Ferocious fires wake up one Australian news station

Something rare just occurred: an Australian tv news journalist made a connection between extreme weather events and climate change! Sadly and strangely, this is actually such an extremely rare event in public media in Australia that it calls for an exclamation point and a special mention – in particular in this blog, where we frequently have criticised our public brodcasters’ scandalous silence on climate change in the news room.

I was watching SBS World News in the evening on 8 December 2017, when something happened I have not heard before in the four, soon five, years I have been watching that news program. Regardless of how catastrophic the images from hurricanes, flooding and fires have been, we have not once heard even the sligthest mention that this disruption, destruction, death and chaos is all happening due to man-made climate change. There is a connection there that news reporters for some reason treat as if it was a taboo.

But this evening, at the end of a report about the Californian wildfires, after having shown us viewers some truly disturbing images of residential areas going up in flames and interviews with some of the 200,000 people who are being evacuated, the SBS reporter – her name was Kristine but I didn’t get her surname – ended her two-minute segment with a remark which went something like: “Scientist are convinced that climate change has played a part in making the fires as ferocious as they are.”

That’s all it takes, actually. A sentence like that at the end of an emergency report, and then we are informed.


An editorial shift?
So… How did it feel, SBS News? – coming out of the climate-silencing closet. Was that so hard?

Maybe this was a single-standing event, a coincidence – or simply something that slipped through by mistake. Or… maybe it signals an editorial shift in the SBS news room? Could it be that the SBS News managers have finally come to their senses and lifted the ‘ban’ on connecting reports about climate change calamities, which happens on a daily basis around the planet now, with the fact that climate change has everything to do with this?

In that case: welcome to the real world, SBS News. We look forward to hearing more about this connection in your daily news coverage, because it is very important that Australians hear from credible authorities what is going on with our climate, how it affects us, how dire the situation is, and what we can and must do to urgently take action.


Failure of public broadcasters
As we argued in this letter and blogpost about SBS’s and ABC’s silence on the climate emergency, in a normal world it would be a public broadcasters finest responsibility and duty of care to educate the public on these complex matters and report accurately on the climate emergency as it plays out. It could be argued that one of the main reasons we are currently on track to a catastrophic global temperature rise is the complete failure of public broadcasters to have done so decades ago, not only in Australia, but in more or less all countries around the world.

Not to make that connection when climate-related events are in the news, to be muting it week after week, month after month, has fossil fuel industry influence written all over it, and what has been going on behind the scenes in parliaments and board rooms is not only embarrassing, it is a criminal act that needs to be disclosed – and as such it is also something else we can only wonder why journalists aren’t busy uncovering it, connecting the dots.

Journalists and editors are on a steep climate change learning curve at the moment, and it should only be a question of time before climate change reporting in mainstream media reaches its tipping point and media comes back to its senses, where science is treated as science, not ideology or a question of what someone believes, and where constructed misinformation and fake news is dealt with for what it is.

We did search for the news clip from 8 December 2017 on www.sbs.com.au/news, but weren’t able to find it there.






Science-doubting ‘confusionist’ Frank Luntz feels the heat

David Spratt wrote on Facebook:
“Frank Luntz, who advised Republicans including George Bush Jnr on language to delay action on climate change, gets the real message right in his bedroom window.”



“Frank Luntz is getting a lot of advice right now on Twitter,” commented Brendan Condon and added this screendump:








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“It is very simple: We are overloading the atmosphere with heat-trapping gas and the rest is details.”
~ AGL chief executive Andy Vesey – at an investor briefing in Sydney, where he forcefully ruled out any investment in new coal-fired power.

» Financial Review – 13 December 2017:
New coal-fired power ‘a big risk’: AGL Energy



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See Earth breathe




From space, satellites can see Earth breathe. A new NASA visualization shows 20 years of continuous observations of plant life on land and at the ocean’s surface, from September 1997 to September 2017. On land, vegetation appears on a scale from brown (low vegetation) to dark green (lots of vegetation); at the ocean surface, phytoplankton are indicated on a scale from purple (low) to yellow (high).




Arctic Alaska “insanely warm”

Average air temperatures were so high in November 2017 at a monitoring station on the north coast of Alaska that computers rejected the readings as flawed. But there was nothing wrong with the data or the instrument that recorded it. Rather, temperatures had soared because of shrinking sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, one of the more obvious effects of climate change.

» Read more on www.climate.gov


» AFP | Yahoo – 13 December 2017:
Warming Arctic is ‘new normal,’ will affect us all: report
“A rapidly warming Arctic, where temperatures are rising twice as fast as the rest of the planet, is the “new normal,” and the melting ice is triggering environmental changes that will affect the whole world, warned a global scientific report.”

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» The Washington Post – 6 December 2017:
The most accurate climate change models predict the most alarming consequences, study finds


The scientific consensus on climate science in America

American scientists have published “an authoritative report of the physical science of climate change”.

» The Guardian – 27 November 2017:
American leaders should read their official climate science report
“The United States Global Change Research Program recently released a report on the science of climate change and its causes. The report is available for anyone to read; it was prepared by top scientists, and it gives an overview of the most up to date science.”​

» Download The Climate Science Special Report from www.globalchange.gov or view it on its interactive website at science2017.globalchange.gov.




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Game of Thrones star sounds the alarm on climate change

Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, known from the award-winning series Game of Thrones, where he stars as Jamie Lannister, was a featured guest in Al Gore’s 24 Hours of Reality tv-show on 4 december 2017.

Earlier this year, he partnered with Google to document climate change throughout Greenland. In Greenland, the fast-melting ice sheet is pouring 300 billion tons of ice into the ocean each year, which harms important coastal ecosystems, local food and water supplies and is a major contributor to rising sea levels. You can see a short video about Nikolaj’s Google Street program here:

» Here’s an article about the project

» National Geographic – 6 November 2017:
Game of Thrones Star Sounds the Alarm on Climate Change
“Actor and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Nikolaj Coster-Waldau reports from the frontlines of global warming in Greenland and the Maldives.”

Nikolaj works as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador to raise awareness and support for the Global Goals campaign, which aims to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change. A graduate of the prestigious National Theatre School in Denmark, Coster-Waldau resides in Copenhagen.


» Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Twitter account:
www.twitter.com/nikolajcw



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“Worst drought ever” – but who’s connecting the dots?

This is what the reality of climate change looks like to four million people in Cape Town, one of South Africa’s biggest cities, which is experiencing its worst drought ever. Yet again, that connection is not mentioned. Not in local media, and not in the info material from City Council.

The whole of the Western Cape has been declared a disaster area‚ with towns like Beaufort West edging closer to running out of water completely. The city is gripped by a rising panic, writes Times Live.

“Residents are being bombarded with ads about saving water. The disaster scenario is only six months ahead now. What happens when a city with four million inhabitants dries up? We will let you know in May 2018. It looks inevitable that it will happen. Riots? Revolution? Looting? Will the army step in? Exciting times with global warming and its consequences which await us all,” wrote Jørn Stjerneklar, a photo-journalist based in Cape Town.

Disaster plan
The City of Cape Town has implemented its Critical Water Shortages Disaster Plan to guide citizens through the coming months as they face the most severe water shortages to date.

“Blame shifting, fault finding and panic are usual reactions to water crises all over the world. Some anxiety is good, as it motivates water saving, but blame shifting actually pushes responsibility away, and causes water wastage. The best attitude Cape Town’s people can adopt is for every person to do their best, together. The world is watching, let’s set them an example to follow.”

» The Conversation – 8 November 2017:
Cape Town water crisis: 7 myths that must be bust

Meanwhile, 2017 will be among three hottest years on record. This year will be among the three hottest on record in a new sign of man-made climate change that is aggravating “extraordinary weather” such as hurricanes, droughts and floods, the United Nations said in November 2017.

» Capetown.gov.za – 23 October 2017:
Emergency measures – Make water saving a way of life

» Capetown.gov.za – 23 October 2017:
Drought crisis: guidelines for water rationing

» Times Live – 14 November 2017:
Hot weather and winds worsen Cape Town drought

» CNN – 1 June 2017:
Cape Town contends with worst drought in over a century



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Meanwhile, in Australia

“There’s no point having a giant coal mine if you wreck the reef but, on the other hand, if the deal does stack up, if the science safeguards are there, if the experts are satisfied, then all well and good and there’ll be jobs created.”
~ Bill Shorten, leader of the Labor party




» The Guardian – 11 December 2017:
Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions highest on record
“Exclusive: Renewable energy and proper climate policy are key to dropping emissions, carbon consultancy chief says”

“When it comes to the biggest environmental challenge we’ve ever faced – climate change – our environmental watchdog is snoozing on the job.”

» The Age – 12 december 2017:
The Environmental Protection Authority is asleep on the biggest job of all
So when Victorian power stations dump 15,000,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution into the sky, contributing to climate change, what’s the penalty?
http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-environmental-protection-authority-is-asleep-on-the-biggest-job-of-all-20171212-h036cj.html
» The Guardian – 13 December 2017:
Environment funding slashed by third since Coalition took office
Exclusive: WWF and ACF analysis shows Turnbull government plans to reduce environment spending to less than 60% of 2013-14 budget
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/dec/13/environment-funding-slashed-by-third-since-coalition-took-office

» The Conversation – 13 December 2017:
The government is miscounting greenhouse emissions reductions
“The federal government claims that 189 million tonnes of emissions have been diverted or prevented from entering the atmosphere under the scheme. But research I have done with a co-author from Melbourne Law School has found serious issues, from giving unnecessary funds, to counting decade-old projects as new emissions “reductions”.”









Liberal senator: Australia could become world’s source of solar energy

Let’s get to the root of things: The current discussions among our elected leaders about climate change and renewable energy has never been a question about right or left, blue or red in politics, as voters are made to think. It is all about the protection of vested interests and the successful influence on decision-making by fossil fuel industry lobbyists.

A good example of this is the case of the Liberal senator Don Jessop. On 29 November 1973, Jessop made this statement in the Australian parliament:

“It is quite apparent to world scientists that the silent pollutant, carbon dioxide, is increasing in the atmosphere and will cause us great concern in the future. (…) Of course, I am putting a case for solar energy. Australia is a country that can well look forward to a very prosperous future if it concentrates on solar energy right now. Scientists say that it will take about 20 years to perfect this source of energy but I am convinced, and there is scientific backing for my belief, that the development of solar energy can be accelerated and that probably within 10 years solar energy could be a definite proposition for Australia.”

» Source: Senate Hansard, Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1973-74 Second Reading


1973: Australian senator puts a case for solar energy
“I realise that this development will cost a lot of money but I think that Australia needs to be forward looking in this area.
We should realise that 59 per cent of our continent is desert. I would say that per unit of area more sun falls on this continent than on any other country. For example, Alice Springs has 9.7 hours of sunshine a day. This is a source of energy without pollution; it is probably the only source of energy that ecologists would welcome because it is a non pollutant in every respect. Of course, it is possible, having established a solar energy farm, to pipe charged hydrogen to any capital city or any concentration of population wishing to use it. It can be converted and used to generate the power we require in Australia. It is interesting to note that by the year 2000 the energy requirements of the world will be three to five times what they are today. In addition to the conversion of charged hydrogen for capital cities and other areas requiring power, it is quite possible that the charged hydrogen could be liquefied and transported to other countries which require this source of power. Probably it could be argued that we should sell all our coal overseas and use the money that accrues from such sales to accelerate our efforts towards developing solar energy. I think Australia could certainly become the world’s source of solar energy, a source upon which countries could well rely.”

» More about the political history on www.climatesafety.info/history



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Meanwhile, in Geelong

Comments on Facebook – in response to a video of a starving polar bear

“I had an energy policy debate in the street yesterday with our local Liberal MP, Andrew Katos. It’s OK – he had his card table and brochures out so as far as I’m concerned he’s put himself out there for questioning.

He told me his party is going to the state election next year pledging to dismantle the Victorian Renewable Energy Target. They think our energy system needs to continue burning coal and pumping more pollution into our atmosphere.

Meanwhile this week, dramatic temperature shifts are visibly dismantling our planet’s ecological systems, and turning California into a burning hell.

With the evidence of climate change becoming so stark, it is immoral for any political party to support a ‘business as usual’ approach to energy generation. These people clearly couldn’t give a toss about the planet that sustains us, or the children that will be trying to live a good life on this planet in 70 years time. We need politicians that are focused on the needs of young people, rather than their next campaign donation from a mining company.”
~ Andrea Pape

“When can we lock up the Climate Criminals?”
~ Paul Boundy

“Nicely put. It’s criminal. There needs to be the ability for class action against governments/politicians. We need to keep asking them each individually what they stand for and to tell them they won’t get our vote. They need to hear it from each of us.”
~ Lidiya Huddo

“Mik Aidt, would it be helpful to interview Andrew Katos so people know exactly what they’re planning to do and can prepare?”
~ Monica Winston



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“Growth of coal and natural gas demand in our region is a threat to us, not an opportunity.”
~ Bill Hare, a Perth-based climate scientist and director of research group Climate Analytics

» RenewEconomy – 24 August 2017:
Australia urged to aim for 100% renewables by 2030s


Adelaide “made a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050 and the state has champed at the bit to turn to renewables and has at times achieved 100 per cent renewable penetration thanks to its huge wind turbine installations.”

» The Fifth Estate – 7 December 2017:
Martin Haese: a mayor with a mission for Adelaide to lead, nationally


 

» The Age – 12 December 2012:
Australia has potential to be wind world leader
“A new report by the University of Technology, Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures said Australia’s potential onshore wind resources could power the nation 12 times over, but only accounts for six per cent of current energy generation.”



South Australia launches world’s largest lithium ion battery

Last week, Elon Musk made good on his bet as the “world’s largest” lithium ion battery was officially turned on in South Australia. The battery is paired with the Hornsdale Wind Farm, and was constructed in partnership with the SA Government. This event marks a significant milestone on the road to 100% renewables, and we’re excited to see SA continue to show Australia how it’s done on large scale renewable infrastructure.






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Climate impact alert from Australian regulator

On 30 November 2017, Financial Review reported on an encouraging new direction from the top: Insurers, superannuation funds and banks are being warned by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) that they place their “futures in jeopardy” by ignoring risks related to climate change.

According to the article, APRA has started quizzing insurers, superannuation funds and banks about their awareness of climate change risks and what action may be required. It also plans to conduct an industry-wide review of climate-related disclosure.

The transition to a low-carbon economy is “underway and moving quickly”, according to APRA board member Geoff Summerhayes: “Shifts in market sentiment have increased the risk of asset value volatility, and for the potential for stranded assets. Institutions that fail to adequately plan for this transition put their own futures in jeopardy, with subsequent consequences for their account holders, members or policyholders.”

APRA has begun talks with Treasury, as well as fellow regulators Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Reserve Bank of Australia, on the sustainability and financial climate-related threats to the economy.

Centre for Policy Development policy director Sam Hurley said: “Thanks to the Paris agreement we now have a credible long-term anchor for policies and transitions to limit global warming to well below 2°C degrees. Shareholders, courts and regulators like APRA clearly expect businesses and investors to prepare for this transition – and also for the major physical impacts that are likely even if severe global warming of 2 degrees or more is avoided.”

» Financial Review – 30 November 2017: (Subscribers only)
APRA quizzes finance sector over climate change risk preparations

“It is abundantly clear that Australian companies and investors must now disclose the financial and economic risks that climate change poses to their business. This is not just a market expectation, but a legal requirement. To discharge it, businesses need to develop tools and expertise required to assess, report and respond to climate risks in a robust way. This is especially important in Australia, where climate risks are profound.”

» Centre for Policy Development – November 2017:
‘Climate Horizons – Discussion Paper’ (PDF)


» Canberra Times – 29 November 2017:
APRA’s Summerhayes says ‘weight of money’ now driving response to climate change
“Australia’s financial regulator says the transition to a low-carbon economy “is in motion” and local companies can opt to “float with the transitional current” or fight “against the rising tide”.”


» Bloomberg – 29 November 2017:
Moody’s Warns Cities to Address Climate Risks or Face Downgrades
“Coastal communities from Maine to California have been put on notice from one of the top credit rating agencies: Start preparing for climate change or risk losing access to cheap credit.”










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World puts its money in renewables now

Investments in renewables (excluding large hydro) totaled $241.6 billion in 2016. These investments added 138.5 gigawatts to global power capacity in 2016, up 9 per cent from the 127.5 gigawatts added the year before. Investment in renewables capacity was roughly double that in fossil fuel generation.

» Frankfurt School | The Renewables Global Status Report – April 2017:
Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2017
“More bang for the buck: Record new renewable power capacity added at lower cost”



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EV progress

Shell is doubling its investments on clean energy to US$2 billion and plans to halve its carbon footprint amid shareholder pressure. The money will go towards wind, biofuels and electric car infrastructure.

» The Guardian – 28 November 2017:
Shell doubles up on green spending and vows to halve carbon footprint
“Anglo-Dutch giant to spend $2bn on wind power, biofuels and electric cars as it bows to shareholder pressure by setting new company climate change target”

Shell recently partnered with Ionity, Europe’s fastest charging network, to install fast chargers across 80 of its petrol stations in Europe. These charges can refuel electric vehicles in just five to 10 minutes.

Similarly, Honda plans to release electric vehicles that can charge in as little as 15 minutes in 2022.

» Nikkei Asian Review – 1 November 2017:
Honda to halve electric cars’ charging time to 15 minutes
“Quick-charging models with 240km range to debut in 2022.”

» The Telegraph – 28 November 2017:
Shell petrol stations to charge up electric cars in just five minutes
Royal Dutch Shell has accelerated its drive into the electric vehicle market by teaming up with Europe’s fastest charging network.




Advertisement to join the American NRDC’S Year End Drive

“President Trump and his polluter allies are gearing up for another year of attacks on our environment, and we urgently need resources to fight them every step of the way.”
~ NRDC



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» EcoWatch – 12 December 2012:
World Bank to Stop Financing Oil, Gas Projects
“In effort to bolster a global shift to clean energy, the World Bank — which provides financial, advisory and technical support to developing countries —
announced it will “no longer finance upstream oil and gas, after 2019″.”

» Metro – 12 December 2017:
Bill Gates and Richard Branson join forces in fight against global warming
“Famous faces turned up to show their support to world leaders at a major environmental summit in the fight against global warming.”

» CNN – 12 December 2012:
Exxon gives up major climate change fight
“After years of resisting, ExxonMobil has agreed to reveal the risks it faces from climate change and the global crackdown on carbon emissions.”


“We can’t keep our promise to the next generation to build an economy fit for the future, unless we ensure our planet has a future.”

~ Philip Hammond UK Chancellor and Member of Parliament



» JPratt27 – 10 December 2017:
Erik Solheim: My vision for a pollution-free planet







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Get involved: Act on climate

Local solutions to tackle climate change

Applications are now open for the Andrews Labor Government’s $3.8 million Climate Change Innovation Grants.

Media release from the Victorian government on 15 September 2017

Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio today encouraged community members to apply for the grants and to attend one of the many marketplace events being held across Victoria.

The grants will provide between $50,000 and $300,000 in funding support to innovative projects and promote local action on climate change as we work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A series of events are being held during September and October across Victoria to discuss regional climate change priorities.
The Climate Change Innovation Grants are part of the Labor Government’s $5.6 million investment in the Virtual Centre for Climate Change Innovation Program.

Inaction is not an option, and these grants will help local communities work together to reduce emissions, adapt to climate change and grow the industries and businesses that will position Victoria for a low carbon future.

“We are fostering action, innovation and collaboration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. I encourage Victorians to apply for the Climate Change Innovation Grants and to attend their local events to learn more about how we can tackle this important issue,” said the Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.

For more information on the Climate Change Innovation Grants visit climatechange.vic.gov.au



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