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Indigenous Farming Practices Failing As Climate Change Disrupts Seasons

Lethal Heating - 19 October, 2019 - 04:00
National Geographic - Peter Schwartzstein

Farmers around the world rely on millennia-old wisdom to guide their planting. Scrambled weather and seasons are forcing them into uncharted territory.
A farmer on the Hopi Indian Reservation in Arizona inspects his corn crops amidst a summer drought. The tribal lore that sustained Hopi farming practices isn't working anymore, as climate change shifts seasons. Photograph by George H.H. Huey, AlamyThe Hopi tribesmen of northern Arizona are born meteorologists.
When snake weed blooms in the spring, they know they’re in for bumper summer rains. When the desert stays largely barren, they prepare for drought. As far back as tribal lore goes, Hopi farmers have sustained themselves and their crops by diligently reading their arid mesa surroundings.
This summer, however, their millennia-old forecasting techniques failed them, and not for the first time in recent years. The weeds sprouted in great numbers in April. The usual rains in August did not come at all. Were it not for local grocery stores and the seed stockpiles they maintain in anticipation of the occasional bad year, many Hopi might well have gone hungry.
“These indicators have always been dang reliable. We have over 2000 years of replication. We know our fields, like many indigenous people,” says Michael Kotutwa Johnson, a Hopi farmer who grows corn, beans, squash, and melons on the tribal reservation several hundred miles north of Phoenix. “But when I talk to my people, they say our winters are getting longer, so people plant a little later, and that can wreak havoc. Now we’re kind of in a bad situation.”
They’re not alone. Climate change is upending millions of people’s lives, yet few communities are seeing their crops and worldviews crumble quite like those that rely on indigenous weather forecasting. Dependent in many cases on millennia-old trial and error, as well as analyses of the landscape to gauge planting cycles, their fields are withering as the conditions on which the calendars are predicated change. Without that accumulated wisdom to fall back on—bird migrations, wind direction, stars, and more—farmers are feeling particularly defenseless just as other consequences of climate change complicate their lives.

As a measure of climate change’s severity, it’s a sobering one. Many of these farming communities are unfamiliar with “climate change” as a concept, and yet they’re all acutely aware that something’s horribly awry. There’s no denial or skepticism here, only shock and dismay as practices and traditions that have withstood thousands of years of civilizational rise and fall are becoming obsolete. Wrapped up as these growing patterns often are with local religious and cultural rites, there can be a heavy psychological toll to this change as well.
But in practical terms, too, the implications of this failing indigenous wisdom are extra grim, travels through traditional farming areas reveal. Because many farmers have zero or limited access to modern weather forecasting, they have nothing else to turn to when the rains, temperatures, and wildlife behave in new and unexpected ways. And because many of these calendars predominate in the parts of the world that are bearing the brunt of climate change, notably tropical and dryland areas, the value of their knowledge is shriveling fast. Failing crops and hence hunger are increasing. Meteorologists fear that those losses and that suffering will only intensify unless help arrives in a hurry.
“People used to forecast weather/climate just by observing natural phenomena,” says Tsegaye Kedema, director of the National Meteorological Agency of Ethiopia, in an email. “However, due to climate change these phenomena also changed and the forecasters lost their credibility and status within the community. This creates a big problem for the communities to perform their informed farming activities.”

Crumbling calendars
The trauma spans almost every continent.
In southern Iraq, farmers work much the same land as the Sumerians, the civilization that pioneered irrigated agriculture in about 6000 BCE, and still abide by much of the ancient planting timetable. But as summers become longer and hotter and other seasons shift, many farmers have been left bewildered, angry, and scared.
“The old people have the same mindset as in the past. They feel there’s a continuity because there’s been no development and we have the same tools and same ways of agriculture,” said Jaafar Jotheri, a geoarchaeologist at Iraq’s Al-Qadisiyah University whose father and brother still farm to the south of Baghdad. “Now they’re seeing the climate change, though, and some of the older people don’t know what and when to grow.”
Southern Iraqi farming is rich with millennia-old idioms that no longer hold true. ‘August is for reducing the grapes and producing the dates,’ goes one, but the grapes and dates have started to come at irregular times in recent years. ‘September is the month of moving the buffalo from the water,’ goes another, but Septembers are so hot that water buffalo must be grazed in the marshlands of southern Iraq until later in the year for fear of overheating them.
Iraqi farmer Raed al-Jubayli checks dates at his palm tree nursery in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. Iraqi farmers are also facing challenges as their traditional farming wisdom no longer holds true. Photograph by Haidar Mohammed, ALI/AFP/GettyIn southern Egypt and northern Sudan, many farmers still depend on the Coptic calendar, a variation of the ancient pharaonic calendar. They, too, however, are finding that reality no longer conforms to thousands of years of Nile-side wisdom. These days, it’s often too hot to plant wheat at the end of Masry, which roughly corresponds with August, and it can derail the rest of the winter planting cycle if the delay drags on long enough.
Until 20 years ago, this calendar was “almost perfect,” says Ismail Elgizouli, a Sudanese scientist and former acting chair of the UN’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But now “due to climate change there is variability from one year to another.”
As in Iraq and other parts of the region, Sudan’s farmers are fleeing the countryside en masse. It’s a wretched end for a calendar that anchored ancient Egypt’s vital agricultural sector and enabled its pharaohs to measure the length of their reigns and to time celebrations.
And in large swathes of sub-Saharan Africa, things are also going very wrong. The Nganyi people of Western Kenya have traditionally used everything from grasshopper swarms to the winds that whip in off Lake Victoria to predict rains, but deforestation and biodiversity loss have put paid to their longstanding success.
It’s a similar situation in Eastern Kenya, where the Atharaka’s usual forecasting measures—the flowering of various plants, the croaking of frogs—have crumbled amid drought. From insect-reading communities in northern Benin, to Nigeria, where some farmers read stars to predict crop yields, the utility of these traditional measures is evaporating fast.

According to several studies, older farmers and geographically isolated farmers are particularly vulnerable to the changes because they’re less likely to be offered help transitioning to other types of forecasting. So, in a cruel yet common twist, it’s the poorest of the poor who are suffering most.

Rolling out modernity
But as desperate as the situation might look in places, this is at least one consequence of climate change that is, in theory, within our capacity to tackle. Farmers in richer parts of the world, like Australia, have overcome a number of climate challenges by tweaking their agricultural calendars and sowing earlier. By successfully rolling out modern forecasting to areas that have had none, developmental organizations have already enjoyed some success.
Farmers in West Africa saw a 20 percent rise in millet yields after they gained access to modern meteorological information, according to World Meteorological Organization (WMO) data.
“Farmers need to know: When do I plant? What do I plant? If a farmer usually has a mix of 60 percent corn and 40 percent millet, they’ve got to make a judgement,” says Robert Stefanski, Chief of the Agricultural Meteorology Division at WMO. “Corn might be more profitable, but it uses more water, so if there's a drier season, perhaps they'll make a decision based on that forecast.”
Even seven-day forecasts can allow farmers to assess whether they have long enough dry periods to weed their fields or spray their crops.

Causes and Effects of Climate Change What causes climate change (also known as global warming)? And what are the effects of climate change? Learn the human impact and consequences of climate change for the environment, and our lives.

The challenges are still considerable, of course. Agricultural assistance is shrinking in many of the places it’s most needed as developing countries redirect resources toward more profitable industries. Given the religious and cultural components of indigenous knowledge, there will be insurmountable costs no matter what. It will require finesse, too. “You can’t go into a place and say: your traditional knowledge is not valid. You can’t be adversarial since a lot of it is based on science,” Stefanski says.
But if we’re smart, we might even see this as something of an opportunity, farmers and meteorologists say. After all, indigenous forecasting relies on a careful reading of the natural landscape, something many societies appear to have lacked as environmental practices have deteriorated. If nothing else, we might learn something from many indigenous communities’ fortitude.
“We’ve seen our crops die before, so we’re prepared for the psychological impact of climate change,” said Michael Kotutwa Johnson, the Hopi farmer. “We can handle it.”

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Five Radical Climate Policies That Most Americans Actually Like

Lethal Heating - 19 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Atlantic

Most registered voters are in favor of spending trillions on weatherized buildings and renewable-energy infrastructure.
Young people protest outside the San Francisco Federal Building during a Climate Strike march. Kate Munsch / ReutersFor the first time in years—and maybe ever—Democrats are getting ambitious about climate change. Several presidential candidates have proposed $1 trillion plans that variously nudge, cajole, and force the economy to reduce carbon pollution. The largest plan, from Senator Bernie Sanders, calls for $16.3 trillion in public investment over 10 years, which would be the biggest economic stimulus package since the New Deal.
These plans confront a confusing array of public views. Voters are more worried about climate change than ever before, but they also seem to dislike the Democratic Party’s move to the left. So how do voters feel about this new set of progressive policies?
A new survey finds: They like it. At least five aggressive and left-wing climate policies are supported by most registered voters in the United States. Americans seem particularly fond of large spending packages, as Sanders has advanced, and climate policies with a populist bent, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposed climate import fee and her “economic patriotism” plan.
The poll was conducted by YouGov Blue and Data for Progress, a liberal think tank. While I try to avoid explicitly ideological surveys, I trust this data because YouGov is a reputable, nonpartisan firm that also conducts polls for CBS News and The Economist.
Leah Stokes, a political scientist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, also told me that the poll’s findings are in line with other research. “Climate policy is very popular,” she said. “If you highlight the cost, it’s less popular. If you highlight new taxes, it’s less popular. But if you highlight job creation or the air-pollution benefits, it’s more popular.”
She added that many climate policies are especially favored now because the public tends to take views opposite those of the sitting president, a concept known as thermostatic public opinion. “With Trump being president, you’re going to find people want more environmental protection now than when Obama was in power,” she said.
These results also align with those of conservative-leaning surveys. The American Action Network, an advocacy group tied to the House GOP, recently asked Americans in 30 congressional districts—including 12 “battleground” districts and 10 Donald Trump–supporting districts—if they liked the idea of a Green New Deal that would move the United States “from an economy built on fossil fuels to one driven by clean energy.”
Shockingly, the idea was more popular than not, with 48 percent of respondents in support and 7 percent undecided. Only when pollsters told people that a Green New Deal could cost $93 trillion did support for the idea collapse. But according to the GOP group’s own math, a Green New Deal that focused only on climate change could cost only $13 trillion.
Results from the new YouGov Blue/Data for Progress poll find majority support for spending along those lines, though the poll never uses the term Green New Deal. Here are the five climate policies with the most support:

1. A national recycling program for commodities
During World War II, the federal government encouraged Americans to save and pool commodities—including paper, steel, and rubber—so that they could be recycled and turned into new ships, planes, and guns. Sanders proposes launching a similar program today for clean energy. It would seek to reduce the cost and blunt the environmental impact of the huge build-out of wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries that he proposes.
The idea is overwhelmingly popular, with 64 percent of registered voters in support and only 16 percent opposed. Americans of every race, age, and religion overwhelmingly support the idea. So do six in 10 white men, and a majority of self-described born-again Christians.

Data for Progress/YouGov2. $1.3 trillion to weatherize every home and office building in the United States
At least three different Democratic climate plans—proposed by Senator Amy Klobuchar, Governor Jay Inslee (whose plan has been largely adopted by Warren), and Sanders—have promised to boost federal spending on weatherizing homes and buildings. Sanders’s plan calls for more than $2 trillion in grants to help families improve their home’s energy efficiency.
The idea is very popular. Six in 10 voters support spending more than $1 trillion “to weatherize homes and buildings to make them more energy-efficient and reduce energy bills.” A smaller majority of voters older than 65 also support the proposal.

Data for Progress/YouGov3. $1.5 trillion for a massive federal build-out of renewable energy
Sanders promises to build out enough wind, solar, and geothermal energy to power every home and business in the United States by 2030. Such a plan would cost $1.5 trillion, he says, and it would be possible to execute under the existing legal powers of the Energy Department.While the poll didn’t ask Americans if they would support that legal maneuver, a large majority of voters said they were ready to foot the bill for the plan. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they would strongly or somewhat support $1.5 trillion in federal spending to build out renewables. Among white voters without a college degree—a group that normally breaks Republican—the idea found 52 percent in support.

