Feed aggregator

The Climate Change Light Show That’s Making Waves In Cities Around The World

Lethal Heating - 2 hours 30 min ago
EcoWatch - Clara Chaisson

"Waterlicht," Rotterdam, 2018. Studio RoosegaardeThe people of Rotterdam know a thing or two about living with water. In fact, it's right there in the name—the Dutch city dates back to the 13th century, when the Rotte River was dammed, making it possible to safely settle nearby.
"When I was a boy, I wasn't even allowed to play outside without my swimming diploma," said artist Daan Roosegaarde, founder of the Rotterdam-based social design lab Studio Roosegaarde. "In the Netherlands, we are surrounded by water. Without technology, we would literally all drown."
Today, 90 percent of Rotterdam sits below sea level, and its historically intimate relationship with water has undergone a thoroughly modern makeover in preparation for the impacts of climate change. And just like the Dutch engineers who are sharing their creative approaches to sea level rise with the world, Roosegaarde is showing his art in the hopes of inspiring innovation.
"Waterlicht," Rotterdam, 2018. Studio RoosegaardeFor the past three years, Studio Roosegaarde's Waterlicht project, which translates to "water light," has been traveling the globe. Commissioned by Dutch water authorities, the public art installation uses LEDs, lenses, software, and the elements to create a virtual flood that submerges visitors in a blue-tinted dreamscape. It's a waterlogged alternate reality—one that could easily become our future if we fail to intervene (and quickly) to protect our cities from the ocean's steady rise.
Late last month, Waterlicht made its hometown debut at the Kunsthal museum, attracting 25,000 visitors in only three evenings. It was the project's 12th stop since 2015. Other 2018 hosts included London's Granary Square, the United Nations headquarters in New York, and the Bentway in Toronto.
Each installation is site-specific, and the team might spend six months preparing for an exhibition that lasts just a few nights. (In the case of the U.N. installation, it took three years just to get the permits.) A major part of the challenge, Roosegaarde said, is "undesigning" the landscape. Waterlicht is always presented outdoors after sunset, and for maximum effect, the studio must work with local authorities and businesses to minimize light pollution. Sometimes the organizers even rent billboards simply to turn them off. The goal is to make it dark enough to create the appropriate atmosphere, but light enough to ensure a safe experience for visitors. "It's a puzzle every time," Roosegaarde said. Following a Nov. 11 opening in Dubai, the artist doesn't yet know where Waterlicht will travel next. Venice is his "dream location," for obvious reasons.
Intangible waves undulating against the night sky like the ghost of climate change future is a haunting sight. But it's also a thrilling, mesmerizing one, and Roosegaarde hopes it fosters creative thinking. As the designer sees it, we already have the tools we need to build a more livable world.
"It's not a lack of technology," Roosegaarde said. "It's a lack of imagination for what we want the future to look like. The role of public art is a really great trigger to create this collective experience where people are curious, not afraid."
"Waterlicht," Rotterdam, 2018. Studio RoosegaardeWaterlicht, which the U.N. Development Programme cites as "inspiring action," is not the first Studio Roosegaarde project to leverage technology in an effort to find environmental solutions. The driving concept behind the studio's work is schoonheid, which means both "clean" and "beauty." Their decade long CV includes a glowing bike path inspired by the painting The Starry Night in the Dutch town where Vincent Van Gogh lived, energy-producing kites that appear as lasers in the night sky, sleek towers that suck smog from the air and bicycles that do the same, and most recently, an initiative to upcycle and call attention to outer-space waste. Roosegaarde, who has degrees in fine arts and architecture, founded the studio in 2007. "I had ideas, and nobody knew how to build them," he said. "So I just thought, 'We'll do it ourselves.'"
Daan Roosegaarde at "Waterlicht," Rotterdam, 2018. Studio Roosegaarde
"I make things because I look outside my window and I don't understand the world anymore," Roosegaarde said. "The CO2, the traffic jams, the rising water ... Waiting for government or politicians is not going to help. I try to make things to show you it can be done."
If he's right, it's high time the world dove in.

Categories: External websites

The Forsaken Children Strike Back: 21 Young People Sue To Save Planet

Lethal Heating - 15 November, 2018 - 15:12
Fairfax - Joseph Stiglitz

Professor Joseph Stiglitz is a Nobel Prize winner in Economics and the winner of the 2018 Sydney Peace Prize.
A remarkable trial is set to begin in Eugene, Oregon, on November 19. The Trump administration is being sued by 21 children on behalf of themselves and future generations. The claim is that the administration, through its climate change policies, is violating the children’s basic rights.
It should be obvious that the threat of climate change is putting at risk their future—it has been obvious for a long time. It’s not just the increase in temperature and the rising sea level, it’s the accompanying increase in extreme weather events, such as floods, hurricanes and droughts that can also devastate harvests and cause forest fires. The acidification of the ocean will destroy coral reefs, including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. As habitats get destroyed, so will species. Those in more temperate zones are already facing new diseases.
Approaches to climate change are being scrutinised. Credit: Jonathan CarrollThe judge in the case has already ruled that the “right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society”. As The New York Times put it: "The young plaintiffs have demanded, among other things, that the courts force the government to implement an enforceable national remedial plan to phase out fossil fuel emissions" in an effort to "stabilise the climate system". The courts could then supervise the government’s efforts.
Each of these 21 children will be affected not just by the economic burdens their generation will have to bear as cities relocate. One, Levi, lives on an island off the coast of Florida, and his island will be submerged. He will join millions of others around the world who will lose their homes—South Pacific islanders whose countries will disappear and Bangladeshis whose only asset, the land and house they own, will disappear. Levi will be relatively lucky: he will be able to move elsewhere in the US. But where will the millions of Bangladeshis go? Or the millions in sub-Saharan Africa who face the opposite threat, desertification of their lands?
These are not just ordinary “economic migrants”. Their right to a livelihood has been taken away by those elsewhere — in the US, Europe and China — whose greenhouse gas emissions, the result of unbridled consumption, is the prime cause of this climate change. Their “right to consume” is depriving others of the right to live.
Another plaintiff in the case, Alex, is a student at my university, Columbia. He lives on a farm in southern Oregon whose viability is undermined by climate change and is now threatened by forest fires.
So often when we see injustices like this, we say: “There ought to be a law.” The US Declaration of Independence spoke of the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These children’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are being taken away because of greenhouse gas emissions. Their future is in jeopardy so Americans today can drive gas-guzzling cars. It seems unfair, and it is. It is a matter of social justice — this time between different generations.
The Western Arctic is one of the fastest-warming regions in the world and is seen as an early indicator of global climate change. Credit: APIn this case, there is a law and a longstanding legal doctrine. The law is America’s Constitution, which promises fair treatment and due process to all individuals. In the case of these children, this is especially important because they don’t even have the right to vote. They can’t express their concerns through the electoral process. And that is why the doctrine of public interest declares that the state (the sovereign) holds natural resources in trust for future generations. (It’s a doctrine that, not surprisingly, goes back centuries, included in the Justinian law and formally incorporated into American civil law in the 19th century.)
I’m an expert witness in this case. I chaired an international commission that concluded that limiting temperature increases to 1.5C to 2CX, which the international community agreed to in Paris and Copenhagen, is achievable at a low cost, with a carbon price eventually rising to perhaps $US100 ($138) a ton of carbon, which translates into about 88 cents per gallon (3.78 litres) of gasoline, accompanied by some other regulatory measures.
Others have estimated that the increased energy costs would likely be no higher than 2 to 3 per cent of GDP, and eliminating the hundreds of billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies would actually save money. These costs pale in comparison to the multiple episodes when energy costs have increased far more, and in each of these instances our economy managed these increases. These numbers also pale in comparison to the likely costs of not taking action.
Government procedures for discounting future events mean that the wellbeing of future generations is systematically being downplayed. The Trump administration has been using a 7 per cent discount rate. That means that a dollar today is viewed as 32 times as valuable as a dollar spent 50 years from now. In essence, the Trump administration is saying, as are governments in some other countries, “Our children count for very little, and our children’s children count for essentially nothing.”
Climate change’s effects are long-lasting. Today’s pollution will affect our children’s children. No just society can simply ignore this. Conservative governments often make a big fuss over an increase in the fiscal deficit, saying it would impose a burden on our children. They’re wrong, at least if the money is well spent on investments in infrastructure, technology or education. But they’re hypocrites if they make such claims and do nothing about climate change.
It would be one thing if there were some other planet we could migrate to if, as the scientific evidence shows overwhelmingly, we ruin this planet with our continuing carbon emissions. But Earth is our only home. We need to cherish it, not destroy it.

Categories: External websites

Global Report Highlights Australia’s Renewables Potential Amid Mixed Signals For Coal

