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Obama administration warns of ‘climate refugees’ due to rapid Arctic warming

Guardian climate change - Fri, 2016/04/29 - 7:43pm

US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has painted a stark picture of communities displaced by rising Arctic temperatures that are ‘washing away’ towns

The Obama administration has warned the US will need to deal with a wave of “climate refugees” as the Arctic continues to warm, joining with the Canadian government to express alarm over how climate change is affecting indigenous communities.

Sally Jewell, US secretary of the interior, painted a stark picture of communities relocating and lives disrupted in her first official visit to Canada. The Arctic, which is warming at twice the rate of the global average, has just recorded its lowest recorded peak ice extent after what’s been called a “warm, crazy winter”.

Related: Obama declares disaster as Marshall Islands suffers worst-ever drought

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Manus and climate problems overshadowed by political scoreboard | Lenore Taylor

Guardian climate change - Fri, 2016/04/29 - 9:02am

There are no easy fixes for offshore detention or our environmental problems, but it would help if our politicians got serious about them

Two of Australia’s most shameful political failures – asylum and climate policy – are back in the news. Labor has had another stab at a climate policy – half brave, half cautious and vague, but certainly more credible than the current government’s fig leaf of a “plan”. And the PNG government has called time on the festering human rights catastrophe that is Manus Island, a development that left both parties gawpingly devoid of answers.

Each of these failures has been driven by politics.

Related: Labor proposes two emissions trading schemes costing $355.9m

Related: Manus Island detainees' compensation claims to be heard in court

Related: Why Coalition climate scare campaign is not credible and makes no sense

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Great Barrier Reef bleaching made 175 times likelier by human-caused climate change, say scientists

Guardian climate change - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 10:47pm

Such coral bleaching could be normal in 18 years, according to preliminary findings by leading climate and coral reef scientists

The hot water temperature that drove the devastating bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef this year was made 175 times more likely by human-caused climate change, and could be normal in just 18 years, according to preliminary findings by leading climate and coral reef scientists.

Related: Great Barrier Reef tourism operators refuse media and politicians access to bleached reefs

Related: Great Barrier Reef: Greens call for new tax on mining to pay for damage

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Unseasonably warm weather a clear sign of climate change, say scientists

Guardian climate change - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 9:13pm

El Niño driving current spike in warm weather and May almost certain to be warmer than average from 1961 to 1990

Unseasonably warm weather across Australia, which is set to continue through the coming month, might be putting a spring in people’s step but is a clear sign of dangerous climate change, according climate scientists and meteorologists.

Australia and the rest of the world have been reeling from a string of temperature records being smashed. February caused alarm when it was the most unusually warm month on record by a huge margin. But that record was broken immediately by March.

Related: Great Barrier Reef: Greens call for new tax on mining to pay for damage

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Obama declares disaster as Marshall Islands suffers worst-ever drought

Guardian climate change - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 6:30pm

The declaration will allow Fema to provide emergency relief to the archipelago, which received just a quarter of its usual rainfall during November to February

Barack Obama has declared the severe drought in the Marshall Islands a disaster, opening the way for emergency US funding for the Pacific island nation.

The disaster declaration, which follows a request from Marshallese president Hilda Heine on 1 April, will allow Fema to provide emergency relief to the archipelago, which is suffering one of its worst-ever droughts. Fema is able to provide federal assistance to overseas territories such as the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the Marshall Islands, as well as US states.

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VW and Shell try to block EU push for electric cars

Guardian climate change - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 5:09pm

Industry giants’ call for biofuels over electric and fuel-efficient cars puts Europe’s carbon emissions targets at risk, say experts

VW and Shell have united to try to block Europe’s push for electric cars and more efficient cars, saying biofuels should be at heart of efforts to green the industry instead.

The EU is planning two new fuel efficiency targets for 2025 and 2030 to help meet promises made at the Paris climate summit last December.

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Rowan Williams calls on Cambridge University to divest from fossil fuels

Guardian climate change - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 3:48pm

Former archbishop of Canterbury says the university should withdraw its £5.8bn fund from from oil, coal and gas on ethical and financial grounds

Rowan Williams has called on the University of Cambridge to divest from fossil fuels, arguing that climate change is “a life-and-death question”.

The former archbishop of Canterbury and master of Magdalene college made his comments in a foreword to a 74-page report on divestment by student campaign group Cambridge Zero Carbon Society.

Related: Ten UK universities divest from fossil fuels

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Shareholder pressure mounts on downgraded ExxonMobil

Guardian climate change - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 2:04pm

Aviva among latest investors to declare support for climate change resolution at next month’s AGM, reports Climate Home

A growing list of major investors is backing calls on ExxonMobil to acknowledge climate risk, after its credit rating was downgraded on Tuesday.

British insurer Aviva and Seattle’s public pension fund are among the latest to declare their support for a shareholder resolution to be considered at next month’s AGM. California’s CalPERS, New York City Pension Fund and the Church of England are also in favour.

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UK support for fracking hits new low

Guardian climate change - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 12:33pm

Just 19% of people back fracking while public support for renewables has surged to 81%, government poll shows

Public support for fracking in the UK has fallen to a new low, according to government polling, at the same time as backing for renewable energy has hit a record high.

The survey, which is repeated every few months, shows that public enthusiasm for the controversial energy extraction method has fallen steadily in the past two years while opposition to it has risen dramatically.

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Readers recommend playlist: songs about climate change

Guardian climate change - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 12:00pm

From the prescient lyrics of Jackson Browne to Michael Jackson getting angry about humans destroying the Earth, here are the tunes that made this week’s playlist

Below is this week’s playlist – picked by a reader from the comments on last week’s blog. Thanks for your suggestions. Read more about the weekly format of the Readers recommend series at the end of the piece.

In 1974, Jackson Browne’s celebration of the back-to-the-land movement, Before the Deluge, which starts this week’s playlist, contained this one eerily prescient verse that served to dampen the spirits of that generally optimistic generation:

Some of them were angry
At the way the earth was abused
By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power
And they struggled to protect her from them
Only to be confused
By the magnitude of her fury in the final hour

In California the body counts keep getting higher
It’s evil out there, man, that state is always on fire

When they look back at us and they write down our history
What will they say about our generation?
We’re the ones who knew everything still we did nothing
Harvested everything, planted nothing

"Liberated Carbon" by Andy Revkin is a fun one. Not only is it a nice blues, but it has geologically accurate lyrics and is written and performed by the creator of the New York Times's Dot Earth blog:

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Workers face 'epidemic of heat-related injuries' due to climate change

Guardian climate change - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 11:19am

Major UN report warns heat stress suffered by factory and field workers will devastate health and reduce productivity

Workers in fields and factories face an epidemic of heat-related injuries that will devastate their health, income and productivity as climate change takes hold, a major UN report has warned.

Productivity losses alone could rise above $2tn by 2030, as outdoor employees in many regions slow their pace, take longer breaks and shift their work to cooler dusk and dawn hours.

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Can the Republican Party solve its science denial problem? | Dana Nuccitelli

Guardian climate change - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 11:00am

Evolution and climate science denial are predominant on the political right; there is no equivalent on the left

There’s a widespread misconception about science denial – that on issues like the safety vaccines and genetically modified foods (GMOs), denial is found predominantly on the political left, mirroring the denial of evolution and climate science on the political right. This assumption has even been presented on The Daily Show, but it’s supported by precious little evidence. In fact, as Chris Mooney documented in great detail in 2014:

[The data] do not support the idea that vaccine denial is a special left-wing cause. As for GMOs, while resistance may be strongest on the far left, worries on this issue are quite prominent across the spectrum as well.

In neither case are these beliefs a mirror image, on the left, of climate change or evolution denial [on the political right].

Free-market worldviews are an important predictor of the rejection of scientific findings that have potential regulatory implications, such as climate science, but not necessarily of other scientific issues. Conspiracist ideation, by contrast, is associated with the rejection of all scientific propositions tested.

public trust in science has not declined since the 1970s except among conservatives and those who frequently attend church.

Clearly, The Republican War on Science’s politicization thesis is being strongly validated—a thesis that attributes the problem to the growth of a modern conservative movement, its need to appease its core interest groups and constituencies (corporate America, conservative Christians), its need to have its own alternative expertise and journalism (think tanks, Fox, Limbaugh), and so on … as the “New Right” emerged in the U.S. in the wake of the cultural battles of the 1960s and 1970s, it mobilized strong forces of authoritarianism–e.g., psychological rigidity and closed-mindedness.

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Great Barrier Reef: Greens call for new tax on mining to pay for damage

Guardian climate change - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 7:17am

Greens leader Richard di Natale says Australia needs to plan for a future without coal, not a future without the reef

The Greens want coal companies to start paying “for the damage they are doing” to the Great Barrier Reef, announcing a new plan to tax miners heavily and use the money to revitalise the reef and to invest in clean energy projects and jobs.

Related: Great Barrier Reef: aerial survey reveals extent of coral bleaching

Related: Great Barrier Reef could be David Attenborough's last 'proper' documentary

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Labor's electricity ETS 'exactly' same as designed for Turnbull, economist says

Guardian climate change - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 6:26am

PM once lauded plan by Frontier Economics’ Danny Price’s plan as a ‘cheaper, greener, smarter scheme’ before it was attacked by Kevin Rudd

The economist who helped devise the Coalition’s climate policy says Labor’s new-style electricity emissions trading scheme is exactly what he designed for Malcolm Turnbull in 2009 and mirrors what the Coalition’s Direct Action plan is likely to become to meet Australia’s greenhouse targets.

But despite the policy similarities, the government is persisting with a Tony Abbott-style anti-carbon tax scare campaign, which a leading climate thinktank has labelled “misleading” and “dishonest”.

Related: Business council praises Labor's 'bridge' to emissions trading scheme

Related: Labor proposes two emissions trading schemes costing $355.9m

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Could carbon farming be the answer for a 'clapped-out' Australia?

Guardian climate change - Thu, 2016/04/28 - 12:27am

Farmers signing up for the carbon emissions reduction fund have to meet strict guidelines but there is significant profit and energy savings to be made

This week the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) will hold the third emissions reduction fund auction and farmers across Australia will move to the forefront of efforts to rescue a “clapped-out” country.

Australian farmers have long bought and sold their wares at auction. Sale yards were the hub of country towns and the din of a moleskin-clad auctioneer shouting over the bleating and mooing of fattened livestock has long been a familiar rural backdrop.

Related: Plants the key to removing 63m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year

If you want adoption of carbon neutral farming, we should have a simple system. Farmers want to make the land better.

Related: Carbon farming: it's a nice theory, but don't get your hopes up

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