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The reasons for the global inaction on climate change

Curbing climate change: Why it’s so hard to act in time, The Conversation   Timothy H. Dixon
Professor, Geology and Geophysics, Natural and human-caused hazards, sea level rise and climate change, University of South Florida,  August 18, 2017
 This summer I worked on the Greenland ice sheet, part of a scientific experiment to study surface melting and its contribution to Greenland’s accelerating ice losses. By virtue of its size, elevation and currently frozen state, Greenland has the potential to cause large and rapid increases to sea level as it melts.

When I returned, a nonscientist friend asked me what the research showed about future sea level rise. He was disappointed that I couldn’t say anything definite, since it will take several years to analyze the data. This kind of time lag is common in science, but it can make communicating the issues difficult. That’s especially true for climate change, where decades of data collection may be required to see trends.

A recent draft report on climate change by federal scientists exploits data captured over many decades to assess recent changes, and warns of a dire future if we don’t change our ways. Yet few countries are aggressively reducing their emissions in a way scientists say are needed to avoid the dangers of climate change.

While this lack of progress dismays people, it’s actually understandable. Human beings have evolved to focus on immediate threats. We have a tough time dealing with risks that have time lags of decades or even centuries. As a geoscientist, I’m used to thinking on much longer time scales, but I recognize that most people are not. I see several kinds of time lags associated with climate change debates. It’s important to understand these time lags and how they interact if we hope to make progress.

Agreeing on the goal

Changing the basic energy underpinnings of our industrial economy will not be easy or cheap, and will require broad public support……

Designing cleaner technologies

It will also take time for technological developments to support our transition to a low-carbon energy future. Here, at least, there is reason for optimism. A few decades ago renewable energy sources such as wind and solar seemed unlikely to replace a significant fraction of carbon-based energy. Similarly, electric vehicles seemed unlikely to meet a significant share of our transportation needs. Today both are realistic alternatives……

Funding the transition

Once we finally decide to make a low-carbon transition and figure out how to do it, it will cost trillions of dollars. Capital markets can’t provide that sort of funding instantaneously……

The natural carbon cycle

Our ability to add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere greatly exceeds nature’s ability to remove it. There is a time lag between carbon emission and carbon removal. The process is complicated, with multiple pathways, some of which operate over centuries…….. most of the carbon dioxide that we put into the atmosphere today will continue to heat the world for hundreds to thousands of years.

Today the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is just over 400 parts per million, rising by about 3 ppm yearly. Given the political, technological and economic time lags that we face, it’s likely that we will hit at least 450-500 ppm before we can seriously curtail our carbon emissions. The last time Earth’s atmosphere contained this much carbon dioxide was several million years ago, during the Pliocene era. Global temperatures were much higher than 2°C above today’s average, and global sea level was at least 6 meters (nearly 20 feet) higher.

We haven’t seen comparable temperature or sea level increases so far because of time lags in Earth’s climate response. It takes a while for our elevated carbon dioxide levels to trigger impacts on this scale. Given the various time lags that are in play, it is quite possible that we have already exceeded the 2°C rise over preindustrial temperatures – a threshold most scientists say we should avoid – but it hasn’t shown up on the thermometer yet.

We may not be able to predict exactly how much future temperatures or sea levels will rise, but we do know that unless we curb our carbon emissions, our planet will be a very uncomfortable place for our grandchildren and their grandchildren. Large-scale social changes take time: they are the sum of many individual changes, in both attitudes and behaviors. To minimize that time lag, we need to start acting now.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Their town is headed for drowning – but they still doubt that climate change is real

Climate change will likely wreck their livelihoods – but they still don’t buy the science
The small Louisiana town of Cameron could be the first in the US to be fully submerged by rising sea levels – and yet locals, 90% of whom voted for Trump, still aren’t convinced about climate change, Guardian, 
Shannon Sims in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, 18 Aug 17,  In 50 years, the region near where I grew up, Cameron Parish in south-west Louisiana, will likely be no more. Or rather, it will exist, but it may be underwater, according to the newly published calculations of the Louisianagovernment. Coastal land loss is on the upswing, and with each hurricane that sweeps over the region, the timeline is picking up speed.

As a result, Cameron, the principal town in this 6,800-person parish (as counties are called in Louisiana), could be the first town in the US to be fully submerged by rising sea levels and flooding. So it’s here one would expect to feel the greatest sense of alarm over climate change and its consequences.

Instead, Cameron has earned a different kind of fame: it’s the county that, percentage-wise, voted more in favor of Trump than any other county in the US in last year’s election. Nearly 90% of the population did.

Why would some of the people most vulnerable to climate change vote for a politician skeptical of climate change’s existence? Why would people in Cameron Parish support policies that could ruin them?……..

…..”Because of the rules and regulations, it costs so much to live here.”

