English councils set to miss carbon emission targets Despite their climate pledges, many local authorities do not even know how much carbon they produceMany councils in England don’t know how much energy they use, a new survey reveals. The findings make it “inconceivable” that they will become carbon neutral within 30 years, as the government has mandated.According to the survey, 43% of councils – 93 of the 214 local authorities that responded to a freedom of information request from electrical contractors’ trade body ECA – do not measure the energy they use in council-owned buildings or know how much carbon they produce. Continue reading… Source – Full Article https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jan/27/english-councils-set-to-miss-carbon-emission-targets
Kindness is not enough: Australia needs a strategic national response to the bushfires | Audette Exel We’ve seen deeds of great courage and charity over the past few months. Now we need an effective, coordinated process to help the nation rebuildPeople are magnificent. They rescue our wildlife, defend our homes and towns, stare down fires against insuperable odds. And then they give money, often that they don’t have – to firefighters, aid agencies, the bereaved, the homeless, and animal hospitals.So much giving and yet, despite it all, I can’t quieten the alarm bells in my head. Will these good intentions have good outcomes? Do we know what we are doing, as we rush to help? Can… Source – Full Article https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/27/kindness-is-not-enough-australia-needs-a-strategic-national-response-to-the-bushfires
How Indigenous land burning is protecting rare mammals on Australia's Tiwi Islands – video Scientists from Charles Darwin University and the Tiwi Land Rangers are researching how to help protect the rare brush-tailed rabbit rat and other small mammals using land burning. Burning in cooler months is not only preventing bushfires, but maintaining sanctuaries for the small mammals from predators like feral cats Continue reading… Source – Full Article https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/video/2020/jan/27/how-indigenous-land-burning-is-protecting-rare-mammals-on-australias-tiwi-islands-video
If you love Australia, climate change should scare the hell out of you | Greg Jericho Conservatives love to talk up Australia ‘punching above its weight’, but they turn to self-hating cowards when it comes to climate changeI love Australia.It’s not a thing you hear too often from progressives. Mostly this is because we don’t go in for the pathetic jingo-nationalist, quasi-militaristic “love it or leave it”-style patriotism that John Howard attempted to link with a love of country. Continue reading… Source – Full Article https://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2020/jan/26/if-you-love-australia-climate-change-should-scare-the-hell-out-of-you
Lyrebirds are survivors, but the situation for Australian birdlife after the bushfires is dire | Sean Dooley Recovery after fires of such unparalleled enormity is going to take decades and enormous resourcesFor literally millions of years, the glorious songs of lyrebirds have rung out across the valleys of south-eastern Australia. Lyrebirds have an extraordinary vocal range and are famously accomplished mimics with their own lush, ringing calls mingled with impersonations on their avian neighbours.However, research from BirdLife Australia examining the impacts of the recent bushfires is showing that an unprecedented number of those valleys are cloaked in silence today. No lyrebirds are likely to be calling. No whipbirds. Or kookaburras, cockatoos, currawongs. Or any of any of… Source – Full Article https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/26/lyrebirds-are-survivors-but-the-situation-for-australian-birdlife-after-the-bushfires-is-dire
Cacao not gold: ‘chocolate trees’ offer future to Amazon tribes In Brazil’s largest indigenous reserve thousands of saplings have been planted as an alternative to profits from illegal gold miningThe villagers walk down the grassy landing strip, past the wooden hut housing the health post and into the thick forest, pointing out the seedlings they planted along the way. For these Ye’kwana indigenous men, the skinny saplings, less than a metre high, aren’t just baby cacao trees but green shoots of hope in a land scarred by the violence, pollution and destruction wrought by illegal gold prospecting. That hope is chocolate. Continue reading… Source – Full Article https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/25/cacao-not-gold-chocolate-trees-offer-future-to-amazon-tribes-aoe
Aerial footage reveals feral horse crisis in burnt-out Kosciuszko national park – video New aerial footage from Kosciuszko national park reveals horrific fire damage to the landscape. There are also fears that the huge number of feral horses that remain are pushing bushfire-affected threatened species closer to extinction. ‘The horses are destroying the refuges of the endangered plants and animals in the mountains’, says Prof Jamie Pittock from the Australian National University. ‘It’s a crisis because the fire has burnt a lot of the habitats and we need to protect what remains’ Continue reading… Source – Full Article https://www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2020/jan/25/aerial-footage-reveals-feral-horse-crisis-in-burnt-out-kosciuszko-national-park-video
We can’t trust the billionaires of Davos to solve a climate crisis they created | Payal Parekh It’s time to turn away from the World Economic Forum and its mass-polluting ‘affiliates’. We need new, radical solutions• Payal Parekh is an international climate activistThis week, among the private chalets and deep snow of Davos, the world’s leading politicians and businesspeople have been spending their time at the World Economic Forum (WEF), and they’ve been talking about the climate crisis. Greta Thunberg and Prince Charles have given stark speeches warning of the dangers of a warming world, and CEOs and presidents have promised long overdue action. Related: What did we learn from Davos 2020? Continue reading… Source – Full Article https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/24/billionaires-davos-climate-crisis-world-economic-forum
Blue Acceleration: our dash for ocean resources mirrors what we’ve already done to the land
Humans are leaving a heavy footprint on the Earth, but when did we become the main driver of change in the planet’s ecosystems? Many scientists point to the 1950s, when all kinds of socioeconomic trends began accelerating. Since then, the world population has tripled. Fertiliser and water use expanded as more food was grown than ever before. The construction of motorways sped up to accommodate rising car ownership while international flights took off to satisfy a growing taste for tourism.
