They’re at it Again!
Crown-of-thorns starfish eating their way through Great Barrier Reef in major outbreak
Thousands of crown-of-thorns starfish are understood to be eating their way through coral in a major outbreak at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, as authorities consider how to tackle the problem.
The outbreak on the Swain Reefs off Yeppoon was discovered last year, but the area is remote and hostile, hampering efforts to control the spread of the coral-killing marine animal.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has confirmed it has been working out how to deal with the outbreak since last year.
At Last! – Light at end of dark tunnel
BHP considering leaving Minerals Council over group’s climate policies
Australia’s biggest miner BHP has confirmed it is reconsidering its membership of the country’s peak mining lobby, the Minerals Council.
BHP announced it would review its membership of all industry associations, and publish the findings, by the end of this year.
The review comes hot on the tail of a demand by activist shareholders that the miner sever ties with the council, which successfully advocated for the abolition of the carbon price and is currently lobbying the Federal Government to reject a clean energy target.
“We are aware that some civil society and other organisations believe that, where an industry body advocates for a position which does not align with our own, we should cease to be a member of that industry body,” BHP said in a statement issued overnight.
- BHP under pressure to quit lobby groups that don’t support clean energy target
- Activist group backed by big investors including ANZ, AMP, Australian Super, Blackrock
- Board considering move before next month’s AGM
The truth about soaring power prices: wind and solar not to blame
Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Rod Sims at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday: “Forty-one per cent of the increase in electricity prices over the last 10 years has been in network costs.”
Wind and solar are much cheaper when the cost of installation is taken into account. Not only is the fuel free and faces no regulatory risk — in the form of a carbon price — but the technology is simpler and quicker to install.
Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel went one step further. He factored the extra costs of adding gas or battery backup to ensure stability or baseload power in the system.
Wind still came out cheapest, with solar only marginally more expensive than black coal, and renewable plants can be built within one to three years while coal-fired plants take between four and seven years to build.
Kimberley — Killing the Country
After two extensive tours of the Kimberley by sea and land, Jack and Jude are passionate to preserve this unique area of Earth and were therefore greatly distressed to learn from our friend, tour guide Russell Willis, that huge chunks of that land are being altered by man made fires.
Here is Russell’s alarming report –
Willis’s Walkabouts Newsletter 91, August 2017 — Killing the Country
Not a single blade of grass, not one live small shrub to be seen. This is what we saw in large areas of our recent trip to the Prince Regent area. When we were flying out at the beginning of July, we saw plumes of smoke from the still-burning fires that had been deliberately lit.
We saw it again in Kakadu. This is what’s happening to large parts of the Kimberley. Land managers are so keen to burn the country that they will no longer allow people into several parks before 10 June. We can no longer offer some of the best trips we’ve ever done. Why are they so keen to burn? They get paid to do so.
Qantas Carbon Offsets Help Burn the Kimberley
Here’s the Qantas claim. Reinvigorating indigenous traditions. “This project is managed by Indigenous land owners in the North Kimberley who are reducing emissions through traditional fire management techniques.” Pardon me, that’s bullshit. When I flew out from a Kimberley walk on 1 July, we could see dozens of fires, all man-made, burning huge areas.
Here are two quotes from a letter to Qantas from someone who’s seen the disaster first hand.
- “In no way whatsoever is dropping incendiaries from aeroplanes ‘traditional methods’. In the early days the indigenous only burnt for access immediately after the wet or to drive game out into the open. Tribal groups were small and fires in small areas.”
- “These drops are made in June, which is too late in the year as the country is tinder dry and our South East winds have set in. The incendiaries are dropped in the mornings in these strong winds and burn for weeks destroying huge areas of country. There is nothing controlled about these burns, and much of the same country gets repeatedly burnt each year.”
I urge you to click here and read the full letter. Needless to say, the letter hasn’t even been acknowledged.
The summer of 2016/17 has been dubbed the ‘angry summer’ by climate scientists who’ve been investigating just how extreme things got.
They’ve found that during a 90-day period, 205 weather records were broken.
Professor Will Steffen is a scientist with the Climate Council of Australia, and the lead author of the report Angry Summer 2016/17: Climate Change Supercharging Extreme Weather, released today, and summarized in the ABC article here.
- More than 205 temperature records were broken around Australia in 90 days
- The extreme heat in NSW was at least 50 times more likely to occur due to climate change
- Australia’s ageing energy system is inefficient and incapable of handling rising temperatures
Much more information in Angry Summer 2016/17 report [available here]
CSIRO Report: More seabirds and turtles along SE Qld coast have plastic in stomachs.