Lethal Heating - 14 November, 2018 - 20:03
The Guardian |

Australia singled out for possible hydrogen boom, but also forecast to increase coal production
A new report predicts Australia’s coal production will increase despite strong potential for solar. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA Australia is singled out as a country with strong potential for new hydrogen production facilities in the latest World Energy Outlook, which paints an uncertain future for coal exports and strong projected growth for solar power.
The new stocktake from the International Energy Agency (IEA) says in resource-rich countries such as Australia, hydrogen facilities could be built to sit alongside solar photovoltaic and wind facilities. The report says under such a set-up, Australia “could provide nearly 100m tonnes of oil equivalent of hydrogen, equivalent to 3% of global gas consumption today.”
But the report also finds Australia is the only export-oriented country projected to ramp up coal production significantly over the next 20 years, with some signs the international coal market was more resilient than had been expected.
The report finds Australia’s coal production is projected to exceed that of the United States by the late-2020s, but investment in export-oriented coalmining remained subdued, because of “an uncertain market and policy environment”.
Globally, coal made a comeback in 2017, but how long it remains in the mix is a function of decisions governments make about scaling back carbon emissions and driving the transformation to renewables, the report finds.
It says a slump after 2014 prompted some analysts to conclude coal was now in terminal decline, but in 2016 coal prices started to rebound, demand increased in 2017 and prices continued to rise into 2018, leading to sustained profits for coal producers.
It says the recent trends suggest coal demand “could be more resilient than some expect, especially among developing economies in Asia” – but what happens next is “highly contingent on how policies evolve”.
The coal comeback is a mixed picture. Coal demand is under pressure in advanced economies “due to low electricity demand growth, strong uptake of renewables-based capacity and, in the United States, the availability of inexpensive natural gas” – but there has been a rise in demand in China and India.
While both countries are also pursuing renewables, “robust growth in electricity demand” in India will create a near doubling in coal-fired power output to 2040, and India will import more coking coal to service demand in the iron and steel industries.
The report predicts India will overtake Australia and the United States in the early 2020s to become the world’s second-largest coal producer behind China. It also notes that investment in new coal-fired power plants in 2017 was at its lowest level in a decade, and there was a 50% drop in investments in China, with Beijing promising to reach a peak in CO2 emissions by 2030 or earlier.
Tim Buckley, the director of energy finance studies at Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis Australasia, said the outlook for Australian industry depended on whether governments delivered on policies to address climate change or not.
But he noted that under both the new policy and sustainable development scenarios considered by the IEA, Australia’s coking coal and thermal coal exports would face challenges. “Solar and wind are the largest two sources of new capacity globally,” Buckley said.
“The vast majority of that is happening in the Asia Pacific, which is exactly where our thermal coal industry says it’s going to get 400m tonnes of new growth.”
The report says the electricity sector is experiencing its most dramatic transformation in a century, and the increasing cost-competitiveness of solar photovoltaic will push its installed capacity beyond that of wind before 2025, past hydropower around 2030 and past coal before 2040.
The report posits three scenarios – new policies, current policies, and sustainable development – as points of reference about the speed of the transformation between now and 2040. Buckley said if the sustainable development scenario was achieved to meet the 1.5C goal of the Paris agreement, demand for coking coal would drop by a third by 2040.
“This report shows they are not taking into account the massive structural change and deflationary nature of renewable energy,” he said.
“The best way of preparing for transition is to have a plan and develop industries that are not in long-term decline, be that tourism, education, agriculture, wine or renewable energy.”

Categories: External websites

Woodside Boss Peter Coleman Calls For Australia To Introduce A Carbon Price

Lethal Heating - 14 November, 2018 - 17:04
ABCElysse Morgan

Extended interview with Peter Coleman (The Business)
Key points:
  • Woodside boss Peter Coleman says the time for Australia to act on climate change is now
  • Woodside has joined other resource giants BHP and Rio Tinto in calling for change
  • Mr Coleman says individual companies may help change broader corporate resistance to a carbon price
Australia's biggest oil and gas producer Woodside is now calling for a carbon price.
Speaking on the ABC's The Business, chief executive Peter Coleman said the time to act on climate change was now.
"We need a price on carbon, we need to ensure that the most effective energy gets into the system," he said.
"Our legacy needs to be one that both our children and our grandchildren are proud that their parents gave to them and that opportunity is now, so we think there is a will to act, the time is now, and we need to start having good policy debate."It is a major reversal from the company's stance several years ago, when its then-chief Don Volte campaigned against the Gillard government's emissions pricing scheme.
Mr Coleman's stance will likely make for some awkward conversations at the Business Council, where he sits on the board.
Woodside Petroleum CEO Peter Coleman says action on climate change is needed "to make our children and grandchildren proud" (Supplied: Woodside)The council was another very vocal critic of Australia's previous carbon price, but Mr Coleman said he would not be trying to change the council's stance.
"I accept that the Business Council represents many, many members with diverse views both in the resources sector and manufacturers, so I am not going to talk about where the Business Council is going with this," he said.
"We think it is time for Woodside to step up, we think it is time for industry to step up, it is difficult for industry associations to do that themselves.
"Hopefully by coming out and talking about this in a very clear and thoughtful way, there will be others that will come behind us and say yes, we are of the same view and we will start to develop momentum over time."

Carbon pricing backed by BHP and Rio
Momentum could already be building.
Rio Tinto's boss Jean Sebastien Jacques told The Business in late October that the company remains steadfast in its support of putting a price on emissions.
"Our policy has not changed. We believe in climate change, we believe in carbon pricing," he said.
"We will convey our message to whoever is in power in Australia, in the US, in Canada and in China to make sure that our views are well understood.
"We want as a part of the mining industry to be a part of the solution to climate change."

Extended interview with Jean Sebastien Jacques (The Business)
In the same week BHP released a report stating that a "market-based carbon price could minimise the costs of a low carbon transition by making clear the marginal cost of reducing emissions across all sources".
Last week software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, who has started a social media storm with his campaign for a clean energy future titled "#fairdinkumpower", was also planning to push for a carbon price.
"The biggest kind of thing we can do I guess is put in place a carbon price," he told ABC's 7.30 program.
"Regardless what you think of that science, if we wait to see if the scientists are right or not, it will be too late to act.
"So, prudence dictates that we think about what contribution we can make, individually and collectively, to mitigating the effects of climate change."

Government says it will hit targets without carbon price
However, Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the Government was confident Australia would hit its emissions reduction targets without the need for a carbon price.
"So the crucial issue here is are we going to reach our outcomes," he told RN Breakfast.
"We reached our Kyoto outcomes easily, we will reach Kyoto two, over and above what is required, and we are well on track to reach Paris."Mr Taylor said current policies are working and the Government is "bringing emissions down".
"We are going to go from 17.5 terawatt hours to 44.5 of solar and wind in the national market in the next three years — this is unprecedented — from 9 per cent up to 30 per cent," he said.
The Business Council has been contacted for comment.

LNG industry emissions to surge by decade's end
CO2 emissions from LNG industry
         LNG emissions projections to 2020 (Mt CO2-e) Source: Climate Analytics Get the data EmbedLinks
Categories: External websites

Scientists Warn Australia's Water Security Threatened By Climate Change

Lethal Heating - 14 November, 2018 - 09:00
SBS - Biwa Kwan

Scientists are urging the Australian government to protect the diminishing water supply to southern Australia.

Australia is facing more severe floods and droughts as rainfall patterns diminish over the past three decades, a new report has warned.
Co-author Professor Will Steffen from the Climate Council said the report shows an intensification of drought and floods.
“Climate change is shifting our rainfall patterns and increasing the severity of droughts and floods. We’ve always been a sunburnt country, but things are getting worse,” he said.
Grain feed is left for sheep grazing on a failed crop on crop and livestock farmer Wayne Dunford's Lynton Station west of Parkes. AAPThe Murray-Darling Basin alone, which produces a third of the country’s food supply, has experienced a 41 per cent decline in flow by over the last 20 years, according to the report.
Co-author Lesley Hughes said that is going to have significant impact on drought-affected farmers and agricultural production and exports.
"Australia’s water cycle is like it is on steroids due to climate change," she said.
She said the sharp decline in rainfall has exacerbated the impacts of droughts and floods.
“During droughts as water dries up in streams, rivers and dams. We get increasing concentrations of salt, of nutrients and sediments – and that all affects our water supply,” Professor Hughes said.

Average annual rainfall across Australia.Bureau of Meteorology/Climate Council“At the other end of the spectrum, we see severe impacts on health. Because we get flooding of sewage treatment plants and we have seen increases in the past in Australia, increases in outbreaks like Giardia and Cryptosporidium which mean we have to boil water.”
Seven climate change experts have authored the report, which collates the scientific peer-reviewed literature from the last few decades to give an overall picture of rainfall decline, drought exacerbation and flooding intensity.

‘Water cycle on steroids’: Climate Council says climate change worsening drought impacts
Sydney, Melbourne to among hardest areas hit
The report states Australia’s most populated cities will be among the areas hardest hit in coming decades, with the declining rainfall resulting in a reduced water supply.
“Basically the desalination plants that we put in place - about six of them at the cost 10 billion - they will help us for the next 10-15 years,” said report co-author, Professor Rob Vertessy.
“But after that population growth will mean that we will have to consider new augmentations in many of our big capital cities.”
The former head of the Bureau of Meteorology said the projected population growth of an extra 3 million people in both Sydney and Melbourne by mid-century is a concern.

‘Climate refugees affect regional security’
Professor Vertessy said mass migration of climate refugees would impact on regional security.
“I think the whole world has to face up the problem of the mass migration of climate refugees,” he said.
Aerial view of near the town of Whitecliffs, New South Wales, showing the earth works in preparation for flood mitigation. AAP“There are some serious hotspots at the moment for water security, particularly for the Middle East and the North Africa region. And some of the countries in South Asia that are below the Himalayas that depend on glacial melt water.
“If you look out far enough, it seems very clear to me and people who are watching this, that there will be large parts of the world that won't be able to support the populations that they currently support.”

Government urged to act
Professor Hughes said there is an urgent need for a stronger federal government climate policy, saying that phasing out coal would be the best long-term solution.
“As we're all aware Australia has no federal climate policy. Australian emissions have been rising every quarter since March 2015. Australia is lagging beind the rest of the world when we should be leading on climate change action.
“So it is extremely important, if we are able to stablilise the climate by the second half of this century that we have rapid and deep emission cuts. We need federal leadership on this.”
Rain clouds are seen forming just outside the regional NSW town of Harden.AAPGovernment defends 'strong' climate policy
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has insisted the federal government's climate change policy is "strong" and "effective".
WA Liberal senator Dean Smith has challenged the government to strengthen its policy to appeal to the youth vote based a Newspoll analysis.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack walk along a dry damn during a visit to Mulloon Creek Natural Farm near Bungendore. AAPThe poll results showed 27 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds would allocate their primary vote to the coalition, compared with 46 per cent who would support Labor.
Senator Cormann told the ABC he believes the federal government's policy doesn't need changing.
"We are dealing with climate change," he told the ABC.
"But in a way that doesn't undermine the opportunity for young people in particular to get a job, to build a career in Australia into the future.
"My view and our view is that we have to continue to take strong and effective action in relation to climate change but in a way that is economically responsible."

