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Monday 12 March 2018

Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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Our relationships with each other as a society affect how we can deal with controversial issues.  Today’s top story challenges the idea that we can prescribe morality as a set of rules, rather, we should consider individual situations and apply moral thinking for the best outcomes.  Elsewhere, the Australian pollies are at it again; battery innovations; more plastic in birds; and iwi to work more closely with government to protect the environment.

Top Story

The greatest moral challenge of our time? It’s how we think about morality itself | The Conversation
It would be easy to conclude that there’s a deficit of morality in the world today. That if only people were more motivated to behave ethically, if only they made morality more prominent in their thinking, then the world would be a better place. But when it comes to pinning down a single greatest moral challenge of our time, I’d argue that there’s not a lack of morality in the world; there’s too much.

Climate Change and Energy

22 leading Commonwealth science bodies urge action on climate change | NZ Herald
New Zealand’s leading science body has joined an unprecedented Commonwealth-wide push for governments to slash emissions to net zero. Ahead of next month’s Commonwealth summit in the UK, Royal Society Te Aparangi and 21 other major national academies and societies of science have urged leaders to look to the evidence on climate change and take action now.

In Iceland, global warming no longer a joke – president | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Icelanders have long joked that global warming was something people on the chilly Nordic island could look forward to, but as ice caps and glaciers melt at record speeds, that gag is wearing thin, according to the country’s president.

What reliability issue? Retailers raise concern about “gold-plating” from NEG | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – The Turnbull government’s pursuit of a National Energy Guarantee as its major climate and energy policy initiative has hit more hurdles, this time from a group of 10 energy retailers who say it designed to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. The NEG proposes to combine an emissions obligation and a reliability obligation, but the details are scant and most participants and observers have complained that the proposals are either hopelessly inadequate (emissions), or not needed (reliability).

WA suburb to trial community battery ‘bank’ for rooftop solar deposits | One Step Off The Grid
AUSTRALIA – A Western Australian suburb south of Perth is set to trial a community energy storage scheme that will allow solar households to store their excess rooftop generation in a shared battery, installed locally. The City of Mandurah Council last month voted unanimously in favour of taking part in the trial, which will be rolled out by the state-owned utility Western Power in the suburb of Meadow Springs.

RMIT’s “cheaper, cleaner” proton battery has li-ion firmly in sights | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – Researchers from RMIT in Melbourne have made what they say is a “crucial step” towards cheap, sustainable battery storage after successfully demonstrating a working, rechargeable “proton battery” prototype. In a paper published in the Science Daily journal on Wednesday, the RMIT team said its latest experiments had demonstrated the carbon-based battery was already comparable with commercially-available lithium-ion batteries, even though it was “far from being optimised.”

Environment and Biodiversity

Australia leads on extinction rate: report | SMH
Australia has lost more mammals to extinction than any other country with a new report urging the federal government to take action on the crisis. The Australian Conservation Foundation report published in March found since colonisation 29 mammals had become extinct and were lost forever in Australia, compared to just one in the United States.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Too much plastic littering Manawatu coastline and killing our birds | Stuff.co.nz
NEW ZEALAND – Those who care for our wildlife and landscapes say plastic-infested coastlines are the new normal, and it’s not good enough. Wildbase supervisor vet technician Pauline Nijman​ is sick of pulling plastic out of wild birds’ stomachs. She remembers the shock at seeing how much plastic an exhausted petrel had swallowed.  “I put him in the pool and he just vomited up a balloon on a string and a bouncy ball, and all this stuff was coming out… I just couldn’t believe what I was rifling through. It was disgusting. It totally took me by surprise seeing it.”

Wildbase clinicians Professor Brett Gartrell and Pauline Nijman pulled a spoon and a handful of other plastic out of this ill petrel. Photo: Supplied

Wildbase clinicians Professor Brett Gartrell and Pauline Nijman pulled a spoon and a handful of other plastic out of this ill petrel. Photo: Supplied

Politics and Society

Ed: A victory for the environment on Friday:

NSW Government’s land-clearing law quashed in court, deemed invalid | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – In a breakthrough victory, the Land and Environment court today ruled the NSW Government’s land-clearing laws were made unlawfully, and were therefore invalid. The Nature Conservation Council fought the legislation made by the Berejiklian Government, which had permitted private landholders to carry out large-scale clearing of native vegetation without prior approval or environmental assessment.

Ed: And by Sunday:

NSW laws that make land clearing easier reinstated by Berejiklian government | The Guardian
The New South Wales government has reinstated laws that make land clearing easier after a court ruled they were invalid last week. On Friday, the NSW land and environment court ruled the Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code was invalid, since it was not approved by the NSW environment minister before it was implemented by the primary industries minister… But the government made no delay remaking the laws, announcing on Saturday it had been completed.

Ruapehu iwi formalise role as guardians of the environment | Radio New Zealand News
NEW ZEALAND – The iwi of Uenuku, Tamakana and Tamahaki, whose ancestral lands stretch west and southwest from the mountains of the central plateau, are formalising their role as guardians of the environment with the launch of an environmental trust. Lead treaty negotiator for the Uenuku Charitable Trust Chris McKenzie said the trust would allow iwi members to leave an imprint on their environment.

Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef: going beyond our backyard to protect the reef | The Conversation
In a globalised world, maintaining treasures like the Great Barrier Reef and other ecosystems affected by global-scale threats demands new approaches that involve participation not only of people living locally, but also those in distant places.

Food Systems

What grandparents can teach us about reducing food waste | ABC News
Before the era of supermarkets, seasonal shopping and health buzzwords, our grandparents reduced food waste not because they wanted to, but because they had to.  With public awareness of food sustainability on the rise, their experience remains as relevant today as it was 70 years ago.

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