Tuesday 17th of September 2019

playing with matches while smoking the planet...


The record-breaking heatwave that roasted Europe last month was a one-in-a-thousand-year event made up to 100 times more likely by human-driven climate change, scientists have calculated.

Around the globe, July at least equalled and may have surpassed the hottest month on record, according to data from the World Meteorological Organization. This followed the warmest June on record.

Temperature records were broken in many countries, wildfires continue to devastate vast areas of Siberia, the Greenland ice sheet is melting at a near record rate, and the risk of drought has grown more acute across wide areas of central and eastern Europe.

The extreme heat is particularly unusual because it is not an El Niño year – the phenomenon usually associated with prolonged temperature surges. Instead, scientists say it is driven to a large extent by carbon emissions from car exhausts, power plant chimneys, burning forests and other human sources.

How much these factors loaded the dice in the two- to three-day heatwave during the last week of July was the subject of an attribution study by a consortium of meteorologists and climatologists at the UK Met Office, Oxford University and other prominent European institutions.

It found that the extreme heat in France and the Netherlands, where temperatures peaked above 40C, was made at least 10 times and possibly more than 100 times more likely by climate change. In the UK, which set a record of 38.7C on 25 July, the human impact on the climate made the high temperatures at least two to three times more probable.

There was considerable variation from place to place, but in all the studied locations the scientists said it would have been 1.5C to 3C cooler without climate change.


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the hottest july ever in recorded history...

Preliminary data released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Friday reveals that this past July was likely the hottest month ever in recorded history after officials detected an average increase of 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

release from WMO indicates that the figure was compiled from data collected during the first 29 days of July, and that the temperature spike “will be on par with, and possibly marginally warmer than the previous warmest July, in 2016, which was also the warmest month ever.”

However, unlike the July 2016 record, boiling temperatures experienced in July 2019 weren’t the result of a strong El Niño weather phenomenon, an event that takes place when warmer ocean temperatures heat the atmosphere, forcing it to hold more moisture.

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In brief

Warmer than average July for Australia

Mean maximum temperature above average for nearly all of the country

Mean minimum temperature above average for large areas, particularly the southeast; below average for some areas of the far north

July rainfall below to very much below average for very large areas, including most of New South Wales, southern Queensland, South Australia, and the southern half of Western Australia

Rainfall above average for western Tasmania, parts of northern Queensland and the Gulf Coast

It has been the second-warmest January–July on record for Australia (spanning 110 years), with rainfall also below to very much below average over most of the country, and fifth-lowest on record for Australia as a whole (spanning 120 years)


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An old toon (a rough drawing probably circa 1970s) at top by Gus Leonisky

beware of (some) meteorologists...

From: http://education.abc.net.au/newsandarticles/blog/-/b/3257057/curious-kids-how-is-global-warming-heating-up-the-earth-

The Conversation is asking kids to send in questions they'd like an expert to answer. Raphael wants to know if global warming is heating up the Earth. An expert explains.

The simple answer to this important question is “yes”.

We know that both the planet’s air and its oceans have been getting warmer over the last 100 years or more. We know this because it has been measured directly, by weather scientists called “meteorologists”.


Gus warns  about "meteorologists"... Many of them don't "believe" in global warming. In an article posted at http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/33287 Gus explains:

At this point, Climatology steps on the toes of another specific area: Meteorology. One does not have to be a climatologist to be a meteorologist and this can lead to some confusion and some dissenting over the influences of various factors


Meteorology is the study of the immediate behaviour of the atmosphere -- this complex gaseous layer made of -- as dry air -- by volume 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.04% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases in diminishing quantity such as methane and nitric oxides. Air also contains a variable amount of water vapour, on average around 1% at sea level, and 0.4% over the entire atmosphere


The variability of water vapour gives us one of the main influencing factors of meteorology: clear skies, clouds, rain, hail, snow. Atmospheric pressure and dew point are two others elements of measurement. Dew point is dependent on temperature, pressure and humidity.


