Paris: closed to civil society, open to greenwashers, New Internationalist , 24 Nov 15 By Pascoe Sabido |”…….Solutions COP21 is a platform for some of the world’s most socially and environmentally destructive corporations, whose business models constantly attack life, youth, friendliness, solidarity and any notion of an equitable approach.
Sponsored by the likes of dirty energy giant Engie (formerly GDF Suez, also an official sponsor of COP21) alongside fracking enthusiast Suez Environment and agrofuels giant Avril-Sofiproteol, the event at the Grand Palais will also welcome Vinci, the company behind the proposed airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, coal financiers HSBC and BNP Paribas, and Coca-Cola, among many others.
As the organizers are proud to admit, corporate climate criminals will be joined inside the event by small and medium enterprises, NGOs (some of whom have pulled out after public pressure) and international artists (some of whom have refused to pull out on discovering the true nature of the event).
Such an ensemble lends a veneer of respectability that money can’t buy. But what it can buy is political access. Corporate packages ranging up to $266,000 ensure you don’t have to settle for mere exhibition space but can have VIP access to networking areas with negotiators and politicians, as well as guaranteed TV coverage.
In short, the French government has put its weight behind a corporate greenwashing event for the biggest polluters to push their false solutions – such as fracking, nuclear energy, GMOs and market-based solutions – at the same time as silencing those very communities coming to Paris to denounce such destructive business practices and the fatal impacts they have on the ground.
Before the attacks took place, there was already a public call for mass civil disobedience against (false) Solutions COP21, coming from a diverse range of organizations including ATTAC France, Via Campesina, the trade union Solidaires, the grassroots activist networks Climate Justice Action and the JEDIs, Sortir du Nucleaire and Corporate Europe Observatory. Huge uncertainty followed, but hearing the response from both the organizers of Solutions COP21 and the French government, it now feels more important than ever for the mobilization to take place.
The fight for climate justice is intertwined with the fight for peace, not just in Europe but in communities around the world facing violence and terror as a result of our extractivist economic model.
If the French government thinks that events in the Grand Palais are more important than the voices of those on the frontline fighting climate change and its causes, then that’s where their message needs to be delivered.
If you are in Paris on Friday 4 December, make your way to the venue from 10.00am, where guides will take you on a ‘toxic tour’ around the expo with representatives of frontline communities as they call out the false solutions on offer. Meanwhile, creative acts of civil disobedience are planned to stop the event from staying open.
As others in the climate movement have said already, now is not the time to stay silent. No-one intends to.
Pascoe Sabido is a researcher and campaigner with Corporate Europe Observatory.
These issues will be explored at a series of launch events for the book Secure and Dispossessed – Challenging the militarization of climate change (Pluto Press/TNI) published this month. The London launch will be held at 6.30pm on 25 November at Free Word Centre, London, the Amsterdam launch at 7.30pm Tuesday 1 December at Pakhuis de Zwijger and the Paris launch during the climate forum meetings on the 5 and 6 December. An earlier version of this article was published by Global Justice Now.The elephant in Paris – the military and greenhouse gas emissions http://newint.org/blog/2015/11/19/the-military-and-greenhouse-gas-emissions/
There is no shortage of words in the latest negotiating document for the UN climate negotiations taking place in Paris at the end of November – 32,731 words to be precise, and counting. Yet strangely there is one word you won’t find: military. It is a strange omission, given that the US military alone is the single largest user of petroleum in the world and has been the main enforcer of the global oil economy for decades.
The history of how the military disappeared from any carbon accounting ledgers goes back to the UN climate talks in 1997 in Kyoto. Under pressure from military generals and foreign policy hawks opposed to any potential restrictions on US military power, the US negotiating team succeeded in securing exemptions for the military from any required reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Even though the US then proceeded not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the exemptions for the military stuck for every other signatory nation. Even today, the reporting each country is required to make to the UN on their emissions excludes any fuels purchased and used overseas by the military.
As a result it is still difficult to calculate the exact responsibility of the world’s military forces for greenhouse gas emissions. A US Congressional report in 2012 said that the Department of Defense consumed about 117 million barrels of oil in 2011, only a little less than all the petrol and diesel use of all cars in Britain the same year. Deploying that oil across the globe to the fuel-greedy hummers, jets and drones has become a growing preoccupation of NATO military strategists.
But the responsibility of the military for the climate crisis goes much further than their own use of fossil fuels. As we witnessed in Iraq, the military, the arms corporations and their many powerful political supporters have consistently relied on (and aggressively pushed for) armed intervention to secure oil and energy supplies. The military is not just a prolific user of oil, it is one of the central pillars of the global fossil-fuel economy. Today whether it is in the Middle East, the Gulf, or the Pacific, modern-day military deployment is about controlling oil-rich regions and defending the key shipping supply routes that carry half the world’s oil and sustain our consumer economy.
