Climate change, uncertainty & security 2019 –

Written by  //  September 27, 2019  //  Climate Change  //  No comments

UN Conference on climate change COP21 Paris & aftermath
Global Climate Report – July 2019
Wikipedia: School strike for climate
Climate Action Summit, 23 September 2019

27 September
How ‘organized climate change denial’ shapes public opinion on global warming
Climate communication researchers say climate skepticism is taking new form
(CBC) With citizens around the world filling the streets demanding climate action, it might appear that the voices of contrarians are growing fainter. But doubts about climate change still surface.
Just this week, Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada,  told the Toronto Star‘s editorial board that that “while the climate may be changing, this is not due primarily to human activity.”
In the U.S., climate contrarians hold key political positions.
“We have the president of the United States basically enunciating climate denier talking points, so it’s still alive and well,” said Robert Brulle, a professor at Brown University in Providence, R.I., who has spent years researching climate contrarians.
John Cook at the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University recently completed a study tracking climate misinformation in internet articles. He discovered an increase in rhetoric denying that warming is happening — but he also saw evidence of an uptick in misinformation about climate change solutions over the last few years. … researchers have also found evidence that climate misinformation is affecting public opinion about the nature of climate change and the efficacy of solutions.

See also: Meet the Money Behind The Climate Denial Movement
Nearly a billion dollars a year is flowing into the organized climate change counter-movement
The overwhelming majority of climate scientists, international governmental bodies, relevant research institutes and scientific societies are in unison in saying that climate change is real, that it’s a problem, and that we should probably do something about it now, not later. And yet, for some reason, the idea persists in some peoples’ minds that climate change is up for debate, or that climate change is no big deal.
Actually, it’s not “for some reason” that people are confused. There’s a very obvious reason. There is a very well-funded, well-orchestrated climate change-denial movement, one funded by powerful people with very deep pockets. In a new and incredibly thorough study, Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle took a deep dive into the financial structure of the climate deniers, to see who is holding the purse strings.
According to Brulle’s research, the 91 think tanks and advocacy organizations and trade associations that make up the American climate denial industry pull down just shy of a billion dollars each year, money used to lobby or sway public opinion on climate change and other issues. (Smithsonian.com 23 December 2018)

25 September
Goldman Sachs released a 34-page analysis of the impact of climate change. And the results are terrifying.
(Markets/Business Insider) A Goldman Sachs report on the impact of climate change on cities across the world makes for grim reading.
Rising temperatures would lead to changing disease patterns, more intense and longer-lasting heatwaves, more destructive weather events, and pressure on the availability and quality of water for drinking and agriculture.
Major cities were also highlighted at risk of flooding with parts of New York, Tokyo, and Lagos all at risk of being partially submerged.
The bank’s Global Markets Institute, led by Amanda Hindlian, warned of “significant” potential risks to the world’s largest cities, which are especially vulnerable to more frequent storms, higher temperatures, rising sea levels, and storm surges.
Cities generate about 80% of global GDP and are home to more than half of the world’s population, a share that Goldman says, citing the United Nations, is projected to reach two-thirds by 2050. About 40% of the global population lives within 100 kilometers of a coast, it says, and 1 in 10 live in areas less than 10 meters above sea level.

16 September
The fight to contain climate change: Implementing Paris, mobilizing action
“We need to hasten the coming of that tipping point when business-as-usual politicians and corporate leaders understand they will fail, lose office, lose their standing, or be left behind unless they meet the climate challenge head on,” Todd Stern writes.
(Brookings) With the follow-on elements to the Paris Agreement – the so-called Paris “rulebook” – all but finished at COP 24 in Poland last December, the concern of the international climate community is now focused principally on the challenge of rapidly increasing the ambition of country efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

