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Climate Change Sparks Fears For Flying Foxes After 23,000 Deaths

Lethal Heating - 13 hours 53 min ago
FairfaxFelicity Caldwell

There are fears climate change will be devastating for flying foxes after a heatwave led to tens of thousands of animals perishing in Cairns.
In late November, wildlife carers reported about 23,000 spectacled flying foxes died – an estimated one-third of the total population – after temperatures rose above 42 degrees.
Thousands of spectacled flying foxes died in far north Queenslandafter temperatures soared above 42 degrees.Credit: David White
Volunteers and scientists believe it is the first time a major heat stress event has led to mass deaths of the spectacled flying fox, which is endemic to the north-eastern regions of Queensland.
Bats and Trees Society of Cairns president Maree Treadwell Kerr said it was "pretty catastrophic", with rescuers arriving at camps to find thousands of animals had dropped dead from trees.
Ms Treadwell Kerr said volunteers managed to rescue about 850 animals but were stretched thin as they already had more than 500 flying foxes in care.
"There had been a food shortage, which was probably due to the fact that it had been a very dry season and then they got the heatwave," she said.
"In one camp [at Edmonton], the whole camp was wiped out, and 11,000 animals, at least, died.
"And the flying foxes have not returned to that site yet even though since then we got a proper wet season for a change."
Ms Treadwell Kerr said flying foxes were good "indicators" for climate change and their deaths were more readily noticed than other animals which may also be affected by extreme heat.
"When they die, you see it, it's right there in front of them," she said.
"We were expecting it to happen at some stage – we weren't expecting it to happen in November."
At one camp alone, volunteers found 11,000 flying foxes dead.Credit: David WhiteIn February, federal Environment Minister Melissa Price upgraded the spectacled flying fox from vulnerable to endangered on the national threatened species list.
CSIRO research showed the population of the spectacled flying fox had more than halved from 214,750 in November 2005 to 92,880 in November 2014.
Macquarie University ecologist Tim Pearson said flying foxes were a keystone species, an important pollinator and seed disperser and vital for the health of forests.
"One of the reasons flying foxes are so important, and this doesn't just apply to speccies [spectacled flying foxes], but other species in Australia as well, is they fly huge distances," he said.
"So when they lick the nectar out of eucalyptus [trees], all that fur gets covered in pollen and then they fly 20 to 30 kilometres.
"They pollinate the tree next to it but they pollinate trees far away so they ensure genetic diversity."
Mr Pearson said the increased frequency of heatwaves had led to more mass die-offs elsewhere in Australia.
Almost 50,000 flying foxes perished during extreme heat in 2014 in south-east Queensland, while there have also been deaths in Adelaide and Victoria in recent months.
About 850 spectacled flying foxes were rescuedin far north Queensland, mostly pups.Credit: David WhiteThe Lab of Animal Ecology, led by Dr Justin Welbergen, reports mass casualties are occurring between zero to five times per year and the events are expected to escalate under climate change.
"Where they used to be very occasional events, now they're happening more and more often," Mr Pearson said.
"What was scary about the November instance in Cairns was that to the best of our knowledge, the spectacled flying fox, which just lives in north Queensland, has never been affected by heatwaves before ... They typically don't have heatwaves."
Mr Pearson said climate change meant days of extreme heat were becoming more frequent and more severe, which would lead to more flying fox deaths.
"Most of us who work with flying foxes ... are pretty convinced that their numbers are going to keep declining," he said.
"The pressures on them are climate change and habitat destruction - neither of those two pressures shows any signs of slowing down."
Official counts, revealed in Queensland open data, showed there were 1.4 million flying foxes of all species reported in the state in January to March 2016 and only 243,000 in January to March 2018.
However, a Queensland Department of Environment and Science spokesman said the data showed numbers from quarterly surveys of known roosts only and could not be used as an overall population estimate.
This is because of the nomadic nature of flying foxes.
Wildlife volunteers were stretched thin, as they were already caring
for 500 flying foxes in care when the mass die-off occurred.
Credit: David WhiteThe spokesman said the department recognised that recent heatwave events had significant impacts on flying fox populations.
"Cyclones in north Queensland have also had a serious impact on flying fox food trees," he said.
The spokesman said the department was providing support and advice to councils across the region on the impacts of heat stress on flying foxes, and how to safely evaluate and record sick or dead flying foxes, in addition to financial assistance to flying fox carer groups.
People are urged not to touch flying foxes but instead contact a bat rescue group or RSPCA Queensland for advice.

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Here's A Running List Of All The Ways Climate Change Has Altered Earth In 2019

Lethal Heating - 13 hours 53 min ago
Mashable - Mark Kaufman

Global average temperatures compared to average. Yellows, oranges, and reds indicate warmer temps. Image: NASA Earth is now the warmest it's been in some 120,000 years. Eighteen of the last 19 years have been the warmest on record. And concentrations of carbon dioxide — a potent greenhouse gas — are likely the highest they've been in 15 million years.
The consequences of such a globally-disrupted climate are many, and it's understandably difficult to keep track. To help, here's a list of climate-relevant news that has transpired in 2019, from historically unprecedented disappearances of ice, to flood-ravaged cities. As more news comes out, the list will be updated.

1. Guess what? U.S. carbon emissions popped back up in a big way
Image: SHUTTERSTOCK / FRANK_PETERSIn early 2019, the Rhodium Group — a research institution that analyzes global economic and environmental trends — released a report finding that in 2018 carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. rose 3.4 percent from the prior year. That's the second largest gain in the last two decades.
"It’s trending in the wrong direction — it’s not encouraging," said Robert McGrath, the director of the University of Colorado Boulder's Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute who had no role in the report but reviewed it.

2. Antarctica’s once sleepy ice sheets have awoken. That's bad.
Image: GETTY IMAGES/FOTOSEARCH RFAntarctica — home to the greatest ice sheets on Earth — isn't just melting significantly faster than it was decades ago. Great masses of ice that scientists once presumed were largely immune to melting are losing ample ice into the sea.
"People are beginning to recognize that East Antarctica might be waking up," said Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory that visits and measures Earth's melting glaciers.
"There’s growing evidence that eastern Antarctica is not just going to stay frozen and well-behaved in the next 50 to 100 years," he explained.

3. 60% of the planet's wild coffee species face extinction. What that means for your morning caffeine kick.
Image: SHUTTERSTOCK / AFRICA STUDIO A triple whammy of disease, climate change, and deforestation has threatened around 60 percent of the planet's wild coffee species. While this hasn't yet imperiled the world's coffee supply, it jeopardizes your favorite coffee's resiliency in the face of profound planetary change.
"As farmers are increasingly exposed to new climate conditions and changing pest pressures, the genetic diversity of wild crop relatives may be essential to breeding new coffee varieties that can withstand these pressures," Nathan Mueller, an assistant professor of earth system science at the University of California, Irvine who researches global food security, said over email.

4. Extreme weather — not politicians — convinces Americans that climate change is real
Reds, oranges, and yellows show 2017 global temperatures warmer than the average. Image: NASAAmericans find today's climate science increasingly convincing, and a damaging mix of exceptional drought, storms, and record-breaking heat is the reason why.
The results of a new survey — conducted in November 2018 by the University of Chicago's Energy Policy Institute and the research organization The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Researchfound that nearly half of Americans said today's climate science "is more convincing than five years ago, with extreme weather driving their views."

5. The polar vortex will return, this time with the coldest temps of the year
Temperature forecast for early February 2019. Image: UNIVERSITY OF MAINE/CLIMATE REANALYZERThe polar vortex has become a popular phenomenon for good reason: This weakening of the polar vortex and the subsequent spillover of frigid air has become more common over the last two decades.
"We are seeing these events occurring more frequently as of late," said Jeff Weber, a meteorologist with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
Although this increase in polar vortex frequency is a hot area of study, one emerging theory blames significantly diminished Arctic sea ice. The Arctic is warming over twice as fast as the rest of the globe and sea ice cover is plummeting. As a result, recent climate research suggests that — without this ice cover — more heat escapes from the oceans. Ultimately, researchers found that this relatively warmer air interacts with and weakens the winds over the Arctic, allowing frigid polar air to more easily escape to southerly places like Cleveland and New York City.

6. It's damn cold, but heat records in the U.S. still dominate
Arctic air flowing south into the U.S. on January 31, 2019. Image: CLIMATE REANALYZER/UNIVERSITY OF MAINEWhile certain portions of the winter sure felt frigid, overall, the number of daily cold records set in the U.S. has been consistently dwarfed by the number of warm or high temperature records. The score isn't even close. High records over the last decade are outpacing low records by a rate of two to one.
In the past 10 years there have been 21,461 record daily highs and 11,466 lows.
"The trend is in exactly the direction we would expect as a result of a warming planet," said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University.

7. Don’t forget about the colossal Himalayan glaciers. They’re rapidly vanishing, too.
A weather station in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region. Image: JITENDRA BAJRACHARYA/ICIMODBeyond the continually grim news from the north and south poles is the melting of the "third pole," known as the Hindu Kush Himalaya region. Spreading over 2,000 miles across eight nations (from Afghanistan to Myanmar), these mountainous lands are home to the third-largest stores of ice on the planet and provide water to hundreds of millions of people.
Under the most optimistic conditions, a new report found that over a third of the ice will vanish by the century's end. But under more extreme climate scenarios — wherein global climate efforts fail — two-thirds of these mighty glaciers could disappear, with overall ice losses of a whopping 90 percent.
"Glacier-wise, it's not a great story," Joseph Shea, one of the report's lead authors and an assistant professor of environmental geomatics at the University of Northern British Columbia, said in an interview.

8. House lawmakers finally let climate scientists set the record straight
The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. Image: SHUTTERSTOCK / NICOLAS AGUIARThe U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology is no longer under the leadership of the Republican party, which is candidly opposed to globally-accepted climate science.
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, a veteran Democratic lawmaker from Texas, has become Chairwoman and called a hearing for Feb. 13 entitled "The State of Climate Science and Why it Matters," inviting four scientists to give testimony about major U.S. climate reports and the significance of the latest climate science.
"Climate change is real, it's happening now, and humans are responsible for it," Bob Kopp, a climate scientist at Rutgers University and a coauthor of the congressionally mandated Fourth National Climate Assessment Kopp said in an interview, outlining critical points he planned to make to federal lawmakers.

9. Trump fails to block NASA's carbon sleuth from going to space
Half the Earth illuminated by the sun. Image: ESAIn early 2017, the Trump Administration tried to ax NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3, or OCO-3. It didn't work. Then, again in 2018, the White House sought to terminate the earth science instrument.
Again, the refrigerator-sized space machine persisted.
Now, SpaceX is set to launch OCO-3 to the International Space Station in the coming months, as early as April 25. Using a long robotic arm, astronauts will attach OCO-3 to the edge of the space station, allowing the instrument to peer down upon Earth and measure the planet's amassing concentrations of carbon dioxide — a potent greenhouse gas.
"Carbon dioxide is the most important gas humans are emitting into the atmosphere," said Annmarie Eldering, the project scientist for OCO-3 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Understanding how it will play out in the future is critical."

