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Climate change is here now and it could lead to global conflict

Nicholas Stern, The Guardian
Many commentators have suggested that we are suffering from unprecedented extreme weather. There are powerful grounds for arguing that this is part of a trend… A warmer atmosphere holds more water. Add to this the increase in sea level, particularly along the English Channel, which is making storm surges bigger, and it is clear why the risk of flooding in the UK is rising. But it is not just here that the impacts of climate change have been felt through extreme weather events over the past few months. Australia has just had its hottest year on record, during which it suffered record-breaking heatwaves and severe bushfires in many parts of the country. And there has been more extreme heat over the past few weeks. Argentina had one of its worst heatwaves in late December, while parts of Brazil were struck by floods and landslides following record rainfall…

The upward trend in temperature is undeniable, despite the effects of natural variability in the climate which causes the rate of warming to temporarily accelerate or slow for short periods, as we have seen over the past 15 years.

If we do not cut emissions, we face even more devastating consequences, as unchecked they could raise global average temperature to 4C or more above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century…

The shift to such a world could cause mass migrations of hundreds of millions of people away from the worst-affected areas. That would lead to conflict and war, not peace and prosperity…
(14 February 2014)

Kerry: Climate change as dangerous as WMDs

Staff, Aljazeera
John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, has stressed the importance of tackling climate change in a speech in Indonesia, saying that it may be the world’s "most fearsome" weapon of mass destruction.

Kerry, who delivered the speech on Sunday in the capital, Jakarta, spoke critically about climate change sceptics adding that everyone and every country must take responsibility and act immediately.

"We simply don’t have time to let a few loud interest groups hijack the climate conversation," he said, referring to what he called "big companies" that "don’t want to change and spend a lot of money" to act to reduce the risks.

He later singled out big oil and coal concerns as the primary offenders.

"The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand," Kerry said.
(17 February 2014) Climate Progress picks up this story with regard to the pending decision on Keystone XL.
NYT Dot Earth wonders why this speech in Indonesia?

UK newspapers are talking more about climate change and flooding

Mat Hope, Carbon Brief
Last week, we published a blog showing that only a small fraction – around seven per cent – of newspaper articles about flooding over the past two months had mentioned climate change.

Over the past week, as climate change has become a more prominent part of the story, that percentage has doubled – to about 15 per cent.

The past week has seen commentators respond to a Met Office report looking at the impacts of climate change, the energy secretary criticising his coalition colleagues for having their heads in the sand on climate change, and Ed Miliband calling for politicians to unite in the name of climate action – all against the backdrop of continued flooding…
(17 February 2014)

From Occupy to Climate Justice: Merging Economic Justice and Climate Activism

Wen Stephenson, DeSmog Blog

From Occupy to Climate Justice: Merging Economic Justice and Climate Activism (via Desmogblog)

This article was originally published in the February 24th issue of The Nation and is republished with permission. by Wen Stephenson It’s an odd thing, really. in certain precincts of the left, especially across a broad spectrum of what could be…

(16 February 2014)

Heatwave frequency ‘surpasses levels previously predicted for 2030’

Oliver Milman, The Guardian
The government has been urged to better articulate the dangers of climate change after a report that shows the frequency of heatwaves in parts of Australia has already surpassed levels previously predicted for 2030.

The Climate Council report highlights that Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra all experienced a higher average number of hot days between 2000 and 2009 than was expected to occur by 2030…

Tim Flannery, of the Climate Council, told Guardian Australia that heatwaves were the “most dangerous natural hazards in Australia”.

“They kill hundreds of people and the fact they are accelerating beyond the predicted trends is a concern,” he said. “Heatwaves are coming earlier, they are lasting longer and they are hotter. They build up for days and before you know it, elderly people, infants and the homeless are in danger.”

On Monday, Tony Abbott dismissed talk of a link between climate change and drought, saying there “have always been tough times and lush times”. Last year he played down the connection between climate change and bushfire…
(17 February 2014)

Arctic thaw significantly worsens global warming risk

Jeff Hecht, New Scientist
Melting ice is cooking the planet. Shrinking Arctic sea ice means the ocean is absorbing more energy from the sun, and it’s now clear the effect is twice as big as thought – adding significantly to heating from greenhouse gases.

Arctic temperatures have risen 2 °C since the 1970s, leading to a 40 per cent dip in the minimum summer ice coverage in the Arctic Ocean. Open water soaks up more sunlight than ice, so as the ice retreats the ocean absorbs more energy, warming it and causing even more melting…
(18 February 2014)

Carbon divestment is a shining example

Mary Robinson, The Guardian
The recent extreme flooding in the UK and Ireland has highlighted the devastating effect our changing climate can have; but if we do not take action fast, future generations will experience weather shocks on a far greater scale. Our planet is warming to a catastrophic extent, and the human race must step up.

The divestment campaign – which originated in the United States and is now making its way across the Atlantic – is one shining example of what is needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Transforming our economic system to one based on low-carbon production and consumption can create inclusive sustainable development and reduce inequality. To achieve a just transition to a low-carbon economy, it is crucial that we invest in social protection, enhance workers’ skills for redeployment in a low-carbon economy, and promote access to sustainable development for all.

The premise of the divestment campaign is simple: non-profit organisations must move their investments away from fossil fuels, reducing the power and influence this industry has on society. Initially focusing on universities – in the UK alone, their endowment funds have invested £5bn in coal, oil and gas – the campaign’s message has since had an influence on other organisations, such as the Church of England, which this month said it would pull its investment in companies that didn’t do enough to fight climate change…
(17 February 2014)