Data for Progress/YouGov4. A climate adjustment fee on environmentally destructive importsWarren has proposed imposing a “border carbon adjustment” on imports that require high levels of carbon emissions. This policy could help American climate policy from “offshoring” carbon pollution into China and India, supporters say, and it would encourage American cement- and steelmakers to invest in greener ways to make their products.
For now, at least, Americans love the idea. Sixty percent of respondents strongly or somewhat supported the idea, while only 23 percent opposed it. (About one in five Americans still aren’t sure what to think.)
But among working-class voters, the idea was one of the most popular proposed. Fifty-five percent of people without a college degree liked the idea, a level of support that did not change across white and nonwhite respondents. Voters from families making less than $60,000 a year also supported the idea at about that level.

5. “Economic Nationalism for Climate Change”
This summer, Warren announced her plan for “economic patriotism,” a policy agenda that actively aims to boost American jobs and industry. Its first plank is a green-manufacturing scheme that pledges $2 trillion over the next 10 years. In short, Warren seeks to revive industrial policy.
This poll asked about “economic nationalism,” which it described as a plan to “aggressively encourage large American manufacturing firms to specialize in solar panels, wind turbines, and other climate-friendly technologies.”
The proposal commanded majority support, with 53 percent overall in support and 30 percent in opposition. It also won a majority of voters who said they lived in a suburb or rural area. Among white voters without a college degree, the idea was above water at 46 percent and an eight-point support gap.
But 15 percent of that group said they weren’t sure what to think of the proposal. That may suggest that the group could reject it overall if Republican leaders turn against it. Or perhaps not: Among deeply Republican segments of the electorate—such as white, self-identified born-again Christians—the idea is already 20 points underwater.

Data for Progress/YouGovNot every idea was so popular.
Sanders has proposed to fund his $16.3 trillion Green New Deal “by imposing new taxes, fees, and lawsuits on fossil-fuel companies.” Forty-three percent of voters approved that idea, making it more popular than unpopular. But nearly a third of respondents “strongly opposed” it, suggesting that any backlash could be widely and deeply felt.
Stokes wondered if voters were responding primarily to the “taxes” line in Sanders’s pitch. In a recent poll she ran with other researchers, funding climate policy through lawsuits against fossil-fuel companies was one of the most popular options.
Electric-vehicle policy seems particularly tricky. In his plan, Sanders proposes a $2 trillion grant program for low- and middle-income families to buy new electric cars. Yet nearly half of voters oppose that idea outright. A majority of voters also reject Sanders’s proposal to end the sale of gas-burning cars by 2030. That plan attracts the special ire of white voters, 42 percent of whom “strongly oppose” it. Warren, Senator Kamala Harris, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg have all proposed similarly timed bans.
The only other proposal opposed by a majority of voters was a plan to nationalize and shut down fossil-fuel companies such as Exxon while making sure workers “laid off by this closure would be fairly compensated.” No Democratic candidate has supported this idea, but it is a goal of some activists and researchers on the American far left.
Finally, YouGov and Data for Progress polled the popularity of a carbon tax of $100 a ton. Carbon prices are widely seen as a possible centrist solution to climate change. They win the support of most mainstream economists. As such, there is plenty of good polling on them. It shows that a majority of Americans often, but not always, support the general idea of a carbon price.
But this poll aimed to explore more radical policies, so it asked about a $100-a-ton carbon price. This is very, very high. Only two countries, Sweden and Switzerland, levy carbon taxes of at least $100 a ton. In the United States, state-level carbon prices range from $5 to $15 a ton. The Climate Leadership Council, a bipartisan advocacy group backed by major oil companies, endorses a federal carbon price of $40 a ton.
Yet such a high price may find some support in climate science. Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that carbon prices might need to start at $135 a ton—and then keep rising—to keep global temperature rise from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius.
But there isn’t yet public support for that kind of policy. Nearly half of voters, 47 percent, oppose such a high price, according to the poll. The 38 percent of voters who support the policy in any way is only moderately larger than the 33 percent of voters who say they “strongly oppose” it. The one bright spot for supporters: About 15 percent of respondents were not sure.
All respondents were told that the $100 carbon tax could increase gas prices by about 88 cents a gallon, an estimate based on data from Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan think tank.

Categories: External websites

Australia Spends Billions Planting Trees – Then Wipes Out Carbon Gains By Bulldozing Them

Lethal Heating - 18 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Guardian |

Little more than two years of land clearing will cancel out the $1.5bn in taxpayer funds that goes towards protecting native habitat
John Mailler at his tree-planting project around the Moree water park. He calls the extent of land clearing around the town ‘tragic’.Photograph: Mike Bowers/The GuardianSince 2015 the Australian government has committed more than $1.5bn of taxpayer funds to climate change projects that plant or protect native habitat. Over a slightly longer period it has also spent nearly $62m on a policy to plant 20 million trees promised under Tony Abbott.
At the same time the country has significantly stepped up land-clearing programs in several states, bulldozing hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests, mostly for agriculture.
Official data allows an estimate of the scale of the contrast: little more than two years of land clearing will effectively cancel out what the public is spending to avoid 125 million tonnes of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere. The equivalent to what has been planted over several years in the 20 million trees program is wiped out in just six months of land clearing. “It’s pretty absurd,” says Jess Panegyres, the Wilderness Society’s national nature campaigner.
“We’re putting huge amounts of taxpayer dollars into avoided deforestation and reforestation and at the same time we’re allowing Australia to become a deforestation hotspot globally. Any of the gains that we’re making under these taxpayer-funded schemes are being wiped out almost immediately.”
What is being lost can be cut up in different ways. Using government figures, the Wilderness Society estimates a Melbourne Cricket Ground-sized area of forest and bushland was cleared every two minutes in 2017.
Over a longer timeframe, an academic study found last month that more than 7.7m hectares – an area larger than Tasmania – of potential threatened species habitat had been cleared since 1999. It said 93% of this land had not been referred to the federal environment department for assessment and approval before being cleared, as required under national environment laws.

Land clearing in potential threatened species habitatShowing potential forest and woodland clearing in areas where threatened species, migratory species, or threatened ecological communities are known or likely to occur. Red indicates land clearing that was not referred to the federal environment department for assessment and approval before being cleared, and blue shows clearing that was referred
Source: Ward et al. 2019 / University of Queensland
Not all land cleared is equal. Much of it is regrown forest in areas that have been felled before. But a significant minority is intact mature forest, which is a deeper store of carbon dioxide. Scientists say both need to be protected if Australia is to stem an unfolding extinction crisis.
Australia has a long history of forest clearing. The proportion of the country covered by forest has fallen from about 30% to less than 16% since European invasion. But, after a relative decline, a big upswing in land clearing began in 2013, when Campbell Newman’s Liberal National government relaxed laws preventing mass deforestation in Queensland.
Data from the state’s world-leading vegetation monitoring system, known as Slats (statewide landcover and trees study), shows that in the five years that followed about 1.7m hectares – an area larger than greater Brisbane – of native vegetation was bulldozed, far more than in the rest of the country combined.
In the most recent two years in which data is available, ending in June last year, about 40% of that was in Great Barrier Reef catchments, increasing the amount of sediment running into the ocean along the coast.
A crop paddock prepared for sowing on the road linking Nyngan to Bourke in outback NSW. It has been left bare because of the lack of rain. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian The Labor state government passed legislation last year that the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said would end broad-scale land clearing – despite environmental lawyers warning that the new laws were full of loopholes. The latest Slats data that will show the result of that are yet to be released, but Panegyres says while the laws should work to reduce the bulldozing of mature forest, anecdotal evidence suggests the loss of growing forest and native vegetation has continued in some areas. “There’s a lot of land clearing still being reported to us,” she says.
While Queensland closely tracks land clearing, the picture in other parts of the country is less clear.
Neither Western Australia nor the Northern Territory keep jurisdiction-wide data. In the west, where land-clearing laws were relaxed under the former Liberal premier Colin Barnett in the name of removing red tape, a partial picture can be calculated by tallying the permits granted by some departments – but this leaves significant gaps.
Land clearing in New South Wales is unarguably on the rise. While it has not reached the heights of Queensland, figures from the state’s Office of Environment and Heritage show clearing for crops pasture and thinning tripled between 2014-15 and 2017-18, the year the state government introduced more lenient native vegetation protection laws. More than 27,000 hectares, nearly 100 times the size of Sydney’s central business district, were cleared for agriculture in the latest year for which data is available. Most of the clearing has been between Moree and the Queensland border. If native forestry is included, the figure rises to 58,000 hectares.
The data shows land clearing had already escalated before the laws came into effect, farmers having apparently anticipated the change. Though some Liberal ministers are deeply concerned about the scale and pace of the escalation and its impact on biodiversity, the National party has repeatedly called for protections to be wound back.
The contrast makes little sense to some people planting trees on behalf of taxpayers. Around the Moree water park, a human-made water-skiing area 6km north-west of the New South Wales town, a small forest of native trees is taking root, despite two years of drought, thanks to a $29,500 grant from the 20 million trees program. Eventually 7,000 trees will be planted.
John Mailler, 80, a retired share farmer and volunteer working on the project, germinates his own plants from local seed at his property 40km away and drives in regularly to tend the trees, which are being planted by a local employment group. He lists the local species: carbeen, casuarina, box trees, emu apple or grewi, brigalow and roly poly.
Mailler’s trees are bred so they don’t need drip irrigation and can survive with an occasional watering. He loves the work but says the loss of local vegetation around Moree is heartbreaking.
“It’s definitely changed. That was open grass country,” he says, gesturing towards the horizon to the east. “But it’s now crops, barley, wheat, chickpeas, lupins, cotton.
“They buy this wide machinery, and they say it’s too much of a problem to go round the trees so they get rid of them. It’s tragic.”
The north-west of NSW is ground zero for tree loss. In the Moree council area alone, 1,189 hectares – roughly the size of the greater Melbourne area – of woody vegetation was lost to cropping, pasture and thinning in 2017-18. Even more went in neighbouring council areas.
The situation is set to get worse in the next year. The NSW government has said it will not pursue cases against farmers who broke the old laws and it is planning to introduce regional plans, beginning with the north-west, that could further increase broad-scale clearing.
On a national scale, some experts have doubts about whether national greenhouse accounts accurately reflect the full impact of forest clearing and have called for the federal government to introduce a nationwide monitoring system on a par with that used in Queensland.
Even without that, Bill Hare, the chief executive and senior scientist with Berlin-based Climate Analytics, says a key message from the national emissions data published by the government is that it expects clearing to continue at current rates for at least the next decade.
Specifically, pollution from land clearing is projected to stay at about 46m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year to 2030, roughly equivalent to emissions from three large coal-fired power plants.
“That’s the bottom line,” Hare says. “This is significantly damaging the climate, as well as the natural environment, and Australia is not planning to do anything to stop it.”

