How George H W Bush-Big Oil wrecked the climate


This Dutch 8 November 2019 video is about a missed chance to save the climate at a 1989 Noordwijk, the Netherlands conference.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today, by Marijn Duintjer Tebbens:

Climate change is seen as the most existential threat of our time. We are now heading for three degrees of global warming, with potentially catastrophic consequences. That could have been prevented if one crucial night of international negotiatios in a hotel in Noordwijk, thirty years ago, had ended successfully. At least that’s what people involved then and experts say.

The international climate conference was an idea of ​​the then [Dutch] environment minister Ed Nijpels.

Of the usually pro-Big Business right-wing VVD party.

He wanted to lay the basis for legally binding agreements to limit CO2 emissions.

Earlier in the world, under the leadership of the United States, the Montreal protocol succeeded in phasing out CFCs – responsible for the hole in the ozone layer – in a few years. Nijpels hoped that CO2 reduction could be achieved in the same way, although everyone realized that this would be a much larger task.

The United States sent environment minister William Reilly to the conference at Huis ter Duin hotel. Reilly wanted to go far, but just before the conference he got someone from the White House who had to see to it that he did not make too many commitments. That role was assigned to President George H.W. Bush‘s Chief of Staff, John Sununu.

Lobby by the oil industry

Sununu was an early climate denialist with close ties to the oil sector. According to many people involved, he played a leading role in sabotaging the climate conference in Noordwijk.

The US American journalist Nathaniel Rich, author of the book Losing Earth, sees ‘Noordwijk’ as a crucial turning point. Up to that point, optimism over the possibilities for reaching global agreements and thus preventing the worst consequences of climate change prevailed. But with the conference in Noordwijk, the lobby of the American oil industry in particular, and with it a counter-movement of climate skeptics and deniers, began, says Rich. Partly because of that, it was unable to reach agreements for many years.

In the 2015 Paris agreement it was agreed, on a voluntary basis, that the temperature should rise by a maximum of one and a half degrees until the end of this century. But experts doubt whether that is still feasible and speak of ‘lost years’. They point out that since 1989, the year of the Noordwijk conference, more CO2 has been emitted than in the previous 250 years.

“Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and ‘tell it like it is.’ We declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency,” a remarkable paper published last week in the scientific journal BioScience began: here.

CLIMATE CRISIS IS A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY Climate change is already wreaking havoc on public health around the globe and the impacts will mount as the crisis fuels prolonged heatwaves, extreme weather events and infectious disease, according to a new report in top medical journal The Lancet. [HuffPost]

Australian wombats and climate change


This 2018 video is called George the Wombat Begins New Life in the Wild | Nat Geo Wild.

From the University of Queensland in Australia:

Jaw-some wombats may be great survivors

November 5, 2019

Flexible jaws may help wombats better survive in a changing world by adapting to climate change’s effect on vegetation and new diets in conservation sanctuaries.

An international study, co-led by The University of Queensland’s Dr Vera Weisbecker, has revealed that wombat jaws appear to change in relation to their diets.

“The survival of wombats depends on their ability to chew large amounts of tough plants such as grasses, roots and even bark,” Dr Weisbecker said.

Climate change and drought are thought to make these plants even tougher, which might require further short-term adaptations of the skull.

“Scientists had long suspected that native Australian marsupial mammals were limited in being able to adapt their skull in this way.

“But in good news, our research has contradicted this idea.”

The team used a technique known as geometric morphometrics — the study of how shapes vary — to characterise skull shape variation within three different species of wombat, with each species having a slightly different diet.

The data were collected with computed tomography — known to most as CT scanning — and analysed with new computation techniques developed by UQ’s Dr Thomas Guillerme.

Dr Olga Panagiotopoulou, who co-led the research project from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, said the study suggested that short-term jaw and skull adaptation was occurring.

“It seems that individuals within each wombat species differ most where their chewing muscles attach, or where biting is hardest,” Dr Panagiotopoulou said.

“This means that individual shapes are related to an individual’s diet and feeding preferences.

“Their skulls seem to be changing to match their diets.

“There are a number of factors that can influence skull shape, but it seems that wombats are able to remodel their jaws as the animals grow to become stronger and protect themselves from harm.”

Dr Weisbecker said the team was particularly excited that the critically endangered northern hairy-nosed wombat, with around 250 individuals left, seemed to be able to adapt to new diets.

“In order to protect endangered animals, it’s sometimes necessary to translocate them to new sanctuary locations where threats are less, but diets may be quite different,” she said.

“Our findings suggest that future generations of these northern hairy-nosed wombats will adapt well to a different diet in a new home.

The researchers are planning to use a similar analysis on koala skull shapes.

