About 100 of Australia’s unique land mammals face extinction. Of the many threats contributing to the crisis, certain fire regimes are among the most pervasive.
In a new paper, we reveal how “inappropriate” fire patterns put 88% of Australia’s threatened land mammals at greater risk of extinction – from ground-dwelling bandicoots to tree-climbing possums and high-flying microbats.
Our research also identifies what type of fires are most damaging to threatened mammals, and shows some mammals are suffering due to a lack of fire.
Australia’s women are recognized and welcomed around the world. Plibersek and Wong are making a world of difference
French President Emmanuel Macron has singled out Australia’s new environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, in front of a global audience in Portugal, declaring that Australia was back in action on climate change.
The Pilliga forests are a significant water, biodiversity and carbon sink resource, yet our governments want to turn it into a gas-field. Now is the time to rethink how we value and manage our irreplaceable natural resources.
Let’s say a new irrigation scheme is proposed and all the land it’ll take up needs to be cleared — trees felled, soil upturned, and habitats destroyed. Water will also have to be allocated. Would the economic gain of the scheme outweigh the damage to the environment? This is the kind of question so-called “land accounts” grapple with. Land accounts are a type of “environmental account”, which measures our interactions with the environment by recording them as transactions. They help us understand the environmental and economic outcomes of land use decisions.
A hearing into the Environment Effects Statement for Kalbar’s mineral sands project on rich Victorian farmland has been told about competition for billions of litres of water, high levels of uranium, untested technologies and a strange backflip by the project’s “independent experts”. Elizabeth Minter investigates.
Australians do the right thing each week by separating recyclables into colour-coded wheelie bins, yet most of it is destined for landfill. Luke Stacey investigates the secret agenda of the plastics industry: promoting recycling in order to ramp up production of virgin plastic.
Bait poisonings of household pets and working animals have also been recorded. Peter Best, a veterinarian based in South Tamworth, estimated that one in 15 admissions to his practice had involved poisoned animals. Such facts could only make another researcher at the CSIRO sigh. “If it’s used properly,” observed Steve Henry, “it should be a very, very low risk that a bird should find one of those grains of zinc phosphide and eat it.” The bait was sound. The same could not be said for those using it. “Why birds start falling out of the sky is [that] people do inappropriate things.” Such people used the bait in ways “not described on the label, or people make up their own baits.” When asked about her attitude to the problem, Healthy Rivers Dubbo convenor Melissa Gray suggested, with no detectable irony, that everybody wanted “the mouse plague gone, but there’s no silver bullet.” No silver bullets, maybe, but virtually everything else in the armoury of extermination. For the president of the NSW Farmers Association, the mayhem caused by such a poison as bromadiolone was worth the effort. Showing the somewhat patchy wisdom of his forebears, he accepted the lethal calculus. “It will ca
The two million deaths that have resulted from the ruling elites mishandling of the global pandemic will be dwarfed by what is to follow. The global catastrophe that awaits us, already baked into the ecosystem from the failure to curb the use of fossil fuels and animal agriculture, presage new, deadlier pandemics, mass migrations of billions of desperate people, plummeting crop yields, mass starvation and systems collapse.The Age of Social Murder | The Smirking Chimp
THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA is reporting that the Nationals are revolting on climate change, demanding the new $1 billion Grid Reliability Fund be allowed to invest in coal and nuclear power.National Party waging war against Australian environment
The biggest cause of environmental destruction in our country is the Right-wing ideology shared by conservative politicians and media groups, writes Sue Arnold.Environment is the enemy of Right-wing governments
Trump’s “cleanest water in the world” (ODT)
As fishermen deep in the Louisiana bayou, Kindra Arnesen and her family have faced their share of life-altering challenges in recent years.