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More Than 370,000 Sign E-Petition For Climate Emergency Declaration

Lethal Heating - 18 October, 2019 - 04:00
Sydney Morning HeraldJenny Noyes

A record-breaking e-petition has been submitted to the Australian Parliament, calling for the government to declare a climate emergency, two days after a crossbench motion to do so was blocked.
The "Declare a Climate Emergency" parliamentary e-petition closed at midnight on Wednesday with 370,004 signatures – more than three times the number of signatures on the previous record parliamentary e-petition, which was to remove the GST on menstrual products.
A climate change rally takes place on the front lawn of Parliament House on Tuesday as a motion to declare a climate emergency was voted down. Credit: Alex EllinghausenThe petition calls for the House of Representatives to "immediately act and declare a climate emergency in Australia" and to "introduce legislation that will with immediacy and haste reduce the causes of anthropogenic climate change".
The reason given is that "the overwhelming majority of climate scientists around the world have concluded that the climate is changing at unprecedented rates due to anthropogenic causes.
"The result of these changes will be catastrophic for future generations, and so we must act now to minimise both human and environmental destruction."
As an official parliamentary e-petition, the signatures theoretically carry more weight than other online petitions by organisations such as Change.org that do not require signatories to confirm they are residents or citizens of Australia.
But while the tampon tax was eventually axed in January this year, six months after the 104,185-signature e-petition was submitted to Parliament, it's unclear whether the petition to declare a climate emergency will have the same success.
On Tuesday, the government voted down a motion by Greens MP Adam Bandt, supported by Labor and the crossbench, to declare a climate emergency.
When asked how the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor planned to respond to the petition, a spokesman forwarded his speech to Parliament on Tuesday in which he described the proposed declaration as an "absolutely empty gesture" from Labor and the Greens.
"Labor is making a huge song and dance about declaring a climate emergency, yet refuses to commit to a single policy in this area from the last election," Mr Taylor said on Tuesday.
Labor's climate change and energy spokesman Mark Butler said it was "no surprise" that the government voted against debating the motion, "considering emissions have been rising ever since 2014 and given the government’s own data projects emissions continuing to rise all the way to 2030.
"Parliaments in the UK, Canada and several other nations have already passed resolutions recognising climate change as an emergency and it is time that our Parliament did the same," he said.
While the petition to declare a climate emergency is the biggest e-petition to be put to Parliament, it falls short of at least two pen and paper petitions since signatures were first recorded in 1988.
In 2014, a petition concerning the funding of community pharmacies became the biggest put to Parliament, with a total of 1,210,471 signatures. The second-largest petition, with 792,985 signatures, was presented in December 2000 over the GST on beer.

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Bank Of England Boss Says Global Finance Is Funding 4C Temperature Rise

Lethal Heating - 18 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Guardian

Mark Carney says capital markets are financing projects likely to fuel a catastrophic rise in global heating
An Extinction Rebellion protester outside the Bank of England on Monday 14 October makes a point not too dissimilar to the Bank’s governor. Photograph: John Keeble/Getty ImagesThe governor of the Bank of England has warned that the global financial system is backing carbon-producing projects that will raise the temperature of the planet by over 4C – more than double the pledge to limit increases to well below 2C contained in the Paris Agreement.
In a stark warning over global heating, Mark Carney said the multitrillion-dollar international capital markets – where companies raise funds by selling shares and bonds to investors – are financing activities that would lift global temperatures to more than 4C above pre-industrial levels.
World leaders agreed in the Paris climate accords to keep the temperature rise this century well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the rise to 1.5C.
But in a stark illustration of the scale of the decarbonisation challenge facing the world economy, Carney suggested companies had already secured financing from investors in the global capital markets – worth $85tn (£67.2tn) for stocks and $100tn for bonds – that will keep the world on a trajectory consistent with catastrophic global heating.
The risks associated with temperatures at or above 4C include a 9-metre rise in sea levels – affecting up to 760 million people – searing heatwaves and droughts, serious food supply problems and half of all animal and plant species facing local extinction.
Speaking to MPs on the Commons Treasury committee, Carney did not give a timescale for the temperature rise, but said: “The objectives are there, but policy is not yet consistent with stabilising temperatures below 2C.
“There are some companies out ahead, either because of stakeholders, or because they’re anticipating that that will change. But there are others that are waiting for the policies to adjust.”
Carney sounded the alarm in the wake of the Guardian last week revealing the 20 biggest companies behind a third of all carbon emissions. The Bank’s governor said the financial system was now starting to wake up to the risks of global heating.
He said some investment companies have analysed the carbon-linked assets in their portfolios, including Japan’s $1.6tn Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF).
Carney told the committee that GPIF’s analysis showed it held assets consistent with 3.7C heating, and that the fund was now trying to manage this down. He said that AXA, the French insurance group, priced US government bonds at 5.4C, to reflect the carbon-intensive nature of the American economy. The UK is much lower, he said.
Based on these assessments, “it indicates that if you price the capital markets – and I’m not giving you a precise figure – that all of the assets are probably north of 4C for the capital markets as a whole,” he said.
“We can observe where the market is in terms of pricing the transition. It’s at least 3C or 3.75C, it’s probably north of 4C. That tells you something in terms of the sum of global climate policy.”
The Bank’s governor has spoken at length about the need for the financial system to accelerate its efforts to tackle the climate emergency, warning that firms that ignore the crisis will go bankrupt.
He said that banks should be forced to disclose their climate-linked risks within the next two years, and said that more information would prompt investors to penalise and reward firms accordingly.
Threadneedle Street is currently drafting a stress test for the UK’s banks based on their climate exposures, he added.
However, the governor said the transition to a low-carbon world economy would still require investors to back firms with significant carbon footprints, given the scale of the adjustment required.
“It’s not as simple as saying, ‘Well I’m going to invest in only renewable energy.’ The system as a whole cannot invest only in renewable energy.
“The contribution of manufacturing or an industrial company in terms of lowering their carbon footprint over the next decade, a big reduction in that, can be as significant if not more significant than further development in the short term on renewables,” he said.
Carney also dropped a heavy hint that the government would shake-up the Bank’s remit for financial supervision to take account of climate risks at the budget on 6 November.
“Remits normally come with the budget, so we’ll see what is in that … Every indication is there is a comprehensive strategy being developed consistent with the objective of net-zero [carbon emissions],” he added.

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Companies Expect Climate Change To Cost Them $1 Trillion In 5 Years

Lethal Heating - 17 October, 2019 - 04:00
WIRED - Sara Harrison

Many corporations see climate change posing a significant threat to their business within the decade, according to a new report.
In 2018 the US sustained $91 billion in damages from climate-related disasters, including tropical cyclones, severe storms, inland floods, droughts, and wildfires. Scott Olson/Getty ImagesIn January, climate change claimed its first corporate victim. Facing billions in liabilities after contributing to some of California’s deadliest and most devastating wildfires, PG&E filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This spring, flooding in the Midwest ruined fields, grain silos, and infrastructure. The agriculture conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland reported that the floods would cost it between $50 and $60 million in the first quarter of the year.
The costs of a disturbed climate are becoming increasingly burdensome and apparent. In 2018 the US sustained $91 billion in damages from climate-related disasters, including tropical cyclones, severe storms, inland floods, droughts, and wildfires.
“Climate change is no longer a distant threat but something that is impacting economies now,” says Bruno Sarda, president of CDP North America, a nonprofit that encourages companies to report how climate change might affect them.
A growing number of companies are recognizing that fact and are now publicly reporting the effects of climate change on their businesses. A new report published Tuesday by CDP shows that 215 of the world’s biggest companies, including giants like Apple, JPMorgan Chase, Nestlé, and 3M, see climate change as a threat likely to affect their business within the next five years, with a cumulative cost of a trillion dollars.
Companies identified a range of physical risks, such as the impact of flooding or rising sea levels on distribution centers and warehouses. They also enumerated the costs of transitioning to a lower-carbon, more climate-ravaged world, including updating facilities to withstand stronger storms or use less water, and complying with potential policies that would likely raise the cost of fossil fuels. Companies also recognized an image issue. In the report, Google's parent company, Alphabet, writes, “Not addressing climate change risks and impacts head on could result in a reduced demand for our goods and services because of negative reputation impact.”CDP also found, however, that companies saw some opportunities in adapting to climate change.
The report found that companies estimated opportunities related to climate change could bring in $2.1 trillion. Most companies pegged those benefits to the growth of low-emissions products and the creation of new products, such as new fuel sources or energy-efficient cars, which might appeal to a customer base that is increasingly climate-conscious.The CDP report is part of a growing effort to encourage companies to be open about how climate change will affect their financial well being.
In 2015 the Financial Stability Board, an international organization that studies the global financial system, formed the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures (TCFD). Led by Michael Bloomberg, the Task Force has released recommendations to help companies accurately assess and disclose their climate-related risks. The TCFD also wants to help standardize how companies think about and report those risks. Similarly, a coalition of investment groups including State Street Global Advisors, BlackRock, and Vanguard are backing the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, which helps companies report accurately on these issues.
“US companies are definitely putting out more information on how they are addressing climate change. They don’t look at an election cycle. They address this from a shareholder perspective,” says Rakhi Kumar, who leads State Street Global Advisors’ efforts on environmental investment. She says companies are hearing from investors who are worried. “That’s what they are reacting and responding to.”
Disclosure is meant to work like an x-ray, allowing customers and investors to look inside a company, see where it is vulnerable, and help it improve. By making their predictions and analyses public, companies can also learn from each other about how to become more resilient in the face of climate threats.
“Climate change is right now a very much under-priced risk in financial disclosures,” says Sarda, who believes both companies and investors need to prioritize climate-related accounting more. He suggests that better disclosure could fundamentally transform the markets. It could change how publicly traded companies are valued. Those that are more prepared or resilient would be viewed as better investments than their more vulnerable counterparts.Sarda is confident that companies can do a lot to help combat climate change, but he and Kumar say governments also play an important role in enacting policies that will stabilize markets.
“Putting a price on carbon or even a better price on water or on pollution in general is something that would create a lot of certainty for business,” says Sarda. But that’s unlikely in the current moment, with the Trump administration rolling back federal efforts to combat climate change. Last week, The New York Times reported that US Geological Survey director James Reilly ordered the agency to stop modeling climate scenarios that predict the effects of climate change beyond 2040.
Aside from a carbon tax, Sarda suggests governments could also help standardize climate disclosures the same way they standardize traditional financial reporting, guiding companies on how to assess and evaluate potential risks.
Right now, these disclosures are also somewhat limited in that they are self-assessments and aren’t subject to any in-depth, formal audit. So far, companies’ reporting practices have also varied a lot.
Some of that variation can be attributed to the nature of the risks themselves. Companies can pretty accurately predict how much it will cost to close down a factory for two weeks because of flooding, for example. But some risks are harder to calculate. How much will changing weather patterns in the midwest alter crop yields or harm pollinators? And how will that ultimately figure into the bottom line?
Companies also have blind spots. A corporation might do a good job of assessing risks to its own physical infrastructure, but might not apply that same scrutiny to its supply chain. Kumar also notes that companies typically only plan for the short term, while investors are on the lookout for future complications. Those different time lines create a “impasse” between companies and their investors. Kumar gives the example of coal energy plants, which may be profitable in the short term but which represent a long term risk that investors want “phased out.”
Christopher Wright, a professor at the University of Sydney who has written about corporate responses to climate change, says that while efforts like the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures have been garnering lots of attention, some of the predictions that companies make are “somewhat fanciful.”
Many companies model what the world will look like if our climate warms by 3 or even 4 degrees Celsius. But, Wright argues, warming of that magnitude would fundamentally disrupt society, not just supply chains. Those costs can’t be modeled so easily. “What of course is missing from all of this is a serious focus on implementing dramatic emissions reduction now!” he wrote in an email.The next step, says Sarda, is for investors and customers to examine the data and start demanding accountability from companies. He says that in order to make real progress confronting climate change, we can’t wait for government-sponsored policies and regulations. For things to truly change, he says, business needs to play a key role too.

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Revealed: The 20 Firms Behind A Third Of All Carbon Emissions

Lethal Heating - 17 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Guardian |

New data shows how fossil fuel companies have driven climate crisis despite industry knowing dangers
Chevron’s Kern River oil field in Bakersfield, California. Photograph: Guardian Design
The Guardian today reveals the 20 fossil fuel companies whose relentless exploitation of the world’s oil, gas and coal reserves can be directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era.
New data from world-renowned researchers reveals how this cohort of state-owned and multinational firms are driving the climate emergency that threatens the future of humanity, and details how they have continued to expand their operations despite being aware of the industry’s devastating impact on the planet.
The analysis, by Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute in the US, the world’s leading authority on big oil’s role in the escalating climate emergency, evaluates what the global corporations have extracted from the ground, and the subsequent emissions these fossil fuels are responsible for since 1965 – the point at which experts say the environmental impact of fossil fuels was known by both industry leaders and politicians.
The top 20 companies on the list have contributed to 35% of all energy-related carbon dioxide and methane worldwide, totalling 480bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) since 1965.
Those identified range from investor-owned firms – household names such as Chevron, Exxon, BP and Shell – to state-owned companies including Saudi Aramco and Gazprom.
Chevron topped the list of the eight investor-owned corporations, followed closely by Exxon, BP and Shell. Together these four global businesses are behind more than 10% of the world’s carbon emissions since 1965.

