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Government alarmingly postpones action on climate change

Paul Simons adds to many ‘wakeup calls’ – writing about high temperatures, drought and wildfires.

On Thursday Spain broke the record for its highest temperature with 47.3C (117.1F) at Montoro, near Cordoba in the south of the country.

May and June were also phenomenally hot across Portugal, Italy, the Balkans, Greece and Turkey.

Heat and drought have helped to fuel wildfires in Spain and Italy, and wildfires near the seaside resort of Calampiso in Sicily forced the evacuation by boat of about 700 tourists on Wednesday night. In Greece the heatwave led the culture ministry to close archaeological sites around the country, including the Acropolis in Athens.

Together with a long-running drought, the heat has ravaged much of southern Spain, leading to a devastated wheat and barley harvest. If the arid conditions continue, there are also fears for the olive, walnut, almond and grape harvests and the wellbeing of livestock. Rainfall has been desperately low this year, but the country has been suffering from a lack of rain for five years.

Drought threatens to reduce cereal production in Italy and parts of Spain to its lowest level in at least 20 years, and hit other regional crops. Castile and Leon, the largest cereal growing region in Spain, has been particularly badly affected, with crop losses estimated at around 60 to 70%. While the EU is collectively a major wheat exporter, Spain and Italy both rely on imports from countries including France, Britain and Ukraine.

Deadly heatwaves for much of South Asia – yet many of those living there will have contributed little to climate change

The Guardian adds to the news from Europe: India recorded its hottest ever day in 2016 when the temperature in the city of Phalodi, Rajasthan, hit 51C. Another  study led by Prof Elfatih Eltahir, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, linked the impact of climate change to the suicides of nearly 60,000 Indian farmers.

The analysis, published in the journal PNAS, assesses the impact of climate change on the deadly combination of heat and humidity, measured as the “wet bulb temperature” (WBT). Once this reaches 35C, the human body cannot cool itself by sweating and even fit people sitting in the shade will die within six hours.

Prof Chris Huntingford, at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said: “If given just one word to describe climate change, then ‘unfairness’ would be a good candidate. Raised levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are expected to cause deadly heatwaves for much of South Asia. Yet many of those living there will have contributed little to climate change.”

Guardian journalists comment sarcastically, “But fear not: by 2040, no new diesel or petrol vehicles will be sold in the UK

This, apparently, is the appropriate timetable for responding to what a parliamentary committee calls a “public health emergency”. A child born today will be 23 by the time this policy matures – by then the damage to the development of her lungs and brain will have been done”.

Cold comfort

According to Professor Eltahir’s study, if emissions are reduced roughly in line with the global Paris climate change agreement there would be no 35C WBT heatwaves and the population affected by the 31C WBT events would fall from 75% to 55%. About 15% are exposed today.

A National Geographic article says most people agree that to curb global warming a variety of measures need to be taken. On a personal level, driving and flying less, recycling, and conservation reduces a person’s “carbon footprint”—the amount of carbon dioxide a person is responsible for putting into the atmosphere.

At present, lorries shifting identical goods in opposite directions pass each other on 2,000-mile journeys. Competing parcel companies ply the same routes, in largely empty vans – a theme explored by MP Caroline Lucas and Colin Hines in 2003 – the Great Trade Swap.

It describes airports as deadly too – yet government and opposition alike are ‘apparently hell-bent’ on expanding Heathrow, exploring airport expansion projects elsewhere and seeking post-Brexit trade deals with distant countries.

To reduce the risk of ever more extreme weather, we must reduce the amount of fossil fuel we are burning – and the measures taken will have other desirable consequences as the following cartoon shows:

Parliament must listen to its Committee on Climate Change – chairman John Gummer. As the East Anglian Times reported in June, its annual progress report calls for “urgent” plans to meet legal targets for carbon cuts by 2032 as greenhouse gases from transport and buildings continue to rise.

The committee advocates action to bridge the gap between existing policies and what is needed to achieve required emissions reductions by the mid-2020s – boosting electric vehicles and cutting greenhouse gas emissions from the heating of homes to help to meet UK climate targets.

 

 

 

 

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Media 35, IPCC report: misgivings confirmed

Deceptive, reassuring propaganda peddled by corporate media and corporate politics

Media Lens reminds us that for more than 25 years, since the IPCC was set up in 1988, there have been numerous scientific ‘wakeup calls’ and nothing significant has changed. (Below, Professor Ray Wills’ sketch)

IPCC warnings

In fact, ML continues, turbo-charged, fossil-fuel driven capitalism has proceeded to run amok. And, for the vested interests who are the winners in the global economy, the tiny ‘one per cent’ or less, it is vital that nothing stops their continued ‘success’. Their cynical propaganda campaign is often dressed up as the need to be ‘sensible’ and to take measures that do no ‘harm’ to the economy.

IPCC vol 1 coverMedia Lens reports that the new report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is clear that the impacts of climate change are likely to be ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible’. Impacts include droughts, floods, heat waves, endangered species, crop failure, food insecurity, famine and even war.

However BBC reports preferred to highlight the reservations expressed by Richard Tol, one of  seventy researchers: ‘Is climate report overly alarming?’

This headline linked to a piece by its environment correspondent, Matt McGrath, who trailed it on Twitter: ‘Dissent among scientists over key climate impacts report’. But, as several Twitter users observed, the ‘dissent’ among ‘scientists’ amounted to the objections of only one individual, Professor Richard Tol, only one IPCC author out of 70.

Tol is not a scientist but an economist who previously published research showing that climate change may have some benefits at lower levels of warming and has worked with Bjorn ‘Skeptical Environmentalist’ Lomborg and others to downplay the importance of tackling the climate crisis.

Leo Hickman, chief adviser on climate change at WWF-UK, retorted: ‘Hey, BBC, I’ve fixed the headline for you: “One go-to contrarian scientist dissents over key climate impact report”.

BBC News at Ten’s Huw Edwards, BBC science editor David Shukman, Channel 4 News and ITV are arraigned by Media Lens, the latter having chosen a most misleading headline, ‘UN report hopes to show opportunities climate change may present’.

Medial Lens condemns the media arm of a corporate system ‘that is very clearly out of control’ as being as stupid and irresponsible:

“Humanity simply will not survive much more business-as-usual. And yet, all around us we see immense global economic forces hell-bent on charging ahead ever faster with no interest whatever in the near-term consequences.

“If we continue to look to corporate media and corporate politics for hope, this deceptive, reassuring propaganda may well continue to the bitter end. Ordinary people will have to take action . . . This is not hype; it is that serious, that late. The choice is ours”.

Main source: http://medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/761-the-neverending-wakeup-call.html