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A Billion Climate Migrants by 2050 #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol #Refugees 

Climate Migrants Might Reach One Billion by 2050
By Baher Kamal
ROME, Aug 21 2017 (IPS) – Imagine a world with as many as one billion people facing harsh climate change impacts resulting in devastating droughts and/or floods, extreme weather, destruction of natural resources, in particular lands, soils and water, and the consequence of severe livelihoods conditions, famine and starvation.


Although not yet based on definite scientific projections, the proven speed with which the process of climate change has been taking place, might lead to such a scenario by 2050. 

If so, 1 in 9 human beings would be on the move by then.
Currently, forecasts vary from 25 million to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis, with 200 million being the most widely cited estimate, according to a 2015 study carried out by the Institute for Environment and Human Security of the United Nations University.

“This figure equals the current estimate of international migrants worldwide.”
Other specialised sources estimate that “every second, one person is displaced by disaster.” 

On this, the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reports that in 2015 only, more than 19.2 million people fled disasters in 113 countries. 

“Disasters displace three to ten times more people than conflict and war worldwide.”
One Person Displaced Every Second

As climate change continues, adds NRC, it will likely lead to more frequent and severe natural hazards; the impact will be heavy, warns this independent humanitarian organisation providing aid and assistance to people forced to flee.
“On average, 26 million people are displaced by disasters such as floods and storms every year. 

That’s one person forced to flee every second.” See: Climate Victims – Every Second, One Person Is Displaced by Disaster
For its part, the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) also forecasts 200 million environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis. Many of them would be coastal population.

In an interview to IPS, the IOM Director General William Lacy Swing explained that political crises and natural disasters are the other major drivers of migration today.
“We have never had so many complex and protracted humanitarian emergencies now happening simultaneously from West Africa all the way to Asia, with very few spots in between which do not have some issue.”

The UN specialised body’s chief added “We have today 40 million forcibly displaced people and 20 million refugees, the greatest number of uprooted people since the Second World War.” See: Q&A: Crisis and Climate Change Driving Unprecedented Migration
Droughts, Desertification
Another warning comes from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which estimates that some 135 million people may be displaced by 2045 as a result of desertification.
Up to 12 million hectares of productive land become barren every year due to desertification and drought alone, which is a lost opportunity to produce 20 million tons of grain, adds the Bonn-based Convention secretariat.
Meantime, the increase in droughts and flash floods that are stronger, more frequent and widespread is destroying the land – the Earth’s main fresh water store, according to UNCCD.
“Droughts kill more people than any other single weather-related catastrophe and conflicts among communities over water scarcity are gathering pace. Over 1 billion people today have no access to water, and demand will increase by 30 per cent by 2030.”
On the other hand, getting sustainable energy to all represents one of the biggest development challenges of the 21st century, it continues.
“Research suggests that 1.4 billion people — over 20 per cent of the global population — lack access to electricity, and that at least 2.7 billion people — some 40 cent of the global population — rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking.”
In short, land, water and energy as resources are all pillars of our survival and of sustainable development.
“They stand or fall together. To be sustainable and in particular to reach poor rural populations, we need to enhance supply, access and security across all three pillars, at the same time, while supporting global climate ambitions.”
National Security, Migration
On this, based on the UN Environment Programme’s 2009 study “From Conflict to Peace-building. The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment,” UNCCD reminds that 40 per cent of all intrastate conflicts in the past 60 years are linked to the control and allocation of natural resources.
“The exposure of more and more poor people to water scarcity and hunger opens the door to the failure of fragile states and regional conflicts. Non-state actor groups are increasingly taking advantage of large cross-border migration flows and abandoned lands.”
Where natural assets including land are poorly managed, warns the Convention, violence might become the dominant means of resource control, forcing natural resource assets out of the hands of legitimate government.
Meanwhile, the number of international migrants worldwide has been on the rise. According to the International migration report (2015), their number has continued to grow rapidly over the past fifteen years reaching 244 million in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000.
Losing productive land is driving people to make risky life choices, says UNCCD, adding that in rural areas where people depend on scarce productive land resources, land degradation is a driver of forced migration.
Africa is particularly susceptible since more than 90 per cent of economy depends on a climate-sensitive natural resource base like rain-fed, subsistence agriculture.
“Unless we change the way we manage our land, in the next 30 years we may leave a billion or more vulnerable poor people with little choice but to fight or flee.”

Press link for more: Relief web

Climate Change sets the world on fire! #StopAdani #auspol 

Climate change sets the world on fire

Screenshot NASA FIRMS web fire mapper (NASA/FIRMS)

There have been many wildfires aound the world this summer. Canada has seen the worst season for fires since records began, with 894,941 hectares burned, the British Columbia Wildfire Service has confirmed. Large areas of the Western United States have also been affected. 
Meanwhile in Portugal, 2,000 people were recently cut off by flames and smoke encircling the town of Macao. And earlier this summer, 64 people were killed by a blaze in the country.
Like Canada, southern Europe has seen a record heatwave this year, creating hot, dry conditions that saw Italy, France, Croatia, Spain and Greece all swept by wildfires. As a result, Europe has reportedly seen three times the average number of wildfires this summer.
But it’s not just Canada and southern Europe that have been affected. In Siberia, wildfire destroyed hundreds of homes, and around 700 hectares of Armenian forest have also been destroyed by fire. Earlier this year, Chile saw wildfires that were unparalleled in the country’s history, according to the President.
Even Greenland, not known for its hot dry conditions, suffered an unprecedented blaze this summer.


