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Coral Reefs ‘at make or break point’ #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange

Coral reefs ‘at make or break point’, UN environment head says

Erik Solheim cites ‘huge decline’ in world’s reefs but says shift from coal and new awareness of plastic pollution are good news

Michael SlezakLast modified on Fri 19 Jan 2018 17.00 AEDT

The battle to save the world’s coral reefs is at “make or break point”, and countries that host them have a special responsibility to take a leadership role by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, plastic pollution and impacts from agriculture, the head of the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) has said.

Speaking to the Guardian after the launch of International Coral Reef Initiative’s international year of the reef, Erik Solheim said he expected governments to take their efforts on reef protection in 2018 beyond symbolic designation.

“We expect governments to step up to concrete actions,” Solheim said.

To kick off that effort, Fiji’s prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, has announced new protections for large portions of the Great Sea Reef, by nominating it a Ramsar site. The Ramsar Convention gives protection to wetlands – including coral reefs – that are important for the conservation of global biodiversity and for sustaining human life.

Announcing the nomination, Bainimarama said it was shocking that this might be the last generation to witness the beauty of coral reefs.

“Today I appeal to every single person on Earth to help us. We must replace the present culture of abuse with a culture of care,” he said.

Solheim said another significant step was taken this year when Belize imposed a moratorium on oil exploration and extraction in its waters – a move the Belizean prime minister said was a first for a developing country .

“We have seen a huge decline in the reefs and that is absolutely serious,” Solheim said. “But there are also signs of change. We see now a huge global shfit from coal to solar and wind and that is very good news for our efforts to reduce the effects of climate change.

“And we have seen a huge shift in the awareness of the problem of plastic pollution,” he said, noting there have been many moves around the world to ban various forms of plastic pollution.

Solheim said that while the decline of reefs was a global problem that needed coodinated action, host countries had a special responsibility.

Before and After

“We expect Australia and the Pacific Islands and the Carribbean to protect their coral reefs – they can do so much,” he said.

He called on Australia to do more to mitigate climate change.

“I strongly encourage Australia to transform its energy mix from coal to solar and wind and renewables – that is happening, but the faster it happens the better.”

Solheim said failure to act now would bring about a major catastrophe.

“Beyond the complete moral failure of destroying the enormous beauty and all the different species in the ocean living in the reefs, it would also be an economic disaster,” he said.

Estimates vary, but coral reefs around the world are thought to sustain the lives of about one billion people, by supporting food sources, protecting coastlines or providing other economic support.

That is particularly true of developing countries, but reefs also support thousands of jobs in Australia, Solheim said.

“It would have a huge impact for Australia – the reduction of tourism, and an impact on the fishing industry. Tourism is the most rapidly growing business on the planet and a huge job provider. At a time when every nation is desperate for jobs, restoring reefs is fundamental to economic success everywhere.”

Unep also announced it would be working in collaboration with WWF to “drive an urgent response to combat the decline of coral”.

Press link for more: The Guardian

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Coal killed 169,000 Indians in 2015. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #AirPollution

Household burning, coal combustion behind 75% deaths

IANS

Exposure to household burning emissions and coal combustion were the main reasons behind 75 per cent of air pollution-related deaths in India in 2015 which came chiefly from rural areas, reveals a report.

The report, by experts from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)- Bombay and the US-based Health Effects Institute, found that residential biomass fuel burning contributed to some 268,000 deaths in 2015 and coal combustion from both thermal electric power plants and industry contributed to 169,000 deaths.

Anthropogenic dusts contributed to 100,000 deaths; agricultural burning to 66,000 deaths; and transport, diesel, and kilns were behind over 65,000 deaths in India.

“This systematic analysis of emissions from all sources and their impact on ambient air pollution exposure found significant contributions from regional sources (like residential biomass, agricultural residue burning and industrial coal), underlying that from local sources (like transportation and brick kilns),” said Chandra Venkataraman from IIT-Bombay.

According to the 2015 Global Burden of Disease analysis, these levels contribute to over 10 per cent of all Indian deaths each year.

The premature mortality, attributed to air pollution, contributed to over 29 million healthy years of life lost.

Overall, air pollution contributed to nearly 1.1 million deaths in 2015, with the burden falling disproportionately (75 per cent) on rural areas.

The 2017 Global Burden of Disease identified air pollution, both outdoors and in households, as the second most serious risk factor for public health in India, after malnutrition, contributing to 6.4 per cent of all healthy years of life lost in 2016.

India has some of the highest levels of outdoor air pollution in the world,” the researchers wrote in the “Special Report 21, Burden of Disease Attributable to Major Air Pollution Sources in India”.

“The most comprehensive air pollution estimates available from both satellite and Indian ground-level measurements of fine particulate matter indicate that 99.9 per cent of the Indian population is estimated to live in areas where the World Health Organisation Air Quality Guideline for fine particulate matter was exceeded in 2015, contributing to some 1.1 million deaths in India in 2015.”

This new study provides the first comprehensive assessment conducted in India to understand exposures at national and state levels from all major sources of particulate-matter air pollution (particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 µm, or PM2.5).

It takes advantage of enhanced satellite data and India’s growing network of air pollution monitors, and is the first to estimate the exposure from different air pollution sources state by state throughout India.

Press link for more: Business Standard

Coal War! #StopAdani #auspol #ClimateChange #AirPollution @KateRaworth #NaomiKlein

A News Corporation newspaper in Townsville Australia declares War on Stop Adani activists.

War on ordinary Australian moms and dads who have heard the warnings of scientists & doctors saying we are heading to catastrophic climate Change.

In Sydney on Saturday the temperature soared to 47C. The temperature in the centre of the Sydney Cricket Ground was measured at 56C.

