nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Environmental Protection Agency dismisses at least five members of a major scientific review board

E.P.A. Dismisses Members of Major Scientific Review Board MAY 7, 2017 WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has dismissed at least five members of a major scientific review board, the latest signal of what critics call a campaign by the Trump administration to shrink the agency’s regulatory reach by reducing the role of academic research.

May 10, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Medical scientists report on impact of climate change on health in USA

Medical scientists report on the impact climate change is having on health https://www.skepticalscience.com/medical-scientists-report-climate-health-impact.html5 May 2017 by John Abraham mEDICAL sCIENTISAs a climate scientist, I spend time and energy studying how fast the Earth is warming and what is causing the warming. This knowledge helps us predict what the future will look like. But, what most people are interested in is, “how will it affect me?”

Some impacts we are pretty clear about, like the impacts related to sea level rise, increased storms and heavy precipitation, and increased drought and heat waves – particularly the impacts these events have on the economy. But climate change will affect us personally as well (by personally, I mean our physical person).

In fact, climate change is already affecting personal human health around the world. This subject was the focus of a summary report just published by the Medical Society Consortium. What I really liked about this report is that it breaks down some of the key impacts by region. Unfortunately, the report is limited in scope to the USA. However, the general conclusions and trends can be illuminating for people outside the USA as well.

What was also welcome is that this report was prepared by physicians (not climatescientists) of major medical societies and the conclusions are based on the best available and current information of both the climate and health fields.

So what did they find? Perhaps most importantly they find that climate change is already affecting our health. This isn’t a future problem for the next generation. It is a problem that is present and growing. They also report that some populations are more susceptible to climate change effects. Among the most vulnerable groups are children, student athletes, pregnant women, elderly, people with chronic health conditions, and the impoverished. A third key takeaway is that the problems will get much worse as climate change continues.

The study reports that if you live on the West Coast, wildfires, extreme temperatures, poorer air quality, extreme weather events, and agricultural risks are occurring. On the East Coast, you can add vector-borne diseases as a risk area. The central USA region is also similarly being affected.

As you dig deeper into the report, you learn about how these various climate-related features are affecting health. Each factor is dealt with by three questions: 1) What is happening? 2) How does it harm our health? 3) Who is being harmed?

For instance, with respect to extreme weather, the report correctly notes that the frequency and severity of some weather events such as heavy downpours, floods, droughts, and major storms are increasing. This harms our health because these events can cause direct injury and death as well as displacement. Extreme weather can also harm vital infrastructure like communication systems, homes, and reduce the availability of clean water and food. Finally, extreme weather can lead to acute outbreaks of infectious disease while at the same time reducing access to health care.

Click here to read the rest

May 8, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Latest climate and renewable energy news

So much news is coming out, particularly about the speedy development of renewable energy, that I cannot keep up. Here are brief notes:

Climate Change
There are diseases hidden in ice, and they are waking up.
Long-dormant bacteria and viruses, trapped in ice and permafrost for centuries, are reviving as Earth’s climate warms.
http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/t/-995200128361634098

Increased scrutiny of climate-change models should be welcomed.
The apparent slowdown in global warming has provided a spur for better understanding of the underlying processes.
http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/t/-995200128361634093

Modest climate change bill draws sponsors from both sides of the aisle.
A small but increasingly vocal group of Republicans is embracing the reality of global warming and taking small steps to press the issue in Congress.
http://www.dailyclimate.org/t/-995200128361634108

Health and climate change
The World Health Organisation’s director-general describes climate change as ‘the fifth horseman’ of the apocalypse, as doctors are encouraged to speak out more about illness and death caused by extreme weather.
https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/2017/05/06/health-and-climate-change/14939928004580

Is Climate Changing Cloud Heights? Too Soon to Say
A new analysis of 15 years of NASA satellite cloud measurements finds that clouds worldwide show no definitive trend during this period toward decreasing or increasing in height. The new study updates an earlier analysis of the first 10 years of the same data that suggested cloud heights might be getting lower.
http://www.enn.com/climate/article/51190

Medical scientists report on the impact climate change is having on health.
John Abraham The Guardian
As a climate scientist, I spend time and energy studying how fast the Earth is warming and what is causing the warming.
http://www.dailyclimate.org/t/-995200128361633609

The great climate silence: we are on the edge of the abyss but we ignore it
Clive Hamilton
We continue to plan for the future as if climate scientists don’t exist. The greatest shame is the absence of a sense of tragedy
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/05/the-great-climate-silence-we-are-on-the-edge-of-the-abyss-but-we-ignore-it
Sustainability
‘We must leave Earth in 100 years’
THE world’s smartest man says the future of humanity requires us to colonise another planet – and we have to do it soon.
http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/stephen-hawking-warns-that-humans-must-leave-earth-in-100-years/news-story/4b979ea1ab2d0fe6f3eb68f45b0d25c0

