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Clive’s Mine will kill the Great Barrier Reef. #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #StopPalmer

Clive Palmer’s coalmine plan scrutinised over impact on Great Barrier Reef

Alpha North, which would be bigger than Adani’s Carmichael mine, to be examined under federal environment laws

Anne DaviesLast modified on Tue 22 May 2018 14.00 AEST

A proposal by the millionaire former MP Clive Palmer to develop the biggest open-cut coalmine in the southern hemisphere in Queensland will be scrutinised by the federal environment department, including its impact on the Great Barrier Reef.

The federal government announced late on Monday it intended to fully assess the Alpha North project under federal environmental laws and would require detailed assessments on the impact on the reef, world heritage properties, threatened species, migratory birds and several other matters.

Palmer’s company Waratah Coal has announced plans for the new mine in the Galilee basin, adjoining Adani’s proposed Carmichael project. The footprint of Alpha North would be nearly triple that Adani’s mine. It would be 144,000 hectares and 130km long and would use open-cut and underground methods.

Environment groups had been hoping the department would reject Palmer’s application outright because it failed to include other aspects of the project, including a proposal to build a rail line if Adani does not build one and a possible expansion of the Abbot Point coal loader.

They had also argued that the massive mine would contribute significantly to climate change and exacerbate coral bleaching events that have damaged the reef last year.

The mine would produce 80m tonnes of coal a year and is expected to start operations in 2030.

The project will now go through a full assessment process. Waratah has so far relied on work done by the Adani Group to assess environmental impacts. It had not directly addressed potential impacts on the reef or world heritage areas.

The move to take the project forward opens a new battleground with the environmental movement that has campaigned to block the Adani project.

“In choosing to refer the decision on this massive new coalmine, Minister Frydenberg has missed an opportunity to demonstrate real leadership on protecting our natural world and stopping climate damage,” Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner Christian Slattery said.

Slattery said Frydenberg should have rejected Waratah Coal’s application in the first instance.

“It is good that Waratah Coal will be forced to consider the impacts of its project on the Great Barrier Reef. But this massive new mine will clearly cause unacceptable damage to our reef because digging up and burning the coal will accelerate climate change.

“The age of coal is over. It is time that our elected representatives stopped paving the way for new dirty coal mines and embraced clean energy.”

Waratah Coal has been contacted for comment.

Press link for more: The Guardian

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Urgent Climate Action Required to Protect Tens of Thousands of Species Worldwide #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Urgent Climate Action Required to Protect Tens of Thousands of Species Worldwide, New Research Shows | InsideClimate News

By Jack Cushman

Jack Cushman is an editor and reporter for InsideClimate News. Before joining ICN, he worked for 35 years as a writer and editor in Washington, D.C., principally with the Washington bureau of The New York Times. Cushman has written extensively about energy, the environment, industry and military affairs, also covering financial and transportation beats, and editing articles across the full spectrum of national and international policy. He served on the board of governors of the National Press Club and was its president in the year 2000. He is the author of “Keystone and Beyond: Tar Sands and the National Interest in the Era of Climate Change.”

And Neela Banerjee

Neela Banerjee is a Washington-based reporter for Inside Climate News. She led the investigation into Exxon’s early climate research, which was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service reporting and the recipient of nearly a dozen other journalism awards. Before joining ICN, she spent four years as the energy and environmental reporter for the Los Angeles Times’ Washington bureau. Banerjee covered global energy, the Iraq War and other issues with The New York Times. She also served as a Moscow correspondent with The Wall Street Journal. Banerjee grew up in southeast Louisiana and graduated from Yale University.

A mere half degree of extra global warming could mean profound risks for tens of thousands of the planet’s species, scientists have found. Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Humanity can powerfully improve the survival odds of tens of thousands of species, but only if nations dramatically raise their ambitions in the fight against climate change, according to new research published on Thursday in the journal Science.

One key to salvaging plant and vertebrate habitat and protecting the world’s biodiversity is to limit warming to the most challenging benchmark established under the 2015 Paris treaty—1.5 degrees Celsius of warming—not to the treaty’s less stringent 2 degree guardrail, the study found.

The study assessed, in more detail than ever before, a key measure of extinction risk: the shrinking size of each species’ current geographical range, or natural habitat. It projected that for an alarming number of species, their range size would shrink by at least half as temperatures rise past the Paris goals.

If nations do no more than they have pledged so far to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions—and warming consequently shoots past 3 degrees by the end of this century—6 percent of all vertebrates would be at risk. So would 44 percent of plants and a whopping 49 percent of insects.

But the dangers would be greatly reduced if warming can be limited to 1.5 degrees. That might protect the overwhelming majority of the 115,000 species assessed by the researchers. Just 4 percent of vertebrates would lose more than half of their current range. Only 8 percent of plants and 6 percent of insects would face that risk.

Keeping warming to 2 degrees is not nearly as effective, they found. The additional half degree of warming would double the impact on plants and vertebrate species, and triple the impact on insects.

First-of-Its-Kind Biodiversity Study

Conducted by researchers from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom and James Cook University in Australia, the study builds on their earlier work. For the first time, it examines insects and explores how effectively the extinction risks can be addressed by increasing ambition.

“If warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, then more species can keep up or even gain in range,” said Rachel Warren, the study’s lead researcher, “whereas if warming reached 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, many species cannot keep up and far more species lose large parts of their range.”

The new research adds a compelling layer of evidence to the mounting risks of rising temperatures. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is currently revising a comprehensive draft report on the science behind the 1.5 degree target. This new report on endangered species was written in time to be reflected in the IPCC review, to be published in the fall.

