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Does a Warming Planet Reallly Need More Coal? #StopAdani 

Australia Debates: Does Warming Planet Really Need More Coal?

By JACQUELINE WILLIAMS

October 14, 2017
Australia Debates:

An enormous expansion at Abbot Point, Australia’s most northern deep water coal port, is planned as part of a controversial mining project.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
ABBOT POINT, Australia — In a desolate corner of northeastern Australia, about 100 miles from the nearest town, a grassy stretch of prime grazing land sits above a vein of coal so rich and deep that it could be mined for decades.
The Australian government is considering a proposal to build one of the world’s largest coal mines in this remote locale, known as the Galilee Basin, where acacia and eucalyptus trees grow wild between scattered creeks.
An Indian conglomerate, the Adani Group, has asked for a taxpayer-financed loan of as much as $800 million to make the enormous project viable, promising to create thousands of jobs in return.
But the plan has met intense opposition in Australia and abroad, focusing attention on a question with global resonance: Given the threat of climate change and the slowing global demand for coal, does the world really need another giant mine, especially at the public’s expense?
Adani has proposed building six open-cut pits and five underground complexes capable of producing as much as 66 million tons of coal a year. New infrastructure to support the mine — a rail line to the coast and an expanded port — would also make it economically feasible to extract coal from at least eight additional sites in the Galilee Basin.
That could more than double coal output in Australia, which already produces more coal than any other nation except China, the United States and India. About 88 percent of the 487 tons of coal mined in Australia is exported.

Mick Derrick, center, a volunteer from the North Queensland Conservation Council, conducting a survey in Townsville, Queensland, about the proposed Adani coal mine.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
For many environmentalists, what happens in this mining case is a test of the world’s commitment to fighting climate change. Its failure would register as an unmistakable sign of an international shift away from the fossil fuels behind climate change. But if Australia agrees to subsidize the mine — even though several commercial banks have shunned it — the project would demonstrate the lasting allure and influence of the coal industry.
“How it can be constructed — at a time when the whole world is committed to move away from fossil fuels — is madness that most people just can’t understand,” said Geoffrey Cousins, president of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
The project, known as the Carmichael mine, has provoked strong resistance in part because of its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, a natural wonder that is already dying because of overheated seawater blamed on climate change. Adani plans to deliver most of the coal to India on shipping routes that critics say would further damage the ecosystem of the world’s greatest system of reefs.
The debate over the mine has dominated headlines in Australia for months and fueled one of the most fervent environmental campaigns in the nation’s history. Protests have grown in size and frequency, and polls show Australians who oppose the mine outnumber those who support it by more than two-to-one.
A group of Indigenous Australians is also challenging Adani’s claim to the land.
But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull supports the project, and it just needs financing to proceed. A government agency established to support private-sector infrastructure investment is reviewing Adani’s loan request, and the company has said it is also lining up money overseas.
“This is a tipping point,” said Maree Dibella, a coordinator of the North Queensland Conservation Council, referring to the mine’s role in the global campaign against coal.

The Collinsville coal mine, the oldest in Queensland. Proponents of a new mine say it would bring thousands of jobs to Queensland.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
Around the Galilee Basin, where a population of less than 20,000 is scattered across an area the size of Britain, opinion is divided.
Bruce Currie, a cattle farmer who lives near the site and has traveled to India to investigate Adani’s record, said he is worried the mine will drain too much groundwater, calling it “yet another burden our small business has to bear.”
Several hours drive north in Collinsville, one of the area’s oldest mining communities, Roderick Macdonald, 57, a retired miner, said Adani had come to the town promising to build mining camps and employ local people.
“From what I can hear and see, Mr. Adani’s going to do nothing for this town,” Mr. Macdonald said, referring to Gautam Adani, the billionaire founder and chairman of the company.
But others in the region are more hopeful. Mining accounts for as much as 7 percent of the Australian economy, and the northeastern state of Queensland, where the Galilee Basin lies, has suffered a downturn in recent years because of slowing demand for natural resources, especially from China.
“I need jobs for Queenslanders,” said the state’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, of the Adani proposal.


Roderick Macdonald, a retired miner in Collinsville, Queensland. “From what I can hear and see,” he said, the proposed coal mine project would “do nothing for this town.”
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
Towns along the coast have been vying for potential contracts with the mine for maintenance work, construction and other services. “People are really rooting for this because of the economy,” said Stephen Smyth, a local union leader, who started working in underground mines at 17.
The Carmichael mine, he added, is “offering that thing of hope, hope for a better life, secure employment and better wages so people can live a reasonable life.”
Adani has said the project will create as many as 10,000 jobs in the region. But a consultant hired by Adani said the employment claim was overstated in court testimony given in a case where a conservation group was looking to block the mine. Critics have also noted that other mines in Australia may need to scale back production if Carmichael opens, meaning job losses elsewhere.
A host of Australian celebrities — including the rock band Midnight Oil — and international groups have urged Mr. Turnbull to kill the project, arguing that such a large mine would violate Australia’s commitment in the Paris climate accord to work to prevent temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
In April, Mr. Turnbull met with Mr. Adani and later told reporters that the mine “will create tens of thousands of jobs,” adding, “Plainly, there is a huge economic benefit from a big project of this kind, assuming it’s built and it proceeds.”
If Adani and other mines in the Galilee Basin go ahead and reach maximum production, coal from the region would release as much as 700 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, or nearly as much as Germany generates in emissions, according to a study by Greenpeace.