Portugal Waldbrände (picture alliance/dpa/AP/A. Franca)

Central Portugal has been one of the areas hardest hit by fires this summer
The big picture
“A lot of these things are happening locally, but people don’t always connect them to climate change,” said Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the US. “But there is a real climate change component to this and the risk is going up because of climate change.”
With global temperatures rising, scientists say wildfires are likely to become increasingly frequent and widespread. “What’s really happening is that there is extra heat available,” Trenberth told DW. “That heat has to go somewhere and some of it goes into raising temperatures. But the first thing that happens is that it goes into drying – it dries out plants and increases the risk of wildfires.”
The map above, compiling NASA satellite data on fires from the beginning of 2017 until mid-August makes it looks as if the whole world is on fire.  
So is 2017 a record year of wildfires?

 Kanada Cache Creek Waldbrand (picture-alliance/empics/D. Dyck)

Wildfire rages in British Colombia, on July 8. It has now been confirmed the state’s biggest in more than 50 years
Tough competition
It certainly looks like it’s been a big year for fires in southern Europe and North America. But Martin Wooster, professor of earth observation science at King’s College London, says other parts of the world have seen worse in recent years.
“For example, this year, fires across Southeast Asia are extremely unlikely to be anything like as severe as they were in 2015,” he told DW.
Two years ago, drought caused by El Nino created lethal conditions for Indonesian forests and peatlands that were already degraded by draining and logging. The smoldering peat – ancient, decayed vegetable matter condensed into a carbon-heavy fuel – kept fires burning for months on end.
“This led to huge fires, far bigger than any seen in Europe, and some of the worst air pollution ever experienced,” Wooster said.


 Satellite wildfire photo (NASA)

NASA imagery shows a large wildfire burning in Sweden in early August
Longer fire seasons – longer recovery
But there does appear to be a distinct trend for fire seasons to be longer and more harsh. “In the western United States, the general perception is that there is no wildfire season any more, but that it’s continuous all year round,” Trenberth told DW.
In many parts of the world, wildfires are part of a natural cycle. Savannahs, for example, are maintained by fire. Some trees not only survive fires, but need them to release their seeds. Human intervention can disrupt these cycles, the scientific discipline of fire ecology has found. Putting out small fires can allow flammable debris to accumulate until a colossal fire starts that cannot be controlled.
But global warming is resulting in hotter, drier conditions that mean such infernos are becoming more common, even with careful forest management. And the changed climatic conditions can mean forests take far longer to recover. Meanwhile, fires are also starting in habitats in areas like the tropics that have no natural fire ecology.


Frankreich Waldbrände (picture-alliance/MAXPPP/F. Fernandes)

A wildfire smolders near Nice in the south of France in July
Human fingerprints
Climate change isn’t the only manmade factor. Fires can also be started by careless humans dropping cigarettes or letting campfires get out of control.
And in regions like the Amazon, where the annual fire season increased by 19 percent between 1979 and 2013, fire is deliberately used to clear forest to make way for agriculture. “Farmers light fires to clear an area and what happens in drought conditions is that these fires become wild because the vegetation is so dry, it gets out of control,” Trenberth said.
And all this can have a feedback effect – more fires mean more carbon released into the atmosphere, which in turn drives climate change.

Wildfires in Croatia (Reuters/A. Bronic)

Wildfires rage through Southeast Europe

Hope for the best
While there were no reports of casualties and the fires only reached a few homes, some people could only stand by and watch as the flames razed everything in their path, especially nature. Fires between the Croatian town of Omis and Split have reportedly destroyed 4,500 hectares of forest.

Press link for more: DW.COM

How will rural health services survive? #ClimateChange #auspol #StopAdani 

How will health services survive climate change impacts on rural and remote populations?
Sheshtyn Paola

Climate change threatens to impact the lives of Australians living in rural and remote regions, through increased intensity of rainfall and tropical cyclones, high-fire danger days, drought and heat wave.


Scientists also predict agricultural viability will be compromised by drier soils and the unpredictability of extreme weather events, and exposure to air pollutants will increasingly impact population health, according to research published in the Australian Journal of Rural Health.
It is predicted that climate change effects will lead to increases in:
 

Physical injury;

Heat-related illness;

Nutritional disorders;

Infectious diseases;

Mental health issues;

Cardiorespiratory illnesses;

Skin cancer;

Food security;

Water security; and

Vector-borne diseases.


Medical practitioner researchers from the University of Notre Dame in Wagga Wagga, NSW, interviewed health service managers working in rural and remote areas, in order to determine their opinions of climate change impacts and strategies to strengthen the health service response.

There will be a need for pharmacists and other healthcare practitioners to adapt to climate change pressures.
The majority of respondents (90%) agreed that climate change would impact the health of rural populations in the future with regard to heat-related illnesses, mental health, skin cancer and water security.
And most participants identified the following population groups as being most vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change:
Farmers;

Homeless persons;

The elderly;

Children; and

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.
However many (72%) reported there is scepticism regarding climate change among both health professionals and community members – hampering their ability to strengthen health services in order to prepare for future climate challenges.
It was also discussed that there is a greater need for public health education about the impacts of climate change among staff and the community in local health districts.
“The role of health services in providing education about the health impacts of climage change is well recognised,” say authors Dr Rachel Purcell and Dr Joe McGirr.

“The need for health professionals to be aware of the health impacts of climate change has begun to be recognised in the policies and professional development activities of postgraduate training colleges and public health bodies.
“[Health service managers’] recommendations for strengthening the capacity of rural health services are integral to shaping the response of the rural health sector to climate change.”
There are several organisations including health practitioners with the collective goal of preparing for climate change and advocating for pro-environmental policies.

Most participants identified children and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People as being some of the most vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change.
Pharmacists for the Environment Australia (PEA), for example, is involved in climate change advocacy and late last year became a member of Climate and Health Alliance.

