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.

Not good news in today’s top story with researchers warning that ecosystems across Australia are collapsing under climate change. I wonder what our good pollies will do about that news?! Good news elsewhere though with the recycling crisis finally showing signs of bringing innovation. We have a Gold Coaster recycling tyres into bricks, the Victorian government creating demand for goods containing recycled materials through their procurement process, a Kapiti man recycling polystyrene for commercial building foundations, and another kiwi recycling PET bottles into really eco-friendly shopping bags.

Top Story

Ecosystems across Australia are collapsing under climate change | The Conversation
AUSTRALIA – To the chagrin of the tourist industry, the Great Barrier Reef has become a notorious victim of climate change. But it is not the only Australian ecosystem on the brink of collapse. Our research, recently published in Nature Climate Change, describes a series of sudden and catastrophic ecosystem shifts that have occurred recently across Australia. These changes, caused by the combined stress of gradual climate change and extreme weather events, are overwhelming ecosystems’ natural resilience.

Environment and Biodiversity

The best time to water your plants during a heatwave | The Conversation
When the warmer weather strikes, our gardens and outdoor spaces become a perfect oasis for rest and relaxation. But as nice as the hot weather might be, extreme conditions and record-breaking temperatures can wreak havoc on your plants. There’s of course no question, that when it’s hot, plants will need watering, but knowing when’s the best time to do this can be tricky.

Hybrid embryos raise hope of resurrecting northern white rhino – but what’s the point? | The Conversation
Scientists have for the first time created hybrid embryos with DNA from the nearly-extinct northern white rhinoceros, an advance that could ultimately lead to the first resurrection of a mega-mammal. But while this scientific achievement could provide a new way to produce future generations of endangered or extinct animals, applying this approach to the white rhino does not meet with universal approval among conservationists.

See also: Embryo breakthrough ‘can save northern white rhino’ | BBC News

Mainstreaming Biodiversity for Sustainable Development | OECD
The need to mainstream biodiversity into economic growth and development is being increasingly recognised and is now also firmly embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals. Drawing on experiences and insights from 16 predominantly megadiverse countries, this report examines how biodiversity is being mainstreamed in four key areas. Available from 10 July 2018.

Draft strategy released by Aboriginal community to reintroduce dingoes into Victorian state and national parks | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – Dingoes could once again roam state and national parks in central Victoria if a land management plan developed by the region’s Aboriginal people — who hold native title rights for the land — is approved. Reintroducing dingoes into the wild is one of the goals outlined in a draft strategy for the joint management of six parks and reserves inside Dja Dja Wurrung Country…”Native apex predators, such as the Gal Gal (dingo), provide an overall benefit to biodiversity and ecosystem function, including through their interactive roles with medium-sized predators, such as foxes and cat,” the draft plan said.

The dingo is one of the species Dja Dja Wurrung leaders want to reintroduce into areas of central Victoria. (Supplied: AAP/Tony Phillips)

The dingo is one of the species Dja Dja Wurrung leaders want to reintroduce into areas of central Victoria. (Supplied: AAP/Tony Phillips)

Waterbirds at risk as irrigation saps floods in Murray-Darling wetland | SMH
AUSTRALIA – Large waterbird breeding events are one-third as likely to occur in one of Australia’s most important wetlands after floods were sharply curbed by expanded irrigation, researchers have found. Major floods in the Narran Lakes on the Condamine and Balonne rivers in the northern Murray-Darling Basin are needed for species such as straw-necked ibis to breed.

Kauri dieback can live in pine trees and pasture, study finds |
NEW ZEALAND – Pine trees can host kauri dieback without symptoms, new research suggests. Lincoln University masters student Kai Lewis also found common pasture plants could carry the kauri-killing disease. Dr Amanda Black said in a statement her student also found the fungal-like disease, known as Phytophthora agathidicida, when it was young grew more rapidly in pine-forest and pasture soil than in kauri soil.

Economy and Business

Declare energy independence with carbon dividends | The Guardian
Taking action on climate is about a lot more than our energy economy. Climate disruption is the leading threat to our built environment, an accelerant of armed conflict, and a leading cause of mass migration. Its effects intensify and prolong storms, droughts, wildfires, and floods — resulting in the US spending as much on disaster management in 2017 as in the three decades from 1980 to 2010.

NEG may double carbon price to $35/tonne for industrial sectors | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – Analysis from Reputex confirms many assessments that the weak emissions reduction target for the electricity sector that the Turnbull government is seeking to enshrine in NEG will most likely be met by 2020, a decade ahead of time. With no policy to extract low-cost emissions cuts in electricity, the emphasis will fall on other sectors to meet Australia’s national emissions reductions target of 26-28 per cent.

Victoria commits to “recyclables first” procurement policy | The Fifth Estate
AUSTRALIA – The Victorian government will use its own purchasing power to drive demand for recycled products as part of a $37 million package announced by energy, environment and climate change minister Lily D’Ambrosio on Tuesday… Under the plan, Sustainability Victoria and the Department of Treasury and Finance will guide government agencies and departments to ramp up their procurement of products with local recyclable content, helping to boost the local recycling industry.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Farmers’ market adopts war on waste policy during plastic-free July | ABC News
Tasmania has built a reputation for producing some top-notch spirits and promoting its clean, green credentials — so it’s not surprising the two have managed to cross paths at a farmers’ market in the state’s north. Voted the top farmers’ market at the 2017 Delicious Produce Awards, Harvest is trying to create a sustainable model for selling food direct to customers.

Harvest Market shoppers are encouraged to get creative with how they re-purpose and recycle food containers. (ABC Rural: Laurissa Smith)

Harvest Market shoppers are encouraged to get creative with how they re-purpose and recycle food containers. (ABC Rural: Laurissa Smith)

Old tyres could be reborn as building products by Gold Coast auto recycler | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – China’s decision to stop being the world’s garbage dump has prompted a Gold Coast recycler to invest in technology that turns unwanted car tyres into bricks to be used for paving, retaining walls and house foundations. Adrian Fuller, who owns Adrian’s Metal Recyclers at Molendinar, said they scraped 1,200 to 1,500 cars a month but times were getting tougher now China had restricted imports of recyclable material.

Zen and the art of reducing plastic |
NEW ZEALAND – In 2016, while visiting Sian Ka’an National Park in the Caribbean coast of Mexico, Jeremy Stead, an enterprising young man from Tahunanui, was almost brought to tears at the sight of formerly pristine white sand beaches covered ankle deep in plastic rubbish. The Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an area of high biodiversity, where Jaguars prowl and turtles abound. “It was the worst plastic pollution I had ever seen” Jeremy said. “I felt I had to do something and the idea of recycling plastic bottles into re-usable and recyclable bags seemed like a good place to start.”

One of the Zenbags made out of recycled plastic bottles. Photo: Supplied

One of the Zenbags made out of recycled plastic bottles. Photo: Supplied

Recycled polystyrene on the rise as quick cost-effective option for aiding construction |
NEW ZEALAND – Inventor Richard Moore’s recycled polystyrene has featured in the making of a major road in Kapiti, a modern apartment block in Wellington, and now a commercial building in Porirua. The entrepeneur and inventor, who runs Poly Palace in Porirua, has spent more than a decade creating a machine from junkyard parts that turns polystyrene waste into dense, lightweight fill for construction.

Politics and Society

Cambridge Analytica used our secrets for profit – the same data could be used for public good | The Conversation

Ever since it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had taken data from 87m users via a Facebook app that exploited the social media site’s privacy settings, it has been suggested that anything from Donald Trump’s election in the US to the European Union referendum result in the UK could have been the result of the persuasive power of targeted advertisements based on voter preferences… Before that approach becomes commonplace, we should survey the whole moral panic around the scandal and see what lessons can be learnt.

KiwiBuild risks embedding wealth and housing inequalities | RNZ News (Opinion)
NEW ZEALAND – Many of us dream of truly affordable, warm, dry houses. A place to be comfortable in winter (without wearing three jerseys and a hat), that costs little to heat, and leaves enough after paying rent or the mortgage to have real choices. We are dreaming of a home. Yet it has become a nice luxury to have – a privilege for some only. Everyone else just gets shelter.

Related: Thousands sign up for KiwiBuild in first day | RNZ News