Many locals in Cameron repeat this phrase – “rules and regulations”. They’re referring to the strict construction rules placed on residents who wanted to return to Cameron and rebuild after Rita and Ike hit the town. As a result, all structures needed to be raised in order to qualify for hurricane insurance. The result is a humble town whose homes appear strangely grandiose: single-story modest brick houses now rest on top of large, grassy man-made hills, a kind of south Louisianacastle…….

As for her politics, Smith thinks Cameron’s residents voted for Trump because “we think he could help the oil field out, and hopefully stop the imported seafood from coming into our country so our people can make a living,” she says.

Smith, like most of the residents of Cameron, has been highly dependent on state and federal assistance programs to recover after the storms. But what if, in Trump’s push to shrink the size of the government, recovery programs are cut?

“We’d be screwed,” she says frankly. “But that doesn’t change my opinion about Trump,” she quickly adds. “Outsiders think that everybody is just looking for a handout down here, but there is hard-working people that live here. There are just not many jobs right now, especially if all you know is commercial fishing. Even if Trump cuts those programs that helped us, we gonna make it one way or another here, with or without help. Down here we survive.”…….

Vail says he’s pleased with the drawdown on environmental restrictions that Trump has instituted since taking office.

“When he took office he stopped the EPA’s Waters of the US rule, where anything that would flow into a navigable tributary would have had jurisdiction under the EPA. Well, navigable tributaries go through half the land I farm. So you’re saying a ditch I put in my field to drain the water off, then that the land comes under your jurisdiction? You can tell me when I can go into it, and what I can use as fertilizer?”………

Mr Benny’s son lets me know that their alligator hunting business has brought in a high-end clientele. He brings out a photo of a grinning Donald Trump Jr taken during an alligator hunting trip. That personal connection has helped inform Mr Benny’s politics. “I’m Donald Trump all the way,” he says with a smile.

Even though Mr Benny’s family has been directly impacted by hurricanes, and even though the state mapping agency indicates that his home will be submerged within 50 years due to coastal land loss, Mr Benny isn’t buying it.

“I don’t believe it,” he says, shaking his head. “I don’t believe that the tide is gonna rise 10 feet and that the Ice Age is coming and stuff like that.” Like many of the residents here in Cameron, Mr Benny sees time on a longer horizon than others might. “I been here 75 years, you understand?,” he reminds me with gentle force. “And I’ve lived on the water and guess what? The tides still come up almost the same way, and there is no flooding. And today our front marshes aren’t underwater.”

“If you go by what the real scientists say, there’s no proof. In the last 10 years the average temperature of the world hasn’t even risen a half degree………

Theriot seems caught between her job as a science educator and her life as a longtime Cameron resident, tasked with teaching about the environment in a fiercely red town. “…….“But I think the data is incomplete. And I am still not sure about climate change. I am still researching it. I feel like I don’t have enough good sources to say yes or no on if climate change is a real thing.”

Now, from her elevated balcony overlooking the old slabs, she takes a clearer position. “I’m a big proponent of the oil industry, because that’s how my family and my community made a lot of its money. So that is my livelihood. So it is hard for me to point that finger.”….

….Dyson is not particularly concerned about the forecasts that show the coast disappearing over the coming decades. He thinks global warming is a gossipy scam……. Instead, Dyson says that what worries him most are the environmental regulations ostensibly intended to save the coast. “The laws are already there to protect the coast. And I understand Trump is not 100% environmentalist. But I think it’s a good thing to get the government out of our lives. I don’t want any more environmental regulations. I don’t want any more fishing laws. And I don’t want a lot of restrictions where people can’t make a living.”…..

August 19, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Navy respons to challenge of climate change

How the U.S. Navy is Responding to Climate Change, Harvard Business Review AUGUST 18, 2017 FOREST REINHARDT AND MICHAEL TOFFEL, Harvard Business School professors, talk about how a giant, global enterprise that operates and owns assets at sea level is fighting climate change—and adapting to it. They discuss what the private sector can learn from the U.S. Navy’s scientific and sober view of the world. Reinhardt and Toffel are the authors of “MANAGING CLIMATE CHANGE: LESSONS FROM THE U.S. NAVY” in the July–August 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review. “……The U.S. Navy is raising its bases, using early storm warning systems, and increasingly powering its missions with the sun, instead of fossil fuels……

FOREST REINHARDT: ………. the Navy is our primary waterborne military force. And as the planet warms, the amount of water is going to increase. That is, the area near the poles, which until quite recently has been closed to marine traffic for much if not all of the year, is going to be increasingly open as the ice melts. You think the last time the Western world really encountered a new ocean was in the early part of the 1500s, and the same kinds of opportunities and conflicts are going to exist in the Arctic.

