indian sub-continent.
A scientific study ‘Climate Change and India: A 4X4 Assessment – a sectoral and regional analysis for 2030’ published in 2010 had identified and studied the impact of climate change on four key sectors of Indian economy – agriculture, water, forests and human health across four climatic regions of India, namely, the Himalayas, Western Ghats, Coastal areas and the North-eastern region.    


India has indeed witnessed an entire range of natural disasters across these regions and across sectors too, especially over last two decades. 

These catastrophic incidents include Mumbai floods in July 2005, Ladakh in August 2010, Kedar ghati / Uttarakhand tragedy in June 2013, Kashmir Valley floods in September 2014 and December 2015 floods in Chennai. 

Unfortunately, despite such extreme weather events, ‘climate change’ has not yet crept up in the lexicon of the common people. 

Clearly, the government’s efforts to make people aware of various aspects related to the changing climate and its devastating impact among masses have failed spectacularly.

From real to reel:
This problem about lack of mass awareness on a grave issue such as climate change was exactly captured by Erik Solheim, head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) when he recently said: “Things have not worked as it should be, because we failed to set out climate change as a citizen’s issue, as a public issue.”
Solheim was in the national capital on August 10 when he attended an event related with a full length commercial Hindi feature film ‘Kadvi Hawa’ on the theme of climate change. Mass media, especially Hindi feature films, is an extremely powerful tool to propagate the message with maximum impact. Perhaps knowing the soft power that Bollywood is, Solheim agreed to unveil the first look of the film during his visit this month even when the film is set to release in November.
The film, starring acclaimed actors Sanjay Mishra, Ranvir Shorey and Tillotama Shome, is directed by Nila Madhab Panda, of ‘I am Kalam’ fame. Panda said his film is an attempt to capture the real threat of climate change through the two protagonists – an old blind farmer (Mishra) and a young bank loan recovery agency (Shorey), two ordinary people, fighting for survival in two extreme weather conditions, not of their making.

Handpump inside the sea:
There is a personal anecdote from more than a decade ago that prompted Panda to take up this topic. Panda, who hails from Odisha, was travelling along the sea coast for one of his documentaries when he was taken aback by two hand pumps inside the sea. 

Inquiries revealed that the land on which the handpumps stood was part of Satbhaya villages (seven villages), five of which were gobbled up by the rising sea.

 This July 2017 news report (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhubaneswar/odisha-20-years-on-relocation-work-at-erosion-hit-satabhaya-remains-a-distant-dream/articleshow/59521588.cms) tells us that the sea had crept almost three kilometres into Satbhaya over last two decades, washed away several houses and engulfed vast tracts of land belonging to the villagers.
Rising sea levels is one of the major impacts mentioned in the IPCC’s Assessment Report (AR5) released during 2013-14. 

“Global temperatures have risen by about 0.8 degrees Celsius over the last century and sea levels have risen by about 20 cms.

 In many regions, snow and rainfall patterns have changed. 

Snow, ice, permafrost and glaciers are melting at the poles and around the rest of the world. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent,” said the salient features of AR5.    

These warnings from the AR5 have everything that can and will affect India adversely. 

We have a more than 7,500 kms long coast line, imagine the vulnerability of coastal communities, not to mention bigger cities such as Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai along the coast. 

This year, monsoon has been truant in scores of districts across the country. It has a direct bearing on the agriculture production and in turn, food security.
Climate change has a direct link with economic development. “Extreme weather events are costing India $9-10 billion annually and climate change is projected to impact agriculture productivity with increasing severity from 2020 to the end of the century,” the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture mentioned in its latest report. In fact, according to this report http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/finance/climate-change-costs-india-10-billion-every-year-government/articleshow/60113030.cms the recently released mid-year Economic Survey Report says: “Of these, nearly 80% remain uninsured. The 2014 Kashmir floods cost more than $15 billion while Cyclone Hudhud the same year had cost $11 billion.”
So, does the film ‘Kadvi Hawa’ offers any solution to the environmental problems? “I am not offering any solutions. All I am doing is creating awareness. What I want to convey is … each of us need to chip in. It is not the government that alone can do something about this. One of my hero, the 70-year-old blind man takes up the challenge to fight the climate change for his younger son, for the future of his next generation,” Panda emphasised.   

Just as Kadvi Hawa’s blind man and the insurance agent fight for survival in extreme weather conditions, not of their making, each one of us is equally vulnerable to an extreme event. Anyone and everyone, anywhere and everywhere. Time to think: Do I know enough about climate change? Am I doing enough to combat it?
Nivedita Khandekar is an independent journalist based in Delhi. She writes on environmental and developmental issues. She can be reached on nivedita_him@rediffmail.com or follow her on twitter at @nivedita_Him

Press link for more: Outlook India