Dbytes #410 (29 January 2020)

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


“As historians we are well aware of Australia’s long bushfire history, and can confidently say that the scale, longevity and intensity of the fire events in southern and eastern Australia so far this season are unprecedented in Australia’s European history.”
Open Letter from Australian historians: Climate-Linked Fires Summer 2020 [see item 3]


In this issue of Dbytes

1. Fire almost wiped out rare species in the Australian Alps. Feral horses are finishing the job.
2. Conservation scientists are grieving after the bushfires – but we must not give up
3. Open Letter from Australian historians: Climate-Linked Fires Summer 2020
4. Are 40% of insects facing extinction?
5. How Does a Nation Adapt to Its Own Murder?
6. On resilience as a panacea for disaster
7. The state of global biodiversity — it’s worse than you probably think

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1. Fire almost wiped out rare species in the Australian Alps. Feral horses are finishing the job.

On Friday I flew in a helicopter over the fire-ravaged Kosciuszko National Park. I was devastated by what I saw. Cherished wildlife species are at grave risk of extinction: those populations the bushfires haven’t already wiped out are threatened by thousands of feral horses trampling the land.

https://theconversation.com/fire-almost-wiped-out-rare-species-in-the-australian-alps-feral-horses-are-finishing-the-job-130584

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2. Conservation scientists are grieving after the bushfires – but we must not give up

That a billion animals may die as a result of this summer’s fires has horrified the world. For many conservation biologists and land managers, however, the unprecedented extent and ferocity of the fires has incinerated much more than koalas and their kin.

https://theconversation.com/conservation-scientists-are-grieving-after-the-bushfires-but-we-must-not-give-up-130195

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3. Open Letter from Australian historians: Climate-Linked Fires Summer 2020

“Unfortunately, Australia’s relatively limited action on climate change represents a continuation of poor environmental practice. Alongside many achievements in the sustainable use of our natural resources, species extinction, soil erosion, polluted waterways and introduced pests are just some of the many legacies of our historical failure to pay this country the respect it demands.”

http://www.environmentalhistory-au-nz.org/2020/01/open-letter-from-australian-historians-climate-linked-fires-summer-2020/

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4. Are 40% of insects facing extinction?

This magic number was stated in that flawed entomofauna paper, without any explanation of how this number was calculated – see why that paper is flawed here. Since then, it has been stated regularly in popular media, scientific papers and technical reports, often without citation, just a number pulled out of the air and presented as fact. Globally, there are about 5 million estimated insect species in total. Only 1 million species have scientific names. So, conservatively, the 40% claim suggests that at least 400,000 species are threatened with extinction. So is it an accurate prediction? No. Here’s why:

https://ecologyisnotadirtyword.com/2020/01/22/are-40-of-insects-facing-extinction/

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5. How Does a Nation Adapt to Its Own Murder?

Australia is going up in flames, and its government calls for resilience while planning for more coal mines.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/25/opinion/sunday/australia-fires-climate-change.html

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6. On resilience as a panacea for disaster
When the going gets tough, the government hides behind resilience

While I think resilience science offers many insights on the challenges of sustainability, I don’t see its current deployment as anything more than a strategy of obfuscation and displacement, the strategy you roll out when you don’t actually have a plan.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/

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7. The state of global biodiversity — it’s worse than you probably think

I often find myself in a position explaining to non-professionals just how bad the state of global biodiversity really really is. It turns out too that even quite a few ecologists seem to lack an appreciation of the sheer magnitude of damage we’ve done to the planet.

https://conservationbytes.com/2020/01/24/the-state-of-global-biodiversity-its-worse-than-you-probably-think/

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About Dbytes

Dbytes is a weekly eNewsletter presenting news and views on biodiversity conservation and environmental decision science. From 2007-2018 Dbytes was 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 receive it, send me an email and I’ll add you to the list.

David

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