Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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A government owned logging company is carrying out an experiment on threatened greater gliders by trialling different logging rates to see which are more destructive to the population. More forest news on logging in Papua New Guinea, where permits don’t necessarily equate to legal timber, and the lack of action in New Zealand in response to kauri dieback, with an interesting comparison the amount of money given to other environmental threats. In other news, scientists confirm the heatwave in the north is driven by climate change and lots of related stories; another negative feedback loop driven by stronger westerly winds; and converting sewage into plane fuel.

Top Story

VicForests says experiment ‘very likely’ to kill threatened glider, continues research | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – A government-owned logging company is conducting a controversial experiment expected to kill native animals that are already heading toward extinction, the ABC can reveal. VicForests is owned by the Victorian Government and logs native forests for profit under exemptions to federal environment law. It is now logging parts of East Gippsland forest at different intensities to measure survival rates of the threatened greater gliders that call it home. VicForests argued the research would assist the conservation of the species, but acknowledged it was likely to kill some of them.

Photo: Greater gliders are known as the "clumsy possum". (Supplied: Jasmine Zeleny)

Photo: Greater gliders are known as the “clumsy possum”. (Supplied: Jasmine Zeleny)

Climate Change and Energy

Climate change driven by humans made heatwave ‘twice as likely’ | BBC News
Climate change resulting from human activities made the current Europe-wide heatwave more than twice as likely to occur, say scientists. Researchers compared the current high temperatures with historical records from seven weather stations, in different parts of Europe. Their preliminary report found that the “signal of climate change is unambiguous,” in this summer’s heat. They also say the scale of the heatwave in the Arctic is unprecedented.

See also: Extreme global weather is ‘the face of climate change’ says leading scientist | The Guardian

Our scorched Earth needs voters to put more heat on their politicians | The Guardian (Opinion)
K – Over the course of Britain’s sweltering summer, the landlord of the building inhabited by the Observer periodically informs us that our air conditioning is undergoing an “automated controlled shutdown” because the weather has become so hot and humid that the system is at risk of damaging itself. So just when you really need cooling air, you can’t have it. One to be filed under: you couldn’t make it up.

‘We have different ways of coping’: the global heatwave from Beijing to Bukhara | The Guardian
Swimming in the Nile, wearing wet towels, absorbing heat with sacks of rice – people from nine countries around the world tell us how they’re coping – or not coping – with the extreme heat.

How much longer will Southern Ocean slow climate change? | NZ Herald
The gigantic carbon sink below New Zealand that is the Southern Ocean might come to quicken the effects of climate change, due to a worrying feedback loop just identified by scientists. The vast and wild ocean current sucks up more than 40 per cent of the carbon dioxide we produce, acting as a temporary climate-change buffer by slowing down the accumulation of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Yet the same westerly winds that play a critical role in regulating its storing capacity are now threatening its future as a CO2 bank, by bringing deep carbon-rich waters up to the surface.

The ozone hole is both an environmental success story and an enduring global threat | The Conversation
The headlines in recent months read like an international eco-thriller. At Mauna Loa Observatory, perched high on a Hawaiian volcano, researchers measure unusual levels of CFC-11 in the atmosphere. The measurements baffle the scientific community: CFC-11, a potent ozone-depleting gas, has been carefully monitored since it was banned under the 1987 Montreal Protocol. But the measurements are soon confirmed by observing stations in Greenland, American Samoa and Antarctica. The evidence points to illegal production of the banned chemical, threatening the fragile recovery of Earth’s UV-shielding ozone layer. But the identity of the environmental super-villain remains a mystery.

‘Reckless’: Approval given for more coal mining in Sydney’s catchment | SMH
AUSTRALIA – The Berejiklian government has approved expanded coal mining in Greater Sydney’s water catchment, ignoring concerns of a state agency, and without waiting for an independent panel to release its first report.

Environment and Biodiversity

Can you spot dead coral? – in pictures | The Guardian
Coral bleaching is affecting the world’s largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef, but what does a dying reef look like? These images from the Climate Council and Great Barrier Reef Legacy show the difference in what they should look like and what happens as they move from bleached to dead.