Bangladesh coal plant could cause 6,000 early deaths.
A giant coal-fired power plant approved by Bangladesh could drastically worsen air pollution for millions and cause the early deaths of 6,000 people over its lifetime, Greenpeace said Friday.
http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/t/-995200128361632465

Could towing icebergs to hot places solve the world’s water shortages?
The idea of towing an iceberg from Antarctica to the UAE sounds fantastical, but might not be entirely beyond the realms of plausibility
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/05/could-towing-icebergs-to-hot-places-solve-the-worlds-water-shortage

We would need 1.7 Earths to make our consumption sustainable.
The U.S. is the second least sustainable country in the world. Trump could make it even worse.
http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/t/-995200128361633432

Scientists take on greenhouse gas challenge.
Ingenuity in laboratories worldwide is harnessing microbes, water and hot air to produce different types of renewable energy from greenhouse gas.
http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/t/-995200128361632292

Following Recent Surge, Wind Now Generates 5.5 Percent of U.S. Electricity
The U.S. wind energy industry experienced its fastest first-quarter growth since 2009, installing 2,000 new megawatts of capacity — enough to power about 500,000 homes — on its way to producing 5.5 percent of the country’s electricity.
http://www.enn.com/energy/article/51187

May 6, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, renewable | Leave a comment

Is the climate consensus 97%, 99.9%, or is plate tectonics a hoax?

Is the climate consensus 97%, 99.9%, or is plate tectonics a hoax?, Guardian, Dana Nuccitelli, 3 May 17 

A new study argues the 97% climate consensus estimate is too low, while deniers claim it’s too high 
Four years ago, my colleagues and I published a paper finding a 97% consensus in the peer-reviewed literature on human-caused global warming. Since then, it’s been the subject of constant myths, misinformation, and denial. In fact, last year we teamed up with the authors of six other consensus papers, showing that with a variety of different approaches, we all found the expert consensus on human-caused global warming is 90–100%.

Most of the critiques of our paper claim the consensus is somehow below 97%. For example, in a recent congressional hearing, Lamar Smith (R-TX) claimed we had gone wrong by only considering “a small sample of a small sample” of climate studies, and when estimated his preferred way, it’s less than 1%. But in a paper published last year, James Powell argued that the expert consensus actually higher – well over 99%.

We thus had three quite different estimates of the expert consensus on human-caused global warming: less than 1%, 97%, or 99.99%. So which is right?

Testing the 97% approach with plate tectonics

Yesterday, the Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society published our response to Powell, led by Andy Skuce. To determine who’s right, we turned our sights on the theory of plate tectonics………

Does it matter if the climate consensus is 97% or 99.9%?

The title of our paper asked, “Does it matter if the consensus on anthropogenic global warming is 97% or 99.99%?” Either way, the public dramatically underestimates the level of expert consensus. When asked how many climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming, the average answer is between half and two-thirds – a far cry from the 97% reality. Just 12% of Americans realize the consensus is higher than 90%.

We call this discrepancy the “consensus gap,” and it’s important because the expert consensus is a “gateway belief.” When people are aware of the consensus, they’re more likely to accept the scientific reality of human-caused global warming, and to support policies to tackle the problem. Right now, most people consider climate change a low priority because they think scientists are still divided on what’s causing global warming.

In reality that question was settled decades ago, but a fossil fuel-funded misinformation campaign combined with false balance in the media have created this misperception of a divided scientific community. Thus it really doesn’t matter if the expert consensus is 97% or 99.99% – the vast majority of Americans don’t even realize it’s above 90%. That’s in large part because so many Republican Party leaders like Lamar Smith – who rely on campaign funding from the fossil fuel industry – put so much effort into sowing doubt about the expert consensus. As Republican strategist Frank Luntz wrote nearly 20 years ago:

Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.

That means the rest of us need to make communicating the 97% consensus as widely as possible a priority to move “the debate” past consensus denial. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/may/03/is-the-climate-consensus-97-999-or-is-plate-tectonics-a-hoax

May 5, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

NAOMI ORESKES AND JEREMY JONES – need for a price on carbon

Want to protect the climate? Time for carbon pricing  HTTPS://WWW.BOSTONGLOBE.COM/OPINION/2017/05/02/WANT-PROTECT-CLIMATE-TIME-FOR-CARBON-PRICING/MEUNGZH4DASOT7F8W4CNVJ/STORY.HTML,  NAOMI ORESKES AND JEREMY JONES,  MAY 03, 2017OUR COUNTRY IS feeling the effects of a changing climate. The West is witnessing dramatic changes to winter, including decreased snowpack — which means less water availability the rest of the year — and tremendous destruction of Western forests by bark beetles that used to die off in winter, but now don’t. Here in Massachusetts, people might think that shorter, milder winters are a good thing. But they are not. If we don’t deal with climate change now, the snowpack will be confined to only the highest of elevations.