Scientists are warning that heatwaves like this will be more frequent, hotter and last longer.

Predictions of 50C temperatures in Sydney & Melbourne by 2040 look to be a an understatement.

Most Australian journalists and politicians seem to support the opening of new coal mines even though the rest of the world is moving rapidly towards renewable energy.

Both the Liberal National Party and the Australian Labor Party are wedded to neoliberalism. An ideology that has a fundamental flaw, continuous growth is impossible on a finite planet.

Many leading economists are questioning neoliberalism and looking for alternatives.

Kate Raworth & Naomi Klein have both written excellent books on the problems of environmental degradation and inequality we are currently experiencing.

Instead of declaring war on ourselves let’s look for solutions to the enormous problems we are facing.

Our children and future generations are depending on us to solve the problems if not they will face a very uncertain future.

#PoweringPastCoal #COP23 #Qldvotes #CoralnotCoal “Coal must be phased out by 2030”

Bonn (AFP) – A score of mostly wealthy nations banded together at UN climate talks Thursday to swear off coal-fired power, a key driver of global warming and air pollution.

Battle lines drawn over coal at UN climate talks

To cap global warming at “well under” two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) — the planet-saving target in the 196-nation Paris Agreement — coal must be phased out in developed countries by 2030, and “by no later than 2050 in the rest of the world,” they said in a declaration.

The dirtiest of fossil fuels still generates 40 percent of the world’s electricity, and none of the countries that truly depend on it were on hand to take the “no coal” pledge.

One country participating in the 12-day talks, which end Friday, has made a point of promoting the development of “clean fossil fuels”: the United States.

The near-pariah status of coal at the UN negotiations was in evidence earlier in the week when an event featuring White House officials and energy executives was greeted with protests.

The US position “is only controversial if we choose to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the realities of the global energy system,” countered George David Banks, a special energy and environment assistant to US President Donald Trump.

Led by ministers from Britain and Canada, the “Powering Past Coal Alliance” committed to phasing out CO2-belching coal power, and a moratorium on new plants that lack the technology to capture emissions before they reach the atmosphere.

“In a few short years, we have almost entirely reduced our reliance on coal,” said British Minister of State Claire Perry.

The share of electricity generated by coal in Britain dropped from 40 percent in July 2012 to two percent in July of this year, she noted.

Other signatories included Austria, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands and New Zealand.

Germany — where coal powers 40 percent of the country’s electricity — was asked to join, said environment minister Barbara Hendricks.

“I asked them to understand that we can’t make a decision like that before forming a new government,” she told journalists.

Most of the enlisted countries don’t have far to go to complete a phase-out.

Deadlines range from 2022 for France, which has four coal-fired plants in operation, to 2025 for Britain, where eight such power stations are still running, and 2030 for the Netherlands.

No economic rationale –

“This climate meeting has seen Donald Trump trying to perversely promote coal,” said Mohamed Adow, top Climate analyst at Christian Aid, which advocated for the interests of poor countries.

“But it will finish with the UK, Canada and a host of other countries signalling the death knell of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel in their countries.”

But not all countries are in the same boat, said Benjamin Sporton, president of the World Coal Association.

“There are 24 nations that have included a role for low-emissions coal technology as part of their NDCs,” or nationally determined contributions, the voluntary greenhouse gas cuts pledged under the Paris treaty.

Coal continues to play a major role in powering the Chinese economy, and will see “big increases in India and Southeast Asia,” he told AFP.

Making coal “clean”, Sporton acknowledged, depends on the massive expansion of a technology called carbon capture and storage (CCS), in which CO2 emitted when coal is burned is syphoned off and stored in the ground.

The UN’s climate science panel, and the International Energy Agency, both say that staying under the 2 C temperature threshold will require deploying CCS.

The problem is that — despite decades of development — very little CO2 is being captured in this way.

There are only 20 CCS plants in the world that stock at least one million tonnes of CO2 per year, a relatively insignificant amount given the scope of the problem.

One reason is the price tag: it costs about a billion dollars (900,000 euros) to fit CCS technology to a large-scale, coal-fired plant.

“If you could develop cost-effective technology that would be permanent and work at scale, it could be a real game-changer,” said Alden Meyer, a climate analyst at the Washington-based Union of Concerned Scientists.

“But you have to be realistic about the prospects.”

At the same time, the price of wind and especially solar power has dropped so much that CCS may no longer be economical.

The crucial issue is not retro-fitting old plants, but avoiding the construction of new ones, Meyer added.

“There’s really no economic rationale for coal, and there’s certainly no environmental rationale for it,” he told AFP.

Press link for more: Yahoo.com

Just not cricket – how climate change will make sport more risky

It is getting hotter

Revised climate projections released last week by CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology predict that by 2030, temperatures could be 1.3C above the average for 1986–2005. By 2090, temperatures in Australia could be 2.8C to 5.1C higher if greenhouse gas emissions remain high, while the frequency of days above 35C and 40C is set to increase.

Since 2001, the number of extreme heat records for daytime maximum temperatures in Australia have outnumbered extreme cool records by almost three to one, and very warm months have increased fivefold over the past 15 years. 2013 and 2014 were Australia’s hottest and third-hottest years, respectively.

Melbourne’s hottest days are already 2C warmer than in the past. It’s clear that we need to prepare for even hotter summers.

Heat is lethal for people exercising

The heat risk from exercise is affected by weather conditions such as temperature, humidity, wind speed and sun exposure, and by other factors including exercise intensity and duration, fitness level, and acclimatisation. Problems arise when the body generates more heat than it can offload to the external environment, causing core temperature to climb.

Liz Hanna | theconversation.com