Dbytes #444 (23 September 2020)

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


“The 2020 Living Planet Report released last week showed that the population sizes of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have declined on average by 68% since 1970. In my lifetime, the common species that I grew up with around my garden and in the woodland and farmland that surrounded are now substantially rarer. These declines, and the less well-documented loss of abundance of many plants and invertebrates, mean that our ecosystems are less diverse, less resilient and less able to provide the ecosystem services that we rely upon…
… We are not currently on track to meet the CBD’s Vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050. We’re not even on the right train.”
Stuart Butchart, Chief Scientist at BirdLife International in Extinction and optimism [and see item 1]


In this issue of Dbytes

1. World fails to meet a single target to stop destruction of nature – UN report
&
On target for disappointment
2. Ozone for Life: 35 years of ozone layer protection
3. Using norms to influence conservation behaviour intention
4. ‘Science is political’: Scientific American has endorsed Joe Biden over Trump for president. Australia should take note
5. What Can Environmental Economists Learn from the COVID‐19 Experience?
6. The value of social network data for conservation planning
7. Saviour or scientific hubris? Geoengineering the planet to counter climate change


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1. World fails to meet a single target to stop destruction of nature – UN report

‘Humanity at a crossroads’ after a decade in which all of the 2010 Aichi goals to protect wildlife and ecosystems have been missed. The world has failed to meet a single target to stem the destruction of wildlife and life-sustaining ecosystems in the last decade, according to a devastating new report from the UN on the state of nature. From tackling pollution to protecting coral reefs, the international community did not fully achieve any of the 20 Aichi biodiversity targets agreed in Japan in 2010 to slow the loss of the natural world. It is the second consecutive decade that governments have failed to meet targets.

The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, published before a key UN summit on the issue later this month, found that despite progress in some areas, natural habitats have continued to disappear, vast numbers of species remain threatened by extinction from human activities, and $500bn (£388bn) of environmentally damaging government subsidies have not been eliminated.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/15/every-global-target-to-stem-destruction-of-nature-by-2020-missed-un-report-aoe

and see

On target for disappointment
The Fifth Global Biodiversity Outlook is in and the judges are unanimous – we need better targets

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/

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2. Ozone for Life: 35 years of ozone layer protection

This year, the world marks the 35th anniversary of the world’s most successful environmental agreement which has enabled the gradual recovery of the Earth’s protective ozone layer.

https://public.wmo.int/en/media/news/ozone-life-35-years-of-ozone-layer-protection

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3. Using norms to influence conservation behaviour intention

Throughout the conservation psychology literature and beyond, norms are seen as a key driver of conservation behaviour. There are three commonly discussed kinds of norms: subjective or injunctive norms, descriptive norms, and personal norms.
This meta-analysis explores these norms and their effect on conservation behaviour intentions. In general, personal and descriptive norms had a greater influence on intentions than subjective norms, and the effect of subjective norms was reduced when personal and descriptive norms were included in behaviour intention models.

https://keeptothepath.com/2020/09/16/using-norms-to-influence-conservation-behaviour-intention/

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4. ‘Science is political’: Scientific American has endorsed Joe Biden over Trump for president. Australia should take note

Science is political. The science we do is inherently shaped by the funding landscape of government and the problems and issues of society. This means that to have any influence on how science is organised and funded in Australia (or the US or any other country), we as scientists and science communicators must act in ways that matter in the arena of politics.

https://theconversation.com/science-is-political-scientific-american-has-endorsed-joe-biden-over-trump-for-president-australia-should-take-note-146394

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5. What Can Environmental Economists Learn from the COVID‐19 Experience?

The responses of policy makers, individuals, and businesses to COVID‐19 contrast with typical responses to environmental issues. In most countries, governments have been willing to act decisively to implement costly restrictions on work and personal life, to a degree that has never been observed for an environmental issue. A number of possible lessons for environmental economists are identified. In addition to valuing natural environments, people also place a high value on social interactions. These two values may interact. Adaptation can substantially reduce the cost of restrictive policies and should be considered when policy proposals are being evaluated. Preparation for an emergency can substantially reduce its costs by allowing a more rapid response. The development of new technologies can play a key role in reducing externalities. As well, the effectiveness of policies that deliver public goods can be enhanced by credible leaders who provide clear, compelling, and consistent information, emphasizing both the private and public benefits of compliance.

http://www.pannelldiscussions.net/2020/09/340-covid-environ-econ/

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6. The value of social network data for conservation planning

In this paper we show that the value of collecting new data on social networks to inform conservation planning decisions depends on both species distributions and the structure of the social networks that drive the spread of conservation and other behaviours. When the distribution of species across sites is highly nested (i.e., when species poor sites are sub-sets of species rich sites) we find the value of collecting social network information is almost always low. On the other hand, the value collecting social network information is higher the more centralised the social network is. These sorts of rules of thumb can help us strategically prioritise the collection of social network data to inform conservation planning decisions.

https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/cobi.13500

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7. Saviour or scientific hubris? Geoengineering the planet to counter climate change

By 2010 a large number of “geoengineering” experiments were under consideration — but now major experimentation appears to have stalled. The reasons why reflect the difficulties in trying to deliberately manipulate a system as complex and fragile as the Earth’s environment. They may also speak to the limits of political will, the public’s fear of human meddling, and the problematic line between innovation and scientific hubris.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-27/geoengineering-controversial-science-to-combat-climate-change/12588828

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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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