Of course, renewable energy is helping to stop further climate change. But solar and wind have trouble competing with fossil fuels, because it’s just not a fair market. Fossil fuels — whose greenhouse gas emissions drive climate change — are more widely available than clean energy, and they are usually cheaper, due to ongoing subsidies. A carbon pricing system would level the playing field.

Putting a price on carbon is a proven market mechanism that has widespread, bipartisan support, and is increasingly being adopted around the globe. It will account for the true cost of burning fossil fuels, creating a more competitive market for clean energy sources. And, it can be implemented quickly to begin reducing carbon pollution.

In Massachusetts, there are two carbon pricing bills pending in the Legislature, with co-sponsorship of more than one-third of our lawmakers. These proposals focus on putting a price on fossil fuels once they enter the state and distributing revenue collected back to businesses and households in the form of rebates. One proposal returns 100 percent of the revenue collected; the other returns 80 percent of revenue while reinvesting the rest.

May 5, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Lakes around the world are affected by heat from climate change

Lakes worldwide feel the heat from climate change, Warming waters are disrupting freshwater fishing and recreation, Science News ,BY ALEXANDRA WITZE  MAY 1, 2017 “……..

When most people think of the physical effects of climate change, they picture melting glaciers, shrinking sea ice or flooded coastal towns (SN: 4/16/16, p. 22). But observations like those at Stannard Rock are vaulting lakes into the vanguard of climate science. Year after year, lakes reflect the long-term changes of their environment in their physics, chemistry and biology. “They’re sentinels,” says John Lenters, a limnologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Globally, observations show that many lakes are heating up — but not all in the same way or with the same ecological consequences. In eastern Africa, Lake Tanganyika is warming relatively slowly, but its fish populations are plummeting, leaving people with less to eat. In the U.S. Upper Midwest, quicker-warming lakes are experiencing shifts in the relative abundance of fish species that support a billion-dollar-plus recreational industry. And at high global latitudes, cold lakes normally covered by ice in the winter are seeing less ice year after year — a change that could affect all parts of the food web, from algae to freshwater seals.

Understanding such changes is crucial for humans to adapt to the changes that are likely to come, limnologists say. Indeed, some northern lakes will probably release more methane into the air as temperatures rise — exacerbating the climate shift that is already under way.

Lake layers

Lakes and ponds cover about 4 percent of the land surface not already covered by glaciers. That may sound like a small fraction, but lakes play a key role in several planetary processes. Lakes cycle carbon between the water’s surface and the atmosphere. They give off heat-trapping gases such as
carbon dioxide and methane, while simultaneously tucking away carbon in decaying layers of organic muck at lake bottoms. They bury nearly half as much carbon as the oceans do.

Yet the world’s more than 100 million lakes are often overlooked in climate simulations. That’s surprising, because lakes are far easier to measure than oceans. Because lakes are relatively small, scientists can go out in boats or set out buoys to survey temperature, salinity and other factors at different depths and in different seasons.

A landmark study published in 2015 aimed to synthesize these in-water measurements with satellite observations for 235 lakes worldwide. In theory, lake warming is a simple process: The hotter the air above a lake, the hotter the waters get. But the picture is far more complicated than that, the international team of researchers found.

Globally, observations show that many lakes are heating up — but not all in the same way or with the same ecological consequences. In eastern Africa, Lake Tanganyika is warming relatively slowly, but its fish populations are plummeting, leaving people with less to eat. In the U.S. Upper Midwest, quicker-warming lakes are experiencing shifts in the relative abundance of fish species that support a billion-dollar-plus recreational industry. And at high global latitudes, cold lakes normally covered by ice in the winter are seeing less ice year after year — a change that could affect all parts of the food web, from algae to freshwater seals.

Understanding such changes is crucial for humans to adapt to the changes that are likely to come, limnologists say. Indeed, some northern lakes will probably release more methane into the air as temperatures rise — exacerbating the climate shift that is already under way.

Lake layers

Lakes and ponds cover about 4 percent of the land surface not already covered by glaciers. That may sound like a small fraction, but lakes play a key role in several planetary processes. Lakes cycle carbon between the water’s surface and the atmosphere. They give off heat-trapping gases such as
carbon dioxide and methane, while simultaneously tucking away carbon in decaying layers of organic muck at lake bottoms. They bury nearly half as much carbon as the oceans do.

Yet the world’s more than 100 million lakes are often overlooked in climate simulations. That’s surprising, because lakes are far easier to measure than oceans. Because lakes are relatively small, scientists can go out in boats or set out buoys to survey temperature, salinity and other factors at different depths and in different seasons.

