Gov’t fiddling while Australia faces global burning

Labor Gov’t slashes vital Antarctic research by $25 M while promoting fossil fuel production/export and gifting $200 million to Aussie sport despite the desperate need to understand how unprecedented Antarctic ice and oceanic conditions relate to the climate crisis.

Anthony Albanese and the federal Labor government are supposedly concerned to keep Australians safe. Yet, if you listen to what they say,

  • It is necessary to save money by cutting $25 m from Antarctic research into why such a record shattering low amount of sea ice has formed this winter — a phenomenon that seems to place the whole of the human species at risk of near term extinction if we fail to understand and mitigate the risk. See what the science journal Nature says about this: (16 Aug 2923) Australia’s Antarctic budget cuts a ‘terrible blow for science’
  • It is more important to spend $200 m in voters’ tax dollars on cake and fairy floss (for girls sports) because the Matildas came 4th in the contest for the World Cup (see more below).
  • It is more important to cater to whims of fossil fuel with subsidies the Australia Institute estimates to be worth $57.1 bn over the forward estimates (see more below).
  • It is more important to grovel to America and the UK by spending $268bn to $368bn over the next ~30 years ($10 bn per year!) for delivery of 8 nuclear subs able to project our ‘power’ around the world in the by and by (the majority of these costs would also go overseas) when we could build 20 air-independent subs, a huge kit of other defensive weapons & related infrastructure, with $hundreds of billions left over (see more below).

I would call this government malfeasance of the highest order!


A couple of news items and some basic data on our only planet may make the claim of malfeasance more real.

Incredibly low sea-ice extent around Antarctica. Since early May (i.e., for more than 3½ months!) there has been an all-time record low for the month of the year since records began in 1979. Sigma (σ) is a measure of the probability of observing a deviation of that amount from the average of all measures for that day, assuming the deviations are randomly distributed. -5σ is about one chance in 3.5 million, -6σ is about one chance in 500 million! – and we have seen these extremes day after day after day!!

News Corp, 2 Aug 2023

Vital research interrupted as Australian Antarctic Division faces budget woes

As many as 56 Antarctic research projects could be cancelled, delayed or restricted, said an email sent from the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) to its staff.

The email stated that the division was facing budget constraints and would need to locate $25 million in savings in order to deliver the planned projects, which include studies into the diminishing sea ice, declining penguin populations, and the “cleaner Antarctica program”, an initiative designed to remedy damage caused by human activity such as oil spills.

Further information from anonymous insiders confirmed that two of Australia’s Antarctic research stations would not be fully staffed during the upcoming summer season, when scientific research at the south pole is usually at its peak.

The announcement comes at a crucial time for scientists, many of whom say this research is more important than ever.

Just last week, it was reported that Antarctic sea ice levels are at a record low, with ice that is normally recovered over the winter being absent – an event that would naturally occur only once every 7.5 million years. [this assumes that the variation is random, but clearly, this record is not random as the deviation has lasted for months, and many other climate indicators are also going crazy at the same time for similarly long periods]

“It couldn’t be any more catastrophic to hear at the moment, considering we’re seeing these incredible changes, particularly the sea ice right now. We’re seeing so little sea ice relative to what we normally see this time of year.”

If there’s a gap in data collection, it’s catastrophic for our understanding. If we have data up to a certain date, and then we have a gap for three years, five years, and then we start the data set again, it doesn’t make it useless. But it makes it really hard for us to get that understanding that we need.” [Especially when we need that information right now!]

Read the complete article….

Global Sea Surface Temperature at an all time high since records began in 1981 — and still rising compared to previous high records for day of the year. ClimateReanalyzer. Grey lines – Global average SST variation for each year from 1981 to 2021. Dotted line – global average SST, dashed line – 2σ above the average, Red line – global average SST variation for 2022. Note: for legibility, the image only shows temperatures from March 1 to Sept 17.

