March for Science! Today is the day to stand up for #Science 

Today is our chance to show support for science.

All over the planet people will be marching for universal values of science.

Find out where and when in your locality and join the scientists. 

Universal Literacy

A well-informed community is essential to a free and successful society. 

We support education to promote broad public knowledge and discussion of scientific work. 

As professionals, parents, and community-engaged volunteers, we enthusiastically contribute our time and expertise to helping children and students of all ages engage with the physical universe and biological world.

Open Communication

Publicly-funded scientists have a responsibility to communicate their research and public outreach and accessibility of scientific knowledge should be encouraged. 

Communication of scientific findings and their implications must not be suppressed.

Informed Policy

Public policy should be guided by peer-reviewed evidence and scientific consensus. 

Public policy must enable scientists to communicate their publicly-funded research results, and must support literacy in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Stable Investment

A long-term, strategic approach to investment in scientific research and development is essential for driving true innovation. 

Government commitment to stable science funding policy will deliver solutions to complex challenges, promoting prosperity for all.


Our acknowledgment

Science belongs to everyone. It should be pursued for the benefit of all people and for the health of the environment we depend upon.
At March for Science Australia we acknowledge the traditional custodians of the Australian continent, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and pay our respects to ancestors and Elders both past and present.
We recognise that science and scientific pursuits have been used in the past to disenfranchise many minority groups. We are committed to the promotion of science, now and in the future, as an endeavour which all persons have the right to pursue and enjoy the fruits of, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, religion or lack thereof, political affiliation, or socioeconomic status.
Diversity has strengthened and enriched scientific inquiry, and the inclusion of all peoples and the promotion of equal opportunity and training within science should be a goal pursued by scientists and non-scientists alike.

Press link for more: March for Science Australia

March for Science or March for Reality?

March for Science or March for Reality?

By Laurance M. klauss

Shortly after the inauguration of Donald Trump as President, it was announced that a March for Science would be held Washington DC and in a host of other cities in the United States and around the world to protest the new Administration’s apparent anti-science agenda—from denial of climate change to dismantling the EPA, to budget priorities that will cut key science programs throughout the country—and to lobby for science-based policymaking as well as support for scientific research to address the challenges of the 21st century.


Meanwhile the Trump administration’s anti-science actions continue.

 Attorney General Sessions announced just this week that he was disbanding the National Commission on Forensic Science, which advises the federal government to enhance national standards in this area.
I have no idea how the Marches for Science—now over 400 in number across the globe—will play out, and how the media will interpret them.

 A series of worrisome tweets emanating from the March for Science twitter account over the past week, following similar early statements made on the groups website that were subsequently removed, claimed that scientific research promotes violence and inequity in society. 

These have been disavowed but the variety of mixed communications from leaders of the march over the past months suggests at the very least that the organization encompasses a wide diversity of agendas.
This is not surprising. After all, the scientific community has never been a one-issue community, like, say, the anti-abortion movement.

 And the current administration is pushing so many different buttons at the same time, with various attacks on fundamental rights, privacy, diversity, and freedom of expression, that these are bound to get caught up in any movement that promotes openness and free-inquiry, the hallmarks of the scientific enterprise.
Despite any such concerns, a host major science organizations, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science to Union of Concerned Scientists, have signed on as supporters of the March, and are urging their members to join their local marches and speak out for science-based public policy on April 22.


If the event becomes a ‘March By Scientists’ rather than a March for Science—namely if it is dominated by scientists labeling themselves as such, in costumes like white lab coats, rather than by members of the general public supporting evidence-based public policy—that too could be problematic. 

The March for science could then appear as a self-serving political lobbying effort by the scientific community to increase its funding base.
Let’s imagine that this is not the case, and the organizers are wildly successful in attracting hundreds of thousands or million of marchers across the globe this coming Saturday.

 It is still reasonable to wonder what the long-term impact of the marches might be. 

After all, following the worldwide March for Women, in which millions of people marched around the world in support of women’s rights, the Trump administration reacted with a deaf ear. 

Just this past week the President signed legislation allowing states and local governments to withhold federal funding for Planned Parenthood, for example.
The situation is different in this case however, and it may have nothing directly to do with science policy, or even in those areas where science should play a key role in affecting policy.
Every week, the alternative realities invoked by the Trump administration are being demonstrated, by events, to be vacuous. 

The administration claimed it would immediately end, and then fix, problems with Obamacare, and failed miserably. Donald Trump campaigned against foreign military intervention, and this week alone initiated unilateral bombings in Syria and Afghanistan. 

Donald Trump pledged to immediately revise NAFTA, forcing Canada and Mexico to the table to make a better deal. 

Nothing has happened.
He promised Mexico would pay for a wall. 

However the first $2 billion installment for a wall was included in the budget proposal he presented to Congress, compensated by cuts in funding in key areas of science, but also in support of the arts and humanities in this country.
He promised to drain the swamp, but he removed restrictions on lobbyists entering government, and as the New York Times reported just this week, he has filled his administration with them, including individuals who are already facing conflict of interest allegations because of their former activities lobbying the organizations they now run.
He lobbied against Wall Street, but former Wall Street leaders dominate his cabinet and economic advisory groups.
He said he would release his taxes after his inauguration and has not. 

And he claimed he would immediate increase growth and the economy, but as the Wall Street Journal reported just this week, projections for growth of the economy have decreased sharply in recent months, as have retail sales, and the consumer price index.


These are just a few of the immediate and obvious inconsistencies. 

