Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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One of my favourites topics heads the news today, our microbiome.  To me, the microbiome is the best example of why we need to protect our planetary ecosystems… because we are the perfect illustration of one.  We cannot ignore that we are intimately connected to the world by the sharing of microbial organisms, and by our need to sustain ourselves through healthy food and water.  How can we healthy If the ecosystems around us are not healthy?  With 57% of the cells in and on our body coming from our environment, there is a selfish need for humans to look after the world.  Surely that’s the best motivation ever?  Tell your friends

Top Story

More than half your body is not human | BBC News
Human cells make up only 43% of the body’s total cell count. The rest are microscopic colonists. Understanding this hidden half of ourselves – our microbiome – is rapidly transforming understanding of diseases from allergy to Parkinson’s. The field is even asking questions of what it means to be “human” and is leading to new innovative treatments as a result.  “They are essential to your health,” says Prof Ruth Ley, the director of the department of microbiome science at the Max Planck Institute, “your body isn’t just you”.

Climate Change and Energy

Why Australia’s wind and solar market could grind to a halt | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – The lack of any policy to meet the climate targets agreed to in Paris will mean that Australia’s large-scale wind and solar boom will quickly come to an end, even as wind and solar costs fall further below the benchmark price of the grid. Kobad Bhavnagri, the chief analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Australia, says the current investment boom to meet the federal renewable energy target – $8 billion committed in 2017, and $5 billion in 2018 – will quickly slow as the target is met.

Environment and Biodiversity

Our seas are heating up. Here’s why |
From 1925 to 2016, the worldwide frequency of marine heatwaves has increased on average by 34 per cent and the length of each heatwave has increased by 17 per cent, according to new research. Together, that led to a 54 per cent increase in the number of marine heatwave days every year, the study found. Lead author of the study published in Nature Communications, Dr Eric Oliver from Dalhousie University, Canada, said: “Our research also found that from 1982 there was a noticeable acceleration of the trend in marine heatwaves.

Sea lion numbers roaring back to health at NZ’s first new breeding site in 150 years |
New Zealand’s critically endangered sea lions have taken so well to a remote Stewart Island spot, they have been declared a breeding colony.  The annual pup count revealed 55 new sea lions were born this season at Port Pegasus, a remote spot on the southern tip of the island. Numbers have been consistent for several years, meaning it is now officially a breeding colony, the first new such site on the mainland for more than 150 years.

Researchers counted 55 new pups this season at Port Pegasus, a remote site in the south of Stewart Island.

Researchers counted 55 new pups this season at Port Pegasus, a remote site in the south of Stewart Island.

[Ed: I can see why they’ve chosen this spot!]

Great Barrier Reef: conservationists campaign for net-free zone to protect dugongs | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – Conservationists plan to establish a commercial fishing net-free zone in the northern Great Barrier Reef by buying and retiring the area’s last remaining licence. WWF-Australia will launch a crowdfunding campaign to buy the 600m net operating out of Princess Charlotte Bay in the far north, which would effectively end gillnetting in an area spanning 700km from Cooktown to the Torres Strait. The move would create one of the world’s largest dugong havens. About 50 dugongs a year are entangled in nets along the Queensland coast. To succeed, WWF needs donations from the public to buy the licence from an operator approaching retirement, who could otherwise sell it to a new fishing venture. Some negotiations have already taken place.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Waitrose to remove all disposable coffee cups from shops this year | The Guardian
Waitrose plans to remove all disposable coffee cups from its shops by this autumn as part of efforts to reduce plastic and packaging waste and stop millions going into landfill.  Customers who belong to the myWaitrose loyalty scheme will still be able to get free tea or coffee from the stores’ self-service machines but will be instead be asked to use a refillable cup, the company said.

Rethinking the Buffet: 3 Things Hotels Can Do Now to Reduce Food Waste | World Resources Institute
Imagine that you’ve just stumbled down to a hotel’s dining area in the morning, groggy and desperate for caffeine. You might have a presentation to give for work, or maybe you’re herding your extended family. You may even be on a relaxing weekend getaway. Chances are, you’re not considering what happens to the food in the breakfast buffet once you leave the hotel. Chances are, that food will be thrown away.

Politics and Society

This is the relationship between money and happiness | World Economic Forum
Can money buy you happiness? It’s a longstanding question that has many different answers, depending on who you ask. Today’s chart approaches this fundamental question from a data-driven perspective, and it provides one potential solution: money does buy some happiness, but only to a limited extent.

Syria’s latest chemical massacre demands a global response | The Conversation
Seven years into its catastrophic conflict, Syria has witnessed yet another major chemical strike. This time the target was the rebel-held city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, just outside Damascus. The death toll currently stands at around 70 – making the attack as deadly as the infamous sarin strike at Khan Sheikhoun almost exactly a year ago to the day. It is thought the number of confirmed fatalities could rise to 150.

EPA’s war with California proves America needs a carbon tax | Dana Nuccitelli | The Guardian
Last week, Trump’s EPA announced that it will repeal the vehicle fuel efficiency standards set under the Obama administration and replace them with weaker requirements. EPA also threatened to revoke California’s ability under the Clean Air Act to impose its own greenhouse gas standards. If they do so, California’s attorney general will sue the EPA.

International Olympic Committee aims to unite sport and conservation | Climate Action Programme
Finding ways to stem the tide of biodiversity loss is a responsibility across all industries and people. Sport, for one, has not been as readily identified as a contributor to the decline in global biodiversity, nor has it taken on a strong role in promoting conservation. However, this perception is changing and the sporting world is fast becoming aware of its vital role in fostering sustainability. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is playing an important part in elevating sport as a champion of nature, and this week saw the launch of a new guidebook dedicated solely to that aim.

Built Environment

Materials that make heat worse for our kids demand a rethink by designers | The Conversation
Campaigns warn us about the dangers of leaving children in hot parked cars. However, there are many more designed microclimates in the city where “real feel” temperatures far exceed reported air temperatures. One example, where children spend many hours of the day, is the childcare centre, where we found some artificial surfaces can become dangerously hot.
Related: Weatherwatch: overheating cities take steps to cool down | The Guardian 

Food Systems

Sustainable agriculture is key to overcoming hunger and climate crises, says UN food agency | Climate Action Programme
Agro-ecology is a farming style that focuses on utilising nature for food production without damaging it, also referred to as sustainable, ecological, or low-external input agriculture. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN believes these techniques are critical to solve issues of food insecurity among a growing population, increasing resilience to climate change and raising the earnings of farmers.

Skipper sounds alarm over Bluff oysters | newsroom
NEW ZEALAND – Over 45 years at the helm of an oyster boat, Anthony Fowler has seen it all in Foveaux Strait, including the closure and partial closure of the fishery after huge die-offs in the 1990s and 2000s. But he’s distressed by this year’s dramatic drop in catch numbers – in what is supposed to be a healthy fishery, boasting hundreds of millions of adult oysters. “Put it this way, we’re getting half of what we caught last year,” he tells Newsroom. “Last year at this time we were getting 40 to 50 cases a day. This year we’re getting, like, 20.” Fowler says he’s speaking publicly out of duty as kaitiaki of the Hokonui Rūnanga and to let the people of Bluff know what’s happening.

Hoteo River protection brings Auckland environmental farming award |
NEW ZEALAND – The Dill family from Kaipara Flats have taken out the 2018 Auckland Balance Farm Environmental Awards. Running for 27 years, the awards acknowledge farmers trying to balance farm productivity with environmental protection. With around 3.5 kilometre of the beautiful Hoteo River meandering through their often steep 488ha Kaipara Hills sheep and beef farm, the river is an important part of farming life for father and son duo Bruce and Steve Dill.


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