Categories: External websites

Where Cheap Power Matters More Than Environmental Armageddon

Lethal Heating - 13 November, 2018 - 15:26
Bloomberg -   | 

Australia lags behind in energy transition away from coal
Lack of policy clarity hurting investment in new power sources
An aerial view of Abbot Point, north of Bowen, Queensland, Australia, in 2013. Source: Greenpeace via EPAFew places better illustrate the tension between pursuing profit and tackling climate change than Australia’s Abbot Point port in northern Queensland.
It’s here, 30 miles from the Great Barrier Reef, that Adani Enterprises Ltd. wants to increase capacity so it can ship more coal from a new A$2 billion ($1.4 billion) mine nearby. The expansion faces opposition from environmentalists, who say it will endanger the health of the reef, one of the seven wonders of the natural world, but has been backed by the government along with the new mine.
It’s emblematic of Australia’s dilemma: blessed with some of the world’s richest natural environments, from Kakadu wetlands in the Northern Territory to the primordial Tarkine rainforest in Tasmania, yet reliant on mining and exporting one of the most ecologically-damaging fossil fuels to keep its economy ticking.
Under Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Liberal-National coalition government, political and economic arguments in favor of fossil fuels are overpowering popular interest in tackling climate change for now. The coalition was keen to disburse A$1 billion in taxpayer-funded loans to help Adani build a rail link for the project, but the plan was vetoed by Queensland’s state government, which is controlled by the national opposition Labor Party.
Though one of the world’s biggest sources of coal and natural gas, a decade of political dithering and policy missteps have saddled Australia with rising power prices and at times unreliable supplies. Successive governments have failed to provide the investment certainty needed to bridge the transition to renewables such as solar and wind as aging coal-fired plants close.
The government is primarily focused on mollifying voters hit with higher electricity bills and sees coal as the solution. Yet those same voters also want more action against climate change, with 84 percent wanting the government to boost renewable power generation, according to a June poll by Australian think tank the Lowy Institute.

Power Mix Down Under
Keeping the coal fires burning

Source: Bloomberg NEFNote: Data for 2017“The challenge is largely political” said Mark Howden, director of the Climate Change Institute at Australian National University. “We have a range of barriers both in terms of policy, or lack of policy, to incentivize change.”
The need for change is becoming more urgent, according to a panel of scientists convened by the United Nations. The world must invest $2.4 trillion in clean energy every year through 2035 and cut the use of coal-fired power to almost nothing by 2050 to avoid catastrophic damage from climate change, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change wrote in a report last month.
The atmosphere is already almost 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) hotter than it was at the start of the industrial revolution and on track to rise 3 degrees by 2100, according to the report. That’s double the pace targeted under the 2015 Paris climate agreements.
“Post-Paris, the world has largely moved on toward adopting a de-carbonization pathway,” Christoph Frei, chief executive of the World Energy Council, said during a visit to Australia last month. “In Australia, we don’t have that certainty and that’s probably the worst situation you can be in.”
An increase in 1.5 degrees would pose an increased risk of coral bleaching on the iconic Reef, longer droughts on the driest inhabited continent and more intense bushfire seasons, according to Howden.
Many Australian lawmakers still find the economic argument for supporting coal more compelling than avoiding possible environmental Armageddon. The fuel is overtaking iron ore as Australia’s largest export earner this fiscal year, with taxes from more than $40 billion a year in overseas sales helping bolster government coffers. Australia generates about 80 percent of its power from coal and gas, compared with the global average of about 59 percent, according to Bloomberg NEF data.

Fossil Fuel Fetish
Coal and gas still make up bulk of Australian power generation

Source: Bloomberg NEFNote: Data for 2017 That looks unlikely to change under the current government. Morrison, who in 2016 brandished a lump of coal in parliament to show his support of the fuel, is considering using taxpayer dollars to subsidize new coal-fired plants. Following the IPCC report, Morrison said he was confident Australia would meet its Paris emissions-reduction target -- a minimum 26 percent cut from 2005 levels by 2030 -- “at a canter.”
“The government is committed to drive down power prices for Australian businesses and families, while we keep the lights on,” Energy Minister Angus Taylor said in a written response to questions sent by Bloomberg. “There are already record levels of investment in Australia’s renewable energy sector,” and the nation is on track to meet its emissions reduction and large-scale renewable energy targets, he said.

‘No Effective Policy’
Not everyone is convinced. Tim Flannery, perhaps Australia’s best known environmentalist, said the country’s Paris targets were underwhelming compared with developed world peers and “even those targets look unachievable.”
“The government has no effective policy to achieve them,” Flannery said in an interview.
Unlike the Trump administration, Australia has not formally withdrawn from the Paris framework. But Morrison’s government is refusing to legislate or regulate measures to ensure the targets will be met. The nation is the world’s number one carbon emitter on a per-capita basis and its renewables capacity is among the lowest in the developed world.
The policy vacuum makes it difficult for energy companies to make investment decisions needed for the transition to cleaner power.
“It’s hard to decide to invest in long-life assets when you don’t know what the rules of the game are around carbon constraint,” said Sarah McNamara, chief executive officer of the Australian Energy Council, which represents companies in the wholesale and retail energy markets.
ANU’s Howden says Australia’s lack of action on climate change is perplexing to many of his international colleagues.
“When other countries look at us,” he said, “they wonder why we’re not aligning ourselves with what they see as our own self-interest.”

Categories: External websites

Fighting Climate Change: How Emergency Services Are Battling Changing Conditions

Lethal Heating - 13 November, 2018 - 15:26
ABCKate Doyle

Fire seasons in the United States and Australia are getting longer. (Reuters: Gene Blevins)Infographic: Californian fires are projected to increase in (a) number, (b) size and (c) burn area, with an extended season in the future (2040-2060) compared to the present (1980-2000) (based on high emissions scenario). (Supplied: Yufang Jin et al. 2015 Environmental Research Letters)California has been battling the most destructive fires in its history and the death toll is rising. Meanwhile in Australia, there was a heat event recently that smashed early season temperature records in the south-east, and fires threatened Canberra.
It is still spring.
Attributing individual events to climate change is complex, but observing the overall trend is not.
The California fires are happening during the period of the Santa Ana winds, which blow across the continent bringing hot, dry winds from October through to April.
November fires are not unheard of, but historically the Santa Ana fires peak in October, before things cool down as the northern hemisphere heads into winter.
Because of climate change, fires are getting more intense and fire seasons are extending to the point where the northern and southern hemisphere fire seasons are overlapping.

Tactics will need to change
Climate change is a reality emergency services are dealing with, and fire is not the only problem, with warming oceans resulting in heavier rain and the potential for increased flooding.
Tasmanian Fire Service chief officer Chris Arnold does not back away from the issue.
"We have to look at what the impact of climate change is in the community and how we're going to change our strategies and our tactics, and then ultimately invest in new approaches to deal with climate change," he said. Mr Arnold is involved with an emergency services climate change initiative to research and respond to climate change issues in the sector.
"Certainly we have been aware of climate change coming and the Bureau of Meteorology has long been warning of those impacts. The next thing to decide is what do you do about that?" he said.

Embed: Australian mean temp 1910 to 2017
Bad fire seasons are becoming the norm
Bureau of Meteorology climate services manager David Jones said the impacts of climate change were already being felt in Australia.
"In southern Australia we've seen rising temperatures and declining rainfall and that's increasing the fire danger, particularly in states like Victoria, parts of New South Wales, western New South Wales, southern New South Wales, across south-west WA," he said.
Summer fire danger has been getting worse for the south and east since the 1950s.
  (Supplied: Bureau of Meteorology)
Dr Jones said in Victoria there had been about a 50 per cent increase in the forest fire danger index season severity.
"When you look at the past, we would get a bad fire season maybe once every 10 years or thereabouts," he said.
"Now the norm is actually a bad fire season." What can be done about that?
New South Wales Rural Fire Service planning and predictive services manager Simon Heemstra is on the frontline of trying to work out how to adapt to climate change in the emergency services sector.
One of the challenges he faces is not being able to share resources, such as the big American firebombing aeroplanes, when seasons cross over.
Sharing resources is a challenge when states and countries are battling fires at the same time. (Supplied: DELWP)"With the lengthening season, there may be competition for those sorts of resources, and we're going to need to look at what are the most effective alternatives, and also how else can we better mitigate and prepare for events," Dr Heemstra said.
"The American water bombers are only a part of how we manage fires."
Dr Heemstra said an increased emphasis on better hardening infrastructure, preparing communities, as well as all the mitigation works on fire trials and hazard reduction, would hopefully reduce the increasing risk and impact of climate change-induced natural disasters.

Not just fire that is an issue
Dr Jones said the changing climate was not just impacting fires — the ice is melting and the warming ocean is expanding, impacting on flooding.
"What we're seeing is a quite general increase in sea level. It's about 4 millimetres a year at the moment, 3–4 millimetres, and it's going on year on year. It's actually starting to add up," he said.
A few centimetres could change how natural disasters play out.
Warm waters in May 2016 coincided with record rainfall in Tasmania. (Supplied: Bureau of Meteorology)"For example, earlier in the year in Brisbane, we saw floods on perfectly fine sunny days and that was because of these higher sea levels," Dr Jones said.
Warmer oceans can also lead to heavier rain, especially when combined with a warmer atmosphere.
"The amount of moisture the atmosphere can hold increases by nearly 10 per cent for each degree of global warming," Dr Jones said.

When it comes to climate, nothing happens in isolation
"The other thing we're noticing with the heating globe is that the things that caused these disasters also have other cascading and coalescing events," Dr Heemstra said.
For example, fires during heatwaves can stress electricity supply.
"There's a whole public health issue that also goes with multiple disasters you might need to be responding to," he said. Dealing with firefighter fatigue is an issue emergency services will have to tackle as fire seasons get longer. (Supplied: Wallcliffe Volunteer Fire Brigade, file) There are many aspects for emergency services to consider, particularly if there are going to be more frequent events.
"How do we deal with our workforce, and fatigue, and managing the increased expectation of how we're going to work?" Dr Heemstra said.
"How do we look at infrastructure, and are our design levels appropriate for a changing climate?"

