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human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Pacific islands and climate change II

A while ago, I wrote a post on this website on “The effects of rising sea levels on island nations” and have regularly added more information to it, as I found information on new island groups.

I get a regular number of “hits” to the posting from Pacific Island nations and have been pleased about this as the plight of such nations is often overlooked in our modern western-focused world. Whilst doing a search to add more island nations to the posting, I came across a disturbing article by Laray Polk in the Asia-Pacific Journal:

https://apjjf.org/2018/01/Polk.html

Kili Island has suffered heavy flooding yearly since 2011.
(Photo courtesy of Jack Niedenthal)

Laray Polk’s article is entitled “American Polynesia, Rising Seas and Relocation” and concentrates on American Polynesia and the Guano islands. Shockingly, these beautiful island groups were heavily exploited by the US and UK for nuclear testing over many decades and further detail of this can be found in a book, co-authored with Noam Chomsky Nuclear War and Environmental Catastrophe (Seven Stories Press).

However, the Asia-Pacific Journal article provides detail on the effects of rising sea levels and climate change on these islands. Because of its importance, I will quote directly from parts of it. Here is the abstract:

Abstract: In the next 30 to 50 years, rising sea levels caused by global warming will subsume low-lying islands in the Pacific Ocean. Inhabitants will have to relocate, but there are few choices. Among nations (with the exception of Fiji and New Zealand) there is little preparation for the inevitable migration of Pacific Islanders. Which nations should commit to the processes of equitable relocation? The following article will address this question through historical context and colonial occupation; current legal debates surrounding climate change and maritime migration; and the potential rights of “deterritorialized” states, such as retention of exclusive economic zones. Historical context includes an examination of U.S. insular territories in the Pacific and the continued exercise of presidential authority over island possessions.

In 1859, German geographer E. Behm named the U.S. territorial realm in the Pacific, “American Polynesia.” The term appeared in his article on guano island claims, published in Petermanns Mitteilungen.Two maps accompanied the article. (courtesy Gotha Research Library of the University of Erfurt, SPA 4° 000100 005)

Further quote:

Rate of Rising Seas

Pacific island nations and territories are at different stages of addressing the pressing issues of sea-level rise. Discussions involving retention of EEZs—and the rights and financial security maritime zones confer—represent the long game, and enters into a conceptual realm of “What is nationhood, if a nation no longer exists?” Legitimate answers to questions of this magnitude would require changes in international law, a notoriously slow process. As scientific data on climate change feedbacks demonstrate, island nations and territories need answers now.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts the oceans will rise by between 11 and 38 inches by the end of the century, with the potential to submerge low-lying islands. A report from 2016, written by former NASA scientist James Hansen and 16 co-authors, predicts that without serious mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, global sea level is likely to increase “several meters over a timescale of 50 to 150 years.”34 If less than one meter of sea-level rise has the potential to cause an island to disappear by 2100, then Hansen’s numbers portend something more urgent. The question, then, is not when will islands be submerged, but when will sea-level rise make life on low-lying islands impossible.

The answer to that question is close at hand for a number of Pacific islands. Sea-level rise increases both the frequency and magnitude of flooding caused by high tides and storms; saltwater intrusion destroys freshwater sources and the prospect of productive agriculture. Writer and filmmaker Jack Niedenthal, who lives in the Marshall Islands, says that on the island of Kili, “there have been huge changes since about 2011.” That was the first year the island was heavily flooded, and he says it’s happened every year since. Kili, which averages an elevation of 6 feet, is home to many displaced families originally from Bikini Atoll.35

The population there, he says, is trying to raise awareness of climate change with the rest of the world, but it’s challenging. “I find it stunning that there are still so many climate change deniers out there. In the Marshall Islands, we are building numerous seawalls, some very large, others are just building them with old tires and broken down cars.”

A man stands outside his home on Kili Island after a flood event in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Jack Niedenthal)
At an average elevation of 6 feet above sea level, Kili Island is frequently inundated. (Photo courtesy of Jack Niedenthal)
Mattresses stacked on a dining table during a flood event in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Jack Niedenthal)

At a climate change symposium in 2015, Fiji’s Foreign Affairs secretary Esala Nayasi explained the dilemma of Islanders succinctly: “These are people who are on the verge of losing their land that they call home, losing their critical basic necessities and infrastructure, culture, identity and traditional knowledge. This is no longer a news story, it is happening now.”

Nayasi’s sense of urgency is reflected in policy. Among nations, the Republic of Fiji is in the vanguard of relocation efforts. In 2014, the government’s climate change program assisted the village of Vunidogolo in moving to higher ground and provided the means for economic transition. The new village includes “30 houses, fish ponds and copra drier, farms and other projects.” There are 34 more villages slated for relocation within in its territory.39 Because Fiji is a combination of high and low islands, it’s geographically advantaged (though not immune to climate disruption). For other nations such as Tuvalu, comprised of nine coral atolls with a mean elevation of 2 meters, all choices look the same.

Options for relocation are limited in other ways, such as the exclusion of “climate change refugees” from the 1951 Refugee Convention. Under the convention, there are five grounds to qualify for refugee status and fleeing the catastrophic conditions caused by climate change is not one of them. It hasn’t stopped legal challenge in several recent cases in New Zealand. Asylum-seeker Ioane Teitiota from Kiribati lost his case, and was deported in 2015. Sigeo Alesana from Tuvalu had his asylum application declined, but he won his immigration case based partially on the “vulnerability of the couple’s children to illnesses as a result of poor water quality.” According to Radio New Zealand, it’s the first time climate change has been successfully used in an immigration case.40

Perhaps the biggest legal stride in New Zealand is Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s recent announcement of plans for a special refugee visa for Pacific Islanders, starting with 100 places annually. “We are anchored in the Pacific,” Ardern told reporters. “Surrounding us are a number of nations, not least ourselves, who will be dramatically impacted by the effects of climate change. I see it as a personal and national responsibility to do our part.”