A landmark study published in 2015 aimed to synthesize these in-water measurements with satellite observations for 235 lakes worldwide. In theory, lake warming is a simple process: The hotter the air above a lake, the hotter the waters get. But the picture is far more complicated than that, the international team of researchers found.

On average, the 235 lakes in the study warmed at a rate of 0.34 degrees Celsius per decade between 1985 and 2009. Some warmed much faster, like Finland’s Lake Lappajärvi, which soared nearly 0.9 degrees each decade. A few even cooled, such as Blue Cypress Lake in Florida. Puzzlingly, there was no clear trend in which lakes warmed and which cooled. The most rapidly warming lakes were scattered across different latitudes and elevations.

Even some that were nearly side by side warmed at different rates from one another — Lake Superior, by far the largest of the Great Lakes, is warming much more rapidly, at a full degree per decade, than others in the chain, although Huron and Michigan are also warming fast.

“Even though lakes are experiencing the same weather, they are responding in different ways,” says Stephanie Hampton, an aquatic biologist at Washington State University in Pullman.

Such variability makes it hard to pin down what to expect in the future. But researchers are starting to explore factors such as lake depth and lake size (intuitively, it’s less teeth-chattering to swim in a small pond in early summer than a big lake).

Depth and size play into stratification, the process through which some lakes separate into layers of different temperatures. …….https://www.sciencenews.org/article/lakes-worldwide-feel-heat-climate-change?tgt=nr

May 3, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Reference, water | Leave a comment

The disappearing Arctic ice, and its consequences

The hard truth, however, is that the Arctic as it is known today is almost certainly gone. Efforts to mitigate global warming by cutting emissions remain essential. But the state of the Arctic shows that humans cannot simply undo climate change. They will have to adapt to it

The Arctic as it is known today is almost certainly gone On current trends, the Arctic will be ice-free in summer by 2040 http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21721379-current-trends-arctic-will-be-ice-free-summer-2040-arctic-it-known-today?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ed/climatechangethearcticasitisknowntodayisalmostcertainlygone Apr 29th 2017

 THOSE who doubt the power of human beings to change Earth’s climate should look to the Arctic, and shiver. There is no need to pore over records of temperatures and atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations. The process is starkly visible in the shrinkage of the ice that covers the Arctic ocean. In the past 30 years, the minimum coverage of summer ice has fallen by half; its volume has fallen by three-quarters. On current trends, the Arctic ocean will be largely ice-free in summer by 2040.

Climate-change sceptics will shrug. Some may even celebrate: an ice-free Arctic ocean promises a shortcut for shipping between the Pacific coast of Asia and the Atlantic coasts of Europe and the Americas, and the possibility of prospecting for perhaps a fifth of the planet’s undiscovered supplies of oil and natural gas. Such reactions are profoundly misguided. Never mind that the low price of oil and gas means searching for them in the Arctic is no longer worthwhile. Or that the much-vaunted sea passages are likely to carry only a trickle of trade. The right response is fear. The Arctic is not merely a bellwether of matters climatic, but an actor in them (see Briefing).

The current period of global warming that Earth is undergoing is caused by certain gases in the atmosphere, notably carbon dioxide. These admit heat, in the form of sunlight, but block its radiation back into space, in the form of longer-wavelength infra-red. That traps heat in the air, the water and the land. More carbon dioxide equals more warming—a simple equation. Except it is not simple. A number of feedback loops complicate matters. Some dampen warming down; some speed it up. Two in the Arctic may speed it up quite a lot.

One is that seawater is much darker than ice. It absorbs heat rather than reflecting it back into space. That melts more ice, which leaves more seawater exposed, which melts more ice. And so on. This helps explain why the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet. The deal on climate change made in Paris in 2015 is meant to stop Earth’s surface temperature rising by more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. In the unlikely event that it is fully implemented, winter temperatures over the Arctic ocean will still warm by between 5° and 9°C compared with their 1986-2005 average.

The second feedback loop concerns not the water but the land. In the Arctic much of this is permafrost. That frozen soil locks up a lot of organic material. If the permafrost melts its organic contents can escape as a result of fire or decay, in the form of carbon dioxide or methane (which is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2). This will speed up global warming directly—and the soot from the fires, when it settles on the ice, will darken it and thus speed its melting still more.

Dead habitat walking

 A warming Arctic could have malevolent effects. The world’s winds are driven in large part by the temperature difference between the poles and the tropics. If the Arctic heats faster than the tropics, this difference will decrease and wind speeds will slow—as they have done, in the northern hemisphere, by between 5 and 15% in the past 30 years. Less wind might sound desirable. It is not. One consequence is erratic behaviour of the northern jet stream, a circumpolar current, the oscillations of which sometimes bring cold air south and warm air north. More exaggerated oscillations would spell blizzards and heatwaves in unexpected places at unexpected times.