First came Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 monster storm that devastated her small fishing community in Plaquemines Parish before roaring up the Gulf Coast, killing more than 1,800 people and destroying $125 billion in property. Five years later, BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded 40 miles offshore, spewing nearly 200 million gallons of crude. The fisheries have not fully recovered more than nine years later, nor has her family.
But this year may be worse. A historic slow-moving flood of polluted Mississippi River water loaded with chemicals, pesticides and human waste from 31 states and two Canadian provinces is draining straight into the marshes and bayous of the Gulf of Mexico — the nurseries of Arnesen’s fishing grounds — upsetting the delicate balance of salinity and destroying the fragile ecosystem in the process. As the Gulf waters warm this summer, algae feed on the freshwater brew, smothering oxygen-starved marine life.
I watched the extremely boring 4 Corners story, I drank a glass of water and I am wearing cotton underpants. So I’m as qualified to form a view on the issue as the next potato!
By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – – The Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii has reported that in April, …
Kentucky coal company announces plans to build the state’s largest solar farmThe company says the farm will give jobs to displaced coal miners.A dump truck moves dirt and rock from a mountaintop removal coal mine in Kentucky. CREDIT: AP Photo/Roger AlfordA Kentucky coal company announced Tuesday that it is planning to build a solar farm on a reclaimed mountaintop removal coal mine and that the project would bring both jobs and energy to the ar
By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – – Although Donald Trump has complained about America’s failing airports, bridges and …
The Federal Government says it is considering the full range of potential causes for the recent South Australian power outage, including electricity pricing structures, the dependence on renewable energy in the state, and the fact that the biggest fucking storm in 50 years literally ripped 22 electricity pylons out of the ground.
Electricity expert Barnaby Joyce said there were any number of factors that could have contributed to the power going out, with the fact that electricity wires were actually cut in half potentially amongst them.
“The way the energy is made is definitely the most likely cause. But we have been told that tornado-force winds did ravage the state just before the power went out, so we’ve tentatively added that to the list of possibilities as well”.
SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA – (CT&P) -A bird flu outbreak that has puzzled farmers and scientists has spread to three more Midwest turkey farms, bringing the number of farms infected to 23 and raising the death toll to more than 1.2 million birds killed by the disease or by authorities scrambling to contain it.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed on Saturday that the H5N2 strain of avian influenza was found among 38,000 birds at a commercial farm in Kandiyohi County in west-central Minnesota. It’s the third confirmed outbreak in Kandiyohi, which is the top turkey producing county in the country’s top turkey producing state.
South Dakota State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven said crews were working Saturday to begin euthanizing any birds not killed by the highly contagious strain to prevent the virus from spreading.
Once those birds have been destroyed, the 23 farms in Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas will have lost more than 1.2 million turkeys, a small fraction of the 235 million turkeys produced nationally in 2014. Canadian officials also confirmed earlier in the week that a turkey farm in southern Ontario with 44,800 birds was hit, too.
“We just can’t understand it,” said Rufus Simpleton, a turkey farmer from Guano Flats in central Minnesota. “I mean, we feed these birds a wonderful high-fat diet and pump them full of antibiotics practically from the day they’re born. Then we provide excellent living conditions for them. Each bird has at least a one square foot area in which they can grow up and live a productive and fulfilling life. It’s not like they don’t have social contacts, I mean each turkey has immediate access to roughly 50,000 other turkeys living in the same room. I just can’t understand why they would get sick.”
Dr. Beth Thompson, assistant director of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, said the reason Minnesota has had so many cases has a lot to do with the fact that it’s the country’s top turkey producing state, and that it has a myriad of ponds and lakes that are attractive stopover places for migrating waterfowl such as ducks, who are suspected of carrying the deadly bird flu virus.
“It’s got to be the ducks, damn their black souls!” said Thompson. “Packing 50,000 members of the same species into concentration camp conditions and fattening them to point where they can barely walk has got nothing to do with it, that’s for sure.”
In Minnesota, turkey producers have now lost over 900,000 birds.
