Western Australia

Expect Climate Catastrophe: Paris Agreement Lacks Enforcement #auspol

By Andres Corr

Enforcement mechanisms for climate change targets are not being implemented, including in the Paris Agreement of December 2015. 

We are actually sliding backwards on this critical element of a global climate deal.
Sanctions were agreed in 2001, that any developed countries that missed emission limits between 2008 and 2012 would have even steeper limits in the future. 

That has since lapsed. 

In 2011, all countries agreed that a climate agreement should have “legal force.” Legal force requires an enforcement mechanism, which the Paris Agreement lacks. The E.U. pushed hard for binding targets in the Paris


Agreements, including international sanctions for noncompliance. Those did not come about. Bolivia called for an International Climate Justice Tribunal with the mandate to penalize countries for lack of compliance. There is no tribunal in the Paris Agreement.
Rather, most developed and emerging economies have systematically resisted international enforcement mechanisms. China (the world’s biggest emissions producer), Russia, the U.S., Canada, India, Japan, Australia, and major energy exporters, resisted the toughest climate change countermeasures over the years, including international monitoring and sanctions. Some in these countries have bemoaned the loss of sovereignty from transparency and enforceable international climate deals.

 As a result, the 2°C limit in the Paris Agreement on climate change, which started this month, is unenforceable and therefore solely an aspiration if the world can achieve carbon neutrality by 2100. The way things are going, that is unlikely. The Paris Agreement is now among over 500 similarly powerless global and regional environmental agreements.

President-elect Trump and other Republicans have dismissed global warming and the international coordination required to stop it.

 The countries most responsible for lagging in their pledges and policies since the Paris Agreement include Russia, Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. 


The U.S., China, India, Brazil, and E.U. countries also lag in their pledges and policies to achieve a climate-neutral future. Those countries that most opposed enforcement, unsurprisingly, also lag in their policy measures to achieve the Paris goals.

Given current pledges, temperature rise is predicted to be 2.8°C by 2100. But even these pledges to limit greenhouse gases have not been fulfilled. 

Factoring in current policies, rather than just aspirational pledges, temperature rise is predicted to be 3.6°C. So despite the political fanfare in Paris, the planet is likely headed for irreversible catastrophic climate change. 

 To bequeath a livable planet to our grandchildren, citizens must demand of their governments greater global transparency and enforcement measures against emissions.

Press link for more: Forbes.com

Cashing In on Climate Change #auspol 

You’ve saved your money and amassed a surplus. 

You’ve read a few books on investing and gleaned the basics — the importance of diversification, of investing for the long term, and of buying and holding rather than trying to beat the market. 

But you also know that human-caused climate change will (if it hasn’t already) start eroding economic output. Extreme weather, droughts and crop failures could mean mass migration and political instability. As Henry Paulson, the former Treasury secretary, recently put it, the “greenhouse-gas crisis” won’t burst like the housing bubble of 2008 because “climate change is more subtle and cruel.”

What’s a climate-aware investor to do?
Individuals aren’t the only ones contemplating this question. Sixty-nine percent of Fortune 500 companies reported more demand for “low carbon” products this year, according to the nonprofit Carbon Disclosure Project. And some of the country’s largest pension funds, including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System and New York State’s retirement fund, have begun tilting away from fossil fuels.

This approach has been called “socially responsible investing.” But these days, money managers aren’t doing it only because they think it’s morally correct; they also worry that, over the long term, fossil fuels are a losing bet.
Some experts told me that the historic accord on limiting greenhouse-gas emissions reached in Paris last year was a turning point in how investors think about climate change. The United States and China, the world’s two largest emitters, ratified it in September. It’s now unclear what will happen to the agreement; President-elect Donald J. Trump has said he wants to pull the United States out of it.

But it’s worth noting that business interests — and Mr. Trump sells himself as a consummate businessman — were integral to making the Paris deal happen in the first place. They realize that “environmental stability is absolutely at the base of financial stability,” Christiana Figueres, the diplomat who organized the conference, told me. Extreme weather, like the 2011 monsoon floods that ravaged parts of South Asia where electronic components that go into hard disks and cars are built, have driven that lesson home.
Something more hopeful is happening as well. Renewable energy prices have dropped, and are nearly competitive with fossil fuels. China aims to build enough charging stations to power five million electric cars by 2020. What will happen, Ms. Figueres asked, if China phases out the combustion engine altogether? “You can begin to see the signals,” she said. “The tide is beginning to change.”
Advances in battery technology are part of this change. The wind doesn’t blow all the time, nor does the sun shine all day. Energy produced intermittently needs to be stored. A lack of easy storage options has been an obstacle to renewables. But battery costs have declined by more than 70 percent since 2008. Mark Fulton, a founding partner of Energy Transition Advisors, says that what’s about to happen with the battery and renewables is an old-fashioned technological disruption story, akin to the advent of the internet. From an investor’s standpoint, this kind of disruption could mean losing your shirt or, if you plan properly, handsome returns.

One of the myths around socially responsible investing is that aligning investments with ethics means lower returns. But that’s not the case. George Serafeim, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, and his colleagues analyzed data going back over 20 years. Companies that were committed to sustainability outperformed companies that weren’t, they found. A dollar invested in sustainability-minded companies in 1993 would have grown to $22.58 by 2014, but just $15.35 if invested in companies with no such commitments. Why might this emphasis increase profits? These firms may also be more likely to invest in human capital and be better run overall.
So what can an individual investor do? 

You might follow the Rockefeller Family Fund and divest from the fossil fuel companies entirely. The research firm MSCI offers fossil-free stock indexes — like the S.&P. 500 but without fossil fuel companies — as does a newer organization called Fossil Free Indexes. Various climate-aware mutual funds exist.

But even if you divest, says Jean Rogers, chief executive of the nonprofit Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, there’s no escaping the ripple effects of climate change. “Because it’s so ubiquitous, it’s very hard to diversify away from climate risk,” she told me.

Another approach is a kind of divestment lite. Asha Mehta, director of responsible investing at Acadian Asset Management, told me that her clients increasingly request a “decarbonization” of their portfolios. Worried that complete divestment might hobble a portfolio’s performance, however, Ms. Mehta might reduce a portfolio’s carbon footprint to, say, 80 percent of a benchmark like the S.&P. 500 by removing the biggest emitters.
A firm called Osmosis Investment Management takes a different tack. It researches the overall efficiency of companies — how many resources a firm uses to create how much product. And instead of excluding certain industries entirely, Osmosis chooses only the most efficient within a given sector. It caters to institutional investors, but plans to release a fund for individuals soon.
You can, of course, try to do what Osmosis does on your own; the Carbon Disclosure Project has a trove of information on how companies fare on the sustainability front. But here’s the problem. More than 5,600 corporations disclose sustainability information, but no standards govern these disclosures. The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board and others are working to devise such standards. Pressure is also mounting on the Securities and Exchange Commission to enforce the disclosure of sustainability information. The commission recently asked for feedback on reforming the disclosure process, and a good chunk of letters mentioned sustainability and climate change.
Under a Trump administration, it seems less likely that the S.E.C. will respond to these concerns. But that may have a paradoxical effect: If investors can’t count on regulators to enforce transparency on sustainability, says Sonia Kowal, the president of Zevin Asset Management, they may take matters into their own hands.

