Dbytes #372 (3 April 2019)

Info, news & views for anyone interested in biodiversity conservation and good environmental decision making

“What we hope people do when they interpret science is that they weigh it up in an independent way and reach a conclusion. But in real life, people behave more like lawyers, where they have a particular outcome that they have in mind and then they selectively interpret the evidence in a way that prosecutes the outcome they want to reach.”
Matthew Hornsey in ‘Climate change and when human nature can lead to rejection of science


In this issue of Dbytes

1. Victorian State of the Environment report
2. State of the Climate in 2018 shows accelerating climate change impacts
3. Rehabilitation of mining and resources projects as it relates to Commonwealth responsibilities
4. Deadly frog fungus has wiped out 90 species and threatens hundreds more
5. Integrating Green and Gray Infrastructure for Water Security and Climate Resilience
6. US-China trade war could endanger millions of hectares of Amazon rainforest
7. The trouble with Freedom of Information

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1. Victorian State of the Environment report

The latest Victorian State of Environment (SoE) 2018 Report has found mixed progress on environmental protection, based on findings on 170 scientific indicators across 13 themes assessing the health of land, water, air and ecosystems. The 13 themes are: climate change impacts; air; biodiversity; land; forests; fire; marine and coastal environments; water resources; water quality; waste and resource recovery; energy; transport; and megatrends. A summary of outcomes is not encouraging. It shows that only 11% of indicators are ranked as good, with 37% fair, and 32% poor. The trends are equally worrying – 30% of indicators are deteriorating, 30% are stable, and only 10% are improving. Trends for the remaining 30% of indicators are unclear.

The report, prepared over four years by the office of the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Dr Gillian Sparkes, presents 20 recommendations including improved air, pollen, water and waste monitoring, localised climate projections (particularly in agricultural regions) and the appointment of a Chief Biodiversity Scientist for Victoria.

https://www.ces.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/SoE-2018-summary-report.pdf

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2. State of the Climate in 2018 shows accelerating climate change impacts

The physical signs and socio-economic impacts of climate change are accelerating as record greenhouse gas concentrations drive global temperatures towards increasingly dangerous levels, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization. The WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2018, its 25th anniversary edition, highlights record sea level rise, as well as exceptionally high land and ocean temperatures over the past four years. This warming trend has lasted since the start of this century and is expected to continue.

https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/state-of-climate-2018-shows-accelerating-climate-change-impacts

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3. Rehabilitation of mining and resources projects as it relates to Commonwealth responsibilities

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/MiningandResources/Report

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4. Deadly frog fungus has wiped out 90 species and threatens hundreds more

Our research, published today in Science, reveals the global number of amphibian species affected. At least 501 species have declined due to chytrid, and 90 of them are confirmed or believed extinct.

https://theconversation.com/deadly-frog-fungus-has-wiped-out-90-species-and-threatens-hundreds-more-113846

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5. Integrating Green and Gray Infrastructure for Water Security and Climate Resilience

“Integrating Green and Gray – Creating Next Generation Infrastructure” is a joint report from the World Bank and the World Resources Institute (WRI) that aims to advance the integration of green and gray infrastructure solutions on the ground. It places a spotlight on the world’s growing infrastructure crisis, driven by climate change and growing populations. It proposes insights, solutions and examples for putting nature to work.

http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2019/03/21/green-and-gray?CID=WAT_TT_Water_EN_EXT

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6. US-China trade war could endanger millions of hectares of Amazon rainforest

China has switched its soy imports from US to Brazil due to trade-war tariffs. Researchers warn Brazil will need to open up millions of hectares to soy growing to meet China supply. Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has already begun weakening the country’s environmental protections

ABC Science

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7. The trouble with Freedom of Information
[two stories]

Attempts to uncover Great Barrier Reef lobbying thwarted

Legal expert tried to use freedom of information to shed light on Australia’s efforts to prevent reef being listed as ‘in danger’. The freedom of information regime has long been criticised for its lengthy delays and high rates of refusals.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/apr/02/foi-regime-thwarts-bid-to-expose-great-barrier-reef-lobbying-researcher-says?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Tweet

Environmental FoIs & the ‘decision-making onion’
Why is it that despite reforms to federal Freedom of Information (FoI) laws, it seems it’s getting more and more difficult to get information out of government on the reasons behind decisions about the environment? These reforms, by the way, declare that embarrassment, loss of confidence in government and public confusion are irrelevant to decisions about whether to release documents. And yet the reforms don’t seem to have helped much.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/2019/04/03/environmental-fois-the-decision-making-onion/

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About Dbytes

Dbytes is a weekly eNewsletter presenting news and views on biodiversity conservation and environmental decision science. For the past decade Dbytes has been supported by a variety of research networks and primarily the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). From 2019 Dbytes is being produced by David Salt (Ywords).

If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David.Salt@anu.edu.au. Please keep them short and provide a link for more info.

Anyone is welcome to receive Dbytes. If you would like to received it, send me an email and I’ll add you to the list.

David Salt

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