Dbytes #546 (19 October 2022)

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


“the distribution of warming impacts from emitters is highly unequal: high-income, high-emitting countries have benefited themselves while harming low-income, low-emitting countries, emphasizing the inequities embedded in the causes and consequences of historical warming.”
Christopher Callahan & Justin Mankin, [see item 6]


In this issue of Dbytes

1. How good are we at changing behaviour for nature? 300,000 papers later here is what we found.
2. Bending the curve: Simple but massive conservation action leads to landscape-scale recovery of amphibians
3. Almost 70% of animal populations wiped out since 1970
4. Climate change: why we can’t rely on regrowing coastal habitats to offset carbon emissions
5. Taking Indigenous knowledge and values seriously: The second transformation of national environmental law
6. National attribution of historical climate damages
7. Good practice principles for ethical behavioural science in public policy


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1. How good are we at changing behaviour for nature? 300,000 papers later here is what we found.

When it comes to looking at changing actual behaviour to conserve the environment the evidence base is limited as most studies do not measure actual behaviour. There was evidence that education, prompts and feedback interventions can result in positive behaviour change, although the evidence is highly skewed towards high income countries.

How good are we at changing behaviour for nature? 300,000 papers later here is what we found – Please keep to the path

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2. Bending the curve: Simple but massive conservation action leads to landscape-scale recovery of amphibians

The global decline of amphibians is part of the global freshwater biodiversity crisis. In human-dominated landscapes, amphibian population declines are driven by multiple stressors. A better understanding of the benefits of conservation action can contribute to the halting and reversal of population declines. Our analysis of 20 y of monitoring data shows that the large-scale construction of hundreds of new ponds in northern Switzerland has halted or even reversed declining trends for the majority of amphibian species, including multiple Red-Listed species undergoing declines at the national level. This conservation success suggests that increasing habitat availability benefits threatened amphibian species despite the continued presence of stressors known to negatively affect populations.

https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2123070119

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3. Almost 70% of animal populations wiped out since 1970

Huge scale of human-driven loss of species demands urgent action, say world’s leading scientists

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/13/almost-70-of-animal-populations-wiped-out-since-1970-report-reveals-aoe

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4. Climate change: why we can’t rely on regrowing coastal habitats to offset carbon emissions

Removing several hundred billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere is now considered necessary to avert the worst effects of climate change. Using nature to help achieve that goal, by allowing habitats to regenerate, would seem to offer a win-win solution for the environment and the climate.
We are researchers who study how marine life, chemistry and the climate interact, and after examining the processes by which coastal habitats draw down (and release) planet-warming gases, we’re not convinced. Whether the climate benefits from restoring these habitats – by planting mangrove trees, for example – is far from certain, and there’s a real risk that the scale at which they can mitigate emissions has been massively oversold.

Climate change: why we can’t rely on regrowing coastal habitats to offset carbon emissions (theconversation.com)

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5. Taking Indigenous knowledge and values seriously: The second transformation of national environmental law

These reforms are not just politically ambitious, but resource-intensive. The political passion the PM displayed on election night will need to extend to opening the national wallet!

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/2022/10/18/taking-indigenous-knowledge-and-values-seriously-the-second-transformation-of-national-environmental-law/

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6. National attribution of historical climate damages

A new study in Climatic Change has found that the top five emitters globally (the United States, China, Russia, Brazil, and India) have collectively caused US$6 trillion in income losses from their contributions to anthropogenic warming since 1990. The study combined historical climate, economic and population data with climate models to conduct scenarios to represent a world with and without greenhouse gas emissions. The study concludes that the distribution of warming impacts from emitters is highly unequal, with the benefits associated with emissions not corresponding to local impact from those historical emissions. Quantifying and attributing the impacts from climate change informs claims for loss and damage.

National attribution of historical climate damages | SpringerLink

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7. Good practice principles for ethical behavioural science in public policy

For the past decade, behavioural science has been influencing public policy by applying principles of psychology, cognitive and social sciences, neuroscience and economics, to put individuals at the forefront of policy goals, and with an accurate rather than imagined understanding of human behaviour. Like any policy-making tool, the use of behavioural insights must be subject to ethical considerations that can arise at any point from scoping to policy scaling. This good practice guide offers practitioners and policy-makers step-by-step guidance to prompt deliberations into how to use behavioural science ethically for public policy. It is designed to be a practical resource to promote the responsible use of behavioural science in the public sector.

Good practice principles for ethical behavioural science in public policy (apo.org.au)

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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.

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David Salt
and you can follow me on twitter at
@davidlimesalt

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