The resulting expansion of conflict across the globe has consumed ever-increasing levels of military expenditure: in 2014, global military expenditure reached $1.8 trillion dollars. This money is a huge diversion of public resources that could be invested instead in renewable energy as well as providing support for those most affected by climate change. When the British government in 2014 allocates £25 billion to the Ministry of Defence but only £1.5 billion to the Department of Energy & Climate Change, it is clear where its priorities lie.
Ironically despite their role in the climate crisis, one of the loudest voices calling for action on climate change is coming from the military. British Rear Admiral Morisetti is typical of a growing chorus of military generals identifying climate change as the major security challenge of this century. He argues for action on climate change because it will be a ‘threat multiplier’ with the potential to exacerbate the ‘development-terrorism’ nexus. The argument has been readily picked up by politicians who increasingly talk about the security implications of climate change.
This could seem a welcome development. After all who would not want one of the most powerful forces on your side in tackling humanity’s greatest ever challenge? But there is a good reason also to be cautious of who we jump into bed with. A close look at military climate change strategies reveals that their focus is on securing borders, protecting trade supply-routes for corporations, controlling conflicts around resources and instability caused by extreme weather, and repressing social unrest. They turn the victims of climate change into ‘threats’ to be controlled or combated. There is no critical examination of the military’s own role in enforcing a corporate-dominated fossil-fuel economy that has caused the climate crisis.
In fact, there is evidence that many players in this corporate-military-security industrial nexus are already seeing climate change not just as a threat but an opportunity. Arms and security industries thrive on conflict and insecurity and climate change promises another financial boon to add to the ongoing War on Terror. British arms giant BAE Systems was surprisingly open about this in one of their annual reports explaining ‘New threats and conflict arenas are placing unprecedented demands on military forces and presenting BAE Systems with new challenges and opportunities.’ An Energy Environmental Defence and Security (E2DS) conference in 2011 jubilantly proclaimed that ‘the aerospace, defence and security sector is gearing up to address what looks set to become its most significant adjacent market since the strong emergence of the civil/homeland security business almost a decade ago.’
In the aftermath of the terrible killings in Paris, military responses are again taking central stage. It seems that the lack of evidence of any success from 14 years of bombings, drone killings, armed invasions is no obstacle to the military-security juggernaut. Do we really want the same forces to now dominate our response to climate change which will affect millions of people over the coming decades? A growing number of social movements are saying that climate change demands breaking the cycle of violence in order to build a collective caring response to a crisis that will affect us all. The Paris climate talks are an opportunity to draw attention to the military elephant in the room and demand that adaptation to climate change is led by principles of human rights and solidarity, rather than militarism and corporate profits.
Jumeau of the Seychelles pointed out that a 1.5°C goal would be achievable, and that adopting and meeting it would benefit rich coastal nations as well as those whose existences may be threatened by rising seas.
“It’s not just about the islands, it’s about New York, it’s about New Orleans, it’s about London, it’s about Venice,” Jumeau said. “There is no way we can compromise on 1.5.”
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/corporations-and-climate-change/6947120ABC Radio National, Ockhams Razor 22 Nov 15 In the lead-up to the Paris Climate Talks, Christopher Wright, examines how environmental destruction became a business opportunity. He explores the complex relationship between the corporate world and climate change, and the central role of corporations in shaping political and social responses to the climate crisis………
These proclamations need to be viewed in the broader context of business opposition to the fundamental economic change necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. A good example of the duality of this corporate engagement has been the recent revelation that oil-giant Exxon, for decades a leading opponent of carbon regulation and funder of climate change denial, has since the mid-1980s been well aware of the disastrous implications of fossil fuel use for the Earth’s climate. This self-serving logic parallels other well-known examples of business obfuscation such as BP’s infamous ‘Beyond Petroleum’ greenwashing in the early 2000s, and more recently Peabody Energy’s marketing of coal as a response to “energy poverty” in the developing world.
How then to make sense of the mixed messages from corporations on climate change?
In our new book, Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction, Daniel Nyberg and I explore the role of corporations and corporate capitalism within the climate crisis. We argue that while many global businesses promote a message of “action” and “leadership”, this ignores the deeper problem 0f how corporate capitalism is locked into a cycle of promoting ever more creative ways of exploiting nature and destroying a habitable climate……..
In our book we argue that global capitalism is now locked into a process of what we term “creative self-destruction”…….
sparkling image of corporate environmentalism and business sustainability falsely promises no conflicts and no trade-offs. Here, it is seen as possible to address climate change while continuing the current global expansion of consumption. In contrast to the blinding evidence of ever-escalating greenhouse gas emissions, this comforting political myth promises no contradiction between material affluence and environmental well-being. We can have it all and, according to the myth of corporate environmentalism, avoid climate catastrophe!……..