Australian right-wing government oppresses pro-climate demonstrators


This video from Australia says about itself:

Great Barrier Reef ‘gut-wrenching’: Charlie Veron angry with state & federal governments

18/04/2016 “Listen to scientists for a change”, says former AIMS Chief Scientist. Charlie Veron has described the coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef as gut-wrenching.

Translated from Dutch weekly De Groene Amsterdammer, 30 October 2019, by Maarten van Dun:

Australian politicians are fighting climate protesters

So, a bit like Conservative British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. And French right-wing President Macron. And like German authorities.

Sydney – Decent regulation of polluting mega-mines or about the loss of the Great Barrier Reef does not get off the ground in Australia, but at other times the Australian government is suddenly amazingly efficient. The parliament of the state of Queensland passed laws this week to bother climate protesters. The police are given more powers to search protesting citizens and the chains that activists use to chain themselves are now illegal. Even harsher laws with which protesters could be thrown into prison without a pardon in a second arrest did not make it.

Human rights organizations, activists and trade unions reacted with horror, but no longer with disbelief. In conservative Australia they know the tricks of the trade. The change to the law was preceded by a classic Australian political campaign: great indignant words from conservative politicians, a liberal handling of the facts and constant pressure from the right-wing tabloids of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The elderly media magnate retains an iron grip on the social debate.

In Australia, too, the debate on climate change runs along predictable fault lines: politicians and tabloids outline the climate theme as a struggle between hard-working, non-nagging farmers versus long-haired, work-shy, urban criminals who prefers to live on welfare all day long.

Remarkably, it is the same fulminating farmers who are most aware of the effects of climate change. Farmers’ villages in large parts of Australia have been suffering from drought for years. Livestock shrink and harvests fail because there is not enough water to spray the fields. The fire chief of a village in the east decided to only extinguish house fires if there is a danger to human life. He prefers to save the water.

Conservative politicians prefer not to link these problems to climate change. They prefer to regard it as the well-known struggle between the tough Aussie battler and the rugged elements. Anyone who cautiously suggests that something might have to change is committing political suicide.

It leads to ridiculous scenes. During a catastrophic forest fire season, politicians talk mealy-mouthedly, while firefighters tell without hesitation that climate change is the cause. But the political reality in Australia is different: they are working on laws that are not aimed at resolving a crisis, but on fighting protesters who point to the problem.

Police have attacked climate change protestors in Melbourne, Australia, arresting 67 people on Tuesday and Wednesday and hospitalising several others, including a woman who reportedly had both her legs broken in a police horse charge: here.

Antarctica, beauty and climate change


This 21 October 2019 video says about itself:

See Antarctica Like Never Before | National Geographic

Here at the bottom of the world, a place all but free of human settlement, humanity is scrambling one of the ocean’s richest wildernesses. Fossil-fuel burning thousands of miles away is heating up the western peninsula faster than almost anywhere else. (Only the Arctic compares.) Hear National Geographic photographer Cristina Mittermeier share her love and fears for this beautiful place.

Blue tits nesting earlier in spring


This December 2018 video is about blue tits singing.

From the University of Edinburgh in Scotland:

Warmer nights prompt forest birds to lay eggs earlier in spring

October 16, 2019

Summary: Rising night-time temperatures are causing woodland birds to build nests and lay eggs earlier in springtime, research shows.

As climate change continues to cause temperatures to rise, the breeding patterns of birds such as blue tits are being altered as evenings in spring get warmer, researchers say.

Previous research has shown that warmer springs have led birds to begin breeding earlier. However, until now, scientists had not identified the key factors that cause this behaviour.

With increasing spring warming, chicks may begin hatching after periods when caterpillars — their main food source — are most plentiful, scientists say.

Warmer temperatures are causing the peak in caterpillar numbers to occur earlier in the year, and birds like blue tits are responding too, but often not fast enough, the team says.

A team of biologists from the University of Edinburgh analysed data from 40 Scottish sites over a five-year period.

They found that birds decide when to reproduce based on night-time temperatures in springtime. Their findings suggest that colder temperatures may act as a constraint that delays the processes of building nests and laying eggs.

Blue tits were also found to lay eggs sooner if birch trees come into leaf earlier. This is some of the first evidence that birds use trees as a cue for timing breeding. Blue tits may use birch trees as a signal because they come into leaf earlier than other species, the team says.

Using data gained from two national citizen science projects, researchers found that night-time temperature and birch leafing have very similar effects on the breeding behaviour of woodland birds across the UK.

Dr Jack Shutt, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Biological Sciences, who led the study, said: “Working out what information birds use to time breeding is key to us accurately predicting how this may change under future conditions, and what effect this will have on them.”