Sea Ice Thickness: Given that only a thin veneer of sea-ice is left over the Arctic Ocean with 3-4 weeks of melting time left, it seems possible that there may be “blue ocean” at the North Pole this year.

These three CICE charts are a product of the US Naval Research Lab’s GOFS 3.1 Global Ocean Forecasting System. See also Wikipedia: Measurement of sea ice. Other products for both poles provide similar ocean graphics for Sea Surface Salinity (SSS); Sea Surface Height (SSH) – as the ocean warms, it expands so the surfaces of warmer volumes will rise above mean sea-level; and CICE Speed and Drift. They also provide GIF animations of the last 30 days variation for all plots, and daily plots back to 2014. Except for the ice-related products, all of these measures are provided for global oceans and subregions.

Like most Australians, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been inspired by the Matildas’ World Cup performance Photograph: Mark Metcalfe/FIFA/Getty Images / From the article.

Tony Sheppherd, 19 Aug 2023 in The Guardian

Albanese government to pledge $200m for women’s sport after Matildas inspire Australia

In the wake of the Matildas’ World Cup performance, the government will unveil new funding and changes to TV bidding rights for sporting fixtures.

The Albanese government will promise $200m to improve women’s sporting facilities and equipment after the Matildas’ historic Women’s World Cup run sparked an unprecedented outpouring of support for women’s football.

As the Matildas prepare for their third-place playoff against Sweden in Brisbane on Saturday, the government will declare the national team had “changed sport forever”, while unveiling a new funding package and flagging moves to make more major events available on free-to-air television.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, will announce a new grants program, called Play Our Way, with money available for all sports. The government expects soccer will need a significant amount, given clubs have seen a “mind-boggling increase in interest” in the wake of the World Cup.

The grant guidelines have not been completed, but the government said the money would go to “promote equal access, build more suitable facilities, and support grassroots initiatives to get women and girls to engage, stay, and participate in sport throughout their lives”.

[The total budget for the Antarctic Division is around $800 million…; The ANKUS Submarine Project will cost between $268bn to $368bn between now and the mid 2050s – assuming society doesn’t collapse from ‘global boiling’ and precipitate global mass extinction before then.]

Read the complete article….

Cumulative area burned in Canada by year estimated from satellite detected hotspots since measurements began in 2003. Natural Resources Canada. Black line is 2023. As at 23 Aug 2023 14,664,278 ha had burned (off the scale of the automatically generated chart) — 3 x larger area compared to the previous largest burn, 4,524,137, recorded for the whole of 2014. Note also that in previous years very little burning occurred after mid August. In other words 1.47 % of the total land area of Canada has burned so far this year, with no indication that the burning will be stopping any time soon.

Sea Ice Concentration: Where thin ice still exists, most of that is fairly broken up with 30% or more of the surface within the pixel apparently open water.

Sea Surface Temperature: Warmish sea water, 2-4+ °C comes up to the edge of the thin ice, and even seems to be detected within the edge of the mapped extent (>15% concentration)

Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere jet streams from ClimateReanalyzer’s Today’s Weather Maps. Normally each hemisphere has two circumferential jet streams: Polar and Sub Tropical. In the Northern Hemisphere the winds are mostly too slow to be considered as jet streams at all (> 60 kts) and essentially completely chaotic. This accounts for the frequent, long-lived, mostly motionless, and extreme heat domes promoting unprecedented flash droughts, wildfires, and floods. In the Southern Hemisphere, the winds are of jetstream strength, but again they seem somewhat confused and chaotic which may be associated with the extreme anomalies in sea ice.

What do these measures signify?

On its own, any one of the unprecedented deviations from ‘normal’ climate behavior over the last 40 years or more shown the the graphics above would be scary/remarkable. The fact that several different global measures are more or less simultaneously show similar degrees of (or even growing!) deviation over several months should be sounding emergency warning sirens around the world.

