Anti-racist solidarities are changing before our eyes at the #NODAPL Standing Rock protest camp. Race formations are morphing into global Indigenous resistance networks.
the resistance by those first and worst impacted – Indigenous peoples – has placed them on the front line, from where we must credit them as leading this struggle on behalf of the living.
We owe them, yet again.
The Climate Movement Is Indigenous-led https://newmatilda.com/2016/12/02/the-climate-movement-is-indigenous-led/By Liz Conor on December 2, 2016 Dr Liz Conor pays tribute to the resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and Indigenous people the world over who are leading the fight for climate action.
In 1923, Iroquois chief Deskaheh travelled to Geneva to present the grievances of his Six Nations people. Although he was officially ignored, he brought about two seismic shifts on the world stage: He appealed to them as the representative of a sovereign domestic state, and in doing so he forged a shared global identification for all native peoples – Indigenous.
In the decades that followed, growing recognition of shared regimes of oppression in located struggles under the same structure of settler-colonialism (rather than unrelated events) deepened the transnational ties around Indigenous and First Nation as global identifications.
It galvanised around ‘loss of land and subsistence, abrogation of treaties, and the imposition of psychologically and socially destructive assimilation policies’. These classical presentations of what Patrick Wolfe famously called settler colonialism’s ‘logic of elimination’ are presently being enfolded into the resource conflicts that beset the extraction of fossil fuels.
In far-flung but linked sites, Indigenous peoples are fighting, yet again, for their very lives and the land that sustains them. Demands for collective rights to self-determination in international law are being led by increasingly forceful appeals to international bodies to act urgently on their particular exposure – climate change, from rising seas in the Pacific to coastal erosion and flooding in Alaskan villages.
In Australia we’ve seen antagonism between Indigenous ‘stakeholders’ and environmental campaigners, most bitterly over the Queensland Wild River legislation (2005, since repealed). Yet barnstorming alliances have also been formed through the perhaps indelicately named ‘Lock the Gate’ campaign opposing fracking in Gippsland and NSW, between farmers, environmentalists and Indigenous custodians. Lock the Gate is presently advising an Indigenous coalition in the NT on CSG campaigning.
Anti-racist solidarities are increasingly expressed around resource protection and climate change. Very different sovereignties – some summarily seized, others defended, both over centuries – are trying to find common ground under entirely new configurations of anti-racist solidarity.
For those of you who haven’t facebook-checked into the Standing Rock protest camp (with the million who did), the Dakota Access Pipeline is at the moment the foremost instance of alliances against incursion and misappropriation or destruction of Indigenous resources. Over 300 Native American Nations have now converged at the site near Sioux lands at Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
The camp is arguably distinct from the blockades of the environment movement, such as the Franklin River blockade in 1982 and the more recent sustained blockades at the Leard State Forest against the Maules Ck Coal mine. Standing Rock doesn’t identify as part of Naomi Klein’s climate Blockadia, nor do the activists wish to be identified as climate activists first and foremost. Rather their struggle is for water.
The Oceti Sakowin leading the obstruction of boring under the Missouri River and on their sacred land identify as Water Protectors moreso than climate protestors, but the links are drawn in Indigenous media bannered ‘CO2LONIALISM’. In their calls to action against this $3.8 billion, 1,200-mile pipeline which will transfer oil across several states and under America’s largest (Ogallala) Aquifier, they have asked global grassroots climate organizations to respect the protest at Standing Rock as Indigenous-led, and to take directives from them.
The resistance by the Oceti Sakowin and other Native American nations is primarily about heritage, water and sovereignty. So far this is largely respected by organisations as diverse as 350.org, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth.
The erasure of Indigenous presence and agency in environmental struggles has been significantly challenged over the last decade. In amongst today’s coverage, historical continuities are being drawn, the genealogy of treaty perfidies are increasingly written in. The struggle is presented as a continuum of settler-colonial misappropriation and befouling of resources at Standing Rock. It tells us that settler-colonialism is ‘relentlessly active in the present’ and its tenets of expropriation violently enforced by increasingly militarized policing.
Water Protectors have been attacked by the National Guard with rubber bullets, tear gas, mace canisters and water cannons in freezing temperatures leading to dozens of cases of hypothermia. At time of writing, it isn’t clear whether Sophia Wilansky will lose her arm after police threw a concussion grenade directly at her during the face-off on the bridge on Sunday night. Razor wire has been laid on the banks of Cantapeta Creek. The camp is slated to be ‘cleared’ on December 5th.
Expressions of Indigenous pact with the Oceti Sakowin are pouring in from around the world. Australian Aboriginal climate organisations, such as the highly effective SEED (Indigenous youth climate network) and also Palestine artists have pledged support testifying to the global network of dispossessed linking from located sites of resistance.