The scale of human demands on Earth grew beyond historic proportions. This post-war period became known as the “Great Acceleration”, and many believe it gave birth to the Anthropocene – the geological epoch during which human activity surpassed natural forces as the biggest influence on the functioning of Earth’s living systems.
But researchers studying the ocean are currently feeling a sense of déjà vu. Over the past three decades, patterns seen on land 70 years ago have been occurring in the ocean. We’re living through a “Blue Acceleration”, and it will have significant consequences for life on the blue planet.
Why is the Blue Acceleration happening now?
As land-based resources have declined, hopes and expectations have increasingly turned to the ocean as a new engine of human development. Take deep sea mining. The international seabed and its mineral riches have excited commercial interest in recent years due to soaring commodity prices. According to the International Monetary Fund, the price of gold is up 454% since 2000, silver is up 317% and lead 493%. Around 1.4 million square kilometres of the seabed has been leased since 2001 by the International Seabed Authority for exploratory mining activities.
In some industries, technological advances have driven these trends. Virtually all offshore windfarms were installed in the last 20 years. The marine biotechnology sector scarcely existed at the end of the 20th century, and over 99% of genetic sequences from marine organisms found in patents were registered since 2000.
During the 1990s, as the Blue Acceleration got underway, the world population reached 6 billion. Today there are around 7.8 billion people. Population growth in water-scarce areas like the Middle East, Australia and South Africa has caused a three-fold growth in volumes of desalinated seawater generated since 2000. It has also meant a nearly four-fold increase in the volume of goods transported around the world by shipping since 2000.
Why does the Blue Acceleration matter?
The ocean was once thought – even among prominent scientists – to be too vast to be changed by human activity. That view has been replaced by the uncomfortable recognition that not only can humans change the ocean, but also that the current trajectory of human demands on the ocean simply isn’t sustainable.
Consider the coast of Norway. The region is home to a multi-million dollar ocean-based oil and gas industry, aquaculture, popular cruises, busy shipping routes and fisheries. All of these interests are vying for the same ocean space, and their demands are growing. A five-fold increase in the number of salmon grown by aquaculture is expected by 2050, while the region’s tourism industry is predicted to welcome a five-fold increase in visitors by 2030. Meanwhile, vast offshore wind farms have been proposed off the southern tip of Norway.
The ocean is vast, but it’s not limitless. This saturation of ocean space is not unique to Norway, and a densely populated ocean space runs the risk of conflict across industries. Escapee salmon from aquaculture have spread sea lice in wild populations, creating tensions with Norwegian fisheries. An industrial accident in the oil and gas industry could cause significant damage to local seafood and tourism as well as the seafood export market.
More fundamentally, the burden on ocean ecosystems is growing, and we simply don’t know as much about these ecosystems as we would like. An ecologist once quipped that fisheries management is the same as forestry management. Instead of trees you’re counting fish, except you can’t see the fish, and they move.
Exploitation of the ocean has tended to precede exploration. One iconic example is the scaly-foot snail. This deep sea mollusc was discovered in 1999 and was on the IUCN Red List of endangered species by 2019. Why? As far as scientists can tell, the species is only found in three hydrothermal vent systems more than 2,400 metres below the Indian Ocean, covering less than 0.02 square kilometres. Today, two of the three vent systems fall within exploratory mining leases.
Billionaires dreaming of space colonies can dream a little closer to home. Even as the Blue Acceleration consumes more of the ocean’s resources, this vast area is every bit as mysterious as outer space. The surfaces of Mars and the Moon have been mapped in higher resolution than the seafloor. Life in the ocean has existed for two billion years longer than on land and an estimated 91% of marine species have not been described by science. Their genetic adaptations could help scientists develop the antibiotics and medicines of tomorrow, but they may disappear long before that’s possible.
The timing is right for guiding the Blue Acceleration towards more sustainable and equitable trajectories. The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development is about to begin, a new international treaty on ocean biodiversity is in its final stages of negotiation, and in June 2020, governments, businesses, academics and civil society will assemble for the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon.
Yet many simple questions remain. Who is driving the Blue Acceleration? Who is benefiting from it? And who is being left out or forgotten? These are all urgent questions, but perhaps the most important and hardest to answer of all is how to create connections and engagement across all these groups. Otherwise, the drivers of the Blue Acceleration will be like the fish in the ecologist’s analogy: constantly moving, invisible and impossible to manage – before it is too late.
Robert Blasiak is a co-author of the study this article is based on, led by Jean-Baptiste Jouffray, and with additional co-authors Albert Norström, Henrik Österblom and Magnus Nyström, who also discussed and contributed to the development of this article.
source: The Conversation: Environment
Media Invited to Renaming Ceremony for International Ocean Science Satellite
NASA and its partners on an upcoming mission to extend long-term observations of global sea level change will announce the renaming of the mission, currently known as Sentinel-6A/Jason-CS, at a ceremony at 9 a.m. EST Tuesday, Jan. 28.
Source: NASA Earth News