How bad could it get?
Most climate modelling focuses on how the averages are going to change over time.
If you're reading this article, it's possible the answer is yes. Then why not join the ABC-facilitated Weather Obsessed group on Facebook — thousands of others are already going troppo for the troposphere!"The thing that we're missing out of the climate models is they don't really look at the extremes, and that is where we operate in the emergency services space," Dr Heemstra said.
"We actually need to do some more work looking at the amplitude or the amount which those extreme events vary from those averages, stay the same, or will that actually increase."
According to Dr Heemstra, there needs to be an investment in projecting the extremes so we can better understand the sort of challenges we might face because of climate change.
Dr Jones's data demonstrates that things are already different from how they were in the past.
"What it means is really the past can no longer tell you the limits of what you can see," he said.
"So you start to have to prepare for events which are perhaps beyond what you're seen before, perhaps starting to really test your imagination." For Dr Jones it is not about hope or options. As a scientist he studies these things objectively.
"We study really to make people's life better … enable them to take the opportunities that climate change will present, but also adapt so the impacts of climate change are less bad."

Categories: External websites

Ten Ways Climate Change Is Making Wildfires Worse

Lethal Heating - 13 November, 2018 - 13:26
SBS -  Yuri Kadobnov, AFP

As deadly wildfires threaten thousands in northern and southern California, scientists have identified 10 ways climate change can make wildfires worse.

Deadly wildfires such as those raging in northern and southern California have become more common in the US state and elsewhere in the world in recent years. AFP talked to scientists about the ways in which climate change can make them worse.
Other factors have also fuelled an increase in the frequency and intensity of major fires, including human encroachment on wooded areas, and questionable forest management. "The patient was already sick," in the words of David Bowman, a professor of environmental change biology at the University of Tasmania and a wildfire expert.
"But climate change is the accelerant."

Fine weather for a fire
Any firefighter can tell you the recipe for "conducive fire weather": hot, dry and windy.
No surprise, then, that many of the tropical and temperate regions devastated by a surge in forest fires are those predicted in climate models to see higher temperatures and more droughts.
Heavy smoke blankets the forest where the Camp Fire is burning heavily near Paradise, California, on Nov. 11, 2018. AAP"Besides bringing more dry and hot air, climate change - by elevating evaporation rates and drought prevalence - also creates more flammable ecosystems," noted Christopher Williams, director of environmental sciences at Clark University in Massachusetts.
In the last 20 years, California and southern Europe have seen several droughts of a magnitude that used to occur only once a century.
A group of U.S. Forest Service firefighters monitor a back fire while battling to save homes on Nov. 8.  © Stephen Lam/ReutersMore fuel
Dry weather means more dead trees, shrubs and grass - and more fuel for the fire.
"All those extremely dry years create an enormous amount of desiccated biomass," said Michel Vennetier, an engineer at France's National Research of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture (IRSTEA).
"That's an ideal combustible."

Change of scenery
To make matters worse, new species better adapted to semi-arid conditions grow in their place.
"Plants that like humidity have disappeared, replaced by more flammable plants that can withstand dry conditions, like rosemary, wild lavender and thyme," said Vennetier.
"The change happens quite quickly."
In the last 20 years, California and southern Europe have seen several droughts of a magnitude that used to occur only once a century. © Provided by AFP

Thirsty plants
With rising mercury and less rain, water-stressed trees and shrubs send roots deeper into the soil, sucking up every drop of water they can to nourish leaves and needles.
That means the moisture in the earth that might have helped to slow a fire sweeping through a forest or garrigue is no longer there.

Longer season
In the northern hemisphere's temperate zone, the fire season was historically short - July and August, in most places.
"Today, the period susceptible to wildfires has extended from June to October," said IRSTEA scientist Thomas Curt, referring to the Mediterranean basin.
In California, which only recently emerged from a five-year drought, some experts say there's no longer a season at all - fires can happen year-round.

More lightning
"The warmer it gets, the more lightning you have," said Mike Flannigan, a professor at the University of Alberta, Canada and director of the Western Partnership for Wildland Fire Science.
The wildfires spreading across California have so far claimed nine lives and forced tens of thousands to flee. AAP"Especially in the northern areas, that translates into more fires."
At the same time, he noted that 95 per cent of wildfires worldwide are started by humans.

Weakened jet stream
Normal weather patterns over North America and Eurasia depend heavily on the powerful, high-altitude air currents - produced by the contrast between polar and equatorial temperatures - known as the jet stream.
But global warming has raised temperatures in the Arctic twice as fast as the global average, weakening those currents.
"We are seeing more extreme weather because of what we call blocked ridges, which is a high-pressure system in which air is sinking, getting warmer and drier along the way," said Flannigan.
"Firefighters have known for decades that these are conducive to fire activity."

Unmanageable intensity
Climate change not only boosts the likelihood of wildfires, but their intensity as well.
"If the fire gets too intense" as in California right now, and in Greece last summer - "there is no direct measure you can take to stop it," said Flannigan.
"It's like spitting on a campfire."

Beetle infestations
With rising temperatures, beetles have moved northward into Canada's boreal forests, wreaking havoc - and killing trees - along the way.
"Bark beetle outbreaks temporarily increase forest flammability by increasing the amount of dead material, such as needles," said Williams.

Positive feedback
Globally, forests hold about 45 per cent of Earth's land-locked carbon and soak up a quarter of human greenhouse gas emissions.
But as forests die and burn, some of the carbon is released back into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change in a vicious loop that scientists call "positive feedback."

Categories: External websites

Climate Change Will Make QLD’s Ecosystems Unrecognisable – It’s Up To Us If We Want To Stop That

Lethal Heating - 12 November, 2018 - 20:16
The Conversation

It’s not just about the Great Barrier Reef. Queensland’s rainforests - particularly in the mountains - will also change thanks to a warming climate. Shutterstock Climate change and those whose job it is to talk about current and future climate impacts are often classed as the “harbingers of doom”. For the world’s biodiversity, the predictions are grim - loss of species, loss of pollination, dying coral reefs.
The reality is that without human intervention, ecosystems will reshape themselves in response to climate change, what we can think of as “autonomous adaptation”. For us humans - we need to decide if we need or want to change that course.
For those who look after natural systems, our job description has changed. Until now we have scrambled to protect or restore what we could fairly confidently consider to be “natural”. Under climate change knowing what that should look like is hard to decide.
If the Great Barrier Reef still has a few pretty fish and coral in the future, and only scientists know they are different species to the past, does that matter? It’s an extreme example, but it is a good analogy for the types of decisions we might need to make.
In Queensland, the government has just launched the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Climate Adaptation Plan for Queensland focused on what is considered important for making these decisions. The plan is high level, but is an important first step toward preparing the sector for the future.

Changing ecosystems
For the rest of Queensland’s ecosystems the story is much the same as the Great Barrier Reef. There are the obvious regions at risk. Our coastal floodplains and wetlands are potentially under threat from both sides, with housing and development making a landward march and the sea pushing in from the other side. These ecosystems literally have nowhere to go in the crush.
It’s a similar story for species and ecosystems that specialise on cool, high altitude mountaintops. These small, isolated populations rely on cool conditions. As the temperature warms, if they can’t change their behaviour (for instance, by taking refuge in cool spots or crevices during hot times), then it is unlikely they will survive without human intervention such as translocation.
We are all too familiar with the risk of coral reefs dying and becoming a habitat for algae, but some of our less high profile ecosystems face similar transformations. Our tropical savannah woodlands cover much of the top third of Queensland. An iconic ecosystem of the north, massive weed invasions and highly altered fire regimes might threaten to make them unrecognisable.
Changing fire patterns and invasive species could see dramatic changes in Queensland’s savannah woodlands. ShutterstockSo where to from here?
From the grim predictions we must rally to find a way forward. Critically for those who must manage our natural areas it’s about thinking about what we want to get out of our efforts.
Conservation property owners, both public (for instance, national parks) and private (for instance, not-for-profit conservation groups), must decide what their resources can achieve. Throwing money at a species we cannot save under climate change may be better replaced by focusing on making sure we have species diversity or water quality. It’s a hard reality to swallow, but pragmatism is part of the climate change equation.
We led the development of the Queensland plan, and were encouraged to discover a sector that had a great deal of knowledge, experience and willingness. The challenge for the Queensland government is to usefully channel that energy into tackling the problem.

Valuing biodiversity
One of the clearest messages from many of the people we spoke to was about how biodiversity and ecosystems are valued by the wider community. Or not. There was a clear sense that we need to make biodiversity and ecosystems a priority.
The Great Barrier Reef is already seeing major climate impacts, particularly bleaching. ShutterstockIt’s easy to categorise biodiversity and conservation as a “green” issue. But aside from the intrinsic value or personal health and recreation value that most of us place on natural areas, without biodiversity we risk losing things other than a good fishing spot.
Every farmer knows the importance of clean water and fertile soil to their economic prosperity. But when our cities bulge, or property is in danger from fire, we prioritise short-term economic returns, more houses or reducing fire risk over biodiversity almost every time.
Of course, this is not to say the balance should be flipped, but climate change is challenging our politicians, planners and us as the Queensland community to take responsibility for the effects our choices have on our biodiversity and ecosystems. As the pressure increases to adapt in other sectors, we should seek options that could help – rather than hinder – adaptation in natural systems.
Coastal residences may feel that investing in a seawall to protect their homes from rising sea levels is worthwhile even if it means sacrificing a scrap of coastal wetland, but there are opportunities to satisfy both human needs and biodiversity needs. We hope the Queensland plan can help promote those opportunities.