Ultimately the “success” or otherwise of the Paris climate talks are unlikely to threaten the fundamental dynamics underlying the climate crisis. Dramatic decarbonisation based around mandatory limits upon consumption, economic growth, and corporate influence are not on the agenda nor open for discussion. Rather, global elites have framed the response to climate change around an accentuation of the very causes of the crisis.
In essence, the prevailing corporate view is that capitalism should be seen not as a cause of climate change but as an answer to it. Thus a problem brought about by overconsumption, the logic goes, should be addressed through more consumption………http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/corporations-and-climate-change/6947120#transcript
Thomas Piketty calls for investors to divest from fossil fuels ahead of climate talks http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/14/thomas-piketty-economist-investors-divest-fossil-fuels-ahead-climate-talks, Emma Howard, 14 Nov 15
Economist says Paris summit offers a decisive moment in history for investors to move out of the dirty fuels that put the ‘public’s wellbeing at risk’ Thomas Piketty has called for investors to move their money out of fossil fuels ahead of landmark UN climate change talks.
The French economist, along with ‘ecological economist’ Tim Jackson, authors of the respective bestselling books Capital in the Twenty-First Century and Prosperity Without Growth: economics for a finite planet, said that investors should divest from a sector with a business model “at odds with physical realities”.
In a letter to the Guardian, they wrote: “This is a rare and decisive moment in history. Science, ethics, and economics are intersecting to form a clear market signal: in the lead up to the COP21 climate talks, responsible investors should divest from fossil fuels.”
COP21 is a landmark UN summit in Paris opening at the end of November, where nearly 200 countries will attempt to reach a deal on limiting greenhouse gas emissions post-2020.
The economists warned that public wellbeing was at risk from continued investment in oil, coal and gas companies whose products are driving global warming.
“Set against a backdrop of record-breaking climatic extremes and weather events, capital continues to flow into the exploration and future extraction of dirty energy. Those investments are wagers on a future in which vast potentials of carbon reserves are available to be processed – a bet against the public’s wellbeing.”
In the letter Piketty and Jackson cite the growth of a global divestment movementwhich has now persuaded more than 2,000 institutions and 400 individuals worth $2.6tn to divest from oil, coal and gas companies.
They add: “At a time when the fossil fuel industry should be shifting their businesses to focus on renewable energy they are doing the opposite, doubling down on coal, oil and gas … Meanwhile, clean, carbon-free energy is rapidly becoming cost-competitive with dirty energy. These recent political and market shifts are all being driven forward by a dramatic shift in the social zeitgeist.Climate change is now a primary social concern.”
The letter comes one week after Piketty, professor at the Paris School of Economics and the London School of Economics, published a proposal calling for the introduction of a tax on business flights to raise funds for countries suffering the impacts of climate change such as drought, sea level rise and flooding.
Fossil fuel divestment campaigners have previously won vocal support from the Nobel prizewinning economist Joseph Stiglitz and the UN, although other investors such as Bill Gates have criticised the movement as propounding an ineffective “false solution”.
Big Corporations need not worry about Climate Agreements: the Trans Pacific Partnership will fix that!
Trans-Pacific Partnership deal “an act of climate
denial” http://www.nationalobserver.com/2015/11/10/news/trans-pacific-partnership-deal-act-climate-denial By Charles Mandel If a climate change policy interferes with a corporation’s business, under the terms of the recently signed, secretive TPP deal, the corporation could sue a state government.
“The TPP is an act of climate denial,” said Jason Kowalski, the U.S. policy director at 350.org.
“It denies the scientific imperative to leave fossil fuels in the ground by granting corporations incredible powers over the sovereign right of countries to fight climate change on their own.”
At issue is the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism included in the trade deal. ISDS’s allow foreign investors to use a secret tribunal to launch a lawsuit if they believe government actions might affect their future profits.
The TPP could limit a country’s ability to put in place any agreement it reaches at the Paris climate change summit because of concerns over lawsuits, according to Pierre-Yves Serinet, coordinator of the Quebec Network on Continental Integration.
“It creates a chill effect on the state to even create those policies,” he told National Observer, noting that 70 per cent of all the cases in trade deals involve ISDS attacks on environmental policies.
ISDS mechanisms are found in other trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
Corporations have used the trade mechanism over 600 times to challenge governments, Maude Barlow, the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians said in her forward to the recent report,An ISDS Carve-out to Support Action on Climate Change.
Canada faces $2.6-billion in challenges from American corporations under NAFTA alone.
Friends of the Earth International noted that in 2009, Vattenfall — a Swedish energy company — launched a US$1.9-billion ISDS case against Germany for its decision to delay a coal-fired power station in order to impose stricter environmental standards.
To avoid the suit, the government reached a settlement that involved removing additional environmental requirements, enabling the coal plant to begin operations in 2014.
A number of environmental groups are also outraged that the 12-country trade deal fails to mention climate change policy, which is something they feel agreements must now consider.
“The words ‘climate change’ don’t even appear in the text, a dead give-away that this isn’t a 21st-century trade deal,” Michael Brune, executive director of the U.S. Sierra Club, said in a statement.
“It sets us back further, empowering fossil fuel corporations to challenge our public health and climate safeguards in unaccountable trade tribunals while increasing dirty fossil fuel exports and fracking.”
“We think it’s a very bad agreement on many fronts, and obviously in Canada it’s been negotiated by a government that’s not there anymore, that was very secretive and non-transparent,” Serinet said.
Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland have previously said the deal would be open to a full debate in Parliament.
That market-driven shift to cleaner energy is making Figueres’ job easier. When she talks to business, she’s already pushing at an open door. Some investors — such as Norway’s $900 billion sovereign wealth fund generated by oil and gas exports — are getting out of coal, in the belief that its days are numbered.
The message that tackling climate change makes economic sense is one that Figueres has been taking around the world.
The climate revolutionary Christiana Figueres blends tact, emotion and a bit of bullying to get deep emissions cuts in Paris next month. Politico By JANOSCH DELCKER
11/10/15, “…….. blend of tact, emotion and a bit of bullying is what the rest of the world can expect from the executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at next month’s COP21 climate talks in Paris.
The petite Costa Rican anthropologist-turned-diplomat with short brown-hair and striking eyes — one blue and one hazel — is the public face of the effort to strike a deal that seeks to address global warming. She travels the world, occasionally becoming so moved while giving speeches that she wells up, in her campaign to bring home the seriousness of the threat facing the world.
As the Norwegians discovered in Svalbard, the world shouldn’t expect only praise for steps taken so far to combat climate change. Figueres will be demanding it do still more because to her, what’s on offer isn’t enough.
“I am the daughter of a revolutionary and I feel very comfortable with revolutions,” Figueres said at a climate conference last month in Oslo…….
This time, countries are putting forward their own pledges of how much they plan to cut their carbon dioxide output ahead of the summit. In the jargon of climate diplomacy, these promises are called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs. The idea is that this will be something countries are actually committed to doing, unlike with Kyoto.
So far 156 of the 195 countries attending the COP21 have submitted INDCs covering more than 90 percent of global emissions. The catch? Even if implemented, the U.N. says those reductions won’t stop the world from warming by more than 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, the level the world body considers the threshold beyond which climate change could have devastating consequences.
That’s something Figueres recognizes. One of her tasks is to manage expectations……..
Any agreement in Paris, Figueres said, will have many weaknesses. Her goal is more realistic: to realize that the 2-degree target won’t be hit right away, but to get the world’s countries to agree to revisit their commitments every five years, steadily ramping up their greenhouse gas reductions over time.
As Paris gets closer, her tone is becoming more cautious. In September she said there will be a legally binding deal, it just won’t punish countries that fail to meet the mark. By October she played down the legally binding aspect and said the voluntary emissions pledges are, in fact, a more effective way of dealing with climate change……..
The business case for green
As advanced economies move away from industry to services and information, and cars and factories get cleaner, the world is seeing a “decoupling GDP from GHG,” or global greenhouse gas emissions, as she put it. In 2014, carbon emissions were flat while the world economy grew. The trend is most evident in rich nations. Since 1991, for example, Sweden’s economy has grown by 58 percent while emissions have fallen by 23 percent.
That market-driven shift to cleaner energy is making Figueres’ job easier. When she talks to business, she’s already pushing at an open door. Some investors — such as Norway’s $900 billion sovereign wealth fund generated by oil and gas exports — are getting out of coal, in the belief that its days are numbered.
The message that tackling climate change makes economic sense is one that Figueres has been taking around the world……. http://www.politico.eu/article/the-climate-revolutionary-un-christina-figueres-climate-chief-cop21/
The TPP, because of fast track, bypasses the normal legislative process of public discussion and consideration by congressional committees
The “deal is rife with polluter giveaways that would undermine decades of environmental progress, threaten our climate, and fail to adequately protect wildlife because big polluters helped write the deal.”
“Trade agreements are binding,” Flowers said. “They supersede any of the nonbinding agreements made by the United Nations Climate Change Conference that might come out of Paris.”
