Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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Today’s top story highlights the unsustainable practice of krill fishing, chosen because this is an area where you can easily make a difference by being careful about what products you buy.  If you’re uncertain about a product, ask the retailer.  This highlights to them that you care and they need to know what they’re selling.  In other news, two research findings on separate threats to ocean ecosystems and one on forests; and, while not technically on sustainable development, an article about Stephen Hawking, who passed away yesterday.  One of the greatest minds the world has ever seen.

Top Story

Calls to restrict krill fishing industry amid warnings trawlers are ravaging pristine Antarctic seas |
Industrial fishing for krill in the Antarctic Ocean to satisfy the global health supplement market is threatening one of the world’s most important marine ecosystems, a report has found. Environmental campaign group Greenpeace has uncovered alarming fishing practices off Antarctica, including plundering waters near important protected marine areas. The charity says industrial trawling for krill is being driven by a growing global demand for products such as Omega-3 tablets, pet food and fishmeal for farmed fish.

Climate Change and Energy

It takes a village: How community will make (or break) shift to renewables | One Step Off The Grid
AUSTRALIA – It takes a village to raise a child, so the old proverb goes. But can the same be said about building a renewable energy powered grid? According to two separate reports published last week, communities will have a vital role to play in the success of Australia’s shift to renewables – and in two major ways.

Biofuels can help solve climate change, especially with a carbon tax | The Guardian
Facing the reality of human-caused warming, we now look for ways to reduce the problem so that future generations will not inherit a disaster. So, what can we do now to help the future?  The easiest answer is to use energy more wisely and quit wasting our precious resources. Second, we can increase our use of clean energy, particularly wind and solar power. These are great starts but we will still need some liquid fuels and for those, we can make decisions about the best fuels for the environment. There has been extensive conversation recently about biofuels and how they may help solve the climate problem.

Environment and Biodiversity

World’s great forests could lose half of all wildlife as planet warms – report | The Guardian
The world’s greatest forests could lose more than half of their plant species by the end of the century unless nations ramp up efforts to tackle climate change, according to a new report on the impacts of global warming on biodiversity hotspots. Mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds are also likely to disappear on a catastrophic scale in the Amazon and other naturally rich ecosysterms in Africa, Asia, North America and Australia if temperatures rise by more than 1.5C, concludes the study by WWF, the University of East Anglia and the James Cook University.

Acidic oceans could slow coral reef growth by a third | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – Ocean acidification will have a much more serious effect on the ability of coral reefs to rebuild themselves than previously thought, research suggests. In a study, reported today in the journal Nature, scientists pumped CO2 onto a section of the Great Barrier Reef at One Tree Island, to simulate levels of ocean acidification expected to occur by 2050. They then measured the effect this had on a process known as calcification, which is used by coral and other reef organisms as part of their structure.

‘Game changer’: New vulnerability to climate change in ocean food chain
Excessive rates of carbon dioxide undermines the health of key micro-organisms in the oceans, potentially undermining the base of critical marine food chains, according to new research by US scientists A team of researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) applied techniques from the emerging field of synthetic biology to understand how ocean acidification from the absorption of CO2 is affecting tiny plants known as phytoplankton.

Economy and Business

Germany’s VARTA enters Australia battery market, with eye on aggregation | One Step Off The Grid
AUSTRALIA – German battery storage maker VARTA has become the latest company to enter Australia’s burgeoning battery storage market, attracted by the huge penetration of rooftop solar and the growing shift towards “aggregated” storage. “There are not many places that present such an attractive opportunity, we would be stupid not to go after it” Clements says in an interview ahead of the company’s formal launch in Melb0urne next week.

NZ has no choice but to become sustainable, UK expert says |
NEW ZEALAND – Businesses need to raise their ambitions to become a low emissions and sustainable country in the future, a sustainability expert says. Jonathon Porritt, the director of non-profit sustainability organisation Forum of the Future in the UK, said New Zealand was already in a good position with 80 per cent of its energy being renewable, but the country needed greater commitment to its 2050 zero carbon emissions goal from businesses.
See also: Solar power fires up the day shift at Kamo Domino’s pizza store | NZ Herald

Waste and the Circular Economy

Calls for federal intervention as waste ‘crisis’ spreads to NSW | SMH
AUSTRALIA – The crisis facing the waste recycling industry in Australia is deepening, with NSW just “one month behind” Victoria, as calls mount for the Turnbull government to intervene. Linda Scott, president of Local Government NSW, told a Senate inquiry into the waste and recycling industry that the state’s kerbside collection woes were now “in the vicinity” of Victoria’s.

War on plastic may do more harm than good, warns think tank | BBC News
UK – A green think tank has warned of the risk of unintended consequences from the wave of concern about plastics. The Green Alliance, a parliamentary group, said plastics played a valuable role and couldn’t be simply abolished. It wants to transform the notion of a “War on Plastics” into a “War on Plastic Litter”.

Politics and Society

Stephen Hawking: What one of the most brilliant minds said on aliens, black holes and Trump | ABC News
From his specialty — black holes — to Donald Trump, a British boy band and motor neurone disease, across the years one of the world’s most brilliant minds weighed in on a range of topics. On Wednesday, Stephen Hawking’s family announced the renowned physicist had died at 76. As the science world mourns we collected some of the Professor’s most profound comments.

Death by a thousand cuts: the familiar patterns behind Australia’s land-clearing crisis | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – The broadscale denuding of the unique Australian landscape is the result of thousands of landholders making a tapestry of individual decisions. Over the past few years, millions of hectares of land has been cleared of native vegetation, exacerbating climate change, the decline of threatened species and the health of the Great Barrier Reef. But the armory of bulldozers, chainsaws and herbicides tearing through Australia’s forests, grasslands and savannas is supported by a common network of power brokers, lawmakers and enforcement agencies.

Cape York property with tree-clearing plans given part of $4m reef funding | The Guardian
A property in Queensland with one of the biggest tree-clearing proposals in Australia, and which is specifically identified by experts as a risk to Great Barrier Reef water quality, is one of the beneficiaries of a $4m federal government reef water quality program.


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