Categories: External websites

Firefighters, Climate Scientist, Slam Trump For 'Shameful' And 'Ill-Informed' Wildfire Tweets

Lethal Heating - 12 November, 2018 - 17:15

The leaders of two firefighters associations have blasted President Donald Trump’s tweet about California wildfires as “ill-informed” and “shameful,” arguing that the federal government is largely responsible for the ongoing problem.
At least 23 people have been killed and tens of thousands evacuated as a forest fire ravaged the Northern California city of Paradise over the weekend. In Southern California, two other bodies were recovered from a forest fire, bringing the state’s death toll to 25. Forest fires have been a constant problem in California for many years, regularly costing lives and billions in damages.
Addressing the disaster in a Saturday tweet, Trump lashed out at California’s management of forests as the cause of the fires, threatening to cut payments from the federal government.
IMAGE“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!” he threatened.
Although Trump later sent out another tweet, saying “God bless them all,” referring to firefighters and those impacted by the devastation, the heads of the California Professional Firefighters (CPF) and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) released statements slamming the the president’s remarks.
“To make crass suggestions such as cutting off funding during a time of crisis shows a troubling lack of real comprehension about the disaster at hand and the dangerous job our fire fighters do,” Harold Schaitberger, General President of IAFF, which represents paid full-time firefighters and emergency medical services personnel in the United States and Canada, said.
"His comments are reckless and insulting to the fire fighters and people being affected,” Schaitberger added.
CPF President Brian K. Rice shared similar sentiments, while also pointing out that Trump’s tweet demonstrates a misunderstanding of the reality of how forests are managed in California.
“The president’s message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines,” Rice said. “The president has chosen instead to issue an uninformed political threat aimed squarely at the innocent victims of these cataclysmic fires,” he added.
A CalFire firefighter sets up tape as Yuba and Butte County Sheriff officers recover a body at a burned out residence in Paradise, California on November 10 JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images Continuing, Rice explained that Trump’s “assertion that California’s forest management policies are to blame for catastrophic wildfire is dangerously wrong.”
“Wildfires are sparked and spread not only in forested areas but in populated areas and open fields fueled by parched vegetation, high winds, low humidity and geography. Moreover, nearly 60 percent of California forests are under federal management, and another one-third under private control. It is the federal government that has chosen to divert resources away from forest management, not California,” he pointed out.
“We would encourage the president to offer support in word and deed, instead of recrimination and blame,” he concluded, pointing out that wildfires are not a partisan issue. “Families are in mourning, thousands have lost homes, and a quarter-million Americans have been forced to flee,” he said.
While Trump blamed forest management, experts have often pointed out that climate change is a leading factor behind an uptick in fires throughout California and other western states. As president, Trump has removed the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords, which aimed to curb the impact of climate change globally. He has also expressed constant skepticism of the established science that demonstrates significant warming and change around the planet, while cutting regulations intended to curb pollution and emissions.
“As, frankly, someone that was evacuated and has visited burnt-out homes, that Trump tweet today blaming the state was an insult and so uninformed,” Glen MacDonald, a geography professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has studied climate change and the effects of wildfires for decades, told The Daily Beast. “There are no forests to manage here. Coastal fires and shrubs are part of what burnt. It was a statement made with insensitivity and ignorance.”
California elected several Democratic lawmakers in the recent midterms, defeating Republicans.

Categories: External websites

Fire Chief: Climate Change Helped Make California Wildfires More Devastating

Lethal Heating - 12 November, 2018 - 10:32
The Guardian

Daryl Osby says fire in north of state has taken resources which would usually be used to help deadly blaze in his area
Firefighters hose down hot spots on a wildfire-ravaged property in Malibu, California. Photograph: Marcio José Sánchez/AP As fire officials from across Ventura and Los Angeles county gathered to speak to reporters on Sunday, beyond the charred and smoldering hills where the Woolsey fire burned through the weekend, the wind was already starting to pick up.
As Los Angeles fire chief Daryl Osby took the podium, strong gusts swirled smoke, ash and dust through grey skies. Along with updates on progress in fighting the fire, he said this blaze signified a shift: fire crews are now facing the most erratic and challenging fight of their lives.
Climate change, Osby said, was undeniably a part of why the fires burning in northern and southern California were more devastating and destructive than in years past.
The death toll stood at 25: two in the LA-area fires, 23 around the destroyed town of Paradise 500 miles to the north. The total was expected to rise.
“The fact of the matter is if you look at the state of California, climate challenge is happening statewide,” Osby said, adding that “it is going to be here for the foreseeable future”.
The Camp Fire burns in the hills 2018 near Big Bend, California, on Saturday. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Drought conditions have increasingly affected the state over the past decade, causing erratic fire behavior and making efforts to contain the flames much more difficult. The Woolsey fire, which was only 10% contained on Sunday, has burned more than 87,000 acres in three days. More than 177 homes have been lost and officials said that number was expected to rise rapidly.
The fire season, which started in early summer, is poised to break records for a second year in a row. In July California’s outgoing governor, Jerry Brown, referred to megafires as the “new normal”.
After the press conference, Osby told the Guardian environmental changes had expanded fire season across the state. Crucially, this has put a crunch on resources. For an immediate example, the Camp fire in the north, which devastated Paradise, has diverted resources that drier areas of southern California could once rely on for backup.
Typically we would rely on our partners to the north to come. But they are fighting a major fire up there
Daryl Osby, LA fire chief
“It did have an affect on our strategy,” he said. “Typically we would rely on our partners to the north to come. But they are fighting a major fire up there.”
Southern California fire crews therefore only had capacity to focus on saving lives and structures as the fire moved and were unable to work on containing the flames for three days.
According to Cal Fire chief Scott Jalbert, there was a window on Saturday when the winds died down and firefighters were able to make some progress. But with strong winds projected through the beginning of the new week, containing the fire will be more difficult.
“They took as much advantage as they could,” he said but “with these winds, 30-40mph, it is going to cause a lot of problems”. He added that aircraft will be less affective at aiming retardant. “You can imagine dropping a cup of water into these winds. It goes all over the place.”
With help coming from Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Washington, Osby said fire crews would have the support they need to stop the flames from spreading.
“What really hampered our ability to combat this fire is we didn’t have enough resources for containment,” he said. “Normally we would do all three things simultaneously but now we have to do it in sequential order. Lives are first.”

Categories: External websites

Exclusive Photos: A Giant Iceberg Breaks Off Antarctica

Lethal Heating - 11 November, 2018 - 21:02
National GeographicBrian Clark Howard | Photographs Thomas Prior

NASA scientists just got their first close look at a new iceberg three times the size of Manhattan. Our team was on the plane.
Curving ice canyons mark the edge of the new iceberg, dubbed B-46, as it breaks off the thick, floating ice shelf of the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica. In the foreground lies broken sea ice on the dark surface of the Amundsen Sea. LARGE IMAGEAbove the Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica - As the plane approached low over the enormous expanse of white, excited scientists crowded to the windows, cameras in hand. Their instruments had warned them that something special was about to emerge from the bleak expanse of West Antarctica.
“We’re coming up on B-46,” a pilot’s voice crackled in their headsets.

Flying at 1,500 feet, the NASA plane circled over the new B-46 iceberg, getting a good view here of its front, seaward edge.
LARGE IMAGE B-46 is essentially a long slice cut from the front of the Pine Island ice shelf—the floating end of a glacier that is flowing toward the sea. The berg is already cracking into sections that will become separate icebergs. LARGE IMAGE
Moments later, the cracks appeared. Huge, blocky fissures sliced across the giant white layer cake of the Pine Island Glacier, a fast-moving part of the West Antarctic ice sheet. The sound of clicking shutters filled the noisy, drafty cabin of the DC-8. There were broad smiles and exclamations. “It’s so big,” someone said. “It’s incredible,” said another.
Another giant chunk of ice had just broken off the glacier.
As the jet continued its auto-controlled transect line, 1,500 feet over the ice, it crossed the main break—a huge white canyon that marked a detachment point of what was now an iceberg from the rest of the glacier’s floating ice shelf. The new iceberg, named B-46 by scientists, is estimated to cover about 71 square miles, more than three times the size of Manhattan. The cliffs at its edges are 160 to 230 feet high.
“This is a brand new feature,” said Brooke Medley, a glaciologist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. “I’m 99 percent sure we are the first people to ever see this with our own eyes.”
Pine Island Glacier sits along the Amundsen Sea, west of the Antarctic Peninsula. Remote as it is, it’s one of the most famous and studied glaciers in the world—because it’s one of the fastest changing. As the glacier melts, largely due to warm seawater that’s being driven under its floating shelf by changing winds and currents, it contributes significantly to global sea level rise. (Read more about Antarctic melting and sea level rise.)
In September, scientists studying satellite photographs had discovered a crack in the ice shelf. “It’s possible it started before that, but it was in the polar winter then and we don’t have a record of it,” said Medley.
The fissure that separates the B-46 iceberg from the shelf of the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica. SEE ALL PHOTOGRAPHSThe B-46 iceberg is thought to have broken off just a few weeks later, on or around October 27, again according to satellite imagery, said Medley, who is also the deputy project scientist for NASA’s Operation IceBridge. Since 2009, the program has flown highly sensitive instruments over both poles in a variety of aircraft—including the vintage DC-8 used this week—to study how the ice-covered regions are changing as the planet warms.

Rapid breakup
The speed of the iceberg’s break has surprised scientists. And when it calved, “it may have taken smaller bergs with it along the way,” Medley adds.
In fact, the iceberg is so large and fresh, and still so close to the adjacent glacier, that it is hard to take in whole from an altitude of 1,500 feet—imagine flying over Manhattan just a few feet above the tip of the Empire State Building’s antenna.
“It’s difficult to grasp the scale of what we are looking at,” Medley said from her workstation in the DC-8, behind a bank of monitors. “But it’s absolutely stunning. Spectacular.”
In addition to the main ice canyons that mark the berg’s outer boundaries, it’s also bisected by many smaller crevasses, indicating that it’s already breaking up into smaller pieces. Even more fissures can be seen cutting into the glacier itself.
B-46 will likely keep breaking up over the coming weeks, as it is buffeted by wind and currents in the Southern Ocean.
Large sections of B-46 float in front of the Pine Island ice shelf. Scientists worry that the entire ice shelf might one day disintegrate, unleashing the glacier behind it. LARGE IMAGEAlthough it’s a large mass of ice, B-46 is hardly the largest in recent memory. In 2015, the Pine Island Glacier—or PIG, as scientists affectionately call it—calved a 225-square-mile iceberg. And in July 2017, an expanse of ice the size of Delaware, some 2,240 square miles, broke off the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. (Learn more about the impacts of warming on the peninsula.)