Ocean currents, too, may slow. The melting of Arctic ice dilutes salt water moving north from the tropics. That makes it less dense, and thus less inclined to sink for the return journey in the ocean depths. This slowing of circulation will tug at currents around the world, with effects on everything from the Indian monsoon to the pattern of El Niño in the Pacific ocean.

The scariest possibility of all is that something happens to the ice cap covering Greenland. This contains about 10% of the world’s fresh water. If bits of it melted, or just broke free to float in the water, sea levels could rise by a lot more than today’s projection of 74cm by the end of the century. At the moment, the risk of this happening is hard to assess because data are difficult to gather. But loss of ice from Greenland is accelerating.

What to do about all this is a different question. Even if the Paris agreement is stuck to scrupulously, the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere, together with that which will be added, looks bound eventually to make summer Arctic sea ice a thing of the past. Some talk of geoengineering—for example, spraying sulphates into the polar air to reflect sunlight back into space, or using salt to seed the creation of sunlight-blocking clouds. Such ideas would have unknown side-effects, but they are worth testing in pilot studies.

The hard truth, however, is that the Arctic as it is known today is almost certainly gone. Efforts to mitigate global warming by cutting emissions remain essential. But the state of the Arctic shows that humans cannot simply undo climate change. They will have to adapt to it.

May 1, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, Reference | Leave a comment

EPA removing “outdated language” – all mention of climate change, from its website

EPA scrubs website of references to Obama climate plans, Politico,  Nick Juliano  njuliano@politico.com04/28/17  EPA is overhauling its website to remove “outdated language” referring to Obama-era programs President Donald Trump has targeted for elimination, including virtually all mentions of climate change, the agency announced late Friday.

The agency eliminated climate change from a drop-down list of “Environmental Topics” displayed on its front page and took down a separate page on the topic that had been up as recently as Monday.

The website changes had been expected, but environmentalists were unsettled.

“Cleansing has begun,” the Natural Resources Defense Council’s David Doniger wrote on Twitter. “Now only alternative facts.”

In a press release, EPA said it was removing references to the “so-called Clean Power Plan,” which the agency is reviewing in response to an executive order Trump signed last month. And it said it was reviewing content on the site related to climate change and regulations……EPA maintained links to archived versions of the Obama-era versions of the pages it took down http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/28/epa-website-scrubbed-obama-climate-plans-237779

May 1, 2017 Posted by | climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

I would be wary of geoengineering stunts

 

With gimmicky pro nuclear billionaires leading, will this research create more problems than it solves?

Why The Scariest Response To Climate Change Is Finally Being Taken Seriously, Gizmodo ,Maddie StoneApr 28, 2017 “……..Earlier this month, Harvard University officially launched a Solar Geoengineering Research Program, which brings together academics from the hard and social sciences to explore the feasibility of stalling global warming by altering the composition of the stratosphere to block incoming sunlight….

…The establishment of the new Harvard program, which has raised over $US7 million ($9 million) in seed funding so far and is backed by tech luminaries like Bill Gates, is a clear sign that geoengineering has broken into the mainstream. Notably, the program’s launch coincided with the announcement of a Harvard-led field experiment that will begin to test one of the most widely-discussed planet-hacking ideas of all: Solar engineering, or injecting shiny particles into Earth’s stratosphere to block incoming sunlight. https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2017/04/why-the-scariest-response-to-climate-change-is-finally-being-taken-seriously/#eivJm2bkPXa0fi5Z.99

April 29, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Florida’s nightmare outlook with climate change

Climate change poses ‘nightmare scenario’ for Florida coast, Bloomberg warns https://thinkprogress.org/bloomberg-coastal-real-estate-638716394641

STUDY: Impact Of Climate Change On Florida, Goodbye Miami

America’s trillion-dollar coastal property bubble could burst “before the sea consumes a single house.” Here’s why. “Pessimists selling to optimists.” That’s how one former Florida coastal property owner describes the current state of the market in a must-read Bloomberg story.

Right now, science and politics don’t favor the optimists. The disintegration of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is speeding up, providing increasing evidence we are headed for the worst-case scenario of sea level rise — three to six feet (or more) by 2100.

The impacts are already visible in South Florida. “Tidal flooding now predictably drenches inland streets, even when the sun is out, thanks to the region’s porous limestone bedrock,” explains Bloomberg. “Saltwater is creeping into the drinking water supply.”

At the same time, President Trump is working to thwart both domestic and international climate action while slashing funding for coastal adaptation and monitoring. E&E News reported earlier this month that the EPA has already “disbanded its climate change adaptation program” and reassigned all the workers.

Faster sea level rise and less adaptation means the day of reckoning is nigh. Dan Kipnis, chair of Miami Beach’s Marine and Waterfront Protection Authority — who has failed to find a buyer for his Miami Beach home for nearly a year — told Bloomberg, “Nobody thinks it’s coming as fast as it is.”