Why we need political action to tackle the oil, coal and gas companies - video explainer

Twelve of the top 20 companies are state-owned and together their extractions are responsible for 20% of total emissions in the same period. The leading state-owned polluter is Saudi Aramco, which has produced 4.38% of the global total on its own.Michael Mann, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, said the findings shone a light on the role of fossil fuel companies and called on politicians at the forthcoming climate talks in Chile in December to take urgent measures to rein in their activities.

The top 20 companies have contributed to 480bn tonnesof carbon dioxide equivalent since 1965Billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent 
Guardian graphic | Source: Richard Heede, Climate Accountability Institute. Note: table includes emissions for the period 1965 to 2017 only“The great tragedy of the climate crisis is that seven and a half billion people must pay the price – in the form of a degraded planet – so that a couple of dozen polluting interests can continue to make record profits. It is a great moral failing of our political system that we have allowed this to happen.”
The global polluters list uses company-reported annual production of oil, natural gas, and coal and then calculates how much of the carbon and methane in the produced fuels is emitted to the atmosphere throughout the supply chain, from extraction to end use.
It found that 90% of the emissions attributed to the top 20 climate culprits was from use of their products, such as petrol, jet fuel, natural gas, and thermal coal. One-tenth came from extracting, refining, and delivering the finished fuels.
The Guardian approached the 20 companies named in the polluters list. Eight of them have replied. Some argued that they were not directly responsible for how the oil, gas or coal they extracted were used by consumers. Several disputed claims that the environmental impact of fossil fuels was known as far back as the late 1950s or that the industry collectively had worked to delay action.
Most explicitly said they accepted the climate science and some claimed to support the targets set out in the Paris agreement to reduce emissions and keep global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
All pointed out efforts they were making to invest in renewable or low carbon energy sources and said fossil fuel companies had an important role to play in addressing the climate crisis. PetroChina said it was a separate company from its predecessor, China National Petroleum, so had no influence over, or responsibility for, its historical emissions. The companies’ replies can be read in full here.

The top 20 companies have contributed to 35%
of all carbon dioxide and methane since 1965
Billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent

Guardian graphic | Source: Richard Heede, Climate Accountability InstituteThe latest study builds on previous work by Heede and his team that has looked at the historical role of fossil fuel companies in the escalating climate crisis.The impact of emissions from coal, oil and gas produced by fossil fuel companies has been huge. According to research published in 2017 by Peter Frumhoff at the Union of Concerned Scientists in the US and colleagues, CO2 and methane emissions from the 90 biggest industrial carbon producers were responsible for almost half the rise in global temperature and close to a third of the sea level rise between 1880 and 2010. The scientists said such work furthered the “consideration of [companies’] historical responsibilities for climate change”.
Heede said: “These companies and their products are substantially responsible for the climate emergency, have collectively delayed national and global action for decades, and can no longer hide behind the smokescreen that consumers are the responsible parties.
“Oil, gas, and coal executives derail progress and offer platitudes when their vast capital, technical expertise, and moral obligation should enable rather than thwart the shift to a low-carbon future.”
Heede said 1965 was chosen as the start point for this new data because recent research had revealed that by that stage the environmental impact of fossil fuels was known by industry leaders and politicians, particularly in the US.
In November 1965, the president, Lyndon Johnson, released a report authored by the Environmental Pollution Panel of the President’s Science Advisory Committee, which set out the
likely impact of continued fossil fuel production on global heating.
In the same year, the president of the American Petroleum Institute told its annual gathering: “One of the most important predictions of the [president’s report] is that carbon dioxide is being added to the Earth’s atmosphere by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas at such a rate by the year 2000 the heat balance will be so modified as possibly to cause marked changes in climate beyond local or even national efforts.”

The leading state-owned polluter, Saudi Aramco, is behind 4.38%
of all carbon dioxide and methane since 1965
Billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent

Guardian graphic | Source: Richard Heede, Climate Accountability InstituteHeede added: “Leading companies and industry associations were aware of, or wilfully ignored, the threat of climate change from continued use of their products since the late 1950s.”
The research aims to hold to account those companies most responsible for carbon emissions, and shift public and political debate away from a focus just on individual responsibility. It follows a warning from the UN in 2018 that the world has just 12 years to avoid the worst consequences of runaway global heating and restrict temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
An activist outside the Houses of Parliament in London, 2015. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/GettyThe study shows that many of the worst offenders are investor-owned companies that are household names around the world and spend billions of pounds on lobbying governments and portraying themselves as environmentally responsible.
A study earlier this year found that the largest five stock-market-listed oil and gas companies spend nearly $200m each year lobbying to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change.
Heede said the companies had a “significant moral, financial, and legal responsibility for the climate crisis, and a commensurate burden to help address the problem”.
He added: “Even though global consumers from individuals to corporations are the ultimate emitters of carbon dioxide, the Climate Accountability Institute focuses its work on the fossil fuel companies that, in our view, have their collective hand on the throttle and the tiller determining the rate of carbon emissions and the shift to non-carbon fuels.”

Categories: External websites

Proving Climate Change: The Keeling Curve - AUDIO

Lethal Heating - 17 October, 2019 - 04:00
BBC - Louise Hidalgo

Thick black smoke blowing out of an industrial chimney. Credit: John Giles/PAHow a young American scientist began the work that would show how our climate is changing. His name was Charles Keeling and he meticulously recorded levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. His wife Louise and son Ralph spoke to Louise Hidalgo about him in 2013.

Proving Climate Change: The Keeling Curve

8m 59sec
Categories: External websites

'Grand Symbolic Gesture': Attempt To Declare A Climate Emergency Fails In Parliament

Lethal Heating - 16 October, 2019 - 04:00
Sydney Morning HeraldRob Harris | AAP

Federal Parliament has voted down an attempt to declare a "climate emergency", with the Morrison government blocking a "grand symbolic gesture" from the Greens, Labor and the crossbench.
Victorian Greens MP Adam Bandt brought on a vote in the lower house on Tuesday, buoyed Labor's announcement it would back the push.
A climate change rally sets up outside Parliament House on Tuesday. Credit: Lukas CochFederal Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor slammed the actions of the opposition, saying it was "symbolism" and not practical.
Opposition's climate spokesman Mark Butler told colleagues during a caucus meeting on Tuesday morning he would lodge a motion for debate in Parliament declaring the climate emergency, as an internal rift over its future policy settings divides the party following its May election loss.
Mr Taylor said the "emotive language" was ignoring the practical needs of every day Australians.
"Labor is making a huge song and dance about declaring a climate emergency, but refuses to commit to a single policy in this area from the last election," he said.
Labor MP Mark Butler and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese. Credit: Alex Ellinghausen"Labor's hollow symbolism will not deliver a single tonne of emissions reduction ... by contrast this government is taking meaningful actions."
Following fierce debate late on Monday night at separate factional caucus meetings over comments from frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon last week, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the party would decide its targets and policy "in accordance with the science".
Seeking to shift attention to what he said was a failing of the Morrison government to achieve a reduction in emission levels, Mr Albanese said: "Our job, as the opposition, is to hold the government to account and we'll continue to do just that."
"We're not the government. News flash, news flash. We're not the government. They are," Mr Albanese said.
Mr Butler told Parliament the window was closing on "our generation's ability, our unique ability, to meet our responsibility to future generations."
"Today we should try to unite as a parliament about why we should be doing something about climate change and why it is so urgent," he said.
Mr Bandt pointed to the United Nations report saying the world was not on track to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees.
"Nothing is more urgent than acting when people's lives and livelihoods are under threat," he said.
"We are experiencing record drought, some of our communities have been told to expect they may run out of water in coming months, parts of Australia have been on fire barely two weeks into winter."
Greens MP Adam Bandt brought on a motions to declare a climate emergency on Tuesday. Credit: Alex EllinghausenIt is clear we do not have global warming under control."
Labor caucus also agreed on Tuesday to push for amendments to the government's "big stick" legislation which would give it the power to break-up energy companies who engaged in anti-competitive behaviour.
The opposition had previously opposed the legislation but agreed if it could win an amendment on partial privatisation sections of the laws it was willing to waive it through Parliament.
When questioned as to whether it was a "backflip", Mr Albanese said: "No, it's not. This is very different legislation".
"The fact is that the privatisation issue was the major issue that was a sticking point. There were others as well and they've been worked through and there were other amendments that we will insist on in terms of the legislation".

Categories: External websites

MUNGO MACCALLUM: Albanese And The Inconvenient Climate-Change Deal-Breaker

Lethal Heating - 16 October, 2019 - 04:00
Independent Australia - Mungo MacCallum

Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoonsAs they sweat on the results of the long drawn out post mortem over Labor’s loss in the unlosable election, the warlords are already staking out their own positions.
The feeling seems to be that since a protracted series of blame games are inevitable, a least they can make a pretence of moving forward, even though they are in fact moving backwards.
And nowhere is the retreat more retrograde and dispiriting than the demand that the party of progress should abandon its long term targets on climate change and succumb, yet again, to the Government’s manifestly inadequate agenda.
Such right-wing luminaries as Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon and Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles are now suggesting that capitulation would help things along in Queensland and Western Australia. Their rationale appears to be that the Labor votes were down in both and since the two are traditionally designated as the mining states, forgetting about emissions would bring the punters flocking back to the fold.
Labor is now openly canvassing its policy differences on climate change, with some push along by Joel Fitzgibbon this week, says @frankelly08

"It is this sort of analysis, navel-gazing, cogitation that is going on quite in the open now with Labor." #auspol pic.twitter.com/n7z2lpK2rw— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) October 10, 2019 The logic is patently absurd. While Labor mishandled the Adani issue and Bob Brown’s quixotic caravan of protest did not help, the real problems in Queensland were Clive Palmer, Pauline Hanson and the monopolised Murdoch media — none of whom would have moved a nanometre if Labor’s target for emissions reduction was 45 per cent, 28 per cent or zero.
But hey, you have to blame something and it sure as hell isn’t going to be us. So the so-called policy relies essentially on self-preservation — a mixture of timidity and perversity.
If it were to be implemented it is not clear how it would play out, but the lessons from history is not promising. And not even ancient history — it is only a little over ten years ago that former PM Kevin Rudd walked away from what he once called the "great moral challenge of our times" and put his own ambitious plans for climate change on the backburner.
Dumping what was seen as a core belief – a principal point of difference between Labor and the Coalition – caused a slump in his Government’s support and the resulting polls, both public and private, provided the excuse the recalcitrant faction bosses needed to replace him, leading to all the instability and vendettas that followed.
The heavies of Sussex Street and beyond were not interested in climate change — their idea of a moral challenge is grabbing the last dim sum from a long lunch in Chinatown. But the rank and file and the swinging voters saw Rudd’s defection from the cause a betrayal, not only because most of them believed in it, but because it showed that when the pressure was put on him, he was just another political opportunist — one who preferred expediency to principle.
And this is precisely the risk Albanese is already accused of — that he stands for nothing, that he is driven by the polls and the focus groups, and thus is not worth supporting. He has got away with caution and moderation to date, but climate change is the big one; and will become more urgent as the extreme weather and the passionate politics become more intense.
If self-preservation is really involved, he needs, this time, to hold firm. It may be a long way to the next election, but tapping the mat on this one could be irreparable.
Mark Butler condemns Labor frontbencher's plan to adopt Coalition climate policy https://t.co/QSk50yk2FY— Lenore Taylor (@lenoretaylor) October 9, 2019Links
Categories: External websites

Speed Bump Jokers

Lethal Heating - 16 October, 2019 - 04:00
ABC - Media Watch
Kerri-Anne Kennerley not the first to suggest climate protestors be run over.