The Climate and Health Alliance is a coalition of healthcare stakeholders who wish to see the threat to human health from climate change and ecological degradation addressed through prompt policy action. 
As a member of the Climate and Health Alliance, Pharmacists for the Environment Australia says that it recognises “health care stakeholders have a particular responsibility to the community in advocating for public policy that will promote and protect human health.”
Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is another active organisation that says one of their primary concerns is the health effects of climate change on humans and the biosphere on which humans depend.
“Global warming and climate change have serious implications for human health globally,” says the DEA in its May 2017 submission to the Federal Government’s discussion paper, Review of Australia’s Climate Change Policy.
“It is increasingly recognised that climate change is only one facet of a planetary health crisis; deforestation, air pollution, ocean acidification and biodiversity loss all pose grave threats to health,” they argue.
“Climate change threatens to further exacerbate problems in these domains. If the current trend continues, there is a real danger that efforts will be insufficient to prevent run-away global warming, which will have disastrous social, economic and health consequences.
“The mining and combustion of fossil-fuels, in particular coal, also have direct adverse effects from emission of toxic substances and pollution with particulates.
“The burden of repair of the environment is being passed to the next generations.”
Australian Journal of Rural Health 2017; online 17 August

Press link for more: AJP.COM

Wind & Solar get the thumbs-up. #auspol #StopAdani

One of the biggest criticisms against wind and solar energy has been quashed
Akshat Rathi

One of the biggest criticisms of the renewable-energy industry is that it has been propped up by government subsidies. 

There is no doubt that without government help, it would have been much harder for the nascent technology to mature. But what’s more important is whether there has been a decent return on taxpayers’ investment.

A new analysis in Nature Energy gives renewable-energy subsidies the thumbs-up.

 Dev Millstein of Lawerence Berkeley National Laboratory and his colleagues find that the fossil fuels not burnt because of wind and solar energy helped avoid between 3,000 and 12,700 premature deaths in the US between 2007 and 2015. 

Fossil fuels produce large amounts of pollutants like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter, which are responsible for ill-health and negative climate effects.

The researchers found that the US saved between $35 billion and $220 billion in that period because of avoided deaths, fewer sick days, and climate-change mitigation.
How do these benefits compare to the US government’s outlays? “The monetary value of air quality and climate benefits are about equal or more than state and federal financial support to wind and solar industries,” says Millstein.
Between 2007 and 2015, Quartz’s own analysis* finds that the US government likely spent between $50 billion and $80 billion on subsidies for those two industries. Even on the lower end of the benefits and higher end of subsidies, just the health and climate benefits of renewable energy return about half of taxpayers’ money. If the US were to stop subsidies now, those benefits would continue to accrue for the lifetime of the already existing infrastructure, improving the long-term return of the investments.
What’s more, those benefits do not account for everything. Creation of a new industry spurs economic growth, creates new jobs, and leads to technology development. There isn’t yet an estimation of what sort of money that brings in, but it’s likely to be a tidy sum.
To be sure, the marginal benefits of additional renewable energy production will start to fall in the future. That is, for every new megawatt of renewable energy produced, an equal amount of pollution won’t be avoided, which means the number of lives saved, and monetary benefits generated, will fall. But Millstein thinks that we won’t reach that point for some time—at least in the US.
The debate whether subsidies to the renewable industry are worth it rages across the world. Though the results of this study are only directly applicable to the US, many rich countries have similar factors at play and are likely to produce similar cost-benefit analyses.

Press link for more: QZ.Com

Coral Reefs Fighting Climate Change #StopAdani #Auspol 

Mike Bloomberg’s New Frontier For Fighting Climate Change: Coral Reefs
Aug 12, 2017 @ 08:00 AM
50 Reefs


Great Barrier Reef (2017), Photo Courtesy of 50 Reefs
50 Reefs, a $2 million initiative funded by Michael Bloomberg, Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen and the Tiffany Co. Foundation, launched a platform on Thursday to take non-divers to the world’s biggest coral reefs — without getting them wet. 

Instead of a pleasant journey of the oceanic world, however, the initiative reveals a world through 360° images on Facebook where corals from the Great Barrier Reefs to Cook Islands die rapidly and the species that rely heavily on them disappear.


While coral reefs support 25% of all marine life worldwide, they are estimated to have a value of at least $1 trillion, generating $300 to 400 billion each year through food, tourism, fisheries, and medicines, according to the Word Wildlife Fund.

 50 Reefs says that 90% of coral reefs have been dying of overfishing, pollution and climate change, and will keep on dying in the next 30 years even with the Paris Climate Agreement in place. 

The initiative is now taking its fight to Washington, D.C. to push for immediate action, despite the fact that President Trump declared in June that the U.S. is pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
“I realized most of the issues underwater are big communication challenges,” says Richard Vevers, whose nonprofit Ocean Agency is now spearheading the 50 Reefs initiative together with the University of Queensland.

 “The fact that people can’t see what’s going on underwater is a major issue,” he adds. 

Having documented the biggest global coral bleaching (dying off) event in history in the past three years, Vevers came up with an ambitious but what he calls a “manageable” project that would allow him and his team to identify reefs that are least vulnerable to climate change and then get them to reseed.

 “Corals are brilliant at essentially recovery once the environment they’re in is stabilized,” he says, “We are buying time so they can bounce back as naturally as possible.”
Upon hearing the concept of 50 Reefs, Bloomberg’s foundation reached out to Vevers in late 2016, and he showed the organization footage from his award-winning Netflix documentary, Chasing Coral, which debuted on the streaming service on July 14.