The global picture
Although such big ice calving events can be purely natural phenomena, they have increasingly drawn attention from the scientific community and public because of their possible links to global climate change. As the world’s land-based glaciers melt with warming temperatures—particularly in Greenland and Antarctica—global sea level is rising. That, in turn, threatens to drown low-lying areas from Florida to Bangladesh.
“Pine Island and the neighboring Thwaites Glacier contribute a large fraction of global sea-level rise, five to 10 percent, even though they only make up about three percent of Antarctica,” said John Sonntag, a NASA Goddard scientist and self-described “weather nerd”, who was also on the fight.
The glaciers that rim Antarctica are buttressed by their floating ice shelves. As those ice shelves melt and break into pieces, they relieve pressure on the vast amounts of inland ice behind them. If entire glaciers were to slough off into the sea, they could eventually raise sea level by tens of feet, with potentially catastrophic implications for human civilization.
In the early 2000s, Pine Island Glacier calved large icebergs roughly once every six years. But in the past five years there have now been four such events. Since the 1970s, the edge of the glacier has retreated tens of miles. Driving all this melting is water that in the Amundsen Sea has warmed by more than a degree Fahrenheit over the past few decades.
“It’s amazing the relevance to our species that this one area has,” Sonntag said.
Medley cautions that it’s difficult to link a specific calving event with long-term change. “That being said, you can look at the frequency of events.”
Glacier behavior is complex and there are significant gaps in understanding. In fact, collecting data to help close those gaps is the main purpose of the day’s flight over the bottom of the world, as part of NASA IceBridge’s austral spring and summer campaign. In particular, the scientists hope to better map the seafloor under the ice shelves (which influences the speed at which the ice retreats), and more precisely work out the densities and masses of the snow and ice (which can influence melt rates).
Preliminary data from the lasers and radar on board the DC-8 suggest B-46 had fractures that went at least 200 feet deep, said Jim Yungel, a NASA Goddard engineer overseeing the instruments on the flight.
For now, it’s hard to say how much the new iceberg may contribute to, or be a symptom of, the wider changes facing West Antarctica.
But, says Medley, “The fact that it broke off so rapidly is concerning.”

Categories: External websites

The End Of The End Of The Earth By Jonathan Franzen Review – Hope In An Age Of Crisis

Lethal Heating - 10 November, 2018 - 20:02
The Guardian

A writer at the top of his game considers climate change, what we can do and what keeps him from despair
Birds are the animat­ing spirits of Franzen’s collection. Photograph: Mihai Stanciu/Alamy The End of the End of the Earth Jonathan FranzenHow is it possible to live with despair? If, in the wake of last month’s horrifying UN report on global warming, you’ve been asking yourself this question, take some solace (or at least solidarity) from the knowledge that you’re not alone.
Jonathan Franzen has been grappling with it for years, and as the final-countdown title of his new volume of essays suggests, his despair at the state of the planet and our absolute inability (“political, psychological, ethical, economic”) to save it is, if anything, deepening.
“I don’t have any hope that we can stop the change from coming,” he says bluntly at the conclusion of his opening essay, and nothing in the following pages suggests he is anywhere close to changing his mind.
But by refusing to hope for the impossible, Franzen, improbably, manages to produce a volume that feels, if not hopeful, then at least not hopeless. There’s nothing he can do – there’s probably nothing any of us can do – to avert or even alleviate the coming catastrophe. But for now, he’s here and he’s alive, and over the course of these essays he offers us a series of partial, tentative answers to the question he poses himself at the beginning: “How do we find meaning in our actions when the world seems to be coming to an end?”
This is not a collection that wastes time attempting to persuade us of the reality of the climate crisis; frankly, we’re way past that. “Drastic planetary overheating,” Franzen assures us, “is a done deal” – and by the way, we need to revise significantly upward our definition of what “drastic” means. The notional two-degree figure widely cited by politicians as the upper limit of what we, and the planet, could possibly accommodate is a line we’re on course to gallop past in just a few years’ time. By 2100, we may well be looking at a five or six-degree temperature rise, and even then there’s a possibility we’re being lowballed. “The scientist who confidently predicts a five-degree warming by the end of the century,” Franzen suggests, towards the end of the collection, “might tell you in private, over beers, that she really expects it to be nine.” It’s a body blow moment in a book that declines to pull its punches, and Franzen acknowledges that many of his readers – “the people for whom the prospect of a hot, calamity-filled future is unbearably sad and frightening” – might be “forgiven for not wanting to think about it”. But over the course of these essays, he succeeds in demonstrating that resignation brings with it a curious intellectual freedom. His acknowledgment that the macro problem is beyond him allows him to start thinking more creatively about micro solutions: what can be achieved here, now, today.
Jonathan Franzen in Santa Cruz, California, where he birdwatches. Photograph: Talia Herman for the Guardian Naturally, there’s another way to read his position. Viewed through the other end of the telescope, Franzen’s acceptance of the coming crisis could be seen as an abnegation of responsibility: resignation in terms of action, rather than comprehension; a ducking of the issue that’s just a left-liberal version of the US president’s fatuous claim that the climate will “change back”. It’s an accusation to which Franzen is acutely sensitive, not least because it has been levelled at him before. In the collection’s opening piece, “The Essay in Dark Times”, published as “Is it too Late to Save the World?”, what begins as a fascinating consideration of the role of the essay at a moment of objective peril evolves, via a circuitous route that takes in quitting smoking, birdwatching in Ghana and Trump’s election, into a critical rereading of another essay (“Save What You Love”, also collected here) that he wrote for the New Yorker, some two-and-a-half years earlier. That one was triggered by his fury at the actions of the National Audubon Society, the US’s foremost organisation for bird conservation.
Franzen’s passion for birdwatching is almost as well known as his novels, so to say the Audubon Society was an unlikely target is an understatement. But it was precisely “as a bird-lover” that it attracted his ire. In 2014, the Society had, “with much fanfare”, thrown all its resources into the climate change fight, declaring that global warming was “the number-one threat to the birds of North America”. There’s no question that climate change poses an existential threat in the medium-term, however, “in 2014, the most serious threats to American birds were habitat loss and outdoor cats”. In Franzen’s view, the society’s position was both “narrowly dishonest” and potentially harmful, in that it might discourage people “from tackling solvable environmental problems in the here and now”. He said as much in his essay, was duly denounced as a “climate-change denier”, and retreated in a mixture of shame and regret on the one hand, and injured self-justification on the other. The irony, of course, was that he wasn’t attempting to deny climate change at all: “In fact, I’m such a climate-science accepter that I don’t even bother having hope for the ice caps.” Rather, he was denying that our current piecemeal, unserious attempts to mitigate it will have any consequential effect, and arguing that therefore we might better expend our efforts on conservation projects whose benefits “are immediate and tangible”.
Where Franzen perfectly strikes the balance between form, content and voice you know you’re in the presence of a masterIt’s a complex position, both to articulate and to accept. But it is not, in the years since he first set it out, one that he has backed away from, because it represents the only hope he has left, and the central hope of this collection: that facing the future “honestly, however painful this may be, is better than denying it”. Rather, as these essays show, the conclusion he has come to is that it’s not his position that’s lacking, but his ability to put it across in a way that readers can accept. It’s a challenge to him as a writer: to think harder; to write more clearly and with more sympathy. It’s a question of what the essay, as a form and specifically in his hands, can do.
Sightings to live for … a king penguin. Photograph: Alamy And it’s a challenge to which he rises. This isn’t a flawless collection: there are uneven moments, and occasional longueurs. There are also – and I say this as a bird-lover – a whole lot of birds. They are the animating spirits of the collection, flitting and rustling through the essays, and Franzen ably makes the case both for their hold over him and their symbolic significance (“If you could see every bird in the world, you’d see the whole world”). But as the pages turn and the feathers pile up, it becomes harder and harder to keep the murres, taikos and storm petrels straight in your head – or, finally, to invest too deeply in the differences. Yet there are essays in which the balance between form, content and voice is perfectly struck, and when you reach one of those, it’s clear that you’re in the presence of a master. The opening essay, in which the idea of the essay itself is held up to the light, is a thing of supple, compelling intelligence, and by placing “Save What You Love”, his piece on the Audubon Society, after his retrospective analysis of its weaknesses, he effectively contextualises it, and allows us to read it for what it is: a teasing-out of complex arguments that refuses to reach for satisfying but reductive conclusions.
Then there’s the title essay, which comes fittingly at the collection’s close, brings together all of its strands (climate change, humanity, thinking, writing, birds), and is simply a delight. In it, Franzen weaves together, lightly but tightly, two narrative threads: his expedition on a cruise ship to Antarctica, and the life of his uncle Walt, whose unlooked-for bequest paid for the trip. The timelines diverge wildly (the trip takes a couple of weeks; Walt lived to a ripe old age) but by combining them, Franzen expertly shows how they speak to each other. They’re both stories about death: Walt, we learn, “lost his daughter” (in a car crash in her 20s), “his war buddies, his wife, and my mother” before mortality caught up with him; the Antarctic is both a death zone, the literal and metaphorical end of the world, and, thanks to climate change, dying itself. But read on, and we find that the real resonance between the two tales is the urgent case they make for the worth and beauty of life. Walt survived his tragedies, kept faith with the world, and “never stopped improvising”; in Antarctica, Franzen comes face to face with a king penguin in the wild, and finds that it “seemed to me, in itself, sufficient reason not only to have made the journey; it seemed reason enough to have been born on this planet”. It’s the work of a writer at the top of his game – limber and lovely, delivering deep insights with delicacy and grace – and it poignantly makes the only case for climate action that has any chance of succeeding: that there is so much worth living for. “Even in a world of dying,” Franzen concludes, “new loves continue to be born.”