Coal awaiting export at the Abbot Point port.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
Australia has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, but the coal it sells to India and other countries would not be counted in its total.
It is unclear if India even needs the extra coal. After years of big increases in coal consumption, the growth rate slowed last year as the nation has improved energy efficiency and shifted to solar, wind and hydropower. India’s coal-fired power plants are running below 60 percent of capacity, a record low, experts say.
That has raised questions about the economics of the Carmichael mine. Australia’s four largest banks have publicly ruled out financing it, and analysts have argued that the mine would face stiff competition from local sources of coal in India and elsewhere.
Globally, coal consumption actually decreased by 1.7 percent in 2016, according to a BP report on energy trends, leading the company to declare that “the fortunes of coal appear to have taken a decisive break from the past.”
Critics worry Adani could default on the government’s loan or flood the market, lowering prices worldwide and allowing coal to make a comeback as an energy source.
The Adani Group’s business record has also drawn scrutiny. The conglomerate, whose interests span natural resources, logistics, energy and agriculture, has faced allegations in India of environmental degradation, money laundering and bribery, but it has denied any illegal activity.


Mike Brunker, a member of the Whitsunday Regional Council, supports the coal mine, viewing it as a potential creator of much needed jobs in the area.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
Adani leased about 460 square miles of land in the Galilee Basin nearly a decade ago. It can take two to three days to get to the site from the coast, with the last leg of the trip on unpaved roads. Surveying, soil testing and design work has begun, including on an airstrip, mining camp, access roads and the rail link, said Ron Watson, a spokesman for Adani Australia.
Coal from the mine would be transported by rail about 240 miles through grazing land to Abbot Point, the nation’s most northern deep water coal port, which is already used to ship coal to China, Japan and South Korea. Adani has signed a 99-year lease of the port and plans an expansion that would allow it to double the amount of coal going through.
From the air, the piles of coal and equipment at Abbot Point are a striking contrast with the turquoise waters of the Coral Sea. The closest coral of the Great Barrier Reef is just 12 miles away.
A 30-minute drive southeast from Abbot Point is the seaside town of Bowen, where parts of the Nicole Kidman epic “Australia” was filmed a decade ago during better times. Now, the streets are dotted with “For Sale” signs beyond the main drag.
“We had miners living in the high parts of town,” or the most expensive neighborhoods, said Mike Brunker, who represents Bowen in the Whitsunday regional council and is a supporter of the mine for the jobs it is projected to bring. “That was the boom time. They had to leave, they had to go to other mines, or they’ve just gone broke.”
Further up the coast is Townsville, home to Adani’s headquarters in Australia, where protesters sometimes congregate and residents exemplify the conflicts felt by many in the region.
“You don’t know what’s good for us,” one man snapped at an environmental activist conducting a survey recently.
Not too long after, another resident told the activist, “I oppose the mine even though I applied for a job.”

Press link for more: NYTimes.com

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Investing in the age of #ClimateChange #StopAdani 

Countries who’ve signed the Paris Climate Agreement are looking for ways to curb carbon emissions
Marija Kramer is Head of Responsible Investment Business at Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). 

She is responsible for all aspects of responsible investing (RI) offerings, including policy development, as well as research and data screening services covering more than 13,000 global companies for institutions seeking to fully integrate ESG into their investment decision-making.

 Kramer also oversees new product development and strategic alliances in all regions of the world where RI solutions are delivered to ISS clients.

Christopher P. Skroupa: Have we reached a tipping point for mainstream investors on the issue of climate change?
Marija Kramer: I would say so. Unprecedented votes this year on climate change resolutions at some of the largest energy companies, including Exxon Mobil, would suggest mainstream institutions have crossed the Rubicon on the materiality of climate change.

 So it’s not just leading climate scientists who agree that the release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere contribute to climate change.

What we’re seeing now is that investors are focused on how a changing climate brings two highly impactful risks: transition and physical.

 Transition risks are linked to the political commitment to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

 For example, a government may choose to introduce a tax on greenhouse gas emissions that could leave several companies with unburned fossil fuel assets but support the emergence of renewable energy technologies. 

These policy and technology-related changes could directly affect the value of an investor’s portfolio.
Physical risks are linked to extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts or hurricanes that arise as a result of global temperature rises, with proponents of this argument pointing to recent storms that hit Texas, Florida and the Caribbean islands as evidence of this. 

The financial losses that can be felt by these hurricanes, alongside the more obvious humanitarian and environmental devastation triggered by the events, are materially significant for global investors far more so today than ever before.

Skroupa: How does the landmark Paris Climate Accord affect investors?
Kramer: With the adoption of the Paris Climate Accord at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) in December 2015, there is a global consensus to combat climate change. 

It is the world’s first legally binding commitment to limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with a stretch target of 1.5°C.
Part of the agreement includes ensuring that financial flows are consistent with the 2-degree target. 