10. Earth's coldest years on record all happened over 90 years ago
In 2017 Earth's temperatures were significantly warmer than compared to the average. Image: NASAHere's a statistic: On Earth, 18 of the last 19 years have been the warmest in recorded history.
The globe's 21st-century heating, however, becomes all the more stark when compared to the coldest years on record. As climate scientist Simon Donner, who researches human-induced climate change at The University of British Columbia, underscored via a list posted on Twitter, the planet's 20 coldest years all occurred nearly a century ago, between 1884 and 1929.
The coldest year on record occurred in 1904.

11. Earth is greener than it was 20 years ago, but not why you think
Green areas show increases in areas covered by green leaves. Image: NASATwo NASA satellites have watched Earth grow greener over the last 20 years — in large part because China is hellbent on planting millions of trees.
Earth's greening — meaning the increase in areas covered by green leaves — has made the greatest gains in China and India since the mid-1990s. "The effect comes mostly from ambitious tree-planting programs in China and intensive agriculture in both countries," NASA wrote as it released maps of the planet-wide changes.
China kickstarted its tree-planting mobilizations in the 1990s to combat erosion, climate change, and air pollution. This dedicated planting — sometimes done by soldiers — equated to over 40 percent of China's greening, so far.

12. The Green New Deal: Historians weigh in on the immense scale required to pull it off
A New Deal project: the Chickamauga Dam. Image: SHUTTERSTOCK / EVERETT HISTORICAL The scope of a Green New Deal — if such a program ever truly comes to match the scale of the original New Deal — wouldn’t just put millions of Americans to work, but could very well transform the mood, culture, and spirit of the United States in the 21st century.
The New Deal wasn’t just paying people to build things. People were doing fulfilling, nation-improving work. They planted three billion trees. They built many of the nation’s bridges and roads. Today, we drive under their tunnels and walk through their parks.
“Those men at the end of their lives would take their families back to show them what they had done — because they were quite proud of it,” said Gray Brechin, a historical geographer and New Deal scholar.

13. Trump's climate expert is wrong: The world's plants don't need more CO2
Higher CO2 concentrations swirling around Earth (shown by yellows and reds). Image: NASAPrinceton physicist and carbon dioxide-advocate William Happer has been selected to head the brand new Presidential Committee on Climate Security, reports The Washington Post. Happer maintains that the planet's atmosphere needs significantly more CO2, the potent greenhouse gas that U.S. government scientists — and a bevy of independent scientists — have repeatedly underscored is stoking accelerating climate change.
Because plants use carbon dioxide to live, Happer has said "more CO2 is actually a benefit to the Earth," asserted that Earth is experiencing a "CO2 famine," and concluded that "If plants could vote, they would vote for coal."
Earth and plant scientists disagree.
"The idea that increased CO2 is universally beneficial [to plants] is very misguided," said Jill Anderson, an evolutionary ecologist specializing in plant populations at the University of Georgia.

14. A powerful atmospheric river pummeled California, and the pictures look unreal
Rich Willson paddles through the miniature golf course after the flooding in in Guerneville, California. Image: KARL MONDON/MEDIANEWS GROUP/THE MERCURY NEWS VIA GETTY IMAGESA potent atmospheric river — a long band of water vapor that often transports ample amounts of moisture to the western U.S. like "rivers in the sky" — deluged portions of Northern California in late February. The Russian River, which winds through the Sonoma County town of Guerneville, reached over 45-feet high and swamped the area, prompting the Sheriff to announce on Twitter that the town had been surrounded by water — with no way in or out.
While California relies heavily on these wintertime atmospheric rivers for its water, scientists expect these storms to grow dramatically wetter as Earth's climate heats up.
"We're likely to see rain in increasingly intense bursts," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

15. The Bering Strait should be covered in ice, but it's nearly all gone
Satellite imagery of the mostly ice-free Bering Strait on Feb. 28. 2019. Image: SENTINEL HUB EO BROWSER/SENTINEL 3During winter, the Bering Strait has historically been blanketed in ice. But this year, the ice has nearly vanished [by late February].
"The usually ice-covered Bering Strait is almost completely open water," said Zack Labe, a climate scientist and Ph.D. candidate at the University of California at Irvine.
"There should be ice here until May," added Lars Kaleschke, a climate scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research.

16. Geoengineering might not be as ludicrous if we gave Earth the right dose
Sunlight reflecting off the Earth. Image: NASASolar geoengineering is widely viewed as risky business.
The somewhat sci-fi concept — to use blimps, planes, or other means to load Earth's atmosphere with particles or droplets that reflect sunlight and cool the planet — has crept into the mainstream conversation as a means of reversing relentless climate change, should our efforts to slash carbon emissions fail or sputter. But geoengineering schemes come with a slew of hazards. A number of studies have cited the ill consequences of messing with Earth's sun intake, including big falls in crop production, the likelihood of unforeseen adverse side effects, and critically, a weakened water cycle that could trigger drops in precipitation and widespread drought.
Yet new research, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, acknowledges these problems but finds a potential fix: only deploying enough reflective specks in the atmosphere to reduce about half of Earth's warming, rather than relying on geoengineering to completely return Earth to the cooler, milder climate of the 19th century. In other words, giving Earth a geoengineering dose that would reverse a significant portion of the warming, but not enough to stoke the problematic side effects.
"Solar engineering might not be a good choice in an emergency," said David Keith, a solar engineering researcher at Harvard University and study coauthor. "If it makes any sense at all, it makes sense to gradually ramp it up."

17. The ocean keeps gulping up a colossal amount of CO2 from the air, but will it last?
Image: Getty Images/WIN-Initiative RMWith no benefit to itself, Earth's vast sea has gulped up around 30 percent of the carbon dioxide humans emitted into Earth's atmosphere over the last century. Critically, scientists have now confirmed that the ocean in recent decades has continued its steadfast rate of CO2 absorption, rather than letting the potent greenhouse gas further saturate the skies.
But a weighty question still looms: How much longer can we rely on the ocean to so effectively store away carbon dioxide, and stave off considerably more global warming?
"At some point the ability of the ocean to absorb carbon will start to diminish," said Jeremy Mathis, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) climate scientist who coauthored the study. "It means atmospheric CO2 levels could go up faster than they already are."
"That's a big deal," Mathis emphasized.

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It’s Time For Climate Change Communicators To Listen To Social Science

Lethal Heating - 13 hours 53 min ago

Doom and gloom essays are more likely to offend skeptical readers than to convince them. Cognitive studies suggest there’s a better way.
Kelly Sillaste / Getty Images David Wallace-Wells’ recent climate change essay in the New York Times, published as part of the publicity for his new book “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming,” is, sadly, like a lot of writing on climate change these days: It’s right about the risk, but wrong about how it tries to accomplish the critical goal of raising public concern.
Like other essays that have sounded the alarms on global warming — pieces by Bill McKibben, James Hansen, and George Monbiot come to mind — Wallace-Wells’ offers a simple message: I’m scared. People should be scared. Here are the facts. You should be scared too.
To be sure, Wallace-Wells and these other writers are thoughtful, intelligent, and well-informed people. And that is precisely how they try to raise concern: with thought, intelligence, and information, couched in the most dramatic terms at the grandest possible scale. Wallace-Wells invokes sweeping concepts like “planet-warming,” “human history,” and global emissions; remote places like the Arctic; broad geographical and geopolitical terms like “coral reefs,” “ice sheet,” and “climate refugees;” and distant timeframes like 2030, 2050, and 2100.
It’s a common approach to communicating risk issues, known as the deficit model. Proceeding from the assumption that your audience lacks facts —that is, that they have a deficit —all you need to do it give them the facts, in clear and eloquent and dramatic enough terms, and you can make them feel like you want them to feel, how they ought to feel, how you feel. But research on the practice of risk communication has found that this approach usually fails, and often backfires. The deficit model may work fine in physics class, but it’s an ineffective way to try to change people’s attitudes. That’s because it appeals to reason, and reason is not what drives human behavior.
For more than 50 years, the cognitive sciences have amassed a mountainous body of insight into why we think and choose and act as we do. And what they have found is that facts alone are literally meaningless. We interpret every bit of cold objective information through a thick set of affective filters that determine how those facts feel — and how they feel is what determines what those facts mean and how we behave. As 17th century French mathematician and theologian Blaise Pascal observed, “We know truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart.”
Yet a large segment of the climate change commentariat dismisses these social science findings. In his piece for the New York Times, Wallace-Wells mentions a few cognitive biases that fall under the rubric of behavioral economics, including optimism bias (things will go better for me than the next guy) and status quo bias (it’s easier just to keep things as they are). But he describes them in language that drips with condescension and frustration:
How can we be this deluded? One answer comes from behavioral economics. The scroll of cognitive biases identified by psychologists and fellow travelers over the past half-century can seem, like a social media feed, bottomless. And they distort and distend our perception of a changing climate. These optimistic prejudices, prophylactic biases, and emotional reflexes form an entire library of climate delusion.Polls suggest that even people who are alarmed about climate change aren’t particularly alarmed about the threat to themselves. Visual: Pete Linforth / PixabayMoreover, behavioral economics is only one part of what shapes how we feel about risk. Another component of our cognition that has gotten far too little attention, but plays a more important part in how we feel about climate change, is the psychology of risk perception. Pioneering research by Paul Slovic, Baruch Fischhoff, Sarah Lichtenstein, and many others has identified more than a dozen discrete psychological characteristics that cause us to worry more than we need to about some threats and less than we need to about others, like climate change.
For example, we don’t worry as much about risks that don’t feel personally threatening. Surveys suggest that even people who are alarmed about climate change aren’t particularly alarmed about the threat to themselves. The most recent poll by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that while 70 percent of Americans believe climate change is happening, only around 40 percent think “it will harm me personally.”
We also worry more about risks that threaten us soon than risks that threaten us later. Evolution has endowed us with a risk-alert system designed to get us to tomorrow first — and only then, maybe, do we worry about what comes later. So even those who think climate change is already happening believe, accurately, that the worst is yet to come. Risk communication that talks about the havoc that climate change will wreak in 2030, in 2050, or “during this century” contributes to that “we don’t really have to worry about it now” feeling.
Risk perception research also suggests that we worry less about risky behaviors if those behaviors also carry tangible benefits. So far, that’s been the case for climate change: For many people living in the developed world, the harms of climate change are more than offset by the modern comforts of a carbon-intensive lifestyle. Even those who put solar panels on their roofs or make lifestyle changes in the name of reducing their carbon footprint often continue with other bad behaviors: shopping and buying unsustainably, flying, having their regular hamburger.
Interestingly Wallace-Wells admits this is even true for him:
I know the science is true, I know the threat is all-encompassing, and I know its effects, should emissions continue unabated, will be terrifying. And yet, when I imagine my life three decades from now, or the life of my daughter five decades from now, I have to admit that I am not imagining a world on fire but one similar to the one we have now.Yet he writes that “the age of climate panic is here,” and he expects that delivering all the facts and evidence in alarmist language will somehow move others to see things differently. This is perhaps Wallace-Wells’ biggest failure: By dramatizing the facts and suggesting that people who don’t share his level of concern are irrational and delusional, he is far more likely to offend readers than to convince them. Adopting the attitude that “my feelings are right and yours are wrong” — that “I can see the problem and something’s wrong with you if you can’t” — is a surefire way to turn a reader off, not on, to what you want them to believe.
Contrast all this deficit-model climate punditry with the effective messaging of the rising youth revolt against climate change. Last August, 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg skipped school and held a one-person protest outside her country’s parliament to demand action on climate change. In the six months since, there have been nationwide #FridaysforFuture school walkouts in at least nine countries, and more are planned.
Thunberg has spoken to the United Nations and the World Economic Forum in Davos, with an in-your-face and from-the-heart message that’s about not just facts but her very real and personal fear:
Adults keep saying: “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.” But I don’t want your hope… I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.By speaking to our hearts and not just our heads — and by framing the issue in terms of personal and immediate fear of a future that promises more harm than benefit — Thunberg has started an international protest movement.
The lesson is clear. Wallace-Wells’ New York Times essay will get lots of attention among the intelligentsia, but he is not likely to arouse serious new support for action against climate change. Risk communication that acknowledges and respects the emotions and psychology of the people it tries to reach is likely to have far greater impact — and that’s exactly what the effort to combat climate change needs right now.