Israa Suliman, a student and writer in Gaza, penned an open letter that accompanied a video featuring a number of Palestinian artists. She writes, “My ancestors were the indigenous people, just like you. And they suffered the same fate as your people. America’s policy of occupation and displacement through forced marches like the Trail of Tears, and the gradual transfer of so many of your people to massive, impoverished reservations, hurts me deeply because it is so similar to the ethnic cleansing of my ancestors by the Israeli military occupation in what we call al-Nakba (the catastrophe).”
Suliman notes that a large security corporation hired by the pipeline company profits from Israeli prisons. “Like you, we don’t control our natural resources,” Suliman writes. “Just as you were not consulted about the Dakota Access Pipeline that will traverse your land and contaminate your water supply if installed, we are not consulted by Israel, which wants to mine the gas supply in our harbor for its own use and monopolizes the water supply in the West Bank for the green lawns of its own residents – leaving Palestinians parched and dry.” Nor does she fail to draw a parallel to Palestinian expulsion, displacement and occupation, pointing to the five million Palestinian refugees in the global diaspora.
This resource deprivation is perpetrated by multinational fossil fuel conglomerates against Indigenous peoples who are simultaneously defending their homelands while carrying the can for the rest of us on the front line of the climate movement. We settlers owe them under new-yet-old sets of circumstances.
Anti-racist solidarities are changing before our eyes at the #NODAPL Standing Rock protest camp. Race formations are morphing into global Indigenous resistance networks. As Wolfe wrote in his essential read Traces of History, “To be effective, anti-racist solidarities should conjoin as wide a range of historical relationships as colonialism itself has created.”
As the well-worn tenets of settler-colonialism’s land and resource expropriation are rewritten because of its assault on the norms of climate our lives depend on, the resistance by those first and worst impacted – Indigenous peoples – has placed them on the front line, from where we must credit them as leading this struggle on behalf of the living.
We owe them, yet again.
Arctic soils are set to release a lot of carbon — probably more than plants can absorb Author: As temperatures have risen in the Arctic and worldwide, so have worries about how much carbon might stream into the atmosphere from warmer soils.
Will enough new carbon be released from the ground, potentially exacerbating the global warming cycle? And will new-growth carbon dioxide-absorbing plants growing in warmer conditions be able to keep pace?
Now scientists have some better answers to both questions — and they’re troubling.
Globally, warming will drive 55 petagrams (that’s 55 billion metric tons or 55 trillion kilograms) of carbon gases from soils into the atmosphere by mid-century, according to a comprehensive study led by researchers at Yale. That amount is equal to about 17 percent of projected emissions from global fossil-fuel burning and other human activities.
The study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, cites the highest latitudes and highest altitudes as the biggest contributors of carbon from the ground.
While warmer soils all around the world stimulate more of the below-ground microbial activity that produces carbon gases, the changes are most striking in permafrost regions — the Arctic, where warming is happening at least twice as fast as the global rate, and the tops of the highest mountains. In those high latitudes and high altitudes, permafrost thaw is freeing once-locked carbon left by long-ago decayed plants and animals, and making it available to the microbial processes that produces gases that are emitted above the ground.
“Thaw depths are getting deeper,” said study co-author Jeff Welker, a biology professor and Fulbright Distinguished Arctic Chair at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
The global calculation for the mid-century total for carbon emitted from soil — an amount roughly equivalent to all U.S. carbon emissions from human activities — is a gross figure, not the net after uptake by plants above the ground’s surface, Welker said.
But prospects for Arctic plants to absorb the extra carbon gases appear dim, according to another newly published study led by scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
On at least part of Alaska’s North Slope, new carbon streaming out of the soil is already outpacing any carbon uptake by plants on top of the ground and the area has become a net carbon emitter, according to the study, published in the journal Ecosystems.
The UAF-led study monitored eight years of year-round carbon fluxes between the air and the soil, making it a very rare long-term project. (Most studies tracking carbon gas movements only monitor in the summer.) The study used tripod-mounted sensors to measure carbon dioxide, the dominant greenhouse gas, and methane being released and absorbed by different types of tundra at a test site in the Brooks Range foothills……
The result is an ominous sign for the future, signaling more climate-warming gas pouring into a region that has already warmed dramatically, said co-author Syndonia Bret-Harte, also of UAF’s Institute of Arctic Biology.