Meeting this target requires a global effort to shift capital from carbon-intensive to low-carbon industries, but also heavily invest in energy-efficiency in the former. 

Significant investments in renewable energy, smart-grids and energy-efficient storage systems will be needed as well as a fade out of fossil fuel subsides.

Some countries are considering using carbon pricing, taxes and cap and trade systems as financial mechanisms to curb emissions.

 The net effect of this is that many investors are beginning to measure the carbon exposure of their portfolios and, where needed, rebalancing portfolios to offset the presence of high carbon-emitters with companies that have lower greenhouse gas emissions or are on a path to reduce them in the future.
Skroupa: How can investors manage climate-related risks and opportunities?
Kramer: Performing a carbon footprint analysis is the first step for investors who want to understand their portfolios’ impact on the climate and vice versa. 

A carbon footprint analysis shows a portfolio’s carbon emissions based on the ownership it has of the underlying investments.
For example, if an investor owns 1% of a company, the investor also owns 1% of the company’s carbon emissions and the portfolio footprint is the total of these ‘owned’ emissions. 

The analysis shows where the largest exposures are located (specific companies and sector-wide), which can in turn trigger an internal conversation around the strengths and limitations of the current investment strategy.
The next step would be to add more information to the analysis to determine if the investments are on a 2-degree pathway. 

Innovative tools, such as Climetrics, a climate impact rating for funds, also provide investors with much needed insight on the climate change impact of funds’ portfolio holdings, as well as asset managers’ own applications of climate impact as an investment and governance factor.
Skroupa: As an ESG data, analytics, research, and advisory provider, how is ISS supporting investors in the age of climate change?
Kramer: ISS-Ethix supports investors globally with developing and integrating responsible investing policies and practices into their strategy, and execute upon these policies through engagement and voting.

 Our climate solutions enable investors to understand what climate change means for their investments by providing timely data and actionable intelligence on climate change risk and its impact on investments.
ISS-Ethix can also provide reports that enable investors to understand their carbon footprint and wider climate impact, complying with disclosure frameworks such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, the California Department of Insurance’s Coal Disclosure, Article 173 of the French Energy Transition Law, the Montreal Pledge and specific guidelines for investors in other jurisdictions.
The transition to a low-carbon economy requires a massive transformation, including transition efforts to be made by global capital markets. Faced with this new reality, investors have to start asking themselves the following questions: Will my current investments make sense in a 2-degree world, and how can I spot the largest risks and opportunities in the transition to a low-carbon economy?

Press link for more: Forbes

9 Images show #ClimateChange impacts #StopAdani 

Nine Pictures That Show How Climate Change Is Impacting Earth
by Victor Tangermann on September 16, 2017 

IN BRIEF
The latest satellite data from NASA that showcases the effects of climate change paints a sobering picture. Here’s how far we have come and how much work there is to be done.

Record-breaking hurricanes have affected millions of people across North and Central America, devastating floods have taken away millions of homes, and wildfires on the west coast have wreaked havoc on the lives of millions more. The natural disasters of 2017 have raised a lot of questions about human involvement and the dire consequences of climate change caused by human activity on our planet. Even though its effects have made themselves apparent, there are many who don’t believe climate change is real, or at least that humans have nothing to do with it.
Earlier this year, NASA released a series of images titled Images of Change to show just how drastic an effect human activity has had on Earth in the last fifty or so years. They tell a story of melting glaciers, receding ice shelves, floods, and other natural disasters. They all provide evidence that climate change is very real and happening right now. It is time to take the hard, photographic evidence seriously. and learn from our past mistakes.
Tuvalu and the Rising Sea Levels


Image Credit: Ashley Cooper/Contributor/Getty Images

This image was taken in 2007, showing a town submerged in water on the Funafuti Atoll. Its population of more than 6,000 people has been battling with the direct consequences of rising sea levels. Residents of the capital Tuvalu have seen very frequent flooding in populated areas due to the fact that it is at most 4.57 meters (15 feet) above sea level. Dubbed one of “the most vulnerable Pacific Ocean islands,” its residents have to make the ultimate choice: leave the islands or deal with the consequences.
The Larsen C Ice Shelf


Image Credit: NASA/John Sonntag

This 112.65km (70 mile) long, 91.44 meter (300 feet) wide crack in the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf was photographed in November 2016. As a direct result of the split, a piece of an ice shelf the size of Delaware collapsed. The more than 1 trillion ton ice slab broke away from the Larsen C shelf around the 10th of July, 2017, decreasing it by more than 12%.
Rising Bedrock in Greenland


Image Credit: ESA/Sentinel-2/Copernicus Sentinel

Environmental scientists have concluded in recent studies that the Greenland Ice Sheet is rising as ice melts; as the ice that sits on top of the outer crust of the Earth melts, the crust underneath rises up. Measuring this change is giving scientists valuable insight into the changing sizes of ice sheets and how this eventually leads to rising sea levels.
Hurricane Harvey