Categories: External websites

How Climate-Change Fiction, Or “Cli-Fi,” Forces Us To Confront The Incipient Death Of The Planet

Lethal Heating - 10 November, 2018 - 19:10
New Yorker

An online collection of speculative short stories explores and gently transfigures the incomprehensible realities of climate change. Photograph by Joe Raedle / GettyAmazon

As part of its ongoing “Original Stories” series, Amazon has assembled a collection of climate-Warmer”—containing work from a Pulitzer Prize winner (Jane Smiley) and two National Book Award finalists (Lauren Groff and Jess Walter), among others—offers ways of thinking about something we desperately do not want to think about: the incipient death of the planet.
change fiction, or cli-fi, bringing a literary biodiversity to bear on the defining crisis of the era. This online compilation of seven short stories, called “
There is something counterintuitive about cli-fi, about the fictional representation of scientifically substantiated predictions that too many people discount as fictions. The genre, elsewhere exemplified by Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy and Nathaniel Rich’s “Odds Against Tomorrow,” brings disaster forcefully to life. But it is a shadowy mirror. Literature has always been a humanist endeavor: it intrinsically and helplessly affirms the value of the species; its intimations of meaning energize and comfort. But what if there is scant succor to be had, and our true natures are not noble but necrotic, pestilential? We have un-earthed ourselves. Yet we claim the right to gaze at our irresponsibility and greed through fiction’s tonic filter. The stories in “Warmer,” which possess the urgency of a last resort and the sorrow of an elegy, inhabit this contradiction. They both confront and gently transfigure the incomprehensible realities of climate change.
The collection starts in the near future and marches forward chronologically. The first two entries, “The Way the World Ends,” by Walter, and “Boca Raton,” by Groff, sketch our “before” or “before-ish” purgatory: weather systems in rebellion—a “swirling, greasy snow” in central Mississippi, rashes of hurricanes—but their effects pale in comparison to what characters dread is to come. (Catastrophes hinted at in some of the stories serve as backdrops for subsequent ones, as if to fold “now,” “soon,” and “after” into one continuous descent: an unhurried extinction-in-progress.) In Walter’s contribution, a hydrogeologist in her late thirties contemplates the idiocy of freezing her eggs when “one hundred percent of legitimate climate scientists believe the world to be on the verge of irreversible collapse.” In Groff’s story, a mother berates herself for having a daughter—a “terrible mistake she had made out of loneliness. The sheer selfish stupidity of bringing a child into the beginning of the end of the world as humans know it.” Both authors summon a sense of frustration and crashing despair, and an anguished appreciation for the beauty of life as it is, which proves inseparable from the beauty of the lie that life will stretch on forever. One must give up on such beauty—one must not have children—and yet the tranquilizing pleasure of the world forbids it. After a storm, a student in Walter’s story notices “the clarity and richness, the way the air is imbued with moisture and the colors—the sky a soft white-blue, like a thing forgiven.”
Groff’s and Walter’s pieces are present-day snapshots; the next several tales in “Warmer” plunge the reader into “during” and “after”—climate change has further distorted society, and the collection’s aura of literary realism veers toward the speculative. Here, work from Jesse Kellerman, Edan Lepucki, and Sonya Larson conjures the oppressiveness of the heat, the desperate thrill of opening a freezer at the store. (“It used to get chilly right before dawn, Daddy told me. . . . Shiver was a word you could use.”) There are economies in which water is replacing cash; the lone, brilliant apparition of a tree; school classrooms where teachers of an older generation pine for what they lost, preaching activism and environmental responsibility to dirt-poor students. The stories think through details. (What would the billionaires do? Start a space colony.) And they feel through specific emotional textures, asking us to empathize with the generations we are now cursing through inaction. (In an Op-Ed for the Times, Michelle Alexander wondered whether Americans would approach the climate crisis differently if they believed in reincarnation.) Several authors foresee deep demographic rifts; hardened young people regard adults with contempt, confusion, and bitterness. (This is presaged in Groff’s tale, when a toddler stands “in the middle of the room, sucking her finger and glaring at her mother with her dark eyes.”) The ranks of those who can live comfortably are profoundly thinned. On Larson’s Long Island, the prospect of owning a fur coat seems laughable: Where would the animal come from? Where would the money come from? Where would the cold weather come from?
Kellerman’s entry, “Controller,” takes the form of an experiment, with climate as the independent variable. The same story unfolds three times, on the same January day, but at different temperatures. The subtle gradient alters details, down to whether a dog is alive or dead, and determines the pitch of the characters’ rages and resentments. (“The air had changed, no longer a palliative billow but deafening and full of wrath. . . . He might yet bend her to his will.”) The mechanics of the piece gesture at one reason that climate change can prove so tricky a literary topic. We metaphorize nature endlessly, converting its phenomena into reflections of ourselves. This process feels as unconscious as translating oxygen into carbon dioxide; it is difficult to pry out the autonomous meaning of the sky and the ground, to fight environmental battles on their own terms. For Groff (whose ocean, an alien wakefulness “chewing darkly on the sand,” should defy human comprehension, and yet is readily understood as avarice or mortality), our epistemic failures echo a failure to act, to respond. They have the weight of a spiritual failure. “She knew that she could not save her daughter, that there would be no saving,” Groff writes, borrowing the language of doomsday cults. “She would be left behind among the disappointed.”
Taken together, the stories in “Warmer” raise the question of whether a poetics of climate change exists. As with gun violence, the crisis demands a form of literary expression that lifts it out of the realm of intellectual knowing and lodges it deep in readers’ bodies. Novels about mass shootings often incorporate black humor, the dispersal of meaning through repetition, and a flat or deadened tone. The works in this collection feel less consistent in mood or manner, but they are similarly occupied by a shared set of challenges: the bigness, the unknowability, of the looming transformations, and how surreal it all seems, and how the author or reader might chart a path between hope and hopelessness. (“It’s one thing to hear adults say there’s no Santa,” a college kid thinks, in Walter’s story. “But to hear there’s no Future?”) Walter offers encouragement in the form of a student who suggests that “you shouldn’t give up hope until you’ve done everything you can.” Groff seems to counter that all we can do is still not enough. As a whole, the collection clears a space between these two poles, in which the meaning of “enough” deforms like melting ice. Perhaps, after the elephants and the whales all die, it is enough to forestall the drowning of Hong Kong. Perhaps it is enough to see snow. “Enough,” as the stories progress, keeps contracting: into the ability to walk outside; into a bowl of mint-chip ice cream; into “oil floating on top” of a polluted lake, forming “little rainbows, swirling away in delicate circles.”
The irrepressibility of this “enough” is not surprising. Literature has long celebrated the flare of beauty in impoverished circumstances; it consoles us with echoes of our own resilience. Even Groff’s story cannot walk away from art. Rather, it achieves a wild, morose fineness, like an El Greco painting. To read “Warmer” is to remember that many people are kind and caring, and to see the last gasps of our life on Earth infused with tragic meaning. But one wonders whether fiction is capable of telling a different story, one in which an intelligent pandemic ravages a planet and destroys itself in the process. Such a tale—non-hominal, untellable—is an asymptote, but Jane Smiley’s “The Hillside” may inch closest. Smiley’s protagonist, a horse, befriends one of the last surviving humans in a lush equinocracy bounded by wasteland. The teen-age human is interesting and mischievous. She appears to plan ahead and to feel affection, but, during the winter, she disappears, and is found in springtime with her throat torn out. “The grass was thin but green,” Smiley writes, “and a few herbs were emerging here and there.” High Note, the horse, is preparing to have a foal. The human is lying at the base of a hill. “High Note stared at her and walked away.

The Art of Understanding Climate Change
Through murals, drawings, and augmented-reality pieces, artists are raising awareness of the imminent threat that climate change poses to the survival of Miami.

Categories: External websites

African Islands Call For Help As Climate Change Worsens Health

Lethal Heating - 10 November, 2018 - 15:50
ReutersNellie Peyton

Dakar: African island states say they need more help to cope with the health impacts of climate change, from worsening nutrition to a resurgence in mosquito-borne disease.
Droughts and unpredictable weather patterns are resulting in tough times for African farmers. Credit: New York TimesAt least 23 per cent of deaths in Africa are linked to the environment, the highest of any region worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
This figure is expected to rise as global warming disrupts food supply, water sources and weather patterns, said Magaran Bagayoko, WHO's director of communicable diseases in Africa.
Access to clean water is an ongoing – and growing – problem in many parts of Africa. Credit: BloombergIsland nations in particular are already struggling to deal with the consequences, he said, speaking from a conference in Gabon on health and the environment where delegates from across Africa will devise an action plan.
"There is a very direct link between the impact of climate change and the cost of healthcare," said Jean Paul Adam, health minister of Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean.
The island paradise of the Seychelles has joined the call for climate help. Credit: ShutterstockA disruption in rainfall patterns over the last 10 years has raised the costs of preventing dengue fever, a mosquito-borne virus endemic to Seychelles, he said.
Dengue outbreaks used to happen only during the rainy season, which lasted a few months a year. Now, rain is unpredictable and comes year round, as does the disease, he said.
"With the disruption of rainfall, dengue is now persistent and continuous," Adam said. "Resources are being diverted towards having to be in a constant state of readiness."
Mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and zika are expected to become more common, since the mosquitoes that spread them thrive in warmer climates, scientists say.
But mosquitoes are not the only problem.
Climate change causes floods and storms, which can lead to water-borne diseases such as cholera, and diet-related problems through drought and declining food stocks, experts said.
Cape Verde, a group of islands off the west coast of Africa, has struggled with severe drought in recent years and has worked hard to stave off hunger, said health minister Arlindo Rosario.
As local agriculture suffers, people are eating more imported food, which brings a variety of other health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease, he said.
"Climate change hits small countries in a lot of ways," Rosario said.
"I think that when we talk about the impacts of climate change, there should be an international fund for health."