Disturbing Report – Half of all seabirds have plastic in stomach
The coastlines are being littered with millions of pieces of plastic that are causing harm to marine life, new research reveals.
“Plastic production is going up really rapidly and the amount in the ocean seems to be tracking that and the amount in the animals is also tracking that,” says CSIRO Professor Chris Wilcox.
Professor Wilcox’s said his team did “a lot of walking” while scouring Australia’s coastline, where they collected samples from the ocean edge to vegetation at the back of the beach.
Professor Wilcox said about eight million tonnes of rubbish was dumped in the world’s oceans each year. The CSIRO says on average, 11 items can be found along every metre of coastline from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast.
Turn This Around for FREE
Put Earth First with Love, Admiration, Respect
However unlike the broader issue of climate change, ocean pollution would not be costly to stop if people took more care in disposing of their rubbish.
“Each one of these pieces of plastic was in someone’s hand at some point … being more careful about how we use these things is critical,” he said.
The CSIRO research is being published today in peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
Never give up!
Earth’s been TRUMPED
Like many of you, we are shocked over the US election result.
It certainly seems like a win for Trump could be a significant setback for climate change action.
Trump has promised to scrap Obama’s plans for climate action, stop funding UN climate change programs, and has threatened to ‘withdraw’ from the Paris climate agreement.
But the only option is to strengthen our resolve and to keep on fighting for what’s right.
The stakes are too high and there is too much to lose.
If the US pulls back climate action for four years, it will make Australian action even more important.
Right now 200 countries are meeting in Morocco to discuss the implementation of the Paris climate agreement. Climate action is far bigger than just one country – China, the EU, Pacific Island nations and others are leading the charge. But Australia is still at the back of the pack.
And this means our work together is more important than ever.
What this says about American Democracy
How can it be that just 1/4 of the American people can decide the fate of our world? According to The Election Project, voter turnout was the lowest since 2000, at 55.6 per cent, and the lowest turnout of any mainland state was in Clinton-loving California, where many of the losing candidate’s superstar friends live, but where only 43 per cent of registered voters actually showed up to tick a box.
The depressing truth about the system styling itself as the world’s greatest democracy is that — this time around — about a quarter of its voters went for the winner, about a quarter went for the loser, and just under half of them didn’t bother at all.
Delhi reels under cloud of smog for 7th day,
Emergency cabinet meeting
The air quality has been “severe” as pollution levels touched a new high. Levels of particulate matter finer than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) crossed the 900 mark in some areas. That is over 90 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and 15 times the Indian government’s norms.
New Delhi has closed its schools, halted construction and ordered that all roads be doused with water to settle dust, as crippling air pollution continues to engulf the Indian capital.
Over the last two years, the Government has tried a slew of measures to control air pollution, including stricter emission norms for cars and a tax on diesel-fuelled trucks entering the city.
Reminiscent of Judith’s first visit to my home town of Los Angeles, when at 50 miles out I had to pull over to let her vomit. Dirty cars, and lots of them, was the culprit then. Well, that was fifty years ago and our cars are far more cleaner today.
India’s problem is there are far too many people. Too many of everything in fact. Power plants to service the industry that provides the require goods and jobs, etc. etc. It’s a deadly snowball racing at us eating up Earth. The pollution fuels global warming. The growing population increases growth, which fuels the whole cycle.
We talk about pollution and global warming, but we do not address the catalyst creating the problem!
Jobs and Growth suffocating Earth
“Fast Tracked!” Adani’s Carmichael 2.3 billion tonne Coal Mine
In the last week, the Qld State Government quietly gave the project “critical infrastructure” status to prioritise its development.
Jack and Jude have been hard workers since our first jobs as teenagers, when we soon learned to be responsible and reliable, and found that earning our keep gave us confidence to achieve.
Jobs are required for all of us to live. BUT Earth must live or we do not. Digging up and burning 2.3 billion tonnes of deadly coal makes no sense to Jack and Jude. We can’t spend the profits in heaven.
Extraction of 2.3 billion tonnes of coal from the Carmichael mine flies in the face of global efforts to stop climate change and would result in nine times Australia’s overall emissions in 2014.
Whether we consider wild weather, unprecedented Arctic melting and global temperatures, or the Great Barrier Reef, the global environment is generating alarming news. Predictions of multi-metre sea level rises, the collapse of marine biodiversity and food chains, and global warming far beyond 2? are equally concerning. Is our system of global environmental law and governance adequate to this crisis?