A leaked copy of the latest IPCC draft, circulated for expert comment in the winter, noted in its summary that “local extinction (extirpation) risks are higher in a 2 degrees Celsius warmer world, compared to  1.5 degrees Celsius.”

Race to Bolster Paris Treaty’s Call for Action

At Paris, everyone recognized that the pledges to cut emissions would fall short of meeting the 2 degree target. Even so, the world’s nations decided to shoot for 1.5 degrees, where the dangers become pronounced for small island states and other highly vulnerable people. Since then, talks about increasing ambition have made relatively little headway, and President Donald Trump has renounced the pledges of the Obama administration.

Whether the goal is 2 degrees or 1.5 degrees, scientists say it can only be met by bringing net emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels to zero later in this century. The main difference is that with the more ambitious goal, emissions must be reduced much faster; some say it’s already too late.

This urgency has been highlighted by one peer-reviewed study after another, as scientists explore the consequences of falling short. Hundreds of scientists have filed thousands of comments to the IPCC as it races to bolster the treaty’s call for rapid action.

115,000 Species Studied; Insects Particularly Vulnerable

Since lost species never come back, and since many species perform vital ecosystem services, the growing risks of extinction are an especially profound aspect of climate change.

Until now, these problems have been studied in relatively few species, notably tropical coral reefs, which are already dying off under the approximately 1 degree of warming that’s been observed so far. They may be partly saved if emissions are reduced aggressively enough to stay below 1.5 degrees.

This time, the researchers examined 115,000 species, including 34,000 insects and other invertebrates that previously have not been included in global studies of climate and biodiversity. (Roughly a million species of insects have been named, and there may be many more.)

Insects, it turned out, are particularly sensitive to temperature increases, and these findings are particularly alarming.

They focus attention on pollinators essential to agriculture and insects that serve as food for birds and animals. The researchers found that three groups of pollinators are especially vulnerable to climate risks—true flies, beetles, and moths and butterflies.

The study’s authors concluded that meeting the most aggressive temperature target would most benefit species in Europe, Australia, the Amazon and southern Africa.

The study also looked at the ability of different species to migrate outside their normal ranges.

Birds, mammals and butterflies have better chances of relocating than other species as temperatures rise, the researchers found

Press link for more: Inside Climate News

#StopAdani Join hands to accelerate the shift to clean renewable energy. #auspol #qldpol

We invite activists to organize hundreds of events and Join Hands creating a powerful image to send to our elected officials.

We invite activists to call for the President to maintain the Paris Climate Accord, reject offshore drilling, the KXL and other tar sands pipelines, hydraulic fracking, siesmic air gun blasting and call on local and state leaders to protect our communities by rejecting projects that expand the extraction and use of fossil fuels — and instead accelerate the shift to clean, renewable energy.

In addition, these events will highlight urgent national and regional issues including:

opposing coastal, offshore and Arctic drilling, and seismic air gun blasting off the East Coast, natural gas fracking, KXL and all oil transporting pipelines

protesting mountaintop removal, tar sands mining, hydraulic fracturing, and  LNG export terminals

And calling attention to the impact of climate disruption such as rising sea levels, super storms, drought, forest fires, flooding and ocean acidification.

Join Hands with us!

It’s easy, visit our resource page for help.

Press link for more Hands Across The Sands

It’s critical that we create this powerful vision of passionate ocean and land activists joining hands to say NO to fossil fuels and YES to clean energy!!! It is a 15 minute event, easy! Please join hands with us!

2017  Our 7th annual Hands event took place May 20th and it was a total success!  We had 112 events in 20 states and 4 country’s, Australia, Egypt, Belize and New Zealand!!! Thousands of people around the globe gathered on their beach, river, park and capitol steps to say NO to fossil fuels and YES to clean energy!  This was truly the year that we had to organize Hands Across the Sand / Land events as grassroots advocates to educate and advocate for our planet. THANK YOU TO ALL MY ORGANIZERS and ALL who joined hands with us around the world.

It is a critical time for our oceans and environment, it is time we end climate change for good! ONE way to do this, is by organizing, joining hands, taking pictures / drone videos of thousands of people around the world standing in silent solidarity to say NO to filthy fuels and YES to clean energy!

Visit and LIKE our FB page at: https://www.facebook.com/HandsAcrossTheSand

Please visit our sponsoring organizations links on the scroll – Sierra Club, Oceana, Surfrider Foundation, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Earth Ethics, Friends of the Earth, Gulf Restoration Network, Chart 411 and Urban Paradise Guild.

Hands Across the Sand / Land, founded in 2010, grew into an international movement after the BP oil disaster in April of that year. People came together to join hands, forming symbolic barriers against spilled oil and to stand against the impacts of other forms of extreme energy.

Seven years later, as millions begin to understand that President Trump’s Climate Action Plan falls short if it fails to address keeping dirty fuels in the ground, there’s a rising tide of grassroots activism demanding that we choose a clean energy future over the dangerous and dirty fuels of the 20th century.

The coalition of organizations, activists and citizens around the world bring the message of clean energy to local and world leaders.

There will be floods — and We’re not ready for them #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdanih

There will be floods — and Ontario’s not ready for them

How can we prepare for worst-case-scenario storms when climate change means we can’t accurately predict what the worst-case scenario is?

Flooding in downtown Toronto in July 2013. (Dominic Chan /CP)

The audience at the Provincial Flood Forecasting and Warning Workshop sat silently as the rug was pulled out from under them.

Municipal and provincial staff — many of them forecasters and emergency managers — were gathered at a Brampton conference centre to hear Gord Miller, Ontario’s former environmental commissioner, talk about climate change. What he had to say challenged many of the established practices and assumptions that had guided their careers.