Global Warming Research in Danger as Trump Appoints Climate Skeptic to NASA Team, The Intercept, ONE OF NASA’S most high-profile projects has been to track historical average global temperature. In January 2016, the agency released data that showed 2015 had been the hottest year on record. “Today’s announcement not only underscores how critical NASA’s Earth observation program is, it is a key data point that should make policy makers stand up and take notice — now is the time to act on climate,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a statement at the time. Since then, NASA’s monthly updates on temperature delivered a steady dose of dread as month after month was declared the hottest recorded.
Now Donald Trump’s first NASA transition team pick is Christopher Shank, a Hill staffer who has said he is unconvinced of a reality that is accepted by the vast majority of climate scientists: that humans are the primary driver of climate change. Shank previously worked for Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican congressman who played a key role in dragging out debates on the basic nature of climate change at a time when the science is settled and action is urgent.
Shank has criticized the type of scientific data NASA regularly releases. As part of a panel in September 2015 at Arizona State University’s Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes, he said, “The rhetoric that’s coming out, the hottest year in history, actually is not backed up by the science — or that the droughts, the fires, the hurricanes, etc., are caused by climate change, but it’s just weather.”…..
Shank’s appointment dovetails with threats from Trump’s advisors to scrap NASA’s research on climate change. In an October op-ed for Space News, Trump campaign advisors Robert Walker and Peter Navarro stated, “NASA should be focused primarily on deep space activities rather than Earth-centric work that is better handled by other agencies.”…….
Shank’s longtime boss Smith, the Republican head of the House Science, Space, and Technology committee, led an effort to slash NASA’s earth science budget this year and in 2011 requested an investigation into the “politicization of NASA.”
Smith is obsessed with combatting what he has called “climate religion.” …… https://theintercept.com/2016/12/01/global-warming-research-in-danger-as-trump-appoints-climate-skeptic-to-nasa-team/
World cities seek $375 bn to fight climate change, Phys.org, December 2, 2016 The world’s big cities will need $375 billion of investment to curb climate change, a large gathering of mayors heard in Mexico on Thursday. “It is a lot, but there is no other option. Together we will seek that money,” said the new president of the C40 network of big cities, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
If that amount is made available “humanity will have a chance of surviving,” she told a gathering of C40 mayors in Mexico.
The mayors were meeting to plot strategy in the face of climate skepticism from US President-elect Donald Trump.
They said they planned to make commitments to reduce harmful emissions by promoting cycling in cities and renewable energy, among other measures.
In one such initiative, the mayors of Paris, Mexico City and Madrid said in a statement Thursday they had committed to ridding their cities of diesel engines by 2025 to improve air quality.
As leaders of busy, polluted cities that are home to millions of people, the mayors gathered in Mexico City want countries to push on with adopting the so-called Paris Agreement to limit harmful emissions.
Trump has cast doubt on the accord, which aims to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels……With only one degree Celsius of warming so far, the world has already seen an upsurge in extreme weather, including droughts, superstorms, heat waves and coastal flooding boosted by rising seas. http://phys.org/news/2016-12-world-cities-bn-climate.html#jCp
Standing Rock: US military veterans back North Dakota pipeline protests, ABC News 3 Dec 16, US military veterans plan to build a barracks at a protest camp in North Dakota to support thousands of activists in frigid conditions opposing a multi-billion-dollar pipeline project near the Standing Rock Native American reservation.
- Veterans have started arriving at Oceti Sakowin camp, aim to form a wall in front of police to protect the protesters
- Native Americans and protesters say pipeline threatens water resources and sacred sites
- Number of protesters in recent weeks has topped 1,000
Veterans volunteering to be human shields have been arriving at the Oceti Sakowin camp near the small town of Cannon Ball, where they will work with protesters who have spent months demonstrating against plans to route the Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the Sioux reservation, organisers said.
The Native Americans and protesters said the $US3.8 billion pipeline threatened water resources and sacred sites.
Some of the more than 2,100 veterans who signed up on the Veterans Stand for Standing Rock group’s Facebook page are at the camp, with hundreds more expected during the weekend.
Tribal leaders asked the veterans, who aim to form a wall in front of police to protect the protesters, to avoid confrontation with authorities and not get arrested.
The plan was for veterans to gather in Eagle Butte, a few hours away, and then travel by bus to the main protest camp, organisers said, adding that a big procession was planned for Monday.
Protesters began setting up tents, tepees and other structures in April and the numbers swelled in August at the main camp.
Joshua Tree, 42, from Los Angeles, who has been visiting the camp for weeks at a time since September, said he felt pulled to the protest.
“Destiny called me here,” he said at the main camp.
Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Pussy Riot petition Obama
Adding to the momentum of the protests, more than 150 musicians including members of Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Moby and Tegan & Sara have signed an open letter calling on President Barack Obama to “revoke the permits” for the pipeline construction.
British recording artist Kate Nash organised the petition in order to take a stand against what she describes as the “extremely aggressive tactics” used by police against the activists.
The letter, addressed to “President Obama, Army Corps of Engineers, and Department of Justice”, compared the treatment of activists by police to “inhumane methods used during WWII”.
“We call on the White House to deny the easement now, revoke the permits, remove the DAPL construction workers, and order a full environmental impact statement,” the letter said.
“Know that the world’s eyes and the eyes of the music community are on you now as you continue to disregard the treaties you have with the Native American people and act barbarically towards them.”
Nash told Vice News’ Noisey wesbite that now more than ever it is important for musicians to be using their influence for political ends.
“Donald Trump is to become president, people connected to Trump are heiling in meetings, there’s a normalisation of white supremacists. It’s a very important time for us to be holding America to account,” she said.
‘It’s time for them to go home’
The activists’ voices have been heard by companies linked to the pipeline as well, including banks that have been targeted by protesters for their financing of the pipeline……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-03/us-military-veterans-back-north-dakota-pipeline-protests/8089562
I could fill this newspaper with the names of Trump staffers who have emerged from such groups:
Frightened by Donald Trump? You don’t know the half of it, Guardian, George Monbiot, 1 Dec 16 Many of his staffers are from an opaque corporate misinformation network. We must understand this if we are to have any hope of fighting back against them. Yes, Donald Trump’s politics are incoherent. But those who surround him know just what they want, and his lack of clarity enhances their power. To understand what is coming, we need to understand who they are. I know all too well, because I have spent the past 15 years fighting them.
Over this time, I have watched as tobacco, coal, oil, chemicals and biotech companies have poured billions of dollars into an international misinformation machine composed of thinktanks, bloggers and fake citizens’ groups. Its purpose is to portray the interests of billionaires as the interests of the common people, to wage war against trade unions and beat down attempts to regulate business and tax the very rich. Now the people who helped run this machine are shaping the government.
I first encountered the machine when writing about climate change. The fury and loathing directed at climate scientists and campaigners seemed incomprehensible until I realised they were fake: the hatred had been paid for. The bloggers and institutes whipping up this anger were funded by oil and coal companies.
Among those I clashed with was Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). The CEI calls itself a thinktank, but looks to me like a corporate lobbying group. It is not transparent about its funding, but we now know it has received $2m from ExxonMobil, more than $4m from a group called the Donors Trust (which represents various corporations and billionaires), $800,000 from groups set up by the tycoons Charles and David Koch, and substantial sums from coal, tobacco and pharmaceutical companies.
For years, Ebell and the CEI have attacked efforts to limit climate change, through lobbying, lawsuits and campaigns. An advertisement released by the institute had the punchline “Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution. We call it life.”
It has sought to eliminate funding for environmental education, lobbied against the Endangered Species Act, harried climate scientists and campaigned in favour of mountaintop removal by coal companies. In 2004, Ebell sent a memo to one of George W Bush’s staffers calling for the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to be sacked. Where is Ebell now? Oh – leading Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Charles and David Koch – who for years have funded extreme pro-corporate politics – might not have been enthusiasts for Trump’s candidacy, but their people were all over his campaign. Until June, Trump’s campaign manager was Corey Lewandowski, who like other members of Trump’s team came from a group called Americans for Prosperity (AFP).
This purports to be a grassroots campaign, but it was founded and funded by the Koch brothers. It set up the first Tea Party Facebook page and organised the first Tea Party events. With a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, AFP has campaigned ferociously on issues that coincide with the Koch brothers’ commercial interests in oil, gas, minerals, timber and chemicals.
In Michigan, it helped force through the “right to work bill”, in pursuit of what AFP’s local director called “taking the unions out at the knees”. It has campaigned nationwide against action on climate change. It has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into unseating the politicians who won’t do its bidding and replacing them with those who will.
I could fill this newspaper with the names of Trump staffers who have emerged from such groups: people such as Doug Domenech, from the Texas Public Policy Foundation, funded among others by the Koch brothers, Exxon and the Donors Trust; Barry Bennett, whose Alliance for America’s Future (now called One Nation) refused to disclose its donors when challenged; and Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, funded by Exxon and others. This is to say nothing of Trump’s own crashing conflicts of interest. Trump promised to “drain the swamp” of the lobbyists and corporate stooges working in Washington. But it looks as if the only swamps he’ll drain will be real ones, as his team launches its war on the natural world……… https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/30/donald-trump-george-monbiot-misinformation#comment-88633094
Climate change will stir ‘unimaginable’ refugee crisis, says military Unchecked global warming is greatest threat to 21st-century security where mass migration could be ‘new normal’, say senior military, Guardian, Damian Carrington, 1 Dec 16, Climate change is set to cause a refugee crisis of “unimaginable scale”, according to senior military figures, who warn that global warming is the greatest security threat of the 21st century and that mass migration will become the “new normal”.