So if you’re concerned about how climate issues might damage your nest egg, you might begin by raising your voice. Ask your fund managers about their plans. And look at how the funds you own vote on sustainability-related issues, such as whether to calculate and disclose a company’s greenhouse gas emissions, or whether to develop a risk-assessment plan for climate change.
Some of the largest asset managers consistently vote against such resolutions. In so doing, critics argue that they work against their customers’ interests. An organization called Fund Votes tracks how mutual funds vote, and the nonprofit Ceres keeps a list of what happens with climate-related resolutions. The broader point is that climate-proofing your portfolio may require homework and some rabble-rousing.
Does that make you an activist? “The word I prefer is ‘investor advocate,’ ” Jackie Cook, who operates Fund Votes, told me. “You’re advocating for your own investments.”
For many, the perceived gap between socially responsible investing and good business has narrowed almost to the point of convergence. And maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise. A Citi report from last year put the costs of climate change, without mitigation, at $44 trillion by 2060. Many analysts have pointed out that a yearslong drought preceded the conflict in Syria — an example of how shifting climate can encourage political instability that ripples around the world. And this year, a report from the World Economic Forum said that the No. 1 global risk in the next 10 years was water crises. Nos. 2 and 3 were climate adaptation failure and extreme weather.
The economy can be only as healthy as the planet that houses it. Pushing for transparency on sustainability issues, and asking money managers to consider climate change, is really the purest form of self-interest.

Press link for more: New York Times

Trump (And Turnbull) a disaster for global climate. #auspol #climatechange 

By Marty Nathan

The bad news is that President-elect Donald Trump (Just like Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull) aim to cut taxes on the rich, wipe out remaining restrictions on predation by corporations, register and attack Muslims, scapegoat and deport undocumented workers and students, block voting rights for African-Americans, vacate abortion rights for women, eliminate health care options for the working poor and tear up the hard-won treaty with Iran over nuclear development.


Worse news is that he is actively planning to destroy all federal policy standing between us and global climate disaster.
2016 will be the hottest year on record. 

About this time last year, I wrote the same words about 2015. 

There is already enough greenhouse gas, mainly CO2 and methane, in the atmosphere to raise temperatures 1.5 degrees Celsius, ushering in some of the feedback loops that create runaway global warming. Our window of opportunity for action to cut emissions is very narrow. We need to start now to stop burning coal, oil and gas and convert to an economy based on conservation and renewable energy.
The Democratic Party platform, though not perfect, conveyed the urgency of the situation and provided a path for the energy transition. Hillary Clinton, previously no environmental champion for sure, rejected the Transpacific Partnership, a climate-killer, in response to Bernie Sanders’ opposition to it. Her campaign talked of making the US a “clean energy superpower.” Sanders was developing a Senate coalition, assuming a Clinton presidency and Democratic Senate majority, to create the programs needed to make the enormous transition.
Clinton did win the popular vote by 1.82 million votes, but did not win the presidency, and with majorities in the House and Senate, Trump faces few obstacles to his plans to raise emissions and end support for renewable energy.


It is hard not to note the inconsistency — no, perfidy — of his climate-change stance. He calls global warming a “hoax” and its remedy “a very expensive tax,” consistent with his investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline and his reliance in the election on the fossil-fuel infrastructure baron Koch brothers. Yet he plans to build a wall to prevent sea-level rise from destroying his Irish golf course.

One could never call Trump subtle. To understand his future energy and environmental policy, look to those whom he is appointing to key positions in his transition team and his new administration. Many are Koch-related fossil fuel moguls and their standard-bearers, set to gain billions by pushing their product. So much for his pledge to “drain the swamp.”

The head of the Koch-funded Freedom Partners, Marc Short, will serve as a senior adviser. Michael McKenna of the Koch lobbying group MWR will be advising The Donald regarding the Energy Department. Both Michael Catanzaro and Harold Hamm have been mentioned for the post of energy czar. Catanzaro lobbies for Koch Industries as well as for the fracking firm Devon Energy, while Hamm is the founder of a shale oil company and a major contributor to the Koch political funding network.

The one who has raised the most ire, though, is Myron Ebell, a climate-change denier who is heading the transition team for the EPA. His Competitive Enterprise Institute opposes environmental regulations and is funded by fossil-fuel companies including Koch and Exxon-Mobil. Ebell’s EPA working group includes David Schnare who became infamous for his hounding of leading climate scientist Michael Mann.
Rather than draining, Trump is filling the swamp with the most toxic and corrupt operators Washington has seen in a while.
Their mission is not just to prevent further progress on halting greenhouse gas emissions but to wipe out years of progress made by the Obama administration. 

They openly plan to:
1. Stop the United States’ participation in the United Nations climate agreement, or kill it softly by sending it to the Senate for (non)ratification. This not-very-strong agreement still is the stage on which countries continue to negotiate and ratchet up their emissions reductions. It is crucial to battling climate change. Should the U.S. pull out, huge developing countries like India have the moral and political right to wash their hands of converting from coal and oil to renewables.
2. Destroy the clean power plan. A key element of the Obama administration’s domestic plan to battle climate change, this set of regulations reining in coal-fired power plants has been tied up in the courts, allowing a new Trump administration simply to abandon it.
3. Frack more gas and build the infrastructure needed to ship it overseas.
4. Dig and burn more coal.
5. Open federal lands, offshore sites and the Arctic to drilling.
6. Build the Keystone XL pipeline and whatever other cheap mode of transport is necessary to liberate the four trillion barrels of tar sands oil from Canada.
7. Destroy the EPA which has been critical to regulating carbon pollution in the face of legislative inaction to deal with the climate crisis.
This is just the beginning. I do not have the space to explore all the planned iniquities of this profit-driven, ignorant cabal.
Trump and friends want to drill, burn and profit from all the fossil fuels still in the ground, no matter the consequences. Mann has declared that, because of the narrow time frame left to slow down climate change, a Trump administration means “game over for the climate.”
As Dr. Seuss’s Lorax said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Caring will mean lifestyle changes, but more importantly meeting, marching, writing letters, voting, coalition-building and empowering our local governments to resist. 

This is going to be the fight of our lives, my friends.
Dr. Marty Nathan is a mother and grandmother who lives in Northampton and works at Baystate Brightwood Health Center in Springfield. She is on the steering committee of Climate Action NOW and is a regular contributor to the Gazette Opinion page.

Press link for more: gazettenet.com

8 predictions for the world in 2030 #auspol 

As Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory show, predicting even the immediate future is no easy feat. When it comes to what our world will look like in the medium-term – how we will organise our cities, where we will get our power from, what we will eat, what it will mean to be a refugee – it gets even trickier. But imagining the societies of tomorrow can give us a fresh perspective on the challenges and opportunities of today.
We asked experts from our Global Future Councils for their take on the world in 2030, and these are the results, from the death of shopping to the resurgence of the nation state.

