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

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

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

Michael SlezakLast modified on Fri 19 Jan 2018 17.00 AEDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before and After

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press link for more: The Guardian

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Depleting Nature’s stocks. #StopAdani Australia uses 5.4 times what earth can provide. #auspol

Humanity uses 70% more of the global commons than the Earth can regenerate

Mathis Wackernagel, CEO and co-founder of Global Footprint Network

Persistent ecological overuse inevitably depletes nature’s stocks. Photograph: NASA/REX/Shutterstock

Households and governments who want to succeed track both expenditure and income. Businesses similarly keep a keen eye on their balance sheets.

So what does the physical balance sheet of our biggest household – the Earth – look like?

The income side would tell us how much our planet provides in matter and energy.

The expenditure side would tell us how much material and energy people use – or what we call humanity’s ecological footprint.

Ecological footprint accounting was developed to address the question: how much of the biosphere’s regenerative capacity – or biocapacity – does human activity demand?

Global Footprint Network measures this human demand for ecosystem services by adding up the space occupied by food, fibre and timber provision, space occupied by infrastructure, and the absorption of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Indeed, carbon dioxide emissions take up approximately 60% of humanity’s ecological footprint.

Australians use 5.4 times

This audit can be done at any scale.

Analysing the accounts for the entire world enables us to compare the material demands of humanity against the size of the global commons.

Global Footprint Network’s most recent data show that humanity overshoots the regenerative capacity of our global commons, and now demands about 70% more than what the biosphere can regenerate.

In other words, we are using 1.7 Earths.

Keeping humanity’s ecological footprint within the planet’s biocapacity is the minimum threshold for sustainability.

That threshold can be exceeded for some time, just as households can spend more money than they earn by dipping into savings, thereby depleting their assets.

But persistent ecological overuse inevitably depletes nature’s stocks, through the collapse of fisheries, soil loss, freshwater overuse, over harvesting of forests – or leads to climate change from the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The Stockholm Resilience Centre has identified nine planetary boundaries, required to maintain the integrity of healthy, productive ecosystems. The UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) bring together a vision for safeguarding the health of the global commons while ensuring flourishing lives and wellbeing for everyone. The Stockholm Resilience Centre calls this vision the safe operating space.

Oxford University economist Kate Raworth adds the social dimensions and calls it doughnut economics – with the outer circle of the doughnut representing the ecological boundaries within which we need to operate, and the inner one the social necessities required for thriving lives for all.

The core idea of socially and ecologically safe operating space was quantified for the first time in 2002 by Aurélien Boutaud.

He combined the Ecological Footprint and United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP)’s Human Development Index (HDI) to track sustainable development outcomes country by country, city by city. His approach has evolved into the HDI footprint diagram. His framework has been used widely, by those including UNDP, UN Environment, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and WWF’s Living Planet Report. It even serves as the foundation of the Philips sustainability programme.

Figure 1: Mapping sustainable development outcome: HDI and the Footprint of nations, in 2013

One axis of the diagram is sustainability – or to what extent development can be supported within the Earth’s means. It is measured by the ratio between what people take compared to what the global commons can renew. The second axis, development, is measured by HDI, which captures income, access to basic education, and longevity.

Global sustainable development occurs where these two dimensions intersect. Available biocapacity is now 1.7 hectares per person. Some of this, however, is needed to support wildlife – and we also need to leave room for a growing human population. So the average ecological footprint per person worldwide needs to be significantly smaller if we are to live within nature’s means.

The figure above shows the latest results for most countries of the world (2013), comparing their footprints per person against the world’s per capita biocapacity, to show how far their development models could be replicated worldwide.

Most countries do not meet both minimum requirements. Since every country has different amounts of biocapacity within its natural boundaries, this analysis can be adapted to each country.

Using a scale from zero to one, UNDP considers an HDI of more than 0.7 to be “high human development”, with 0.8 “very high”.

For global sustainable development to occur, the world average would need to be in the marked panel at the bottom right (the global sustainable development quadrant). This is defined by an average footprint of less than 1.7 global hectares per person and an HDI score of more than 0.7. Yet the quadrant is ominously empty.

The HDI score of the UK is 0.9, but its ecological footprint per person is five global hectares, high above the sustainable development quadrant.

India has an HDI score of 0.6, and an ecological footprint per person of 1.1 global hectares, suggesting the need to increase the quality of life of citizens and the footprint.

Global sustainable development is necessary for a thriving future.

The SDGs give us strategies on how to get there.

Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) global commons initiative makes obvious the dependence on Earth’s physical health. It reminds us that our fabulous planet enables the wellbeing of all, if we manage it carefully.

Measuring whether we are achieving these desired outcomes enables us to take charge of the future we want.

