The John James Newsletter 247

posted Sep 7, 2018, 4:28 PM by Clement Clarke
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The John James Newsletter  247

9 September 2018

The biggest damage from this government is that the Coalition simply refuses to seize the opportunities of Australia’s enormous wealth in wind and solar, and to use it to export cheap, green power. Over the past month, the government has been presented with reports from the CSIRO, chief scientist Alan Finkel and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency about the immense prospects for a renewable-based hydrogen export industry to the hungry economies of east Asia that do not have such domestic opportunities, and have ignored them to favour coal and gas.

40 percent of Bangkok will be inundated as early as 2030 from extreme rainfall and changes in weather patterns
     World Bank

Rio, Kyoto, Paris... we cannot build a tower of ambition on a bedrock of broken promises
     Yvo de Boer

IPCC had predicted the change of floods of 100 years cycles to 4-5 years. With the atmosphere having over 400 parts per million warming gases, the highest ever in the past three million years, this prediction is set to become a reality
     S Faizi

This government is not even pretending to act on climate change any more
We have gone from a government under Malcolm Turnbull that at least tried to look like it was aiming to reduce emissions (even if it wasn’t) to one under Scott Morrison that is making no pretence about the fact it is beholden to the charlatans in the party who want to scam votes by lying about the facts of climate change. And a political party that refuses to act on climate change is not fit to govern.     Read more
Tropical corals have been identified off Sydney's northern beaches
They are "absolutely proliferating", providing habitat for a range of other species typically found much further north, according to the diver who found them. The corals are already providing habitat for a range of tropical fish and crab species not normally found this far south. "Every year there are new ones coming down," Mr Sear said. "These are way out of their normal range."     Read more

France to introduce plastic packaging tax
Products that don't use recycled plastic will cost 10% more in the future, according to a government plan. The proposed initiative is one part of a series of measures to get the country to recycle all its plastic. The French government has pledged to transition the country to recycling 100% of its plastic by 2025      Read more
Climate Change Could Wipe Out Amazing Baobab Trees in Madagascar
A. suarezensis, had a population of 15,000 trees in an area of 1,200 square km. Based on climate change models and the species's adaptation to high levels of precipitation, the researchers estimated that the distribution of this species will shrink to just 17 square km within a few decades and could face extinction by 2080.     Read more

Facebook users becoming careful
The Cambridge Analytica scandal severely damaged peoples’ trust in social media companies and many have changed their online behavior in response to it. According to a recent Pew Research survey, more than half of Facebook users in the United States have changed their privacy setting in the past 12 months, 4 in 10 have taken a Facebook break of several weeks within the last year, and more than a quarter of the respondents have deleted the Facebook app from their phone.     Read more
Blue whales can talk
In the 1960s, an American scientist got permission to use the USA’s submarine listening system across the Atlantic Ocean to listen to blue whales. One day, he heard a blue whale calling from the far northeast Atlantic Ocean and realised another whale many thousands of miles away in the southwest Atlantic Ocean was answering it. Through their calls, he tracked them over the next few weeks moving towards each other. The two blue whales met and spent time together in the middle of the Atlantic. Then they separated and went on their way!     Read more
Autonomous Drone Is Ready to Defend the Great Barrier Reef
RangerBot can intervene when a predator threatens the reef. Using its computer vision system, the bot can identify crown-of-thorns starfish, which prey upon coral. Once detected, the bot can then inject the starfish with vinegar or bile salts with a 99 percent accuracy, killing the pest. A team of just six of the bots, for example, could cover the entire length of the reef 14 times in one year at an operating cost of about $720,000. By comparison, six human divers could only cover half the reef in that time — at a cost of $1.44 million. It can test the surrounding water quality, look for signs of coral bleaching, and detect pollution. It can also map the area around the reef faster than ever before.     Read more
Our national struggle is between Very Big Business (Murdoch, Reinhardt, etc) and the rest of us, including all the sensible commercial and market people. It is the classic conflict between the extremely big and the many, and is reflected in the growing disparity in incomes that rise from the couple of percent that have come to own 80% of the wealth, or more. As was said recently, "we are the 99%". The extremist right in the government are beholden to the coal+oil+gas interests that are concerned only with protecting their in-the-ground assets. The fact that this leads to an unsavoury end for all of us weighs little against their fear that "their" assets might not be used.
I understand the fear, and so I understand their attempts to block all alternative production. But suppose we bought them out? Absurd? ??? I have no idea what the assets are worth (though share values may help) but we must ask: would we not all be prepared to sacrifice some money in order to keep the coal in the ground? Is there really a choice between our utter destruction and indebtedness. The alternative is bitter conflict while the world dies around us.

Business gives up on Coalition, turns to Labor and states on energy, climate
Here’s the most damming assessment of the Coalition’s energy and climate policy, such as it remains after the crucifixion of Malcolm Turnbull. The Coalition government, after 5 years in power, has stopped pretending to anyone in the local market – to domestic and international investors, to business, and to consumers – that it intends to do anything about climate change, or get real about energy. Instead, the business lobby is now turning to the states, and to federal Labor, which proposes a 45% cut in emissions and a 50% renewable energy target. Individual states, like Queensland and Victoria, have similar targets. Business now understands what the Coalition refuses to admit – that the way to achieve a durable lowering of prices is by embracing renewable energy rather than fighting it, or, more absurdly, trying to engineer the construction of three new coal fired generators.     Read more
History, Memory, and Donald Trump
President Trump and his administration have been remarkably focused not denying that humanity faces a potential future of environmental ruin but on aiding and abetting the disaster to come. This makes him and his administration criminals of a historic sort. After all, he and his cronies are aiming at what can only be thought of as terracide, the destruction of the environment of the planet that has sustained us for thousands of years. That would be a literal crime against humanity so vast that it has, until this moment, gone unnamed and, until relatively recently, almost unimagined.    Read more
Exactly what this means isn't all that clear yet, but where laws fail, new discoveries can follow. Such a find wouldn't just affect physics on an atomic scale – it could impact everything from climate models to our understanding of planetary formation.
A Fundamental Physics Law Just Failed a Test Using Nanoscale Objects
The foundational law of quantum physics was recently put to the test. Not only does the law fail, the experimental result is 100 times greater than the predicted figure, suggesting nanoscale objects can emit and absorb heat with far greater efficiency than current models can explain. "Planck's radiation law says if you apply the ideas that he formulated to two objects, then you should get a defined rate of energy transfer between the two. But what we have observed experimentally is that rate is actually 100 times higher than Planck's law predicts if the objects are very, very small." This hyper-efficient rate of energy transfer could feasibly change how we understand heat transfer in the atmosphere, or in a cooling body the size of a planet. The extent of this difference is still a mystery, but one with some potentially profound implications.    Read more
NASA finds Amazon drought leaves long legacy of damage
The old paradigm was that whatever carbon dioxide we put up in emissions, the Amazon would help absorb a major part of it. But serious droughts in 2005, 2010 and 2015 are causing researchers to rethink that idea. The ecosystem has become so vulnerable to these warming and episodic drought events that it can switch from sink to source depending on the severity and the extent. Half of the forest's rainfall is made by the forest itself -- water that transpires and evaporates from the vegetation and ground, rises into the atmosphere, and condenses and rains out during the dry season and the transition to the wet season. A drought that kills forest trees thus not only increases carbon emissions, it reduces rainfall and extends dry-season length. Those changes increase the likelihood of future drought.     Read more

Arctic carbon cycle is speeding up
carbon in Alaska's North Slope tundra ecosystems spends about 13 percent less time locked in frozen soil than it did 40 years ago. This process releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Plant growth also increases during this period - and plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. But as temperatures increase, the amount of time carbon is stored in the Arctic soil decreases. Models alone previously indicated an increase in the speed of the carbon cycle, but the addition of long-term satellite, airborne and surface data to the equation shows that those models were underestimating just how significant the increase was.      Read more
Unexpected boost of methane possible from Arctic permafrost
A little known process called abrupt thawing takes place under a certain type of Arctic lake, known as a thermokarst lake that forms as permafrost thaws. The impact on the climate may mean an influx of permafrost-derived methane that is not currently accounted for in climate projections. The Arctic landscape stores one of the largest natural reservoirs of organic carbon in the world in its frozen soils. But once thawed, soil microbes in the permafrost can turn that carbon into the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane. Even if we reduce global carbon emissions, large methane releases from abrupt thawing are still likely to occur. At some point the permafrost-carbon feedback should be about equivalent to the second strongest anthropogenic source of greenhouse gases, which is deforestation.     Read more
Shell Oil met with greens for years on climate policy
Shell has convened regular meetings since early 2016 with key environmental groups and think tanks to build support for a nationwide carbon tax. The company initiated meetings during the heart of the presidential race, in part because it was believed that greenhouse gas regulations would be strengthened if Democrat Hillary Clinton won the election. The meetings continued after President Trump's victory. Researchers at Shell grasped the severity of climate change as early as the 1980s, and in a 1988 confidential report, the company said that burning fossil fuels was the primary driver of rising carbon dioxide levels.      Read more
World on track to fail sustainability goal
it's a misconception to believe economic growth and development will eventually lead to environmental sustainability. Under the current economic system neither high or low-income countries are on track to achieve sustainability because many high-income countries appear to be more environmentally sustainable than low-income countries but they consume more raw materials per capita and low-income countries often depend on environmentally destructive industries, such as agriculture, logging and mining, but have much higher population growth.    Read more
Australia gets out the wrecking ball, again, in international climate talks
Well, that didn’t take long. Little more than a week after the elevation of Scott Morrison to the prime minister’s office, Australia has returned to the bad old ways that were a feature of Tony Abbott’s engagement on climate change, and John Howard’s involvement with Kyoto. In separate arena this week, Australia has been accused of attempting to water down the language of the Pacific Islands Forum declaration on climate change. And in Bangkok it has sided with the Trump administration and Japan in attempting to weaken climate finance obligations in a move that has horrified some observers.      Read more
End of coal power in Australia ‘inevitable’
Market forces alone will see huge drop in coal use over next decade and therefore planning for a future without coal is ‘prudent risk management’. Coal makes up roughly two thirds of domestic electricity and is an essential ingredient in the minerals and metals processing industries. But ageing coal plants and increased competitiveness of renewables are likely to drive coal power out of the energy mix. Rich in renewable energy resources, Australia should embrace green technology and back a “zero-carbon electricity supply”.     Read more