Image Credit: @Space_Station/Twitter

This image was taken from the International Space Station on August 25, 2017. The disastrous consequences of Hurricane Harvey wreaking havoc on central Texas saw a huge amount of media coverage. However, when it came to drawing links between the storm and climate change, the reporting was far more subdued. Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist from the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, said in an interview with The Atlantic: “the human contribution can be up to 30 percent or so of the total rainfall coming out of the storm.” But the trend of tying storms of this scale to human activity is still emerging.
Flooding of the Ganges River


Image Credit: NASA

These satellite images are part of an ongoing series of images called Images of Change released by NASA in 2017. In addition to images related to climate change, the series also looks at how urbanization and natural hazards are changing our planet. The two images above show the drastic effect the 2015 flood had on the Ganges River in eastern and central India. Over six million people were affected by it, and at least 300 people lost their lives.
Arctic Sea Ice Decline


Image Credit: NASA

The last three decades have not been kind to the thick, older layers of sea ice in the Arctic. A study published by the American Geophysical Union in 2007 already noted a sharp decline of the Arctic Sea ice between 1953 and 2006. The last couple of winters have shown record lows in the amount of wintertime Arctic Sea ice.
“This older, thicker ice is like the bulwark of sea ice: a warm summer will melt all the young, thin ice away but it can’t completely get rid of the older ice. But this older ice is becoming weaker because there’s less of it and the remaining old ice is more broken up and thinner, so that bulwark is not as good as it used to be,” says Walt Meiter, a sea researcher from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Increase of Sun’s Energy Absorbed in the Arctic


Image Credit: NASA

Since 2000, NASA has been using its satellites to measure the solar radiation absorbed in the Arctic. Since records began in 2000, the rate has increased by 5% — notably, the only region on our planet to see a change. Due to this increase, the ice melts sooner in the spring, and more older, thicker sea ice is lost permanently.
Glacier Melt in Alaska

Image Credits: U.S. Geological Survey/NASA

 The Northwestern Glacier in Alaska retreated an estimated 10 kilometers (6 miles) out of view. The small icebergs that can be seen in the foreground have retreated almost entirely throughout the decades.
Air Pollution in London


Image Credit: Barry Lewis/Getty Images

Commuters can be seen crossing the London Bridge on March 15, 2012 — a day with record-breaking levels of air pollution due to dirty air from the north, traffic fumes, and a lack of moving air. According to the World Health Organization, “92% of the world population was living in places where the WHO air quality guidelines levels were not met,” and three million premature deaths were caused by ambient air pollution worldwide in 2012.

This Isn’t “The New Normal #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

This Isn’t ‘the New Normal’ for Climate Change — That Will Be Worse
David Wallace-Wells

October 11, 2017 10:12 am


A Fountaingrove Village homeowner surveys her destroyed home she and her husband have owned for four years, on October 9, 2017, in Santa Rosa, California. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

It’s been a terrifying season for what we used to call natural disasters.

For the first time in recorded history, three hurricanes arose simultaneously in the Caribbean. 

Harvey and Irma ravaged a series of islands then turned north and hit the U.S. mainland. 

Days later came Maria, the third storm this season to register among the top-four most devastating hurricanes in dollar terms to ever make landfall in the U.S. (Maria seems likely to be remembered as among the worst humanitarian disasters America has ever seen, with 40 percent of Puerto Rico still without running water, power out for likely six months, and native agriculture devastated for a full year.)


 For years, we’ve conceived of climate change in terms of sea level, meaning it was often possible to believe its devastating impacts would be felt mostly by those living elsewhere, on the coasts; extreme weather seems poised to break that delusion, beginning with hurricanes. And then the unprecedented California wildfires broke out over the weekend, fueled by the Diablo Winds, killing 17 already and burning through 115,000 acres across several counties by Wednesday, casting even the sky above Disneyland in an eerie postapocalyptic orange glow and lighting up satellite images with flames visible from space.

 The smoke was visible from there, too.
It is tempting to look at this string of disasters and think, Climate change is here. 

Both hurricanes and wildfires are made worse by warming, with as much as 30 percent of the strength of hurricanes like Harvey and Maria attributable to climate change, and wildfire season both extended and exacerbated by it. 

As the journalist Malcolm Harris put it blithely on Twitter, “There didn’t used to be a major natural disaster every single day.”

What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal. 

It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship.

But the truth is actually far scarier than “welcome to the new normal.”

 The climate system we have been observing since August, the one that has pummeled the planet again and again and exposed even the world’s wealthiest country as unable (or at least unwilling) to properly respond to its destruction, is not our bleak future. 

It is, by definition, a beyond-best-case scenario for warming and all the climate disasters that will bring. 

Even if, miraculously, the planet immediately ceased emitting carbon into the atmosphere, we’d still be due for some additional warming, and therefore some climate-disaster shakeout, from just the stuff we’ve put into the air already. 

But of course we’re very far from zeroing out on carbon, and therefore very far from stalling climate change.

 A recent debate has centered around the question of whether it is even conceivably possible for the planet to pull up short of one-point-five degrees Celsius of warming, which means, at the absolute very least, we have 50 percent more warming to go (since we’re at about one degree already). But even most optimistic experts expect we’ll at least hit two degrees, and possibly two-point-five or even three. 

That means as much as 200 percent more warming ahead of us.

 And what that means for extreme weather and climate disasters is horrifying.

