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David Attenborough And Prince William Take World Leaders To Task On Environment

18 hours 33 min ago
The Guardian

Davos 2019: broadcaster tells prince that humans have power to exterminate whole ecosystems ‘without even noticing’

David Attenborough warns of damage humans can do ‘without even noticing’

Sir David Attenborough has warned that humankind has the power to exterminate whole ecosystems “without even noticing”, and urged world leaders to treat the natural world with respect, during an interview with Prince William in Davos.
Prince William also took world leaders to task at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, asking Attenborough why those in key positions have “taken so long” to address climate change.
Attenborough said the connection between the natural world and urban societies had been “remote and widening” since the industrial revolution, meaning humans do not realise the effect their actions have on the global ecosystem. The 92-year-old broadcaster added that it was “difficult to overstate” the urgency of the environmental crisis.
“We’re now so numerous, so powerful, so all-pervasive, the mechanisms we have for destruction are so wholesale and so frightening, that we can actually exterminate whole ecosystems without even noticing it. We have to now be really aware of the dangers of what we’re doing, and we already know that of course the plastic problem in the seas is wreaking appalling damage upon marine life, the extent of which we don’t yet fully know.”
He stressed that the natural world “is not just a matter of beauty, interest and wonder” but a coherent ecosystem on which we depend for “every breath we take, every mouthful of food we take.” A healthy planet, Attenborough added, is an essential part of human life.
“If we don’t recognise the kind of connections I’ve been describing, then the whole planet comes in hazard, and we are destroying the natural world and with it ourselves.”

‘The Garden of Eden is no more’, David Attenborough warns Davos summit

William pressed Attenborough for a key message for the politicians and business leaders gathered in Davos this week.
“Care for the natural world. Not only care for the natural world but treat it with a degree of respect and reverence,” Attenborough said, adding that there was a worrying tendency to waste resources.
“The thing that I really care for in our ordinary daily lives is not to waste the riches of the natural world on which we depend. And it’s not just energy ,which of course is very important, but it’s also dealing with the natural world with a degree of respect. Not to throw away food, not to throw away power – just care for the natural world of which you’re an essential part.”
The Duke of Cambridge started and ended the session by congratulating Attenborough for winning the Crystal award, which recognises individuals who have helped make the world a better place, at the World Economic Forum on Monday night. William added it was a “personal treat” to be asking Attenborough questions, and quipped that it was a good change of pace from being the subject of interviews himself.
Asking why global leaders have taken so long to react to climate change, William said: ““Why do you think world leaders and those in key positions of leadership; why do think they’ve taken so long … there have been quite a few faltering steps to act on environmental challenges?”
Prince William greets Sir David Attenborough on stage at Davos. Photograph: Markus Schreiber/AP Comparisons were also drawn between the broadcaster’s burgeoning BBC career in the 1950s, compared with his latest project that sees him team up with Netflix and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for an upcoming series called “Our Planet” to be released on the online TV streaming site.
Attenborough said his early work in the mid-1950s involved himself, one camera and one cameraman, and it was relatively “easy” to impress Britons simply by televising an armadillo. Now the systems are “unbelievable”, taking viewers to the sky and depths of the ocean in ways that 50 years ago, “people couldn’t imagine”.
Prince William noted Attenborough’s late shift to environmental activism, noting that for many years the presenter “held back from speaking publicly about environmental issues”.
Attenborough said that at the start of his career, it was nearly inconceivable that the environment would be in such a state of crisis and even pockets of animal extinction seemed like the exception rather than the norm.
“To be truthful I don’t think there was anyone in the mid-50s who thought there was a danger that we would annihilate parts of the natural world. There were animals that were in danger, that’s true and there were animals that we could see if we didn’t do something they were going to become extinct.
“And the notion that human beings might exterminate a whole species … you just hadn’t thought about it,” he said.
“Now of course we’re only too well aware that the whole of the natural world is at our disposal, as it were. We can do things accidentally that exterminate a whole area of the natural world and species that live within it.”

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'Not Too Late': Australians Develop Carbon Model With DiCaprio's Help

18 hours 33 min ago
FairfaxPeter Hannam

Renewable energy can supplant fossil fuels across the global economy, with Australia among the three regions best placed to benefit because of its rich solar and wind resources, according to a new study funded by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation's One Earth project.
The work – based on a two-year project between the University of Technology Sydney, the University of Melbourne and German Aerospace Centre – found a combination of renewables and energy efficiency can achieve the net-zero emissions outcome needed by 2050.
Solar farm in Kerang, Victoria: Study finds the shift to renewables for all energy sources is within our reach. Credit: Leigh Henningham
"The main barrier is neither technical nor economic – it's political," Sven Teske, research director at the UTS's Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, said, adding "it's not too late" to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees, the lower end of the Paris climate target.
The research, released on Monday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, modelled 72 regional energy grids at hourly increments through 2050, including the Australian states on the National Electricity Market and other regions.
Costs would be moderated in Australia because the average age of coal-fired power plants was about 40 years, and would soon have to be replaced anyway. Solar and wind-generated electricity was also already cheaper than new coal, he said.
Fossil-fuel use in other sectors, such as transport and agriculture, could also be phased out and replaced by synthetic fuels, particularly hydrogen. Australia's abundant sun and wind resources gave the nation an advantage only matched by north Africa and the Middle East as a renewable powerhouse, Dr Teske said.
Australia would benefit from the transition from the export of hydrogen-based or other synthetic fuels, and from shipments of cobalt and silver used for storage and solar panels, respectively.
While biofuels offered potential to supplement renewables, the sector would be constrained by the need to maintain farm land to feed growing populations. Reforestation would also be needed to provide a carbon sink to help reduce carbon-dioxide levels, he added.
Citing a growing body of research, we show that using land restoration efforts to meet negative emissions requirements, along with a transition to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050, gives the world a good chance of staying below the 1.5-degree target," Malte Meinshausen, founding director of the Climate and Energy College at the University of Melbourne, said.
The research, understood to cost in the range of $1 million, was the first in Australia by the foundation set up by prominent actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio.
Given the scant carbon budget left to keep warming from reaching dangerous levels, "every year of delay is a huge problem", Dr Teske said.

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10 Hot Trends Shaping Australian Clean Energy

18 hours 33 min ago
RenewEconomy - Kane Thornton*

Last year was a remarkable one for the clean energy industry by any standard, and confidence is high as we enter 2019.
Between record levels of clean energy and businesses recognising the value of low-cost renewables to cut their operating costs, we are starting to see a whole-of-economy energy transformation taking place.
It’s amazing and inspiring to watch the changes in real time, and below we’ve captured some of the biggest trends and milestones we saw in the year that was.

1. Record $20 billion of investment in big wind, solar and energy storage projects
With 14.6GW of new renewable energy projects under construction – generating four times as much as the Liddell Power Station – it’s no surprise that 2018 eclipsed the year before.
At the end of 2018, more than 80 wind and solar farms worth over $20 billion were underway, which is about double the investment compared to the end of 2017. These projects also created around 13,000 direct jobs. Add in the projects completed during the year and the figures grow by another $6 billion.

2. Records tumble and 2 million Australian homes now have a solar power system
Aussies lived up to their sun-loving reputation in 2018, achieving a record-breaking milestone of two million homes with rooftop solar. Queensland led the nation with almost 600,000 systems installed, a bit under a third (30 per cent) of the homes in the state. The power of the sun not only gave homeowners some relief from the cost of energy, but also helped the power grid cope with demand on hot summer days.
Following on from the record-breaking year for the nation’s solar homes in 2017, solar PV records went through the roof again. On average six solar panels were being installed per minute in Australia, with the commercial sector growing by 45 per cent and the residential sector just a whisker behind with a 43 per cent rise in 2018.

3. Businesses buy their own clean energy
Power purchasing agreements (PPAs) caused waves, with companies both on the home front and abroad choosing to invest in and purchase clean energy as a way to get their operations back in the black. Overseas, Google and Apple set ambitious clean energy targets which made them the two biggest buyers of renewable energy on the planet.
Back in Australia, the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project saw 14 organisations join forces with Pacific Hydro to purchase renewable energy from an 80 MW wind farm in the north-west of the state.
The Clean Energy Council signed on as a founding member of the nation’s first Business Renewables Centre – an information hub and membership platform formed to accelerate the corporate purchasing of large-scale wind, solar energy and storage. And wineries, breweries, farmers and accommodation providers have installed their own renewables to help cut costs.
4. British industrial billionaire shows the way for major power users
In 2017 Tesla’s Elon Musk was the man of the moment, but last year British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta could do no wrong. Mr Gupta’s GFG Alliance attracted Prime Minister Scott Morrison and South Australian Premier Steven Marshall to the launch of his “green steel” upgrade project in the SA town of Whyalla.
The $600 million project includes plans for a new hotel, a horticulture development and a recycling business as well as a major energy revamp towards renewables and energy storage. The council has anticipated a population boom as a result, predicting a jump from 22,000 to 80,000 in the next 10 to 20 years. The pioneering project could pave the way for other major energy users to use clean energy in the future.

5. It’s the economy, stupid
Over the course of this decade, the power generated by wind and solar power has gradually become cheaper than new fossil fuel generation. Research by the Victorian Energy Policy Centre during the year found that renewable energy pushed down wholesale spot prices to $38 per MWh in SA, with prices set to see a further decrease due to extra wind and solar production.
This research is backed up by a report released by the Australian Industry Group during 2018, which shows renewables are helping to reduce power prices in a challenging environment for big energy users.
We can add to this forecasts from the Australian Energy Market Commission at the end of 2018 that residential power bills will fall between now and 2020/21 – most of which is due to record amounts of renewable energy and energy storage entering the system.
And at the end of 2018, a joint study by CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator found that renewables plus energy storage are cheaper than any new fossil fuel technology.

6. State governments led on clean energy, Turnbull Government dissolved into chaos
In 1974 the last two Japanese soldiers holding out after the end of World War II were relieved of their duty – almost 30 years after the official end of the conflict. And there are still some in the Federal Government holding out for the glory days of coal, even though new coal plants don’t make economic sense.
In 2018 the Commonwealth failed to secure support for its National Energy Guarantee from its own MPs and ultimately Malcolm Turnbull was ousted as Prime Minister.
But Australia’s states and territories have filled the climate and clean energy policy void with a range of ways to encourage new clean energy, both large and small. While the industry would prefer an ambitious and unified national policy, a range of different state renewable energy targets and programs are very welcome.
Meanwhile, Commonwealth back-benchers continue to fight on in the energy wars when most of the country just wants them to do something constructive.

