Dedicated to finding a path to sustainable development
Header

Friday 21 September 2018

Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
If you like what you see, you are welcome to sign up (on the right) for free sustainable development news delivered direct to your inbox each weekday morning.

Heartbreakingly beautiful and haunting photographs from this year’s winners in the Ciwem environmental photographer of the year competition. In other news, lessons for a rewilding area work in progress as the wrong ecosystem balance causes animal suffering (but it’s working to improve water quality); ASIC warns businesses they need to report on climate risks properly; and what happens when kids have a connection to growing their own food.

Top Story

Ciwem environmental photographer of the year 2018 winners – in pictures | The Guardian
The Iranian photographer Saeed Mohammadzadeh has been named Ciwem’s environmental photographer of the year. End Floating, his haunting image of a beached boat on the solidified salty remains of Urmia Lake, illustrates how climate change, water mismanagement and drought have decimated the landscape

End Floating by Saeed Mohammadzadeh, Iran, winner of the environmental photographer of the year prize 2018. This stunning image shows a ship sitting in salt in the Urmia Lake in Iran. Climate change is intensifying the droughts that speed up evaporation in the country. The lake is also suffering from illegal wells and a proliferation of dams and irrigation projects, causing it to shrink. Noxious, salt-tinged dust storms inflame the eyes, skin, and lungs of residents in surrounding areas. The drying up of the river is also destroying local habitats. With extreme salinity levels of 340g per litre, the lake is more than eight times saltier than ocean water

End Floating by Saeed Mohammadzadeh, Iran, winner of the environmental photographer of the year prize 2018. This stunning image shows a ship sitting in salt in the Urmia Lake in Iran. Climate change is intensifying the droughts that speed up evaporation in the country. The lake is also suffering from illegal wells and a proliferation of dams and irrigation projects, causing it to shrink. Noxious, salt-tinged dust storms inflame the eyes, skin, and lungs of residents in surrounding areas. The drying up of the river is also destroying local habitats. With extreme salinity levels of 340g per litre, the lake is more than eight times saltier than ocean water
Photograph: Saeed Mohammadzadeh/2018 Ciwem environmental photographer of the year 2018

Environment and Biodiversity

Scientists say they’ve uncovered the mechanisms that make deep soil a sink or source of emissions | Mongabay
Researchers say they have discovered the conditions that determine whether deep soil acts as a source of carbon emissions, releasing heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, or as a sink, sequestering the carbon and keeping it from contributing to global climate change. It’s estimated that as much as 2,400 gigatons of carbon is stored in soil and that two-thirds of that carbon lies at a depth greater than 20 centimeters — meaning that there is enough deep soil carbon in the world to double the amount of carbon dioxide currently in Earth’s atmosphere. Soil organic carbon results from the decomposition of plant matter and can stay locked up in soil for thousands of years. But if below-ground decomposition rates increase due to climate change, the carbon stored in deep soil could be released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

Rhino horn must become a socially unacceptable product in Asia | The Conversation
At current rates of loss to poaching, rhino species will be extinct within our lifetimes. The big problem is demand for their horn from Asia. The market for rhino horn is moving from “traditional” medicine to “investment value” as jewellery and other processed artefacts in the art and antiques market, according to wildlife trade monitors TRAFFIC.

Global wildlife trafficking still a ‘lucrative criminal activity,’ expert says | Mongabay
When it comes to the multi-billion dollar global illegal wildlife trafficking market, security experts note a “threat convergence” where trafficking and organized crime meet. Because of that convergence, trafficking in illegal natural resources is a major security threat and environmental risk. Illegal wildlife trade includes a huge range of natural – often forest-rleated – items from endangered animals to exotic and illegally-logged wood. Mongabay caught up with Jessica Graham, a former contract expert for Interpol, and current president of JG Global Advisory, an environmental security consultancy in Washington, D.C.

Why are California wildfires so bad? An interactive look | The Guardian
USA – The 2018 wildfire season is shaping up to be California’s most destructive and expensive on record, with $432m already spent on firefighting and containment. Cal Fire asked lawmakers for an additional $234m in early September – the earliest the agency has ever requested emergency funds – to prepare for the peak of the fire season, which traditionally runs through the fall.

About 1,000 deer to be culled at controversial Dutch rewilding park | The Guardian
A Dutch provincial council has authorised the mass culling of about 1,000 deer on a controversial nature reserve east of Amsterdam where more than 3,000 red deer, ponies and cattle died last winter, almost all of them shot by park rangers because they were starving.

Economy and Business

Australian financial watchdog hones in on climate risk, warns companies to lift game | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – National securities watchdog ASIC has put ASX-listed companies on notice after a broad-ranging review found corporate climate risk disclosure standards to be seriously lacking. The Australian Securities and Investment Commission report, published on Thursday, examined climate risk disclosures by 60 listed companies in the ASX 300; in 25 recent initial public offering (IPO) prospectuses; and across 15,000 annual reports.