Watch: How Climate Change Is Creating More Powerful Hurricanes
Of course, there is also an enormous variance in weather, and we shouldn’t expect, say, that next year’s hurricane season will be necessarily as bad as this one, or worse, or that next year’s wildfire season will be as bad as this one, or worse, even as the planet continues to warm.

 We are probably dealing with a lot of bad luck in 2017 (and that’s not even counting the earthquakes, unrelated to climate, that shook Mexico last month, reducing whole neighborhoods to rubble). But, over time, the trend lines are inarguable: Climate change will give us more devastating hurricanes than we have now, and more horrible wildfires, as well as more tornadoes and droughts and heat waves and floods.
What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal.

It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship. 

Perhaps because of the exhausting false debate about whether climate change is “real,” too many of us have developed a misleading impression that its effects are binary. 

But global warming is not “yes” or “no,” it is a function that gets worse over time as long as we continue to produce greenhouse gas. 

And so the experience of life in a climate transformed by human activity is not just a matter of stepping from one stable environment into another, somewhat worse one, no matter how degraded or destructive the transformed climate is.

 The effects will grow and build as the planet continues to warm: from one degree to one-point-five to almost certainly two degrees and beyond.

 The last few months of climate disasters may look like about as much as the planet can take. 

But things are only going to get worse.

Press link for more: NYMag.com

Jane Goodall: “We dont have unlimited time” to save the Planet #StopAdani 

Jane Goodall: ‘We Don’t Have Unlimited Time’ to Save the Planet

Jane Goodall has been at the forefront of the conservation movement for decades, helping to illuminate human understanding of wildlife and the need to protect it. 

But never has the challenge been as urgent as now, she told TIME.


“When I began there wasn’t any particular need for conservation the way there is now,” Goodall said.

 “If we carry on with business as usual, it will be too late.”

Goodall listed a wide range of concerns, including poaching and deforestation, as key issues affecting wildlife, but highlighted climate change as the threat with the potential to do the most damage in the long term. 

Still, Goodall remains cautiously optimistic, citing the passionate people she has met who are working to tackle the issue and noting that there is still a small amount of time to act before some of the worst impacts of climate change become irreversible.

Thousands of people in Australia protest against the Adani Coal Mine This is a picture taken at the beautiful four mile beach Port Douglas Queensland 

The remarks come ahead of the release this month of the new documentary Jane, which relies on 50-year-old archival footage to tell the story of Goodall’s early work with chimpanzees in Tanzania. 

Goodall says she hopes viewers gain a better understanding of chimpanzees — and take action on the issues that threaten them and all wildlife.

“We don’t have unlimited time,” she said. 

“Do we or don’t we care about our grandchildren? 

We’ve been stealing their future.”

Press link for more: Time.com

Scientists have become angry! #ClimateChange #Coral #StopAdani 

The amazing biological fixes that could help save the Great Barrier Reef

October 3 2017

In just the past two years, up to half the coral on the Great Barrier Reef has died.

 The world has reacted differentially to this disaster. 

Publics have been shocked. 

Conservationists have cried.

 The tourism industry has fractured. 

Some opportunistic politicians have denied. 

And scientists, what have we done?

 We’ve become angry.
Scientists have known this was going to happen for years. I have been teaching climate change and coral bleaching as part of core curriculum since I first began as a young academic in 2001. We have been watching the world in disbelief; watching the world careen down a collision course with its own climate.
Somehow, we thought that common sense would prevail – that politicians and businesses and people would change course before it was too late. And then, suddenly, it was too late for half of the corals on the world’s largest contiguous reef system – our national natural treasure.
The only good news is that when scientists get angry, we get active. In response to two consecutive years of mass coral mortality, some scientists have ramped up the pressure on decision makers, demanding they rapidly adopt evidence-based policies on energy.
Bleaching corals off Port Douglas.


Bleaching corals off Port Douglas. Photo: Dean Miller

Some have ramped up efforts to reduce other reef stressors, such as poor water quality, to increase resilience. 

And some have ramped up their creative efforts to provide fixes, be they technological, sociological or biological.
It is the biological solutions that are fascinating me right now. 

Can we save a reef?

As a professor of marine ecology and the newest member of the board of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, I believe this question is paramount. 

We know the increasing temperature of ocean waters are threatening reefs around the world. We know that when ocean temperatures are too warm, for too long, coral animals eject their symbionts. That is, they throw the microscopic algae that live within them out into the sea.
That means they lose their colour, they bleach. But more importantly, they lose their major source of food. If the waters do not quickly cool, the ghostly white corals starve to death.
Coral bleaching has returned to the Great Barrier Reef in 2017.


Coral bleaching has returned to the Great Barrier Reef in 2017. Photo: James Cook University

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, of the University of Queensland, was one of the first to study this process of bleaching and to warn us of the impending global ecosystem collapse.
Almost 30 years later, and a paradigm shift in conservation biology is almost complete. From “lock it up and let it live”, the pace of climate change has forced us to consider a more interventionist approach. We’re not quite at “whatever it takes”, but our science and the approach to conservation is changing as fast as the world around us. Chair of the marine park authority Dr Russell Reichelt​ says: “Everything is on the table. Leave no stone unturned”. 
Mature stag-horn coral bleached at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef.