Officials stress the risk to public health is low and that there’s no danger to the food supply, as long as no one wants to eat turkey meat. No human cases have been detected in the U.S., but conspiracy theorists hope that will change soon.
Because trucks and equipment provide a potential way to carry the virus onto farms, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed an executive order Friday lifting seasonal weight restrictions for poultry feed trucks and trailers, and for emergency equipment being used in the response. His order said tightening biosecurity by reducing the number of trips to poultry farms is critical to lowering the risk of introducing the virus to non-infected farms.
Governor Dayton signed another order calling for the aerial use of nerve gas over 90% of Minnesota’s lakes and ponds in order to kill the offending waterfowl. “We want to err on the side of caution here, so killing millions of ducks that may or may not be carrying the virus seems like the logical thing to do,” said Dayton.
Meanwhile, chicken farmers all across the Southeast are reporting raised levels of unrest and nervousness among their flocks as it seems more and more likely that the traditional Thanksgiving menu will have to be changed this year.
Ladies and Gentlemen, if I may, I would ask you one question:
Would you like to live in China, a police state whose untrammelled greed has knowingly destroyed its environment for the benefit of the elite?
The arable area of Australia is roughly the size of Vietnam. That’s if we cut down every tree. This sliver of life is all that stands between us and shitdom, a la Easter Island on ice.
But frack it, right?
Somewhere, in a boardroom far, far away, a man with receding hair and a striped shirt asks two crucial questions:
What is this Artesian Basin? And is it money?
He is obliged to maximise returns to stakeholders — known in some circles as “sausageholders”. And the sausage is pointed directly at our heads. The trickle-down effect.
Worse, he has friends. Lots of them.
And didn’t our prime minister do well? Certainly well enough to enthuse the crowd at the recent World Cup opener against our former Gulf War allies, Kuwait.
Make no mistake, ASIO reports to Parliament. Or, in 2015, Peta Credlin, who for the time-being is the Australian lower house.
Accordingly, the men and women ASIO find themselves beholden to a bunch of Fruit Loops with a wildly erratic security/publicity agenda. Add to their complications the silent-movie AFP and kill-happy local police and you can start to have some sympathy for them.
There is another pressure, too — money. The guys in the striped shirts. The guys who are pointing their sausages at you. ASIO has a very ordinary track-record in resisting instructions to focus on commercial targets.
So, we find ourselves at the mercy of striped-shirts and an avariciously-instructed domestic security body.
If this goes on, environmental degradation and police state will follow as night does day. You might not notice the creep for 10-15 years or so, but you will.
As they say, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.
This post originally ran on Juan Cole’s Web page.
Developing countries of the global south don’t have enough electricity. Sometimes rural populations are only just now getting electricity. Ironically, many of them can leapfrog conventional power and go straight to solar and wind. Indeed, in the next generation, renewables will be a central element in national development.
SunEdison has been awarded a contract to build 350 megawatts of utility scale solar plants in Chile. But what is important here is that SunEdison will be able to generate the electricity more inexpensively than if it had used coal or natural gas or nuclear, and does not need any subsidy to produce this result. If this comparative cost advantage is true now, the advantage will grow rapidly over the next decade.
Coal demand will likely continue to rise slightly globally for a few years, inasmuch as the coal plants are already built, whereas most renewable energy requires up front investment. But India has an interesting idea. Its government will use taxes on coal to help fund 21 gigawatts of new utility scale solar energy! That is the rough equivalent of 20 small nuclear reactors!
Morocco has secured over $2 billion in funding for new solar energy installations. The first of 4 planned plants will go online next October and generate 160 megawatts. Morocco, which has an ambitious goal of 40% renewable energy over the next decade or so, is also planning wind farms along the Atlantic coast.
Ethiopia wants 75% of its citizens to have electricity in the near future, rather than a little over half, as is true today. As part of its push for more electricity, its government is emphasizing renewables, and there are plans for 300 megawatts of new solar power generation in the near future.