 A second reason is that climate change is potentially destabilizing to societies, especially societies which are not particularly rich and not particularly well governed. And as those societies become increasingly stressed by things like drought and storm severity, the kinds of behaviors that call the military into action are going to become more frequent, whether those are wars or internal conflicts or just need for humanitarian assistance.

MICHAEL TOFFEL: And this is why the military refers to climate change as a threat multiplier. Many have made the connection between the breakdown of societies in the Middle East, in particular in Syria, for example, to be attributed to changing rainwater and other precipitation patterns. So you see these problems right now behind the growth of ISIS. You see these problems also with the migration into Europe and Europe’s struggle with what to do with these migrants. These are examples of issues that climate scientists suggest are only going to get worse in the coming decades..…..

….The Navy also is investing in massive amounts of solar to power their bases. But it’s not motivated so much by those effects that I just mentioned the private sector is trying to claim. It’s really about, in their case, about mission readiness and the resilience of their bases. They want to be sure that as climate change occurs with more intensive storms that that’s not going to knock out the power grids that supply their bases. So they’re investing in some of these power sources because of their distributed nature—the fact that they can produce power on site and not have to rely on long distance ge

August 19, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

New allegations of fraud concerning “clean coal”

Environmentalists have long objected to calling a coal-fired carbon capture and sequestration project “clean coal,” arguing that the label is misleading because it focuses on carbon dioxide pollution while ignoring other problems like acid rain and airborne contaminants. And carbon capture projects rely on continuing fossil fuel production, because the CO2 that’s captured is sold to oil companies who pump it into aging wells to coax more oil from the ground.

Politicians nevertheless continue to use the term. “My administration is putting an end to the war on coal,” President Donald Trump said this spring. “We’re going to have clean coal, really clean coal.”

New Fraud Allegations Emerge at Troubled ‘Clean Coal’ Project As Southern Co. Records Multi-Billion Loss, Desmog  By Sharon Kelly • Tuesday, August 8, 2017 Southern Co. is accused of fraudulently misrepresenting the prospects for its troubled “clean coal” project in Kemper County, Mississippi in several legal filings this summer.

Southern announced in late July that it was shuttering the troubled “clean coal” part of Kemper after construction ran years behind schedule and the company spent $7.5 billion on the 582 megawatt power plant — over $5 billion more than it first projected.In a lawsuit filed today, Brett Wingo, a former Southern Company engineer, alleges he warned the company’s top executives that it would not be possible to meet key construction deadlines. Management responded by retaliating against him, the complaint asserts, and Southern continued to assure investors and the public that Kemper’s schedule and budget targets would be met, then blamed unpredictable factors like the weather when those goals were missed.

Wingo’s claim that Southern misled investors by concealing construction-related problems drew national attention in a front page New York Times investigation last year. In January, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concluded that Wingo had suffered a “continuing pattern of retaliatory treatment” and ordered Southern to reinstate Wingo, but the company has refused, according to a statement accompanying the lawsuit. (The case is “Brett Wingo v. The Southern Company, et al.,” Case No. 2:17-cv-01328-MHH in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division.)

A second less-noticed legal filing with Mississippi state regulators accuses Southern of misrepresenting Kemper’s prospects right from the outset, before construction even began. Those claims center on Southern’s projections for what it would cost to operate and maintain the plant once it was up and running, which the filing asserts were so low they were “indefensible”.

In an email to DeSmog, Wingo seconds those claims, saying that he believes management knew back in 2012 that its “operation and maintenance” (O&M) projections were off — but kept the accurate numbers under wraps for years.

“By hiding the true O& M costs for so long, apparently since 2012 and likely longer, Fanning basically ensured shareholders would be forced to absorb $6 billion in losses,” Wingo told DeSmog.

“In 2012, sunk costs on Kemper were only around $1 billion and the natural gas part of the plant substantially complete. It would have been a perfect time to stop a runaway train from running off the end of the tracks,” he added. “But history shows, that’s not what Fanning and Southern Company chose to do.”…….


Spending Money to Make Money

Why would a company want to build a power plant that’s too expensive to run? Part of the answer, critics say, is the way that utilities like power companies are regulated.

Because they are essentially regulated monopolies, the laws governing how utilities like power companies make money are different than most industries, as explained in a  2015 Wall Street Journal article titled “Utilities’ Profit Recipe: Spend More.”

“[U]tilities have another incentive for heavy spending; It actually boosts their bottom lines — the result of a regulatory system that turns corporate accounting on its head,” The Journal reported, explaining that as long as state-level regulators sign off on a project, regulated utilities get a fixed percentage of what they spend as a profit……..

Clean Coal?

Kemper was supposed to be an engineering feat, able to turn the world’s least efficient but most abundant form of coal, lignite coal, into a climate-friendly fuel. That’s “climate friendly” as compared to the kind of coal-burning power plants upon which the U.S. has historically relied for the bulk of its electricity……..