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Guam

I have also come across an important piece about the island of Guam, written in August 2016 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “What Climate Change means for Guam”

“In the coming decades, changes in the earth’s atmosphere are
likely to alter several aspects of life in Guam. The air and ocean are
warming, sea level is rising, and the ocean is becoming more acidic.
These changes are likely to damage or destroy much of Guam’s coral
reef ecosystems, increase damages from flooding and typhoons,
reduce the availability of fresh water during the dry season, and make
air temperatures uncomfortably hot more often than they are today.
Our planet is warming and the climate is changing. People have
increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the air by 40 percent
since the late 1700s. Other heat-trapping greenhouse gases are also
increasing. These gases have warmed the surface and lower atmosphere of the earth about one degree (F) during the last 50 years.
Evaporation increases as the atmosphere warms, which increases
humidity, average rainfall, and the frequency of heavy rainstorms in
many places—but contributes to drought in others.
Greenhouse gases are also changing the world’s oceans and ice
cover. Carbon dioxide reacts with water to form carbonic acid, so
the oceans are becoming more acidic. Worldwide, the surface of
the ocean has warmed about one degree during the last 80 years.
Mountain glaciers are retreating and even the great ice sheets on
Greenland and Antarctica are shrinking. Thus the sea is rising at an
increasing rate.
Climate Change and Coral Loss
Warming waters are likely to damage much of the coral around Guam.
Average water temperatures around Guam have risen more than one
degree over the last century, in addition to the year-to-year changes
associated with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (“El Niño”). Rising water
temperatures harm the algae that live inside corals and provide food for
them. The loss of algae weakens corals and can eventually kill them. This
process is commonly known as “coral bleaching” because the loss of the
algae also causes the corals to turn white. Coral bleaching is becoming
more common around Guam, including record-breaking bleaching that
has occurred throughout the western Pacific since 2013. Elevated water
temperatures also cause outbreaks of diseases that can harm or kill corals.
Increasing ocean acidity also damages corals. By changing the balance
of minerals in sea water, higher acidity decreases the ability of corals
to produce calcium carbonate, which is the primary component of their
skeletons. The Pacific Ocean has become about 25 percent more acidic in
the past three centuries, and acidity is likely to increase another
40 to 50 percent by 2100. Over the next 50 to 60 years, warming and
acidification are likely to harm coral reefs around Guam and throughout the world, and widespread loss of coral is likely.
Warming and acidification could result in widespread damage to marine
ecosystems. Guam is home to a diverse array of fish species. Sharks, rays,
grouper, snapper, and hundreds of other fish species rely on healthy coral
reefs for habitat. Reefs also protect nearshore fish nurseries and feeding
grounds. A significant fraction of reef-dwelling fish are likely to lose their
habitats by 2100. Increasing acidity would also reduce populations of
shellfish and other organisms that depend on minerals in the water to build
their skeletons and shells.
Bleached corals in the Tumon Bay Marine Preserve in 2007. Credit: Dave Burdick,
Change in sea surface temperature (°F)

Rising sea surface temperatures since 1901. The waters around Guam have
warmed by more than one degree. Source: EPA, Climate Change Indicators in the United States.
Tropical Storms
As the climate changes, typhoons may cause more damage. Guam lies
in one of the world’s most active regions for tropical storms. In 2002,
Typhoon Pongsona caused $700 million in damages, destroyed 1,300
homes, and left the island without power. In just the last few years,
neighboring islands have suffered from some of the strongest and most
damaging tropical cyclones ever recorded, including Super Typhoons
Haiyan (2013), Maysak (2015), and Soudelor (2015). Although warming
oceans provide typhoons with more potential energy, scientists are not
yet sure whether typhoons have become stronger or more frequent.
Nevertheless, wind speeds and rainfall rates during typhoons are likely to
increase as the climate continues to warm. Higher wind speeds and the
resulting damages can make insurance for wind damage more expensive
or difficult to obtain.

Rising Sea Level and Coastal Flooding
Sea level has risen by about four inches relative to Guam’s shoreline since 1993. If the oceans and atmosphere continue to warm, sea level around
Guam is likely to rise one to three feet in the next century. Sea level rise
submerges low-lying areas, erodes beaches, and exacerbates coastal
flooding from typhoons and tsunamis. Coastal homes and infrastructure
will flood more often as sea level rises because storm surges will become
higher as well. Homes, businesses, roads, and the Port of Guam are
vulnerable to the impacts of storms and sea level rise.
The loss of coral reefs compounds this problem because reefs help
protect the shore from waves and storm damage. As reefs die, they lose
their structural integrity and provide less protection to the shore. If larger
waves strike the shore, beaches will erode more rapidly.
Rainfall and Water Supplies
Average rainfall in Guam has increased slightly since 1950, but scientists
are not sure whether total rainfall here will increase in the future. Nevertheless, Guam’s wet season may become wetter, while dry periods may become drier. Warmer temperatures tend to make both rainstorms and droughts more intense. Moreover, Guam’s climate tends to be dry during El Niño years and wet during La Niña years, and scientists generally
expect the differences between El Niño and La Niña years to become
greater in most places.
Inland flooding in Guam may increase as the climate changes. Heavy
rainstorms occasionally overwhelm Guam’s rivers, streams, and urban
storm drains, leading to damaging floods. Flooding is most common in the
southern part of Guam, where the local bedrock is less permeable than
the limestone in the north. This means that rainfall in the south runs off
into rivers and streams instead of filtering into the ground. Flooding during
the wet season could become worse as rainstorms become more intense.
Conversely, water may be less available in the dry season. Less rainfall
occurs during El Niño years, such as during the drought that affected the
island in 2015–2016. Thus, if the El Niño cycle becomes more intense,
less rain might fall during the dry season. Moreover, rising temperatures
increase the rate at which water evaporates (or transpires) into the air
from soils, plants, and reservoirs, which would further exacerbate drought
conditions.
During droughts, rising sea level could make fresh water less available—
particularly groundwater, which provides 80 percent of Guam’s water
supply. Most of Guam’s fresh water comes from the northern part of the
island, which has a “lens” of fresh groundwater floating on top of the
heavier, saltier water. Some wells already produce salty water during dry
periods when the freshwater lens becomes thinner; prolonged drought
could make more of Guam’s wells salty. Rising sea level could also cause
salt water to infiltrate farther into the island’s groundwater.
Inland Plants and Animals
Warmer temperatures and changes in rainfall could expand, shrink, or
shift the ranges of various plants and animals in Guam’s forests, depending on the conditions that each species requires. Many tropical plants
and animals could be threatened by warming, as they are accustomed to
the temperatures that currently prevail in Guam, which are fairly steady
year-round. It is unclear whether species could tolerate the weather often
being warmer than it ever is today. Some native species could be crowded
out by invasive species better adapted to the changing climate, and some
could face extinction.
Human Health
Hot days can be unhealthy—even dangerous. Rising temperatures will increase the frequency of hot days and warm nights. High air temperatures
can cause heat stroke and dehydration and affect people’s cardiovascular
and nervous systems. Warm nights are especially dangerous because
they prevent the human body from cooling off after a hot day. Certain people are especially vulnerable, including children, the elderly, the sick, and the poor. Military personnel also face a higher risk of heat-related illness because they perform intense physical activities outdoors, they often wear layers of protective equipment, and many are from cooler climates and not acclimated to Guam’s warm and humid climate.
The sources of information about climate and the impacts of climate change in this publication are: the national climate assessments by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, synthesis and assessment products by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, assessment reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and EPA’s Climate Change Indicators in the United States. Mention of a particular season, location, species, or any other aspect of an impact does not imply anything about the likelihood or importance of aspects that are not mentioned.