Written by –
Anthony Burke, Associate Professor of International & Political Studies, UNSW Australia
And Stefanie Fishel, Assistant Professor, University of Alabama
Our short answer is “no”, but what should be done? We believe new international institutions and laws are needed, with one fundamental purpose: to give a voice to ecosystems and non-human forms of life.
We say this knowing that the current global system is inadequate to respond to many human crises, but with the conviction that environmental justice often overlaps with social justice.
It is tempting to believe that we can muddle through with the existing system, centred on the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change and Convention on Biological Diversity. But these are not integrated with each other, and are also kept separate from global economic and trade institutions like the World Trade Organisation, the G20 and the World Bank, and from global security institutions like the UN Security Council. The latter has never passed a resolution about the environment, despite growing warnings from military strategists of the potential for climate-catalysed conflict. [MORE]
Nero Fiddles while Rome Burns
Paris climate agreement comes into force
So far, 73 countries accounting for 56 per cent of emissions have ratified the agreement. This includes the world’s two largest emitters: China and the US. The agreement, reached last December, required ratification by at least 55 countries accounting for 55 per cent of global emissions to become operational. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol had identical entry-into-force conditions. Yet it took eight years for the protocol to move from adoption to entry into force.
Sounds Good – But it is not what it seems.
The more realistic explanation for the ratification landslide is less inspiring. The Paris Agreement is so weak in terms of legal obligations that countries have little reason not to ratify it. The legal obligations of the Paris Agreement are sparse and procedural. Countries are bound to submit increasingly stringent pledges every five years. Yet they are not obliged to achieve them.
What about Australia?
Australia has yet to ratify the Paris Agreement, but will likely do so. Then what?
Currently, Australia has made an intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. If Australia joins the Paris Agreement this would likely become our first pledge under the deal.
But existing modelling suggests we will significantly miss this target. In fact we will INCREASE our levels.
Climate Action Tracker estimates that Australia is instead on track to increase emissions above 27 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 (this equates to 61 per cent above 1990 levels).
They note: “Australia stands out as having the largest relative gap between current policy projections for 2030 and the INDC target.”
Grassroots Action Required
Ain’t it great that Australian politicians fiddle with your children’s future while wild storms and extreme weather destroy our homes and infrastructure. When will we have leaders with the courage and foresight to change the archaic mindset imprisoning our politicians. It will take a groundswell call for action by the people. Our elected representatives will not legislate restrictions that would see them jeopardize their grip on power.
Use social media – speak loud, speak often or the future will be far more destructive to Earth and life.
Shouting the HEADLINES –
10% WILDERNESS GONE IN TWO DECADES
Will not change a thing – how long will our remaining forests last? And what about the loss of creatures?
To change requires almost impossible passion and love for Earth with ways that manage human needs and greed, Alternatively we need a dream. A really good one to unite us. A dream of a place our children’s children could be. And a miracle.
Personally I was rather smitten by the creatures of the Galapagos being so friendly. Sharing life with them gave me a a vision of how Earth could be. A dream of Earth life with intimate and meaningful contact with the other creatures. Where the goal of life was not to acquire material and wealth, but to co-habitat on Earth in a sustainable way that fosters greater knowledge of life.
PHOTO: Wilderness is considered to be an area free from significant human disturbance such as urbanisation and agriculture.(Supplied: Liana Joseph)
Planet Earth has lost one tenth of its area of wilderness since 1993, equivalent to half of Australia in size, according to a new study.
- 3.3 million square kilometres of wilderness has been lost since 1993
- Wilderness supplies fresh water, food, medicine and reduces extreme weather
- A global agreement on protection of wilderness is required, researchers say
The loss, mainly in the Amazon and Central Africa, highlights the need for global agreements to protect remaining areas unaffected by human activities, researchers said.
“An area half the size of Australia has disappeared in just two decades. That’s a catastrophic loss of wilderness,” said Associate Professor James Watson, an ecologist from the University of Queensland and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
“Food, medicines, fibre and water all come from the intact system and when you degrade it there’s plenty of evidence to show that you don’t get those ecosystem services.”
Dr Watson said wilderness areas support species with a high degree of genetic variation, helping them to be resilient to environmental change.
“They have the ability to buffer and adapt to change.”
Wilderness also helps regulate local climate — reducing extreme climatic events, he said.