 In a time lapse video, coral reefs faded from florescent pink to white, and then to dark brown. “Their flesh is becoming clear, and you’re seeing their skeleton,” Vevers describes. Bloomberg, who is the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, is one of the largest ocean donors and donated $53 million in 2014 to address overfishing, a catalyzer of coral bleaching.
Climate change hits the oceans harder than anywhere else and coral reefs are the “frontline of climate change,” according to Vevers. “Ninety three percent of the heat goes into the ocean,” the activist says: The Great Barrier Reef lost nearly half its corals in 2016 and 2017. Yet, he sees this environmental catastrophe as an opportunity for humanity to bounce back as well. “We’ve always portrayed climate change and climate action as something negative,” he says, “That’s the wrong way of communicating it. It’s about the business opportunities and it’s about improving lives.”

Press link for more: Forbes.com

Wake up call: We need to act now on #ClimateChange #auspol 

Wake-Up Call: Asia-Pacific Needs to Act Now on Climate Change
Hans Joachim SchellnhuberAugust 11, 2017

An interview with Founding Director of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

From L) Nobel prize winners French climatologist Jean Jouzel, German physicist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, French physicist Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and French physicist Serge Haroche pose outside the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris. 
Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images
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“The Asian countries hold Earth’s future in their hands. 

If they choose to protect themselves against dangerous climate change, they will help to save the entire planet.” 

That’s how Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a leading climate change researcher and founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, sees it.


He made the comments recently during the launch of a new report from the Asian Development Bank and its research institute. 

The report, A Region at Risk: The Human Dimensions of Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific, presents the latest research on the dire consequences of climate change in Asia and the Pacific under a business-as-usual scenario.


Schellnhuber spoke with ADB about the climate-related challenges facing Asia and the Pacific.
Asian Development Bank: What are the main impacts of climate change foreseen under the business-as-usual scenario?
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber: First of all, one needs to get a sense of what it really means. 

We talk about 4 to 6 degrees of warming—planetary warming, so the global average—by 2100 if we do business-as-usual. 


Think of the global mean temperature as your body temperature. 

If you have 2 degrees warming in your body you have fever. 

Six degrees warming means you are dead. 

That’s the metaphor to use for the planet. 

That means with 4 to 6 degrees warming our world would completely change. The world as we know it would disappear.
Maybe it’s most clearly understood in terms of sea level rise. 

One degree warming means at least 3 to 4 meters’ sea level rise; 2 degrees warming would mean 7 or 8 meters’ rise. 

This would simply mean that many of the low-lying island states would disappear. 

Their home would be destroyed. We need to do everything to avoid that.

ADB: How will climate change impact individuals?
Schellnhuber: Just a week ago in Asia you had temperatures of 54 degrees centigrade in Pakistan and in Iran. 

We can calculate that with 5 to 6 degrees global warming you would create uninhabitable zones on this planet. 

There would be regions, in particular in Asia, where you could not survive in the open without air conditioning physiologically. 

Temperatures would hit 60 degrees and it simply would mean that you would have no-go areas.

 Now think of slums, where people do not have air conditioning now. 

There will be places where you cannot work and you cannot survive.


So it is really about, “Can you survive under climate change?” And the answer is, “No”— at least in certain regions in Asia.
ADB: The report also anticipates significant climate-related migration.
Schellnhuber: What we are really worried about is migration and conflict. In the end, all these knock-on effects will heavily impact on national security and international migration. It might mean that hundreds of millions of people will be displaced because of global warming; and you have to accommodate them.
We in Europe just had this experience. In Germany in particular, we have taken up a million refugees. Believe me, this is very hard to digest. Now, we are talking about a million being absorbed by one of the richest countries in the world. Think of hundreds of millions of people being absorbed by poor people, by poorer countries.
If people are displaced in Bangladesh they will generally go to West Bengal in India, for example. If Tuvalu gets inundated, people will hop to the next island. They will not buy a business class ticket and go to Los Angeles.
Digesting, absorbing major migration waves is a challenge I think most of the current nations will not be able to meet. So let’s avoid it.
ADB: What are the implications for business and the regional economy?
Schellnhuber: We often make this joke that the first law of capitalism is, “Don’t kill your customers!” If you kill your customers, you cannot do business. But in a more sober way you can look at the various sectors, agriculture, fisheries, and so on.
For fisheries, climate change comes with ocean acidification. Half of the CO2that we put into the air by burning fossil fuels is absorbed by the oceans. If this isn’t stopped, under a business-as-usual scenario oceans will get so acidic that the coral reefs will dissolve virtually.
Now one-third of marine productivity—including the top predators, fish—is created in the corals. So, the marine business will just be destroyed. The same is true for tourism: If you have no corals you will have no people going to the coral reefs. The Great Barrier Reef, for example, is at stake as well as the Coral Triangle.
We did a study, and this is in the report, of how global supply chains will be disrupted or even interrupted by extreme events. When there were the big floods in Thailand, for example, a sort of wave was created all over the planet. First the computer industry in Japan was hit, and ultimately in the U.S. and so on. You have knock-on effects, cascades of impacts. To put it in one sentence: Climate change is really bad for business.
ADB: How should governments, business, and citizens respond?
Schellnhuber: First, you have to recognize the problem.

 Our report is a wake-up call. 

If you read it you get scared.

 But you need to be scared because the future would be very bleak if we just do business-as-usual. 

Once you know there is a big problem, then you have to assess how the various nations and regions will be affected.

Even 2 degrees warming will deliver a completely new world. 

You have to find out what are you going to do in Vietnam, what are you going to do in South India, in Kazakhstan, in Uzbekistan. 

What needs to happen in Tuvalu and Vanuatu?
First, try to provide the evidence and based on that you can do good projects. But you have to do it within a strategic framework. I would urge ADB to first come up with a differentiated assessment of the situation and then go in and implement best practice and act on the best proposals.
ADB: Do you see any silver lining?
Schellnhuber: People feel there is a trade-off between development and climate protection, but that’s not true. As our report makes clear, if you do not stabilize the climate you will actually destroy the good prospects for development. And if you take climate action in a clever way you will create new opportunities for doing business.
I will give you just one example: The modern society was based on the use of fossil fuels. The industrial revolution started 200 years ago in England and Scotland. 