1. All products will have become services. 

“I don’t own anything. I don’t own a car. I don’t own a house. I don’t own any appliances or any clothes,” writes Danish MP Ida Auken. Shopping is a distant memory in the city of 2030, whose inhabitants have cracked clean energy and borrow what they need on demand. It sounds utopian, until she mentions that her every move is tracked and outside the city live swathes of discontents, the ultimate vision of a society split in two.

2. There is a global price on carbon. 

China took the lead in 2017 with a market for trading the right to emit a tonne of CO2, setting the world on a path towards a single carbon price and a powerful incentive to ditch fossil fuels, predicts Jane Burston, Head of Climate and Environment at the UK’s National Physical Laboratory. Europe, meanwhile, found itself at the centre of the trade in cheap, efficient solar panels, as prices for renewables fell sharply.


3. US dominance is over.

 We have a handful of global powers. Nation states will have staged a comeback, writes Robert Muggah, Research Director at the Igarapé Institute. Instead of a single force, a handful of countries – the U.S., Russia, China, Germany, India and Japan chief among them – show semi-imperial tendencies. However, at the same time, the role of the state is threatened by trends including the rise of cities and the spread of online identities.

4. Farewell hospital, hello home-spital. 

Technology will have further disrupted disease, writes Melanie Walker, a medical doctor and World Bank advisor. The hospital as we know it will be on its way out, with fewer accidents thanks to self-driving cars and great strides in preventive and personalised medicine. Scalpels and organ donors are out, tiny robotic tubes and bio-printed organs are in.

5. We are eating much less meat.

 Rather like our grandparents, we will treat meat as a treat rather than a staple, writes Tim Benton, Professor of Population Ecology at the University of Leeds, UK. It won’t be big agriculture or little artisan producers that win, but rather a combination of the two, with convenience food redesigned to be healthier and less harmful to the environment.


6. Today’s Syrian refugees, 2030’s CEOs. 

Highly educated Syrian refugees will have come of age by 2030, making the case for the economic integration of those who have been forced to flee conflict. The world needs to be better prepared for populations on the move, writes Lorna Solis, Founder and CEO of the NGO Blue Rose Compass, as climate change will have displaced 1 billion people.

7. The values that built the West will have been tested to breaking point. 

We forget the checks and balances that bolster our democracies at our peril, writes Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch.


8. “By the 2030s, we’ll be ready to move humans toward the Red Planet.” What’s more, once we get there, we’ll probably discover evidence of alien life, writes Ellen Stofan, Chief Scientist at NASA. Big science will help us to answer big questions about life on earth, as well as opening up practical applications for space technology.


Written by
Ceri Parker, Commissioning Editor, Agenda, World Economic Forum
Press link for more: weforum.org

Trump’s climate denial is just one of the forces that points towards war #auspol

By George Monbiot

The failure to get to grips with our crises, by all mainstream political parties, is likely to lead to a war between the major powers in my lifetime.

Wave the magic wand and the problem goes away. 

Those pesky pollution laws, carbon caps and clean-power plans: swish them away and the golden age of blue-collar employment will return. This is Donald Trump’s promise, in his video message on Monday, in which the US president-elect claimed that unleashing coal and fracking would create “many millions of high-paid jobs”. 

He will tear down everything to make it come true.

But it won’t come true. Even if we ripped the world to pieces in the search for full employment, leaving no mountain unturned, we would not find it.

 Instead, we would merely jeopardise the prosperity – and the lives – of people everywhere. 

However slavishly governments grovel to corporate Luddism, they will not bring the smog economy back.

No one can deny the problem Trump claims to be addressing. 

The old mining and industrial areas are in crisis throughout the rich world. And we have seen nothing yet. I have just reread the study published by the Oxford Martin School in 2013 on the impacts of computerisation. 

What jumps out, to put it crudely, is that jobs in the rust belts and rural towns that voted for Trump are at high risk of automation, while the professions of many Hillary Clinton supporters are at low risk.

The jobs most likely to be destroyed are in mining, raw materials, manufacturing, transport and logistics, cargo handling, warehousing and retailing, construction (prefabricated buildings will be assembled by robots in factories), office support, administration and telemarketing. So what, in the areas that voted for Trump, will be left?

Farm jobs have mostly gone already. Service and care work, where hope for some appeared to lie, will be threatened by a further wave of automation, as service robots – commercial and domestic – take over.
Yes, there will be jobs in the green economy: more and better than any that could be revived in the fossil economy. But they won’t be enough to fill the gaps, and many will be in the wrong places for those losing their professions.
At lower risk is work that requires negotiation, persuasion, originality and creativity. 

The management and business jobs that demand these skills are comparatively safe from automation; so are those of lawyers, teachers, researchers, doctors, journalists, actors and artists. The jobs that demand the highest educational attainment are the least susceptible to computerisation. 

The divisions tearing America apart will only widen.

Even this bleak analysis does not capture in full the underlying reasons why good, abundant jobs will not return to the places that need them most. As Paul Mason argues in PostCapitalism, the impacts of information technology go way beyond simple automation: they are likely to destroy the very basis of the market economy, and the relationship between work and wages.

And, as the French writer Paul Arbair notes in the most interesting essay I have read this year, beyond a certain level of complexity economies become harder to sustain. There’s a point at which further complexity delivers diminishing returns; society is then overwhelmed by its demands, and breaks down. He argues that the political crisis in western countries suggests we may have reached this point.

Trump has also announced that on his first day in office he will withdraw America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He is right to do so, but for the wrong reasons. 

Like TTIP and Ceta, the TPP is a fake trade treaty whose primary impact is to extend corporate property rights at the expense of both competition and democracy. But withdrawal will not, as he claims, “bring jobs and industry back to American shores”. The work in Mexico and China that Trump wants to reclaim will evaporate long before it can be repatriated.

As for the high-quality, high-waged working-class jobs he promised, these are never handed down from on high. 

They are secured through the organisation of labour. 

But the unions were smashed by Ronald Reagan, and collective bargaining has been suppressed ever since by casualisation and fragmentation.

 So how is this going to happen? Out of the kindness of Trump’s heart? Kindness, Trump, heart?
But it’s not just Trump. Clinton and Bernie Sanders also made impossible promises to bring back jobs. Half the platform of each party was based on a delusion. The social, environmental and economic crises we face require a complete reappraisal of the way we live and work. 

The failure by mainstream political parties to produce a new and persuasive economic narrative, which does not rely on sustaining impossible levels of growth and generating illusory jobs, provides a marvellous opening for demagogues everywhere.

Governments across the world are making promises they cannot keep. 

In the absence of a new vision, their failure to materialise will mean only one thing: something or someone must be found to blame.

 As people become angrier and more alienated, as the complexity and connectivity of global systems becomes ever harder to manage, as institutions such as the European Union collapse and as climate change renders parts of the world uninhabitable, forcing hundreds of millions of people from their homes, the net of blame will be cast ever wider.

Eventually the anger that cannot be assuaged through policy will be turned outwards, towards other nations. 

Faced with a choice between hard truths and easy lies, politicians and their supporters in the media will discover that foreign aggression is among the few options for political survival.

 I now believe that we will see war between the major powers within my lifetime. 