South Africa plans to double the amount of renewable energy to which it is committed in the short term, having decided to add over 3 gigawatts. The country is currently largely coal-dependent, but has suffered from brown-outs and insufficient electricity generation.
Why do we ignore behaviour that not only sends plants and animals to extinction but, ultimately, condemns humanity to life in a wasted world, asks Robert Hollingworth.
“There are only 250 lions left in West Africa, but this doesn’t change your day-to-day life. So what do you lose when animals become extinct?”
For anyone, this is a difficult question and Kolbert seemed to have some trouble with it.
Her lengthy reply concluded:
“It is devastating if we lose these creatures. Personally, I don’t want to live in a world that doesn’t have tigers…”
We know what she means, but do her words adequately explain why we want to save individual species?
It should follow that Kolbert would not want to live in a world without mammoths, or a world without the Lake Pedder earthworm, which went missing in the 1970s. But she does, as we all do.
So, what’s so special about preserving creatures of uncertain relevance in our rapidly changing world?
I believe it has everything to do with criminality.
The Oxford Dictionaries list two main definitions of ‘crime’:
- An action or omission which constitutes an offence and is punishable by law.
- An action or activity considered to be evil, shameful or wrong.
It’s likely that both apply in this case.
The crime we are committing is the offence against our planet and the laws that we break are the laws of nature. We plunder, pillage and murder and we steal aspects of our children’s future. And perhaps the most concrete evidence of this, the most emphatic affirmation of these broken laws, is the eradication of an entire species.
Who is guilty? All of us.
Each time we waste food or condone unsustainable food practices, each time we use plastic or paper irresponsibly, each time we drive our cars unnecessarily, buy bottled water, plant exotic species, ignore issues of coal power, native forest harvesting – or just turn a blind eye – we are committing subtle but incrementally lethal crimes. And it is only when something approaches extinction – like the Amazon Rainforest or lions in West Africa – that we are suddenly caught out.
But isn’t the natural world always changing?
More than 90 per cent of the organisms that ever lived on earth are now extinct and most of these disappeared suddenly due to catastrophic events. The first of these occurred some 450 million years ago, a length of time hardly imaginable, and a “sudden event” on this time scale can mean millions of years.
Today, many scientists feel a sixth mass extinction is imminent.
It will not be caused by volcanic eruptions or asteroids, but by human activity and, rather than occurring over hundreds of thousands of years, this new event may take less than a century and erase half the world’s species.
It is happening so fast we can even observe it in our daily lives.
I spend weekends on a secluded property in Central Victoria. It is a residual remnant of native bushland on a granite mountain and, here, I monitor and record just about everything that lives. In the mere space of fifteen years, I have noted the subtle changes that humans alone have wrought. Due to shrinking habitat, introduced species and a drier environment, plant and animal life in this location, is gradually changing. The number and variety of wildflowers has dramatically declined ‒ particularly corm or bulb species such as ground orchids and various native lilies ‒ and at least four species of frog have disappeared completely.
Of course, these creatures still cling on elsewhere, but my little mountain can be seen as a microcosm of a larger, burgeoning scenario.
In Australia, pollution, land clearing and the introduction of foreign species since colonial settlement has resulted in the loss of more than 220 plants and animals. We have the worst mammal extinction rate in the world and all this represents an explicit transgression against our living-breathing planet; a criminal act.
Who pays for these terrestrial crimes? Not us.
With duplicity and crafty evasion we continue to lead our double lives, rarely facing the consequences. Instead, it is our descendants who will suffer for these contraventions, even as they may be set to perpetuate them.
We are supposed to be intelligent. We are supposed to have foresight, wisdom and great technological know how. If this is so, why do we still ignore the repercussions of behaviour that not only sabotages the planet’s biodiversity but, ultimately, condemns humanity to life in a wasted world?