Media Watch: Speed Bump JokersTranscript

PAUL MURRAY: They’re sooks, they’ll keep going on, they’re giant toddlers who think, ‘as long as I keep asking for it eventually daddy will give it to me’. Well I can tell you what the result is, as this parent who has a toddler — go to your room.- Paul Murray Live, Sky News, 7 October, 2019Hello, I’m Paul Barry, welcome to Media Watch.And that was Sky’s Paul Murray doing his own toddler impersonation as he spat the dummy at the Extinction Rebellion protesters who clogged up Australia’s capital cities last week.And on Nine’s A Current Affair, sympathy for the activists was also in short supply:SALLY: It’s not fair. It’s not fair at all. PROTESTERS: What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it?REID BUTLER: It’s chaos in the name of progress.SALLY: Dad passed away 10 months ago and mum passed away on Sunday at home in that building …I just want to get to the home so I can start organising all the clean up … - A Current Affair, Channel Nine, 7 October, 2019So never mind the climate. What to do about those protesters? Luckily, Studio 10’s Kerri-Anne Kennerley had a couple of ideas: KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY:  Personally, I’d leave them all super-glued to wherever they do it. … and you just put little witches’ hats around them or use them as a speed bump.- Studio 10, Channel Ten, 9 October, 2019And if running them over was a little extreme, Kerri-Anne had a back up plan:KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: Put ‘em in jail and forget to feed them.- Studio 10, Channel Ten, 9 October, 2019So was there outrage at her comments?Well, enough of a noise for Studio 10’s Sarah Harris to come back to it later to hose it all down:SARAH HARRIS: … KAK you’re in trouble.KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: What did I do?SARAH HARRIS: Well, you are leading some of the news websites at the moment. There you are. ‘KAK says use protesters as a speedbump.’You obviously weren’t inciting violence ...KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: Oh heavens no!SARAH HARRIS: … you were speaking in hyperbole. It’s a joke.- Studio 10, Channel Ten, 9 October, 2019Yes, run them over. What a joke. Except it’s hardly funny. And not the first time she’s made it.A week before, on Studio 10, she said exactly the same thing, but nobody noticed:  KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: … you know the ones that super-glue themselves to the road or to Canberra? I think they just leave them super-glued there and use them as speed bumps.SARAH HARRIS: Oh Kerri-Anne! You can’t say that! KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY: No, eventually they’ll get them off. - Studio 10, Channel Ten, 1 October, 2019But Kerri-Anne’s not the only one with a wonderful sense of humour, because back in July viewers on Sky News were cracking up at the same suggestion from 2GB weekend host Paul Kidd:PAUL B. KIDD: Actually, the first car over them would be bumpy and the next one would be a bit bumpy, but they’d be, they’d be flat after about six cars.- Credlin, Sky News, 30 July 2019And he was just re-telling the joke that Sky news host Peta Credlin had made so hilariously the month before:PETA CREDLIN: Super-glued to the road, holding up all of this traffic. I would have run a car over the top of them. I wouldn’t have gone around them ...- Credlin, Sky News, 18 June, 2019And that same day on Sky’s Paul Murray Live, Mark Latham had offered a similar solution, but with a slightly different punchline: MARK LATHAM: … do we still have steam rollers?PAUL MURRAY: Maybe.MARK LATHAM: I’d like to roll one right down that road …- Paul Murray Live, Sky News, 18 June, 2019I think it’s time they got some new material and perhaps stopped making jokes about killing protesters. Because some nutter out there might just take them up on it. 
Categories: External websites

Traditional Owners Urge Climate Change Policy Makers To Witness Mangrove Devastation

Lethal Heating - 15 October, 2019 - 04:00
ABC News - Jane Bardon

Patsy Evans said she was devastated by what she saw when visiting the mangroves of the Gulf of Carpentaria. (ABC News: Jane Bardon) Key points
  • Scientists have said the severity of the mangrove dieback is on a par with Great Barrier Reef bleaching
  • The Top End is experiencing sea level rise at two to three times global averages
  • The CSIRO is warning the world is not on track to halt sea level rise

Traditional owners are devastated by the lack of recovery at the site of Australia's worst recorded mangrove dieback and are calling for action to limit climate change threats.
Traditional owner Patsy Evans had hoped there would be signs of recovery at the site of the mangrove dieback, in the Gulf of Carpentaria.But during a recent visit to the area for the first time since 2015, when she and her husband alerted the Northern Territory Government to the extent of the damage, she was devastated by the scene.
"This is bad, worse, it's unbelievable, I can't even believe what's happening here," Ms Evans said.She said she wanted policy makers to see how climate change was affecting the land near her home on the Limmen River, 750 kilometres south of Darwin.
"Go out and see what's happening, be aware and look at it, and don't make decisions where you are," she said.

The Top End is on the front line of Australia's most severe climate challenges (ABC News)

The mangroves were once nurseries for the mud crab, barramundi and prawn fisheries, but now consist mainly of dead trees and dusty earth.
The few live seedlings coming through are exposed, and vulnerable to damage from the fallen dead trees.
"Through the mangroves you get a lot of bush tucker, mud mussels and shells, and they're all just dead. It just makes me feel sad," Ms Evans said.Scientists from Queensland and Northern Territory universities said one contributing factor was a temporary drop in sea levels, caused by a change in the trade winds, which left the forests unusually high and dry.
But they said another factor in the dieback along 1,000 kilometres of coastline was climate change and a sharp increase in the sea temperature.
Dead shellfish now line the coastline, where mangroves used to thrive. (ABC News: Jane Bardon)
On par with Great Barrier Reef bleaching
"We can't see any other driver of the dieback other than the extreme climatic envelope has shifted," Charles Darwin University professor Lindsay Hutley said.
Dr Hutley said the extent and duration of the dieback was on a par with the severity of Great Barrier Reef bleaching.
"It's the canary on the coastline; it's quite significant, probably globally significant," he said.Madeline Goddard and Lindsay Hutley are seeing mangroves move inland. (ABC News: Jane Bardon)
Along with colleague Madeline Goddard, Dr Hutley has been researching other impacts of climate change on mangroves.
They've found mangroves have been adapting to climate change and sea level changes by moving inland.
"In parts of the Top End we are experiencing some of the highest sea level rises in the world," Ms Goddard said.
"If we give mangroves space, the whole forest can move landward, until they hit manmade barriers, and then they are at risk of drowning.
"That they are shifting, to this large degree, because of these climate change influences, is a warning to us."Polar icecap melting underestimated
The CSIRO has mapped the average sea level rise of the Top End at between six and 13 millimetres a year — two to three times the rate off southern Australia and the global average.
Professor Stephen Garnett has said the Top End may have a sea level rise of a metre by the end of the century. (ABC News: Jane Bardon)"That is partly because north of here we've got the Arafura Sea, which lies on top of the Continental Shelf, and so it's very shallow and so it warms up very quickly," Stephen Garnett from the Charles Darwin University Research Institute for the Environment said.
"So, we're looking at a metre rise by the end of the century, and we've already had a fifth of that," Professor Garnett said.CSIRO Sea Level and Coastal Extremes senior researcher Kathy McInnes said even if the Global Paris emissions reduction targets were met, that would not be enough to stop this rate of sea level rise.
Dr McInnes said the impacts of polar icecap melting on sea level rise had also been underestimated.
Northern Australia's mangroves could be under threat from rising sea levels. (ABC News: Nick Hose)She warned that would leave the Top End vulnerable to more impacts like mangrove dieback.
"We can expect greater frequency at which extreme events can occur, and this can lead to cascading impacts on society and ecosystems like the massive dieback of mangroves," she said.
"The compounding effect of that can be felt years down the track because of the flow on effect into our fishing industry, when stocks of both prawns and fish species drop."

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If Warming Exceeds 2°C, Antarctica’s Melting Ice Sheets Could Raise Seas 20 Metres In Coming Centuries

Lethal Heating - 15 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Conversation | 

During the Pliocene, up to one third of Antarctica’s ice sheet melted, causing sea-level rise of 20 metres. www.shutterstock.com, CC BY-ND We know that our planet has experienced warmer periods in the past, during the Pliocene geological epoch around three million years ago.
Our research, published today, shows that up to one third of Antarctica’s ice sheet melted during this period, causing sea levels to rise by as much as 20 metres above present levels in coming centuries.
We were able to measure past changes in sea level by drilling cores at a site in New Zealand, known as the Whanganui Basin, which contains shallow marine sediments of arguably the highest resolution in the world.
Using a new method we developed to predict the water level from the size of sand particle moved by waves, we constructed a record of global sea-level change with significantly more precision than previously possible.
The Pliocene was the last time atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were above 400 parts per million and Earth’s temperature was 2°C warmer than pre-industrial times. We show that warming of more than 2°C could set off widespread melting in Antarctica once again and our planet could be hurtling back to the future, towards a climate that existed three million years ago.

Overshooting the Paris climate target
Last week we saw unprecedented global protests under the banner of Greta Thunberg’s #FridaysForFuture climate strikes, as the urgency of keeping global warming below the Paris Agreement target of 2°C hit home. Thunberg captured collective frustration when she chastised the United Nations for not acting earlier on the scientific evidence. Her plea resonated as she reminded us that:
With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO₂ budget [1.5°C] will be entirely gone in less than eight and a half years. At the current rate of global emissions we may be back in the Pliocene by 2030 and we will have exceeded the 2°C Paris target. One of the most critical questions facing humanity is how much and how fast global sea levels will rise.
According to the recent special report on the world’s oceans and cryosphere by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), glaciers and polar ice sheets continue to lose mass at an accelerating rate, but the contribution of polar ice sheets, in particular the Antarctic ice sheet, to future sea level rise remains difficult to constrain.
If we continue to follow our current emissions trajectory, the median (66% probability) global sea level reached by the end of the century will be 1.2 metres higher than now, with two metres a plausible upper limit (5% probability). But of course climate change doesn’t magically stop after the year 2100.

Drilling back to the future
To better predict what we are committing the world’s future coastlines to we need to understand polar ice sheet sensitivity. If we want to know how much the oceans will rise at 400ppm CO₂, the Pliocene epoch is a good comparison.
Back in 2015, we drilled cores of sediment deposited during the Pliocene, preserved beneath the rugged hill country at the Whanganui Basin. One of us (Timothy Naish) has worked in this area for almost 30 years and identified more than 50 fluctuations in global sea level during the last 3.5 million years of Earth’s history. Global sea levels had gone up and down in response to natural climate cycles, known as Milankovitch cycles, which are caused by long-term changes in Earths solar orbit every 20,000, 40,000 and 100,000 years. These changes in turn cause polar ice sheets to grow or melt.
While sea levels were thought to have fluctuated by several tens of metres, up until now efforts to reconstruct the precise amplitude had been thwarted by difficulties due to Earth deformation processes and the incomplete nature of many of the cycles.
Our research used a well-established theoretical relationship between the size of the particles transported by waves on the continental shelf and the depth to the seabed. We then applied this method to 800 metres of drill core and outcrop, representing continuous sediment sequences that span a time period from 2.5 to 3.3 million years ago.
We show that during the Pliocene, global sea levels regularly fluctuated between five to 25 metres. We accounted for local tectonic land movements and regional sea-level changes caused by gravitational and crustal changes to determine the sea-level estimates, known as the PlioSeaNZ sea-level record. This provides an approximation of changes in global mean sea level.