Which ones it will involve, and on what apparent cause, remains far from clear. But something that once seemed remote now looks probable.

A complete reframing of economic life is needed not just to suppress the existential risk that climate change presents (a risk marked by a 20°C anomaly reported in the Arctic Ocean while I was writing this article), but other existential threats as well – including war. 

Today’s governments, whether they are run by Trump or Obama or May or Merkel, lack the courage and imagination even to open this conversation.

 It is left to others to conceive of a more plausible vision than trying to magic back the good old days. 

The task for all those who love this world and fear for our children is to imagine a different future rather than another past.

Press link for more: theguardian.com

Carbon is not the enemy. #auspol #ClimateChange 

Design with the natural cycle in mind to ensure that carbon ends up in the right places, urges William McDonough

Carbon has a bad name. 

The 2015 Paris climate agreement calls for a balance between carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere and to earthbound carbon sinks.

Climate Neutral Now, a United Nations initiative, encourages businesses and individuals to voluntarily measure, reduce and offset their greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050. 

The American Institute of Architects has challenged the architecture community worldwide to become carbon neutral by 2030. 

The Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, an international network of urban-sustainability directors, aims to slash its cities’ greenhouse-gas emissions by 80% by 2050.
‘Low carbon’, ‘zero carbon’, ‘decarbonization’, ‘negative carbon’, ‘neutral carbon’, even ‘a war on carbon’ — all are part of the discourse. If we can reduce our carbon emissions, and shrink our carbon footprint, the thinking goes, we can bring down the carbon enemy. It’s no wonder that businesses, institutions and policymakers struggle to respond.
But carbon — the element — is not the enemy. 

Climate change is the result of breakdowns in the carbon cycle caused by us: it is a design failure. 

Anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere make airborne carbon a material in the wrong place, at the wrong dose and for the wrong duration. It is we who have made carbon toxic — like lead in our drinking water or nitrates in our rivers. In the right place, carbon is a resource and a tool.

Carbon dioxide is the currency of photosynthesis, a source of Earth’s capacity for regeneration. 

Soil carbon is the guarantor of healthy ecosystems and food and water security. 

Carbon atoms are the building blocks of life. 

Wool, cotton and silk are carbon compounds, as are many industrial polymers and pure ‘supercarbons’ such as diamonds and graphene.
After 30 years of designing sustainable buildings and landscapes that manage carbon, I believe it is time to breathe new life into the carbon conversation. 

Rather than declare war on carbon emissions, we can work with carbon in all its forms. 

To enable a new relationship with carbon, I propose a new language — living, durable and fugitive — to define ways in which carbon can be used safely, productively and profitably. Aspirational and clear, it signals positive intentions, enjoining us to do more good rather than simply be less bad.

Words drive actions

It is easy to lose one’s way in the climate conversation.

 Few of the terms are clearly defined or understood. 

Take ‘carbon neutral’. The European Union considers electricity generated by burning wood as carbon neutral — as if it releases no CO2 at all. Their carbon neutrality relies problematically on the growth and replacement of forests that will demand decades to centuries of committed management2. Another strategy is to offset fossil-fuel use by renewable-energy credits — this still means an increase in the global concentration of atmospheric CO2.
Even more confusing is the term ‘carbon negative’.

 This is sometimes used to refer to the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.

 For example, Bhutan’s prime minister has indicated that his country is carbon negative, because its existing forests sequester more CO2 than the country emits and Bhutan exports hydroelectric power (see go.nature.com/2es9lgt).

 But aren’t trees having a positive effect on atmospheric carbon, and hydroelectric power a neutral one?

Carbon sequestration is a long-sought goal.

 It requires two elements: a way to capture carbon from the atmosphere or a chimney and a way to store it safely and permanently. But some so-called carbon-storage methods are paradoxical. 

For example, in enhanced oil recovery, CO2 is injected into rock formations to flush out remnant crude oil, which is eventually burned.
At the same time, enterprises are starting to announce their hopes to be ‘carbon positive’ by, for example, producing more renewable energy than their operations require, or by sequestering carbon through planting trees.
Such terms highlight a confusion about the qualities and value of CO2. 

In the United States, the gas is classified as a commodity by the Bureau of Land Management, a pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency and as a financial instrument by the Chicago Climate Exchange.
A new language of carbon recognizes the material and quality of carbon so that we can imagine and implement new ways forward (see ‘The new language of carbon’). 

It identifies three categories of carbon — living, durable and fugitive — and a characteristic of a subset of the three, called working carbon. It also identifies three strategies related to carbon management and climate change — carbon positive, carbon neautral and carbon negative.
Carbon has a bad name. The 2015 Paris climate agreement calls for a balance between carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere and to earthbound carbon sinks1. Climate Neutral Now, a United Nations initiative, encourages businesses and individuals to voluntarily measure, reduce and offset their greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050. The American Institute of Architects has challenged the architecture community worldwide to become carbon neutral by 2030. The Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, an international network of urban-sustainability directors, aims to slash its cities’ greenhouse-gas emissions by 80% by 2050.
‘Low carbon’, ‘zero carbon’, ‘decarbonization’, ‘negative carbon’, ‘neutral carbon’, even ‘a war on carbon’ — all are part of the discourse. If we can reduce our carbon emissions, and shrink our carbon footprint, the thinking goes, we can bring down the carbon enemy. It’s no wonder that businesses, institutions and policymakers struggle to respond.
But carbon — the element — is not the enemy. Climate change is the result of breakdowns in the carbon cycle caused by us: it is a design failure. Anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere make airborne carbon a material in the wrong place, at the wrong dose and for the wrong duration. It is we who have made carbon toxic — like lead in our drinking water or nitrates in our rivers. In the right place, carbon is a resource and a tool.

Nature special: A new urban agenda

Carbon dioxide is the currency of photosynthesis, a source of Earth’s capacity for regeneration. Soil carbon is the guarantor of healthy ecosystems and food and water security. Carbon atoms are the building blocks of life. Wool, cotton and silk are carbon compounds, as are many industrial polymers and pure ‘supercarbons’ such as diamonds and graphene.
After 30 years of designing sustainable buildings and landscapes that manage carbon, I believe it is time to breathe new life into the carbon conversation. Rather than declare war on carbon emissions, we can work with carbon in all its forms. To enable a new relationship with carbon, I propose a new language — living, durable and fugitive — to define ways in which carbon can be used safely, productively and profitably. Aspirational and clear, it signals positive intentions, enjoining us to do more good rather than simply be less bad.
Words drive actions

It is easy to lose one’s way in the climate conversation. Few of the terms are clearly defined or understood. Take ‘carbon neutral’. The European Union considers electricity generated by burning wood as carbon neutral — as if it releases no CO2 at all. Their carbon neutrality relies problematically on the growth and replacement of forests that will demand decades to centuries of committed management2. Another strategy is to offset fossil-fuel use by renewable-energy credits — this still means an increase in the global concentration of atmospheric CO2.
Even more confusing is the term ‘carbon negative’. This is sometimes used to refer to the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. For example, Bhutan’s prime minister has indicated that his country is carbon negative, because its existing forests sequester more CO2 than the country emits and Bhutan exports hydroelectric power (see go.nature.com/2es9lgt). But aren’t trees having a positive effect on atmospheric carbon, and hydroelectric power a neutral one?

