Foretaste of what Australia may see next summer?

Is this the beginning of the kind of multi-year drought that caused the US ‘dust bowl‘, famine and social disruption in the 1930s?

Concatenating catastrophes, where two different disasters join to make even worse chaos. NOAA/NASA via the New York Times

by Maggie Astor, 0v/05/2022 in New York Times

Smoke and Sandstorm, Seen From Space: A time-lapse image of smoke from wildfires in New Mexico and dust from a storm in Colorado illustrates the scope of Western catastrophe.

The video is mesmerizing: As three whitish-gray geysers gush eastward from the mountains of New Mexico, a sheet of brown spills down from the north like swash on a beach.

What it represents is far more destructive.

The image, a time-lapse captured by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite, shows two devastating events happening [at the same time] in the Western United States. The first is a wildfire outbreak in northern New Mexico that started last month and has intensified in the past two weeks, fueled by extreme drought and high winds. The second is a dust storm caused by violent winds in Colorado.

Both are examples of the sorts of natural disasters that are becoming more severe and frequent as a result of climate change.

Read thee complete article….

Featured Image: A dust storm approaching Spearman. In: Monthly Weather Review, Volume 63, April 1935, p. 148. Date: 1935 April 14 Location: Texas, Spearman …an excellent view of a dust storm that occurred at Spearman, Tex., on April 14, 1935. The photograph was submitted by the official in charge, Houston, Tex., and was taken by F. W. Brandt, cooperative observer at Spearman, Tex. Credit: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service / Public Domain / Wikipedia

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

UN Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction:

Our World at Risk: Transforming Governance
for a Resilient Future 2022

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (2022). Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2022: Our World at Risk: Transforming Governance for a Resilient Future. Geneva


As this Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2022 (GAR2022) goes to print, the world finds itself in some of the darkest days in living memory. The war in Ukraine becomes more devastating every day, and COVID-19 has affected every corner of the world. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warns that without immediate and deep emission reductions across all sectors, keeping global warming below the 1.5°C threshold will be impossible.

In the years since the previous GAR, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown starkly how a hazard can cascade across systems, but also how people and societies can adopt new behaviours when the problem and the needs for action are clear.

GAR2022 highlights country case study examples, tools and ideas for how to address systemic risk and transform how we think about risk – including addressing biases and prejudices of which we are sometimes not conscious. It also encourages action to make risk governance fit for purpose in the context of the climate emergency and an increasingly complex and interconnected world.

GAR2022 is a call to action to better understand and act to address systemic risk and to invest in building resilient communities and global systems. Whether we can achieve [this] in the coming years to 2030 is decisive in the race to reach the Sustainable Development Goal targets, for a sustainable and resilient future for all.

There is no time to waste; we need to act now.


Why is this report important to Australian voters?

Even if you haven’t been impacted directly, evidence from a wide variety of sources surveyed and reported on Vote Climate One’s Climate Sentinel News documents the fact that increasing numbers of humans (including those of us living here in Australia) have been battered, impoverished, injured and even killed in a growing crescendo of ‘natural’ disasters and catastrophes. Many of these ‘extreme’ events are clearly associated with the accelerating warming of our planet. Clearly we need to improve our disaster risk reduction.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screenshot-Global-Assessment-Report-on-Disaster-Risk-Reduction-2022_0..png

Not only are the disasters becoming more frequent, but they are both becoming more extensive in terms of their areas of impact and numbers of people harmed, and they are beginning to concatenate/overlap. Here, the next disaster may follow the first disaster so closely that people affected have not had time to recover fully from the first — greatly increasing their impoverishment and diminishing their hopes for a better future. The repeated floodings of northern coastal areas of NSW and areas of Queensland including Brisbane are clear examples of this.

In line with the UN IPCC’s Assessment Reports on Climate Change, the UN has published a series of Global Assessment Reports on disaster risk reduction and management. Here the focus is on identifying disaster risks and working out how to avoid/control the risks and minimizing the consequences of those that actually happen. Much of the analysis reflects the logic of a complex systems engineering analytical point of view.

Part I of the present report looks at the concept of risk in complex social systems and the roles of human actions in generating risk and what people need to learn from this.

Part II focuses on the roles of human biases and communications in creating and managing risks associated with the social systems.

Part III explores possible solutions for better understanding, managing risks, and risk mitigation strategies in the social systems exposed to the risks.

Contents of Chapter 12,

Here, Chapter 12 explores how we can transition from our existing chaotic and ineffective states of ‘ungovernance’ based on ‘beliefs’ of the day, to rational, evidence-based thinking about risky aspects of complex system in the real world. A couple of days ago, I considered in some detail the differences between believing and thinking in a major essay, Corrupt leaders, casual media, gullible believers.