Further, as administration policies on energy and the environment take effect, citizens in communities with drinking water at risk from environmental threats will find that programs to avert further deterioration have been cut, and coal mining communities will find that the natural gas glut has much more to do with the continuing demise of coal than Obama’s efforts to improve air quality in the US by restricting coal plants, which, whatever Trump may claim, are bad for the environment. 

(Indeed as the New York Times reported this week, more than 200,000 tons of coal ash residue each year are produced by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and this has been making its way into groundwater, potentially affecting drinking water supplies, even as the EPA is now delaying compliance with rules enacted to enhance the safe storage and disposal of coal ash.).
The very essence of science, indeed that which is motivating the March for Science, involves skeptical inquiry and a reliance on empirical evidence and constant testing to weed out false hypotheses and unproductive or harmful technologies as we move toward a better understanding of reality: A willingness, in short, to force beliefs and policies to conform to the evidence of reality, rather than vice versa.


Unlike its perception among much of the public and its presentation in many schools today, science is not simply a body of facts, but rather a process for deriving what the facts are. 

This process has helped us uncover hidden secrets of the Universe that never would have been dreamed of and producing technologies that have not only been largely responsible for the standard of living enjoyed by the first world today, but have also increased lifespans around the world. 

With this process the very possibility of “alternative facts” disappears.
By providing such a constant and sharp explicit and observable contrast between policy and empirical reality, the Trump administration can encourage a new public skepticism about political assertions vs. reality, and a demand for evidence before endorsing policies and the politicians who espouse them—the very things that most marchers on April 22nd will be demanding. 

This skepticism is beginning to manifest itself in data. 

A Gallup poll result on April 17 indicated that only 45 percent of the public believe President Trump’s promises, a drop of 17 percent since February.
In this regard, it is worth remembering the words of the Nobel Prizewinning physicist, Richard Feynman, who said: For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. 

Or, as the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick more colorfully put it: Reality is that which continues to exist even when you stop believing in it.
The Trump Administration is discovering that obfuscation, denial, and hype may work when selling real estate, but in public arena eventually reality has a way of biting you in the butt. And the public is watching. 

The March for Science may be lucky to capitalize upon a growing awareness that there is no Wizard behind the curtain. The number of marchers, their backgrounds, or even their myriad messages may not drive the success of the March. Rather, it may be driven by the harsh examples coming out every day that reality exists independent of the desires or claims of those in power. 

In this case, the greatest asset the March for Science has going for it may be Donald Trump himself.

Press link for more: Scientific American

Climate Change is a global threat to international security. #Auspol 

Terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and Boko Haram have been dominating the headlines since 2013.

 Both groups have gained international notoriety for their ruthless brutality and their rise is posing new challenges for national, regional and international security. 

Such non-state armed groups (NSAG) are not a new phenomenon. 

Today, however, we can observe an increasingly complex landscape of violent actors with a range of hybrid organisational structures, different agendas and different levels of engagement with society that set them apart from ‘traditional’ non-state actors and result in new patterns of violence.

At the same time, there has been increasing acknowledgement within the academic literature and among the policy community of the relationship between climate change and security.

 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underlined in its latest report from 2014 that human security will be progressively threatened as the climate changes. 

Analysing its impacts on fragility, an independent report for the G7 Foreign Ministers concluded that climate change is a global threat to international security. 

As the ultimate threat multiplier, it aggravates already fragile situations and may contribute to social upheaval and even violent con ict (Rüttinger et al. 2015). 

While these reports touch upon the topic of non- state armed actors, they do not specifcally and comprehensively spell out the links between climate change, fragility and these actors.
Over the past ten years, both our understanding and awareness of the links between climate change and security have increased tremendously. 

Today the UN, the EU, the G7 and an increasing number of states have classified climate change as a threat to global and/or national security (American Security Project 2014; European Commission 2008; UN Security Council 2011).

However, the links between climate change, conflict and fragility are not simple and linear. 

The increasing impacts of climate change do not automatically lead to more fragility and conflict.

Rather, climate change acts as a threat multiplier. 


It interacts and converges with other existing risks and pressures in a given context and can increase the likelihood of fragility or violent conflict. 

States experiencing fragility or conflict are particularly affected, but seemingly stable states can also be overburdened by the combined pressures of climate change, population growth, urbanization, environmental degradation and rising socio-economic inequalities (Carius et al. 2008; WBGU 2007, CNA 2007, Rüttinger et al. 2015).

In 2015, the report “A New Climate for Peace” (Rüttinger et al. 2015), commissioned by the G7 Foreign Ministries, identified seven compound climate-fragility risks that pose a serious threat to the stability of states and societies.

Local resource competition: As the pressure on natural resources increases, competition can lead to instability and even violent conflict in the absence of effective dispute resolution.

Livelihood insecurity and migration: Climate change will increase the human insecurity of people who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods, which could push them to migrate or turn to more informal or illegal sources of income.

Extreme weather events and disasters will exacerbate fragility challenges and can increase people’s vulnerability and grievances, especially in conflict-affected situations.

Volatile food prices and provision: Climate change is highly likely to disrupt food production in many regions, increasing prices and market volatility, and heightening the risk of protests, rioting, and civil conflict.

Transboundary water management is frequently a source of tension; as demand grows and climate impacts affect availability and quality, competition over water use will likely increase the pressure on existing governance structures.

Sea-level rise and coastal degradation: Rising sea levels will threaten the viability of low-lying areas even before they are submerged, leading to social disruption, displacement, and migration, while disagreements over maritime boundaries and ocean resources may increase.