He said there was no evidence that lost wilderness areas could be restored to their previous state.
“Once you lose them, you lose them … and that’s a tragedy because humans are putting their fingerprints everywhere and we’re losing that reference point for nature.”
St Matthews Island – Kind of a cute cartoon, if it wasn’t happening to us.
Going, going, g o n e…FOREVER
Jack and Jude are sure we’re destined to live in a world with only cats and dogs, and maybe parrots and budges too, but the other creatures, we’re not sure. Here’s a report from a top conservationist body that says the lovely and cute orange Bornean orangutan is on the verge of extinction, while the world’s biggest fish, that placid giant the whale shark, and a hammerhead shark species are endangered.
In an update to its Red List of Threatened Species, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said growing human pressure was driving the three species ever closer to destruction. The decline of the orangutan has been brought to our attention before, and so far little has been done to turn around the orangutan’s fate. It’s the frightening news that the IUCN also warned that the slow-moving whale shark, a placid giant measuring up to 12.6 metres, has been placed on the “endangered” list that really sends shivers up our spines. The shark is fished for its meat, as well as its fins, which are used to make soup in some parts of Asia, but is also often caught by accident by fishermen casting nets for tuna. Can you Imagine, some humans kill this wonderful creature to make soup! Our values surely are misplaced.
The IUCN said unregulated fishing was also behind the fast-falling numbers of the winghead shark, a distinctive species of hammerhead shark, which had also been moved from “near threatened” to “endangered”.
This might sound “over the top,” to many, but if you agree that this continuous decline of species will continue until human activities wipe out all the wild creatures, leaving us to share Earth with only our pets then we plead with you to act. Speaking out to your legislators is the most direct. [Article here]
Forests of the sea slashed by marine heatwave
First posted 8 July 2016
“We jumped into these waters we’ve been going to for the past 10 years expecting to see large kelp forests and it was just a desert, it was barren”
And the demise of these remarkable “forests of the sea” is likely permanent, researchers say in a study published today.
“Off the coast around Kalbarri to Geraldton, where these reefs used to be dominated by kelp forests, those forests have completely disappeared,” researcher Dr Scott Bennett, now based at the Spanish National Research Council, said.
- The ocean off Western Australia is warming twice as fast as the global average
- Since 2000, nearly 1000 square kilometres of kelp forest have been lost from the area
- These “forests of the sea” underpin tourism and fisheries worth $10 billion per year
“We thought we’d made a mistake and got the location wrong. We searched all day and we searched for weeks, but the kelp was gone. It is just heartbreaking to see such a complex, beautiful, vibrant ecosystem decimated.”
Global warming is threatening the species and places we love
Jun 27, 2016
Global warming – driven by the mining and burning of fossil fuels like coal – saw water temperatures on the Reef soar this summer. Across the whole reef 22% of coral bleached and died, and in far north Queensland 50% of coral was killed. [article here]
We’ve got the solutions to stop dangerous global warming.
We need to stop mining and burning fossil fuels like coal, and spending billions of dollars subsidising declining old-energy industries. We need to invest in our future – in clean renewable energy, like solar and wind.
It’s not time to say goodbye. This election, demand the policies that will save our Reef.
Pesky Rednecks – That’s Us
We are creatures of Earth – first, last and always. Our very being is part of her. Upon our death we remain with her. In a way, she’s our Creator. And unlike the gods some pray to, Earth is tangible. We can feel her, taste her, smell her. We admire her beauty, respect her power, and are amazed by her wonders. And yet we treat Earth with the disdain of cruel masters.
Read our creed and plea for assistance
Climate change driving species to the Earth’s poles faster than predicted
Warming temperatures are pushing land and sea creatures closer to the north and south poles and to cooler altitudes at rates faster than first predicted, scientists say.
Speaking at a meeting of scientists from 40 countries gathered in Hobart for a four-day conference, Professor Camille Parmesan from Plymouth University in the UK said around the world animals and plants were moving towards the Earth’s poles, and it is happening faster than scientists had originally predicted.
“For the species that we have really good data on where they’ve lived historically over the past 100 years, we’re seeing about half of those have actually moved where they live, which is an astonishing number given we’ve only had one degree centigrade warming,” she said.
What Jack and Jude say is “We’ve taken up a mooring in Tasmania because not only is a lovely natural island, it’ll soon have a climate better than the Gold Coast!”
