Dbytes #470 (7 April 2021)

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

“At 3℃ of global warming by 2100, oceans are projected to absorb five times more heat than the observed amount accumulated since 1970. Being far more acidic than today, ocean oxygen levels will decline at ever-shallower depths, affecting the distribution and abundance of marine life everywhere. At 1.5-2℃ warming, the complete loss of coral reefs is very likely.”
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg & Lesley Hughes [see item 1]


In this issue of Dbytes

1. Seriously ugly: here’s how Australia will look if the world heats by 3℃ this century
2. One of Earth’s biggest carbon sinks has been overestimated
3. Solar Geoengineering: Ineffective, Risky, and Unnecessary
4. White Paper on the future of weather and climate forecasting (WMO)

5. Identifying a Safe and Just Corridor for People and the Planet
6. The nine boundaries humanity must respect to keep the planet habitable
7. The lost lizards of Christmas Island: A retrospective assessment of factors driving the collapse of a native reptile community

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1. Seriously ugly: here’s how Australia will look if the world heats by 3℃ this century

Imagine, for a moment, a different kind of Australia. One where bushfires on the catastrophic scale of Black Summer happen almost every year. One where 50℃ days in Sydney and Melbourne are common. Where storms and flooding have violently reshaped our coastlines, and unique ecosystems have been damaged beyond recognition – including the Great Barrier Reef, which no longer exists. Frighteningly, this is not an imaginary future dystopia. It’s a scientific projection of Australia under 3℃ of global warming – a future we must both strenuously try to avoid, but also prepare for.

https://theconversation.com/seriously-ugly-heres-how-australia-will-look-if-the-world-heats-by-3-this-century-157875?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=bylinetwitterbutton

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2. One of Earth’s biggest carbon sinks has been overestimated

The results contradict a widely accepted assumption in climate models that biomass and soil carbon will increase in tandem in the coming decades and highlight the importance of grasslands in helping to draw down carbon.

https://earth.stanford.edu/news/one-earths-biggest-carbon-sinks-has-been-overestimated#gs.xl0921

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3. Solar Geoengineering: Ineffective, Risky, and Unnecessary

Some people are proposing to counteract climate change by artificially dimming the Sun. But it’s largely ineffective. It’s potentially risky. And it’s unnecessary. Instead, we should focus on real-world solutions that work.

https://globalecoguy.org/solar-geoengineering-ineffective-risky-and-unnecessary-2d9850328fab

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4. White Paper on the future of weather and climate forecasting (WMO)

The White Paper traces the development of the weather enterprise and examines challenges and opportunities in the coming decade. It examines three overarching components of the innovation cycle: infrastructure, research and development, and operation.

White Paper on the future of weather and climate forecasting | World Meteorological Organization (wmo.int)

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5. Identifying a Safe and Just Corridor for People and the Planet

For the first time in human history, we are now forced to consider the real risk of destabilizing our home, planet Earth. This is an existential risk, as we all need a planet that can sustain life and provide the basis for the well‐being of all people. Here, we outline a conceptual framework for a global‐scale “safe and just corridor” that delivers on these goals for people and the planet. The recently formed Earth Commission will use this framework to map key functions that regulate the state of the Earth system and provide life support to us humans, including processes such as biodiversity and nutrient cycling. It will also analyze the related justice components, for each of these Earth system target domains, in terms of how such ranges can be defined and how nature’s contributions to people can be justly shared. Furthermore, social transformations that meet safe and just targets for all people and how the global‐scale targets can be translated to targets for actors at other scales will be explored.

https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2020EF001866

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6. The nine boundaries humanity must respect to keep the planet habitable

All life on Earth, and human civilization, are sustained by vital biogeochemical systems, which are in delicate balance. However, our species — due largely to rapid population growth and explosive consumption — is destabilizing these Earth processes, endangering the stability of the “safe operating space for humanity.”

https://news.mongabay.com/2021/03/the-nine-boundaries-humanity-must-respect-to-keep-the-planet-habitable/

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7. The lost lizards of Christmas Island: A retrospective assessment of factors driving the collapse of a native reptile community

Until recently, the reptile fauna of Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean comprised five endemic species (two skinks, two geckos, and one snake) and one native, non‐endemic skink. Four of these species were common and widespread until at least 1979, but by 2012 had disappeared from the wild. During the years of decline, little research was undertaken to examine why the species were disappearing. Here, we use a retrospective expert elicitation to rank potential factors that contributed to the loss of Christmas Island’s reptiles and to assess the likelihood of re‐establishing populations of two species now listed as Extinct in the Wild. We additionally considered why one endemic lizard, the Christmas Island giant gecko (Cyrtodactylus sadleiri), and three introduced lizards remain common. Experts considered that the introduced common wolf snake (Lycodon capucinus) was the most likely cause of decline, as its temporal and spatial spread across the island closely matched patterns of lizard disappearances. An Asian co‐occurrence in recent evolutionary timeframes of the common wolf snake with the Christmas Island giant gecko and three introduced reptiles was the most marked point of difference between the extant and lost lizard species. The demise in less than 20 years of 80% of Christmas Island’s native lizard assemblage highlights the vulnerability of island fauna to invading species.

https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/csp2.358

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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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