Bulk of timber exports from Papua New Guinea won’t pass legal test | The Guardian
Millions of tonnes of illegally logged timber, felled from forests across Papua New Guinea, are being exported to China and from there to the world as finished wood products, a new report from Global Witness has revealed. Global Witness’s investigation has found that the majority of logging operations in PNG are underpinned by government-issued permits, which are often illegally “extended” and which fail to enforce laws surrounding logging in prohibited and ecologically sensitive areas.

Lord of the forest: New Zealand’s most sacred tree is under threat from disease, but response is slow | The Conversation
NEW ZEALAND – Tāne Mahuta is Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest living being – but the 45m tall, 2,500-year-old kauri tree is under severe threat from a devastating disease. Nearly a decade after the discovery of kauri dieback disease, it is continuing to spread largely unchecked through the northern part of the North Island. Thousands of kauri trees have likely been infected and are now dead or dying. The Waipoua forest, home of Tāne Mahuta and many other majestic kauri, is reported to be one of the worst affected areas.

Tāne Mahuta is New Zealand’s most sacred tree, but its days will be numbered if it is infected with kauri dieback disease. from, CC BY-SA

Tāne Mahuta is New Zealand’s most sacred tree, but its days will be numbered if it is infected with kauri dieback disease. from, CC BY-SA

One-two 1080 punch promising weapon in war on pests | NZ Herald
NEW ZEALAND – Scientists have found promise in a new pest-busting approach aimed at wiping out possums and rats with a one-two punch of 1080 poison. In vast and rugged parts of New Zealand, aerial 1080 drops remain the only weapon the Department of Conservation (DoC) has to rapidly beat back booms of pests predators. But these operations are usually carried out only every five years or more, giving surviving possums and rats time to build their populations back up again.

Critically endangered regent honeyeaters and swift parrots travel further in search of food | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – There’s been a ripple of excitement — and hope — in the Australian birdwatching world after recent sightings of the critically endangered regent honeyeater and swift parrot in northern coastal regions of New South Wales. Numbers of the Australian regent honeyeater are believed to be as low as 400 mature birds in the wild, with the swift parrot down to an estimated 2,000, and there are fears both species could become extinct.

Economy and Business

Wool renaissance prompts ‘101 Ways With Wool’ festival |
NEW ZEALAND – The global backlash against synthetic products has seen New Zealand’s favourite fibre make a natural comebaaa…ck. And what better way to celebrate wool’s renaissance than a ‘101 Ways With Wool’ festival, set down for Blenheim next year.

Among the '101 Ways With Wool' will be eco-friendly wool coffins. Photo: Stuff

Among the ‘101 Ways With Wool’ will be eco-friendly wool coffins. Photo: Stuff

Waste and the Circular Economy

Poo-powered planes could be the future of aviation | The Fifth Estate
AUSTRALIA – A sewage byproduct could soon be converted into renewable jet fuel to make air travel a more sustainable mode of transport in the future. Southern Oil Refining is piloting a system that will turn biosolids, a byproduct of wastewater treatment, into crude oil. The company will then use their existing facilities for re-refining waste oils, such as engine oils, to upgrade the crude oil to renewable diesel and possibly renewable jet fuel.

Recycled waste lives on as a cheaper, greener road base material after rocky start | ABC News
Australia produces about 20 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste each year, but have you ever wondered where it all goes? It could have been used to build the road you’re driving on, the shopping centre carpark you use, or it might have formed the foundations for a newly-built industrial building. About 65 to 70 per cent of building waste produced by the construction and demolition industry is being recycled into new products like hard sands, drainage rock and road base. Any contaminated rubble is generally sent to landfill.

Built Environment

EV fast-charging network to roll out in Australia after funding boost | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – A high-powered, industry-based effort to bring Australia up to speed on electric vehicles, by building its first nationally coordinated EV fast charging network, is set to be realised, after receiving a major funding boost this week.