Unintended effects of climate policies: As climate change adaptation and mitigation policies are more broadly implemented, the risks of unintended negative effects – particularly in fragile contexts – will also increase.

“A New Climate for Peace” is an independent report commissioned by the G7 Member States. 

The report was prepared by an independent consortium of leading research institutions, headed by adelphi, with International Alert, the Wilson Center, and the EU Institute for Security Studies, and was submitted to the G7 in April 2015.

Press link for more: Report

Selective Impact of Climate Change. Time to question Australian Values? #auspol 

Selective Impact of Climate Change
In some popular accounts of the future depredations of climate change, there is a tendency to suggest that its effects will be felt more or less democratically around the globe ― that we will all suffer to some degree, if not equally, from the bad things that happen as temperatures rise. 

And it’s certainly true that everyone on this planet will feel the effects of global warming in some fashion, but don’t for a second imagine that the harshest effects will be distributed anything but deeply inequitably.

 It won’t even be a complicated equation. 

 As with so much else, those at the bottom rungs of society ― the poor, the marginalized, and those in countries already at or near the edge ― will suffer so much more (and so much earlier) than those at the top and in the most developed, wealthiest countries.

(AUSTRALIAN VALUE NUMBER ONE: Bugger you mate, I’m alright Jack!)

As a start, the geophysical dynamics of climate change dictate that, when it comes to soaring temperatures and reduced rainfall, the most severe effects are likely to be felt first and worst in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Latin America ― home to hundreds of millions of people who depend on rain-fed agriculture to sustain themselves and their families. 

Research conducted by scientists in New Zealand, Switzerland, and Great Britain found that the rise in the number of extremely hot days is already more intense in tropical latitudes and disproportionately affects poor farmers.

(AUSTRALIAN VALUE NUMBER TWO: Never discuss politics or religion) 

Living at subsistence levels, such farmers and their communities are especially vulnerable to drought and desertification. In a future in which climate change disasters are commonplace, they will undoubtedly be forced to choose ever more frequently between the unpalatable alternatives of starvation or flight. 

 In other words, if you thought the global refugee crisis was bad today, just wait a few decades. 

(AUSTRALIAN VALUE NUMBER THREE: Charity begins at home)

Climate change is also intensifying the dangers faced by the poor and marginalized in another way.

 As interior croplands turn to dust, ever more farmers are migrating to cities, especially coastal ones. If you want a historical analogy, think of the great Dust Bowl migration of the “Okies” from the interior of the U.S. to the California coast in the 1930s. 

In today’s climate-change era, the only available housing such migrants are likely to find will be in vast and expanding shantytowns (or “informal settlements,” as they’re euphemistically called), often located in floodplains and low-lying coastal areas exposed to storm surges and sea-level rise. 

As global warming advances, the victims of water scarcity and desertification will be afflicted anew. 

(AUSTRALIAN VALUE NUMBER FOUR: She’ll be right mate! ) 


 Those storm surges will destroy the most exposed parts of the coastal mega-cities in which they will be clustered. 

In other words, for the uprooted and desperate, there will be no escaping climate change. 

 As the latest IPCC report noted, “Poor people living in urban informal settlements, of which there are [already] about one billion worldwide, are particularly vulnerable to weather and climate effects.”
The scientific literature on climate change indicates that the lives of the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed will be the first to be turned upside down by the effects of global warming. “The socially and economically disadvantaged and the marginalized are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change and extreme events,” the IPCC indicated in 2014. “Vulnerability is often high among indigenous peoples, women, children, the elderly, and disabled people who experience multiple deprivations that inhibit them from managing daily risks and shocks.” It should go without saying that these are also the people least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming in the first place (something no less true of the countries most of them live in).
Failing to halt the advance of climate change… means complicity with mass human annihilation.

Inaction Equals Annihilation

In this context, consider the moral consequences of inaction on climate change. Once it seemed that the process of global warming would occur slowly enough to allow societies to adapt to higher temperatures without excessive disruption, and that the entire human family would somehow make this transition more or less simultaneously. That now looks more and more like a fairy tale. Climate change is occurring far too swiftly for all human societies to adapt to it successfully. Only the richest are likely to succeed in even the most tenuous way. Unless colossal efforts are undertaken now to halt the emission of greenhouse gasses, those living in less affluent societies can expect to suffer from extremes of flooding, drought, starvation, disease, and death in potentially staggering numbers.
And you don’t need a Ph.D. in climatology to arrive at this conclusion either. The overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists agree that any increase in average world temperatures that exceeds 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial era ― some opt for a rise of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius ― will alter the global climate system drastically. In such a situation, a number of societies will simply disintegrate in the fashion of South Sudan today, producing staggering chaos and misery. So far, the world has heated up by at least one of those two degrees, and unless we stop burning fossil fuels in quantity soon, the 1.5-degree level will probably be reached in the not-too-distant future.
Worse yet, on our present trajectory, it seems highly unlikely that the warming process will stop at 2 or even 3 degrees Celsius, meaning that later in this century many of the worst-case climate-change scenarios ― the inundation of coastal cities, the desertification of vast interior regions, and the collapse of rain-fed agriculture in many areas ― will become everyday reality.
In other words, think of the developments in those three African lands and Yemen as previews of what far larger parts of our world could look like in another quarter-century or so: a world in which hundreds of millions of people are at risk of annihilation from disease or starvation, or are on the march or at sea, crossing borders, heading for the shantytowns of major cities, looking for refugee camps or other places where survival appears even minimally possible. If the world’s response to the current famine catastrophe and the escalating fears of refugees in wealthy countries are any indication, people will die in vast numbers without hope of help.
In other words, failing to halt the advance of climate change ― to the extent that halting it, at this point, remains within our power ― means complicity with mass human annihilation. We know, or at this point should know, that such scenarios are already on the horizon. We still retain the power, if not to stop them, then to radically ameliorate what they will look like, so our failure to do all we can means that we become complicit in what ― not to mince words ― is clearly going to be a process of climate genocide. How can those of us in countries responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions escape such a verdict?
And if such a conclusion is indeed inescapable, then each of us must do whatever we can to reduce our individual, community, and institutional contributions to global warming. Even if we are already doing a lot ― as many of us are ― more is needed. Unfortunately, we Americans are living not only in a time of climate crisis, but in the era of President Trump, which means the federal government and its partners in the fossil fuel industry will be wielding their immense powers to obstruct all imaginable progress on limiting global warming. They will be the true perpetrators of climate genocide. As a result, the rest of us bear a moral responsibility not just to do what we can at the local level to slow the pace of climate change, but also to engage in political struggle to counteract or neutralize the acts of Trump and company. Only dramatic and concerted action on multiple fronts can prevent the human disasters now unfolding in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen from becoming the global norm.
Michael T. Klare, a TomDispatch regular, is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left. A documentary movie version of his book Blood and Oil is available from the Media Education Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @mklare1.
[Note: On Saturday, April 29th, folks from all over the United States will participate in the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. You can get information on the march by clicking here. Joining the march, or otherwise supporting its objectives, is a good way to begin the resistance to climate genocide. For those who wish to aid the victims of famine in Africa and Yemen, donations can be made to the U.N.’s World Food Program.

