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Life imitates art: Norway rejects oil prospecting in sensitive Arctic islands

Life imitates art: Norway rejects oil prospecting in sensitive Arctic islands

In what seemed like an episode of the Norwegian television drama Occupied, Norway’s largest political party joined smaller ones in the nation’s parliament to prevent oil exploration in the scenic Lofoten archipelago. The Labor Party’s environmental wing made climate change and scenic beauty big issues.

Unlike another contentious oil resource, Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, these islands get around 1 million visitors each year. That implies that many Norwegians have actually seen the islands.

In the history of oil-rich nations, Norwegians have followed an unorthodox path. While most such nations have chosen to subsidize domestic prices of petroleum products or at least keep them cheap by policy, Norway has taxed consumption of oil and oil products as if the country were an importer trying to economize on petroleum use.

A recent Bloomberg survey showed that the average price of a gallon of gas worldwide was $3.48. The range was 1 cent in Venezuela to $7.61 in Hong Kong. Norway ranked second highest at $6.89.

Even more strange is that Norway has become a leading market for all-electric cars. About one-third of all new cars sold in the country last year were all-electric. Of course, Norway has very large hydroelectric resources, resources which produced 93.6 percent of the country’s electricity in February 2019, the most recent month for which data is available. But these copious hydropower resources have long been available and didn’t prevent the country from becoming dependent on petroleum-fueled transportation just like the rest of the world.

Norway also made a fateful and propitious decision shortly after the discovery of its oil and natural gas riches in the North Sea. The country decided to invest much of the tax revenue derived from oil and gas in a sovereign wealth fund to be managed on behalf of the Norwegian people for use by future generations.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

World Bank criticised for coal, oil and gas funding

World Bank criticised for coal, oil and gas funding 

While the influential development bank has scaled up clean energy finance, fossil fuels are still getting a larger share of support, campaigners found 

The World Bank is supporting the controversial Trans Anatolian Pipeline gas project (Pic: Tanap)

The World Bank Group faces criticism for continuing to back fossil fuel development, despite moves to clean up its portfolio.

It has earned green credentials for ending direct lending to coal-fired power plants, promising to axe support for oil and gas exploration and increasing its clean energy budget.

Yet over the last five years, the group’s support to oil and gas actually increased, while coal benefitted from indirect subsidies, according to analysisfrom German NGO Urgewald.

The study, which covers 675 active investments, found $21 billion is going towards fossil fuels. While clean energy finance grew rapidly from 2014-18, it has yet to catch up. The equivalent figure is $7bn or $15bn, depending on the inclusion of large-scale hydropower and other projects with disputed environmental benefits.

“It is a big disappointment to find that the World Bank Group continues to provide such vast amounts of public finance for fossil fuels,” said report author Heike Mainhardt. “The bank thereby completely undermines its own efforts for renewable energy sources as well as the Paris climate goals.”

A spokesperson for the World Bank defended its record, saying the Urgewald report “paints a distorted picture of our energy sector work”. The inclusion of “legacy projects where financing was approved many years ago” means it “does not reflect the substantial changes that have happened in World Bank energy financing over the past decade,” he said.

In the last fiscal year, the bank approved $20.5 billion in finance for climate action, he added, meeting a 2020 target two years ahead of schedule.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Climate Change Parallax

Climate Change Parallax

There exists a very seductive delusion that once we cool (or heat) the planet to the proper temperature that the majority of our ecological ills will be over. This is a dangerous self-dectption. “Climate change” per se is not the problem. Temperature fluctuations (increases) reflect underlying carnage caused to nature by excessive human activity.

Once “global warming” has been defeated, and temperatures have been restored to “normal” levels, it will be clearly evident that nothing has been solved. Environmental deterioration will continue its ugly descent. Here is a small itemization of conditions that will not be addressed by a “normal climate”:

Concrete. The manufacture and overuse of concrete represents perhaps the leading edge of ecological destruction. Endless earth surfaces are being ripped apart and mined to obtain the literal mountains of sand used in concrete manufacture. The manufacture of the cement component is energy intensive and releases voluminous harmful by-products into the air and water. The impervious surfaces created all over the world by indiscriminate use of concrete are entombing the planet in sterile death.

Plastic. The ubiquity and environmental chaos of plastic has been endlessly documented and need not be addressed here. The point is that once temperatures (climate change) have been restored, all of the environmental repercussions of plastic will remain behind.