This was based on using, in a clever way, coal and later gas and oil. But now this model has come to an end.


This may just push us into adopting a new model for growth. Solar energy is abundant in Asia, for example. It is free. The sun is shining without any charge. I think the climate issue is giving us the right push to go into a new industrial model and that will be built on renewables, recycling, a circular economy, and the better use of resources.
In a way, it’s an eye-opener. Because we almost destroyed our civilization through the externality of climate change, we wake up and say, “Oh, there is an even better model of doing sustainable business.”
I think we will have another industrial revolution, even a bigger one. And it will be the most important modernization project in the 21st century. The opportunity is there. Let’s do new business, better business involving more people, and as a nice side effect we will save the planet.
This interview first appeared on the Asian Development Bank’s website.

Press link for more: Brink News

What ice cores tell us about #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

This is what ancient, 3km long ice cores tell us about climate change

Cracks are seen on the Fourcade glacier near Argentina’s Carlini Base in Antarctica, January 12, 2017. Picture taken January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Nicolas Misculin – RTSW9RN

The speed at which CO₂ is rising has no comparison in the recorded past.

Image: REUTERS/Nicolas Misculin

There are those who say the climate has always changed, and that carbon dioxide levels have always fluctuated.

 That’s true. But it’s also true that since the industrial revolution, CO₂ levels in the atmosphere have climbed to levels that are unprecedented over hundreds of millennia.
So here’s a short video we made, to put recent climate change and carbon dioxide emissions into the context of the past 800,000 years.

The temperature-CO₂ connection
Earth has a natural greenhouse effect, and it is really important. Without it, the average temperature on the surface of the planet would be about -18℃ and human life would not exist. Carbon dioxide (CO₂) is one of the gases in our atmosphere that traps heat and makes the planet habitable.
We have known about the greenhouse effect for well over a century. About 150 years ago, a physicist called John Tyndall used laboratory experiments to demonstrate the greenhouse properties of CO₂ gas. Then, in the late 1800s, the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius first calculated the greenhouse effect of CO₂ in our atmosphere and linked it to past ice ages on our planet.
Modern scientists and engineers have explored these links in intricate detail in recent decades, by drilling into the ice sheets that cover Antarctica and Greenland. Thousands of years of snow have compressed into thick slabs of ice. The resulting ice cores can be more than 3km long and extend back a staggering 800,000 years.
Scientists use the chemistry of the water molecules in the ice layers to see how the temperature has varied through the millennia. These ice layers also trap tiny bubbles from the ancient atmosphere, allowing us to measure prehistoric CO₂ levels directly.

 

The ice cores reveal an incredibly tight connection between temperature and greenhouse gas levels through the ice age cycles, thus proving the concepts put forward by Arrhenius more than a century ago.
In previous warm periods, it was not a CO₂ spike that kickstarted the warming, but small and predictable wobbles in Earth’s rotation and orbit around the Sun. CO₂ played a big role as a natural amplifier of the small climate shifts initiated by these wobbles. As the planet began to cool, more CO₂ dissolved into the oceans, reducing the greenhouse effect and causing more cooling. Similarly, CO₂ was released from the oceans to the atmosphere when the planet warmed, driving further warming.
But things are very different this time around. Humans are responsible for adding huge quantities of extra CO₂ to the atmosphere – and fast.
The speed at which CO₂ is rising has no comparison in the recorded past. The fastest natural shifts out of ice ages saw CO₂ levels increase by around 35 parts per million (ppm) in 1,000 years. It might be hard to believe, but humans have emitted the equivalent amount in just the last 17 years.
Before the industrial revolution, the natural level of atmospheric CO₂ during warm interglacials was around 280 ppm. The frigid ice ages, which caused kilometre-thick ice sheets to build up over much of North America and Eurasia, had CO₂ levels of around 180 ppm.
Burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, takes ancient carbon that was locked within the Earth and puts it into the atmosphere as CO₂. Since the industrial revolution humans have burned an enormous amount of fossil fuel, causing atmospheric CO₂ and other greenhouse gases to skyrocket.
In mid-2017, atmospheric CO₂ now stands at 409 ppm. This is completely unprecedented in the past 800,000 years.


The massive blast of CO₂ is causing the climate to warm rapidly. The last IPCC report concluded that by the end of this century we will get to more than 4℃ above pre-industrial levels (1850-99) if we continue on a high-emissions pathway.
If we work towards the goals of the Paris Agreement, by rapidly curbing our CO₂ emissions and developing new technologies to remove excess CO₂ from the atmosphere, then we stand a chance of limiting warming to around 2℃.
The fundamental science is very well understood. The evidence that climate change is happening is abundant and clear. The difficult part is: what do we do next? More than ever, we need strong, cooperative and accountable leadership from politicians of all nations. Only then will we avoid the worst of climate change and adapt to the impacts we can’t halt.

Press link for more: weforum.org

Sea level rise’s impacts hardest to ignore. #StopAdani #auspol 

The State of Climate Science: Sea Level Rise’s Impacts Are the Hardest to Ignore – Climate Liability News
For years, politically and financially motivated campaigns have wrapped climate science in a cloak of doubt. 

Scientists, initially caught off guard, eventually responded with a relentless barrage of peer-reviewed papers producing a collection of very specific findings that together have led to irrefutable evidence of the human fingerprints on climate change. 

