Dbytes #390 (21 August 2019)

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


“Where climate change is a moral issue we Liberals do it tough. Where climate change is an economic issue, as tonight shows, we do very, very well.”
Tony Abbott [and see item 1 and 2]


In this issue of Dbytes

1. Communicating economics to policy makers
2. Calling all economists: don’t let the denialists leave you the blame
3. Koala habitat cleared for housing development against Environment Department’s offset policy
4. Can we really protect natural habitats to ‘offset’ those we are destroying every day?
5. Trump administration eases endangered species rules
6. Morrison’s Pollution Loophole Will Weaken Pacific Climate Change Action
7. Coral reefs are in jeopardy but can still be saved

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1. Communicating economics to policy makers

When it comes to communicating research results to policy makers, economists have some advantages over other disciplines. But economists commonly make a range of mistakes when trying to communicate to policy makers.

http://www.pannelldiscussions.net/2019/08/321-communicating-economics-to-policy-makers/

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2. Calling all economists: don’t let the denialists leave you the blame
Climate change is both an economic AND a moral issue

While Abbott has departed the political stage, possibly his parting observation of how the conservatives should be framing climate change held some truth: ‘Where climate change is framed as an economic issue, the Liberals do very, very well.’ If that’s the case then the once noble science of economics has been traduced – revealed as lacking a moral centre.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/

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3. Koala habitat cleared for housing development against Environment Department’s offset policy

The Federal Environment Department approved the clearing of more than 75 hectares of critical koala habitat west of Brisbane in breach of its own policy.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-13/koala-habitat-cleared-against-department-of-environment-rules/11392454

“In both these cases the Federal Environment Department acknowledged the planned offsets were inadequate, yet it approved the destruction of bushland anyway, relying on the flawed reasoning that the decision was consistent with existing housing projects nearby, which also did not meet policy standards for offsets.”
Andrew Picone, Australian Conservation Foundation

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4. Can we really protect natural habitats to ‘offset’ those we are destroying every day?

In the forests of northern Sweden, a major train line cuts through land originally protected for migratory birds – so new seasonal wetlands have been established for the birds nearby. In southern Uganda, a huge hydropower dam has flooded swathes of tropical forest – so degraded forests nearby have been restored and the lands they sit on protected. On the remote, wild shores of the Caspian Sea, a strategic port runs the risk of disturbing threatened seals – so entire islands have been created to ensure the mammals have sufficient habitat. All of these projects are examples of what’s referred to by planners and developers as biodiversity offsets. But does any of this really make a difference and genuinely prevent new infrastructure from harming biodiversity overall?

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/08/protect-natural-habitats-to-offset-those-we-destroy

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5. Trump administration eases endangered species rules

The Trump administration announced on Monday it would change how it implements the Endangered Species Act, weakening protections that environmentalists say violate the law and make it easier for oil companies, real estate interests and the agriculture industry to develop land inhabited by vulnerable wildlife. The revisions announced in the new rule were a culmination of more than a year of efforts to loosen restrictions written to protect hundreds of species judged to be under pressure. The Interior Department has argued that a streamlining is necessary to update how it enforces the 1973 law, including allowing the federal government to begin to measure the economic costs of protecting some species.

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/08/12/trump-administration-eases-endangered-species-rules-1655594

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6. Morrison’s Pollution Loophole Will Weaken Pacific Climate Change Action

Prime Minister Morrison is undermining Pacific action on climate change, with new analysis from the Australia Institute revealing that his pollution loophole is equivalent to around 8 years fossil fuel emissions for the rest of the Pacific and New Zealand. The Government plans to use Kyoto credits to meet emissions targets – a loophole that means Australia will count controversial past reductions to meet current targets – and essentially be able to keep pollution at the same level. New research from The Australia Institute shows that if Australia uses this loophole, it would be the equivalent of around eight years of fossil fuel emissions of all its Pacific neighbours.

https://www.tai.org.au/content/morrison-s-pollution-loophole-will-weaken-pacific-climate-change-action

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7. Coral reefs are in jeopardy but can still be saved

The world’s largest coordinated study of coral reefs identifies just where and how to save coral reefs across the Indo-Pacific. More than 80 scientists, including an Australian team from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE), scoured 44 countries and 2,500 coral reefs across the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

It was published this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution: https://www.coralcoe.org.au/media-releases/coral-reefs-are-in-jeopardy-but-can-still-be-saved

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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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