Antarctica’s contribution to sea-level rise
Our study also shows that most of the sea-level rise during the Pliocene came from Antarctica’s ice sheets. During the warm Pliocene, the geography of Earth’s continents and oceans and the size of polar ice sheets were similar to today, with only a small ice sheet on Greenland during the warmest period. The melting of the Greenland ice sheet would have contributed at most five metres to the maximum 25 metres of global sea-level rise recorded at Whanganui Basin.
Of critical concern is that over 90% of the heat from global warming to date has gone into the ocean. Much of it has gone into the Southern Ocean, which bathes the margins of Antarctica’s ice sheet.
Already, we are observing warm circumpolar deep water upwelling and entering ice shelf cavities in several sites around Antarctica today. Along the Amundsen Sea coast of West Antarctica, where the ocean has been heating the most, the ice sheet is thinning and retreating the fastest. One third of Antarctica’s ice sheet — the equivalent to up to 20 metres of sea-level rise — is grounded below sea level and vulnerable to widespread collapse from ocean heating.
Our study has important implications for the stability and sensitivity of the Antarctic ice sheet and its potential to contribute to future sea levels. It supports the concept that a tipping point in the Antarctic ice sheet may be crossed if global temperatures are allowed to rise by more than 2℃. This could result in large parts of the ice sheet being committed to melt-down over the coming centuries, reshaping shorelines around the world.

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From Kerri-Anne To The Masked Stinger: How Australia's Media Covered Extinction Rebellion

Lethal Heating - 15 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Guardian

The Daily Mail promised nudity, the Daily Telegraph tried to generate buzz while the West Australian ran a blank front page
Studio 10’s Kerri-Anne Kennerley suggested Extinction Rebellion protesters be used as speed humps or be locked up in jail and starved. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP Daily Telegraph reporter Mitchell Van Homrigh got dressed up in a bee costume to go “undercover” with Extinction Rebellion but his stunt wasn’t even the most foolish response to the mass protests we saw this week.
After making all the bee puns he could think of, Van Homrigh admitted he found the protesters “passionate and kind and helpful to this blind little bee”. But he finished by reverting to the Joe Hildebrand school of argument about how little the protest would help their cause.
Kyle Sandilands has praised Daily Telegraph reporter Mitchell van Homrigh for creating a buzz with his undercover reporting of yesterday’s Extinction Rebellion bee-mergency protest.https://t.co/tFVHzSGgBL

— The Daily Telegraph (@dailytelegraph) October 9, 2019“Would these people be better off directing their passions towards developing programs and policy that enact their vision?” he wondered as he removed his bee head.
Hildebrand had earlier declared in his weekly news.com.au column that global action for climate change was a waste of time unless the protesters had a solution, as “passion on its own achieves nothing without a practical plan to back it up”.
“Romeo and Juliet were passionate and look what happened to them,” the Studio 10 co-host wrote, before conceding that marching was at least better than doing drugs.
Upfront at the #10Upfronts2020 with this squad. pic.twitter.com/FOJ1QCE6EC

— TAMARA SIMONEAU (@Tamara_Simoneau) October 10, 2019 But it was Hildebrand’s occasional co-host on Studio 10, Kerri-Anne Kennerley, who stole the headlines with the most offensive response to the protests.
Kennerley suggested that protesters be used as speed bumps. Or better still locked up in jail and starved: “Put ’em in jail, forget to feed them,” she said.
“Personally, I would leave them all superglued to wherever they do it,” Kennerley said when the panel discussed the disruption to the cities the protesters were causing. “The guy hanging from the Story Bridge. Why send emergency services? Leave him there until he gets himself out. No emergency services should help them, nobody should do anything and you just put little witches’ hats around them or use them as a speed bump.”
Channel 10, which this week narrowly missed censure for an earlier ill-advised comment by Kennerley, later insisted the veteran TV presenter was only joking.
“This morning on Studio 10 Kerri-Anne Kennerley made comments regarding climate protesters that were said in jest,” a spokesman said. “Before the show concluded, Sarah Harris reiterated the tone of her remarks, affirming that Kerri-Anne wasn’t inciting violence.
“Kerri-Anne confirmed that she was indeed speaking in hyperbole and her words were clearly a joke. There was no intent to cause offence. Over the past few days, Studio 10 has extensively addressed a range of opinions on this subject.”
The Australian’s media editor, Leo Shanahan, saw nothing amiss with KAK’s call, describing her rant as “sage advice”.
“Kerri-Anne Kennerley has some sage advice to Extinction Rebellion protesters: just stay on the road”, the Oz said.
Kerri-Anne Kennerley reckons #extinctionrebellion protesters should be used as speed bumps, thrown in and left to starve https://t.co/XwJEW3REiQ

— Rob Stott (@Rob_Stott) October 8, 2019It wasn’t just Ten that was all class this week. The media tripped over each other to put the worst light on the protesters who were using civil disobedience to get the attention of governments. Seven breakfast host Samantha Armytage said the protesters were annoying people to get on TV.
“So you deliberately want to annoy people, so you appear on national television,” Armytage said. “What is your message? What are you trying to do?”
Nine’s A Current Affair took the theme of the inconvenienced punter to the extreme, finding a woman stuck in traffic who was on her way to clear out her late mother’s nursing home. Her mother had died on Sunday and now she had been blocked by the protest.
“Fuck the environment,” the distressed daughter said. “People are more important.
“They think [protesting] is so important but what is important is the everyday, good Australian people just trying to go about their everyday lives. It’s not fair.”
The Daily Telegraph blogger Tim Blair kept score of the arrests in each city, as if it were a sporting competition. His best line in National Climate Comp: Sydney Going for Gold was suggesting that the protesters must be on “electric lettuce”, also known as marijuana.
The West Australian editor, Anthony De Ceglie, thought he had an even better gimmick, running a large blank space on his front page.
The (deliberately blank) front page of tomorrow's The West Australian pic.twitter.com/2bYVEkQLNd

— Anthony De Ceglie (@AnthDeCeglie) October 7, 2019“The climate change ‘rebellion’ plans to bring its protests to the doors of the West Australian today,” he editorialised. “This is a democracy. And we support free speech and peaceful demonstration. In that spirit, here’s a blank front page for your placards. Use it wisely.”
But the last word should go to the Daily Mail, which got way too excited about the possibility of nudity, with activists planning to “get their gear off”.
“A NAKED parade and traffic stopping rave: how Extinction Rebellion plan to bring Australia to a standstill during week of mayhem over climate change,” the headline said on Tuesday.

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Parliamentarians Deserve Our Wrath For 30 Years Of Inaction, Not Climate Protesters

Lethal Heating - 14 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Guardian

Supposedly progressive leaders like Annastacia Palaszczuk make you wonder if Gen X is worse on climate than baby boomers
‘Our media discourse this week was flooded with comments by 40- and 50-year-olds wondering who the Extinction Rebellion are trying to convince: “I’m all for action on climate change, but ...” and “Don’t they realise you catch more flies with honey?” ’ Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAPOne of my favourite lines in an article on the climate crisis is by American science journalist Sharon Begley: “If a rich technologically advanced nation won’t put its own house in order, then developing countries have a perfect excuse to do nothing.”
She also wrote in the same article: “For those who fear that the greenhouse will arrive – and no responsible scientist denies that possibility – it seems imperative to take immediate steps to mitigate it.”
Great lines. Written 30 years ago.
Begley wrote them in the same 1989 Newsweek magazine that reported on the fall of the Berlin Wall.
It is astonishing how little has changed.
In the same article she noted that car companies like Ford were strongly opposing any moves to introduce emission cuts that targeted the industry – “it would throw industry into a tailspin and have minimal environmental impact”, one spokesperson suggested. This week the Guardian found that car manufacturers have “been pouring millions of dollars through industry bodies into lobbying efforts to challenge attempts to tackle global heating in the past four years”.
And in the 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall that nothing has changed is a damning indictment on our political and media systems.
But it would be wrong to blame only those in power 30 years ago, for what we have seen this week is that blame can be well and truly passed down to the following generation of political leaders.
Gen X is as guilty as the much-maligned baby boomers.
As a member of that most cynical and sarcastic generation, who spent our youth mocking baby boomers who preached revolution and then sold out into the Me Generation as soon as a high-income tax cut and four-bedroom home with a two-car garage was dangled before their eyes, we must acknowledge that the answer to the question of “Are we the baddies?” is yes.
All that cynicism has mostly been translated into complacency.
Our media discourse this week was flooded with comments by 40- and 50-year-olds wondering who the Extinction Rebellion are trying to convince: “I’m all for action on climate change, but ... ” and “Don’t they realise you catch more flies with honey?”
We thought we were Rage Against the Machine but we are really FM Easy Listening.
Thirty years of inaction. Thirty years of waiting. Thirty years of playing nice.
If you think that strategy has worked, then you probably think the Queensland Labor party is a progressive government.
You can understand the reaction to protesters by arch-conservative Gen Xers like the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, who it appears sees a day without stripping people of their civil liberties as a day wasted. But when you see notionally progressive Gen X leaders like the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, rushing through legislation to prevent these protests you have to wonder not only what is the point of the ALP, but whether my generation is worse on climate change than baby boomers.
Palaszczuk tweeted that “everyone has the right to protest in this state” but then added the caveat: “It’s when extreme protesters using dangerous devices put at risk our emergency services & hinder people going about their daily business that it oversteps the mark.”
Forget that there is zero evidence that anyone in the Extinction Rebellion movement is using dangerous devices, but if hindering people going about their daily business is the new standard, then protest in the state has effectively become something allowed only in cases when it is neither seen nor heard. Which, it seems, would suit Palaszczuk just fine.
It is rather disappointing that she is so eager to embrace laws that Joh Bjelke-Petersen and any number of conservative autocrats would embrace. After all she had to battle oppression and malevolent forces all through her youth to get to the point of *checks notes* taking over the safe parliamentary seat her father held for over a decade.
Still, at least her opposition to climate change protest is not one that will see her alienated in the ALP. This week, federal MP Joel Fitzgibbon suggested Labor should adopt the LNP’s Paris agreement target of a 26%-28% cut in emissions from 2005 levels. That cut in reality is closer to 15% once you take into account carry-over credits and dodgy accounting, and which is massively short of the minimum 45% cut that scientists argue is needed.
It is rather disappointing that Fitzgibbon is so eager to capitulate to the government. After all he had to had to battle oppression and malevolent forces all through his youth to get to the point of *checks notes* taking over the safe parliamentary seat his father held for over a decade.
Look I get it – it is annoying to have you day disrupted. But don’t come at me with arguments that amount to basically doing what has been done for 30 years and expecting anything real to happen.
The problem is it has been easy to ignore climate-change activism and as a result ignore the issue completely. Non-violent resistance is about resisting, not just being non-violent.
And it is about provoking the inevitable overreaction by those in power – the same overreaction that occurred during civil rights and anti-Vietnam war protests. An overreaction that saw the New South Wales and Victorian police demand bail conditions on protests so onerous you would assume they were dreamed up in a Palaszczuk-Dutton group chat.

'The arrests make a point,' say Extinction Rebellion protesters in Australia.

Thankfully those like the ALP’s Mark Butler quickly condemned Fitzgibbon’s suggestion, and others in the party have criticised Palaszczuk’s new laws, so perhaps there remains some hope for it (but, as Richard Marles would suggest, prepare to be disappointed).
This week also came a report from the IMF that suggested even with a $111 carbon price, Australia would be unable to meet its Paris target. When the Gillard government introduced a carbon price seven years ago it was just $23.
That is the price of inaction.
At some point we need to get angry, but if your anger is directed at those protesting rather than at parliamentarians then I suspect you have consigned yourself to expecting nothing to change.
That’s fine, but own it. Realise if you are annoyed by them it’s because you have become more annoyed by protest than a lack of action. Don’t pretend to still be seeking change when your anger is directed at those trying desperately to make up for the past 30 years of wasted cynicism and complacency.

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If You Are Under 34, You Have Never Experienced A Month Of Below Average Temperatures

Lethal Heating - 14 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Guardian

Of course the Extinction Rebellion protesters are angry. You should be too
 Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP This week has seen a mass worldwide protest on climate change. The Extinction Rebellion is playing for keeps, and the protesters are setting out to make noise and force politicians and authorities to deal with them.
If you think those protesting are just a bit too angry and annoying, let us remember the situation is urgent and is no longer something for future generations to worry about – we are at a point where a majority of Australians now living will be affected by its impact.
Last month came the news that July 2019 was the hottest month on record.
No big deal, just the hottest global average temperature in the 140 years of records kept by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Not coincidentally, in the same month, Arctic sea-ice coverage hit a record low of 19.8% below average. Down our end of the planet, Antarctic sea-ice also shrank to an unprecedented level – some 4.3% below the 1981-2010 average.
The northern hemisphere summer just gone was the hottest on record as well. All this during a period when there was no El Niño to drive higher temperatures.
Oh, for the days when the deniers could proudly (if incorrectly) say “the world hasn’t warmed since 1998”. Back in 2008 Andrew Bolt was suggesting that was something that the mainstream media wanted to hide.
By 2010 he had changed to saying “the world hasn’t warmed since 2001”.
Here’s the reality: 16 of the past 21 years have been warmer than 1998.

At some point you would think the deniers would admit they have been found completely wanting. But no. Why do that when there is money to be made and votes to be won from making stuff up.
Here’s a little statistic to wrap your head around. The last year to experience global annual temperatures below the 1951-1980 average was 1976 – so if you are less than 43 years old you have never experienced a year with below average temperatures.
If you are under 34 you have not even experienced a month of below-average global temperatures – because the last such month was February 1985, and even that was a bit of an oddity as it was just the second such month in six years.
Even if you are 65 years old and ready for retirement, 79% of your life has been spent in a world with above-average temperatures:

But looking at total life is somewhat deceptive because of the past 42 straight years of above-average temperatures.
One way to show the real change is to look at what it was like for people’s first 40 years. If you are under 40 obviously you are stuffed – every year and almost every month has been above average.
The first lot of baby boomers – those born in 1946 – spent 52% of their first 40 years in a world with above-average temperatures. That is essentially what you would expect.
By contrast, I was born in 1972 and 89% of my first 40 years were hotter than the 1951-1980 average.

So it is clear the climate crisis is something that has affected younger people more, but let’s not be too suggestive about it being a young person’s problem. Because here’s the thing, 57% of Australia’s population is under 43 years old. Thus a sizeable majority of our citizens have never experienced a year with below-average global temperatures.
It’s a point that also makes you realise that “millennials” are not young any more. They are in their 30s and now getting to positions of power, but they remain a minority.
While 57% of our population has never experienced a year of below-average temperatures, only 45% of people above voting age can say that. And of current parliamentarians, just 18% of MPs and 11% of senators have never known a below-average year.

So you might understand why some are getting a tad impatient with the lack of action by those in power, and why they are not so impressed with talk about meeting Kyoto targets when it is obvious that accounting tricks are used to ensure Australia can say we are reducing emissions.
And you can understand why people are getting rather antsy about the fact that even with the carry-over credits and dodgy accounting of land use, we are still unlikely to meet our Paris target of 26% below 2005 levels.
And what is worse is that if we exclude land use, that 26% cut is a mere 15% below 2005 levels:

You can understand why people are ready to annoy those in authority when we look at where temperatures are going.
If we start from the climate-change deniers’ landmark year of 1998 (when climate change was said to have stalled), even a linear trend to the future has global temperatures reaching 2C above pre-industrial levels by 2056.
But no one thinks it will be a linear trend. The path suggested by the IPCC is closer to an exponential trend, in which we will hit 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by 2029 and 2C by 2042, when my daughter will be 10 years younger than I am now.

My father, a baby boomer, lived his first 40 years experiencing average temperatures. I, a typical Gen-Xer, spent 80% of my first 40 years with above-average temperatures, and my daughter faces a world where temperatures will be 2C above the pre-industrial average by the time she is 40.
Half of Australia’s current population is younger than 37. By 2042, the oldest will be just turning 60 – not even retired.
So are those involved in the Extinction Rebellion angry? You’re damn right they are.
And so should you be.

Categories: External websites

It's No Accident That Girls Are Leading The Climate Movement

Lethal Heating - 14 October, 2019 - 04:00
Sydney Morning Herald - Niamh O'Connor Smith*

I was sitting around a campfire at the beach when I started organising a strike for the first time. Six months later I was stepping onto the stage to MC the largest climate strike in Australian history – Melbourne’s September 20 School Strike for Climate.
Tens of thousands stood in solidarity with Climate Action then marched through the streets of Melbourne. Credit: Chris HopkinsIt was exhilarating yet nerve-racking, getting ready to speak to the sea of people in front of me, all there because they care about climate action and climate justice. It brought me such a powerful feeling, of hope and courage, that together we will create a safe future for everyone.
School Strike for Climate started with just one girl: Greta Thunberg. Now it is a huge movement; 7 million people strong. In Australia, Milou, Harriet and Callum started the strikes in my home town, Castlemaine.
You may have noticed some of the key players in this movement are girls. The person who started it all is a girl. Two of the three people who got the strikes going in Australia are girls. This empowers me and fills me with courage for the future of girls in leadership.
All over the world girls are leading this movement. But we are not alone. And we need everyone, regardless of age, gender and nationality to stand with us to call out the people in power for their inaction; to show the world we need climate justice action.
Getting everyone involved is the key to the movement. When more people get up and strike, it makes our collective voice stronger.
Girls possess a valuable quality of encouraging people to use their voices for what they believe in and empowering others around them. Not every girl has to lead, but through the many conversations they have every day, they spread the message and make people believe in a power everyone possesses inside of them.
Spreading courage and hope and being able to instil this power in others is an asset girls bring to this movement. With this strength, the climate strikes will only become more powerful.
Castlemaine schoolkids strike for the environment.As the movement grows, it will reach more people and our government will have to listen and take action.
Often people come to the strikes calling for a safe green future. This is a major reason many choose to strike. A lot of them don’t realise people are already suffering the effects of the climate crisis. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Pacific islanders are on the front lines of this crisis, facing rising sea levels, worse storms and crop failures. That is why climate justice is an integral part of School Strike for Climate in Australia. The strikes can raise the awareness of the hundreds of thousands who attend.
I must admit it’s frustrating when adults in positions of power tell us to go back to school, when they won’t listen to the science. If they took the advice of the world’s best climate scientists, we wouldn’t have to take days off school to strike.
As the strikes have grown in size, some politicians and commentators have chosen to criticise and bully. This will not stop us. In fact, it makes us stronger. With support from those around us, we will continue to fight through their torments because it means we are winning.
They say we as a nation are doing enough to tackle the climate crisis, while at the same time they are approving new coal mines and subsidising fossil fuels with taxpayers' money.
Our government is clearly not doing enough. We see the broken structure that is letting our planet die. As young people and girls, we are in a unique position to change the system, and so we strike.
Then they say that as students we should value our education. We do. We value our education very highly. As organisers, we dedicate many hours of our free time to making these strikes happen.
We make a choice to sacrifice our education on strike days because as students we don’t have the right to vote, so this is a way to make sure people in power hear our voices.
Everyone has a voice. For some of us, it is harder to use that voice and harder to make it heard. But when we band together, we can use our voices to fight for what is right. To fight against the injustice that is being dealt to this planet and its people.
As a girl, I have stepped up as a leader, and so can you. You can be the one stepping on the stage, making your voice heard and changing the world.

*Niamh O'Connor Smith is one of the original organisers of the Australian climate strikes.

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A Little More Confusion Added To The Climate Policy Debate

Lethal Heating - 13 October, 2019 - 04:00
Canberra Times - Michelle Grattan

Joel Fitzgibbon was on his mobile at a cafe at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices in Sydney on Thursday when he encountered Scott Morrison getting a mid-morning coffee.
"You're making a lot of sense," Morrison said to Labor's resources spokesman, who'd set off a firestorm in his party by suggesting the ALP revise its climate policy to adopt the upper end of the government's target of reducing emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030.
"Your love won't help me, Prime Minister," Fitzgibbon shot back.
Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon during question time. Picture: Alex EllinghausenHe's right there. Fitzgibbon's radical proposal has burst open the conundrum the opposition has in reshaping one of the ALP's centrepiece election pitches.
It's a great deal more complicated than, for example, dealing with the franking credits plan, which Labor can't afford to keep in its present form. That can be restructured, or dumped, without much political angst.
But the climate policy - for a 45 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 and a target of net zero by 2050 - has become an article of faith within Labor, and among many of its supporters. It's also a policy that in the election split the voters Labor needed, attracting some but driving away others.
Weaken the policy and there will be a reaction from the ALP's inner city constituents, who tend to look toward the Greens out of the corner of their eye. Keep a very high target and lose people once again - to the Coalition or minor parties on the right - from the traditional base, including in regional areas, especially in Queensland where coal mining is a thing.
Fitzgibbon maintains that by adopting the 28 per cent target, Labor would not just be more acceptable to blue collar voters but would put more pressure on the government to act - although this latter point seems a stretch.
Getting to 28 per cent without destroying blue collar jobs or harming the economy would also provide "a great foundation" for prosecuting the case for further action, he claims.
Among the multiple problems Labor has in reviewing its policy is that it will be considering a more pragmatic, less ambitious approach just when the climate debate is once again taking off in public consciousness.
Protesters take over Commonwealth Avenue in a staged "die-in" in protest of climate change inaction. Picture: Peter BrewerIt's hard to assess precisely the extent to which the step-up in activism represents the wider public view. Indeed the civil disobedience demonstrations are infuriating some people because of the disruption. Nevertheless, the period ahead could see the issue biting more, as the ALP is considering easing back.
Given how quickly things change and the relevance of what other countries do, in strict policy terms Labor arguably would be best not to settle a policy until, say, early 2021, for a 2022 election. But the government (and the media) will be able to exploit a Labor vacuum, so that holding out does carry political cost.
Fitzgibbon, who represents the NSW coal seat of Hunter and experienced voter wrath in May, won't get the ambit claim he outlined this week. That would be going too far for the party, and for its climate spokesman Mark Butler who has a lot of reputation at stake. As soon as Fitzgibbon made public his proposal, Butler said it wouldn't be embraced by Labor, declaring it was "fundamentally inconsistent with the Paris Agreement and would lead to global warming of 3 degrees."
Fortunately for the government, Fitzgibbon's intervention reduced the attention on its energy policy, the inadequacy of which was again highlighted this week.
As the Coalition pushes ahead with seeking to get its "big stick" legislation to deal with recalcitrant power companies through parliament, criticisms of its policy came from, among others, the chair of the Energy Security Board Kerry Schott and the Grattan Institute.
Schott, whose board advises federal and state governments, wrote in The Australian Financial Review, ahead of the paper's energy summit, that "government interventions to cap prices and to effectively subsidise certain generation projects will not encourage the considerable new investment and innovation that is needed".
The Grattan Institute, which released a report on Australia's electricity markets, said the government's "fight to avoid the impending closure of the Liddell coal power station in NSW makes it harder for Australia to achieve its emissions reduction targets, and is likely to increase electricity prices and reduce the reliability of supplies".
The AFR summit saw much finger pointing, with Energy Minister Angus Taylor blaming industry for the lack of investment, and industry blaming the government.
Taylor said dismissively: "Time and again we've seen industry participants and commentators swept up in the excitement of complex new programs represented by the latest fashionable acronym that everyone pretends to understand but few ever do." Origin Energy's CEO Frank Calabria said "the mere existence of the big stick is acting as a handbrake on investment, right when we need investment the most".
In theory, Morrison could have tried to use the great authority his unexpected election win gave him to pursue more appropriate energy and emissions reduction policies. Admittedly, it would have been extremely difficult, as it would have contradicted much the government had been saying and doing.
But it was never an option. Morrison is either wilfully blind to what needs to be done (although when treasurer he supported the more rational policy of a National Energy Guarantee), or he is afraid to stir those powerful naysayers in his party.
So where are we left?
With a government stubbornly tied to a set of policies that experts insist won't deliver effective results. And an opposition that's in a funk about where it should position itself in the future.
Meanwhile Australia's overall emissions rise (although electricity emissions are down, as some coal fired power goes out of the system); high electricity prices remain a burden on private and business consumers alike; and there is nervousness about the summer power supply.