Environmentalists have long objected to calling a coal-fired carbon capture and sequestration project “clean coal,” arguing that the label is misleading because it focuses on carbon dioxide pollution while ignoring other problems like acid rain and airborne contaminants. And carbon capture projects rely on continuing fossil fuel production, because the CO2 that’s captured is sold to oil companies who pump it into aging wells to coax more oil from the ground.

Politicians nevertheless continue to use the term. “My administration is putting an end to the war on coal,” President Donald Trump said this spring. “We’re going to have clean coal, really clean coal.”

Asked about the prospects for new “clean coal” projects in general after Kemper’s shuttering, a top Department of Energy official was dubious. EIA chief Howard Gruenspecht noted the role of natural gas prices, as well as the lower price of oil, which hurts the price of carbon sold to enhance oil recovery.

“In some parts of the world, one could imagine perhaps some efforts there but the cost situation is very, very challenging, certainly in the United States,” Gruenspecht told DeSmog. “One does not have to have an issue with the technology itself, it’s very impressive, but it’s a question of whether things really pencil out or not — there are some significant challenges.”


August 19, 2017 Posted by | climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Mainstream media and government will now probably ignore the new climate change report

Editorial: New climate change report likely to be ignored to death, By the Editorial Board  Aug 17, 2017 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officially confirmed last week that 2016 was the Earth’s hottest year on record, surpassing 2015, which surpassed 2014. The NOAA had reported this unofficially back in January. What made last week’s announcement noteworthy is that the NOAA is now part of the administration of President Donald Trump, who has famously called global warming a “hoax.”

Climate change denial is getting a little tricky for the president and his fellow Republicans. Politicoreported last week that some business groups, including those allied with Charles and David Koch’s powerful interests, are pushing back against the aggressive efforts of Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt to deny human-induced climate change.

These groups would rather not argue against the scientific consensus that man-made global warming is a growing threat. They want to roll back environmental regulations anyway without getting into debates that might hurt moderate Republicans. It’s an amazingly cynical strategy: Don’t argue the evidence or address the problem. Just ignore it.

The Trump administration has another chance this week to consider the choice between deny and ignore. Friday is the deadline for the heads of the 13 federal agencies that study various aspects of climate change to sign off on a draft of the Climate Science Special Report compiled by the scientists who work for their agencies. The report is part of the quadrennial National Climate Assessment mandated by Congress in 1990.

The draft was posted on the private nonprofit Internet Archive in January at a time when scientists feared that Trump might halt all climate research. It came to light last week when The New York Times reported that some government scientists were still concerned about potential Trump administration censorship.

The 673-page report largely reflects findings of hundreds, if not thousands, of previous studies of climate change, including those of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This is not surprising: Good science must be replicable.

 This report concludes that “it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

Scientists don’t throw terms like “extremely likely” around casually. It means a 95 percent to 100 percent probability. And yet Pruitt, Trump’s chief environmental official, scoffs at the concept that carbon dioxide released by human activity is a primary cause of global warming.

The draft report ventures into the quickly evolving field of “attribution science,” suggesting that there’s a “very high level of confidence” that global warming is responsible for extreme temperatures and “high confidence” that it’s responsible for extreme precipitation.

The scientific argument is over. It’s silly to deny it. It’s shameful to know it and ignore it.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

World’s biggest problem is – endless Growth: technology will not save us

Why Climate Change Isn’t Our Biggest Environmental Problem, and Why Technology Won’t Save Us, Post Carbon, Richard Heinberg, August 17, 2017 Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom. Overshoot is a systemic issue. Over the past century-and-a-half, enormous amounts of cheap energy from fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing, and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution, and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity. The human system expanded dramatically, overshooting Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for humans while upsetting the ecological systems we depend on for our survival. Until we understand and address this systemic imbalance, symptomatic treatment (doing what we can to reverse pollution dilemmas like climate change, trying to save threatened species, and hoping to feed a burgeoning population with genetically modified crops) will constitute an endlessly frustrating round of stopgap measures that are ultimately destined to fail……..

The strategy of buying time with a techno-fix presumes either that we will be able to institute systemic change at some unspecified point in the future even though we can’t do it just now (a weak argument on its face), or that climate change and all of our other symptomatic crises will in fact be amenable to technological fixes. The latter thought-path is again a comfortable one for managers and investors. After all, everybody loves technology. It already does nearly everything for us.

Hello Humanity, it’s me, Technology. We need to talk

During the last century it solved a host of problems: it cured diseases, expanded food production, sped up transportation, and provided us with information and entertainment in quantities and varieties no one could previously have imagined. Why shouldn’t it be able to solve climate change and all the rest of our problems?

Of course, ignoring the systemic nature of our dilemma just means that as soon as we get one symptom corralled, another is likely to break loose. But, crucially, is climate change, taken as an isolated problem, fully treatable with technology? Color me doubtful.