Press link for more: Huffington Post

Climate Change As Genocide: Inaction Equals Annihilation #auspol 

Climate Change As Genocide: Inaction Equals Annihilation
Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com.
Not since World War II have more human beings been at risk from disease and starvation than at this very moment. On March 10th, Stephen O’Brien, under Secretary-General of the United Nations for humanitarian affairs, informed the Security Council that 20 million people in three African countries ― Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan ― as well as in Yemen were likely to die if not provided with emergency food and medical aid. “We are at a critical point in history,” he declared. “Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the U.N.” Without coordinated international action, he added, “people will simply starve to death [or] suffer and die from disease.”

Major famines have, of course, occurred before, but never in memory on such a scale in four places simultaneously. According to O’Brien, 7.3 million people are at risk in Yemen, 5.1 million in the Lake Chad area of northeastern Nigeria, 5 million in South Sudan, and 2.9 million in Somalia. In each of these countries, some lethal combination of war, persistent drought, and political instability is causing drastic cuts in essential food and water supplies. Of those 20 million people at risk of death, an estimated 1.4 million are young children.
Despite the potential severity of the crisis, U.N. officials remain confident that many of those at risk can be saved if sufficient food and medical assistance is provided in time and the warring parties allow humanitarian aid workers to reach those in the greatest need. “We have strategic, coordinated, and prioritized plans in every country,” O’Brien said. “With sufficient and timely financial support, humanitarians can still help to prevent the worst-case scenario.”
All in all, the cost of such an intervention is not great: an estimated $4.4 billion to implement that U.N. action plan and save most of those 20 million lives. 
The international response?

 Essentially, a giant shrug of indifference.

To have time to deliver sufficient supplies, U.N. officials indicated that the money would need to be in pocket by the end of March.

 It’s now April and international donors have given only a paltry $423 million ― less than a tenth of what’s needed.

 While, for instance, President Donald Trump sought Congressional approval for a $54 billion increase in U.S. military spending (bringing total defense expenditures in the coming year to $603 billion) and launched $89 million worth of Tomahawk missiles against a single Syrian air base, the U.S. has offered precious little to allay the coming disaster in three countries in which it has taken military actions in recent years. 

As if to add insult to injury, on February 15th Trump told Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that he was inclined to sell his country 12 Super-Tucano light strike aircraft, potentially depleting Nigeria of $600 million it desperately needs for famine relief.    
Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the U.N.

Moreover, just as those U.N. officials were pleading fruitlessly for increased humanitarian funding and an end to the fierce and complex set of conflicts in South Sudan and Yemen (so that they could facilitate the safe delivery of emergency food supplies to those countries), the Trump administration was announcing plans to reduce American contributions to the United Nations by 40%.

 It was also preparing to send additional weaponry to Saudi Arabia, the country most responsible for devastating air strikes on Yemen’s food and water infrastructure. 

This goes beyond indifference. 

This is complicity in mass extermination.
Like many people around the world, President Trump was horrified by images of young children suffocating from the nerve gas used by Syrian government forces in an April 4th raid on the rebel-held village of Khan Sheikhoun. 

“That attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me ― big impact,” he told reporters.

 “That was a horrible, horrible thing. And I’ve been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that.”

 In reaction to those images, he ordered a barrage of cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base the following day. But Trump does not seem to have seen ― or has ignored ― equally heart-rending images of young children dying from the spreading famines in Africa and Yemen.

 Those children evidently don’t merit White House sympathy.
Who knows why not just Donald Trump but the world is proving so indifferent to the famines of 2017? 

 It could simply be donor fatigue or a media focused on the daily psychodrama that is now Washington, or growing fears about the unprecedented global refugee crisis and, of course, terrorism. 

 It’s a question worth a piece in itself, but I want to explore another one entirely.
Here’s the question I think we all should be asking: Is this what a world battered by climate change will be like ― one in which tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of people perish from disease, starvation, and heat prostration while the rest of us, living in less exposed areas, essentially do nothing to prevent their annihilation?
Famine, Drought, and Climate Change

First, though, let’s consider whether the famines of 2017 are even a valid indicator of what a climate-changed planet might look like. 