The Most Brazen Corporate Power Grab in American History http://www.globalresearch.ca/tpp-wto-nafta-the-most-brazen-corporate-power-grab-in-american-history/5487363 Nov 6, 2015 By Chris Hedges The release Thursday of the 5,544-page text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—a trade and investment agreement involving 12 countries comprising nearly 40 percent of global output—confirms what even its most apocalyptic critics feared.
“The TPP, along with the WTO [World Trade Organization] and NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement], is the most brazen corporate power grab in American history,” Ralph Nader told me when I reached him by phone in Washington, D.C. “It allows corporations to bypass our three branches of government to impose enforceable sanctions by secret tribunals. These tribunals can declare our labor, consumer and environmental protections [to be] unlawful, non-tariff barriers subject to fines for noncompliance. The TPP establishes a transnational, autocratic system of enforceable governance in defiance of our domestic laws.” Continue reading
Paul Langley, 9 Nov 15, Climate risks by radioactive krypton-85 from nuclear fission. Atmospheric-electrical and air-chemical effects of ionizing radiation in the atmosphere
” The study shows that krypton-85 from nuclear fission enhances air ionization and, thus, interferes with the atmospheric-electrical system and the water balance of the earth atmosphere. This is reason for concern: There are unforeseeable effects for weather and climate if the krypton-85 content of the earth atmosphere continues to rise. There may be a krypton-specific greenhouse effect and a collapse of the natural atmospheric-electrical field. In addition, human well-being may be expected to be impaired as a result of the diminished atmospheric-electrical field. There is also the risk of radiochemical actions and effects caused-by krypton-85-containing plumes in other air-borne pollutants like the latters’ transformation to aggressive oxidants. This implies radiation smog and more acid rain in the countries exposed. This study summarizes findings gained in these issues by various sciences, analyses them and elaborates hypotheses on the actions and effects of krypton-85 on the air, the atmosphere and the climate. ” https://inis.iaea.org/search/Images/product-name.gifhttps://inis.iaea.org/search/searchsinglerecord.aspx…#
“This president has been largely very supportive,” said Richard Myers, vice president of policy development at the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI)…..
But while Obama has made it clear that he supports nuclear power, there’s little he can do to stop the economic forces that make power plants expensive to operate — or the state and regional electricity policies the industry complains are hurting them.
Entergy Corp. announced this week its plans to close the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant near Syracuse, N.Y., the seventh nuclear power plant to announce impending closure in recent years, out of the 60 plants currently operating throughout the country. A few weeks earlier, Entergy said it would close the Pilgrim Nuclear Generating Station in Massachusetts……..
Obama gave nuclear a big win in August with his climate rule for power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will count newly built nuclear plants toward states’ compliance with the rule, as the industry requested. But it won’t count existing plants, which the NEI also wanted.
The administration has put significant Energy Department funding into research and development projects for nuclear power, including efforts to develop small modular reactors, largely seen as the industry’s future.
Nuclear power has not been a major part of the 2016 presidential election, with the Republican field giving it only fleeting mentions as part of their “all of the above” energy plans and Democrats focusing on goals to increase renewable electricity. Instead, Myers said, the fights are focused elsewhere, especially in states and regional electricity markets.
About half of the country’s nuclear reactors are in markets that primarily favor the cheapest power source, putting nuclear at a disadvantage. Instead, the industry wants credit for its low emissions and high reliability………
As part of its efforts to stop plant closures, the industry launched a project dubbed Nuclear Matters. Its board includes big names and former policymakers, including former Sens. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), former EPA Administrator Carol Browner and former Obama chief of staff Bill Daley…….
Others are critical of the nuclear industry’s efforts to save existing reactors. “The only thing that can stop it is if the nuclear industry repeals the laws of economics,” said Mark Cooper, a research fellow at the Vermont Law School.
“They’re stuck,” he said. “They can’t repeal the laws of economics. Or they can, if they can convince policymakers and regulators to abandon the market, to screw around with the market.” The industry has often done just that, Cooper said. But the efforts frequently fail.
Nearly all of the recent closures have been both premature — before the expected life of the reactors — and due to a major expected cost, such as a repair. John Coequyt, international climate program director at the Sierra Club, said the nuclear industry’s tactics to save plants are often at odds with efforts to increase renewable energy and reduce demand at peak times.
“The reason these plants are uneconomic is because renewable energy and demand response companies are driving down the value of nuclear power plants,” he said. “The consequences of those policies are much broader than just the nuclear industry.”
In that way, Coequyt said nuclear is aligned with coal-fired power plants, which also lose out when demand is reduced. The Sierra Club also objects generally to nuclear power, citing its environmental risks. It would rather see more renewables to fill the carbon-free void.