I say this having spent many months poring over the relevant data with David Fridley of the energy analysis program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Our resulting book, Our Renewable Future, concluded that nuclear power is too expensive and risky; meanwhile, solar and wind power both suffer from intermittency, which (once these sources begin to provide a large percentage of total electrical power) will require a combination of three strategies on a grand scale: energy storage, redundant production capacity, and demand adaptation. At the same time, we in industrial nations will have to adapt most of our current energy usage (which occurs in industrial processes, building heating, and transportation) to electricity. Altogether, the energy transition promises to be an enormous undertaking, unprecedented in its requirements for investment and substitution. When David and I stepped back to assess the enormity of the task, we could see no way to maintain current quantities of global energy production during the transition, much less to increase energy supplies so as to power ongoing economic growth. The biggest transitional hurdle is scale: the world uses an enormous amount of energy currently; only if that quantity can be reduced significantly, especially in industrial nations, could we imagine a credible pathway toward a post-carbon future.

Downsizing the world’s energy supplies would, effectively, also downsize industrial processes of resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and waste management. That’s a systemic intervention, of exactly the kind called for by the ecologists of the 1970s who coined the mantra, “Reduce, reuse, and recycle.” It gets to the heart of the overshoot dilemma—as does population stabilization and reduction, another necessary strategy. But it’s also a notion to which technocrats, industrialists, and investors are virulently allergic.

The ecological argument is, at its core, a moral one—as I explain in more detail in a just-released manifesto replete with sidebars and graphics (There’s No App for That: Technology and Morality in the Age of Climate Change, Overpopulation, and Biodiversity Loss”).  Any systems thinker who understands overshoot and prescribes powerdown as a treatment is effectively engaging in an intervention with an addictive behavior. Society is addicted to growth, and that’s having terrible consequences for the planet and, increasingly, for us as well. We have to change our collective and individual behavior and give up something we depend on—power over our environment. We must restrain ourselves, like an alcoholic foreswearing booze. That requires honesty and soul-searching.

In its early years the environmental movement made that moral argument, and it worked up to a point. Concern over rapid population growth led to family planning efforts around the world. Concern over biodiversity declines led to habitat protection. Concern over air and water pollution led to a slew of regulations. These efforts weren’t sufficient, but they showed that framing our systemic problem in moral terms could get at least some traction.

Why didn’t the environmental movement fully succeed? Some theorists now calling themselves “bright greens” or “eco-modernists” have abandoned the moral fight altogether. Their justification for doing so is that people want a vision of the future that’s cheery and that doesn’t require sacrifice. Now, they say, only a technological fix offers any hope. The essential point of this essay (and my manifesto) is simply that, even if the moral argument fails, a techno-fix won’t work either. A gargantuan investment in technology (whether next-generation nuclear power or solar radiation geo-engineering) is being billed as our last hope. But in reality it’s no hope at all.

The reason for the failure thus far of the environmental movement wasn’t that it appealed to humanity’s moral sentiments—that was in fact the movement’s great strength. The effort fell short because it wasn’t able to alter industrial society’s central organizing principle, which is also its fatal flaw: its dogged pursuit of growth at all cost. Now we’re at the point where we must finally either succeed in overcoming growthism or face the failure not just of the environmental movement, but of civilization itself……

machines won’t make the key choices that will set us on a sustainable path. Systemic change driven by moral awakening: it’s not just our last hope; it’s the only real hope we’ve ever had.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Climate change is swallowing up the Solomon Islands

THE DROWNING ISLES, THE SOLOMON ISLANDS ARE AN ARCHIPELAGO FILLED WITH IDYLLIC BEACHES AND PERFECT WAVES, BUT AS TEMPERATURES AND SEA LEVELS RISE, MUCH OF THEIR PRISTINE COAST IS DISAPPEARINGSurfer ,AUGUST 17, 2017 BY ASHTYN DOUGLAS  “…….A few months prior to our visit, I came in contact with Dr. Simon Albert, a marine scientist at the University of Queensland. He and his colleagues had recently discovered, using time series and satellite imagery, that five Solomon Islands had been swallowed by the sea over the last 70 years, and another six islands had severely eroded. The cause was determined to be accelerated sea-level rise.

“Over the last 20 years, rates of sea-level rise in the Solomon Islands have been three times higher than the global average,” said Albert. “That’s about an 8 or 9 millimeter rise each year.” Half of that number, he explained, is the result of El Niño cycles, which naturally siphon the world’s water into the South Pacific. The other culprit is climate change.

In some parts of the country, this rapid sea-level rise, combined with high wave intensity, has eroded beaches and destroyed people’s properties. Even over the short span of five years, many have watched the ocean come into their villages and carry homes away.

“The changes have been really swift,” said Albert. “People living on those islands are feeling very physically and psychologically insecure because they’re feeling like their entire foundation of life is washing away.”….