Reports posted to all Australian parliamentarians last month (available via VoteClimateOne.Org) provide more detail and explanation of these and other climate measures documenting the accelerating crisis: Cover Letter – 5 July 2023 and Australian MPs: Act Now! Later may be too late. These, in turn, link to still more recent data on Climate Sentinel News: Global Climate Change Now and an unedited collection of links to the latest news during August to date — Aug 2023 Climate extremes.

As explained, the nature, extent and duration of the deviations scream out that the complexly dynamical global climate system has been ‘forced’ by increasingly high global average temperatures out the semi-stable glacial-interglacial cycle where it is now beginning to fall (i.e., run away) towards climate apocalypse, collapse and global mass extinction in a much hotter ‘hothouse Earth’ state. The current rate of change in climate indicators is far faster than anything that can be reconstructed for even the worst of them all – the End Permian that also seemed to be driven by runaway warming as a consequence of greenhouse gas emissions. As explained in the documents cited in the previous paragraph, if we cannot mobilize effective action quickly enough to halt and reverse the global warming, our climate system seems to be crossing several tipping points that will drive us ever faster down the road to our extinction in Hothouse Hell. If we continue our present ‘business as usual’ attitudes of supporting the fossil fuel industry and gaslighting emergency actions to manage the climate crisis, and the climate trends seen in the last few months continue at the present pace, society may well collapse before 2050 with probable extinction of our species by 2100.

Note: In the cited documents above I suggested one of the tipping points being crossed was stoppage of Earth’s ‘thermohaline circulation‘ in the North Atlantic. At least I have found solid evidence showing that it is still working — even though hot water is covering the ocean surface — the depressed sea level and actual whirlpools E of Newfoundland and S of Greenland show deeper cool salty water is still being sucked down the usual plug-hole to the bottom of the ocean: last 30 days GIF of Sea Surface Height.

Is doom now inevitable or are there good reasons to think we can still climb out of the hole to a sustainable future? YES! Stainability is possible, but only if we act fast enough and hard enough!

Even if we have the threshold to runaway greenhouse, I remain optimistic enough to think if we act fast and hard enough we can still manage to find a survivable future. My reason is based on historical experience. I’m old enough to remember the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Consider the history that led up to this:  It took something on the order of 150 years of work using steampunk technology starting with mining coal with picks and shovels to reach our current crisis point. However in the same 150 years our scientific understanding, technological prowess, and overall knowledge has grown exponentially over that same time with a doubling time of 2-5 years (see Homo habilis to Homo destructor ― How the rise of tool-making apes can destroy the world). 

America’s mobilization for WWII shows what humans can do in an emergency situation if they work together. Until Dec 7 1941 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Americans were isolationist deniers of the reality of Axis aggression (not unlike Trumpist ‘MAGA’). By 8 May 1945 Germany had been expunged and on 6 Aug. 1945 the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (and then Nagasaki a few days later) overwhelmed Japan. In 1941 nuclear fission was a wacky idea proposed by some academics. In 4 years nuclear science was developed, the Manhattan Project was conceived, several different kinds of production infrastructure (Hanford, Oak Ridge Facility, Savanna River (a bit after the War), Los Alamos, etc…) were designed and built, atom bombs were designed, built, tested, and used. In the area of engineering and logistics, an average of 5 highly capable destroyers were built each month for 32 months and an average of 3 Liberty Ships every 2 days between 1941 and 1945. were able to be assembled and launched each week. The United Nations was formed, etc.. Equally prodigious challenges were met in many other areas that completely changed world history. Yes, conscription, coercion, rationing, etc. was required – but the global challenge was met and the common danger vanquished….

Today, we have massively more knowledge and prowess than we did in the early 1940’s. Humans can do remarkable things if people and governments unite and work together to fight the common danger. There is no greater danger than the near term extinction of our entire species and most of the rest of Earth’s biosphere!

In other words, there is no time left for the slow process of electing climate activists to replace sitting puppets in our parliaments.

We need a government fit and able enough to declare the emergency and lead an emergency mobilization to research and manage the climate crisis. If we are to gain effective government coordination and support we have no choice but to change the minds of the parliamentarians we have now.

Measuring Labor’s prioritization of the climate emergency relative to supporting the fossil fuel industry and crazy defence projects

A good measure of our government’s national priorities is the amount of our tax money being allocated to supporting various kinds of activities, and how these amounts change over time.

Australians are paying increasingly high costs due to more frequent, extensive, and severe weather and fire events associated with the accelerating rate of global warming driving climate change. One would think our government would give high priority to understanding what causes the extremes in hopes that we can better prepare for and/or mitigate the ever worsening catastrophes caused by the climate extremes. There are good reasons for thinking that positive feedbacks from ‘polar amplification‘ play a major role in driving the crescendo of climate catastrophes. This winter’s shockingly low rate of sea ice formation around Antarctica that might happen once in 500,000,000 (FIVE HUNDRED MILLION) years through random variation given the observed variations over the last 40 years. (Earth’s land animals emerged from the water less than 500 million years ago.) Clearly the missing winter sea ice is associated with the other similarly improbable climate extremes noted above for this year. Clearly we need to understand scientifically what has caused this year’s anomaly and how it relates to the other extreme variations…….. Yet, because the Government is cutting their funding, the Australian Antarctic “division [is] facing budget constraints and [needs] to locate $25 million in savings in order to deliver the planned projects, which include studies into the diminishing sea ice, …”, etc. Clearly, our government has little interest in supporting Antarctic research critical for understanding climate change.

Some indication of who our Australian state and federal governments are supporting big-time (along with many other countries) is their apparent patrons in the fossil fuel industry (mostly comprised of overseas multinational companies).

By comparison, it is interesting to see how concerned Federal Labor is to support action to protect citizens from the increasing catastrophic and existential threats from climate climate change driven by global warming.

According to the numbers the Climate Council has provided, their steps towards climate action amount to $3,621,600,000 for some very fuzzily defined categories — $3.62 bn compared to $29 – $57 bn (depending on who you follow) in pretty definite subsidies and supports for the mostly overseas fossil fuel industry.

What do they get in return for this money? In FY2022 [1], fossil fuel companies donated $2 million to the ALP, Liberal and National parties. Not a lot, but it helps them with ‘winning the election’ costs. Total revenue from the industry is around $20 bn (still less than the subsidies!)

And then there is government management of the potentially existential cost of the climate emergency versus abject kowtowing to ‘his master’s voice’ via AUKUS

Rex Patrick, ex submariner in Oberon and Collins Class subs, sonar and electronic technologies expert, defence contractor, author for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, and Federal Senator from South Australia, is what I would consider to be a qualified expert on naval technology. In one X-tweet Mr Patrick demonstrates just how mindlessly stupid allocating $368 bn to AUKUS would be — even for the purpose of acquiring military kit to defend ourselves from other nations:

Instead of 8 nuclear subs that may (or may not) be delivered for the currently estimated cost sometime by the Americans and UK able to project Australian power (for whose benefit?) to the other side of the planet, the same budget would supply 20 air-independent (= very quiet!) subs to protect Australian interests around our shores and in adjacent waters (e.g., Indonesian Archipelago) and a huge kit of additional defence hardware that could mostly be manufactured within the Australian economy — leaving $200 BILLION FOR MEASURES TO KEEP AUSTRALIANS SAFE FROM CLIMATE CATASTROPHE.

What is it about Australian governments in majority power that makes them so eager to work for the interests of (mostly overseas) special interest patrons rather than for the safety and well-being of Australian citizens who have voted to put them in power? To reiterate:

We need a government fit and able enough to declare the emergency and lead an emergency mobilization to research and manage the climate crisis. If we are to gain effective government coordination and support we have no choice but to change the minds of the parliamentarians we have now.

The only way this will happen is if they can be convinced that voters will remove them from Parliament at the earliest possible opportunity if the don’t. They only way they will be convinced they will be voted out is if enough voters flood their mail boxes, in trays, and phone lines with demands for climate action — or else! And, I’m pretty sure there are enough members of climate and environment action groups that if we all sent our emails, posts, phone calls, and even personal visits to electoral offices to deliver this message, that action will be taken.

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

A warming ocean will take its revenge on us

Around 90% of the extra heat trapped by the greenhouse layer warms our Ocean to slow rising temperatures. We’ll pay the price.

The climate scientist, Bill McKibben reminded me of this fact in his regular newsletter, The Crucial Years, in his 18 May post, Maybe we should have called this planet ‘Ocean’. His post on ocean warming begins with an earlier version of the graphic here from ClimateReanalizer. These are updated daily, so the record here is only a day or two behind the current reality:

The page provides time series and map visualizations of daily mean Sea Surface Temperature (SST) from the NOAA Optimum Interpolation SST (OISST) dataset version 2.1. OISST is a 0.25°x0.25° gridded dataset that estimates temperatures based on a blend of satellite, ship, and buoy observations. The OISST data product includes SST anomalies based on 1971–2000 climatology from NOAA. The datset spans 1 January 1982 to present with a 1 to 2-day lag from the current day. OISST files are preliminary for about two weeks until a finalized product file is posted by NOAA. This status is identified on the maps with “[preliminary]” showing in the title, and applies to the time series as well. The time series chart displays area-weighted means of the selected domain. For example, if World 60S-60N is selected, then the SST values shown are area-wieghted means for all ocean gridcells between 60°S and 60°N across all longitudes.

Something very troubling is happening on and under the 70 percent of the planet’s surface covered by salt water. We pay far more attention to the air temperature, because we can feel it (and there’s lots to pay attention to, with record temps across Asia, Canada and the Pacific Northwest) but the truly scary numbers from this spring are showing up in the ocean.

If you look at the top chart above , you can see “anomaly” defined. [His chart was for 11 May. Mine, here, is the temperature on 19 May.]That’s the averaged surface temperature of the earth’s oceans, and beginning in mid-March it was suddenly very much hotter than we’ve measured before. In big datasets for big phenomena, change should be small—that’s how statistics work, and that’s why the rest of the graph looks like a plate of spaghetti. That big wide open gap up there between 2023 and the next hottest year (2016) is the kind of thing that freaks scientists out because they’re not quite sure what it means. Except trouble. [My emphasis]

… A little-noticed [but quite important] recent study headed by Katrina von Schuckmann found that “over the past 15 years, the Earth has accumulated almost as much heat as it did in the previous 45 years,” and that 89 percent of that heat has ended up in the seas. That would be terrifying on its own, but coming right now it’s even scarier. That’s because, after six years dipping in and out of La Nina cooling cycles, the earth seems about to enter a strong El Nino phase, with hot water in the Pacific. El Nino heat on top of already record warm oceans will equal—well, havoc, but of exactly what variety can’t be predicted.

Read the complete article….

McKibben’s second graphic (the up to date version is my “Featured Image”) shows a global plot of temperature anomalies (also compared to the same 1971-1980 baseline) for every ¼° – ¼° square of ocean surface. “Area weighting” is applied because ¼° of latitude (the width of the ‘square) becomes much narrower as either pole is approached, reducing the physical surface area encompassed by the lines on the globe.

Earth’s oceans cover around 70% of the globe’s surface. Despite the 2nd or 3rd week of record breaking heat, wildfires and drought in western North America extending from California through the western 2/5ths of North America into the Arctic Ocean and a second belt in northern Eurasia extending from Scandinavia and Finland to western Siberia, the ocean temperatures are relatively even more extreme. And, in fact, the crazy heat in the warming oceans may be the driving force behind the record land temperatures — and may well be triggering what is likely to be the most extreme El Niño event yet in the climate change record.

In any event, this data doesn’t just freak me out. It suggests that the door to Earth’s Hothouse Hell is beginning to open to suck us in.

Is this data reliable enough to support action?

Where the climate record is concerned, From the beginning of the satellite era, our oceanic temperature record is very good indeed, and not just because satellite remote sensing measures virtually every square degree of most of the globe every day, but the satellites’ measurements are calibrated every day against the ‘ground truth’ measurements from many hundreds of Argo floats surfacing each day from their 9-10 days probing the ocean depths. The graphic below shows the physical locations sampled by Argo floats over the previous month. Added to these are more detailed measurements collected by fleets of oceanographic ships and a few special moored buoys that continuously record measurements from the ocean surface to the abyssal ocean bottom.

Supercomputers amalgamate the raw input data and assemble the kinds of human readable outputs that you and I can understand at a glance. Thanks to the exponential growth of measuring technologies and data processing power the accuracy and detail of our scientific understanding of climate and weather extends far beyond anything we could know in past decades.

How is all the additional heat in the warming ocean likely to affect the planet we live on?

Melting ice

As the atmosphere and oceans absorb more solar energy, some of this excess energy will inevitably be absorbed melting ice in the cooler regions of the planet where ice has existed more-or-less in an equilibrium state, e.g., in the form of glaciers, ice sheets, and sea ice. The energy drives the equilibrium states towards more water and less ice.

One very obvious measure of ice melting is the rapidly shrinking area of the Earth’s surface covered by sea ice around the N and S Poles. Since the beginning of the satellite era this has been able to be measured accurately. The Australian Antarctic Program Partnership and the ARC Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science’s 2023 Science Briefing: On Thin Ice explains what is happening around our local polar ocean

The graphics below show the daily extents of sea ice over both polar oceans since the beginning of the satellite era in 1979 as plotted by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center‘s interactive Charctic application.

Record minimums or maximums are updated annually. Therefore, a newly-set record may not be reflected in the chart until after the annual update.
View additional years by clicking the dates in the legend.
Roll your cursor over the line to see daily sea ice extent values.
Zoom in to any area on the chart by clicking and dragging your mouse.
To see a corresponding daily sea ice concentration image, click on a line in the chart. Sea ice extent is derived from sea ice concentration. Images are not available for the average or standard deviation.
When reusing Charctic images or data, please credit “National Snow and Ice Data Center.”
Currently, some functions do not work in Internet Explorer. We recommend using a different browser.
For more information about the data, see About Charctic data.
If you have questions or problems, please contact NSIDC User Services at [email protected].

What is currently happening in the Antarctic Ocean is also freakish and worrisome!

Rising sea levels

Of course, all the melt water released by melting ice has to go somewhere — i.e., adding to the volume of the World Ocean. As this wasn’t enough, as water warms it also expands to raise the sea levels even more. The graph below from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, plots the rising tide of the swelling ocean since 1993 through June 2022. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate.Gov site’s Climate Change: Global Sea Level also plots the rise, and considers its implications in more detail.

The Conversation’s May 17 article, Global warming to bring record hot year by 2028 – probably our first above 1.5°C limit, looks at these facts and warns us that the time to act is NOW! CSIRO’s State of the Climate/Oceans covers most of the trends I have discussed here and more…

Daily change in global mean sea level, as measured by satellite altimetry, from January 1993 to June 2022 (solid line), the associated uncertainty at 90% confidence level (shading) and the trend (dashed line). The data have been adjusted for glacial isostatic adjustment and have been corrected for the TOPEX-A instrumental drift during 1993–1998. Data source: CMEMS Ocean Monitoring Indicator based on the C3S sea level product. Credit: C3S/ECMWF/CMEMS.

Help! We’re sliding down the slope to Earth’s Hothouse Hell! Sound the sirens and mobilize for WW III against global warming and the existential climate crisis!

As is usual for the UN’s climate pronouncements driven by the UN’s IPCC findings that absolutely establish the dangers we face from global warming/heating, even this klaxon warning understates and downplays the magnitude of the crisis we face.

If we fail to mobilize genuinely effective action over the next decade to stop and reverse the warming crisis, our families will have their lives shortened due to increasing climate catastrophes and we will have condemned our entire species to death in Earth’s 6th global mass extinction within a century or two. We don’t have time to take more election cycles to elect new governments. Our existing governments must wake up, smell the smoke, and immediately begin acting to put out the fire before it destroys us all. If you are in government, read Guterres’ message in mind. YOU must act now!

Press Release


16 May 2023

Planet Hurtling towards Hell of Global Heating, Secretary-General Warns Austrian World Summit, Urging Immediate Emissions Cuts, Fair Climate Funding

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the seventh Austrian World Summit, in Vienna today:

I thank the Austrian Government and Arnold Schwarzenegger for this opportunity.  The climate crisis can feel overwhelming.  Disasters and dangers are already mounting, with the poor and marginalized suffering the most, as we hurtle towards the hell of 2.8°C of global heating by the end of the century.

But, amidst all this, I urge you to remember one vital fact:  limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5°C remains possible.  That is the clear message from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  But, it requires a quantum leap in climate action around the world.

To achieve this, I have proposed an Acceleration Agenda.  This urges all Governments to hit fast-forward on their net-zero deadlines, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of national circumstances.  It asks leaders of developed countries to commit to reaching net zero as close as possible to 2040 — as Austria has done.  And leaders in emerging economies to do so as close as possible to 2050.

The Acceleration Agenda also urges all countries to step up their climate action, now.  The road map is clear:  phasing out of coal by 2030 in OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries and 2040 in all others; net-zero electricity generation by 2035 in developed countries, and 2040 elsewhere; no more licensing or funding of new fossil-fuel projects; no more subsidizing fossil fuels; and no more fake offsets, which do nothing to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, but which are still being used to justify fossil-fuel expansion today.

We can only reach net zero if we make real and immediate emissions cuts.  If we embrace transparency and accountability.  Relying on carbon credits, shadow markets, or murky accounting means one thing:  failure.  That is why I have asked CEOs to present clear net-zero transition plans, in line with the credibility standard presented by my high-level expert group on net-zero pledges.

And the Acceleration Agenda urges business and Governments to work together to decarbonize vital sectors — from shipping, aviation and steel, to cement, aluminium and agriculture.  This should include interim targets for each sector to pave the way to net zero by 2050.

The Acceleration Agenda also calls for climate justice, including overhauling the priorities and business models of multilateral development banks, so that trillions of dollars in private finance flow to the green economy.

Developed countries must also make good on their financial commitments to developing countries.  And they must operationalize the loss and damage fund, and replenish the Green Climate Fund.  I commend Austria for increasing its pledge to the Green Climate Fund by 23 per cent and urge others to deliver their fair share.

On climate, we have all the tools we need to get the job done. But, if we waste time, we will be out of time.  Let’s accelerate action, now.  Thank you.

Featured Image

Note that about half the surface of Earth’s Ocean is a good 2 °C hotter than the baseline average temperature for this day of the year

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

Bad news for whales and oceanic carbon capture

Warming oceans are bad news for twilight zone organisms carrying captured carbon into the abyss when they die (and whales eat).

An observation

A Hula Skirt Siphonophore (cnidarian) a ‘twilight zone’ inhabitant – via BBC News Climate and Society
Bristlemouth fish
Bristlemouth, the commonest kind of fish on Earth mops up smaller creatures in the twilight zones of Earth’s oceans. / NOAA / Ocean Explorer

Maddie Molloy – 03/05/2023, BBC News Climate and Society

Climate change: life in ocean ‘twilight zone’ at risk from warming

Climate change could dramatically reduce life in the deepest parts of our oceans that are reached by sunlight, scientists warn.

Global warming could curtail life in the so-called twilight zone by as much as 40% by the end of the century, according to new research.

The twilight zone lies between 200m (656ft) and 1,000m (3,281ft).

It teems with life but was home to fewer organisms during warmer periods of Earth’s history, researchers found.

Read the complete article….