“They’re trying to restructure things so that other climate solutions don’t happen, so that they can continue to operate their nuclear power plants,” Coequyt said. “And that is a huge problem for us.” http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/259199-nuclear-power-plants-warn-of-closure-crisis
Abrupt changes in food chains predicted as Southern Ocean acidifies fast: study [excellent pictures] http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/abrupt-changes-in-food-chains-predicted-as-southern-ocean-acidifies-fast-study-20151030-gknd2g.html November 3, 2015 Peter Hannam Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald The Southern Ocean is acidifying at such a rate because of rising carbon dioxide emissions that large regions may be inhospitable for key organisms in the food chain to survive as soon as 2030, new US research has found.
Tiny pteropods, snail-like creatures that play an important role in the food web, will lose their ability to form shells as oceans absorb more of the CO2 from the atmosphere, a process already observed over short periods in areas close to the Antarctic coast.
Ocean acidification is often dubbed the “evil twin” of climate change. As CO2 levels rise, more of it is absorbed by seawater, resulting in a lower pH level and reduced carbonate ion concentration. Marine organisms with skeletons and shells then struggle to develop and maintain their structures.
Using 10 Earth system models and applying a high-emissions scenario, the researchers found the relatively acidic Southern Ocean quickly becomes unsuited for shell-forming creatures such as pteropods, according to a paper published Tuesday in Nature Climate Change.
“What surprised us was really the abruptness at which this under-saturation [of calcium carbonate-based aragonite] occurs in large areas of the Southern Ocean,” Axel Timmermann, a co-author of the study and oceanography professor at the University of Hawaii told Fairfax Media. “It’s actually quite scary.”
Since the Southern Ocean is already close to the threshold for shell-formation, relatively small changes in acidity levels will likely show up there first, Professor Timmermann said: “The background state is already very close to corrosiveness.”
Below a certain pH level, shells of such creatures become more brittle, with implications for fisheries that feed off them since pteropods appear unable to evolve fast enough to cope with the rapidly changing conditions.
“For pteropods it may be very difficult because they can’t run around without a shell,” Professor Timmermann said. “It’s not they dissolve immediately but there’s a much higher energy requirement for them to form the shells.”
Given the sheer scale of the marine creatures involved, “take away this biomass, [and] you have avalanche effects for the rest of the food web”, he said.
As carbon dioxide levels rise, the impacts seen in the Southern Ocean – and its counterpart regions in the northern hemisphere – can be expected to spread closer to the equator.
Scientists anticipate that a halt in the increase in greenhouse gases will take time to have an impact on slowing the warming of the planet. However, a faster response can be expected in the oceans to any slowing in the pace of acidification.
“The corrosiveness of the water is a very strong function of the atmospheric C02 and there is not much of a delay [to any changes]”, Professor Timmermann said.
The paper’s release comes about four weeks before delegates from almost 200 nations are expected to gather in Paris, France to negotiate a new global treaty to curb carbon emissions.
Ozone hole over Antarctica expands to near-record levels, now four times size of Australia, ABC News The World Today , 3 Nov 15 By Lucy Carter The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica has expanded to near-record levels this year, covering an area almost four times the size of Australia.
Scientists from the UN said the increase was due to colder-than-usual temperatures, rather than any extra damage being done to the Earth’s protective layer.
But that could still mean extra UV radiation and the risk of more people getting sunburnt in Australia’s southern states this summer.
The hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica has been carefully monitored for over 30 years.
According to atmospheric scientist Professor David Karoly from the University of Melbourne, its size fluctuates greatly when it emerges each spring. “Each springtime over the last now nearly 35 years, there’s been a depletion of stratospheric ozone over Antarctica primarily due to two really important factors,” he said.
“It’s the increase in ozone-depleting chemicals in the atmosphere and a very special cold conditions that occur in winter and spring over Antarctica which provide a special, if you like, catalytic ozone destruction vessel that allows the ozone to be rapidly deployed by the higher concentrations of chlorofluorocarbons — ozone-depleting chemicals that have occurred in the stratosphere due to human activity.”
The UN’s weather and climate agency said this year’s seasonal ozone hole peaked on October 2, covering an area over Antarctica of 28.2 million square kilometres — close to four times the size of Australia or the size of Russia and Canada combined…….
“We do know that the substances that cause the ozone hole, the chlorines and bromines up there are decreasing … have decreased by about 18 per cent since their peak in the late 1990s, early 2000s,” he said.
Since 1987, gases known to cause ozone depletion have been banned and last year the World Meteorological Organisation reported the first positive signs of “ozone recovery”.
Professor David Karoly from the University of Melbourne said this fluctuation in size was not a long-term concern.