This island, [ Beneamina, a small, circular island near Santa Isabel] Albert explained, is now only half the size it was 10 years ago. “When I was there in December, an island nearby had one house on it,” he said. “By the time we returned in February, that house had been washed away.”……

Most people talk about sea-level rise and other consequences of climate change using the future tense — as something our coastal-dwelling grandchildren will have to deal with 100 years from now. But according to Albert, that dystopian future has already arrived in parts of the Solomon Islands. “The rates we’re seeing there are the rates we’re likely to see over the next 50 years around the world as things get worse,” says Albert. “In a way, the Solomon Islands provide a window into the future.”

August 18, 2017 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Climate change: its effects on health

How Climate Change Could Already Be Affecting Your Health, HealthLine,  by Gillian Mohney on August 17, 2017

August 18, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, health | Leave a comment

Global warming is changing the Alps

Global warming ‘is causing the Alps to CRUMBLE’: Huge rock fall in Austria is latest sign of climate change’s effects on the mountain range – with SKI RESORTS at risk, Daily Mail, Temperature is rising twice as fast in the Alps than the global average.

  • Experts say 70 per cent of snow coverage in Switzerland will be gone by 2100
  • The permafrost in the Alps is melting, causing avalanches and landslides
  • This causes mountains crumbling, homes destroyed and water contamination

    By Koen Berghuis and Sara Malm for MailOnline, 18 August 2017   

    Global warming is causing the Alps to literally fall apart, as the rise in temperature is melting snow caps on the mountains, experts warn.

    The Alps’ permafrost – soil, sediment, or rock that stays frozen for at least two years – is thawing rapidly, causing rock avalanches and floods.

    This weekend, Salzburg’s St Johann im Pongau district in Austria was hit by a large rock slide, blocking a major road with clearing and reparation works expected to last at least three weeks.

    Climate experts say that the ski season in the Alps will be significantly shorter in the future, with 70 per cent of the current snow cover in Switzerland gone by the end of the century.

    In the summer months, the Alpine nations can expect mountains crumbling, destruction of infrastructure and even drinking water becoming contaminated by the melting permafrost. Scientists say that the temperature in the Alps has risen by 1.5 degrees Celsius over the last century, double the worldwide average.

    Prof. Dr Karl Krainer, a geologist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, explained: ‘Permafrost is the glue that holds the mountains together above 2,500 metres.’

    ‘Obviously with increased global warming, the level at which permafrost is found is also rising. In the summer months when the permafrost is melting, this is when there is a risk of rockfalls and landslides.’

    Dr Marcia Phillips, the group leader for permafrost and snow climatology at the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) in the Swiss Alpine town of Davos, warned: ‘The consequences are already visible today.’

    Dr Phillips said: ‘The Alps are changing.’

    The Swiss scientists have been monitoring the permafrost at 30 drilling spots since the 1980s. And while they say that for a long time the influence of climate change on the Alpine permafrost was unclear, the consequences are now visible.

    Dr Phillips warned that local people can already see rock walls breaking off, unstable ridges, skidding slopes and even cracked buildings.

    Already cable cars and other mountain infrastructure across Austria and Switzerland have had to be secured in expensive operations.

    State commissioner Hans Mayr, who oversees the Salzburg road network, said that in the future more serious storms are likely to hit the Alps.

    Mr Mayr said: ‘As in the case of flood protection, events that we would expect to happen every 10 or 100 years have to be re-evaluated. Today the rain is much more intense than 20 or 30 years ago.’…….


August 18, 2017 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment

California Scientists Push to Create Massive Climate Research Program

Effort backed by the state’s flagship universities comes as US President Donald Trump shrugs off global warming, Scientific American By Jeff TollefsonNature magazine on August 17, 2017 

California has a history of going it alone to protect the environment. Now, as US President Donald Trump pulls back on climate science and policy, scientists in the Golden State are sketching plans for a home-grown climate-research institute—to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

The initiative, which is backed by California’s flagship universities, is in the early stages of development. If it succeeds, it will represent one of the largest US investments in climate research in years. The nascent ‘California Climate Science and Solutions Institute’ would fund basic- and applied-research projects designed to help the state to grapple with the hard realities of global warming. ……

California might ultimately have some company. At Columbia University in New York City, science dean Peter de Menocal—a palaeoclimatologist—hopes to build an alliance of major universities and philanthropists to support research into pressing questions about the impacts of climate change. Potential topics include local variations in sea-level rise and the changing availability of freshwater resources and food. …..

August 18, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Beneath Antarctica’s ice, 91 previously unknown volcanoes have been found

Another climate-change nightmare: 91 new volcanoes beneath Antarctica’s ice, WP ,  August 15 “….now it turns out Antarctica has problems we didn’t even know about. Deep problems. Volcanoes-under-the-ice problems, which doesn’t sound healthy.

