Showing posts with label extinction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label extinction. Show all posts

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Anthropomorphic Global Warming in Australia 2018


Australians have been told repeatedly that global warming leading to climate change is real.

The continent is becomng dryer, record air and ground temperatures are no longer novel, heavy rain events are predicted to become more destructive, mass flora and fauna extinctions are expected and the coastline is beginning to erode faster than at the historical rate.

It's not just happenng in Australia, other continents are also experience climate change and, the one factor most have in common is generations of ever increasing greenhouse gas emissions produced by both households and industries in metropolitan, regional and rural areas.

Everyone bears some responsibility for where the world finds itself......


In the first quarter of 2018 Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions will be over MT 7.3 CO2-e  higher than the national Paris ERT commitment made on our behalf by the Australian Government.

Over one quarter of Australia’s CO2-e budget for 2013 to 2050 has already been spent in the last 4.75 years.

AUSTRALIA’S ANNUAL EMISSIONS, CALENDAR YEAR TO SEPTEMBER 2017*


* This graph includes both published Government NGGI data and Ndevr Environmental projections for Q4/FY2017 and Q1/FY2018

BY  SECTOR 2005-2017
~~~~~~~~~~~

World-wide, land used for non-animal and animal-based agriculture in 2017 was estimated to produce 24% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.


66.3% from enteric fermentation in ruminant livestock (eructation and flatulence)

15.5% from agricultural soils

10.8% from prescribed burning of savannas

3.9% from manure management

2.4% from liming and urea application

and the remainder from rice cultivation and field burning of agricultural residues.

Total greenhouse gas emissions from world-wide food systems in 2012 contributed between 19% to 29% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. By 2030 the combined greenhouse gas emissions from global food production is expected to double.

~~~~~~~~~~~

National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting, Australia’s highest 10 greenhouse gas emitters 2016–17

Monday, 26 February 2018

Where have all the insects gone?



ABC News, 24 February 2018:

A global crash in insect populations has found its way to Australia, with entomologists across the country reporting lower than average numbers of wild insects.

University of Sydney entomologist Dr Cameron Webb said researchers around the world widely acknowledge that insect populations are in decline, but are at a loss to determine the cause.

"On one hand it might be the widespread use of insecticides, on the other hand it might be urbanisation and the fact that we're eliminating some of the plants where it's really critical that these insects complete their development," Dr Webb said.

"Add in to the mix climate change and sea level rise and it's incredibly difficult to predict exactly what it is."

Entomologist and owner of the Australian Insect Farm, near Innisfail in far north Queensland, Jack Hasenpusch is usually able to collect swarms of wild insects at this time of year.

"I've been wondering for the last few years why some of the insects have been dropping off and put it down to lack of rainfall," Mr Hasenpusch said.

"This year has really taken the cake with the lack of insects, it's left me dumbfounded, I can't figure out what's going on."

Mr Hasenpusch said entomologists he had spoken to from Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and even as far away as New Caledonia and Italy all had similar stories.....

The Guardian, 19 October 2017:

The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years, according to a new study that has shocked scientists.

Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon”, with profound impacts on human society.

The new data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany but has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture, the researchers said.

The cause of the huge decline is as yet unclear, although the destruction of wild areas and widespread use of pesticides are the most likely factors and climate change may play a role. The scientists were able to rule out weather and changes to landscape in the reserves as causes, but data on pesticide levels has not been collected.

“The fact that the number of flying insects is decreasing at such a high rate in such a large area is an alarming discovery,” said Hans de Kroon, at Radboud University in the Netherlands and who led the new research.

“Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth [but] there has been some kind of horrific decline,” said Prof Dave Goulson of Sussex University, UK, and part of the team behind the new study. “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”

The research, published in the journal Plos One, is based on the work of dozens of amateur entomologists across Germany who began using strictly standardised ways of collecting insects in 1989. Special tents called malaise traps were used to capture more than 1,500 samples of all flying insects at 63 different nature reserves.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Forecasting a dangerous present and devastating future for Australia



“Background warming associated with anthropogenic climate change has seen Australian annual mean temperature increase by approximately 1.1 °C since 1910. Most of this warming has occurred since 1950.” [Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Annual Climate Statement 2017]

Bloomberg, 10 January 2018:

The road-melting heatwave that made Sydney the hottest place on Earth at the weekend may just be a taste of things to come. 