His point was this: climate change has altered the fundamentals of the weather system. All of our old predictions — which were used to build thousands of kilometres of road, drainage pipe, and sewers — are inadequate. The changes to the weather system are so profound that old models and methods can’t accurately predict what’s going to happen; new models predict catastrophes so great that preparing for them could lead to bankruptcy.

“I don’t think here in Canada we understand what’s coming,” said Miller during the talk. “We have no predictability any more. One has to look from the perspective that all culverts are undersized.

All sewers are undersized.”

When the floor at the convention centre was opened for questions, it took a moment before the crowd was ready to ask any.

They trickled in slowly.

One man noted that Hurricane Hazel — the 1954 storm that ripped across southern Ontario, leading to 81 deaths and millions of dollars in property damage — has guided the development of Toronto’s floodplain maps and infrastructure decisions ever since. Surely that would prepare the city for what was to come.

Miller pointed to the example of Hurricane Harvey, a storm that devastated Houston in August 2017. Climate change almost certainly made it more intense. Severe storms will be more intense now than they were in 1954.

Paulin Coulibaly, scientific director of FloodNet, a research consortium tackling the problem of flooding, agrees: the storms we’re facing are unlike anything that’s come before in terms of intensity and duration.

“We were relying on the historical information. Now we cannot rely on the historical information, because it is not enough to tell us what will happen in the future,” says Coulibaly. “We have to rely on future information.”

Researchers rely on climate-change projections, which vary wildly because of the complexity of the science and the lack of certainty over how much the world will reduce its carbon emissions. Coulibaly and his team are tackling the difficult task of adapting those projections into data that can guide infrastructure decisions — a process where small variations can cost millions of dollars.

* * *

Carol Solis lost everything in the flood.

It started with six inches of sewage in her basement in May 2014. And that was just the start of her problems. After the mess was cleaned up, she went on vacation; while she was away, the August 2014 storm brought 24 inches of sewage into the basement of her Burlington home, ruining thousands of dollars in clothes and possessions.

She was able to recoup some of the value of her lost possessions, but the claims process was long and arduous: the insurance paperwork took nearly two years to complete.

A storm in August 2014 brought 24 inches of sewage into the basement of Carol Solis’s Burlington home.

“It’s bad enough to have a sewage flood, but the aftermath — people don’t realize unless they’ve gone through this. I’ve had a business for years in marketing and training, and I was taken away from my business to do this, because I had to do proof of loss for the insurance company, in the meantime just trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’ve lost 80 per cent of my whole life belongings,” says Solis.

More than 6,000 homes were damaged during the storm. The City of Burlington was forced to grapple with just how something like this could have happened.

“We use the same old infrastructure that our parents did — the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, we’re still on that infrastructure,” says Dave Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada.

The limits of flood plans, though, were also revealed. Many infrastructure designs, including those in Burlington, are based on a 100-year storm scenario that involves 99.8 millimetres of rain in 10 hours — but that August, 191 millimetres of rain fell in the course of 10 hours on just one area of the city. The storm was less like their worst-case scenario, and more like Hurricane Hazel — a weather event so devastating, the name was retired.

The 60-minute intensity of the cell, measured by radar, was 56 millimetres per hour — Hazel’s was 53 millimetres per hour. The 2014 event dumped 170 millimetres in seven hours over 25 square kilometres, according to a report from Conservation Halton; Hurricane Hazel brought 212 millimetres in 12 hours. Although its area and duration were much smaller, the 2014 Burlington event was, at its peak, more intense than Hazel.

Hazel, Miller says, was a major hydrologic event “from a period of time, from a climate that we no longer have.”

“The hurricanes are more severe than they’ve ever been before, and severe hurricanes are occurring more frequently. One of them will go up the Mississippi Valley and hit southern Ontario, and almost certainly, it’ll be worse than Hurricane Hazel.”

Radar data showing rainfall during the August 2014 storm in Burlington. Source: Conservation Halton.

* * *

There is a wide consensus that climate change is affecting extreme weather, but the connection is still being investigated, so it’s tricky to predict weather effects with accuracy. Global climate-change models provide the best information, says Coulibaly, but scaling them down to the local level introduces uncertainty.

“The predictions are not perfect — they’re not good enough,” says Coulibaly. “The changes in the precipitation for 2020, 2030, 2050 will not be the same depending on how we behave today. If we do nothing, what we see in 2030 will be different.”

In 2005, Coulibaly and Xiaogang Shi, a hydrology researcher, were asked to study highway drainage in Ontario and evaluate how it would be affected by the increased rainfall associated with climate change.

Using global climate models downscaled to the local level, the pair produced a report that recommended that the diameter of all drainage pipes and sewers be increased by 16 per cent (for reference, a toonie is about 17.5 per cent bigger in diameter than a quarter).

“They did the calculation internally about how much it would cost them. They didn’t tell me the number, but they were very, very concerned about the cost,” says Coulibaly. “If you look at the number of structures they have to replace or upgrade, it’s huge. In general, people see a change of 10 or 15 per cent. It’s not adding 10 or 15 per cent of the money — a 10 per cent change can cost you close to 40 to 45 per cent more money.”

In other words: increasing the capacity of our storm infrastructure will break budgets that are already broken. Coulibaly and Shi’s report recommended that all drainage infrastructure be increased across a province that already has an infrastructure deficit.

Much of the province’s infrastructure falls under the jurisdiction of municipalities. In 2008, municipalities across Ontario came together to evaluate the state of their infrastructure — things like drinking water, sewage and waste disposal, roads and bridges, and public transit. They estimated that the total infrastructure deficit, based on infrastructure at the end of its lifecycle, was roughly $60 billion. That number hasn’t been comprehensively updated, but while there has been some investment, Pat Vanini, executive director of the Association of Municipalities Ontario, says, it falls well short of what’s needed.

“There’s progress, but we’re not eroding enough of that gap,” says Vanini. “If you can’t do the maintenance, it’s like if you’re doing your roof — you know what the asset’s worth to replace it, but if you let it slip and you let the ice build up or the leaves gather in the gutters, all that makes the life expectancy of the roof less.” This past spring and summer were difficult for Ontario municipalities. Heavy rains flooded roads and bridges, damaging infrastructure and adding to that tally.

“I know when I was travelling the province, the number of roads and culverts that were washed out in rural Ontario was significant. That in itself would add even more burden, because those weren’t necessarily anticipated events,” says Vanini.

Miller argues that we need to assume that all predictions are inadequate if we’re serious about preparing for climate change.

What he’s arguing will mean a seismic shift for cities everywhere. Infrastructure decisions are based on forecasting years into the future, but dramatic weather changes mean those forecasts are based on assumptions that are no longer sound. But to accept this would mean acknowledging that the work done thus far has been inadequate, and that projects currently underway are based on flawed premises. Miller suggests that in addition to designing for bigger storms, we need to expect that infrastructure will fail: buy generators to cope with power outages, purchase boats to cross flooded roads, and use sandbags to keep out advancing waters.

* * *

Researchers are still investigating how climate change is affecting storms. Temperature plays a role — each degree of warming increases air’s water capacity by 7 per cent. And the jet stream — high-level currents that encircle the Earth and carry weather systems — is changing in ways that are still being studied. Jet streams are high-altitude currents that move weather systems across the map. Sometimes, they are straight and fast; other times, they are slow and wavy. During slow and wavy periods, weather systems tend to linger, bringing long droughts or periods of heavy rainfall.

“What is changing is we’re seeing those wavy patterns more often now. They’re not something new — it’s just that we’re seeing a change in the frequency of those kinds of patterns,” says Jennifer Francis, a researcher with the Rutgers University department of marine and coastal sciences.

“Most of our infrastructure has been built to accommodate the kind of conditions that we’ve been used to for the last several decades. That might be the size of pipes used to drain stormwater from the street. They’re just too small now, because we know that we’re getting heavier downpours. When it does rain, it tends to rain harder,” says Francis.

Another significant factor is the role played by human development, which has decimated wetlands in Ontario. For example, in Toronto, Ashbridge’s Bay — formerly a large wetland on Lake Ontario — was paved over in the early 20th century to make way for industrial development.

“We think prosperity is paving it over and cementing it,” says Phillips. “That raindrop that falls on a very dry Hamilton or a very dry Toronto becomes a flood drop because it falls on a hard surface.”

Hurricane Hazel caused so much damage largely because rivers overtopped banks, and homes were built on floodplains then, says Phillips. Today, storm damage is generally the result of overloaded infrastructure — drainage pipes that aren’t big enough, water treatment plants stretched to capacity, and sewers that overflow. Concentrated, slow-moving storms are more likely to overwhelm such systems.

That’s just what happened in Solis’s basement, when raw sewage backed up as a result of torrential rains. There are devices, like sump pumps and backflow valves, that can help alleviate flooding, but those were not typically installed in older homes like hers, Solis says.

“Inadequate funding has created a $6.8 billion stormwater infrastructure deficit in Ontario. This financial gap could get even bigger in the future as population growth leads to the creation of more impermeable surfaces and, consequently, worsens runoff,” reads a 2016 report from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.

Indeed, much of the infrastructure in the province has reached the end of its design life, Coulibaly says.

“In Canada, we’re on the crossroads because most of the infrastructure is outdated,” he says. “Most of them were designed a long time ago — more than 50 years. They’re up for replacement, and we’re at the time that replacement means we replace them with a different design number. That means bringing the cost up by 25, 30 — some people say up to 50 per cent more. It’s a tough decision to make, but it’s not a decision we can hide from.”

Press link for more: TVO

Will Climate Change Cause More Migrants than Wars? #auspol #StopAdani #refugees

Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), spoke at a conference in Buenos Aires, during a meeting, T20 and Climate Change: Planning, Risk and Response Facing the Emergency, to study the emergencies caused by this phenomenon. Credit: Argentine Council on Foreign Relations

BUENOS AIRES, May 17 2018 (IPS) – Climate change is one of the main drivers of migration and will be increasingly so. It will even have a more significant role in the displacement of people than armed conflicts, which today cause major refugee crises.

This was the warning sounded by Ovais Sarmad, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), who was in Buenos Aires to participate in a meeting of international representatives and senior Argentine government officials, on May 16 to analyse the impacts of this phenomenon.

“One example I use is that recently there was migration of refugees and migrants in Europe because of the Syrian conflict and other conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa. That is a big political issue,” Sarmad told IPS.

“In many countries around the world, farmers are the most affected by droughts and they will move. With their cattle, with their children or whatever… And then… they won’t have many places to go. We have only one planet and they can’t go to space.” — Ovais Sarmad

“But the climate change impact will make one million look like a small number. Because a hundred or four hundred million people live in developing countries in low-lying areas, in cities which are very close to the sea. If sea level rises, then people will have to move.”

Sarmad, from India, is a specialist in commerce and financial management, with postgraduate studies in London, who for 27 years worked at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

He was chief of staff to the IOM director general until last year, when United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres appointed him as number two at the UNFCCC.