University of Edinburgh researchers on Monday announced the discovery of 91 previously unknown volcanoes under west Antarctica. They do not sound nearly as alarmed as, say, Quartz, which called the possibilities terrifying.

“By themselves the volcanoes wouldn’t be likely to cause the entire ice sheet to melt,” said lead researcher Max Van Wyk de Vries, whose team published the study in the Geological Society in late May. But if the glacier is already melting because of global warming, he said, “if we start reducing significant quantities of ice … you can more or less say that it triggers an eruption.”

In a worst-case scenario, the researchers say, we could see a feedback loop of melting ice that destabilizes volcanoes, which erupt and melt more ice, and so on until Antarctica’s troubles to date seem halcyon in comparison……

While some are quite worried, de Vries doubted that a little blast of molten rock would do much harm to a massive Antarctic ice sheet. Directly, at least.

But he laid out a worst-case scenario in which lava managed to melt through a glacier, and warm ocean water seeped into the hole, and the whole system began melting even faster, potentially unleashing vast magmatic forces beneath the ice.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change | Leave a comment

Stability of East Antarctic ice sheet, even if western ice sheet melts

Study validates East Antarctic ice sheet to remain stable even if western ice sheet melts INDIANA UNIVERSITY, INDIANAPOLIS — A new study from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis validates that the central core of the East Antarctic ice sheet should remain stable even if the West Antarctic ice sheet melts. 

The study’s findings are significant, given that some predict the West Antarctic ice sheet could melt quickly due to global warming.

If the East Antarctic ice sheet, which is 10 times larger than the western ice sheet, melted completely, it would cause sea levels worldwide to rise almost 200 feet, according to Kathy Licht, an associate professor in the Department of Earth Sciences in the School of Science at IUPUI.

Licht led a research team into the Transarctic Mountains in search of physical evidence that would verify whether a long-standing idea was still true: The East Antarctic ice sheet is stable.

The East Antarctic ice sheet has long been considered relatively stable because most of the ice sheet was thought to rest on bedrock above sea level, making it less susceptible to changes in climate. However, recent studies show widespread water beneath it and higher melt potential from impinging ocean water.

The West Antarctic ice sheet is a marine-based ice sheet that is mostly grounded below sea level, which makes it much more susceptible to changes in sea level and variations in ocean temperature.

“Some people have recently found that the East Antarctic ice sheet isn’t as stable as once thought, particularly near some parts of the coast,” Licht said. Recent studies have determined that the perimeter of the East Antarctic ice sheet is potentially more sensitive and that the ice may have retreated and advanced much more dynamically than was thought, Licht said.

“We believed this was a good time to look to the interior of the ice sheet. We didn’t really know what had happened there,” Licht said.

The research team found the evidence confirming the stability of the East Antarctic ice sheet at an altitude of 6,200 feet, about 400 miles from the South Pole at the edge of what’s called the polar plateau, a flat, high surface of the ice sheet covering much of East Antarctica.

To understand how an ice sheet changes through time, a continuous historical record of those changes is needed, according to Licht. The team found layers of sediment and rocks that built up over time, recording the flow of the ice sheet and reflecting climate change. Finding that record was a challenge because glaciers moving on land tend to wipe out and cover up previous movements of the glacier, Licht said.

The big question the team wanted to answer was how sensitive the East Antarctic sheet might be to climate change.

“There are models that predict that the interior of the East Antarctic ice sheet wouldn’t change very much, even if the West Antarctic ice sheet was taken away,” Licht said. According to these models, even if the ice sheet’s perimeter retreats, its core remains stable.

“It turns out that our data supports those models,” she said. “It’s nice to have that validation.”

The team’s research findings are presented in a paper, “East Antarctic ice sheet stability recorded in a high-elevation ice-cored moraine,” that was published today online in the journal Geology. The research presented is in collaboration with Mike Kaplan, Gisela Winckler, Joerg Schaefer and Roseanne Schwartz at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change | Leave a comment

USA brain drain, as climate scientists take up the invitation from France

France’s Climate Science Grants Want To Make The Planet Great Again–And Thousands Have Applied
France’s response to the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord was to offer safe harbor for scientists and entrepreneurs who might lose funding in the U.S. For worried Americans, it might be a good deal. Fast Company,
BY ADELE PETERS ,  In the past, a young American climate researcher with a PhD might have applied to work at NASA or NOAA. Now, some are considering moving to Europe instead.

Since French president Emmanuel Macron announced the “Make Our Planet Great Again” initiative on June 1–inviting climate researchers, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits to come to France, hours after Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement–roughly 11,000 people have applied. The program offers $69 million in support to selected applicants; Germany recently announced that it will join France and offer another $17 million….

The grants are flexible, with no set limits on the amount of time someone can work in France or preference for particular research areas or businesses, as long as they address climate change and are judged to have strong potential…….