The generals said the impacts of climate change were already factors in the conflicts driving a current crisis of migration into Europe, having been linked to the Arab Spring, the war in Syria and the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency.
Military leaders have long warned that global warming could multiply and accelerate security threats around the world by provoking conflicts and migration. They are now warning that immediate action is required.
“Climate change is the greatest security threat of the 21st century,” said Maj Gen Munir Muniruzzaman, chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on climate change and a former military adviser to the president of Bangladesh. He said one metre of sea level rise will flood 20% of his nation. “We’re going to see refugee problems on an unimaginable scale, potentially above 30 million people.”
Previously, Bangladesh’s finance minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, called on Britain and other wealthy countries to accept millions of displaced people.
Brig Gen Stephen Cheney, a member of the US Department of State’s foreign affairs policy board and CEO of the American Security Project, said: “Climate change could lead to a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. We’re already seeing migration of large numbers of people around the world because of food scarcity, water insecurity and extreme weather, and this is set to become the new normal.
“Climate change impacts are also acting as an accelerant of instability in parts of the world on Europe’s doorstep, including the Middle East and Africa,” Cheney said. “There are direct links to climate change in the Arab Spring, the war in Syria, and the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency in sub-Saharan Africa.”……https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/01/climate-change-trigger-unimaginable-refugee-crisis-senior-military
Addressing a group of scientists that included theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, the pope gave his strongest speech on the environment since the election of Trump, who has threatened to pull out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
“The ‘distraction’ or delay in implementing global agreements on the environment shows that politics has become submissive to a technology and economy which seek profit above all else,” Francis said.
Francis, who wrote an encyclical, or papal letter, on the environment last year, took a swipe at those who dispute that climate change is caused by human activity, criticising “the ease with which well-founded scientific opinion about the state of our planet is disregarded”.
During the campaign, Trump called climate change a hoax.
Last week he appeared to soften his stance, telling The New York Times he was keeping “an open mind” and that there might be “some connectivity” between human activity and global warming.
But days later, Reince Priebus, Trump’s designated White House chief-of-staff, told Fox News that the president-elect still believed climate change was mostly “a bunch of bunk”.
In his speech, the Pope said scientists should “work free of political, economic or ideological interests, to develop a cultural model which can face the crisis of climatic change and its social consequences”.
A US withdrawal from the pact, agreed to by almost 200 countries, would set back international efforts to limit rising temperatures that have been linked to the extinction of animals and plants, heat waves, floods and rising sea levels.
Francis called for “an ecological conversion capable of supporting and promoting sustainable development”.
He said humans could not consider themselves “owners and masters of nature, authorised to plunder it without any consideration of its hidden potential and laws of development”.
n his encyclical last year to the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, the Pope called for swift action to save the planet from environmental ruin and urged world leaders to hear “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”.
The Big Blue Elephant in the Room, A Medium Corporation Dr. Sylvia A. Earle & John Bridgelan, 26 Nov 16
Although the recent UN General Assembly meetings in New York City included the largest gathering of world leaders ever to address climate change, the largest factor in our climate cycle was missing from the discussions — the ocean.
Disregard for the ocean as the primary driver of climate and weather might be forgiven 50 years ago, but now we know: the living ocean governs planetary chemistry; regulates temperature; generates most of the oxygen in the sea and atmosphere; powers the water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles; and holds 97 percent of Earth’s water and 97 percent of the biosphere. Quite simply, no ocean, no life. No blue, no green. If not for the ocean, there would be no climate to discuss or anyone around to debate the issues……
Whatever the rationale, it is not rational that Earth’s dominant feature is not sufficiently addressed in important policy discussions about energy, the environment, economy, health, and security. It is especially perplexing that the ocean is getting short shrift in the current climate policy discussions.