After all, severe famines accompanied by widespread starvation have occurred throughout human history. In addition, the brutal armed conflicts now underway in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen are at least in part responsible for the spreading famines. 

In all four countries, there are forces ― Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabaab in Somalia, assorted militias and the government in South Sudan, and Saudi-backed forces in Yemen ― interfering with the delivery of aid supplies. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that pervasive water scarcity and prolonged drought (expected consequences of global warming) are contributing significantly to the disastrous conditions in most of them. 

The likelihood that droughts this severe would be occurring simultaneously in the absence of climate change is vanishingly small.
In fact, scientists generally agree that global warming will ensure diminished rainfall and ever more frequent droughts over much of Africa and the Middle East. 

This, in turn, will heighten conflicts of every sort and endanger basic survival in a myriad of ways. In their most recent 2014 assessment of global trends, the scientists of the prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that “agriculture in Africa will face significant challenges in adapting to climate changes projected to occur by mid-century, as negative effects of high temperatures become increasingly prominent.” Even in 2014, as that report suggested, climate change was already contributing to water scarcity and persistent drought conditions in large parts of Africa and the Middle East. Scientific studies had, for instance, revealed an “overall expansion of desert and contraction of vegetated areas” on that continent. With arable land in retreat and water supplies falling, crop yields were already in decline in many areas, while malnutrition rates were rising ― precisely the conditions witnessed in more extreme forms in the famine-affected areas today.
It’s seldom possible to attribute any specific weather-induced event, including droughts or storms, to global warming with absolute certainty. Such things happen with or without climate change. Nonetheless, scientists are becoming even more confident that severe storms and droughts (especially when occurring in tandem or in several parts of the world at once) are best explained as climate-change related. If, for instance, a type of storm that might normally occur only once every hundred years occurs twice in one decade and four times in the next, you can be reasonably confident that you’re in a new climate era.

It will undoubtedly take more time for scientists to determine to what extent the current famines in Africa and Yemen are mainly climate-change-induced and to what extent they are the product of political and military mayhem and disarray. But doesn’t this already offer us a sense of just what kind of world we are now entering?
History and social science research indicate that, as environmental conditions deteriorate, people will naturally compete over access to vital materials and the opportunists in any society ― warlords, militia leaders, demagogues, government officials, and the like ― will exploit such clashes for their personal advantage. “The data suggests a definite link between food insecurity and conflict,” points out Ertharin Cousin, head of the U.N.’s World Food Program. “Climate is an added stress factor.” In this sense, the current famines in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen provide us with a perfect template for our future, one in which resource wars and climate mayhem team up as temperatures continue their steady rise.
As environmental conditions deteriorate, people will naturally compete over access to vital materials, and the opportunists… will exploit such clashes for their personal advantage.

Press link for more: Huffington Post

Scientists March For Truth. #auspol 

Scientists to take to the streets in global march for truth.

By Mark Lynas
March for Science on 22 April will see scientists and supporters at more than 500 locations stand up for evidence-based thinking.


Scientists and science supporters will take to the streets in a global March for Science on 22 April . 

What began as a small Facebook group in the US capital, Washington DC has spiralled into a global phenomenon that will now see marches and other events in more than 500 locations around the world, from Seattle to Seoul.
It is great news that so many people are prepared to stand up and defend the need for evidence-based thinking and the scientific method. 

But it is also a sad comment on our times that a March for Science is needed at all. 


Post-truth populism has infected democracies around the world, scientific objectivity is under threat from multiple sources and there seems a real danger of falling into a modern dystopian dark age.
It is clear that the old days of scientists staying in the lab, publishing papers in scholarly journals, and otherwise letting the facts speak for themselves are over. 

As the Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes reminds us: “The facts don’t speak for themselves because we live in a world where so many people are trying to silence facts.” 

In her book, Merchants of Doubt, Oreskes wrote about these efforts from the tobacco industry onwards; science denialist attempts that are paralleled in today’s climate sceptic, anti-vaccine and anti-GMO movements.


These campaigners against truth take great pains to deny the existence of scientific consensus on their different issues. 

The fact that 97% of the peer-reviewed literature on climate change supports the consensus that most of global warming is human-induced is dismissed as mere elitism. 

But as Dr Sarah Evanega, director of the Alliance for Science at Cornell, writes: “The values we defend are those of the Enlightenment, not the establishment.” 

Expertise is real, and we reject it at our peril.

Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the March for Science, and what may prove to be its most enduring legacy, is its truly global nature. 

Science is not western; it is everywhere and for everyone. 

I have worked with Alliance for Science colleagues to help get marches off the ground in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Uganda, Venezuela, Chile and other places.

 In between long Skype calls about logistics, fundraising, and media outreach I watched the lights flash on as the number of marches on the global map kept on increasing. 

It was like watching the world light up with knowledge.
Bangladesh March for Science’s lead organiser Arif Hossain says: “I am marching to let the world know that we are united for science in Bangladesh. 

We have 160 million people to feed in the changed climate, and together we will make a better day with science and innovation.”
Although the issues of most concern vary in different locations, appreciation of the need for science is global. As Nkechi Isaac, an organiser of the March for Science in Abuja, Nigeria, says: “Science is revolutionary.

 It holds the key to constant development and improvement for addressing climate change, food shortage and challenges in medicine. Science holds the solution to our food security.”
Nigerians can testify to the tragic effects of anti-science activism. Efforts to eradicate polio in the country were held up for years because of conspiracy theories spread by those suspicious of modern medicine and vaccines. People die when science is denied.
So here’s what we will be marching for.