Sander van der Torren Fotografie

A four-storey atrium with indoor and outdoor living green walls helps to provide clean air to Park 20|20’s Bosch Siemens Experience Centre in the Netherlands.

Carbon sequestration is a long-sought goal. It requires two elements: a way to capture carbon from the atmosphere or a chimney and a way to store it safely and permanently. But some so-called carbon-storage methods are paradoxical. For example, in enhanced oil recovery, CO2 is injected into rock formations to flush out remnant crude oil, which is eventually burned.
At the same time, enterprises are starting to announce their hopes to be ‘carbon positive’ by, for example, producing more renewable energy than their operations require, or by sequestering carbon through planting trees.
Such terms highlight a confusion about the qualities and value of CO2. In the United States, the gas is classified as a commodity by the Bureau of Land Management, a pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency and as a financial instrument by the Chicago Climate Exchange.
A new language of carbon recognizes the material and quality of carbon so that we can imagine and implement new ways forward (see ‘The new language of carbon’). It identifies three categories of carbon — living, durable and fugitive — and a characteristic of a subset of the three, called working carbon. It also identifies three strategies related to carbon management and climate change — carbon positive, carbon neutral and carbon negative.


Start with the soil

How do we work with the carbon cycle to preserve and enhance the benefits it naturally provides?

 From the soil up.
Carbon is at the heart of soil health. In healthy ecosystems, when plants convert CO2 into carbon-based sugars — liquid carbon — some flows to shoots, leaves and flowers. 

The rest nourishes the soil food web, flowing from the roots of plants to communities of soil microbes. In exchange, the microbes share minerals and micronutrients that are essential to plants’ health. 

Drawn into the leaves of plants, micronutrients increase the rate of photosynthesis, driving new growth, which yields more liquid carbon for the microbes and more micronutrients for the fungi and the plants. Below ground, liquid carbon moves through the food web, where it is transformed into soil carbon — rich, stable and life-giving. 

This organic matter also gives soil a sponge-like structure, which improves its fertility and its ability to hold and filter water.
This is how a healthy carbon cycle supports life. 

This flow kept carbon in the right place in the right concentration, tempered the global climate, fuelled growth and nourished the evolution of human societies for 10,000 years.
Many soil researchers believe it could do so again. Ecologist and soil scientist Christine Jones, founder of the Amazing Carbon Project, describes the “photosynthetic bridge” between atmospheric carbon and liquid carbon, and the “microbial bridge” between plants and biologically active, carbon-rich soils as twin cornerstones of landscape health and climate restoration.
David Johnson at the New Mexico State University Institute for Energy and the Environment in Las Cruces has studied the carbon–microbial bridge.

He found that the most important factor for promoting plant growth and cultivating soil carbon was not added nitrogen or phosphorus but the carbon inputs from other plants.
Design for living

Let’s keep those carbon bridges open on all landscapes — rural and urban. 

Let’s use carbon from the atmosphere to fuel biological processes, build soil carbon and reverse climate change.

 Let’s adopt regenerative farming and urban-design practices to increase photosynthetic capacity, enhance biological activity, build urban food systems, and cultivate closed loops of carbon nutrients. 

Let’s turn sewage-treatment plants into fertilizer factories. Let’s recognize carbon as an asset and the life-giving carbon cycle as a model for human designs.
“To enable a new relationship with carbon, I propose a new language.”

All designs — from products to buildings, cities and farms — could be carbon positive. 

This may take a century, but that’s how long it took us to get into our current carbon calamity.

 The sooner we start, the better. 

By 2030, our exuberantly urbanizing planet is expected to convert more habitat and farmland into cities than all previous urban growth combined. 

More than 2 billion urbanites will live in homes, attend schools and work in factories that are not yet built.

Despite these challenges, there are models of hope.

In 1989 my architecture firm designed a day-care facility in Frankfurt, Germany, based on ‘a building like a tree’ that could be operated by children, who would move solar shutters, open and close windows, grow food on roof terraces and irrigate the gardens with rainwater.
The idea of ‘buildings like trees’ and ‘cities like forests’ endured, and we started to approach our product, building and city designs as photosynthetic and biologically active, accruing solar energy, cycling nutrients, releasing oxygen, fixing nitrogen, purifying water, providing diverse habitats, building soil and changing with the seasons.
The Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies at Oberlin College in Ohio, which we designed, is a built example of this philosophy. It purifies its waste water and sewage in an on-site system that produces carbon-rich organic compost. This year the project is producing solar energy at an annual rate of 40% more than it needs. The building still relies on the electrical grid when solar energy is unavailable. Soon, with new and affordable on-site thermal and electric battery storage systems, buildings like this can be both carbon and energy positive.

Nature special: The circular economy

In the Netherlands, Park 20|20 near Amsterdam applies these carbon-positive design strategies at the campus scale. Next door, the Valley at Schiphol Trade Park, the country’s national hub for the circular economy, will scale these and many other innovations to create an urban ecology of work, supply chains and collaborative spaces. The development will be a network of integrated buildings, landscapes and technical systems operating as a connected whole. Each building is oriented to the path of the Sun to maximize exposure during winter and shade during summer. Photovoltaic arrays and green roofs are the system’s leaves and roots, harvesting renewable energy, absorbing and filtering water, producing food and providing habitat for other living things in a vibrant, sustainable business community.
The energy sector, too, can be generously carbon positive. SunPower, based in San Jose, California, and other solar providers are developing ‘solar orchards’ — power plants that perform as working farms. Rotating arrays of elevated solar panels shade the earth and provide habitat for grassland, which captures water, nitrogen and carbon to build soil health, can include legumes to fix nitrogen, and can provide food for grazing animals, in turn providing protein and wool. By design, the power plant generates an abundance of benefits: renewable energy, biodiversity, food, soil restoration, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, water conservation, fibre products, and agricultural and manufacturing jobs. Thus working durable carbon creates and supports living carbon while reducing fugitive carbon, all in an economically robust and profitable model.
Such designs offer an inspiring model for climate action. It all starts with changing the way we talk about carbon. Our goal is simple and positive: a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world — with clean air, soil, water and energy — economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed.

Press link for more: nature.com

The media claims climate isn’t a winning issue. Polls say otherwise. #auspol

By Dr Joe Romm

Politico just linked to a poll that destroys its own argument.


So let’s say you are a centrist media outlet that focuses on the political horse race, rather than, say, policy or stuff that matters to most voters.

Let’s say you don’t get the existential nature of the climate change issue, you mainly talk to the political “experts” who also don’t get it, and you want to focus on things that really matter, things with real drama — like post-election infighting among Democrats.

In short, you are Politico. Your problem, though, is that in covering the political infighting, you want to make the case that Democrats made a mistake by focusing on climate change.

Unfortunately, the polls actually show that climate change is a winning issue. And the head of the ticket, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, didn’t actually focus on climate change in the campaign. And, furthermore, what modest effort she did put into the issue was negated by a media that didn’t even raise the subject in any of the three presidential debates.