14 September
Gwynne Dyer Climate – Jonathan Franzen sees the light
The distinguished American novelist and essayist has a piece in the current issue of The New Yorker entitled “What If We Stopped Pretending?” Stop pretending that the climate apocalypse is not going to sweep us all away, he means. As he writes: “to prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it.”
We are almost certainly going to crash through 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide equivalent in the atmosphere in less than fifteen years, which in the natural course of events would take us up through +2C about a decade later. Welcome to the climate apocalypse.
Unlike Franzen I do talk to climate scientists, and it’s hard to get them to say this on the record. They don’t want to sow panic. But if you back them up against a wall and threaten them with a knife, most will admit they think going beyond 450 ppm is nearly inevitable now – mainly because human politics can’t change fast enough to stop it.
But what the climate scientists all know, and some think might save us, is that 450 ppm and +2C are not indissolubly linked. What we need is more time, and it is theoretically possible to hold the global temperature down while we work frantically first to get our emissions down, then eliminate them entirely, and finally draw down the excess CO2 that we have already put into the atmosphere.
There are a number of potential methods for doing this, all of them controversial. The leading proposal at the moment is injecting sulfur dioxide gas into the stratosphere. (No living things up there.) That would reflect a small portion of incoming sunlight and keep the planet below +2C and its attendant calamities for the time we need.

29 August
‘Disturbing’: Europe Is Warming Much Faster Than Science Predicted
Summers in Europe are much hotter than they used to be and winters aren’t nearly as cold as they once were. And, the continent is warming much faster than climate models had once projected. That is the disturbing takeaway from a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Leaked Draft of U.N. Climate Report Says Warming Oceans Are ‘Poised to Unleash Misery
The draft of the 900-page report is intended to be released in late September following an IPCC meeting in Monaco from September 20 to 23, and follows up on another U.N. report on disastrous land use policies, in which the panel called for a revolution in land use policy.
(New York) The report, which leaked to the French News agency AFP and focuses on the oceans and the planet’s stores of frozen water known as the cryosphere, states that if warming isn’t halted at 1.5 degrees Celsius, sea levels will rise high enough to displace around 280 million people. (If perspective is needed, that’s four times the current number of worldwide refugees, which is a record high. And that’s to say nothing of other forms of climate displacement.) By 2100, the draft states that “annual flood damages are expected to increase by two to three orders of magnitude.” That means flood damages will increase either 100- or 1,000-fold — in a world where king tides are already causing cities like Miami to flood on a regular basis, and where Indonesia just announced announced a new inland capital because Jakarta is sinking. By 2050, low-lying cities and small island nations will face “extreme sea-level events” every year. At two degrees, the report anticipates that the frequency of extreme El Niño events will double, leading to greater risk of forest fires and cyclones.
Australia pressures UNESCO over impact of climate change on Great Barrier Reef
Two government reports are expected to project a poor outlook for the reef
The federal government is pushing UNESCO’s world heritage committee to resolve how it will deal with the impact of climate change on world heritage properties, including the Great Barrier Reef.
It comes ahead of the release of two government reports [Two government reports on the health of the reef are due imminently. The first is the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s outlook report, which is published every five years. The second is a joint federal and Queensland government report on water quality.] that are expected to project a poor outlook for the reef, the status of which will be reassessed by UNESCO next year after previously avoiding an in danger listing.
The world heritage committee has been reviewing its climate change policy and how countries should manage the impact of the climate crisis on the world heritage system.
Climate change has been recognised as an existential threat to many world heritage properties.
A 2017 Unesco report looked at the impact on coral reefs, which are especially vulnerable, and concluded that “drastic reductions” in greenhouse gas emissions were “the only real solution” if coral reefs were to stand a chance of survival.