But this is not just South Florida’s problem. The entire country is facing a trillion-dollar bubble in coastal property values. This Hindenburg has been held aloft by U.S. taxpayers in the form of the National Flood Insurance Program.

A 2014 Reuters analysis of this “slow-motion disaster” calculated there’s almost $1.25 trillion in coastal property being covered at below-market rates.

When will the bubble burst? As I’ve written for years, property values will crash when a large fraction of the financial community — mortgage bankers and opinion-makers, along with a smaller but substantial fraction of the public — realize that it is too late for us to stop catastrophic sea level rise.

When sellers outnumber buyers, and banks become reluctant to write 30-year mortgages for doomed property, and insurance rates soar, then the coastal property bubble will slow, peak, and crash.

The devaluation process had begun even before Trump’s election reduced the chances we would act in time to prevent catastrophic climate change. The New York Times reported last fall that “nationally, median home prices in areas at high risk for flooding are still 4.4 percent below what they were 10 years ago, while home prices in low-risk areas are up 29.7 percent over the same period.”

Sean Becketti, the chief economist for mortgage giant Freddie Mac, warneda year ago that values could plunge if sellers start a stampede. “Some residents will cash out early and suffer minimal losses,” he said. “Others will not be so lucky.”

As this week’s Bloomberg piece puts it, “Demand and financing could collapse before the sea consumes a single house.”

So here’s a question for owners of coastal property — and the financial institutions that back them — as they watch team Trump keep his coastal-destroying promises: Who will be the smart money that gets out early — and who will be the other kind of money?

April 26, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

9 year old boy persisting in suing Donald Trump over his climate policies

Donald Trump being sued by nine-year-old Levi Draheim over his climate policies http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-24/the-nine-year-old-suing-president-trump-over-his-climate-policy/8466946 By North America correspondent Conor Duffy, 24 Apr 17, US President Donald Trump is eight times his age and a much more experienced litigator, but nine-year-old Levi Draheim is looking forward to seeing the leader in court.

Levi lives near Melbourne Beach in central Florida and is part of a group of 21 young people suing the president over his climate policies.

“The reason that I care so much is that I basically grew up on the beach. It’s like another mother, sort of, to me,” Levi said.

His local beach faces the Atlantic Ocean and the flat coastal terrain is one of the areas in the United States most vulnerable to a rise in sea level.

Levi and his family believe they are already seeing the effects of climate change in the local sand dunes, which are nesting territory for sea turtles.

“It makes me really sad seeing how much dune we’ve lost,” Levi said.

“When I went out on the beach after the hurricane, I was just crying because there was so much dune lost.” The young people suing Mr Trump began their legal action under former president Barack Obama, and last November they had a win with a judge dismissing a move from the administration to throw out their court action.

“Exercising my ‘reasoned judgement’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society,” Federal Judge Ann Aiken wrote.

Last month the Trump administration announced plans to appeal, but Levi is not backing down.

“I was just totally shocked that he doesn’t believe climate change is real,” Levi said.

“It was a little bit scary. It was just a little bit disturbing he didn’t believe that climate change was real.”

The case has seen Levi and his fellow young climate activists face some rather adult language on social media, but his mother Leanne Draheim said she was not worried.

“Some people are saying like, ‘Why are you letting your kid get involved? What does he know? He doesn’t know enough to get involved’,” Ms Draheim said.

“But really he knows that he cares about the environment, he cares about being outside, and we’ve talked about how that’s not going to happen in the future for his kids if things keep going the way things are going.”

Climate change spending slashed

President Trump has not yet said whether he will stick by his pledge to “cancel” the Paris Climate Accord, but he has moved swiftly to curtail government spending on climate.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stands to lose almost a third of its funding under Mr Trump’s draft budget, and climate programs in other agencies will not be funded.

“Regarding the question as to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward: ‘We’re not spending money on that anymore,'” Mr Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney said.

April 26, 2017 Posted by | climate change, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Climate change predicted to increase Nile flow variability

Climate change could lead to overall increase in river flow, but more droughts and floods, study shows, Science Daily 

Date:
April 24, 2017
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
The unpredictable annual flow of the Nile River is legendary, as evidenced by the story of Joseph and the Pharaoh, whose dream foretold seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine in a land whose agriculture was, and still is, utterly dependent on that flow. Now, researchers have found that climate change may drastically increase the variability in Nile’s annual output……..https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170424141236.htm

April 26, 2017 Posted by | climate change, Egypt | Leave a comment

Human-caused climate change has rerouted an entire river

For the first time on record, human-caused climate change has rerouted an entire river, WP  April 17 A team of scientists on Monday documented what they’re describing as the first case of large-scale river reorganization as a result of human-caused climate change.

They found that in mid-2016, the retreat of a very large glacier in Canada’s Yukon territory led to the rerouting of its vast stream of meltwater from one river system to another — cutting down flow to the Yukon’s largest lake, and channeling freshwater to the Pacific Ocean south of Alaska, rather than to the Bering Sea.

The researchers dubbed the reorganization an act of “rapid river piracy,” saying that such events had often occurred in the Earth’s geologic past, but never before, to their knowledge, as a sudden present-day event. They also called it “geologically instantaneous.”

“The river wasn’t what we had seen a few years ago. It was a faded version of its former self,” lead study author Daniel Shugar of the University of Washington at Tacoma said of the Slims River, which lost much of its flow because of the glacial change. “It was barely flowing at all. Literally, every day, we could see the water level dropping, we could see sandbars popping out in the river.”

The study was published in Nature Geoscience. Shugar conducted the study with researchers from six Canadian and U.S. universities.

The study found that the choking of the Slims River in turn deprived Kluane Lake, the largest body of water in the Yukon Territory. The lake level was at a record low in August, and two small communities that live on the lake may now have to adjust to the lower water levels…….https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/04/17/for-the-first-time-on-record-human-caused-climate-change-has-rerouted-an-entire-river/?utm_term=.8504cbe15d03

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

Global threat to international security – CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate Change is a global threat to international security, John Pratt 21 Apr 17,  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/17124327/posts/1428211610 Terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and Boko Haram have been dominating the headlines since 2013.

Both groups have gained international notoriety for their ruthless brutality and their rise is posing new challenges for national, regional and international security.

Such non-state armed groups (NSAG) are not a new phenomenon.

Today, however, we can observe an increasingly complex landscape of violent actors with a range of hybrid organisational structures, different agendas and different levels of engagement with society that set them apart from ‘traditional’ non-state actors and result in new patterns of violence.

At the same time, there has been increasing acknowledgement within the academic literature and among the policy community of the relationship between climate change and security.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underlined in its latest report from 2014 that human security will be progressively threatened as the climate changes.

Analysing its impacts on fragility, an independent report for the G7 Foreign Ministers concluded that climate change is a global threat to international security.

As the ultimate threat multiplier, it aggravates already fragile situations and may contribute to social upheaval and even violent con ict (Rüttinger et al. 2015). …….

Today the UN, the EU, the G7 and an increasing number of states have classified climate change as a threat to global and/or national security (American Security Project 2014; European Commission 2008; UN Security Council 2011).

However, the links between climate change, conflict and fragility are not simple and linear.

The increasing impacts of climate change do not automatically lead to more fragility and conflict.

Rather, climate change acts as a threat multiplier. It interacts and converges with other existing risks and pressures in a given context and can increase the likelihood of fragility or violent conflict.

States experiencing fragility or conflict are particularly affected, but seemingly stable states can also be overburdened by the combined pressures of climate change, population growth, urbanization, environmental degradation and rising socio-economic inequalities (Carius et al. 2008; WBGU 2007, CNA 2007, Rüttinger et al. 2015).

In 2015, the report “A New Climate for Peace” (Rüttinger et al. 2015), commissioned by the G7 Foreign Ministries, identified seven compound climate-fragility risks that pose a serious threat to the stability of states and societies.

Local resource competition: As the pressure on natural resources increases, competition can lead to instability and even violent conflict in the absence of effective dispute resolution.

Livelihood insecurity and migration: Climate change will increase the human insecurity of people who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods, which could push them to migrate or turn to more informal or illegal sources of income.

Extreme weather events and disasters will exacerbate fragility challenges and can increase people’s vulnerability and grievances, especially in conflict-affected situations.

Volatile food prices and provision: Climate change is highly likely to disrupt food production in many regions, increasing prices and market volatility, and heightening the risk of protests, rioting, and civil conflict.

Transboundary water management is frequently a source of tension; as demand grows and climate impacts affect availability and quality, competition over water use will likely increase the pressure on existing governance structures.

Sea-level rise and coastal degradation: Rising sea levels will threaten the viability of low-lying areas even before they are submerged, leading to social disruption, displacement, and migration, while disagreements over maritime boundaries and ocean resources may increase.

Unintended effects of climate policies: As climate change adaptation and mitigation policies are more broadly implemented, the risks of unintended negative effects – particularly in fragile contexts – will also increase.

“A New Climate for Peace” is an independent report commissioned by the G7 Member States.

The report was prepared by an independent consortium of leading research institutions, headed by adelphi, with International Alert, the Wilson Center, and the EU Institute for Security Studies, and was submitted to the G7 in April 2015.

Press link for more: Report

April 22, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, safety | Leave a comment

Tragic climate change effects already there, in Bangladesh

The Unfolding Tragedy of Climate Change in Bangladesh A three-foot rise in sea level would submerge almost 20 percent of the country and displace more than 30 million people—and the actual rise by 2100 could be significantly more, Scientific American, By Robert Glennon on April 21, 2017 

In some places, the impact of climate change is obvious. In others, scientists predict that climate change will occur based on elaborate computer models. In Bangladesh, it is already happening at a scale that involves unprecedented human tragedy………..

Sea surface temperatures in the shallow Bay of Bengal have significantly increased, which, scientists believe, has caused Bangladesh to suffer some of the fastest recorded sea level rises in the world. Storm surges from more frequent and stronger cyclones push walls of water 50 to 60 miles up the Delta’s rivers.

At the same time, melting of glaciers and snowpack in the Himalayas, which hold the third largest body of snow on Earth, has swollen the rivers that flow into Bangladesh from Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and India. So too have India’s water policies. India diverts large quantities of water for irrigation during the dry season and releases most water during the monsoon season.

According to the Bangladesh government’s 2009 Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, “in an ‘average’ year, approximately one quarter of the country is inundated.” Every four to five years, “there is a severe flood that may cover over 60% of the country.” Rapid erosion of coastal areas has inundated dozens of islands in the Bay. For example, Sandwip Island, near Chittagong, has lost 90 percent of its original 23-square-miles—mostly in the last two decades.

Climate change in Bangladesh has started what may become the largest mass migration in human history. In recent years, riverbank erosion has annually displaced between 50,000 and 200,000 people. The population of what the Bangladesh government calls “immediately threatened” islands, called “chars,” exceeds four million.

The Bangladesh riverine environment is so dynamic that, as chars wash away, the process of accretion creates new chars downstream.  Land is so scarce and the population so dense that the displaced people try to eke out an existence on these new, highly unstable sand bars.

A three-foot rise in sea level would submerge almost 20 percent of the entire country and displace more than 30 million people. Some scientists project a five-to-six foot rise by 2100, which would displace perhaps 50 million people. As perspective, the ongoing tragedy in Syria has caused the exodus of approximately three million people.

Already, the intruding sea has contaminated groundwater, which supplies drinking water for coastal regions, and degraded farmland, rendering it less fertile and eventually barren.

It is not just people who are affected. The Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world and a World Heritage Site, lies in the delta of the Ganges River in Bangladesh and India. Home to the iconic Bengal tiger, the Sundarbans also play a critical role in protecting Bangladesh’s coastal areas from storm surges caused by cyclones.

Nevertheless, across coastal Bangladesh, sea-level rise, exacerbated by the conversion of mangrove forest for agricultural production and shrimp farming, has resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of acres of mangroves. In the Sundarbans, the number of tigers has plummeted. The World Wildlife Fund predicts that the tiger may become extinct. Further loss of mangrove habitat, especially in the Sundarbans, also means that Bangladesh will lose one of its last natural defenses against climate change-induced super-cyclones.

Engineering adaptations to climate change that have been successful in other nations—such as the dikes constructed in the Netherlands—won’t work in Bangladesh because the soils are sandy and constantly shifting.  The government has undertaken measures to adapt to climate change. It has developed an effective early warning system to alert coastal rural areas of impending cyclones; built a network of 2,100 cyclone shelters, which can accommodate more than a million people; and financed 4,000 miles of coastal embankment projects. It is even planting trees on chars in an effort to create islands that are more durable. However, despite its economic progress, Bangladesh remains a poor country with limited resources. Some measures, such as levees made of sand bags along the Bay of Bengal and the Sangu River, may temporarily stem the ocean’s advance, but they offer at best a short-term fix.

These changes are happening to the people of Bangladesh, not caused by them. As a country, Bangladesh emits only 0.3 percent of the emissions producing climate change.

February 16, 2017.  “Where will they go?” Climate refugees, mostly rural farmers and fishermen, are moving into the slums of the country’s two largest cities, Dhaka and Chittagong. As conditions deteriorate, the capacity of these areas to absorb more people is nearing the end. The sad reality offers limited options to those displaced. Climate refugees from Bangladesh, a predominantly Muslim country, are not welcome in the neighboring countries of India and Myanmar. India is building its version of a border wall, a barbed-wire fence; violence in Myanmar in December 2016 drove an estimated 65,000 Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority, into Bangladesh.

It is exceedingly unlikely that the Trump Administration either will welcome Bangladeshi refugees or provide financial support to underwrite costs of relocation to other countries. Opportunities for resettlement in the rest of the world are dwindling.

The unfolding calamity demands a response from the international community. Wealthy countries have generated most of the greenhouse gases that are harming Bangladesh. If these countries are unwilling to absorb tens of millions of refugees, there is a moral imperative for them to help. They should underwrite the adaptation efforts of the Bangladesh government and the construction of roads, power plants, water supply systems, housing and other infrastructure to allow these climate refugees to remain and thrive in their own country. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/the-unfolding-tragedy-of-climate-change-in-bangladesh/

 

April 22, 2017 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment