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Thursday 22 March 2018

Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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Top Story

Flooding and heavy rains rise 50% worldwide in a decade, figures show | The Guardian
Global floods and extreme rainfall events have surged by more than 50% this decade, and are now occurring at a rate four times higher than in 1980, according to a new report. Other extreme climatological events such as storms, droughts and heatwaves have increased by more than a third this decade and are being recorded twice as frequently as in 1980, the paper by the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (Easac) says. The paper, based partly on figures compiled by the German insurance company Munich Re, also shows that climate-related loss and damage events have risen by 92% since 2010.

Climate Change and Energy

The $50 million plan to shore up Victoria’s energy grid with big batteries | ABC News
VIC, AUSTRALIA – Two large-scale, grid-connected batteries will be installed in regional Victoria, in a bid to shore up the state’s electricity supply. The projects, worth a combined $50 million, will be funded by the Federal Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and by the Victorian Government.

NSW government’s power plan reveals huge renewable energy resources | SMH
NSW, AUSTRALIA – The Berejiklian government has identified three priority renewable energy zones in NSW that potentially have seven times the capacity of the state’s coal-fired power plants. In a submission to the Australian Energy Markets Operation, the government said the zones, in New England, the central-west and the south-west of NSW “could unlock 77,000 megawatts of new generation capacity”.

Environment and Biodiversity

Europe faces ‘biodiversity oblivion’ after collapse in French birds, experts warn | The Guardian
The “catastrophic” decline in French farmland birds signals a wider biodiversity crisis in Europe which ultimately imperils all humans, leading scientists have told the Guardian. A dramatic fall in farmland birds such as skylarks, whitethroats and ortolan bunting in France was revealed by two studies this week, with the spread of neonicotinoid pesticides – and decimation of insect life – coming under particular scrutiny.

Vanishing sea ice could alter Antarctic marine ecosystems | Stuff.co.nz
Scientists returning from Antarctica say an “astonishing” lack of sea ice could herald major changes in the marine ecosystems around the icy continent. An international research team aboard the Niwa vessel Tangaroa spent six weeks installing instruments and carrying out experiments in the Ross Sea to help their understanding of the climate, atmospheric and oceanographic processes in the region and how they influence the marine ecosystem.

Antipodes Islands finally declared mice-free | NZ Herald
NEW ZEALAND – A remote and windswept biodiversity hot-spot in New Zealand’s subantarctic islands has been formally declared mouse-free, following one of the most sophisticated pest eradication projects undertaken anywhere in the world.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Ocean plastic could treble in decade | BBC News
The amount of plastic in the ocean is set to treble in a decade unless litter is curbed, a major report has warned. Plastics is just one issue facing the world’s seas, along with rising sea levels, warming oceans, and pollution, it says. But the Foresight Future of the Sea Report for the UK government said there are also opportunities to cash in on the “ocean economy”.

Get a wriggle on: Wellington worm farmer told to move his illegal operation from bus stop | Stuff.co.nz
NEW ZEALAND – It’s possibly the most Wellington-esque crime imaginable – operating an illegal worm farm in a council bus stop. Now perpetrator Martin Wilson has been asked to stop, and he is calling on Wellington City Council to stop talking about sustainability, and start supporting initiatives like his.

Wilson operated his worm farm out of a Wellington bus stop for four months before the council shut him down. Photo: Kevin Stent/Stuff

Wilson operated his worm farm out of a Wellington bus stop for four months before the council shut him down. Photo: Kevin Stent/Stuff

Coffee-loving worms are munching their way through old grinds and improving farmers’ pastures | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – It is not just office workers who rely on a coffee to get them through their day, tens of thousands of worms are also getting their daily fix at a farm in far north Queensland. Mick Kruckow from Eubenangee, south of Cairns, has struck up a deal with a local cafe. Each week he collects about 20 kilograms of coffee grounds and feeds them to his 120,000 worms. “It keeps the grounds out of landfill and keeps our worms happy,” Mr Kruckow said.

Politics and Society

NSW Labor refuses to approve forestry agreements based on ‘out-of-date’ science | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – NSW Labor has demanded that climate change be on the table as part of a full scientific assessment of the state’s regional forest agreements (RFAs), which are set to expire over the next two years. Penny Sharpe, opposition environment spokeswoman, said NSW Labor would not sign off on proposed extensions because the government “knows the science underpinning the RFAs is out of date and incomplete”.

Built Environment

Many people feel lonely in the city, but perhaps ‘third places’ can help with that | The Conversation
Loneliness is a hidden but serious problem in cities worldwide. Urban loneliness is connected to population mobility, declining community participation and a growth in single-occupant households. This threatens the viability of our cities because it damages the social networks they rely on. One response to these trends involves “third places”. These are public or commercial spaces that provide informal opportunities for local people to mix socially on neutral ground.

Food Systems

Murray-Darling system under strain as tree plantations increase 41% | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – A huge expansion of irrigated crops in the Mildura region of the lower Murray is threatening to overtake the water available in the river, and has set the scene for a disaster if drought conditions return.

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