28 August
The Amazon, Siberia, Indonesia: A World of Fire
The growing intensity of wildfires and their spread to new corners of the globe raises fears that climate change is exacerbating the dangers
(NYT) Since July, fire has charred about six million acres of Siberian forest, an area roughly the size of the state of Vermont. In Alaska, fires have consumed more than 2.5 million acres of tundra and snow forest, leading researchers to suggest that the combination of climate change and wildfires could permanently alter the region’s forests.
The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and some studies have noted that, as it warms, “there also is expected to be more lightning,” said Dr. Abatzoglou, and in remote areas, lightning is a significant cause of fires.
Not a popular view, but some points are valid and worth considering.
How the G-7 Fell for the Amazon Scam
By Rich Lowry, editor of National Review and a contributing editor with Politico Magazine
(Politico) The fires aren’t an epochal event. According to the New York Times, the Brazilian agency tracking fires by satellite image reports that, at this point in the year, it’s the highest number of fires identified since 2010, which obviously isn’t thousands of years ago, indeed, not even a decade ago. In the 10 years prior to 2010, there were years when the number of fires was much higher.
The fires aren’t the spontaneous result of global warming. The program director of the group Amazon Watch told CNN, “The vast majority of these fires are human-lit,“ noting that it isn’t easy for the rainforest to catch fire, even in the dry season. “Natural fires in the Amazon are rare,” the Times reports, “and the majority of these fires were set by farmers preparing Amazon-adjacent farmland for next year’s crops and pasture.
Nor is it true that deforestation in the Amazon is spiraling out of control. Deforestation markedly diminished in the 2000s, declining by 70 percent from 2004 to 2012, per Shellenberger. It has picked back up again under Brazil’s new populist president Jair Bolsonaro, a trend worth monitoring but hardly the onset of planetary catastrophe.
… Macron and Co. need to be aware of how their high-handedness—including poorly informed declarations from afar—comes across in Brazil. Advanced countries that deforested long ago because it accorded with their economic interests should be humble when insisting that a poorer country not do the same. Proposals to buttress the Amazon have to run with the grain of Brazil’s interests, not against it.

27 August
The Amazon Is Not Earth’s Lungs
Humans could burn every living thing on the planet and still not dent its oxygen supply.
(The Atlantic) Losing the Amazon, beyond representing a planetary historic tragedy beyond measure, would also make meeting the ambitious climate goals of the Paris Agreement all but impossible. World leaders need to marshal all their political and diplomatic might to save it.
The Amazon is a vast, ineffable, vital, living wonder. It does not, however, supply the planet with 20 percent of its oxygen.
Contrary to almost every popular account, Earth maintains an unusual surfeit of free oxygen—an incredibly reactive gas that does not want to be in the atmosphere—largely due not to living, breathing trees, but to the existence, underground, of fossil fuels.
we have been gifted such an absurd surplus of oxygen by deep geological time, and by strange ancient life we’ll never know, that it won’t soon run out by our own hand, whether by deforestation or industry. Thankfully, most of the organic carbon in the Earth can be found not in easily recoverable reservoirs of fossil fuels, available to feed our industrial appetites, but in rather more rarefied deposits—small whispers of this life diffused in mudstones throughout Earth’s crust. There’s plenty of oxygen. For now.

16 August
Fraser Institute: Climate policy—results more important than rhetoric
as Canada’s political parties rollout their climate plans for the federal election in October, I’m here to report to Canadians that many of the extreme policy ideas you’re hearing will do more harm than the climate change they are meant to prevent.
For example, consider the popular idea of limiting cumulative global warming to (at most) two degrees Celsius or (if possible) 1.5 degrees Celsius. These targets have become so mainstream that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a special report last fall advising governments on various policies that could give humanity a shot at hitting the 1.5 degree target.
But according to the most reputable work on the topic, achieving that target would cause far more harm than benefit. Specifically, on the very same weekend the UN issued its report, Yale’s William Nordhaus won the Nobel (Memorial) Prize in economics for his pioneering work on the economics of climate policy. Indeed, the New York Times article on Nordhaus’ Nobel Prize led readers to believe that his work supported the same goals as the UN. But that’s incorrect. Whereas the UN report showed governments how they might limit warming to 1.5°C, Nordhaus’ model (in its 2017 calibration) suggested an “optimal carbon tax” that would allow for 3.5°C of warming—in other words, 1.5°C is too aggressive a target and would leave the world worse off than allowing more warming and higher emissions, because people would have to switch to higher-cost methods of power generation and transportation.

31 July
Pacific Islands Declare ‘Climate Crisis’ That Calls for the End of Fossil Fuels
(Gizmodo) The Pacific Islands are ground-zero for climate change. By 2050, many of the low-lying atolls that make up the region could be uninhabitable. Leaders of these islands, including Fiji and the Solomon Islands, recognize the dangers climate change from sea level rise to extreme weather.
That’s why they made a special “climate crisis” declaration during the Fifth Pacific Islands Development Forum Leaders’ Summit on Tuesday.

27 July
Axios Trends: 1 big thing: Climate change’s crucial moment
Scientists for decades have warned of the time when climate change would begin to change our daily lives.. We’re now entering that moment.
The Fed, corporate executives, college students, retailers and politicians are all coming to grips with this seminal challenge.
The big picture: We as a species are now living with this problem like never before.
Climate change is …
Hitting the bottom lines of all sorts of companies, whether it’s BP worried about leaving its oil in the ground or Big Pharma poised to profit off the additional drugs we’ll need in a warmer world.
Intensifying our temperatures, storms and wildfires..
Altering what we eat. New meat-like foods are on the menu and beef sellers are searching for ways to satisfy red-meat diets without the carbon footprint of cows..
Exacerbating global conflict as the disparate impacts start to shift geopolitics.
Supercharging our politics, with a president who mocks it and a Democratic Party that calls it a crisis.
Between the lines: We’re entering a period of heightened awareness about the problem while simultaneously struggling to address it, given our world’s continued deep reliance on cheap oil, natural gas and coal to power our lives.
It isn’t a black-and-white problem, but it is a black-and-white moment wherein we have to decide whether to take big action.
The bottom line: We have been driving climate change for decades, and we’ll be dealing with it for centuries — but we can still manage and minimize it.

25 July
Record temperatures scorch France, U.K., as Europe swelters through heat wave
In Paris, temperature hit 42.6 C, breaking previous record set in 1947

5 July
Study Shows Tree Planting Can Actually Fight Climate Change, if We Start Today
(Science Alert) If we all get planting, roughly 4.4 billion hectares of our planet’s surface could be shaded by trees – enough to pull decades of carbon we’ve pumped into the atmosphere. …earlier this year, ETH Zurich researcher Thomas Crowther and his colleagues have made it their mission to determine how we might press rewind on emissions before it’s too late.
At a conference in February, he presented his team’s findings on how maximising biodiversity will help us lock away carbon in the form of wood and other organic material.
Now they’ve published details on their research, and the news is kind of bitter-sweet.
Their analysis of the planet’s potential to support lush woodlands found if we discount the parts of the globe that already have forests, not to mention cities and agriculture, there’s still space left over – just under a billion hectares we can still squeeze some trees onto.

14 June
‘High likelihood of human civilisation coming to end’ by 2050, report finds
Over-conservative climate scenarios mean we could face ‘world of outright chaos’, says analysis authored by former fossil fuel executive and backed by former head of Australia’s military
(The Independent UK) The increasingly disastrous impacts of the climate crisis, coupled with inaction to tackle it are sending our planet down a bleak path towards an increasingly chaotic world which could overwhelm societies around the globe, the report’s authors contend.
The paper, produced by the Melbourne-based think tank the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, is presented by the former chief of the Australian Defence Forces and retired Royal Australian Navy Admiral Chris Barrie.
In his introduction he says the report’s authors “have laid bare the unvarnished truth about the desperate situation humans, and our planet, are in, painting a disturbing picture of the real possibility that human life on earth may be on the way to extinction, in the most horrible way.”
The paper argues that “climate change now represents a near to mid-term existential threat to human civilisation,” and calls for a recalibration in how governments respond to estimated climate scenarios so they take worst case projections more seriously.
Temperatures leap 40 degrees above normal as the Arctic Ocean and Greenland ice sheet see record June melting
Greenland saw temperatures soar up to 40 degrees above normal Wednesday, while open water exists in places north of Alaska where it seldom, if ever, has in recent times.
It’s “another series of extreme events consistent with the long-term trend of a warming, changing Arctic,” said Zachary Labe, a climate researcher at the University of California at Irvine.

11 June
Planet is entering ‘new climate regime’ with ‘extraordinary’ heat waves intensified by global warming, study says
A study published this week in the journal Earth’s Future concludes that this heat wave epidemic “would not have occurred without human-induced climate change.”
The alarming part? There are signs record-setting heat waves are beginning anew this summer — signaling, perhaps, that these exceptional and widespread heat spells are now the norm.
In the past few days, blistering, abnormal heat has afflicted several parts of the Northern Hemisphere, including major population centers.
New Delhi, India’s capital, soared to 118.4 degrees (48 Celsius) Monday, its highest temperature ever recorded in June. Some parts of India have seen the mercury eclipse 122 degrees (50 Celsius) in recent days, not far off the country’s all-time high.

25 May
Climate change visualized: How Earth’s temperature has changed since 1970
(Axios) 2018 was Earth’s 4th-warmest year on record, coming in behind 2016, the planet’s warmest recorded year, as well as 2015 and 2017, according to information released by NOAA, NASA and the U.K. Met Office.
Why it matters: The yearly rankings don’t tell the whole story of long-term climate change, since natural variability can still push or pull an individual year up or down the rankings. However, the overall picture is growing starker with each passing year. Nine of the 10 warmest years on record since reliable data began in 1880 have occurred since 2005. At the same time, greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels — as well as deforestation and intensive agriculture — have skyrocketed to levels not seen in more than 800,000 years.
The latest: An unusually warm April followed a top 3 hottest March, and indicates that the Earth is headed for yet another top 3 warmest year on record. In addition, Arctic sea ice extent reached a record low for April, NOAA reports. This follows recent news that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere edged past 415 parts per million for the first time in human history, likely becoming the highest level on record in at least 3 million years.
Between the lines: Global average surface temperatures are edging closer to the 1.5°C aspirational warming target contained in the Paris climate agreement, which many low-lying island nations see as key to their survival, but the world’s energy system is marching in the wrong direction for limiting global warming’s severity.

22 May
Moderate Democrats’ Delusions of ‘Prudence’ Will Kill Us All
(New York) Earlier this month, the weather report for the Arctic Circle was partly cloudy with a high of 84 degrees.
Earlier this year, a United Nations report found that “potentially devastating temperature rises of 3 to 5 [degrees Celsius] in the Arctic are now inevitable even if the world succeeds in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris agreement.” At the moment, no nation on Earth is on track to meet its emissions targets under that accord. And any temperature rise above what’s already inevitable would pose a severe risk of melting the methane-infused Arctic permafrost, thus releasing 283 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere — a development that, when combined with the disappearance of heat-deflecting ice, would rapidly accelerate global warming and all but doom human civilization.
Meanwhile, the government of the world’s lone superpower remains dominated by a political party that regards climate change as something between an afterthought and a “Chinese hoax.” The GOP vigorously opposed the Paris agreement, and is in the process of repealing just about every measure the Obama administration took to uphold it. In fact, the Republican White House is so committed to a new rule that would keep economically inefficient — and ecologically ruinous — coal-fired power plants in operation, it is ignoring an EPA report that estimates such a policy would result in 1,400 additional premature deaths in the U.S. every year. For their part, Senate Republicans are so contemptuous of the notion that the climate crisis demands ambitious government action, they have turned the Green New Deal into a punching bag, and insisted that any new infrastructure package must consist largely of environmental deregulations.

20 May
Rise in global sea levels could have ‘profound consequences’
(BBC) Scientists believe that global sea levels could rise far more than predicted, due to accelerating melting in Greenland and Antarctica, The long-held view has been that the world’s seas would rise by a maximum of just under a metre by 2100. This new study, based on expert opinions, projects that the real level may be around double that figure. This could lead to the displacement of hundreds of millions of people, the authors say. The question of sea-level rise was one of the most controversial issues raised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), when it published its fifth assessment report in 2013. It said the continued warming of the planet, without major reductions in emissions, would see global waters rising by between 52cm and 98cm by 2100. Many experts believe this was a very conservative estimate.

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