7. World’s biggest battery out-performs expectations
Tesla founder Elon Musk reportedly charged “mate’s rates” to build the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery in South Australia – and then claimed bragging rights for delivering the project ahead of schedule and on budget.
The Hornsdale Power Reserve saved energy users $3.5 million in one five-hour period on 14 January last year. And overall it saved the market around $40 million on the cost of services to stabilise the grid throughout the year.
Not bad for something Scott Morrison compared to the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour in July last year when he was the Treasurer.

8. The grid emerges as the next frontier
With more renewable energy being built across the country than any at any other time in Australian history, connecting to the power grid is shaping up as one of the industry’s big challenges in 2019.
A Clean Energy Council survey of senior executives in the industry last December identified grid connection as their biggest concern, beating out long-term policy certainty for the first time.
The Australian Energy Market Operator and network businesses are working closely with the industry to tackle the issues and improve the process. But the most important thing for clean energy developers is transparency so that it is clear how long the process will take and how much it will cost.
There is also a clear need to build new poles and wires efficiently to connect new clean energy projects to the power system. The Integrated System Plan (ISP) developed by the Australian Energy Market Operator and the NSW Transmission Infrastructure Strategy are very good initiatives which will help to make our power cheaper, cleaner and more reliable.

9. The wind changed on climate and energy
The Victorian state election helped to resolve internal conflict within the Coalition on one particular issue – the idea that opposing action on climate and clean energy is a vote-winner.
The Andrews Government offered ambitious progress on this issue, and convincingly beat Matthew Guy’s Liberals in November. The clean energy industry is hopeful that the ripples from the election result will help to bring the major parties closer together on this issue, and welcomes the NSW Government’s call for a national policy which reflects science, engineering and economics.
While many people actively voted against the Gillard Government’s carbon tax because they didn’t understand it, wind and solar power enjoys strong public support and is much easier for people to get their heads around. And progress on climate change becomes more urgent with each passing year.

10. Hydro pumped for big year ahead
One of Australia’s oldest clean energy technologies was back in the spotlight in 2018. The Snowy Hydro 2.0 expansion moved a step closer, with the Federal Government buying out the share held by the Victorian and New South Wales governments for a cool $6 billion.
The water in the project will be pumped by wind and solar to make it both cleaner and cheaper. More than a dozen potential sites have also been identified by Hydro Tasmania for the Battery of the Nation initiative, which would complement wind and solar projects on the mainland.
The New South Wales Government announced plans for 24 new pumped hydro facilities, which it says would produce about half the power the state needs on the hottest days and about three times the output of Snowy 2.0. New private projects are attracting attention as well, such as the one by Genex in North Queensland which will use the pits from an old gold mine to form a pumped hydro power plant.

*Kane Thornton is the CEO of the Clean Energy Council

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David Attenborough Tells Davos: ‘The Garden Of Eden Is No More’

22 January, 2019 - 18:55
The Guardian

Human activity has created a new era yet climate change can be stopped, says naturalist

‘The Garden of Eden is no more’, David Attenborough warns Davos summit

Sir David Attenborough has warned that “the Garden of Eden is no more”, as he urged political and business leaders from around the world to make a renewed push to tackle climate change before the damage is irreparable.
Speaking at the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, the 92-year-old naturalist and broadcaster warned that human activity has taken the world into a new era, threatening to undermine civilisation.
“I am quite literally from another age,” Attenborough told an audience of business leaders, politicians and other delegates. “I was born during the Holocene – the 12,000 [year] period of climatic stability that allowed humans to settle, farm, and create civilisations.” That led to trade in ideas and goods, and made us the “globally connected species we are today”.
That stability allowed businesses to grow, nations to co-operate and people to share ideas, Attenborough explained, before warning sombrely: “In the space of my lifetime, all that has changed.
“The Holocene has ended. The Garden of Eden is no more. We have changed the world so much that scientists say we are in a new geological age: the Anthropocene, the age of humans,” he declared.
In a stark warning to the world leaders and business chiefs flocking to the WEF this week, Attenborough warned that the only conditions that humans have known are changing fast.
“We need to move beyond guilt or blame, and get on with the practical tasks at hand.”
A survey conducted before the WEF found that environmental threats are now the biggest danger to the global economy, and concern is mounting that co-operation between countries on the issue is breaking down.
Attenborough admitted that even he has been surprised by the speed of the damage caused to the environment during his career making TV programmes showing life on earth.
In response, Attenborough – recently voted Britain’s most trustworthy celebrity – said humans must use their expert problem-solving skills. “If people can truly understand what is at stake, I believe they will give permission for business and governments to get on with the practical solutions,” he told the WEF.
Get it right, he argued, and humans can create a world with clean air and water, unlimited energy and sustainable fish stocks, but only if decisive action is taken now.
“Over the next two years there will be United Nations decisions on climate change, sustainable development and a new deal for nature. Together these will form our species’ plan for a route through the Anthropocene.
“What we do now, and in the next few years, will profoundly affect the next few thousand years,” he added.
Speaking to journalists after his speech, Attenborough warned that economic models needed to change. “Growth is going to come to an end, either suddenly or in a controlled way,” he explained, citing the old joke that anyone who thinks you can have infinite growth in finite circumstances is “either a madman or an economist”.
He is also hopeful that he can change hearts and minds during his trip to Davos, pointing out that some delegates have more power than a nation state. “The enormity of the problem has only just dawned on quite a lot of people ... Unless we sort ourselves out in the next decade or so we are dooming our children and our grandchildren to an appalling future.”
Before he spoke, Attenborough received the Crystal award from the WEF for his work. Saudi Arabia’s first female film-maker, Haifaa al-Mansour, and conductor Marin Alsop of the Baltimore Symphony were also honoured for their work.
Prince William is due to appear with Attenborough to discuss environmental issues at the WEF on Tuesday.

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Business, Insurers At Odds With Coalition's 'Problematic' Climate Policy

21 January, 2019 - 20:22
AFRBen Potter

Last week global business leaders warned the World Economic Forum in a survey organised by insurance giants that climate change was the gravest risk facing the plant, eclipsing short term risks of political and economic instability.
"Of all risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe," the survey of 1000 business people, policymakers and academics conducted by Zurich Insurance Group and Marsh & McLennan warned ahead of the forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
If that reflects the views of Australian business leaders, the Morrison government - which downgraded climate targets as a priority in August - could become the second Coalition government in little more than a decade to be wrong-footed by the politics of climate change during a bout of extreme weather.Wrongfooted on climate change, 12 years apart: Former Prime Minister John Howard (left) and Prime Minister Scott Morrison (right).  Alex Ellinghausen In late 2006, the Howard government took its cue from Business Council president Michael Chaney, who redefined climate change as a business risk, and from Coalition polling showing voters were being "catalysed by the drought", said Mark Triffitt, a political scientist who worked for the BCA at the time.
But it was too little too late, raising questions about whether it was a credible policy switch or a political bandaid in the face of Labor leader Kevin Rudd's climate policy onslaught, said political scientist Paul Strangio, of Monash University. Labor won the 2007 election so easily that Howard lost his seat.
"It became one of the issues [suggesting] that the Howard government was losing touch with the contemporary concerns of the electorate," Mr Strangio said.
Now there's another big dry and last week brought five of Australia's 10 highest mean maximum temperatures, a record 45.3 degrees Celsius for Albury, and record overnight minimums in Noona and Borrona Downs in NSW.
There's also an environmental disaster on the Murray Darling River with the deaths of a million fish being blamed on government mismanagement.
Government not doing enough
The Morrison government elevated cheap power over climate change as a priority when it ousted former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in August, and faces a Labor Opposition arguing voters don't have to choose between lower prices and emissions cuts because of falling clean energy costs.
Polling by Essential Media shows voters are more than twice as likely to think the government isn't doing enough on climate change than to think it is doing enough. Essential MediaAn Ipsos poll for The Australian Financial Review in November found 47 per cent of voters prioritised lower energy prices, ahead of 39 per cent prioritising emissions reductions.
But MPs from prosperous heartland Liberal seats in the inner eastern and southeastern suburbs of Melbourne - such as outgoing member for Higgins Kelly O'Dwyer, Goldstein MP Tim Wilson and beaten MP for the state seat of Hawthorn John Pesutto - didn't mention prices when they said the lack of a credible climate change policy was a big problem for the Coalition in the Victorian election.
Polling by Essential Media also shows that for at least three years, voters have been more than twice as likely to think that the government isn't doing enough on climate change than they are to think it is doing enough.
What can change is where climate change sits in voters' priorities, and its impact shouldn't be exaggerated, Mr Strangio said.
Climate change, which will likely cause more bushfires and extreme weather events, is increasingly considered the major long-term risk by business. Dean Sewell"If concerns about climate change intensify I don't think there is any doubt that it will be problematic for the Coalition government," Mr Strangio said.
But Nick Economou, also from Monash University, said that while it was true the Coalition was struggling to reconcile the attitudes of its inner city "elites" to climate change with those of its rural and regional constituents, "the appalling treatment of Malcolm Turnbull" was far more important in recent elections than climate change.
In Australia, Sean Walker, Zurich's chief underwriting officer in the general insurance division, warned the effects of climate change would have real impacts on business.
"Australian businesses should be building climate-change resilience and adaptation strategies into their broader business plans. These plans need to be real and tangible, not treated as some 'horizon three' or 'black swan' conceptual event but as something to be addressed as part of a new operating environment," he said.
The insurance industry has spoken out with increased urgency on the issue. In November, IAG's Jacki Johnson warned that if global temperatures rise 4 degrees on pre-industrial levels – as some models suggest they are on track to do – then the world could become "pretty much uninsurable".
Back in November 2006, after Chaney had said that business needed to tackle climate change, Howard told the BCA's annual dinner that the government now accepted the science of climate change and would set up an inquiry into a carbon emissions trading system.