“This movement won’t be just national; people will be moving to other countries. One of the examples is Kiribati, a small island in the Pacific with 100,000 people, that will disappear in a few years time. What will happen with this population?” asked Sarmad in a meeting with four journalists, including IPS.

Can one speak in a strict sense of climate refugees?

The international community has not yet validated that definition, but Sarmad believes that the issue must be considered, due to realities such as the sea level rise, increasingly destructive hurricanes or persistent droughts.

“In many countries around the world, farmers are the most affected by droughts and they will move. With their cattle, with their children or whatever… And then… they won’t have many places to go. We have only one planet and they can’t go to space,” said the expert.

In that sense, he considered that the world should be “supportive” and “not close the doors” to those who are displaced due to extreme weather events.

The Indian diplomat was the keynote speaker at the meeting T20 and Climate Change: Planning, Risk and Response Facing the Emergency, organised within the framework of the so-called “Think 20 (T20),” which brings together academic organisations and researchers of the Group of 20 (G20).

The T20 is organised in 10 working groups, one of which deals with climate change and infrastructure for development.

Ovais Sarmad (left), Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Youba Sokona, Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, talk to IPS and three other journalists during their visit to the Argentine capital. Credit: Daniel Gutman / IPS

Its mission is to submit public policy recommendations to the G20, the group of industrialised and emerging countries that encompasses 66 percent of the world’s population and makes up 85 percent of global GDP.

In December, Argentina assumed the one-year presidency of the G20, which will conclude at the end of the year with the summit that will bring together in Buenos Aires the world’s main government leaders.

The issue of climate change is particularly controversial in the G20, because last year, under the German presidency, the United States did not adhere to the Action Plan on Climate and Energy Growth, which was endorsed by the rest of the member countries, leading many to conclude that the G20 had become the Group of 19+1.

Argentina wants to be seen as taking an active stance in the battle against climate change, although it did not make the issue one of the G20 priorities for this year, to avoid conflicts.

The main themes chosen by the government of Mauricio Macri are: The future of work, infrastructure for development and a sustainable food future.

Sergio Bergman, the Argentine minister of environment and sustainable development, acknowledged in the T20 meeting that Argentina needs to fulfill its commitments undertaken within the Paris Agreement on climate change.

That binding agreement that establishes global measures to combat climate change was adopted during the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP21) in December 2015, and was considered a landmark achievement, until the U.S. administration of Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2017.

Argentina needs to maintain those commitments, among other things because it is applying for membership in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“We want to join the OECD and for that we have to take on our obligations and sit for an exam,” said Bergman, who added: “After what happened in Germany last year, the challenge is how we get the 20 members of the G20 into the final document.”

Also participating in the T20 meeting was Argentine Defence Minister Oscar Aguad, who to some extent played host since it was held at the National Defence University (UNDEF).

This state institution is responsible for the training of military and civilians and climate change is one of its areas of research.

Sarmad’s proposals in Buenos Aires made it clear that the goal of the UNFCCC is for Argentina, as chair of the G20, to promote commitments in the field of climate change.

“G20 must have political leadership and include in this year’s recommendations that the Paris Agreement must be implemented. Otherwise it will be a nice agreement, but it will stay on a shelf,” he said in the keynote address he gave during the event, before about a hundred attendees, many of them public officials.

Sarmad said that, despite the international community’s efforts to combat climate change, there was an increase in greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, after a decrease in the previous three years.

The reason, he said, has been an increase in the consumption of fossil fuels.

This was confirmed by another participant in the T20 meeting, Youba Sokona from Mali, an environmental expert and the vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Sokona said that although the cost of renewable energies has gone down in recent years, fossils fuels are still cheaper.

“The cost of renewable energies is not only expensive for developing countries. Even Germany, when it decided to put a brake on nuclear energy, had to turn to coal,” said Sokona, who pointed out that the IPCC faces funding problems because of the withdrawal of U.S. economic support.

“It’s interesting that we have these conferences to talk about climate change, but there are many things we can do. We must take action because there’s much suffering around the world because of climate change, that affects especially women and children, the most vulnerable populations.”

“There’s no other issue at an international level, besides security and nuclear proliferation, more important than climate change,” he stated.

Press link for more: IPSNEWS

#ClimateChange ‘Global existential risk” Senate Report #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Extract from Senate Report released today.

Press link for more: APH.GOV.AU

2.3 American climate security expert Ms Sherri Goodman described climate change as a ‘direct threat to the national security of Australia’, and a ‘global existential risk’.

Other submissions also recognised climate change as an existential risk, defined as ‘one that threatens the premature extinction of Earth-originating intelligent life or the permanent and drastic destruction of its potential for desirable future development’.

Mr Mark Crosweller, Director General of Emergency Management Australia (EMA), also referred to the ‘existential nature’ of climate change risks.

Climate change viewed as a current threat

2.4 The 2015 United States Department of Defense (US DoD) report mentioned in the terms of reference characterised ‘climate change as a present security threat, not strictly a long-term risk’.

Illustrating this immediacy, Ms Goodman described recent climate-related events:

…we know now that the hurricane train that has come through the United States this fall and the wildfires that we are experiencing are, in part, due to additional climate risks. And we know that the storms that you’ve been experiencing in your part of the world [Australia] now are also attributable, in part, to accelerated climate risks.

The problem also is not a distant one in the future but it’s now.

We are experiencing this in regular sunny-day flooding at military bases in the United States and in changes in the Arctic, forcing the first wave of displaced persons from villages in the Arctic.12

2.5 The Climate Council further stated the effects of climate change ‘are already contributing to increases in the forced migration of people within and between nations, as well as playing a role in heightening social and political tensions, flowing onto conflict and violence’.

2.6 A recent Australian Government report highlighted how Australia is ‘already experiencing the impacts of a changing climate, particularly changes associated with increases in temperature, the frequency and intensity of extreme heat events, extreme fire weather, and drought’.

For example, it noted ‘communities in the Torres Strait

Senate report recognises climate change as existential risk! #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Senate report recognises climate change as existential risk, but fails to draw the obvious conclusions.

by David Spratt

Download the Breakthrough report

on climate and security risks

Climate change is “a current and existential national security risk”, according to an Australian Senate report released on Thursday 17 May. It says an existential risk is “one that threatens the premature extinction of Earth-originating intelligent life or the permanent and drastic destruction of its potential for desirable future development”. These are strong words.

The report by the Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee follows an Inquiry into the Implications of Climate Change for Australia’s National Security. Whilst many of the findings accord with the growing international recognition of climate change as a “threat multiplier” or an “accelerant to instability”, the inquiry’s recommendations lack a sense of urgency, especially since the “current existential risk” is being triggered today by the Australian Government’s insistence on  expanding the use of fossil fuels.

On the positive side, the report:

• Accepts the view of leading US expert, Sherri Goodman, whose visit to Australia in April 2017 was a catalyst for the inquiry, of retired defence chief Admiral Chris Barrie, and others, that climate change is “a threat multiplier… exacerbating existing threats to human security, including geopolitical, socio-economic, water, energy, food and health challenges that diminish resilience and increase the likelihood of conflict”.

• Recognises that Australia and its neighbours are in the region most exposed to climate impacts, especially the Pacific Island countries and territories  As a consequence, Australia has a growing responsibility for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

• Recognises that climate change is threatening the health of Australian, their communities, businesses and the economy; heightening the severity of natural hazards; increasinging the spread of infectious diseases; and creating growing water insecurity threats to agriculture.

• Catalogues the challenges Australia’s defence forces will face, from rising sea levels to more hostile conditions for training and combat, and demands for more domestic as well as overseas emergency relief.

• Notes the failure so far to adopt a fully-integrated, whole-of-government approach to climate-security risks.

• Draws attention to the inadequacy of Australia’s emissions-reduction commitments, noting  Ms Goodman’s evidence that: “Whilst the Paris climate accord’s goal are ‘keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels [and] to aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C’, the present commitment by governments will result in warming of 3°C or more. Such an outcome would have national security consequences so severe that some nations would cease to exist and the viability of many others would be severely challenged.”

But there is a complete disconnect between the report’s findings and its recommendations. The main recommendations are procedural: the needs for a climate security white paper (which would at least keep the government’s eye on the subject); the development of a national climate, health and well-being plan; the release of Defence assessments of the climate risks to its facilities; the bureaucratic elevation of the issue by the creation of a dedicated climate security leadership position in the Home Affairs Portfolio and a dedicated senior leadership position in the Department of Defence.

It also recommends that national security agencies increase their climate security knowledge and capability, an oblique recognition that these agencies are embarrassingly deficient in climate and security analytical capacity, in part due to their kowtowing to the government’s demotion of climate issues.

There is a recommendation for additional money and foreign aid to “provide further funding for international climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction measures, in addition to the existing aid budget, to the extent that financial circumstances allow”. This stands in stark contrast to repeated cuts to Australia’s foreign aid, including in last week’s budget, and to the reduction in climate action overall.

The inquiry is right to recognise climate change as an existential risk. In this sense, it is ahead of the large climate advocacy organisations, the national security agencies and the Australia academic community, who are laggards in articulating such risks. Indeed, it was Mark Crosweller, the Director General of Emergency Management Australia, Sherri Goodman the expert witness from the US, and the former senior Shell executive and emissions trading advisor to the Howard government, Ian Dunlop, who put the issue of existential climate security risks on the inquiry’s agenda.

At present, the 2015 Paris Agreement commitments by various nations, if implemented, would result in planetary warming of more than 3°C by 2100, and when carbon-cycle feedbacks which are now becoming active are taken into account, the resultant warming is around 5°C of warming. Scientists say warming of 4°C or more could reduce the global human population by 80% or 90% and the World Bank reports “there is no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible”.

A 2007 study by two US national security think tanks, “The Age of Consequences” concluded that even 3°C of warming and a 0.5 metre sea-level rise would likely lead internationally and within nations to “outright chaos”, and “nuclear war is possible”, emphasising how “massive nonlinear events in the global environment give rise to massive nonlinear societal events”.

The senate inquiry should have followed through on the consequences of such risks. Existential risks require a particular approach to risk management. They are not amenable to the reactive (learn from failure) approach of conventional risk management, and we cannot necessarily rely on the institutions, moral norms, or social attitudes developed from our experience with managing other sorts of risks. Because the consequences are so severe, even for an honest, truth-seeking, and well-intentioned investigator it is difficult to think and act rationally in regard to existential risks.

The Senate inquiry has fallen victim to this problem, as has happened so often with Australian climate and energy policy. But time has now run out.

Existential risk management requires brutally honest articulation of the risks, opportunities and the response time frame. At the moment we are knowingly locking in an existential disaster without being prepared to articulate that fact, which is a breach of the Senator’s fiduciary responsibility to the Australian community.  At least this Senate inquiry report is significant for having broken the ice, but it should be so much more.

Press link for more: Climate Code Red

It is overdue to present a planetary confession. #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Johan Rockström – It is overdue to present a planetary confession.

Author : Johan Rockström

Our human “balance sheet” for the past 50 years is everything else than positive, and that should make us humble.

Above all, it emphasizes Albert Einstein’s wisdom that we cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

The industrial period started in Britain towards the end of the 18th century when James Watt invented the coal-driven steam engine.

Industrialization spreads quickly across the world, with increasing local environmental problems.

However, it took until the 1960’s before contamination and environmental disasters cause action on a broad level.

Cars cause smog levels higher than today’s problems in Beijing.

Philadelphia is classified as a disaster zone. Even in Stockholm, smog is a common phenomenon.

Lakes in the USA are so oil-contaminated that they start to burn.

It is impossible to eat fish.

Huge oil spills from tankers occur.

Finally, the world reacts.

The Republican president Richard Nixon establishes the Environmental Protection Agency EPA in 1970.

In that year, millions of Americans demonstrate for clean environment, during the first ever Earth Day.

The Swedish Environmental Agency, Naturvårdsverket, is established in 1967.

The Stockholm Conference, the world’s first meeting for environment and development, starts the UNEP, the United Nations Environmental Program, in 1972. Legislation to tackle environmental problems is initiated.

In the USA, major environmental laws are passed which to this day regulate the environmental administration, and these are the very laws which Donald Trump wishes to limit: Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.

Right now, things happen which the regulations intended to prevent.

In parallel with our mobilisation to fix environmental problems, the problems accelerate.

We switch from linear increase of environmental problems to exponential increase of humanity’s pressure on the planet.

“Environmental hockey sticks” appear, from carbon dioxide to loss of biodiversity. Things go fast.

In only 50 years, we use up the world’s environmental flexibility, and now we have reached the “saturation point” where the atmosphere, the seas and ecosystems on land no longer can tolerate further unsustainable exploitation.

You probably see the drama unfolding.

Just at the time when we mobilize to solve global environmental problems, the result is exactly the opposite!

Instead of solving problems, environmental problems exacerbate in an exponential manner.

What a total failure!

Here we are.

In addition to all negative environmental trends, we are undermining our standard of living – because the invoices start coming.

For a long time, we could grow both our population and standard of living and “send the bill” to the environment and ecosystems.

That is no more.

Already today, when global warming has increased the average temperature by 1 degree Celsius, we see the costs in terms of social destabilisation such as in Syria, we see the collapse of 30% of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and we see huge costs such as the 350 mio USD bill for the 2017 tornado season in the USA.

One reason for our failure is the belief in the Kuznets graph according to which environmental problems increase at low GNP (read: poor countries) and decrease at high GNP, meaning that environmental problems are solved by economic growth, i.e. by having the resources.

The problem is that Kuznets is wrong.

The richer we are, the more damage to the planet we cause.

Recently, a scientific study showed that rich countries such as Sweden do score great on social indicators regarding standard of living, but they do this by over-consuming regarding the planetary limits.

This is depressing.

There is not a single country in the world which achieves good social development sustainably, i.e. within planetary limits.

Is there any hope?

Yes, most certainly!

Firstly, I claim that the right diagnosis of the patient is the precondition for correct treatment.

We need to be open and lay all our cards on the table.

We need to confess – on a planetary level.

Secondly, there are so many “islands of insight”, sustainable solutions and initiatives of cities and companies.

Surely in an “ocean of ignorance”.

However, all these islands start to form an ever tighter archipelago which can alter the logic towards a sustainable future for this planet.

Wikipedia on Johan Rockström

Johan Rockström appointed director at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

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Shrinking Glaciers, bigger fires & hotter nights. #ClimateChange is altering #California #auspol #StopAdanip

Shrinking glaciers, bigger fires and hotter nights: How climate change is altering California

By Tony Barboza and Joe Fox

Source: Western Regional Climate Center (@latimesgraphics)

California may be a leader in the fight against climate change, but the state is increasingly hard hit by symptoms of the unrelenting rise of greenhouse gases, a new state assessment finds.

As global warming accelerates, California is getting hotter and drier. Trees and animals are moving to higher ground. Air conditioning is an increasing necessity. More winter precipitation is falling as rain and there’s less spring snowmelt to satisfy the water demands of farms and cities.

“From record temperatures to proliferating wildfires and rising seas, climate change poses an immediate and escalating threat to California’s environment, public health, and economic vitality,” says a new report by dozens of scientists and compiled by the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

The report, based on research and monitoring data from throughout the state, tracks three dozen effects climate change is already having on California’s weather, water, people, plants and wildlife. It builds on two previous assessments over the last decade, this time offering an even bleaker picture of how global warming is disrupting the state.

Here are five ways climate change is altering California, according to the report:

1. Nights are getting hotter: Extreme heat events are becoming more frequent. Heat is rising faster at night than during the day, with the greatest increases in Southern California. Nighttime heat waves, defined as lasting at least five consecutive nights, were once rare but have increased markedly since the 1970s.

Values times five may add up to more than 365 days. Values are calculated individually for each of the 146 weather stations in California, then added across weather stations to derive the statewide value for each year. (Los Angeles Times)

2. Water is warming faster: Lake Tahoe water temperatures have increased by one degree since 1970. In the last four years, warming has accelerated by about 10 times the long-term rate.

3. Wildfires are getting more destructive: The area burned by wildfires each year has been increasing as temperatures rise and spring snowmelt occurs earlier. Of the 20 largest wildfires on record since 1932, 14 have occurred since 2000, including December’s Thomas fire, the largest in state history.

4. The ocean keeps rising: Sea levels have risen by 7 inches since 1900 in San Francisco and by 6 inches since 1924 in La Jolla. The rate of sea level rise is increasing, posing greater flood risk and threatening developments and ecosystems up and down the coast.

5. Glaciers are quickly retreating: Sierra Nevada glaciers have shrunk dramatically, losing an average of 70% of their area since the beginning of the 20th century, with about half of those losses since 1970. Lilliput Glacier is one of the few that remain in Sequoia National Park.

The observations, though largely consistent with the repercussions occurring globally from the human-caused buildup of greenhouse gases, show increasingly obvious ground-level impacts in the nation’s most populous state.

State environmental officials say the findings underscore the need for swift, steep reductions in carbon emissions — not only in California, but internationally.

tony.barboza@latimes.com

Press link for more: LA Times

Inspiring Terms Are Simple. ‘Climate Change’ Isn’t. #auspol #StopAdani

Inspiring Terms Are Simple. ‘Climate Change’ Isn’t.

The doubters and believers aren’t even talking about the same thing.

More stories by Faye Flam

Some global warming is caused by Jupiter. But most of the blame belongs on the third rock from the sun.

Source: Universal Images Group, via Getty Images

As scientific terms go, “climate change” is failing.

Good terms are specific, descriptive and help people to understand complex concepts. Climate change is ambiguous, referring perhaps to the most pressing human-generated environmental problem of the century, or to other kinds of changes that happen through natural forces and have been going on since long before humans arose.

Last week I chatted with Columbia University paleontologist Dennis Kent about some new work he and his colleagues published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about the surprisingly big influence of Venus and Jupiter on the climate of Earth.

The gravitational tug of the second and fifth planets from the sun act to stretch Earth’s annual orbit like a rubber band, pulling it into a more oblong ellipse and then back to something very close to a perfect circle over a cycle of 405,000 years. And that leads to big changes in our climate – or the climate of whatever creatures lived here.

The ambiguity of “climate change” plays into the problems that a Wall Street Journal op-ed identified last week in a piece headlined “Climate Activists Are Lousy Salesmen.”

This is science, not advertising, and the terms that scientists come up with aren’t decided by public-relations experts using focus groups.

Most of the burden of explaining climate changes, past and present, has fallen not to “activists” but to scientists, whether or not they have an interest in or aptitude for persuasion.

According to historians, the same people who were fascinated by dramatic natural climate changes were the ones to discover that burning up lots of fossil fuel was likely to cause a short-term spike in the global temperature.

The start of that spike is already measurable.

Research on human-generated and natural climate changes are related, and many of the same people still study both kinds in order to get a better handle on where things are headed in the coming decades, centuries and millennia.

Back in the 19th century, scientists started to investigate signs in the geologic record that dramatic ice ages had been occurring every 40,000 years or so, during which glaciers crept over much of the Northern Hemisphere. Eventually, they realized that these are driven by what Kent calls an ice age pacemaker – the interplay between the tilt of the planet’s axis and our planet’s distance from the sun.

Those factors change the way sunlight is distributed, concentrating more or less over the Northern Hemisphere, where there’s more land and the potential to build up glaciers.

Glaciers reflect sunlight, absorbing less of its heat energy than dark surfaces would, which makes the cold periods colder worldwide.

Similarly, warmth releases carbon dioxide, which acts as a greenhouse gas traps solar heat and amplifies warm periods.

Adding to all this complexity is the subject of the new paper – a 405,000-year-long cycle caused by our fellow planets.

Kent said that basic Newtonian physics shows that Venus and Jupiter actually change Earths’ orbit significantly.

At its most oblong, the long axis of the orbit is five percent longer than the shorter one. During that more oblong part of the cycle, the Earth strays farther than normal from the sun (twice a year) and also flirts closer to the sun than usual (twice a year). So other natural changes reach greater extremes – the ice ages colder and the periods in between warmer.

What Kent and his colleagues did was expand the record of those cycles by digging out cores of Earth hundreds of feet long from Arizona and Northern New Jersey.

They used the natural clocks provided by radioactive materials and signs of reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field to figure out when and how the climate changed.

The cycles, he said, go back more than 200 million years, to the time when dinosaurs first appeared.

We are currently in the rounder, more even phase of our orbital cycle, Kent said, meaning the ice ages should be relatively mild.

We’re also in between ice ages and could go into a new one in a few thousand years, though some think that human-generated global warming will be enough to offset it.

And herein lies the confusion.

People hear “climate change” and think, what’s the big deal?

The climate has been changing for millions of years.

Or they note that scientists used to think we were headed into another ice age.

But the time scales matter.

Fossil fuel burning and other human-generated changes are likely to warm the overall planet’s temperature by more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit over the coming decades.

The next ice age isn’t expected for a few millennia.

That’s a long time to wait for a potential cooldown.

One could distinguish the current, more rapid climate change by calling it “anthropogenic climate change,” but that term makes people trip over their own tongues, so it’s understandable that people shorten it.

There’s also the term “global warming,” which is a little more descriptive, but scientists say it fails to capture changes in rainfall patterns, wind and currents that go along with the general trend of warming.

The Wall Street Journal piece was right about a sales problem. It’s too bad there isn’t a catchy term or acronym — such as WMD or GMO — to describe the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from fossil fuel burning, deforestation, domestic cattle and other human activities.

The complexity of climate science may always be at odds with the simplicity that’s key to inspiring action.

Remember the hole in the ozone layer?

It was more of a thin spot, but in the 1980s, that dramatic term may have helped spur a global movement to reduce certain pollutants staved off disaster.

It’s too late to prevent anthropogenic climate change, or unnatural climate change, or global warming — call it what you will. But it isn’t too late to slow the warming, and perhaps even reverse it.

If only someone could sell the idea.

To contact the author of this story:

Faye Flam at fflam1@bloomberg.net

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