“In the U.S., the current administration seems poised to do real damage to U.S. climate science, both in terms of critical observations and the science that goes with it,” says Dennis Hartmann, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. “The effects would be long lasting, as young scientists, especially, would be forced out of the field, and critical observational information would be lost, and some long-term time series broken……

After France made its offer, others have followed: Germany plans to launch its own website as a partner to the initiative. The U.K. also launched a new fund–though not specifically focused on climate–designed to attract international researchers. Canada is similarly investing in a new program to attract international researchers.

France’s program, like the others, is open worldwide, but Americans make up many of the applicants, likely both because of the strength of American academia and business and the current political climate…..

France is hoping that the program can be part of helping the world meet–and even go beyond–the objectives of the Paris agreement to limit global warming. “If collectively, all over the world, we achieve to respect that agreement, it would be a great thing,” says the Elysée source. “Secondly, we want to improve research and an understanding of our world and climate phenomena. A third aspect is that we expect it to deliver hope . . . we do believe that cleantech can offer new jobs, new industries of the future.”

August 18, 2017 Posted by | climate change, France | Leave a comment

Climate denial in America and Australia

The Madhouse Effect: this is how climate denial in Australia and the US compares, The Conversation August 14, 2017 Michael Mann is well known for his classic “hockey stick” work on global warming, for the attacks he has long endured from climate denialists, and for the good fight of communicating the environmental and political realities of climate change.

Mann’s work, including his recent book The Madhouse Effect, has helped me, as a dual US-Australian citizen, think about the similarities and differences between the US and Australia as we respond to what has been called the climate change denial machine.

In both countries, the denialists and distortionists have undermined public knowledge, public policy, new economic development opportunities, and the very value of the environment. Climate policy is being built upon alternative facts, fake news, outright lies, PR spin and industry-written talking points.

From the carbon industry capture of the two major parties, to the Abbott-Turnbull government parroting industry talking points, to coal industry lobbyists as government energy advisers, to the outright idiotic conspiracy pronouncements of senators funded and advised by the US- based denial machine, the Madhouse Effect is in full force in Australia.

How we can expose and counter this denialist machine? To partly lay out the task, I will discuss three points of contrast between the US and Australia.

Political culture

There is a key difference between the two countries’ political cultures. As much as the denialists have determined Australian energy and climate policy, they have not been as successful, yet, at undermining deep-seeded respect in Australian culture for the common good, for science, for expertise and knowledge…….

Last year, when the government fired climate scientists at CSIRO, there was another huge public backlash. The government had to step back a bit, both on the actual science to be done and the radical agenda change away from science for the public good.

And again, when the government wanted to support the dubious work of Bjorn Lomborg, that caused an outcry from both the university sector and the public. Even though the government wound up paying more than A$600,000 on what The Australian called his “vanity book project”, they couldn’t import him and plant him at any Australian university.

As Mann says, the main issue in implementing good, sound climate policy is no longer simply the science. The main issue is the cultural understanding of, and respect for the role of science in informing political decisions.

That’s not to say there are no attacks on science – clearly, these continue (such as the recent challenges to normal Bureau of Meteorology practices). But, overall, climate denialists and their enablers are outnumbered outliers in Australia, rather the norm.

The power of the carbon industry

My second point of comparison is not quite as positive.

The problem in Australia is less a culture turning against the Enlightenment, and more the direct political power and influence of the carbon industry. ……

even here I think there is some hope. We have seen, over the last few years, an incredible coalition grow – one focused on the end of carbon mining, on protecting communities, on creating real jobs, and on supporting renewables.

Once-unthinkable coalitions of farmers and Aboriginal communities are fighting new mines, new attacks on sacred and fertile land and water.

We have intensive household investment in rooftop solar – and as the feed-in tariffs are undermined, those folks will increasingly invest in battery storage. And we’re finally seeing states move in this direction, with increasing development of utility-scale renewable and storage projects. As hard as the federal government and its allies resist, renewables are growing and the public supports this – even conservative voters.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Trump uses executive order to reverse Obama-era order aimed at planning for climate change

Trump to reverse Obama-era order aimed at planning for climate change, WP,  August 15  President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that he said would streamline the approval process for building infrastructure such as roads, bridges and offices by eliminating a planning step related to climate change and flood dangers……

The White House confirmed that the order issued Tuesday would revoke an earlier executive order by former President Barack Obama that required recipients of federal funds to strongly consider risk-management standards when building in flood zones, including measures such as elevating structures from the reach of rising water. Obama’s Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, established in 2015, sought to mitigate the risk of flood damage charged to taxpayers when property owners file costly claims.
Climate scientists warn that sea levels will rise substantially in the coming decades, and they say that long-term infrastructure projects will probably face more frequent and serious flood risks……..

August 16, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment