Scott Morrison’s leadership is a death sentence for Australia! #ClimateEmergency #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani Demand #ClimateAction Join the #ExtinctionRebellion

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s refusal to accept the realities of climate change is putting his entire country at risk!

“For the past couple of decades, Australia’s fires have been getting bigger and more destructive, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison says that, while he recognizes the connection between global climate change and the ‘weather events’ and ‘broader fire events’ experienced by Australia, it is ‘not a credible suggestion’ to link these specific fires to climate change.”

By Natasha Simpson

Illustration by Alessandra Azouri

Depending on one’s political bent, there is a host of reasons to dislike the current Australian prime minister. Scott Morrison landed solidly in my black books in March 2019 when he used International Women’s Day as an opportunity to assure Australian men that they should not have to make way for women’s empowerment — completely missing the point that the only men that women wish to replace in the workforce are the incompetent and/or violent ones, and eliciting my enduring sympathy for his daughters.

My opinion of Morrison has only gone downhill from there, largely due to his government’s dismissive attitude towards climate change, particularly given the fires that have been devastating Australia for the past four months. In November, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack called the obvious link drawn between the fires and the coal industry by Green politicians “the ravings of some pure, enlightened, and woke capital-city greenies,” and Morrison chose to blame the situation on accidents, arson, and dry lightning strikes, exacerbated by drought and “other issues.”

Morrison leads the Liberal party (in Australia, that means conservative) whose policies on climate change can be summed up by an incident reminiscent of the time an American Republican senator brought a snowball into congress as evidence that global warming was fake. In 2017, when he was Australia’s treasurer, Morrison brought a lump of coal into the House of Representatives as a symbol of how the Liberal government under then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would keep the lights on and power prices low. 

We know for certain that fossil fuels and their carbon emissions are linked to climate change, and that if we want to curb extreme weather events and natural disasters in the future, then we need to drastically reduce emissions. 

Despite renewable energy sources gradually contributing more and more, Australia is undeniably powered by coal. Eighty per cent of the country’s electricity comes from coal and gas, with coal power being the majority. Possibly even more important to the Liberal party is that coal is one of Australia’s most important exports, alongside iron ore — Australia has rich mineral resources, so mining is a big industry. It’s understandable why Australia’s “conservative party” would want to keep the natural resource sector and all the people it employs on their side, carbon emissions be damned. After all, ours does the same thing. It’s almost understandable, when you consider the complete lack of credible options and the general craziness that plagues Australian politics, how Morrison won last year’s election.

But what Morrison has failed to recognize over the past few years (alongside Scheer, Trump, Bolsonaro, and a disturbing number of others), is that the world is past the point where continuing to champion fossil fuels is acceptable. The fires in B.C., Brazil, Siberia, California, and now Australia have told us, in no uncertain terms, that the world has changed.

We know for certain that fossil fuels and their carbon emissions are linked to climate change, and that if we want to curb extreme weather events and natural disasters in the future, then we need to drastically reduce emissions. The global average temperature has already risen by 1.1ºC. Arctic ice is melting at a rate of 12.85 per cent per decade. The ocean is becoming warmer and more acidic. “Megafires” (those that burn more than 40 000 hectares) are occurring on unprecedented scales. 

Illustration by Smriti Grag

The situation in Australia is a perfect example of the havoc wreaked by climate change. 2019 was both the warmest and driest year on record for Australia. As a whole, the country saw 40 per cent less rainfall than average, with New South Wales (N.S.W.) and southern Queensland experiencing especially severe drought. There was widespread severe fire weather throughout the year, causing the national annual accumulated Forest Fire Danger Index to be the highest it has been since the country started keeping those records in 1950. 

January and February, the middle of Australian summer, are generally the worst months for bushfires in southeast Australia, but the fires that are currently raging began months early, and have continued with a devastating vengeance. The excessive heat and dryness enabled fires that have burned more than 10 million hectares (the Amazon fires burned over 900 000 hectares), destroyed over 2 100 homes, killed 28 people, and killed half a billion animals in N.S.W. alone. The University of Sydney estimates that one billion animals have died nationwide, and that some species may go extinct as a direct result of these fires.

Given all of this, it is utterly incomprehensible is how Morrison and his party have reacted to the fires ravaging their country. Morrison has stated that, while he recognizes the connection between global climate change and the “weather events” and “broader fire events” experienced by Australia, it is “not a credible suggestion” to link these specific fires to climate change. After all, Australia has always experienced bushfires. Why would these ones be anything other than the usual kind started by carelessness, arson, and lightning, exacerbated by drought?

If a burning country is the cost, it is hard to see how clinging to destructive industries is worth it. 

It is this willful ignorance that makes Morrison, his party, and others like him so dangerous. For the past couple of decades, Australia’s fires have been getting bigger and more destructive, but Morrison is doubling down, calling curbing the coal industry “reckless,” and refusing to place any more importance on combatting climate change. 

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated in their report in Oct. 2018 that phasing out coal by 2050 is crucial to preventing the global average temperature from rising more than 1.5ºC. But when that report came out, Deputy Prime Minister McCormack, stated that Australia would continue to exploit coal, and that the report would not cause any policy change — and true to his word, the Liberals continue to push coal.  In March 2019, a deal was signed to build two new coal-fired power stations in the Hunter region of N.S.W. Two months later, Morrison’s government gave Adani, an Indian conglomerate, the go-ahead to begin a much-contested massive coal mining project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, something that critics say could pave the way for six more mines in the area. 

Now, Morrison is trying to dodge the reality that climate change caused in large part by emissions from industries like his beloved coal mining has set his country ablaze. But Morrison’s deflections cannot change the fact that this won’t be the last time fire ravages Australia. If the world cannot reduce its emissions enough to prevent a temperature rise past 1.5ºC, we don’t know how much worse the fires will get, how many wildlife habitats, crop fields, towns, and families will be destroyed. If a burning country is the cost, it is hard to see how clinging to destructive industries is worth it. It is far past time for Morrison to pull his head out of whichever coal mine he’s stuck it in, and start thinking of how to keep what remains of his country safe.

— Read on

Consensus forming for ambitious climate goal: Net zero pollution | TheHill #ClimateEmergency #ZeroEmissions #StopAdani

Zero, as in “net-zero,” means taking as much carbon out of the atmosphere as we put into it, a vital step towards averting the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

The first step in achieving a goal is setting a target. For the challenge of climate change, congressional leaders are increasingly finding consensus around a mark of zero — that is, net-zero climate pollution.  

Zero does not usually suggest bold and decisive action, but in the language of the climate crisis, “zero” equals ambition and conveys a strong sense of urgency. 

Zero, as in “net-zero,” means taking as much carbon out of the atmosphere as we put into it, a vital step towards averting the most catastrophic effects of climate change. 

In Washington, D.C., prominent members in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are quickly coalescing behind this ambitious goal of achieving net-zero by 2050. 

Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and a longtime environmental champion, has introduced the “Clean Economy Act,” which gives EPA authority to set and pursue a net-zero goal. 

Carper recognizes that climate change is the biggest threat we face and that it will not be addressed without strong U.S. leadership. While aggressive pollution reductions are the core goal of the bill, the measure has growing support because it will boost clean energy, create good-paying jobs, promote technology innovation, and protect public health. 

Last fall, Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), a leading Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, House Natural Resources Committee, and the House’s Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, was joined by over 150 colleagues in putting forward the “100% Clean Economy Act.” 

Rep. Frank Pallone, chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, also recently introduced an important discussion draft of the first comprehensive climate bill from an authorizing committee in 10 years. Both bills target a 100 percent clean economy by 2050.

Both chambers of Congress, town halls, corporate boardrooms, social media feeds, and presidential candidates are realizing that we are long past the time to take action and that any serious approach to fighting climate change must be aimed at achieving net-zero carbon emissions in the U.S. by 2050 at the latest. 

 The push for net-zero was recently dubbed “World War Zero as part of a new campaign for which former Secretary of State John Kerry has enlisted an impressive, bipartisan cast of leaders from John Kasich to Arnold Schwarzenegger to Bill Clinton

These leaders are joining this push for net-zero because the need to take climate action is growing more urgent by the day. Recent reports have told us that global carbon emissions will again hit a record high in 2019, and for every year we see this rise, we know that it will take that much more effort to reach net-zero. We can’t afford to wait.

Despite this challenge, it’s not just the new legislative activity that gives cause for optimism.  Clean energy sources such as solar and wind, along with lithium-ion batteries for energy storage, have dropped significantly in cost. 

Innovations promise to transform transportation and industry, and many of the technologies we need to get on the path to net-zero exist today. What’s more, new means of capturing and storing carbon are being developed and demonstrated, to make them cost-effective in the future.

Private sector leadership is ramping up as well. In September, a diverse cohort of 87 companies representing more than four million employees and headquartered in 27 countries committed to net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. Prominent U.S. companies, including major utilities such as DTE, Duke Energy, and Xcel Energy, have also stepped up with their net-zero plans.  

While serious federal climate action in the U.S. will remain very unlikely under the Trump administration, the proliferation of net-zero bills and commitments is creating a surge of momentum, and fresh energy for and growing consensus around an ambitious and achievable goal: getting to zero.  

Derek Walker is the vice president for U.S. Climate at Environmental Defense Fund.

— Read on

We must face and address economic and environmental problems directly | #ClimateEmergency Demand a #GreenNewDeal #StopAdani Join the #ExtinctionRebellion

Root Routledge (Courtesy Photo)

Northwest Colorado counties, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt, are at the crossroads of a new 21st Century future, transformed by the threats and opportunities our climate crisis presents. With the fossil fuel industry, especially coal, providing so many working family jobs and revenue to the communities of these counties, they are representative of frontline communities across America who will be seriously impacted by our country’s transition to a carbon-free economy.

These workers, who have raised generations of families on decent incomes, are not the enemies of the future. They are simply caught at the crossroads of a rapidly changing global reality, as their old jobs and income are lost to energy transformation away from fossil fuels. It is the existential threat of global warming and resultant climate chaos that we must fight in order to secure climate stability, with a viable future for our children and grandchildren.

We need compassionate federal, state and local policy with empathy for the people of front-line communities that will help them through this transition in a just and fair way. Politicians of denial, like Republican Scott Tipton, cannot prevent these mega-changes by trying to sustain an economically dying industry. Climate change is the greatest market failure in history, since there has never been a cost on the carbon pollution at the core of the carbon-based products it produces and uses to generate electricity, and to run our economy. So-called “free-market” dogma cannot self-correct this problem, driven by the single-focused goal of growing corporate profits from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels; without concern for the damage it’s doing to the planet. We need a carbon-fee policy that returns fees, collected at the source, equitably as a monthly dividend to all legal residents of the country.

To ignore its cause with an “all of the above” energy plan, as Tipton suggests we pursue “to save fossil fuel jobs,” is myopic and delusional. Promoting these failed “Business As Usual” policies benefits only fossil fuel corporations, since these policies—not the workers—are the cause of our problems.

With courage and good systemic federal policy we must face it directly and address it. That is what I’m focused on, as the only 2020 Democratic candidate for Tipton’s 3rd Congressional seat with a strategic focus on climate. Along with Medicare For All, an economy that works for everyone, a healthy democracy and other progressive policies that focus on the well-being of ordinary American people, we can realize a just transition.

This threat is rapidly bearing down on us. We are out of time. The rate of global warming is actually accelerating toward a collapse of climate stability and massive destruction of global ecosystems, water resources and food production. The past five warmest years are the warmest five on record; with strong polar feedbacks causing extreme polar temperatures and rapid loss of ice and ice-shelf disintegration. Western Colorado is one of the fastest heating areas in the country. Large areas of the planet are either on fire, experiencing drought and increasingly violent weather events and flooding, or are losing land to rising sea-levels.

Reality calls for a massive effort at the scale and urgency of the problem. Not only do we need to quickly bring GHG emissions to zero; we need a systemic approach that gives compassionate consideration to all the interacting and intersectional societal factors of this impact. That is the essence of the comprehensive Green New Deal. As an industrial consultant grounded in reality, who knows industry and understands climate and ecosystems, I offer our best shot at turning the corner toward a viable future.

Root Routledge, PhD, is the founder of Alpine Analytics, an industrial consulting firm in Durango. He is a 2020 candidate for U.S. Congress, Colorado’s 3rd District. His website is:

— Read on

Rising Antarctic temperatures show how desperately we need a #GreenNewDeal | The Independent #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol Demand #ClimateAction Join the #ExtinctionRebellion

On Friday, temperatures on an island in Antarctica peaked, hitting over 20C. This followed a record week in which temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula reached over 18C, the highest since a similar peak in March 2015. As the World Meteorological Organisation spokeswoman Clare Nullis told the press, it “is not a figure you would normally associate with Antarctica, even in the summertime”.

As glaciers in the region continue to retreat and the temperature increases, scientists are again warning about the impact on rising sea levels. Earlier this month, the BBC reported on the melting of the “doomsday Thwaites glacier” in Antarctica. This glacier is the size of Britain and already accounts for 4 per cent of world sea rise each year. This glacier is so large that the water it contains alone could ensure a global sea level rise of half a metre.

As these huge systems, like the Antarctic, respond to a warming planet, the scientific community have condemned governments who are guilty of inaction and the companies who continue to make money from a global economy reliant on fossil fuels. Last year, organisers of the Edinburgh Science Festival imposed a blanket ban on sponsorship deals with fossil fuel companies, explaining the decision by asserting that “the oil and gas sector is not moving fast enough” to meet climate change targets.

As condemnation increases, so too will the greenwashed cries from those responsible. This week the new BP CEO joined Instagram and announced to the world that the company was listening and would respond by committing to shrinking its carbon footprint to “net zero by 2050”. But as Alice Bell’s forensic look at BP’s plan to do this says, we should all “beware oil execs in environmentalists’ clothing. They may simply wish to seize the growing energy for change and steer it towards their own ends: the continued burning of fossil fuels.”

Our changing climate is warming due to heat caused by excessive carbon dioxide transmitted into the air by the burning of fossil fuels. The very same fossil fuels which governments keep subsidising and companies keep extracting. However, things are coming to a head. Climate change is now in the news like never before as temperature records continue to be broken, storms batter the UK and flooding, heat waves and the resulting disruption become the new normal.

We know that the British public is increasingly concerned about climate change. A poll by Green New Deal UK last year showed that a majority of the UK public and almost half of Conservative voters support a radical plan to transform the economy and tackle the climate crisis. For the UK government, this comes at a time when many communities that will be impacted by climate change are still suffering under the weight of a decade of austerity and an economy that isn’t working for them. We are one of the richest countries in the world, yet 14 million of us live in poverty.

Environmental action doesn’t need to be at the expense of human flourishing; we can live in a world where there is economic security and protection of the natural world. A programme like the Green New Deal, a 10-year ambitious national action plan to transform our economy and secure a liveable climate while building a fair society, is the answer. 

With several candidates committing to the Green New Deal in the Democratic primaries, as well as commitment from campaigns that are springing up across the world, such a plan would mean that we are able to improve basic human rights like energy, housing, and transport while creating well-paid jobs, lower bills and giving people more control over their lives.

It would mean a homebuilding and retrofitting programme to make our houses more sustainable and energy efficient. Our bills will be lower and nobody will have to live in cold, draughty and damp conditions. We would see a massive rollout of cheaper, faster and improved public transport to provide a safe, clean and easy way of getting around that doesn’t cost the earth.

History shows that we can’t sit back and rely on politicians to deliver the transformation we need. Public pressure and social movements have always been instrumental to changing our society for the better, from the fight for the rights of women, people of colour and the LGBTQ+ community, to the fall of oppressive regimes across the world, and from the minimum wage and the right to a weekend to key environmental protections.