Much attention is given to the impact of burning of fossil fuels on accelerated warming, inundated shorelines, and adaptation strategies for where and how people will live in the future. Far less note is being accorded to the changes in ocean chemistry as excess carbon dioxide absorbed by the ocean is increasing the acidity of the water. This is why it is so important to have Years of Living Dangerously helping to document the climate change impacts in our oceans and sharing it with the public. In Episode 5, Joshua Jackson travels to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to look at the devastating impacts of ocean warming on the world’s largest reef system, and he explores the predicted impact of ocean acidification. In the Philippines, he looks at the impact of climate change in a place where hundreds of millions of people rely on healthy reefs for food, income and protection from storms……..https://medium.com/@yearsoflivingdangerously/the-big-blue-elephant-in-the-room-29d1a0c5f423#.p6e58alfv
We must be prepared for the impact of Bolivia’s fast-melting glaciers
The country’s glaciers are leaving behind lakes that could cause catastrophic flooding of vast metropolitan areas. Simon Cook considers the impact on communities living below the waters, The Independent, Simon Cook Thursday 27 October 2016 Bolivia’s glaciers have shrunk by more than 40 per cent in the past few decades. This puts further pressure on an already stressed water supply, while the meltwater lakes left behind risk collapsing in sudden and catastrophic outburst floods. That’s the conclusion of a new study of the country’s glaciers I conducted with colleagues based in the UK and Bolivia. Our results are published in the journal The Cryosphere.
Although Bolivia sits in the tropics, the Andes run through the country like a spine. Many mountains exceed 6,000 metres, among the highest outside of south and central Asia, meaning that glaciers can exist here. Indeed, Bolivia contains around 20 per cent of the world’s so-called “tropical glaciers”. But these glaciers are very sensitive to the effects of a warming climate. Our study shows that Bolivian glaciers have shrunk by around 43 per cent since the mid-1980s – a period marked by increasing temperatures. We estimate that these glaciers will be much diminished by the end of the century.
102 Million Trees Have Died in California’s Drought http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/50164 California’s six years of drought has left 102 million dead trees across 7.7 million acres of forest in its wake, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced following an aerial survey. If that is not horrendous enough, 62 million trees died in the year 2016 alone—an increase of more than 100 percent compared to 2015.
“The scale of die-off in California is unprecedented in our modern history,” Randy Moore, a forester for the U.S. Forest Service, told the Los Angeles Times, adding that trees are dying “at a rate much quicker than we thought.”
“You look across the hillside on a side of the road, and you see a vast landscape of dead trees,” added Adrian Das, a U.S. Geological Survey ecologist whose office is located in Sequoia National Park. “It’s pretty startling.”
Most of the dead trees are located in 10 counties in the southern and central Sierra Nevada region.
“Five consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and warmer temperatures are leading to these historic levels of tree die-off,” the USFS said.
Continue reading at ENN affiliate, Care2
NuClearNews No 90 3. 26 Nov 16
The kind of analysis pioneered by No2NuclearPower in 2005 on the contribution nuclear power might make to tackling climate change (1) has been updated by Fairewinds Associates.
The World Nuclear Association industry trade group estimates that an additional 1.1 Gigatonnes of CO2 would have been created in 2015 if natural gas plants supplied the electricity instead of 438 nuclear stations. That’s 1.1 additional Gt out of 36 Gt – only a 3% difference. Put another way, each of the 438 individual nuclear plants contribute less than seven thousandths of one percent to CO2 reduction. (2)
The World Nuclear Association (WNA) has a plan to build 1,000 new nuclear plants by 2050 (1,000GW) – that means commissioning a new plant on average every 12 days for the next 33 years. It says this is what we need to mitigate global warming. MIT says annual emissions will increase to 64Gt per year by 2050 even if Paris is implemented successfully.
If we build 1,000GW of nuclear capacity we could decrease CO2 emissions by 6.15%
For humanity the $8.2 trillion represents an opportunity cost. Precious time and money wasted. CO2 concentrations will grow by 34ppm in the atmosphere by 2050 while we’re waiting for those nuclear plants to come on line. The 6.15% offset will never be enough to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere by 34ppm. Solar costs have dropped from about 7c/kWh to 3c/kWh since 2013. Electricity from Hinkley Point C will cost about 12c/kWh
Constructing these reactor would cost $8,200,000,000,000 = $8.2 trillion
For humanity the $8.2 trillion represents an opportunity cost. Precious time and money wasted. CO2 concentrations will grow by 34ppm in the atmosphere by 2050 while we’re waiting for those nuclear plants to come on line. The 6.15% offset will never be enough to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere by 34ppm.
Solar costs have dropped from about 7c/kWh to 3c/kWh since 2013. Electricity from Hinkley Point C will cost about 12c/kWh
Lazard Financial Advisory and Asset Management, with no dog in the fight, says the $8.2 TRILLION could be better spent on less expensive alternatives to get more bang for the buck! Lazard also estimates that solar or wind would be 80% less expensive for the equivalent amount of peak electric output. (3) http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo90.pdf
The report, billed as the first comprehensive study of ecosystems and societies in the region, found: “The potential effects of Arctic regime shifts [or tipping points] on the rest of the world are substantial, yet poorly understood. Human-driven climate change greatly increases the risk of Arctic regime shifts, so reducing global greenhouse gas emissions is crucial to reducing this risk.”