Mature stag-horn coral bleached at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. Photo: David Bellwood

So, scientists are busy in laboratories and reef sites all over the globe in a race to create, select, discover, and cultivate heat-tolerant corals that will withstand the next 50 years of warming oceans – before humanity must, inevitably, achieve net negative carbon emissions, or move to another more habitable planet.
Professor Ruth Gates, director of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, is selecting the toughest corals and “pre-conditioning” others, preparing them for the heat bath.
Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef of the Whitsundays in the Coral sea.


Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef of the Whitsundays in the Coral sea. Photo: Alamy

Professor Madeleine van Oppen​, of the University of Melbourne and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, is creating hybrids and culturing multiple generations of their microscopic algae under heat-stress conditions. 

Her heat-tolerant symbionts can be taken up by bleached corals – but they’ve not yet prevented bleaching.
Other researchers are refining the cryopreservation process (snap-freezing) to produce algal seed banks. If they can get this working, one option might be to fly aeroplanes across the more than 2000 kilometres of the Great Barrier Reef spraying heat-tolerant symbionts across the bleached reefs – aerial first-aid for corals.
A reef flat exposed at low tide on the Great Barrier Reef.


A reef flat exposed at low tide on the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Penguin Random House Australia

Not all scientists believe such biological fixes will be useful, compared with the rapid evolution already taking place on reefs around the world.
Professor Terry Hughes, director of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and one of our foremost researchers of reef diversity, is focused more on reducing carbon emissions and building reef resilience through consideration of social, as well as environmental factors. It may well be that we can’t beat rapid natural selection – already under way in vast numbers of surviving corals – in response to this very unnatural disaster.
Divers on the outer Great Barrier Reef off Port Douglas.


Divers on the outer Great Barrier Reef off Port Douglas. Photo: Jason South

It is true that reefs have moved and changed with climate in the past, but such changes occurred over tens of thousands of years, not hundreds. It remains to be seen how many of the coral species and strains can survive, reproduce and disperse with sufficient potential for heritable selection to heat stress.
Finally, not all scientists are convinced of the safety of “assisting evolution” – releasing selectively bred or genetically modified corals or algae on the reef. Memories of previous biological interventions gone wrong still scar our consciousness.
To keep ahead of the science, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is developing a policy for permitting such interventions – one that enables experimental trials on the reef under strict conditions.
Suffice to say, angry scientists are not standing still. We are exploring every possibility. For the burden of knowing the reef – and understanding what lies ahead – is eased by every effort we make to sustain our living treasures.


Professor Emma Johnston is dean of science at UNSW Sydney and host of Can We Save the Reef? airing on Catalyst, Tuesday, October 3 on ABC & ABC iview.

Press link for more: SMH.COM

Can We Save the Reef? #Catalyst #Science #StopAdani #ClimateChange 

Off Australia’s northeast coast lies a wonder of the world; a living structure so big it can be seen from space, more intricate and complex than any city, and so diverse it hosts a third of all fish species in Australia.


 The Great Barrier Reef as we know it — 8,000 years old and home to thousands of marine species — is dying in our lifetime. 
Can We Save the Reef? 

The epic story of Australian and international scientists who are racing to understand our greatest natural wonder, and employing bold new science to save it.

Press link for more: ABC.net.au

Farmers must rally for #ClimateAction #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

Our farmers must rally for climate change action.
1 Oct 2017

With no clear action on climate or energy policies, Australian farmers are scratching their heads and wondering how they can drive change.  
The Federal Government is failing to help. 

They are talking about extending the life of old, polluting coal-fired power stations; more subsidies and taxpayer assistance to the fossil fuel industry; and pressuring states to frack more gas – an industry that directly competes for prime agricultural land. 

They can’t be thinking of our interests.

 Farmers are the ones already impacted by climate change – look no further than heatwaves and severe rain shortages in parts of the country. 

We are also dealing with soaring energy costs. 

It’s time we used our voice to speed up the change we need. 

NSW farmer Jim McDonald is a case in point. 

Infuriated by rural MPs who were spouting anti-renewable energy guff, he started an open letter. 

More than 2000 farmers around the country have signed on. 

As individuals we can get drowned out, but collectively our voice carries weight. 

If our views are to be heard, however, we must start talking to elected representatives before it’s too late.


Farmers are looking to renewables and storage to cut their energy costs. If you think that should be encouraged, then speak out.
Farmers directly benefit from large-scale renewable projects. Wind turbines alone generate approximately $20 million worth of passive income for us. 
Agriculture is one of the most climate-exposed industries in the country. If you think farmers should be supported to cope with what’s happening now, and steps taken to avoid worse impacts into the future – then speak out!
The future of farming won’t be assured without a fight. 

Add your voice.

Verity Morgan-Schmidt is CEO of Farmers for Climate Action 

Press link for more: The Advocate

The Great Barrier Reef needs your help #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol #ClimateChange 

The Great Barrier Reef May Not Be Dead Yet, But It’s Not Far Off
Share this article and help save the reef.

