Dbytes #469 (31 March 2021)

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

“I believe it is time to recognize there is no such thing as a natural disaster – we’re doing it to ourselves. The world is losing ground in the battle to reduce disaster losses.”
Mami Mizutori, Head of UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction


In this issue of Dbytes

1. We Can’t Say We Weren’t Warned – A reader’s guide to the climate-change bookshelf
2. Threats of global warming to the world’s freshwater fishes
3. Does climate change challenge our concept of moral responsibility?
4. Where wildlife and traffic collide: Roadkill rates change through time in a wildlife-tourism hotspot
5. Yes, Australia is a land of flooding rains. But climate change could be making it worse
6. Environment as Quality of Life: The Whitlam Government 1972-1975
7. Threatened Australian shark and skates at ‘extreme risk’ of being wiped out

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1. We Can’t Say We Weren’t Warned – A reader’s guide to the climate-change bookshelf

Whether you are a believer or a denier, how much do you really know about climate change? Have you ever read a book on the subject? If not, a small army of authors is here to help.

https://calexan.substack.com/p/we-cant-say-we-werent-warned

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2. Threats of global warming to the world’s freshwater fishes

Climate change poses a significant threat to global biodiversity, but freshwater fishes have been largely ignored in climate change assessments. Here, we assess threats of future flow and water temperature extremes to ~11,500 riverine fish species. In a 3.2 °C warmer world (no further emission cuts after current governments’ pledges for 2030), 36% of the species have over half of their present-day geographic range exposed to climatic extremes beyond current levels. Threats are largest in tropical and sub-arid regions and increases in maximum water temperature are more threatening than changes in flow extremes. In comparison, 9% of the species are projected to have more than half of their present-day geographic range threatened in a 2 °C warmer world, which further reduces to 4% of the species if warming is limited to 1.5 °C. Our results highlight the need to intensify (inter)national commitments to limit global warming if freshwater biodiversity is to be safeguarded.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-21655-w

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3. Does climate change challenge our concept of moral responsibility?

Climate change is often described as being a “wicked problem” – a problem whose causes are fabulously complex and non-linear; a problem that implicates (almost) all of us, but for which none of us can straightforwardly take responsibility; a problem that requires mass action, but for just that reason invites “free-riding”; a problem whose sacrifices are immediate and unevenly apportioned, and whose benefits are disparate and far into the future. On each count, the climate change seems to defy attempts to take the problem “personally”, and therefore to embrace our own moral agency in trying to address it.

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/theminefield/climate-change-and-moral-responsibility/13253978

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4. Where wildlife and traffic collide: Roadkill rates change through time in a wildlife-tourism hotspot

Understanding when and where roadkill is most likely to occur is vital to reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions. However, little is known about how roadkill rates change through time and whether or not the key influences on roadkill also change. Understanding changes in roadkill will facilitate the best implementation of mitigation measures. We aimed to determine how roadkill rates have changed between two distinct time periods and assess whether the spatial and temporal drivers of roadkill rates may have changed: with a view to informing taxon-specific mitigation strategies. We assess the spatial and temporal factors that influence road mortalities in two periods (1998–1999 and 2014) at the same site for multiple taxa. Bi-weekly surveys were undertaken from February to May 1998 and 1999 and again from February to June 2014. In total 2479 individual roadkill were recorded throughout the surveys, with 1.59 roadkill per km per month in the 1990s, increasing to 2.39 per km per month in 2014. Roadkill rates increased primarily with road speed limit with mortalities peaking at moderate (60–80 km/h) speeds, however, the structural complexity of roadside vegetation influenced roadkill rates for some taxa but not others. We show that roadkill rates have changed through time with shifts in both the temporal and spatial influences on these roadkill rates. These changes are likely associated with changes in the abundance of taxa and increased vehicle traffic. The spatial and temporal drivers of roadkill rates were found to be taxon specific, and although mitigation measures exist, assessment of their efficacy remains a priority.

Where wildlife and traffic collide: Roadkill rates change through time in a wildlife-tourism hotspot – ScienceDirect

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5. Yes, Australia is a land of flooding rains. But climate change could be making it worse

The recent flooding in New South Wales is consistent with what we might expect as climate change continues. Australia’s natural rainfall patterns are highly variable. This means the influence climate change has on any single weather event is difficult to determine; the signal is buried in the background of a lot of climatic “noise”. But as our planet warms, the water-holding capacity of the lower atmosphere increases by around 7% for every 1℃ of warming. This can cause heavier rainfall, which in turn increases flood risk.

Yes, Australia is a land of flooding rains. But climate change could be making it worse (theconversation.com)

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6. : Environment as Quality of Life: The Whitlam Government 1972-1975

Environment had become a ‘thing’ by 1972, and Australia’s then Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, was all for it. However, in many ways his government’s approach was cast in terms of ‘quality of life’ rather than ‘environment’ per se. He did however make specific environmental commitments relating to urban tree-planting, national parks, water conservation and heritage.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/

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7. Threatened Australian shark and skates at ‘extreme risk’ of being wiped out

At least four species of shark and skates unique to Australia are at an extreme risk of extinction unless urgent protections are put in place, according to a new report from conservationists. All four species – the whitefin swellshark, Sydney skate, grey skate and greeneye spurdog – spend their lives on the ocean floor but get caught in trawl nets.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/15/threatened-australian-shark-and-skates-at-extreme-risk-of-being-wiped-out?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

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About Dbytes

Dbytes is a weekly eNewsletter presenting news and views on biodiversity conservation and environmental decision science. ‘D’ stands for ‘Decision’ and refers to all the ingredients that go into good, fair and just decision-making in relation to the environment.

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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