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Donald Trump’s Climate Denial Gets More Ridiculous By The Day

Lethal Heating - 18 March, 2019 - 05:00
Newsweek - Michael E. Mann

Michael E. MannMichael E. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Pennsylvania State University. His most recent book, with Tom Toles, is The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy (Columbia University Press, 2016.) Once upon a time, Donald Trump accepted the scientific reality that human activity, primarily burning fossil fuels, causes climate change.
He signed on to an ad calling on President Obama to take action on climate change.
That was 2009. In the decade since, Trump’s Fox News fixation has led him down a steep path of dangerous denial, culminating in his quoting of an industry PR flack who appeared on Fox and Friends to make some profoundly ridiculous claims.
Patrick Moore, who falsely claims to be a co-founder of Greenpeace, claimed that the “climate crisis” is “Fake Science” and that “carbon dioxide is the main building block of all life.”
First off, the people who call Puerto Rico home, or Paradise, California, or any number of cities and towns across the country and indeed the planet who have felt the already devastating impacts of climate change would beg to differ. Climate change is already making the heat waves that cause heat strokes worse.
It’s already raised sea levels, making coastal flooding more common and problematic. It’s already doubled the area burned by wildfires in the past few decades. My own research, in fact, shows that state-of-the-art climate models, if anything, are underestimating the impact climate change is having on extreme weather events.
Unlike Moore, I’m actually a climate scientist. But even if I weren’t, these findings are readily apparent in even a cursory reading of the National Climate Assessment. That’s the major climate report Trump’s own administration released last year, and it goes into detail about how climate change is already hurting American communities from coast to coast.
Those details aren’t even necessary to point out how ludicrous Moore’s other suggestion is, that carbon dioxide is “the main building block of all life.” While we are certainly carbon-based lifeforms, it is proteins and nucleic acid, not carbon dioxide, that are the building blocks. In fact, it is classified as a deadly toxin at high concentrations. I’d challenge Moore to prove he believes what he’s saying by trying to survive on carbon dioxide.
It wouldn’t be the first time someone challenged Moore to prove he means what he says. Back in 2015 Moore told an interviewer that one of Monsanto’s pesticides (Roundup) is not only not cancer-causing, but in fact that “you could drink a whole quart of it and it won’t hurt you.” When the interviewer offered some to Moore to drink, and prove his point, Moore of course became agitated and angry and stormed out in a huff.
This is the sort of person Trump is apparently turning to for advice. A man who has spent decades doing the industry’s dirty work while trading off a youthful involvement in Greenpeace. A man who, in response to Trump, tweeted to indicate that he, too was in DC, attending a meeting of William Happer’s CO2 coalition, a fossil-fuel funded pro-pollution advocacy organization.
William Happer is also the man chosen by Trump to potentially lead a panel to conduct an “adversarial” review of climate science. Happer is a former physics professor who was caught in a sting in 2015 agreeing to take money from unknown oil and gas interests in exchange for writing a report full of climate denial.
As to the quality of Happer’s climate science, well that’s hard to speak to because he doesn’t actually do any climate science, and never has. What he has done, though, is say insane (and offensive) things, like comparing the treatment of carbon dioxide to the “demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.”
That’s the quality of advice Trump is seeking.
It’s one thing for Fox’s primary audience, with their failing faculties and dulled critical thinking skills, to be suckered in by their constant barrage of alternative facts and persuasive fictions. It’s quite another for the supposed leader of the free world, who has a thousand scientists at his disposal, to embrace such obviously unscientific claims with such conviction.
Fortunately, some in his party appear to now recognize that outright denial of human-caused climate change has no place in honest political discourse and they seem to be embracing a pivot to the more worthy debate over what we do to address it. Let us encourage this shift and allow climate change deniers to become increasingly isolated as the fringe, irrelevant relic that they are.

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Malcolm Farr: ‘The Public Debate On The Existence Of Climate Change Is Over And We Are Owed An Apology’

Lethal Heating - 18 March, 2019 - 05:00
NEWS.com.au - Malcolm Farr

School Strike for Climate Change: Thousands of students skip school for protests

The public debate on the existence of climate change is over and we are owed an apology from those who prolonged it for self-serving political purposes.
They might acknowledge their disrespect for science, or for driving rejection as a vehicle for “brutal retail politics”.
Voices as varied as the schoolchildren who marched on Friday, the top ranks of Australia’s central bank, and federal department chiefs are warning of the consequences of those changes.
The debate continues, but it now is centred on measuring the urgency of a response to increasing climate instability, and the detail of that response.
Emergency services, diplomats and farmers are all seeking the best answers to climate change effects — effects which some of their flecked representatives for the better part of a decade said didn’t exist.
Military and intelligence agency leaders have warned climate change is a national security threat to Australia.
There still are holdouts, including a few reactionary MPs who continue to embrace Tony Abbott’s belief just over nine years ago that the science was “absolute crap”.
And there is a fringe which make cases which can only be resolved by outlandish conspiracy theories, often along the dubious lines of the United Nations and One World Government.
And there are credible sources moving in the other direction.
Deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia Guy Debelle last week made clear climate change is now a factor in tracking and guiding the economy; he gave no hint it was a UN plot.
But he did stress the need for an orderly transition to clean energy; a need for greater backing of renewable energy projects; preparing for new ways we work and the jobs available to us; and the broader task of readying the entire economy for change.
“Financial stability will be better served by an orderly transition rather than an abrupt disorderly one,” he said.
Last week, secretary of the Department of Home Affairs Mike Pezzullo mentioned climate change in a speech — Seven Gathering Storms — to a think tank.
Mr Pezzullo warned of states which might become ungovernable and a possibility of “mass displacement of people”.
Contributions to this displacement could be “poverty, hunger, water and resource scarcity, and a changing climate, which will have to be thought of as a systemic risk factor”.
These are just a few elements of government which have appreciated the existence and impact of climate change in ways some elected politicians have been too frightened or deliberately manipulative to acknowledge.
These are the folk who might consider an apology.
Tony Abbott is not the only denier in parliament but over a decade he has been the pacesetter if not the leader of that block of ignorance.
“The argument is absolute crap. However, the politics of this are tough for us,” he told a regional audience in December 2009.
“Eighty per cent of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.”
Just as Mr Abbott scorned majority views on same sex marriage, he early on resolved to ignore voters on climate change.
He used that rejection of evidence and local opinion to wreck the carbon price policy of Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard, his offensive from Opposition against the so-called “carbon tax”.
His chief adviser in Opposition and when he became prime minister, Peta Credlin, in 2017 put that campaign into context.
“That was brutal retail politics, and it took Abbott six months to cut through and when he did cut through Gillard was gone,” she told Sky News.
And, Ms Credlin said, “It wasn’t a carbon tax, as you know.”
However, Mr Abbott was “hugely unconvinced” in 2009 and continued to harness his rejection of climate change science in 2017 in a speech he made in along on.
“Primitive people once killed goats to appease the volcano gods. We are more sophisticated now but are still sacrificing our industries and our living standards to the climate gods to little more effect,” he said.
But something happened 10 days ago.
Mr Abbott abruptly endorsed the UN backed Paris agreement on emission reduction, a process aimed at limiting climate change.
A sudden convert, he has yet to say sorry for his past rejection.

We're not pleased with ScoMo's climate plan: striking students

Categories: External websites

The RBA Has Sounded The Climate Change Alarm. Time To Sit Up And Take Notice

Lethal Heating - 18 March, 2019 - 05:00
The Guardian

Students are striking, the central bank is warning of ‘damaging outcomes’ and denialism has to be met with scorn
RBA deputy governor Guy Debelle: ‘both the physical impact of climate change and the transition are likely to have first-order economic effects.’ Photograph: David Moir/AAP On Friday tens of thousands of school students around the country took to the streets to voice their anger over inaction on climate change. It came three days after the assistant governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia warned about the impact of climate change on our economy. This week really should mark the end of the line for anyone within politics or the media being able to spout climate-change denialism without being met with scorn and jeers. It also should mark the time when boldness and verve becomes the norm for any climate-change policy.
For most people with common sense, our current climate-change policy debate remains utterly frustrating. The problem is there are some in the conservative media and politics who, either due to gross stupidity or a willing desire to fake stupidity, are determined to continue that frustration.
Now one might wonder why someone would actively choose to peddle lies merely to get a gig in the Liberal party or on some unwatched show on Sky News, or to be paid to write poorly some column or blog for News Corp papers.
But at this point, who cares?
Those people have tied themselves to the rotting carcass of climate-change denialism for reasons of profit. We should not now pretend that their views are not redolent with the putrid stench of obtuse irrelevance – an irrelevance made abundantly clear when on Tuesday the deputy governor of the Reserve Bank, Guy Debelle, delivered a speech titled “Climate Change and the Economy”.
It was a landmark speech that sets a precise point from which you can say you are with reality or you have thrown in your lot with idiocy and avarice.
The RBA is not an institution given to radicalism, and so when one of its most senior members states that “both the physical impact of climate change and the transition are likely to have first-order economic effects” it’s a big deal.
Central bankers don’t talk about impacts on the economy lightly or just to please protesting school kids. They only address climate change because they have assessed it has and will continue to have real impacts on the economy.
What Debelle had to say was quite sobering.
He stated that “we need to reassess the frequency of climate events ... and our assumptions about the severity and longevity of the climatic events”.
This, he noted, is not news to the insurance industry. Those companies whose entire profit is based around risk have long been factoring in climate change, because unlike the denialist crew who get paid to be ignorant, insurers actually have to factor in reality when assessing risk.
The Reserve Bank also has to factor in risk and Debelle noted that there are many forces affecting our economy and financial stability, but “few of these forces have the scale, persistence and systemic risk of climate change”.
Debelle also noted the difficulties we face are not small.
He acknowledged the difficulties with the transition to a lower-carbon-intensity world will clearly depend upon “whether it is managed as a gradual process or is abrupt”. But he suggested “the trend changes aren’t likely to be smooth.
“There is likely to be volatility around the trend, with the potential for damaging outcomes from spikes above the trend,” he said.
Central bankers prefer to say 10 words of fudge than two of bluntness. So when a central banker starts talking about “damaging outcomes” that’s the time to sit up and take notice.
He also noted that, just in case you were thinking we only need to worry about more droughts and extreme heat events, there is also the problem “where two (or more) climatic events combine to produce an outcome that is worse than the effect of one of them occurring individually”.
And that is bad because “combined with the increased volatility, this increases the likelihood of non-linear impacts on the economy”.
That is, we can’t just say climate change could have a linear impact on our economy – where it reduces growth by a set percentage each year. Rather, the impact could get progressively worse over time.
Debelle acknowledged that we have always had to deal with droughts and cyclones. He noted that “the current drought has already reduced farm output by around 6% and total GDP by about 0.15%” and that even if we return to average rainfall it will continue to weigh on the economy through this year.
So we know weather affects the economy. But Debelle noted that climate change is a trend, not a cycle like weather, where you experience good and bad times.
“What if,” Debelle asked, “droughts are more frequent, or cyclones happen more often?” The shock to the economy “is no longer temporary but close to permanent”.
Permanent shocks to the economy, damaging outcomes, first-order economic events.
At this point anyone still spouting denialist bile in newspaper columns or on the campaign trail needs to be treated like an anti-vaccer at a healthcare expo.
It also means our major political parties need to step up. The Liberal party will most likely need a major defeat (or two) before facing reality, but the ALP also needs to realise that now is not the time for timidity – which Shorten displayed with his rather weak support of the student’s strike on Thursday.
Leadership requires boldness – a boldness now supported by very clear warnings from our most sober economic institution.
The RBA cannot do anything to limit climate change; it can only assess the risks and act appropriately. It is up to governments to take action and it is time to leave the lies and vindictive ignorance of climate change deniers, in the media and in politics, behind us.
Our central bank has warned of inaction. Our children this week took to the streets to demand action. It is time for our governments to deliver.

Categories: External websites

Students Worldwide Skip School To Demand Tough Action On Climate Change

Lethal Heating - 17 March, 2019 - 05:00
CBS News - CBS | AP

From the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle, students mobilized by social media and word of mouth skipped class Friday to protest what they believe are their governments' failure to take tough action against global warming. The rallies were one of the biggest international actions yet, involving hundreds of thousands of students in more than 100 countries around the globe.
The coordinated "school strikes" were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary demonstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year. Since then, the weekly protests have snowballed from a handful of cities to hundreds, fueled by dramatic headlines about the impact of climate change during the students' lifetime.
Thunberg, who was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, said as protesters cheered her name at a rally in Stockholm that the world faces an "existential crisis, the biggest crisis humanity ever has faced, and still it has been ignored for decades by those that have known about it. And you know who you are, you that have ignored this and are most guilty of this."
Across the globe, protests big and small urged politicians to act against climate change while also highlighting local environmental problems.
  • Speakers at the U.S. Capitol in Washington stood behind a banner that said "We don't want to die." 
  • In New York City, students chanted "Save our planet" and "Climate change has got to go" near an entrance to Central Park.
#ClimateStrike NYC Columbus Circle pic.twitter.com/zM2XiIIKXG— Jeff Berardelli (@WeatherProf) March 15, 2019
  • In San Francisco, hundreds of students disrupted downtown traffic as they marched from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office to Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office, CBS San Francisco reported.
  • In St. Paul, Minnesota, about 1,000 students gathered before the state Capitol, chanting "Stop denying the earth is dying."
  • In Berlin, police said as many as 20,000 protesters, most of them young students, gathered in a downtown square, waving signs with slogans such as "March now or swim later" and "Climate Protection Report Card: F" before marching through the capital's government quarter with a stop in front of Chancellor Angela Merkel's office.
  • In Poland, thousands marched in rainy Warsaw and other cities to demand a ban on the burning of coal, which is a major source of carbon dioxide. Some wore face masks as they carried banners that read "Today's Air Smells Like the Planet's Last Days" and "Make Love Not CO2."
  • In India's capital New Delhi, schoolchildren protested inaction on climate change and rising air pollution levels that often far exceeds World Health Organization limits.
  • "Now or Never" was among signs brandished by enthusiastic teenagers thronging cobblestoned streets around the domed Pantheon building, which rises above the Left Bank in Paris. Several thousand students gathered peacefully around the landmark. Some targeted French President Emmanuel Macron, who sees himself as the guarantor of the Paris climate accord but is criticized by activists for being too business friendly and not ambitious enough in efforts to reduce French emissions.
  • About 50 students protested in South Africa's capital, Pretoria, chanting "There's No Planet B." One protester held a sign reading "You'll Miss The Rains Down in Africa." Experts say Africa, with its population of more than 1 billion people, is expected to be hardest hit by global warming even though it contributes least to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause it.
  • Police in Vienna said about 10,000 students rallied in the Austrian capital, while in neighboring Switzerland a similar number protested in the western city of Lausanne. Last month, lawmakers in the northern Swiss canton of Basel symbolically declared a "climate emergency."
  • In Helsinki, police said about 3,000 students had gathered in front of Finland's Parliament sporting placards such as: "Dinosaurs thought they had time too!"
  • Thousands marched through Madrid and more than 50 other Spanish cities. Spain is vulnerable to rising sea levels and rapid desertification.
Students protest to demand action on climate change in Lisbon, Portugal. RAFAEL MARCHANTE/REUTERSThis picture is one of 39A website used to coordinate the rallies listed events in over 2,000 cities. In the U.S., Alexandria Villasenor founded Youth Climate Strike U.S. along with 12-year-old Haven Coleman and 16-year-old Isra Hirsi. They're calling for, among other things, "100 percent renewable energy by 2030," CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil reported. For more than three months, Villasenor has been playing hooky from the 7th grade on Fridays and going to U.N. headquarters in New York in hopes of pushing adults into action against global warming.
"Since climate change will be a global problem, I decided that this would be the best place to strike," she told CBS News. She expected students to be striking in all 50 states Friday.
In a speech Friday outside the U.N., Villasenor said world leaders weren't listening. "Our world leaders are the ones acting like children," she said. "They are the ones having tantrums, arguing with each other and refusing to take responsibility for their actions while the planet burns."

Later, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was inspired by the students to call a special summit in September to deal with what he called "the climate emergency." "My generation has failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of climate change," Guterres wrote in an opinion piece in The Guardian. "This is deeply felt by young people. No wonder they are angry."
Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen showed up at a protest in Copenhagen and tweeted Friday "We must listen to the youth. Especially when they're right: the climate must be one of our top priorities."
IMAGECarla Reemtsma, a 20-year-old university student who helped organize the protest in Berlin, said she's part of about 50 WhatsApp groups devoted to discussing climate change. "A lot happens on social media because you can reach a lot of young people very quickly and show them: look there's lot of us," she told the Associated Press. "There's a very low threshold so we reach a huge number of people."
"I think that's how we managed to get so big," said Reemtsma. Many protesters in Berlin took aim at politicians such as the leader of Germany's pro-business Free Democratic Party, Christian Lindner, for suggesting that complicated issues such as climate change were "a matter for professionals" not students.
Others, including Germany's economy minister, Peter Altmaier, have urged students to stage the protests outside school hours.
Volker Quaschning, a professor of engineering at Berlin's University of Applied Sciences, said it was easy for politicians to belittle students. "That's why they need our support," he said. "If we do nothing then parts of this planet could become uninhabitable by the end of the century."

Scientists have backed the protests, with thousands signing petitions in support of the students in Britain, Finland, Germany and the U.S. "It gives me great hope," environmentalist Bill McKibben told CBS News contributing meteorologist Jeff Berardelli. "This new generation is doing all it can to make sure that we older people don't foreclose their chance for a decent life. It's beautiful to see their courage, their passion -- if anyone ever thought 'kids today' don't care about the world, or are spending all their time on video games, the photos from around the world should renew their faith."
Scientists have warned for decades that current levels of greenhouse gas emissions are unsustainable, so far with little effect. In 2015, world leaders agreed in Paris to a goal of keeping the Earth's global temperature rise by the end of the century well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
Yet at present, the world is on track for an increase of 4 degrees Celsius, which experts said would have far-reaching consequences for life on the planet. In Germany, environmental groups and experts have attacked government plans to continue using coal and natural gas for decades to come.
Quaschning, who was one of more than 23,000 German-speaking scientists to sign a letter of support this week, said Germany should aim to fully "decarbonize" by 2040. This would give less-advanced nations a bit more time to wean themselves off fossil fuels while still meeting the Paris goal globally.
"This is going to require radical measures and there isn't the slightest sign of that happening yet," said Quaschning.

A poll published Friday by German public broadcaster ZDF found that 67 percent of respondents backed the students' protests during school hours, with 32 percent opposed. The representative telephone poll conducted between March 12 and 14 involved 1,290 randomly selected voters. The margin of error was about 3 percentage points.
In Stockholm, Greta Thunberg predicted that students won't let up their protests. "There are a crisis in front of us that we have to live with, that we will have to live with for all our lives, our children, our grandchildren and all future generations," she said.
"We won't accept that, we won't let that happen and that's why we go on strike. We are on strike because we do want a future, we will carry on," she said.