Shock and dismay struck the Internet when Outside Magazine released an obituary stating that scientists had declared the Great Barrier Reef dead.

 Thankfully, these reports were not accurate. 

Although the 25 million-year old organism is in grave danger, it is not dead yet. 

Scientists and environmentalists are taking to social media to set the record straight.

Environmental reporter Tony Davis tweeted, “Reports of the Great Barrier Reef’s death are greatly exaggerated, say scientists, booing Outside Magazine.”

 And the Cornell Cooperative Extension at Rockland County, an environmental nonprofit organization, tweeted “Great Barrier Reef is Dying NOT Dead!

 ‘The message should be that it isn’t too late… not we should all give up.'”
It may be a relief to know that the GBR isn’t dead, but this scare should be taken as a wake up call, especially considering we are a big reason for the reef’s deteriorating health. 

Coral on the reef are dying due to a phenomenon called coral bleaching. 

Changes in condition, like warmer water temperatures, cause coral to become stressed, which causes the algae living in their tissues to leave. 

When this happens the coral turn white, hence the term coral bleaching, and the coral is left vulnerable and more susceptible to disease. 

According to a report by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, 93% of the reef is affected by bleaching.


How is this our fault? 

Two words: global warming.

 As our oceans temperatures continue to rise, more and more bleaching events are occurring and causing sections of the reef to die. 

According to a survey by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, 22% of the reef’s coral are dead. 

If we want to save one of the seven natural wonder of the world, we need to act now.

Press link for more: Propeller.LA

More disasters are on the way. #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol 

Here’s How Puerto Ricans Are Talking About Climate Change
“More climate disasters are on the way. We need to start preparing now.”

ERIC HOLTHAUSSEP. 30, 2017 6:00 AM


GENESIS LOZADA, 20 years old, looks out on her neighborhood surrounded by floodwater. Carol Guzy/ZUMA
This story was originally published by Grist and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. 
Millions of people in the Caribbean are getting a glimpse of a future that more and more people around the world will soon experience. 

This month’s hurricanes are the storms scientists have warned us about for decades.

 They have arrived — causing heartbreak and agony, wrecking homes and destroying lives.


For the millions more friends and family members watching and waiting on the U.S. mainland and elsewhere, word from their loved ones can’t come soon enough.

 One week after Hurricane Maria made landfall, Puerto Rico remains in a state of disarray, and communication is still largely cut off to most of the island.
Food and clean drinking water have been slow to arrive. 

And until recently, what had arrived was stuck in port — hampered by a combination of infrastructure failures and distracted leadership in Washington. 

It has all the makings of what could easily turn out to be a disaster nearly without parallel in modern American history.
Over the past 36 hours, I’ve communicated with more than a dozen people inside Puerto Rico, as well as those who have family there. 

The conversations have taken place via phone, email, and social media.
Here is what they told me about what life is like on the island right now for themselves or for their loved ones.

 These are the words of people on the front lines of climate change. (These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Ly Pérez, San Juan, Puerto Rico (reached via text message)
I am a biology student at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. I just got cell service since it went down from María. 

It’s the first time I saw pictures, and it’s absolutely horrifying. 

For the past week, our only way of learning what was happening around us was through the radio. 

They kept mentioning the word “disaster,” and your mind would create scenarios. 

But in no way does it compare to the absolutely heartbreaking reality.
There was a lot of optimism right after the hurricane.

 I drove around the metropolitan area near home and saw the destruction and thought: We will get through this. But seeing the actual pictures now, after the cell service has been restored, it’s really difficult to stay hopeful. 

It’s as if being blind to all the destruction because of the communication blackout was what was keeping us hopeful because we didn’t fully comprehend what a horrible reality we had ahead of us.
We knew it was bad, but never this bad.

 I’ve been a week without cellphone reception, water, or electricity, and after seeing those pictures I’ve never felt so blessed in my life.


Norman Benitez, Caguas, Puerto Rico (reached via Twitter)
We just got cell service today (very limited). 

My wife and daughter worked in hotels; they now have no job. 

I’m disabled temporarily due to knee operation, and we have small children to attend to.

 We don’t see ANY of the help they’re talking about, etc. And we have to stand on daily lines UNDER THE PUNISHING SUN just to get two bags of ice. 

The lines for gas are more critical and dangerous.
Brian Aronson, San Juan (reached by phone)
Q.What’s it been like the past few days?
A.I don’t really know how to even answer that question. 

There’s a lot of shock and confusion.
My home is on the beach, it’s fine. 

But my office has five feet of sewage in it, and I have a smashed car. 

I want to get my family out of here. We heard gunshots an hour ago. We got to lock up tighter than we ever have before. A week from now, I hope my wife and 4-and-a-half-year-old child will be in Miami.
We’re going to be feeling this for a really long time, long after the lights come back on and the streets get cleared. 

There isn’t a tree that isn’t damaged. After a block of walking around, you just think “this shit is everywhere.”
How do you rebuild a whole island? 

I don’t even know what that means.
Kevin Alers, Carolina, Puerto Rico (reached via Twitter)
People sleep in gas stations for days waiting for the gas truck to arrive. Out of 1,600 cell towers only 300, approximately, work; 99.7 percent [of people] are still with no power, and still no plans on how to get the grid back online.
“Seeing the actual pictures now, after the cell service has been restored, it’s really difficult to stay hopeful.”