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Global Ocean Alliance: 30 countries are now calling for greater ocean protection

Published 3 October 2020 From: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and The Rt Hon Lord Zac Goldsmith

30 countries have now joined the Global Ocean Alliance championing an international commitment for a minimum 30% of the global ocean to be protected through Marine Protected Areas by 2030.

At the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, the UK again reiterated its commitment to protecting the environment and halting biodiversity loss.

The UK’s global leadership on ocean protection has seen it on track to establish a ‘Blue Belt’ of marine protected areas spanning 4 million square kilometres across its Overseas Territories and a £500 million Blue Planet Fund, to be launched next year, that will protect marine resources from key human-generated impacts, including climate change, plastic pollution, overfishing and habitat loss.

The UK is celebrating 30 countries joining the Global Ocean Alliance in support of the UK-led 30 by 30 initiative, an international commitment to protect at least 30% of the global ocean in Marine Protected Areas by 2030, through the UN Convention on Biodiversity in 2021.

The Global Ocean Alliance has grown from 10 to 30 members in just 12 months, and the countries which alongside the UK have committed to trebling existing targets are: Belize, Belgium, Cabo Verde, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Finland, Fiji, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Kenya, Luxembourg, Maldives, Monaco, Nigeria, Palau, Portugal, Seychelles, Senegal, St Kitts, Sweden, Spain, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.

International Marine Minister, Zac Goldsmith, said:

I thank and commend the 30 countries that have now joined the Global Ocean Alliance. Our shared ocean is facing unprecedented pressures, and together we are making a powerful case for increased protection.

I encourage other nations to join us in this campaign. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we have an opportunity to make sustainability and resilience the lens through which we map our respective recoveries, and that is what we should commit ourselves to doing.

Without a healthy ocean there would be no life as we know it. The ocean generates 50% of Earth’s oxygen and it is our planet’s climate regulator, absorbing 93% of the additional global heat as well as 25% of human-driven CO2 emissions.

With 12 million tonnes of plastics entering the ocean every year, the UK Government is also working to tackle the scourge of plastic waste globally and through the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance and the Commonwealth Litter Programme, which are driving forward ambitious action to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean in support of meeting Sustainable Development Goal 14: ‘Life Below Water’.

The UK is also taking action to protect the ocean with 36% of UK waters protected in a network of marine protected sites; a ban on plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds which has come into force in England this week; a pioneering ban on microbeads in rinse-off personal care products; and the 5p single use bag charge extended to all retailers from April 2021 with the charge increasing to 10p – taking over 15 billion plastic bags out of circulation.

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Residents of Cairns in Australia speak out for the future of the Great Barrier Reef

Many people across the world are calling for changes in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, to save the world from climate change.  In Australia, this is the case too.  A recent email from the AMCS (Australian Marine Conservation Society) included a short piece of video which has been posted on Facebook. In the video, people from Cairns in Northern Queensland, describe their grief at the damage being sustained to the Reef by global warming and they cry out for policy changes, to rescue it from further harm.  It is heart-breaking:

Cairns is a large town in Northern Queensland, probably the closest town to the Great Barrier Reef and the livelihood of many of its citizens is dependent on the tourism that the GBR attracts.  But, more than that, most of them have grown up experiencing the beauty of the Reef and don’t want to lose that, especially for their children. Some of them state that their children may never see it.

GBR

One woman says that millions of tourists come to the Great Barrier Reef every year saying “I’ve heard your reef is dying and I’ve come to see it before it’s dead.” She find this devastating.  “As if we’ve already given up.”

I lived in Mackay, to the south of Cairns, for a year, back in the 60s, and also stayed on Magnetic island, just off Townsville, for a while, as well as on Middle Percy Island, 70 miles south east of Mackay – all of these places along the Great Barrier Reef coast are very special.  So I can identify very strongly with the emotions shared by the people in the video above.  We cannot stand by and watch this amazing and beautiful reef die of the coral bleaching caused by the warmer oceans that surround it. The marine life that it sustains is also similarly iconic.

GBRmarinelife



Another recent posting describes how climate change and pesticides in the water can work together to destroy fish populations, especially reef fish:

https://theconversation.com/coral-reefs-climate-change-and-pesticides-could-conspire-to-crash-fish-populations-142689

The article in The Conversation starts:

“Australia barely had time to recover from record breaking fires at the start of 2020 before the Great Barrier Reef experienced its third mass coral bleaching event in the past five years. Only five of these have occurred since records began in the 1980s. High water temperatures and marine heatwaves, caused by climate change, are making coral bleaching an almost regular occurrence in some parts of the world.

Coral reefs are among the most vibrant ecosystems on the planet, but they are also very sensitive to stress. Meteorologists predict that 2020 is likely to be the hottest year on record, threatening yet more bleaching on reefs around the world. But it’s not just the coral itself that suffers.

Reef fishes exposed to high temperatures tend not to behave normally. Underwater noise and pollutants, such as agricultural pesticides, can have the same effect. Juvenile fish exposed to this kind of stress are less able to identify and avoid predators. But scientists aren’t sure exactly why this is.

In our new study, we found that a double whammy of higher water temperatures and pesticide exposure may be affecting the development of baby reef fish, with consequences for the entire ecosystem.”




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Independent review backs introduction of Highly Protected Marine Areas

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/independent-review-backs-introduction-of-highly-protected-marine-areas

marine life

An independent review led by former Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon, and published today on World Ocean Day, is calling for the introduction of Highly Protected Marine Areas in English waters. The review was commissioned on last year’s world ocean day by then Environment Secretary Michael Gove as part of the Government’s drive to protect our waters.

These highly protected marine areas would enable a greater recovery of the marine ecosystem and enhance the Government’s commitment to a national ‘Blue Belt’, which has already seen an area of 92,000 square km protected – 40% of English seas.

The UK currently has a range of protections in place through a network of 355 Marine Protected Areas, which offer protections for a designated feature or habitat within their boundaries. Highly Protected Marine Areas would go further by taking a ‘whole site approach’ and only permitting certain activities within their boundaries such as vessel transit, scuba diving and kayaking. Activities that could have a damaging effect on habitats or wildlife, including fishing, construction and dredging would be banned. The review claims the introduction of such areas could lead to a significant biodiversity boost for our seas by giving our marine life the best chance to recover and thrive.