Categories: External websites

Remember Morrison's Black-Rock Stunt? Well, Look Who's Scared Now

Lethal Heating - 17 March, 2019 - 05:00
The Guardian

With their clash over coal, the Coalition partners are making the case for voters to show them the exit
“Scott Morrison’s brandishing of a lump of coal during question time in 2017 is one of the most boneheaded performances ever to grace the bear pit.” Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP It’s always unwise to call peak farce when we are dealing with Australia’s torturous climate and energy debate, so perhaps we can just categorise the following incident as mildly surreal.
Scott Morrison was in Melbourne for much of this past week. On Wednesday he was out on the hustings with Daniel Andrews, one of the most progressive political leaders in the country, and a premier who has recently secured an emphatic mandate from the people.
By stapling himself to Andrews, by cooperating mightily in a state where the Liberals are in deep political trouble, perhaps Morrison was hoping for a small measure of reflected goodwill.
Whatever his aspirations, Morrison was asked about coal, as he has been every day since a group of Queensland Nationals decided to go to war with their leader Michael McCormack. The brawl that has fractured the government was unleashed just over a week ago, and it relates to McCormack’s failure to shirt-front the Liberals on coal plants and on divestiture powers to break up energy companies.
For some of the rebels, this is a proxy war about Barnaby Joyce returning to the leadership (yes, really). For others, coal and energy really is the burning issue.
Reporters inquired on Wednesday how Morrison could tolerate the Nationals defying his leadership by banging on relentlessly about wanting new coal plants. He calmly mouthed the responses prime ministers mouth in trying situations.
Morrison noted that Joyce (“a passionate fellow”) had returned the red cordial to the fridge and was now sequestered, spent after a spell of thrashing, on the time-out step. Joyce had “settled” the insurrection, Morrison said, by acknowledging it had been a “misstep” to describe himself as the “elected deputy prime minister”.
Having declared peace in our time (and I deploy that phrase in the Neville Chamberlain sense), Morrison then rolled around to energy projects. He said the government was about “supporting the development of commercially viable and feasible baseload power all around the country”. These projects could be “gas, it could be hydrogen … it could be hydro”.
There’s a word missing there, right? It starts with c and ends in l.
The prime minister declined to utter the word coal. As well as gas, hydrogen and hydro, Morrison noted there could be “other traditional sources”. C-o-a-l could not pass his lips.
This omission would be of only glancing interest, or perhaps zero interest, had the prime minister not been the same bloke who, seemingly five minutes ago, had brought a lump of coal into the Australian parliament and brandished it lustily during question time, in one of the most boneheaded performances ever to grace the bear pit.
“This is coal,” the then treasurer declared triumphantly in February 2017, brandishing his prop as if he’d just stumbled across an exotic species previously thought to be extinct. “Don’t be afraid,” Morrison said, soothingly, to his political opponents, waving the black rock kindly supplied by the Minerals Council of Australia. “Don’t be scared.”
Just for the record, no one was scared then – except perhaps members of the voting public transiently in the visitors galleries of the House of Representatives witnessing the sudden onset of shark-jumping as a parliamentary sport.
But perhaps the strange coal seance of 2017 was all a harbinger, more omen than stunt, because it’s pretty clear that Morrison, to borrow from himself, is a bit scared now. Being trepidatious is entirely reasonable, because it’s clear to anyone watching that there is a schism inside the government.
Put simply, the schism is this.
The Nationals want Morrison to produce a shortlist that commits the Coalition to supporting new coal projects. They want an explicit commitment made in public before the federal election, because they believe that commitment pays political dividends in central Queensland.
To underscore this point, Joyce noted during one of his interventions that he was intent on protecting the interests of his regional heartland, and didn’t give a stuff about the climate-induced anxieties of voters in Melbourne. (In case you are wondering, this isn’t the normal Joyce word salad; this is a deliberate smack at the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg. The Nationals believe Frydenberg is running most of the internal interference on this issue, because he’s worried about his inner city seat, and others like it.)
The Liberals have made it equally clear that they do n-o-t (underlined) want the government to put taxpayers on the hook by supporting coal before the election, because that is the equivalent of cordially inviting their small-l liberal heartland to take out their baseball bats and start swinging come May – not just in Melbourne, but right around the country.
If you are Morrison, that’s not an easy difference to split.
Unless there’s some grand bargain in the offing – Morrison supporting a north Queensland coal project, then sealing the border allowing any Liberals south of Noosa plausible deniability – this is a straight win/loss proposition.
Either the Nationals win, or the Liberals win, and while this unresolved roiling persists (and I predict the Nationals will persist), the bottom line is the government loses. While the priority is internal death match politics, the government makes its own compelling case for why Australian voters should show it the door.
Just to summarise the general ludicrousness, in the space of seven months the government has gone from rolling Malcolm Turnbull in large part because he was too progressive on climate change, and dumping the national energy guarantee that might have given them all a measure of electoral protection on this issue, to the prime minister being unable to utter the word coal in public, for fear of offending voters worried about climate change.
As the kids say, life comes at you fast. You wouldn’t believe it had you not seen it with your own eyes.
Meanwhile, as the numpty show rolled on, and on, a deputy governor of the Reserve Bank stood amid the clamour of the week and said what anyone with any respect for facts and evidence now says: climate change is real. It’s not cyclical, it’s a trend, and if we don’t start factoring it into our policy settings and our business decisions (meaning the prudent management of carbon risk), then Australia’s financial stability is at risk.
It was an important speech from Guy Debelle, both in terms of the content, and in terms of the signal. Debelle speaks for an institution apparently intent on telling the public it does not intend to drop the ball on this most important of policy issues, which might give the students who demonstrated around the country on Friday some measure of comfort that the failure of their parents isn’t absolute.
Eyes will also be on Labor over the coming weeks. The party that wants to form the next government is expected to release the remaining elements of its policy on climate change: what it will do to reduce pollution from heavy emitters, in transport and agriculture.
Given the diabolical history of this issue, there is nervousness in Labor’s ranks about the onset of yet another cheap scare campaign once the policy is subjected to scrutiny, and the policy will be heavily scrutinised, not only by journalists but also by the stakeholders now assuming Labor wins the contest in May.
Polling, both private and public, makes clear that a majority of Australians want action on climate change. Many voters see the cheapjack opportunism of the past decade as symptomatic of a political system that has lost its way.
While political actors who favour rational action on climate change have the wind at their back in a way I haven’t seen since the federal campaign of 2007, there’s only one way to get a mandate to decarbonise the Australian economy.
It’s not complicated. You have to seek one, and be brave enough to do that without fudges or strategic omissions or weasel words.

Categories: External websites

'Monster' El Nino A Chance Later This Year, Pointing To Extended Dry Times

Lethal Heating - 17 March, 2019 - 05:00
FairfaxPeter Hannam

Relief for Australia's drought-hit regions could be a long way off, with climate influences in the Pacific and Indian oceans tilting towards drier conditions and a "monster" El Nino a possibility by year's end.
Climate scientists said the conditions in the Pacific were particularly concerning given an unusual build-up of equatorial heat below the surface that could provide the fuel for a significant El Nino.

Sea surface warmth
El Ninos are marked by unusually warm sea surface temperatures that typically result in rainfall patterns shifting eastwards away from south-east Asia and the Australian continent.
Source: NOAA
If such an event transpires, the Great Barrier Reef would face another bout of mass coral bleaching while the drought gripping southern and eastern Australia could intensify.
Agus Santoso, a senior scientist at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, said there were two likely outcomes from the developments in the Pacific.
"We could have an El Nino fully formed by the end of May and then it could dissipate," Dr Santoso said.
"The other is that by May it’s already formed and it still keeps building up... and by the end of the year we could have a monster El Nino."
During El Ninos, the normal easterly winds blowing along the equator slow and even reverse. Rainfall patterns tend to shift eastwards away from south-east Asia and Australia, setting up conditions favourable for below-average rainfall and bushfires.

'Very exciting'- but not in a good way
The prospect of a big El Nino later this year was raised at an international conference of climate scientists in Chile earlier this month.
They considered parallel years, such as 2014 when a near-El Nino was reached before conditions revived a year later, creating one of the three most powerful such events in the past half century.
"There is more heat now below the surface waiting to be tapped than there was in early 2015," said Michael McPhaden, a senior scientist with US National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration who attended the Chilean event.
"If westerly wind bursts of sufficient amplitude, duration and zonal extent develop along the equator in the next couple of months, 2019-20 could be very exciting," he said.
The scientists stress that a "predictability barrier" that falls during the southern hemisphere autumn means model reliability is lower than at other times of the year.

What lies beneath
Scientists have identified particularly warm waters just below the surface in a section of the El Nino 3.4 region. This pool of warmth could provide the fuel for a powerful El Nino re-forming by the end of 2019.
Source: NOAA"While it's not a slam dunk that El Nino is going to persist, I think that the odds have certainly increased over one to two months ago," Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University, said. " We've had a big build up of heat in the eastern and central Pacific."

'Not a great starting place'
Andrew Watkins, head of long-range forecasting at the Bureau of Meteorology, said "all models are suggesting an El Nino the over next month", with several having it peaking in autumn and dropping off.
The bureau has a higher threshold than NOAA - which has already declared an El Nino - but may announce one at its update next week.
Dr Watkins said "it's too early to say there'll be an extreme event", but he noted other influences - especially from the Indian Ocean - may also favour below-average rainfall during the spring for southern Australia.
The so-called Indian Ocean Dipole - which gauges relative warmth between the east and western Indian Ocean - is forecast to become positive by mid-winter, the bureau said.
“The odds are [favouring] on the drivers that create dry conditions for eastern and southern Australia," Dr Watkins said.
“We’re not starting from a great place," Dr Watkins said, noting inland reservoirs are dropping and near-term stream-flow forecasts are for below-average flows for much of the country.
Cai Wenju, a senior CSIRO scientist who has published widely on the El Nino Southern Oscillation climate pattern, said the chance of El Nino returning is high.
A return of westerlies by about June to halt the easterly tradewinds “could spark the fire and there’s a lot of fuel", Dr Cai said.
“If it’s similar to 2015, the impact this time will be big," he said. "We are already so dry.”

Climate change and big events
Dr Santoso's research, including a paper published late last year, has found the frequency of big El Ninos will increase with climate change.
That result is "quite concerning", particularly for ecosystems sensitive to heat spikes such as coral reefs that suffered mass bleaching during the 2015-16 big El Nino.
"If we get one or two bleaching events, [the Great Barrier Reef] can recover, but if we keep having these events coming up then maybe the corals are not going to be able to adapt," Dr Santoso said.
During El Ninos, the Pacific Ocean takes less heat from the atmosphere and even gives some up, giving global surface temperatures a bump up.
The trialling years of big El Ninos, especially 1998 and 2016 - the current holder of the world's hottest year on record - are particularly warm.
An event later this year would likely see temperatures next year "spike up, and that's not very helpful for global warming", Dr Santoso said.
Farmers have been already been hit hard by drought - with the Bureau of Meteorology saying rainfall totals in Australia in 2018 were the lowest since 2005. Credit: Joe Armao 
Categories: External websites

Climate Change Strikes Across Australia See Student Protesters Defy Calls To Stay In School

Lethal Heating - 16 March, 2019 - 05:00
ABC News

Students strike for climate change (ABC News)

Key points:
  • Students have used a combination of humour, passion and urgency in protests across the country
  • The protests were inspired by the actions of a 16-year-old Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, in Stockholm
  • PM Scott Morrison objected to a previous similar protest, saying he didn't want to see "schools being turned into parliaments"
Tens of thousands of young Australians have walked out of their classrooms today to stage protests in capital cities demanding action on climate change.
Rallies began in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra and Hobart outside state parliament buildings and town halls.
Students have also marched at rallies across regional Australia, with large crowds protesting at Geelong, Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour, Cairns and Townsville.
Many used humour to get their point across, with posters referencing internet memes and suggesting fail grades for the nation's political efforts on climate change policy.
Others were more serious — one poster urged politicians to "panic" about addressing climate change and another warned "there is no Planet B".
Melbourne protest organisers said about 20,000 people attended the rally outside Parliament House. (ABC News: Stephanie Anderson) In Melbourne, protesters filled Spring Street in the CBD, blocking traffic and trams and chanting "this is what democracy looks like" and "students united will never be divided".
Milou Albrecht and Harriet O'Shea Carre, both 14, travelled from Castlemaine in central Victoria to march in Melbourne.
Harriet O'Shea Carre and Milou Albrecht travelled with 400 of their fellow students to make the Melbourne march. (ABC News) The pair started the rally last year and were joined by 400 others from Castlemaine Secondary School.
"Together our collective voice is very strong and powerful," Harriet said.
What do the students want?
  • Stop the Adani coal mine in central Queensland
  • No new coal or gas projects
  • 100 per cent renewables by 2030
    Hobart College student Imogen Viner said she was concerned about the future of forests in Tasmania.
    "Specifically for Tassie, we want to look at stopping how much forestry she's got going on," she said.
    Frida Elliott, 15, said she did not care whether her school supported her presence at the Hobart rally.
    "We're told we shouldn't be missing class time by our teachers … but there's nothing they can do about it and they've taken a step back and realised the power we have here," she said.
    Rallies were also held in Darwin, Brisbane and Perth.
    Hundreds of students defied school warnings to attend a rally at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast. (ABC News: Megan Kinninment) There were 50 rallies planned across the country for students to protest against what they see as the destruction of their future.
    Meanwhile, New Zealand rallies have seen strong turnouts, with a student march blocking streets in Wellington this morning.
    Thousands of protesters gathered in Perth's CBD to join the nationwide movement. (ABC News: Evan Morgan Grahame) Students 'on the right side of history'
    The protests were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg, who pledged to protest outside the Parliament in Stockholm until the country caught up on its commitments under the Paris Agreement.
    Greta urged students to ignore calls from some politicians to stay in school.
    Students in Byron Bay ditched school to join the global movement. (ABC News: Sam Turnbull) "I say that the children are on the right side of history and that those politicians are not," she said.
    "So they should keep on fighting and they must be prepared to go on for a very, very long time.
    "I don't think decision-makers will get the message for a very long time."
    In Melbourne, students staged their protest outside Parliament House. (ABC News: Bez Zewdie) Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said he would meet with the climate strikers to discuss their concerns outside of school hours, while Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the protests should have been held on a weekend.
    "Students leaving school during school hours to protest is not something that we should encourage," Mr Tehan said.
    ... and they just keep on coming #CoffsHarbour #ClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/tJlycxjMyx— Adam Curlis (@TAFEeducation) March 14, 2019"Especially when they are being encouraged to do so by green political activists."
    Similar protests in November prompted Prime Minister Scott Morrison to warn against the idea of students leaving school to participate in protests.
    "We don't support our schools being turned into parliaments. What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools," Mr Morrison said at the time.
    Students are calling for a switch to renewable energy. (ABC News: Gabriella Marchant) But other politicians have thrown their support behind the rallies.
    NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley encouraged students to exercise their "democratic right" to protest.
    Independent MP Julia Banks said she was proud to support students for "using their voice".
    "This is their time," she said on Twitter.
    Signs got creative in Hobart. (ABC News: Monte Bovill) Greta received a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts starting a global climate change movement.
    Her view is shared by students around the globe, including the 15-year-old student organiser for the Sydney school strike, Jean Hinchcliffe.
    "I believe that I have learnt much more from these strikes and the organising process than I have learnt in any lesson during school," she told the ABC.
    "The amount of experience you gain from it and learning to mobilise and participate in democracy I think is far more worthwhile than any history lesson."
    At the November protests, students filled arcades and city squares, defying calls by the Prime Minister to stay in school, to call for an end to political inertia on climate policy.
    Students gathered on the steps of South Australia's Parliament House. (ABC News: Gabriella Marchant)
    Ruby Clark, 12, was among thousands of protesters gathered at Garema Place in Canberra. (ABC News: Niki Burnside)
    Thousands of students gathered in Hobart. (ABC News: Monte Bovill) Links
    Categories: External websites

    Teenage Climate Activist Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize

    Lethal Heating - 16 March, 2019 - 05:00
    Fairfax - AP | Peter Hannam

    Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, started a global campaign for student action that will culminate in an international day of strike action by students on March 15. Credit: DPA 
    Three Norwegian lawmakers have nominated Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, who has become a prominent voice in campaigns against climate change, for the Nobel Peace Prize.
    Freddy Andre Oevstegaard and two other members of the Socialist Left Party said they believe "the massive movement Greta has set in motion is a very important peace contribution".

    Thousands of children walk out of their classrooms for a global climate strike amid growing anger at the failure of politicians to tackle the escalating crisis.

    Oevstegaard told the VG newspaper Wednesday that "climate threats are perhaps one of the most important contributions to war and conflict".
    Thunberg, 16, has encouraged students to skip school to join protests demanding faster action on climate change, a movement that spread far beyond Sweden.
    On Friday, about 40,000 students in Australia are expected to strike in as many as 55 separate protests as part of the School Strike 4 Climate campaign. That number is about twice that of a similar action in November, with over 100 nations likely to take part this time around.
    Thunberg has been staging a Friday strike since last year, boycotting 42 days of classes since she began last year.
    "The plan was to school strike for three weeks [in the run up to Swedish elections]," she said. "But at the end of that I wanted to go on. So then I started Fridays For Future ... The emissions are still going up so nothing has been achieved really."

    Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg leading a march of thousands of French students through Paris in February. Credit: AP 
    When not standing vigil in public protests, the 16-year-old has travelled widely - always avoiding flights to save on greenhouse gas emissions - and addressed a UN conference on climate in Poland, the World Economic Forum in Davos and the European Union in Brussels, among other events.
    "But my grades are still good and I have not missed out on what I need to achieve in school," she said.

    Any national lawmaker can nominate somebody for the Nobel Peace Prize.
    The Norwegian Nobel Committee doesn't publicly comment on nominations, which for 2019 had to be submitted by February 1.
    Friday's strike will be held from midday at the Sydney Town Hall, the Old Treasury in Melbourne and Garema Place in Canberra. In Brisbane it will be held from 1pm at Queen's Gardens and in Perth from 11am at St George's Cathedral, with dozens of other protests to be held in regional parts of Australia.

    Categories: External websites

    Environmental Groups Take France To Court Over Climate Change Inaction

    Lethal Heating - 16 March, 2019 - 05:00
    Reuters - Bate Felix | Marine Pennetier | Danielle Rouquié | Jean-Baptiste Vey

    PARIS - Environmental groups including Greenpeace and Oxfam have filed an unprecedented court action against the French government, accusing it of insufficient policy actions to tackle climate change.
    French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) in Gigiri, within Nairobi, Kenya March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas MukoyaThe groups aim to persuade the Paris Administrative court to force the government to apply its own policies, such as the multi-year energy plan, known as the PPE, and international agreements such as the 2015 Paris Climate accord.
    “The state is not living up to commitments it has made itself, especially in the context of the Paris agreement of 2015,” said Cecile Duflot, a former minister and current Executive Director of Oxfam France.
    “The state is a litigant like any other, our goal is for it to be condemned to act,” she told France Inter radio.
    The court action is backed by an online petition signed by more than 2 million people and is supported by other NGOs including the Nicolas Hulot Foundation, created by a former minister and renowned environmentalist who resigned from President Emmanuel Macron’s government last summer over slow progress on climate change goals.
    A Greenpeace statement said that France was on the wrong track in terms of curbing its emissions of greenhouse gases, which have been on the rise since 2015.
    “This wait-and-see attitude has only worsened the situation in the agriculture, transport, energy and biodiversity protection sectors, with France falling behind and now requiring a restart and strong and urgent measures,” it said, adding that the government was refusing to put urgent measures in place to reach its objectives.
    French Environment Minister Francois de Rugy, denied that the government was dragging its feet, adding on BFM Television that the court action would not lead to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
    Speaking in Kenyan capital Nairobi on the sidelines of the One Planet Summit he launched in 2017 to speed efforts to tackle climate change, President Macron said he does not believe the court action would lead anywhere.
    “The solution is in all of us. On this issue, it is not the People vs. The Government. This nonsense should stop,” Macron said on LCI Television.
    “We all must act. Governments must act. Major enterprises must act. Investors must act. Citizens must act. All together.”
    A draft energy and climate law that was due to be presented to the cabinet this week has been postponed so that it can be reworked with more ambitious environmental goals.

    Categories: External websites

    Climate Change Top Of Voters' Minds In NSW Election

    Lethal Heating - 15 March, 2019 - 05:00
    FairfaxAlexandra Smith

    Climate change is a key election issue for most people in NSW, polling shows, as the environment emerges as a more pressing concern for voters than hospitals, schools and public transport.
    Exclusive Herald polling shows that 57.5 per cent of voters say they will be swayed by climate change and environmental protection when deciding who to vote for on March 23.
    57.5 per cent of voters say they will be swayed by climate change and environmental protection.Credit: Brook Mitchell
    Almost 37 per cent of people said climate change would not be a vote changer, and five per cent were unsure, the UComms/ReachTEL poll reveals.
    Voters identified the environment as their top concern after the management of the state's finances, but ahead of health and hospitals, transport, schools and cost of living pressures.
    Internal party research showed climate change played a major role in last year's Wentworth byelection and is shaping up to be a key issue in former prime minister Tony Abbott's seat of Warringah.
    With climate change again looming as an issue at the federal election in May, Mr Abbott on Friday abandoned his call to withdraw from the Paris agreement to reduce carbon emissions, falling in to line with Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the key policy.

    Independent candidate for Warringah Zali Steggall and former PM Tony Abbott debate over the cost of renewable energy.
    A war of words broke out between the NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin and the federal government late last year, when Mr Harwin attacked the Morrison government as "out of touch on energy and climate policy".Mr Harwin's strong stance was seen as a way of differentiating the state Liberals from their federal counterparts over the issue of climate change but also more broadly.
    As part of the state election campaign, Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced interest-free loans to 300,000 households for solar and battery systems while Labor has pledged to put solar on 500,000 homes over the next 10 years through rebates.
    Labor Leader Michael Daley has committed to the state government's agencies acquiring 100 per cent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. By the 2030, the state will have a renewables target of 50 per cent and aiming for 100 per cent renewables by 2050.
    Greenpeace Australia Pacific Campaigner, Holly Dawson, said the poll results showed voters did not view climate change as a federal issue.
    "This poll reflects an ongoing trend - NSW across the political spectrum cares about the environment and expect the state government to act on climate change," Ms Dawson said.
    "This poll is a strong mandate for climate change to be at the front of negotiations if a hung parliament were to occur. The independents that both parties will court to form government have already publicly announced that they want strong action to address climate change."
    The three independents – Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper, and Wagga Wagga MP Joe McGirr – are demanding Labor and the Coalition take action on climate change.
    The crossbenchers, who will hold the balance of power if the government loses six seats, wrote to the Premier and Mr Daley last week asking them to act on transitioning from coal mining to clean energy.
    The poll of 1019 voters across NSW on Thursday night also showed Labor ahead of the Coalition 51:49 on a two-party preferred basis and had Labor leader Michael Daley as preferred premier.
    It also revealed that opinions were mixed about which party is best equipped to lead the state amid falling house prices and forecasts for slower growth.
    Only one-third of voters said the state's economic outlook makes them more likely to vote for the Berejiklian government, despite the Premier using financial management as a key selling point.
    As the leaders ramped up their campaigning ahead of next week's poll, Ms Berejiklian visited a school yesterday to spruik her policy for more before and after school care, while Mr Daley announced 5000 extra teachers.

    Categories: External websites

    Victoria Can, And Should, Lead The Country On Climate Change

    Lethal Heating - 15 March, 2019 - 05:00
    Fairfax - Jonathan La Nauze*

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has spent much of the past few weeks trying to repair the Coalition’s terrible reputation on climate change.
    Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the government's climate package at a function in Melbourne.
    Credit: AAP
    It appears he has finally heard the sustained and unequivocal demand from Australians to step up on this issue – though after a summer of record high temperatures, crippling drought, mass fish deaths and more bushfires, there should be no prizes for noticing.
    But a big part of what has caught Morrison’s attention is the voters of Victoria, who sent the Coalition a clear signal last November and appear willing to do so again at the impending federal election.
    The signs Victoria was ready to lead the country were evident back in August. Malcolm Turnbull chose appeasement on the National Energy Guarantee and ultimately lost his prime ministership. That same week, Premier Dan Andrews confidently announced his first big election commitment – half-price solar for 650,000 homes.
    It was a startling contrast. The federal Coalition couldn’t stomach the most modest of climate policies, while state Labor plastered theirs on the side of their campaign bus. Support for rooftop solar became Victorian Labor’s most visible election commitment and biggest contrast with the Liberal opposition, which had pledged to scrap the renewable energy target and build a new gas or coal power station instead.
    After the thumping win for Labor, Victorian Liberals conceded they’d misread the public mood on clean energy and cutting pollution. Having lost his blue-ribbon seat of Hawthorn, shadow attorney-general John Pesutto acknowledged many conservative people “just want our party to do something” about climate change. His own daughter joined the student climate strike rallies.
    Julian Burnside will run as the Greens candidate in the seat of Kooyong.
    Credit: Jason South
    If replicated at the federal election, November’s swing would see Liberals lose safe seats across Melbourne. This has inspired several prominent independent candidates – plus, last week, lawyer Julian Burnside for the Greens – to run against the Coalition in Victoria, with action on climate change central to their pitch. It’s hard to imagine this happening if the Victorian election hadn’t proven voters will dramatically shift loyalties, given a credible climate alternative.
    But at the federal level, neither Labor nor the Coalition is offering a serious plan to get us off coal and gas in a meaningful timeframe.
    Two days before the Victorian election, Bill Shorten announced a plan for cleaning up Australia’s energy system. Perhaps he was emboldened by polling showing Andrews’ apparent conversion of support for renewable energy into electoral reward. But Shorten’s plan still lacks urgency and would keep pollution at catastrophic levels for decades.
    Morrison’s recent policy offerings would be even more damaging to our climate. Some have merit but overall they fail to do the obvious and most important thing needed to stop global warming – limit pollution from coal and gas power stations.
    This is the gaping hole in the two major parties’ response to the climate crisis and it presents a unique opportunity for Victoria to step up once more.
    Why? Because Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority is currently reviewing the licences of our state’s three coal-burning power stations, which are among the dirtiest in the world, and Victoria’s biggest source of climate pollution.
    The EPA already licenses and regulates other types of air pollution, such as toxic particles and sulphur dioxide, but hasn’t yet imposed any constraint on the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming.
    Victoria could be the first Australian state to put limits on this pollution from coal-burning power stations and the decision would come smack-bang in the middle of a federal election campaign fought on climate change.
    We know it would be popular. People hate the big energy companies and want the government to pull them into line. Polling shows overwhelming demand for government action on climate change, including intervening in the electricity market. And imposing a legal limit on pollution is a simple proposition to put to the public.
    The conditions today are similar to the debate over renewable energy last August. The federal government is in chaos and the public is crying out for real action, not fudging half-measures.
    Many people see climate change as a federal domain, but actually the states are responsible for energy supply and have most of the regulatory levers – like the EPA – to cut pollution across all sectors of the economy. Plus Andrews has already done the hard yards cranking up the renewables we will need as we phase out Victoria’s ageing coal power stations.
    All of which means Victoria can, and should, lead the entire country on the issue.
    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that human civilisation has just 12 years to avert an ecological and humanitarian catastrophe. We live in an extraordinary time and it calls for extraordinary leadership, not merely sound management. The Andrews government has just won an election with a massive mandate on climate change and renewable energy and here is the perfect political moment to act. Will they seize it?

    *Jonathan La Nauze is CEO of Environment Victoria.

    Categories: External websites

    Students Are Striking For Action On Climate Change — A Truancy Everyone Should Applaud

    Lethal Heating - 15 March, 2019 - 05:00
    Los Angeles Times - Haven Coleman | Bill McKibben

    A student with her face painted participates in a climate change protest
     organized by 'Youth Strike 4 Climate' in London on Feb. 15.
    Facundo Arrizabalaga / EPA-EFE / REX
    Haven ColemanHaven Coleman, a student in Denver, has been striking for the climate weekly since January. She is founder and co-director of US Youth Climate Strike.
    Bill McKibbenBill McKibben wrote the first book on climate change in 1989, and helped found the global climate campaign 350.org. Consider this a note explaining why one of us will be absent from school on March 15 — and why everyone else should applaud this truancy.
    Beginning last August, a Swedish schoolgirl named Greta Thunberg went on strike from her classes, choosing instead to spend the days on the steps of the Parliament building in Stockholm.
    Her reasoning: If her government couldn’t be bothered to safeguard her future by taking action against climate change, it was a bit rich to demand that she spend her time preparing for a future that might not exist.
    Her protest soon spread across Scandinavia, Europe, Britain and Australia.
    Hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren have now participated worldwide, and the protest has drawn some prominent support: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on March 2, “I very much welcome that young people, school students, demonstrate and tell us to do something fast about climate change." But of course others have been less understanding.
    During climate demonstrations in Australia, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “We do not support our schools being turned into parliaments. … What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools.”
    Lacking access to piles of cash, young people do what they can. And a strike is one such measure.AUSTRALIA
    School Strike 4 Climate Action
    Join A March 15 Strike
    On Friday, many thousands of American students will be joining the school strike, so we’d like to lay out the reasoning behind it in more detail, in the hopes that people will view these protests with the seriousness they deserve.
    It was 30 years ago that scientists first explained that burning fossil fuels was changing the composition of the atmosphere and driving the rapid warming of the Earth. That is enough time to educate a student all the way from preschool to a PhD, but it hasn’t been time enough for our politicians to learn how serious a climate catastrophe we are facing.
    The American government, in particular, is a study in inaction. Our federal government has reversed course on every effort to change laws and regulations. Our current president has taken steps to drop out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the only international effort to combat global warming. Young people see that their future is on the line, which is why they’ve been at the front fighting against oil companies, pipelines and fracking wells.
    You don’t need to be much past first grade to know that when you’re in a hole you should stop digging. Or, in this case, drilling. It is time to replace fossil fuel energy with power from the sun and wind — and we have the cheap solar panels and turbines to do it. But America has become the largest producer of gas and oil in the world, and most politicians lack the courage to stand up to the industry. Both of us, for instance, worked last fall on a modest Colorado referendum that would have prohibited oil wells right next to homes and schools, only to watch fossil fuel companies outspend local activists 40 to 1 and narrowly defeat the measure.
    So, lacking access to piles of cash, young people do what they can. And a strike is one such measure.
    It’s not a stunt. A stunt is Australia’s now-prime minister bringing a lump of coal to parliament to pass around to his colleagues. A stunt is former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper literally drinking a cup of fracking fluid.
    A school strike, instead, recalls some of the most pivotal moments in American history. In 1963, for instance, the Rev. Martin Luther King found that he had run out of adult volunteers to stand up to Bull Connor at the height of the civil rights battle in Birmingham.
    So, after much soul-searching, King asked the city’s schoolchildren to leave class and face the police dogs and firehoses. “Don’t worry about your children,” he told their frantic parents. “They’re gonna be all right. Don’t hold them back if they want to go to jail. For they are doing a job not only for themselves but for all of America and for all mankind.”
    No one striking for the climate on March 15 will confront the immediate perils those brave schoolchildren had to endure. But just as they anticipated a future blighted by segregation, so today’s young people face a future blighted by environmental destruction. And so they must act.
    It would be better, of course, if adults had taken the lead. Stopping climate change is their responsibility. But they haven’t. Though pretty much every politician has made it out of college, their education seems to have done them little good.
    Maybe, at least for a day, there’s more education to be found out in the street. Instead of studying history, it’s time to make it.

    Categories: External websites

    Even In Its Dying Days, The Government Denies The Need For Climate Action

    Lethal Heating - 14 March, 2019 - 05:00
    The Guardian*

    The reckoning for this failure will come at the next election. And it can’t come soon enough
    ‘While the PM will blow his foghorn on taxes and boats, it is the climate change policy failure that leaves his government condemned in the eyes of so many of its own.’ Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAP For all the skittishness of Australian politics through the years of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments there’s been one factor that has been remarkably consistent.
    Amid leadership coups, cultural offensives and the revolving door of energy policy acronyms, the Australian public has remained steadfast in its belief that more needs to be done to address climate change.
    Whether the focus has been an ETS, an ERF, a CET or a Neg or just a big stick, the majority of the voting public has not moved from its view that meaningful action is required by government.
    After the craziness of another fortnight of Coalition energy policy where our fossil-fondling PM has whipped up some new renewable buzzwords while his National party partners are baying for taxpayers to fund new coal projects, it’s worth reminding ourselves of this baseline. Because it explains so much of why this government’s condition has reached terminal status.
    For the past decade the Essential poll has asked two benchmark questions when it comes to climate change. The first is around whether people believe the climate science.

    Over the past decade this split has been stable. Granted, it dipped into the high 50s at the height of Tony Abbott’s attack on the Gillard government’s so-called carbon tax, but that was after Labor had spent the best part of a term faffing around on the issue.
    What’s most striking in these numbers is the disconnection between the climate sceptics within the government and Coalition voters. Indeed, on the science they are much more aligned with One Nation and conservative independent voters who make up the “other” cohort of voters. As for younger voters, the Coalition comes across every bit as much a fossil as the fuel they seek to dig up.
    The second question we have regularly asked is whether people believe Australia is doing enough to address climate change. Again, a majority – including one-third of Liberal voters – say they are not.

    All of which makes Barnaby Joyce’s entreaty for an election fought on coal appear delusional, as some of the more tethered members of the government have felt compelled to point out in recent days. These words of moderation come too late. Joyce’s indulgence will only provide further impetus to the swathe of moderate independents challenging the Liberal heartland in more affluent areas of Sydney and Melbourne where Sky after dark does not rate.
    Meanwhile, as the Coalition’s self-inflicted wounds fester, Labor simply holds its line with a commitment to 50% renewables by 2030 and aggressively promotes battery storage. Yes, there are calls for a more rapid phaseout of coal from the left, but all the pressure on policy is currently on the Coalition.
    As a separate table in this week’s report shows, one of Labor’s core brand advantages over the Coalition, alongside wages and workplace conditions, is climate change.
    While Scott Morrison will blow his foghorn on taxes and boats, it is the climate change policy failure that leaves his government condemned in the eyes of so many of its own.
    Perhaps it’s the ultimate revenge on a government that came to power through a cynical attempt to deny the need for climate action. As the summers have got warmer and warmer, the public’s anger at the inaction has got hotter.
    The failure of this government has not just been the toppling of its leaders. It’s been the reason for the topplings, which has been more than the blind pursuit of power, but power in the name of energy.
    And even in its dying days, key members of the government continue in this state of denial. Not just of the science, nor the need for meaningful action, but denial that this is the sort of leadership elected governments are expected to exhibit.
    The reckoning is coming and it will be harsh. And it can’t come soon enough.

    *Peter Lewis is the executive director of Essential and a Guardian Australia columnist

    Categories: External websites

    Enough Scandalous Time-Wasting On Climate Change. Let's Get Back To The Facts

    Lethal Heating - 14 March, 2019 - 05:00
    The Guardian

    At this point of crisis we must bypass rhetoric and political posturing
    Drought-affected pastures near Wyandra in Queensland. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian Over the past 30 years I have reported so many broken climate policy promises and quoted so much rhetoric that proved to be hollow, it is difficult to trace it back to the start.
    I think it’s a faded press release from 11 October, 1990 headed “government sets targets for reductions in greenhouse gases”.
    “The government recognises the greenhouse effect as one of the major environmental concerns facing the world,” said Ros Kelly, Bob Hawke’s environment minister. “This decision puts Australia at the forefront of international action to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases.”
    We knew we had to do something almost three decades ago. Children have grown to adulthood and had their own children during the time we have known, and done not very much.
    We were then, apparently, going to meet our target through “no regrets” actions – things that made sense for other environmental reasons as well as climate concerns. We didn’t meet it. We haven’t ever met any of a succession of greenhouse gas reduction targets by actually reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, which continue to rise, still. No regrets? At the forefront? If only.
    1990 was the year the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report made clear predictions – of higher temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns and impacts on agriculture.
    They are no longer predictions. They are our reality now. We just endured the hottest summer on record. In Port Augusta the thermometer hit 49.5 degrees. Across the country more than 200 temperature records were broken. Nine of the 10 warmest years in Australia’s records have occurred since 2005. Communities have no water. Flying foxes are dropping dead from the trees. Up to a million fish have died in the parched Murray-Darling – an ongoing environmental, social and economic catastrophe. We have been warned that without urgent action, the Darling will die.
     The bushfire season is starting earlier and different kinds of forests are burning, one in Tasmania stands over 1,000 years old. Flooding is more frequent and rainfall patterns are changing. Our ecosystems are being driven to collapse.
    For all those decades some politicians tried and failed to act, because others tried harder and succeeded in preventing it. For a brief moment we had a carbon price, and greenhouse emissions did fall, but then it was abolished, ostensibly in the name of reducing the price of groceries and services, which had never risen much in the first place, but mostly in the cynical interests of trying to win an election.
    There were various other attempts at credible policy over the years, from across the political spectrum, as well as some spectacularly bad ones, but in the end effective policy was mostly washed away by political timidity, outright ignorance and the well-financed lobbying efforts of mining companies determined to delay the eventual phasing-out of coal.
    But as the evidence of a changing climate defies denial, those who have spent careers delaying or refuting the need for action have untethered their arguments from fact.
    Climate policy is no longer a real “debate” about the existential threat at the heart of the issue, and competing ideas about how to address it, but rather it has become a proxy for an ongoing war of attrition, in particular between the Coalition’s moderates and conservatives, stripped of policy meaning to become a vacuous argument about being “for” or “against” fossil fuels.
    Those who would thwart action are also again resorting to that tired contention that would undermine any action by any nation on any global issue – we shouldn’t have to do anything because we are responsible for just a proportion of the problem, or put another way, we shouldn’t do anything because we can’t solve the problem on our own.
    They sow uncertainty and sometimes they descend to farce, such as citing Dorothea MacKellar’s poetic reference to “droughts and flooding rains” in refutation of scientific fact or claiming that renewable energy will “kill” night sporting fixtures.
    They ignore or misquote their own advice to persist with the blind belief that building new coal-fired power stations is the only way the nation can secure affordable, reliable power.
    They claim, for example, that the energy market operator backs investment in coal-fired power, when in fact its modelling says the opposite. And, just for the record, as Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy has pointed out, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission didn’t recommend it either. No one has, because underwriting a coal-fired power station and indemnifying it against any future climate measures makes no economic sense.
    But the government – including its resources minister – is persisting with its faith in new plants, even as the mining and power companies that have profited richly from coal fired power for years, and spent millions on secret public relations campaigns trying to prolong its use, are conceding the gig is up.
    Even more bewilderingly, it is persisting with the idea even as it seeks to build credentials with an electorate increasingly concerned about global warming, informed by what they are seeing and reading about current events, and what they are experiencing in their lives.
    The prime minister who once fondled a lump of coal in the parliament, is brandishing a “climate solutions package”, the contradiction most baldly evident in the fact that he is now simultaneously advocating taxpayer support for renewable projects that rely on coal-fired power stations closing, and also taxpayer support for opening new ones.
    We’ve seen this eleventh hour conversion before – when John Howard reluctantly said he would introduce an emissions trading scheme in 2007, faced with rising voter concern after the millennial drought. (He later admitted he did it only because of the political pressure, and never really believed in the idea.)
    At Guardian Australia, we think it is time, a long way past time, to take a breath and go back to the facts.
    We’ve tried to do this all along, of course, but at this crisis point we want to take stock of what is already happening – things we know about but need to understand better, such as the crisis in the Murray-Darling – and also consequences of climate change that are less well known or just emerging. We want to look at the latest forecasts and what they mean for our lives, our communities and our environment, and – putting the political rhetoric and posturing aside – assess the policies for emission reduction and adaptation and the broader impacts and consequences.
    Regret, at this point, is unavoidable: regret that Australia has been a drag on global efforts to address climate change, regret for having scrapped so long that the cost and disruption of doing what we must has risen and will be borne largely by our kids, regret for the billions of dollars wasted on half-baked policies, regret for the scandalous waste of time and effort and opportunity.
    But given what’s at stake, it can’t be too late to regroup, and assess the facts, to inform the most sensible path from here.

    Categories: External websites

    'Change Now Or Pay Later': RBA's Stark Warning On Climate Change

    Lethal Heating - 14 March, 2019 - 05:00
    Fairfax - Eryk Bagshaw | Nick Bonyhady

    The Reserve Bank has warned climate change is likely to cause economic shocks and threaten Australia's financial stability unless businesses take immediate stock of the risks.
    The central bank became the latest Australian regulator to tell business that they must analyse their investments on Tuesday, as the Coalition grapples with an internal battle over taxpayer-funded coal fired power and energy policy.
    In a speech to the Centre for Policy Development in Sydney, the Reserve's deputy governor Guy Debelle said challenges for financial stability may arise from both physical and transition risks of climate change.
    Dr Guy Debelle, deputy governor, Reserve Bank of Australia. Credit: Jessica Hromas"What if droughts are more frequent, or cyclones happen more often?" he asked.
    "The supply shock is no longer temporary but close to permanent. That situation is more challenging to assess and respond to."
    Financial stability could be put at risk if businesses remained unaware of unanticipated insurance payouts, pollution driven reputational damage, legal liability and regulation changes that could cause valuable assets to become uneconomic.
    "All of these consequences could precipitate sharp adjustments in asset prices, which would have consequences for financial stability," he said.
    He said the current drought across large swathes of the eastern states has already reduced farm output by around 6 per cent and total economic growth by about 0.15 per cent
    "We need to think in terms of trend rather than cycles in the weather. Droughts have generally been regarded as cyclical events that recur every so often. In contrast, climate change is a trend change."
    That has an impact on monetary policy, Dr Debelle said, citing the temporary shock of banana prices surging after Cyclone Yasi in 2011, which in turn boosted inflation by 0.7 percentage points.
    But he said future events may not be so one off, with repeated climate events and the transition of the economy likely to have a longer term impact.
    "We need to be aware that decisions taken now by businesses and government may have a sizeable influence on that transition path," he said.
    Dr Debelle said the transition posed challenges and opportunities.
    Industries especially exposed to the consequences of changes in the climate will face lower costs if there is an early and orderly transition, some will bear greater costs from the transition to a lower carbon economy, while others such as the renewables sector, may benefit.
    "There has been a marked pick-up in investment spending on renewable energy in recent years," he said.
    "It has been big enough to have a noticeable impact at the macro-economic level and affect aggregate output and hence the monetary policy calculus."
    In comments that are likely to be used against some pro-coal Nationals MPs urging the Coalition to build a taxpayer-funded power station, the deputy governor said the renewable sector was a good example where price signals have caused significant behavioural change.
    "There has been a rapid decline in the cost of renewable energy sources," he said.
    Dr Debelle said the cost of generating electricity has declined in the case of wind and solar to the point where they are now cost-effective sources of generation. He added that storage and transmission remained relevant costs.
    Despite coal being one of Australia's top exports, Dr Debelle said opportunities remained as China transitioned away from coal.
    "Natural gas is expected to account for a larger share of its energy mix, and Australia is well placed to help meet this demand," he said.
    He endorsed comments by Australian Prudential Regulation Authority executive Geoff Summerhayes in London in January, which warned tackling climate change had become a "financial necessity".
    In the speech to the UN's sustainable insurance forum, Mr Summerhayes lashed government inaction, arguing the summer's extreme weather, severe drought and floods were all fuelled by climate change, but Australia still lacked the political consensus needed to respond to the threat.

    Categories: External websites

    Striking Schoolkids Should Wear Storm Of Criticism As A Badge Of Honour

    Lethal Heating - 13 March, 2019 - 05:00
    FairfaxJohn Birmingham

    I hope a lot of school kids join this global children’s strike on Friday and I hope they’re mocked and traduced by their elders in politics and the media, because those elders aren’t really their betters on this issue; they’re mostly either dangerous fools or mendacious swine.
    The hammer of the coming climate catastrophe will fall most heavily on these kids and eventually upon their children and grandchildren, 20, 30, 40 years from now, and it will do them no harm to take a few rhetorical knocks from a bunch of bloviating, overpaid idiots simply because they chose to step up and take action now. It’ll be good practice.
    These are the people who will have to deal with the consequences of their critics' inaction. Credit: Nick MoirThey’re going to be doing this for the rest of their lives, unless they’re cool with those lives ending in famine, superstorms and wars over diminishing water supplies, and shrinking remnants of arable land.
    Protest won’t directly change that of course. Only radically revised policy settings, massive expenditure on clean energy R&D, and the accelerated deployment of paradigm shifting new technologies can change that. But that change will come only when political actors feel a real sense of terror for their futures. Not the future of the planet and its inhabitants, mind you. Just for their own immediate futures. Their pay cheques.
    When they feel that existential terror creeping up on them, you’ll start to see things like Tony ‘climate change is BS’ Abbott, perform the sort of tortured interpretive dance routine the electors of Warringah have enjoyed this week.
    Abbott is tying himself into Yogi Master knots as he tries to fend off the challenge of Zali Steggall, a highly accomplished and impeccably conservative independent candidate for his seat, who somehow manages to believe in the free market, the primacy of the individual, franking credits for everyone and how awesome it would be if our lives didn’t end in famine, superstorms and war over diminishing water supplies etc, etc.
    The only reason Abbott and his fellow travellers on the dirty great coal train to oblivion feel any need to move away from their previous embrace of pro-apocalypse energy policy is because they can see that public opinion has moved on. Year after year of worsening climate and extreme weather events will eventually do that to people.
    All those kids who strike on Friday are helping to move that opinion. Yeah, they’ll be derided and ridiculed, their motives questioned and belittled. But they just need to remind themselves that those who caused this problem will soon enough all be dead, leaving them to clean up the mess.
    Best they get started now.

    Categories: External websites

    Amsterdam's First National Climate Change March Draws 40,000 People

    Lethal Heating - 13 March, 2019 - 05:00
    TimeAmy Gunia

    Tens of thousands of people joined a climate change protest in Amsterdam on Sunday, urging the Dutch government to take action on climate change.
    The demonstration, the first of its kind in the Netherlands, drew around 40,000 people despite heavy rain, according to Agence France-Presse.
    “The high turnout is the proof that people now want a decisive policy on climate from the government,” Greenpeace, one of the march organizers, said in a statement.

    The waterlogged European country is expected to be especially vulnerable to the rising tides brought on by climate change. Much of the country already sits below sea level, and some of its land is sinking.
    While the U.S. has been backpedalling out of global climate change agreements like the Paris accord, Dutch lawmakers have passed ambitious climate change laws, seeking a 95 percent reduction of the 1990 emissions levels by 2050. But according to some in the country, the action isn’t happening fast enough. In January, a Dutch environmental research agency said the government is lagging behind its goals.
    “We are under sea level, so we really need to do something about it,” demonstrator Esther Leverstein, a 21-yer-old climate studies student at Amsterdam University, told AFP.
    Students around the world have been leading protests to prompt their governments to address climate change. A worldwide school strike is planned for later this week. Greta Thungerg, a Swedish teenager widely known for her climate change activism, said on Twitter that at least 82 countries plan to participate in the upcoming protest.

    Categories: External websites


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