We can explore countries’ resource balances, and compare them with what would be in their economic self interest. And we can allocate our budgets and choose our development strategies more effectively so that they serve the goals we have wisely chosen through the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement.

Therefore, Global Footprint Network firmly endorses the GEF’s initiative, which stimulates the collaborative effort needed to create a world where all thrive within the means of the planet’s regenerative capacity.

Press link for more: The Guardian

#StopAdani We can’t afford the damage bills! #ClimateChange record $306 Billion in U.S. 2017

Natural disasters caused record $306 billion in damage to U.S. in 2017

Doyle RiceUpdated 4:46 p.m. ET Jan. 8, 2018

AUSTIN — A trio of monster hurricanes and a ferocious wildfire season led to the costliest year for natural disasters on record in the U.S. in 2017, with nearly a third of a trillion dollars in damage, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday.

The U.S. endured 16 separate weather and climate disasters with losses that each exceeded $1 billion last year, with total costs of about $306 billion, a new record for the country. It broke the previous record set in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina and other disasters caused $215 billion in damage to the U.S.

Last year’s disasters killed 362 people in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, NOAA said. However, NOAA climatologist Adam Smith said the death toll could increase based on information that continues to come in from Puerto Rico.

It was also the most expensive hurricane season on record at $265 billion and the costliest wildfire season on record at $18 billion, Smith said.

The news comes only weeks after the House passed an $81 billion disaster aid package. The Senate did not take up the bill and is working on its own version.

Hurricane Harvey racked up total damage costs of $125 billion, second only to Hurricane Katrina in the 38-year period of record keeping for billion-dollar disasters. Rainfall from Harvey caused massive flooding that displaced more than 30,000 people and damaged or destroyed more than 200,000 homes and businesses, NOAA said.

Hurricanes Maria and Irma totaled $90 billion and $50 billion in damage, respectively. Maria now ranks as the third-costliest weather and climate disaster on record for the nation and Irma ranks as the fifth-costliest.

The total of last year’s disaster costs is nearly the same as Denmark’s gross domestic product, which the World Bank tallied at $306.9 billion in 2016.

Climate change is “playing an increasing role in the increasing frequency of some types of extreme weather that lead to billion-dollar disasters, most notably the rise in vulnerability to drought, lengthening wildfire seasons and the potential for extremely heavy rainfall and inland flooding,” Smith said.

Another expert, University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd, said that “while we have to be careful about knee-jerk cause-effect discussions, the National Academy of Science and recent peer-reviewed literature continue to show that some of today’s extremes have climate change fingerprints on them.”

The announcement came at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Austin.

As for temperatures in 2017, the U.S. sweltered through its 3rd-warmest year on record, trailing only 2012 and 2016, NOAA said.

For the third consecutive year, every state across the contiguous U.S. and Alaska was warmer than average.

Five states — Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina and South Carolina — experienced their warmest year on record. Thirty-two additional states, including Alaska, had annual temperatures that ranked among the 10 warmest on record.

“While the weather can change on a dime, our climate is steadily warming,” said Shaun Martin of the World Wildlife Fund. “Each year provides another piece of evidence in what science has already confirmed — the consequences of rising temperatures are putting people and wildlife at risk.”

“In the U.S., we’re seeing more severe droughts, wildfires, crop losses and more frequent coastal storms with deadly impacts,” Martin added.

Global temperature data for 2017 will be released on Jan. 18 by NOAA and NASA.

Press link for more: USA TODAY

Sydney Hottest Day in 78 years. #StopAdani #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #nswpol

Temperatures In Australia Hit 117 Degrees As Sydney Sees Hottest Day In 78 Years

The extreme weather melted one area’s roads. Elsewhere in the world, record low temperatures were seen.

Nina Golgowski

A brutal heat wave in Australia skyrocketed temperatures in Sydney on Sunday to 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47.3 Celsius), making it the hottest weather New South Wales’ capital has seen in 78 years, weather officials said.

The bizarre forecast follows record low temperatures in other parts of the world.

The worst of the weekend’s heat was recorded in the Sydney suburb of Penrith where the triple-degree temperature was just slightly lower than a 118-degree (47.8 C) reading recorded in the town of Richmond in 1939, according to the New South Wales’ Bureau of Meteorology.

James D. Morgan via Getty Images

Crowds cool off in water at Yarra Bay in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday amid a heat wave.

Temperatures became so hot across southern Australia that police in the neighboring state of Victoria warned drivers on Twitter that a 6-mile freeway was “melting.”

Fire warnings and bans were also issued across Sydney in response to the high heat threat that has caused multiple wildfires. There was also an air quality warning issued by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage for higher than normal ozone levels, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Adding to some of the misery felt, a power outage left thousands of people in Sydney without electricity on Sunday evening as temperatures stayed between 91 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit, the local news site reported.

A spokeswoman for local electricity provider Ausgrid, speaking to Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service, partially blamed the outage on a surge in power use.

The bizarre weather isn’t just in Australia, however.

Across the Pacific, Alaska has experienced unusually warm temperatures in recent days, roughly 10 to 20 degrees above average, prompting concerns about ice levels, NPR reported.

Last week, temperatures in Anchorage were warmer than in northern Florida, which saw snow.

The U.S.′ northeast has also endured unseasonably cold temperatures, with the mercury dipping below zero in many places. At New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, the area saw an all-time low on Saturday of 8 degrees F, meteorologist Bob Oravec of the Weather Prediction Center, told Reuters.

Temperatures are expected to rise to above normal temperatures for much of the United States in the middle of January, the National Weather Service said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, World Meteorological Organization spokesperson Clare Nullis pointed out on Friday that Europe is also experiencing unusual temperatures.

“The French national average on Wednesday was 11.5 degrees Celsius [52.7 degrees Fahrenheit], so that’s about 6 degrees Celsius above the normal, so as I said, lots of extreme weather,” she said during a United Nations session, according to Newsweek.

Press link for more: Huffington Post

Ecosystems are Collapsing, Food Bowls are next! #auspol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Ecosystems Are Collapsing, Food Bowls Are Next

David FicklingJan 8, 2018 3:00 PM EST

The world we grew up in is disappearing.

From the tropics to the poles, the effects of climate change are transforming environments that humans have known since prehistory.

Chances of saving the world’s coral reefs are disappearing because of mass bleaching, according to a paper by scientists on four continents published in the journal Science last week.

Such events, caused by warmer-than-usual waters, had never been observed until the 1980s, but are now occurring once every six years. Many marine biologists now believe they’ll see the demise of coral reefs worldwide within their lifetimes.

Similar trends are afoot in colder climes.

The Arctic shows no signs of returning to the conditions of reliable ice cover that have persisted at least since data was first collected in the late 19th century, scientists at the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration wrote in an annual review last month. Permafrost temperatures hit record-high levels in 2016, and the region as a whole is warming at twice the global rate, they wrote.

If you think that’s the worst thing the coming century of climate change has in store, check what’s happening to agricultural land.

Land at least moderately suitable for agriculture will barely grow this century

Source: Global Agricultural Land Resources – A High Resolution Suitability Evaluation and Its Perspectives until 2100 under Climate Change Conditions (PLOS ONE, 2014)

Production from the world’s farms needs to grow at a headlong pace over the coming decades.

Rising populations and growing incomes that are already driving up consumption of land-intensive produce such as meat mean demand for farm products will rise between 70 percent and 110 percent between 2005 and 2050, according to the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization.

Usable land, though, is expected to barely increase.

Despite warmer climates opening up frigid stretches of Canada, Russia and China to agriculture, desertification and degradation elsewhere means the area of land considered moderately or highly suitable for agriculture will only rise from 33.2 million square kilometers to 34.1 million square kilometers toward the end of this century, according to one 2014 study.

Climate change is already playing a part here.

Heavy spring rainfalls in the U.S. Midwest, which have been linked to the effects of global warming, are one of the main causes of a dearth of protein in wheat that’s already caused ructions in U.S. grain markets.

The current freezing winter weather could exacerbate the same problems, while rising carbon dioxide concentrations themselves could be reducing the nutrient content of crops on a global scale.

It’s too soon to despair.

While the 19th and 20th centuries’ devastating famines in the British and Chinese empires initially seemed to confirm economist Thomas Malthus’s predictions that the world risked running out of food, recent decades have demonstrated that hunger is more a result of bad or wicked policy than environmental constraints.

Better Fed

Prevalence of undernourishment has slumped in emerging economies so far this century

Source: Food & Agriculture Organization

Undernourishment, which ran as high as 20 percent of the world’s population in the early 1990s, fell to just 10.6 percent in 2015, before rising in 2016 for the first time in 14 years.

The existing stock of land would be quite adequate to meet 2050’s agricultural demands so long as farmers manage to use it more efficiently and profitably, according to a 2015 study.

Indeed, at present the world appears to be drowning in a surfeit of farm produce.

The Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex touched a record-low 46.8 last month due to slumps in the price of sugar, coffee, wheat and corn.

Such conditions won’t last forever.

In years to come, China National Chemical Corp.’s takeover of Syngenta AG and the mergers that created DowDuPont Inc. and Nutrien Ltd. — not to mention the pending or possible takeovers of Monsanto Co. by Bayer AG and Bunge Ltd. by Glencore Plc — may come to be seen as moments when far-sighted managers looked past temporary farm gluts to see a leaner, and more profitable, future.

Investors who value Mosaic Co. and Deere & Co. at a premium to the S&P 500 already seem to believe as much.

Selling the Farm

Blended forward 12-month price-earnings ratios for fertilizer company Mosaic and tractor maker John Deere have edged ahead of a richly valued S&P 500

Source: Bloomberg

Still, events in the tropical oceans and the frigid Arctic should be of concern.

Coral and ice cover can survive warming events as long as the anomalies are rare enough to allow ecosystems to recover — but when the blows come too close together, the path to destruction becomes inexorable.

The 20th century’s green revolution in agriculture took place against the backdrop of a global climate in a steady state that allowed similar recoveries from crop failures, but those conditions are rapidly passing into history.

For decades now, humanity has mostly kept its edge in the race between farm productivity and starvation.

In the future, we’ll be running faster just to keep up.

To contact the author of this story:

David Fickling in Sydney at dfickling@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:

Katrina Nicholas at knicholas2@bloomberg.net

Press link for more: Bloomberg.com

Corals Die, Farmers Suffer #ClimateChange #Auspol #StopAdani

Corals die, farmers suffer through Australia’s third-hottest year

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia had its third-hottest year on record in 2017, the country’s weather bureau said on Wednesday, as global warming changed the continent’s climate and farmers warned unpredictable seasons are hurting the $47 billion agricultural sector.

Unusually, the high heat last year came despite the absence of an El Nino weather system in the Pacific, which tends to warm Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology said in its annual climate statement.

“I think what it illustrates is even without the strong driver of an El Nino, the world is still producing very warm temperatures,” Blair Trewin, a senior climatologist at the bureau told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

During 2017 hotter ocean temperatures near Australia’s northeast coast prompted “significant” coral bleaching along the world-heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, the first time it had occurred in consecutive summers.

The national mean temperature was nearly one degree Celsius above average, with the heat “mostly associated” with human-caused global warming that also reduced rainfall in Australia’s south, the bureau’s statement said.

That made for the driest September ever recorded in crucial grain-growing regions of New South Wales and the Murray-Darling riverbasin, with heavy rains then hitting during harvest and making it even more difficult for farmers.

The world’s fourth largest wheat exporter is set for its smallest crop in a decade.

“It’s really the unpredictability of it rather than the actual event,” said Matt Dalgleish, a market analyst at agricultural advisory firm Mecardo.

“Farmers are used to dealing with different weather as long as it can run within a reasonably predictable pattern and sit reasonably close to the seasons they expect – it’s when you get these events that are uncharacteristically out of season that cause the most amount of heartache.”

Seven of Australia’s 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005, the bureau found, and another hotter-than-average year is expected in 2018, which has already brought heatwave conditions to the country’s southeast.

Sydney on Sunday sweltered through its hottest day in 80 years, while highway bitumen melted in Victoria state and bushfires burned out of control. In the northwest, a tropical storm is gathering and forecast to make landfall at cyclone-strength between Broome and Port Hedland on Saturday.

Globally it is likely 2017 will be the second- or third-warmest year on record since 1850, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Michael Perry

Press link for more:Reuters.com

#ClimateChange & #Health #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #WHO

Climate change and health

Key facts

• Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.

• Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.

• The direct damage costs to health (i.e. excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation), is estimated to be between US$ 2-4 billion/year by 2030.

• Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.

• Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through better transport, food and energy-use choices can result in improved health, particularly through reduced air pollution.

Climate change

Over the last 50 years, human activities – particularly the burning of fossil fuels – have released sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to trap additional heat in the lower atmosphere and affect the global climate.

In the last 130 years, the world has warmed by approximately 0.85oC. Each of the last 3 decades has been successively warmer than any preceding decade since 1850(1).

Sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting and precipitation patterns are changing. Extreme weather events are becoming more intense and frequent.

What is the impact of climate change on health?

Although global warming may bring some localized benefits, such as fewer winter deaths in temperate climates and increased food production in certain areas, the overall health effects of a changing climate are likely to be overwhelmingly negative.

Climate change affects social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.

Extreme heat

Extreme high air temperatures contribute directly to deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory disease, particularly among elderly people. In the heat wave of summer 2003 in Europe for example, more than 70 000 excess deaths were recorded(2).

High temperatures also raise the levels of ozone and other pollutants in the air that exacerbate cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

Pollen and other aeroallergen levels are also higher in extreme heat. These can trigger asthma, which affects around 300 million people. Ongoing temperature increases are expected to increase this burden.

Natural disasters and variable rainfall patterns

Globally, the number of reported weather-related natural disasters has more than tripled since the 1960s.

Every year, these disasters result in over 60 000 deaths, mainly in developing countries.

Rising sea levels and increasingly extreme weather events will destroy homes, medical facilities and other essential services.

More than half of the world’s population lives within 60 km of the sea.

People may be forced to move, which in turn heightens the risk of a range of health effects, from mental disorders to communicable diseases.

Increasingly variable rainfall patterns are likely to affect the supply of fresh water.

A lack of safe water can compromise hygiene and increase the risk of diarrhoeal disease, which kills over 500 000 children aged under 5 years, every year.

In extreme cases, water scarcity leads to drought and famine.

By the late 21st century, climate change is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of drought at regional and global scale(1).

Floods are also increasing in frequency and intensity, and the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation is expected to continue to increase throughout the current century(1). Floods contaminate freshwater supplies, heighten the risk of water-borne diseases, and create breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes. They also cause drownings and physical injuries, damage homes and disrupt the supply of medical and health services.

Rising temperatures and variable precipitation are likely to decrease the production of staple foods in many of the poorest regions.

This will increase the prevalence of malnutrition and undernutrition, which currently cause 3.1 million deaths every year.

Patterns of infection

Climatic conditions strongly affect water-borne diseases and diseases transmitted through insects, snails or other cold blooded animals.

Changes in climate are likely to lengthen the transmission seasons of important vector-borne diseases and to alter their geographic range.

For example, climate change is projected to widen significantly the area of China where the snail-borne disease schistosomiasis occurs(3).

Malaria is strongly influenced by climate.

Transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes, malaria kills over 400 000 people every year – mainly African children under 5 years old. The Aedes mosquito vector of dengue is also highly sensitive to climate conditions, and studies suggest that climate change is likely to continue to increase exposure to dengue.

Measuring the health effects

Measuring the health effects from climate change can only be very approximate. Nevertheless, a WHO assessment, taking into account only a subset of the possible health impacts, and assuming continued economic growth and health progress, concluded that climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050; 38 000 due to heat exposure in elderly people, 48 000 due to diarrhoea, 60 000 due to malaria, and 95 000 due to childhood undernutrition.

Who is at risk?

All populations will be affected by climate change, but some are more vulnerable than others. People living in small island developing states and other coastal regions, megacities, and mountainous and polar regions are particularly vulnerable.

Children – in particular, children living in poor countries – are among the most vulnerable to the resulting health risks and will be exposed longer to the health consequences. The health effects are also expected to be more severe for elderly people and people with infirmities or pre-existing medical conditions.

Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.

WHO response

Many policies and individual choices have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce major health co-benefits. For example, cleaner energy systems, and promoting the safe use of public transportation and active movement – such as cycling or walking as alternatives to using private vehicles – could reduce carbon emissions, and cut the burden of household air pollution, which causes some 4.3 million deaths per year, and ambient air pollution, which causes about 3 million deaths every year.

In 2015, the WHO Executive Board endorsed a new work plan on climate change and health. This includes:

• Partnerships: to coordinate with partner agencies within the UN system, and ensure that health is properly represented in the climate change agenda.

• Awareness raising: to provide and disseminate information on the threats that climate change presents to human health, and opportunities to promote health while cutting carbon emissions.

• Science and evidence: to coordinate reviews of the scientific evidence on the links between climate change and health, and develop a global research agenda.

• Support for implementation of the public health response to climate change: to assist countries to build capacity to reduce health vulnerability to climate change, and promote health while reducing carbon emissions.

References

(1) IPCC, 2014: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

(2) Death toll exceeded 70,000 in Europe during the summer of 2003. Robine JM, Cheung SL, Le Roy S, Van Oyen H, Griffiths C, Michel JP, et al. C R Biol. 2008;331(2):171-8.

(3) Potential impact of climate change on schistosomiasis transmission in China. Zhou XN,

Yang GJ, Yang K, Wang XH, Hong QB, Sun LP, et al. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2008;78(2):188-94.

Press link for more: WHO.INT

Extreme weather a daily reality. #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

With extreme weather a daily reality, change is overdue.

Image: Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

The reality of climate change is starting to bite.

More extreme weather conditions are no longer a prediction – they are real and they are happening today.

Action is needed to prevent the situation becoming much worse.

During 2018, there are several opportunities to raise awareness about the solutions, demonstrate progress and ramp up ambition to do more – starting now.

The World Economic Forum will release its Global Risk Report ahead of the Annual Meeting in Davos at the end of January.

The climate remains high on the agenda for the fifth year running, with recognition that we are reaching crisis point in many parts of the world.

Government, business and civil society leaders will meet at the event to discuss the unintended but dire environmental consequences of continuing to rely on old economic growth models and assumptions about wealth creation that are hindering investment in low-carbon and climate-smart solutions.

More holistic thinking will be encouraged to reduce emissions, build resilience and plan for a structured transition to a low-carbon economy.

Heads of major international companies and members of the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders will meet to discuss the changes they have been instigating in their businesses and across their value chains, and to agree the action that is needed to encourage other businesses to do the same.

This critical group of leaders is helping to drive progress in the real economy, by demonstrating the positive benefits of clean growth to government leaders around the world.

The Annual Meeting will also highlight the role of other critical actors, including cities, states, civil society, technology pioneers and social entrepreneurs, to show that, despite the enormous challenge that climate change poses, it is possible to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions with effective and accelerated action, and push towards transformational – not incremental – shifts to low-carbon solutions.

This message will be carried forward throughout the year to reinforce the urgency of the problem, and to gain momentum for changes in policy, and investment and business strategies.

The spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Washington, DC, in April will provide an important platform for the investment community to discuss climate finance – in particular, finding solutions to unlock the financing needed to build climate resilience and low-carbon infrastructure in parts of the world that need it most.

In June, Canada – one of the national governments leading the way on climate action – is hosting the G7 meeting. Climate change and clean energy are core themes of the meeting, and will enable the biggest emitters of greenhouse gas to reflect on the policy measures, incentives and increased ambition needed to drive clean growth.

It will also be critical for these leaders to show they can work together to solve the climate challenge globally.

In the US, there is concern that leadership on climate action is lacking at the federal level.

(In Australia Malcolm Turnbull talks about opening new coal mines)

However, this is compensated for at the state and city government level, where some of the most innovative policy measures and forward-thinking transition plans are being implemented.

California’s Governor Brown is hosting a Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September to demonstrate this leadership. The event will showcase climate action by states, cities and businesses around the world, and is expected to provide a “tipping point” moment in mainstreaming climate action.

The climate conversation will be kept alive from San Francisco to New York, where 10 days later, against a backdrop of the United Nations General Assembly meeting, Climate Week NYC will provide another opportunity to highlight progress being made by key players. It will also link up these efforts to the broader sustainable development agenda, building the recognition of the interrelated nature of climate change to a whole range of environmental and social issues.

After that, the focus of climate action activity will shift from North America to south-east Asia in October, where Indonesia will host the Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank. This is a significant location for the climate conversation: the region urgently needs to transition from coal to low-carbon energy, and to stop the unsustainable deforestation taking place – two actions critical to reducing net emissions.

Discussion of forests in Indonesia will highlight the important role of natural carbon sinks.

However, all uses of land and oceans are relevant to the debate.

Although not traditionally a key date in the climate action calendar, it is worth flagging up the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2018. From a climate mitigation perspective, the effectivemanagement and protection of a range of natural systems is as critical as the switch to low-carbon sources of energy. Building bridges between the climate action and biodiversity communities could open up critical benefits for a wide variety of stakeholders.

At the end of a very busy year, the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 24) will take place in Katowice, Poland. Fiji and Poland, as COP presidency champions, will have been leading discussions with non-state actors throughout 2018, and will provide a reflection on the progress made. This should give confidence to governments that the sentiments behind the Paris Agreement are gaining momentum across all areas of the global economy, making it easier for them to raise ambitions by 2020.

There is no doubt that 2018 will be a busy year for climate action.

It will be interesting to look back this time next year, to review which states, cities and business have truly stepped up their climate action and delivered the change that is needed.

So make a date with climate action in 2018, and play your part in making it a year of unprecedented progress.

Selected climate action dates for 2018

• 23-26 January: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, Davos, Switzerland

• 20-22 April: Spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group, Washington, DC, USA

• 8-9 June: G7 Leaders’ Summit, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

• 12-14 September: Global Climate Action Summit, San Francisco, US

• 24-30 September: Climate Week NYC, New York, USA

• 12-14 October: Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group, Bali Nusa Dua, Indonesia

• 10-22 November: 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP14), Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt

• 3-14 December: 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 24), UNFCCC, Katowice, Poland.

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#AirPollution Kills 9 million & costs $5 Trillion per year! #StopAdani #Auspol #qldpol

Air Pollution Kills 9 Million, Costs $5 Trillion Per Year

By Andy Rowell

“For decades, pollution and its harmful effects on people’s health, the environment, and the planet have been neglected both by Governments and the international development agenda. Yet, pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and death in the world today, responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths.”

So begins the executive summary of the landmark Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, just published. It continues: “The substantial health and economic costs of pollution globally can no longer be ignored.”

The introduction to the report is stark: “Pollution is one of the great existential challenges of the Anthropocene epoch … Pollution is now a substantial problem that endangers the health of billions, degrades the Earth’s ecosystems, undermines the economic security of nations, and is responsible for an enormous global burden of disease, disability, and premature death.”

Some of the statistics and findings are startling. People are not just dying—they are getting sick and living with years of disability. This has an economic toll. The “welfare losses due to pollution to be more than US$4.6 trillion per year, which is equivalent to 6.2% of global economic output.”

If the message was not unambiguous enough: Air pollution “threatens the continuing survival of human societies.”

The impact on health is immense: Air pollution was responsible in 2015 for 19 percent of all cardiovascular deaths worldwide, 24 percent of ischaemic heart disease deaths, 21 percent of stroke deaths, and 23 percent of lung cancer deaths.

However, the burden is disproportionately on the poor and the world’s most vulnerable. More than ninety percent of all pollution-related mortality is seen in low-income and middle-income countries.

Children are also “at high risk of pollution-related disease and even extremely low-dose exposures to pollutants during windows of vulnerability in utero and in early infancy can result in disease, disability, and death in childhood and across their lifespan.”

The commission points the finger at the fossil fuel industry: “Pollution is intimately linked to global climate change. Fuel combustion—fossil fuel combustion in high-income and middle-income countries” is a key driver of pollution and “coal is the world’s most polluting fossil fuel, and coal combustion is an important cause of both pollution and climate change.”

“We fear that with nine million deaths a year, we are pushing the envelope on the amount of pollution the earth can carry,” said professor Philip Landrigan at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who co-led the commission.

Landrigan told the Guardian that the scale of deaths from pollution had surprised the researchers and that two other “real shockers” stood out. First was how quickly modern pollution deaths were rising, and secondly, “The current figure of nine million is almost certainly an underestimate, probably by several million.”

Landrigan added, “We always hear ‘we can’t afford to clean up pollution’—I say we can’t afford not to clean it up.”

Instead of cleaning up pollution and pioneering a clean energy future, the Trump administration is promoting dirty fossil fuels, including coal. Gina McCarthy, former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, criticized the Trump administration after the report was released: “Now is not the time to go backwards in the U.S. Environmental protection and a strong economy go hand in hand. We also need to help other countries, not only for the benefit it will bring them, but because pollution knows no boundaries.”

It does not have to be this way. “This Lancet Commission should inform policy makers and serve as a timely call to action. Pollution is a winnable battle … Current and future generations deserve a pollution-free world,” the commission said in an editorial.

The time to act is now.

What will it take to avoid collapse? #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

What Will It Really Take to Avoid Collapse?

By Jeremy Lent

For a moment, the most important news in the entire world flashed across the media like a shooting star in the night sky.

Then it was gone.

Last month, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries issued a dire warning to humanity.

Because of our overconsumption of the world’s resources, they declared, we are facing “widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss.”

They warned that time is running out: “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory.”

This is not the first such notice. Twenty-five years ago, in 1992, 1,700 scientists (including the majority of living Nobel laureates) sent a similarly worded warning to governmental leaders around the world.

In ringing tones, they called for a recognition of the Earth’s fragility and a new ethic arising from the realization that “we all have but one lifeboat.”

This second warning contains a series of charts showing how utterly the world’s leaders ignored what they were told 25 years earlier.

Whether it’s CO2 emissions, temperature change, ocean dead zones, freshwater resources, vertebrate species or total forest cover, the grim charts virtually all point in the same dismal direction, indicating continued momentum toward doomsday.

The chart for marine catch shows something even scarier: In 1996, the catch peaked at 130 million tonnes and in spite of massively increased industrial fishing, it’s been declining ever since—a harbinger of the kind of overshoot that unsustainable exploitation threatens across the board.

Charts from “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice”

Along with their warning, the scientists list a dozen or so examples of the kind of actions that could turn humanity’s trajectory around.

These include indisputably necessary strategies such as halting the conversion of native habitats into farmland; restoring and rewilding ecologies; phasing out fossil fuel subsidies; and promoting dietary shifts toward plant-based foods. With the future of humanity at stake, why aren’t we already doing these things?

What will it really take for our civilization to change course and save itself from destruction?

Ignoring Climate Breakdown

We can begin to answer that simply by looking at the media’s reception to this warning.

With 15,000 scientists—including Jane Goodall, E. O. Wilson and James Hansen—declaring a potential catastrophe at hand, you might think this would make headlines everywhere.

Think again.

While it led to a few short articles in select publications around the world, with the one commendable exception of CNN, it was virtually ignored by American mainstream media.

This should hardly come as a surprise.

In fact, global climate breakdown—perhaps the greatest existential threat faced by our civilization—is barely considered newsworthy on American television.

In 2016, the hottest year on record, when the Paris agreement was signed and presidential candidates held widely differing opinions on climate change, the entire year’s climate coverage by all network news services in the U.S. amounted to less than an hour: a paltry 50 minutes, representing a 66 percent drop from the previous year.

How could that be?

One reason is that, as a result of decades of massive industry consolidation, the U.S. media is controlled by a few large corporations.

Like all shareholder-owned companies, their overriding concern is making profits, in this case from advertising dollars.

The news services, once considered a hallowed responsibility administered for the public good, have been reduced to just another profit center—and it was decided that climate change news isn’t good for advertising revenue, especially since a big chunk of that comes from the fossil fuel and agribusiness companies responsible for much of the problem.

The Largest Ponzi Scheme in History

Which leads us to some of the underlying structural changes that need to occur if human civilization is to avoid collapse.

The fundamental problem is brutally simple: Our world system is based on the premise of perpetual growth in consumption, which puts it on a collision course with the natural world.

Either the global system has to be restructured, or we are headed for a catastrophe of immense proportions that has never been experienced in human history.

However, the transnational corporations largely responsible for driving this trajectory are structurally designed to prevent the global changes that need to take place.

Something that is only dimly understood outside financial circles is that the vast bulk of the wealth enjoyed by the global elite is based on a fabrication: a belief in the future growth in earnings that corporations will deliver.

For example, the current P/E ratio of the S&P; 500 is about 23, which means that investors are valuing companies at 23 times their earnings for this year.

Another way of looking at it is that less than 5 percent of the wealth enjoyed by investors relates to current activity; the rest is based on the dream of future growth.

Historically, investors have been richly rewarded for this dream.

The world’s economic output is roughly 20 times greater than it was in 1950, and market valuations have increased accordingly.

But this is the same growth that is driving our civilization to collapse.

Today’s market values are based on a belief that the world’s economic output will triple from its current level by 2060.

That implies three times as much pillaging of the world’s resources than the rate that has led to the scientists’ dire warning to humanity.

Something has to give.

Like any Ponzi scheme, this global growth frenzy is based on maintaining the illusion for as long as possible.

Once it becomes clear that this rate of growth is truly unsustainable, the whole house of cards will come tumbling down.

We saw in the 2008 financial meltdown a relatively tame dress rehearsal for what a full-scale financial collapse would look like.

This is what the global power brokers don’t want anyone to think about.

It’s ultimately why the media obsesses with Donald Trump’s latest tweets rather than the devastation caused by climate breakdown-induced hurricanes.

Like passengers moving deckchairs on the Titanic, much of the world’s population has been hypnotized by a daily onslaught of celebrity spats and political feuds—anything to avoid the realization that we are all heading for collapse in order to keep the affluent in luxury.

It is a testament to their success so far that, in the words of Slavoj Žižek, it is “easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.”

Imagining the End of Capitalism

However, the only thing that will truly avert collapse will be a radical restructuring of the economic system that is driving us ever more rapidly to that precipice.

This will only come about when enough of us are ready to jettison the consumer values that pervasive mainstream culture foists on us.

In their place, we need to find other sources for meaning in our lives: growing the quality of our experiences rather than our consumption, building our communities together and reconnecting with the natural world.

On that basis, we’ll be better equipped to join in the struggle to save humanity—and the rest of the Earth—from the plundering envisaged by the perpetual growth frenzy of global corporate capitalism.

There are plenty of alternative paths available to us—we just don’t hear about them because they never get the media’s attention.

Most Americans, for example, are completely unaware that the little country of Costa Rica, with a GDP per capita less than one-fifth of the U.S., boasts a higher average life expectancy and scores far higher in levels of wellbeing—while producing 99 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

There is valuable work being done around the world in visualizing a future based on different principles than the current Ponzi scheme.

Well-developed plans to avert climate breakdown include a state-by-state and nation-by-nation pathway to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, and a Climate Mobilization Victory Plan to restructure the U.S. economy in a manner similar to what FDR accomplished after Pearl Harbor.

There are radically different ways for a society to function effectively that could apply to nations around the world if given half a chance. A flourishing future might involve more cooperative ventures, protection and expansion of the commons, and enhanced global governance with strict penalties for those who destroy ecological wellbeing. Collapse isn’t the only future in store for humanity—it’s merely the one we’re headed for unless and until we change course. Since the mainstream media isn’t going to get the word out, it has to be up to each of us who cares about the future of the human race. So, let’s get to it.

Jeremy Lent is author of “The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning,” which investigates how different cultures have made sense of the universe and how their underlying values have changed the course of history. He is founder of the nonprofit Liology Institute, dedicated to fostering a sustainable worldview.

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