 It’s time to enter the post-post-truth era. 

And there is no time to lose.

• Mark Lynas is a science and environment writer and a visiting fellow at the Alliance for Science at Cornell University.

Press link for more: The Guardian

The Science that reveals #ClimateChange is Sound. #auspol 

Valley Voice: The science that reveals climate change is sound

By Dwight Fine 

In his April 10 Valley Voice, “Another opinion on climate science,” Larry Wilhelmsen expresses skepticism over climate change and bases that skepticism, in part, on a petition signed by “31,000 people with various science-related degrees,” and on two publications by atmospheric scientists. 

This illustrates the denialist techniques of “fake experts” and “magnified minority.”
The “petition signed by 31,000 scientists” has long since been discredited. 

The petition was sent out by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, a small group calling itself a research organization. 

Anyone with a bachelors degree or higher in a science-related field was invited to sign. 

Examination of the signatures showed that only about 0.1% of the signers had ever had any involvement with climate science research.

I do not feel that my own Ph.D. in chemistry qualifies me to speak with authority on climatology; instead, I look for the consensus of scientists who have actually done research in the field and have published their results in peer-reviewed journals.

Studies of publications of climatologists have been carried out at Queensland University, the University of Chicago and Princeton University. These studies examined some 12,000 publications.

 The average for the studies showed that 97 percent of climate scientists supported the hypothesis that global warming is real and mainly induced by human activity.

Furthermore, some 30 major scientific societies such as the American Chemical, Physical and Geological Societies have now endorsed this hypothesis, as have the national science academies of 80 countries. Are we to believe that all of these scientists, societies and academies are engaged in a gigantic conspiracy to perpetrate a hoax?
Wilhelmsen states that climate has changed forever and that advocates of human-induced climate change have stopped calling it global warming because warming was stopping. Stopping? 2016 was the warmest year on record, according to data reported by NASA and NOAA, and 15 of the 16 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. Yes, the climate has always changed, but it has never changed at such an abrupt rate as we are observing now. The term ”climate change” came into use so as to be more inclusive of events other than increased surface temperatures.
Such events include:

1) increased severity of blizzards, tornadoes, flooding and wildfires;

2) sea level rise;

3) warming of oceans and increasing acidification of ocean waters due to increased concentrations of carbonic acid; this has led to extensive destruction of coral reefs;

4) declining Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets;

5) declining Arctic sea ice – we now have cruise ships sailing the once impenetrable Northwest Passage;

6) retreating of glaciers in the Himalayas, Andes, Alps, Rockies and Alaska.


As to the “pleasures” we owe to fossil fuels the Wilhelmsen referenced, such pleasures are becoming limited. Reserves of coal and oil are finite and non-renewable, and these fuels become increasingly difficult, expensive and hazardous to extract as reserves are depleted. Landscapes are littered with abandoned strip mines and oilfields, often laden with toxic chemicals. Renewable energy would seem to offer far greater potential in the way of jobs and development.
For readers confused by denialist rhetoric in regard to climate change, I recommend the websites climate.nasa.gov and skeptical science.com.
Dwight Fine is a retired research chemist living in Palm Springs. Email him at dwigf@msn.com.

Press link for more: Elpaso Times

Climate of Hope #auspol #doughnuteconomics 

Michael Bloomberg Says Cities Must Now Lead The Way On Climate Change

Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope 

Outside of Washington, D.C., however, the prospects for climate action look more favorable. You can point to what’s happening at the city level, where mayors are promoting low-carbon buildings, electric cars, and more resilient infrastructure. You can point to the energy industry in general, which seems more concerned with market signals than political signals. And you can point to how strong majorities of Americans want politicians to accept and face up to global warming.
In their new book, Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope, the former executive director of the Sierra Club, argue that a beyond-D.C. approach offers the best opportunity for dealing with climate change. Mayors have more autonomy than national leaders, they say. They’re more accountable to voters for dealing with climate-related problems like pollution and extreme weather events. They originate most of the emissions that cause climate change, and they face the greatest threats from its impacts. And urban populations are generally more supportive of climate action than rural ones.
“Mayors tend to be more pragmatic and less ideological than national legislators, because they are more accountable to voters, and more visible,” former New York City Mayor Bloomberg writes. “The public can see what mayors do, while it’s harder to understand what elected officials at the state level do . . . and much harder at the federal level.”
Empower Cities To Lead
If cities are going to be centers of climate action, they need more tools for the job. “Giving more cities authority to take action on their own–particularly on energy and transportation–is one of the most important steps we can take to address climate change,” Bloomberg writes in the book.
If the Trump administration decides to leave the Paris climate agreement, Bloomberg says U.S. cities should consider joining the accord in their own capacity. “Washington will not have the last word on the fate of the Paris Agreement in the U.S.–mayors will, together with business leaders and citizens,” he wrote in a New York Times op-ed last year.
That independence could also include allowing them to make choices independent of state or federal authority on where they buy electricity (only six states currently sanction this). Twenty-five U.S. cities have now committed to buy all their power from renewable sources.
Or it could mean borrowing money for climate investments more easily. Only 4% of the world’s cities currently have their own credit ratings, enabling them to enter financial markets, Pope says. Others don’t have the power to raise taxes, including many in Africa and South America.

Press link for more: fastcompany.com

Climate Change Predictions are accurate #auspol #science 

By Robert S. Eshelman 

Climate change contrarians have used many arguments to cast doubt on the scientific consensus that the atmosphere is warming and humans are to blame. 