Temperatures in Australia are set to rise until around 2050 due to greenhouse gas emissions already in the atmosphere, according to the country’s weather bureau

“Australia is one country where you really can see the signal of global warming,” Karl Braganza, the Bureau of Meteorology’s head of climate monitoring, told reporters on a call. “We’ve locked the degree of warming in until mid-century and that means it’s likely that one of the next strong El Nino events in the coming decade or two will set a new record.”

Western Sydney touched 47.3 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday and 2017 was Australia’s third-hottest year on record. Heat and drought risk devastating crops in Australia, the world’s third-largest exporter of cotton where farm production is forecast to be worth A$59 billion ($46 billion) this financial year.

The Heat is On
Australia has had just one cooler-than-average year since 2005
Since 2005, Australia has notched up seven of its 10 warmest years, the weather bureau said in its annual climate statement.

More heatwaves could stress a power grid that’s struggled to cope with demand as people crank up air-conditioning during the scorching summer months.

Australian Bureau of Meteorology Annual Climate Statement 2017, issued January 2018.

Visible impacts in 2018.................

The Guardian, 9 January 2018:

More than 400 animals have died in one colony alone as temperatures soar above 47C, causing exhaustion and dehydration

Mounds of dead flying foxes in Campbelltown suburb of Sydney, Australia. Photograph: Facebook/Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Anthony Waldron: "I knew there were a lot of threatened species in Australia, but I didn't realise things were getting worse so quickly."


ABC News, 26 October 2017:

(Supplied: WWF)

Australia is one of seven countries responsible for more than half of global biodiversity loss, according to a study published today.

Scientists based their findings on the worsening in conservation status of species between 1996 and 2008 on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list.

The IUCN red list uses a series of categories to rank how close a species is to extinction, from "least concern" through to "extinct in the wild".

Of the 109 countries studied, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, China and the United States (primarily Hawaii) also ranked inside the top seven as the worst offenders on conservation.

The researchers conceded that species native to multiple countries presented an obstacle to their calculations, but lead author Anthony Waldron says they were able to narrow down where the pressures were coming from.

"Once you actually work out [which country] might have been responsible for the loss of diversity, Australia is standing there at number two," Dr Waldron said.

"I knew there were a lot of threatened species in Australia, but I didn't realise things were getting worse so quickly."

Compared to Australia, which recorded a biodiversity loss of between 5 and 10 per cent of the total global decline, the study published in Nature found Indonesia had "absolutely the highest number of declining species", representing around 21 per cent of the total decline during the period.

Reduction in biodiversity was calculated by looking at species that had their IUCN red list upgraded during the period, such as from "least concern" to "threatened", or "vulnerable" to "endangered"……

Environmental sustainability professor Barry Brook from the University of Tasmania said there were a number of pressures threatening biodiversity in Australia.

"The predominant one is landclearing — ongoing clearing for habitat. New South Wales and Queensland have been particularly bad for that over the past two decades," Professor Brook said.

"[But] it's also what's known as 'lags' or 'extinction debt'. That's where you've had this historical change over many decades and it takes time for extinction to catch up as populations are reduced and fragmented and lose genetic diversity, then gradually fade away."

He said that spending on conservation is worthwhile when it involves preserving habitat or targeting pests.

"Native biodiversity is definitely improved by removing invasive plants and to a lesser extent invasive species."