Arctic ice melt could trigger uncontrollable climate change at global levelhttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/25/arctic-ice-melt-trigger-uncontrollable-climate-change-global-level
Scientists warn increasingly rapid melting could trigger polar ‘tipping points’ with catastrophic consequences felt as far away as the Indian Ocean, Guardian, Fiona Harvey, 25 Nov 16, Arctic scientists have warned that the increasingly rapid melting of the ice cap risks triggering 19 “tipping points” in the region that could have catastrophic consequences around the globe.
The Arctic Resilience Report found that the effects of Arctic warming could be felt as far away as the Indian Ocean, in a stark warning that changes in the region could cause uncontrollable climate change at a global level.
Temperatures in the Arctic are currently about 20C above what would be expected for the time of year, which scientists describe as “off the charts”. Sea ice is at the lowest extent ever recorded for the time of year.
“The warning signals are getting louder,” said Marcus Carson of the Stockholm Environment Institute and one of the lead authors of the report. “[These developments] also make the potential for triggering [tipping points] and feedback loops much larger.”
Climate tipping points occur when a natural system, such as the polar ice cap, undergoes sudden or overwhelming change that has a profound effect on surrounding ecosystems, often irreversible
In the Arctic, the tipping points identified in the new report, published on Friday, include: growth in vegetation on tundra, which replaces reflective snow and ice with darker vegetation, thus absorbing more heat; higher releases of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from the tundra as it warms; shifts in snow distribution that warm the ocean, resulting in altered climate patterns as far away as Asia, where the monsoon could be effected; and the collapse of some key Arctic fisheries, with knock-on effects on ocean ecosystems around the globe.
The research, compiled by 11 organisations including the Arctic Council and six universities, comes at a critical time, not only because of the current Arctic temperature rises but in political terms.
Aides to the US president-elect, Donald Trump, this week unveiled plans to remove the budget for climate change science currently used by Nasa and other US federal agencies for projects such as examining Arctic changes, and to spend it instead on space exploration.
“That would be a huge mistake,” said Carson, noting that much more research needs to be done on polar tipping points before we can understand the true dangers, let alone hope to tackle them. “It would be like ripping out the aeroplane’s cockpit instruments while you are in mid-flight.”
He added: “These are very serious problems, very serious changes are happening, but they are still poorly understood. We need more research to understand them. A lot of the major science is done by the US.”
Scientists have speculated for some years that so-called feedback mechanisms – by which the warming of one area or type of landscape has knock-on effects for whole ecosystems – could suddenly take hold and change the dynamics of Arctic ice melting from a relatively slow to a fast-moving phenomenon with unpredictable and potentially irreversible consequences for global warming. For instance, when sea ice shrinks it leaves areas of dark ocean that absorb more heat than the reflective ice, which in turn causes further shrinkage, and so on in a spiral.
The Arctic ice cap helps to cool sea and air temperatures, by reflecting much of the sun’s radiation back into space, and acting as a global cooler when winds and ocean currents swirl over and under it. It has long been known to play a key part of the global climate system, but the difficulty and expense of close monitoring have meant that scientists have only in recent years been able to make detailed assessments.
The report, billed as the first comprehensive study of ecosystems and societies in the region, found: “The potential effects of Arctic regime shifts [or tipping points] on the rest of the world are substantial, yet poorly understood. Human-driven climate change greatly increases the risk of Arctic regime shifts, so reducing global greenhouse gas emissions is crucial to reducing this risk.”
The authors also warned that people living in and near the Arctic would be badly affected, and called for communities to be provided with equipment and skills to survive. They took evidence from a variety of settlements in the region, finding many signs of stark changes already under way.
Joel Clement, co-chair of the project and director of the office of policy analysis at the US Department of the Interior, said: “This groundbreaking report is an unprecedented effort to gain insight from what is happening on the ground. The findings are foundational to a more informed, coordinated response to building resilience across the region.”
Perils of Climate Change Could Swamp Coastal Real Estate [compelling photos] Homeowners are slowly growing wary of buying property in the areas most at risk, setting up a potential economic time bomb in an industry that is struggling to adapt.
NYT, By IAN URBINANOV. 24, 2016 MIAMI — Real estate agents looking to sell coastal properties usually focus on one thing: how close the home is to the water’s edge. But buyers are increasingly asking instead how far back it is from the waterline. How many feet above sea level? Is it fortified against storm surges? Does it have emergency power and sump pumps?