They’ve alleged that tens of thousands of scientists, working across dozens of different disciplines, have organized a vast conspiracy to manipulate data. They’ve said more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will actually be a benefit because it will boost agricultural production. And they’ve even said that global warming has paused in recent years.

 

But their primary tactic these days appears to be to acknowledge that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is increasing due to human causes, but suggest that the scientific community just can’t pin down what impact those emissions will have on the climate system.

 

Trump’s EPA administrator Scott Pruitt made that claim during his Senate confirmation hearing, as did former ExxonMobil CEO turned Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

 

Kyle Armour of the University of Washington, writing in Nature Climate Change, says that, actually, the scientific community has done quite well at developing accurate predictions of how sensitive the atmosphere and oceans are to carbon pollution.

 

The debate, he says, pivots around a number called equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), which is the temperature change that scientists expect to occur with a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere compared to before the Industrial Revolution.

 

“This is the number that’s been essentially at the heart of climate change predictions for decades now,” he said. “It has a lot of policy relevance. If this number is high, we have a very sensitive Earth that will warm up a lot in response to greenhouse gases. If the number is low, we have a less sensitive climate system that would warm up a lot less.”

 

Put another way, climate sensitivity tells us how we need to limit greenhouse gas emissions in order to stay well below an average global temperature increase of 2°C compared to the mid-19th century, which many scientists say is a dangerous threshold to pass.

 

The problem is observations collected over the past 100 years have shown the climate to be less sensitive to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations than computer models of the climate have predicted.

 

And that’s where Armour got to work.

 

“It appeared that newer observations suggested a fairly low climate sensitivity in the range of about 2°C for a doubling of CO2, whereas the models suggested a higher climate sensitivity more in the range of 3°C for a doubling of CO2,” he said. “What I was interested in with the study was basically how much of the discrepancy between the observations and the models could be explained by the fact that climate sensitivity changes over time.”

 
 

There’s an incredible amount of inertia built into Earth’s climate system. The increased amount of energy trapped in the atmosphere due to all of the greenhouse gas emissions from our coal-fired power plants and internal combustion engines takes many decades to fully take effect.
And the climate system works in complex ways. When rising air temperatures in the Arctic melt summer sea ice, for example, it creates larger areas of dark, open ocean which absorb rather than reflect sunlight, which in turn causes more global warming. That type of feedback loop combined with the inertia of the climate system means climate change doesn’t move along smooth, linear plots on a line graph.

 

Armour found that while observations might show climate sensitivity to be on the lower end, the models are picking up quite well the amount of warming that emerges over the long-term.

 

“The conclusions are really two-fold,” said Armour. “When the models are treated consistently with the observations, that is measuring climate sensitivity within the models in the same way you would with the observations, it brings that value of sensitivity in the models downward, meaning they’re not too sensitive.”

 

“But the other way you could view the results,” he added, “is that the model range of future warming is rather realistic, meaning that our apparent climate sensitivity we get from the observations can be expected to increase in the future, meaning more global warming than you might naïvely expect from taking just that low value that people have been talking about from the observations.”

 

Gavin Schmidt, a NASA climate scientist not involved in the study, said Armour’s findings complemented the results of a 2016 report on climate sensitivity conducted by researchers at NASA and Columbia University. 

 

“What Armour finds is that [feedback loops] do change and in such a way that if you estimate the final sensitivity from just the early period you will end up underestimating the ECS,” he said in an email. “This is important because that’s almost exactly what’s happening when we try and use recent temperature trends to estimate the ECS. Those estimates have tended to come in lower than others, in ways that aren’t consistent with our understandings of processes or paleoclimate. So this result makes those studies much more consistent with other methods.”

 

Armour pointed to a pair of feedbacks that have yet to take effect, but are likely to lead to significant levels of warming.

 

“Over the next several decades to centuries we expect the Southern Ocean to warm up almost as much as the Arctic and get that big, positive feedback to start kicking in,” he said. “So it’s really that delay in the positive feedbacks kicking in that causes this increase in climate sensitivity into the future.”

 

That feedback in the southern hemisphere is projected to occur when ocean temperatures in the Southern Ocean warm, melting sea ice, like is already happening in the Arctic, causing the ocean to absorb more sunlight and leading to greater amounts warming.

 

Increased warming in the eastern tropical Pacific over the next several decades, he added, is is likely to diminish cloud cover in the region. That cloud cover, like sea ice in the Arctic and Southern Ocean, reflects incoming sunlight. 

 

“Initially in the very early stages of global warming, like today, like we’ve seen over the last hundred years, your clouds in the eastern tropical Pacific are actually acting to limit global warming, it has a negative, damping impact,” he said. “But in the future, say over the next several decades, we expect those to be a positive feedback, enhancing global warming.”

 

What Armour didn’t find was any suggestion that Earth’s climate might somehow absorb all of our increased greenhouse gas emissions and warm less than any climate model has predicted.

 

“There are no examples of models showing a decrease in sensitivity by any significant amount,” he said. “That range of predicted warming in the future, is actually, as far as we can tell, pretty accurate.”

 

And those predictions, whether gleaned from UN reports or NASA or any other peer-reviewed account, warn of dangerous changes to the climate, which could imperil millions of people and future generations.

 

“This is a good result for the scientists — because it closes a hole of inconsistency — but in terms of the ‘public’ argument, this won’t matter,” said NASA’s Schmidt. “The contrarians have been ignoring studies like this for years, and I doubt they will stop doing so now.”