The review, which was supported by a panel of independent experts, also sheds light on the potential social and economic benefits of introducing highly protected marine areas. These benefits include increased tourism and recreational activities, opportunities for scientific research and education, and positive effects for human health. It also suggests that any potential fishing restriction could be counterbalanced by a stronger and biodiverse marine wildlife – with potential long-term benefits for the fishing industry from providing areas where sea life can develop and breed undisturbed.

Three Marine Protected Areas: Flamborough Head, Lundy Island and the Medway Estuary currently have in place ‘no take zones‘ which prohibit all methods of fishing.

The panel has made a number of recommendations which will now be considered by Government with a formal response made in due course.

Key recommendations include:

  • the introduction of Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) within the existing network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to allow for the full protection and recovery of marine ecosystems
  • a “whole site approach” to protect all species and habitats within the HPMA boundaries
  • potential sites should be identified on the basis of ecological principles. Once these are met, the selection of sites should seek to minimise any negative effects on stakeholders. To do this, Government should agree the identification and regulation of these sites in partnership with sea users
  • ‘blue carbon’ habitats are identified for protection during the HPMA site selection process to help combat climate change

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

Our ‘Blue Belt’ of Marine Protected Areas has already raised the bar for marine protection and we are committed to the highest standards of sustainability for our seas that set a gold standard around the world.

That’s why we asked the panel to conduct this review and I am very grateful to them for their work. I welcome and agree with the spirit of ambition, which is in line with our 25 Year Environment Plan, and we will now carefully consider the recommendations set out in the review.

Chair of the Independent review Panel Richard Benyon said:

The sea has provided food, materials and recreational opportunities for thousands of years. However, human activities have significantly impacted these habitats and species, which we now know need greater protection.

Our review demonstrates that in order to deliver the protections our most threated habitats need, Highly Protected Marine Areas need to be introduced, and I hope that government will engage with local communities and stakeholders to more forward plans to designate these new sites.

Chair of Natural England Tony Juniper, said:

I welcome the recommendations put forward by the Panel. This review is an important marker of how we can use highly protected areas to mitigate the impact of human activities on the ocean, and support its recovery to a more natural state.

I thank the panel for their work and look forward to working with Defra as they consider how best to take forward the recommendations.

Lewis Pugh, endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans, said:

The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how important our relationship with nature is. The beauty of nature is that it can bounce back – but only if we give it proper protection. There is little point in having protected areas that are not pulling their weight.

The UK has some of the richest and most diverse sea life in the world. I’m excited that we may soon have a pilot programme of Highly Protected Marine Protected Areas in England, but this must amount to more than dipping a toe in the water.

I urge the UK government to show the same leadership as with their call for 30% of the world’s oceans to be protected. They must act urgently to strengthen protection, as in a few years’ time it will be too late to fix the crisis in our oceans.

Richard Benwell, Chief Executive of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said:

The panel’s work shows strong consensus from conservation, industry and fisheries perspectives: highly protected areas are essential in reviving the ocean. We urge Ministers to now implement the recommendations quickly and create fully protected HPMAs for our seas. These will help recover our seas for people, nature and climate and be a vital addition to the UK network of marine sites. This would set Government at the cutting edge of ocean action and reinforce its leadership role in the Global Ocean Alliance as it calls to protect 30% of the world’s oceans.

On World Ocean Day, this review builds on the UK Government’s commitment to further advance ocean protection measures including last year’s designation of a further 41 Marine Protection Zones protecting species and habitats such as the rare stalked jellyfish, short-snouted seahorse and blue mussel beds. The Government is currently putting in place management measures for Marine Protected Areas, including seeking new powers through the Fisheries Bill, and through implementation of the 25 Year Environment Plan.

This news comes as seven new countries joined the UK led Global Ocean Alliance, an initiative aimed at securing protection of 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. There are now a total of 20 countries in the Alliance following today’s announcement. Germany and Italy are amongst the major new players to join, other joiners include Fiji, Cabo Verde, Monaco, Senegal, and Luxemburg.

This complements a wide programme of overseas engagements, including through the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance and the Commonwealth Litter Programme, aiming to prevent plastic waste from reaching the ocean.

The Government has also committed to a £500 million Blue Planet fund to export UK expertise in marine science around the world, supporting overseas countries to protect marine habitats.

Background:

The Benyon Review into Highly Protected Marine Areas was announced on World Oceans Day 2019 by the then Environment Secretary Michael Gove .

This review covers the English inshore, offshore and Northern Irish offshore waters. Collectively these are referred to as Secretary of State waters.

Chair of the review:

Richard Benyon is a former MP and Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries. He is actively interested in environmental issues, and is a former chair of the All Party Parliamentary Environment Group and a former member of the Environment Audit Committee. He is widely respected within the fishing industry, and during his time at Defra worked closely with marine conservation groups, fishermen, and coastal communities during the development of the first tranche of Marine Conservation Zones.

Panel Members:

Peter Barham, Chair of the Seabed User and Developer Group, a representative group of UK marine industries.

Peter has over 20 years’ experience as a senior manager in public and private sectors delivering environmental and sustainable development solutions.

Joan Edwards, Director of Marine Conservation at The Wildlife Trusts.

Joan has substantial experience working on marine issues in the Wildlife Trusts for over 30 years and led the NGO campaign for the Marine and Coastal Access Act and its implementation.

Michel Kaiser, Professor of Fisheries Conservation, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh.

Michael is a board member of Fisheries Innovation Scotland and a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Fisheries Expert Group.

Susan Owens OBE, FBA, Emeritus Professor of Environment and Policy, University of Cambridge, and Fellow Emerita of Newnham College.

Susan was a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution that produced the ‘Turning the Tide’ report which addressed the impact of fisheries on the marine environment.

Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation, University of York.

Trustee of Nekton Oxford Deep Ocean Research Institute; Trustee and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Blue Marine Foundation; Member of WWF-UK’s Council of Ambassador.

Nathan de Rozarieux, inshore fisherman and fisheries consultant.

Nathan has been a Board Member of the Sea Fish Industry Authority since 2018 and was a committee member of the Cornwall Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority.

Benj Sykes, Vice-President of Ørsted’s Offshore wind business.

Co-chair, Offshore Wind Industry Council. Benj is also on the Board of RenewableUK and is a Fellow of the Energy Institute with over 30 years’ experience in the energy sector.