To say the least, meteorologists have a hell of a time trying to predict variations in this unstable but BALANCING mix, in regard to seasonal changes, local conditions and various layers of the atmosphere within the 10 kilometres band, as the water vapour varies from ice (hail, high altitude clouds) to water droplets (rain, clouds) and to clear vapour (humidity). Like climatologists, meteorologists have super-computers at their disposal and yet meteorologists cannot predict the weather precisely within a few days and often have to update every hour. 



At this stage we need to mention that many meteorologists DO NOT subscribe to the global warming theory. There is too much imprecision and imponderables in their own work as to accept that the theory of global warming could be so precise. The figure is that only 29 per cent of AMS (American Meteorologist Society) members agree to the tight wording of the “scientific consensus” on global warming. Many dismiss global warming entirely. Meteorologists do not specifically exclude the “weatherman” or “weathergirl” who are often only experts in delivering the weather on TV every night, while looking knowledgeable. The weather they report is usually supplied by the BoM (Bureau of Meteorology) in Australia and similar outfits around the world. Some of these “weatherpreson” will do their own research on the “oscillation index” or such, like La Nina/el Nino effect, but it is a rare state of affairs.


Here we have established that weather prediction is a very imprecise science.


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perpetual growth on a finite planet is impossible...

A heat wave is causing unprecedented melting of the Greenland ice sheet. Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Organization just declared July 2019 the hottest month ever recorded. We speak with Jason Box, professor and ice climatologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, about the intensifying climate crisis. He says humanity must move toward living in balance with the environment. “If we don’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately stabilize CO2 … there’s no real prospect for a stable society or even a governable society,” Box says. “Perpetual growth on a finite planet is, by definition, impossible.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we bring you Part 2 of our discussion of the climate crisis, its effect on Greenland and the world. The massive heat dome that shattered all-time temperature records across much of Europe last week has settled in over Greenland, driving temperatures across the vast region to as much as 30 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. In July, Greenland’s ice sheet lost almost 200 billion tons of ice, the equivalent of around 80 million Olympic swimming pools. This comes as the World Meteorological Organization said Thursday that July was the warmest month in recorded human history. That followed the hottest June on record, as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels climbed to a record high of 415 parts per million earlier this year.

We’re continuing our discussion in Copenhagen, Denmark, with Jason Box, professor and ice climatologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.

Jason, thanks so much for continuing with us. Explain why you have worked on Greenland for so long, why Greenland is so significant in the world. And for people who are watching this from the tip of Latin America to Asia to Africa, why should we pay attention to Greenland? What is so unique about it? And what does this surge in temperature, hot temperature, mean?

JASON BOX: I’ve been working studying Greenland, starting with my studies in the U.S. at the University of Colorado, working with some excellent people. And for 15 years, we worked on Greenland. I then took a job in Copenhagen doing a lot of the same work. We are running a monitoring system at the surface, where we get hard numbers to check models and satellites.

And Greenland is iconic because of its large size. It’s like three times the area of Texas. It has a huge potential for sea level rise. Until now, larger — smaller ice bodies in Arctic Canada, Alaska and the Alps have actually been contributing more, relative to their area, than Greenland has. Now Greenland has taken the lead position for the last 20 years in its sea level contribution. So, it’s kind of stealing the show. But, meanwhile, like just this month, last month, alpine glaciers in the Alps, setting all-time loss records, Arctic Canada, Alaska. So, this is a global pattern.

It is the result of elevated natural greenhouse effect. We’ve almost increased CO2 by 50% above preindustrial levels. It’s unequivocal that the observed climate warming is the direct result of this excess CO2 in the atmosphere. So, we shouldn’t be surprised to see record-warm temperatures, records being set year after year, going forward. And it’s actually intensifying. I think it’s no longer a subtle signal. And so, you know, the land ice, it definitely tells a story. It reacts to warming, but much more immediate consequences come from the continents, which are warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world. And that is a direct — directly undermines food systems and water security.

AMY GOODMAN: And what does Greenland look like?

JASON BOX: In summer, you have a seasonal snow cover that builds up. This year is actually really thin snow cover, winter snow, and then that melts off, exposing a really dark, bare ice surface. It kind of looks like concrete, but it has a lot of water coursing over the surface, a huge amount of water production at the surface over vast areas, and that water then drains in. It actually heats the ice internally. Warmer ice is softer. It flows faster. The same water then lubricates the ice of the bed, speeding it towards the sea. The same water then ejects out into the marine environment and actually drives more heat exchange with a warming ocean. So there’s lots of connections that we’ve established in looking at large ice bodies like Greenland, and we see a lot of interconnection.

The story, of course, doesn’t end when the icebergs break off Greenland or melt into the sea. That extra freshwater is disrupting ocean circulation in the North Atlantic, one of the key parts of the global ocean circulation system that is being disrupted heavily now. It’s probably going to increase storminess in northwestern Europe. We’ve seen some conspicuous examples of that. This enhanced greenhouse effect is putting a lot more moisture into the atmosphere. So, actually, the Arctic is getting wetter, the continents drier. We have profound shifts in the hydrologic system globally, and they’re really starting to be not so subtle anymore.

And we’re going to see this year after year as various records are set, not just dry and hot, but sometimes wet and even cold, because the extremes are increasing as our jet stream gets a lot less steady. It’s normally the jet stream should go flowing more east-west, but now we have these big dips in the jet stream, and that’s how you can get really warm air to the north, really cold air to the south, and then, along those boundaries, sometimes severe weather, storms. And that’s going to make it really hard for farming to predict how to — you know, for irrigation. Farmers used to be able to depend on weather being a certain way, and knowing when to plant and harvest. And that reliability in climate is — we’re starting to lose that.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the major report that you did about the Arctic, that you helped write, in April, concluding, “The Arctic biophysical system is now clearly trending away from its 20th Century state and into an unprecedented state, with implications not only within but beyond the Arctic”? Explain.

JASON BOX: I was part of a study where we looked across multiple disciplines and we kind of zoomed out, because we tend to, you know, focus on our favorite region. But this was a pan-Arctic study, also interdisciplinary. We were looking at the biological system at the surface, the ocean system. And when you zoom out, you actually start to see more of the connections and how profoundly the Arctic system is changing.

The Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world because of a number of feedback processes, like the removal of a reflective cover of snow or sea ice, leading to the large increase in the absorption of sunlight; the increase in rainfall and precipitation actually leading to more plant growth, the so-called shrubification of the Arctic. Increasing lightning ignition is now clearly linked with increasing temperature and precipitation. There’s more lightning that provides the trigger mechanism for the increasing wildfires that we’re seeing. This interconnected system, because it’s warming so fast, makes the signal that much easier to see.

Then the study looked forward into the future, and there’s no real prospect, under the most likely climate scenarios, either business as usual or some kind of Paris Climate Agreement-type scenario. We see, even in the Paris climate scenario, a permanently transformed biophysical system of the Arctic, with effects that radiate outside of the Arctic, like sea level rise, like the disruption of weather patterns, that is now being already felt in the midlatitudes. So, the Arctic plays an important role in hemispheric climate, and the signal is very clear.

AMY GOODMAN: A new study finds even modest shifts in government subsidies away from fossil fuels and toward renewables could lead to a dramatic drop in greenhouse gas emissions. The International Institute for Sustainable Development says governments spend some $372 billion each year subsidizing coal, oil and gas. If as little as 10% of that money was invested in wind, solar and other renewables, countries could see a nearly 20% drop in carbon dioxide pollution. Jason Box, can you explain the significance of this? Many people may not understand, for example, in the United States — and that’s where you trained, were educated — that we continue to subsidize the coal, the oil, the gas industry in this country.

JASON BOX: Gasoline is so affordable in the U.S. because it’s heavily subsidized. And that enables the U.S. economy to rev up like it does. And it’s not surprising that there are proponents who want to continue subsidizing petroleum to keep the existing economic system running. However, the externalities of that economic system are producing radical environmental impacts, like climate change, to a point that we can’t really ignore them anymore.

It’s good news that studies are showing that by reducing carbon emissions and putting investments into lower-carbon energy systems, that we can achieve the needed reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. If we don’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately stabilize CO2 — and we also have to draw down a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere. If we don’t achieve that, there’s no real prospect for a stable society or even a governable society, going forward, on a — perpetual growth on a finite planet is, by definition, impossible. So we have to confront the reality that we need an economic system that recognizes the important services that the atmosphere provides to us for free. And so, our economic system is crashing with reality. And so, reports that are detailing the sustainability prospects of shifting investments into cleaner energy are not only welcome, they’re necessary, if we want a stable global society.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, the significance of President Trump being a climate change denier, what this means, with the United States the historically greatest greenhouse gas emitter, how this affects the rest of your world — as an American, you are now looking at the U.S. through a vantage point outside of the United States — how this kind of climate change denial affects policy in the world?

JASON BOX: The effect recently with the European elections has been the so-called green wave. There’s been a progressive — I think it might be a reaction to the publicity that climate change has been getting. And so, we see a more rational, more kind of humanitarian approach to environment and climate emerging in Europe, because the facts are very clear and there’s less of — there’s less denial of this, of science and the environmental crisis that we face in Europe, for one.

I think a lot of the world, like here in Denmark, they’re watching the U.S. very carefully but not really falling into the lies that are being spread by the Trump administration, which clearly want to maintain a status quo, because it’s extremely profitable for a lot of people that are supporting Trump just to perpetuate and, I think, to be able to exploit petroleum while they still can. I think those days are numbered. Hopefully, you know, the truth prevails, and the world realizes that we need to not only leave fossil fuels in the ground, we need to protect existing forests and reestablish forests in some attempt to stabilize this increase in atmospheric carbon that threatens global society.

AMY GOODMAN: Jason Box, we want to thank you so much for being with us, professor and ice climatologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, speaking to us from Copenhagen. To see Part 1 of our discussion, go to democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.

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proud about burning the planet down...

An organisation set up to research low-emission coal technologies is funding a multi-million-dollar media campaign aimed at making Australians feel "proud about coal", according to advertising industry insiders.

Key points:
  • A research organisation established to develop low-carbon emission coal is spending millions in a pro-coal advertising blitz
  • COAL21 is closely linked to the Minerals Council of Australia ,which in turn is largely funded by mining companies
  • BHP has endured a testy relationship with the Minerals Council over its advocacy of coal-fired power, with the big miner preferring to promote "decarbonising the economy"


COAL21 — established 15 years ago to research carbon capture and storage (CCS) — intends to roll out the campaign across media platforms including television, digital, print, radio and social media next month.

It is planning a $4 million to $5 million media spend, say people familiar with the issue.

COAL21 denies the advertising blitz is part of a back-door lobbying effort to swing public sentiment in favour of continued use of coal-fired power and expanded coal use, which would put it at odds with BHP, one of COAL21's major funders.

"We are not sure exactly what the focus of it is to be," COAL21's chief executive officer Mark McCallum told the ABC.

"[But it will be] CCS sort of technologies.

"What [the public] want more information about is what the industry is doing to lower its emissions."

Yet carbon capture and storage does not rate a mention in a document sent to creative agencies and media production companies outlining the brief.


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melting mountains...

The climate is changing

The climate is changing, and so is the climate in the Swiss Alps. The average temperature is rising, and very low temperatures are becoming more rare. Glaciers are slowly melting away. The number of days that Swiss people need to turn on the heating in their homes has significantly dropped. There are less days with snowfall, and more summer days. Spring is getting wetter in the Northern Alps and drier in the South. There's a downwards tendency of precipitation in Winter in the Alps and Western Switzerland.

Climate change is now a fact, but is it a bad thing? Yes, it is. Global warming caused by humanity is causing a very rapid climate change, much quicker than nature itself would cause. It's not climate change itself which is a problem, as the climate is always changing. It's the pace that is causing, and will cause, many problems around the globe. There are upsides too, like the possibility of better growing crops in temperate climate zones, but the disadvantages and risks are far greater. That goes for Switzerland as well.

The risks of a changing alpine climate

The Alps are delicate. Summers are expected to keep getting warming and drier. Winters are expected to become moister, which increases the chances of flooding. Heavier rainfall is becoming more frequent, again increasing risks of flooding. Rising temperatures already cause rockfalls as permafrost zones (rocks and soil that used to be frozen permanently), are now melting. This is causing massive rock slides. The Eiger and Matterhorn are examples of famous mountains that already suffered from this phenomenon. It can be a direct threat to villages too. The town of Pontresina built a huge dam in 2003, to protect itself from mud and rock slides.

Half of the Swiss glaciers will melt away; a process that has started decades ago. There will still be snow in the mountains, but not so much in regions below 1,500 m. Winter sports will most probably not be possible there anymore. There's being worked on plans to adapt for this scenario. Flora and fauna will change as climate zones shift to the North.

Tourism and thus the economy is being influenced as well. For example: Summer skiing was once possible on Mount Corvatsch. In 1988, this was becoming more difficult because of the retreating glacier. In 1992, the conditions had become even worse and Summer ski is no longer possible ever since.

Switzerland is taking many measures to protect the environment and prevent climate change, but obviously can't stop a global problem from having an effect on the Alps. Many predicted effects are already becoming a reality, but long term effects are hard to predict. For example, there's still a chance that global warming will have a cooling effect on Western Europe, if the thermohaline circulation in the Atlantic shuts down or slows down.



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Note: climate change is a natural occurence. GLOBAL WARMING  isn't. Global warming adds heat into a warm period of climatic fluctuation. See:



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there is no "planet B"...

As many climate change activists are correct to point out, there is no "Planet B" for the world's population to move to should Earth become uninhabitable.  So, it would seem like common sense for the world's leaders to treat global warming as if it does exist, instead of as if it doesn't.

What is this worst-case scenario?  Roughly a century ago, the world's population was around two billion.  Today it is 7.7 billion.  Yet the Earth hasn't magically expanded to accommodate this growth, meaning that lands once used by wildlife and for agricultural purposes are now being used for housing for this growing population.  As these lands shrink and the population increases, the demand for food and water rises, and the world must also accommodate the waste humans produce daily.

Some may argue that water isn't going to be a problem if global warming is real, since the ice from both the North and South Poles, as well as the glaciers, will melt, flooding a significant portion of now occupied land.

But global warming will not just result in flooding, but also evaporation.  This means that small creeks, streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes used by both humans and wildlife will dry up.  While humans might have the luxury of moving from these areas, wildlife will not be so fortunate, because, if they are driven to seek water in areas occupied by humans, they run the risk of being killed as nuisances, but if they remain where they are, they will die of dehydration or starvation.

Several years ago, I recall a politician asking, after a building project had been canceled due to the risks it posed to an endangered species, "Do we really need to save every subspecies?"  The question this politician, and those like him, should be asked in response is, "Who can state with any certainty which species can be "safely" driven to extinction?"

The truth is everybody is aware of the "food chain," but nobody is aware of what extinction will cause this chain to break.  The fact that humans do not exploit the meat, skin, bones, or other parts of certain animals does not mean that those animals do not provide food or protection to other species. 

Instead you have the ignorance of poachers killing endangered animals because a small portion of that animal's body is an ingredient in some fanciful "folk remedy," and you have so-called "trophy hunters" believing that pumping bullets into animals that cannot shoot back is somehow a greater accomplishment than saving those animals for the enjoyment of future generations.

But even those who have little compassion about the extinction of animals should remember that climate change will have a detrimental impact on humans as well.  A recent Politico article discussed how a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture felt compelled to resign after the Trump administration suppressed his study showing that, due to increasing air pollution, rice, a staple food for 600 million people, is losing its nutrients.

Finally, what is to blame for this willingness to risk destroying the world for future generations?  One answer may reside in different cultural and religious beliefs about the purpose of nature.  Some Eastern religions, like Taoism, believe humans should interact harmoniously with nature; therefore, if a Taoist practitioner successfully climbs Mount Everest, he/she did not "conquer" it, but befriended it.

Contrast this with the Biblical passage in Genesis that states (the wording is varied in different translations, but the message is similar), "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

Of course, having dominion over something provides the option of using one's authority wisely and compassionately, or foolishly and selfishly.

So why have so many of the rich and powerful chosen the latter?  It can be summed up in one word:  GREED.  Too many lifestyles, particularly of the wealthy, are driven not by what they can leave for the future, but how much profit they can make today; therefore, any laws that impede their greed are anathema. 

And for those who believe that America's so-called "leaders" will do what the greedy and corrupt will not:  FORGET IT.  In addition to Trump seeking to obliterate climate change from the nation's, and world's, consciousness, several rulings by America's corrupt and politicized Supreme Court have ensured that, for decades to come, plutocrats and corporations will be able to buy and sell politicians like trading cards.

If there ever was an issue where erring on the side of caution is preferable to the alternative, it is global warming.  Donald Trump, whether he and his sycophants want to acknowledge it or not, already has blood on his hands created by his racist rhetoric.  Will his "grand finale" be a legacy that results in the deaths of millions?

David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru

Читайте больше на http://www.pravdareport.com/opinion/142600-trump/


This is also a warning to the European, Chinese, Russian, Indian and Australian leaders...

more rain, more dry...

A global study has found a paradox: our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain. And the culprit is the drying of soils, say researchers, pointing to a world where drought-like conditions will become the new normal, especially in regions that are already dry.

The study -- the most exhaustive global analysis of rainfall and rivers -- was conducted by a team led by Professor Ashish Sharma at Australia's University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney. It relied on actual data from 43,000 rainfall stations and 5,300 river monitoring sites in 160 countries, instead of basing its findings on model simulations of a future climate, which can be uncertain and at times questionable.

"This is something that has been missed," said Sharma, an ARC Future Fellow at UNSW's School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "We expected rainfall to increase, since warmer air stores more moisture -- and that is what climate models predicted too. What we did not expect is that, despite all the extra rain everywhere in the world, is that the large rivers are drying out.

"We believe the cause is the drying of soils in our catchments. Where once these were moist before a storm event -- allowing excess rainfall to run-off into rivers -- they are now drier and soak up more of the rain, so less water makes it as flow.

"Less water into our rivers means less water for cities and farms. And drier soils means farmers need more water to grow the same crops. Worse, this pattern is repeated all over the world, assuming serious proportions in places that were already dry. It is extremely concerning," he added.

For every 100 raindrops that fall on land, only 36 drops are 'blue water' -- the rainfall that enters lakes, rivers and aquifers -- and therefore, all the water extracted for human needs. The remaining two thirds of rainfall is mostly retained as soil moisture -- known as 'green water' -- and used by the landscape and the ecosystem.

As warming temperatures cause more water to evaporate from soils, those dry soils are absorbing more of the rainfall when it does occur -- leaving less 'blue water' for human use.

"It's a double whammy," said Sharma. "Less water is ending up where we can store it for later use. At the same time, more rain is overwhelming drainage infrastructure in towns and cities, leading to more urban flooding."

Professor Mark Hoffman, UNSW's Dean of Engineering, welcomed Sharma's research and called for a global conversation about how to deal with this unfolding scenario, especially in Australia, which is already the driest inhabited continent (apart from Antarctica).

"It's clear there's no simple fix, so we need to start preparing for this," he said. "Climate change keeps delivering us unpleasant surprises. Nevertheless, as engineers, our role is to identify the problem and develop solutions. Knowing the problem is often half the battle, and this study has definitely identified some major ones."

The findings were made over the past four years, in research that appeared in Nature GeoscienceGeophysical Research LettersScientific Reports and, most recently, in the American Geophysical Union's Water Resources Research.

In the November 5 paper in Water Resources Research, Sharma and colleagues write that despite widespread global evidence of rising precipitation extremes, there's no evidence of an increase in flooding, with evidence pointing more towards decreased flood peaks for the moderate flood events that form the key refill events in water supply reservoirs.

"While extreme floods may increase due to the larger storms that are occurring, these floods are often too large to be stored for water supply. It is the less extreme floods our reservoirs depend on," Sharma said.

"On the whole, flood magnitudes are decreasing," write Sharma and his co-authors, Dr Conrad Wasko of the University of Melbourne, and Professor Dennis Lettenmaier of the University of California Los Angeles. (Wasko was Sharma's PhD student at UNSW during most of the research).

They suggest that large declines in the amount of moisture in the soil, coupled with the contraction in the geographical spread of each storm event, are the major reasons why increases in extreme rainfall are not resulting in corresponding increases in flooding.

They point to previous U.S. research that shows that, in extreme rainfall events, if surrounding soils are wet before a storm, 62% of the rain leads to flooding that is captured by catchments. But when soils are dry, only 13% of the rain results in flooding.

"This is kind of contradicting the increasing flood argument in past IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] reports, but pointing to possibly a far worse scenario," said Sharma. "Small floods are very important for water supply, because they refill dams and form the basis of our water supply," said Sharma.

"But they're happening less often, because the soils are sucking up the extra rain. Even when a major storm dumps a lot of rain, the soils are so dry they absorb more water than before, and less reaches the rivers and reservoirs."

Past research has so far missed this. "Everybody has been obsessed by the flood side of the equation but have ignored the more critical component, which is the embattled water supply that comes from reduced flows into our reservoirs," he added.

So what is the solution? "One option is to wait for international agreements to take effect, so greenhouse gas concentrations can be reined in -- but this will take a long time. The other option is to be proactive, and re-engineer our water systems so we can better adapt and cope."

To adapt to this new reality, new policies and infrastructure is needed. In areas where water supply is shrinking, water-intensive farming will need to be curtailed or moved elsewhere, while reservoir storage capacities may need to be expanded. In urban areas, where flooding is becoming more common, incentives to create 'green cities' and to store or divert flood water will need to be explored.

"We need to adapt to this emerging reality," said Sharma. "We're going to need re-engineering on a massive scale in some places if we are to continue living in them. But it's possible: places like Arizona and California receive barely 400mm of rain each year, but have engineered their water supply systems to make previously uninhabitable places liveable.

"Or take the Snowy Mountain Scheme: it's not just about hydroelectricity, it's also a complex water supply scheme with 225 km of tunnels, pipelines and aqueducts."

Sharma said the answer was not just more dams. "Re-engineering solutions are not simple, they have to be analysed on a region-by-region basis, looking at the costs and the benefits, looking at the change expected into the future, while also studying past projects so mistakes are not repeated. There are no silver bullets. Any large-scale re-engineering project will require significant investment, but the cost of inaction could be monstrous."

In urban areas, the reverse will be needed: flooding is becoming more common and more intense. Global economic losses from flooding have risen from an average of $500 million a year in the 1980s to around $20 billion annually by 2010; by 2013, this rose to more than US$50 billion. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expects this to more than double in the next 20 years as extreme storms and rainfall intensify and growing numbers of people move into urban centres.

Adapting to this is possible, but will require large-scale re-engineering of many cities, says Sharma. "Tokyo used to get clobbered by floods every year, but they built a massive underground tank beneath the city that stores the floodwater, and releases it later. You never see floods there now."

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Materials provided by University of New South Wales



NEW DELHI: As the proverbial Indian summer sets in and taps dry up across large swathes of the country, India faces an acute shortage of safe and sustainable water, specifically groundwater, a crisis that will exacerbate with factors like indiscriminate use and climate change, warn experts. 

The issue of water sustainability for the years to come centres around critical water sources such as reservoirs and groundwater. 

Last week, the World Resources Institute (WRI), basing its f .. 

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no change for old-timers and a snorkelling minister...

It is hard to believe just how much time has been wasted.

Nearly 10 years ago the Australian featured on its front page a story that suggested concerns about climate change causing sea levels to rise were all a load of bull.

It cited Kevin Court, who was not, as you might expect, a climate scientist, but merely an 80-year-old Wollongong local who told the Australian that “I have swum at this beach every day for the past 50 years, and nothing much changes here. All this talk about rising sea levels – most of us old-timers haven’t seen any change and we’ve been coming down here for decades.”

Take that, science!

This week we were reminded just how little conservative media and political parties have progressed in that time.

A wasted decade of inaction for which all blame can be laid at the feet of editors of newspapers who have chosen to pursue conspiracy theory and ignorance over facts, and a political party happy to feed off and accentuate the results of that ignorance.

This week the Australian featured again a story suggesting fears about climate change were all for naught. This time the issue was the Great Barrier Reef and, wouldn’t you know, it all is fine.

Was this a report of a new study? Was it reporting of extensive research of the reef done by its environment reporter?

Of course not.

It was an article citing Sussan Ley, who, laughably, is Australia’s environment minister. Ley, after going for a snorkel on the reef out of Cairns, told the Australian that “I was expecting to see dead areas with a few patches of life. I saw the exact opposite to that.” She suggested “It gives me heart and hope that the future of this magnificent part of the world is a good one.”

Ley is not the first federal parliamentarian to think that one snorkel on the reef is enough to dispute scientific reports on the devastation that is climate change.

Pauline Hanson did the same thing in 2016.

Yes, our environment minister is now someone who is basically mimicking Pauline Hanson, where anecdote is trumping science.

Perhaps she could read the position statement by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which notes that “the widespread impacts of climate change are already evident. In the northern two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park there were two consecutive years of mass coral bleaching and mortality in 2016 and 2017 with associated loss of marine life”.

It also notes that “climate change is the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef. If we are to secure a future for the Great Barrier Reef and coral reef ecosystems globally, there is an urgent and critical need to accelerate actions to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.”

At the same time this week, the prime minister was in Tuvalu at the Pacific Island Forum, doing all he could to ensure the issue of climate change was being fobbed off – by reportedly trying (and failing) to remove mention of climate change “crisis” and also removing mention of coal in the forum communiqué.

Perhaps this should not surprise us, but that does not mean we should accept it with a shrug. For just as Alan Jones’s vile misogyny, ignorance and lies on climate change , also on display this week, should not go uncriticised (even though we expect no better from him), we must continue to push for our government to acknowledge reality and then work to do something about it.


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we should export the fossils of kanbra instead...

When we think of big fossil-fuel-producing nations, it's usually Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and maybe Venezuela that spring to mind — but a new report places Australia near the very top of that list.

Key points:
  • Only Russia and Saudi Arabia rank ahead of Australia for fossil fuel export emissions
  • The Australia Institute says Australia should account for its export emissions footprint
  • Hydrogen represents a possible future clean export energy for Australia

The analysis, released today by public policy think tank the Australia Institute, measures fossil fuel exports according to their carbon dioxide-emissions potential. 

It ranks Australia as the world's third-biggest exporter behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia.

In other words, when Australian fossil fuels — primarily coal — are burned overseas, the amount of carbon dioxide they produce is higher than the exported emissions of nearly all the world's biggest oil- and gas-producing nations, like Iraq and Kuwait.

Australia mines about 57 tonnes of CO2 potential per person each year, about 10 times the global average, and exports 7 per cent of the world's fossil fuel CO2 potential, the report found.


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you will know we lacked the will...

With poetry, moments of silence and political speeches about the urgent need to fight climate change, Icelandic officials, activists and others bade goodbye to what once was a glacier.

Key points:
  • After about 100 people made a two-hour hike up a volcano, children installed a memorial plaque to the glacier
  • The plaque, which notes the level of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, warns "we know what is happening and what needs to be done"
  • Iceland's PM says climate change will be a priority when Nordic leaders meet in Reykjavik on Tuesday


Okjokull glacier was pronounced extinct about a decade ago by Icelandic geologist Oddur Sigurdsson. 

On Sunday, Dr Sigurdsson brought a death certificate to the made-for-media memorial.

About 100 people made a two-hour hike up a volcano, where children installed a plaque to commemorate the glacier, now called just "Ok", minus the "jokull" — Icelandic for glacier.

The glacier used to stretch 15 square kilometres, Dr Sigurdsson said. 

Residents reminisced about drinking pure water thousands of years old from Ok.


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