To get around those issues, in its big article on the Democracy Alliance (DA) donor club’s “closed door meeting,” Politico simply asserts a bunch of stuff that isn’t true — and then links to an exit poll that destroys their argument.

“Additionally, exit polls suggested that issues like fighting climate change and the role of money in politics — which the DA’s beneficiary groups have used to try to turn out voters — didn’t resonate as much with the voters who carried Trump to victory,” reporter Kenneth Vogel writes.

The supporting link leads directly to an article headlined, “NBC News Exit Poll in Florida: Many Voters Say Climate Change Is a Serious Problem.” It features the chart at the top of this page. The story begins, “According to early results from the NBC News Exit Poll, two-thirds of Florida voters consider climate change or global warming to be a severe problem.”

Seriously.

But wait, you say, Politico’s point is that climate change “didn’t resonate as much with the voters who carried Trump to victory.” Let’s set aside how bizarre it is that Politico is dissing Democrats for supposedly trying to turn out their voters by focusing on issues that resonated more with their voters than Trump’s.

The article they link to also has this chart:


So in Florida, climate change was an overwhelming winner with Clinton voters — and it was even a winner with 42 percent of Trump voters. Memo to Politico: Contrary to what you wrote, the poll you link to shows climate change is the very definition of a winning “wedge issue,” one that Clinton’s voters overwhelmingly support and her opponent’s voters are split over — something we have known for a long time.

Too bad Clinton didn’t actually make it a major focus of her campaign and the media largely ignored it. She only lost the state by 1.3 percent, 120,000 votes.

Who knows — maybe by the time Democrats run a candidate who makes climate change and cutting pollution a major focus, the media will actually cover the topic?

Press link for more: Think Progress

Noam Chomsky: ‘Republican Party Has Become Most Dangerous Organization in World History’ #auspol

By C.J. Polychronio
On Nov. 8, Donald Trump managed to pull the biggest upset in U.S. politics by tapping successfully into the anger of white voters and appealing to the lowest inclinations of people in a manner that would have probably impressed Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels himself.

But what exactly does Trump’s victory mean and what can one expect from this megalomaniac when he takes over the reins of power on Jan. 20, 2017? 

What is Trump’s political ideology, if any and is “Trumpism” a movement? 

Will U.S. foreign policy be any different under a Trump administration? 

Some years ago, public intellectual Noam Chomsky warned that the political climate in the U.S. was ripe for the rise of an authoritarian figure.

 Now, he shares his thoughts on the aftermath of this election, the moribund state of the U.S. political system and why Trump is a real threat to the world and the planet in general.

Q. Noam, the unthinkable has happened: In contrast to all forecasts, Donald Trump scored a decisive victory over Hillary Clinton, and the man that Michael Moore described as a “wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full-time sociopath” will be the next president of the U.S. In your view, what were the deciding factors that led American voters to produce the biggest upset in the history of U.S. politics?

A. Noam Chomsky
Before turning to this question, I think it is important to spend a few moments pondering just what happened on Nov. 8, a date that might turn out to be one of the most important in human history, depending on how we react.
No exaggeration.
The most important news of Nov. 8 was barely noted, a fact of some significance in itself.
On Nov. 8, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) delivered a report at the international conference on climate change in Morocco (COP22) which was called in order to carry forward the Paris agreement of COP21. 

The WMO reported that the past five years were the hottest on record.

 It reported rising sea levels, soon to increase as a result of the unexpectedly rapid melting of polar ice, most ominously the huge Antarctic glaciers. 

Already, Arctic sea ice over the past five years is 28 percent below the average of the previous 29 years, not only raising sea levels, but also reducing the cooling effect of polar ice reflection of solar rays, thereby accelerating the grim effects of global warming. 

The WMO reported further that temperatures are approaching dangerously close to the goal established by COP21, along with other dire reports and forecasts.


Another event took place on Nov. 8, which also may turn out to be of unusual historical significance for reasons that, once again, were barely noted.
On Nov. 8, the most powerful country in world history, which will set its stamp on what comes next, had an election. 

The outcome placed total control of the government—executive, Congress, the Supreme Court—in the hands of the Republican Party, which has become the most dangerous organization in world history.
Apart from the last phrase, all of this is uncontroversial. 

The last phrase may seem outlandish, even outrageous. But is it? 

The facts suggest otherwise. The party is dedicated to racing as rapidly as possible to destruction of organized human life. There is no historical precedent for such a stand.
Is this an exaggeration? Consider what we have just been witnessing.
During the Republican primaries, every candidate denied that what is happening is happening—with the exception of the sensible moderates, like Jeb Bush, who said it’s all uncertain, but we don’t have to do anything because we’re producing more natural gas, thanks to fracking. 

Or John Kasich, who agreed that global warming is taking place, but added that “we are going to burn [coal] in Ohio and we are not going to apologize for it.”
The winning candidate, now the president-elect, calls for rapid increase in use of fossil fuels, including coal; dismantling of regulations; rejection of help to developing countries that are seeking to move to sustainable energy; and in general, racing to the cliff as fast as possible.
Trump has already taken steps to dismantle the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by placing in charge of the EPA transition a notorious (and proud) climate change denier, Myron Ebell. Trump’s top adviser on energy, billionaire oil executive Harold Hamm, announced his expectations, which were predictable: dismantling regulations, tax cuts for the industry (and the wealthy and corporate sector generally), more fossil fuel production, lifting Obama’s temporary block on the Dakota Access Pipeline.


The effects of Republican denialism had already been felt.

 There had been hopes that the COP21 Paris agreement would lead to a verifiable treaty, but any such thoughts were abandoned because the Republican Congress would not accept any binding commitments, so what emerged was a voluntary agreement, evidently much weaker.
Effects may soon become even more vividly apparent than they already are. 

In Bangladesh alone, tens of millions are expected to have to flee from low-lying plains in coming years because of sea level rise and more severe weather, creating a migrant crisis that will make today’s pale in significance. 

With considerable justice, Bangladesh’s leading climate scientist said that “These migrants should have the right to move to the countries from which all these greenhouse gases are coming. Millions should be able to go to the United States.” 

And to the other rich countries that have grown wealthy while bringing about a new geological era, the Anthropocene, marked by radical human transformation of the environment. 

These catastrophic consequences can only increase, not just in Bangladesh, but in all of South Asia as temperatures, already intolerable for the poor, inexorably rise and the Himalayan glaciers melt, threatening the entire water supply. Already in India, some 300 million people are reported to lack adequate drinking water. And the effects will reach far beyond.

It is hard to find words to capture the fact that humans are facing the most important question in their history—whether organized human life will survive in anything like the form we know—and are answering it by accelerating the race to disaster.
Similar observations hold for the other huge issue concerning human survival: the threat of nuclear destruction, which has been looming over our heads for 70 years and is now increasing.
It is no less difficult to find words to capture the utterly astonishing fact that in all of the massive coverage of the electoral extravaganza, none of this receives more than passing mention. At least I am at a loss to find appropriate words.
Turning finally to the question raised, to be precise, it appears that Clinton received a slight majority of the vote. 