 


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The impact of bushfires on coastal and marine environments

This is a report, published by the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

Bushfires Impacts on our oceans report Australian Marine Conservation Society

It can be found at:

Bushfire-Report_February-2020_Final-full-for-web-1.pdf

Bascially, what the report outlines is that the full effects of the summer of disasters will take months to materialise. The report shed light on the dangers to guard against in the critical months ahead.

  • Sediment slugs harming habitats and wildlife: Nutrients, ash and debris released by bushfires can damage habitats and form into sediment slugs following heavy rains – which slowly work their way to our oceans, harming aquatic life along the way.
  • Contamination: Metals and other contaminants released by bushfires in sediment, smoke and ash can change the physiology and behaviours of marine animals and work their way into the food chain.
  • Algal blooms killing fish: Harmful algal blooms caused by nutrient enrichment can kill fish and contaminate oyster farms, forcing their closure;
  • Damage to protective vegetation: Debris, sediment and ash washed into seagrass meadows, mangrove forests and reefs could further burden these already pressured environments.

Critically, the research report has uncovered alarming gaps in the monitoring of waterways and a lack of infrastructure and resources for responding to the threats. Unless these gaps are addressed urgently, many species face an uncertain future in the face of intensifying bushfire seasons.

The report recommends:

  • Monitoring of waterways: a comprehensive and integrated monitoring program for coastal and marine environments, that builds understanding of bushfire impacts and informs responses.
  • Urgent rehabilitation funding: Increased support will be vital for programs targeting the rehabilitation of the most vulnerable catchments and restoration of damaged coastal environments.
  • Rapidly cut carbon emissions: leaders must deal with the root cause of intensifying bushfires – rising temperatures – including swift and effective action to cut carbon emissions and transition to renewable energy sources.


 


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Message from the Future

This post was written on Facebook by an Australian man, who grew up in Queensland in the 70s and 80s and now has a young family of his own.



Great-Barrier-Reef

I lived in Australia for three years during the early 60s and have returned for short visits in 1994 and 2010.  On both occasions I found the country to be hotter and drier.  This last month my brother, who has lived in NSW most of his life, had his home threatened by bush fires for the very first time.



 


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Earth’s Oceans bearing the brunt of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide

A new IPPC report outlines how oceans and marine life are responding to climate change:

https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2019/09/1047392

https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/oceans/

The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. Throughout history, oceans and seas have been vital conduits for trade and transportation.

Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future. However, at the current time, there is a continuous deterioration of coastal waters owing to pollution and ocean acidification is having an adversarial effect on the functioning of ecosystems and biodiversity. This is also negatively impacting small scale fisheries.

bears

Marine protected areas need to be effectively managed and well-resourced and regulations need to be put in place to reduce overfishing, marine pollution and ocean acidification.

Even if all human carbon-releasing activities ceased immediately, the overheated oceans will continue to heat the rest of earth’s already overheated overcrowded ecosystem for decades and possibly centuries.

Facts and figures:

  • Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97 per cent of the Earth’s water, and represent 99 per cent of the living space on the planet by volume.
  • Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.
  • Globally, the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at $3 trillion per year or about 5 per cent of global GDP.
  • Oceans contain nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions.
  • Oceans absorb about 30 per cent of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.
  • Oceans serve as the world’s largest source of protein, with more than 3 billion people depending on the oceans as their primary source of protein
  • Marine fisheries directly or indirectly employ over 200 million people.
  • Subsidies for fishing are contributing to the rapid depletion of many fish species and are preventing efforts to save and restore global fisheries and related jobs, causing ocean fisheries to generate US$50 billion less per year than they could.
  • Open Ocean sites show current levels of acidity have increased by 26 per cent since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Coastal waters are deteriorating due to pollution and eutrophication. Without concerted efforts, coastal eutrophication is expected to increase in 20 percent of large marine ecosystems by 2050.

Eutrophication is excessive richness of nutrients in a lake or other body of water, frequently due to run-off from the land, which causes a dense growth of plant life.

ocean zones

At the Ocean conference in September 2019, climate experts said:

Our oceans and frozen spaces have been “taking the heat” for global warming for decades, and warned that without a radical change in human behaviour, hundreds of millions of people could suffer from rising sea levels, frequent natural disasters and food shortages.”

“The ocean is warmer, more acidic and less productive”, the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states. “Melting glaciers and ice sheets are causing sea level rise, and coastal extreme events are becoming more severe.”

According to the IPCC report on the ocean and cryosphere – the frozen parts of the planet – global warming has already reached one degree Celsius above the pre-industrial level.

This temperature rise, which the 195-strong Member State body attributes to greenhouse gas emissions, has resulted in “profound consequences” for people and the planet.

“The world’s ocean and cryosphere have been ‘taking the heat’ from climate change for decades, and consequences for nature and humanity are sweeping and severe,” said Ko Barrett, Vice-Chair of the IPCC.

In total, 670 million people who live in the world’s high mountain regions and around the same number in low-lying coastal zones “depend directly” on the planet’s oceans and frozen resources, the IPCC notes.

In addition, four million people live permanently in the Arctic region, and small island developing states are home to 65 million people.

In a bid to protect them, their surroundings and livelihoods, the IPCC is calling for the introduction of measures to limit global warming “to the lowest possible level”, in line with the internationally agreed 2015 Paris Agreement.

“If we reduce emissions sharply, (the) consequences for people and their livelihoods will still be challenging, but potentially more manageable for those who are most vulnerable”, said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC. “The open sea, the Arctic, the Antarctic and the high mountains may seem far away to many people. But we depend on them and are influenced by them directly and indirectly in many ways – for weather and climate, for food and water, for energy, trade, transport, recreation and tourism, for health and wellbeing, for culture and identity.”

According to the IPCC report, average sea level rise is now 3.6 millimetres a year.

This is more than twice as fast as during the last century and levels could rise more than a metre by 2100 “if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase strongly”.

The result is likely to be more extreme sea level events that occur during high tides and intense storms. “Indications are that with any degree of additional warming, events that occurred once per century in the past, will occur every year by mid-century in many regions, increasing risks for many low-lying coastal cities and small islands”, the report states.

Without major investments in adaptation, these low-lying zones would be exposed to escalating flood risks, and some island nations “are likely to become uninhabitable”.

Glaciers could shrink 80 per cent, by 2100

Highlighting the importance of coordinated, ambitious and urgent action to mitigate the impact of global warming, the IPCC report also warns that glaciers, snow, ice and permafrost are declining “and will continue to do so”.

In Europe, eastern Africa, the tropical Andes and Indonesia, smaller glaciers are projected to lose more than 80 per cent of their current ice mass by 2100, under worst emission scenarios.