On a more serious note – Nature, the animals who live their lives totally exposed to the elements know what’s happening to Earth and are shifting in order to continue to live. Can you imagine how upsetting that is to the balance of life. We humans are so full of ourselves, so arrogant with the belief that the creator made us to control the home of all creatures that we just don’t see how this failing is destroying Earth. Take your children to the forests, take them into the mountains, expose them to Nature, they’ll soon be making the rules and what we don’t need is more kids hiding away in corners chained to their Ipads.
Tasmania’s east coast is a global hotspot for marine species that are moving south. One of them is the long-spined sea urchin.
Associate Professor Gretta Pecl from the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies said the species was becoming a pest.
“That’s a species that eats kelp and seagrass and other plant material and algal habitats and basically turns regions into rocky urchin barrens,” she said.
“[It] just denudes the area of all sorts of plant material and makes it not a very nice habitat for abalone, rock lobster and other fish species.”
What Harrison Ford says about climate change
11 Dec 2015
At 73, well traveled, and obviously intelligent gauging by his insightful comments, Harrison Ford has succinctly said what all of us who love Earth and life have been thinking for a long time, he hopes world leaders can “finally do something” about climate change.” I like how he put our dilemma into context. Have a read….
We are natural born killers
our rubbish kills the smallest to the largest creature
Here again the data revealed in the 2014 report, Marine Pollution Bulletin, is sadly substantiated by the death of another magnificent creature. This massive beast had roamed the world’s ocean for many years giving birth or fathering many. The ingestion of trash documented in 56 percent of cetacean species, was found by Taiwanese marine biologists who discovered a mass of plastic bags and fishing net in the stomach of the dead whale.
The 15-metre mature sperm whale was spotted stranded off the southern town of Tongshi on October 15.
Coastguards and scientists returned it to the ocean but three days later it was found dead around 20 km away.
Marine biologists from a local university conducted an autopsy over the weekend and found a mass of plastic bags and fishing net enough to fill an excavator bucket. Professor Wang Chien-ping, head of the Whale Research Centre at National Cheng-Kung University, said the garbage was a major factor in the death.
The large amount of man-made garbage in the stomach could reduce its appetite and cause malnutrition. It was likely a critical cause of death,” he said.
The Society of Wilderness said the case highlighted the growing threat from ocean trash.
by Andrew Darby, SMH environment reporter
“There will be a species collapse from the top of the food chain down,” said Professor Ivan Nagelkerken said in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, drawing on the results of 632 experiments on the direction and magnitude of ecological change forced by greenhouse gases.
The work, with fellow University of Adelaide marine ecologist Sean Connell, is aimed at filling a knowledge gap on how climate change will more broadly affect the marine environment.
Professor Nagelkerken found that only the smallest plankton was likely to benefit from warmer waters. He said researchers were a little surprised to find much the same impacts when they modelled short-term stressors and longer-term ones.
“We didn’t expect that longer-term studies would show equally detrimental effects,” he said.
Ocean acidification meant secondary production of zooplankton and smaller fish would not follow plankton’s food gains. Instead warmer waters would raise these fishes’ metabolism, the rate at which they burn calories, and therefore increase their demand for food.
the costs of this mis-match would rise up the food chain, with much less food available for carnivores such as the tuna, sharks and gropers upon which industrial fishing relies, Associate Professor Nagelkerken said.
The analysis also showed that species limited to specific habitats, such as corals, oysters and mussels, would be able to deal only poorly with climate change.
“The future simplification of our oceans has profound consequences for our current way of life, particularly for coastal populations and those that rely on oceans for food and trade,” he said.
One way to help manage the problem was to limit other stressors on marine life.
“If we reduce over-fishing we can slow down the effects of climate change,” he said.
Queensland Cobia fish farm wins top show medal
ABC Rural By Michael Condon
Queensland aquaculture company Pacific Reef Fisheries has beaten a field of more than 5,650 entries from around Australia to win the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW President’s Medal. The President’s Medal is open to all agriculturally-based businesses in Australia and carries a prize of $10,000.
Pacific Reef Fisheries was nominated for its sashimi grade Pacific Reef North Queensland cobia.
The Pacific Reef cobia is a little known saltwater finfish, weighing about five to seven kilograms fully grown. It is a relatively new aquaculture species in Australia.
Pacific Reef Fisheries, based at Ayr in north Queensland, uses groundbreaking, innovative land-based seawater pond system fed by a constant flow of Coral Sea water. Man-made mangrove wetlands form part of a world-first water treatment technique used to clean the water leaving the farm.