Categories: External websites

The Hot Topic Of Climate Change

Lethal Heating - 13 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Saturday PaperPaul Bongiorno

The ghosts of leaders past are haunting the political firmament as climate change, the one issue that played a major role in their demise, flares spectacularly. While Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten ruminate on their contributions to and prescriptions for the nation, fierce unseasonal bushfires are offering a brutal reality check.
The irony is that a former Liberal prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is most in tune with the thousands of Extinction Rebellion protesters disrupting major cities here and around the world. Turnbull does not baulk at laying the blame for Australia’s faltering response on his own party. He told Rupert Murdoch’s flagship newspaper The Australian, “The failure to have a coherent national energy policy is a major problem but it is founded on this rock of climate denialism inside the Liberal Party and inside the media, including by the newspaper you [the interviewer] work for.”
Turnbull defends himself as a “true conservative” against those who dumped him as prime minister on the pretext he was too left-leaning and “not really one of us”. He says, “There is nothing conservative … [in] denying the science of climate change. That’s not a conservative position. That is just, well, that is just denying reality. You might as well deny gravity.”
His successors in government have no compunction about denying anything that doesn’t suit them. Energy Minister Angus Taylor insists Turnbull is wrong to claim the government’s policy is incoherent, because carbon emissions and energy prices are both falling. Except the government’s own figures show this claim to be wrong, or at the very least a giant fudge. Total yearly emissions have been rising every year since Tony Abbott scrapped Labor’s carbon price in 2014.
On energy prices, Taylor says an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report shows his new regulations forced retailers in South Australia, New South Wales and south-east Queensland to lower their standing offers by $130 to $190 a year. Victoria was the standout, with its retailers decreasing their standing offers by $310 to $430 a year.
Labor’s spokesman for Climate Change and Energy, Mark Butler, rejects Taylor’s argument that electricity bills are shrinking, saying only 10 per cent of households are on standing offers. He quotes analysis by JPMorgan showing wholesale electricity prices rose by 12 per cent from June to August.
On Tuesday, Butler said the latest work from the Grattan Institute reported that under the Coalition the big three private power companies have earned “an extra $1 billion in additional mega-profits … all paid for by Australian households and businesses”. He added that, since the energy crisis sparked by Abbott in 2015, wholesale power prices have risen “by about 158 per cent, and the market expects those prices to continue rising, with forward prices up 29 per cent just in the last 12 months, since Malcolm Turnbull and the national energy guarantee were dumped back in 2018”.
You’d imagine Labor would agree with the Extinction Rebellion protesters … Instead the party is subjecting itself to some very public open-heart surgery on its climate change and energy policy. With interventions like that from the knowledgeable Butler – who’s written a book on the subject – you’d imagine Labor would agree with the Extinction Rebellion protesters, who say there is an urgent need to declare a climate emergency and take greater action to reduce emissions. Instead the party is subjecting itself to some very public open-heart surgery on its climate change and energy policy.
Bill Shorten, in his first major interview since the election, told another Murdoch paper, the Sunday Herald Sun, “It pains me to realise after the election that I’d misread some of the mood in Queensland and Western Australia. There they saw some of our policies as being green-left, not for the worker, not for the working people.” Labor failed to win new seats in the west and saw swings against it of 11 to 12 percentage points in the Queensland coal seats of Dawson and Capricornia. In New South Wales, the  hitherto-safe Labor seat of Hunter had a swing of 9.5 percentage points against the party.
The swing in Hunter has certainly alarmed Joel Fitzgibbon, who managed to hold on by his fingernails. One Labor insider says that, as a result, “Joel has gone rogue.” But Anthony Albanese added Resources to Fitzgibbon’s Agriculture portfolio after the election, and Fitzgibbon has now set about pushing the party to a new climate deal that is closer to the government’s weak ambitions.
Fitzgibbon ventured to reactionary champion Gerard Henderson’s Sydney Institute on Wednesday to run up the white flag. He largely blames the three consecutive election losses on Labor’s more ambitious climate change policies. “How many times are we going to let it kill us?” he asked, adding, “How many leaders do we want to lose to it?” He said it was time “to reach a sensible settlement on climate change”.
His settlement: to match the prime minister’s 26-28 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030. But, unlike Morrison, he wants to achieve the higher target of 28 per cent. “If we could get to 28 per cent by 2030, and also demonstrate that we could do so without destroying blue-collar jobs or damaging the economy, then we would have a great foundation from which to argue the case for being more ambitious on the road to 2050.” The Liberals’ most strident coal spruiker, Craig Kelly, couldn’t have put it better. How it squares with Albanese’s and Butler’s assurances that Labor will always take climate change more seriously than the Liberals is the question. It sets the scene for a mighty brawl at next year’s Labor Party national conference.
The Greens’ Adam Bandt says the public will never forgive Labor if it abandons climate action. He says if Labor walks away from its already weak target of reducing emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, “it walks away from the Paris agreement goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees”. He accuses Labor of joining the Tories.
It’s a pretty serious accusation on the day Angus Taylor outraged even the energy regulator by announcing he was going to use taxpayers’ money to underwrite coal-fired power stations. Taylor tried to mask his intention by lumping it in with funding for new gas and pumped-hydro plants. He told the Australian Financial Review National Energy Summit there was a need to strengthen the process for retaining coal generators.
The Malcolm Turnbull-appointed chair of the Energy Security Board, Kerry Schott, was unimpressed. She told the same conference, “Government interventions to both cap prices and effectively subsidise certain generation projects will not encourage the considerable new investment and innovation that is needed. The ongoing and costly efforts to keep aged coal plants running for extended periods is also ill advised.”
“Ill advised”, because it also flies in the face of market realities and downgrades the climate change risks that insurers and investors are now factoring into their decisions. And one would think it is ill advised because climate change, according to recent opinion polling, is increasingly seen as Australia’s No. 1 threat.
The yearly Lowy poll published in May found 64 per cent of adults saw the issue as “a critical threat”. It was the first time in the 15-year history of the poll that global warming topped the list of threats. And at the beginning of October, an Essential poll found 70 per cent of Australians thought Morrison was wrong to snub the United Nations Climate Action Summit.
But there is a cynical calculation on the government’s part. Morrison, in the run-up to the May 18 election, pivoted his rhetoric to accepting the science, dressing up his half-baked responses as more serious than they are. This ploy, which he also used in his address to the UN General Assembly, did not survive informed fact-checking. However, at face value it worked at the election. Morrison won. But one veteran Liberal says there were many other factors at play. Bill Shorten’s mea culpa on his tax agenda and having “too many messages” backs this view. You could also throw in Clive Palmer’s $60 million advertising spend, demonising Shorten relentlessly in the final two weeks of the campaign and reinforcing the serious doubts that voters already had about the Labor leader. One senior Labor MP says, “If we’d had $60 million to throw at Morrison, we could have killed him too.”
For the thousands of Extinction Rebellion protesters, all this is fiddling while the planet burns. Former Greens senator Scott Ludlam, who was one of the protesters arrested in Sydney, said calls to shut down the demonstrations were “like turning off the smoke alarm in a burning building”. But that’s not the way Resources Minister Matt Canavan wants anyone to see it. On social media he attacked the Queensland government for sitting “idle for months while it has let a bunch of activists take over the streets of Brisbane”, ignoring the Palaszczuk government’s recent crackdown. He is likely to agree with his colleague Peter Dutton, who believes the protesters should be “named and shamed”, face mandatory jail terms and have their welfare payments stopped.
These “authoritarian populists”, as Turnbull would call them, are desperate for the real message of the protests to be lost in outrage over traffic jams.

Categories: External websites

Climate Of Angst Laid Bare Within Battered And Bruised Post-Election Labor

Lethal Heating - 13 October, 2019 - 03:30
Sydney Morning HeraldRob Harris

Labor's internal anxiety over its future policy direction - especially on climate - is set to intensify in the coming weeks as the reality of another three years in opposition sinks in for its caucus members.
Veteran frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon, who has been in Parliament for 23 years but has served less than two of them as a cabinet minister, laid the angst bare on Wednesday. The MP, who hails from coal country in the NSW Hunter region, argued the opposition had "confused and scared" voters with its policies at the May election during his speech to think tank the Sydney Institute.

While a review is conducted into the policies taken to the last election, Labor isn't saying much when it comes to the issues of climate change and energy.

The speech, which argued for a "sensible settlement" with the Morrison government on emissions targets, was leaked ahead of time and ran on the front page of The Australian, ensuring a full day of debate before it was delivered.
It blindsided Labor leader Anthony Albanese's office, which only received a copy late Wednesday night - not long before the newspaper's printing presses had started firing up. Billed as "Managing Disruption: Australia's Place In A Changing World", the office had assumed the speech was dealing with US President Donald Trump and global affairs.
In all likelihood Fitzgibbon was never going to seek approval for what he planned to say and requesting Albanese's approval would have left the fledgling leader in the awkward position of having to quash the open and honest debate on policy he had promised.
Joel Fitzgibbon advocated for Labor to wind back its 45 per cent carbon emissions reduction target. Credit: Alex EllinghausenAhead of the release next month of a review into the party's shock election loss, Fitzgibbon urged the party to revise its emissions target down to match the upper end of the Coalition's goal of a 26 to 28 per cent reduction. "If we could get to 28 per cent by 2030, and also demonstrate that we could do so without destroying blue-collar jobs or damaging the economy, then we would have a great foundation from which to argue the case for being more ambitious on the road to 2050," he said.
His move infuriated caucus colleagues who said there was no need for a public split on climate targets years before a final policy would have to be decided for the next election.
The party's climate spokesman Mark Butler declared within hours that Labor was "unshakeably committed" to the principles set out in the Paris climate agreement. "The government's targets, announced by Tony Abbott, are fundamentally inconsistent with the principles of the Paris agreement and would lead to global warming of more than 3 degrees," he said. "For that reason, Labor has consistently opposed Tony Abbott's inadequate targets."
But the angst within Labor as to how it takes action on climate change is more widespread than just Fitzgibbon.
At the height of the election campaign, when the party was being smashed on the front pages of newspapers over economic modelling of its climate policies showing damage to the economy ranging from billions to trillions of dollars and its confusing stance on the Adani mine in northern Queensland, Labor MPs would mutter: "We weren't suppose to be talking about this."
Fitzgibbon's frustration comes from a decade-long climate war which has torn both parties to shreds. "How many times are we going to let it kill us? Indeed, how many leaders do we want to lose to it?" he said on Wednesday night.
Amid rowdy public protests across capital cities and warnings from global bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Monetary Fund about the dangers of inaction, Labor is wrestling with how it can attack the government on climate while keeping itself out of the firing line.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen
Framing the argument around jobs and job security will be critical to that challenge, MPs admit, citing the electoral success of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last November.
"Big transitions are always accompanied by big, defining anxieties," Labor's treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers said as he gave the party's annual Light On The Hill Address in Bathurst last week. "This anxiety has many sources but three are key: stagnant wages feeding declining living standards; fears about the future of work; and a sense that our nation is failing to meet its potential."
Chalmers' comments were mirrored by deputy Labor leader Richard Marles on Thursday night, when he said in a speech to the John Curtin Research Centre that traditional Labor voters felt the party "looked down" on blue-collar workers, especially in the coal-mining regions of northern and central Queensland.
Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek argued the party should be spending its time shining a light on the government's failings on climate policy and ensuring it kept up a focus on jobs in the booming renewables sector.
For Albanese, as he seeks to impose his authority on a battered and bruised caucus, a Honolulu trip to attend the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue was a blessing. His contribution was a tweet from the Pacific saying he was "proud" that Labor has "consistently supported strong action on climate change", but he will be squeezed from all sides in coming weeks and months as party's shock at losing the federal election in May turns into frustration and anger.
As one Labor MP put it this week: "We are miles off reaching a 'political settlement' ourselves before talking about one with the government.

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