In this three-part series, we’ll look at the state of the science linking human-induced climate change to environmental, human and business impacts and whether the science has grown strong enough to be successful evidence in lawsuits holding fossil fuel producers accountable for those impacts.
By Amy Westervelt

Few people are clearer on the scientific evidence for anthropogenic climate change than those who study the warming, rising oceans.

 And among all of climate change’s impacts, sea level rise is the most obvious to see and quantify.
According to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global sea levels have risen by about 8 inches since 1880, the start of the industrial revolution.

 The report shows that rate is increasing, with projections of 2 to 7 more feet of rise this century, the higher number based on a high-emissions scenario in which the Greenland Ice Sheet melts completely by 2100.
A groundbreaking study led by Robert Kopp, associate professor in Rutgers’ Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, published last year in Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS) quantified the extent to which human behavior has impacted sea level rise.

Kopp and his colleagues found that without human-caused global warming, global sea level would have risen by less than half the observed 20th century increase and might even have fallen. 

“The 20th-century rise was extraordinary in the context of the last three millennia – and the rise over the last two decades has been even faster,” Kopp said when the paper was published.
Ben Strauss, vice president for sea level rise and climate impacts at Climate Central, said research conducted over the past three years has been able to precisely pinpoint the human contribution to sea level rise by stripping away all other potential drivers, including natural variability, sinking land, non-emissions-related human causes, and the global cooling of the 19th century. “You need a rigorous analysis to quantify the human contribution to sea level rise, versus just quantifying total global sea rise,” he said.  
Recent research has done just that, and the results are conclusive: humans have caused the seas to rise in addition to the increases that occurred naturally.

 On average, globally, human causes have increased sea levels between 5 and 6 inches. The potential damage threatens coastal communities and infrastructure throughout the U.S., putting millions of people in harm’s way.
“In the period since 1980, atmospheric CO2 emissions attributable to man—and it doesn’t all stay in the atmosphere, some is deposited in oceans, forests, and so forth—but cumulative emissions from that period, 1980 to now, is equal to or greater than all previous emissions, going back to the pre-industrial age,” said Dan Cayan, a climate and atmospheric science researcher at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego.
“So in this relatively short period of time, we’ve almost doubled the amount of CO2 in the ecosystem.”
Cayan, who works with the state of California to determine the impacts of sea level rise and plan mitigation strategies, said both global and regional temperatures have responded accordingly. “According to most models, doubling emissions would increase temperatures in California by about 4 degrees Fahrenheit,” he said.
That might not seem like much, but it has cascading and worrisome consequences. “In California, for every degree Fahrenheit of warming, we lose about 20 percent of the spring snowpack,” Cayan said.
California will be hard hit by global climate change, as sea levels rise and coastal flooding increases. Science linking that rise to human-related CO2 emissions is now building the foundation for legal action. Lawsuits filed in July by the counties of San Mateo and Marin and the city of Imperial Beach charge some of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions – 37 fossil fuel companies – with public nuisance and negligence in an attempt to require these companies to absorb some of the costs associated with adapting to sea level rise.
Detailing the Damage
Other coastal cities may soon follow suit, pun intended. New York City has estimated its adaptation costs with respect to sea level rise at about $19.5 billion. Recent studies have attributed about $2 billion of the $12 billion in damage inflicted by superstorm Sandy in New York City alone to human contributions. That estimate was made possible in part by the research led by Kopp.
Strauss and his team have taken that research and run with it, analyzing the frequency of nuisance floods, defined as flooding that closes coastal area roads, overwhelms storm drains, and compromises infrastructure. Strauss calculated that from 1950 through 2014, 5,809 of the 8,726 nuisance flood days— two-thirds of them— would not have taken place without human-caused global sea level rise. Even using a low estimate, more than 3,500 of the flood days would not have taken place.

“Intuitively, you could say that every coastal flood should be more damaging if it starts at a higher sea level, and most attribution science focuses on the question of whether a damaging event was made more likely by climate change,” Strauss said. “But working with sea level and coastal floods you can sidestep that question entirely. You can basically say we don’t care how or why the storm happened, in fact you can even assume climate change had no role in the strength or length of the storm, and still say it did more damage because it started at a higher sea level.”
Strauss said three out of four coastal floods over the last decade in the U.S. were tipped over the balance by human-caused climate change. “They would not have exceeded the National Weather Service’s definition of a flood if you removed that human-caused sea level rise,” he said.
Strauss and his team are now working to refine work they began in 2014, quantifying the cost of the damage inflicted by human-induced sea-level rise during superstorm Sandy. By focussing on New York City, the team initially attributed about $2 billion of the $12 billion in damages to human-related sea level rise. “That was before the Kopp et al paper came out,” Strauss said. “Now we’re working with real numbers, and we’re expanding to include the tri-state area.”
Those numbers run counter to the arguments used by fossil fuel companies for decades to justify continuing and unlimited fossil fuel burning: that climate change is not driven by human activity, and even if it was, its impacts won’t be significant and won’t be felt until far in the future.
Data and Deception
That campaign to obscure the realities of climate change has come into increasing focus in recent years.
“There is growing awareness and documentation that major fossil fuel companies knew of the impacts of their products back in the 1980s and that they invested millions of dollars and time in order to sow confusion and avoid regulation,” said Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Much of that documentation has come to light in the cases brought against ExxonMobil by the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts. A timeline included in the exhibits filed as part of the California cases reveals the impact of this deception. It shows mounting scientific evidence, and transparency, around the human drivers of climate change in the 1970s and 1980s, building to the summer of 1988 when several bills targeting greenhouse gas emissions were proposed (half by Republicans). The trends shift in the early 1990s, as fossil fuel industry trade groups like the Information Council for the Environment (ICE), formed by the coal industry, and the American Petroleum Institute, begin to fund national climate change denial campaigns. In the intervening years, scientists have worked to compile data that is hard, if not impossible, to politicize or deny.  
In addition to the work Kopp and Strauss have done to pinpoint how humans have impacted sea level rise, Frumhoff and his colleagues have worked to link human-induced climate change to natural disasters and their resulting deaths. Frumhoff also points to the work of Richard Heady, which quantified the contribution of a relatively small group of companies – what Heady calls the “carbon majors” – to climate change. “Heady’s work reveals the remarkable fact that two thirds of industrial emissions are attributable to a small number of companies,” Frumhoff said.
The amount of evidence mixed with the documented deception has many drawing parallels to the tobacco cases in the 1980s and 1990s.
“One thing I’ve been struck by is that in the early days of cases being brought against tobacco, juries and judges initially ruled for industry,” Frumhoff said. “They focused on smoking as a personal choice, and so forth. Over time that changed and by the 1980s cases were beginning to be adjudicated differently and hold companies liable. But the science didn’t change, it stayed the same. What changed was the evidence – some through legal discovery – that companies were engaging in obfuscation, and it was clear that they knew what they were doing and were deliberate in their behavior.”
Frumhoff sees a similar pattern now, with even more powerful new science strengthening the argument.
“There are changes in climate science that are germane,” he said. “The fact that we have this list of a few companies that are primary contributors to climate change coming out at the same time that we have this evidence of deception from companies on climate science … it would be ironic if it weren’t also catastrophic.”  