Habitat destruction. The sine qua non of understanding what is happening to the livability of planet Earth is to recognize that the very land itself, the soil, the surface, the natural face of land itself, continues to be devoured by “growth”. The surface of the Earth is going under, taking with it all of the wonderful aspects of a living breathing natural world, sucking it into an ecological black hole.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Glaciers’ global melt may leave Alps bare

Glaciers’ global melt may leave Alps bare

Across much of the world, the ice is trickling off the peaks. Image: By Raul Taciu on Unsplash

High mountain ice is vital to millions. As the world warms, the glaciers’ global melt could see the frozen peaks vanish.

LONDON, 12 April, 2019 – Many of the planet’s most scenic – and most valued – high-altitude landscapes are likely to look quite different within the next 80 years: the glaciers’ global melt will have left just bare rock.

By the century’s end, Europe’s famous Alps – the chain of snow- and ice-covered peaks that have become a playground of the wealthy and a source of income and pleasure for generations – will have lost more than nine-tenths of all its glacier ice.

And in the last 50 years, the world’s glaciers – in Asia, the Americas, Europe, Africa and the sub-Arctic mountains – have lost more than nine trillion tonnes of ice as global temperatures creep ever upwards in response to profligate combustion of fossil fuels.

And as meltwater has trickled down the mountains, the seas have risen by 27mm, thanks entirely to glacial retreat.

“Present mass-loss rates indicate that glaciers could almost disappear in some mountain ranges in this century”

In two separate studies, Swiss scientists have tried to audit a profit and loss account for the world’s frozen high-altitude rivers, and found a steady downhill trend.

Glacial ice is a source of security and even wealth: in the poorest regions the annual summer melt of winter snow and ice banked at altitude can guarantee both energy as hydropower and water for crops in the valleys and floodplains.

In wealthy regions, the white peaks and slopes become sources of income as tourist attractions and centres for winter sport – as well as reliable sources of power and water.

Swiss focus

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With Youth Climate Actions Backed by Leading Experts, Latest Round of Protests Highlights Call for Bold and Urgent Action

With Youth Climate Actions Backed by Leading Experts, Latest Round of Protests Highlights Call for Bold and Urgent Action

“We can change it all if we want it all, and we do.”

Protesters hold signs at the YouthStrike4Climate student march on April 12, 2019 in London.

Protesters hold signs at the YouthStrike4Climate student march on April 12, 2019 in London. Students are protesting across the U.K. due to the lack of government action to combat climate change. (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The latest round of weekly climate strikes took place in cities across the globe on Friday as a group of experts said that the youthful protesters deserve the support of the international community, and backed their call for “rapid and forceful action.”

London was among dozens of U.K. cities where #FridaysforFuture actions took place. One of the protesters there was 21-year-old Cameron Joshi, who told the Guardian:“The global system of trade benefits them, not us, it’s built for consumption. But they’re fucking afraid of us.”

And they should be, he said.

“They fear us because they know if we get our shit together we can change the world. We’re at an absolutely seminal point in history, years of consumerism, capitalism, and environmental murder, and we can change it all if we want it all, and we do.”

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen who spearheaded the school strike for climate campaign, took to Twitter to share images of many of the protests:

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Students from Istanbul made their first school strike for climate today. New students are on the way 12.04.2019

🌿

#fridaysforfuture#schoolstrikeforclimate@GretaThunberg#iklimdegisikligi#iklimkrizi

Embedded video

Der Demo-Zug von #fridaysforfuture in #Potsdam ist jetzt am Landtag angekommen. @PNN_de @F4F_Potsdam

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Researchers Warn Arctic Has Entered ‘Unprecedented State’ That Threatens Global Climate Stability

Researchers Warn Arctic Has Entered ‘Unprecedented State’ That Threatens Global Climate Stability 

“Never have so many Arctic indicators been brought together in a single paper.” And the findings spell trouble for the entire planet.

The Yukon River winds through western interior Alaska in early April. (Photo: UAF/Todd Paris)

The Yukon River winds through western interior Alaska in early April. (Photo: UAF/Todd Paris)

A new research paper by American and European climate scientists focused on Arctic warming published Monday reveals that the “smoking gun” when it comes to changes in the world’s northern polar region is rapidly warming air temperatures that are having—and will continue to have—massive and negative impacts across the globe.

The new paper—titled “Key Indicators of Arctic Climate Change: 1971–2017“—is the work of scientists at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland in Copenhagen (GUES).

“The Arctic system is trending away from its 20th century state and into an unprecedented state, with implications not only within but beyond the Arctic.” —Jason Box, GUES

“The Arctic system is trending away from its 20th century state and into an unprecedented state, with implications not only within but beyond the Arctic,” said Jason Box of the GUES, lead author of the study. “Because the Arctic atmosphere is warming faster than the rest of the world, weather patterns across Europe, North America, and Asia are becoming more persistent, leading to extreme weather conditions. Another example is the disruption of the ocean circulation that can further destabilize climate: for example, cooling across northwestern Europe and strengthening of storms.”

John Walsh, chief scientist at AUF’s research center, was the one who called arctic air tempertures the “smoking gun” discovered during the research—a finding the team did not necessarily anticipate.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Logging is the Lead Driver of Carbon Emissions From US Forests

Logging is the Lead Driver of Carbon Emissions From US Forests

Clearcut, Oregon Coast Range. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Climate change is having a growing impact on Americans and, as the crisis escalates, communities face growing challenges. The latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change underscores that we have eleven short years to make “rapid transformation across all industrial sectors.”

Protecting forest ecosystems is critical in the fight to limit global warming — when forests are disturbed they release carbon, but when left to grow they actively pull carbon out of the air and store it. When left standing, forests also provide optimal natural protection against extreme weather events, like flooding and droughts.

As the Trump Administration and industry allies push for increased commercial logging of America’s forests, we feel compelled to call attention to the elephant in the room: the profound ways in which industrial logging not only decimates ecosystems but also exacerbates climate change.

Many people are aware of the importance of protecting rainforests in Brazil to help mitigate climate change, but few realize that more logging occurs in the US, and more wood is consumed here, than in any other nation globally. The rate and scale of logging in the Southeastern US alone is four times that in South American rainforests.

The Trump Administration and industry have been aggressively promoting misinformation about forests and wildland fires, while advocating for large increases in logging under the guises of “forest health,” “fuel reduction,” “renewable energy,” and reducing carbon emissions. A version of this industry narrative was on display during the recent climate change hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Last time CO2 levels were this high, sea levels were 60 feet higher and Antarctica had trees

Last time CO2 levels were this high, sea levels were 60 feet higher and Antarctica had trees

Study finds the Earth’s climate is highly sensitive to “relatively small variations in atmospheric CO2.”

The last time carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were as high as they are today, sea levels were 60 feet higher and it was so warm that trees grew in Antarctica.

Current CO2 levels of 410 parts per million (ppm) were last seen on Earth three million years ago, according to the most detailed reconstruction of the Earth’s climate by researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and published in Science Advances.

Their in-depth analysis of plant fossils and sediments reveal that such CO2 levels were last seen in the late Pliocene Epoch, a time when there were no ice sheets covering either Greenland or West Antarctica, and much of the East Antarctic ice sheet was gone. Temperatures were up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer globally, at least double that at the poles, and sea levels were some 20 meters (65 feet) higher.

“This is an amazing discovery,” Jane Francis, director of the British Antarctic Survey, told The UK Guardian. “They found fossil leaves of southern beech. I call them the last forests of Antarctica.”   

While the discovery is remarkable, it’s implications are dire. “Twenty metres of sea level rise would have a major impact on our all our coastal cities,” Francis warned.

The good news is that the Earth does not warm instantly, and mile-thick ice sheets melt even more slowly. So the temperature rise will take several decades, and tens of feet of sea level rise will take hundreds and hundreds of years. That means the choices we make now can affect the rate of rise and determine whether we blow past 65 feet of sea level rise to beyond 200 feet.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Shell Sued in the Netherlands for Insufficient Action On Climate Change

Shell Sued in the Netherlands for Insufficient Action On Climate Change

Plaintiffs allege Shell’s current business model threatens human rights because the oil giant is knowingly undermining the world’s chances to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Photo Credit: Paul Ellis/Getty Images  

Seven environmental and human rights organizations in the Netherlands have filed suit against Royal Dutch Shell for failing to align its business model with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The suit, which is the first to directly challenge an oil company’s business model, was filed Friday in The Hague by Friends of the Earth Netherlands/ MilieudefensieGreenpeace Netherlands, five other organizations and more than 17,000 Dutch citizens.

The plaintiffs are not seeking financial compensation, but are asking Shell to adjust its business model in order to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as recommended by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They allege that by following a business model that it knows will not reach these goals, Shell is violating a Dutch law prohibiting “unlawful endangerment” and is violating human rights by taking insufficient action against climate change.

“If successful, the uniqueness of the case would be that Shell – as one of the largest multinational corporations in the world – would be legally obligated to change its business operations,” said Milieudefensie attorney Roger Cox, who also represented plaintiffs in the landmark Urgenda suit.

Urgenda was the first case in which a court ordered a government to reduce its emissions and the first time a court ruled that not taking sufficient action on climate change is a human rights violation.

Plaintiffs allege Shell’s current business model threatens human rights because the oil giant is knowingly undermining the world’s chances to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. They maintain that rather than guarantee emission reductions, Shell’s current plan would contribute to a much larger global temperature increase.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What Will You Say to Your Grandchildren?

What Will You Say to Your Grandchildren?

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Facing oncoming climate disaster, some argue for “Deep Adaptation”—that we must prepare for inevitable collapse. However, this orientation is dangerously flawed. It threatens to become a self-fulfilling prophecy by diluting the efforts toward positive change. What we really need right now is Deep Transformation. There is still time to act: we must acknowledge this moral imperative.

Every now and then, history has a way of forcing ordinary people to face up to a moral encounter with destiny that they never expected. Back in the 1930s, as Adolf Hitler rose to power, those who turned away when they saw Jews getting beaten in the streets never expected that decades later, their grandchildren would turn toward them with repugnance and say “Why did you do nothing when there was still a chance to stop the horror?”

Now, nearly a century on, here we are again. The fate of future generations is at stake, and each of us needs to be prepared, one day, to face posterity—in whatever form that might take—and answer the question: “What did you do when you knew our future was on the line?”

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the past few months, or get your daily updates exclusively from Fox News, you’ll know that our world is facing a dire climate emergency that’s rapidly reeling out of control. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a warning to humanity that we have just twelve years to turn things around before we pass the point of no return. Governments continue to waffle and ignore the blaring sirens. The pledges they’ve made under the 2015 Paris agreement will lead to 3 degrees of warming, which would threaten the foundations of our civilization.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Half a degree may make heat impact far worse

Half a degree may make heat impact far worse

The US south-west may have more drought and forest fires with 0.5°C more heat. Image: By RD Gray on Unsplash

Half a degree of warming doesn’t sound like much. But there is fresh evidence that it could make a huge difference to rainfall and drought.

LONDON, 4 April, 2019 − Japanese scientists have found new evidence that a global average temperature rise as small as half a degree could have a drastic effect.

They conclude that the world cannot afford to delay action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming to 1.5°C by 2100 – the “ideal target” enshrined in the promise by 195 nations to limit warming to well below 2°C above the long-term average for most of human history.

The evidence is this: a shift of even 0.5°C could make a dramatic difference to the risks of devastating droughts and calamitous floods.

If governments keep to the letter of the Paris Agreement of 2015 but not the spirit, and let warming rise to the maximum of 2°, then there will be more intense rainfall across North America, Europe and Asia, and more intense droughts around the Mediterranean.

And although the average intensity of each flood or drought would increase measurably, the intensity of the most extreme event could be even more intense: 10 times greater. That is: the worst imaginable floods 80 years from now would be ten times worse than the worst today.

“Such drastic changes between flood and drought conditions pose a major challenge . . . risks could be substantially reduced by achieving a 1.5°C target”

At the heart of research like this is a new way of looking at future climate projections devised – by researchers all over the world – on a range of possible outcomes for a planet that has recognised climate change, vowed to respond, but failed to take sufficiently energetic steps.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

On Health of the Great Barrier Reef and Case of Sacked Scientist Peter Ridd, Sky News Creates Alternate Reality

On Health of the Great Barrier Reef and Case of Sacked Scientist Peter Ridd, Sky News Creates Alternate Reality

Peter Ridd

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is in some serious trouble, with the latest research in the journal Nature showing the number of new corals has dropped by 89 percent.

In 2016 and 2017, the reef was smashed by back-to-back mass bleaching events and heat stress caused by global warming that killed about half the corals.

“Dead corals don’t make babies,” said James Cook University’s Professor Terry Hughes, the paper’s lead author.

“We used to think that the Great Barrier Reef was too big to fail — until now,” added colleague Professor Morgan Pratchett.

The paper was just the latest in a steady and, many would agree, depressing parade of findings for the World Heritage icon. And if the scientific papers don’t do it for you, then there are always the pictures.

But the release of the study served as a remarkable contrast to the way the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sky News, furnished with material from climate science denial think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, has been “reporting” on reef science in the past week.

On at least five occasions the channel has interviewed the IPA’s policy director Gideon Rozner, who has been updating the channel on the case of Dr. Peter Ridd, a marine scientist specializing in sediments who was fired in March 2018 from James Cook University.

According to the various interviews, the reef is in great shape, the science is probably wrong, and Ridd is a “world renowned” reef expert in a historic fight for freedom. None of this is true, yet the claims have been allowed to stand unchecked.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Designing Climate Solutions – a big-picture view that doesn’t skimp on details

Designing Climate Solutions – a big-picture view that doesn’t skimp on details

Let us pause for a moment of thanks to the policy wonks, who work within the limitations of whatever is currently politically permissible and take important steps forward in their branches of bureaucracy.

Let us also give thanks to those who cannot work within those limitations, and who are determined to transform what is and is not politically permissible.

Designing Climate Solutions: A Policy Guide for Low-Carbon Energy is published by Island Press, November 2018.

An excellent new book from Island Press makes clear that both approaches to the challenge of climate disruption are necessary, though it deals almost exclusively with the work of policy design and implementation.

Designing Climate Solutions, by Hal Harvey with Robbie Orvis and Jeffrey Rissman, is a thoughtful and thorough discussion of policy options aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Harvey is particularly focused on discovering which specific policies are likely to have the biggest – and equally important, the quickest – impact on our cumulative greenhouse gas emissions. But he also pays close attention to the fine details of policy design which, if ignored, can cause the best-intentioned policies to miss their potentials.

One of the many strengths of the book is the wealth of graphics which present complex information in visually effective formats.

A political acceptable baseline

Though political wrangling is barely discussed, Harvey notes that “It goes without saying that a key consideration of any climate policy is whether it stands a chance of being enacted. A highly abating and perfectly designed policy is not worth pursuing if there is no chance it can be implemented.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bold New Campaign Highlights How ‘Nature Can Save Us’ From Climate and Ecological Breakdown

Bold New Campaign Highlights How ‘Nature Can Save Us’ From Climate and Ecological Breakdown

“The protection and restoration of these ecosystems can help to minimize a sixth great extinction, while enhancing local people’s resilience against climate disaster.”

Erie National Wildlife Refuge

A new campaign launched Wednesday calls for “drawing carbon dioxide out of the air by protecting and restoring ecosystems.” (Photo: Nicholas Tonelli/Flickr/cc)

A group of activists, experts, and writers on Wednesday launched a bold new campaign calling for the “thrilling but neglected approach” of embracing nature’s awesome restorative powers to battle the existential crises of climate and ecological breakdown.

Averting catastrophic global warming and devastating declines in biodiversity, scientists warn, requires not only overhauling human activities that generate planet-heating emissions—like phasing out fossil fuels—but also cutting down on the carbon that is already in the atmosphere.

In a letter to governments, NGOs, the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Natural Climate Solutionscampaign calls for tackling these crises by not only rapidly decarbonizing economies, but also by “drawing carbon dioxide out of the air by protecting and restoring ecosystems.”

Along with stopping fossil fuel emissions, we badly need to restore natural systems. Important new effort spearheaded by @GeorgeMonbiot https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/03/let-nature-heal-climate-and-biodiversity-crises-say-campaigners …4708:58 AM – Apr 3, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacyLet nature heal climate and biodiversity crises, say campaignersRestoration of forests and coasts can tackle ‘existential crises’ but is being overlookedtheguardian.com

“By defending, restoring and re-establishing forests, peatlands, mangroves, salt marshes, natural seabeds, and other crucial ecosystems, very large amounts of carbon can be removed from the air and stored,” the letter says. “At the same time, the protection and restoration of these ecosystems can help to minimize a sixth great extinction, while enhancing local people’s resilience against climate disaster.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Arctic Permafrost No Longer Freezes … Even in Winter

Arctic Permafrost No Longer Freezes … Even in Winter

Global warming is starting to hit hard like there’s no tomorrow, and at current rates of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, there may not be a tomorrow, as emissions continue setting new records year-by-year, expected to hit a 62-year record in 2019. So much for the Paris 2015 climate agreement!

The most sensitive areas to global warming, (1) the Arctic (almost all of its multi-year ice, or old ice, is gone- already melted), and (2) East Antarctica, the coldest spot in the planet… strangely melting, and (3) Siberian ground that “no longer freezes in winter” are three occurrences that should keep world leaders up late into the night, blankly staring at the ceiling.

In fact, over the past couple of decades global warming has groomed ultra-dangerous climate upheavals that could destroy sizeable swaths of civilization. But how soon remains an open question?

Moreover, there are several ecosystem flashpoints with enough potential to massively destroy large segments of life right now, which, in fact, is already happening in real time, and scientifically documented, with nearly total loss of arthropods in the tropical rain forests of Mexico and Puerto Rico as a result of excessive global warming, which can destroy populations of arthropods by inhibiting reproduction and disorienting internal organ functionality (Climate-Driven Declines in Arthropod Abundance Restructure a Rainforest Food Web, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

According to the scientists that conducted the 40-year rainforests studies in Mexico and Puerto Rico, rainforests temperatures exceeded the dreaded 2° C post-industrial guardrail (Maybe the IPCC is on to something by insisting the world must not allow temps to exceed 2° C, post-industrial).

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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