“It makes it harder to then see the long-term improvement, the declining trend in the size of the ozone hole but that is still expected to continue,” he said.
“We expect in the southern hemisphere that the ozone hole will not completely recover for another 40 to 60 years, when it recovers back to pre-1980 levels when the ozone hole was first discovered.”
However, this year’s ozone hole size does have the potential to affect Australians.
“Once the ozone hole does start to break up, air that’s depleted in ozone may be transported over to the southern parts of Australia which can, of course, during those periods increase the amount of UV radiation which in the Earth’s surface,” Mr Krummel said.
“So there could be a tendency for a bit more sunburn. “I would say mostly the southern states is where it is likely to impact……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-30/ozone-hole-over-antarctica-expands-to-near-record-levels/6898824
one reason is the complete failure of perspective in a de-skilled industry dominated by corporate press releases, photo ops and fashion shoots, where everyone seems to be waiting for everyone else to take a lead. The media makes a collective non-decision to treat this catastrophe as a non-issue, and we all carry on as if it’s not happening.
Indonesia is burning. So why is the world looking away?, Guardian George Monbiot, 30 Oct 15 A great tract of Earth is on fire and threatened species are being driven out of their habitats. This is a crime against humanity and nature “……A great tract of Earth is on fire. It looks as you might imagine hell to be. The air has turned ochre: visibility in some cities has been reduced to 30 metres. Children are being prepared for evacuation in warships; already some have choked to death. Species are going up in smoke at an untold rate. It is almost certainly the greatest environmental disaster of the 21st century – so far.
And the media? It’s talking about the dress the Duchess of Cambridge wore to the James Bond premiere, Donald Trump’s idiocy du jour and who got eliminated from the Halloween episode of Dancing with the Stars. The great debate of the week, dominating the news across much of the world? Sausages: are they really so bad for your health?
What I’m discussing is a barbecue on a different scale. Fire is raging across the 5,000km length of Indonesia. It is surely, on any objective assessment, more important than anything else taking place today. And it shouldn’t require a columnist, writing in the middle of a newspaper, to say so. It should be on everyone’s front page. It is hard to convey the scale of this inferno, but here’s a comparison that might help: it is currently producing more carbon dioxide than the US economy. And in three weeks the fires have released more CO2 than the annual emissions of Germany.
But that doesn’t really capture it. This catastrophe cannot be measured only in parts per million. The fires are destroying treasures as precious and irreplaceable as the archaeological remains being levelled by Isis. Orangutans, clouded leopards, sun bears, gibbons, the Sumatran rhinoceros and Sumatran tiger, these are among the threatened species being driven from much of their range by the flames. But there are thousands, perhaps millions, more.
One of the burning provinces is West Papua, a nation that has been illegally occupied by Indonesia since 1963. I spent six months there when I was 24,investigating some of the factors that have led to this disaster. At the time it was a wonderland, rich with endemic species in every swamp and valley. Who knows how many of those have vanished in the past few weeks? This week I have pored and wept over photos of places I loved that have now been reduced to ash.
Nor do the greenhouse gas emissions capture the impact on the people of these lands. After the last great conflagration, in 1997, there was a missing cohort in Indonesia of 15,000 children under the age of three, attributed to air pollution. This, it seems, is worse. The surgical masks being distributed across the nation will do almost nothing to protect those living in a sunless smog. Members of parliament in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) have had to wear face masksduring debates. The chamber is so foggy that they must have difficulty recognising one another.
It’s not just the trees that are burning. It is the land itself. Much of the forest sits on great domes of peat. When the fires penetrate the earth, they smoulder for weeks, sometimes months, releasing clouds of methane, carbon monoxide, ozone and exotic gases such as ammonium cyanide. The plumes extend for hundreds of miles, causing diplomatic conflicts with neighbouring countries.
Why is this happening? Indonesia’s forests have been fragmented for decades by timber and farming companies. Canals have been cut through the peat to drain and dry it. Plantation companies move in to destroy what remains of the forest to plant monocultures of pulpwood, timber and palm oil. The easiest way to clear the land is to torch it. Every year, this causes disasters. But in an extreme El Niño year like this one, we have a perfect formula for environmental catastrophe……..
Governments ignore issues when the media ignores them. And the media ignores them because … well, there’s a question with a thousand answers, many of which involve power. But one reason is the complete failure of perspective in a de-skilled industry dominated by corporate press releases, photo ops and fashion shoots, where everyone seems to be waiting for everyone else to take a lead. The media makes a collective non-decision to treat this catastrophe as a non-issue, and we all carry on as if it’s not happening.