Press link for more: climateliabilitynews

“Our planet is being destroyed!” #StopAdani #Auspol 

Every second we waste denying climate change exists is time we steal from the next generation who will suffer the terrible consequences
Friday 4 August 2017
Our planet is being destroyed. 

But it is not only the forests and the oceans, the wildlife and the Arctic sea ice that is being wiped out – soon it will be the people, too.

The Lancet has today published a report that lays bare the devastating impact climate change will have on populations across Europe. 

Between 1981 and 2010, extreme weather events killed about 3,000 people a year.
According to the research, this will increase 50 times to an estimated 152,000 people who will die in weather-related disasters every year between 2071 and 2100.


There are people alive today who will witness these deaths. 

I could be one of them – in 2071, I would be approaching my 86th birthday. 

Climate change is not a far-off problem of the future. 

It is happening right now – and if we do not take action, our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren, will be put at risk.
Every second we waste denying climate change exists and ignoring its deadly impact is time we steal from the next generation, who will suffer the terrible consequences.

It is the poor who will suffer first – particularly those who live in the most hostile climates and lack the resources to protect themselves. In fact, they are already suffering.
The suicides of nearly 60,000 Indian farmers over the last three decades have been linked to climate change – despite them contributing very little to the emissions that cause global warming.
Perhaps most devastating of all is the fact that those with wealth and power, who have such a disproportionate effect on the planet, will pay little attention until it is their livelihood and their peers under threat from extreme weather.
Donald Trump’s favourite golf course will need to be underwater before he starts to pay attention to the environmental havoc he has played such a pertinent role in. But by then, it will be too late.
As our European neighbours enter their fifth day of a blistering heatwave, as Portugal mourns more than 60 people killed in its worst forest fires in recorded history and as Cornwall cleans up after a mid-summer flood, we must heed the warning signs.
Since 2002, Britain has lost green space equivalent to the size of Liverpool. That’s a rich heritage of woodlands, gardens, parks that have gone to waste. At the same time, our Government has recklessly promoted intensive and polluting fossil fuel extraction in the face of the enormous threat that we face from climate change.
The Lancet paper makes for grim reading, but it should also serve as a much needed wake-up call for governments across Europe. We cannot continue to tinker around the edges and hope for a miracle cure to climate change.
We have to pull up our boots and get on with it – and do so with vigour. The UK has the chance to be a world leader by kickstarting a renewables revolution to create clean and stable energy for all. The alternative does not bear thinking about.
Amelia Womack is deputy leader of the Green Party

Press link for more: Independent.co.uk

#ClimateChange could kill 150,000 people PA in Europe #StopAdani #auspol

Extreme weather could kill 150,000 people each year in Europe by the end of the century, say scientists
Andrew Griffin Science ReporterFriday 4 August 2017 23:46 BST

More than 150,000 people could die as a result of climate change each year in Europe by the end of the century, shocking new research has found.
The number of deaths caused by extreme weather events will increase 50-fold and two in three people on the continent will be affected by disasters, the study – that serves as a stark warning of the deadly impact of global warming – found.

The research by European Commission scientists lays out a future where hundreds of thousands of people die from heatstroke, heart and breathing problems, and flash flooding. It describes a world where droughts bring food shortages, people are at an increased risk of being killed by disease and infection, and the countryside is ravaged by wildfires.
It used historical records of extreme weather events and combined them with projections of the damage of climate change and changes in the population to project how, where and who will die from the effects of global warming.

In what they say is a “much needed wake-up call” to governments across the continent, campaign groups insisted that action is needed now to avoid being responsible for deaths across the world.
“This is a stark warning showing why we need greater action on climate change fast,” said Friends of the Earth campaigner Donna Hume. “People across the globe are already dying due to extreme weather events and without concerted action this will get worse, including right here in Europe.

“This fate can be avoided but only if governments get serious about making the switch away from dirty fossil fuels. Three quarters of existing coal, oil and gas has to remain unused if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change – so why is the UK Government intent on digging and drilling for more across the British countryside?
“It’s time to ditch plans for fracking and new coal mines and instead invest in the renewable energy revolution.”

