Dbytes #495 (29 September 2021)

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

“The age of electronic newsletters may be coming to a close, and Dbytes is possibly a dinosaur watching an asteroid streak overhead. But this dinosaur still has a few issues left in it. With luck, we might even reach that magical issue #500.”
The Editor, Dbytes [see item 8]


In this issue of Dbytes

1. Changing how we engage social norms in behavior change interventions
2. Policy solutions to facilitate restoration in coastal marine environments
3. A tale of two Ramsar wetlands – what a difference a minister makes
4. Conservationists say rocket launch site could push endangered southern emu-wren to extinction
5. Models – what are they good for?
6. Serious Integrity Concerns Around Australia’s ‘Junk’ Carbon Credits
7. They Knew: How the U.S. Government Helped Cause the Climate Crisis
8. Notes on Dbytes’ history and future

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1. Changing how we engage social norms in behavior change interventions

While seeking to change individual conservation behaviors via social norm messaging can be effective, it is limited to those contexts where there is a favorable existing norm. Learning how to initiate social processes to shift unfavorable norms towards those which support key conservation behaviors would enhance the repertoire of conservationists seeking to harness the power of social influence.

Changing how we engage social norms in behavior change interventions – Please keep to the path

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2. Policy solutions to facilitate restoration in coastal marine environments

A range of barriers exist for successful marine restoration in Australia, including legislative complexity and a lack of enabling policy. For example, marine restoration in Australia is regulated through a framework designed to limit environmental harm, rather than through a process aimed at achieving net environmental benefit. For example, certain marine restoration projects may trigger the same permitting process as an infrastructure development project. We reviewed the regulatory frameworks for marine restoration projects in North America and Europe to uncover the regulatory and policy settings that support restoration of marine ecosystems. We identified a range of strategies that could better facilitate restoration in marine and coastal environments in Australia, including:
-Clearer guidance on the regulatory frameworks for restoration;
-A more structured approach to risk management in marine restoration;
-Including marine ecosystem restoration in regional and state coastal management planning;
-Better national coordination for restoration projects that can address large scale issues (e.g. climate mitigation).

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X21004000?dgcid=author

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3. A tale of two Ramsar wetlands – what a difference a minister makes

In both cases the federal environment department advised the minister that the projects should be rejected upfront as ‘clearly unacceptable’, without going through the full EIA process. One minister ignored the advice.

https://bit.ly/2MsmLyX

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4. Conservationists say rocket launch site could push endangered southern emu-wren to extinction

An Adelaide firm’s plans for permanent facilities at Whaler’s Bay on the Eyre Peninsula could wipe out prime habitat, environment group warns

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/28/conservationists-say-rocket-launch-site-could-push-endangered-southern-emu-wren-to-extinction?

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5. Models – what are they good for?

The key, to paraphrase Einstein, is to make the models as simple as possible, but no simpler. That is easy to say, but it is perhaps the most challenging thing to deliver.

Models are everywhere at the moment! Everyone in Australia will have heard of the Doherty model, which has helped set Australia’s path out of the pandemic. Modelling from the Burnett Institute is helping to steer both New South Wales and Victoria out of their lockdowns. But what are scientific models, and why are they useful? Answering these questions is not easy. Sure, there are various answers to the questions. But the answers are not always easy to communicate, and secondly, the answers depend on the purpose of the models. While models are used for a range of reasons including synthesis, explanation, estimation, experimental design, etc., I will focus here on models that are used for prediction…

https://mickresearch.wordpress.com/2021/09/24/models-what-are-they-good-for/

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6. Serious Integrity Concerns Around Australia’s ‘Junk’ Carbon Credits

One in five carbon credits issued by the Federal Government’s $4.5 billion Emission Reduction Fund (ERF) do not represent real abatement and are essentially ‘junk’ credits, according to new research by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program.

Serious Integrity Concerns Around Australia’s ‘Junk’ Carbon Credits – The Australia Institute

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7. They Knew: How the U.S. Government Helped Cause the Climate Crisis

How seven successive U.S. administrations failed to take effective action on halting greenhouse gas emissions and encouraged the extraction and use of fossil fuels.

They Knew: How the U.S. Government Helped Cause the Climate Crisis – Yale E360

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8. Notes on Dbytes’ history and future

Dbytes began around 10 years ago. I created it as an internal newsletter of the Environmental Decisions Group, a network of conservation scientists (led by Hugh Possingham at UQ). It became quite popular and subscriptions were opened to anyone with an interest in better environmental decision making. Dbytes’ network grew to around 800 subscribers; including academics, policy makers and conservation managers.

The Environmental Decisions Group formally concluded at the end of 2018 with the end of funding of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) which was the main sponsor of Dbytes over its life till then. However, I decided to continue on with Dbytes as my own project. I did this because I enjoy collating the information I include in each issue, I am still very interested in environmental decision science, and the feedback I get from many people who receive Dbytes suggests it does make a difference to conservation in Australia. As one example, several colleagues have told me they use Dbytes in their university teaching.

Dbytes is not a big thing. I don’t promote it much and it runs on the smell of an oily rag. In spite of this, it has retained much of its audience (currently over 600 subscribers) and I still get regular requests to add subscribers.

In recent months, however, I have had feedback that Dbytes is being increasingly blocked by uni spam filters as unis everywhere attempt to make their IT environments more secure. I have attempted to modify things on the Mailchimp platform that sends out Dbytes but my efforts so far have not been very effective (a reflection of my age and lack of IT capacity).

I will continue to work on this but thought I should briefly describe the situation. I will run this note over several issues. Of course, people who like Dbytes but are having it blocked may never see this note but I’m hoping word will get around.

One alternative people might consider is subscribing to the WordPress version of Dbytes. I established the WordPress version of Dbytes several years ago as a backup web version. You can subscribe to this site by visiting https://ozdbytes.wordpress.com/about/ Go to the bottom of the page and become a follower (I have 70 followers at the moment, many of whom are people who have randomly stumbled over Dbytes). Followers are sent an email whenever I post a new issue. That email contains the whole contents of Dbytes, it just looks a little different to the Mailchimp version. So far, WordPress emails are not being blocked by uni filters (to the best of my knowledge).

Who knows, the age of electronic newsletters may be coming to a close, and Dbytes is possibly a dinosaur watching an asteroid streak overhead. But this dinosaur still has a few issues left in it. With luck, we might even reach that magical issue #500.

Regards

David

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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). Dbytes is supported by the Global Water Forum.

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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