Rising sea levels are changing the way people think about waterfront real estate. Though demand remains strong and developers continue to build near the water in many coastal cities, homeowners across the nation are slowly growing wary of buying property in areas most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
A warming planet has already forced a number of industries — coal, oil, agriculture and utilities among them — to account for potential future costs of a changed climate. The real estate industry, particularly along the vulnerable coastlines, is slowly awakening to the need to factor in the risks of catastrophic damage from climate change, including that wrought by rising seas and storm-driven flooding.
But many economists say that this reckoning needs to happen much faster and that home buyers urgently need to be better informed. Some analysts say the economic impact of a collapse in the waterfront property market could surpass that of the bursting dot-com and real estate bubbles of 2000 and 2008.
The fallout would be felt by property owners, developers, real estate lenders and the financial institutions that bundle and resell mortgages.
Over the past five years, home sales in flood-prone areas grew about 25 percent less quickly than in counties that do not typically flood, according to county-by-county data from Attom Data Solutions, the parent company of RealtyTrac. Many coastal residents are rethinking their investments and heading for safer ground.
“I don’t see how this town is going to defeat the water,” said Brent Dixon, a resident of Miami Beach who plans to move north and away from the coast in anticipation of worsening king tides, the highest predicted tide of the year. “The water always wins.”
These concerns have taken on a new urgency since the presidential election of Donald J. Trump, who has long been a skeptic of global warming, claiming in 2012 that it was a concept “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive.”
A real estate developer, Mr. Trump is also the owner of several South Florida properties, including Mar-a-Lago, a 20-acre site that stretches between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway in Palm Beach.
Mr. Trump’s recent selection of Myron Ebell to lead his Environmental Protection Agency transition team intensified these worries in Florida and among many climate scientists. Mr. Ebell has helped lead the charge against the scientific consensus that global warming exists and is caused by people.
State lawmakers in Massachusetts and New Jersey are pushing to impose new rules on real estate agents and others, obligating them to disclose climate-related damage like previous flooding.
Banks and insurers need to protect their collateral and investors more by improving their methods for estimating climate-change risks and creating more standardized rules for reporting them publicly, economists warn.
In April, Sean Becketti, the chief economist for Freddie Mac, the government-backed mortgage giant, issued a dire prediction. It is only a matter of time, he wrote, before sea level rise and storm surges become so unbearable along the coast that people will leave, ditching their mortgages and potentially triggering another housing meltdown — except this time, it would be unlikely that these housing prices would ever recover.
“Some residents will cash out early and suffer minimal losses,” he wrote. “Others will not be so lucky.”
Bull’s-Eye for Property Damage
Much of the uncertainty surrounding climate change focuses on the pace of the rise in sea levels. But some argue that this misses the point because property values will probably go under water long before the properties themselves do.
What is often called “nuisance” flooding — inundation caused more by tides than weather — is already affecting property values. Often just a foot or two deep, this type of flooding can stop traffic, swamp basements, damage cars and contaminate groundwater.
Florida has six of the 10 American urban centers most vulnerable to storm surge, according to a 2016 report from CoreLogic, a real estate data firm. Southeast Florida experiences about 10 tidal floods per year now. That number is likely to be around 240 floods per year by 2045, according to climate researchers……..http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/24/science/global-warming-coastal-real-estate.html?_r=0
How Cities Plan to Fight Climate Change in the Trump Years Local leaders learned how to take action when Washington couldn’t. Now they’re betting those efforts can survive an age of science-denying federal overlords. City Lab, JOHN METCALFE and LAURA BLISS Nov 22, 2016
What impact will Donald Trump’s league of global-warming deniers and fossil-fuel boosters have on U.S. climate action? The short-term prognosis might not be as damaging as some fear
, but the broader implications aren’t good. The president-elect has proposed slashing federal funding for clean energy development, resurrecting the coal industry, backing out of the Paris agreement, and essentially ditching the EPA. Trump won’t be able to do it all
, but it seems safe to assume that for the next four years, domestic climate policy will be in the deep freezer—while the rest of us heat up.
Yet local leaders across the U.S. don’t need to be persuaded of the devastating impacts of climate change—environmentally, socially, and financially speaking—even if Trump and his top advisers do. Global warming’s effects are perhaps easiest to see on the local scale, with rising tides, melting snowcaps, and drier summers. A significant part what’s causing these changes lies in urban centers, which generate an estimated 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and house more than 50 percent of the population.
And U.S. cities have the power to shrink that footprint and prepare for the worst, even in the absence of financial or regulatory support from the federal government. Congress has long stalled on advancing climate policies, anyways—while cities have taken control of crucial variables that determine emissions and sustainability: renewable-energy programs, bus-rapid transit and rail, shared mobility, protections against flooding and the ever-rising seas.
Many local leaders say that this work has become more important than ever. Here are five American cities that have made real climate progress in ways that they plan to continue in the years of a Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress.