Sunday, February 03, 2019

How climate change is undermining the war against HIV in Africa

There's some fancy footwork below.  It's true that much of Africa has been heavily hit by drought in recent years -- which is a change in climate.  But what is the cause of that change?  We are undoubtedly supposed to assume that it is Americans driving around in SUVs.  If we read further in the article however we find the admission that it is all an effect of an El Nino, which is a natural phenomenon.  America's SUVs are in the clear

Widespread poverty and worsening droughts, floods and other climate risks make Africa particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change

Yaounde — Teenage girls growing up in Lesotho in areas hit by harsh drought and other climate shocks are more likely to drop out of school, start having sex earlier and contract HIV, researchers say.

In a study looking at the link between climate change and HIV infection since antiretroviral (ARV) treatment drugs became widely available in Sub-Saharan Africa, researchers found that severe drought threatens to drive new HIV infections.

In the urban areas of Lesotho researchers looked at, droughts were linked to an almost five-fold increase in the number of girls selling sex and a three-fold increase in those being forced into sexual relations.

Such findings mean climate shocks — which can bring displacement, loss of income and other problems — threaten to undermine progress made in HIV treatment, said Andrea Low, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the International Centre for AIDS Care and Treatment Programmes at Columbia University. “I think the real concern is that we have gained a lot in terms of epidemic control ... but there is always a possibility of  losing all those gains if a lot of people are displaced due to climate extremes [and] forced migration.”

People forced to migrate as a result of drought may no longer have easy access to the support of family and friends or to HIV treatment, Low, the study’s lead author, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from New York.

People who lose the stability of their communities are more likely to engage in high-risk sex, acquire HIV or discontinue treatment for HIV, the study found. Widespread poverty and exposure to worsening droughts, floods and other climate risks make Africa one of the continents most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, UN disaster officials said.

Southern Africa experienced two years of an El Niño–induced regional drought — one of its worst in decades — in 2014–2015. In 2016, this resulted in food shortages and higher prices affecting almost 40-million people in the region, according to the World Food Programme.

In Lesotho more than half  the population lives on less than $1.90 a day according to World Bank, and 55% grow their own food, making them particularly vulnerable to drought.

The country of 2.2-million also has the second highest rate of HIV prevalence in the world, behind nearby eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), according to the UN agency for HIV/AIDS.

Keeping girls in school

Low and her colleagues said ways of reducing HIV risk associated with climate shocks include providing easier access to medical care, distributing HIV self-testing kits and offering cash transfers to pay school fees for drought-hit families forced to migrate.

“We really need to think about the population in the long term,” Low said, noting it was vital to keep children in classrooms. “If that’s reduced every time there’s some kind of climate extreme and they have to pull their kids out of school, that is going to have really detrimental effects — not just on HIV but on all aspects of society.”


Natural gas is doing far more than renewables to clean our air

Carbon emissions from the power sector are now the lowest they have been since 1985.

It is amazing how fast carbon emissions from U.S. electricity production have decreased due to the major shift from coal to natural gas. And due to technical advances in shale gas, the cost of producing natural gas keeps falling.

For decades, base-load power generators — mainly coal and nuclear power — dominated the power industry. Today, however, the share of the nation’s electric-generating capacity supplied by natural gas is steadily rising. Demand for coal for electric generation fell by 22 percent from 2011 to 2015, while power-sector demand for natural gas rose by 32 percent.

Natural gas has shown the ability to inject real progress in carbon mitigation, while providing backup power for intermittent solar and wind energy. In fact, the amazing growth in shale production has led cheaper natural gas to provide a much bigger impact on the drop in carbon emissions than the deployment of renewables.

Investors strongly prefer natural gas, and it’s not hard to figure out why. Despite the availability of federal tax credits and portfolio standards mandating the use of renewables in 29 states, solar and wind combined supply just 9 percent of the nation’s electricity.

Think about the benefits to U.S. consumers from the availability of cheap natural gas. Many more Americans now work for manufacturing plants that rely on natural gas, transforming large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. And increasing production of natural gas explains why the economies of Texas and New Mexico, among others, are booming.

While inexpensive gas has spurred economic growth and reduced the carbon footprint from electricity generation, it has some collateral benefits as well. It has led to emissions reductions across the board, making an impact on the reduction of mercury, particulates, and sulfur dioxide.

Just as the remarkable rise in U.S. oil production has checked OPEC’s power, the investment in natural gas has become a geopolitical game changer. Exports of liquefied natural gas has been good news for the world. European countries such as Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine now have an alternative to Russian gas, weakening Russia’s grip on their economies.

And LNG exports to Asia are enabling China, Japan, and India to burn less coal. Exports of LNG nearly quadrupled in 2017 to 700 billion cubic feet, according to the Energy Information Administration. As LNG shipments to ports around the world increase, making it possible to shut down more coal plants, governments are betting that global carbon emissions will decline.