(ABC News: Caroline Winter)

BACKGROUND


Friday, 15 September 2017

Australian governments continue to trip over their own hypocrisy


Crikey.com.au, 4 September 2017:

The forests of the Amazon basin are often referred to as the lungs of the Earth, nurturing life through rich, tropical biodiversity. Although often overlooked, it’s equally fitting to consider the jungles of the Asia-Pacific as the Earth’s heart. After all, they contain 20% of the world’s plant and animal species, and by some measurements make up six of the world’s 25 biodiversity hotspots. Australia adds to the variety, with its wealth of native vegetation. Each one of these areas is unique and plays an integral part in the world’s interrelated ecological systems.

The positive news is that the international community recognises them as such. Last month marks the one-year anniversary of the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit in Brunei-Darussalam, an initiative set up in 2014 to discuss the alarming rate of deforestation in the region.
In the last five years, Indonesia has overtaken Brazil to become the greatest forest-clearing nation in the world. South-east Asia more broadly has lost almost 15% of its forests over the last 15 years. Representing the Turnbull government at the summit, then-newly promoted Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg himself recognised the significance of these figures and declared that Australia was “committed” to rainforest protection throughout the Asia-Pacific.
A year on, Australia has appeared to take steps to support its Asian neighbours, such as contributing funding to assist in ending illegal logging. However, it is interesting to note that while the government seems to portray itself as one of the chief proponents in curbing international deforestation, land clearing remains hugely significant in Australia. In actual fact, the east coast of the continent is considered one of the worst deforestation areas in the world today.
http://www.wwf.org.au/news/news/2017/tree-clearing-causing-queenslands-greatest-animal-welfare-crisis#gs.lfpuVWc

Take a bow, the Turnbull Coalition Government, NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government, Victorian Andrews Coalition Government, Queensland Palaszczuk Labor Government and Tasmanian Hodgman Coalition Government – you are making Australia famous for all the wrong reasons. 

The Guardian, 7 September 2017:

Australia is rapidly losing its world-famous biodiversity. More than 90 species have gone extinct since European colonisation (including three in just the past decade) and more than 1,700 species are now formally recognised as being in danger of extinction.

Despite the pride many Australians feel in our unique natural heritage (and the billions of dollars made from nature-based tourism), the amount of federal funding for biodiversity conservation has dropped by 37% since 2013.

If a local industry or public institution experienced such a drastic funding cut, the people affected would petition their local representatives and the issue would be raised in parliament as a matter of local or national importance.

Threatened species cannot of course lobby government. But all threatened species on the land have at least one elected official who should take responsibility for them.

Threatened species as local constituents

A member of parliament’s primary job, besides being a party member and parliamentarian, is to speak up for local interests. Data from the Species of National Environmental Significance shows that every federal electorate contains at least one threatened species, so every single federally elected politician has a role to play in abating species extinction.

We’ve used that data to create a map that shows the number of threatened species in each federal electorate, along with details of the local MP and their party. It’s obvious from a glance that a handful of electorates contain most of Australia’s threatened species.


If you live in these electorates it's time to shame and name your MP at every opportunity.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

"Zero prospect of recovery" for many sections of Australia's World Heritage Great Barrier Reef


James Cook University, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, media release, 10 April 2017:

Two-thirds of Great Barrier Reef hit by back-to-back mass coral bleaching

For the second time in just 12 months, scientists have recorded severe coral bleaching across huge tracts of the Great Barrier Reef after completing aerial surveys along its entire length.  In 2016, bleaching was most severe in the northern third of the Reef, while one year on, the middle third has experienced the most intense coral bleaching.

“The combined impact of this back-to-back bleaching stretches for 1,500 km (900 miles), leaving only the southern third unscathed,” says Prof. Terry Hughes, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, who undertook the aerial surveys in both 2016 and 2017.

“The bleaching is caused by record-breaking temperatures driven by global warming. This year, 2017, we are seeing mass bleaching, even without the assistance of El Niño conditions.”

The aerial surveys in 2017 covered more than 8,000 km (5,000 miles) and scored nearly 800 individual coral reefs closely matching the aerial surveys in 2016 that were carried out by the same two observers.