It is up to us to build that movement which can absorb the truth of our changing planet, and then shift the balance of power to force political action at every level on climate change.

Hannah Martin is the co-executive director of Green New Deal UK / @GreenNewDealUK

— Read on

Facing a #climateemergency, these researchers explain what gives them hope | The Star #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani join the #ExtinctionRebellion

From Indigenous leadership to resurgence of species, eight climate and conservation experts weigh in on what’s making them hopeful in 2020.

The news is often filled with doom and gloom about the environment, for good reason: we are in the middle of a climate change emergency and an extinction crisis. But the people on the front lines of these problems still find ways to get out of bed in the morning.

The Star asked climate and conservation scientists to look back at recent events, look forward to the future, and answer a simple question:

What makes you hopeful?

Their responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Kai Chan, professor at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia

I’m inspired by the combination of the broad base of concern across a broad swath of Canadians (and others around the world), as well as the much more targeted and personally risky peaceful action of folks as in Extinction Rebellion. The fact that half a million people turned up for the climate rally in late September in Montreal was huge.

Similarly, the election provided a tangible reason for optimism for me. Even in the face of persistent and misleading claims about carbon pricing being a tax grab, a strong majority of Canadians voted for strong climate action — reaching carbon-neutrality by 2050, or even more stringent than that. We have yet to see how much can be accomplished towards that end given provincial politics, but it’s something.

Dan Kraus, senior conservation biologist, Nature Conservancy of Canada

First, the tremendous growth we’ve seen in protected areas in Canada and around the world: places like Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve and more of Ontario’s Cockburn Island. Canada looks to be on track to meet protected area targets for 2020, and has now set even more ambitious goals for 2025. Perhaps just as important, recent surveys show that Canadians continue to support more land conservation.

Second, the Kirkland Warbler. After being on the edge of extinction, this songbird has slowly been recovering through a multitude of initiatives, and was removed from the U.S. Endangered Species list in 2019. This will certainly help to improve its status in Canada, but more importantly it shows that we can recover endangered species — including species that migrate, occur across large areas, and have habitat needs that could conflict with resource development. The recovery of this species should give us evidence of hope that we can stop the extinction crises, and that with the upcoming UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), we may still have a chance to turn things around.

Gillian Chow-Fraser, boreal program manager, CPAWS Northern Alberta

I am optimistic about the future of Indigenous leadership in conservation and protecting nature. In March 2019, the Government of Alberta announced the establishment of Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland Provincial Park (which translates in Cree and Dene to “our land”), which contributes to the largest network of protected areas in the boreal in the world. It was initially proposed by the Mikisew Cree First Nation, who will help co-operatively manage the park, and helps protect a portion of the Ronald Lake Bison herd, one of the last disease-free herds of at-risk wood bison. There were also huge efforts for co-ordinated voluntary abandonment of leases by several energy companies within the park. From federally funded Indigenous Guardians programs across the country, to increasing proposals for Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs), we are just scratching the surface of Indigenous-led conservation initiatives. 

Valérie Courtois, director, Indigenous Leadership Initiative

2019 was a good year for Indigenous stewardship. Twenty-seven proposed Indigenous protected areas received federal funding as part of Canada’s plan to protect 17 per cent of lands by 2020. Once finalized, these areas will conserve over 50 million hectares of intact, healthy lands.

In August, the Łutsël K’e Dene First Nation signed an agreement to permanently protect 26,376 square kilometres of caribou grounds and boreal forest east of Yellowknife. The entire area, called Thaidene Nëné, is an Indigenous Protected Area, and parts are also designated as a national park, territorial park and wildlife conservation area. In November, the K’asho Got’ı̨nę held a signing ceremony with the Government of the Northwest Territories to protect Ts’udé Nilįné Tueyata, 10,000 square kilometres along the Upper Mackenzie River. And there are now over 60 Indigenous Guardians programs managing lands across the country. Guardians serve as “moccasins and mukluks” on the ground for their communities — testing water quality, monitoring development and managing protected areas.

The progress we’ve seen in 2019 makes me hopeful about the new year and the new decade ahead. With sustained, federal funding, more Indigenous nations will honour their cultural responsibility to care for the land. And that means more salmon and caribou, more clean water and carbon reserves and more healthy lands for all.

Sheila Colla, conservation biologist and professor, York University

People seem to still be very concerned about native pollinator declines. I’m thankful this is an environmental issue that remains top of mind among Canadians. In the city of Toronto, many amazing groups applied for the pollinator garden grant and the native pollinator plant giveaways were a huge success. In 2020, I hope we can continue to build on this enthusiasm to really start addressing main threats to our wild bees and the ecosystem services they provide, including climate change and introduced diseases from managed bees. Planting flowers will get us part of the way but there is still work that needs to be done to ensure the sustainability of our food systems and natural ecosystems.

Jeremy Kerr, university research chair in macroecology and conservation biology, University of Ottawa

Watching in alarm as decades of carefully worded warnings accomplished little, scientists are now speaking in stark terms about how perilously close the planet is to tipping points that could cause civilization to unravel. The evidence that tells us of the climate crisis also tells us how to avert it: reduce emissions and work hard on adapting to the changes we can’t avoid. What leaves me feeling hope is that society seems to have reached its own tipping point, leaving no room for credible leaders to dodge responsibility to take decisive action. There is no alternative and precious little time remaining to do what must be done.

Jonaki Bhattacharyya, technical lead, Indigenous protected area planning, Nexwagwez?an — Dasiqox Tribal Park

As a conservation scientist working with Indigenous communities, I am fuelled by a love of wild places. Yet, like many conservationists, I work at the ragged edge of heartbreak. The spectre of grief over what has been lost, and what could be, looms close. What gave me hope? I was restored when I heard Gilbert Solomon sing, and the mountains sang back. Throughout 2019, Tsilhqot’in communities continued a decades-long struggle to protect a sacred area of their territory against the threat of unwanted mining activities. It is a dogged conservation struggle.

In October I attended a gathering of Tsilhqot’in friends and colleagues, marking five years since they announced their Indigenous Protected Area: Nexwagwez?an — Dasiqox Tribal Park. Out on their territory, a small group of people stood around a fire together, warming our hands amidst the first snow of the season. Gilbert, a Xeni Gwet’in knowledge keeper, sang and drummed as the group took a moment to give thanks for the gathering, for the land and water, for a meal, for each other. Gilbert is small in stature, but when he sings, his voice is powerful and pure. His drumming thrummed across the lakes with the beat of a relationship between people and place that is thousands of years old. The mountains seemed to receive his song, singing it with him. I am inspired by the resilience and determination of all the people working to protect that area; when Gilbert Solomon sang, I felt the spark of my own optimism renewed.

Aerin Jacob, conservation scientist, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

I think a lot about caribou: their soft velvety antlers, the clickety-clack sound when they walk, and the weird way they go up into alpine areas during winter to avoid predators. Once found across Canada, caribou populations have sharply declined in recent decades, largely because of habitat loss, fragmentation and disturbance. I worry about the extinction of one of our quintessentially Canadian animals. 

Northeastern British Columbia’s Peace Region is where I find hope for caribou. In March, West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations drafted an Intergovernmental Partnership Agreement with provincial and federal governments that outlines steps to recover mountain caribou, including the most important aspect: actually protecting habitat. Expanding the Klinse-za Protected Area means that some mountain caribou will have an island of safety in a sea of industrial development. It will also help to increase ecological connectivity to wild areas north and south, which is important as ecosystems adapt to climate change.

I am hopeful that the draft agreement will be signed soon — protecting caribou habitat can’t wait, in the Peace or elsewhere. I hope that mountain caribou will recover to the point where Treaty 8 First Nations can exercise their treaty rights to hunt caribou again; this matters for reconciliation and conservation. The commitment and determination of West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations to keep caribou on the land gives me hope. If we’re going to help Canadian wildlife to thrive, we need more action like this.