How and to what extent our Government leaders come to understand and apply the ideas and concepts explored, explained, and developed in this UN Assessment Report will have a profound impact on the future qualities of life we can achieve as Australian citizens.

We Australians have a choice to make on Saturday 21st May

What kind of people do you want to be responsible for governing our country now that we are on the cusp of what will be probably the historically most crucial decisions relating to how we manage the accelerating climate crisis, along with possibly increasingly virulent pandemics (e.g., H5N1 Avian Flu potentially crossing species barriers) as ecosystems become more chaotic with warming: ● Scotty the marketing guru who is Capt Humbug for his troop of puppets and knaves peddling faith and belief in the fossil fuel industry? Or ● Independent thinkers and green parties who have publicly committed themselves to tackling the climate emergency as their first priority if elected to Parliament?

If you believe that our present COALition government will govern in your interests rather than their patrons in the fossil fuel and related industries, then go with the flow and don’t concern yourself with the likely consequences of going down their fossil fueled road towards runaway global warming. On the other hand, if you think it is better to work for a sustainable future where your children and their children can hope for a happy future, Vote Climate One can help you elect a government that will actively lead and support this effort.

Our Climate Sentinel News provides access to factual evidence about the growing climate crisis to support your thinking; and our Traffic Light Voting System gives you easy to use factual evidence about where each candidate in your electorate ranks in relation to their commitment to prioritize action on the climate emergency. This should make it easier to decide your voting preferences before confronting a long ballot paper in the voting booth.

We need to turn away from the the Apocalypse on the road to hothouse hell, and we won’t do this by continuing with business as usual!

It seems to have taken the clear thinking of Greta Thunberg, a 16 year-old girl who concluded school was pointless as long as humans continued their blind ‘business as usual’ rush towards extinction.

Listen to Greta’s speech live at the World Economic forum in Davos 2019. Except for her reliance on the IPCC’s overoptimistic emissions budget, everything she says is spot on that even she, as a child, can understand the alternatives and what has to happen.

In other words, wake up! smell the smoke! see the grimly frightful reality, and fight the fire that is burning up our only planet so we can give our offspring a hopeful future. This is the only issue that matters. Even the IPCC’s hyperconservative Sixth Assessment Report that looks at climate change’s global and regional impacts on ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities makes it clear we are headed for an existential climate catastrophe if we don’t stop the warming process.

Scott Morrison and his troop of wooden-headed puppets are doing essentially nothing to organize effective action against the warming. In fact all they doing is rearranging the furniture in the burning house to be incinerated along with anything and everyone we may care about.

In Greta’s words, “even a small child can understand [this]”. People hope for their children’s futures. She doesn’t want your hopium. She wants you to rationally panic enough to wake up, pay attention to reality, and fight the fire…. so our offspring can have some hope for their future.

Let’s hope that we can stop global warming soon enough to leave them with a future where they can survive and flourish.

Featured image: We live on a finite planet – what we do to it has consequences. From William P. Hall (2019). We’re told we are facing climate and ecological emergencies – Is it so? What do we do about them?

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

IPCC: Summary of importance of 3 part AR6 Report

Following up on my comprehensive post, The Guardian succinctly explains why the 3 parts of the complete AR6 need to be considered by everyone.

The latest report said that temperatures could rise by as much as 3C, a catastrophic level. Photograph: Mario Hoppmann/AFP/Getty Images / From the article

by Fiona Harvey, 05/04/2022 in the Guardian

Why are the three IPCC working group reports significant? Explainer: The IPCC has now published all parts of its landmark review of climate science.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), made up of the world’s leading climate scientists, has now published all three sections of its landmark comprehensive review of climate science.

Yet the picture could already be even worse than the IPCC has presented. The IPCC data took in research papers published from 2014 up to last year, but since then the world has experienced even more extreme weather. The IPCC reports are regarded as cautious and conservative by many scientists, and the summary for policymakers that sets out the key messages of each working group are subject to inputs from governments that some regard as watering down.

Read the complete article….

Featured Image: IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) – complete. From the IPCC Web site.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

Rising crescendos: clusters of climate catastrophes

In a warming climate extreme weather events may encourage other extreme events to closely follow, e.g., fires followed by floods & landslides

Debris from a mudslide covers a home on January 10, 2018 in Montecito, California. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images / from the article.

by Andrea Thompson, on 01/04/2022 in Scientific American

Double Disaster: Wildfires Followed by Extreme Rainfall Are More Likely with Climate Change: These events can cause devastating landslides and flash floods

At 3:30 A.M. on January 9, 2018, half an inch of rain poured down on the charred slopes of the Santa Ynez Mountains in coastal southern California. The flames of the Thomas Fire—at the time the largest wildfire in state history—had swept through the previous month, leaving the soil and vegetation scorched and unable to soak up the onslaught of water. The destabilized ground gave way in a devastating landslide. Boulders crashed into houses in the town of Montecito, Calif., and a highway was buried under several feet of mud. The disaster killed 23 people and caused an estimate of around $200 million in damage.

Read the complete article….

See the scientific report that is the source of this article: Touma et al., 01/04/2022, Climate change increases risk of extreme rainfall following wildfire in the western United States in Science Advances

Featured Image: This image from a rescue helicopter records the burn scar from the Thomas Fire, as well as the path of a deadly mudslide in Montecito, Calif., in January 2018. Credit: California National Guard, CC BY 2.0 / from No Relief from Rain: Climate Change Fuels Compound Disasters: Climate change is increasing the risk of fire-rain events, raising mudslide concerns in fire-prone communities. by Leah Campbell, 12/12/2021 in EOS.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

More Europeans vote climate if exposed to extremes

Voters across Europe with personal experience of climate extremes are more likely to vote for Green parties.

by Roman Hoffmann, 07/02/2022 in Eureka Alert
Experience of climate extremes increase Green voting in Europe: What role do experiences with climate change and extreme events play in shaping environmental attitudes and to what extent can they explain the recent rise in environmental concerns and willingness to vote for Green parties across Europe? IIASA researchers set out to investigate these and related issues in a new study just published in Nature Climate Change.

For draft of full article in Nature Climate Change, see preprint in Research Square

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.

NB4 – A new neologism applied to never before encountered climate extremes

‘NB4′ is a very useful neologism for our times and we all need to seriously think about why we need to invent this term for the crescendo of climate related catastrophes and what that is telling us about our species’ prospects for the future. And note, with one exception, the Yale Climate Connections article below only lists NB4s affecting North America. Based on the last few years of news, most countries in the world would be able to list their own crescendos of NB4s.

In Australia conspicuous NB4s include the unprecedented flooding in 2019 of NW Queensland that killed around 600,000 cattle and untold wildlife, the 2019-2020 Black Summer wildfires burning more than 18 MILLION hectares in eastern and southern Australia, and even the mid June flooding and storm damage in Victoria – equivalent to what a Cat 3 Cyclone might cause.

The exception in the Climate Connections article is, of course, the plethora of NB4s associated with the ‘amplification’ of global warming in the Arctic, including the NB4s of ice melting, high temperature records, and associated wildfires.

The unmentioned elephant in the room of this article is to think about what is the climax that the crescendo of NB4s is building to. If we do not stop the process causing the crescendo, the inevitable climax will be the sixth global mass extinction, including our own species extinction — and this will be in the near term.

It is time for the Congress and its citizen constituents, decision-makers of all sorts, and opinion-makers of all political persuasions [and particularly in Australia] to acknowledge that human-driven climate change is undeniably causing catastrophic effects in ways never seen before. And those often-calamitous effects are not only in the “usual suspect” places and the results of predictable reasons.

[Extracted from the article below]

If we are to have a future, acknowledgement of the reality must be urgently followed by total mobilization and action to slow, stop, and reverse global warming. Because the process is clearly accelerating (as demonstrated by the rapidly growing sequence of NB4s), if we don’t do this pretty damn quick it will be too late as Earth’s Climate System flips us and our biosphere into its Hothouse Earth mode.

This is why we must Vote Climate One to elect Parliamentarians who will put stopping global warming as the number one priority guiding their actions in government.

‘Never Before’ (NB4) extreme weather events … and near-misses

by Gary Yohe, Yale Climate Connections – September 9, 2021,

A recurring and troubling pattern of first-time historic weather events provides firm support for citizen and leaders to acknowledge human causation and take needed needed mitigation and adaptation steps.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy visits storm-ravaged Mullica Hill
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy visits storm-ravaged Mullica Hill on September 2, viewing damages caused by ‘remnants’ of Hurricane Ida. (Photo credit: Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor’s Office)

Attributing extreme events to climate change – including those highly reported though the media – is a difficult task frequently requiring lots time to complete rigorously. The usual mantra is that climate change did not cause X, but climate change did contribute significantly to its intensity and/or its frequency. Which raises the question: “By how much?”