Press link for more: Seeker.com

Aging & Climate Change: Graying Green #auspol 


Mike Smyer is on a fellowship on climate change and aging at Stanford University. (Photo: Patrick Beaudouin)
It’s a common misconception: Older adults don’t care about climate change.

 Why? Because they won’t be around long enough to experience the results, the misguided thinking goes.
Mick Smyer has stepped inside the eye of the storm to reverse this myth.
It began with Hurricane Katrina, which devastated his hometown of New Orleans in 2005. 

Then it was the birth of twin grandsons in 2015, who deserve a planet free from devastating weather events.
After that, Smyer knew exactly how he’d spend his yearlong civic innovation fellowship with Stanford’s design school.
But first he had to overcome some human obstacles.
“I thought I’d work with hundreds of other people who were working at the intersection of two global patterns,” aging and climate change, he said.
He quickly learned there were only a handful of people straddling the two worlds. 

So he launched the website Graying Green to help foster a social movement that would “energize older adults around what is arguably our most important issue.”
And where others – including climate change scientists – only saw tired victims, Smyer saw possibilities. “It’s an important, growing and largely untapped demographic,” he adds.
What Can I Do?
Smyer has so far interviewed 400 adults over 60 using his simple, three-step Graying Green engagement process. 

Most are from California or Colorado.
First, he asks them to select a special place they love, then imagine it being affected by extreme weather. 

“It sidesteps the politics,” said Smyer, 66. “Everybody has a place they care about.”
Next, Smyer asks them to sort climate-change action cards into three piles: what they’re already doing about it, what they might do, and things they’ll never do.
“It’s kind of odd, but people like doing this,” he said. “It’s important to acknowledge the things they’re already doing.”
Finally, comes the commitment contract. Smyer asks the participants to commit to one of the actions in their “might” pile. He may even suggest a commitment website like StickK.
What if they don’t follow through? Bad news. They must commit to donating money to a cause they dislike, like the campaign of an opposing candidate.
“I’m delighted to see how many things I’m already doing, but I’m even more delighted to see what my next step is,” quoted Smyer of a typical response. “And that’s the point. Helping people see the next step on their journey.”
Show Me the Future
In 2015, Santa Cruz marine scientist Susanne Moser led a team who installed a 360-degree climate change viewer on the Mill Valley-Sausalito Multi-Use Path in Marin County. For 14 weeks, observers used the viewer to see the future influence of climate change on the landscape.
Besides envisioning water three feet higher, other possible futures included a sea wall to protect against flooding — one that completely blocked their view — and a levee with a bikeway. All would dramatically change the landscape.
The installation tallied more than 3,700 views, with 150 participants leaving audio feedback after their peek into the future.
“Amazing messages,” said Moser. “Some of them quite emotional.”
Moser says those who began the interactive session with the least concern about climate change did an abrupt turnaround: “They were the most likely to want to engage and make an impact in the community.” The experiment is summarized in the paper “Never Too Old to Care: Reaching an Untapped Cohort.” 
Others are exploring the intersection of aging and climate change.
University of California, Berkeley, associate professor Greg Niemeyer is pairing 130 Berkeley middle school and Stanford earth-sciences students with older adults to record their observations about climate change. The three-minute videos will be posted on YouTube.
In 2011, Canada’s Simon Fraser University hosted the conference titled, “Growing Old in a Changing Climate.”
At a recent conference hosted by Physicians for Social Responsibility addressing the health effects of climate change, the average age of participants in conference work groups was 74.
The Lessons of Fracking
Smyer and others are taking a cue from another important environmental movement: the fight against fracking.
“It’s very inspirational to see how elders have played a major role in this movement,” said Wenonah Hauter, founder of Food & Water Watch. 
The controversial fracking process involves shooting jets of water into the earth to release trapped oil and gas. Environmentalists have said that the practice may contribute to groundwater contamination or other health hazards.
Hauter said older adults have been integral to the movement because they offer three important attributes: wisdom, life experience and time.
“There is a huge momentum in this movement,” she stated. “And I can tell you, elders are playing an important role.”
The myth that older adults don’t care about climate change is parodied in a humorous video by the website Funny or Die featuring Hollywood celebrities like Ed Asner and Cloris Leachman. “You know why I don’t care about climate change?” jokes actor M. Emmett Walsh. “Because I’ll be dead, silly.”
The truth, said Smyer, is that older adults are both worried and confused.
“They’re concerned about it, but they don’t know what to do about it,” he stressed, citing a common reply: “I have time and talent, but I don’t know what to use it on.”
Military Support
Most recently, climate change opponents have been empowered by President Donald Trump and new Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt, both climate change deniers. Yet even some fervent right-wing organizations believe humans are responsible for rising temperatures.
In 2009, the U.S. military officially acknowledged the reality of climate change. Not only will climate change create greater global instability, say officials, but refueling fossil fuel tankers puts American troops at greater risk.
The American public is largely concerned as well.
A shocking map [http://tinyurl.com/hyrxceg] from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication shows that a majority of citizens in nearly every county in the United States believe that climate change is occurring.
Smyer has a diverse and extensive background – he has worked as a clinical psychologist, and been the head of the Center on Aging & Work at Boston College and provost at Bucknell University.

Today, he’s trying to save the world from the effects of climate change by uncovering heroes: “Giving back is elders’ superpower.”
Matt Perry wrote this article for California Health Report’s “Aging With Dignity” website with the support of a journalism fellowship from New America Media, the Gerontological Society of America and the Silver Century Foundation.

Press link for more: Calhealthreport.org