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Immediate Fossil Fuel Phaseout Could Arrest Climate Change – Study

21 January, 2019 - 14:29
The Guardian

The study found there is a 66% chance of staying below 1.5C above pre-industrial levels if immediate action is taken. Photograph: AlamyClimate change could be kept in check if a phaseout of all fossil fuel infrastructure were to begin immediately, according to research.
It shows that meeting the internationally agreed aspiration of keeping global warming to less than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels is still possible. The scientists say it is therefore the choices being made by global society, not physics, which is the obstacle to meeting the goal.
The study found that if all fossil fuel infrastructure – power plants, factories, vehicles, ships and planes – from now on are replaced by zero-carbon alternatives at the end of their useful lives, there is a 64% chance of staying under 1.5C.
In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the difference between 1.5C of warming and the earlier international target of 2C was a significantly lower risk of drought, floods, heatwaves and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
Christopher Smith, of the University of Leeds, who led the research, said: “It’s good news from a geophysical point of view. But on the other side of the coin, the [immediate fossil fuel phaseout] is really at the limit of what we could we possibly do. We are basically saying we can’t build anything now that emits fossil fuels.”
Nicholas Stern, of the London School of Economics, who was not part of the research team, said: “We are rapidly approaching the end of the age of fossil fuels. This study confirms that all new energy infrastructure must be sustainable from now on if we are to avoid locking in commitments to emissions that would lead to the world exceeding the goals of the Paris agreement.”
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, used computer models to estimate by how much global temperatures would rise if a fossil fuel infrastructure phaseout began immediately. The lifespan for power plants was set at 40 years, cars an average of 15 years and planes 26 years. The work also assumes a rapid end to beef and dairy consumption, which is responsible for significant global emissions.
In this scenario, the models suggest carbon emissions would decline to zero over the next four decades and there would be a 66% chance of the global temperature rise remaining below 1.5C. If the phaseout does not begin until 2030, the chance is 33%.
The analysis did not include the possibility of tipping points such as the sudden release of huge volumes of methane from permafrost, which could spark runaway global warming.
The scientists accept their scenario is at the extreme end of ambition, but said it was important to know that meeting the 1.5C target was still physically possible and dependent on the choices made now and in the coming years. “The climate system is not stopping you [hitting the target], global society is stopping you,” Smith said.
Other work, using a different approach, has also shown that keeping within the 1.5C limit is possible if radical action is taken immediately. In some sectors, zero-carbon technology already exists, such as renewable energy. But in others, such as aviation, it does not. “Maybe the solution here is flying less,” Smith said.
Prof Dave Reay, of the University of Edinburgh, who also was not part of the research team, said: “Whether it’s drilling a new gas well, keeping an old coal power station open, or even buying a diesel car, the choices we make today will largely determine the climate pathways of tomorrow. The message of this new study is loud and clear: act now or see the last chance for a safer climate future ebb away.”
Smith’s personal belief is that global heating will surpass 1.5C. “We are going the right way, but I don’t think we will do enough, quickly enough. I think we are heading for 2C to 2.5C.”
But he added: “If you don’t have a goal, you are not going to get anywhere. If you have a target that is really hard to achieve and you miss it slightly, that is better than wandering aimlessly into a future climate that is no good for anybody.”

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Ice Loss From Antarctica Has Sextupled Since The 1970s, New Research Finds

21 January, 2019 - 14:29
Washington PostChris Mooney | Brady Dennis

An alarming study shows massive East Antarctic ice sheet already is a significant contributor to sea-level rise

Scientists say global warming nears an irreversible level, President Trump has been promoting business growth instead of climate change. (Jenny Starrs /The Washington Post)

Antarctic glaciers have been melting at an accelerating pace over the past four decades thanks to an influx of warm ocean water — a startling new finding that researchers say could mean sea levels are poised to rise more quickly than predicted in coming decades.
The Antarctic lost 40 billion tons of melting ice to the ocean each year from 1979 to 1989. That figure rose to 252 billion tons lost per year beginning in 2009, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That means the region is losing six times as much ice as it was four decades ago, an unprecedented pace in the era of modern measurements. (It takes about 360 billion tons of ice to produce one millimeter of global sea-level rise.)
“I don’t want to be alarmist,” said Eric Rignot, an Earth-systems scientist for the University of California at Irvine and NASA who led the work. But he said the weaknesses that researchers have detected in East Antarctica — home to the largest ice sheet on the planet — deserve deeper study.
“The places undergoing changes in Antarctica are not limited to just a couple places,” Rignot said. “They seem to be more extensive than what we thought. That, to me, seems to be reason for concern.”
The findings are the latest sign that the world could face catastrophic consequences if climate change continues unabated. In addition to more-frequent droughts, heat waves, severe storms and other extreme weather that could come with a continually warming Earth, scientists already have predicted that seas could rise nearly three feet globally by 2100 if the world does not sharply decrease its carbon output. But in recent years, there has been growing concern that the Antarctic could push that even higher.
That kind of sea-level rise would result in the inundation of island communities around the globe, devastating wildlife habitats and threatening drinking-water supplies. Global sea levels have already risen seven to eight inches since 1900.

The ice of Antarctica contains 57.2 meters, or 187.66 feet, of potential sea-level rise. This massive body of ice flows out into the ocean through a complex array of partially submerged glaciers and thick floating expanses of ice called ice shelves. The glaciers themselves, as well as the ice shelves, can be as large as American states or entire countries.
The outward ice flow is normal and natural, and it is typically offset by some 2 trillion tons of snowfall atop Antarctica each year, a process that on its own would leave Earth’s sea level relatively unchanged. However, if the ice flow speeds up, the ice sheet’s losses can outpace snowfall volume. When that happens, seas rise.
That’s what the new research says is happening. Scientists came to that conclusion after systematically computing gains and losses across 65 sectors of Antarctica where large glaciers — or glaciers flowing into an ice shelf — reach the sea.
West Antarctica is the continent’s major ice loser. Monday’s research affirms that finding, detailing how a single glacier, Pine Island, has lost more than a trillion tons of ice since 1979. Thwaites Glacier, the biggest and potentially most vulnerable in the region, has lost 634 billion. The entire West Antarctic ice sheet is capable of driving a sea-level rise of 5.28 meters, or 17.32 feet, and is now losing 159 billion tons every year.
The most striking finding in Monday’s study is the assertion that East Antarctica, which contains by far the continent’s most ice — a vast sheet capable of nearly 170 feet of potential sea-level rise — is also experiencing serious melting.
The new research highlights how some massive glaciers, ones that to this point have been studied relatively little, are losing significant amounts of ice. That includes Cook and Ninnis, which are the gateway to the massive Wilkes Subglacial Basin, and other glaciers known as Dibble, Frost, Holmes and Denman.
Denman, for instance, contains nearly five feet of potential sea-level rise alone and has lost almost 200 billion tons of ice, the study finds. And it remains alarmingly vulnerable. The study notes that the glacier is “grounded on a ridge with a steep retrograde slope immediately upstream,” meaning additional losses could cause the glacier to rapidly retreat.
“It has been known for some time that the West Antarctic and Antarctic Peninsula have been losing mass, but discovering that significant mass loss is also occurring in the East Antarctic is really important because there’s such a large volume of sea-level equivalent contained in those basins,” said Christine Dow, a glacier expert at the University of Waterloo in Canada. “It shows that we can’t ignore the East Antarctic and need to focus in on the areas that are losing mass most quickly, particularly those with reverse bed slopes that could result in rapid ice disintegration and sea-level rise.”
The new research is consistent in some ways with a major study published last year by a team of 80 scientists finding that Antarctic ice losses have tripled in a decade and now total 219 billion tons annually. That research did not find similarly large losses from East Antarctica, though it noted that there is a high amount of uncertainty about what is happening there.
“More work is needed to reconcile these new estimates,” said Beata Csatho, an Antarctic expert at the University at Buffalo who was an author of the prior study.
The bottom line is that Antarctica is losing a lot of ice and that vulnerable areas exist across the East and West Antarctic, with few signs of slowing as oceans grow warmer. In particular, Rignot says, key parts of East Antarctica, the subject of less focus from researchers in the past, need a much closer look, and fast.
“The traditional view from many decades ago is that nothing much is happening in East Antarctica,” Rignot said, adding, “It’s a little bit like wishful thinking.”
Icebergs and sea ice, seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge aircraft, off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula in November 2017. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)Links
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10 Climate Change Books To Help You Understand Our Environment

21 January, 2019 - 14:27
Book Riot - 

In case you haven’t heard, a climate disaster is looming. The effects of climate change—like rising seas and intensifying weather patterns—are already here. Even though the worst is yet to come, there are still things that we can do to fight for our planet. One thing you can do right now is to educate yourself by reading climate change books.


By the year 2050, Earth’s population will be closing in on 10 billion people. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Journalist Lisa Palmer’s book Hot Hungry Planet digs into the possibilities of famine and food scarcity and the innovations that might save us all from hunger.
What will the future look like? The past may have a clue. Over the ages of our planet’s history, there have been five mass extinction events, one of which all but wiped out the dinosaurs. In the Anthropocene period, the next casualty may be us. In The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert takes a closer look at the past to tell us more about our future.


We’re getting more used seeing images of stranded polar bears and hearing about our dwindling bee population, but most reporting on climate change leaves out what it can do to our own health. Linda Marsa’s Fevered delves into the increasing rate of illnesses associated with global warming, like asthma, allergies, and mosquito-borne diseases, just to name a few.
The past few generations have taken advantage of the planet, polluting the oceans, ravaging the land, and filling our skies with smoke. What were we thinking? In The Great Derangement, Amitav Ghosh argues that we weren’t, we have been deliberately blind to the disasters looming in our future—until now.


One of the scariest things about plastic is that it’s kind of immortal. It can churn in the ocean for hundreds of years before it finally breaks down. Humans fell in love with this toxic material in 1950s, and since then, it has managed to work its way into almost everything we touch. Susan Freinkel recounts this love story in Plastic by digging deeper into the ways plastic affects our lives and the life of the planet.
Originally published in 1988, activist Vandana Shiva’s seminal work, Staying Alive, explores the relationship between women and our natural world. In many places, the freedom of the women is directly related to a country’s outlook. More recent research has shown that women’s rights directly impacts sustainability. You could say that Shiva is the mother of that idea.


Research has shown that climate denialists do, in fact, have brains. It’s just that they haven’t been using them. We have been manipulated, and logic has been twisted to distort the truth. In The Madhouse Effect, climate scientist Michael E. Mann comes together with cartoonist Tom Toles to create a funny, sad portrait of the mad world we’re living in.
From the author of The Shock Doctrine, this book delves into the war between capitalism and the planet. In This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein argues something that many of us already know: we have to change our destructive habits that are rooted in capitalism. It may be the only way we can save our environment before it’s too late.


Not everyone will experience climate change equally. The poor and working class are already disproportionately affected by the problems of climate change. In Dumping in Dixie, Robert D. Bullard, a professor and environmental justice activist, asserts that living in a healthy environment is a right for all Americans, regardless of their race, class, or social standing.
For years, poor and minority communities have found themselves becoming the dumping ground for businesses hoping to get rid of waste on the path of least resistance. Shockingly, entrenched segregation and zoning laws have paved the way to make this possible, making communities of color sick for years—literally.


Vince travels the world to see what extraordinary things ordinary people are doing to adapt and innovate to a changing climate. Part science, part travelogue.
Journalist Simran Sethi explores the cultural importance of certain foods and how we are in danger of losing them. About monocultures and the dangers of an increasingly standardized diet.
Squarzoni offers an explanation of global warming and climate change in graphic novel form. An accessible approach to learning about the science.
An explanation of why people reject the science behind climate change and why even when they accept it, they do nothing about it. An exploration of psychology and science both.
Check out all of McKibben’s many books on the environment and climate change. Eaarth describes what climate change will do to us and the ways we will need to radically change our lives to adapt.
On the dangers of fracking to the environment and to human health. The book also explores the history of fracking and the technologies that make it possible.
On the environmental impact of corporate globalization. Shiva argues for a shift in our thinking toward an earth-centered politics and economics.
On how a group of scientists and advisors spread misinformation and doubt about a range of scientific subjects. A good explanation of how we got to where we are today.
A religious and spiritual call for a closer connection with the earth. Maathai writes about helping women in Kenya plant and sustain trees and find a sense of empowerment and how we can find our own commitment to the environment.
Suzuki asks what humans really need to find fulfilling, meaningful lives. He offers concrete suggestions for creating an ecologically sustainable future and meeting humans’ most fundamental needs.
A description of what we should expect to happen to the planet as the temperatures rise.
Stephenson argues that what we need to deal with the climate crisis is not so much environmentalism but a struggle for human rights and social justice. He tells his own story and the stories of those on the front lines of that struggle.

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Pentagon Warns Of Dire Risk To Bases, Troops From Climate Change

21 January, 2019 - 09:28
Bloomberg |  | 

▶ ‘Effects of a changing climate are a national security issue’
▶  The report to Congress is at odds with Trump’s position
Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Virginia. Photographer: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty ImagesThe U.S. Defense Department has issued a dire report on how climate change could affect the nation’s armed forces and security, warning that rising seas could inundate coastal bases and drought-fueled wildfires could endanger those that are inland.
The 22-page assessment delivered to Congress on Thursday says about two-thirds of 79 mission-essential military installations in the U.S. that were reviewed are vulnerable now or in the future to flooding and more than half are at risk from drought. About half also are at risk from wildfires, including the threat of mudslides and erosion from rains after the blazes.
“The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to DOD missions, operational plans and installations,” Defense Department spokeswoman Heather Babb said Friday in an email.
The report contradicts the view of President Donald Trump, who has rejected the scientific consensus that climate change is real and man-made. The report’s premise echoes the findings of the National Climate Assessment, written by 13 federal agencies and released in November. It concluded that the effects of global warming are accelerating and will cause widespread disruption.
Trump rejected those findings. “I don’t believe it,” he said at the time.
The new Defense Department report, which was mandated by Congress, describes widespread impacts, dispersed across the U.S., with more coastal flooding along the East coast and Hawaii.
U.S. military facilities are already encountering some of the effects, the Pentagon says, noting that Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia has experienced 14 inches of sea-level rise since 1930. And Navy Base Coronado in California already is subject to flooding during tropical storms.
In the Washington area, several Defense Department sites -- including Joint Base Andrews, home of Air Force One -- are experiencing drought conditions that have been severe in the past 16 years, the report says. Those conditions can lead to ruptured utility lines and cracked roads, the Pentagon warns, as moisture disappears from soil.
The Defense Department stresses in its report that it is working with nations around the world “to understand and plan for future potential mission impacts” from climate change, describing it as “a global issue.”
But Democratic lawmakers said the Defense Department pulled its punches by listing what Senator Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, called a “phone book” of threats without offering a plan of action.
“It fails to even minimally discuss a mitigation plan to address the vulnerabilities,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said in a statement. Committee member Jim Langevin said the Defense Department “for no apparent reason” omitted the threat to U.S. bases abroad.

Pentagon History
The Pentagon has long expressed concern over climate change and its military implications worldwide.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who resigned last month, had been at odds with Trump over climate change, telling Senate Armed Services during his confirmation process that “the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon.”
“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today," Mattis wrote in written responses to questions from the committee. “It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.”
In 2013, Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who now is chairman of the Senate panel, pressed Admiral Samuel Locklear, who was head of U.S. Pacific Command, to say that his concerns about climate change were being misrepresented by “environmental extremists.”

Obama Administration
Instead, Locklear said about 280,000 people died in natural disasters in the Pacific region from 2008 to 2012. “Now, they weren’t all climate-change or weather-related, but a lot of them were,” the admiral said.
Under the Obama administration, responding to the effects of climate on the nation’s military was a top initiative, but the Trump administration has taken a different tack. Climate change was omitted in 2017 as a threat from the National Security Strategy, a list of the top dangers facing the nation.
“Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty,” the 2017 strategy said. “U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth energy agenda.”
Shortly after taking office, Trump revoked a memorandum that Obama signed in 2016, directing the Defense Department to account for climate change in its decisions about where to build new facilities and how it prepares for future threats.
Senator Dick Durbin, the ranking Democrat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, responded by calling Trump’s decision to rescind the memorandum “a security disaster.”

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Australia Heatwave: Mass Animal Deaths And Roads Melting As Temperatures Reach Record High

21 January, 2019 - 06:23
The IndependentJane Dalton

One town endures the highest minimum night-time temperature ever recorded anywhere in the country

Flying foxes swoop into lake water to cool off during Australia heatwave 

Roads melted and doctors warned people about heat stress as Australia notched five of its 10 hottest days on record amid a searing heatwave.
One town in New South Wales recorded a night-time low temperature of 35.9C – the highest minimum temperature ever recorded anywhere in Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
The extreme heat, which has hit the country for a week, has caused dozens of bushfires and bat deaths on a “biblical scale” in Adelaide, South Australia. More than a dozen people in that state have been taken to hospital due to heat, reports said.
Temperatures soared past 46C in parts of New South Wales on Friday, setting new records.
The state’s Bureau of Meteorology said a run of highest ever maximum temperatures were set in various places in the past few days.
The overnight minimum of 35.9C was recorded at Noona. “That’s an all time Australian record for the warmest night at any time of the year,” the bureau’s Ann Farrell said.
New South Wales Health warned in a statement: “Signs of heat-related illness include dizziness, tiredness, irritability, thirst, fainting, muscle pains or cramps, headache, changes in skin colour, rapid pulse, shallow breathing, vomiting and confusion.”
Officials have made an explicit link between climate change and the increasingly extreme weather being experienced by Australians.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s State of the Climate 2018 report warned of “further increases in sea and air temperatures, with more hot days and marine heatwaves, and fewer cool extremes” and blamed global warming for the change.
It also said Australia’s oceans were acidifying and sea levels rising.
An extreme heatwave affected the tropical Queensland coast just two months ago, in late November.
Forecasters have compared it to the nation’s worst heatwave in 2013, when temperatures reached 39C for seven consecutive days.
The hottest day on record for Australia is 7 January 2013, when the national average maximum temperature was 40.3C.
Meteorology chiefs also revealed this week that Australia had its hottest December day on record last month and that it was also the warmest December ever, as the heatwave got under way.
A slight reprieve is forecast over the weekend before the heat starts to build up again early next week.

Sir David Attenborough delivers The People’s Seat Address, COP24, Katowice, Poland

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‘It’s Like Hell Here’: Australia Bakes As Record Temperatures Nudge 50c

20 January, 2019 - 14:06
The Guardian

Fears rise for homeless and vulnerable people as communities brace for another week of relentless hot weather
A sign warns bathers of the extreme heat on Bondi Beach, in Sydney, Australia.Photograph: Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty ImagesIt was 48.9C last Tuesday in Port Augusta, South Australia, an old harbour city that now harvests solar power. Michelle Coles, the owner of the local cinema, took off her shoes at night to test the concrete before letting the dogs out. “People tend to stay at home,” she said. “They don’t walk around when it’s like this.”
It’s easy to see why: in the middle of the day it takes seconds to blister a dog’s paw or child’s foot. In Mildura, in northern Victoria, last week gardeners burned their hands when they picked up their tools, which had been left in the sun at 46C. Fish were dying in the rivers.
Almost every day last week a new heat record was broken in Australia. They spread out, unrelenting, across the country, with records broken for all kinds of reasons – as if the statistics were finding an infinite series of ways to say that it was hot.
The community of Noona – population 14 – reached the highest minimum ever recorded overnight in Australia – 35.9C was the coldest it got, at 7am on Friday. It was 45C by noon.
A record fell on Tuesday in Meekatharra in Western Australia – the highest minimum there ever recorded (33C). Another fell on Wednesday, 2,000 miles away, in Albury, New South Wales – their hottest day (45.6C).
It was 45C or higher for four consecutive days in Broken Hill – another record – and more than 40C for the same time period in Canberra, the nation’s capital. Nine records fell across NSW on Wednesday alone. Back in Port Augusta, Tuesday was the highest temperature since records began in 1962.
Temperatures peak in towns across Australia
as heatwave shows no sign of letting up
Maximum daytime temperatures

Guardian graphic
In the Niagara Cafe in Gundagai, whose claim to fame is that the former Australian prime minister John Curtin once popped in during the second world war, Tina Loukissas turned off the deep fryer, then the grill.
“It feels like you’ve walked into a sauna,” she said. “When it’s getting up to 43C or 44C, because you have all these machines going, the air conditioning isn’t coping very well.
“We’ve got tables outside that nobody has sat at for the last couple of days … You’d be crazy to sit outside on a day like today.”
In Mildura, Tolga Ozkuzucu, owner of Top Notch Gardens, had the misfortune to be working outdoors.
“It’s been like hell,” he said. “You have to try to leave your tools in the shade. If you don’t, it burns your fingers. There’s not much you can do.
“I try to start as early as I can. I’m not going to risk my body and health. People here are very understanding of that because they know how hot it is … nobody wants to be outside when it’s 46C.”
In South Australia, they declared a “code red” across Adelaide, the state capital. Homelessness services were working overtime and the Red Cross started calling round a list of 750 people who were deemed especially vulnerable.
At the Australian Open in Melbourne, only the sea breeze kept the temperature below 40C. At Adelaide’s Tour Down Under, a bike race, it was 41C.
On Monday last week the hottest spot in New South Wales was Menindee, a river town that feeds the country’s largest water system, the Murray-Darling basin. It was 45C. It climbed to 47C on Wednesday, and by Thursday the fish were gasping.
Australia’s native Murray cod can live for decades under normal conditions, growing all the while. The oldest are a metre long, with heavy white bellies that have to be held with both hands. Last week, hundreds died, choked of oxygen due to an algal bloom that fed and grew in the heat, and collapsed when temperatures dipped.

'Bloody disgrace': '100-year-old' fish die in Darling River
Blue-green algae flourishes in hot, slow-moving water. Then, when temperatures inevitably drop, the algae dies and becomes a food source for bacteria, who multiply and starve the river of oxygen. The fish rise to the surface.
The mass fish death has reignited a debate over water management in the region, where cotton farmers upstream have been accused of taking more water than they should.
The heat is not the root cause, the locals stress. But the five punishing days settling over the river have not made it better. Last Thursday the cod were up near the surface and struggling. On Friday, it was 45C again. In Menindee, the locals believe the fish kill will happen again, with temperatures in the 40s expected to continue into this week. The water will be running hot.
But away from the Darling, Michelle Coles from Port Augusta says she is used to the heat.
“I didn’t think it was that hot yesterday, if you want an honest answer,” she said last Wednesday, the day after the temperature hit 48.9C.
“Yesterday at the cinema, it was very quiet. People tend to stay home. We’re quite used to it. Once it’s over 40, it’s hot.
“We’re conditioned to it. Honestly, I’d much rather be in 48C heat in Port Augusta than in the city. You’ve got so much concrete and it’s closed in, but here it’s quite open.
“You just don’t stand out in the sun though. That would be stupid.”

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2018 Was The Ocean's Hottest Year. We'll Feel It A Long Time.

19 January, 2019 - 17:14
National Geographic - Alejandra Borunda

The ocean soaks up 93 percent of the heat of climate change. But that heat has a big and long-lasting impact.
The Arctic Ocean in Barrow, Alaska in June 2015, after the warmest winter on record in Alaska.Photograph by KATIE ORLINSKY, Nat Geo Image CollectionEarth’s oceans are warmer now than at any point since humans started systematically tracking their temperatures, according to research published on January 16 in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. The oceans have sopped up more than 90 percent of the heat trapped by human-emitted greenhouse gases, slowing the warming of the atmosphere—but causing many other unwelcome changes to the planet’s climate.
Even a slightly warmer ocean can have dramatic impacts. Other new research shows that warmer oceans make waves stronger. Warmer waters fuel stronger storms, increasing the damage that hurricanes and tropical storms inflict. The added warmth hurts coral habitats and stresses fisheries. Around Antarctica, yet another new study suggests, ice is melting about six times faster than it was in the 1980s—an increase due in part to the warmer waters lapping at the continent’s edge.
“The oceans are the best thermometer we have for the planet,” says Zeke Hausfather, an energy and climate scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, who used the ocean heat data published today in an analysis published last week in Science. “We can really see global warming loud and clear in the ocean record.”

Antarctica Is Melting at a Dangerous Pace—Here's Why
Missing heat is now found
As early as the 1800s, scientists suspected that adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere would cause air temperatures around the planet to rise. By the 1960s, once they started keeping careful track of both air temperatures and carbon dioxide levels around the world, their predictions were borne out.
The atmosphere didn’t seem to be warming quite as much as model calculations indicated it should, however. Where could the extra heat be going?
Some oceanographers suspected that the “missing” heat was being absorbed into the oceans—but measuring that heat was much harder than measuring air temperatures. Although research ships crossing the ocean would occasionally dip a probe into the water to test the temperature, those data were tiny blips in the wide expanse of the sea.
So scientists pulled together all data they could find, from observations from commercial ships to naval data to historical records. And when all that was compiled, the scientists realized that the oceans were, in fact, acting as an enormous buffer for the climate system, like a giant pillow softening the hard landing of climate change.
In the last decade, measurements of the ocean's heat content have been improved dramatically by a new tool: Some 3,000 autonomous sensors, called Argo floats, have been scattered around the ocean. They regularly record temperatures in the top 6,500 feet of the water column and have immensely improved the quality of the data scientists have to work with for these estimates.
Thanks to those measurements, it's now clear that the oceans are absorbing some 90 percent of the heat our carbon emissions have trapped in the atmosphere—the most recent estimate, published last week, pegs that number at 93 percent. If all the heat the ocean absorbed from 1955 onward were suddenly added to the atmosphere, air temperatures would rocket by more than 60 degrees.
In other words, the oceans are acting as a giant thermal buffer, protecting us from feeling all the heat of climate change directly. But the heat isn't going away.

The warming is speeding up
In 2018, the entire top slice of the ocean, from the surface down 6,500 feet, was warmer than ever before, just over one tenth of a degree Celsius warmer overall than the long-term average. Even that tiny bump was enough to nudge sea levels about an eight of an inch higher, simply because warmer water takes up more space.
But 2018 caps off nearly three decades of smooth, consistent warming, the cumulative results of which can be felt more keenly.
“The warming seems small on a day-to-day basis, but it adds up over time,” says Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and an author of today’s report. The extra energy pooling in the atmosphere slowly percolates into the ocean, and “and that’s why we keep breaking records year after year,” he says.
More alarmingly, over those last few decades, oceans warmed nearly 40 percent faster than they did in the middle of the last century, say the authors of the Science analysis from last week.
Since the Industrial Revolution, says Laure Zanna, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford who recently inventoried the ocean's growing absorption of extra heat, the amount of extra energy trapped in the ocean as a result of our greenhouse gas emissions is about 1,000 times as great as the amount of the energy humans use each year, worldwide.

What happens now lasts centuries
There’s essentially no limit to how much more heat from the atmosphere the oceans can absorb: they’re huge and deep. But the ocean has a long memory, and the heat it sucks up now will be stuck in the system for hundreds or even thousands of years: The ghost of a cold phase from a few hundred years ago in the North Atlantic is still floating through the world’s oceans, a study published in Science in early January showed.
So the decisions we make now will affect us far into the future, says Susan Wijffels, an oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Cape Cod. “The ability of the deep ocean to take up heat on that very long timescale is great. But it's also locking in a commitment in the system,” she says. So even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases tomorrow, the ocean will continue to warm for centuries—and will take even longer to shed the extra heat.
The effects, say the authors of the new heat assessment, are likely to disrupt both marine physics and marine life. Warmer oceans hold less oxygen, which could hurt biota from plankton to whales. A warmer baseline temperature makes the likelihood of marine heat waves more likely, like the one that swept through the waters off northeast China last summer, ruining the sea cucumber harvest across the shallow seas. Zanna and her colleagues also see evidence that the major currents that carry heat and nutrients around the ocean are changing.
The full magnitude of the changes will take hundreds of years to play out, Wijffels says.
“Every molecule of CO2 that we don’t put into the atmosphere now is saving us from warming potential in the future,” she says. “This really drives home that we need to reduce emissions now, as much as we can.”

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Vaccinate Public Against Science Misinformation, Researchers Urge

19 January, 2019 - 16:34
CosmosAndrew Masterson

If the battle for hearts and minds over climate change is to be won, simply being right is not enough.
The actions of then-EPA chief Scott Pruitt generated many protests, such as this one in New York in June 2018.Drew Angerer/Getty Images Setting up an information-based “inoculation” program may be an effective way of combating the deliberately misleading messages of the fossil fuel industry and its representatives, researchers say.
In a detailed essay in the journal Nature Climate Change, Justin Farrell and Kathryn McConnell from Yale University, and Robert Brulle from Brown University, both in the US, explore strategies that scientists and advocacy bodies can employ to ensure evidence, rather than ideology and financial self-interest, once more informs environmental and climate policy.
Key to this approach is the brutal realisation that there is no value in climate scientists and advocates simply repeating that the evidence is overwhelming and irrefutable, even though it is. It is not sufficient to have faith in the ultimate triumph of the good guys.
“It is not enough simply to communicate to the public over and again the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change,” the authors write.
“Nor is it ultimately effective to repeatedly engage in scientific debate with industry-funded scientists … or political pundits, hoping to debunk their spurious findings so that the public will finally see the light.
“Because, paradoxically, the partisan divide on climate change grew most rapidly at the very point at which the scientific community became virtually unanimous in its conclusions about the reality and risks of anthropogenic climate change.”
Climate change contrarians, and policy based on their industry-funded positions, at least in the US, are very much in the ascendant. Farrell and colleagues cite examples such as the decision by then-director of the Environmental Protection Authority Scott Pruitt to dramatically cut research – a position publicly advocated by coal industry lobbyist Steve Milloy, who called it “one of my proudest achievements”.
Milloy and Pruitt are just two of a host of people who in recent years have come to exert enormous influence on US policy – but dismissing them as hopelessly compromised buffoons, the authors caution, is a mistake.
“Many, especially climate scientists who have seen the evidence of warming first hand, wondered how we had reached this point,” they reflect.
“How had these once fringe actors, who tended to be overlooked and at times even laughed off as irrelevant bloggers, managed to embed their ideas so deeply into mainstream US politics?
“And how, over the course of the 1990s and 2000s, did half of the American public — and the large majority of the Republican Party and its supporters — increasingly lose trust in, and become so antagonistic towards, robust scientific facts with such dire consequences?”
Farrell and colleagues quickly answer their own question, taking two approaches.
First, they note a growing body of research that finds that evidence-integrity is only one of a range of factors that condition whether scientific studies are believed. Matters such as a person’s religious and political beliefs, ideas about the role of scientists, and trust – or absence thereof – in mainstream media outlets weigh heavily.
Second, they outline the careful and controlled strategies employed by the fossil fuel industry, the parliamentarians who accept funding therefrom, and the web of PR agencies and lobbyists paid by them to sow discord, division and uncertainty into the public discourse.
Much of this, they note, revolves around, pushing “scientific misinformation [that] can seem to be so accurate and reliable, or even part of a legitimate ‘grassroots’ movement”.
This is achieved, in large part, “via various communication channels, including academic journals, policy papers, press briefings, steering the media towards ‘false-balance’ coverage under the guise of presenting ‘both sides’ of an alleged ‘scientific debate’, personal attacks against prominent climate scientists and advertising to reach targeted audiences”.
Taking the need to counter this activity as self-evident, the writers explore four inter-related strategies.
Two of these, perhaps not surprisingly, involve using legal and political avenues – the first to expose, and thus devalue, the ties between industry and climate change contrarians, the second to better highlight positive developments such as large corporate and advocacy bodies divesting themselves of fossil fuel industry holdings, for either economic or ethical reasons.
The third approach, linked to the first two, revolves around financial transparency. It works on the assumption that exposing the complex financial arrangements between fuel companies and lobbyists will lessen the impact of the messages delivered.
The fourth, though, takes it start from public health policy and, if it works, has the potential to be self-sustaining. The writers term the strategy “public inoculation” or “vaccination”.
The idea – backed up, they say, by some small-scale studies – works “against misinformation by exposing people to a dose of refuted arguments before they hear them”.
“Similar to how a vaccine builds antibodies to resist a virus a person might encounter, attitudinal inoculation messages warn people that misinformation is coming, and arm them with a counter-argument to resist that misinformation.”
One approach to this, the writers suggest, involves making sure people hear that particular climate change contrarian messages – and messengers – are funded by coal corporations before they encounter them.
Early research, they note, has found that this method works on people from a wide range of backgrounds, and might thus be effective in breaking down political or religious opposition.
However, they add, these are early days in the attitudinal vaccination business.
“Inoculating the public may be an especially promising strategy for heading off misinformation campaigns before they take root, but future research on inoculation is needed to assess whether or not — and precisely how — this practice can be extended beyond experimental settings and applied more broadly to build up resistance to misinformation within large segments of the public,” they write.
Farrell and colleagues conclude that they are “hopeful” their suggested quartet of strategies “will prove to be successful in the long run”.
Many people, disheartened by current policy directions in the US, as well as in several other countries, including Australia, might feel that such hope is more quixotic than rational.
The writers, however, present their case with a sense of urgency, and a confidence that their approach will produce results “not only for turning the tide on the critical issue of climate change action, but also for preventing future cases of large-scale manipulation from taking root”.

Categories: External websites

See You In Court, Citizens Tell Governments On Climate Change

19 January, 2019 - 16:25
ReutersMegan Rowling

Legal actions are based on the principle that governments must meet their obligations under human rights law and the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change
Environmental activists gather to urge world leaders to take action against climate change in Marseille, France, September 8, 2018. The placard reads No nature no future. REUTERS/Jean-Paul PelissierBARCELONA - Environmentalists in France and Ireland are pushing forward with legal cases aimed at forcing their governments to step up action on climate change, motivated by a 2018 flagship ruling that the Netherlands must cut emissions faster to keep its people safe.
In October, a Dutch appeals court said the government had "done too little to prevent the dangers of climate change and is doing too little to catch up", ordering it to ensure planet-warming emissions are at least 25 percent below 1990 levels by the end of 2020.
Tessa Khan, a lawyer with the Urgenda Foundation which brought the Dutch case on behalf of nearly 900 citizens, said this and other ongoing climate legal actions are based on the principle that governments must meet their obligations under human rights law and the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
"(These cases) all spring from the same sort of inspiration and the broad notion that our governments have the duty to protect us from threats of this scale that they have contributed to knowingly," said Khan, who is co-director of the Climate Litigation Network.
In France, four non-governmental groups, including Greenpeace and Oxfam, fired the starting gun on Dec. 17.
They sent a "preliminary request for compensation" in a 41-page letter to the French prime minister and a dozen government ministers, denouncing the state for failing to take concrete and effective measures to combat climate change.
The government has two months to respond, and if it fails to give a satisfactory answer, the groups are preparing to file a full legal action with the Paris Administrative Court in March.
Armelle Le Comte, climate and energy advocacy manager at Oxfam France, said the ripple of lawsuits on climate action around the world - from Europe and North America to Pakistan and Colombia - reflected growing urgency as the impacts of extreme weather and rising seas become more visible.
Governments, including France, have talked a lot about tackling climate change, but have not done enough in practice, she noted.
"So I think it is not surprising that more citizens, charities and NGOs ... decide that legal action is maybe the answer," she said.

Celebs on camera
In the meantime, the NGOs have been raising awareness about the case and the need for stronger climate action in France through a YouTube video featuring celebrities such as actress Juliette Binoche, and writer and film director Cyril Dion.
They also launched an online petition in support of what they are calling the "Case of the Century" that has garnered nearly 2.1 million signatures in about a month.
Le Comte said wide public support for the legal action was important in providing a sense of legitimacy to the approach.
The case is particularly poignant in France, which has been rocked in recent months by "yellow vest" protests over social inequality and the high cost of living that were initially sparked by planned hikes in fuel tax.
French President Emmanuel Macron launched a national policy debate this week that includes how the country could shift to using more clean energy.
Urgenda's Khan said the court cases were aimed at ensuring emissions targets are met, not telling states how to do it.
"Then it's up to the governments and the public to make sure the policies that are put in place are ones that ensure a just (energy) transition and ... the poorest aren't the ones who bear the burden of that transition," she said.
Oxfam's Le Comte said the "Case of the Century" social media campaign was meant to provide more information, especially to young people, on the measures that could be taken.

Irish emissions rise
In Ireland, backers of the climate change case, scheduled to begin in the High Court on Jan. 22, are organising a children's rally in Dublin on Saturday to urge leaders that "2019 must be the year of ambitious climate action".
About 12,600 members of the public have backed "Climate Case Ireland" with online messages of support. Spokeswoman Sadhbh O Neill said awareness was growing in the country which has among the highest emissions per capita in the European Union.
"That helps us show the court that we have standing, that we're not doing it in a self-interested way and that we are trying to be representative of concerned citizens," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Friends of the Irish Environment, a company set up by environmental activists, will argue in the case that the government's approval of the National Mitigation Plan in 2017 violated national legislation on climate action, as well as its constitution and human rights obligations.
It will also claim the plan falls far short of the steps required by the Paris Agreement.
O Neill noted that Ireland's emissions had risen since 2014, as its economy recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, and its dairy industry expanded. They dropped back slightly in 2017, government figures show.
A spokesman for Ireland's Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment said by email that the government would defend the case, but noted the National Mitigation Plan recognised a detailed roadmap would be required to decarbonise the economy.
That is now being put in place, he added, and includes a government-wide climate action plan "intended to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate disruption".
The verdict in the Irish case, a judicial review, is expected to be issued in a few months, while the French legal process could last two to three years, Le Comte said.
In the Netherlands, it took three years for an initial ruling to be confirmed by the appeals court, and the government said in November it would request a review of the judgement.
Khan said one key advantage of pursuing states in court was judicial scrutiny of the evidence on climate change.
"Just by putting the facts on the record - that in itself is a really important communication tool, and helps to mobilise the public around climate change," she said.

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Dead Stinking Fish Send A Message

19 January, 2019 - 11:19
Canberra TimesJack Waterford

Any halfway decent political opportunist would use this week's images of dead and dying Murray cod and other fish in the Menindee Lakes to put the environment and climate change at the forefront of the election campaign. The fact that the weather has been warmish, even by Goodooga standards, doesn't do any harm either.
The images have an emotive energy often lacking in many of the impassioned debates about places we care about which are fairly far away, and which have become almost abstractions for the feeling that we ought to be doing something – at the very least, something more than we have been doing.

Thousands of fish have died at the Menindee Weir Pool.

Straight off, the dead and stinking fish could symbolise the mismanagement, maladministration and corruption of water policy in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. It doesn't take a great deal of extension to work it into an argument about the National Party's intellectual and moral bankruptcy, particularly under former leader Barnaby Joyce, and its complete unfitness to govern. Rural folk increasingly feel that way, wondering how a party established to represent rural and regional Australians became instead available for rent to big mining interests, the coal industry, the fracking industry and large-scale agribusiness, particularly when these interests threaten their livelihoods.
But the Nationals are only the obvious culprits. Look, for example, at Malcolm Turnbull, who had a spell as minister in charge of saving the Murray and Darling river systems a bit more than a decade ago, and knew so much about the topic that he and John Howard were able to concoct a river water policy, costing billions of dollars, on the back of an envelope over a couple of afternoons, without even feeling the need to consult the Treasury, which, Turnbull said contemptuously, knew nothing about the subject.
One of the many things that Turnbull learned during his period as water flâneur in chief was the wisdom of successive conservative prime ministers in keeping water policy out of the hands of Nationals ministers. Not even Tony Abbott was tempted to hand it over – probably on the advice of former senator Bill Heffernan, a farmer with some tolerance for human weakness but never for waste or mismanagement of a scarce water supply. After Turnbull knifed Abbott, to general applause, Joyce popped around to remind him that Coalition agreements were between leaders, not parties, and that continuing the alliance would need to involve some Liberal concessions. When Turnbull announced his ministry, water was with Joyce at agriculture, and that department further refined its habit of looking away and doing nothing when policy became imperial, and when enforcement of the law, or even implementation of it, came to be regarded as a matter of discretion.
But one does not need to dwell long on the dead fish to think also of climate change, and the Morrison government's inertia on the subject, not least because a good proportion of the Coalition doesn't actually believe in it or, at least, in doing anything brave or courageous, or ahead of anybody else, about it. And also of drought, and extreme weather, neither in the least bit unusual in the Australian environment, but both seeming to come more regularly, and with solid evidence of increasing averages. Perhaps the population is not completely certain about what to do to ward off the effects of climate change, and how much of whatever it is is necessary, but opinion polls suggest that most Australians believe we should do a good deal more, and with a more explicit sense of urgency, than the present government.
Some of the thousands of dead fish in the Darling River near Menindee. Credit:Nick MoirOne does not have to segue far off the dead fish, the drought or climate change theme to think of the Great Barrier Reef, and the threat posed to it by rising temperatures, caused not least by coal. The government's response to this crisis appears to involve enabling (if not yet financing, though it may come to that) a large coal-mining project nearby, and giving nearly $500 million to a club of rich executives, chiefly from the mining industry, who think they can commission work, perhaps with some private sector help, that will tackle some of the evidences of the effects of climate change, if not actually do anything about it.
The power of the images is such that they could be harnessed for messages against the Coalition, or for the Labor Party, which is saying mostly the right things about climate change, if not necessarily about water policy or Adani, or for the Greens or environmental candidates. The fish don't need a detailed inquest: just by themselves, they show that something has gone very badly wrong.
It says something about the political ineptness of federal and state Nationals ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, that he insists that the fish deaths are the effects of drought rather than policy, or of drought accompanied by abrupt changes in temperature. No doubt these have played their part in the catastrophe but, as usual along the Darling system, the problem is much more complicated than that, and owes much to the overallocation of water to irrigation farmers, particularly along the Macquarie and Barwon rivers, to the failures of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, not least (from the start) in failing to prioritise the environment ahead of agricultural needs, and to rorting of the whole system, with the connivance of public service regulators, particularly in the NSW government. That federal ministers and some public servants in the primary industry department see their function as facilitating agriculture and maximising its export revenue has also led to the corruption of the public stewardship they were supposed to deliver to the whole community.
One reason the symbolism of the fish deaths has the power to sound in votes is that the division of scarce resources inevitably involves rationing, winners and losers, and people who argue about what should be rationed. The Four Corners report last year, which showed some big farmers stealing water, acquired some of its moral force from the fact that the rorters were dobbed in by neighbours as well as by folk nearby. They were angry and resentful not only because the rorters were taking water for free while they paid for it, but because the rorting of the supply meant a diminished total supply. That's quite apart from the fact that many farmers are keen fishers, well-versed in their local environments, and want to live sustainably in them, rather than by mining its water supplies and raping the soil.
But that's just in the immediate neighbourhood. In any river system, there are folk upstream and downstream, particularly downstream, who will gripe that their allocations have been reduced because too much water has been taken upstream. They are often right, even within a state. But there has been a long pattern of farmers within an upstream state taking more than they should, to the ultimate disadvantage of downstream states, particularly South Australia. That's a problem aggravated by physical constraints, including weirs that often prevent water flowing downstream, by very poor Commonwealth policy and management of efficiencies to save water, and by evaporation.
Given the original overallocations of water licences to irrigators, the Commonwealth began buying allocations (from "willing sellers" on the water market). But this was unpopular in some areas, with claims (by no means substantiated) that the sale of irrigation licences was depopulating communities and reducing their resources. The present government prefers to spend public money subsidising farmers to increase the efficiency of their water use, thus liberating some water for the environment. There are problems with this approach. First, the cost of the water "liberated" for the environment by such measures is nearly three times that of water liberated through buying allocations on the open market, the supposed ideal distributing mechanism. Second, the economic benefit from the subsidised infrastructure and efficiency mechanisms goes to the individual farmer, rather than to a district or the public at large. In a real sense, neighbours can be economically disadvantaged because they are unable to grow food or cotton at the cost of the neighbours whose "investment" in better methods was heavily subsidised.
That has also brought to light other inequities. Last year in NSW, the government announced measures to "borrow" water from the environmental reservation because of the dought's severity. Listening to the blather coming from the Nationals, one would have understood the announcement as suggesting that some water was being liberated so farmers and graziers could get minimal supplies for thirsty sheep, or to round off a crop almost ready for harvest.
But the extra water, better characterised as water stolen rather than borrowed, was not rationed out to the needy. It was auctioned out to the highest bidder – usually to better-off farmers not suffering as greatly from the drought and thus in a better position to bid high. Some water, indeed, went upstream to farmers not actually in drought at all. And some of the crops "topped off" were not crops planned and planted as possible from diminishing allocations as drought took hold, but extra speculative planting, just in case there was late rain.
The South Australian royal commission into the management of the Murray-Darling system, being conducted by Bret Walker, SC, should soon report. Set up in response to anger about its very junior status at the table, it has had minimal cooperation from the Commonwealth (which ordered that the basin authority, and its staff and board members, not give evidence). The commission has had only token cooperation from the states.
But that has not meant that it has been purely parochial, or that the evidence before it has been skewed to South Australian matters or interests. For starters, there are many players, including irrigators and farming interests from other states, who were keen to give evidence and to describe their problems. There have been retired basin workers and regulators, and former CSIRO staff still angry about how managers caved in to politicians and changed scientific calculations of water needs to suit political agendas. There has been abundant evidence showing the authority's setting and subsequent reduction of sustainable environmental allocations not in response to any scientific analysis but to calculations of what interest groups might accept. After the interests complained about the initial determination that a minimum 3000 gigalitres of water a year was needed to meet environmental water requirements, the authority was told to "pick a number with a '2' in front of it". It settled for 2750 gigalitres, but despite all of the fad words about science, accountability and transparency, has been unable, since its establishment, to show how it arrived at either figure. Expert advice from scientists is that the minimum environmental allocation should have been 6900 gigalitres in an average year, that there was Buckley's of satisfying the environmental needs with an allocation of 3000, let alone 2750.
It is typical of the mendacity of NSW's participation in the scheme that it came up with a rort to meet demands for a higher environmental flow. It wants to close up the Menindee Lakes, leaving only a narrow channel by which the water can go downstream. After all, it argues, the water in the lakes (when it is there) only evaporates. Would it be better if, instead, it was sent to those whingeing crow-eaters, without actually disturbing the standard of living of NSW agribusiness upstream. Local farmers, as well as the city of Broken Hill, which draws its water from the lakes, are furious, some insisting that the evaporation causes local weather in any event, but also speaking of the lakes' importance as a wetlands site, a sanctuary for birds, a breeding place for fish (if there are any left) and as a sieve settling some of the dirty water. The basin does not appear to be much of a player in the argument involved, even from its duty as the ultimate protector of the riverine environment.
But it seems certain that Bret Walker will hold that the then Commonwealth solicitor-general was wrong when he advised Tony Burke, when the authority was set up, that protecting the environment was only one aim in basin management. Equally important were social and economic considerations.
Walker, and the counsel assisting the royal commission, are certain that this interpretation is wrong. Indeed, they say that every senior constitutional lawyer consulted shares this view. The authority is first required to establish the basin's minimum environmental needs. Only after that can it set allocations for irrigation, or for domestic use in towns and elsewhere.
Walker plainly thinks the misinterpretation of the Water Act's clear instructions has led the authority to think it must perform some political juggling act, by which it ends up with some solution that causes all of the vested interests least trouble. As such, the authority has failed miserably, and compounded rather than alleviated the rivers' problems.
The counsel assisting, Richard Beasley, SC, has not been kind to the authority or its board. He quoted senior international scientists who said it was a fundamental tenet of good governance that scientists produced facts and that government decided on values and made choices. They were concerned that scientists in the authority felt pressured "to trim [the facts] so that the sustainable diversion limit will be one that is politically acceptable".
Beasley said that if all the Murray-Darling Basin Authority had done over the past eight years was to "trim the facts", it would be bad enough.
"But it's worse than that. The implementation of the basin plan has been marred by maladministration. By that I mean mismanagement by those in charge of the task at the basin authority, its executives and its board, and the consequent mismanagement of huge amounts of public funds. The responsibility for that ... falls on both past and present executives of the MDBA and its board."
There are many guilty parties, and few deserve to be spared. Fish rot from the top, it is said.

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Australian Temperature Record Broken Twice In One Night

18 January, 2019 - 18:24
FairfaxRachel Clun

The record for the highest overnight minimum temperature has been broken twice in one night.
Weather stations at Noona, west of Dubbo, and Borrona Downs, west of Bourke, recorded overnight minimum temperatures of 35.9 degrees and 35.6 degrees respectively.
The record for hottest overnight temperature was broken overnight. Credit: John VeageThe NSW stations both broke the record set by a remote South Australian station almost 40 years ago, Bureau of Meteorology forecaster David Wilke said on Friday."The previous record for highest minimum temperature is 35.5, set on the 24th of January, 1982, at Arkaroola in South Australia, and that was equalled in 2003 in a place called Wittenoon in Western Australia on the 21st of January," he said.
Mr Wilke said that, as well as breaking national records, a number of stations broke their own records for the hottest overnight temperatures, including Tibooburra Airport, Cobar Airport and Coonabarabran Airport.
Minimum overnight temperatures would be slightly cooler over the next couple of nights, with minimums expected to hit the low 20s on Saturday, Mr Wilke said.
Overnight temperatures are forecast to stay in the low 20s across most of Sydney, making it hard to sleep. Credit: Christopher PearceThanks to a trough moving across the state, temperatures in Sydney on Saturday will drop to 29 degrees in the city and 33 degrees in Penrith - a change of 13 degrees from Friday's forecast high of 45 in the west, he said.However, Mr Wilke said the trough was not bringing a strong change, so temperatures would climb again into next week."The main problem is we don’t see the humidity really clearing out significantly," he said.
"We’ll see this relief from the heat in the next couple of days, particularly for the south-east, but the heat will continue building next week."

Fire ban, severe fire warning issued
The heat, combined with strong north-easterly winds on Friday have prompted the bureau to issue a fire weather warning for parts of the state on Friday.The Rural Fire Service has also issued total fire bans for 13 areas.
Severe fire danger was forecast for the Southern Ranges and Southern Slopes regions, and a very high fire danger for areas around Canberra and the Illawarra and Shoalhaven areas.
The total fire bans were in places including the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, the greater Hunter area, and areas around Canberra.
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PM Morrison Says Australia Climate Target To Remain Unchanged, Despite Fiji's Criticism

18 January, 2019 - 15:49

The prime minister says Australia's emissions reduction targets will stay the same, despite criticism from Fiji about the need for a rapid shift to clean energy sources.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific Anne Ruston in Suva, Fiji. Source: AAPScott Morrison is sticking with Australia's climate change targets despite strong criticism from Fiji about the urgent need to move to clean energy.
The prime minister says Australia's emissions reduction targets will stay the same, but he did commit to spending money to help Pacific nations tackle the efforts of climate change.
Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said Australia cannot put the interests of one industry ahead of the lives of Pacific islanders.
Scott Morrison with former rugby league player Petero Civoniceva and Executive Chair of Fiji National Rugby League Peni Musunanasi in Suva."We have sensible, achievable commitments that will continue to ensure that Australia has a prosperous economy, and Australians will have the choices that they want in the future," Mr Morrison said in response on Friday.
"While at the same time respecting the need to address the real impacts of climate change, both here in the Pacific and elsewhere around the world."
Mr Morrison said Australia's emissions reduction targets were discussed in a meeting with Mr Bainimarama on Thursday.
"We are already pursuing those policies in a way that I believe is consistent with what the prime minister is expecting of Australia," Mr Morrison said.

Fiji PM tells Scott Morrison 'Australian coal is killing the pacific'

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the coalition government has no climate policy.
"It's a bit embarrassing that he had to go to Fiji to be told that he's doing nothing on climate change, when in fact millions of Australians could have told him that in Australia," Mr Shorten told reporters.
Mr Morrison also announced funding to support a Fijian team in the NSW rugby league super premiership, and a preseason NRL game in Fiji in 2021.
Mr Morrison will visit Black Rock on Friday, where Australia is funding an expansion of the military training centre.
The centre will be used to train militaries from around the Pacific islands.
The announcements are part of a "vuvale" partnership - from the Fijian word for family - that Mr Morrison and Mr Bainimarama agreed to on Thursday.
Mr Bainimarama said the relationship had been "rocky" after his 2006 military coup, but the return of free elections in 2014 had led to a thaw with Australia.

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Climate Change Is 'No Laughing Matter', Fiji's PM Frank Bainimarama Tells Australia During Scott Morrison's Pacific Trip

18 January, 2019 - 15:44
ABCStephen Dziedzic | Erin Handley

Frank Bainimarama said climate change could not be written off as a difference of opinion. (Reuters: Wolfgang Rattay, file photo)Climate change is "no laughing matter" and poses an "enormous" threat to Fijians and Pacific Islanders, Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has warned Australia.
In a speech during his counterpart Scott Morrison's Pacific visit, Mr Bainimarama called on Australia to put the welfare of Pacific peoples before the interests of any single industry.
"Here in Fiji, climate change is no laughing matter," he said.
"From where we are sitting, we cannot imagine how the interests of any single industry can be placed above the welfare of Pacific peoples — vulnerable people in the world over."
It is the first time a political leader has publicly confronted Mr Morrison on the question of climate change during his Pacific tour.

Key points:
  • In the same speech, Frank Bainimarama lavished praise on Mr Morrison for his "Pacific step-up"
  • Scott Morrison has promised Australia will not neglect the Pacific
  • Fiji and Australia have committed to a "family partnership" in a sign of warming ties
In 2015, then-immigration minister Peter Dutton quipped about the fate of the Pacific Islands in the face of climate change, prompting laughter from then-prime minister Tony Abbott.
"Time doesn't mean anything when you're about to be … you know, have water lapping at your door," Mr Dutton said.
Mr Morrison, then the social services minister, pointed out to both men that a microphone was above them.
In his speech on Thursday, Mr Bainimarama said Fiji and Australia should be "good neighbours" and highlighted the searing temperatures dominating Australian cities this week.
"Prime Minister, I urged your predecessor repeatedly to honour his commitment to clean energy future, the only future that guarantees the survival of your neighbours in the Pacific," he said.

Peter Dutton quips about Pacific leaders facing climate change during chat with Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott

Mr Morrison declared that Australia would make sure it did not neglect the Pacific. (ABC News: Jed Cooper, file photo)Mr Morrison's predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, abandoned the emissions reduction target in a bid to stave off a leadership challenge last year.A vocal proponent of climate change policy who led the UN's Climate Change Conference in 2017, Mr Bainimarama said the issue "cannot be written off as a difference of opinion".
"Consensus from the scientific community is clear, and existential threat posed to Pacific Island countries, a certainty."Australia will not neglect the region: PM
But Mr Bainimarama also lavished praise on Mr Morrison for his so-called "Pacific step-up", and said he had "transformed" the Australia-Fiji relationship by visiting Suva.
"While it was a short flight to Suva, your presence has already taken our relationship a very long way indeed," he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, then the treasurer, used a lump of coal to make a point in Parliament in 2017. (ABC News: Nick Haggarty) Mr Morrison's engagement with the Pacific set a "new precedent" and was "absolutely a step in the right direction", he added.
"When our nation and our people have been left devastated in the aftermath of ever-worsening cyclones, Australia has always proven to be a friend we can count on," Mr Bainimarama said.No Australian prime minister has come to Fiji since 2006, and Mr Morrison's trip is aimed at shoring up Australia's influence in the nation, which has been courting Chinese investment.

Lowy Institute Pacific Aid Map
Aid is an important resource for the Pacific Islands region, but public information is often lacking. The Lowy Institute Pacific Aid Map is designed to enhance aid effectiveness.
Fiji and Australia yesterday agreed to a host of new initiatives and committed to a "Vuvale Partnership" (or "family partnership") in a sign of warming ties.
Both countries have agreed to more regular ministerial meetings, while Australia has promised to send Border Force officials to Fiji to offer local guards training.
Australia has also pledged $84 million for a new partnership with Fiji's University of the South Pacific, and $17 million to provide 1,000 hours of Australian television content each year to Pacific broadcasters.
Mr Morrison declared that Australia would make sure it did not neglect the region.
"One of the risks of close relationships is sometimes they can be taken for granted, and there are periods in our past where that has been the case," he said. "Not now. And not in the future if there's anything my government has to do with it."
Some Australian diplomats were anxious that the stoush over Islamic State extremist Neil Prakash would overshadow the visit.
Fijian officials were angered when Australia stripped Prakash of his citizenship, arguing he was instead entitled to Fijian citizenship through his father.
But Fiji insists Prakash and his family were never registered as citizens, and have made it clear Prakash would not be welcome.
When questioned, Mr Morrison said Mr Bainimarama had not raised the issue at all in Thursday's talks — indicating the two men had smoothed over the issue before sitting down in Suva.

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Dead Fish Could Stink Up The Election Campaign

17 January, 2019 - 16:34
FairfaxShane Wright

The Australian climate has interceded in national politics more than once.
Malcolm Fraser went to the electorate in 1983 at the height of one of the harshest droughts on record.
Tony Burke, federal Labor's environment spokesman, visited the site of the massive fish kill at Menindee.Credit: Tony Burke
The previous year's wheat crop had been the worst in decades for much of the east coast, while many graziers were forced to destroy livestock left without feed or water.
Just weeks ahead of the 1983 election, the Ash Wednesday bushfires killed 75 people in Victoria and South Australia, destroyed more than 3700 buildings and resulted in the death of an estimated 340,000 sheep.
The government could not be blamed but there were some within the Liberal Party that argued Malcolm Fraser  had been blamed for everything – including the drought.
That was, perhaps, brought home when within a fortnight of Bob Hawke's victory, record-breaking rains fell across the parched landscape.
In 1991 the NSW government declared a state of emergency after a 1000km blue-green algal bloom erupted down the Darling River.
The pictures of the bloom, and the public demand for action they elicited, forced governments across the Murray-Darling basin to take the first steps towards better management of our water systems.
The 2007 election was not marred by environmental disaster but climate – and the Howard government's response to climate change – became a hammer blow used by Kevin Rudd.
Less than three years later it was Rudd being hammered. The man who declared climate change the great moral, social and economic challenge was gone after he failed rise to the challenge he had identified.
Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull continued the climate change wars, both succumbing to wounds inflicted by themselves and others. And when Scott Morrison replaced Turnbull, the new PM's first visit was to drought-afflicted Queensland before assembling a "drought summit".
Now 14 weeks out from the expected May federal election, the environment has interceded in the political debate again.
The pictures, video and social media posts of the fish kill around Menindee on the Darling River have been visceral.
Images of old and angry fishermen and farmers, holding up the rotting carcasses of Murray cod have been beamed into the nation's lounge rooms or on to our smart phones.
In the face of criticism from those fishermen, farmers and locals, the Morrison government has effectively said "let's hope for rain" and "it's the drought".
The problem with that argument is that it may very well be exposed by a South Australian royal commission into the Murray-Darling and its management.
In less than a fortnight, the royal commission started by then SA Premier Jay Weatherill is due to report.
The evidence to it, particularly about the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, has been compelling.
And the findings may be as politically toxic as those rotting fish in the Darling.
In his final address, senior counsel assisting the commission Richard Beasley did not hold back in his criticisms of the MDBA and its political masters who are scattered across the federal, NSW, Queensland, SA and Victorian spheres.
Describing issues of "maladministration" and "unlawfulness", Beasley sheeted home blame to those in charge.
"The implementation of the [Murray-Darling] basin plan has been marred by maladministration. By that I mean mismanagement by those in charge of the task in the basin authority, its executives and its board, and the consequent mismanagement of huge amounts of public funds," he said.
"The responsibility for that maladministration and mismanagement falls on both past and current executives of the MDBA and its board."
The commission heard evidence of how problems setting the amount of water put aside for the environment started under the Rudd government and have continued ever since. That includes the past six years of oversight by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government.
The coalition, particularly the National Party, was always more interested in modernising the irrigation systems across the Murray-Darling rather than buying allocations direct from willing sellers.
A draft report from the Productivity Commission found the government's preferred process has been extremely expensive – upgrading irrigation pipes and drains is twice the cost of buying water on the open market.
While the PC found the upgrade irrigation system process has "lessened" the socio-economic costs of directing water to the environment, it too was just as damning as Beasley to the royal commission.
It noted that the evidence so far was that while the process had provided "a number of private benefits for irrigators" this had failed to sustain regional farming communities.
Like those rotting fish, the PC's final report is just waiting to go off. Delivered to the government last month, the report has to be made public soon – almost about the same time as the royal commission reports to the SA government.
Scott Morrison needs almost everything to go right for him to win this year's election.
There are those things he can control directly, such as government policy; there are those things he has to target, such as Bill Shorten and Labor's overall policy agenda; and then there are those issues that come from left field.
Scientists have been warning for decades about the problems facing our most important inland water system, so it's difficult to claim the events playing out on the Darling are truly a surprise.
But the footage of men holding aloft dead Murray cod while surrounded by rotting carp, yellowbelly and bony bream was not expected. Nor the record temperatures of recent days which has turned parts of NSW, Victoria and South Australia into fan-forced ovens.
It may be just another sign of how the natural environment, if ignored for too long, finds a way to seep into the national political discourse.

Categories: External websites

Our Oceans Broke Heat Records In 2018 And The Consequences Are Catastrophic

17 January, 2019 - 15:55
The Guardian

Rising temperatures can be charted back to the late 1950s, and the last five years were the five hottest on record
Bleached coral in Guam. The heating of oceans is causing tremendous problems for sea life.
Photograph: David Burdick/AP
Last year was the hottest ever measured, continuing an upward trend that is a direct result of manmade greenhouse gas emissions.
The key to the measurements is the oceans. Oceans absorb more than 90% of the heat that results from greenhouse gases, so if you want to measure global warming you really have to measure ocean warming.
There are other ways to measure climate change, but none are as convincing as the oceans. Air temperatures are most commonly reported in the media as evidence of global warming, but the problem with these is they are very erratic. While there is certainly a long-term trend of higher air temperatures, any given year may be warmer or colder than the last.
So oceans are key, and they are telling us a clear story. The last five years were the five hottest on record. The numbers are huge: in 2018 the extra ocean heat compared to a 1981-2010 baseline amounted to 196,700,000,000,000,000,000,000 joules. The current rate of ocean warming is equivalent to five Hiroshima-size atomic bombs exploding every second.
The measurements have been published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences in an article by Lijing Cheng, the lead author, and his colleagues from the Institute for Atmospheric Physics in China. His collaborators, of which I am one, included researchers from around the world. The article charts ocean heat back to the late 1950s, showing a steady increase.
2018 was the hottest year measured for Earth’s oceans
compared with the 1981-2010 average

Guardian graphic. Source: Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.
*Change in ocean heat content in zettajoules (1021 joules)
Ocean warming is incontrovertible proof of global warming, and there are real consequences to a warming ocean. Firstly, warmer water expands, and this expansion causes sea levels to rise. Approximately a third of the rise in ocean waters is a result of the heat absorbed by the oceans. Scientists expect about one metre of sea level rise by the end of the century, which would be enough to displace 150 million people worldwide.
The warming waters also make storms more powerful. In the US recently, we have seen hurricanes pass over extremely warm ocean waters, which has supercharged them and increased the damage they cause. Other kinds of storms are also being made stronger. Heavier downpours of rainfall are increasing flooding around the world. Simply put, our emissions of greenhouse gases have caused loss of life and property. We are all responsible, but the people who have denied the science and the solutions own a special responsibility that history will judge harshly.
It isn’t just humans that are suffering and will suffer more in the future. The heating of oceans is causing tremendous problems for sea life, particularly coral reefs. If we continue to warm the planet, we can expect to lose much of these reefs. We can also anticipate reductions in fish and sea life populations.
We scientists sound like a broken record. Every year we present the science and plead for action. Not nearly enough is being done. We can still tackle climate change, but we must act immediately. We have the means to make a difference, we lack only the will.

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