How warming works in the twilight zone

Closeup of long chain of Salp zooids (tunicate / feeds on phytoplankton). Photo by Larry Madin, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Confetti squid. Photo by Paul Caiger, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Bobtail squid (order Sepiolida) are a group of cephalopods closely related to cuttlefish. Bobtail squid tend to have a rounder mantle than cuttlefish and have no cuttlebone. Photo by Paul Caiger, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Ocean Twilight ZoneWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 04/05/2023

Why is it so important to understand life in the ocean twilight zone?

How much life is in the ocean twilight zone?

The twilight zone is home to more fish than the rest of the ocean combined. Most of these fish—and other organisms that live in the zone—are tiny, measuring just a few inches long or less. But some, like gelatinous siphonophores, can form chains that extend as much as 130 feet, making them among the biggest animals on Earth. Even the smallest twilight zone inhabitants can be powerful through sheer number, however. A tiny but fierce-looking fish called a bristlemouth is the most abundant vertebrate on the planet—for every one human, there are more than 100,000 bristlemouths. 

How does life in the twilight zone affect global climate?

By migrating to and from the surface, eating, being eaten, dying—and even by pooping—organisms in the twilight zone transport huge amounts of carbon from surface waters into the deep ocean. That process, called the biological pump, plays an important role in regulating Earth’s climate.

Read the complete article….

The science behind the observations

Katherin A. Chriton, et al. – 27/04/2023, Nature Communications

What the geological past can tell us about the future of the ocean’s twilight zone

Abstract: Paleontological reconstructions of plankton community structure during warm periods of the Cenozoic (last 66 million years) reveal that deep-dwelling ‘twilight zone’ (200–1000 m) plankton were less abundant and diverse, and lived much closer to the surface, than in colder, more recent climates. We suggest that this is a consequence of temperature’s role in controlling the rate that sinking organic matter is broken down and metabolized by bacteria, a process that occurs faster at warmer temperatures. In a warmer ocean, a smaller fraction of organic matter reaches the ocean interior, affecting food supply and dissolved oxygen availability at depth. Using an Earth system model that has been evaluated against paleo observations, we illustrate how anthropogenic warming may impact future carbon cycling and twilight zone ecology. Our findings suggest that significant changes are already underway, and without strong emissions mitigation, widespread ecological disruption in the twilight zone is likely by 2100, with effects spanning millennia thereafter. [my emphasis]

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Why is all this important to know?

Ocean fertilization to stimulate algal growth over the surface of the abyssal ocean offers a means to capture CO₂. A food chain of pelagic consumers ranging from the twilight creatures harvesting the algae and their larger predators up to whales can then capture and package the carbon capturing algae into a range of parcels from fecal pellets to dead whales that will drop to the ocean floor.

The nature of biological systems is that they are self-reproducing and can grow exponentially under suitable conditions. ‘farming’ these consumers to optimize the carbon capture and transport it to the bottom is something that might realistically have the capacity to actually reduce atmospheric CO₂ on a fast enough timescale to slow, stop and reverse global warming.

However, the articles above show that a warming ocean substantially reduces the viability of the twilight organisms that provide the packaging service. Thus, if we don’t implement this biological sink before significantly more warming occurs, this opportunity to reverse the warming process may be lost.

Featured image: Antarctic krill Euphausia superba (copyright Uwe Kils, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, RUTGERS University). Along with bristlemouth fish, krill are major components in the food chain of the twilight zone’s biological carbon pump potentially sequestering carbon in the abyssal depths of the world’s oceans. The world oceans’ surfaces, away from the shallows, are comparatively sterile because the water lacks micro nutrients (e.g., iron, manganese) required to support phytoplankton. Thus, vast areas of the oceans lack effective biological pumps to sequester carbon. Fertilizing these sterile areas of the oceans with trace nutrients and farming the twilight zone (i.e., seeding with appropriate species to provide the biological pumping mechanism) may establish a sufficiently extensive mechanism to sequester globally significant amounts of carbon in the abyssal depths.


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