The report is a dire warning that worldwide policy needs to change to address the dangers – and effects – of climate change, said the World Wildlife Fund.
“The evidence keeps on stacking up – climate change should be one of our top public policy concerns,” said Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate and energy at WWF. “This report reinforces what we know about the impacts and unless we tackle the problem, that will put strain on our health and welfare systems, and ultimately cost lives.
“However this future is not inevitable. We know the causes of climate change, and we understand the solutions to climate change. It is in our power to keep the global rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees – but only if we act now and embrace a low carbon future. That means governments, including the UK, being bold – taking action to grow low-carbon industries, to support technological solutions, and to cut our greenhouse gas emissions. This is essential for the health, wellbeing and prosperity of people and the protection of nature the whole world over.”


The Green Party warned that people who deny climate change exists are putting future generations in danger.
“Our planet is being destroyed and this report lays bare the devastating impact of climate change,” said deputy leader Amelia Womack. “There are people alive today who will witness thousands of deaths every year due to extreme weather events. Every second we waste denying climate change exists and ignoring its deadly impact is time we steal from the next generation who will suffer the terrible consequences.
“This report makes for grim reading but it should also serve as a much needed wake-up call for governments across Europe that we cannot continue to tinker around the edges and hope for a miracle cure to climate change – we have to pull up our boots and get on with it now and do so with vigour. The UK and Europe needs to kick start a renewables revolution to create clean and stable energy for all and reclaim green spaces in the heart of our towns and cities.”
The researchers who conducted the paper said that the commitments in the Paris accord must be upheld and that global warming must be addressed as a “matter of urgency” or that people will soon start dying in huge numbers.
“Climate change is one of the biggest global threats to human health of the 21st century, and its peril to society will be increasingly connected to weather-driven hazards,” said lead author Dr Giovanni Forzieri, from the European Commission Joint Research Centre in Italy. “Unless global warming is curbed as a matter of urgency and appropriate measures are taken, about 350 million Europeans could be exposed to harmful climate extremes on an annual basis by the end of the century.”

The scientists behind the paper said that it served as a clear warning that the world needs to address climate change, working to do less damage to the environment and make the world more resilient. They said that it is necessary for governments to ensure better land use and city planning – including the reduction of urban sprawl and car use, and fitting buildings with better air conditioning, insulation and floodproofing.
“This study contributes to the ongoing debate about the need to urgently curb climate change and minimise its consequences,” said Dr Forzieri. “The substantial projected rise in risk of weather-related hazards to human beings due to global warming, population growth, and urbanisation highlights the need for stringent climate mitigation policies and adaptation and risk reduction measures to minimise the future effect of weather-related extremes on human lives.”
Yearly deaths could soar 50 times from 3,000 between 1981 and 2010 to 152,000 between 2071 and 2100, the research published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health found.

Most of those people will die from heatwaves, which could cause 99 per cent of all weather-related deaths. Fatalities will surge from 2,700 per year now to 151,500 each year by 2071.
Donald Trump says something could happen on the Paris Climate Agreement
Such catastrophic global warming will hit the UK too, killing people at a similar rate. By 2080, up to 7,500 Britons could be dead from heatwaves, cold snaps and flooding.
“With a one-in-three chance of record rainfall in England and Wales each winter, flooding is the most significant impact of climate change in the UK,” said Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven. “And yet the Government’s own advisers have warned that ministers have no coherent plan to deal with this threat.
“The most important way we can prevent the risk of serious floods is by using nature, especially tree planting, to slow water flow. Additional measures should also include paying farmers to store water in fields and ensuring housebuilders make new homes resilient to flooding.
“While natural flood management is key, the Government will need to guarantee long-term funding for flood defence as storms like Desmond, that caused £5bn in damages, will become more frequent. When it comes to floods, prevention is far cheaper than cure, and the Government should demonstrate they’ve learned that lesson.”
But much of the danger will come in southern Europe, where almost everyone will be affected by weather-related disasters.
The study looked at the impact of the seven most dangerous forms of extreme weather events: heatwaves, cold snaps, wildfires, droughts, river and coastal floods and windstorms, in the 28 EU member states as well as Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. Researchers analysed 2,300 disasters records from between 1981 and 2010 and combined them with projections of how climate change will progress and what it will do to populations.
Scientists found one reduction in deaths: the number of people killed by cold snaps. But that was only a small reduction and was clearly not enough to outweigh any of the other dangers.
And they said that 10 per cent of the risk would come from developments other than climate change, such as population growth, migration and urbanisation.
The caution comes as a deadly heatwave dubbed “Lucifer” spreads across Europe. Authorities in several countries have issued health warnings and temperatures have been registered as high as 47C, fanning dozens of forest fires in Italy, France, Spain, Macedonia and Albania. 
And it follows a run of stark warnings about the state of the environment by the end of the century. This week, scientists said that by 2100, temperatures would be so high in south Asia that simply going outside could be deadly, and that there was only a 10 per cent chance that we would be available to avoid the 2C rise that scientists see as a tipping point by that year.
Scientists noted that the research assumed that humans would not adapt to the extreme weather events. But they said that it was an urgent warning that the world should look to halt the advance of climate change and limit the world’s vulnerability to its now inevitable effects.
The research assumed that there would be no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and that there would be no improvements in the policies used to reduce the effects of the extreme weather events it studied. Those might include medical technology or the introduction of new kinds of air conditioning, for instance.
“While the analysis only considered extreme events, and assumed no reduction in human vulnerability over time from adaptation, it is yet another reminder of the exposures to extreme weather and possible human impacts that might occur if emissions of greenhouse gases continue unabated,” said Paul Wilkinson, professor environmental epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “It adds further weight to the powerful argument for accelerating mitigation actions to protect population health.”
Researchers added that as well as the fact that the study could be underestimating the effect of climate change by not considering changes to populations, it could actually be far higher than projected. The paper does not account for the fact that weather-related disasters could combine and then amplify each other.

Press link for more: Independent.co.uk