Hambach Forest: the front line of Germany’s Energiewende | RenewEconomy
GERMANY – While the German government is supposed to set a coal phase-out date, energy utility RWE is putting the breaks on the Energiewende. Police are swarming the ancient forest which sits atop lignite resources, ending a six-year occupation. L. Michael Buchsbaum reports from Hambach forest.

ExxonMobil agrees to join oil and gas climate change alliance | The Guardian
ExxonMobil has joined the oil and gas industry’s flagship climate change project, reversing its decision not to join the alliance four years ago. The company was a notable holdout when the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OCGI) was launched, but will now join European peers BP, Shell and Total in contributing $100m (£75m) to curb the impact of global warming.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Litter by Little: Pick up a piece and join the ‘Litterati’ | Stuff.co.nz
NEW ZEALAND – We’ve launched Litter by Little, our campaign to reduce the amount of rubbish around us. Now please join us in making our environment a cleaner, better place. Pick up some litter, email us a photo of you and your haul (please include a detailed caption), and join the Litterati Photo Gallery. We’ll update the gallery daily to recognise all the good sorts making a difference.

See also: Litter by little: From Mexico to Japan, New Zealand could learn from cleaner countries | Stuff.co.nz

Politics and Society

Media power: why the full story of Murdoch, Stokes and the Liberal leadership spill needs to be told | The Conversation
AUSTRALIA – The first German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, said there were two sights the public should not see: the making of laws and the making of sausages. To this list of enduringly nauseating spectacles we should add one more: the political machinations of media moguls. ABC political editor Andrew Probyn has skilfully violated this standard of public taste by laying out what look like very plausible entrails of the evident involvement of Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Stokes in the recent Liberal Party leadership spill.

The backflip over Sydney’s marine park is a defiance of science | The Conversation
AUSTRALIA – The New South Wales government’s decision to back away from establishing no-fishing zones in waters around Sydney leaves significant question marks over the plan, which is open for public consultation until September 27. Fisheries Minister Niall Blair explained the apparent backflip by saying he was “confident that fishing is not the key threat to the sustainability of our marine environment”, after receiving what he described as “robust” feedback from local communities and anglers.

Conservation at heart of the community | Stuff.co.nz
NEW ZEALAND – This week is Conservation Week, and is a week dedicated to inspiring and celebrating conservation activities around our country. In Marlborough we are rich with community groups and individuals who volunteer their time doing conservation for their communities. This week’s column celebrates a few of our conservation champions, who share their thoughts on volunteering for conservation.

[Ed: I’m a little late in posting this on Conservation Week, as it’s almost finished, but I liked reading Budyong’s perspective. Motivating.]

Built Environment

EU must end new petrol and diesel car sales by 2030 to meet climate targets – report | The Guardian
New petrol and diesel car sales in Europe must be phased out before 2030 if the auto sector is to play its part in holding global warming to the Paris agreement’s 1.5C goal, a new analysis has found. Forecourt plug-in hybrids will also have to disappear by 2035 at the latest, according to analysis by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), commissioned by Greenpeace. Vehicle emissions have barely changed over the last decade and the industry will exhaust its carbon budget within five to 10 years unless there is a radical shift, the DLR scientists say.

27 cities have peaked their emissions, says C40. Or have they? | The Fifth Estate
Twenty seven cities, including Melbourne and Sydney, have reached peak greenhouse gas emissions according to the C40 Cities website last week. So how come their emissions are still rising?

Wild boars run amok in the city of Genoa, as abandoned rural areas are ‘rewilded’ | The Conversation
Crossing the Ponte Gerolamo Serra in the Italian city of Genoa, I spotted a small crowd clustered by the river wall. I approached, intrigued, and peered over the wall to discover the subject of their delight: a sounder of eight wild boars – the adults sheltering from the heat in the undergrowth, while the juveniles foraged among the foliage that grows in the river bed during the dry summer months.

Food Systems

How to teach kids where food comes from – get them gardening | The Conversation
Survey the shelves of most supermarkets and you’ll no doubt be confronted with row upon row of food designed to appeal to children. Be it chicken nuggets or turkey twizzlers – many foods now bear little resemblance to their original ingredients – “junk foods” now line the supermarket shelves to appeal to young consumers. The influence of supermarkets on UK children is not to be underestimated. These super-retailers generated just under £164 billion in 2011 with UK grocery sales predicted to rise to just below £197 billion by 2021.

Research shows children are five times more likely to eat salad when they have grown it themselves. Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Research shows children are five times more likely to eat salad when they have grown it themselves. Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock