Australian Endured Exceptional Heat This September

22nd September is still remembered and has gone down in history in terms of having extreme weather. It was the hottest day in September with the majority of the country recording new highs.

As per the published statement of the Bureau of Meteorology, the mean maximum temperature was 33.47°C on 22nd September, and that is almost six degrees warmer than the average of the month.

The Bureau called the heat as ‘exceptional heat’ as it literally broke the previously set record in September 1998, having temperatures of 33.39°C, being the warmest since the beginning of records in 1911.

This year and the last year too, Australia has been a victim of severe climatic conditions. On many occasions, the country and its different regions have endured extreme temperatures, breaking many previous records. The Bureau considers the heat faced in September as a significant change in climatic conditions and all of this takes us back to the same debate of taking strong measures against climate change and carbon emissions.

While Australia has great tendency to meet the challenges of climate change, the country never took a step back in contributing towards the growing issue of climate change worldwide.

What the Bureau suggest as the most probable reason behind the exceptional heat endured by Australians this September is that much of the rising temperature was actually caused by the high-pressure system which is located at the Tasman Sea and New South Wales, and that kept a large portion of northern and eastern Australia absolutely cloud free.

The parched soil and low rainfall rapidly allowed the high sunny temperature to heat the overlying air and the land surface.

Exceptional Heat Hit Different Territories in Australia

In September, many regions of Australia met with record-breaking temperature whereas some made it to the top ten warmest days’ list.

Queensland and New South Wales took the lead and experienced the hottest days of September –so far on record – the following week.

Whereas other regions such as Victoria and the Northern Territory along with South Australia, have days in the list of the top ten warmest for September.

As per the statement of the Bureau “More than 20 percent of Australia by area recorded its hottest September day on record during 22-29 September”.

As a whole, New South Wales suffered from its hottest day in September so far on record on 23rd September. The mean maximum temperature recorded on that day was 35.18°C, almost 1.5°C greater than the previous mark and in terms of long-term average, nearly 15°C warmer.

The Bureau also noticed some other climatic conditions according to which, since the year 1910, the spring season has warmed up around one degree all across Australia, which is consistent with what has been seen around the globe.

The Bureau said that “Studies undertaken by the Bureau and other scientific institutions have shown that climate change has contributed to the severity and frequency of recent heat events, including spring warmth,”

The effects of climate change are inevitable and the last option left to the nations worldwide is to seek well strategic measures to cut down the impact of climate change, and to stay prepared for meeting more challenges down the line.

Biogas from waste can oust fossil fuel

A recent analysis shows that waste can now be used to generate biogas as an alternate form of renewable energy instead of fossil fuels or nuclear energy. Waste is now found to have economical uses and countries have begun utilizing their forest and agricultural waste to transform them into sustainable energy.

Industries are using waste to produce heat and turn it into biogas. Whenever wind and solar energy are scarce, biogas can be used along with natural gas in pipelines, create power supply and power transport. Switzerland and Sweden have been making use of biogas to eliminate nuclear energy and fossil fuels. Although Sweden has an abundant supply of straw, it has so far been facing difficulties in using straw efficiently.

Scientists at RISE Scientific Research Institutes and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences have concluded that straw could be turned into biogas by breaking down microbes in a digester. Straw could also be combined with food waste to create biogas.

Since straw is a dry substance, it would take less time to generate a high amount of gas. Biogas production could be profitable to biogas industries and agricultural sectors. Over 30 countries have signed up for the Biogas 2020 Project.

Switzerland, being rich in agriculture and forestry, is already using biogas from wood to fulfil 5% of its energy needs. An assessment showed that manure, sewage mire and agricultural waste could also be used as energy sources. Furthermore, it was possible for Switzerland to use biofuel and yield around 20% energy.

The current issue is that Switzerland cannot extract all wood because some of it is in unreachable locations of mountains. Moreover, the far-flung agricultural sectors produce only little amounts of valuable materials for energy. Therefore, their best options include forest wood and manure as barely half of other resources are sustainable.

Switzerland can use merely 2% of its biomass to produce electricity and heat. Biomass can generate energy more efficiently than solar or wind power. Thus, it can be used efficiently without obstacles when there are fluctuations in other sources of renewable energy.

Biogas sector is expected to grow rapidly for the next 20 years in generating sustainable energy as some countries take measures to preserve the environment. Countries are expecting a growing demand for biogas in the upcoming years. Currently, Asia Pacific is the leading market for biogas-derived global market due to rich, rural agricultural sectors and growth of biogas industries.

A study by Global Market Insights reported that the European Biogas Market is expected to expand by $2 billion by 2024 as governments now devise policies for environmental protection and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The EU 2020 aims to lower emissions and increase renewable energy emissions by 20%.

Research concludes that biomass is potentially a valuable source of energy; however, more assessments need to be conducted on how these raw materials can be made profitable. As awareness about waste management and urbanization increase, businesses are investing more on biogas-derived renewable energy.

Vancouver and Sydney Hold on to the Commitments of the Paris Accord

The impacts of a warmer world are already in place, drowning us in the rising temperatures day by day. There is something that we can learn by looking at the recent flooding catastrophes in the United States, Caribbean Islands, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Staying inactive is only going to worsen the situation.

So far, the leaders around the world, which carry immense hopes of tackling climate issues, have actually set a collective intent to achieve net zero emission of carbon by 2050 to save the world.

The achievement of this goal, however, requires them to navigate two major checkpoints. The first one is to pull down the trajectory of emission on a global level by 2020 –keeping humanity on a better path towards reaching full de-carbonization. In achieving this, it will support us on our way to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030, putting an end to poverty, and ensuring planet protection and prosperity.

The serious threats of climatic conditions are becoming more and more obvious at the end of each day since climate change is costing us human lives more than anything else. From destruction to flood, fire, or storms, global warming has already touched 1°C. The destination of reaching net zero de-carbonization is not an easy one but it is indeed achievable.

While some nations continue to neglect the issue, focusing on undermining the so-called ‘exaggerated issues’, others are working hand in hand, making coalitions like the Global Covenant of Mayors on Climate and Energy and the C40 Cities, with the help of which, urban populations are striving to settle the task at hand.

Vancouver and Sydney Step up to Meet Climate Commitments

The city of Vancouver is striving to reduce GHG emissions by almost 33% (below 2007 levels) through 179 municipalities in British Columbia. Vancouver is doing great in reducing figures and leading North America with the construction of new zero-emission constructions.

Sydney too, is leading at transforming the southern precinct into a sustainable and vibrant urban environment through $8 billion projects in Green Square.

However, Vancouver and Sydney are not the only cities achieving a milestone. All the Mayors in the country are committed to the path of net zero emissions and with absolute intent. From 2011 to 2015, all the cities in C40 invested collectively almost US$1.5bn towards low carbon projects and have expanded the portfolio into many sustainable infrastructure projects.

Efforts are being directed after realizing the scale of the climate challenge and actions must be expedited to achieve the 2020 checkpoint.

Moreover, to show commitment to the Paris Agreement, California will host a summit in 2018, to collect new climate commitments from regional governments, cities, investors, and businesses, in order to fully demonstrate the possibility to the national leaders in terms of raising ambitions.

We hope to get new commitments from fellow nations and wish for them to step up in this time of trouble because tackling the climate issue and meeting this challenge is only possible if we leave no stone unturned.

Donald Trump faces another Climate Hurdle

The well-known president Donald Trump is about to face another important decision, in terms of his willingness to undo federal efforts, to alleviate climate change effects.

It’s been more than three months since the US president Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Change Accord.

The president is also likely to decide soon if the endangerment finding put into place by the Obama administration, and on which the rules of climate change are built, must be overturned.

Despite the pledge, Trump seems to discover that it is much easier to promise and say things on the campaign trail than getting it done through the complex bureaucracy of the government.

And again, the President is still walking a line between pragmatists seeing court battles for years ahead despite uncertain results, and some true believers who expect Trump to follow through on the pledge and knock over the endangerment findings.

Indeed, some close fellows of Trump’s Administration expect that EPA will eventually stop short of the endangerment finding repeal, and merely water down the regulations of the climate change including the Clean Power Plan. This would, however, force shuttering of various coal plants of the country.

“I think they’re going to come up with something far less onerous. Taking on the endangerment finding, it’s such a sensitive topic. That’s an 800-pound tiger the left will fiercely resist.” – said Trump’s campaign Adviser and Economist – Stephen Moore – at the Conservative Heritage Foundation.

The Health Risks

After railing against climate change, Trump has to make a decision against the deadly storms’ backdrop including Hurricane Harvey. These hurricanes have brought the policy of climate change to the forefront again but it remains unclear as to how EPA and the administration will act towards it.

“Administrator Pruitt encourages the exchange of ideas and is committed to a robust dialogue on the science related to carbon dioxide,” says EPA Spokesperson- emphasizing that the review is just about the endangerment rule.

The Legal Challenges

Conservative groups have now started to take a step back, despite pressurizing Donald Trump previously to follow through on the pledge, as they can clearly see the legal challenges that are on its way.

According to Myron Ebell, Trump’s campaign advisor, alleviating the endangerment finding is likely to make it a lot more difficult for the next administration to take on climate policies.

However, anyone that has an idea that Trump is softening towards the climate change issue better think again. As per the recent statement from the White House, it has absolutely no plan to continue the Paris Agreement, unless the accord is renegotiated, and that is a request which has already been claimed as unacceptable from the world leaders.

Australia only wealthy nation still breaking energy emissions records

A recent analysis showed that Australia is the only affluent country that is generating the highest amount of greenhouse gas emissions, even though it recently launched a carbon-pricing scheme. Sales of petroleum products – petrol and diesel – sky-rocketed in Australia and were followed by an increase in carbon emissions.

The record was higher than the emissions of 2009, which still continue increasing. More people are now using petroleum products, therefore; the country is heavily reliant on coal to meet the growing demand. Presently, there is nothing being done to reduce dependency on coal.

The think tank analysis estimated Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions at 383 million tons in June, which was approximately a 49% increase since the base year of 1990. Australia is still burning fossil fuels when other countries are undertaking strategies to switch to renewable energy sources.

Although energy emissions keep rising, Australia is keeping up with the goals of 2020 Kyoto Protocol, largely due to land clearance, that aims for at least a 5% reduction in energy emissions. Australia refused to rescind its carryover credits to accomplish targets of reducing emissions.

The government stated that it had a forum on transport emissions that sought to improve quality and efficiency of fuels. Dr. Hugh Saddler stated that lack of investment in efficient modes of transportation was causing increased usage of roads. Australia does not have fuel-efficiency standards, which is why the vehicles used are less efficient than those of other countries. Mining, agricultural and construction activities are also causing increased diesel usage.

Political leaders still disagree on policies of providing subsidies for coal and supporting renewable or green technology. Businesses are campaigning for durable climate and energy strategies to generate investments for new power plants. About twelve old, dysfunctional coal factories have shut down since 2012, although lignite and black coal account for 75% national electricity.
Presently, Australia has not devised an alternative strategy for renewable energy when the Protocol ends in 2020. The government repealed carbon pricing scheme of 2012, which was the only goal for renewable energy and encouraging private investment.

Former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was a serious advocate about combating climate change while in office. However, during his speech in London, he claimed that taking measures to combat climate change could be detrimental to the economy and referred to climate science as “absolute crap”. He further stated that climate change policy was doing more harm than good and climate change was actually beneficial. He said that more people died due to extreme cold rather than heat waves, asserting that our adaptability to climate change could be good for us. Abbott has suggested the government to revoke renewable energy policies.

Josh Frydenberg said that the ministers were collaborating with stakeholders and using an evidence-based approach to deal with the issue. It was further stated that they were committed to the Paris Agreement and aiming to reduce about 30% energy emissions, below 2005 levels, by 2030.

Trump Nominates Climate Change Denier as the New Chief of NASA

The U.S. President Donald Trump tapped Jim Bridenstine – Republican Congressman of Oklahoma, as the next chief of NASA. While the nominee is already facing a lot of opposition from politicians and scientists, Jim does not believe humans cause climate change.

As per the opposition, Bridenstine does not possess scientific chops to direct and lead a space agency – capable of sending men to the moon.

Moreover, NASA has never been headed by a Congress member in its history of 60 years.

Opponents argue that Bridenstine, that is likely to be confirmed by the Senate, is a bad choice for the administrative job in NASA.

The major three contention points include his political nature, lack of scientific credentials and doubts regarding the human contribution towards climate change.

Two U.S Senators DoubtBridenstine’s Capabilities to Lead NASA

Florida’s senators – Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio – have already voiced Bridenstine’s nomination as a bad choice.

As per Nelson’s statement to Politico;

“The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician.”

As per Rubio’s statement to Politico;

“This appointment can be devastating for the space program. Obviously, being from Florida, I am very sensitive to anything that slows up NASA and its mission.”

Bridenstine; who won his first seat in 2012, would be the first ever elected official to lead NASA.

Another Republican Senator – Oklahoma’s Jim Inholf– calls climate change a hoax and stated to the Associated Press;

“I think he faces a tough fight because he’s been outspoken in some areas that having nothing to do with NASA.”

Bridenstine Doubts Human Factor in Climate Change

During an interview in 2016 with Aerospace America magazine, Bridenstine clearly expressed skepticism regarding the human hand in climate change. He said that the climate has always been changing and further added;

“There were periods of time long before the internal combustion engine when the Earth was much warmer than it is today.”

Unlike the opposition and a few senators, Lightfoot – Acting administrator – said in a statement that he was “pleased to have Representative Bridenstine nominated to lead our team.”

“Of course, the nomination must go through the Senate confirmation process, but I look forward to ensuring a smooth transition and sharing the great work the NASA team is doing,” he added further.

The news is steaming more opposition from different politicians especially after Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement.

Bridenstine has already criticized the amount of money spent by NASA on climate research previously. He sponsored a bill in 2013, which demanded slash funding towards the studies conducted by Atmospheric Administration and National Oceanic in terms of climate change.

In a post, Phil Plait – science blogger and astronomer – lambasted the nomination of Bridenstine, stating;

“Climate change due to global warming is one of the greatest threats facing us as a species. The leader of the world’s premier space agency should at the very bare minimum be willing to admit it exists.”

No matter what views Bridenstine has for climate change, NASA has been working as an independent agency and its future relies on the president’s favour and his nominee to lead the agency.

New Climate Study Starts a New Debate over the Need of Global Warming Measures

When it comes to a scientific study, the news contains scientific facts and accurate reporting of them. Typically, this entails studying the facts, interviewing the outside experts and authors. But the majority of the times, the narrative shared by media is not actually supported by the scientific study or the experts.
And same is the case with the newly published study of climate change!

Nature Geosciences Climate Change Study

Recently, a study was published in Nature Geosciences, which tried to determine the amount of carbon that humans will possibly emit before surpassing the global warming threshold of 1.5C – set forth in the Paris Climate Accord.

The results were expected or sort of optimistic; as it showed the likelihood of having more carbon in the bank than previously estimated. While some experts remain sceptical, the study’s key finding was twisted and transformed into a bad parody by many outlets, suggesting that the ‘fear of global warming is exaggerated’ and the issue of climate change is not actually ‘as threatening as previously thought’.

From there onwards, things went off the rail.

“The scientists who produce those doomsday reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have finally come clean — the computer models they have been using to predict runaway global warming are wrong,” – The Sun bloviated.

“Climate alarmists have finally admitted that they have got it wrong on global warming,” says Breitbart

On the basis of this, the researchers at Oxford University released a statement disavowing the idea, that there is no need of taking aggressive measures to cut down carbon emission.

The researchers wrote. “Our analysis suggests that ‘pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 C’ is not chasing a geophysical impossibility, but is likely to require a significant strengthening of the NDC at the first opportunity in 2020,”

 

In simple words:

Countries are still required to ratchet up their measures a lot so that warming can be limited to 1.5C degrees. And for this, aggressive reduction of emissions must be started from today and the CO2 output must be brought to net zero in around 40 years at most.

However, the new study was pushed back by some other climate scientists. And there is a continuous debate about defining the baseline temperatures.

But as Zeke Hausfather – climatologist – mentions Carbon Brief, the records of global temperature which go back as far would have produced more warming by the year 2015 and hence reduced carbon in the bank.

Indeed, comparing the observations with the model is not an easy or wise decision. For example, if some models including the paper ones, estimate the temperature of air over the surface of the planet, scientists measure the temperature of Earth both at the surface oceans and the air, which is warming slowly.

According to the statement of Michael Mann to Gizmodo – Penn State climate scientist:

“Studies that account for both the land/ocean sampling issues and the needed corrections for historical forcing show no discrepancy between observed vs. modelled warming.”

All in all, the conclusion of this essential new study does not differ from the ones which were presented earlier. In order to keep the climate change at a minimum level, the world still needs an aggressive approach towards carbon reductions.

Climate Change – Prince Charles Aims to Save Marine Life Worldwide

Prince Charles seemed to wade into the most controversial debate over the global climate change issue. He claimed that leaders all over the world have severely and catastrophically underestimated the oceans’ vulnerability to climate change, pollution and acidification.

During an impassioned speech, delivered at Malta – Our Ocean Conference – Prince Charles urged all the worldwide governments to take urgent measures for protecting the marine life, and acknowledged the climate change issue by calling it the ‘huge elephant in the room of accelerating climate change’.

As per the statement of Prince Charles; “It is absolutely vital, it seems to me, that we create sustainable blue economy agendas that take truly integrated approaches to improve ocean and therefore planetary health”.

He further added;

“If the unprecedented abundance of recent catastrophic hurricanes is not the supreme wakeup call that it needs to be in order to address the vase and accumulating threat of climate change and ocean warming than we … can surely no longer consider ourselves as part of a rational sensible civilization”.

 

The Great Reef in North Queensland

Long been an advocate of environmental issues, the Prince of Wales also emphasized the importance of focusing and addressing the frequent health degradation of the population of the coral reef; particularly North Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef.

While discussing his major concern, the Prince further stated;

“The fact that significant portions of the Great Barrier Reef on Australia’s eastern coast have been severely degraded or lost over the last few years is both a tragedy and also, I would have thought, a very serious wakeup call. Are we really going to allow ourselves the dismal comfort of accepting that, in the long run, we will only be left with a tiny fraction of them?”

Role of Prince Charles towards Environmental Challenges

If we talk about the role of Prince Charles, he holds a long history in environmental advocacy. The Prince of Wales also founded the International Sustainability Unit in the year 2010, which aimed at addressing the worldwide major environmental challenges; and also included other crucial issues such as deforestation, marine degradation and animal conservation.

The Prince also co-authored a book – Ladybird Expert, which targeted adult readers, along with environmentalists and climate scientists in January, and the book not only detailed the history but also the solutions for global warming.

While the British royals have always avoided involvement in matters of politics, the issue is clearly important for Prince Charles and has also stirred many controversies.

Previously, Prince Charles has already been accused by the British media of “becoming a zealot”

However, Charles whole-heartedly commends the efforts and measures taken by many nations worldwide to save the marine life.

“There is now at least, or at last, awareness of the plight of the ocean, its intimate connection to us and our survival, and the enormous amount that needs to be done,” says Prince Charles.

The Prince is not only encouraged by the efforts put in by many organizations at the global level to meet the challenge of climate change, but he also congratulated the country of Chile, that is now successfully protecting almost 1 sq.km of its marine life.

Renewables will be cheaper than coal in the future

A study by Morgan Stanley shows that renewable energy would become cheaper than coal by 2020. Markets have now attained an inflection point – renewable resources are being used to generate power supply at lesser costs. Between 2016 and 2017, the price for solar energy fell by half.

With improvements in technology and economies of scale, the costs of transmitting renewable energy decrease – known as the “learning rate.” Jacobs Group recently illustrated how prices of wind and solar power are likely to fall within the next three years and following up to two decades. Wind prices were shown to be falling rapidly.

Prices of renewable energy drop due to improvements in materials and design for wind turbines. Just a small increase in the length of the wind turbine blade can maximize output. Utilizing sustainable energy can thwart air pollution, health problems and decelerate global warming in addition to being less costly than coal.

According to Swanson’s Law, for every 20% increase in global solar energy, there would be a corresponding reduction in the prices of solar. As industries keep expanding their renewable energy, prices fall. The costs of installing solar have fallen by about 70% since 2010. Prices fell 12% in 2015, which is recorded as the year with the highest solar installation globally. When solar panels and wind turbines are installed, sunshine and wind can be obtained free of cost; contrarily, it is expensive to extract coal since it is a finite resource.

Wind and solar energy are the least costly sources for generating energy as compared to nuclear gas and coal. The impact would be prevalent in Australia as well as international markets. The BNEF analysis shows that the notion of “baseload” would now come to be referred to as “base-cost renewable.” This means that wind and solar power would produce energy at the lowest cost and the base cost would be then replaced by the more expensive sources of energy.

The report also estimated that the price for renewable energy sources would be around 8% less than the price of coal. According to economists, this could be achieved with the help of carbon pricing strategy and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.  The price of carbon can be increased because just an hour of coal-generated power supply yields one ton of CO2.

When countries are increasingly putting carbon-pricing into effect, Australia would be required to impose the same or face heavy duties on its carbon exports. Countries need to take precaution when more than half of the renewable energy resources are being utilized. To make renewable energy readily available in different locations, businesses would need to invest in power generation lines and energy storage. This would increase costs of energy transmission.

Investment would also require maintaining voltage and frequencies. The cost of electricity generation increases with extra needs.

If Australia starts utilizing its wind and solar power, it has the potential to regain its reputation for utilizing cost-effective, sustainable energy, which would be equivalent to India and China that already have energy-intensive factories. Within two decades, solar and wind power would make up about 50% of the world’s power generation.

DiCaprio Met Trump – What Really Went Down Behind The Closed-Door Conversation?

Leonardo DiCaprio met the US President Donald Trump in December of last year, discussing the climate change issue. Ever since the news revealed itself, everyone has been waiting to get the inside scoop between the Oscar-winning actor and the US President.

And finally, DiCaprio decided to reveal the news about what really went down behind those closed doors!

At the Yale Climate Conference on 19th Sept, 2017, Leonardo revealed that in his last meeting with Trump; he came up with the “comprehensive plan to tackle climate change” along with harnessing the green jobs economic potential.

Seated next to John Kerry – former Secretary of State – DiCaprio continued divulging that both of them actually conversed about “how the United States has the potential to lead the world in clean-energy manufacturing and research and development”

After witnessing the shocking action of Donald Trump – withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord recently – it was quite evident that the conversation between Leonardo DiCaprio and Donald Trump did not end well or be productive.

Leonardo Expresses frustration

While many nations and organizations all around the world are taking serious actions to cut down carbon emissions and aiming at becoming carbon neutralized, big countries such as the United States, do not take the climate issue seriously.

The same was expressed as a frustration from the famous actor in his last statement. Expressing the frustration towards the Trump administration for being inactive on the climate change issue, DiCaprio stated;

“This administration and certain people are going to be vilified for not taking action.”

Even though the conversation between DiCaprio and Trump did not go well or be conclusive, Leo’s attempt to dedicatedly and personally engage with the US President is commended all across the country.

While it may be concerning that the discussion of climate change between the two big names may have failed, Leonardo does not lose hope or give up the fight in tackling the climate change issue with adequate measures, anytime soon.

“We should not have people in office who do not believe in facts and truths and modern science that are able to manipulate and risk the entire future of this entire generation,” he fumed. “We are at that turning point right now, and we are going to look back at this point in history, and frankly this administration, and certain people are going to be vilified for not taking action. They really are. And it’s up to this generation, it’s up to all of you to get involved and make a difference.”

With that, the US home city – New York too, seems to have taken a totally different path from the President as New York’s mayor has confirmed plans to support the Paris Climate Agreement.

As the whole country refuses to accept Trump’s climate perspective, Leonardo took one step ahead by announcing that his foundation will be donating a $20 million grant to support and continue the fight against global warming.