At the climate summit in Paris in December the media, trapped within the intergovernmental bubble of abstract diplomacy and manufactured drama, will cover the negotiations almost without reference to what is happening elsewhere. The talks will be removed to a realm with which we have no moral contact. And, when the circus moves on, the silence will resume. Is there any other industry that serves its customers so badly?
A fully linked version of this article can be found at monbiot.com http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/30/indonesia-fires-disaster-21st-century-world-media
Exiled by nuclear tests, now threatened by climate change, Bikini islanders seek refuge in U.S. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/10/28/exiled-by-nuclear-tests-now-threatened-by-climate-change-bikini-islanders-seek-refuge-in-u-s/ By Sarah Kaplan On the morning of July 1, 1946, a second sun rose over the remote Pacific island chain of Bikini Atoll.
The world’s fourth atomic bomb had just been detonated over the area with an “unearthly brilliance that petrified observers,” wrote the Washington Post reporter at the scene.A hundred miles away, from a ship just off the shore of tiny Rongerik Atoll, Bikini’s former residents watched a mushroom cloud form over the place that had been their home. Now it was a bomb site, shrouded in toxic nuclear fallout that would render it uninhabitable. The Bikini islanders didn’t know that yet; they had agreed to a series of nuclear tests on their islands believing they would be able to return as soon as the experiments ended.
Instead, they began a decades-long nomadic existence that would see Bikini islanders starve on atolls too small and sparse to sustain them and sicken from lingering radiation on others. The tiny community would be relocated five times in as many decades before settling elsewhere in the Marshall Islands. Some islanders watch warily as scientists re-evaluate their old home. Others have tried to move on, settle down.
But their bad luck just won’t let them. Now, they say, the rising seas and brutal storms brought on by climate change have rendered their new homes uninhabitable. On Wednesday, Marshallese Foreign Minister Tony de Brumwill meet with members of Congress and ask for a change in the terms of the fund that was set up to help Bikini islanders resettle. Currently, the fund can only be used to help them buy property in the Marshall Islands, but they’re giving up on the Pacific entirely. They want to come to the U.S. instead.
Exxon Sowed Doubt About Climate Science for Decades by Stressing Uncertainty
Collaborating with the Bush-Cheney White House, Exxon turned ordinary scientific uncertainties into weapons of mass confusion. Inside Climate News, David Hasemyer and John H. Cushman Jr. 23 Oct 15 As he wrapped up nine years as the federal government’s chief scientist for global warming research, Michael MacCracken lashed out at ExxonMobil for opposing the advance of climate science.
His own great-grandfather, he told the Exxon board, had been John D. Rockefeller’s legal counsel a century earlier. “What I rather imagine he would say is that you are on the wrong side of history, and you need to find a way to change your position,” he wrote.
No wonder: in the opening days of the oil-friendly Bush-Cheney administration, Exxon’s chief lobbyist had written the new head of the White House environmental council demanding that MacCracken be fired for “political and scientific bias.”
Exxon was also attacking other officials in the U.S. government and at the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), MacCracken wrote, interfering with their work behind the scenes and distorting it in public.
Exxon wanted scientists who disputed the mainstream science on climate change to oversee Washington’s work with the IPCC, the authoritative body that defines the scientific consensus on global warming, documents written by an Exxon lobbyist and one of its scientists show. The company persuaded the White House to block the reappointment of the IPCC chairman, a World Bank scientist. Exxon’s top climate researcher, Brian Flannery, was pushing the White House for a wholesale revision of federal climate science. The company wanted a new strategy to focus on the uncertainties.
“To call ExxonMobil’s position out of the mainstream is thus a gross understatement,” MacCracken wrote. “To be in opposition to the key scientific findings is rather appalling for such an established and scientific organization.”
MacCracken had a long history of collaboration with Exxon researchers. He knew that during the 1970s and 1980s, well before the general public understood the risks of global warming, the company’s researchers had worked at the cutting edge of climate change science. He had edited and even co-authored some of their reports. So he found it galling that Exxon was now leading a concerted effort to sow confusion about fossil fuels, carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect.
Exxon had turned a colleague into its enemy.
It was a vivid example of Exxon’s undermining of mainstream science and embrace of denial and misinformation, which became most pronounced after President George W. Bush took office. The campaign climaxed when Bush pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001. Taking the U.S. out of the international climate change treaty was Exxon’s key goal, and the reason for its persistent emphasis on the uncertainty of climate science.
This in-depth series by InsideClimate News has explored Exxon’s early engagement with climate research more than 35 years ago – and its subsequent use of scientific uncertainty as a shield against forceful action on global warming. The series is based on Exxon documents, interviews, and other evidence from an eight-month investigation………. http://insideclimatenews.org/news/22102015/Exxon-Sowed-Doubt-about-Climate-Science-for-Decades-by-Stressing-Uncertainty
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