I am a business owner. 

I run a small digital and social media shop on the island, and I have lost contact with all my clients do to the failure of comms.

 Yesterday I bought a one-way ticket to Miami, and I don’t know when I’m coming back. I have to provide for my family. 

We don’t want a bailout — we just want to be treated equally. 

We deserve it!!

Aida Sued, San Jose, California (reached by phone)
Aida’s sister Ana is a pharmacist in Guayama, a city in southeast Puerto Rico, near where Maria made landfall. 

Ana has a satellite phone and is in daily contact with Aida.
Q.What’s happening right now for you and your family?
A. It’s been the hardest week ever. 

I was one of the few people to hear from my sister within 36 hours [of Maria’s landfall], but there’s still families waiting to hear from their loved ones.
She managed to get her pharmacy open, but I’m worried for her safety. As a backup plan, she had a satellite phone just in case for her patients, people being able to get their prescriptions. 

People are scared, they’re running out of food.
We were told, growing up, that to prepare for a hurricane, you need five days of food and water. 

After that you expect the grocery stores to open or help to arrive. 

It’s been five days. 

It’s hell right now. 

There’s just no words to describe it.

 People are starting to get desperate. 

They’re realizing this is long term. 

They don’t have cash. They don’t have anywhere to buy goods. It’s a humanitarian crisis. They need help, like yesterday.
Wanda Cintron, Frederick, Maryland (reached by phone):
As days continue passing, we continue to see images and horror stories. No way I can sleep or feel good seeing the disaster my island is going through. 

It’s a very desperate feeling not knowing how your family is.

 You are seeing the stories going around of people with no power, no gas. People in the island right now are like crazy, wondering if their family is OK.
“I want to get my family out of here. 

We heard gunshots an hour ago. 

We got to lock up tighter than we ever have before.”

One thing that’s happening is people are saying: “If you have a phone and you have a signal, just take a picture of people and say, ‘PR, we are O.K.’ 

Just post it on social media, and hopefully it will arrive to whoever knows that person.”
Nancy Negron, Philadelphia (reached by phone)
A former member of President Obama’s White House Task Force on Puerto Rico, Negron says the group has reorganized on an ad-hoc basis in the wake of Maria. 

She has yet to make contact with her family and friends on the island.
We talk daily to the governor’s office in Puerto Rico. 

We really are just trying to avoid a Caribbean version of Katrina right now.
Basic food, water, medicine, supplies are not reaching the people equitably. There are people on the island who have run out of food and water. 

I’m livid. 

The only thing that keeps me going is working, but time is just not on our side.
If we can do this as volunteers from the outside, what the heck is taking our administration so long? 

We need all hands on deck, and we don’t have them right now.

 That, to me, feels criminal.
If folks stop talking about it, we’re going to be in big trouble. 

More climate disasters are on the way. 

We need to start preparing now.
Regina Hernandez, Atlanta, Georgia (reached via Twitter)
My grandma is 89, and we’re hoping she gets out of Puerto Rico tomorrow at 3:30 p.m.

 She never regained power from Hurricane Irma. 

This needs more awareness and attention. 

The anxiety and stress sitting here with no communication keeps my family and I up at night.
Laura González, London, England (reached via Twitter)
My family is there. 

I’m in grad school in London and am the only link they have to outside world via my dad’s barely functioning WhatsApp. 

There are hundreds of nursing homes currently without power or running water or communications.
“People are starting to get desperate. They’re realizing this is long term. They don’t have cash. They don’t have anywhere to buy goods. It’s a humanitarian crisis. They need help, like yesterday.”

We’ve been desperately trying to find a flight out for my grandmother with Alzheimer’s, who’s in a nursing home in precarious conditions.

 I fortunately managed to get a flight for [my grandmother] this Friday to my aunt’s house in the U.S., only to find that airlines keep canceling pre-sold flights because airplanes would have to fly over empty, and no one knows when the airport will actually open to commercial airlines. 

They keep pushing the date, and official info is scarce. 

Millions of vulnerable people are stranded.
Desiree Nazario-Bucobo, New York, New York (reached by phone)
I have a 90-year-old great aunt and a cousin that survived the storm in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. 

Last night after several tries, we were finally able to make contact with them. 

They told us they feel that they are living on the forgotten island.
It’s been heartbreaking waiting this long. 

As far as I know, they’ve been going to a local hotel just to stay in air conditioning. With my great aunt’s age, she can’t stay in the heat for too long. 

They don’t have too much access to media coverage or information. 

As far as they know, the power is going to come on tomorrow. 

My aunt wants to stay in the house because she’s afraid otherwise looters or squatters might try to break in. 

They live right next to an old army base, I’m hoping that eventually they’ll be able to get supplies through there.
I was living in Long Island when Sandy hit, and for two weeks I didn’t have power either, so I have an idea of what they might be going through. But we weren’t in the Caribbean, so there was no 100-degree temperatures with humid air. I’m no climate expert, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence there’s been so many bad hurricanes all at once.

Press link for more: Mother Jones