Dr. James Kerry, who also undertook the aerial surveys, explains further, “this is the fourth time the Great Barrier Reef has bleached severely – in 1998, 2002, 2016, and now in 2017. Bleached corals are not necessarily dead corals, but in the severe central region we anticipate high levels of coral loss.”

“It takes at least a decade for a full recovery of even the fastest growing corals, so mass bleaching events 12 months apart offers zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016.”

Coupled with the 2017 mass bleaching event, Tropical Cyclone Debbie struck a corridor of the Great Barrier Reef at the end of March.  The intense, slow-moving system was likely to have caused varying levels of damage along a path up to 100 km in width. Any cooling effects related to the cyclone are likely to be negligible in relation to the damage it caused, which unfortunately struck a section of the reef that had largely escaped the worst of the bleaching.

“Clearly the reef is struggling with multiple impacts,” explains Prof. Hughes. “Without a doubt the most pressing of these is global warming. As temperatures continue to rise the corals will experience more and more of these events:  1°C of warming so far has already caused four events in the past 19 years.”

‘Ultimately, we need to cut carbon emissions, and the window to do so is rapidly closing.”

Not all data is shown, only reefs at either end of the bleaching spectrum: Red circles indicate reefs undergoing most severe bleaching (60% or more of visible corals bleaching) Green circles indicate reefs with no or only minimal bleaching (10% or less of corals bleaching).

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Australia faces an era of mass extinctions


For decades international scientists have been warning Australia that this island continent would feel the worst environmental impacts of global warming first.

And for just as many decades (with the exception of the years between 2007 and 2013), as both governments and the governed, this country has been ignoring these warnings.

The end result is that Australia now lists 83 species of higher plants, 23 mammal species, 22 species of birds and at least 4 frogs species as having been driven into extinction since 1788. 

There are many hundreds more threatened species and ecological communities. See: C'wealth EPBC Act List of Threatened Fauna.

While we as a nation and people have not yet achieved 100 per cent extinction in certain flora and fauna groups, climate change has arrived to assist in turning this unique landmass and its coastal waters into a barren wasteland. 

This year alone has seen 93 per cent of The Great Barrier Reef experience coral bleaching and 700 kilometres of the Gulf of Carpentaria suffer widespread mangrove dieback with saltmash loss, while the Great Southern Reef lost 100 kms of its giant kelp forests in 2011 leading to the functional extinction of 370sq km of rocky cool-climate reefs, extending down the coast from Kalbarri, about 570km north of Perth, Western Australia. 

Now reputable institutions and senior scientists are giving us another urgent warning about extinctions to come if Australia doesn't stop acting as if the natural environment hasn't changed for the worse in the last 200 years.


SCIENTISTS’DECLARATION: ACCELERATING FOREST, WOODLAND AND GRASSLAND DESTRUCTION IN AUSTRALIA


Australia’s land clearing rate is once again among the highest in the world.

Remaining forests and woodlands are critical for much of our wildlife, for the health and productivity of our lands and waters, and for the character of our nation. Beginning in the 1990s, governments gradually increased protection of these remaining forests and woodlands.

However, those laws are now being wound back.

The State of Queensland has suffered the greatest loss of forests and woodlands. But while stronger laws by the mid-2000s achieved dramatic reductions of forest and woodland loss, recent weakening of laws reversed the trend. Loss of rtinture forest has more than trebled since 2009. In Victoria, home to four of Australia’s five most heavily cleared bioregions, land clearing controls were weakened in 2013, and in New South Wales, proposed biodiversity laws provide increased opportunities for habitat destruction.

Of the eleven world regions highlighted as global deforestation fronts, eastern Australia is the only one in a developed country. This problem threatens much of Australia’s extraordinary biodiversity and, if not redressed, will blight the environmental legacy we leave future generations.