Some environmental groups associated with the campaign to keep fossil fuels in the ground are trying to sabotage the shale gas revolution. But their reckless argument that solar and wind alone can prevent the worst effects of climate change does not have any basis in fact.

The U.S. “greens” are lobbying states to impose restrictions on the use of hydraulic fracturing. For that matter, they are trying to block the construction of new pipelines needed to transport gas from where it’s being produced to markets where it’s needed. They should know that these actions could backfire, since both solar and wind need natural gas as a backup fuel because the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn't always blow. Gas, easy to turn on and off, is a necessary partner to renewable electricity.

Nor is there any truth to the claim that gas companies are not committed to reducing emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Methane emissions from natural gas production are down 14 percent since 1990, even as natural gas output has increased more than 50 percent over the same period. The world’s biggest oil and gas companies have pledged to cut their methane emissions by one-fifth, and they are making increasing use of drones and robots to detect and fix leaks in pipes and valves.

Even as environmentalists pound the climate change drum, they seem more interested in promoting wind and solar power for their own sake than in finding cost-effective solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


The Climate Derangement Syndrome Strikes Again 

By Caleb Rossiter

This week, the New Yorker magazine glowingly profiled Jon Leland, who is "scaring people about climate change" by placing "This Place Will Be Water" stickers on buildings in Manhattan. Leland is obviously claiming that industrial, noncontaminant warming gasses will warm the air, melt the ice, and expand the water in the seas enough to inundate the Big Apple.

Before he starts his new "This Place Will Be Desert" campaign in the Midwest, I'd like to warn him that his stickers make claims that are scientifically dubious. They're right up there with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and her recent claim that "the world's going to end in 12 years if we don't address climate change."

As to Leland's current campaign, there isn't much to it. After a dramatic 130-yard increase from the cyclical ice age that earth goes through every 120,000 years, sea level has been stable for the past 8,000 years, rising and falling only slightly as temperature changes. In the past century, the rate of increase has fluctuated between half an inch and an inch per decade.

Land use and natural land changes are as important in the equation today as the expansion of oceans. And the predictions of disappearing islands that motivated the stickers have proven to be as groundless as predictions of disappearing polar bears.

As to his new campaign, the 50 percent increase to date in the concentration of carbon dioxide has actually fertilized the planet. Crops are now about 15 percent more productive and deserts are receding. Field experiments predict that this greening effect will increase by another 30 percent as carbon dioxide levels rise another 50 percent over the next 100 years, from today's 4 percent of one percent to 6 percent of one percent. While the experiments also predict that some nutrients will be reduced by about five percent in some crop varieties, this would be more than offset by changes in growing techniques, increased yields, and, most importantly, increased income from fossil-fueled economic growth.

Finally, although global temperature has risen about one degree Celsius since the start of the industrial revolution, this has not wholly been caused by industrial warming gasses linked to the economic growth that has increased the world's wealth, health, and life expectancy so dramatically. Atmospheric physicists on both sides of the debate over potential climate catastrophe agree that the first half of the rise, before 1945, was largely caused by natural sources like long-term cycles or solar fluctuations. At that point, emissions were too low to have much impact. The substantial "feedback" warming that many climate models have predicted from fossil-fueled heat in the form of increased humidity and hence water vapor, the primary natural warming gas, has not yet been observed.

Only a quarter of Africans have electricity in their homes, and businesses across the continent suffer from interruptions, stalling economic growth and the access to the clean water that increases life expectancy. There's a cause I hope Leland and the Ocasio-Cortez can take up with me: backing African plans to build fossil-fueled power plants equipped with the scrubbing technology that takes out the real pollutants.


Media Ties Record-Breaking Cold to Global Warming

A “polar vortex” event is breaking record-low temperature readings across the Great Plains and Midwest, and many in the media are rushing to blame the deep freeze on global warming.

The New York Times, for example, filled the top of its website with coverage of the Midwest’s polar plunge, including one prominent article that claims record heat in Australia and record cold in the U.S. were two sides of the global warming coin.

“Also, broadly speaking, scientists say, a hotter planet makes extreme weather more frequent and more intense,” reads the Times article, warning we live in the “Age of Weather Extremes.”

The Chicago Times, Axios, The Washington Post, and others echoed the theory that global warming was weakening the jet stream, allowing the “polar vortex” to meander south and bring record cold.

Many experts don’t think this is correct and say it’s media climate-hype. In fact, weather events that used to be considered, well, weather are now attributed to global warming that’s supposed to play out over decades and measured in trends, not short-term weather variability.

“‘Climate change’ once referred to outcomes measured via statistics (‘detection’) tracked over decades,” University of Colorado professor Roger Pielke Jr. noted Wednesday on Twitter.

“Today ‘climate change’ is most often used as a causal factor in attributing events over hours, days or weeks,” Pielke said. “We’ve become dumber.”

Make sense? Of course it doesn’t, and many scientists have pointed it out.

“Frankly, it is a stretch to make that link,” Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation on Tuesday.

“There is always cold air over the Arctic in the polar night and the question is whether it sits there or breaks out,” Trenberth said. “So all this is in realm of weather. Not climate.”

Several studies have claimed a correlation, and even link, between arctic warming and mid-latitude weather, including one published in 2018 that found cold snaps are more likely when the Arctic is abnormally warm.

But that study suffered from serious flaws, namely, it did not test any hypothesis nor did it try to establish causality between global warming and cold snaps. Government data sets also point to fewer cold outbreaks, not more.


January was Australia's hottest month EVER, with average temperatures of 86F (30C) - and a high of 121F (49.5C)

Ya gotta laugh.  The Greenie "Climate Council" responded to reports of record heat in Australia and record cold in the Northern hemisphere by saying that it showed global warming.  One wonders if anyone ever taught them arithmetic at school.

If anything, the global average suggests cooling, as the Australian figures were mostly only a touch above normal but the Northern winter was/is punishingly cold.  In fact, in some parts of Australia -- like where I live in Brisbane in S.E. Queensland -- temperatures were a touch below normal.  There is clearly nothing global going on.

In their press release, the Bureau of Meteorology cautiously decribed Brisbane January temperatures as "very warm'.  They were warm -- as they always are in January: An interesting lesson in how to mislead without actually lying.

In fact what we see is a sort of random walk.  Our January rainfall in Southern Queensland has been exceptionally light. No big downpours at all:  While North Queensland experiences exceptional flooding -- even in normally dry Townsville.  I'd like to see any "model" predict that!  It's totally random

Even the BoM could not resist the temptation to sermonize. They were once very vocal advocates of global warming but have pulled in their horns a lot since Jennifer Marohasy and others exposed their use of blatantly incorrect and corrupt data.  Below is an excerpt from their press release that formed the basis of the story below"

Bureau senior climatologist Dr Andrew Watkins said the heat through January was unprecedented.

"We saw heatwave conditions affect large parts of the country through most of the month, with records broken for both duration and also individual daily extremes," Dr Watkins said.

"The main contributor to this heat was a persistent high pressure system in the Tasman sea which was blocking any cold fronts and cooler air from impacting the south of the country.

"At the same time, we had a delayed onset to the monsoon in the north of the country which meant we weren't seeing cooler, moist air being injected from the north.

"The warming trend which has seen Australian temperatures increase by more than 1 degree in the last 100 years also contributed to the unusually warm conditions."

So in the last sentence below he makes a guarded reference to global warming.  In fact he had already described what was actually going on.  What a galoot!

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology confirmed the January record on Friday as parts of the northern hemisphere experienced record cold temperatures.

The scorching start to 2019 followed Australia's third-hottest year on record. Only 2005 and 2013 were warmer than 2018, which ended with the hottest December on record.

Heat-stressed bats dropped dead from trees by the thousands in Victoria state and roads melted in New South Wales during heatwaves last month.

On January 24, the South Australian capital, Adelaide, recorded the hottest day ever for a major Australian city – a searing 115.9F (46.6C).

On the same day, the South Australian town of Port Augusta, population 15,000, recorded 121.1F (49.5 C) – the highest maximum anywhere in Australia last month.

Bureau senior climatologist Andrew Watkins described January's heat as unprecedented. 'We saw heatwave conditions affect large parts of the country through most of the month, with records broken for both duration and also individual daily extremes,' he said.

The main contributor to the heat was a persistent high-pressure system over the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand that blocked cold fronts from reaching southern Australia.

Rainfall was below average for most of the country, but the monsoonal trough has brought flooding rains to northern Queensland state in the past week, leading to a disaster declaration around the city of Townsville.

Queensland's flooded Daintree River reached a 118-year high this week. Emergency services reported rescuing 28 people from floodwaters in the past week.

'The vast bulk of the population will not have experienced this type of event in their lifetime,' State Disaster Co-ordinator Bob Gee told reporters, referring to the extraordinary flooding.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill described the torrential rain as a 'one-in-100-year event' that had forced authorities to release water from the city dam. The water release would worsen flooding in low-lying suburbs, but would prevent the Ross River from breaking its banks.

In the southern island state of Tasmania, authorities are hoping rain will douse more than 40 fires that have razed more than 460,800 acres (720 square miles) of forest and farmland by Friday. Dozens of houses have been destroyed by fires and flooding in recent weeks.

Milder weather since Thursday has reduced the fire danger but it was forecast to escalate again from Sunday.

The Climate Council, an independent organisation formed to provide authoritative climate change information to the public, said the January heat record showed the government needed to curb Australia's greenhouse gas emissions which have increased during each of the past four years.

'Climate change is cranking up the intensity of extreme heat, and January's record-breaking month is part of a sharp, long-term upswing in temperatures driven primarily from the burning of fossil fuels,' the council's acting chief executive, Martin Rice, said.



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