This is likely to increase hazards for people, for example through landslides, avalanches, rockfalls and floods, in addition to farmers and hydroelectric power producers downstream.

“Changes in water availability will not just affect people in these high mountain regions, but also communities much further downstream”, said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC’s Working Group I.

melting glaciers

Sea ice getting thinner every month

On sea ice, the IPCC report underscores that the extent of Arctic ice has declined every month, “and it is getting thinner”.

If global warming can be kept to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the Arctic ocean would only be ice-free in September once in every 100 years, the study suggests. At two degrees Celsius, however, this would occur up to one year in three.

“Some people living in the Arctic, especially indigenous peoples, have already adjusted their travelling and hunting activities to the seasonality and safety of land, ice and snow conditions, and some coastal communities have planned for relocation,” the report states.

Permafrost ‘warming and thawing’

Turning to permafrost – ground that has been frozen for many years – the IPCC suggests that it is “warming and thawing and widespread permafrost thaw is projected to occur in the 21st Century”.

Even if global warming is limited to well below two degrees Celsius below pre-industrial levels, around a quarter of the permafrost down to three to four metres depth, will thaw by 2100.

If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase strongly, there is a potential that around 70 per cent this near-surface permafrost could be lost.

In writing the report, more than 100 authors from 36 countries assessed the latest scientific literature on the ocean and cryosphere, basing their findings on some 7,000 scientific publications.

It will provide input for world leaders gathering in forthcoming climate and environment negotiations, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Chile, in December.



And a Guardian report on this issue:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/25/extreme-sea-level-events-will-hit-once-a-year-by-2050

“Extreme sea level events that used to occur once a century will strike every year on many coasts by 2050, no matter whether climate heating emissions are curbed or not, according to a landmark report by the world’s scientists.

The stark assessment of the climate crisis in the world’s oceans and ice caps concludes that many serious impacts are already inevitable, from more intense storms to melting permafrost and dwindling marine life.

But far worse impacts will hit without urgent action to cut fossil fuel emissions, including eventual sea level rise of more than 4 metres in the worst case, an outcome that would redraw the map of the world and harm billions of people.”



Another WordPress blogger has come up with the idea of sequestering carbon dioxide by planting kelp forests in a deserted part of the South Pacific.

Maximum carbon sequestration.

Here is a quote from this site:

“The South Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and South America is at present ocean desert. In fact, it is the world’s largest ocean desert at around 37 million square km. It is far from any landmass and a lack of dust and minerals means there is very little life to be found. Growing a kelp forest ecosystem in this area would transform it from a desert into a teeming mass of life as well as providing Carbon sequestration on a truly massive scale. I suggest that every kelp plant grown in this forest could be free-floating and attached to its own simple bamboo buoy, ( The Peel Technique ).

How would the approach work?. Vast forests of both bamboo and kelp will be required.  Land based bamboo plantations would be used to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, produce oxygen and restore degraded lands. The bamboo plantations would also supply the kelp buoy production factories with the bamboo that they require. The bamboo buoys would be used to assist young kelp plants to float in deep ocean waters. The buoys would also carry the minerals that the growing kelp plants require to survive.”



And from the UK Government’s website:

While attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York, International Environment Minister, Zac Goldsmith, announced on 24th September that ten countries have signed up to a UK-led initiative to safeguard the world’s ocean and its wildlife. The initiative was endorsed by the Prime Minister, also at the United Nations General Assembly, and was welcomed by the environmental organisation Greenpeace UK.

The announcement received positive coverage on several international outlets: OceanographicBusiness Leader, Energy Live News, Brits in Kenya, and Seychelles State House Blog, as well as on social media, including a tweet from the Finnish Minister of Environment, Krista Mikkonen, who said: “We must live up to our promise of halting the loss of #biodiversity.”

The 30by30 initiative, which is pushing for at least 30 per cent of the global ocean to be protected in Marine Protected Areas by 2030, has been supported by 10 countries including:

  • Belize
  • Costa Rica
  • Finland
  • Gabon
  • Kenya
  • Seychelles
  • Vanuatu
  • Portugal
  • Palau, and
  • Belgium

Further details at:

Ten countries join UK’s leading 30by30 initiative to safeguard the world’s ocean



Here is another report on the issue from the Huffington Post:

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/heatwaves-in-the-ocean-have-doubled-in-the-last-30-years_uk_5b75529fe4b02b415d75cf93?guccounter=1

“Heatwaves in the Ocean have doubled in the last thirty years

While the news has been filled with the types of heatwaves that we experience above sea level, the fact is the ocean suffers from the phenomenon as well.

In fact ocean heatwaves have roughly doubled in number over the last three decades and are already looking to become even more common and intense as the planet warms, research has found.

Prolonged periods of extreme heat in the oceans can damage kelp forests and coral reefs, and harm fish and other marine life.

To make matters worse, the oceans both absorb and release heat more slowly than air. This means that most marine heatwaves can last for at least several days — and some for several weeks, Dr Frolicher said.”



 


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Heatwaves, fires, floods, reef pollution and wildlife deaths affecting Australia

In an earlier blog, I have described the prolonged extreme heat that affected Australia in January.  It was followed by devastating bush fires.  In February, unprecedented floods hit Northern Queensland as double the annual rainfall fell in just 12 days, causing rivers and creeks to burst their banks.  500,000 cattle were drowned as well as much of the state’s native wildlife.  Cattle that did survive were in a poor state after being stranded in deep water and mud for days.

cattle

Queensland cattle drowned by the flood waters

Following the floods, a massive plume of polluted floodwater has hit the Great Barrier Reef, sparking a fresh threat to its fragile ecosystem. The muddy plume, which likely included nitrogen and pesticide chemicals, spread 60 kms to the outer reefs and was so large it could be seen from space. The satellite image below from the recent Queensland floods shows how far polluted runoff can reach into Reef waters.

gbrfloodpollution

Satellite image showing river flood pollution along the Australian coast south of Townsville, Queensland

Sediment and fertiliser runoff from farms is a major threat to inshore coral reefs and seagrass meadows of the Great Barrier Reef. This pollution can lead to devastating impacts to corals and seagrass ecosystems, critical habitats for threatened dugongs, turtles and many juvenile commercial fish species.

The Reef life is also being weakened by sediment and chemical pollution – right when it needs to be strong in the face of rapidly heating oceans. Its corals are still recovering from the devastating back to back bleaching events that occurred from rising ocean temperatures in 2016 and 2017. Improving the quality of water flowing from the Reef coast into the sea is critical to reduce the pressure and support its recovery.