Australia’s wildlife at risk

Already, Australia’s environment has suffered substantial damage from clearing of forests, woodlands and grasslands, including serious declines in woodland birds and reptiles.  Vast numbers of animals are killed by forest and woodland destruction. For example, between 1998 and 2005 an estimated 100 million native birds, reptiles and mammals were killed because of destruction of their habitat in NSW; in Queensland, the estimate was 100 million native animals dying each year between 1997 and 1999. As land clearing once again escalates, so too will these losses of wildlife.

The loss of habitat is among the greatest of threats to Australia’s unique threatened species, imperiling 60% of Australia’s more than 1,700 threatened species. Habitat protection is essential for preventing more species from becoming threatened in the future, adding to our burgeoning threatened species lists. Habitat removal eliminates the plants and animals that lived in it; increases risks to wildlife from introduced predators; impacts surface and groundwater-dependent ecosystems, and fragments habitat so that individuals are unable to move through the landscape. It also reduces the ability of species to move in response to climate change.

The societal costs of forest and woodland destruction

Forest and woodland destruction also causes long-term costs to farmers, governments and society. Removal of native vegetation:

·         Hastens erosion and reduces fertility of Australia’s ancient and fragile soils 
·         Increases the risk of soils becoming saline 
·         Exacerbates drought 
·         Reduces numbers of native pollinators and many wildlife species (such as woodland birds and insectivorous bats) that control agricultural pests 
·         Reduces shade for livestock from heat and wind.

Continued and increasing removal of forests, woodlands and grasslands increases the cost of restoring landscapes and reduces the chance of success. For example, the Australian Government has committed to plant 20 million trees by 2020. Yet many more than 20 million trees are cleared every year in Queensland alone.

Forest and woodland destruction increases the threat to some of Australia’s most iconic environmental assets. Coral health on The Great Barrier Reef has declined precipitously from the effects of high temperatures associated with climate change, poor water quality, and the flow-on impacts it triggers (such as crown-of-thorns outbreaks). Native vegetation removal from catchments that flow into the Great Barrier Reef liberates topsoil and contaminants, reducing water quality and threatening the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef. Governments have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this problem, with estimates of the full cost of restoring water quality as high as AUD$10 billion.

Native vegetation is a major carbon sink. Forest and woodland destruction is the fastest-growing contributor to Australia’s carbon emissions, as it transfers the carbon that was stored in the vegetation to the atmosphere. Hence, Australia’s increasing forest and woodland destruction threatens its ability to meet its commitments under four major international treaties: the Convention on Biological Diversity, the World Heritage Convention, the Convention to Combat Desertification, and the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Urgently-needed solutions

·         Develop and implement a strategy to end net loss of native vegetation, and restore over-cleared landscapes
·         Recognise all biodiversity, not just threatened species, in policy and legislation for the management of native vegetation
·         Establish clear, transparent and repeatable national reporting of clearing of native vegetation
·         Use rigorous biodiversity assessment methods for assessing clearing requests, accounting for all potential impacts, including cumulative and indirect impacts
·         Identify habitats that are of high conservation value for complete protection
·         For unavoidable losses of native vegetation, require robust and transparent offsets that meet the highest standards and improve biodiversity outcomes

Thirteen years ago, scientists from across the world expressed their grave concern about ongoing high rates of land forest and woodland destruction in the Australian State of Queensland. For a while, the warning was heeded, and the Queensland state government acted to bring land clearing to historically low levels.

The progress made then is now being undone. Forest and woodland destruction has resumed at increasingly high rates. This return of large-scale deforestation to Australia risks further irreversible environmental consequences of international significance.

Today, scientists from across the world (including those listed), in conjunction with scientific societies and the delegates of the Society for Conservation Biology (Oceania) Conference, call upon Australian governments and parliaments, especially those of Queensland and New South Wales, to take action. We call for the prevention of a return to the damaging past of high rates of woodland and forest destruction, in order to protect the unique biodiversity and marine environments of which Australia is sole custodian.

Signatories

Scientific Societies

And 200 senior scientists from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Malaysia, Sweden, Denmark, United Kingdom, and United States of America whose names can be found here.


8 July 2016