Categories: External websites

Landmark Children’s Climate Lawsuit Hits New Roadblock

Lethal Heating - 10 November, 2018 - 15:29
Mother JonesDan Spinelli

“This is not an environmental case, it’s a civil rights case.”Young plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States, a climate change lawsuit, rally outside of a federal courthouse in Oregon. Robin Loznak/ZUMAA high-profile lawsuit aiming to hold the federal government accountable for not curbing climate change has encountered yet another roadblock. After the Supreme Court permitted the case to proceed last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals delayed the case again on Thursday.
The case, Juliana v. United States, has its roots in a lawsuit filed against the Obama administration in August 2015 by 21 plaintiffs—all between the ages of 11 and 21. The teenage activists claimed that the federal government had violated their constitutional rights by not curbing climate change and asked the court to “develop a national plan to restore Earth’s energy balance, and implement that national plan so as to stabilize the climate system.”
The trial had been scheduled to begin in federal district court in Eugene, Oregon, on October 29, but several interventions by higher courts kept the case in limbo.
“What these young plaintiffs are being put through just to have their day in court is disgraceful,” Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said in a statement to Mother Jones. “This trial would finally hold the Trump administration accountable for its climate denial and destructive agenda. The court shouldn’t let the Trump administration use absurd legal claims to weasel out of it.”
After the Trump administration inherited the defense of the case, the government’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to dismiss it in July, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction and calling the plaintiffs’ request to have the executive branch phase out carbon dioxide emissions “groundless and improper.” The court rejected the administration’s “premature” motion, even as the justices acknowledged that the “breadth” of the plaintiffs’ claims was “striking.” Ten days before the trial was set to begin, Chief Justice John Roberts put the case on hold pending the plaintiffs’ response to the government’s request to significantly narrow the case. While the full court reviewed the new filing, the plaintiffs rallied in the rain with hundreds of students outside the federal courthouse in Eugene, Reuters reported.
“The Brown v. Board of Education case was all about school districts inflicting harm on children because of the ‘separate but equal’ policies. Our case is about the federal government knowingly inflicting harm on children through fossil fuel emissions,” plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel Phil Gregory told Mother Jones last month. “If you substitute a word like ‘segregation’ for ‘climate change,’ there’s no way the Supreme Court would stop this case.”
Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit organization aligned with the plaintiffs, made a similar argument in a press release. “This is not an environmental case, it’s a civil rights case,” the group stated.
On November 2, the Supreme Court vacated Roberts’ previous decision and allowed the case to proceed over the objections of Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. But the government requested another delay, this time petitioning the district court directly. In a motion on November 5, the administration argued that it would be impossible to “develop and implement a comprehensive, government-wide energy policy” without breaking the constitutional imperative to vest legislative power in Congress and executive power in the White House. Three days later, the Ninth Circuit halted the case for another 15 days.
Once the Ninth Circuit makes a decision, district court Judge Ann Aiken said she will set a new date for the trial to begin.
“The Court told us to continue getting our work done for trial so that we are all ready when the Ninth Circuit rules. That’s exactly what we will do,” said Julia Olson, co-counsel for the plaintiffs and executive director of Our Children’s Trust, in a statement. “Our briefs to the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit…will show that there is no basis to grant the Government’s request of an appeal before final judgment.”

Categories: External websites

What Can I Do To Tackle Climate Change?

Lethal Heating - 10 November, 2018 - 15:10
Climate Council

What can I do in my everyday life to tackle climate change and make a difference?
Download your Climate Action Toolkit

Here are five actions to get you started:
  • Call your MP to share your support for strong policies that support renewable energy solutions and ask them their position on climate change.
  • Install rooftop solar and join the 1.8 million Australian households who are already taking back control of their power bills.
  • Change the way you travel and think about opportunities to catch public transport, cycle or walk instead.
  • Move your money so it doesn’t support the fossil fuel industry.
  • Time poor? Chip in and power our work as we equip and train individuals to take action and correct misinformation as you hear it.
The Climate Action Toolkit is packed full of information on how you can put these ideas, and more, into action.
The good news is, you’re not alone in taking this journey. You’re part of a community of passionate people championing renewable energy and action on climate change.

That’s why we’re asking you to take the #climateactionpledge

The way it works is simple:
  1. Choose one action you’ll commit to doing in the next three months. It can be big or small – as long as it helps to power climate action in Australia. If you’re stuck, there are plenty of ideas and suggestions in the Toolkit.
  2. Download a Climate Action pledge sign by clicking the links below. You can choose either a blank version or one of our pre-made options, below.
  3. Print out the sign and write down your pledge (if need be). You could also load a pre-made sign onto your phone or tablet.
  4. Take a photo of you and your pledge.
  5. Upload the photo to social media, using the hashtag #climateactionpledge and tag @theclimatecouncil. Be sure to make the post public if you’d like to show your support online (alternatively, you can email it to us to upload).
  6. Invite your friends and family to take the pledge as well!
In the coming days, we’ll start sharing all the best photos on our social media, so make sure you are following us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to see the pledges come rolling in.

Become a pledge partner todayDownload your Climate Action PledgeClick on your selection to enlarge image
Categories: External websites

Financial Giants Can Have A Pivotal Role For Climate Stability

Lethal Heating - 9 November, 2018 - 14:56
Stockholm Resilience Centre

A handful of international investors linked to economic activities may influence the stability of some of the world’s largest forests and hence the global climate
Banks, pension funds and other institutional investors have a key role to play in efforts to avoid dangerous climate change. A limited number of these investors have considerable influence over the Amazon rainforest and boreal forests that are known ‘tipping elements’ in the climate system. Photo: L. Kristensen/Azote
  • Banks, pension funds and other institutional investors have a key role to play in efforts to avoid dangerous climate change
  • A limited number of these investors have considerable influence over the Amazon rainforest and boreal forests that are known ‘tipping elements’ in the climate system
  • Protecting these ‘tipping elements’ should be a priority for investors to help reduce both climate change and systemic financial risks created by it
Financial institutions, such as banks and pension funds, have a key role to play in efforts to avoid dangerous climate change.
And it is not only about redirecting investments to renewable energy and low-carbon businesses, but also to bolster the resilience and stability of the Brazilian Amazon and boreal forests in Russia and Canada, two known ‘tipping elements’ in the Earth system.
Such tipping elements have also been referred to as ‘Sleeping Giants’, because once “awakened” they can have pivotal impacts on the global climate by becoming large-scale emitters of carbon dioxide, as opposed to storing carbon in soil and vegetation.
This is the message of a new study published in the latest issue of Global Environmental Change.
"In contrast to standard approaches in green finance, we elaborate the ways in which financial actors are linked to economic activities that modify large ecosystems of key importance for stabilizing the planet’s climate," explains author Victor Galaz, deputy director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.

Study first of its kind
The article is based on a study done by a team of researchers from the Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere programme (GEDB) at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, the Australian National University and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
Our research allows us to identify a small set of international financial players who can influence climate stability through their ownership of stocks in economic sectors that modify both the Amazon rainforest and boreal forests
Co-author Beatrice Crona, executive director of GEDB and researcher at Stockholm Resilience Centre
These influential financial institutions are denoted “Financial Giants” in the new study that also explores how incentives and disincentives currently influence their potential to bolster or undermine the stability of the climate.
“The study is the first of its kind to link data on global investors and the science on tipping points in the Earth system,” says co-author Will Steffen from the Australian National University in Canberra.

Victor Galaz's research deals with the governance challenges associated with planetary boundaries and the Earth system, including complex social-ecological systems and globally networked risks.The pivotal role of investors
In recent decades, scientists have begun to use the term ‘tipping elements’ or ‘sleeping giants’ to describe a limited number of biomes and processes on the planet that are exceptionally important for maintaining global climate stability. These biomes and processes can change rapidly when human pressures reach a critical level. The new study makes explicit the links between stock ownership, global institutional investors and two of these tipping elements: the Amazon rainforest and the boreal forests of Russia and Canada.
"We focus on these forested areas because they represent tipping elements that are highly vulnerable to tipping in the next few decades, and where the financial sector plays a crucial role," explains Victor Galaz.
This implies that the financial system can provide an important lever to help ensure the stability of these tipping elements in the near term and the long term.
The study concludes that the Amazon rainforest, boreal forests and other tipping elements are now systemic risks for the global financial system. If the internal dynamics of these large regions change, leading to the emission of large volumes of carbon into the atmosphere from soils and vegetation, then stabilizing the climate in the future will become significantly more difficult, in turn affecting financial stability.

Beatrice Crona’s work centers on various aspects of oceans and fisheries governance, as well as understanding different emerging global connectivities and their effects on social-ecological outcomes at multiple scales.A handful of stockholders
As the study shows, financial investments are already today contributing to economic activities that are pushing some sleeping giants towards their tipping points. For example, investors provide capital to, or own shares in, companies that produce soy, beef, timber and other commodities that require extensive deforestation and forest degradation.
The authors find that a handful of stockholders own substantial shares across the largest companies in the most significant sectors. The total holdings of these investors reach above the 10% threshold in three out of eight companies in the Amazon, five out of sixteen in Canadian boreal forests, and three out of five in Russian boreal forests, they write.
These institutional investors with a global reach are called ‘financial giants’ by the authors because they have a great but unrealized power to influence the resilience of several of the planet’s sleeping giants.
"Investors have several means at their disposal to influence the companies in their portfolio: They can require explicit targets to be met regarding reforestation and rehabilitation, as well as protecting and improving biodiversity. They also can credibly threaten to divest from the companies in case the interests and objectives would be too far apart. Next to reputational damage, this may affect the cost of equity for the divested firms," says Bert Scholtens from the University of Groningen.
In conclusion, the study emphasises that finance cannot be made solely responsible for a transition to climate sustainability, but the sector plays a critical role. More responsible leadership could contribute meaningfully to better management of these large forests, and hence contribute to climate stability.

Categories: External websites

New Research Questions The Rate Of Climate Change

Lethal Heating - 9 November, 2018 - 12:36
Phys.org - Laura Varney

Credit: CC0 Public Domain Climate change may be occurring even faster than first thought.
That is according to a ground-breaking new study by Dr. Clayton Magill from the Lyell Centre at Heriot-Watt University.
Scientists measured the vast migration of sea bed materials such as clay and sand, a process that occurs over thousands of years.
The research found that constant movement resulted in the erosion of trapped within the ocean floor and that these fossils release their harmful carbon dioxide, which is a strong greenhouse gas.
Researchers previously thought that the rate of erosion on these fossils was significantly slower – hence was slower.

Now the study, published in Nature sheds new light on the how fast climate change is actually happening.
Dr. Clayton Magill said: "There are some outstanding gaps in current knowledge about the imminent impacts of climate change on ocean environments and in this study we show that there are still large unknowns in the major sources of fossil carbon on earth.
"We don't know how much carbon is trapped in the ocean but now we've proven the process, it could pose catastrophic threat to earth's climate."
The study also raises questions about how best to deal with marine pollution across the globe.
Dr. Magill continues: "We found that many pollutants stick to and there are issues if polluted clays transport over time from one region to another.
"For example, polluted clays from China can be transported by time to Vietnam – and transport times might be decades or centuries.
"There's still a lot to discover about climate change and marine pollution over time, but this study highlights the fact that change could be happening a lot faster than academics once thought possible."

Categories: External websites


Subscribe to Humans For Survival aggregator

Australia21This website was commenced by a group of Members of The Emeritus Faculty at The Australian National University and is administered by a steering group of the not-for profit think tank, Australia21. The views expressed on this website are those of the initial author and are not necessarily shared or endorsed by the University, the Emeritus Faculty or Australia21.

Please select the link to see further details about the steering group.