Nutrients from fertiliser runoff are driving massive outbreaks of coral-eating Crown-of-Thorns Starfish. These starfish devour vast amounts of coral on the Reef, threatening the recovery of bleached corals.  So, the Great Barrier Reef is at risk from a number of sources.

One of the corollaries to climate change is extreme weather events and Australia has had its fair share of them this year (2019).



And, from the Times, 4th March 2019, the following:

“Residents in part of the outback have been ordered to limit their showers to three minutes a day and banned from using a washing machine more than twice a week amid the worst drought since 1900.

The seven-year lack of rain has prompted convoys of lorries to take bottled water to small towns across far-western New South Wales. Their water supply, from stagnant ponds in drying rivers, has become undrinkable.

“There’s an acute water shortage in a substantial amount of western New South Wales,” James McTavish, the state’s town water supply co-ordinator, said.”



Guardian 7th March 2019:

Ringtail possums in Victoria are dying of heat stress.  Rescuers found 127 of them at Somers Beach on the Mornington Peninsula, dying or already dead.  It is thought that the possums had become so dehydrated and desperate they had left an area of scrub and come down to the beach and attempted to drink salt water.  Some had fallen out of trees.

possums

Story at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/07/falling-out-of-trees-dozens-of-dead-possums-blamed-on-extreme-heat-stress?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0dyZWVuTGlnaHQtMTkwMzA4&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GreenLight&CMP=greenlight_email



April 15th 2019

A Nature study reported on CNN website found that successive ocean heat waves are not only damaging Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, they are compromising its ability to recover, raising the risk of “widespread ecological collapse”.

The 2,300-kilometer-long (1,500 mile) reef has endured multiple large-scale “bleaching” events caused by above-average water temperatures in the last two decades, including back-to-back occurrences in 2016 and 2017.
The new study, released in the journal Nature, examined the number of adult corals which survived these two events and how many new corals they created to replenish the reef in 2018.
The answer was as bleak as it was stark: “Dead corals don’t make babies,” the study’s lead author, Terry Hughes, said in a press release.
Scientists working on the study found the loss in adult corals caused a “crash in coral replenishment” on the reef, as heat stresses brought about by warming ocean temperatures impacted the ability of coral to heal.
Coral
“The number of new corals settling on the Great Barrier Reef declined by 89% following the unprecedented loss of adult corals from global warming in 2016 and 2017,” said Hughes.
Scientists have long warned of the impact on global warming on the reef, the world’s largest reef system and the only living organism that can be seen from space. The reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, supports thousands of species — fish, turtles, sharks and marine mammals.
In the introduction to the report, the authors note that environmental changes caused by climate change, “are increasingly challenging the capacity of ecosystems to absorb recurrent shocks and reassemble afterwards, escalating the risk of widespread ecological collapse of (the) current ecosystem.”
The study found that one of the most dominant species of coral, Acropora, which provides “most of the three-dimensional coral habitat that support thousands of other species,” according to co-author Andrew Baird, had suffered a 93% drop in replenishment following the back-to-back bleaching events of 2016 and 2017.


May 2019:

Australia re-elects the climate change denier, Scott Morrison.

Battered by extended droughts, damaging floods, and more bushfires, Australian voters had been expected to hand a mandate to the Labour party to pursue its ambitious targets for renewable energy and carbon emissions cuts.

Instead, they rejected the opposition’s plans for tax reform and climate action, re-electing a Liberal-led center-right coalition headed by Morrison. The same coalition government last year scrapped a bipartisan national energy plan and dumped then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull because he was viewed as anti-coal.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison once brandished a lump of coal in parliament, crying, “This is coal – don’t be afraid!”

It would appear that the Australian voting public were enticed to vote this way in order to reduce energy prices.



July 31st 2019:

Another report from Nature gives the alarming news that the climate crisis is already causing deaths and childhood stunting. The Nature report from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, is reviewed in The Guardian and msn.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/climate-crisis-already-causing-deaths-and-childhood-stunting-report-reveals/ar-AAF76ZS?ocid=spartandhp

The report “From Townsville to Tuvalu” pulled together scientific research from roughly 120 peer-reviewed journal articles to paint a picture of the health-related impacts of the climate emergency in Australia and the Pacific region. It stated, “Climate change is “absolutely” already causing deaths” and also predicts climate-related stunting, malnutrition and lower IQ in children within the coming decades.

It pointed to a 2018 report from the World Health Organisation, which predicted that between 2030 and 2050, global warming would cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year from heat stress, malnutrition, malaria and diarrhoea. But Misha Coleman, one of the report’s authors, stressed that deaths were already occurring:

“During the Black Saturday fires (in Victoria in 2009) for example, we know that people were directly killed by the fires, but there were nearly 400 additional deaths in those hot days from heat stress and heatstroke.”

The report found that, as well as deaths caused directly by severe weather events such as hurricanes, flooding and fires, the “more deep and insidious impact” came from the secondary impacts of climate change.

The report warned that rising global temperatures would expand the habitat of mosquitos, exposing more people to diseases including dengue, chikungunya and zika, and would cause other diseases to spread into Australia, including Nipah virus, which is spread by bats, and Q fever, which is already prevalent around Townsville.

John Thwaites, Chair of the Sustainable Development Institute of Monash University. said:

“Q fever is something that is carried by a lot of wild and domesticated animals. “As climate change degrades their habitat through fires and drought, these animals go looking for green grass and fresh water [and] they find themselves on golf courses and on retirees’ two-acre blocks.”

Coleman said the problem comes when infected animals defecate on lawns and the poo is then run over by humans with lawnmowers. “It becomes airborne and a highly transmissible toxin, that’s why it’s being described, even by the Lancet medical journal, as a bioweapon in our own backyard.”

Climate change is expected to pose particularly stark issues for childhood development, with the report citing research that shows children born to women who were pregnant while they experienced floods in Brisbane in 2011 had lower cognitive capacity (equivalent to at least 14 points on an IQ scale), smaller vocabularies and less imaginative play at the age of two.

The decreased nutritional value of staple crops as a result of higher CO2 concentration was also expected to cause stunting, anaemia and malnutrition in children, within 10 to 20 years.

See also:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/31/climate-crisis-already-causing-deaths-and-childhood-stunting-report-reveals

https://www.nature.com/nclimate/articles?type=news-and-views

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)32610-2/fulltext

https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/how-climate-change-affecting-australia

The final article in the link above describes specifically the reality of climate change effects for Australia. It is worth reading. It shows, by means of a graph, the consequences of an upward shift in average temperature for the region:

heatw3



December 2019:

Extensive bush fires have hit Australia earlier this year, affecting much of Queensland and especially New South Wales, where the fires have been burning out of control, destroying property, as well as wildlife.  Smoke pollution has also hung over Sydney for days on end.