— Read on

Speeding Sea Level Rise Threatens Nuclear Plants – EcoWatch #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateEmergency Demand a #GreenNewDeal Join the #ExtinctionRebellion

The latest science shows how the pace of sea level rise is speeding up, fueling fears that not only millions of homes will be under threat, but that vulnerable installations like docks and power plants will be overwhelmed by the waves.

New research using satellite data over a 30-year period shows that around the year 2000 sea level rise was 2mm a year, by 2010 it was 3mm and now it is at 4mm, with the pace of change still increasing.

The calculations were made by a research student, Tadea Veng, at the Technical University of Denmark, which has a special interest in Greenland, where the icecap is melting fast. That, combined with accelerating melting in Antarctica and further warming of the oceans, is raising sea levels across the globe.

The report coincides with a European Environment Agency (EEA) study whose maps show large areas of the shorelines of countries with coastlines on the North Sea will go under water unless heavily defended against sea level rise.

Based on the maps, newspapers like The Guardian in London have predicted that more than half of one key UK east coast provincial port — Hull — will be swamped. Ironically, Hull is the base for making giant wind turbine blades for use in the North Sea.

The argument about how much the sea level will rise this century has been raging in scientific circles since the 1990s. At the start, predictions of sea level rise took into account only two possible causes: the expansion of seawater as it warmed, and the melting of mountain glaciers away from the poles.

In the early Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports back then, the melting of the polar ice caps was not included, because scientists could not agree whether greater snowfall on the top of the ice caps in winter might balance out summer melting. Many of them also thought Antarctica would not melt at all, or not for centuries, because it was too cold.

Both the extra snow theory and the “too cold to melt” idea have now been discounted. In Antarctica this is partly because the sea has warmed up so much that it is melting the glaciers’ ice from beneath — something the scientists had not foreseen.

Alarm about sea level rise elsewhere has been increasing outside the scientific community, partly because many nuclear power plants are on coasts. Even those that are nearing the end of their working lives will be radio-active for another century, and many have highly dangerous spent fuel on site in storage ponds with no disposal route organized.

Perhaps most alarmed are British residents, whose government is currently planning a number of new seaside nuclear stations in low-lying coastal areas. Some will be under water this century according to the EEA, particularly one planned for Sizewell in eastern England.

Hard to Tell

The agency’s report says estimates of sea level rise by 2100 vary, with an upper limit of one meter generally accepted, but up to 2.5 meters predicted by some scientists. The latest research by Danish scientists suggests judiciously that with the speed of sea level rise continuing to accelerate, it is impossible to be sure.

A report by campaigners who oppose building nuclear power stations on Britain’s vulnerable coast expresses extreme alarm, saying both nuclear regulators and the giant French energy company EDF are too complacent about the problem.

The report said: “Polar ice caps appear to be melting faster than expected, and what is particularly worrying is that the rate of melting seems to be increasing. Some researchers say sea levels could rise by as much as six meters or more by 2100, even if the 2°C Paris target is met.

“But it’s not just the height of the rise in sea level that is important for the protection of nuclear facilities, it’s also the likely increase in storm surges. An increase in sea level of 50cm would mean the storm that used to come every thousand years will now come every 100 years. If you increase that to a meter, then that millennial storm is likely to come once a decade.

“Bearing in mind that there will probably be nuclear waste on the Hinkley Point C site [home to the new twin reactors being built by EDF in the West of England] until at least 2150, the question neither the Office of Nuclear Regulation nor EDF seem to be asking is whether further flood protection measures can be put in place fast enough to deal with unexpected and unpredicted storm surges.”

— Read on

After the recovery, let’s maintain the rage! #ClimateEmergency #StopAdani Demand a #GreenNewDeal Join the #ExtinctionRebellion #Drought #Bushfire #Flood made worse by #ClimateChange

This terrible summer must remain a line in the sand.

By Richard Glover

The rains have come but let’s hope they don’t wash away the memories of this terrible summer. They haven’t for the animals – not yet. Up at our bush block, the kangaroos crowd around the few remaining structures.

They are thin and bedraggled by rain.

The little ones, in particular, don’t run away. There’s nowhere else to go, just an endless carpet of black ash, stretching for many kilometres in all directions. One tiny fellow looks up into my camera as if to say, “What am I meant to do now?”

The Green Wattle Creek fire tore through this country, reducing over a quarter of a million hectares of startlingly beautiful bush to a blackened wasteland. The only remaining feed lies in the few metres around each building. In saving each shed or house, the RFS also saved a narrow apron of drought-weary grass.

It’s this the kangaroos are relying on, and why they’re clustered close around each isolated building in a way I’ve never seen before. They work away at what’s left of the chewed-down grass. Sometimes there’s a lump of sweet potato left out by the locals.

Our back deck is heavy with kangaroo scats, the result, I’m guessing, of the night they sheltered close to the house as the fire pushed in from all sides. Below that deck, there’s now a wombat in residence – not the best news for the foundations, but, as part of the species who helped cause all this, who am I to question his choice of evacuation centre?

Straight after the fires, the gum leaves turned white. They looked – and sounded – like paper. When the wind came through, they shook like a Japanese paper wind-chime; it was the eeriest sound you can imagine.

Now, five weeks since the fire raged through, the leaves have turned russet. A puff of wind sends them falling to the ground. Australia’s trees are not deciduous, right? They are now. It feels like mid-fall in North America.

In a few weeks’ time, it really will be autumn, but a strange autumn that will masquerade as spring. After so much rain – about 100 millimetres in a few days – we’ll have a surge of growth. It’s rain, not flame, that kindles what Dylan Thomas called “the green fuse”.

Already, deep in the forest, a handful of trees are sprouting green, tiny leaves clustered on the trunk, luminous against the matt black of burnt bark.

The trunks ooze a white foam which, in the heavy rain, is driven into the streams that run hard along the dirt track outside our place. It looks like someone has spilt a bottle of detergent, but the white foam, I’m later told, is a chemical compound, rich in saponins.

An optimistic narrative will be hard to resist once the green shoots return.

When rain comes after drought, the eucalypts shed the chemical to help the rain penetrate the dry soil around their base.

Isn’t nature wonderful?

Yes, but here lies our peril. Can we indulge our wonder while not discounting our worry? Can we repeat our customary phrase – “the bush will recover, the people will rebuild” – while also remembering the rage, panic, terror and pain of this terrible summer?

We can comfort ourselves by endlessly quoting – as our politicians love to do – the words of Dorothea Mackellar: “I love a sunburnt country … of droughts and flooding rains.”

Or we can read Henry Lawson’s poem about the Paroo, a river which, in drought, grows so insignificant that Lawson’s hapless travellers step over it, oblivious, but which then floods back into health. (Early this week: 2.29 metres and rising).

Or we can chuckle over John O’Brien’s Said Hanrahan, written in 1919, with a farmer’s complaints about drought, replaced with his complaints about flood, with the same mournful mantra: ” ‘We’ll all be rooned’, said Hanrahan.”

The fires, nearly all of them, are now out. The rains have come, although not everywhere. Communities are tighter, more united, bound by a million moments of bravery and kindness. Everywhere, there is bottomless gratitude for the firefighters.

But nothing will bring back the billion animals, birds and reptiles lost in this state alone – nor the frogs, fish, platypus or insects not included in what scientists say is a conservative estimate.

And nothing, of course, will bring back the 34 Australians who lost their lives.

Some trees will recover, some won’t. Ground cover will return, but will it be in the form of weeds or native grasses? In some places, the fire burnt with such intensity, the seed bank will be destroyed. Rainforests, ill adapted to fire, may never recover.

An optimistic narrative will be hard to resist once the green shoots return. That tiny kangaroo, now too exhausted to escape my camera, will soon, I hope, be bouncing away with its mob.

And yet this terrible summer should remain a line in the sand. It should remain a call to arms. It should be confirmation – if confirmation were needed – that, in a world of climate change, Australia is the canary in the mine.

The bush will recover. The burnt towns will be rebuilt. Our job? We must remember this terrible time – and the promises we made to ourselves, right at that moment we were ringed by flame.

The world must change. How about now?

— Read on