The apparent decisive victory has to do with curious features of American politics: among other factors, the Electoral College residue of the founding of the country as an alliance of separate states; the winner-take-all system in each state; the arrangement of congressional districts (sometimes by gerrymandering) to provide greater weight to rural votes (in past elections, and probably this one too, Democrats have had a comfortable margin of victory in the popular vote for the House, but hold a minority of seats); the very high rate of abstention (usually close to half in presidential elections, this one included). Of some significance for the future is the fact that in the age 18-25 range, Clinton won handily and Sanders had an even higher level of support. How much this matters depends on what kind of future humanity will face.
According to current information, Trump broke all records in the support he received from white voters, working class and lower middle class, particularly in the $50,000 to $90,000 income range, rural and suburban, primarily those without college education. 

These groups share the anger throughout the West at the centrist establishment, revealed as well in the unanticipated Brexit vote and the collapse of centrist parties in continental Europe. [Many of] the angry and disaffected are victims of the neoliberal policies of the past generation, the policies described in congressional testimony by Fed chair Alan Greenspan—”St. Alan,” as he was called reverentially by the economics profession and other admirers until the miraculous economy he was supervising crashed in 2007-2008, threatening to bring the whole world economy down with it. 

As Greenspan explained during his glory days, his successes in economic management were based substantially on “growing worker insecurity.” Intimidated working people would not ask for higher wages, benefits and security, but would be satisfied with the stagnating wages and reduced benefits that signal a healthy economy by neoliberal standards.
Working people, who have been the subjects of these experiments in economic theory, are not particularly happy about the outcome. They are not, for example, overjoyed at the fact that in 2007, at the peak of the neoliberal miracle, real wages for nonsupervisory workers were lower than they had been years earlier, or that real wages for male workers are about at 1960s levels while spectacular gains have gone to the pockets of a very few at the top, disproportionately a fraction of 1%. Not the result of market forces, achievement or merit, but rather of definite policy decisions, matters reviewed carefully by economist Dean Baker in recently published work.
The fate of the minimum wage illustrates what has been happening. Through the periods of high and egalitarian growth in the ’50s and ’60s, the minimum wage—which sets a floor for other wages—tracked productivity. That ended with the onset of neoliberal doctrine. Since then, the minimum wage has stagnated (in real value). Had it continued as before, it would probably be close to $20 per hour. Today, it is considered a political revolution to raise it to $15.
With all the talk of near-full employment today, labor force participation remains below the earlier norm. And for working people, there is a great difference between a steady job in manufacturing with union wages and benefits, as in earlier years and a temporary job with little security in some service profession. Apart from wages, benefits and security, there is a loss of dignity, of hope for the future, of a sense that this is a world in which I belong and play a worthwhile role.

The impact is captured well in Arlie Hochschild’s sensitive and illuminating portrayal of a Trump stronghold in Louisiana, where she lived and worked for many years. She uses the image of a line in which residents are standing, expecting to move forward steadily as they work hard and keep to all the conventional values. But their position in the line has stalled. Ahead of them, they see people leaping forward, but that does not cause much distress, because it is “the American way” for (alleged) merit to be rewarded. 

What does cause real distress is what is happening behind them. They believe that “undeserving people” who do not “follow the rules” are being moved in front of them by federal government programs they erroneously see as designed to benefit African-Americans, immigrants and others they often regard with contempt. All of this is exacerbated by [Ronald] Reagan’s racist fabrications about “welfare queens” (by implication Black) stealing white people’s hard-earned money and other fantasies.
Sometimes failure to explain, itself a form of contempt, plays a role in fostering hatred of government. I once met a house painter in Boston who had turned bitterly against the “evil” government after a Washington bureaucrat who knew nothing about painting organized a meeting of painting contractors to inform them that they could no longer use lead paint—”the only kind that works”—as they all knew, but the suit didn’t understand. That destroyed his small business, compelling him to paint houses on his own with substandard stuff forced on him by government elites.
Sometimes there are also some real reasons for these attitudes toward government bureaucracies. Hochschild describes a man whose family and friends are suffering bitterly from the lethal effects of chemical pollution but who despises the government and the “liberal elites,” because for him, the EPA means some ignorant guy who tells him he can’t fish, but does nothing about the chemical plants.

These are just samples of the real lives of Trump supporters, who are led to believe that Trump will do something to remedy their plight, though the merest look at his fiscal and other proposals demonstrates the opposite—posing a task for activists who hope to fend off the worst and to advance desperately needed changes.
Exit polls reveal that the passionate support for Trump was inspired primarily by the belief that he represented change, while Clinton was perceived as the candidate who would perpetuate their distress. 

The “change” that Trump is likely to bring will be harmful or worse, but it is understandable that the consequences are not clear to isolated people in an atomized society lacking the kinds of associations (like unions) that can educate and organize. That is a crucial difference between today’s despair and the generally hopeful attitudes of many working people under much greater economic duress during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
There are other factors in Trump’s success. Comparative studies show that doctrines of white supremacy have had an even more powerful grip on American culture than in South Africa, and it’s no secret that the white population is declining. In a decade or two, whites are projected to be a minority of the work force and not too much later, a minority of the population. 

The traditional conservative culture is also perceived as under attack by the successes of identity politics, regarded as the province of elites who have only contempt for the ”hard-working, patriotic, church-going [white] Americans with real family values” who see their familiar country as disappearing before their eyes.
One of the difficulties in raising public concern over the very severe threats of global warming is that 40 percent of the U.S. population does not see why it is a problem, since Christ is returning in a few decades. About the same percentage believe that the world was created a few thousand years ago. If science conflicts with the Bible, so much the worse for science. It would be hard to find an analogue in other societies.
The Democratic Party abandoned any real concern for working people by the 1970s and they have therefore been drawn to the ranks of their bitter class enemies, who at least pretend to speak their language—Reagan’s folksy style of making little jokes while eating jelly beans, George W. Bush’s carefully cultivated image of a regular guy you could meet in a bar who loved to cut brush on the ranch in 100-degree heat and his probably faked mispronunciations (it’s unlikely that he talked like that at Yale), and now Trump, who gives voice to people with legitimate grievances—people who have lost not just jobs, but also a sense of personal self-worth—and who rails against the government that they perceive as having undermined their lives (not without reason).
One of the great achievements of the doctrinal system has been to divert anger from the corporate sector to the government that implements the programs that the corporate sector designs, such as the highly protectionist corporate/investor rights agreements that are uniformly mis-described as “free trade agreements” in the media and commentary. 

With all its flaws, the government is, to some extent, under popular influence and control, unlike the corporate sector. It is highly advantageous for the business world to foster hatred for pointy-headed government bureaucrats and to drive out of people’s minds the subversive idea that the government might become an instrument of popular will, a government of, by and for the people.

Press link for more: ecowatch.com

Emergency campaign to persuade Trump climate change is real amid fears of ‘planetary disaster’ #auspol 

US President-elect is ‘not only mad and bad but he’s also dangerous’, UK politician says


Mr Trump was described as ‘dangerous’ by Lib Dem leader Tim Farron AP
One of the biggest ever environmental campaigns has been launched by a group of the world’s most eminent scientists and environmentalists in an ’emergency’ effort to convince the President-elect, Donald Trump, that global warming is real before he becomes US President in January.
Mr Trump, who described climate science as a “hoax” perpetrated by China, has already appointed a prominent climate change denier, Myron Ebell, to a key environmental post and promised that he will rip up the landmark Paris Agreement climate deal when he enters the White House. Climate sceptics in Australia crowed that the Paris Agreement was “cactus” – meaning finished – following his election this week.
Among those now preparing for arguably the most important campaign ever designed to change the mind of a single individual in modern history is the Sierra Club – an environmental group founded by legendary conservationist John Muir in 1892, which now has more than two million members and supporters globally.

Visitors to the club’s website are now being urging to “make an emergency donation”. “We are not licking our wounds, we are preparing for the fights to come. Fight Back Against Trump,” it explains.

Meanwhile the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is bringing together leading scientists from across the US to urge Mr Trump to listen to the evidence, rather than accept the testimonies of conspiracy theorists and fossil fuel lobbyists. 

Dr Rush Holt, the chief executive of the AAAS, told The Independent: “During the campaign, Trump was all over the place, saying different things about different issues at different times, and so it is hard to know really what he will do.
“There are troubling signs in that he has appointed as a key member of his transition team a person who is, I guess I’d say, antagonistic to restricting carbon emissions [Ebell]. 

That’s not a good sign. AAAS, for more than half a century, has been outspoken to policymakers and the public about the risks of human-induced climate change and the need to take action to mitigate it. 

“I think we will be urging him to look at the evidence even before his first day because climate change is a major, historic, global problem and he should be looking at that even now.”
Dr Holt, who described climate change as a “looming emergency”, said Mr Trump might be swayed by the financial implications of removing the US from the signatories of the Paris Agreement or otherwise abandoning efforts to cut emissions.
“We would condemn such moves and say that such action would put our country and our friends and competitors around the world in dangerous situations and that climate change is already costly in lives and dollars. If strong action isn’t taken, it will be only more so by all estimates, more costly than the cost of addressing it,” he said.
“Maybe he [Trump] would respond to arguments of dollars and cents.”

The U.S. will become a pariah when Trump pulls out of the Paris Climate Agreement #auspol #COP22

By Dr Joe Romm

The vast majority of U.S. voters and policymakers have no clue how cataclysmic it will be for this country when Trump keeps his promise to exit the landmark Paris Climate Agreement. (But then why would they, when much of the media also has no clue about the existential nature of the climate fight after a quarter century of ignoring the warnings of scientists?)

It is not “if” he keeps his promise, it is “when,” since the Trump team is already looking to quit Paris as fast as possible, perhaps within a year, according to “a source on his transition team,” Reuters reported Sunday. Another reason to take Trump seriously: He appointed fellow climate science deniers to top positions in his transition team and administration — while the media normalizes his radical words and deeds.

Since the United States was a leader in making Paris happen, when the country pulls out (and then works to kill climate action at home and abroad), it will suddenly become a global pariah. Think of the sanctions against Putin’s Russia — or, think about a massive, global boycott, like the one against apartheid South Africa, times 10.

Consider how a United States exit will look.

The world will rightly blame the United States for destroying humanity’s last, best hope to avoid catastrophic warming. We will be blamed for the multiple ever-worsening catastrophic climate impacts that befall the planet in the coming years (and decades and beyond). And why not? We’re the richest country and the biggest cumulative carbon polluter, and the pledge we made for Paris was just about the weakest we could offer. And now we aren’t even going to do that.

From the world’s perspective, U.S. voters just elected a man who actively campaigned on a plan to kill the Paris agreement, undo all U.S. climate action, boost coal and fossil fuel use, and zero out funding for all international climate-related aid, domestic climate science, and clean energy R&D. Oh, and he thinks global warming is a hoax, and he has named a well-known climate science denier to run the EPA transition (if not the EPA itself) — and another to be his top White House aide and chief strategist.

It bears repeating that on October 26, Trump promised, “I will also cancel all wasteful climate change spending from Obama-Clinton, including all global warming payments to the United Nations. These steps will save $100 billion over 8 years.”

Not only is Trump appointing hard-core climate science deniers to high level positions, but even everyday Republicans — like Trump’s newly appointed Chief of Staff Reince Priebus — are critical of climate action. Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders have actively lobbied other countries against the Paris climate deal and lobbied states to disregard the EPA’s Clean Power Plan standards for electricity generation.

So there’s every reason to believe Trump will keep his climate campaign promises, making the United States a pariah nation, and potentially triggering carbon taxes and environmental tariffs.

On Sunday, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy (2007–2012) said Europe should “adopt a carbon tax at the borders of Europe, a tax of 1 to 3 percent for all products that come from the United States.” The center-right Sarkozy, who is running to get his old job back, explained, “We cannot find ourselves in a situation where our businesses have [environmental] obligations but where we continue to import products from countries that meet none of those obligations.”

If that happened, it’s not too hard to imagine the response of the president-elect — who has already threatened to put tariffs on a great many foreign countries. The United States will lose all of its so-called “soft power” as the world’s “indispensable nation” goes rogue.

That means any effort Trump makes to keep his commitment to be tough on other countries on trade will find zero support around the world. Indeed, a more plausible response would be for the world to treat us like Russia, Iran or apartheid South Africa. That would particularly be the case if, as appears entirely likely, Trump cozies up to Putin and Russia, as he did in the campaign.

Why am I laying out the worst-case scenario? Because right now, this should be considered the business-as-usual scenario — and the overwhelming majority of the so-called intelligentsia (aka the climate ignorati) simply don’t get it.

Take this Saturday article, in which “Politico asked 17 experts to game out a Trump presidency,” specifically, “What’s the worst-case scenario? The best?“

Only two of them mentioned any of the actual impacts from failing to stop catastrophic climate change (though a third did mention the climate in passing).

One of those was 350.0rg founder Bill McKibben, who noted the worst case is that Trump “succeeds in derailing the very fragile global turn towards clean energy just at the moment when it was starting to accelerate — and the result of that is measured in degrees of global temperature and meters of sea level rise stretching out over millennia.”

Apparently, outside of actual climate experts, it is hard to find “experts” who realize the future of humanity is on a knife’s edge. The one exception was economist Daniel Altman, who warns Trump “could easily cause as many deaths and inflict as much hardship [as the Iraq War] … by reversing the world’s progress to combat climate change.”

Historically, the best way to avoid the worst-case scenario is if a great many people actively work to avoid it. If humanity had taken seriously the worst case scenario on climate— which is now coming true — we would have started taking action long enough ago to avert the catastrophe we now face. And if team Clinton had taken seriously the worst case scenario for the election — which also came true — they definitely would have adopted a different strategy, which might have avoided it.

Right now, the worst-case scenario is a two-term Trump presidency where he does exactly what he has said he will. In that scenario, Trump sets us back on a path towards 7°F warming or more — in which case war like those in Iraq and Syria become the norm.

Press link for more: Think Progress