But experience on the ground sometimes makes that attribution to climate change a no brainer. How so? Because no other influence can explain many of the recent events because there is no precedent for their having ever been happened before. Call them “Never Before” in history events (NB4s).

The mundane “Who cares?” version of an NB4 event can be found in the time series of an index of annual mean surface temperature. The five-year trend comparison has been de rigueur for decades, but over just the past 20 years, the “This has been the hottest year ever” framing has been assigned to five of those years.

Another example of a time series worrisome to many experts involves Hurricane Harvey, in 2017. Harvey stalled over Houston for nearly two days.  It dropped 42 inches of rain while it was just hanging around with nowhere to go.  Stalling of hurricanes has been attributed to a reduced temperature difference between the poles and the tropics. It is a signature of climate change that now includes Ida over Louisiana.  In Houston, climate change caused the third “500-year flooding” event in four years – certainly a damaging NB4. 

In the summer of 2020, leaking methane from the melting permafrost across tundra in Siberia released methane that spontaneously ignited when temperatures well above the Arctic Circle exceeded 100oF. The high temperatures are a product of global warming, but the interaction with the tundra is a very troubling NB4.

Hurricane Ida was the second Category 4 (nearly a Cat 5) storm to make landfall in Louisiana in two years.  Ida tied the record for gaining intensity when approaching landfall. The cause of that rapid intensification? Temperature of the Gulf of Mexico waters provided fuel to buttress the intensity. Those water temperatures across the Gulf ranged between 88oF and 90oF to a depth of 150 feetnever before in recorded history.

Subsequently, how is it possible that more than 15 times as many people died from exposure to Ida in eight mid-Atlantic states than in Mississippi and Louisiana combined? Because the severity was unexpected, and many people were unprepared.

In New York City, sustained rain for one hour exceeded three inches during Hurricane Henri in early August, an all-time record.  Less than two weeks later, the remnants of Ida piled on with a new all-time record of 3.15 inches for New York City and 3.24 inches for Newark, New Jersey. Surely another NB4, and especially for piling on. IDA was an NB4 event at least three times over.

Who should care? Surely insurance companies should … and do. They diversify by geography against severe storm events. They increasingly face storm liabilities not only in the anticipated urban and rural and coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico, but also, and increasingly, in the more densely populated broadly distributed areas of New York City, New Jersey, and even Philadelphia. The former they’ve anticipated. The latter, not so much.

And then, not to be outdone or forgotten, there are the rampant wildfires in California: 2018 brought the largest fire in Cal Fire’s recorded history. The following year, 2019, was more modest in its aggression, but 2020 erupted with a new largest fire in history.  The conflagration was also burning at the very same time as the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th largest fires in history. Why the intensity? Megadrought, pine bark beetles that had not suffered through their usual winter freeze for a decade, and extreme record heat combined with record dry lightning.  2020 was an NB4 year.

This calendar year, 2021, has shown no sign of backing down from the challenge to be the worst. It, too, boasts an NB4 claim not only from the same causes, but also for a different reason: No California fire in history had ever climbed the Sierra Nevada mountains and rolled down the eastern side toward Nevada. The Dixie fire accomplished that heretofore-unprecedented feat. But wait, as the cheap cable commercials say, there’s more: A month or so later, the Caldor fire did the same thing, soon seriously threatening South Lake Tahoe for the first time in history. Consider it an NB4 two-fer.

With regard to heat waves, look across the U.S. Pacific Northwest and western Canada. Seattle, for instance, experienced three successive days in the summer of 2021 with maximum temperatures of more than 100oF (June 26-28, 2021). In all of prior recorded history, Seattle had seen only three days above 100oF (July 16, 1941; July 20, 1994; and July 29, 2009). Portland, Oregon, and other areas – places where residential air conditioning are few and far between – fared no better and in some places worse.

And then there is rain in Greenland for the first time, the biggest tornado (spawned by Ida) in New Jersey history, seven inches of rain in Central Park tying the 1927 record, and so on …

It is time for the Congress and its citizen constituents, decision-makers of all sort, and opinion-makers of all political persuasions to acknowledge that human-driven climate change is undeniably causing catastrophic effects in ways never seen before. And those often-calamitous effects are not only in the “usual suspect” places and the results of predictable reasons.

They are occurring unpredictably and in surprising and unexpect[ed], and therefore often [the] least prepared, places.

The hottest summer most Americans have ever lived through

Gary Yohe is the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He served as convening lead author for multiple chapters and the Synthesis Report for the IPCC from 1990 through 2014 and was Vice-Chair of the Third US National Climate Assessment.

Views expressed in this post are those of its author(s), not necessarily all Vote Climate One members.