One big concern in all of this is the loss of many of the native koalas, killed in the fires.  Concern was already being expressed about the future viability of this species, due to habitat loss.  Now, heartbreaking film of burnt and dying koalas is being shared globally.

koala2

Reports state that:

Thousands of koalas are feared to have died in a wildfire-ravaged area north of Sydney, further diminishing Australia’s iconic marsupial, while the fire danger accelerated on Saturday in the country’s east as temperatures soared.

The mid-north coast of New South Wales was home to up to 28,000 koalas, but wildfires in the area in recent months have significantly reduced their population.

Koalas are native to Australia and are one of the country’s most beloved animals, but they have been under threat due to a loss of habitat.

Environment minister Sussan Ley said: “Up to 30% of their habitat has been destroyed.

“We’ll know more when the fires are calmed down and a proper assessment can be made.”

Images shared of koalas drinking water after being rescued from the wildfires have gone viral on social media in recent days.

koala

Ms Ley said: “I get mail from all around the world from people absolutely moved and amazed by our wildlife volunteer response and also by the habits of these curious creatures.”

About 12.35 million acres of land have burned nationwide during the current wildfire crisis, with nine people killed and more than 1,000 homes destroyed.

Fire danger in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory was upgraded to severe on Saturday, as high temperatures built up over the region.

Sydney’s western suburbs reached 41C, while the inner city is expected to hit 31C on Sunday before reaching 35C on Tuesday.”



 


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The Great Barrier Reef: breaking news from Australia – Aug 2018

A $400 million plan to rescue the Great Barrier Reef has been announced this week by the Australia government when issuing their federal budget.  It will include $60 million to tackle run off from farms, fund new research on coral bleaching and deal with the destructive crown of thorns starfish.

High ocean temperatures, caused by global warming have already ravaged the reef. Environmentalists have described the plan as totally inadequate, as it does not deal with the factors causing climate change, such as industrialisation and the burning of fossil fuels. A particular sore point for Australians campaigning for the reef is government support for the Adani coal mines in mid-Queensland.

The maps below show the location of the proposed mines in relation to the Great Barrier Reef.  Australia is one of the largest sources of coal in the world.

galileebasinmap

p11_carmichael-mine-map

Further details at:

http://econews.com.au/57562/lib-nat-govt-plans-400m-barrier-reef-rescue-plan-in-federal-budget/

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/false-claims-behind-adanis-carmichael-coalmine

30th August 2018:

The Fight for our Reef campaigners have issued a new mailing, as they are extremely concerned about their new PM, who is a climate change denier.  The text of their recent email is as follows:

Less than a year before he was sworn in as our latest Prime Minister, Scott Morrison famously waved around a lump of coal in Parliament House, ridiculing our concerns about the impact of coal on our climate, and by implication our Reef. Now Australia’s new PM says he is “technology-agnostic”, which is code for continuing support for coal. Now more than ever, it’s time for urgent action on climate change. Will you join the global day of action on 8 September?

Coal in parliament? No way! Let's rise for climate, rise for our Reef!

Last week we watched the Liberal Party dump their long awaited energy policy to cut carbon pollution and elect Scott Morrison as our new Prime Minister.

This week the new Prime Minister has evaded any discussion on climate change, including its link to the devastating drought hitting Australia. He is also under pressure to ditch the Paris Agreement, from the same climate sceptics within the party who scuttled Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership.

While politicians in Canberra are shunning their climate responsibilities, the rest of us are living with the devastating effects of climate change gripping Australia and hitting our national icons like the Great Barrier Reef.

It’s time to take it to the streets. It’s time our government understands that we are sick and tired of climate change being a political football. We want strong action on climate change and we want it now.

5th September 2018 update from “Fight for the Reef”:

BREAKING: The Queensland Government has announced it is prosecuting Adani for releasing highly polluted water into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. 

 

Great news! The Queensland government has announced that it is prosecuting Adani for breaching it’s pollution licence by 800% in Great Barrier Reef waters.

Adani must now go to court to defend their actions. If found guilty they could face far greater penalties, including a suspension of their suitability to operate at Abbot Point.

We are pleased that the Queensland government is holding its ground and prosecuting Adani for the unauthorised release of concentrated coal-laden water into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area at Abbot Point. While the outcome of the court case is too early to call, this is a big moment to celebrate. Thank you to everyone who contacted the Premier and Minister for the Reef, and who spread the word by sharing our video on Adani’s shonky reputation.”

 

 


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The Truth about Heatwaves: 2

In the first of my blogs about heatwaves, I focused on the heatwaves that are occurring on land more and more often and the effects these are having on terrestrial life forms, including humans.

In this blog, I will describe the effects of heatwaves on the oceans, which have doubled in the last 30 years. Up till now, perhaps we have been unaware that heatwaves do affect the oceans and the life that in them. In other blogs, and in my book, I have talked about the destruction of coral as the seas warm, causing coral bleaching.  It is also known that, after the 2016 heatwave in Australia, one third of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef died.  Many of the beautiful fish who live in coral reefs, and are dependent on them, will be affected by the death of corals.

2_3_X_PacificReefFishesExh (2)

Fish in a coral reef

In yet another blog, I have referred to how global warming is affecting the gender of sea turtle eggs, developing in the hot sands where they have been laid, so that now the majority (99%) of the hatchlings born in Northern Australia are female.

Swiss scientists have been recording sea water temperatures over the period 1982-2016 and have found that the number of ocean heatwaves has doubled.  Marine heatwaves can last for several days, and even weeks, as water absorbs heat more readily than air and releases it more slowly.  Dr Thomas Frölicher, of the University of Bern in Switzerland, is the climate scientist who has conducted this study. He believes that the trend of increasing ocean heatwaves will only accelerate with time. Prolonged periods of extreme heat in the oceans can damage kelp forests as well as coral reefs, and harm fish and other marine life. Some sea creatures have evolved to survive in a very narrow band of temperatures compared to creatures on land.  Some free swimming fish can move to other places when the sea becomes too hot for them but, with fixed organisms like coral and kelp forests, there is no opportunity to move.

kelpforest

Kelp forest

If the plankton in the sea, as well as kelp forests, are affected by warming temperatures, many marine creatures will lose their main source of food.

Further details of the study, published in Nature, can be found on the following websites:

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/heatwaves-in-the-ocean-have-doubled-in-the-last-30-years_uk_5b75529fe4b02b415d75cf93

http://www.itv.com/news/2018-08-15/marine-heatwaves-on-the-increase-in-worlds-oceans/